Category Archives: World

politics news

Judge: Harvard Affirmative Action Case Can Go to Trial

A federal judge Friday cleared the way for a lawsuit to go to trial. It accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, a closely watched case that could influence the use of race in college admissions decisions.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston rejected dueling motions by Harvard and a nonprofit group suing the Ivy League university to rule in their favor ahead of a nonjury trial set to begin Oct. 15.

The ruling came after the U.S. Justice Department, which has been investigating Harvard for potential civil rights violations over its affirmative action policy, threw its support behind the 2014 lawsuit by Students for Fair Admissions Inc.

Burroughs said that rather than presenting her with undisputed facts and evidence that would allow her to rule without overseeing a trial, Harvard and SFFA had filed motions that were “essentially mirror images of one another.”

“There are disputed material facts based on Harvard’s fact witnesses, the statistical evidence, and the expert opinions presented by each side that cannot be resolved before trial,” Burroughs wrote.

Representatives for the group and Harvard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Affirmative action

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college.

Conservatives have said such programs can hurt white people and Asian Americans.

SFFA, which is headed by a prominent anti-affirmative action activist, alleged that evidence showed that Harvard’s admissions process, which factored in race, significantly disadvantaged Asian Americans compared with other groups.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard has denied the allegations and has criticized the lawsuit as an effort to attack the right of colleges to consider race as an admissions factor.

Trump administration

After President Donald Trump, a Republican, took office last year, the Justice Department began investigating whether Harvard’s policies are discriminatory because they limit Asian-Americans’ acceptance.

In court papers, SFFA claimed an Asian-American male applicant with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 35 percent chance if he were white, 75 percent chance if he were Hispanic and 95 percent chance if he were black.

A Harvard research division found in 2013 that over a decade, Asian-American admission rates were lower than those for whites annually even though whites outperformed Asian-American applicants only on a subjective “personal” rating, SFFA said.

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House Committee to Release Russia Investigation Transcripts

The House intelligence committee voted Friday to release transcripts of more than 50 interviews it conducted as part of its now-closed investigation into Russian election interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Among those to be released are interviews with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his longtime spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, and his former bodyguard Keith Schiller. The committee also will release dozens of other transcripts of interviews with former Obama administration officials and numerous Trump associates, including Roger Stone, currently the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The move to release the materials by the committee chairman, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a close Trump ally, will provide the public with 53 transcripts spanning thousands of pages of raw testimony as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his Russia investigation. But not all interviews conducted by the committee are being released, and there wasn’t a firm timetable Friday for when they will ultimately be made public.

The interviews form the basis for the GOP-authored report released this year that concluded there was no coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian efforts to sway the election. Committee Democrats, who voted against approving the report, have disputed its findings. They say the investigation was shut down too quickly and that the committee didn’t interview enough witnesses or gather enough evidence.

Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who led the investigation in place of Nunes, said he “wanted to declassify or release as much of the underlying data as we could so that not only would they have my conclusion, but they could look at what I was looking at to make up their own mind.”

But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat, said some of the most important transcripts — six in total — are still being withheld.

The withheld transcripts include separate interviews with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who has attracted attention for his pro-Russian statements, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who headed the Democratic National Committee when court papers say its computer systems were hacked by Russia.

Conaway said those transcripts were being withheld as a “professional courtesy” extended to members of Congress who participated in the interviews with the understanding they would be confidential.

Democrats say Wasserman Schultz has agreed to the release of her transcript. And on Friday, Rohrabacher told The Associated Press that he hasn’t objected to the release of his. Asked if he would agree to its release now, Rohrabacher said, “I’ll think about it.”

Also being withheld are transcripts of closed hearings with former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers as well as the transcript for the committee’s business meeting when GOP members approved their final report.

None of the transcripts, including those set for public release, has been provided to Mueller as part of his investigation, a move Democrats unsuccessfully pushed for on Friday.

“We have suspicions that people testified before our committee falsely and committed perjury, and the special counsel is in the best position to determine, on the basis of the additional information he has, who might have perjured themselves,” Schiff said.

But Conaway said Mueller hasn’t asked for access to the transcripts, and Republicans don’t want to be accused of trying to “skew” the investigation or obstruct justice by sending him materials he didn’t request.

“He’ll ask for it if he wants to. He’s a big boy,” Conaway said, noting the special counsel will be able to review them once they’re public.

The 53 transcripts approved for release will now go to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a declassification review.

Conaway and Schiff said they didn’t know how long the review would take or when the transcripts would be released to the public. Schiff said Republicans made clear that none of the transcripts, which largely don’t contain classified information, will be released until the declassification review is completed for all of them.

 

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House Committee to Release Russia Investigation Transcripts

The House intelligence committee voted Friday to release transcripts of more than 50 interviews it conducted as part of its now-closed investigation into Russian election interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Among those to be released are interviews with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his longtime spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, and his former bodyguard Keith Schiller. The committee also will release dozens of other transcripts of interviews with former Obama administration officials and numerous Trump associates, including Roger Stone, currently the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The move to release the materials by the committee chairman, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a close Trump ally, will provide the public with 53 transcripts spanning thousands of pages of raw testimony as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his Russia investigation. But not all interviews conducted by the committee are being released, and there wasn’t a firm timetable Friday for when they will ultimately be made public.

The interviews form the basis for the GOP-authored report released this year that concluded there was no coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian efforts to sway the election. Committee Democrats, who voted against approving the report, have disputed its findings. They say the investigation was shut down too quickly and that the committee didn’t interview enough witnesses or gather enough evidence.

Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who led the investigation in place of Nunes, said he “wanted to declassify or release as much of the underlying data as we could so that not only would they have my conclusion, but they could look at what I was looking at to make up their own mind.”

But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat, said some of the most important transcripts — six in total — are still being withheld.

The withheld transcripts include separate interviews with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who has attracted attention for his pro-Russian statements, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who headed the Democratic National Committee when court papers say its computer systems were hacked by Russia.

Conaway said those transcripts were being withheld as a “professional courtesy” extended to members of Congress who participated in the interviews with the understanding they would be confidential.

Democrats say Wasserman Schultz has agreed to the release of her transcript. And on Friday, Rohrabacher told The Associated Press that he hasn’t objected to the release of his. Asked if he would agree to its release now, Rohrabacher said, “I’ll think about it.”

Also being withheld are transcripts of closed hearings with former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers as well as the transcript for the committee’s business meeting when GOP members approved their final report.

None of the transcripts, including those set for public release, has been provided to Mueller as part of his investigation, a move Democrats unsuccessfully pushed for on Friday.

“We have suspicions that people testified before our committee falsely and committed perjury, and the special counsel is in the best position to determine, on the basis of the additional information he has, who might have perjured themselves,” Schiff said.

But Conaway said Mueller hasn’t asked for access to the transcripts, and Republicans don’t want to be accused of trying to “skew” the investigation or obstruct justice by sending him materials he didn’t request.

“He’ll ask for it if he wants to. He’s a big boy,” Conaway said, noting the special counsel will be able to review them once they’re public.

The 53 transcripts approved for release will now go to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a declassification review.

Conaway and Schiff said they didn’t know how long the review would take or when the transcripts would be released to the public. Schiff said Republicans made clear that none of the transcripts, which largely don’t contain classified information, will be released until the declassification review is completed for all of them.

 

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Kavanaugh Has Supporters, Opponents Among Women

Women demonstrated on Capitol Hill Thursday while the Senate Judiciary Committee listened to testimonies by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of a sexual assault 36 years ago. Many women came out in support of professor Christine Blasey Ford. But Kavanaugh has supporters among women, as well. The case reminds many of one in 1991, when attorney Anita Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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Kavanaugh Has Supporters, Opponents Among Women

Women demonstrated on Capitol Hill Thursday while the Senate Judiciary Committee listened to testimonies by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of a sexual assault 36 years ago. Many women came out in support of professor Christine Blasey Ford. But Kavanaugh has supporters among women, as well. The case reminds many of one in 1991, when attorney Anita Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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World Digests Stormy UN General Assembly, Trump’s Tough Talk on Iran, China

As global leaders digest the fallout from a stormy United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, China has strongly denied accusations from U.S. President Donald Trump that Beijing is trying to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections in November. Meanwhile, the diplomatic tussle has intensified between the United States and other signatories over the future of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as the U.S. prepares to hit Tehran with fresh sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports.

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Before the Full Senate, Kavanaugh’s Fate Lies in Hands of a Few

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court went before a Senate committee Thursday, with dramatic testimony over almost nine hours from Kavanaugh and from a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in Maryland in 1982.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard from Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was expected to vote Friday on his nomination.

If approved by the committee, the nomination would then go before the full Senate, where confirmation could hinge on a handful of key senators.

​Republicans

Jeff Flake. A frequent Trump critic who will retire from the Senate in January, Flake was complimentary toward Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing earlier this month. On Thursday, Flake, who is a Judiciary Committee member and sat through the hearing, said he was still processing his position on the nominee.​

Susan Collins. A moderate who sometimes breaks from party ranks, Collins earlier said she wanted both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath to the committee and told reporters that if Kavanaugh had lied about allegations of sexual misconduct, “that would be disqualifying.”

​Lisa Murkowski. An occasional party renegade, she has not said how she will vote. Murkowski met privately late Thursday with Collins, Flake and Democrat Joe Manchin. Earlier in the day she told Reuters: “I find Dr. Ford’s testimony to be credible.” 

Democrats

Heidi Heitkamp. Facing a re-election campaign in North Dakota, a heavily pro-Trump state, she had called for further investigation of Ford’s allegations. She said late Thursday she needs to “fully digest” the committee hearing. 

​Joe Manchin. Also up for re-election, in the pro-Trump state of West Virginia, he met with Republicans late Thursday.

Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is up for re-election in the red-leaning state of Indiana. He has said the allegations against Kavanaugh “merit further review.”

Doug Jones. The first Democratic senator elected from Alabama in more than 20 years, he must show he can be independent-minded to stay in office. The Kavanaugh vote could be a test.

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Trump Press Conference: From George Washington to Elton John

U.S. President Donald Trump strode up to the lectern and took stock of the world’s press in a five-star New York hotel.

“This is quite a gathering. Wow!” he crowed.

And so began 1 hour and 22 minutes with the world’s most powerful man, pumped by days of U.N. diplomacy and seething over Democratic opposition to his Supreme Court nominee, now fighting multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior while a student.

Standing before a large row of American flags, the 45th president of the United States dealt with everything from China, Iran and the Kurds, to socialism, Justin Trudeau, women, the Supreme Court and Middle East peace.

Without notes and clearly relishing the occasion, he dished out compliments and made digs where he saw fit.

 

WATCH: Trump Accuses China of Meddling in US Elections at Press Conference

“You do a very good job,” he told a Fox reporter who asked about NAFTA.

“Say ‘thank you, Mr. Trump,’” he mocked when a New York Times journalist said the newspaper was thriving rather than failing, with circulation figures up under the Trump presidency.

From the Lotte New York Palace on Madison Avenue, a brisk seven-minute walk from his old penthouse home and real-estate company headquarters at Trump Tower, the 72-year-old president appeared ready to go on all night. 

Here is a sampling:

On Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh:

“If we brought George Washington here,” said an exasperated Trump of America’s first president and founding father, “the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand, and he may have had a bad past, who knows.”

On sexual assault:

“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges!” he said as journalists pointed out that he had been the accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past. “So when you say ‘does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh?’ Absolutely. Because I’ve had it many times.”

On women:

“I’ve always said, women are smarter than men.”

On the Kurds:

“They’re great people, they’re great fighters, I like them a lot,” he said, later calling on a journalist as “Yes please, Mr. Kurd.”

On U.N. laughter:

“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” he insisted of the laughter that broke out in the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday after Trump boasted that his administration had done more than any other in U.S. history.

On Xi Jinping:

“I will, tomorrow, make a call to him and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Trump said with a smile after admitting that Xi “may not be a friend of mine anymore.

“They are doing studies on Donald Trump, they are trying to figure it all out,” he said in reference to apparent Chinese interest in an American president so different to his predecessors.

Ending on a high:

“Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it’s good, don’t go back,” he said, taking the last question and pondering on what happens when a performer doesn’t deliver a good encore after a rousing concert.

“They don’t hit it and … everyone leaves and they say ‘that wasn’t a very good concert, was it?’”

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Trump Press Conference: From George Washington to Elton John

U.S. President Donald Trump strode up to the lectern and took stock of the world’s press in a five-star New York hotel.

“This is quite a gathering. Wow!” he crowed.

And so began 1 hour and 22 minutes with the world’s most powerful man, pumped by days of U.N. diplomacy and seething over Democratic opposition to his Supreme Court nominee, now fighting multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior while a student.

Standing before a large row of American flags, the 45th president of the United States dealt with everything from China, Iran and the Kurds, to socialism, Justin Trudeau, women, the Supreme Court and Middle East peace.

Without notes and clearly relishing the occasion, he dished out compliments and made digs where he saw fit.

 

WATCH: Trump Accuses China of Meddling in US Elections at Press Conference

“You do a very good job,” he told a Fox reporter who asked about NAFTA.

“Say ‘thank you, Mr. Trump,’” he mocked when a New York Times journalist said the newspaper was thriving rather than failing, with circulation figures up under the Trump presidency.

From the Lotte New York Palace on Madison Avenue, a brisk seven-minute walk from his old penthouse home and real-estate company headquarters at Trump Tower, the 72-year-old president appeared ready to go on all night. 

Here is a sampling:

On Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh:

“If we brought George Washington here,” said an exasperated Trump of America’s first president and founding father, “the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand, and he may have had a bad past, who knows.”

On sexual assault:

“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges!” he said as journalists pointed out that he had been the accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past. “So when you say ‘does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh?’ Absolutely. Because I’ve had it many times.”

On women:

“I’ve always said, women are smarter than men.”

On the Kurds:

“They’re great people, they’re great fighters, I like them a lot,” he said, later calling on a journalist as “Yes please, Mr. Kurd.”

On U.N. laughter:

“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” he insisted of the laughter that broke out in the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday after Trump boasted that his administration had done more than any other in U.S. history.

On Xi Jinping:

“I will, tomorrow, make a call to him and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Trump said with a smile after admitting that Xi “may not be a friend of mine anymore.

“They are doing studies on Donald Trump, they are trying to figure it all out,” he said in reference to apparent Chinese interest in an American president so different to his predecessors.

Ending on a high:

“Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it’s good, don’t go back,” he said, taking the last question and pondering on what happens when a performer doesn’t deliver a good encore after a rousing concert.

“They don’t hit it and … everyone leaves and they say ‘that wasn’t a very good concert, was it?’”

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