Nation and World briefs for September 27

Networks plan wall-to-wall Kavanaugh hearing coverage

NEW YORK — The biggest broadcasters and cable news networks are clearing their daytime schedules Thursday for coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault when they were high school students in the 1980s.

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With the wall-to-wall coverage starting at 10 a.m. EDT, the hearing promises to be a national drama along the lines of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing in 1991, when Anita Hill testified that he had sexually harassed her.

Kavanaugh has forcefully denied Ford’s accusations.

“The stakes are very high,” said Christopher Isham, vice president and Washington bureau chief at CBS News. Not only are the political implications huge, with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court at stake, the hearing is likely to continue the national conversation over treatment of women that has been taking place since the beginning of the #MeToo movement.

Since it wasn’t certain when or even if the hearing would take place until a couple of days ago, it has meant for some furious last-minute planning to organize the television coverage.

UN court asked to probe Venezuela; leader defiant in speech

UNITED NATIONS — Six nations made the unprecedented move Wednesday of asking the U.N.’s International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela for possible crimes against humanity, even as President Nicolas Maduro made an unexpected trip to the world body’s headquarters to deliver a nearly hourlong speech declaring his nation “will never give in.”

Maduro’s speech at the General Assembly gathering of world leaders came hours after Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Canada formally asked the ICC to investigate Venezuela on a range of possible charges, from murder to torture and crimes against humanity.

“To remain indifferent or speculative in front of this reality could be perceived as being complicit with the regime. We are not going to be complicit,” said Paraguayan Foreign Minister Andres Rodriguez Pedotti.

The six countries hope the move puts new pressure on Maduro to end the violence and conflict that have sent more than 2 million people fleeing and made Venezuela’s inflation and homicide rates among the highest in the world.

Venezuelan officials have widely rejected international criticism, saying they’re driven by imperialist forces led by the U.S. to justify launching an invasion. And Maduro sounded a defiant tone Wednesday night, complaining that Washington was attacking his country through sanctions and other means and strong-arming other countries into going along in a “fierce diplomatic offensive.”

“(The U.S.) wants to continue just giving orders to the world as though the world were its own property,” Maduro said. “Venezuela will never give in.”

But at the same time, he said he was willing to talk with Trump.

Fed raises rates for 3rd time this year with 1 more expected

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve signaled its confidence Wednesday in the U.S. economy by raising a key interest rate for a third time this year, forecasting another rate hike before year’s end and predicting that it will continue to tighten credit into 2020 to manage growth and inflation.

The Fed lifted its short-term rate — a benchmark for many consumer and business loans — by a modest quarter-point to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. It was its eighth hike since late 2015. The central bank also stuck with a previous forecast for three more rate hikes in 2019.

In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed dropped phrasing it had long used that characterized its policy as “accommodative” — that is, favoring low rates. The Fed had used variations of that pledge in the seven years that it kept its key rate at a record low near zero and over the past nearly three years in which it’s gradually tightened credit.

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By removing that language, the Fed may be signaling its resolve to keep raising rates. In a news conference after its meeting, though, Chairman Jerome Powell said the removal of the “accommodative” language did not amount to a policy change.

“Our economy is strong,” Powell declared at the start of his news conference. “Growth is running at a healthy clip, unemployment is low. The number of people working is rising steadily, and wages are up. Inflation is low and stable, all of these are very good signs.”

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