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Vox Sentences: Ford testifies, Kavanaugh denies

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A teary Ford and Kavanaugh testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee; a new study has dire predictions for killer whales.

The Judiciary Committee questions Ford and Kavanaugh

Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images
  • Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Court about an alleged incident of sexual assault on Thursday. Ford and Kavanaugh recounted their own memories of the incident through opening statements and questioning from Democrats and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who asked questions for Republicans. [ABC / Kendall Karson and Cheyenne Haslett]
  • In a soft and wavering voice, Ford delivered a teary opening statement, which lasted just under 25 minutes, about how she was “terrified” to appear before the committee. Her description of the night that of the alleged assault echoed what she said in interviews and in her initial letter to her Congress member. [Bloomberg / Alex Wayne]
  • Ford also asserted during questioning that she was “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her by using her expertise in psychology and explaining “basic memory functions” in scientific terms. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • During his opening statement and testimony, Kavanaugh spoke about how excellence in school as a young person was uncharacteristic of someone who would commit sexual assault, and implied it was the Clinton family who had set up the allegations. He appeared very emotional during the hearing, as he both teared up and lost his temper on numerous occasions. He also said that he had unfairly been put “through hell and then some” and that his reputation is “totally and permanently destroyed.” [Guardian / Oliver Laughland]
  • Republicans on the committee portrayed the hearing as “a sham” that was used to smear someone who has “nothing to apologize for.” [NBC]
  • It’s unclear what Mitchell’s strategy in the hearing was. She questioned Ford about small details, including the minutiae of her travel, which seemed like a waste of time. But her questions for Kavanaugh could be of interest to Maryland prosecutors, who are likely deciding whether to pursue an investigation at this moment in time. [Atlantic / Emma Green]
  • To many observers, it seemed Kavanaugh’s testimony was often taken at face value; he simply had to deny the allegations. Meanwhile, Ford was forced to go to “great lengths to validate the allegations themselves.” [Vox / Li Zhou]
  • With the support of Republicans and President Trump, Kavanaugh has enjoyed a fair share of “himpathy”: the “sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault.” [NYT / Kate Manne]

Half of killer whale groups may go extinct in 50 years

  • Half of the killer whale groups in the world are essentially “doomed” to go extinct within the next 30 to 50 years due to persistent chemical pollution, more specifically polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to a new study. [Guardian / Damian Carrington]
  • The PCBs are specifically dangerous because, aside from the general harm they cause, they also damage female whales’ ovaries and hinder their ability to give birth. [BBC / Jonathan Amos and Victoria Gill]
  • The PCBs enter a whale’s system by way of the food chain. Plankton, which are at the bottom of the chain, ingest the PCBs, and then the chemicals quickly work their way upward. [NYT / Karen Weintraub]
  • Companies were banned from producing PCBs worldwide in 2004. But they’re still present in the ocean because the compounds are so hard to break down. [Science / Elizabeth Pennisi]


  • An asteroid shaped like a skull, known as the “Death Comet,” will zip by Earth right around Halloween. [HuffPost / Ed Mazza]
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Tequesta Police Department had to use drones this week after a kangaroo named Storm went missing in the South Florida neighborhood. Storm is now safe and sound with her owner after she was found on Thursday afternoon. [AP]
  • Robert Mueller left the cave where he’s been investigating the Russia probe to get some tech support from Apple’s Genius Bar, according to a picture by a curious onlooker. [The Verge / Jacob Kastrenakes]
  • Coming in at 1,700 pounds, the now-extinct elephant bird has made a Pluto-esque comeback and officially been declared the largest bird that ever lived. [NYT / Douglas Quenqua]


“This interrogation of the trauma experienced by a single person feels, as it so often does, like a referendum for all.” [Alexandra Schwartz on the intensity felt by all women watching Christine Blasey Ford testify for the Senate Judiciary Committee / New Yorker]

Watch this: Kavanaugh’s sexual assault denial follows a familiar pattern

Brett Kavanaugh is using a familiar playbook. [YouTube / Madeline Marshall and Liz Scheltens]

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