U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to get through a terminal at a Washington airport on Monday as protesters confronted him, asking if he believed sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“How many stories of sexual violence do you need to hear in order to believe women?” one woman asked McConnell, a Republican, as he walked toward an escalator at Reagan National Airport, his aides trying to clear his path, according to video circulated on social media.
For some key Republican U.S. senators, no matter where they appeared in the country, newly emboldened protesters, mostly women, were there as well, after being credited with helping force at least a week’s delay in the confirmation vote for Kavanaugh.
President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the top U.S. court. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the lifetime post would cement the conservative grip on the Supreme Court.
The activists behind the protests said they planned to keep up the effort as the FBI investigates accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh when he was in high school and college.
Kavanaugh denies the allegations and has accused Democrats of a political “hit.”
The allegations against Kavanaugh come against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault that has toppled a succession of powerful men.
“We are still here, still outraged,” said Rachel Carmon, chief operation officer of Women’s March. The group is planning a “Cancel Kavanaugh” march on Thursday beginning at the federal appeals court in Washington on which he sits.
Hundreds of protesters rallied on Monday at Boston’s City Hall where Senator Jeff Flake was speaking at a conference, their chants audible in the distance as the Arizona Republican was asked about his dramatic decision last week to press for an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Two women had challenged him on Friday as he tried to close a Senate elevator door, confronting him with details of their own experiences of sexual assault and castigating him for announcing he would vote for Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Flake acknowledged on Monday that the incident, aired widely, helped lead to his request at the subsequent committee hearing that an FBI probe be conducted before a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh. Trump, who had previously rebuffed Democratic demands for such an investigation, granted the request.
“That experience, as well as a lot of others,” Flake said at the conference when asked if the confrontation motivated his decision. “I got calls and emails and texts from women I never thought I’d hear from in this regard saying: ‘Here’s what happened to me when I was young, here’s what happened to me 30 years ago.’”
Flake, a frequent critic of Trump, is not seeking re-election this year.
FOCUS ON UNDECIDED SENATORS
Flake’s move came a day after a jarring Senate hearing on Thursday in which university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland.
Two other women besides Ford have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while he was a young man. He denounced the allegations during his testimony as a political smear driven by Democrats.
Protesters have also focused on two other senators who are undecided on Kavanaugh – moderate Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Rallies are being organized every day this week outside Collins’ district office in Portland, Maine, said Amy Halsted, co-director of Maine’s People’s Alliance.
Starting on Tuesday, scores of protesters also planned to deliver morning cups of coffee to Senate offices with messages from victims of sexual assault to encourage them to “wake up to the truth,” the Center for Popular Democracy advocacy group said.
Demand Justice, a new group focused on fighting efforts to tilt the U.S. judiciary to the right, said it was spending $120,000 to air a television ad in Washington, Alaska, Maine and the San Francisco area, where Ford lives.
The ad, which is called: “We believe survivors,” shows women watching Ford’s testimony on televisions and computer screens with concern and will call out Collins and Murkowski by name in their home states, asking if they believe Ford.
Theresa May Survives Confidence Vote
British Prime Minister Theresa May can rest easy after winning a vote of confidence on Wednesday night in the conservative party by 200 to 117.
After alighting from the vote last night unscathed, she is now immune from a leadership challenge for a year.
But rocky road still lies ahead as she tries to push through a vote in parliament to adopt her Brexit deal with the EU.
After the all important confidence vote on wednesday night, May was in Brussels again thursday morning to finetune the divorce deal she had struck for Britain.
May vowed, after vote results were announced on Wednesday night, that she will deliver the brexit “people voted for.”
She acknowledged the rather high number of her MPs who had voted against her. She promised to listen to, and address, their concerns.
The vote was triggered by 48 of her MPs who are angry at her Brexit policy. They say the deal betrays the demands of the 2016 referendum result.
IATA Forecasts Airlines Will Generate $3b More In 2019
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents most global carriers, has forecast airlines will generate $3 billion more in total profits in 2019. The industry realized $32 billion this year. IATA says although airlines face increased taxes, they will carry more passengers next year that would boost industry profits.
Iata says airlines in North America are performing the best, but Africa remains the weakest region for aviation.
Net profits for airlines across Africa are expected to fall, for the fourth consecutive year next year by three-tenths of a percent.
Losses for carriers across Africa have widened as fuel costs have increased.
UN Urges Immediate Action On Climate Change
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday at the ongoing 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Poland that it will “not only be immoral, but suicidal”, should the world body fail to agree on climate change action.
He challenged the more than 100 government leaders gathered in Katowice to find consensus and “finish the job”, noting the roadblocks continuing at the (COP24) climate change conference over how to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.
Since Dec. 2, the conference has brought together thousands of climate action decision-makers, advocates and activists, with one key objective – to adopt global guidelines for the 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement committed to limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Centigrade – and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Centigrade – above pre-industrial levels.
As the conference nears its end, the UN chief acknowledged progress in the negotiations but said a lot still remains to be done.
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