By Robert A. Vella
News topics for this Sunday include a previously unreported accusation of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, Governor Gavin Newsom’s intent to veto a bill passed by the California legislature designed to restore environmental protections curtailed by President Trump, covert surveillance operations by the Los Angeles Police Department against anti-fascist groups, financial shenanigans by the owners of Purdue Pharma in the opioid crisis, and deteriorating morale within the U.S. Border Patrol.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was hit with another accusation of unwanted sexual contact by a male classmate who said he witnessed Kavanaugh expose himself and press his genitals against a woman without her consent.
The New York Times reported Saturday that the latest allegation, which has until now not been public, was reported to the FBI during Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process last year but was not investigated by the FBI.
In the Times report, two FBI officials told the newspaper that a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, D.C.-based nonprofit owner Max Stier, said that he had witnessed Kavanaugh expose himself at a party before other students pushed Kavanaugh’s genitals into the hand of a female student, apparently without her consent.
California lawmakers, over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s objections, passed sweeping legislation early Saturday morning allowing the state to impose strict endangered species protections and water pumping restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The governor must now decide whether to veto the bill and raise the ire of California environmentalists, who will surely accuse him of saddling up to the Trump administration, or sign the bill into law and potentially anger the state’s biggest water agencies.
The issues involving the delta, which provides water for more than 25 million people and millions of acres of Central Valley farmland, became the biggest political flashpoint in the legislation, which is cast to shield California from the Trump administration’s rollback of federal environmental and labor protections.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department will modify its policies on the use of confidential informants and undercover officers after a Los Angeles Times report revealed the agency had spied on a political group that was planning protests against President Donald Trump in 2017, officials said.
The policy change comes after the Los Angeles Times revealed that the department had sent an informant to monitor and surreptitiously record four meetings held by Refuse Fascism in October 2017 as the group planned demonstrations and protests to mark the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s election.
Refuse Fascism is considered to be a largely nonviolent group, yet the LAPD informant monitored four of its meetings inside an Echo Park church.
The LAPD did not conduct similar spying operations on right-wing groups in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of the presidential election, a law enforcement source previously told The Times.
Civil rights advocates met news of the policy change with skepticism.
The New York attorney general’s office said on Friday that it had tracked about $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, including through Swiss bank accounts, suggesting that the family tried to shield wealth as it faced a raft of litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.
Earlier this week, thousands of municipal governments and nearly two dozen states tentatively reached a settlement with the Sackler family and the company it owns, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. It was unclear if the new disclosure would change the thinking of any of the parties that agreed to the settlement.
Border Patrol morale
For decades, the Border Patrol was a largely invisible security force. Along the southwestern border, its work was dusty and lonely. Between adrenaline-fueled chases, the shells of sunflower seeds piled up outside the windows of their idling pickup trucks. Agents called their slow-motion specialty “laying in” — hiding in the desert and brush for hours, to wait and watch, and watch and wait.
Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. The nearly 20,000 agents of the Border Patrol became the leading edge of one of the most aggressive immigration crackdowns ever imposed in the United States.
No longer were they a quasi-military organization tasked primarily with intercepting drug runners and chasing smugglers. Their new focus was to block and detain hundreds of thousands of migrant families fleeing violence and extreme poverty — herding people into tents and cages, seizing children and sending their parents to jail, trying to spot those too sick to survive in the densely packed processing facilities along the border.
Ten migrants have died since September in the custody of the Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection.