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9 takeaways from the Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh Senate testimonies
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, one day before the Senate is set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
- Ford maintained she's sure it was Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her, while Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations.
- Democrats want an FBI investigation, and even asked Kavanaugh to request one from the president, though Kavanaugh refused to do so.
- As of Thursday afternoon, the Senate is still set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Friday morning.
Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Ford testified for about four hours starting in the morning. Kavanaugh followed.
In some ways, both of their tearful testimonies came off as credible and sympathetic, and it's not a stretch to suggest that someone who happened to turn on the TV on Thursday, and had no prior knowledge of the political debacle, would come away believing whichever person happened to be testifying at the time.
But the inescapable math, assuming no faults of memory, says one of them is lying.
Ford, wearing eyeglasses and a dark blue suit, remained composed throughout the questioning, despite her voice breaking at times. In asserting that she was absolutely sure it was Kavanaugh who had sexually assaulted her, she was respectful to all members of the committee, including the Republican senators and the outside counsel who asked questions on their behalf, Rachel Mitchell, who leads the special-victims division of the Maricopa County attorney's office in Arizona.
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee (Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)
In his opening statements, Kavanaugh was both angry and tearful as he described how the allegations have impacted him and his family in recent weeks. He then described his high-school days, the era in which the assault allegedly took place, in an imperfect but likely relatable light, painting himself as a work-hard-play-hard kind of student who enjoyed drinking beer with his football friends but also valued school, church and family.
Categorically denying every allegation levied against him, Kavanaugh repeatedly reminded the committee that the four witnesses who were said to be present at the gathering where the alleged sexual assault took place had all denied being there, and he expressed indignation at every turn for having to answer to allegations that he not only considers false, but also part of a Democratic conspiracy.
Here are some of the key moments from Ford's and Kavanaugh's testimony.
'I like beer'
Kavanaugh said that he likes beer, still likes beer, and perhaps had too many beers at times when he was younger. However, he was sure to paint his past drinking habits in a light of moderation, saying he'd never blacked out, passed out from drinking alcohol or woke up in a strange location after drinking.
"There is a bright line between drinking beer, which I gladly do, and which I fully embrace, and sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime," he said. "If every American who drinks beer, or every American who drank beer in high school, is suddenly presumed guilty of sexual assault, we'll be in an ugly new place in this country."
Kavanaugh: This is Revenge on behalf of the Clintons
Kavanaugh suggested that the efforts by Democrats to ruin his reputation and block his nomination were part of a cynical political plot–one he suggested is being executed on behalf of the Clintons.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," Kavanaugh said. "This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination; the consequences will be with us for decades."
Kavanaugh: The Swetnick allegation is a farce
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) mentioned allegations against him by three women–Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick–Kavanaugh became visibly angry, dismissing the Swetnick allegations as a farce.
"The Swetnick thing is a joke, it's a farce."
"Would you like to say more about it?" Feinstein asked.
"No," Kavanaugh said, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
Why not conduct an FBI investigation?
(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
In his five minutes of questioning, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) referenced a quote from Kavanaugh's opening statement in which he said he'd "welcome any kind of investigation. Durbin, after noting that Kavanaugh himself had relied on FBI work during his work on the Starr report in the Clinton era, repeatedly pressed Kavanaugh to request an FBI investigation, and asked him whether he thought an FBI investigation would be the best way to proceed.
"What do you think is best, personally?" Durbin asked.
Kavanaugh was silent, seeming to stumble for the first time of the afternoon, finally suggesting after a few beats that these allegations were sprung on him and are harmful to his family.
“This is hell”
Following Durbin's questioning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) roughly criticized the tact taken by his Democratic colleagues, saying it was the most "unethical sham" he's seen in his political career.
"You're looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend," Graham said.
Graham asked Kavanaugh if he's been through hell in the wake of the allegations.
"I've been through hell and then some."
"This is not a job interview, this is hell."
Ford: 100% sure
"With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?" Durbin asked Ford.
"One hundred percent," she responded.
A fear of flying
(Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)
Ford said that she has claustrophobia and a fear of flying. She said that, because of these conditions, she had hoped the committee would come to her in California so she could avoid flying, but during her testimony said she later realized that would have been an "unrealistic" request.
In an apparent attempt to discredit Ford, or to suggest that Democrats had wanted to necessitate a public spectacle in Washington, D.C., Mitchell kept pressing Ford on her phobia of flying. Mitchell asked Ford, who lists "surf travel" as an interest on her C.V., whether she'd ever flown to the French Polynesian islands for leisure.
"I also saw on your CV that you list the following interests of travel, and you, in parentheses put 'Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Pacific islands, and French Polynesia,'" Mitchell said. "Have you been to all this places?"
"Yes," Ford said.
Ford said that the most unforgettable part of her experience was the laughter.
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense," Ford said, referring to Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who she says was in the room.
She added: "I was underneath one of them while the two laughed...Two friends having a really good time with one another."
Two front doors
Ford said that she's developed several neuroses as a result of her sexual assault experience. One of those conditions is claustrophobia, which Ford said led her to install a second front door during a remodeling of her home."I had completed an extensive remodel of our home, and I insisted on a second front door, an idea that he and others disagreed with and could not understand," she said. "In explaining why I wanted to have a second front door, I described the assault in detail. I recall saying that the boy who assaulted me could someday be on the U.S. Supreme Court and spoke a bit about his background. My husband recalls that I named my attacker as Brett Kavanaugh."
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Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
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A new study suggests that an old tuberculosis vaccine may reduce the severity of coronavirus cases.
- A new study finds a country's tuberculosis BCG vaccination is linked to its COVID-19 mortality rate.
- More BCG vaccinations is connected to fewer severe coronavirus cases in a country.
- The study is preliminary and more research is needed to support the findings.
Professor Luis Escobar.
Credit: Virginia Tech