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Three Big Things
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Kavanaugh won’t withdraw as judge heads for Thursday showdown hearing

Kavanaugh won’t withdraw as judge heads for Thursday showdown hearing

Defiantly denouncing new allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him as a political ‘smear,’ Judge Brett Kavanaugh went on a media offensive on Monday to tell Senators and the nation that he will not withdraw from consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh heads for a historic hearing on Thursday, which draws obvious parallels to the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Supreme Court sexual harassment showdown in 1991. “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh wrote in a Monday letter, as he said the latest charges against him “are smears, pure and simple.” “There is now a frenzy to come up with something — anything — that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring,” Kavanaugh added, as it was not clear where the votes stood on his nomination with a small group of Republican Senators. Here’s the latest on a number of fronts in the Kavanaugh confirmation battle: 1. Kavanaugh-Ford brings back clear memories of Thomas-Hill. Whether you believe the judge or his accuser, these past few days have been much like what I covered in 1991, when the confirmation of Clarence Thomas went off the rails because of the accusations of sexual harassment leveled by law professor Anita Hill. Their testimony in a special round of hearings riveted Senators – and the nation – as Thomas was narrowly confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Senate on a vote of 52-48. I kept my reporter’s notebook from that second round of Thomas hearings because I instinctively knew how important a moment it was. 27 years later, it feels like I am covering the same kind of political battle. I went back into my notes to see what I could find. One thing that stands out is both Thomas and Hill told forceful stories. Both were believable. But both couldn’t be telling the truth at the same time. We may be on the verge of a similar situation with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. 2. Kavanaugh standing firm on his nomination. When Monday began, some on Capitol Hill wondered if Kavanaugh would throw in the towel – but there was no indication that would happen, as his letter demonstrated. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last minute character assassination will not succeed,” Kavanaugh wrote. On Monday night, Kavanaugh and his wife went on Fox News on Monday evening to make their case in an unusual forum for a Supreme Court nominee.  “I’m not going anywhere,” the judge said in the interview. Brett Kavanaugh: 'I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I've never sexually assaulted anyone.' https://t.co/HvY7xtcpV3 pic.twitter.com/TmsjBFnYO7 — Fox News (@FoxNews) September 24, 2018 3. GOP leaders standing by Kavanaugh as well. It was obvious from the words of the Senate Majority Leader on Monday afternoon that GOP leaders were sticking with Kavanaugh, as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) denounced Democratic attacks on the judge, and vowed that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. “This is what the so-called ‘Resistance’ has become. A smear campaign, pure and simple,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, in one of the most forceful tones reporters could recall from the Majority Leader. One note about his vow for a vote – note that McConnell did not say Kavanaugh would win. While GOP leaders stand with him, his future rests with a small group of Republicans in the Senate. Their votes probably depend on how the testimony goes in Thursday’s hearing. . @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell: 'Judge #Kavanaugh will be voted on here on the Senate floor, up or down, on the Senate floor. This fine nominee to the Supreme Court will receive a vote in this Senate in the near future.' #SCOTUS Full video here: https://t.co/xMqbfj2Cwh pic.twitter.com/zkfqXXDFsG — CSPAN (@cspan) September 24, 2018 4. “PS: I look forward to your testimony.” While Kavanaugh can do interviews, and GOP Senators can make floor speeches, much of what happens in the hearing this Thursday is probably going to be the make-or-break for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. We all have seen Kavanaugh before Senators – but no one has seen or heard Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is no ordinary setting. Anita Hill was stoic and composed in 1991. Ford could be the same. How she tells her story – and how she interacts with Senators will be very important, as both sides wait to see what develops later this week. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) added this extra greeting to a letter sent to Ford on Monday. 5. This is not just a regular DC story; it’s a real DC story. While many people might dismiss this nomination fight as a classic partisan battle on Capitol Hill, what makes it somewhat different is the fact that Kavanaugh is a local who grew up in the Washington suburbs, and is part of a web of different social groups in the area. For example, I know people who went to school with, and partied with Kavanaugh. I know some who were friends with the Blasey family, others who know Kavanaugh from the CYO girls basketball league where he coaches, people from his Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church right at the D.C.-Maryland line, and from his country clubs. For some of them, this is a disturbing story on multiple levels, as this is not just a political fight about some big-named nominee. Instead, this is a political fight about someone they know personally. And as you can see from this letter, from some of Kavanaugh’s high school classmates, and the following tweet from one his fellow parishioners, it’s stirred both sides. As parishioner of Blessed Sacrament in DC I’m disgusted by the using of children to support a political stunt. @BrettKavanaugh is a perjurer, an obfuscator, with shady financials and using your daughters, of all people, to prop him up turns my stomach #blessedsacramentdc — Stephanie Ann (@StephDorazio) September 7, 2018 6. Echoes of another controversial investigation. When top White House aide Kellyanne Conway went on CBS Monday morning to defend Judge Kavanaugh, she riffed on a famous line from Hillary Clinton and Democrats during the Whitewater-Monica Lewinsky investigation, which Clinton labeled a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy.’ Now, Conway says there is a ‘vast left-wing conspiracy’ which is trying to take out Judge Kavanaugh. The irony of that line is even more obvious when you remember that Kavanaugh was one of the prosecutors on the team of Independent Counsel Ken Starr, and that Kavanaugh was fully prepared to ask President Bill Clinton all sorts of very specific questions about his relationship – and relations – with Lewinsky. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Hillary Clinton was asked if she had any sympathy for Kavanaugh. “No, I have no sympathy,” she answered. RT @CBSThisMorning: 'This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy,' says @Kellyannepolls on new accusations against Brett Kavanaugh pic.twitter.com/3h5oR8HW7x — Trixy Wh (@trixywh) September 24, 2018 7. How soon could Kavanaugh be on the Supreme Court? One thing to remember from 1991 is that even with the spectacle of the second round of hearings, Clarence Thomas was ultimately approved by the Senate. The same thing could well happen with the Kavanaugh nomination. If Republicans want to press ahead immediately, they could hold the Thursday hearing, have the Judiciary Committee vote on Friday, bring up the nomination on the Senate floor Saturday, vote on a motion to shut off debate on Monday, and then have a final vote on Tuesday, October 2. As long as Republicans have the votes, there is nothing Democrats can do under the Senate rules to stop Kavanaugh – their only option to stop is to have a majority against him. But before we get to that point, there are some Republicans and Democrats in the Senate who will be in the spotlight. Susan Collins tells @tedbarrettcnn she’s going to wait to make a decision on Kavanaugh until after Thursday hearing. “I believe that the committee investigators should reach out to Deborah Ramirez in order to question her under oath about what she is alleging happened,” she added — Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 24, 2018 I just asked Democratic senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana if he’s made up his mind on Kavanaugh. “I’m looking forward to the hearing on Thursday,” Donnelly replied. — John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) September 24, 2018

FHP: Jacksonville man charged in crash that ended with two cars submerged in St. Johns County retention pond

FHP: Jacksonville man charged in crash that ended with two cars submerged in St. Johns County retention pond

A Jacksonville man has now been charged with failing to yield at a yield sign, leading to a crash that ended with two vehicles submerged in a St. Johns County retention pond. According to the crash report from the Florida Highway Patrol, the man was traveling south on the I-95 entrance ramp from eastbound International Golf Parkway, as another driver was coming in from the westbound side, when the man apparently failed to yield.  Troopers say that led his vehicle to hit the other vehicle, with both cars then traveling off the road, down the hill, and into a retention pond.  FHP says both vehicles became fully submerged in the water, though, thankfully, both drivers escaped without any injuries.

JSO: Missing 9-year-old found safe

JSO: Missing 9-year-old found safe

UPDATE: Just before 7:30PM, JSO reported that this child has been found safe, thanks to an observant officer in the area. ====== The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help finding a missing 9-year-old child.  JSO says Mahlalel Rodgers is 4’ and 90 lbs. He was last seen around 3:30PM, walking in the 9300 block of 103rd Street. He was wearing a blue shirt and khaki shorts.  JSO has not given any details about the circumstances of Rodgers’ disappearance. Responding to a Facebook comment, JSO said there was no reason to believe an abduction has take place. If you have any information about Rodgers’ location, you’re asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. This is a developing story that will be updated as more information is available.

The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local): 10:30 p.m. Five world powers have agreed with Iran to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iran's exports, including oil, as well as its imports. It is a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions. Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement late Monday that the so-called 'Special Purpose Vehicle' will 'assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.' European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after the closed-door ministerial meeting that the financial facility is also aimed at preserving the nuclear agreement that is aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Mogherini says that 'in practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran, and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.' ___ 6:45 p.m. The U.N. Security Council is condemning the fusillade that killed 25 people at an Iranian military parade, calling it a 'heinous and cowardly terrorist attack.' The council issued a statement Monday emphasizing that perpetrators and sponsors of the assault need to be held accountable. Militants disguised as soldiers fired on marching troops and onlookers at a parade Saturday in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz. Blamed on Arab separatists in the region, the bloodshed marked the deadliest attack in Iran in nearly a decade. It further racheted up tensions across the Persian Gulf ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders, which began Monday. Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service Monday for the attack victims. ___ 5:30 p.m. The United States has announced $185 million in new humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims displaced by a military crackdown in Myanmar. Foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the plight of the Rohingya and a recent U.N. fact finding report into atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State that recommended prosecution of military leaders for genocide. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who hosted the meeting, said in a statement that Myanmar's military leaders 'must face full accountability for any atrocities committed.' Hunt says if conditions haven't improved for the 1 million people affected in a year's time, 'then we have failed as an international community.' U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the new U.S. aid will go mostly to Rohingya refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. She says it brings total American assistance to $389 million since the crackdown began in August 2017. ___ 2:40 p.m. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says his country wants to use its upcoming term on the U.N. Security Council to address conflicts around the world before they become full-blown crises. Speaking Monday ahead of his trip to the U.N. General Assembly, he said Germany will emphasize a strong United Nations and 'multilateral solutions' — an indirect swipe at the go-it-alone policies of major powers such as the United States. Germany takes up its two-year, non-permanent seat on the council in 2019. Maas called climate change the central challenge of the 21st century, citing the destabilizing effect it can have on entire regions. He said the Security Council needs better information about climate change to tackle the issue. ___ 1:55 p.m. The head of NATO will meet in New York this week with Russia's foreign minister amid tensions over alleged Russian meddling abroad and NATO activity near Russia's borders. The meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, according to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Slutsky told The Associated Press that the Russian delegation at the U.N. will express concern about Western support for Russia's neighbors, and call for better communication around Syria's war. NATO has expressed concern about alleged Russian interference to thwart Macedonia's efforts to join the alliance. Slutsky said the Russian delegation will also meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, after the EU extended sanctions this month against senior Russian officials accused of meddling in Ukraine. Slutsky has been targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions. ___ 12:35 p.m. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has announced his nation's 'ever-more-resolute decision' to fight against all forms of terrorism following a weekend attack targeting a military parade that killed at least 25 people. Rouhani started his speech to a peace summit at U.N. headquarters in New York honoring the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela by sending prayers for the souls of those 'who were martyred on Saturday during the cowardly terrorist attacks against them in the city of Ahvaz.' Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service in the southwestern city of Ahvaz Monday for the victims. Iranian officials have blamed the U.S. and its regional allies for backing the Arab separatists, who carried out the assault while disguised in military uniforms. ___ 11:15 a.m. U.N. officials and world leaders are looking to Nelson Mandela's legacy of championing peace, human rights and global cooperation as the U.N. General Assembly's annual top-level meeting begins. At a peace summit Monday honoring Mandela, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said the late South African leader 'represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering' at a time of doubt about the prospect of international action to address them. Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, told leaders they have 'a moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end.' The Assembly adopted a declaration vowing to redouble 'efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world' in Mandela's spirit. A statue of him was unveiled at U.N. headquarters. ___ 10:35 a.m. Top Western and Arab diplomats are discussing Libya's latest violence as France tries to salvage a plan for long-awaited Libyan elections in December. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is hosting Monday's meeting in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. He wants Libya to follow through with a plan agreed in Paris in May to hold elections Dec. 10. The U.S., Italy and some other key players think that is too soon. Speaking to reporters, Le Drian criticized those in Libya 'who want to preserve the status quo for their own benefit,' notably to profit from today's violence and lawlessness to embezzle oil. Monday's meeting comes as more than 100 people have been killed in the capital Tripoli in recent weeks in attacks by rival militias. Libya slid into chaos after a 2011 uprising and NATO intervention that helped oust longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi. ___ 10 a.m. France's foreign minister wants the U.N. to rally behind a Russian-Turkish accord averting a massive battle for the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that the accord is 'a good thing' and an 'opportunity to seize,' despite concerns that it may not work. Speaking ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Le Drian said France supports a push for a U.N. resolution backing the Idlib accord. However, he wants to add conditions to link the agreement to a longer term peace process. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last week for a buffer zone and cease fire around Idlib. Russia supports Syrian government forces and Turkey has leverage with opposition fighters. ___ 9:50 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the global drug problem is 'alarming,' with some 31 million people around the world requiring treatment and some 450,000 deaths every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues. The U.N. chief told a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump that a global spotlight on 'this life-and-death issue' is needed now more than ever. He said that 'failure is, indeed, not an option,' and added, 'Together we will succeed. We will never give up.' Trump said global drug use has gone up 60 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. He said he was 'thrilled' that some 130 countries have signed on to a U.S. call for action to reduce drug demand, cut off supplies, expand treatment and strengthen international cooperation.
The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local): 10:30 p.m. Five world powers have agreed with Iran to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iran's exports, including oil, as well as its imports. It is a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions. Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement late Monday that the so-called 'Special Purpose Vehicle' will 'assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.' European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after the closed-door ministerial meeting that the financial facility is also aimed at preserving the nuclear agreement that is aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Mogherini says that 'in practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran, and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.' ___ 6:45 p.m. The U.N. Security Council is condemning the fusillade that killed 25 people at an Iranian military parade, calling it a 'heinous and cowardly terrorist attack.' The council issued a statement Monday emphasizing that perpetrators and sponsors of the assault need to be held accountable. Militants disguised as soldiers fired on marching troops and onlookers at a parade Saturday in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz. Blamed on Arab separatists in the region, the bloodshed marked the deadliest attack in Iran in nearly a decade. It further racheted up tensions across the Persian Gulf ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders, which began Monday. Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service Monday for the attack victims. ___ 5:30 p.m. The United States has announced $185 million in new humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims displaced by a military crackdown in Myanmar. Foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the plight of the Rohingya and a recent U.N. fact finding report into atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State that recommended prosecution of military leaders for genocide. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who hosted the meeting, said in a statement that Myanmar's military leaders 'must face full accountability for any atrocities committed.' Hunt says if conditions haven't improved for the 1 million people affected in a year's time, 'then we have failed as an international community.' U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the new U.S. aid will go mostly to Rohingya refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. She says it brings total American assistance to $389 million since the crackdown began in August 2017. ___ 2:40 p.m. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says his country wants to use its upcoming term on the U.N. Security Council to address conflicts around the world before they become full-blown crises. Speaking Monday ahead of his trip to the U.N. General Assembly, he said Germany will emphasize a strong United Nations and 'multilateral solutions' — an indirect swipe at the go-it-alone policies of major powers such as the United States. Germany takes up its two-year, non-permanent seat on the council in 2019. Maas called climate change the central challenge of the 21st century, citing the destabilizing effect it can have on entire regions. He said the Security Council needs better information about climate change to tackle the issue. ___ 1:55 p.m. The head of NATO will meet in New York this week with Russia's foreign minister amid tensions over alleged Russian meddling abroad and NATO activity near Russia's borders. The meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, according to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Slutsky told The Associated Press that the Russian delegation at the U.N. will express concern about Western support for Russia's neighbors, and call for better communication around Syria's war. NATO has expressed concern about alleged Russian interference to thwart Macedonia's efforts to join the alliance. Slutsky said the Russian delegation will also meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, after the EU extended sanctions this month against senior Russian officials accused of meddling in Ukraine. Slutsky has been targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions. ___ 12:35 p.m. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has announced his nation's 'ever-more-resolute decision' to fight against all forms of terrorism following a weekend attack targeting a military parade that killed at least 25 people. Rouhani started his speech to a peace summit at U.N. headquarters in New York honoring the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela by sending prayers for the souls of those 'who were martyred on Saturday during the cowardly terrorist attacks against them in the city of Ahvaz.' Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service in the southwestern city of Ahvaz Monday for the victims. Iranian officials have blamed the U.S. and its regional allies for backing the Arab separatists, who carried out the assault while disguised in military uniforms. ___ 11:15 a.m. U.N. officials and world leaders are looking to Nelson Mandela's legacy of championing peace, human rights and global cooperation as the U.N. General Assembly's annual top-level meeting begins. At a peace summit Monday honoring Mandela, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said the late South African leader 'represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering' at a time of doubt about the prospect of international action to address them. Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, told leaders they have 'a moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end.' The Assembly adopted a declaration vowing to redouble 'efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world' in Mandela's spirit. A statue of him was unveiled at U.N. headquarters. ___ 10:35 a.m. Top Western and Arab diplomats are discussing Libya's latest violence as France tries to salvage a plan for long-awaited Libyan elections in December. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is hosting Monday's meeting in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. He wants Libya to follow through with a plan agreed in Paris in May to hold elections Dec. 10. The U.S., Italy and some other key players think that is too soon. Speaking to reporters, Le Drian criticized those in Libya 'who want to preserve the status quo for their own benefit,' notably to profit from today's violence and lawlessness to embezzle oil. Monday's meeting comes as more than 100 people have been killed in the capital Tripoli in recent weeks in attacks by rival militias. Libya slid into chaos after a 2011 uprising and NATO intervention that helped oust longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi. ___ 10 a.m. France's foreign minister wants the U.N. to rally behind a Russian-Turkish accord averting a massive battle for the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that the accord is 'a good thing' and an 'opportunity to seize,' despite concerns that it may not work. Speaking ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Le Drian said France supports a push for a U.N. resolution backing the Idlib accord. However, he wants to add conditions to link the agreement to a longer term peace process. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last week for a buffer zone and cease fire around Idlib. Russia supports Syrian government forces and Turkey has leverage with opposition fighters. ___ 9:50 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the global drug problem is 'alarming,' with some 31 million people around the world requiring treatment and some 450,000 deaths every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues. The U.N. chief told a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump that a global spotlight on 'this life-and-death issue' is needed now more than ever. He said that 'failure is, indeed, not an option,' and added, 'Together we will succeed. We will never give up.' Trump said global drug use has gone up 60 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. He said he was 'thrilled' that some 130 countries have signed on to a U.S. call for action to reduce drug demand, cut off supplies, expand treatment and strengthen international cooperation.
The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local): 10:30 p.m. Five world powers have agreed with Iran to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iran's exports, including oil, as well as its imports. It is a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions. Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement late Monday that the so-called 'Special Purpose Vehicle' will 'assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.' European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after the closed-door ministerial meeting that the financial facility is also aimed at preserving the nuclear agreement that is aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Mogherini says that 'in practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran, and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.' ___ 6:45 p.m. The U.N. Security Council is condemning the fusillade that killed 25 people at an Iranian military parade, calling it a 'heinous and cowardly terrorist attack.' The council issued a statement Monday emphasizing that perpetrators and sponsors of the assault need to be held accountable. Militants disguised as soldiers fired on marching troops and onlookers at a parade Saturday in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz. Blamed on Arab separatists in the region, the bloodshed marked the deadliest attack in Iran in nearly a decade. It further racheted up tensions across the Persian Gulf ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders, which began Monday. Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service Monday for the attack victims. ___ 5:30 p.m. The United States has announced $185 million in new humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims displaced by a military crackdown in Myanmar. Foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the plight of the Rohingya and a recent U.N. fact finding report into atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State that recommended prosecution of military leaders for genocide. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who hosted the meeting, said in a statement that Myanmar's military leaders 'must face full accountability for any atrocities committed.' Hunt says if conditions haven't improved for the 1 million people affected in a year's time, 'then we have failed as an international community.' U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the new U.S. aid will go mostly to Rohingya refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. She says it brings total American assistance to $389 million since the crackdown began in August 2017. ___ 2:40 p.m. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says his country wants to use its upcoming term on the U.N. Security Council to address conflicts around the world before they become full-blown crises. Speaking Monday ahead of his trip to the U.N. General Assembly, he said Germany will emphasize a strong United Nations and 'multilateral solutions' — an indirect swipe at the go-it-alone policies of major powers such as the United States. Germany takes up its two-year, non-permanent seat on the council in 2019. Maas called climate change the central challenge of the 21st century, citing the destabilizing effect it can have on entire regions. He said the Security Council needs better information about climate change to tackle the issue. ___ 1:55 p.m. The head of NATO will meet in New York this week with Russia's foreign minister amid tensions over alleged Russian meddling abroad and NATO activity near Russia's borders. The meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, according to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Slutsky told The Associated Press that the Russian delegation at the U.N. will express concern about Western support for Russia's neighbors, and call for better communication around Syria's war. NATO has expressed concern about alleged Russian interference to thwart Macedonia's efforts to join the alliance. Slutsky said the Russian delegation will also meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, after the EU extended sanctions this month against senior Russian officials accused of meddling in Ukraine. Slutsky has been targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions. ___ 12:35 p.m. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has announced his nation's 'ever-more-resolute decision' to fight against all forms of terrorism following a weekend attack targeting a military parade that killed at least 25 people. Rouhani started his speech to a peace summit at U.N. headquarters in New York honoring the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela by sending prayers for the souls of those 'who were martyred on Saturday during the cowardly terrorist attacks against them in the city of Ahvaz.' Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service in the southwestern city of Ahvaz Monday for the victims. Iranian officials have blamed the U.S. and its regional allies for backing the Arab separatists, who carried out the assault while disguised in military uniforms. ___ 11:15 a.m. U.N. officials and world leaders are looking to Nelson Mandela's legacy of championing peace, human rights and global cooperation as the U.N. General Assembly's annual top-level meeting begins. At a peace summit Monday honoring Mandela, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said the late South African leader 'represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering' at a time of doubt about the prospect of international action to address them. Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, told leaders they have 'a moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end.' The Assembly adopted a declaration vowing to redouble 'efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world' in Mandela's spirit. A statue of him was unveiled at U.N. headquarters. ___ 10:35 a.m. Top Western and Arab diplomats are discussing Libya's latest violence as France tries to salvage a plan for long-awaited Libyan elections in December. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is hosting Monday's meeting in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. He wants Libya to follow through with a plan agreed in Paris in May to hold elections Dec. 10. The U.S., Italy and some other key players think that is too soon. Speaking to reporters, Le Drian criticized those in Libya 'who want to preserve the status quo for their own benefit,' notably to profit from today's violence and lawlessness to embezzle oil. Monday's meeting comes as more than 100 people have been killed in the capital Tripoli in recent weeks in attacks by rival militias. Libya slid into chaos after a 2011 uprising and NATO intervention that helped oust longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi. ___ 10 a.m. France's foreign minister wants the U.N. to rally behind a Russian-Turkish accord averting a massive battle for the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that the accord is 'a good thing' and an 'opportunity to seize,' despite concerns that it may not work. Speaking ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Le Drian said France supports a push for a U.N. resolution backing the Idlib accord. However, he wants to add conditions to link the agreement to a longer term peace process. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last week for a buffer zone and cease fire around Idlib. Russia supports Syrian government forces and Turkey has leverage with opposition fighters. ___ 9:50 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the global drug problem is 'alarming,' with some 31 million people around the world requiring treatment and some 450,000 deaths every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues. The U.N. chief told a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump that a global spotlight on 'this life-and-death issue' is needed now more than ever. He said that 'failure is, indeed, not an option,' and added, 'Together we will succeed. We will never give up.' Trump said global drug use has gone up 60 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. He said he was 'thrilled' that some 130 countries have signed on to a U.S. call for action to reduce drug demand, cut off supplies, expand treatment and strengthen international cooperation.
The latest on the United Nations General Assembly (all times local): 10:30 p.m. Five world powers have agreed with Iran to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iran's exports, including oil, as well as its imports. It is a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions. Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement late Monday that the so-called 'Special Purpose Vehicle' will 'assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.' European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after the closed-door ministerial meeting that the financial facility is also aimed at preserving the nuclear agreement that is aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Mogherini says that 'in practical terms, this will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran, and this will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.' ___ 6:45 p.m. The U.N. Security Council is condemning the fusillade that killed 25 people at an Iranian military parade, calling it a 'heinous and cowardly terrorist attack.' The council issued a statement Monday emphasizing that perpetrators and sponsors of the assault need to be held accountable. Militants disguised as soldiers fired on marching troops and onlookers at a parade Saturday in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz. Blamed on Arab separatists in the region, the bloodshed marked the deadliest attack in Iran in nearly a decade. It further racheted up tensions across the Persian Gulf ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders, which began Monday. Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service Monday for the attack victims. ___ 5:30 p.m. The United States has announced $185 million in new humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims displaced by a military crackdown in Myanmar. Foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the plight of the Rohingya and a recent U.N. fact finding report into atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State that recommended prosecution of military leaders for genocide. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who hosted the meeting, said in a statement that Myanmar's military leaders 'must face full accountability for any atrocities committed.' Hunt says if conditions haven't improved for the 1 million people affected in a year's time, 'then we have failed as an international community.' U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the new U.S. aid will go mostly to Rohingya refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. She says it brings total American assistance to $389 million since the crackdown began in August 2017. ___ 2:40 p.m. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says his country wants to use its upcoming term on the U.N. Security Council to address conflicts around the world before they become full-blown crises. Speaking Monday ahead of his trip to the U.N. General Assembly, he said Germany will emphasize a strong United Nations and 'multilateral solutions' — an indirect swipe at the go-it-alone policies of major powers such as the United States. Germany takes up its two-year, non-permanent seat on the council in 2019. Maas called climate change the central challenge of the 21st century, citing the destabilizing effect it can have on entire regions. He said the Security Council needs better information about climate change to tackle the issue. ___ 1:55 p.m. The head of NATO will meet in New York this week with Russia's foreign minister amid tensions over alleged Russian meddling abroad and NATO activity near Russia's borders. The meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, according to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Slutsky told The Associated Press that the Russian delegation at the U.N. will express concern about Western support for Russia's neighbors, and call for better communication around Syria's war. NATO has expressed concern about alleged Russian interference to thwart Macedonia's efforts to join the alliance. Slutsky said the Russian delegation will also meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, after the EU extended sanctions this month against senior Russian officials accused of meddling in Ukraine. Slutsky has been targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions. ___ 12:35 p.m. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has announced his nation's 'ever-more-resolute decision' to fight against all forms of terrorism following a weekend attack targeting a military parade that killed at least 25 people. Rouhani started his speech to a peace summit at U.N. headquarters in New York honoring the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela by sending prayers for the souls of those 'who were martyred on Saturday during the cowardly terrorist attacks against them in the city of Ahvaz.' Thousands of Iranians attended a mass funeral service in the southwestern city of Ahvaz Monday for the victims. Iranian officials have blamed the U.S. and its regional allies for backing the Arab separatists, who carried out the assault while disguised in military uniforms. ___ 11:15 a.m. U.N. officials and world leaders are looking to Nelson Mandela's legacy of championing peace, human rights and global cooperation as the U.N. General Assembly's annual top-level meeting begins. At a peace summit Monday honoring Mandela, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said the late South African leader 'represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering' at a time of doubt about the prospect of international action to address them. Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, told leaders they have 'a moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end.' The Assembly adopted a declaration vowing to redouble 'efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world' in Mandela's spirit. A statue of him was unveiled at U.N. headquarters. ___ 10:35 a.m. Top Western and Arab diplomats are discussing Libya's latest violence as France tries to salvage a plan for long-awaited Libyan elections in December. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is hosting Monday's meeting in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. He wants Libya to follow through with a plan agreed in Paris in May to hold elections Dec. 10. The U.S., Italy and some other key players think that is too soon. Speaking to reporters, Le Drian criticized those in Libya 'who want to preserve the status quo for their own benefit,' notably to profit from today's violence and lawlessness to embezzle oil. Monday's meeting comes as more than 100 people have been killed in the capital Tripoli in recent weeks in attacks by rival militias. Libya slid into chaos after a 2011 uprising and NATO intervention that helped oust longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi. ___ 10 a.m. France's foreign minister wants the U.N. to rally behind a Russian-Turkish accord averting a massive battle for the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that the accord is 'a good thing' and an 'opportunity to seize,' despite concerns that it may not work. Speaking ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Le Drian said France supports a push for a U.N. resolution backing the Idlib accord. However, he wants to add conditions to link the agreement to a longer term peace process. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last week for a buffer zone and cease fire around Idlib. Russia supports Syrian government forces and Turkey has leverage with opposition fighters. ___ 9:50 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the global drug problem is 'alarming,' with some 31 million people around the world requiring treatment and some 450,000 deaths every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues. The U.N. chief told a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump that a global spotlight on 'this life-and-death issue' is needed now more than ever. He said that 'failure is, indeed, not an option,' and added, 'Together we will succeed. We will never give up.' Trump said global drug use has gone up 60 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. He said he was 'thrilled' that some 130 countries have signed on to a U.S. call for action to reduce drug demand, cut off supplies, expand treatment and strengthen international cooperation.
Kavanaugh won’t withdraw as judge heads for Thursday showdown hearing

Defiantly denouncing new allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him as a political ‘smear,’ Judge Brett Kavanaugh went on a media offensive on Monday to tell Senators and the nation that he will not withdraw from consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh heads for a historic hearing on Thursday, which draws obvious parallels to the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Supreme Court sexual harassment showdown in 1991.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh wrote in a Monday letter, as he said the latest charges against him “are smears, pure and simple.”

“There is now a frenzy to [More]