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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s emails reignite Democratic query on past testimony

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A Democratic senator on Tuesday raised new questions about whether U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has accurately described his role in a controversial judicial nomination when he worked for then-President George W. Bush.

Emails previously withheld as “committee confidential” but released by the office of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, suggest that Kavanaugh, a White House lawyer at the time, cast light on his involvement in the nomination of William Haynes, a controversial Department of Defense lawyer, for an appeals court position.

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White House spokesman Raj Shah said the emails are consistent with Kavanaugh’s testimony and called Durbin’s actions a “pathetic attempt” to smear the nominee.

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is now in the hands of the U.S. Senate. Republicans control the 51 Senate votes needed to confirm Kavanaugh if they stick together.

Democrats are trying hard to raise questions about the nominee because they see Kavanaugh tilting the court even further to the right. A final Senate vote is expected by the end of September.

Kavanaugh told Durbin in 2006, when Bush nominated him to his current position as an appeals court judge in Washington, that the Haynes nomination was not one he “handled.”

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One 2002 email released by Durbin showed Kavanaugh weighing in on a suggestion that Haynes be nominated for a vacancy on the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, questioning if he was conservative enough.

“But what is the basis for saying he would be an across-the- board judicial conservative?” Kavanaugh asked.

An email from 2003 from then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales invited Kavanaugh to play golf with Haynes.

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In releasing the emails, Durbin revived his own long-simmering dispute dating to Kavanaugh’s 2006 confirmation hearing. Durbin had asked then about whether Kavanaugh was involved in the Haynes nomination.

The White House pointed to a question from another senator at the same 2006 hearing, in which Kavanaugh said “yes” when asked if he would have been involved in discussions on the Haynes nomination if it came up. Kavanaugh said he could not recall such conversations.

In a statement, Durbin sought to tie Kavanaugh’s Haynes testimony to several other issues on which Democrats say Kavanaugh gave misleading answers during his confirmation hearing last week, including whether he was involved in the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

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“This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again. He says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story,” Durbin said

As general counsel at the Pentagon, Haynes was involved in detainee and interrogation policy decisions after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was not ultimately confirmed.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman

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Pope decries euthanasia as Italy court considers assisted suicide

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Pope Francis on Friday again spoke out against assisted suicide and euthanasia, days before a top Italian court is to examine the thorny question in the largely Roman Catholic country.

"We can and we must reject the temptation, which is also favored by legislative changes, to use medicine to satisfy a sick person's possible wish to die," the pope told a delegation from the Italian Doctors Order.

Italy's Constitutional Court has called a session for Tuesday to reexamine the question of potentially legalising assisted suicide, without mentioning euthanasia.

The court last October gave parliament a year to fill a legal void on the question, but MPs have not done so.

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How Facebook makes money when people are slaughtered

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The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.The social advertising surge began just one day after the Aug. 3 El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending. The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads.Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on Aug. 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown. Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated. “The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb said.

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Is a strange Twitter glitch censoring the left?

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The Working Families Party, a New York-based progressive political party, has a reputation befitting its name as a left-populist political organization. So when the organization endorsed the center-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — who was once a hardcore Republican and has emphasized her capitalist credentials — over the explicitly democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters were understandably disappointed. After all, the party overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders in the previous presidential election. What had changed?

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