News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
This is an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
Vice President Mike Pence escalated Washington’s pressure campaign against Beijing on Thursday by accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of next month’s congressional elections and reckless military actions in the South China Sea.
In what was billed as a major policy address, Pence sought to build on Trump’s speech at the United Nations last week in which he alleged that China was trying to interfere in the pivotal Nov. 6 midterm elections. Neither Trump nor Pence provided hard evidence of Chinese meddling.
Pence’s speech at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington marked a sharpened U.S. approach toward China that goes beyond the bitter trade war between the world’s two biggest economies and includes disputes such as cyber activities, Taiwan and freedom of the seas.
Pence alleged China was waging a sophisticated effort to sway the Nov. 6 elections against Trump’s Republican Party in retaliation for his trade policies against Beijing and vowed to continue to expose Beijing’s “malign influence and interference.”Reuters
Kavanaugh has 48 public supporters, all Republicans. In addition to three undecided Republicans— Collins, Flake, and Murkowski —Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is also on the fence. Kavanaugh needs to pick up at least two of those four votes to confirmation and advance in a key procedural vote on Friday.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), another long-undecided vote on Kavanaugh, told the WDAY TV station in her home state on Thursday that she would oppose the nomination. “The process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision,” said Heitkamp, whom polls show trailing her pro-Kavanaugh reelection challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).
With Kavanaugh still short of the public commitments he needs to get confirmed,a partisan battle broke out Thursday over the FBI’s report. Republicans claimed the limited inquiry had effectively cleared him by offering no corroborating evidence, while Democrats countered that the bureau had done the opposite.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who last week forged a deal with Flake to give a bipartisan imprimaturto the FBI probe, said the investigation “falls short of my expectations for this investigation.”
Kavanaugh’s GOP backers, however, touted the short FBI review — it lasted only five days — as providing enough information to rebut allegations raised by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who have accusedthe judge of sexual misconduct.Politico
‘Trump chicken’ installed at National Mall because Trump ‘too chicken’ to release taxes, protesters say
A large inflatable chicken meant to resemble President Trump was installed at the National Mall by activists on Wednesday.
The blow-up chicken features a golden coif of hair and a facial expression meant to resemble Trump’s. It was erected by protesters in response to a New York Times report that said the New York real estate mogul engaged in “dubious” tax practices in the 1990s, reportedly allowing him to reap millions.
A coalition by the name of Not One Penny set up the 30-foot chicken and live-streamed the “Tax March Trump Chicken” on the Tax March Twitter page.
The organizers said in a release that the chicken serves as a “life-sized symbol” of Trump being “too chicken” to release his tax returns.The Hill
A South Carolina police chief estimates about 30 minutes elapsed before seven law enforcement officers who had been shot could be rescued.
Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler (HEED-lur) said Thursday at a news conference that about a half-hour passed between when the officers were shot and when they were recovered with an armored vehicle.
Heidler said he was there and the wait “seemed like it was forever, but it was not.”
Four of Heidler’s officers were shot, one fatally. Three Florence County deputies also were shot while trying to serve a warrant Wednesday.AP
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Wednesday said President Trump “may have to” release his tax returns following a bombshell New York Times report that found Trump participated in “dubious” and potentially fraudulent tax strategies in the 1990s.
Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told CNN he would be “happy” to look into the report’s allegations.
“He may have to … give up those returns,” Hatch said. But Hatch declined to say if he would seek the returns himself, adding, “I don’t know. I’ve been in so many things.”The Hill
“If I was him, I wouldn’t want to give them up,” Hatch told CNN.
A Russian official accused of directing the foreign operations of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met senior Trump campaign officials in 2016, has plummeted to his death in a helicopter crash.
Russian Deputy Attorney General Saak Albertovich Karapetyan was exposed in a Swiss court this year for a plot to enlist another nation’s law-enforcement official as a double-agent for the Kremlin.
Media reports in Russia say he died Wednesday night when his helicopter crashed into a forest during an unauthorized flight in the Kostroma region, northeast of Moscow.
Karapetyan, 58, was intimately familiar with some of the most notorious operations carried out under the orders of Vladimir Putin. He worked closely with Veselnitskaya as well as running some of Moscow’s most high-profile efforts to thwart international investigations into Russia’s alleged crimes.The Daily Beast
A California man who says he was sexually abused by a priest over a five-year period decades ago is suing the Vatican, seeking the names of all offenders within the church worldwide.
The accuser, who’s now 52, reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2007, but his attorneys said Thursday that doesn’t release the Vatican from responsibility.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in California, accuses the Vatican of placing the Rev. Fidencio Silva-Flores in a position of power at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard west of Los Angeles and says it should have known he posed a danger to children.
“The problem is at the top, and until the problem is addressed at the top, it will continue,” Jeff Anderson, the accuser’s attorney, said in a statement ahead of a news conference announcing the lawsuit.AP
President Donald Trump has badmouthed his hometown newspaper’s reporting as “sick,” “weak,” and “nasty.” He even tells its reporters they work for the “failing New York Times.” But in moments of reflection, he’s allowed that it’s a “great, great American jewel.”
The Grey Lady has long occupied space in Trump’s head — and, in happier times, his heart.
“A paper I once loved,” Trump wistfully recalled at a news conference last week.
So, when the Times published its latest Trump exposé Tuesday evening detailing how the president’s mythology of becoming a self-made businessman appears to be the product of elaborate Trump family tax evasion schemes — and even outright fraud — it hit the White House like a thunderclap.
One administration official said the president viewed the report as not only part of the newspaper’s animus toward him, but the start of a broader media scheme to smoke out confidential information about his finances. On Fox News, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said the paper might be provoking Trump into a lawsuit that could require access to his long-withheld tax returns.Politico