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Kavanaugh Accuser Calls For FBI Investigation After Threats

Christine Blasey Ford wants F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies. NYT: "The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first. Speaking through lawyers, Christine Blasey Ford said she would cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee and left open the possibility of testifying later about her allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. But echoing Senate Democrats, she said an investigation should be 'the first step' before she is put 'on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.' Republicans signaled Tuesday night that they would not negotiate an alternative date and would go ahead with the hearing without her or declare it unnecessary if she refuses to appear, then possibly move to a vote. They have repeatedly stressed that Monday would be Dr. Blasey’s opportunity to testify, either privately or publicly, and that they planned to move forward with the confirmation process afterward."

Possible Kavanaugh Scenarios

6 possible Kavanaugh scenarios, including a Supreme Court vacancy until 2021. CNN: "Whether a new hearing, tentatively planned for Monday, takes place and who testifies are very open questions at this point. Kavanaugh and California professor Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that a drunken Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, could both testify. Kavanaugh denies the allegation. Republicans have framed it as a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity for Ford to make her case. Ford has said there should be an FBI investigation of the claims first. Remember, Republicans want this to happen very fast, which is why Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley rushed a hearing date onto the calendar. Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who Ford first notified about the alleged attack, wouldn't mind it dragging out. Why? Election Day. The current Senate becomes a lame duck in November and goes away entirely in January. There are almost too many variables to keep track of, but here are some ways the Kavanaugh story could play out."

Trump Undermines Social Security And Medicare

Trump erodes Social Security and Medicare solvency while blaming Democrats. USA Today: "Trump says he has bolstered Social Security? The old age and survivors fund will begin paying out more than it takes in by fiscal year 2022, which starts three years from now. From there, it’s a fast, slippery slope to 2034, when the fund’s $2.8 trillion reserves are gone. What happens then? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is also the government’s chief Social Security Trustee, acknowledges that monthly checks to tens of millions of Americans will have to be slashed 21 percent in 2034 unless something is done. When Trump took office, the insolvency date was 2035. As for Medicare — a gigantic health insurance program that gobbled up $591 billion in federal spending last year — the financial day of reckoning is approaching even faster. When Trump took over, Medicare’s core program (“Part A”) wasn't due to run out of money until 2029. But the Medicare Trustees (including Mnuchin) now say Part A will run out of money by 2026. Thus in Trump’s 20 months on the job, it has lost 36 months of solvency. The chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Paul Spitalnic, cites both tax cuts and lower than expected wage growth."

SCOTUS Overrules Roberts To Force Disclosure For Dark Money

SCOTUS orders disclosure for dark money, as new report unveils some donors. NPR: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday insisted that many donations to predominantly conservative political nonprofit groups — what's often called dark money — be disclosed, seven weeks ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The ruling closes, at least for now, a loophole that has allowed wealthy donors to finance aggressive ads while staying anonymous. Crafted by the Federal Election Commission nearly 40 years ago, the loophole flourished after the 2010 Citizens United ruling. The court set aside an order issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday. The social welfare group Crossroads GPS, a defendant in the lawsuit, had fought to stall disclosure while it prepares to appeal. It failed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then appealed to the Supreme Court."

WH Ends Restrictions On Methane

Trump Administration Officially Ends Obama-Era Restrictions on Methane Pollution. Time: "The Trump administration on Tuesday rolled back an Obama-era rule that forced energy companies to capture methane — a key contributor to climate change that’s released in huge amounts during drilling on U.S. and tribal lands. A replacement rule from the Interior Department rescinds mandates for companies to reduce gas pollution, which Trump administration officials say already is required by some states. The change could save companies as much as $2 billion in compliance costs over the next decade. It comes a week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed weakening a separate methane emissions rule affecting private land and some public lands. Methane is a component of natural gas that’s frequently wasted through leaks or intentional releases during drilling operations. The gas is considered a more potent contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide, although it occurs in smaller volumes."

Pipeline Protesters Face Felony Charges

Tougher laws on pipeline protests face test in LA. NPR: "After a high-profile campaign to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, a number of states moved to make it harder to protest oil and gas projects. Now in Louisiana, the first felony arrests of protesters could be a test case of these tougher laws as opponents vow a legal challenge. The controversy here is over the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, the last leg of the Dakota Access. If completed, it will bring crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, through Louisiana, where it will be exported abroad.Trespassing in Louisiana is normally a misdemeanor offense. But the new law deems oil and gas pipelines to be "critical infrastructure," a classification that includes places like nuclear plants, oil refineries and water treatment facilities. As of Aug. 1, trespassing near oil and gas pipelines in the state is now a felony offense, with a possible sentence of up to five years in jail. Several states have either passed or are considering similar laws, including Oklahoma, Iowa and Pennsylvania."

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