The Full Belmonte, 1/16/2022
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) takes the oath of office as his wife Suzanne Youngkin holds the Bible during Youngkin's inauguration on the steps of the Virginia Capitol in Richmond on Jan. 15. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
“RICHMOND — Glenn Allen Youngkin, a Republican former business executive who has never held elected office, was sworn in Saturday as Virginia’s 74th governor before thousands of onlookers on the steps of the State Capitol.
A 55-year-old former private equity executive with a huge personal fortune and no political experience, Youngkin is the first Republican to win statewide office in Virginia since 2009. He rode a huge GOP turnout in the November elections to a two-point victory that signaled Virginia is not as solidly blue as it appeared while President Donald Trump was in the White House.
His popularity helped Republicans win back the majority in the House of Delegates, which Democrats had controlled for two years. But as Youngkin gets down to the business of governing, he will face the need to negotiate and compromise with a Democratic majority in the state Senate.” Read more at Washington Post
“The new governor immediately issued executive orders scrapping mask mandates in schools and COVID-19 vaccine requirements for state workers. Youngkin’s very first executive order bans the teaching of “divisive concepts” in schools, including ‘critical race theory,’ a term Republicans use to refer to lessons on systemic racism.” Read more at Richmond Times-Dispatch
A makeshift Covid ward at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
“The U.S. is bracing for more staff shortages in the nation’s health care system after the Supreme Court made a critical decision on vaccine mandates.
The ruling, which upholds the Biden administration’s requirement for millions of health care workers to be vaccinated against Covid, could wedge workers between opposing state and federal policies as hospitals wrestle with resistance among some staff. Many hospitals are already under strain from the biggest surge of Covid-19 patients since spring 2020. In New York City, there are simply not enough nurses to care for them all.
While health care providers now have a clear mandate, U.S. businesses are largely on their own. The court’s decision to block the vaccine mandate for big companies means it’s now up to chief executives to decide when and how to pursue a ‘new normal.’
In other developments:
Americans can order at-home tests through a government website starting Wednesday.
This is how happy accidents and long-buried discoveries helped pave the path to Covid vaccines, which are now protecting hundreds of millions of people.” Read more at New York Times
Novak Djokovic during practice on Friday in Melbourne, Australia. Diego Fedele/EPA, via Shutterstock
“Novak Djokovic will not play in the Australian Open after a panel of judges upheld the government’s decision to revoke the unvaccinated tennis star’s visa.
The decision came a day before the start of the tournament. Djokovic said in an emailed statement that he was ‘extremely disappointed’ but that he respected the ruling.
Djokovic, the world’s No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player, arrived in Australia hoping to defend his Australian Open title. Instead, he is at the center of some of the most divisive debates of the pandemic: individual versus community, science versus quackery.
The saga has cast a shadow over the tournament. Our reporter asked other tennis players how they felt about the case.” Read more at New York Times
About 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officers converged in Colleyville, Texas. Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP
“The police on Saturday night rescued a rabbi and several hostages who had been held by a man at a synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 11 hours.
The police said that a hostage-rescue team had entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and that the suspect was dead. The authorities declined to identify the man or say how he had died. They did not make clear whether any weapons had been recovered, but the man had claimed to have weapons and explosives.
The standoff began Saturday morning while the synagogue was livestreaming a Shabbat service on Facebook. A man could be heard shouting, prompting listeners to call the police.” Read more at New York Times
“WASHINGTON — A newly disclosed memorandum citing ‘unprecedented’ meddling by the Trump administration in the 2020 census and circulated among top Census Bureau officials indicates how strongly they sought to resist efforts by the administration to manipulate the count for Republican political gain.
The document was shared among three senior executives including Ron S. Jarmin, a deputy director and the agency’s day-to-day head. It was written in September 2020 as the administration was pressing the bureau to end the count weeks early so that if President Donald J. Trump lost the election in November, he could receive population estimates used to reapportion the House of Representatives before leaving office.
The memo laid out a string of instances of political interference that senior census officials planned to raise with Wilbur Ross, who was then the secretary of the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau. The issues involved crucial technical aspects of the count, including the privacy of census respondents, the use of estimates to fill in missing population data, pressure to take shortcuts to produce population totals quickly and political pressure on a crash program that was seeking to identify and count unauthorized immigrants.
Most of those issues directly affected the population estimates used for reapportionment. In particular, the administration was adamant that — for the first time ever — the bureau separately tally the number of undocumented immigrants in each state. Mr. Trump had ordered the tally in a July 2020 presidential memorandum, saying he wanted to subtract them from House reapportionment population estimates.
The census officials’ memorandum pushed back especially forcefully, complaining of ‘direct engagement’ by political appointees with the methods that experts were using to find and count unauthorized noncitizens.
‘While the presidential memorandum may be a statement of the administration’s policy,’ the memo stated, ‘the Census Bureau views the development of the methodology and processes as its responsibility as an independent statistical agency.’
The memorandum was among hundreds of documents that the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school obtained in a lawsuit seeking details of the Trump administration’s plans for calculating the allotment of House seats. The suit was concluded in October, but none of the documents had been made public until now.” Read more at New York Times
Early voting in Miami in October 2020.Damon Winter/The New York Times
“With their push for voting rights nearing a dead end, Democrats are facing a costly fight to overcome voting restrictions enacted by Republicans across the country.
The Democrats’ best chance for countering the new state laws was lost after Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a key Democrat, declared her opposition to President Biden’s push to lift the filibuster to pass the party’s two voting access bills.
Ahead of the midterm elections, Democrats and activists now say they are resigned to having to organize their way around the new voting restrictions by spending tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars more on voter-registration and turnout programs — funds that might otherwise have gone to promoting Democratic candidates.
The comprehensive voting rights bill, Freedom to Vote Act, is likely to fail in the Senate this week. Democrats must soon decide whether to compromise or keep pressing.
Ukrainian soldiers hold the line of separation in the Donetsk region. Andriy Dubchak/Associated Press
“This past week’s talks to defuse the crisis between Russia and Ukraine didn’t produce any breakthroughs. Russia may be contemplating more far-reaching measures.
As the Biden administration and NATO consider how the next few months could unfold, they are increasingly wary of options for President Vladimir Putin that would go beyond rolling his troops over Ukraine’s border.
Putin wants commitments that NATO will never again enlarge. Russian officials have hinted that if their security concerns aren’t addressed, they could place nuclear weapons in sensitive places — perhaps near the U.S. coastline — potentially igniting a confrontation with echoes of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
It could all be bluster, and a way of reminding President Biden that while he wants to focus American attention on competing and dealing with China, Putin is still capable of causing enormous disruption.” Read more at New York Times
“Officials from virtually all sides are warning that the risk of a large-scale, conventional war on the European continent is greater than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.
Few agree on what to do to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, Axios' Zachary Basu and Dave Lawler write.
It's ultimately up to the whims of Vladimir Putin.
President Biden is attempting to project strength while keeping the option of diplomacy open ... to lead while remaining in lockstep with European allies ... and to work with Congress even as Republicans try to show they're tougher on Russia than he is.
Context: Russia has been amassing troops on the Ukrainian border for months, and talks aimed at staving off an invasion failed last week.
The U.S. claims to have intelligence indicating that Russia is sending saboteurs to eastern Ukraine for a potential ‘false flag’ operation that would give Moscow a pretext to invade — likely within weeks.
A credible threat of unprecedented sanctions from Europe, coordinated with the U.S., would be one of the strongest deterrents against invasion, given the economic links between the EU and Russia.
But Biden officials admit that sanctions imposed after Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 have failed to weaken his ambitions.
The Biden administration says it's making strong progress toward a joint package, including banning the export of key technologies to Russia.
A senior European official tells us the bloc was working to develop a sanctions strategy that could be announced ‘within hours’ of a potential invasion.
The catch: Europe's energy crisis has underscored the EU's reliance on Russia, and questions remain about how far certain key European countries, in particular Germany, would go.” Read more at Axios
An eruption prompted tsunami warnings across the Pacific on Saturday.Reuters
“An underwater volcano erupted near Tonga, triggering a chain oftsunami warnings across the South Pacific and for the West Coast of the U.S.
The volcano’s eruption was dramatic, sending plumes of gas and ash thousands of feet into the atmosphere. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand said there were significant signs of damage on the island nation.
American officials urged residents of coastal areas in California, Alaska and Hawaii to stay away from the coastline and move to higher ground. The warnings were lifted by late last night.” Read more at New York Times
“The right-wing cable channel One America News Network — which has spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the safety of coronavirus vaccines — will be dropped by one of its largest television distributors later this year.
The decision by the distributor, DirecTV, a satellite and streaming network with about 15 million subscribers, is a significant setback for One America News and its owners, the Herring family. Losing its slot on the DirecTV lineup will almost certainly diminish the network’s overall audience and cut into its annual revenue.
DirecTV on Saturday did not elaborate on the precise reasons behind its decision.” Read more at New York Times
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are chasing a second Super Bowl appearance in two years.Alex Menendez/Associated Press
“The N.F.L. playoffs are well underway.
Sunday’s slate of N.F.L. playoff games features Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as the Kansas City Chiefs, the A.F.C.’s most dominant team in recent years. But in a season in which no one truly pulled away as the N.F.L.’s best team, prepare for the unexpected. (Read about the coach who makes Brady’s offense work.)
The Packers and the Titans have a bye week. But 12 other teams will face off. Here’s a look at Sunday’s matchups.
The Cardinals, who play the Rams tomorrow, are the owners of the longest championship drought in major American sports. Is a curse to blame?” Read more at New York Times
Richard Macksey’s home library in Baltimore.Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins Universit
“If you’ve spent time on book Twitter, this image might be familiar.
The photo pops up about annually (it did so again recently) but without attribution, allowing avid readers to dream up their own origin story. It turns out it was the home library of Dr. Richard Macksey, a Johns Hopkins professor of humanities, in Baltimore. A book collector, polyglot and scholar of comparative literature, Macksey died in 2019.
‘My dad liked nothing better than sharing his love of books and literature with others,’ Macksey’s son said. ‘He’d be delighted that his library lives on through this photo.’
Also from the world of books, the personal Americana collection of William Reese, a leading rare book dealer who died in 2018, will be up for auction at Christie’s. The value of the collection is estimated at $12 million to $18 million.” Read more at New York Times
“LOS ANGELES (AP) — Director Stanley Donen, a giant of the Hollywood musical who through such classics as ‘Singin' in the Rain’ and ‘Funny Face’ helped give us some of the most joyous sounds and images in movie history, has died. He was 94.
Donen, who often teamed with Gene Kelly but also worked with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, died Thursday in New York from heart failure, his sons Joshua and Mark Donen confirmed Saturday.
The 1940s and '50s were the prime era for Hollywood musicals and no filmmaker contributed more to the magic than Donen, among the last survivors from that era and one willing to extend the limits of song and dance into the surreal. He was part of the unit behind such unforgettable scenes as Kelly dancing with an animated Jerry the mouse in ‘Anchors Aweigh,’ Astaire's gravity-defying spin across the ceiling in ‘Royal Wedding,’ and, the all-time triumph, Kelly ecstatically splashing about as he performs the title number in ‘Singin' in the Rain.’” Read more at USA Today