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.
New Zealand: 49 Killed In Mass Shooting At Two Mosques In Christchurch
49 persons have been killed and 20 seriously injured in two mass shootings at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Forty-one were killed at the al Noor mosque. Seven died at the Linwood mosque, and one person died at the hospital.
Police say four persons, including three men and one woman, have been taken into custody. They do not believe there are any other suspects but said it was still an open investigation.
Police said a male, in his late 20s, has been charged with murder and will appear at the Christchurch court Saturday morning local time.
In a social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
Britain Votes In Favor Of Delaying Brexit
Britain’s parliament has voted in favour of delaying by three months, UK’s departure from the European Union pending approval of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal within a week.
MPs in the house of commons voted four hundred twelve to two hundred two on Thursday in Favour of a government motion proposing pushing the UK’s exit from the bloc beyond the scheduled March the 29th date.
The motion said the government would seek a “one-off extension” until June the 30th “for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation,” provided May’s widely maligned deal wins parliament’s approval by Wednesday next week.
If May fails to win parliamentary approval for her deal by march 20, the Brexit delay could be extended beyond three months. Twice now, British legislators have overwhelmingly rejected her EU divorce deal.
Israel Launches Gaza Air Attacks After Rockets Fired At Tel Aviv
Israel launched air attacks on Gaza hours after rockets were fired aimed at Tel Aviv.
This has raised fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Explosions were heard in the Gaza strip early on Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed Hamas security positions.
A Gaza Palestinian security source told AFP news agency about 30 raids targeted positions held by the military wing of Hamas and its ally Islamic jihad, causing significant damage.
Local Palestinian agencies reported a woman and her husband were both injured in the southern city of Rafah, but did not provide further details.
Israeli military said it was attacking “terror sites” in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave in the Tel Aviv area.
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