Yearly Archive 2018

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Three Reasons Why Kingdom Hearts III Needs Photo Mode

Even though there is still much that remains to be seen, fans are placing their absolute trust in director Tetsuya Nomura and his vision to make Kingdom Hearts III the best damn installment in the crossover franchise.
The latest entry will be the twelfth in the series and serve as a direct sequel to the events that have taken place in Kingdom Hearts II. There is naturally a lot of hype surrounding the upcoming installment, more so for the fact that it has been in development for nearly a decade.
With just a few more months remaining before the official release, fans have started bringing attention to the possible inclusion of a Photo Mode. Take note that Square Enix has not hinted or even teased anything in regards to the said feature, which is exactly why the community is trying to make itself heard.
Here are three main reasons why Kingdom Hearts III needs a well-crafted Photo Mode, hoping that someone from the development team catches sight of this.
The world is just too pretty
What footage and resulting screenshots have made it to the public so far make it quite evident that the many fantasy worlds making up Kingdom Hearts III are going to leave everyone speechless.
The latest installment simply looks stunning at every turn, featuring unique environments with vibrant color palettes to recreate the original Disney properties. Whether it is Mount Olympus for Hercules, the Caribbean for Captain Jack Sparrow, or the Kingdom of Corona for Rapunzel; no two settings are alike in any way.
It would be a waste to not be able to capture these beautiful locations and their residing characters with an integral Photo Mode. They deserve to be shared with friends and loved ones.
The need for memorabilia
The overall cast, including both protagonists and antagonists, contains an expansive list of renowned names from across the board. It is not just the fantasy worlds alone that have everyone excited for Kingdom Hearts III, it is also the opportunity to meet up with memorable characters from Disney during the adventure.
There will be Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Baymax and Fred from Big Hero 6, Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph, Simba from the Lion King, Captain Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean, and many many more.
Having the opportunity to snap a few selfies with these characters would be splendid. Having the option to actually get the character to pose with a Photo Mode would be even more awesome.
The fans want it
In the past few years, requests for a built-in Photo Mode have been piling up on every forum and social media platform related to the upcoming installment. They initially began with discussions about the possible advantages and then quickly moved on to pure necessity of having one. There have even been online petitions. However, none of them has forced Square Enix to break radio silence over the matter.
The point is that fans clearly want this feature to be there in Kingdom Hearts III. What better way of rewarding fans for their patience all these years than to deliver exactly what they are yearning for?

Are you also hoping for Square Enix to add support for a Photo Mode in Kingdom Hearts III? Let us know in the comments below.
Kingdom Hearts III has been in development for more than ten years now and will finally see the light of day when it officially release worldwide for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 25, 2019.
The post Three Reasons Why Kingdom Hearts III Needs Photo Mode appeared first on SegmentNext.

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Can You Justify $100 for the New PlayStation Classic?

Sony has also decided to jump on the retro trend by resurrecting its first and original home console in the PlayStation family in the form of PlayStation Classic.
Similar to how Nintendo recently reintroduced the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the PlayStation Classic has been shrunken into a miniaturized state with twenty “generation-defining” games pre-loaded from the start.
However, the similarities between Nintendo and Sony also extend to cover the steep pricing. While fans showed disappointment over Nintendo asking for $60 and $80 respectively for both classic editions, they must now dish out even more for Sony and its upcoming nostalgic system.
In what can only be termed as a corporate move, the PlayStation Classic is going to be priced at $100. This figure is expected to increase by ten folds when the stock runs dry and third-party sellers come into play. For those who do manage to come close to the introductory price, is $100 justified for the PlayStation Classic?
To begin with, Sony is yet to completely list the titles. The company has only mentioned fan-favorites Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. Secondly, there are going to be just twenty embedded games. This is far less than what Nintendo offered with its re-released classic systems.
It should be noted that such older and classic games can already be downloaded for free on a PC. Sony is practically competing with piracy over here and slapping on a $100 price tag for a system that features lesser content than the competition is not something to be easily ignored.
Furthermore, the USB AC adapter required to power the hardware is not being included in the box. Sony is meeting potential customers halfway by just bundling the micro cables. Considering the steep pricing, it is rather surprising that Sony decided to forego the main power adapter.
That being said, there is one area where the PlayStation Classic is ahead. The miniature console feature two controllers in the package, whereas Nintendo only gave away one with its classic machines. That alone can justify a few additional dollars in the overall pricing but not completely.
In the end, it goes without saying that the PlayStation Classic will sell in droves just because of the nostalgic factor. In addition, PlayStation fans are likely to consider making a purchase just to add the retro console in their memorabilia collection.

Do you feel that $100 is completely reasonable for the PlayStation Classic? Let us know in the comments below.
The PlayStation Classic is scheduled to release on December 3, 2018, just in time for the Christmas season. The full list of the pre-loaded games should arrive beforehand. In the meantime, select retailers are already taking pre-orders in both the United States and Canada.
The post Can You Justify $100 for the New PlayStation Classic? appeared first on SegmentNext.

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Five Forgotten Characters Mortal Kombat 11 Needs to Bring Back

Taking into consideration the recent release patterns in the fighting franchise, Mortal Kombat 11 should be seeing the light of day sometime next year. The only thing is that NetherRealm Studios is yet to drop the official word and has assured fans that everyone involved is working hard on the next project.
While a teaser trailer is being awaited, why not use the time to look back at previous installments and craft a wishlist for characters to return? These are faces that were introduced fairly early in the series, with backstories that were more or less left untouched down the road.
NetherRealm Studios has already proven with Mortal Kombat X that it does not shy away from introducing new characters. On that note, there is hope that the developer will consider bringing back some old names with Mortal Kombat 11 as well.

Fujin
Fujin was one of the guardians of Shinnok and made his first appearance in Mortal Kombat 4 when the fallen god escaped his prison. He is one of the few remaining deities in the fight against evil and was personally chosen by Raiden as the new protector of Earth, a role that he fulfilled until Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Since then, he has only made brief cameos in both the 2011 reboot and the recent Mortal Kombat X.
Fujin is the god of wind, much like Raiden is of thunder. He can manipulate the element for all sorts of attacks such as sending tornadoes and pressurized projectiles from afar. The winds around him are his to command, giving him the ability to levitate and create cyclones to suck in his opponents.
In terms of strength, Fujin is often compared with Raiden as they both are immortal beings. If the rumors are true that Raiden will go dark in Mortal Kombat 11, there would be no better replacement than Fujin.

Motaro
Motaro is a centaur-like creature with the body of a stallion and the torso of a man. He made his first appearance in Mortal Kombat 3 and remains to this day as one of the most difficult bosses in the franchise.
He has both incredible strength and speed, owing to his four-legged race. He can send opponents flying with just a single punch and then instantly appear behind them using teleportation. Motaro is also immune to projectile attacks, or at least he was before he lost most of his abilities in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
Motaro made a small cameo appearance in the 2011 reboot where he was taken out by Raiden during the invasion. While it was suggested that he died at the hands of the thunder god, the franchise itself ascertains that resurrections and surprise returns are never out of the question.
Taking into account the core installments, Motaro has only made a significant appearance in just two of them. It is time that the Centaurian took his rightful place in Mortal Kombat 11.

Nitara
Nitara is a bat-winged vampire who feeds on life energy in order to remain alive. Her sole goal is to restore her original realm, making her one of the few morally neutral characters in the expansive narrative. She was first introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, making a cameo appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deception and returning in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon for the last time.
Nitara can use her giant wings to cover ample ground, either advancing towards or retreating from the opponent in little time. Her powers revolve around blood, where she literally spits projectiles of blood. She can also drain her prey to renew her own strength.
Nitara is an extremely underrated character in the franchise. She was highly wished to return in Mortal Kombat X but that never happened. Her storyline and desire for blood need to be elaborated further. Mortal Kombat 11 allows for that to happen.

Onaga
Onaga, also known as the Dragon King, once ruled over Outworld with an unstoppable army until Shao Kahn, who served as one of his chief advisers, fatally poisoned him. He made his first appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deception when he was inadvertently brought back to life by Quan Chi.
Onaga is one of the strongest beings in the entire franchise and someone who even Shao Kahn fears to face. He possess great regenerative abilities, is completely immune to magic, and can exhale vicious streams of fire. In addition to his incredible strength, giant dragon wings allow him to take flight as well.
Onaga has been missing in action since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, being watered down to just making a small cameo appearance in the 2011 reboot as part of a vision received by Raiden. He is one antagonist that was never given the proper time to cement himself in the narrative. The forces of good will likely have their hands full should Onaga and his mighty army return in Mortal Kombat 11.

Reiko
Reiko is a warlord with a penchant for brutality and a desire to rule. He made his first appearance in Mortal Kombat 4 where he led the armies of Shinnok against the defenders of Earth. When the fallen god was defeated, Reiko took the opportunity to sit on the empty throne. He returned later in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon to take the throne once again but this time with more power and savagery.
Reiko made a small cameo appearance in the 2011 reboot where he could be seen fighting in the background of the “Pit” stage. He played no part in the narrative and was also completely missing from Mortal Kombat X. However, an accompanying comic book series revealed him as a successor to the throne at the end of the reboot but with a rather grim ending.
Reiko is a powerful fighter with a brilliant tactical mind. He is skilled in throwing stacks of shurikens and baiting his opponents to expose their weaknesses. He can also use teleportation to make his attacks even more deadlier by reappearing from above, behind, or the ground to land damage.
Reiko has always maintained similarities with Shao Kahn, which includes wearing his iconic helmet and copying some of his moves. However, he has somewhat lost his way in the storyline over the years. Could he return in Mortal Kombat 11 to lead his armies against Earth once again?

What other characters are you hoping to see in Mortal Kombat 11? Let us know in the comments below.
Mortal Kombat 11 is rumored for a release in spring next year for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. NetherRealm Studios should be dropping the official teaser in the coming months.
The post Five Forgotten Characters Mortal Kombat 11 Needs to Bring Back appeared first on SegmentNext.

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Side effect of trafficking law: More street prostitution?

NEW YORK — Recent crackdowns targeting the sex-for-hire industry have reduced the number of commercial ads on the internet and helped fight online trafficking. But activists and police say the efforts may have had unintended consequences — landing women and girls back on the streets, where dangers also lurk.
The impact was almost immediate after the seizure of Backpage.com by the federal government in April and President Donald Trump’s signature the same month on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, a law meant to hold internet platforms accountable for facilitating sex trafficking.
The number of sex ads online plummeted by 75 percent, an indication that the law was thwarting human traffickers no longer protected by the anonymity of the internet. But sex workers and their advocates say another casualty was the income of escorts who advertised online, along with the ability to vet clients better than on the street.
Statistics establishing a pattern are hard to come by, but police in some of the nation’s biggest cities told The Associated Press they are also seeing a shift, if sometimes only in the age of the sex workers they’re encountering.
“I have seen a group of fresher faces, so that would make me think that they’re new to the street, maybe from the internet,” said Lt. Jimmy Sides, of the San Antonio police.
Law enforcement in San Antonio arrested 296 people for prostitution between March 21, when the Sex Trafficking Act passed Congress, and Aug. 14, according to a public records request — a 58 percent increase from the same span the year before, when police made 187 arrests.
Phoenix police said they experienced a surge in street-prostitution arrests in 2018 but did not provide figures. In Houston, levels have remained constant, but more 14- to 17-year-olds have been working outdoors since May, said James Dale, a police captain.
Police in Sacramento, California, noted three street-prostitution arrests between March 21, 2017, and mid-August of that year. During the same period in 2018, they recorded 15.
Police in many big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, did not grant requests for interviews or data.
In March, there were about 100,000 adult services ads posted per day worldwide, according to researchers at Uncharted Software, which has monitored such ads since 2014. After the trafficking act passed Congress, that number dropped to around 76,000 ads.
Then, when Backpage shut down, numbers fell again to 25,000 ads per day.
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The change was not permanent; by July, the numbers had rebounded to more than 50,000 ads per day, researchers said. Still, a fragmented market with no single replacement for Backpage will likely continue to reduce trafficking, according to counter-trafficking consultant Rob Spectre.
But on the internet, sex workers say, they were able to screen a client and check lists for “bad dates.” Now, as they are funneled back onto the streets, they are at a buyer’s mercy.
Kara Alexander, who lives in Florida, advertised her services on Backpage, Craigslist personals and other sites before April. When media companies closed down sections hosting adult services ads, she said, she started working on the streets.
In May, she said, a client raped her and poured alcohol in her body in an attempt to destroy evidence. Alexander, 29, said she had faced violence while working online, but never on this scale.
“It’s a different kind of danger,” she said.
A sex worker who goes by Quinn and didn’t want her real name used because she feared arrest and other repercussions said that in the age of the trafficking act, she hasn’t been able to rack up enough jobs. Near the end of April, she started selling herself outdoors in Boston for the first time since she was a teenager, she said.
“There’s no backup plan for people like us,” said Quinn, who said she was raped and beaten in August but could not afford treatment.
Laura LeMoon, a sex worker and trafficking survivor who co-founded the Safe Night Access Project in Seattle to help protect street sex workers, said she has seen far more women on Seattle’s strolls.
Solicitors have gotten younger, too, she said. She used to primarily serve middle-aged sex workers, she said, but now they often appear 25 or younger.
“I think definitely there’s a number of girls we’ve seen who look pretty young,” she said.
Along with the rise in street prostitution has come a resurgence in pimping, which had faded in the internet age, according to sex workers and advocates. Alexander said a friend of hers was attacked by pimps who were incensed she was working without them, and Quinn said pimps have become much more aggressive now that they see a market.
Still, even activists who acknowledge a trend of more street prostitution believe the trafficking act is better than unchecked online exploitation.
Yvonne Ambrose’s 16-year-old daughter Desiree Robinson was trafficked in Chicago on Backpage and was killed by a buyer on Christmas Eve 2016. Ambrose joined Trump at the White House when he signed the legislation.
The law, she said, is the change her daughter would have wanted.
“This law is for the bad actors out there,” she said, “and to prevent them from doing more harm to more people.”

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Hurricane Florence the week after: Thousands brace for more flooding

By Gary D. Robertson, Martha Waggoner and Alan Suderman, The Associated Press
BLADENBORO, N.C. — Thousands of coastal residents remained on edge Sunday, told they may need to leave their homes because rivers are still rising more than a week after Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas.
About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, South Carolina, were alerted to be prepared to evacuate ahead of a “record event” of up to 10 feet (3 meters) of flooding expected from heavy rains dumped by Florence, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said. She said flooding is expected to begin Tuesday near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers and that people in potential flood zones should plan to leave their homes Monday.
The county’s emergency management director, Sam Hodge, said in a video message posted online that authorities are closely watching river gauges and law enforcement would be going door to door in any threatened areas.
“From boots on the ground to technology that we have, we are trying to be able to get the message out,” Hodge said in the video feed, advising people they shouldn’t await an official order to evacuate should they begin to feel unsafe.
In North Carolina, five river gauges were still at major flood stage and five others were at moderate flood stage, according to National Weather Service. The Cape Fear River was expected to crest and remain at flood stage through the early part of the week, and parts of Interstates 95 and 40 are expected to remain underwater for another week or more.
But floodwaters already receding on one stretch of Interstate 40 left thousands of rotting fish on the pavement for firefighters to clean up. Video showed firefighters blasting the dead fish off the highway with a fire hose in Pender County in eastern North Carolina. The local fire department posted online: “We can add ‘washing fish off of the interstate’ to the long list of interesting things firefighters get to experience.”
North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said that eastern counties continue to see major flooding, including areas along the Black, Lumber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.
“Florence continues to bring misery to North Carolina,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Sunday evening. He added that crews conducted about 350 rescues over the weekend and that travel remains treacherous in the southeastern area of his state. But he said National Guard members would be shifting next to more to door-to-door and air search wellness checks on people in still-flooded areas.
The storm has claimed at least 43 lives since slamming into the coast Sept. 14.
In Washington, Congress is starting to consider almost $1.7 billion in new money to aid recovery efforts from Florence. Lawmakers already are facing a deadline this week to fund the government before the start of the new budget year Oct. 1, and members of Congress are expected to try to act on the disaster relief along with separate legislation to fund the government.
The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said the money would be available as grants to states to help rebuild housing and public works, and assist businesses as they recover from the storm. GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey called that “a first round” and that lawmakers are ready to act quickly if the federal disaster relief agency also needs more money.
An economic research firm estimated that Florence has caused around $44 billion in damage and lost output, which would make it one of the top 10 costliest U.S. hurricanes. The top disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, cost $192.2 billion in today’s dollars, while last year’s Hurricane Harvey cost $133.5 billion Moody’s Analytics estimates Florence has caused $40 billion in damage and $4 billion in lost economic output, though the company stressed that the estimate is preliminary.
In other developments, at least three wild horse herds survived Florence on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, but caretakers were still trying to account for one herd living on a hard-hit barrier island, the News & Observer reported Sunday. Staff members are planning to make trips to the island this week to check on the Shackleford Banks herd.
Elsewhere in North Carolina, state environmental officials also said they’re closely monitoring two sites where Florence’s floodwaters have inundated coal ash sites.
Waggoner and Robertson reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Meg Kinnard in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama and Michael Biesecker in Washington.

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Colorado oil and gas setbacks proponents try and fail to reach Democrat Party leaders at fundraiser

Ten demonstrators marched trying to reach Democrat party political leaders at a Denver fundraiser Sunday, urging support for Colorado’s setbacks Proposition 112 ballot measure that would require a 2,500-foot buffer separating new oil and gas wells from homes and schools.
But the “Community Rising” demonstrators — joined by independent congressional candidate Nick Thomas — showed up too late to get the attention of U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who is running for governor; former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other political insiders at the fundraiser Sunday afternoon.
Polis has opposed the setbacks initiative. Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton also opposes it.
The demonstrators briefly glimpsed former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who hosted the fundraiser at his northwest Denver home. They chanted their opposition to fossil fuels production.
Proposition 112 faces heavy oil and gas industry-funded opposition. The opponents say such setbacks would be economically ruinous. The measure would not apply to the more than 53,000 existing oil and gas wells in the state but would restrict installation of new facilities.
“It’s awesome that some people came out. I wish we would have been able to engage with more candidates for elected office,” said organizer Ethan Au Green of Longmont, who added that he will not vote for Polis due to his stance on fossil fuels production in the state.
The measure seems to have strong support from Coloradans, said Thomas, who has been talking with residents as he seeks Polis’ seat in Congress. Oil and gas production “poisons our air. …. It’s not good for our environment. We can switch over to renewable energy,” he said.
Yet too many Democrats “are fearful of attacking their own tribe in the era of Trump,” he said. The Democrat Party resembles “an airplane flying along on fire” with leaders “who are not standing with their people on issues like these.”
Some demonstrators had helped secure signatures to put the measure on the November election ballot. They said they had to contend with industry supporters who showed up and interrupted their campaign seeking signatures.
“They stood right by you, held up their signs, and when you were trying to talk to people they talked over you,” said Michael McLoughlin, of Lakewood. “We don’t need oil companies telling us we have to have new oil wells and pads near homes.”
A couple of houses away from the fundraiser, homeowner Robert Newman, who has put solar panels on his roof that provide renewable energy for his family, voiced his support for Proposition 112 as a way to combat climate change.
“We have got to wean ourselves off fossil fuels,” he said.

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Why should we believe Kavanaugh’s denial?

Why does it matter whether a then-17-year-old Brett M. Kavanaugh drunkenly tried to rape a 15 year old, at a house party, 36 years ago?
That question is implicit in all of the Republican defenses of the Supreme Court nominee.
The accusation amounts to “a little hiccup,” says Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; a “drive-by shooting,” says Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C.; and, generally speaking, a cheap “smear,” according to many other Kavanaugh enthusiasts.
The accusation is a distraction, such comments suggest, designed to draw attention away from Kavanaugh’s brilliant mind and impeccable legal credentials. It’s not just unreliable; it’s also irrelevant.
Because it is apparently not obvious to everyone, let’s examine why, in fact, it does matter whether Kavanaugh assaulted someone as an inebriated adolescent, why it does matter whether his denials are credible now — and why we should absolutely want an independent, nonpartisan investigation, perhaps led by the FBI, to ferret out the truth as fully as possible.
Some have argued that the accusation matters because confirming Kavanaugh without resolving it would sully the reputation of the Supreme Court. Or it matters because it serves to deepen the impression that the Republican Party sees victims of sexual violence as disposable.
But in my view, the accusation matters most because of what it implies about Kavanaugh’s general qualities not as a role model, or as a representative of his party, but what he might do as a judge.
Teenagers, particularly drunken teenagers, sometimes commit awful, cruel, even criminal acts — acts that can wound victims for decades. When possible, they should be held appropriately accountable. However, what provides more insight into a person’s moral rectitude is, arguably, not what he did as a minor but how he handles such sins once he has developed into a mature adult. Specifically, whether he takes responsibility and expresses contrition.
And if Kavanaugh is continuing — today, as a 53-year-old man — to deny a crime he in fact did commit as a drunken teenager, that casts doubt not only upon his character as a teen but also on his trustworthiness in other high-stakes matters today.
At present, there are reasons to doubt his credibility on this particular matter. Among them, somewhat ironically, is the improbable extensiveness of his denial, at least as relayed by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah.
Kavanaugh’s public statement thus far has been brief: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” But Hatch has added another layer of comprehensiveness to Kavanaugh’s denial, saying through a spokesman that Kavanaugh personally told the senator he was “not at a party like the one (accuser Christine Blasey Ford) describes.”
Assuming Hatch is faithfully repeating this conversation, the assertion that Kavanaugh wasn’t at a party like the one described is at best fishy. After all, Ford’s own recollection of the alleged incident is hazy and offers few details beyond the fact that it was a house with no parents present, where just a few teens were drinking and Kavanaugh’s close friend was present, probably in 1982. Sometimes Kavanaugh’s defenders cite this lack of detail to cast doubt on her credibility, but his denial, given the lack of detail, would seem at least somewhat discrediting of him.
More significantly, his evasiveness in other exchanges with senators — about, for example, receiving stolen information while working in the George W. Bush White House — have likewise called his candor into question.
The big possible lie we should worry about, in any case — and the one that seems more plausible in light of these other statements — would be his promise to be “a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” who follows the Constitution faithfully and respects precedent.
If Kavanaugh lied to senators about not remembering parties or stolen memos or anything else, why would we believe he isn’t lying about his commitment to impartiality and precedent? Why would we believe him when he told Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that he believes Roe v. Wade is “settled law”?
In a sense, the crux of the matter is not Kavanaugh’s character, or at least, not only Kavanaugh’s character. It’s what Kavanaugh’s character might tell us about how candidly he has characterized his jurisprudence.
Senate Republicans have set an artificial deadline of Monday for Ford to testify. They have also refused to order an FBI investigation in the meantime, or even to subpoena a witness Ford named. Perhaps one reason is that they don’t want to find out what evidence might turn up. And what dots the public might connect as a result.
Catherine Rampell’s email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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Is Trumponomics working? Answer: Recession looming, trade wars harmful

This time last year, the best news on the world economy came from outside the United States. China had restored its grip after two financial mini-crises; emerging markets were booming; France was celebrating labor reform delivered by a pro-market young president. Meanwhile, U.S. growth was lackluster and the dollar was weakening. President Donald Trump was not making America great again.
Fast forward one year, and the picture is different. U.S. growth came in at 4.2 percent in the second quarter, trouncing the 1.5 percent recorded in the euro zone and the 3 percent in Japan. U.S. unemployment stands at a rock-bottom 3.9 percent, less than half the rate of the euro zone. The S&P 500 stock market index is up more than 9 percent this year, while European and Japanese markets have fallen slightly, and China has taken a big hit. Fully 64 percent of Americans tell Gallup that now is a good time to find a quality job.
So is Trumponomics working? With one significant caveat, the answer is no. For one thing, Trump’s trade policy is turning out to be worse than expected. For another, the growth surge mostly reflects a temporary sugar high from last December’s tax cut. Economists are already penciling in a recession for 2020.
The caveat has to do with corporate investment. Some aspects of the tax cut were straightforwardly appalling: At a time of toxic inequality and declining intergenerational mobility, inheritance taxes ought to be increased, but Trump cut them. However, the reduction in the corporate tax rate, coupled with incentives for businesses to invest more, has boosted spending on R&D, information technology and other machinery. Extra investment should make workers more productive. It might even shift U.S. growth to a higher trajectory.
Economists are notoriously bad at predicting productivity spurts. So you can’t rule out the possibility that the Trump investment incentives are hitting the economy just as a new wave of IT innovations is ripe for deployment. Sensors, cameras and predictive software may upgrade everything from ports to power grids. Translation programs and collaboration apps such as Slack and Dropbox may boost teamwork across time zones and language barriers.
The question is whether the expected productivity boost will outweigh the drag from the tax cut’s other consequence: a huge rise in federal debt. For what it’s worth, most forecasters are pessimistic. The extra $1 trillion or so of federal debt will have to be serviced: Today’s sugary tax cuts imply tax hikes in the future. Likewise, the corporate investment incentives are temporary: They may simply bring investment forward, depriving tomorrow’s economy of its tech caffeine jolt. Following this logic, many Wall Streeters expect a recession once the sugar high dissipates. The Tax Policy Center estimates that gross domestic product in 2027 will be the same as it would have been without the tax cut. There will be no growth to compensate for extra inequality and debt.
And that is without considering the harm from Trump’s trade wars. In Europe, Trump has browbeaten U.S. allies and reserves the right to beat them up further; the only “gain” is a discussion of a new trade deal that was on offer anyway before Trump’s election. In the Americas, Trump has arm-twisted Mexico into accepting a new version of NAFTA that is worse than the old one, and demands that Canada sign on. Henceforth, cars made in North America must comply with complex local-content rules. This will raise their cost, harming U.S. motorists and the competitiveness of U.S. carmakers in other markets.
But the greatest damage stems from Trump’s trade war with China. His opening demand — that China abandon its subsidies for strategic high-tech industries — was never going to be met by a nationalistic dictatorship committed to industrial policy. His bet that tariffs will drive companies to shift production to the United States is equally forlorn. If manufacturers pull out of China, they are more likely to go elsewhere in Asia. And even if some manufacturing does come to the United States, this gain will be outweighed by the job losses stemming from Trump’s tariffs, which raise costs for industries that use Chinese inputs. In short, Trump isn’t helping the American workers he claims to speak for. Instead, he is battering the rules-based international system that offers the best chance of constraining China.
Phases in economic history are remembered by their labels: the go-go ’60s, the stagflationary ’70s and so on. The current populist era in the United States will turn out no better than populist projects elsewhere: in Britain, where a self-harming experiment in deglobalization has dragged down the national growth rate; in Italy, where expensive promises to voters could bring on a debt crisis. So do not be surprised if the populists are temporarily popular: Popularity is what they crave most, after all. But recall that, everywhere and throughout history, the populists’ folly is unmasked in the end.
Mallaby, author of “The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan,” is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.
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Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 letters: Kavanaugh editorial, Amendment 74, youth suicide, weather reporting

Who has the burden of proof in the Kavanaugh case?
Re: “Kavanaugh must now clear his name,” Sept. 19 editorial.
Please tell me that the editors of this newspaper know that in America it is not up the accused to prove his innocence, it is up to the accuser and the prosecutor to prove guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge Kavanaugh’s name is already “clear.” He has an unblemished record for integrity and truthfulness.
He has undergone six FBI background investigations during his career. Sixty-five women who knew him in high school have written a letter vouching for him as an honorable man who has always treated women with respect.
That is the sort of thing that jurors (in this case the American public) take into consideration in determining credibility. Against this, we have a woman who sat on her last minute, unsupported allegations of misconduct for 36 years and who cannot even remember whose house the alleged party was at, or even exactly when the alleged incident occurred.
So, Judge Kavanaugh, a man with an unblemished reputation, need not “clear his name.” It is up to Ms. Ford to prove her allegations by clear and convincing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Richard Stacy, Highlands Ranch

Your headline above the editorial in today’s paper states that Judge Kavanaugh must now clear his name. I would ask how exactly he is supposed to do that? As soon as the accusation was made, the man’s entire life and career were completely upended.
His categorical denial and a sterling record as a jurist and a person are the only defense he can offer. Given the circumstances surrounding the charge and the utter impossibility that any credible investigation could shed further light, those might suffice.
In the era of #MeToo they will not. Your editorial makes that quite clear.
Judge Kavanaugh will not join the Supreme Court, regardless of the sterling nature of his character, his outstanding record as a judge, the veracity of his accuser or the eloquence of his defense. At this point in our history, there is no way forward for him.
By accepting this nomination, he perhaps unknowingly became the target upon whom the left would unleash every weapon in its arsenal. Now he has been nuked. Rather than joining the nation’s highest court, he will be lucky to avoid being run out of public service altogether.
Republicans should have seen this coming. Trump’s next nominee had better be a woman.
George Zepernick, Denver

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault.
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Criminal Victimization Survey, in 2012, there were 346,830 reported rapes or sexual assaults of persons 12 years or older.
The question of why no one will take appropriate action looms over the victim, self-worth is battered. As a result, only 30 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities. We must create an expectation of fairness.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is attempting to orchestrate a Supreme Court confirmation hearing in which no FBI investigation of sexual assault allegations has occurred.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has taken a lie detector test, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has not. Therapy session notes provide corroboration. Absent adequate fact finding, we will not know if an attempted rapist has been elevated to the Supreme Court.
Mona W. Clark, Loveland

How typical. You conveniently ignore anything that doesn’t fit your narrative. This is a cleverly concocted hoax, nothing more. “I can’t really remember what year or where it happened, but I’m absolutely positive it was them.”
What a crock! Certainly she has suffered some trauma in her life, but it wasn’t this.
This is a story so well put together, it is impossible to refute. Let’s get on to the vote.
Lee J. Reynolds, Lakewood

The juxtaposition of The Post editorial and political cartoon with the letter to the editor by Stan Moore “Of course the Kavanaugh bombshell was strategic” in today’s Denver was not lost on me.
Moore labeled Judge Kavanaugh’s “pawing” of a girl at an underage party three decades ago as a stupid teenage stunt.
Though a 71-year-old man, I can distinctly remember my teenage years and the myriad drinking parties I attended. If I’d been paid for each “kegger” and “woodsie” I stumbled through, I could have paid cash for a car right out of college.
However, no matter what the stage of my youthful intoxication, there was never a time where attempting to attack a female party-goer would have crossed my mind.
My built in governor, I suppose, was my solid middle-class, mid-West upbringing, and the consistent message from my parents about respect for others. This included very specific advice from my father to always respect women, a special admonition from my old-school, unpretentious dad which never seemed patronizing.
These I believe closely relate to the most crucial points of the editorial and cartoon; that attempted rape is not a normal youthful indiscretion which is a fact not changed by the passage of time.
Bruce Mendelson, Aurora

As a voting senior citizen I couldn’t care less what Kavanaugh is accused of by some little sweetie pie when he was 15 or 16 years old, 35 years ago.
Let’s turn loose the FBI on every senator and find out what they did in daddies’ car when they were 16 or 17 years old. We wouldn’t have any senators left.
This is just another dirt, smear, campaign, which is what Democrats do best and that’s all.
Hank Urbanowicz, Englewood

A “yes” on Amendment 74 means just compensation
Re: “Voters should reject Amend. 74,” Sept. 16 editorial
The editorial entitled “Voters should reject Amend. 74” has given us an excellent teaching moment.
Amendment 74 would require that rule changes that diminish the value of a property must be compensated by the government as a “taking.”
The Post opposes this. To prove its case, the editorial cites a recent change to the building code to ban “slot” homes (that is, units that face an alley rather than the street).
With the amendment, such a change would require compensation and therefore probably never happen.
Yes. That’s exactly the point.
Lesson 1: There is absolutely no reason why a developer should not be allowed to build a “slot” home. And absolutely no reason why a willing buyer should not be allowed to buy one.
Lesson 2: This is exactly the type of pointless regulation that keeps the supply of housing down and prices high.
Lesson 3: If the Denver City Council decides that banning “slot” homes is beneficial for “the community,” then why should its cost fall entirely on the developers who happen to own properties suitable for “slot” homes? Why shouldn’t the entire community pay this cost since the entire community is allegedly benefiting?
The editorial claims that “[w]e are staunch advocates of property rights…” but this is pure eyewash. True staunch advocates of property rights, and the freedoms they entail, would see Amendment 74 for exactly what it is: a curative for capricious government policies and a just allocation of the costs of actions which allegedly benefit the broad public.
Roger Barris, Evergreen

Suicide prevention is complex; education is key
Re: “Mom speaks out after boy, 9, kills himself,” Aug. 28 news story
Nine-year-old Jamel Myles’ death by suicide sparked sadness throughout Colorado communities and set the tone for Suicide Prevention Month.
The concern with the news coverage, however, was that it fell short of painting a complete picture — the complexity of suicide.
It is important for the public to understand that individuals who die by suicide have multiple factors present that put them at increased risk.
Bullying can indeed be an acute stressor that increases risk of death by suicide, but for many, there are other factors present that contribute to their experience and desire to die, including perceived burdensomeness, lack of social support, isolation, and mental health needs.
These elements paint a more complex picture than headlines that state bullying leads to suicide. By educating one another and reducing stigma around suicide, we can support healthy conversations about risk and hopefully save more lives.
Khara Croswaite Brindle, Denver

Those “talking raincoats” are in harm’s way
The waves crash in on coastal Carolina. Winds topple ancient white oak trees, less resilient than the thrashing palms which still shed sharp leaves and other detritus borne by 80-85 miles per hour.
Yet the media still feel compelled to send huge crews into the danger zone: cameramen, producers, directors, sound men and, of course, the on-air “talking raincoats.”
On-scene reporters, averaging 10-15 per network with their associated support staffs routinely place hundreds of otherwise innocent people in harm’s way merely to broadcast pictures of driving rain, lashing winds, and rising storm surge.
I am amazed that no media worker has yet died in this reckless race to destruction.
While it is vital to track major weather and other events threatening the U.S. mainland and territories, any accounting of deaths and injuries must not be increased by an unfortunate intersection of the path of an air-borne street sign and a “Lands’ End” clad meteorologist with a microphone.
Joe Gardner, Grand Junction
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Colorado woman accuses Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in college dorm room, per report

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing Thursday for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager, as a claim of sexual misconduct emerged from a Colorado woman.
The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday night that Senate Democrats were investigating a second woman’s accusation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh dating to the 1983-84 academic year, Kavanaugh’s first at Yale University.
The New Yorker said 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez, who is from Colorado, described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine. Ramirez recalled that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away, the magazine reported.
Ramirez is being represented by Stan Garnett, the former district attorney in Boulder County, the New Yorker reported.
“I didn’t want any of this,” she told the New Yorker. “But now I have to speak.”
Shannon Beckham, communications adviser to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, said Bennet’s office put Ramirez in touch with Garnett’s firm.
“Judiciary staff reached out to our office and asked for a connection to someone who might be helpful should Deborah Ramirez decide to come forward with an allegation related to that made by Dr. Ford. We reached out to former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett who then met with Ms. Ramirez to work through how to analyze and present her allegations,” Beckham wrote in an email.
Garnett is part of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, one of the largest law firms in Colorado that has netted millions in federal lobbying revenue with major connections in Washington.
In a statement provided by the White House, Kavanaugh said the event “did not happen” and that the allegation was “a smear, plain and simple.” A White House spokeswoman added in a second statement that the allegation was “designed to tear down a good man.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called Sunday night for the “immediate postponement” of any further action on Kavanaugh’s nomination. She also asked the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to have the FBI investigate the allegations of both Ford and Ramirez.
The New Yorker said it contacted Ramirez after learning of a possible involvement in an incident with Kavanaugh and that the allegation came to Democratic senators through a civil rights lawyer. She had been considering speaking to the magazine for at least a week. Meanwhile, Republicans were pressing for a swift hearing and a vote.
The magazine reported that Ramirez was reluctant at first to speak publicly “partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident.” She also acknowledged reluctance “to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty.”
The magazine reported that after “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections” to recall the incident.
The new information came hours after the Senate committee agreed to a date and time for a hearing after nearly a week of uncertainty over whether Ford would appear to tell her story.
The agreement and the latest accusation set the stage for a dramatic showdown as Kavanaugh and Ford each tell their side of the story. The developments could also determine the fate of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which hangs on the votes of a handful of senators.
It had seemed assured before Ford, a 51-year-old California college professor, went public a week ago with her allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.
Kavanaugh, 53, an appellate court judge, has denied Ford’s allegation and said he wanted to testify as soon as possible to clear his name.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrangled with Ford’s lawyers for the last week over the exact terms of her appearance. She made several requests, some of which were accommodated — a Thursday hearing, three days later than originally scheduled, and a smaller hearing room with less press access to avoid a media circus, for example. Grassley’s staff also agreed to let Ford testify without Kavanaugh in the room, for there to be only one camera in the room, “adequate” breaks and a high security presence.
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The committee said it would not negotiate on other points, though, including Ford’s desire for additional witnesses and a request to testify after, not before, Kavanaugh.
“As with any witness who comes before the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee cannot hand over its constitutional duties to attorneys for outside witnesses,” Mike Davis, Grassley’s top nominations counsel, wrote in an email exchange with Ford’s lawyers obtained by The Associated Press. “The committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, in what order to call them, and who will question them. These are non-negotiable.”
Ford’s lawyers said it was still unclear who will ask questions, as Republicans were trying to hire an outside female counsel who could take over the questioning. The 11 senators on the GOP side of the dais are all men, which could send an unwanted message on live television against the backdrop of the #MeToo era. They could also use Republican staff attorneys on the committee.
Democratic senators were expected to ask their own questions.
“We were told no decision has been made on this important issue, even though various senators have been dismissive of her account and should have to shoulder their responsibility to ask her questions,” the attorneys for Ford said in a statement.
As he builds a case for his innocence, Kavanaugh plans to turn over to the committee calendars from the summer of 1982 that don’t show a party consistent with Ford’s description of the gathering in which she says he attacked her, The New York Times reported Sunday. The newspaper reported that it had examined the calendars and noted they list basketball games, movie outings, football workouts, college interviews, and a few parties with names of friends other than those identified by Ford.
A person working on Kavanaugh’s confirmation confirmed the Times account to The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.
Earlier Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said lawyers for Ford were contesting two GOP conditions — that Ford and Kavanaugh would be the only witnesses and that an independent counsel would ask the questions.
“If they continue to contest those two things, there won’t be a hearing,” Graham said. “We’re not going to let her determine how many people we call” and on outside counsel. “I hope she comes.”
Graham, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” promised a fair hearing in which both Ford and Kavanaugh “will be challenged” but said “unless there’s something more” to back up her accusation, he indicated he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Graham said he’s “not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”
One issue that appeared to have been resolved in Sunday’s hour-long phone call between Judiciary staff and Ford’s lawyers was the committee’s refusal to subpoena Mark Judge, the other person Ford alleges was in the room when the assault occurred. Judge has told the committee he does not recall the incident.
The lawyers for Ford want the committee to hear from other witnesses, including a person who conducted a polygraph of Ford earlier this year, the person familiar with the talks said. Ford’s lawyers also want to call on two trauma experts, the person said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat on the committee, said Sunday he believed Ford’s requests have been reasonable and that she deserves a fair hearing to determine whether her allegations are serious enough to vote down Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Durbin acknowledged that lawmakers will “probably not” be able to know the truth of Ford’s decades-old accusation. But Durbin left little doubt that that Democrats will go after Kavanaugh’s drinking history to help shed light on the matter. Ford has alleged Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk” when it happened.
Durbin told ABC’s “This Week” that some Republicans “reached out to Democratic senators and assured them that they are looking to this as kind of a determination as to how their final vote” on Kavanaugh is cast.
Democrats again called for the FBI to investigate Ford’s claims, a request that was unlikely to be met as President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have said it’s unnecessary. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein, sent a letter to Trump on Sunday saying the FBI has more than enough time to investigate before Ford and Kavanaugh testify on Thursday.
Republicans viewed the demands for an investigation, and Ford’s various requests, as a way to delay voting on Trump’s nominee. They have also cast some doubt on Ford’s allegations, with the Judiciary panel announcing that it had investigated the incident and talked to three other people who Ford has told The Washington Post were at the party — Judge, Patrick J. Smyth and Leland Ingham Keyser. The committee said all three told investigators that they had no recollection of the evening in question.
The Post reported Sunday that Keyser said in a brief interview at her home that she still believes Ford, even if she doesn’t remember the party.
The White House is approaching Ford’s potential testimony with trepidation, nervous that an emotional performance might not just damage Kavanaugh’s chances but could further energize female voters to turn out against Republicans in November.
Moreover, the West Wing aides who had urged Trump to remain muted in his response to the accusations worried about how the president might react to an hourslong, televised hearing. Trump broke his silence to cast doubt on Ford’s story Friday in ways Republicans had been carefully trying to avoid. He said Kavanaugh was “under assault by radical left wing politicians” and suggested Ford should have filed charges as a 15-year-old when she was attacked.
Trump mused to confidants that the “fake” attacks against his nominee were meant to undermine his presidency, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Hope Yen in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia and Anna Staver contributed to this report.