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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.


Arizona has elected its first female senator, after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat Republican Martha McSally in a tight race.

Kyrsten Sinema, 42, is Arizona’s first Democratic senator since 1994.

The win narrows the Republican majority to four seats (51-47), with two more Senate races remaining unresolved.

In Florida, a recount has been ordered by law after unofficial results fell within a 0.5% margin. Mississippi will hold a run-off vote later this month.

With almost all the votes counted, Kyrsten Sinema had a lead of 1.7% of her rival. She now becomes Arizona’s first female senator.

Kyrsten Sinema later addressed her cheering supporters in Phoenix, speaking of the urgent need to heal the bitter political rancor dividing Americans.

She paid tribute to the memory of the late John McCain, who represented Arizona in the Senate, saying he had set a shining example of how to put national interests above party political ones.


Martha McSally, a former combat fighter pilot, conceded defeat.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the 52-year-old said: “I just called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on becoming Arizona’s first female senator after a hard-fought battle.”

Image source Wikimedia

Midterms 2018: President Trump Hails Big Victory as Republicans Consolidate Senate Grip

Midterm Elections 2018: President Trump Warns of Left-Wing Violence If Democrats Win

Paul Ryan Will Not Run for Re-Election in 2018

Votes are being recounted in the Florida senate race, which pits incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against the state’s Republican Governor Rick Scott.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered that all 67 of the state’s counties complete machine recounts for the Senate by 15:00 local time on November 15.

In Georgia’s gubernatorial election, Democrat Stacey Abrams is refusing to concede in her race against Republican Brian Kemp.

Brian Kemp declared victory on November 7 with a narrow lead but campaign officials for Stacey Abrams have started a legal challenge to ensure all votes are counted.

Stacey Abrams’ supporters have claimed that issues such as ballot machines supplied without power cables and four-hour queues unfairly helped Brian Kemp.

An ongoing tally has whittled Brian Kemp’s lead slightly to under 60,000 votes, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on November 11.

However, Stacey Abrams still needs another 22,000 votes to trigger a run-off election next month, and it is unclear how many ballots remain outstanding.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy in a run-off vote after neither managed to reach 50% in the first round, winning 41.5% and 40.6% respectively.

The Mississippi vote will take place on November 27.

According to recent official reports, California fires death toll has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still unaccounted for.

Six more people were confirmed killed in the Camp Fire in the north of California, taking the toll there to 29.

That fire now equals the deadliest on record in California – the 1933 Griffith Park disaster in Los Angeles.

In the south of the state, the Woolsey Fire has claimed two lives as it damaged beach resorts including Malibu.

An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to avoid three major blazes in the state.

With strengthening winds threatening to spread the flames, California Governor Jerry Brown has urged President Trump to declare a major disaster, a move that would harness more federal emergency funds.

The appeal came a day after President Trump threatened to cut funding for California, blaming the fires on poor forest management.

Emergency teams have been sifting through the remains of more than 6,700 homes and businesses burned down in the town of Paradise.

Paradise and surrounding area bore the brunt of the inferno, which started in nearby forest on November 8.

At a news conference on November 11, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the bodies of five people had been found in their burned-out homes and a sixth was found inside a vehicle. He said that more than 200 people were still unaccounted for.

The fire is the most destructive in the state’s history and the joint deadliest.

According to fire officials, it has burned more than 109,000 acres and is nearly 25% contained.

The blaze started on November 8 near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles north-west of central Los Angeles.

By November 11 the fire had consumed 83,000 acres and destroyed at least 177 buildings, officials said. It is only 10% contained. The smaller Hill Fire, nearby, has scorched 4,530 acres and is 75% contained.

Some looting was reported in the southern fire area over the weekend and police said arrests had been made.

Image source Wikipedia

Thomas Fire Becomes Largest Blaze in California’s History

Thomas Fire: California Governor Jerry Brown Brands Wildfires as New Normal

Luxury homes in Malibu and other beach communities are among properties that have fallen victim to the flames.

Gerard Butler shared a picture of a charred house on Twitter, writing: “Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating. Heartbreaking time across California. Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters. Thank you @LAFD. If you can, support these brave men and women at http://SupportLAFD.org .”

Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, where the HBO series Westworld is filmed, was also destroyed.

On November 10, firefighters used a respite from strong winds to drop fire retardant in a bid to strengthen firebreaks.

However, officials warned against complacency, with winds of up to 70mph expected over the coming days. They said fires could spread quickly and unexpectedly.

Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby said: “Winds are already blowing. They are going to blow for the next three days. Your house can be rebuilt but you can’t bring your life back.”

Meteorologist David Gomberg told the Los Angeles Times that fire tornadoes were possible.

Governor Jerry Brown’s request to President Donald Trump was aimed at bolstering the emergency response to what he called the “catastrophic” nature of the wildfires.

In a letter, the governor said: “We’re putting everything we’ve got into the fight against these fires and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid.”

The president’s response to the fires has been criticized as unsympathetic and ill-informed.

On November 11, during his trip to Paris, President Trump tweeted: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”

The president has previously blamed Californian officials for wildfires and threatened to withhold federal funding.

In a tweet on November 10, President Trump accused California authorities of “gross mismanagement” of forests.

Governor Brown’s spokesman, Evan Westrub, called President Trump’s comments “inane and uninformed”.

Historically, California’s “wildfire season” started in summer and ran into early autumn. However, experts have warned that the risk is becoming year-round.

The current fires are being blamed on a combination of climate change and transient weather conditions.

Low humidity, warm Santa Ana winds, and dry ground after a rain-free month have produced prime fire-spreading conditions.

California’s population stands at 40 million, almost double what it was in the 1970s, and the number living close to at-risk forest areas is rising.

And recent years have produced record-breaking temperatures, earlier springs, and less reliable rainfall.

Citing the role of a warming climate, Governor Jerry Brown declared: “This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal. The chickens are coming home to roost, this is real here.”

Neil Young made the same link, writing on his website: “I have lost my home before to a California wildfire, now another.

“We are vulnerable because of climate change; the extreme weather events and our extended drought is part of it.”

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Turkey has shared recordings related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and others.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his assertion that Saudi Arabia knew who had killed Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi rulers, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia has admitted the journalist was murdered there, but denied suggestions its royal family was involved.

The Saudis had initially maintained Jamal Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed.

They have also denied comments allegedly made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman describing Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist.

Image source www.alaraby.co.uk

Jamal Khashoggi Case: Saudi Arabia Admits Journalist Was Murdered

Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed in Consulate Fight, Saudi Arabia Says

Jamal Khashoggi Disappearance: President Trump Suggests Rogue Killers to Blame

The reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted Jamal Khashoggi had been killed.

There is still no consensus on how Jamal Khashoggi died. The journalist entered the consulate to sort out documents for his marriage.

Initially, Turkish media had quoted sources as saying Turkey had audio recordings proving that Jamal Khashoggi had been tortured before being murdered.

Last week, however, Turkey said he had been strangled immediately after entering the consulate and Jamal Kashoggi’s body dismembered “in accordance with plans made in advance”.

Nobody has been found and a Turkish official said the body had been dissolved.

Saudi Arabia has changed its account of what happened to the journalist.

When Jamal Khashoggi first disappeared, Saudi Arabia said the journalist had walked out of the building alive. Saudi Arabia later admitted he had been murdered, saying the killing was premeditated and a result of a “rogue operation”.

Eighteen suspects have been arrested in Saudi Arabia, where will be prosecuted. However, Turkey wants the suspects to be extradited.

Turkey has not publicly blamed Saudi Arabia for the killing.

President Erdogan said in a TV speech on November 10: “We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English.”

“They listened to the conversations which took place here, they know,” he said.

No other country has admitted hearing the said recording.

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Image source Wikimedia

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has fractured three ribs in a fall on November 7, the court says.

The fall happened in her office at the Supreme Court in Washington.

The 85-year-old went home but was in discomfort and went to George Washington University hospital on November 8, a statement said.

Tests showed that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had fractured three ribs on her left side and she has been admitted for observation and treatment.

It meant that the most senior justice on the court’s liberal wing was not present for November 8 investiture of Brett Kavanaugh, whose appointment led to protests following allegations of assault.

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, confirmed last month by the Senate, restores the nine-member court’s conservative majority. The court has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admits she was not sober at State of the Union address

Senate Confirms Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Judge

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brett Kavanaugh and described the claims against him as a “hoax”, attended his investiture.

On Twitter, many were quick to offer Ruth Bader Ginsburg assistance in the form of extra ribs and human shields to ensure she made it through the Trump presidency.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. She had previously focused her work on women’s rights and started the first law journal dedicated to the topic.

The liberal justice has survived cancer and in 2012 cracked two ribs in a fall at her home.

Some of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legal opinions, coupled with her refusal to step down during the Obama era, have seen her gain popularity in some quarters and earned her the nickname Notorious RBG.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the subject of both a recent documentary, RBG, and a forthcoming feature film, On the Basis of Sex, in which she is played by actress Felicity Jones. The feature film is about a landmark Supreme Court case in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued for fathers’ rights and against gender discrimination.

President Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The president had repeatedly criticized Jeff Sessions after he recused himself from the Russia investigation dogging the White House.

President Trump tweeted that his top law enforcement official will be temporarily replaced by his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has criticized the Russia inquiry.

He tweeted on November 7: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!”

Image source Wikimedia

Jeff Sessions Testimony: Attorney General Denies Having Undisclosed Meetings with Russian Officials

Donald Trump Defends Jeff Sessions Amid Calls for Him to Quit

Jeff Sessions Hearing: Donald Trump’s Pick for Attorney General Denies KKK Sympathies

In a resignation letter, Jeff Sessions – a former Alabama senator who was an early supporter of Donald Trump – made clear the decision to go was not his own.

He wrote: “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my resignation.”

“Most importantly as my time as attorney general, we have restored and upheld the rule of law,” he added, while thanking the president.

President Trump has repeatedly pilloried the attorney general since Jeff Sessions stepped aside from the Russia investigation in March 2017, allowing his deputy Rod Rosenstein to lead an inquiry that has dogged the White House.

In July 2017, President Trump told the New York Times: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”

The president has at various times belittled Jeff Sessions as “beleaguered”, “VERY weak”, and “DISGRACEFUL”.

According to a White House official, Chief of Staff John Kelly called Jeff Sessions before President Trump’s combative press conference to discuss midterm election results on November 7.

The attorney general’s exit comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to hunt for evidence of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation – overseen by the DoJ – has resulted in a series of criminal charges against several of Trump associates.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted after the announcement was made: “Clearly, the President has something to hide.”

Chuck Schumer added: “Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general.”

Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has hailed a “big victory” in midterm elections after Democrats seized the House of Representatives but Republicans consolidated their grip on the Senate.

The Democratic majority in the House will be in a position to block President Trump’s legislative program.

However, control of the Senate ensures President Trump can still make key appointments.

The vote was seen as a referendum on Donald Trump, even though the president is not up for re-election till 2020.

The result confirms a historical trend for the party that is not in the White House to make gains in the mid-terms.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi promised that her party would serve as a counterweight to the White House.

Nancy Pelosi – who is set to become speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011 – told supporters: “Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration.”

Midterms 2018: Donald Trump and Barack Obama Make Final Bid for Votes

Midterm Elections 2018: President Trump Warns of Left-Wing Violence If Democrats Win

Paul Ryan Will Not Run for Re-Election in 2018

Meanwhile the Florida Senate race is heading for a recount after Republican Rick Scott got 50.21% and incumbent Bill Nelson 49.79% of the vote. A margin of less than half a percentage point automatically triggers a recount.

The Democrats gained more than the 23 seats they needed for a majority in the 435-seat House of Representatives.

They could now launch investigations into President Trump’s administration and business affairs, from tax returns to potential conflicts of interest.

They could also more effectively block his legislative plans, notably his signature promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

In the Senate, Democrats were facing an uphill battle because they were defending 26 races, while just nine Republican seats were up for grabs.

The Republicans are on course to increase their representation from 51 to 54 in the 100-seat Senate upper chamber.

President Trump has threatened to retaliate for any Democratic investigations with his own probes in the Senate into alleged “leaks of classified information”.

He tweeted: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has urged voters to back the Republican Party on the eve of the midterm elections.

He said during a blitz of three final rallies: “Everything we have achieved is at stake tomorrow.”

The November 6 vote is being seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.

The president’s ability to govern in the final two years of his term will hinge upon the outcome.

Americans are going to the polls to vote on all 435 seats in the House, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and dozens of state governors.

With the control of Congress up for grabs, President Trump has ratcheted up rhetoric on divisive issues in a bid to energize his base.

Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama campaigned for the Democratic Party.

He tweeted: Tomorrow’s elections might be the most important of our lifetimes. The health care of millions is on the ballot. Making sure working families get a fair shake is on the ballot. The character of our country is on the ballot.”

Midterm Elections 2018: President Trump Warns of Left-Wing Violence If Democrats Win

Paul Ryan Will Not Run for Re-Election in 2018

The midterm elections will decide which party will control the two houses of Congress.

If Republicans maintain their hold on the Senate and the House of Representatives, they could build on their agenda and that of President Trump.

If the Democrats wrest control of one or both chambers, they could stymie or even reverse President Trump’s plans.

Pollsters suggest Democrats may win the 23 seats they need to take over the House of Representatives, and possibly 15 or so extra seats.

However, the Democrats are expected to fall short of the two seats they need to win control of the Senate.

Governors are also being chosen in 36 out of 50 states.

After months of campaigning, speculation, and billions of dollars spent on adverts, leaflets and bumper stickers, voters will have their final say on November 6.

Democratic candidates for the House of Representative have raised $649 million from individual donors, more than doubling the $312 million tally for the Republicans.

Democrats are hoping to achieve a “midterm wave” – a sweeping victory that changes the shape of the political map in the US.

Many people have already voted.

The US Elections Project, a University of Florida-based information source, said that some 34.3 million people have cast early ballots but the real number is probably higher. In 2014, were just 27.5 million.

In Texas, early voting has exceeded the entire turnout in 2014.

Thunderstorms are forecast for November 6 along the eastern coast, as well as snowstorms in the Midwest, which could affect turnout.

The first polls close at 18:00 EST.

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Australian missionary nun Sister Patricia Fox, who has spent almost three decades in the Philippines, has been deported after repeatedly denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s violent campaign against the drugs trade.

Sister Patricia Fox, 72, is now returning to Australia.

The nun’s missionary visa was downgraded to a temporary tourist visa last month.

Rodrigo Duterte Admits Personally Killing Criminal Suspects as Davao Mayor

Rodrigo Duterte Compares His Anti-Drug Campaign to Holocaust

Speaking as she was preparing to leave on November 3, Patricia Fox said President Duterte should listen to “the cry of small people”.

She told supporters who had come to Manila airport to see her: “Not just the military, not just the business people, but the urban poor, the workers, the indigenous peoples.”

In April, Patricia Fox was briefly detained overnight for “disorderly conduct”. President Duterte said remarks she made criticizing the government had constituted a violation of sovereignty.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 12,000 people have been killed by anti-drugs police or vigilante groups since Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016.

Sister Patricia Fox has admitted she met political prisoners in Mindanao, an island in the south currently under martial law.

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President Donald Trump has visited the synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish worshippers were shot dead on October 27.

The president was joined by the First Lady, his daughter and son-in-law at the Tree of Life temple in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered on the street chanting slogans against President Trump.

The visit came as mourners attended the first funerals for victims of the massacre.

The Trumps were greeted on October 30 by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who led them inside the temple, where the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history unfolded on October 27.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack: 11 People Shot Dead During Sabbath Service

At a memorial outside, Melania Trump placed a flower and the president laid a small stone on a marker for each of the victims.

President Trump was joined by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, and his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner. Both are White House advisers.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is Jewish, also joined the president.

Before his visit, President Trump condemned anti-Semitism. The alleged gunman was not a Trump supporter.

Critics accuse President Trump of fomenting a surge in white nationalist and neo-Nazi activity through divisive rhetoric which has seen him criticize immigrants and Muslims in particular.

Some Jewish figures and Pittsburgh’s Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto opposed the presidential visit.

More than 70,000 people signed an open letter from Pittsburgh-based Jewish leaders saying that President Donald Trump was “not welcome” in the city unless he “fully denounces white nationalism”.

The top four Republican and Democratic congressional leaders declined a White House invitation to join President Trump in Pennsylvania.

The White House has rejected any blame over the attack.

According to Reuters, members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community were among about 2,000 demonstrators who held a protest.

As President Trump arrived at the synagogue, demonstrators chanted “President Hate, leave our state” and “Words have meaning”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will step down in 2021, following recent election setbacks.

She told a news conference in Berlin: “I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends.”

Angela Merkel also said she would not seek re-election as leader of the center-right CDU party in December. She has held the post since 2000.

The CDU was severely weakened in October 28 poll in the state of Hesse, the latest in a series of setbacks.

Both the CDU and its national coalition partners, the Social Democrats, were 10 percentage points down on the previous poll there.

The election comes just weeks after Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered huge losses in a state parliament vote.

Parties like the left-leaning Greens and the far-right, anti-immigration AfD have grown in national support following the 2017 general election, as backing for the major centre parties has waned.

Image source Wikimedia

Germany Elections 2017: Angela Merkel Re-Elected as Chancellor

Angela Merkel to Run for Fourth Term in Office

Berlin Elections 2016: Angela Merkel Admits Refugee Policy Mistakes

Angela Merkel said she took “full responsibility” for poor performance.

She said: “As chancellor and leader of the CDU I’m politically responsible for everything, for successes and for failures.

“When people are telling us what they think of how the government was formed and what they think of our work during the first seven months of this parliament… then it is a clear signal that things can’t carry on as they are.

“The time has come to open a new chapter.”

Angela Merkel also made it clear she would not handpick her successor as party leader and would “accept any democratic decision taken by my party”.

However, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer would be the obvious choice for Merkel loyalists to replace her. She is currently the party secretary.

Health Minister Jens Spahn, a leading critic of Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policies, has also announced his candidacy.

Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the CDU-CSU parliamentary group and an old rival to Angela Merkel, has thrown his hat into the ring.

Angela Merkel’s CDU plunged 11 percentage points to 27% in October 28 elections in the central state of Hesse, according to preliminary results. This was the CDU’s worst showing in the state since 1966.

The SPD, which is in coalition with the CDU nationally, fell by a similar amount to 19.8%.

The main beneficiaries were the Greens, who paradoxically share power with the CDU in the state and have now drawn level with the SPD, and the far-right AfD, who rose to 13%.

The Hesse vote follows a pattern of losses for the two main parties, with the AfD doing particularly well in eastern states.

Two weeks ago, the CDU’s Bavarian ally, the CSU, lost its absolute majority in the state’s parliament which it has dominated since 1957. Like in Hesse, the SPD also lost badly and the Greens and AfD surged.

While the Greens appear to have benefited from the SPD’s slump in support, it seems clear that the centre-right has lost voters to the AfD.

Part of the reason could be anger at Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to large numbers of refugees, a move which the AfD has vehemently opposed.

Image source 6abc

A 46-year-old man suspected of killing 11 people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh has been charged with murder – in what is believed to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

Robert Bowers is accused of opening fire at the Tree of Life synagogue during its Sabbath service.

The suspect faces 29 criminal counts, including use of a firearm to commit murder.

Federal prosecutors say they will also file hate crime charges, and Robert Bowers could face the death penalty.

President Donald Trump described the attack as a “wicked act of mass murder”.

Six people – including four police officers – were injured in October 27 attack.

Robert Bowers was also wounded in a shootout with police.

Hundreds of people – from the neighborhood and also all across Pittsburgh – later gathered for an interfaith vigil for the victims of the attack in the synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Jerusalem synagogue attack kills at least four Israelis

Paris bans action movie shoots following terror attacks

President Trump said he would visit Pittsburgh soon. He also ordered US flags at government buildings to be flown at half-mast until October 31.

On October 27, worshippers had gathered at the synagogue for a baby naming ceremony during the Sabbath.

Squirrel Hill has one of the largest Jewish populations in Pennsylvania and this would have been the synagogue’s busiest day of the week.

Police said they received first calls about an active shooter at 09:54 local time, and sent officers to the scene a minute later.

According to reports, Robert Bowers, a white male, entered the building during the morning service armed with an assault rifle and three handguns.

He had already shot dead 11 people and was leaving the synagogue after about 20 minutes when he encountered Swat officers and exchanged fire with them, FBI agent Robert Jones said.

The gunman then moved back into the building to try to hide from the police.

Robert Bowers surrendered after a shootout, and is now being treated in hospital for what has been described as multiple gunshot wounds.

According to media, the suspect had shouted “All Jews must die” as he carried out the attack.

Cesar Sayoc has been arrested in Florida in connection with a mail-bombing campaign aimed at critics of President Donald Trump.

The 56-year-old faces five charges including mailing explosives and threatening ex-presidents.

President Trump said the acts were “despicable and have no place in our country”.

Fourteen items have been sent in recent days to figures including former President Barack Obama, ex-Secretary Hillary Clinton, billionaire George Soros and Robert de Niro.

Two were found in Florida and NYC on October 26.

The incidents come less than two weeks before the mid-term elections, with politics highly polarized.

Suspected Explosive Devices Sent to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN and Other Officials

George Soros: Explosive Device Found at Billionaire’s Bedford Residence

Media reports say Cesar Sayoc was arrested at a vehicle parts shop in the city of Plantation, Florida.

FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed that the suspect was detained after his fingerprint was allegedly found on one of the packages.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Cesar Sayoc faced up to 58 years in jail.

Law enforcement agencies said Cesar Sayoc lives in Aventura, Florida. He reportedly has ties to New York and is a registered Republican.

In 2002, the man was arrested for making a bomb threat in Miami-Dade County, and received one year of probation for the charge.

Cesar Sayoc has a criminal record dating back to 1991 in Broward County, according to clerk records. He was arrested, aged 29, on a theft charge. He has also faced charges of fraud and battery.

Court records show Cesarr Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012 while he was living with his mother. A handwritten note in his bankruptcy report reads: “Lives w/mom. Has no furniture.”

According to officials, DNA evidence was used to track him down.

Following his arrest, US TV broadcast live images of a white van, said to belong to Cesar Sayoc, being loaded on to a trailer in Plantation and towed away for examination.

The van’s windows were covered in images. One piece of artwork depicted President Trump standing on a tank and another showed Hillary Clinton with a bulls eye superimposed on her face.

Image source Obama White House

According to officials, suspected explosive devices have been sent to top Democrats including former President Barack Obama and ex-Secretary Hillary Clinton, as well as CNN.

The devices are suspected to be pipe bombs.

Law enforcement officials told media that the device discovered at CNN on October 24 appears to be similar to the one found at George Soros’ Bedford home on October 22.

CNN’s New York office was evacuated after a suspected bomb was sent to their mailroom.

President Donald Trump said that these threats “have no place in America”.

Speaking at the White House, President Trump said that he has been briefed by the FBI and “a major federal investigation is now under way”.

He said: “The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority.

“In these times we just have to unify. We need to come together and send one very clear unmistakable message that threats or acts of political violence of any kind have no place in America.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio decried the attempted attacks as “an act of terror attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country”.

“To all public officials, to all partisan affiliations – don’t encourage violence, don’t encourage hatred, don’t encourage attacks on media you can disagree but you have to show respect.”

George Soros: Explosive Device Found at Billionaire’s Bedford Residence

The FBI in New York said they were aware of the suspected packages, and that their Joint Terrorism Task force is aiding in the investigation.

The packages were addressed to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and former CIA Director John Brennan.

Additional suspicious packages addressed to Democratic Representative Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder are currently being investigated by law enforcement.

The packages to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were intended to arrive at their residences.

FBI Special Agent Bryan Paarman told reporters the device for John Brennan, which appeared to be live, had been sent to CNN’s mailroom.

One of the packages sent had listed Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the DNC, as the sender.

According to reports, the package intended for Eric Holder was sent to an incorrect address and returned to the congresswoman’s office in Sunrise, Florida.

A statement from the Secret Service said that the package addressed to Hillary Clinton was recovered late on October 23.

“Early this morning, October 24, 2018, a second package addressed to the residence of Former President Barack Obama was intercepted by Secret Service personnel in Washington, DC,” the statement adds.

“Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”

These attempted attacks come two days after a confirmed pipe bomb was discovered in a mailbox at the home of George Soros, who has been criticized by right-wing groups for supporting liberal causes.

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Image source Wikimedia

New York police have safely destroyed a suspected letter bomb found at George Soros’ residence in the town of Bedford, Westchester County.

The letter was discovered in a post box by one of George Soros’ employees who alerted the authorities before taking it to a nearby wooded area, police say.

The incident on October 22 is now being investigated by the FBI.

George Soros, 88, has become a frequent target for criticism by right-wing groups due to his support for liberal causes.

According to reports, the Hungarian-American businessman was not at his home at the time of the incident.

A Bedford Police Department official told the New York Times: “An employee of the residence opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device.”

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According to officials, police received a call about a suspicious package at about 15:45 local time.

Bomb squad technicians later destroyed the package.

FBI New York tweeted: “We are conducting an investigation at and around a residence in Bedford, NY. There is no threat to public safety, and we have no further comment at this time.”

George Soros earned his fortune through shrewd financial speculation.

The billionaire philanthropist has spent billions of his own money funding human rights projects and liberal democratic ventures around the world and has been a large donor to the Democratic Party.

George Soros previously backed the presidential campaigns of Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and labeled President Donald Trump “an imposter”.

Right-wing conspiracy theorists and websites have accused George Soros of secretly engineering a range of recent events in US and global politics.

They have alleged George Soros was involved in recruiting crowds for the anti-Trump Women’s March and even organizing violence in Charlottesville to undermine the country’s political right wing.

George Soros has also become a political target worldwide for nationalists and populists, who paint him as a master manipulator of democracy.

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A huge explosion at a college in Russian-annexed Crimea has killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens more.

According to officials, an “unidentified explosive device” detonated at the technical college in Kerch, where Russia has built a bridge between the peninsula and Russia.

Crimea’s Russian-backed leader Sergei Aksyonov said a student was responsible for the attack.

Initial reports had suggested that the blast was some sort of gas explosion.

Sergei Aksyonov told Russian state TV the student had killed himself.

A Russian National Guard official branded the incident as a deliberate “terrorist act” caused by an improvised explosive device.

National Guard units had reached the scene of the “act of terrorism”‘ he told Interfax.

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According to a local official, most of the blast victims were students of the technical college, which is a vocational school for 850 teenagers.

Victims have been taken to hospital, and a major emergency response operation launched.

Four military planes were ready to evacuate the wounded and military hospital facilities were ready to accept victims if necessary, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Investigators released a statement saying an explosive device filled with “metal objects” had detonated in the dining area.

The director of the college, who had not been at the scene at the time of the attack, told Russian media that unknown armed men had broken into the building. She compared it to the school siege of Beslan in 2004, during which about 330 people died.

Sergei Aksenov told Tass that reports circulating on social media of a shooting after the explosion were untrue, and said the situation on the scene was calm.

The leader also announced three days of mourning for the victims.

The schools and pre-schools were being evacuated in the city after the blast, Reuters reported.

Crimea, officially part of Ukraine, was seized by Russia in 2014 and annexed after a disputed vote that was widely condemned by the international community.

The speaker of the Russia-backed Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, suggested Kiev may have been behind the explosion, saying “the entire evil inflicted on the land of Crimea is coming from the official Ukrainian authorities”.

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Australia’s PM Scott Morrison has promised to stop religious schools from rejecting gay students.

The prime minister said new legislation would “make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their orientation”.

Some Australian states allow such schools to reject gay students.

The discrimination of gay students in religious schools has been hotly debated in Australia after recommendations of a report on religious freedom were leaked earlier this week.

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The religious report, commissioned after same-gender marriage was made legal in 2017, suggested that procedures for non-state schools to reject gay students should be made consistent nationwide, raising the possibility of allowing such rejections across Australia.

On October 10, PM Scott Morrison, who leads the center-right Liberal-National coalition, said the proposals – which included some safeguards for gay students – would be considered “carefully and respectfully”.

On October 13, the prime minister made clear that religious schools would not be allowed to discriminate under new legislation.

He said: “Given recent misreporting, we have an opportunity here to bring forward a simple amendment to end the confusion.”

Australian state schools are already banned from discriminating against students on the basis of their orientation.

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President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has been confirmed by the Senate after weeks of rancorous debate.

Senators backed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination by 50 votes to 48.

Judge Kavanaugh, 53, had been embroiled in a bitter battle to stave off allegations of assault.

After an 11th-hour investigation by the FBI into the allegations, enough wavering senators decided to back the nomination.

Ahead of the vote, hundreds of people protesting against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination demonstrated at the Capitol Hill.

During the vote, other protesters shouted “shame” from the public gallery and VP Mike Pence had to call for order to be restored.

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment is for life and he will strengthen conservative control of the nine-judge court, which has the final say on US law.

President Donald Trump sent out a tweet of congratulations for the confirmation.

He also spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One, saying Brett Kavanaugh had withstood a “horrible attack by the Democrats” and that women were “outraged” at what had happened to the nominee.

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Brett Kavanaugh will be sworn in later on October 6.

The upper house is split 51-49 in favor of the Republicans and the vote was largely along party lines. In the end, there was indeed a two-vote margin, the closest nomination vote since 1881.

The only party dissenters were Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who had intended to vote No, and Democrat Joe Manchin, who voted Yes.

That should have meant a 51-49 tally, but the absence of Republican Steve Daines, a Yes voter who was at his daughter’s wedding, altered the final figures.

Lisa Murkowski opted instead to simply mark herself as “present”, leaving the final vote 50-48.

In their final summations, the two Senate party leaders reflected how bitter the divide had become.

Minority Democrat leader Chuck Schumer said Brett Kavanaugh did not belong on the bench as he had “obscured his views to the American people”, “repeatedly misled the Senate” and delivered one of the “bitterest and most partisan testimonies ever presented by a nominee”.

Chuck Schumer also said President Trump had “stooped to new depths” in mocking the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

He said that for all those who opposed the nomination, “there is one answer – vote” in the November mid-term elections.

Majority Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Brett Kavanaugh was a “serious scholar, a brilliant student of the law and a meticulous and dedicated public servant”.

Lisa Murkowski had earlier said that although Brett Kavanaugh was a “good man”, he was “not the right person for the court at this time” and his “appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable”.

Joe Manchin is facing a difficult re-election campaign in West Virginia, a traditionally Republican state that President Trump won by a landslide. He said he “found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist”.

There were shouts of “shame” from the public gallery as he voted yes.

Two Republican waverers, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, finally decided to back Brett Kavanaugh.

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Over 300 protesters against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been arrested in Washington, DC.

Comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski were among 302 people held for demonstrating against Judge Kavanaugh.

On October 4, Republicans declared an FBI report had exonerated Brett Kavanaugh of assault allegations.

However, Democrats said the five-day inquiry was “incomplete” because it was limited by the White House.

The Senate will hold a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh on October 5.

The likelihood of Judge Kavanaugh winning a full Senate vote appeared to increase on October 4 after two Republicans whose backing will be essential gave a positive account of the FBI inquiry.

However, the confirmation is not a certainty, with several senators undecided and one at risk of missing a vote because he is attending his daughter’s wedding.

If confirmed to the lifetime position on America’s highest court, Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is expected to help conservatives dominate the nine-member panel, which has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules.

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As the vote neared, Brett Kavanaugh defended his neutrality in a Wall Street Journal editorial, saying he is an “independent, impartial judge”

Addressing his angry testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he branded the allegations against him an “orchestrated political hit”, Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”

Thousands of mainly female demonstrators marched through Washington DC on October 4, starting at the appeals court where Judge Kavanaugh currently presides.

They converged on Capitol Hill and held a rally outside the Supreme Court, chanting: “Kavanaugh has got to go!”

Police rounded the protesters up in a Senate office building after they sat down and refused to budge.

There was another protest in front of Trump Tower in NYC.

President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans declared the FBI report had cleared their nominee, as they sounded increasingly confident Judge Kavanaugh would win confirmation.

Senators said the FBI had spoken to five witnesses connected to accusations by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges a drunken Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her in 1982.

Federal agents are also said to have spoken to four other witnesses involving a separate accusation by Deborah Ramirez, who claims Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both were at Yale University. The judge denies both allegations.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement: “This investigation found no hint of misconduct.”

Senate Republicans plan a procedural “cloture” vote at 10:30 on October 5, which is required to move to a final vote, scheduled on October 6 at around 17:30.

However, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the FBI report was “the product of an incomplete investigation”, saying key corroborating witnesses had been snubbed. Another Democratic Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told reporters it was a “whitewash”.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking.”

Republican Senator John Cornyn raised eyebrows by telling his party this was “our Atticus Finch moment”, a reference to the lawyer in classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird who refutes a false rape allegation.

Given that Republicans have a razor-thin 51-49 margin of control in the Senate, the party can potentially only afford one defection if it wants to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, assuming Democrats vote the same way.

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has been at the mercy of three wavering senators, but two of those – Jeff Flake and Susan Collins – appeared to respond positively to the FBI report.

Another wavering Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, reportedly met assault survivors in her office on October 4.

Complicating matters, the office of Republican Steve Daines said he was planning to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana on October 6 – meaning he might not be around to vote, or that the vote may be held open until he can return to take part.

Another Republican, Cory Gardner, who previously said he would back Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is yet to decide how he will vote, the Denver Post reported.

A previously undecided Democratic Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, said she would vote against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, citing “concerns about his past conduct”.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the only Democrat who remains undecided, said he would finish reading the FBI report on October 5.

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Russia has been accused of involvement in a series of cyber-plots across the globe, leading the US to level charges against seven agents.

The DoJ said targets included the global chemical weapons watchdog, anti-doping agencies and a US nuclear company.

The allegations are part of an organized push-back against alleged Russian cyber-attacks around the world.

Russia earlier dismissed the allegations as “Western spy mania”.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has accused four Russians of plotting to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which had been probing the chemical attack on  Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.

The UK accused the GRU of being behind four high-profile cyber-attacks, whose targets included companies in Russia and Ukraine; the US Democratic Party; and a small TV network in the UK.

The US said its anti-doping agency, soccer’s governing body FIFA and the US nuclear energy company Westinghouse were targeted by Russian intelligence.

Canada said “with high confidence” that breaches at its center for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were carried out by Russian intelligence.

Added to this, the Dutch authorities have said a laptop seized from the four suspects in April was found to have been used in Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia.

According to the Dutch authorities, the laptop was used in Malaysia to target the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 over territory held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed.

On October 4, Russia’s foreign ministry – which had earlier dismissed the allegations from the UK and the Netherlands as “Western spy mania” – released an official statement saying it was the victim of “yet another stage-managed propaganda campaign”.

The statement said: “It’s unclear who is supposed to believe these statements accusing Russian citizens of attempting to mount cyber-attacks against the OPCW and trying to obtain data related to the Malaysian flight MH17, as if it is necessary to be near the target of your attack.”

“Any Russian citizen carrying a mobile device is seen as a spy,” the statement added.

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At a press conference in Washington, John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said that many of the attacks were aimed at delegitimizing sports bodies and “altering perceptions of the truth”.

John Demers said the attacks were how Russia retaliated for bans on its athletes following evidence it was systematically using drugs to enhance their performance.

As a result of the findings, the US has indicted seven people, four of whom were the men expelled from the Netherlands, while the other three were among those charged in July with hacking Democratic officials during the 2016 US elections.

The Russians were also charged with wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

All seven men are thought to be in Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

A joint statement from British PM Theresa May and her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte said the alleged plot against the OPCW demonstrated “the GRU’s disregard for global values and rules that keep us all safe”.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK was discussing further sanctions against Russia with its allies.

The EU has also denounced the alleged cyber-plots.

The four suspects identified by Dutch officials had diplomatic passports – which meant the Netherlands could not arrest them as diplomats are in theory immune from prosecution in their host country – and included two IT experts and two support agents, officials said.

The men hired a car and parked it in the car park of the Marriot hotel in The Hague, which is next to the OPCW office, to hack into the OPCW’s Wi-Fi network, Major General Onno Eichelsheim from the Dutch MIVD intelligence service said.

Equipment in the car boot was pointed at the OPCW and was being used to intercept login details, he said, adding that the antenna for the operation lay under a jacket on the car’s rear shelf.

When they were intercepted they tried to destroy one of the mobile phones they were carrying, Maj Gen Ono Eichelsheim said.

One of their mobile phones was found to have been activated near the GRU building in Moscow, while another carried a receipt for a taxi journey from a street near the GRU to the airport.

Maj Gen Eichelsheim said the men were planning to travel to Switzerland, to a laboratory in Spiez where the OPCW analyzed samples.

They never made it. Instead, the four were immediately escorted out of the country, he added.

The suspects were named by the MIVD as hackers Alexei Morenetz and Yevgeny Serebriakov, and support agents Oleg Sotnikov and Alexei Minin.

According to officials, the suspects were from the GRU’s Unit 26165, which has also been known as APT 28.

At the time the Russian operation was disrupted, the OPCW was investigating the Skripal case as well as an alleged chemical attack in April on the Syrian town of Douma near Damascus by Russian-backed government forces, the MIVD said.

A laptop seized from the suspects was found to have been used in Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia, the Dutch officials said.

The cyber-operation in Malaysia targeted the attorney general’s office and Malaysian police as well as the investigation into MH17’s shooting down, Ambassador Wilson said.

Earlier this year Dutch-led international investigators concluded that a missile that brought down MH17 belonged to a Russian brigade. Russia has denied any involvement in the plane’s destruction, which led to the deaths of many Dutch citizens.

Data from the laptop showed it was also present in the Swiss city of Lausanne where it was linked to the hacking of a laptop belonging to Wada, which has exposed doping by Russian athletes.

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Senators are sparring over an FBI report into assault claims against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

One copy of the report exists for all 100 senators to read.

However, Democrats said the report was incomplete and Republicans retorted it did not support the accusations.

Brett Kavanaugh, 53, has vehemently denied all allegations against him.

A confirmation vote is expected on October 6. The judge’s appointment would tilt the court in favor of conservatives.

The Supreme Court’s nine justices are appointed for life and have the final say on some of the most contentious issues in US public life, from abortion to gun control and voting laws.

Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Two Republican senators who had expressed reservations and could have swayed the vote have now indicated they found the report “thorough”.

However, Republicans have not said on whether they plan to support Judge Kavanaugh’s candidature.

They have accused Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh in the hope they will make gains in the mid-term elections in November and stop his appointment altogether.

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The FBI report contains summaries of interviews that the bureau has conducted. Nine people were reportedly interviewed, but not Brett Kavanaugh or the woman who first accused him of assault.

The report is in paper format only and no copies will be made. It is being held in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol building, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “SKIF”.

Senators have been told not to reveal its contents, but some have already begun to describe its findings.

Senator Bob Corker said the FBI report is 46 pages long.

Democrats have raised concerns the investigation has been too narrow in scope, with key witnesses not interviewed.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on October 4, the lawyers for the first woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of assault, Professor Christine Blasey Ford, criticized investigators for not speaking with more than a dozen alleged witnesses whose names she provided.

In a statement after reading the FBI report, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, said: “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know”, and that the FBI “found no hint of misconduct”.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein called it an “incomplete investigation”, adding that “the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it”.

Swing Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona – like other Republicans – said it contained “no additional corroborating information”.

Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who also has not announced how she will vote, said it “appears very thorough”.

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The FBI has contacted Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault, as it begins a fresh inquiry into him.

Deborah Ramirez accuses Judge Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a drinking game when they were students at Yale University in the 1980s.

Brett Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, describing it as a smear.

President Donald Trump ordered a new investigation after Brett Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, testified to a Senate panel on September 27.

The panel approved Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination but asked for the further inquiry before the full Senate votes on his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Despite ordering the FBI investigation, President Trump has continued to defend Brett Kavanaugh, who denies all the allegations against him.

On September 29, President Trump said the FBI had “free rein” to investigate the judge.

He said: “They’re going to do whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do. They’ll be doing things that we have never even thought of. And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”

The Supreme Court has the final say on some of the most contentious matters in the US and appointments are for life. Brett Kavanaugh is expected to tilt the court in favor of conservatives.

Deborah Ramirez’s lawyer, John Clune, announced that the FBI had “reached out” to interview his client and she had agreed to co-operate with their investigation. He made no further comment.

She alleges the incident occurred during the 1983-1984 academic year when they were both taking part in a drinking game at a dormitory party.

In an interview with the New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez acknowledges gaps in her memory caused by alcohol that night, which is said to have made her hesitant to come forward when contacted.

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Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate committee that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.

Judge Kavanaugh angrily denied that he had ever assaulted her or anyone else.

Mark Judge, a high school friend of Brett Kavanaugh who Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room at the time of the assault, has said he will co-operate with any law enforcement agency that will “confidentially investigate” the allegations.

He has already denied Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.

Two others who were allegedly present in the house during the alleged assault, PJ Smyth and Dr. Ford’s friend Leland Ingham Keyser, are willing to co-operate “fully” with the FBI’s investigation, their lawyers said.

A third woman who has also publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh, Julie Swetnick, alleges he was involved in the drugging and assault of girls at house parties in the 1980s.

Hulie Swetnick says she was the victim of a gang rape in 1982 at a party attended by Brett Kavanaugh.

Her lawyer said on Septemeber 29 that they had yet to hear from the FBI.

Announcing the FBI investigation, President Trump said: “I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file.

“As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

The inquiry involves the FBI reopening its previously completed background check on Brett Kavanaugh. This may mean going back to old witnesses – or speaking to new ones.

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer said her client welcomed the step but questioned the time limit of a week to hold the investigation.

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Republicans are pushing to vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court on September 28, after hearing dramatic testimony from him and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing him of assault.

President DonaldTrump has urged the Senate – where Republicans have a majority – to vote.

This is expected next week, although the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided.

The American Bar Association has called for a delay of the vote to allow the FBI to investigate the claims by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.

The Supreme Court plays a vital role in political life – appointed for life, its nine members have the final say on US law.

This includes highly contentious social issues, such as abortion, and challenges to government policy.

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment would tilt the balance in favor of conservatives for years to come.

For this reason, Republicans accuse the Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation until after the mid-term elections in November when they hope to win enough seats to stop it altogether.

The hearing, which lasted for nine hours, brought an outpouring of support for Christine Blasey Ford – a university professor – from the #MeToo movement against harassment and assault.

Brett Kavanaugh and His Accuser to Appear at Senate Panel Hearing

President Donald Trump’s nominee, at times emotional and angry, denied assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.

The 51-year-old, close to tears, described the incident in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life.

Prior to September 27, no-one had heard from Christine Blasey Ford publicly since the allegations arose.

After addresses by the leading Republican and Democrat senators, she delivered her statement, at times close to tears.

“I am here today not because I want to be,” she said.

“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

Christine Blasey Ford alleged Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington DC suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.

She said Brett Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”, she said.

Prof. Ford added: “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details.”

Under questioning by a Democratic senator, Christine Blasey Ford said her most vivid memory was “the laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense… They were laughing with each other – two friends having a really good time with one another”.

In an answer to a question from another Democrat about claims of mistaken identity, she said she was “100%” certain that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her.

Many of the 10 Democrats in the 21-person committee praised her for coming forward – and supported her call for an FBI investigation into her allegations.

The 11 Republicans, all men, deferred most of their questions to a lawyer, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.

Brett Kavanaugh responded by taking a combative approach but occasionally became emotional.

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” the 53-year-old federal judge told the committee.

“The constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.

“Since my nomination in July there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”

Brett Kavanaugh insisted he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process.

He said: “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

Brett Kavanaugh said he did not doubt that Christine Blasey Ford had been assaulted, but insisted: “I’ve never s**ually assaulted Dr Ford – or anyone.”

He admitted he had drunk beer while at high school and under-age, but said he had never got so drunk as to forget events.

The federal judge added that his calendars for 1982 – which he had kept – showed he had not attended a party at the location Christine Blasey Ford had described.

His friend, Mark Judge, has sent two letters to the committee saying he has no recollection of the events described by Christine Blasey Ford and adding that he had never seen Brett Kavanaugh behave in the way alleged.

The Democratic senators on the committee have called on President Trump to “immediately withdraw” Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Moments after the hearing ended, however, President Trump stood by his nominee and said he found Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful, honest and riveting”.

President Trump has repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he is “one of the highest quality people” he has ever met.

Thousands of protesters against the nomination took to the streets on September 27 and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

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Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault, has said the incident “drastically altered” her life.

It is part of the written testimony Christine Blasey Ford has released before she appears at a crucial Senate panel hearing on September 27.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who will also testify, has strenuously denied the accusation.

However, fresh allegations, which Brett Kavanaugh also denies, have appeared as the hearing looms.

His confirmation to the highest US court has been delayed in the wake of the allegations against him.

The nine-member Supreme Court is the final word on US law, including highly contentious social issues and challenges to government policy.

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In a written testimony provided ahead of September 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Christine Blasey Ford says: “It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”

Christine Blasey Ford alleges Brett Kavanaugh tried to drunkenly remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her at a party when she was 15 and he was 17.

“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details,” she wrote in her prepared statement.

“I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.”

Christine Blasey says Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in Washington DC suburbs in the summer of 1982.

“Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack,” she said.

Mark Judge has disputed the allegations, saying he does not recall the incident.

“I believed [Brett Kavanaugh] was going to rape me,” Christine Blasey said. The fact that he covered her mouth she says “terrified” her the most, and has had “the most lasting impact”.

“It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

When Mark Judge jumped on the bed, she says “we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me.” She was then able to run from the room.

Brett Kavanaugh is also facing other accusations of assault from three women.

However, he denies Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation “immediately, unequivocally, and categorically”.

The judge also released prepared written testimony ahead of the hearing.

Brett Kavanaugh says: “Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last-minute smears, pure and simple.”

The written testimony suggests Brett Kavanaugh will not try to portray himself as a saint.

He will say: “I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many.”

He will also say that what he has been accused of is “far more serious than juvenile misbehavior”.

The hearing is scheduled to get under way at 10:00 local time and could last five hours.

There will be opening statements from the leading Republican and Democrat members.

Christine Blasey Ford will deliver her opening statement first.

The 21 senators on the committee will then have five minutes each to pose questions, but while the 10 Democrats are expected to ask questions themselves, it is believed a special counsel will act on behalf of the Republicans.

Christine Blasey Ford will then leave the room and Brett Kavanaugh will enter. She had earlier asked not to be in the same room as the judge.

Brett Kavanaugh will deliver his statement and the same round of questioning will follow.

President Donald Trump has portrayed the events in political terms, accusing the Democrats of trying to block the nomination.

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Sweden’s PM Stefan Lofven will have to resign after a no confidence vote in the parliament.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) backed the vote to remove the prime minister, weeks after a general election that delivered a hung parliament.

In the September 25 dramatic vote, 204 lawmakers voted against Stefan Lofven while 142 voted in favor.

Parliament’s speaker will now propose a new leader – a process that could take weeks.

Stefan Lofven is expected to stay on as caretaker prime minister while his replacement is decided.

The leader of the center-left Social Democrats came to power in 2014. His centre-left alliance won 144 seats in this month’s election, one more than the center-right opposition.

Neither of the main blocs intends to govern with the nationalist SD, the third-largest party in the new parliament.

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However, the job of prime minister could fall to Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates. The new speaker, Andreas Norlen, who is also a member of the Moderates, was confirmed in the position on September 24 with the support of SD.

While Ulf Kristersson is widely seen as the person most likely to form a new government, others may be invited to do so if he fails – including Stefan Lofven himself.

If there are four unsuccessful attempts to form a government that will trigger fresh elections – something which has never happened before.

Speaking after the vote, Stefan Lofven, who is still the leader of the largest party, said he intended to work to form another government across the political divide.

“I see good opportunities to continue as prime minister,” he said.

Stefan Lofven said he did not believe that fresh elections were something voters wanted – but he said he would never support a government that relied on the SD.

Ulf Kristersson said that a new government was needed – one with broad political support.

While the SD is expected to back the Moderate candidate, Stefan Lofven warned the center-right bloc on September 25 against relying on the support of a party “founded by Nazis”.

The SD is a nationalist, anti-immigration party which was linked to neo-Nazis and other far-right groups for years. The party only entered parliament in 2010.

In the years since, the SD has become the third-largest party – a political success story.

Officially, the SD welcomes supporters from all backgrounds, but its history means it has been shunned by the mainstream political parties since it first won seats.

The SD has been keen to change its image, but there have been some unfortunate scandals, and several party members have been expelled in recent years for racist behavior or links to right-wing groups.

Traditionally, the SD’s supporters have been working class men.

However, the party won 18% of the vote in the recent general election – up from 13% four years ago – demonstrating a growing base in Sweden.

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Image source Wikimedia

Typhoon Mangkhut hit the Philippines’ main island on September 15 killing at least 25 people.

Extensive crop damage is feared in the agricultural province of Cagayan.

Mangkhut, which packs a 550 mile rain band and strong winds, is heading towards southern China.

The storm poses a “severe threat” to Hong Kong, the territory’s observatory said, urging residents to stay on high alert.

In the Philippines, Mangkhut made landfall at Baggao, in the north-east of the main island of Luzon, at about 01:40 local time on September 15 and left some 20 hours later.

Originally a super typhoon billed as the strongest storm of 2018, Mangkhut lost some of its strength on landfall.

Five million people were in its path and more than 100,000 sheltered in temporary centers.

Typhoon Haiyan affected 11 million people in Philippines

A presidential spokesman and disaster response coordinator said almost all the deaths had been caused by landslides in the Cordillera and Nueva Vizcaya regions, adding that reports from other areas were still coming in.

One person was killed by a falling tree in the province of Ilocos Sur, he said.

Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao, Cagayan’s provincial capital, sustained damage, a government official said.

The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season but the strength of Manghukt evoked memories of the deadliest storm on national record – Super Typhoon Haiyan – which killed more than 7,000 five years ago.

However, preparation and evacuation procedures have been improved since then – warnings were issued, travel was restricted, schools shut and the army was put on standby in advance.

Mangkhut is still strong as it heads west toward southern China with current sustained wind speeds of 90mph but fears it will re-strengthen into a super typhoon have receded.