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Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday: AP source
File photo of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Reuters

Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday: AP source

23 Sep 2018 | 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON: Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony on Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from decades ago, according to two people briefed on the matter.

[ + read story ]

Washington, September 23

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony on Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from decades ago, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Lawyers for Ford and bipartisan representatives of the committee came to the tentative agreement after a short phone call, said one of the people, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. The person said Kavanaugh would also appear.

Some details of the hearing, such as the order of their appearance, remained in negotiation. Talks were expected to continue Sunday.

The tentative accord could bring to a close days of high-stakes brinkmanship that have roiled Washington ahead of midterm elections and threated to jeopardize Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court.

Tensions have been running on overdrive since Ford, a 51-year-old college professor in California, went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were at a house party in high school. Kavanaugh, 53, an appellate court judge, denied the allegation and said he wanted to testify as soon as possible to clear his name.

Ford initially indicated she wanted to tell her story to the committee, but talks dragged on as her lawyers negotiated terms of her appearance.

Republicans grew frustrated as Ford’s lawyers insisted on a hearing next Thursday rather than Monday or even Wednesday and made other requests, some of which the committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, rejected.

Democrats, against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, countered that Ford should be shown respect and given accommodation to tell her story.

As the talks continued, Grassley countered that he would end the standoff by scheduling a Monday vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate.

Meanwhile, Republicans viewed Ford’s requests as a way to delay voting on President Donald Trump’s nominee.

The White House views Ford’s potential testimony with trepidation, nervous that an emotional performance might not just damage Kavanaugh’s chances but could further energize female voters to turn out against Republicans in November.

Moreover, the West Wing aides who had urged Trump to remain muted in his response to the accusations worried about how the president might react if she ended up partaking in an hourslong, televised hearing.

In a single tweet Friday, Trump broke his silence to cast doubt on Ford’s story in ways Republicans had been carefully trying to avoid.

Trump mused to confidants that the “fake” attacks against his nominee were meant to undermine his presidency, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Other Republicans had scoffed at Ford’s willingness to tell her story. “When?” tweeted the No. 2 GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the committee.

Ford attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks had said that many aspects of Grassley’s latest offer were “fundamentally inconsistent” with the committee’s promise of a “fair, impartial investigation.”                   They said they remained disappointed by the “bullying” that “tainted the process.” Patience among Republicans was running thin. The GOP has faced enormous pressure from its base of conservative leaders and voters to swiftly approve Kavanaugh, who would become the second of Trump’s nominees to sit on the nation’s highest court.

Grassley had set a Friday night deadline for Ford to agree to the committee’s latest terms for her appearance. Grassley said that if she missed that deadline, he would scrap the hearing and his committee would vote on sending Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate.

Ford’s lawyers asked for another day. In a tweet aimed at Kavanaugh shortly before midnight, Grassley said he was giving them additional time.

“She shld decide so we can move on. I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive,” Grassley wrote.

In backing away from deadlines and demands, Grassley underscored the sensitivity with which Senate Republicans have tried handling Ford.

Katz had called Grassley’s original deadline “arbitrary” and said its “sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family.”   On Friday, Grassley had rejected concessions Ford wanted if she is tell her story publicly before the committee.

Grassley turned down Ford’s request that only senators, not attorneys, be allowed to ask questions. The committee’s 11 Republicans — all men — have been seeking an outside female attorney to interrogate Ford, mindful of the election-season impression that could be left by men trying to pick apart a woman’s assertion of a sexual attack.

He also rejected her proposal that she testify after Kavanaugh, a position lawyers consider advantageous because it gives them a chance to rebut accusations.

Grassley’s stance reflected a desire by Trump and GOP leaders to usher Kavanaugh onto the high court by the Oct. 1 start of its new session and before the November elections. Democrats are mounting a robust drive to grab congressional control.

Ford has said an inebriated Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, muffled her cries and tried removing her clothes. — AP

Voting begins in Maldives presidential poll

Voting begins in Maldives presidential poll

23 Sep 2018 | 10:38 AM

MALE: Voting began Sunday in a controversial presidential election in the Maldives, hours after police raided the Opposition’s campaign headquarters, officials and party workers said. Hundreds of men and women lined up to vote before polling booths opened at 8:00 am.

Trump admn moves to restrict immigrants who use public benefits

Trump admn moves to restrict immigrants who use public benefits

23 Sep 2018 | 12:12 PM

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Saturday said it would propose making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to qualify for permanent US residency if they have received public benefits such as food aid, public housing or Medicaid.

Hackers target real estate deals, with devastating impact

Hackers target real estate deals, with devastating impact

23 Sep 2018 | 1:14 PM

WASHINGTON: James and Candace Butcher were ready to finalise the purchase of their dream retirement home, and at closing time wired $2,72,000 from their bank following instructions they received by email.

Jihadist group rejects deal for Syria's Idlib, main faction yet to declare stance

23 Sep 2018 | 5:07 PM

BEIRUT: A jihadist faction in the Idlib region of northwestern Syria has rejected a Turkish-Russian deal that requires “radical” insurgents to withdraw from a demilitarised zone, and urged rebels to launch new military operations.

Survivor pulled from capsized Tanzanian ferry as death toll reaches 218

Survivor pulled from capsized Tanzanian ferry as death toll reaches 218

23 Sep 2018 | 3:14 PM

UKARA: Divers rescued a man from the wreck of an overcrowded Tanzanian ferry on Saturday, two days after it capsized on Lake Victoria killing at least 218 people.

Iran executes 9 men convicted of rape

Iran executes 9 men convicted of rape

23 Sep 2018 | 3:07 PM

TEHRAN: Iranian media say nine men convicted of raping a woman have been hanged. They were hanged Saturday after the Supreme Court reaffirmed their sentence earlier this month.

Iran vows ‘crushing response’ after gunmen kill 29 at army parade

Iran vows ‘crushing response’ after gunmen kill 29 at army parade

23 Sep 2018 | 1:04 PM

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed a “crushing” response after assailants sprayed a crowd with gunfire, shooting dead at least 29 people, including women and children, on Saturday at a military parade near the Iraqi border.

China cancels military talks with US in protest at sanctions over Russia military equipment

China cancels military talks with US in protest at sanctions over Russia military equipment

23 Sep 2018 | 1:07 PM

SHANGHAI/WASHINGTON: China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a US decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

Australia kills two sharks after tourist attacks

Australia kills two sharks after tourist attacks

23 Sep 2018 | 11:06 AM

SYDNEY: Two large sharks have been killed in Australia after a woman and a girl were attacked at a popular Great Barrier Reef tourist spot.

Pakistan issues flood alert as heavy rain expected

23 Sep 2018 | 12:04 PM

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Met Department has issued a flood alert as heavy rain and thundershowers with gusty winds were expected in Punjab province on Sunday.

16 killed in Pakistan anti-terror operation

16 killed in Pakistan anti-terror operation

23 Sep 2018 | 12:03 PM

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has announced that nine militants and seven soldiers were killed in an anti-terror operation carried out in North Waziristan district bordering Afghanistan.

Japan’s hopping rovers successfully land on asteroid Ryugu

23 Sep 2018 | 11:58 AM

TOKYO: Two robotic rovers have become world’s first to successfully land on the surface of an asteroid, the Japanese space agency JAXA said, sharing images captured by the probes.

Hong Kong opens high-speed rail link with mainland China

Hong Kong opens high-speed rail link with mainland China

23 Sep 2018 | 12:20 AM

HONG KONG: Hong Kong on Saturday opened a new high-speed rail link to inland China that will vastly decrease travel times but also raises concerns about Beijing’s creeping influence over the semi-autonomous Chinese region.

First black woman WH reporter gets Newseum statueglobe trot

First black woman WH reporter gets Newseum statue

23 Sep 2018 | 12:20 AM

Washington: The first black woman to be credentialed to cover the White House is getting a statue in the Newseum.

Israel sets October deadline to evacuate Bedouin village in West Bank

23 Sep 2018 | 4:54 PM

KHAN AL-AHMAR (WEST BANK): Israel on Sunday told residents of Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank slated for demolition, to clear their houses by October 1.

Gunmen kill 29 in attack  on Iranian military parade

Gunmen kill 29 in attack on Iranian military parade

23 Sep 2018 | 12:22 AM

TEHRAN: Militants shot dead at least 29 persons, almost half of them members of the Revolutionary Guards, in an attack on Saturday on an Iranian military parade claimed by the Islamic State group, as Tehran accused a US ally in the region of the assault.

China summons US ambassador over military sanctions: State media

22 Sep 2018 | 8:47 PM

BEIJING: China summoned the US ambassador on Saturday to lodge an official protest over sanctions imposed by the United States against a Chinese military organisation for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles, state media said.

US military says airstrike kills an estimated 18 Somali militants

22 Sep 2018 | 8:26 PM

WASHINGTON: US forces acting in self defence called in an airstrike on al Shabaab militants in the southern Somalia province of Lower Juba, killing an estimated 18 Islamist extremists, US Africa Command said on Saturday.

Eight Afghan children killed playing with unexploded mortar shell

22 Sep 2018 | 8:42 PM

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: Eight children, including four siblings, were killed in Afghanistan when a mortar shell they were playing with exploded, relatives said Saturday, adding to the ever-growing civilian toll in the 17-year war.

Eight Afghan children killed playing with unexploded mortar shell

22 Sep 2018 | 8:42 PM

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: Eight children, including four siblings, were killed in Afghanistan when a mortar shell they were playing with exploded, relatives said Saturday, adding to the ever-growing civilian toll in the 17-year war.

Not interested in regime change but want Iran to change its behaviour: Pompeo

22 Sep 2018 | 7:23 PM

WASHINGTON: The US is not interested in regime change in Tehran, but wants it to change its behaviour and stop continuing with their terror threats to the world, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday as he described Iran as the world's "largest state sponsor of terror".

China shuts down 4000 websites for pornographic content

22 Sep 2018 | 4:04 PM

BEIJING: China has shut down over 4,000 websites and accounts as part of a three-month nationwide clean-up campaign targeting "harmful" information especially pornography, official media said on Saturday.

US has no right to interfere in Russia military cooperation: China

US has no right to interfere in Russia military cooperation: China

22 Sep 2018 | 2:46 PM

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: China’s decision to buy fighter jets and missile systems from Russia is a normal act of cooperation between sovereign countries and the United States has “no right to interfere”, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Saturday.

First black female White House reporter gets Newseum statue

22 Sep 2018 | 1:35 PM

WASHINGTON: The first black woman to be credentialed to cover the White House is getting a statue in the Newseum.

Get serious in Brexit talks, UK foreign minister Hunt urges EU

Get serious in Brexit talks, UK foreign minister Hunt urges EU

22 Sep 2018 | 1:22 PM

LONDON: British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the European Union should end its blanket refusals of British proposals in Brexit talks, as any belief that Britain would capitulate was misplaced.

China closes over 4,000 porn, other ‘harmful’ websites

China closes over 4,000 porn, other ‘harmful’ websites

22 Sep 2018 | 1:07 PM

BEIJING: China has shut down more than 4,000 porn and other websites containing “harmful” information in the past three months.

Islamic State claims killing of 29 at Iran military parade

Islamic State claims killing of 29 at Iran military parade

22 Sep 2018 | 7:08 PM

TEHRAN: Militants shot dead at least 29 people, including women and children, in an attack on Saturday on an Iranian military parade claimed by the Islamic State group, as Tehran accused a US ally in the region of the assault.

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Media reports

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Media reports

22 Sep 2018 | 12:21 PM

WASHINGTON: The US official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US election suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump last year.

US court sentences Pak-origin businessman for unlawful export to Pak military

US court sentences Pak-origin businessman for unlawful export to Pak military

22 Sep 2018 | 12:18 PM

WASHINGTON: A US district court has sentenced a Pakistani-origin businessman to three years of probation on charges of procuring material and equipment for the Pakistani military unlawfully.

Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft entered Alaskan airspace: US

Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft entered Alaskan airspace: US

22 Sep 2018 | 12:17 PM

WASHINGTON: Two groups of Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Saturday, the US Department of Defense said.

Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016: UN

Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016: UN

22 Sep 2018 | 12:12 PM

GENEVA: Drinking too much alcohol killed more than 3 million people in 2016, mostly men, the World Health Organisation said.

China opens embassy in Dominican Republic after break with Taiwan

China opens embassy in Dominican Republic after break with Taiwan

22 Sep 2018 | 12:05 PM

SANTO DOMINGO: China’s most senior envoy inaugurated a new embassy in the Dominican Republic on Friday after the Caribbean country cut ties with Taiwan in a move that prompted US concern over the Asian island’s dwindling number of allies.

White House optimistic on China trade; no date for more talks

White House optimistic on China trade; no date for more talks

22 Sep 2018 | 12:03 PM

WASHINGTON: The United States is optimistic about finding a way forward in its trade dispute with China, but it does not have a date scheduled for further talks.

China cancels trade talks with US as tariff threats escalate: WSJ

China cancels trade talks with US as tariff threats escalate: WSJ

22 Sep 2018 | 12:01 PM

SHANGHAI: China has cancelled upcoming trade talks with the United States and will not send vice-premier Liu He to Washington next week, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. The Wall Street Journal said a mid-level delegation was due to travel to Washington ahead of Liu’s visit.

Journalist murdered in Mexico, ninth of 2018: Paper

Journalist murdered in Mexico, ninth of 2018: Paper

22 Sep 2018 | 11:56 AM

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ: Gunmen shot and killed a Mexican journalist as he left his home in the southern state of Chiapas, his newspaper said Friday, at least the ninth reporter murdered in the country this year.

Police probe new drug rape claims against US doctor, girlfriend

Police probe new drug rape claims against US doctor, girlfriend

22 Sep 2018 | 11:48 AM

LOS ANGELES: Authorities in California said on Friday they have received dozens of new leads from possible new victims of a US surgeon and his girlfriend who have been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women.

US Senate’s Grassley sets Saturday deadline for Kavanaugh accuser: NY Times

US Senate’s Grassley sets Saturday deadline for Kavanaugh accuser: NY Times

22 Sep 2018 | 1:17 PM

WASHINGTON: US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley set a Saturday afternoon deadline for a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to decide if and how she will testify, the New York Times reported.

Respect UK in Brexit talks : May to EU

Respect UK in Brexit talks : May to EU

22 Sep 2018 | 1:32 AM

LONDON:British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday Brexit talks with the European Union had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with their own plans a day after the bloc's leaders savaged her proposals.

Opponents want to destroy SC nominee: Trump

Opponents want to destroy SC nominee: Trump

22 Sep 2018 | 1:32 AM

WASHINGTON:US President Donald Trump on Friday cast doubt on the woman who accused his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and blamed opponents for trying to “destroy” his nominee.

Maldives Prez Yameen looks to tighten grip

22 Sep 2018 | 1:32 AM

COLOMBO:Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen seeks a second term as President on Sunday in a tourist paradise that has become a battleground for influence between regional giants India and China, and a source of global alarm over political oppression and a muzzling of the media.

136 dead in Tanzania ferry disaster, scores missing

136 dead in Tanzania ferry disaster, scores missing

22 Sep 2018 | 1:32 AM

DAR ES SALAAM:At least 136 bodies have been retrieved after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria, Tanzania's top police official Simon Sirro said on Friday, and scores more were still feared missing as rescuers searched for survivors on the morning after the disaster.

Globe trot

Vietnam President dead after prolonged illness

22 Sep 2018 | 1:32 AM

New york: Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang died on Friday after prolonged illness.

Revoke sanctions or pay the price, furious China tells US

Revoke sanctions or pay the price, furious China tells US

22 Sep 2018 | 11:06 AM

BEIJING: An “outraged” China on Friday lodged a diplomatic protest with the US for imposing punitive sanctions on its military unit for buying Russian weapons, warning of “consequences” if the sanctions are not revoked.

Prefer to die on the beach than at work table in Alibaba: Jack Ma

Prefer to die on the beach than at work table in Alibaba: Jack Ma

21 Sep 2018 | 9:44 PM

BEIJING: Jack Ma, the pioneer of China’s internet industry, has termed the speculation swirling around his retirement as a “sea gossip”, saying that he would rather die on the beach than in his executive office at Alibaba.

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