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Who’s who in the fight over Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

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By AFP
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As Judge Brett Kavanaugh fights to salvage his nomination to the US Supreme Court a diverse cast of characters has emerged in the process.

They include an acquaintance from high school who accuses him of sexual assault, a former teenage drinking buddy, an ex-classmate from Yale University and even the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels. 

Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, a conservative judicial thinker whose appointment would solidify the rightward tilt of the nation’s highest court.

Kavanaugh was introduced as an irreproachable family man, a devout Catholic and coach to his daughter’s basketball team.

But his nomination process has been clouded by charges of sexual abuse that allegedly took place decades ago and an image that has emerged of a heavy drinking youth.

Kavanaugh, who is married and has two daughters, attended Georgetown Prep, an exclusive Catholic high school in Maryland, and prestigious Yale University,

He began his career as a clerk to Anthony Kennedy, the justice whose Supreme Court seat he is seeking to fill.

In the 1990s, he led an investigation into the suicide of Bill Clinton aide Vince Foster, who was linked to the Whitewater controversy that began as a probe into the presidential couple’s real estate investments.

Kavanaugh later contributed to prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s report into Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and went on to become part of George W. Bush’s legal team working on the 2000 Florida recount, which resulted in Bush winning the presidency.

After Bush moved into the White House in 2001, he recruited Kavanaugh as legal counsel before naming him in 2003 to the federal appeals court in Washington.

Christine Blasey Ford, 51, is a professor of psychology and statistics who has taught at Stanford University and Palo Alto University.

In a July letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Blasey Ford recounted how she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh while a teenager.

Blasey Ford said the attack occurred at a party in the early 1980s and that a friend of Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, was also present.

“They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state,” Blasey Ford said.

Blasey Ford, who was a student at a private girls school, said she managed to escape and did not report the assault at the time.

Blasey Ford is a published author in her field. Her Palo University biography describes her as a “biostatistician who specializes in the design and analysis of clinical trials.”

She is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday along with Kavanaugh.

Deborah Ramirez, 53, is a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University. They were both freshman at the New Haven, Connecticut, university during the 1983-84 academic year.

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Ramirez claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself and put his penis near her face during a drinking game in a dormitory and the incident left her “embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.”

She told The New Yorker she had not come forward earlier because she had been drinking that evening and she had “significant gaps” in her memory.

According to The New Yorker, Ramirez studied sociology and psychology at Yale and went on to work for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. She now lives in Colorado.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation along with that of Blasey Ford.

Mark Judge, 54, was a classmate of Kavanaugh at Georgetown Prep.

Blasey Ford alleges that Judge was in the room when she was assaulted by Kavanaugh. Judge has said he has “no memory” of the incident.

Judge is a freelance writer and author who has written for a variety of publications, most recently right-wing outlets such as the Daily Caller and the American Spectator.

He has authored several books including one, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” which recounts his struggles with alcohol and the debauchery of his teenaged years.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Judge was holed up at a friend’s house in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Judge declined to speak to a Post reporter who tracked him down but his lawyer, Barbara VanGelder, told the newspaper she had told him to leave the area because he was being “hounded.”

“He is a recovering alcoholic and is under unbelievable stress,” VanGelder said. “He needed for his own health to get out of this toxic environment and take care of himself.”

Michael Avenatti, 47, is the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump over a decade ago.

Avenatti has represented Daniels as she sought to invalidate a “hush agreement” she signed shortly before the November 2016 presidential election in which she agreed not to discuss the sexual liaison.

Avenatti has claimed in recent days to represent a woman who has “credible information” regarding Kavanaugh and Judge and wants to be heard out by the Senate Judiciary Committee examining his nomination.

Avenatti has yet to reveal the identity of the woman or her story, but has said he expects do so before Thursday’s Senate hearing.

Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee which is staging the hearings for Kavanaugh and will hold the initial vote on his nomination.

Republicans hold a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate and three Republican senators are being closely watched as potential opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

They are Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.



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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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