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US Senate panel set to vote on Supreme Court nominee

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Washington, Sep 28 : The US Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote later on Friday on President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The vote follows a dramatic testimony on Thursday by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault while both were teenagers.

Ford described the alleged 1982 attack in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life. However, Kavanaugh denied assaulting her or anyone.

Trump has urged the full Senate to approve his nominee in a vote expected next week. Republicans currently have a majority of 51-49, but the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided, CNN reported.

After the committee votes, the current plan is to hold a procedural vote on the Senate floor on Saturday and hold the final vote later, the reports said.

“I think he was incredibly powerful and very clear,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of Kavanaugh during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.

She said that Ford was mistaken about her attacker and said Kavanaugh has “been unequivocal since Day One that this did not take place by him”.

Asked whether Trump had the votes to confirm Kavanaugh, Sanders said: “I certainly hope so, and I certainly think so. We have to move forward in this process. Judge Kavanaugh deserves a vote.”

The Thursday hearing brought an outpouring of support for Ford, a university professor, from the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.

“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

She alleged Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.

Ford said Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”.

Reacting to Ford’s allegations, Kavanaugh said that he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process. He was accused by several other women of sexual assault.

However, Trump repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he was “one of the highest quality people” he had ever met.

Thousands of protesters against Kavanaugh’s nomination took to the streets and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington.

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America

US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to a new five-decade low of 3.5%, while employers added a modest 136,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.

Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

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Trump embarrassed by TV channel

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

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New York, Sep 26 : US President Donald Trump was subjected to an embarrassment when the MSNBC news channel cut away from his press conference while he was speaking on the controversy surrounding him over the Ukrainian probe against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday was addressing the press conference against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings announced against him by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following allegations that he put pressure on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a probe against Biden whose family has business interests there.

The allegation against Trump came to light because of a whistleblower and a transcript of the conversation between him and Zelensky in July, which has become public.

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

She added that Trump was trying to do it to deflect the attention from his impeachment.

According to the transcript of the telephonic conversation that has gone public, Trump is heard asking Zelensky to “do us a favour”, after the latter expresses gratitude for the military aid the US provided to his country.

Trump’s words of “do us a favour” is seen as a quid pro quo for the American military aid, because of which the impeachment proceedings have been announced.

After Wallace cut the press conference, her guest on the programme, justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, rebuked Trump for saying that Biden and his son had done wrong.

“This story has been looked at and thoroughly debunked by everyone involved,” Miller said, adding the real issue was whether Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”.

Trump is facing problem at a time when he is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

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Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump

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Pyongyang, June 23 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with “excellent” and “interesting” content from US President Donald Trump, Pyongyang’s state media said on Sunday.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to its leader.

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” it added.

The KCNA did not disclose when and how the letter was delivered to Kim, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The letter appears to be in response to the one Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump had described Kim’s letter as “beautiful” and “very warm”. He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive”.

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

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