After a brief call late Saturday, the woman’s lawyers and aides to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, planned to talk again Sunday morning to continue the halting negotiations over the conditions of the testimony, according to three people familiar with the call.
Aides to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, were also involved.
But in a possible setback for the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, Republicans on the committee received a statement Saturday that seemed to eliminate any chance of corroboration of Blasey’s account by anyone who attended the high school party where she says she was assaulted.
A woman named Leland Keyser — who is believed to have been identified by Blasey as one of the five people at the party — told the committee through a lawyer that she “does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.” Two men said to have been at the party, Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth, have also told the committee that they have no recollection of the events.
Still, even without corroboration, any testimony by Blasey would set up a potentially explosive showdown, and it could greatly complicate matters for Kavanaugh, who just last week — before Blasey came forward with her account of the assault — seemed destined for confirmation to the Supreme Court.
While the negotiations over Blasey’s testimony seemed to gain momentum, they could still falter over the details, which include who will question her. But in tentatively agreeing to a Thursday hearing, Republicans made a significant concession that suggested they were working to ensure that the session occurred after several days of uncertainty.
If no final deal is made, Grassley will be left to decide on Sunday whether to move ahead with a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination that is scheduled for Monday, or give Blasey more time. Kavanaugh, who has vigorously denied the allegations, has repeatedly expressed his desire to testify.
Grassley had set 2:30 p.m. Saturday as a final deadline for Blasey to agree or decline to appear. In a letter to the committee sent to meet that deadline, lawyers for Blasey, 51, a research psychologist in Northern California, said they were hopeful that an agreement could be reached on the details.
Blasey “accepts the committee’s request to provide her firsthand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” they wrote. The lawyers called details of Grassley’s earlier proposal, including a Wednesday hearing date, “fundamentally inconsistent with the committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations.”
The tentative deal reached hours later came as White House officials and Republicans on Capitol Hill were growing increasingly frustrated at what they said was a ploy to delay the Monday vote. After the Judiciary Committee revealed Keyser’s statement, the White House swung into the offensive against Blasey.
“One week ago, Dr. Christine Ford claimed she was assaulted at a house party attended by four others,” said Kerri Kupec, a White House spokeswoman. “Since then, all four of these individuals have provided statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying any knowledge of the incident or even having attended such a party.”
A lawyer for Blasey, Debra Katz, said in a statement that it was “unremarkable that Ms. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her.”
Democrats praised Blasey and said they hoped the agreement would hold together. “She is a profile in courage,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is on the committee and was briefed on the back-and-forth. “She has come so far in meeting truly outrageously arbitrary and unfair demands simply to speak her truth to power and to the American people.”
The tentative agreement was the latest turn in an on-again, off-again negotiation that began cordially with Blasey voicing an openness to testifying but quickly turned acrimonious. There have been several sticking points, including who would question her at a hearing — Republicans want to hire an outside counsel; Blasey would prefer to be questioned by senators — and how many news media cameras would be present. The lawyers have also asked for the committee to subpoena testimony from Judge, who Blasey has said witnessed the assault.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he has enough votes to confirm Kavanaugh, but with at least two Republicans in the Senate undecided and with the party holding only a 51-49 majority, it is hardly assured. It is increasingly unlikely that Kavanaugh will have the support of even a single Senate Democrat.
Privately, Republican senators were working to resolve differences among themselves about how to proceed. Some favored cutting off negotiations over the hearing and moving swiftly to a vote, while others pushed to accommodate Blasey’s wishes.
One of those who has favored accommodation, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said on Twitter on Saturday afternoon that he saw progress. “This is good,” he wrote.
Among the many considerations, according to one official close to the discussions, was how Republican voters would react to any move to push past the allegations. President Donald Trump suggested at a rally on Friday night that he believes that the public, including many women, want to “fight for” Kavanaugh.
After breaking his silence about Blasey on Friday and questioning her allegations, the president on Saturday stayed mum about her, heeding the advice of aides who have warned him repeatedly against appearing to attack her.
Blasey’s accusations, coming just days before the Judiciary Committee was initially set to vote on Kavanaugh, have rocked official Washington, evoking memories of the 1991 confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by law professor Anita Hill. They have further energized Democrats, and women particularly, in a midterm election in which Republicans are struggling to court the female vote.
Over the past week, Blasey has become a cultural touchstone for women around the country in the era of the #MeToo movement. A hashtag, #IBelieveChristine, has sprung up on Twitter, and survivors of sexual assault are set to rally in New York on Monday. A Facebook post promoting the rally said that “New York City stands with Dr. Blasey Ford and all sexual assault survivors.” Groups of law students and women were expected to travel to Washington this week in a show of support for Blasey. Others have rallied in support of Kavanaugh.
Blasey has said that a drunken Kavanaugh assaulted her during a small party in suburban Washington when they were both in high school. As Judge watched, she said, he pushed her onto a bed, jumped on top of her, groped her, covered her mouth, and tried to remove her clothing. Blasey was able to leave the room when the friend jumped atop both of them, she said.
Officials said Kavanaugh, who spent much of this past week at the White House preparing for a hearing, was well rehearsed and ready to appear on Capitol Hill if senators opted to go forward with a session. At mock hearings last week, according to a White House official, he practiced fielding specific questions about the accusations and deflecting broad inquiries about his social life, such as his general drinking habits.
The intense attention on Blasey’s accusation continued to reverberate on Capitol Hill on Saturday in unexpected ways. One of Grassley’s communications advisers, who had joined the Judiciary Committee temporarily to help shape messaging around Kavanaugh’s confirmation, stepped down from his position after NBC News raised questions about an accusation that he sexually harassed a co-worker in a previous political job.
The adviser, Garrett Ventry, said the sexual harassment claim against him was false. A spokesman for the committee, Taylor Foy, noted the denial of wrongdoing but said Ventry had decided to step aside “to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”
Before joining Grassley’s staff, Ventry worked for CRC Public Relations, a Virginia-based firm whose conservative clients include the Federalist Society and other groups backing Kavanaugh’s confirmation. A spokesman for CRC said that Ventry had been on a leave of absence and that the firm had accepted his resignation Saturday.
Michael Bromwich, a prominent Washington lawyer, joined Blasey’s legal team Friday. After doing so, he resigned from his law firm, Robbins Russell, amid objections within the firm about his work, including potential public appearances on Blasey’s behalf.
Bromwich, a former inspector general of the Justice Department, is also at the center of another leading story line in Washington: He represents Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director, who was fired this year and witnessed many of the most sensitive episodes of the bureau’s Russia investigation.
“Because objections have been raised within the partnership to my doing so while employed by the firm, I am resigning from the firm, effective immediately,” Bromwich wrote in a letter to the firm’s staff, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
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.
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.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
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
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
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.
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.
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.