Republic Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III confirmed they will support President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court when a final vote on his confirmation takes place this weekend, voting this morning to limit debate before then. Sen. Chuck Grassley said “no hint of misconduct” was found by the FBI after they spent one week investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge by Christine Blasey Ford in the 1980s. Grassley said outside left-wing groups were trying to derail the process, while Democrats say it was rushed.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Yazidi rape and torture survivor Nadia Murad and Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who’s cared for thousands of women like Murad, have won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. The campaigners against wartime sexual assault were among 331 nominated individuals and organizations — including President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Murad, who lived in Iraq when she was taken as a sex slave by ISIS fighters, is now a campaigner against human trafficking. The Nobel Committee said today’s choice aimed to highlight how women are “used as weapons of war.”
Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury Friday after two days of deliberation. Van Dyke was also charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for shooting a black teenager, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was carrying a knife at the time. The incident happened in 2014 but only got notoriety after video footage from a vehicle dashcam was released after a journalist’s FOI request. The case has caused tensions in the city, police are ramping up resources to ensure potential protests can carry on peacefully.
Can he take it back? Admitting he “might have been too emotional” during confirmation hearings last week, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Thursday to plead for understanding. He said as a “son, husband and dad” he was defending his integrity in the face of decades-old accusations. Meanwhile, in an unusual rebuke, retired Justice John Paul Stevens urged senators — scheduled to begin voting today — to reject Kavanaugh, saying he showed too much “potential bias” to sit on the country’s highest court.
A week after a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the Indonesian island, the death toll has surpassed 1,550 and local authorities have given up on identifying the dead being buried in mass graves. International aid is finally reaching remote areas, while hope of finding survivors is running out. Meanwhile, the Jakarta government is facing anger over the lack of warning before the disaster. An $11 million system of early detection buoys, installed after a 2004 tsunami killed 170,000 people, had reportedly been left unmaintained due to funding cuts.
“In some ways, it’s worse than a trade war.” That’s one market expert’s assessment of the good news/bad news scenario that’s troubling Wall Street. Indicators are so positive, with more good news about employment expected today, that investors fear the Federal Reserve will further raise interest rates to cool things off. The S&P 500 shed 0.8 percent Thursday — its worst day since June — as investors reacted by selling government bonds. America’s economic optimism is also boosting the dollar, which makes domestic borrowing more expensive while curbing investment in developing markets.
Know This: The Russian official believed to have directed Natalia Veselnitskaya to participate in the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the president’s campaign staff has reportedly died in a helicopter crash near Moscow. Chinese authorities are asking for the public’s help in tracking two men who staged a rare prison break. And today a court in Seoul sentenced former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to 15 years for corruption.
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Should she be crowned? An 8-year-old girl named Saga Vanecek discovered the roughly 1,500-year-old relic while playing in Vidöstern lake this summer. A museum dated the rusty, yard-long weapon to pre-Viking times — around the same time that King Arthur, according to legend, pulled his sword Excalibur from a lake. Saga and her family, recent transplants from Minnesota, kept mum until experts further searched the area, finding a brooch from the same period. Naturally, social media now awaits Saga’s elevation to royalty.
Where they’re going, they don’t need steering wheels. The Department of Transportation is reconsidering vehicle safety standards to potentially allow driverless car developers like General Motors and Alphabet to deploy hundreds of thousands of purpose-built vehicles without steering wheels or other equipment for human drivers. But not everyone is on board: A March pedestrian death caused by a self-driving Uber raised concerns over autonomous tech. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao acknowledged it “has not yet won public acceptance” — and that’s something the technology can’t thrive without.
Will he play among the stars? Blue Origin’s sprinting into a lunar race, signing an agreement with two German space companies to deliver several tons of unspecified cargo to the moon by 2023. Founder Jeff Bezos announced the initiative, which depends on changes to a 1967 treaty barring private property ownership in space, at the International Astronautical Conference. The event also launched its Moon Race competition, which pits Blue Origin, Airbus Air and Space and other exploration entities against each other in a dash to develop tech for lunar trips and space commerce.
The comedian joined thousands of predominantly female demonstrators who descended on Capitol Hill Thursday to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process in the face of multiple sexual assault accusations against him. Most of the 302 arrested were charged with “crowding, obstructing or incommoding” the Hart Senate Office Building, where they filled the atrium, holding placards and chanting slogans like “Whose Senate? Our Senate!” and “We believe survivors.” Actress Emily Ratajkowski, who was also arrested, said Kavanaugh’s confirmation is “a message to women in this country that they do not matter.”
“I don’t need to wait for nobody.” So said UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov after opponent Conor McGregor stood him up at yesterday’s Las Vegas pre-fight press event. Nurmagomedov, boasting a 26-0 record, said his opponent “has to kill me to stop me.” He answered questions and left 15 minutes later, before McGregor, who’s notoriously tardy, even arrived. The Irish fighter later mocked his opponent’s early departure, saying, “He’s petrified.” The two face off Saturday night in what Nurmagomedov called the “biggest fight in UFC history.”