Some Republican senators are taking heat for voting against an amendment that would allow employees of military contractors to sue their employers if they are raped at work — and they want the Democratic senator who wrote the amendment to help them fight off the bad publicity.
In October, 30 Republicans voted against Sen. Al Franken’s amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would de-fund contractors who prevent their employees from suing if they are raped by co-workers. Since then, those Republicans have faced outrage for what critics say amounts to support for rape.
A Web site called RepublicansForRape mocks the thirty senators as “legislators who were brave enough to stand up in defense of rape.” Louisiana Sen. David Vitter took heat recently for walking away from a woman who was questioning him about his vote against the amendment.
Now, some of those GOP senators want Sen. Franken (D-MN) to come to their rescue.
An article at Politico reports, “Republicans argue that Franken should make it clear that GOP senators don’t support assault or rape — especially since the amendment deals only with civil claims, making it possible for alleged rapists to be prosecuted criminally.”
“I think it would be helpful for Sen. Franken to come forward and say, ‘I’m not suggesting that anybody who votes for my amendment is indifferent to crimes against women or anybody else,’” Politico quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as saying. “What’s going on politically with the amendment Sen. Franken can’t control, but I think it would be helpful for him personally to just let the rest of us know that’s the views of others — not him.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) accused Franken of exploiting the story of Jamie Leigh Jones — a former KBR employee who says she was locked in a container in Iraq after alleging she was raped by co-workers — to further his political agenda.
“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape, and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Cornyn told Politico.
But Politico notes that Franken’s spokespeople have come to his defense, saying that Franken hasn’t been exploiting the Republican senators’ opposition to the anti-rape amendment.
“Despite attacks on Republicans by liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and on blogs such as Daily Kos, Franken never appeared on any of the shows or on the blogs to make a partisan argument about the matter, saying that the senator turned down entreaties to do so,” Politico reports. “Also, [Franken’s aides] point to the 10 Republicans who voted for the amendment as proof that it wasn’t a partisan measure.”
New Zealand tightens gun laws again after mosque attack
New Zealand announced plans for a national firearms register Monday in its second round of gun law reforms following the Christchurch mosque attacks which killed 51 Muslim worshippers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said regulations around who could hold firearm licences would also be tightened to "stop weapons falling into the wrong hands".
Ardern said the March 15 killings, when a gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, had changed attitudes towards gun ownership in New Zealand.
"There is a new normal around firearms, it is a change of mindset," she told reporters.
Mascots and javelin carriers: Tokyo adds robots to Olympic roster
A roster of Olympic robots that will do everything from welcoming visitors to transporting javelins has been unveiled as Tokyo works to showcase Japanese technology at next year's Summer Games.
Japan hopes the 2020 Olympics will be a chance to put its tech sector back on the map after years in which the country's reputation as an industry leader has flagged.
Auto giant Toyota has a roster of five robots with different roles to play, from cutesy renditions of the Olympic mascots to a staid transport bot.
Final hours of voting in race to become British PM
The voting closes Monday in the contest to become Britain's next prime minister, with Boris Johnson expected to be confirmed as the winner charged with delivering Brexit.
After a month-long contest between former London mayor Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the postal votes of up to 160,000 grassroots Conservatives will decide the governing party's next leader.
The voting window slams shut at 5:00pm (1600 GMT).
The result will be announced on Tuesday, with the winner immediately becoming the new Conservative leader, the victor taking office as prime minister on Wednesday.