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worldwide news

Fed Lifts Rates for Third Time in ’18; One More Expected

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised a key interest rate for the third time this year in response to a strong U.S. economy and signaled that it expected to maintain a pace of gradual rate hikes.

The Fed lifted its short-term rate — a benchmark for many consumer and business loans — by a quarter-point to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. It was the eighth hike since late 2015.

The central bank stuck with its previous forecast for a fourth rate increase before year’s end and for three more hikes in 2019.

The Fed dropped phrasing it had used for years that characterized its rate policy as “accommodative” by favoring low rates. In dropping that language, the central bank may be signaling its resolve to keep raising rates.

Many analysts think the economy could weaken next year, in part from the effects of the trade conflicts President Donald Trump has pursued with China, Canada, Europe and other trading partners. The tariffs and countertariffs that have been imposed on imports and exports are having the effect of raising prices for some goods and supplies and potentially slowing growth.

Compounding the effects of the tariffs, other factors could slow growth next year. The benefits of tax cuts that took effect this year, along with increased government spending, for example, are widely expected to fade.

Still, some analysts hold to a more optimistic scenario. They think momentum already built up from the government’s economic stimulus will keep strengthening the job market and lowering unemployment — at 3.9 percent, already near a 50-year low. A tight employment market, in this scenario, will accelerate wages and inflation and prod the Fed to keep tightening credit to ensure that the economy doesn’t overheat.

Full-year growth

The U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, is expected to grow 3 percent for 2018 as a whole. That would mark the strongest full-year gain in 13 years. For the first nine years of the economic expansion, annual GDP growth averaged only around 2.2 percent.

The robust job market has helped make consumers, the main drivers of growth, more confident than they’ve been in nearly 18 years. Business investment is up. Americans are spending freely on cars, clothes and restaurant meals.

All the good news has helped fuel a stock market rally. Household wealth is up, too. It reached a record in the April-June quarter, although the gain is concentrated largely among the most affluent.

Many economists worry, though, that Trump’s combative trade policies could slow the economy. Trump insists that the tariffs he is imposing on Chinese imports, for which Beijing has retaliated, are needed to force China to halt unfair trading practices. But concern is growing that China won’t change its practices, the higher tariffs on U.S. and Chinese goods will become permanent, and both economies — the world’s two largest — will suffer.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has so far been circumspect in reflecting on Trump’s trade war. Powell has suggested that while higher tariffs are generally harmful, they could serve a healthy purpose if they eventually force Beijing to liberalize its trade practices.

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World Economy Remains on Shaky Ground

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development warns the world economy remains fragile, one decade after the collapse of the U.S. financial titan Lehman Brothers triggered a global economic crisis.

In its report Trade and Development Report 2018: Power, Platforms and the Free Trade Delusion, UNCTAD says the world economy once again is under stress. It views trade wars and escalating tariffs as symptoms of a growing economic malaise. It warns the world economy is walking a tightrope between debt-fueled growth and financial instability.

Lead author of the report Richard Kozul-Wright says many of the underlying problems that caused the 2008 financial crisis have not been addressed. He says footloose capital, precarious jobs, persistent inequality and rising debt remain problematic.

“We see growing asset bubbles and emerging crises everywhere,” he said. “Profits have been on an all-time high and real investment in the economy has not picked up. What we know from history is that debt-fueled booms always end badly. We do not know how. We do not know when, but if history is any guide the excessive reliance on debt in the current global economy will not end well for many economies.”

Kozul-Wright says trade wars, in many ways, are a reflection of lack of trust across the political system. He blames much of the tensions and problems seen in the global trading system on hyper globalization, which has not resulted in a win-win world.

The report finds global trade continues to be dominated by big firms. It says more than 50 percent of world trade is run through the top one percent of each country’s exporting firms.

 

 

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World Economy Remains on Shaky Ground

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development warns the world economy remains fragile, one decade after the collapse of the U.S. financial titan Lehman Brothers triggered a global economic crisis.

In its report Trade and Development Report 2018: Power, Platforms and the Free Trade Delusion, UNCTAD says the world economy once again is under stress. It views trade wars and escalating tariffs as symptoms of a growing economic malaise. It warns the world economy is walking a tightrope between debt-fueled growth and financial instability.

Lead author of the report Richard Kozul-Wright says many of the underlying problems that caused the 2008 financial crisis have not been addressed. He says footloose capital, precarious jobs, persistent inequality and rising debt remain problematic.

“We see growing asset bubbles and emerging crises everywhere,” he said. “Profits have been on an all-time high and real investment in the economy has not picked up. What we know from history is that debt-fueled booms always end badly. We do not know how. We do not know when, but if history is any guide the excessive reliance on debt in the current global economy will not end well for many economies.”

Kozul-Wright says trade wars, in many ways, are a reflection of lack of trust across the political system. He blames much of the tensions and problems seen in the global trading system on hyper globalization, which has not resulted in a win-win world.

The report finds global trade continues to be dominated by big firms. It says more than 50 percent of world trade is run through the top one percent of each country’s exporting firms.

 

 

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Senate Panel Opens Hearing on Crafting US Privacy Law

The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.”

But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit.

Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are scheduled to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians.

Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, opened Wednesday’s hearing by saying there’s a strong desire by both Republicans and Democrats for a new data privacy law.

But the approach being pondered by policymakers and pushed by the internet industry leans toward a relatively light government touch. That’s in contrast to stricter EU rules that took effect in May.

An early move in President Donald Trump’s tenure set the tone on data privacy. He signed a bill into law in April 2017 that allows internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits. The legislation scrapped Obama-era online privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over how broadband companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon share that information.

Allie Bohm, policy counsel at the consumer group Public Knowledge, says examples abound of companies not only using the data to market products but also to profile consumers and restrict who sees their offerings: African Americans not getting access to ads for housing, minorities and older people excluded from seeing job postings.

The companies “aren’t going to tell that story” to the Senate panel, she said. “These companies make their money off consumer data.”

What is needed, privacy advocates maintain, is legislation to govern the entire “life cycle” of consumers’ data: how it’s collected, used, kept, shared and sold.

Meanwhile, regulators elsewhere have started to act.

The 28-nation European Union put in strict new rules this spring that require companies to justify why they’re collecting and using personal data gleaned from phones, apps and visited websites. Companies also must give EU users the ability to access and delete data, and to object to data use under one of the claimed reasons.

A similar law in California will compel companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they’ve collected, why it was collected and what types of third parties have received it. Companies will be able to offer discounts to customers who allow their data to be sold and to charge those who opt out a reasonable amount, based on how much the company makes selling the information.

Andrew DeVore, Amazon’s vice president and associate general counsel, told the Senate panel Wednesday that it should consider the “possible unintended consequences” of California’s approach. For instance, he says the state law defines personal information too broadly such that it could include all data.

The California law doesn’t take effect until 2020 and applies only to California consumers, but it could have fallout effects on other states. And it’s strong enough to have rattled Big Tech, which is seeking a federal data-privacy law that would be more lenient toward the industry.

“A national privacy framework should be consistent throughout all states, pre-empting state consumer-privacy and data security laws,” the Internet Association said in a recent statement . The group represents about 40 big internet and tech companies, spanning Airbnb and Amazon to Zillow. “A strong national baseline creates clear rules for companies.”

The Trump White House said this summer that the administration is working on it, meeting with companies and other interested parties. Thune’s pronouncement and one from a White House official stress that a balance should be struck in any new legislation — between government supervision and technological advancement.

The goal is a policy “that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said. “We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution.”

 

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Senate Panel Opens Hearing on Crafting US Privacy Law

The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.”

But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit.

Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are scheduled to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians.

Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, opened Wednesday’s hearing by saying there’s a strong desire by both Republicans and Democrats for a new data privacy law.

But the approach being pondered by policymakers and pushed by the internet industry leans toward a relatively light government touch. That’s in contrast to stricter EU rules that took effect in May.

An early move in President Donald Trump’s tenure set the tone on data privacy. He signed a bill into law in April 2017 that allows internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits. The legislation scrapped Obama-era online privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over how broadband companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon share that information.

Allie Bohm, policy counsel at the consumer group Public Knowledge, says examples abound of companies not only using the data to market products but also to profile consumers and restrict who sees their offerings: African Americans not getting access to ads for housing, minorities and older people excluded from seeing job postings.

The companies “aren’t going to tell that story” to the Senate panel, she said. “These companies make their money off consumer data.”

What is needed, privacy advocates maintain, is legislation to govern the entire “life cycle” of consumers’ data: how it’s collected, used, kept, shared and sold.

Meanwhile, regulators elsewhere have started to act.

The 28-nation European Union put in strict new rules this spring that require companies to justify why they’re collecting and using personal data gleaned from phones, apps and visited websites. Companies also must give EU users the ability to access and delete data, and to object to data use under one of the claimed reasons.

A similar law in California will compel companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they’ve collected, why it was collected and what types of third parties have received it. Companies will be able to offer discounts to customers who allow their data to be sold and to charge those who opt out a reasonable amount, based on how much the company makes selling the information.

Andrew DeVore, Amazon’s vice president and associate general counsel, told the Senate panel Wednesday that it should consider the “possible unintended consequences” of California’s approach. For instance, he says the state law defines personal information too broadly such that it could include all data.

The California law doesn’t take effect until 2020 and applies only to California consumers, but it could have fallout effects on other states. And it’s strong enough to have rattled Big Tech, which is seeking a federal data-privacy law that would be more lenient toward the industry.

“A national privacy framework should be consistent throughout all states, pre-empting state consumer-privacy and data security laws,” the Internet Association said in a recent statement . The group represents about 40 big internet and tech companies, spanning Airbnb and Amazon to Zillow. “A strong national baseline creates clear rules for companies.”

The Trump White House said this summer that the administration is working on it, meeting with companies and other interested parties. Thune’s pronouncement and one from a White House official stress that a balance should be struck in any new legislation — between government supervision and technological advancement.

The goal is a policy “that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said. “We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution.”

 

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Texans Cruz, O’Rourke Court Millennials in Tight Senate Race

The challenger skateboards in fast-food parking lots and wears his shirttails over scruffy jeans. He sang in a punk band. Some of his campaign events feature bounce houses.

The incumbent usually wears a dark blue suit with a red tie. The word “liberty” is liberally sprinkled in his campaign materials.

Both candidates are courting young voters in the red state of Texas that, as support for Democrats strengthens, could be turning purple.

But will Democrat Beto O’Rourke, 45, a three-term U.S. congressman, defeat Republican Ted Cruz, 47, the junior U.S. senator, in November?

Millennials only recently elbowed baby boomers to become the largest generation of voters in the United States, according to a Fact Tank study by the Pew Research Center published in June.

O’Rourke has energized a young generation of Democratic voters in the once staunchly Republican state by focusing on topics and behaviors relevant to them. The race has tightened in recent weeks after Cruz, who ran for president in 2016, enjoyed an early lead. 

Last week, a Quinnipiac University poll found Cruz leading O’Rourke by 9 percentage points among likely voters. An online poll by Reuters- Ipsos showed O’Rourke 2 points ahead. Last Friday in Dallas, Cruz and O’Rourke engaged in the first of three planned debates. Political analysts are calling the race a toss-up.

O’Rourke, a former businessman, is a different candidate in many ways. His campaign does not accept money from political action committees (PACs) and has raised $26 million in individual donations between Jan. 1 and June 31 — $8 million more than his opponent. 

“Not taking PAC, not taking corporate money, is really appealing to people,” Houston campaign volunteer Clara Goodwin, 25, told VOA. “A lot of people my age feel like we don’t have much of a voice, and that’s partly because politicians are listening to corporate interests more than us.”

That admission was a revelation for O’Rourke.

“I was surprised to hear time after time from young people that the fact that we don’t take political action committee money — no corporate help, no special interest contributions — is the reason that they are part of this campaign,” O’Rourke told VOA at the opening of his Houston campaign headquarters, a festive event packed with 20-something volunteers eating barbecue and registering voters.

Put simply, PACs are financial contributions pooled from donors that are used to elect and defeat candidates or legislation. Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, corporations, which are banned from directly donating to campaigns, are allowed to contribute through PACs. 

‘Showing up’ for young people

O’Rourke said the fact that he is “showing up where young people are” is more important than how he raises campaign funds.

“I would never ask any young person to vote for anyone if no one has shown up to ask what’s on their mind, what’s important to them, to hear about the most important issues in the country from their perspective,” he said, noting that his campaign has done many events at universities across the state.

Cruz, too, has attracted young supporters who are showing up to hear his message. 

Karl Schmidt, a 19-year-old Cruz volunteer, said he has supported the incumbent senator since he spoke at his high school in 2014.

“The first time I met him, he came to my high school, and he just felt like a really real guy, you know?” Schmidt told VOA, after controlling a post-rally crowd of Houston supporters waiting to get their photo taken with Cruz. 

Schmidt said he cares most about tax reform and health care, specifically opposing the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, because those issues have affected his family the most. He said Cruz’s plan to address tax policy and health care most closely aligns with his views.

Deep divide on taxes, health care, economy

Cruz supported the Republicans’ trillion dollar tax cut, and drafted a bill that would make those tax cuts permanent. He championed Republican efforts to repeal the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, and has called for “meaningful reforms” of the U.S. health care system, including expanding health care savings accounts and permitting the sale of health insurance across state lines.

O’Rourke opposed the tax cut, and has focused on creating jobs through increased spending on infrastructure and apprenticeship programs, government deregulation, and expansion of rural broadband service. He favors strengthening the ACA, extending Medicaid to more low-income Texans and eventually creating a universal health care program throughout the U.S.

Despite Cruz’s reputation as a divisive politician who is unpopular on Capitol Hill, some younger voters say they like his proposal to increase economic growth through a bill he introduced in 2015 called the American Energy Renaissance Act. The legislation seeks to remove federal restrictions on energy production and create jobs.

Cruz’s young supporters also applaud his calls for spending cuts in Washington, which they say take precedence over social issues.

Max Louman, 21, a student at New York University, said he’s “more of an economic voter” and would support Cruz in the midterm elections, even though he doesn’t agree with all of Cruz’s positions on social issues.

“I believe the Republican policies for economics help encourage growth more,” Louman said, after attending a Cruz town hall meeting.

According to Pew Research, the top voting issues for all voters in 2016 were the economy, terrorism, foreign policy and health care, in that order.

Like Louman, Cruz said he believes his and Republican economic policies are ultimately better for young people.

“The agenda of the left wing, the agenda of socialists, is absolutely devastating to young people,” Cruz told VOA.

O’Rourke cited a number of issues that he said young people have told him are important to them.

“Making sure that the internet is open and works for everyone, regardless of your ability to pay,” he said, referring to net neutrality. “Making sure that we have universal health care. Or making sure that we deliver on our promise for leading the conversation on immigration. Or ending gun violence in our schools and in our communities.”

Power of the vote

Regardless of political party, many young people advocate open discussion and voting. Just 51 percent of millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — voted in the 2016 elections, compared to 61 percent of the general electorate, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Houston resident Elvonte Patton, 29, created “The Young and the Politics,” a nonpartisan political organization that encourages young people to register to vote. 

“Go exercise your right to vote. That’s all that matters to me,” he told VOA at a local O’Rourke rally where his organization registered new voters. In March, Patton ran for a seat on the Harris County Board of Education and was defeated in the Democratic primary. 

Cruz supporter Schmidt said his friends were too young to vote in the most recent elections in 2016. This time, he said, he’s “definitely going to make sure all my friends go out and vote.”

 “I think the young people are going to predict this race,” said Patton, who said he is confident that voter turnout, particularly among young people, will grow in the 2018 midterm elections. “Honestly, whoever the young people go and vote for, that’s who will win this race,” he said. 

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Texans Cruz, O’Rourke Court Millennials in Tight Senate Race

The challenger skateboards in fast-food parking lots and wears his shirttails over scruffy jeans. He sang in a punk band. Some of his campaign events feature bounce houses.

The incumbent usually wears a dark blue suit with a red tie. The word “liberty” is liberally sprinkled in his campaign materials.

Both candidates are courting young voters in the red state of Texas that, as support for Democrats strengthens, could be turning purple.

But will Democrat Beto O’Rourke, 45, a three-term U.S. congressman, defeat Republican Ted Cruz, 47, the junior U.S. senator, in November?

Millennials only recently elbowed baby boomers to become the largest generation of voters in the United States, according to a Fact Tank study by the Pew Research Center published in June.

O’Rourke has energized a young generation of Democratic voters in the once staunchly Republican state by focusing on topics and behaviors relevant to them. The race has tightened in recent weeks after Cruz, who ran for president in 2016, enjoyed an early lead. 

Last week, a Quinnipiac University poll found Cruz leading O’Rourke by 9 percentage points among likely voters. An online poll by Reuters- Ipsos showed O’Rourke 2 points ahead. Last Friday in Dallas, Cruz and O’Rourke engaged in the first of three planned debates. Political analysts are calling the race a toss-up.

O’Rourke, a former businessman, is a different candidate in many ways. His campaign does not accept money from political action committees (PACs) and has raised $26 million in individual donations between Jan. 1 and June 31 — $8 million more than his opponent. 

“Not taking PAC, not taking corporate money, is really appealing to people,” Houston campaign volunteer Clara Goodwin, 25, told VOA. “A lot of people my age feel like we don’t have much of a voice, and that’s partly because politicians are listening to corporate interests more than us.”

That admission was a revelation for O’Rourke.

“I was surprised to hear time after time from young people that the fact that we don’t take political action committee money — no corporate help, no special interest contributions — is the reason that they are part of this campaign,” O’Rourke told VOA at the opening of his Houston campaign headquarters, a festive event packed with 20-something volunteers eating barbecue and registering voters.

Put simply, PACs are financial contributions pooled from donors that are used to elect and defeat candidates or legislation. Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, corporations, which are banned from directly donating to campaigns, are allowed to contribute through PACs. 

‘Showing up’ for young people

O’Rourke said the fact that he is “showing up where young people are” is more important than how he raises campaign funds.

“I would never ask any young person to vote for anyone if no one has shown up to ask what’s on their mind, what’s important to them, to hear about the most important issues in the country from their perspective,” he said, noting that his campaign has done many events at universities across the state.

Cruz, too, has attracted young supporters who are showing up to hear his message. 

Karl Schmidt, a 19-year-old Cruz volunteer, said he has supported the incumbent senator since he spoke at his high school in 2014.

“The first time I met him, he came to my high school, and he just felt like a really real guy, you know?” Schmidt told VOA, after controlling a post-rally crowd of Houston supporters waiting to get their photo taken with Cruz. 

Schmidt said he cares most about tax reform and health care, specifically opposing the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, because those issues have affected his family the most. He said Cruz’s plan to address tax policy and health care most closely aligns with his views.

Deep divide on taxes, health care, economy

Cruz supported the Republicans’ trillion dollar tax cut, and drafted a bill that would make those tax cuts permanent. He championed Republican efforts to repeal the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, and has called for “meaningful reforms” of the U.S. health care system, including expanding health care savings accounts and permitting the sale of health insurance across state lines.

O’Rourke opposed the tax cut, and has focused on creating jobs through increased spending on infrastructure and apprenticeship programs, government deregulation, and expansion of rural broadband service. He favors strengthening the ACA, extending Medicaid to more low-income Texans and eventually creating a universal health care program throughout the U.S.

Despite Cruz’s reputation as a divisive politician who is unpopular on Capitol Hill, some younger voters say they like his proposal to increase economic growth through a bill he introduced in 2015 called the American Energy Renaissance Act. The legislation seeks to remove federal restrictions on energy production and create jobs.

Cruz’s young supporters also applaud his calls for spending cuts in Washington, which they say take precedence over social issues.

Max Louman, 21, a student at New York University, said he’s “more of an economic voter” and would support Cruz in the midterm elections, even though he doesn’t agree with all of Cruz’s positions on social issues.

“I believe the Republican policies for economics help encourage growth more,” Louman said, after attending a Cruz town hall meeting.

According to Pew Research, the top voting issues for all voters in 2016 were the economy, terrorism, foreign policy and health care, in that order.

Like Louman, Cruz said he believes his and Republican economic policies are ultimately better for young people.

“The agenda of the left wing, the agenda of socialists, is absolutely devastating to young people,” Cruz told VOA.

O’Rourke cited a number of issues that he said young people have told him are important to them.

“Making sure that the internet is open and works for everyone, regardless of your ability to pay,” he said, referring to net neutrality. “Making sure that we have universal health care. Or making sure that we deliver on our promise for leading the conversation on immigration. Or ending gun violence in our schools and in our communities.”

Power of the vote

Regardless of political party, many young people advocate open discussion and voting. Just 51 percent of millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — voted in the 2016 elections, compared to 61 percent of the general electorate, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Houston resident Elvonte Patton, 29, created “The Young and the Politics,” a nonpartisan political organization that encourages young people to register to vote. 

“Go exercise your right to vote. That’s all that matters to me,” he told VOA at a local O’Rourke rally where his organization registered new voters. In March, Patton ran for a seat on the Harris County Board of Education and was defeated in the Democratic primary. 

Cruz supporter Schmidt said his friends were too young to vote in the most recent elections in 2016. This time, he said, he’s “definitely going to make sure all my friends go out and vote.”

 “I think the young people are going to predict this race,” said Patton, who said he is confident that voter turnout, particularly among young people, will grow in the 2018 midterm elections. “Honestly, whoever the young people go and vote for, that’s who will win this race,” he said. 

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Senate Republicans Hire Arizona Prosecutor to Question Kavanaugh Accuser

Senate Republicans have hired an Arizona prosecutor to question a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

A press release from committee chairman Chuck Grassley’s office described woman attorney Rachel Mitchell as “a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes.” Mitchell worked in the Maricopa County Attorney’s office in Phoenix as the chief of the Special Victims Division, which covers sex crimes and family violence.

Republicans have been keen to hire a woman to question Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers, to avoid the appearance of bias by the all-male group of Republicans on the Senate panel.

The U.S. Senate’s partisan brawl over President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee intensified Tuesday, fewer than 48 hours before Judge Kavanaugh and Ford were expected to give contradictory testimony on the alleged incident. 

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused Democrats of rushing to convict Kavanaugh and “destroy his good name” with unproven allegations, abandoning any presumption of innocence — a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence.

“Justice matters. Evidence matters. Facts matter,” McConnell said. “This is America here. … Everyone deserves better than this, not just Judge Kavanaugh.”

Senate Democrats countered that, if Republicans wanted to learn the facts about the nominee’s past behavior, they would not have rejected calls for an FBI investigation of the allegations against him.

Democrats also accused Republicans of treating Ford dismissively at a time when victims of sexual crimes are speaking out across the nation. Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s, a charge the nominee has repeatedly denied.

“Labeling this a partisan smear job demeans not only the senators in my caucus,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “It demeans many, many women who have come forward … to share their stories.”

Schumer added, “Leader McConnell should rethink what he said in the heat of the moment and apologize to Dr. Ford.”

The sharp exchanges on the Senate floor came one day after Kavanaugh appeared on U.S. cable television — an unprecedented move for a Supreme Court nominee — to refute all allegations of sexual misconduct.

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school. Not ever,” Kavanaugh told Fox News, adding that he has no intention of bowing out of the nomination.

In New York, President Trump accused Democrats of mounting “a con game” and heaped scorn on a second accusation leveled against Kavanaugh, that he exposed himself at a college party decades ago.

The new allegation by Deborah Ramirez, reported Sunday by The New Yorker magazine, prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, to call for a postponement of Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing where Kavanaugh and Ford are to testify.

Ramirez’s lawyer told NBC’s Today Show that she is willing to testify publically to Congress.

Republicans have rejected any further delays in the confirmation process. Instead, they scheduled a judiciary committee vote for Friday, which will be followed by consideration by the full Senate.

Kavanaugh, a judicial conservative and Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, was nominated to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

His confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate had seemed all but assured until allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced nearly two weeks ago.

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