Trump High Court Pick Kavanaugh May Face Contentious Cases Soon

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee may not have to wait too long for controversial cases if he is confirmed to the job, with disputes involving abortion, immigration, gay rights, voting rights and transgender troops possibly heading toward the justices soon.

Republicans are hoping Brett Kavanaugh, the conservative U.S. appeals court judge selected on Monday by Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, will be confirmed by the Senate before the next Supreme Court term opens in October.

There are no blockbusters among the 38 cases already on the docket for the justices, but they could add disputes on controversial issues being appealed from lower courts.

Abortion

Legal battles are developing over state laws restricting abortion including one in Arkansas that effectively bans medication-induced abortions. The justices in May opted not to intervene in a case challenging that law, waiting instead for lower courts to rule, but it could return to them in the future.

Other abortion-related cases could reach the court within two years.

These involve laws banning abortions at early stages of pregnancies, including Iowa’s prohibition after a fetal heartbeat is detected. There is litigation arising from plans by certain states including Louisiana and Kansas to stop reimbursements under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor for Planned Parenthood, a national abortion provider.

There also are challenges to state laws imposing difficult-to-meet regulations on abortion providers such as having formal ties, called admitting privileges, at a local hospital.

Kavanaugh’s judicial record on abortion is thin, although last year he was on a panel of judges that issued an order preventing a 17-year-old illegal immigrant detained in Texas by U.S. authorities from immediately obtaining an abortion.

Gay Rights

Another issue expected to return to the court is whether certain types of businesses can refuse service to gay couples because of religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The high court in June sided, on narrow legal grounds, with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for two men because of his Christian beliefs, but sidestepped the larger question of whether to allow broad religious-based exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.

That issue could be back before the justices as soon as the court’s next term in a case involving a Washington state Christian florist who similarly spurned a gay couple.

Kennedy, who wrote the baker ruling, cast decisive votes backing gay rights four times, most notably in 2015 when the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. It is not known how Kavanaugh would vote on those issues as he has not been involved in any gay rights cases during his 12 years as a judge.

Transgender People in the Military

Trump’s bid to ban transgender people from the military has been challenged in lower courts. That issue could make its way to the Supreme Court.

After lower courts blocked Trump’s ban last year, he announced in March he would endorse Defense Secretary James Mattis’ plan to restrict the military service of transgender people who have a condition called gender dysphoria. Trump’s administration has asked courts to allow that policy to go into effect, but so far to no avail.

Sharon McGowan, a lawyer with gay rights group Lambda Legal, said she saw no evidence Kavanaugh would be any less conservative on gay and transgender rights than Trump’s other appointee to the court, Neil Gorsuch.

Immigration

On immigration, litigation is continuing over Trump’s plan to rescind a program created under Democratic former President Barack Obama that protected from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Lower courts blocked Trump’s plan to scrap the program.

Congress has failed to agree on a plan to replace it.

Gerrymandering

Kavanaugh could have to deal with cases involving a practice called partisan gerrymandering in which state legislators redraw electoral maps to try to cement their own party in power. In June, the justices avoided a broad ruling on whether partisan gerrymandering violates the constitutional rights of voters and whether federal judges can intervene to rectify it.

Democrats have said Republican gerrymandering has helped Trump’s party keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives and various state legislatures.

Kennedy previously kept his conservative colleagues from closing the door to litigation in federal court challenging partisan gerrymandering.

The partisan gerrymandering case most likely to return to the Supreme Court involves claims that Republican legislators in North Carolina manipulated the boundaries of the state’s 13 U.S. House districts to ensure lopsided wins for the party.

Attorney Paul Smith of the Campaign Legal Center, which represents the North Carolina plaintiffs, said they had been focused on trying to convince Kennedy to rule in their favor, and now will try to convince Chief Justice John Roberts, seen as the next-most-moderate of the conservative justices. Smith viewed Kavanaugh as likely voting with the court’s most conservative justices to reject gerrymandering challenges.

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As Technology Advances, Women Are Left Behind in Digital Divide

Poverty, gender discrimination and digital illiteracy are leaving women behind as the global workforce increasingly uses digital tools and other technologies, experts warned Tuesday.

The so-called “digital divide” has traditionally referred to the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those with limited or no access.

But technology experts say women and girls with poor digital literacy skills will be the hardest hit and will struggle to find jobs as technology advances.

“Digital skills are indispensable for girls and young women to obtain safe employment in the formal labor market,” said Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, founder of Women’s Worldwide Web, a charity that trains girls in digital literacy.

She said “offline factors” like poverty, gender discrimination and gender stereotypes were preventing girls and women from benefiting from digital technologies.

Globally, the proportion of men using the internet in 2017 was 12 percent higher than women, says the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency.

There are also 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a March report.

“Women are currently on the wrong side of the digital skills gap. In tech, it’s a man’s world. We have a global problem, we have an urgent problem on our hands,” said Nefesh-Clarke at a gender equality forum run by Chatham House in London on Tuesday.

According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank, the use of digital tools has increased in 517 of 545 occupations since 2002 in the United States alone, with a striking uptick in many lower-skilled occupations.

“The entire economy is shifting, and we need new skills to be able to cope with that new economy,” said Dorothy Gordon, a technology expert and associate fellow with Chatham House.

“So when we look at the jobs that women are in today, what are the skillsets that they will need to acquire to be able to be competitive in that job market as we move forward?” she said.

Even with new jobs emerging through online or mobile platforms, such as rideshare apps Uber or Lyft, domestic services or food couriers, women are still faring worse than men, research shows.

A U.S. study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in June found the gender pay gap among Uber drivers was 7 percent.

“Many of the challenges that come through digital work are, frankly, old wine in new bottles,” said Abigail Hunt, a gender researcher at the British-based Overseas Development Institute, referring to the Uber study.

She said safety concerns, gender bias and discrimination contributed to how much women could earn in the so-called “gig economy.”

“Discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, geographical location, age — it’s the same issues we’ve always seen that are discriminating against women,” Hunt said.

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As Technology Advances, Women Are Left Behind in Digital Divide

Poverty, gender discrimination and digital illiteracy are leaving women behind as the global workforce increasingly uses digital tools and other technologies, experts warned Tuesday.

The so-called “digital divide” has traditionally referred to the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those with limited or no access.

But technology experts say women and girls with poor digital literacy skills will be the hardest hit and will struggle to find jobs as technology advances.

“Digital skills are indispensable for girls and young women to obtain safe employment in the formal labor market,” said Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, founder of Women’s Worldwide Web, a charity that trains girls in digital literacy.

She said “offline factors” like poverty, gender discrimination and gender stereotypes were preventing girls and women from benefiting from digital technologies.

Globally, the proportion of men using the internet in 2017 was 12 percent higher than women, says the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency.

There are also 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a March report.

“Women are currently on the wrong side of the digital skills gap. In tech, it’s a man’s world. We have a global problem, we have an urgent problem on our hands,” said Nefesh-Clarke at a gender equality forum run by Chatham House in London on Tuesday.

According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank, the use of digital tools has increased in 517 of 545 occupations since 2002 in the United States alone, with a striking uptick in many lower-skilled occupations.

“The entire economy is shifting, and we need new skills to be able to cope with that new economy,” said Dorothy Gordon, a technology expert and associate fellow with Chatham House.

“So when we look at the jobs that women are in today, what are the skillsets that they will need to acquire to be able to be competitive in that job market as we move forward?” she said.

Even with new jobs emerging through online or mobile platforms, such as rideshare apps Uber or Lyft, domestic services or food couriers, women are still faring worse than men, research shows.

A U.S. study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in June found the gender pay gap among Uber drivers was 7 percent.

“Many of the challenges that come through digital work are, frankly, old wine in new bottles,” said Abigail Hunt, a gender researcher at the British-based Overseas Development Institute, referring to the Uber study.

She said safety concerns, gender bias and discrimination contributed to how much women could earn in the so-called “gig economy.”

“Discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, geographical location, age — it’s the same issues we’ve always seen that are discriminating against women,” Hunt said.

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WhatsApp Launches Campaign in India to Spot Fake Messages

After hoax messages on WhatsApp fueled deadly mob violence in India, the Facebook-owned messaging platform published full-page advertisements in prominent English and Hindi language newspapers advising users on how to spot misinformation.

The advertisements are the first measure taken by the social media company to raise awareness about fake messages, following a warning by the Indian government that it needs to take immediate action to curb the spread of false information.

 

While India is not the only country to be battling the phenomenon of fake messaging on social media, it has taken a menacing turn here — in the past two months more than a dozen people have died in lynchings sparked by false posts spread on WhatsApp that the victims were child kidnappers.

 

Ironically, the digital media giant took recourse to traditional print media to disseminate its message. The advertisements, which began with the line “Together we can fight false information” give 10 tips on how to sift truth from rumors and will also be placed in regional language newspapers.

 

They call on users to check photos in messages carefully because photos and videos can be edited to mislead; check out stories that seem hard to believe; to “think twice before sharing a post that makes you angry and upset”; check out other news websites or apps to see if the story is being reported elsewhere. It also warned that fake news often goes viral and asked people not to believe a message just because it is shared many times.

Internet experts called the media blitz a good first step, but stressed the need for a much larger initiative to curb the spread of fake messages that authorities are struggling to tackle.

 

“There has to be a repetitive pattern. People have to be told again and again and again,” says Pratik Sinha who runs a fact checking website called Alt News and hopes that the social media giant will run a sustained campaign. “That kind of fear mongering that has gone on on WhatsApp, that is not going to go away by just putting out an advertisement one day a year. This needs a continuous form of education.”

 

Some pointed out that although newspapers are popular in India, many of the users of the messaging platform, specially in rural areas, were unlikely to be newspaper readers.

The fake posts that have spread on WhatsApp have ranged from sensationalist warnings of natural calamities, fake stories with political messaging to bogus medical advise. The false messages that warned parents about child abductors were sometimes accompanied by gruesome videos of child abuse.

 

Experts said the that the need to curb fake news has also assumed urgency ahead of India’s general elections scheduled for next year — WhatsApp has become the favored medium for political parties to target voters. With about 200 million users, India is its largest market for the messaging service.

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WhatsApp Launches Campaign in India to Spot Fake Messages

After hoax messages on WhatsApp fueled deadly mob violence in India, the Facebook-owned messaging platform published full-page advertisements in prominent English and Hindi language newspapers advising users on how to spot misinformation.

The advertisements are the first measure taken by the social media company to raise awareness about fake messages, following a warning by the Indian government that it needs to take immediate action to curb the spread of false information.

 

While India is not the only country to be battling the phenomenon of fake messaging on social media, it has taken a menacing turn here — in the past two months more than a dozen people have died in lynchings sparked by false posts spread on WhatsApp that the victims were child kidnappers.

 

Ironically, the digital media giant took recourse to traditional print media to disseminate its message. The advertisements, which began with the line “Together we can fight false information” give 10 tips on how to sift truth from rumors and will also be placed in regional language newspapers.

 

They call on users to check photos in messages carefully because photos and videos can be edited to mislead; check out stories that seem hard to believe; to “think twice before sharing a post that makes you angry and upset”; check out other news websites or apps to see if the story is being reported elsewhere. It also warned that fake news often goes viral and asked people not to believe a message just because it is shared many times.

Internet experts called the media blitz a good first step, but stressed the need for a much larger initiative to curb the spread of fake messages that authorities are struggling to tackle.

 

“There has to be a repetitive pattern. People have to be told again and again and again,” says Pratik Sinha who runs a fact checking website called Alt News and hopes that the social media giant will run a sustained campaign. “That kind of fear mongering that has gone on on WhatsApp, that is not going to go away by just putting out an advertisement one day a year. This needs a continuous form of education.”

 

Some pointed out that although newspapers are popular in India, many of the users of the messaging platform, specially in rural areas, were unlikely to be newspaper readers.

The fake posts that have spread on WhatsApp have ranged from sensationalist warnings of natural calamities, fake stories with political messaging to bogus medical advise. The false messages that warned parents about child abductors were sometimes accompanied by gruesome videos of child abuse.

 

Experts said the that the need to curb fake news has also assumed urgency ahead of India’s general elections scheduled for next year — WhatsApp has become the favored medium for political parties to target voters. With about 200 million users, India is its largest market for the messaging service.

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Trump Nominates Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is taking his first step Tuesday toward securing his place on the high court, when he begins meeting with senators to shore up support for his nomination ahead of a major confirmation battle.

In what is likely to be one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, Trump selected Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“There is no one in America more qualified for this position, or more deserving,” the president said of Kavanaugh during Monday night’s prime-time television announcement from the White House East Room. He called Kavanaugh a “brilliant jurist” who has “devoted his life to public service.”

Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old conservative-leaning federal judge for the past 12 years, is no stranger to executive branch politics and controversy.

Prior to his time as a judge he oversaw an investigation into the death of a deputy counsel for President Bill Clinton. It was ruled a suicide, but conspiracy theorists were not so certain. Kavanaugh also did preliminary work that led to Clinton’s impeachment for an affair with a White House intern. And he worked on the vote recount in the state of Florida that made George W. Bush president. After that he became a staff secretary for Bush, often traveling with the president.

Swift partisan reaction

Kavanaugh’s selection was met with predictable reaction from both Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the appellate judge as “an impressive” nominee who is “extremely well qualified” to sit on the nation’s highest court.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination before it goes to a vote before the full Senate, echoed McConnell’s sentiments, calling him a “superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate’s consideration.”

Concerns that Kavanaugh will join with the court’s other four conservative members to overturn Rove versus Wade, the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, prompted Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to announce he would try to defeat his nomination “with everything I have.”

Outside the Supreme Court building, scores of demonstrators led by Democratic party Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, protested Kavanaugh’s selection. The two Democrats cited Kavanaugh’s written opinion that a president should not be subject to civil litigation or criminal prosecution while in office in opposing his nomination.

Observers believe if Special Counsel Robert Mueller tries to compel the president to testify in his investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible links to Russia, or even bring charges against the president, the issue will go all the way to the Supreme Court, which could return to its 5-4 conservative majority if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

‘Humbled’

Kavanaugh, whose wife and two daughters were with him Monday night, said he was “deeply humbled” by the nomination. He described how his mother was a trailblazer who went to law school, became a prosecutor and then a trial judge. His father went to law school at night, he added.

“Tomorrow I begin meeting with members of the Senate,” he said. “I will tell each senator I revere the constitution. … If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case.”

With Republicans hoping to confirm a justice before the court resumes its session in October, as well as prior to the upcoming midterm congressional election in November, many perceived the timing as critical. “Trump did not move too fast in naming a nominee,” said Trevor Burrus, a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies.

What is almost certain — and those across the political spectrum agree — is that Kavanaugh’s selection will spark a major confirmation battle in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority and opposition Democrats say they will fight to prevent the high court from swinging further to the right.

A handful of Senate Democrats running for re-election in states that Trump won handily in 2016 could face a difficult vote on the court nominee, potentially providing Republicans with an additional buffer if they decide to support the president.

Kennedy was often a member of five-to-four majority decisions on the high court. Those included a number of high-profile cases, including same-sex marriage and upholding a woman’s right to an abortion.

No middle position

Kennedy’s departure “leaves the court in a calcified state of a hardened left and right with nobody in that middle position,” says Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University constitutional law professor.

“Most of the time Kennedy swung to the conservative side, especially on questions of the limits of congressional power, the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment,” Burrus, who also is managing editor of the Cato Supreme Court Review, tells VOA. “He swung to the other side on the question of gay rights and abortion, and those are the particular issues that concern those on the left.”

The Supreme Court, sitting atop one of the three branches of American government, ”has grown in importance over the past few decades,” Burrus said. “This is partially due to the cases it has been asked to decide, such as the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and it is partially due to the divided nature of American politics.”

Unlike presidents or members of Congress, however, Supreme Court justices in the United States do not have terms — they usually serve until they resign or die, giving presidents who select them a judicial legacy sometimes lasting decades beyond their terms in office.

Kennedy, who is 81, had been nominated for the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Trump, just days after becoming president in January of last year in a similar televised event, selected the reliably conservative Neil Gorsuch to succeed Antonin Scalia, who had died at the age of 79 in February 2016.

Jim Malone contributed to this report.

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New Startup Brings Robotics into Seniors’ Homes

Senior citizens – adults 65 and older – will outnumber children in the United States for the first time by 2035, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.As their number increases, the demand for elder care is also growing.

For the past 12 years, SenCura has been providing non-medical in-home care for this segment of the population in Northern Virginia.Company founder Cliff Glier says its services “include things as bathing, dressing, companionship, meal planning and prep and transportation, pretty much everything in and around the home that seniors typically need help with.” 

Hollie, one of SenCura’s professional caregivers, visits 88-year-old Olga Robertson every day for three hours.She cooks for her, takes her to appointments, plays some brain games with her and goes walking with her around the neighborhood or in the mall.

But when Hollie is not around, Robertson still has company: a robot named Rudy.“You can have a conversation with him,” Robertson says.”He’s somebody you talk to and he responds.”

He also provides entertainment, telling her jokes, playing games and dancing with her.

In addition to keeping her mentally and physically engaged, Rudy provides access to emergency services around the clock, keeps track of misplaced items and reminds her about appointments and when it’s time for her medicine.The robot stands a bit over a meter high, and has a digital screen embedded in its torso, for virtual check-ins with family and care-givers.

 

Robertson has actually introduced Rudy to her neighbors.“I kind of became famous in the neighborhood because of this robot.”

The caregiver who helps caregivers

Anthony Nunez is founder of INF Robotics, the startup that created Rudy.He says the idea behind the robotic caregiver was inspired by what his mother went through, when his grandmother got older and needed help.

“As I grew older, I realized we weren’t the only family facing this problem,” Nunez recalls.“There are thousands of families facing the same issue.Most cases are even worse where they have the loved one taking care of and the cost becomes an issue.So what we wanted to do was design a robot that’s easy to use, designed especially for seniors, but also affordable.”

Nunez says technology helps seniors age in place, well-taken care of.

“We’re leveraging the artificial intelligence within our platform to help seniors make better decisions, to allow them stay in their home,” he explains.“We’re also working on machine learning on a platform and some cognitive computing to identify patterns within the seniors’ daily habits that could lead to an adverse event, and identifying those ahead of time, then using our cloud computing on a platform to get that info to caregivers before something happens.”

Carla Rodriguez has been working with Nunez’s company since it was founded.She says Rudy’s simple design makes it easy to use.The company also consults their potential customers to decide which features they need most in a robotic caregiver.

 

“We always have seniors involved and every time we had some type of communication we would introduce it,” she says.“Seniors would give us their feedback, ‘We don’t like this, we don’t like that,’ we come in and change it.”

 

Cooperation vs. competition

SenCura’s Cliff Glier met Nunez and his team at an event more than a year ago.He became interested in introducing Rudy to his customers.

“We are dealing with older adults that are typically 80, 90, 100 years old,” he says.“So this kind of technology is very new to them, so there will be some closer looks at it.People, I would say, would be interested once they learn more, we have the opportunity to show them Rudy and its capabilities.”

 

Rudy is not competition for human caregivers, Glier says.“He’s around to help out, where the caregivers typically would come in, may help with bathing or dressing, things at this point Rudy can’t do, but beyond that, Rudy simply fills the growing gap.”

The robot supplements what in-home caregivers do for the growing population of seniors who prefer to age in place – with a little help from some friends.

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New Startup Brings Robotics into Seniors’ Homes

Senior citizens – adults 65 and older – will outnumber children in the United States for the first time by 2035, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.As their number increases, the demand for elder care is also growing.

For the past 12 years, SenCura has been providing non-medical in-home care for this segment of the population in Northern Virginia.Company founder Cliff Glier says its services “include things as bathing, dressing, companionship, meal planning and prep and transportation, pretty much everything in and around the home that seniors typically need help with.” 

Hollie, one of SenCura’s professional caregivers, visits 88-year-old Olga Robertson every day for three hours.She cooks for her, takes her to appointments, plays some brain games with her and goes walking with her around the neighborhood or in the mall.

But when Hollie is not around, Robertson still has company: a robot named Rudy.“You can have a conversation with him,” Robertson says.”He’s somebody you talk to and he responds.”

He also provides entertainment, telling her jokes, playing games and dancing with her.

In addition to keeping her mentally and physically engaged, Rudy provides access to emergency services around the clock, keeps track of misplaced items and reminds her about appointments and when it’s time for her medicine.The robot stands a bit over a meter high, and has a digital screen embedded in its torso, for virtual check-ins with family and care-givers.

 

Robertson has actually introduced Rudy to her neighbors.“I kind of became famous in the neighborhood because of this robot.”

The caregiver who helps caregivers

Anthony Nunez is founder of INF Robotics, the startup that created Rudy.He says the idea behind the robotic caregiver was inspired by what his mother went through, when his grandmother got older and needed help.

“As I grew older, I realized we weren’t the only family facing this problem,” Nunez recalls.“There are thousands of families facing the same issue.Most cases are even worse where they have the loved one taking care of and the cost becomes an issue.So what we wanted to do was design a robot that’s easy to use, designed especially for seniors, but also affordable.”

Nunez says technology helps seniors age in place, well-taken care of.

“We’re leveraging the artificial intelligence within our platform to help seniors make better decisions, to allow them stay in their home,” he explains.“We’re also working on machine learning on a platform and some cognitive computing to identify patterns within the seniors’ daily habits that could lead to an adverse event, and identifying those ahead of time, then using our cloud computing on a platform to get that info to caregivers before something happens.”

Carla Rodriguez has been working with Nunez’s company since it was founded.She says Rudy’s simple design makes it easy to use.The company also consults their potential customers to decide which features they need most in a robotic caregiver.

 

“We always have seniors involved and every time we had some type of communication we would introduce it,” she says.“Seniors would give us their feedback, ‘We don’t like this, we don’t like that,’ we come in and change it.”

 

Cooperation vs. competition

SenCura’s Cliff Glier met Nunez and his team at an event more than a year ago.He became interested in introducing Rudy to his customers.

“We are dealing with older adults that are typically 80, 90, 100 years old,” he says.“So this kind of technology is very new to them, so there will be some closer looks at it.People, I would say, would be interested once they learn more, we have the opportunity to show them Rudy and its capabilities.”

 

Rudy is not competition for human caregivers, Glier says.“He’s around to help out, where the caregivers typically would come in, may help with bathing or dressing, things at this point Rudy can’t do, but beyond that, Rudy simply fills the growing gap.”

The robot supplements what in-home caregivers do for the growing population of seniors who prefer to age in place – with a little help from some friends.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Reaction to Supreme Court Nomination Falls Along Predictable Partisan Lines

President Donald Trump’s nomination of federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court is being met with predictable reaction from both Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement immediately after President Trump’s Monday night televised announcement praising Kavanaugh as “an impressive” nominee who is “extremely well qualified” to sit on the nation’s highest court.

The Kentucky Republican said the 53-year-old nominee’s judicial record “demonstrates a firm understanding of the role of a judge in our Republic:Setting aside personal views and political preferences in order to interpret our laws as they are written.”

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination before it goes to a vote before the full Senate, echoed McConnell’s sentiments, calling him a “superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate’s consideration.”

“Judges should rule according to the law, no matter what their views of the policy outcomes are,” Grassley said in a statement on the Judiciary Committee’s Twitter page hours before Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced. Grassley pledged that “”…the process will be as fair and transparent as I can make it. That has been my approach during my nearly 38 years in the Senate, and I will not change that.”

Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh was also applauded by Rev. Franklin Graham, a prominent leader of religious conservatives who have long sought the repeal of Roe versus Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion.”Thank God for this long awaited opportunity to change the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court,”Graham posted Monday on Twitter.

Concerns that Kavanaugh will join with the court’s other four conservative members to overturn Rove versus Wade prompted Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to announce he would try to defeat his nomination “with everything I have.”The veteran lawmaker from New York state issued a statement accusing Trump of putting the “reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block.”Schumer also expressed fears that Kavanaugh will welcome legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

California Democrat Kamala Harris, considered by many to be a leading candidate for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, also announced her immediate opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination, calling it “a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Two other potential Democratic presidential contenders, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and New Jersey’s Corey Booker, have also cited Kavanaugh’s written opinion that a president should not be subject to civil litigation or criminal prosecution while in office in opposing his nomination.Observers believe if Special Counsel Robert Mueller tries to compel the president to testify in his investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible links to Russia, or even bring charges against the president, the issue will go all the way to the Supreme Court, which could return to its 5-4 conservative majority if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Warren and Booker led a large demonstration on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night hours after the announcement to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.

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Washington Insider Kavanaugh Boasts Conservative Credentials

Brett Kavanaugh, the consummate Washington insider picked by President Donald Trump on Monday for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, has viewed business regulations with skepticism in his 12 years as a judge and taken conservative positions on some divisive social issues.

He joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006. Appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, Kavanaugh, 53, on several occasions ruled against regulations issued under Democrat Barack Obama, who succeeded Bush in 2009.

Kavanaugh faulted Obama-era environmental regulations, including some aimed at fighting climate change. In 2016, he wrote the appeals court decision that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, formed under Obama, was unconstitutional.

In 2017 he dissented when his appeals court declined to reconsider its decision upholding “net neutrality” regulations implemented under Obama – and later rescinded under Trump – requiring internet providers guarantee equal access to all web content.

His extensive record on what is widely viewed as the country’s second most powerful court and in prior Washington jobs means his appointment promises to attract a barrage of questions during a contentious U.S. Senate confirmation process.

The timing of the nomination means the Senate could confirm the nomination before the start of the Supreme Court’s next term on the first Monday in October.

Kavanaugh has shown conservative credentials on social issues ranging from gun rights to abortion cases.

In 2011, he dissented as the court upheld a District of Columbia gun law that banned semi-automatic rifles. Kavanaugh said such guns are covered by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms.

Last October, he was on a panel of judges that issued an order preventing a 17-year-old illegal immigrant detained in Texas by U.S. authorities from immediately obtaining an abortion. That decision was overturned by the full appeals court and she had the abortion.

Kavanaugh, who emphasized his Roman Catholic faith in his appearance with Trump at the White House on Monday, said in a dissent that the full court was embracing “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”

He dissented in 2015 when the appeals court spurned religious groups that sought an exemption from a requirement under the 2010 Obamacare healthcare law that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control for women.

Washington background

A senior White House aide under Bush, he previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Kavanaugh faced a long confirmation battle when Bush nominated him to his current post in 2003. Democrats painted him as too partisan, but the Senate ultimately confirmed him three years later.

Kavanaugh grew up in Bethesda, a Maryland suburb of Washington, and attended the same high school as Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch. Both men served as clerks in the Supreme Court’s 1993-1994 term to long-serving conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27 at age 81.

A graduate of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh has come under fire in some conservative circles for his ties to Bush, a member of the Republican establishment that is eschewed by Trump, as well as for not sometimes ruling aggressively enough on issues of importance to conservative activists.

Some conservatives have faulted his reasoning in a dissenting opinion in a case involving Obamacare.

Kavanaugh dissented from his court’s 2011 conclusion that Obamacare, a law detested by conservatives, did not violate the U.S. Constitution, asserting that it was premature to decide the case’s merits.

Kavanaugh in his dissent mentioned that a financial penalty levied under Obamacare on Americans who opted not to obtain health insurance might be considered a tax, a pivotal distinction in the conservative legal challenge to the law.

Conservative critics said Kavanaugh’s dissent created an opening that eventually led to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts casting a crucial vote in upholding the law when it reached the Supreme Court in 2012.

In his remarks on Monday, Kavanaugh sought to spotlight his bipartisan credentials. He noted that he has taught at Harvard Law School, where he was hired by former dean Elena Kagan, appointed by Obama to the Supreme Court in 2010. He said a majority of his clerks have been women.

He worked for four years for Starr, whose investigation of Clinton helped spur an effort by congressional Republicans in 1998 and 1999 to impeach the Democratic president and remove him from office.

In 2009, Kavanaugh wrote a law review article questioning the value of that investigation and concluding that presidents should be free from the distractions of civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.

That view has assumed fresh relevance, with Trump facing several civil lawsuits as well as a Russia-related criminal investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Supreme Court could be called upon to weigh in on these matters.

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