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Senators get FBI report on Kavanaugh, Republicans push vote

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 The White House on Thursday rejected Democratic criticism of its handling of an FBI probe into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as Senate Republicans maneuvered to confirm the conservative judge within days.

President Donald Trump, pushing to get his nominee for a lifetime job on the top US court, said in a Twitter post on Thursday after the FBI finished its investigation that the allegations against Kavanaugh were “totally uncorroborated.”

The White House sent the report to the Senate Judiciary Committee early on Thursday, and senators were poring over it to determine whether it resolved their concerns about the nominee.

Some Democrats voiced concern that the report was inadequate because the FBI had not interviewed enough people, including Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982.

Senator Chris Coons told CNN it appeared a number of important witnesses had not been questioned.

Attorneys for Deborah Ramirez, who also has accused the judge of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray saying they were “deeply disappointed” that agents had not followed up on their interview with her by talking to the more than 20 witnesses she identified as being able to corroborate her account of his behavior.

Republicans expressed growing confidence that Kavanaugh would be confirmed by the Senate after the pitched political battle that has riveted Americans weeks before crucial congressional elections on November 6.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the Trump administration was “fully confident” Kavanaugh had the necessary support.

A senior Senate Republican aide said there was growing confidence that Republican Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin – all swing votes – will support Kavanaugh.

If so, that could be enough for a Trump victory in this battle. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is another swing vote who has been heavily lobbied in Alaska to oppose Kavanaugh.

The allegations of sexual misconduct arose during the Senate confirmation process. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, which related to actions when he was a student in high school and college.

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Trump and the Senate Republican leadership are battling to corral enough support for a majority vote for Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge who would deepen conservative control of the Supreme Court. Democrats have fought his nomination from the outset.

Shah told CNN the White House believes the FBI report had addressed the Senate’s questions about Kavanaugh.

“The White House didn’t micromanage the FBI. … It’s been sent to the Senate, no White House editing,” Shah said. “Obviously the senators have just begun to read this information but we feel very confident that we will have the votes.” 

PROCEDURAL VOTE

The FBI report was sent to the White House and Senate just hours after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took steps on Wednesday night to force a procedural vote on the nomination one hour after the Senate convenes on Friday.

McConnell filed a petition for the procedural vote to limit debate on the nomination and start the clock ticking on a final 30-hour waiting period before a final Senate confirmation vote.

Ford’s attorneys said she was not contacted by the FBI for the report. Several people with information related to allegations againstKavanaugh told Reuters they had not heard from the FBI, suggesting its report may be narrower than was desired by some lawmakers who demanded it just days ago.

Republican senators were meeting in a secure room in the US Capitol to receive a briefing on the FBI report from the Judiciary Committee’s Republican staff. They will not take notes or remove the report from the room. Democratic senators huddled, preparing to hold a news conference.

Flake, Collins and Murkowski all have criticized Trump for mocking Ford at a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday.

Ford, who testified last week at a dramatic Judiciary Committee hearing, said she could not remember the precise date or location of the alleged assault or how she got home later, but offered a detailed account of the incident.

Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down, trying to remove his clothing and covering her mouth when she screamed. He denied the allegation and painted himself as the victim of a “political hit.”

Also read: Trump mocks Kavanaugh accuser Blasey Ford’s testimony

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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