Three women now accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault
Brett M. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of three women who's accused him of sexual assault, are due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
- On Wednesday, a third woman came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee has hired a female outside counsel to question Ford on behalf of GOP senators on Thursday.
- The accusations could possibly derail the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in the vote that's currently scheduled for Friday.
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, are due to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The committee has tentatively scheduled a confirmation vote for Friday morning. There are 51 Republican senators and 49 senators who caucus with Democrats, and six Republicans currently remain undecided. The GOP can only afford to lose one vote; in the event of a 50-50 split, Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote.
On Sunday, The New Yorker broke a story containing a second sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh from Deborah Ramirez, a woman who attended Yale University with the judge and claims he exposed himself to her at a party during college, causing her to touch his penis without her consent.
On Wednesday, a third woman came forward to accuse the Supreme Court hopeful of sexual assault. Julie Swetnick, a 55-year-old certified systems engineer who says she'd held multiple government clearances, claimed in a three-page sworn declaration that during high school parties she routinely witnessed Kavanaugh drunkenly engage in inappropriate contact with girls, even suggesting that he and his friends would "spike" punch with drugs at parties so that girls could be gang-raped in side rooms. Swetnick says she was one of those girls. Details about this latest accusation are still emerging.
Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.
"The truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise," Kavanaugh said in a Fox News interview Monday night.
On Wednesday, Ford's lawyers said they sent sworn affidavits to the Senate committee from four people who say she told them about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh before President Donald Trump had selected him as a nominee for the Supreme Court.
The president has expressed varying stances on the allegations.
In early stages of the story, Trump expressed doubt about the accusations but also said he wanted Ford to have an opportunity to speak to senators.
"I want her to have her voice," he said. "Let her have her voice. Let her say whatever she has to say. Let him say what he has to say. And in the end senators will make their choice."
But on Tuesday night, Trump suggested that Democrats are playing a cynical con game.
The Democrats are playing a high level CON GAME in their vicious effort to destroy a fine person. It is called the politics of destruction. Behind the scene the Dems are laughing. Pray for Brett Kavanaugh and his family!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
What the Ford affidavits say
The affidavits come from three friends of Ford and her husband, Russell Ford, none of whom claim to have been present at the house party where the sexual assault allegedly took place.
Adela Gildo-Mazzon, who said she's a "good friend" of Ford's, said she learned about the allegations at a pizzeria in Mountain View, Calif.
"During our meal, Christine was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on," Gildo-Mazzon said. "Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger. She said that she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge."
Another friend, Keith Koegler, claimed Ford told him in summer 2016 of having experienced a sexual assault when she was younger. Ford had been reportedly angered by what she considered to be a light sentence for a Stanford University student who had been convicted of sexual assault after raping an unconscious woman. Koegler said Ford was "particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington, D.C."
A third friend, Rebecca White, said she spoke with Ford while walking her dog in 2017. Ford reportedly told her that she had recently read a social media post written by White in which she described her own experience with sexual assault.
"She told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen," White said. "I remember her saying the assailant was now a federal judge. I have always known Christine to be a trustworthy and honest person."
Russell Ford said his wife first shared the details of the alleged incident during a couple's therapy session in 2012.
"I remember her saying that the attacker's name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine's home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington, D.C. community," Russell Ford says. "In the years following the therapy session, we spoke a number of times about how the assault affected her."
Senate Judiciary hires outside counsel to lead testimony hearings
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
On Tuesday night, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it had hired outside counsel Rachel Mitchell to question Kavanaugh and Ford on Thursday.
According to a news release from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Mitchell is currently on leave from her role as deputy county attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, where she's also chief of the special victims division.
"I promised Dr. Ford that I would do everything in my power to avoid a repeat of the 'circus' atmosphere in the hearing room that we saw the week of September 4," Grassley said in a statement. "I've taken this additional step to have questions asked by expert staff counsel to establish the most fair and respectful treatment of the witnesses possible."
Grassley said Mitchell will ask questions on behalf of the committee's 11 GOP senators, all of whom are male. Democratic senators will conduct their own questioning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wanted to avoid a "political sideshow."
"As I said earlier, and I think you already know, we have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way," McConnell said. "We want this hearing to be handled very professionally, not a political sideshow like you saw the -- put on by the Democrats when they were questioning Judge Kavanaugh."
Michael Bromwich, an attorney for Ford, said Thursday's hearings aren't analogous to a criminal trial.
"This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate," wrote Bromwich in a letter to the committee. "The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case."
Ramirez also willing to testify
On Wednesday, Ramirez's lawyers signaled that she'd be willing to testify before the committee.
Critics have noted that even Ramirez herself admitted to memory gaps of the decades-old allegations. However, in an interview on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, an attorney for Ramirez, John Clune, suggested those gaps actually make her claims more credible.
"If somebody's going to make something up they're not going to put gaps in their memory, right? She was very, very conscientious about only putting forth the information that she was comfortable with and acknowledging the things that were the gaps in her memory. So that -- as a former prosecutor, I can tell you that only helps her credibility because somebody's not going to falsify a report that has that kind of gap," Clune said.
If Thursday's testimony fails to change the minds of more than one Republican senator, Kavanaugh could be confirmed to the Supreme Court on Friday.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
Scientists discover the inner workings of an effect that will lead to a new generation of devices.
- Researchers discover a method of extracting previously unavailable information from superconductors.
- The study builds on a 19th-century discovery by physicist Edward Hall.
- The research promises to lead to a new generation of semiconductor materials and devices.
Credit: Gunawan/Nature magazine
Students who think the world is just cheat less, but they need to experience justice to feel that way.
- Students in German and Turkish universities who believed the world is just cheated less than their pessimistic peers.
- The tendency to think the world is just is related to the occurence of experiences of justice.
- The findings may prove useful in helping students adjust to college life.
The world is just? That’s news to a lot of people.<p>The study is the most recent addition to a long line of work focusing on the belief in justice, our behavior, and our reactions to evidence that might suggest injustice occasionally occurs. This study focuses on a personal belief in a just world, (PBJW) rather than a general belief in a just world (GBJW). The difference between them must be highlighted.</p><p>GBJW is the stance that justice prevails all over the world and that people tend to get what they deserve. PBJW is more focused on the individual's social environment and their belief that they tend to be treated justly. While several studies show PBJW correlates with a higher sense of well-being and a variety of other positive effects, a high GBJW is associated with less life satisfaction, negative behavior, and callousness towards the suffering of <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-1-4939-3216-0" target="_blank">others</a>. This study controlled for GBJW, and focused on PBJW as much as possible. </p><p>To assure that culture was not a factor, the study included students at universities in both Germany and Turkey. </p><p>The researchers gave students at the four participating universities a series of questionnaires that asked if they ever cheated in class, if they perceived the world to be just, if they though that justice always prevailed everywhere, their tendencies towards socially appropriate behavior, their life satisfaction, and if they felt like they were treated justly by their teachers and fellow students. </p><p>The answers were statistically analyzed for relationships. While some of the connections seem trivially true, others were surprising. <strong></strong></p><p>PBJW turned out to only be an indirect predictor of if a student was likely to cheat. Both a belief in a just world and a lower likelihood of cheating were mediated by the justice experiences of the students, with more of these positive experiences lowering the rate of cheating and improving their belief in justice. This was also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction. </p><p>These effects existed across all demographics in both countries. </p>
What does this mean? Is a belief in justice a self-fulfilling prophecy?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6oMv-azHNCA" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>In a way, it seems to be. People who have reason to think the world is just to them tend to interpret events in a way to sustain that belief and behave in a just manner. In a larger sense, the take away from this study is that experiences of justice, both from peers and instructors, is vital to student's wellbeing and understanding that the rules that exist about cheating are part of a larger, legitimate, system. </p><p>The researchers, citing previous studies on the perception of justice, note that "justice experiences (1) signal that university students are esteemed members of their social group, which in turn conveys feelings of belonging and social inclusion and (2) motivate them to accept and observe university rules and norms. These cognitive processes may thus strengthen their well-being and decrease the likelihood that they cheat."</p><p>The authors also suggest that if you want people (not only students) to act justly; consider treating them with "civility, respect, and dignity."</p><p>Sometimes, all it can take to help somebody act virtuously is to treat them well. Likewise, people treated harshly can rarely find reason to play by rules that don't protect them. The findings of this study will certainly add to the literature on how we perceive justice in the world around us, but might also help us remember that there are real consequences to our actions which can be much larger than we imagine. <strong></strong></p>
This could change how researchers approach vaccine development.
- The reason children suffer less from the novel coronavirus has remained mysterious.
- Researchers identified a cytokine, IL-17A, which appears to protect children from the ravages of COVID-19.
- This cytokine response could change how researchers approach vaccine development.
A member of staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a child's temperature at the Harris Academy's Shortland's school on June 04, 2020 in London, England.
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images<p>Experts don't want to place kids at the back of the line, regardless of how strong their immune systems appear. At least one company, Moderna, <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-vaccine-for-kids-moderna-plans-pediatric-trial-2020-9" target="_blank">hopes to begin testing</a> vaccines in pediatric volunteers by year's end.</p><p>Innate immune response is especially high during childhood (compared to adaptive immunity). This makes evolutionary sense: nature wants an animal to survive until its ready to procreate. Turns out the children in the study possessed high levels of cytokines that boost their immune response. The biggest impact is made by IL-17A, which appears to protect the youngest cohort from the ravages of the coronavirus. </p><p>While both age groups produced antibodies to fight off the infamous spike protein, adults that produce neutralizing antibodies actually suffer a <em>worse</em> fate. Herold says this "over-vigorous adaptive immune response" might promote inflammation, triggering acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). </p><p>This matters for vaccine development. As Herold says, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our adult COVID-19 patients who fared poorly had high levels of neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that convalescent plasma—which is rich in neutralizing antibodies—may not help adults who have already developed signs of ARDS. By contrast, therapies that boost innate immune responses early in the course of the disease may be especially beneficial."</p><p>Herold says current vaccine trials are focused on boosting neutralizing-antibody levels. With this new information, researchers may want to work on vaccines that boost the innate immune response instead. </p><p>With <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html" target="_blank">at least 55 vaccine trials</a> underway, every piece of data matters. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Researchers from the University of Toronto published a new map of cancer cells' genetic defenses against treatment.