Suburban women wrestle with Kavanaugh allegation

Linda Gumeson, 70, said she couldn’t believe allegations that were more than three decades old were being taken seriously today. (AP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Suburban women wrestle with Kavanaugh allegation

  • I don’t think somebody as educated as she is is going to make this up, says college professor
  • GOP women and others who support Trump mostly said they still back Kavanaugh

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado: For women like Jayne A. Cordes, the steady stream of investigations in Washington is exhausting. That’s why, when Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago, it struck Cordes as the latest example of the ceaseless — and needless — drama in the capital.
“It’s shenanigans,” said Cordes, an independent who voted for President Donald Trump and lives in the suburbs south of Denver. “It just seems like everybody is open to any kind of allegation because they don’t like Trump.”
But the 59-year-old real estate agent was less dismissive toward Ford herself. “If it’s legitimate, she has a legitimate complaint,” Cordes said, her voice softening. “You don’t want her to be right, because it’s a horrible situation.”
More than 1,100 miles east, Carole Vienneau, a 61-year-old Democrat from Nashville, Tennessee, said it was “only fair” the FBI investigate Ford’s accusations as she has requested.
“This is a lifetime position,” she said. “He’s going for the Supreme Court.”
Gail Zika, 74, who is also a Nashville Democrat, said Ford appears to have a “legitimate claim.”
“I don’t think somebody as educated as she is is going to make this up,” Zika, a former college professor, said. “She needs to have the FBI investigate.”
The response of these women to the Kavanaugh fallout could be critical in the fight for Congress this fall. Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to win over the key voting bloc of suburban women ahead of the midterms. Interviews with nearly a dozen women across the country this week suggested a nuanced reaction to the news in Washington that could pose risks to both parties.
GOP women and others who support Trump mostly said they still back Kavanaugh. Democrats, meanwhile, generally called for more investigations. Many of the women, regardless of their politics, expressed personal empathy for Ford as she steps into a national firestorm.
Ford has said that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed and tried to take off her clothes at a 1980s house party when they were both teenagers at elite private schools near Washington. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
If the Senate GOP leadership moves forward with a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, they run the risk of alienating female voters like Cordes in the Denver suburbs, where vulnerable Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign could play a role in deciding the House majority this fall.
There are challenges for Democrats too. Many Republicans said they were frustrated with the timing and saw it as a Democratic attempt to obstruct one of the president’s nominees to the nation’s highest court, which could energize them in November.
Norma Bozell, 63, lives in an affluent community in a Northern Virginia congressional district that stretches from the Washington suburbs to the rural part of the state. In this district, where Hillary Clinton easily defeated Trump, GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock is fighting for political survival.
Bozell, who describes herself as an independent, said she found the timing of the allegations suspicious and believed Kavanaugh was an “upstanding man” who was being “smeared” and that his family was being torn apart.
“I’m very disappointed in what seems to be a play of politics that (California Sen. Dianne) Feinstein has brought this out at the eleventh hour,” Bozell said.
Like Bozell, Republicans on Capitol Hill have said that Feinstein should have brought the information to the panel earlier. Feinstein has said she sought to protect Ford, whose letter to lawmakers outlining the allegation against Kavanaugh requested confidentiality.
Bozell said she wanted to see Ford testify on Capitol Hill and that if she won’t do so voluntarily, she should be subpoenaed. But Bozell also said that Ford’s “interpretation might be a lot different than what happened.”
“I remember when I was that age. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on, especially if there’s alcohol involved,” she said. “Things could have been interpreted a little bit differently.”
Brooke DiStefano, 40, is a Democrat, and even she was somewhat dismissive of the allegations.
“It seems kind of silly because it’s high school,” the physician’s assistant said as she walked into a shopping mall in Lone Tree, Colorado.
DiStefano oscillated from strong skepticism to sympathy within a moment. She mused aloud that Ford just wanted attention “because the #MeToo movement is so popular,” but quickly added that the sort of assault Ford alleged happened “is an important issue.”
Also in Colorado, Linda Gumeson, 70, said she couldn’t believe allegations that were more than three decades old were being taken seriously today.
“If I could go back to high school and find everyone who tried to take advantage of us,” the Republican said, shaking her head. “It was different times.”
Gumeson, a Republican, said that times have changed, and she’s glad, but that she didn’t believe people should try to apply today’s standards retroactively.
“Thirty-six years, in high school,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”


Boko Haram kills second kidnapped aid worker in Nigeria: Red Cross

Updated 16 October 2018
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Boko Haram kills second kidnapped aid worker in Nigeria: Red Cross

  • The death came just a month after one of her colleagues was murdered
  • More than 27,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009

ABUJA: Daesh-allied Boko Haram militants have killed another kidnapped female Red Cross worker in northeast Nigeria in a “despicable act of cruelty,” the agency said on Tuesday, a month after militants murdered one of her colleagues.
Three female health workers were kidnapped on March 1 during a Boko Haram raid on the remote town of Rann, in Borno state, that killed three other aid workers and eight Nigerian soldiers.
Two of the kidnapped women, Hauwa Liman and Saifura Khorsa, worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), while the third, Alice Loksha, worked for the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.
The ICRC said on Tuesday it had received information Liman had been killed by her captors, without giving further details. The government had also earlier announced news of the second killing.
“The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi said in a statement.
“We appealed for mercy and an end to such senseless murders. How can it be that two female health care workers were killed back-to-back?“
There had been no news of the trio until last month when the ICRC said it had received footage of Khorsa’s killing from a Boko Haram faction.
The faction then threatened to kill Liman and Loksha, as well as a 15-year-old Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped from the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state, in February.
The ICRC last weekend appealed for their release underscoring that they were “doing nothing but helping communities” in the conflict-riven region.
But Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed earlier announced the latest death as a deadline expired and said the government was “shocked and saddened” at the killing, calling it “dastardly, inhuman and ungodly.”
He did not initially identify the victim but later added in a tweet that he “commiserated with the family of Hauwa Liman.”
“It is very unfortunate that it has come to this. Before and after the deadline issued by her abductors, the federal government did everything any responsible government should do to save the aid worker,” he said.
“As we have been doing since these young women were abducted, we kept the line of negotiations open all through. In all the negotiations, we acted in the best interest of the women and the country as a whole.”
He said officials continued to work to free the others from captivity.
More than 27,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009, while nearly two million others remain homeless due to the conflict.
Nigeria’s military and government maintain the extremist rebels are weakened to the point of defeat but fighters from the Daesh-backed faction have conducted repeated raids on military bases in recent months.
The faction split from the faction led by long-time Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in August 2016 in protest at the latter’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians in raids and suicide bombings.
Analysts say they believe the switch by militants from attacking “hard” government and military targets to killing hostages is the result of a hard-line takeover of the Daesh-backed faction.
Boko Haram has used kidnapping as a weapon of war during the conflict, abducting thousands of women and girls, and forcing young men and boys to fight in their ranks.
The mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok in April 2014 brought global attention to the insurgency and was widely condemned. Some 107 girls have since been released or found.