Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh ‘on behalf of our nation,’ says he was ‘proven innocent’

By Noah Bierman and David G. Savage

Los Angeles Times

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President Donald Trump, center, speaks as Brett Kavanaugh, associate justice of the Supreme Court, left, looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in event in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. Photo courtesy of Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS
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Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, administers the judicial oath to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, left, as his wife, Ashley, holds the bible and the youngest daughter Liza and oldest daughter Margaret join President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
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A rally against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lett/Sun Sentinel/TNS

WASHINGTON —President Donald Trump injected a sharp political edge to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ceremonial swearing-in on Monday, undermining the new Supreme Court member’s attempts to assert his independence from the bitter partisanship that marred his confirmation process.

At a White House ceremony in the gilded East Room packed with conservative activists, legal officials and White House aides, Trump apologized “on behalf of our nation” to Kavanaugh and his family “for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure.”

“Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” Trump said.

“You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent,” Trump added, reading from teleprompters.

There was no formal judgment rendered by the FBI after it investigated allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct during his time as a high school and college student. Trump made no mention of the accusers or the larger wounds that the nomination fight exposed.

The remarks were delivered in front of the eight other justices, who normally take great pains to distance themselves from overt signs of politics, as well as a large crowd of supporters, including one woman wearing a black “Women for Kavanaugh” T-shirt.

Justices typically try to assert independence immediately upon taking the bench. Kavanaugh, however, thanked Trump for his “steadfast and unwavering support.” He also thanked several Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, who cast what was considered the deciding vote in his favor. He also thanked the only Democrat who voted for him, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. He did not mention any other Democratic senators.

Kavanaugh has drawn criticism from legal experts for the partisan tone he adopted in defending himself during the confirmation process. At the hearing at which senators heard testimony about the sexual misconduct allegations, he called the charges a “calculated and orchestrated political hit,” blaming Democrats and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But Kavanugh also promised to put the bitter confirmation process behind him, declaring himself a “team player on the team of nine” justices, full of “gratitude and no bitterness” and no longer a part of the political process.

“My goal is to be a great justice for all Americans and for all of America,” he said, promising to keep an impartial and open mind.

In a nod to the anger felt by many women over the process, Kavanaugh repeated that he had named women to all four of the clerkships under him _ a prestigious position that often serves as a launching point for legal careers. He will be the first justice to have four female clerks.

The White House event was purely ceremonial. Kavanaugh was officially sworn in at the Supreme Court on Saturday, shortly after the Senate confirmed him on a 50-48 vote.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered the constitutional oath, while retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy administered the separate judicial oath. Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Samuel A. Alito Jr. attended that private ceremony.

For years, there has been a lingering controversy over whether it is appropriate for a newly confirmed Supreme Court justice to return to the White House to take the oath standing next to the president.

Long before he retired, Justice John Paul Stevens questioned this practice, saying it conveyed the impression the new justice was going to the court as the president’s appointee, rather like a Cabinet secretary, instead of as an independent jurist in a separate branch of government.

But most of the justices have gone to the White House after being confirmed. Last year, Trump stood next to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch as he took one of the oaths in a ceremony televised from the Rose Garden.

A post-Florence tropical disturbance could further soak the Carolinas

By Devin Rodriguez

Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.

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New York Urban Search and Rescue team members evaluate a flooded section of Bragg Boulevard in Spring Lake, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Photo courtesy of Julia Wall/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS
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Davis H. Elliot Company, Inc. employees from Ohio work to erect a new utility pole along NC 306 near the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Havelock, N.C. A majority of the utility poles along NC 306 were destroyed by Hurricane Florence. Photo courtesy of Robert Willett/ Raleigh News & Observer/TNS

Sept. 25 — It’s been an busy hurricane season in the Atlantic and this week the National Hurricane Center is monitoring three tropical disturbances that have chances of strengthening — including one that could affect the Carolinas as it continues to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Forecasters say a tropical disturbance, located nearly 300 miles off the East Coast, could strengthen into a cyclone in the next two days. Despite its proximity to the path of Florence, it is not associated with the hurricane, which dissipated into a large frontal boundary over the mid- Atlantic states.

“No, this storm system does not have anything to do with Florence,” said Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist and communications coordinator with the National Hurricane Center. “This new system developed from a much larger pressure system. It it were to develop into a named storm, it would get a different name.”

Next on the list: Michael.

Forecasters say the scattered set of storms will continue moving north-northeast back out into the Atlantic. Feltgen said the brunt of the storms are on the northeast side of the system, away from the Carolina coast. While the coastline will see scattered showers Tuesday night and well into the evening, the majority of water will not strike the coast, forecasters said.

South of that storm, approaching the western Caribbean, the remnants of Kirk have a 60 percent chance of regaining strength. But forecasters say unfavorable wind conditions over the next five days should slow and break up the storm before it reaches the Caribbean. For now, the storm is trudging along westward at 25 mph and threatens heavy storms for the Windward and Leeward islands.

Tropical Depression Leslie is predicted to regain strength as it marches north-northeast in the Atlantic over the next five days. The storm is set to merge with a cold front over the next two days but then join forces with a tropical cyclone in its path. Forecasters said the storm’s full trajectory is still unknown but expectations are that Leslie will continue north and dissipate over time.

Boulder’s Deborah Ramirez “adamant” that FBI should investigate her claims against Kavanaugh; Trump weighs in

By Elise Schmelzer

The Denver Post

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A demonstrator opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh holds signs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

Sept. 25 The Boulder woman who said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college wants the FBI to investigate her claims, her attorney said Tuesday.

Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and thrust his genitalia in her face at a party at Yale University in the early 1980s when they were both students there. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

John Clune, Ramirez’s attorney, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning that he and Ramirez are in contact with the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine the way forward. Ramirez and Clune also are demanding that the FBI investigate the allegations.

“We are in contact with the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine the best process to provide Senators with additional information,” Clune wrote on Twitter. “We remain adamant that an investigation, where all witnesses are questioned under the threat of perjury, is the only way to get the truth.”

“Our client remains willing to cooperate with such an inquiry,” he wrote in a second post.

President Donald Trump responded specifically to Ramirez’s story for the first time Tuesday morning, saying she was “totally inebriated and all messed up,” according to The Washington Post.

“The second accuser has nothing,” Trump told reporters following a speech at the United Nations. “She admits that she was drunk.”

Trump dismissed the notion that Ramirez’s allegation could disqualify Kavanaugh, saying sarcastically: “Oh, gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.”

Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “we would be open” to Ramirez testifying before the Senate Judiciary panel on Thursday.

Clune also said in a tweet Tuesday morning that he and Ramirez stand by the facts as reported by The New Yorker.

Ramirez told the magazine that she had gaps in her memory because she was drunk at the party. She also was reluctant to definitively identify Kavanaugh as the man who exposed himself in her first interviews with The New Yorker, but later said she was confident that it was him, according to the magazine.

Other publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, knew of Ramirez’s claims but did not publish the story because their reporters could not corroborate the facts with someone with firsthand knowledge.

On Monday night, Trump tweeted about “False Accusations” against Kavanaugh but did not mention Ramirez by name.

Tuesday’s tweets are the first time Clune and Ramirez have spoken publicly about her case outside of Ramirez’s interview with The New Yorker. Clune hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment from The Denver Post.

Christine Blasey Ford, who said that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school, also asked for an FBI investigation into her allegations. She is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The White House rejected Ford’s request for an FBI investigation.

Blasey Ford told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed at a party when they were both in high school. She said that he then tried to undress her and put his hand over her mouth while a second person, Mark Judge, stood and watched.

Blasey Ford said she was able to escape and that both she and Kavanaugh were drunk at the time.

Kavanaugh also denied Blasey Ford’s story and Judge said he remembered no such incident.

Black History Month: how a week became 28 days

By Andrew Henry 

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February is Black History Month, but why?

When 10 students on Delaware County’s Marple Campus were asked, nine of them admitted to having absolutely no idea.

“Isn’t is because February is the shortest month of the year?” asked Angel Goins, a criminal justice major.

The reason February was chosen has nothing to do with the length of the month. It was chosen by a black man named Carter G. Woodson, the second black man to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University, according to Daryl Michael Scott, a professor of History at Howard University and vice president for Programs of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

In 1915 Woodson went to Illinois to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves in the United States. The event commemorated the progress black people in America had made since the abolition of slavery. Approximately 6000 to 12,000 black U.S. citizens attended the three-week event, according to Scott.

Due to the overwhelming turnout, Woodson formed an organization known as the Association For the Study of Negro life (ASNLH), which promoted the study of African people’s history and genealogy, and the sharing of those findings.

Woodson thought that sharing the historical facts about Africans would help to improve race relations by changing the way that Africans were perceived.

In 1926, Woodson established that a week in February would be known as Negro History Week and would be used to promote and teach the history of black people, writes Scott.

The Month of February was chosen because it holds the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a former slave turned abolitionist, and President Abraham Lincoln, the president who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves.

In 1976, 50 years after the establishment of Negro history week, the ASNLH finally had enough influence to establish Black History Month, and since then every president has acknowledged February as Black History Month, according to Scott.

DCCC’s Marple campus will be holding events all throughout the month February.

Allyson Gleason, director of Campus Life at DCCC expressed the importance of promoting diversity on campus both during Black History Month, and all year long.

“It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate different cultures,” Gleason said. “We try to reach out to everyone, which is why we had the play ‘Tres Vidas’ in October for Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Contact Andrew Henry at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

The best and worst of college rankings

By Victoria Lavelle

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For the second straight year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges have come in last place on WalletHub’s 2017 “Best and Worst Community Colleges” list.

Pennsylvania’s community colleges ranked 46th out of 46 qualifying states in 2016, and 44th out of 44 eligible states in 2017.

Within the state, DCCC ranked third out of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, placing at No. 580 nationwide.

Luzerne County Community College ranked first, and Butler County Community College ranked second.

WalletHub rankings were based on 14 key measures, including learning cost and financing, education results, and career outcomes.

Student reactions over WalletHub’s dead last ranking of community colleges in the Keystone State were dismissive and blunt.

“Students shouldn’t give WalletHub’s ranking too much clout because it’s just one out of the many that can be found on Google search,” said computer science major Danny Lawrence.

Lawrence explained that he only looks at the college ranking systems that collect data from federal agencies.

“WalletHub’s ranking of our state’s community colleges is a false representation of our superb educational experience here at DCCC,” said Kelly McCuster, a social work associate in arts student at DCCC. “The internet is littered with college rankings that are nothing more than a bunch of high-stakes popularity contests. Organizations profit by scoring a school based solely off its reputation — deserved or not. Essentially, college rankings are a bad practice because they tend to do more damage by diminishing the character and notoriety of the vast majority of participating colleges.”

Nevertheless, because choosing a college is a sizeable investment, students and their families often turn to college rankings to assist them in making the decision, something Hope Diehl, assistant vice president for DCCC’s Enrollment Services, discourages because such rankings may not be legitimate.

“We should not give too much credence to any formal ranking system of colleges,” Diehl said. “Though college rankings may seem appealing to read, they tend to rely on questionable formulas to rank colleges.”

Diehl also pointed out that a majority of more popular college rankings rely heavily upon student opinion and campus reputation, which, she explained, is not an effective tool for measuring a school’s value.

WalletHub defended its rankings.

WalletHub media director and analyst Jill Gonzalez is a financial literacy advocate who has appeared on NBC Nightly News, Fox Business Network, and Wall Street Journal Live as listed on her LinkedIn profile.

Gonzalez responded to questions raised by The Communitarian, regarding the last place ranking of Pennsylvania community colleges, with a statement via email.

“To determine which states’ have the best and worst community-college systems in the U.S., our researchers drew upon results from our analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst Community Colleges,” Gonzalez explained. “Pennsylvania ranked last because even its highest-ranking community college, Luzerne County Community College, ranks in the middle-of-the-pack at 444th. The lowest ranking Pennsylvania institution, Lackawanna College, ranked second to last at 725th for 2018 was bogged down by cost of in-state tuition and fees, and ranked 813th for this metric at $14,110 in 2016, and $14,580 in 2017. Our system is an objective study, created as a guide to help students, parents, and faculty assess the status of higher education within their state”

According to Gonzalez, WalletHub helps students, parents, and faculty assess the status of higher education within their state. She emphasized that it’s not WalletHub’s goal to damage an institution’s image by placing colleges in last place.

Where to find other rankings and reviews

The growing industry of ranking universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical schools has skyrocketed in recent years, and most offer a wide scale of campus details nationwide.

The long-standing U.S. News and World Report and Washington Mont h ly magazine have published college rankings for the past 11 years. Money and Forbes magazines also publish guides by Princeton Review, Barron’s, the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and The College Board.

With the advancement of modern technology and the entire world accessible at the tap of a mouse or finger, the internet has also become home to a growing population of “best and worst college” websites.

In addition to college rankings, companies like CollegeStats offers a database of more than 3,000 colleges and universities to find the advanced degree opportunities tailored to each individual student. CollegeStats allows users to decide what matters most to them in the quest to find a college fit, and a separate online degree finder to narrow the search.

Another alternative to “best college ranks” are the handful of college review websites available online. Visitors can read college reviews created by students and alumni, or write their own campus review to post. Some of those sites include CollegeTimes, StudentReviews, Unigo, and RateMyProfessor.

The American Association of Colleges (AAC) estimates there are more than 6,900 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the nation with 20.5 million undergraduate students nationwide. Nearly half of all college students, 12.4 million, are enrolled at 1,167 community colleges, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. (AACC)

The estimated number of students attending community colleges nationwide outweigh the number of students in colleges and universities, yet fewer community college rankings exist.

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The flaws of college rankings systems

The Brookings Institution released a 2015 report titled, “Beyond college rankings: A value-added approach to assessing two-year and four-year schools.” The report notes that students don’t know enough about how institutions of higher learning compare along key dimensions, especially for colleges granting credentials of two years or less, which graduate two out of every five postsecondary graduates.

Moreover, popular rankings focus only on a small fraction of four-year colleges and tend to reward selective institutions over others that contribute and invest most to student success.

Organizations, websites, and magazines that rank schools all claim to have their own criteria to rate schools in a variety of categories that include four-year universities and colleges, and two-year community colleges, technology and liber arts institutes. The creation of additional sub-categories has also been trending, such as best dorms, best education, safest campus, and best sports program are a few examples.

Though most ranking systems have their own methodologies, a closer examination reveals some common traits. To start, college rankings aim to target high school graduating seniors and their parents in the pursuit of higher education.

All rankings are dependent upon college reputation provided by students or alumni, and opinions offered by surrounding school district counselors and neighboring colleges.

Another similarity is key data on campus graduation rates, and annual income of graduates influence a college’s overall ranking. Lastly, each organization explains in a small print reminder that no ranking system is perfect, with a notation marking the many limitations and caveats of the data analysis put into rankings.

How the data is compromised

Global College Search Associates (GCSA) in Chicago offers a client-based, interest-focused approach to the college search and selection process. GCSA helps navigate students through an array of career options achievable through the many majors and programs available throughout various educational institutions in the United States and abroad.

GCSA president Patricia Kranhke explained that during her previous job as an assistant director of admissions at Rutgers University, she was responsible for collecting and calculating much of the data being submitted to the federal government and the various ranking publications, such as U.S. News and World Report.

Kranhke recalled how it became evident to everyone working around her during the collection of data and analysis just how easy it was for information to be manipulated to improve its placement on the rankings.

“This is why so many colleges and universities have stopped submitting their information to the rankings publications, and why U.S. News and World Report is fumbling around in the media trying to push their agenda and change their research methodology,” she said. “The better way to obtain real, unadulterated data is from the federal government.”

How prospective students are affected

Members of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) have expressed long withstanding concerns about college ranking publications and internet sites, and suggest that the effects of college rankings are “extensive and ongoing.”

In 2011, the NACAC released results from the National Association for College Admission Counseling Ad Hoc Committee on U.S. News & World Report Rankings Survey.

The survey found that while a majority of college admission counseling professionals hold negative opinions of the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings, colleges still use rankings to market themselves, and the title “Best Colleges” is not an accurate representation of the information in the publication.

The survey also noted despite holding strong negative attitudes toward the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the majority of NACAC members still use the rankings in their admission and advising work.

Information students can trust

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) introduced the “College Scorecard” in 2015 under the Obama administration. Using data and collecting information from the student loan program and the IRS, the Scorecard is thought to offer better, more accurate results in comparison to data previously available, according to Kranhke.

Before the DOE’s scorecard, average graduate earnings post-graduation was taken from the annual Payscale College Earnings Report that required graduates to volunteer their yearly income.

The College Scorecard data was designed to increase transparency, while aiding students with choosing the right college. The data has also been used to improve college quality by reflecting how well schools are serving students.

However, the College Scorecard Data only reports earnings data for students starting as undergraduates who received federal loans or grants. Federal aid recipients make up roughly half of all college students who generally have lower family incomes than their peers, leaving wide-spread speculation as to the scorecard’s accuracy.

Campus visits are recommended

Disclaimers on student review websites caution users that the corporations make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of its content.

That is just one reason college officials like Diehl recommend visiting a college instead of simply relying on rankings.

“At DCCC, we reach out to future college hopefuls through college fairs and career nights, and recommend they schedule a guidance visit here on campus by calling the admissions office,” Diehl said.

To see DCCC information on the College Scorecard, students should visit https:// col leg es corecard . ed .gov / school/?211927-Delaware_ County_Community_College

Contact Victoria Lavelle at Communitarian@mail.dccc. edu