Beyond the Bricks: Week of 10/8
by Abby Bratton | published Oct. 15th, 2018
Aftermath of the Kavanaugh Confirmation
After being confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 6, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. The confirmation, which succeeded with a Senate vote of 50 in favor to 48 against, was rife with controversy. It came after an FBI investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when he was in high school. Additional accusations of assault from other women were also set against Kavanaugh. The Senate confirmation hearings were accompanied by a number of public demonstrations, including one the day before the vote where CNN reported that almost 300 participants were arrested. After his official swearing in, a ceremonial induction was held on Monday, Oct. 8. The following day, Kavanaugh began the job, once more amidst protests.
On Oct.10, the Associated Press reported that Chief Justice John Roberts will be referring all ethics complaints against Kavanaugh to federal judges at a state level. Fifteen such complaints have been levied, raising questions of misconduct on Kavanaugh’s part during his confirmation hearings. The initial three complaints were received on Sept. 20, but it was not until the day of the confirmation that D.C. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson stated that complaints against Kavanaugh had been filed. No further details on their content have yet been released. Roberts has formally assigned the complaints to the ethics council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which is based in Colorado. Depending on the court’s decision about its jurisdiction in this instance, the complaints may or may not be investigated.
Hurricane Michael Declared Third-Strongest Storm to Hit Continental U.S.
Hurricane Michael arrived at Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018. Live Science announced, “Just as it came ashore, meteorologists with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) released data showing that the rapidly strengthening storm made landfall as the third-strongest hurricane in continental U.S. history.” It hit the coast as a Category 4 storm, with winds reaching up to 155 mph. According to NBC, the hurricane caused at least six deaths in the United States, with more likely to be counted as search-and-rescue efforts continue. An additional 13 people were killed earlier as the storm crossed Central America, BBC News reports.
After being downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of 50 mph, Michael continued across Georgia and the Carolinas on Oct. 11. Despite its lower windspeed, the storm still poses a significant risk — especially given that North and South Carolina are still recovering from damages caused by Hurricane Florence in September. Michael is expected to bring rainfall, flooding and potentially tornadoes as it moves on. BBC News stated, “States of emergency have been declared in all or parts of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.” Over 900,000 homes and business lost power across those four states due to the storm.
ISS Mission Aborted Due to Technical Failure
Two astronauts made an emergency landing on Oct. 11, 2018 when their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned shortly after launch. American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were en route to the International Space Station, where they would have been stationed for six months. Approximately 90 seconds after taking off, NASA reported issues with the booster and, 24 seconds later, the emergency escape system detached the crew capsule from the rocket. The capsule began a ballistic descent and hit the ground in Kazakhstan 34 minutes later at a point hundreds of kilometers away from the launch site. BBC News says that both men are in good health and that Russian officials have begun an investigation into the incident.
National Geographic reported, “The Soyuz accident will likely put a strain on the ISS's current crew — and may even threaten to interrupt use of the orbiting laboratory, which has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000.” At this point, Soyuz rockets are the only vehicles used to transport people into orbit; but the malfunction and ongoing investigation will temporarily halt any Soyuz launches. The team aboard the ISS has a descent vehicle docked and available for use. However, abandoning the space station before a new crew comes aboard leaves no one to fix problems that may arise and could jeopardize the station. The length of the investigation will determine when a new ISS crew is able to depart; National Geographic gave estimates between mid November and early 2019.