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FBI interviews accuser; Yale classmate remembers heavy drinker

WASHINGTON — FBI agents on Sunday interviewed one of the three women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct as Republicans and Democrats quarreled over whether the bureau would have enough time and freedom to conduct a thorough investigation before a high-stakes vote on his nomination to the nation's highest court.

The White House insisted it was not "micromanaging" the new one-week review of Kavanaugh's background but some Democratic lawmakers claimed the White House was keeping investigators from interviewing certain witnesses. President Donald Trump, for his part, tweeted that no matter how much time and discretion the FBI was given, "it will never be enough" for Democrats trying to keep Kavanaugh off the bench.

And even as the FBI explored the past allegations that have surfaced against Kavanaugh, another Yale classmate came forward to accuse the federal appellate judge of being untruthful in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the extent of his drinking in college.

In speaking to FBI agents, Deborah Ramirez detailed her allegation that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party in the early 1980s when they were students at Yale University, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to publicly discuss details of a confidential investigation.

At least three women have accused Kavanaugh of years-ago misconduct. He denies all the claims.

The person familiar with Ramirez's questioning, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said she also provided investigators with the names of others who she said could corroborate her account.

But Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, has not been contacted by the FBI since Trump on Friday ordered the agency to take another look at the nominee's background, according to a member of Ford's team.

In a statement released Sunday, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh's said he is "deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale." Charles "Chad" Ludington, who now teaches at North Carolina State University, said he was friend of Kavanaugh's at Yale and that Kavanaugh was "a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker."

"On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive," Ludington said. While saying that youthful drinking should not condemn a person for life, Ludington said he was concerned about Kavanaugh's statements under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Speaking to the issue of the scope of the FBI's investigation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said White House counsel Don McGahn, who is managing Kavanaugh's nomination, "has allowed the Senate to dictate what these terms look like, and what the scope of the investigation is."

"The White House isn't intervening. We're not micromanaging this process. It's a Senate process. It has been from the beginning, and we're letting the Senate continue to dictate what the terms look like," Sanders said.

A committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday that testimony would be taken from Ramirez and Kavanaugh's high school friend Mark Judge, who has been named by two of three women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

The third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh and Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women in the early 1980s, among other accusations. Kavanaugh has called her accusations a "joke." Judge has said he "categorically" denies the allegations.

Court records reviewed by The Associated Press show Swetnick was involved in at least six legal cases over the past 25 years. Along with the lawsuit filed by a former employer in November 2000, the cases include a personal injury suit she filed in 1994 against the Washington, D.C., regional transit authority.

Swetnick's attorney, Michael Avenatti, told the AP that court cases involving her have no bearing on the credibility of her claims about Kavanaugh. Avenatti said the suit from her ex-employer — it was dismissed a month after it was filed — was "completely bogus, which is why it was dismissed almost immediately."

In its civil complaint in a state court in Oregon, the company said Swetnick, a software engineer, was an employee for a few weeks before its human resources department received a report that she engaged in "unwelcome sexual innuendo and inappropriate conduct" toward two male co-workers at a business lunch.

The lawsuit said that Swetnick in turn accused Webtrends of subjecting her to "physically and emotionally threatening and hostile conditions" and that she claimed that she was sexually harassed by four co-workers. The co-workers denied the allegations, the suit said.

Company officials later determined, the suit said, that Swetnick provided false information on her employment application. The suit alleged that she misrepresented the length of time she worked at a previous employer and falsely claimed that she earned an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from Johns Hopkins University.

Avenatti said that "whether she has a college degree or not does not matter as to whether she is a sexual assault victim."

Children’s Museum holds special event
LaunchPAD gives young foodies a taste of mangoes

SIOUX CITY -- Tristan Zumo is a maniac when it comes to mangoes.

The Morningside Elementary School fourth grader likes eating them for breakfast, as a snack or for dessert.

"Don't know why I like 'em so well," Tristan, 9, said. "They just taste good, I guess."

Tristan was one of the wannabe food scientists getting a crash course on making mango ice cream at LaunchPAD Children's Museum on Thursday night.

As a way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15), many Children's Museum's special events have a south-of-the-border tie-in.

"While they are grown in other parts of the world, Mexico is a big producer of mangoes," education manager Alyssa Miller explained. "This allows us to introduce children to a fruit they've never had before."

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

From left, Tristan Zumo, 9, of Sioux City, looks on as Melanie Loutsch, 6, of Sioux City, whips up cream that will be used for mango ice cream. The kids were taking part in a hands-on activity at LaunchPAD Children's Museum.

Even though Yareli Flores has eaten mangoes her entire life, the Woodbury County 4-H youth worker is a novice when it comes to using the fruit to flavor ice cream.

"I've made it at home a few times," Flores, the program's instructor, said. "But this will be the first time I've demonstrated it for a group of kids."

Luckily, she had a steady stream of pint-sized sous chefs that included Melanie Loutsch, a Morningside Elementary School kindergartner.

"Oh, I love mangoes," the 6-year-old Sioux City girl said as she helped Flores mix mango puree into whipping cream. "It's my favorite fruit."

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

From left, Kyara Ramirez, 6, of South Sioux City, makes a south-of-the-border mango ice cream as sisters Joselyn Lopez Gamboa, 7, of Sioux City, and Perla Lopez Gamboa, 9, of Sioux City, watch. All three were participating in a LaunchPAD Children's Museum program that was tied in with National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Had Melanie ever eaten a mango before?

"I can't remember," she said, not afraid of contradicting herself in record time.

Miller listened intensely when Flores discussed fun facts and nutritional information about the colorful fruit.

"I love these types of events," she said. "Adults learn as much as their kids do."

For instance, Miller discovered she had a hankering for homemade mango ice cream.

"I've eaten mangoes before but I never thought to combine them with ice cream," she said after sampling the finished product. "It was delicious."

Ben Bermudez, 6, also gave the mango ice cream a thumbs-up and so did his dad, Alan Bermudez.

"I was telling Ben that when I was a kid, I'd visit my cousin's mango farm in Mexico," Alan Bermudez said. "Before the mangoes turned ripe, my cousin and I would take slingshots and knock them off of the trees.

"Unripened mangoes are sour, not sweet, and these were delicious," he said, smiling at the memory. "You'd put a little salt on them and that's it. The mangoes were so refreshing."

As his dad related a childhood memory, Ben Bermudez simply kept on eating more ice cream.

"I don't think it matters if my kids are eating mango ice cream or broccoli ice cream," Alan Bermudez said with a shrug. "If it's ice cream, they'll eat it."

Monday’s Briefing
Monday’s Briefing

Trump tweets praise for Kanye on 'SNL'

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump panned the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" but tweeted praise for Kanye West, who closed the show with a pro-Trump message.

Saturday's show opened with Matt Damon playing Brett Kavanaugh in a parody of Thursday's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on sexual assault claims.

As the show ended, West took the stage wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and made an unscripted pro-Trump speech after the credits rolled.

Videos of the speech circulated on social media.

Trump tweeted Sunday that he didn't watch the show — it's "no longer funny" and "is just a political ad for the Dems."

He added: "Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told 'no'), was great. He's leading the charge!"

Rescued beluga whale thrives at SeaWorld

ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld officials say an endangered beluga whale rescued off Alaska's coast is thriving in his new theme park home.

The whale Tyonek was flown from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, to SeaWorld San Antonio in March.

SeaWorld officials say Tyonek has grown to nearly 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and measures nearly 7 feet (2 meters) long.

In a statement Friday, SeaWorld San Antonio senior veterinarian Steve Osborn said Tyonek is eating fish and interacting normally with the other nine beluga whales at the Texas park.

A year ago, Tyonek was stranded as a month-old calf after his mother abandoned him or died. According to Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld, Tyonek is the first beluga calf from Alaska's Cook Inlet to be successfully rescued and rehabilitated.

-- Associated Press

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Briar Cliff's Noah Ylagan runs with the ball against Dakota Wesleyan during Great Plains Athletic Conference action Saturday.

top story
Sioux City Council will consider $11M parking ramp bid

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council members on Monday will consider a nearly $11 million bid that comes in just under the estimated cost for a four-story parking ramp that would span across Third Street and connect directly to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The weekly council meeting begins at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 405 Sixth St. In other business, the council will discuss changes to the Morningside Avenue reconstruction project, after some public criticism. An option of three or four lanes could be discussed.

The council will be told the estimate for the parking ramp project is $10,959,920. Three bids were received, and the apparent low bid is from W.A. Klinger, of Sioux City, at $10,910,475.

The structure at 205 Pearl St. would be a joint project between the city and Hard Rock, with both entities sharing the cost. Sioux City has included $5.5 million for the project in its budget for the current 2018-19 fiscal year.

A council meeting memo says Hard Rock officials have requested the city approve the Klinger bid.

The parking structure will sit on a 1.2-acre plot of land owned by the city, which previously was home to Liberty Bank. The projection is that the ramp would be built by Sept. 1, 2019.

Plans show the ramp would have 534 parking stalls and accommodate motorists traveling to the hotel and casino, as well as the nearby city-owned Tyson Events Center and the Historic Pearl Street district. It would also include approximately 15,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space.

"I think it’s a good project that we’re partnering with the Hard Rock, that also has need for parking," City Manager Bob Padmore previously said.

Padmore said under current plans, the city would own the ramp and retail space, which would then be leased by Hard Rock, which is owned and operated by Las Vegas-based Warner Hospitality.

One other agenda item involves a presentation on the lane configuration of Morningside Avenue between South Lakeport and South Saint Aubin streets. The project has been debated by city residents recently, as the reconstruction over the half-mile length continues.

Local businesses have criticized plans, and city staff met with Morningside Avenue area people on Sept. 26 to discuss options.

"Stakeholders were generally in favor of leaving the roadway in the current four-lane configuration, due to concerns about the reduction of on-street parking between South Saint Aubin Street and South Patterson Street," where many businesses are located, a council memo says.

The memo says the civil engineering department recommends a four-lane alignment.