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Democrats preview line of attack on ‘pro-corporate’ high court nominee

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U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday outlined how they will question Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing next week over what they say is a pro-corporate bias in his rulings as an appeals court judge.

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that the burden is on Gorsuch, a conservative appeals court judge from Colorado, to prove at the hearing starting on Monday that he is an independent judge and not a pro-business activist.

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“Judge Gorsuch may act like a neutral, calm judge, but his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special-interest legal agenda,” Schumer said.

Schumer appeared on Capitol Hill with several individual plaintiffs that Gorsuch ruled against in his position as a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“He expresses a lot of empathy and sympathy for the less powerful,” Schumer said, “but when it comes to time to rule, when the chips are down, far too often he sides with the powerful few over everyday Americans just trying to get a fair shake.”

Conservative legal activists who support the nomination say that Democrats are cherry-picking a small number of rulings that distort Gorsuch’s 11-year record as a judge.

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President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31 to fill a yearlong vacancy on the nine-justice Supreme Court.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has to approve the appointment for it to take effect. Last year they refused to consider Democratic former president Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy caused by the February 2016 death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate 52-48, but Schumer repeated his view that Gorsuch would need to win 60 votes, rather than a simple majority, to move toward confirmation. Democrats can seek to use a procedural maneuver to block a confirmation vote if Gorsuch’s supporters cannot muster 60 votes, although Republicans could change the Senate rules.

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“If a nominee can’t get 60 votes, you don’t change the rules,” Schumer said. “You change the nominee.”

Among the plaintiffs who spoke out was truck driver Alphonse Maddin, who was fired after he disobeyed a supervisor and abandoned his trailer at the side of a road after the brakes froze. Gorsuch wrote a dissenting opinion as a three-judge panel ruled last year that Maddin was wrongly terminated and had to be reinstated with back pay.

“This was a seven-year battle,” Maddin said. “Seven different judges heard my case. One of those judges found against me. That judge was Neil Gorsuch.”

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(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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