The Full Belmonte, 1/26/21
100% Pure News. Distilled.
“President Biden says he hopes the US will soon be able to administer 1.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine a day, and the Defense Department is considering deploying thousands of troops to help reach that goal. One official said up to 10,000 troops could be involved. While Americans wait for vaccinations, health officials say they’re extremely worried about new Covid-19 variants detected in the US. One expert says everyday activities are now much more dangerous because of them. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country’s borders may stay shut for most of the year to ward off outbreaks. At the core of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, the city of Manaus offers a cautionary tale for health care systems on the brink of collapse: tens of thousands of new graves, no beds or oxygen tanks and a second wave promising even more misery.” Read more at CNN
“Beginning Tuesday, all passengers ages 2 and older who are flying into the United States from international locations must present a negative coronavirus test taken no more than three days before their flight or proof they recovered from the virus within the past three months. Those who don't will be denied boarding. Canada, the United Kingdom, and many other countries already have this entry requirement. The CDC said it hoped the new testing requirement would help slow the spread of the virus, now surging in the United States. COVID-19 has killed nearly 420,000 Americans in less than a year, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020.” Read more at USA Today
“California has lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions. Public health officials said the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions to stem the spread of the virus, Kathleen Ronayne reports.
The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations, intensive care unit capacity and vaccinations. “ Read more at AP
“Election Investigation: The Justice Department’s inspector general is launching an investigation to examine whether any former or current department officials ‘engaged in an improper attempt’ to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The investigation will probe allegations concerning the conduct of former and current Justice Department officials but will not extend to other government officials. The investigation comes after The New York Times reported that a former assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, had been discussing a plan with then-President Trump to oust the acting attorney general and try to challenge the results of the presidential race, Michael Balsamo reports.” Read more at AP
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last night cleared the way for a power-sharing agreement with Democrats by abandoning his demand for a written promise to preserve the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes for major legislation.” Read more at Axios
“Senate confirms Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. The former Fed chairwoman will spearhead President Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion economic relief package, which provides for another round of direct stimulus payments, extended and enhanced jobless benefits, funding for schools and first responders and the creation of a nationwide vaccination program.” Read at Wall Street Journal
“Senators will be sworn in as members of the ‘Court of Impeachment’ on Tuesday, one of the first steps for an unprecedented trial of a president who has already left office. A summons would then be issued to former President Donald Trump. The House delivered the impeachment articleMonday evening, which charges Trump with “incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Ten Republican lawmakers had joined Democrats in backing the article of impeachment. However, it is unclear how many GOP senators will similarly split with Trump and the conservative base on a vote to convict the president. The trial is slated to begin the week of Feb. 8. The prosecution will be led by Rep. Jamie Raskin. Read more at USA Today
“Former President Trump is assembling a full legal team for his Senate impeachment trial, which starts in early February. Biden says that while he doubts enough Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump and disqualify him from holding office in the future, the proceedings must happen. Further, nine prominent Republican lawyers, including two former officials in the Trump administration, have signed a letter urging GOP senators to "consider the evidence" before deciding how to vote, strongly implying that if the evidence leads them there, they should not choose partisanship over conviction. Elsewhere in Trump’s circle, Dominion Voting Systems is suing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for defamation, seeking $1.3 billion in damages. The election technology company has been at the center of baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, which Giuliani has promoted.” Read more at CNN
From the thin ice shield covering most of the Arctic Ocean to the mile-thick mantle of the polar ice sheets, ice losses have soared from about 760 billion tons per year in the 1990s to more than 1.2 trillion tons per year in the 2010s, a new study released Monday shows. That is an increase of more than 60 percent, equating to 28 trillion tons of melted ice in total — and it means that roughly 3 percent of all the extra energy trapped within Earth’s system by climate change has gone toward turning ice into water.” Read more at Washington Post
“Airlines are issuing a flurry of travel waivers as half of the country prepares for a blast of wintry weather . Two storm systems are set to pelt nearly half the nation with snow and rain throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service. One person died and several others were hospitalized after a tornado tore through the Fultondale area of Jefferson County in Alabama on Monday night. The National Weather Service said at least 4 inches of snow is expected across most of an area stretching from central Kansas to Chicago and southern Michigan. Parts of Nebraska and Iowa could get more than three times that much by Tuesday morning. The snow was forecast to continue into late Tuesday in some areas. American, Delta, Southwest and United have already issued waivers covering travel for much of the Midwest. According to FlightAware, more than 315 flights into, out of and within the United States were canceled Monday, and at least 179 have already been canceled for Tuesday.” Read more at USA Today
“President Biden’s orders expanding LGBTQ antidiscrimination protections and allowing transgender people to serve in the military mark a sharp ideological departure from his predecessor and deliver powerful legal and symbolic wins to a community often marginalized by the former president.” Read more at Boston Globe
“POLITICS: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sent shockwaves across the political sphere on Monday by announcing that he will not run for reelection in 2022, a major surprise that creates a competitive seat in the looming midterm elections.
Portman, 65, a two-term Ohio Republican and top McConnell ally, pointed to the white-hot polarization of politics and the increasing lack of appetite for lawmakers to cross the aisle and strike deals.” Read more at The Hill
“Arizona Republican Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs reportedly asked former President Donald Trump for pardons relating to their involvement in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the Capitol. He turned them down.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that the two Arizonans were among a number of GOP lawmakers who sought clemency in Trump's final days in connection to the rallyin front of the White House that flowed into the deadly riot. The former president, who still faces an impeachment trial in the Senate for his own role in the insurrection, reportedly declined to grant the requests after a lengthy meeting with legal advisers over the weekend.” Read more at Salon
“The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the dismissal of litigation alleging Donald Trump had been illegally profiting from his presidency, saying the matter was now moot.
The justices in brief written orders wiped out a pair of cases alleging Mr. Trump was violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit the president from receiving things of value from foreign and state governments.
The plaintiffs alleged Mr. Trump improperly used the presidency as a platform to promote his businesses.
Mr. Trump while in office turned over the operation of his businesses to his sons, but he retained his personal ownership stake. His personal lawyers argued the cases were a form of presidential harassment.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Immigration Battle Ahead: Immigrant rights activists energized by a new Democratic administration and majorities on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a fresh political battle. A coalition of national advocacy groups announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to help push through Biden’s plan to open a citizenship pathway for up to 11 million people. The effort is a longshot. Immigration remains a third rail dividing Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., Anita Snow and Manuel Valdes report.” Read more at AP
“$20 — The value of the bill that could soon bear the face of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The White House said it would restart efforts to put her face on the currency after the Trump administration postponed those plans.” Read at Wall Street Journal
“Lives Lived: At a time when there were few Black astrophysicists, George Carruthers developed a telescope that went to the moon on Apollo 16, producing images of Earth’s outermost atmosphere, stars and galaxies. He died at 81.” Read more at New York Times
“Judge approves $17 million fund for Harvey Weinstein victims. Women who have accused the former Hollywood producer of sexual misconduct are expected on average to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars under the deal.” Read at Wall Street Journal
“Budweiser said it is committing $1 million of ad inventory to vaccine awareness and education work by the Ad Council, a nonprofit that helps make public service campaigns, and to COVID Collaborative, a coalition of experts and institutions in public health and other areas. It will also produce multimillion-dollar vaccine awareness efforts throughout the year, executives said.
The Budweiser brand was deep into developing advertising for Super Bowl LV when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its first approval to a vaccine against Covid-19, said Monica Rustgi, vice president of marketing at Budweiser. Its executives saw marketing playing a role in overcoming the hesitation about vaccinations among some consumers, she added, noting, ‘We’re not only a big beer brand but one of the biggest advertisers.’
While Budweiser could have used a Super Bowl ad to highlight vaccines, it will be more effective to pursue the campaign as the year unfolds and as vaccine eligibility expands and vaccine inventories grow, Ms. Rustgi said. People will also see the messages more often than if Budweiser ran a single vaccine-themed spot during the game, she said.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign his position today, heading off a potentially embarrassing defeat in parliament and capping a tumultuous 12 months for the country.
Although Conte appears to be throwing in the towel, his exit as the head of Italy’s government is far from assured and many see it as a tactical move to gain support. Upon announcing his plans to resign on Monday, his coalition partners almost immediately issued calls for him to stay on.
That hasn’t stopped opposition voices from crying out for elections. Matteo Salvini, a former deputy prime minister and leader of the far-right League party called for a fresh vote to ‘give the say back to the people and, for five years, a serious and legitimate government chosen by the Italians.’” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Hundreds of thousands of farmers drove their tractors into the Indian capital of New Delhi today as part of ongoing, nationwide protests against controversial agricultural laws farmers say put their livelihoods at risk. Some farmers have been camping out outside the city in protest for up to two months. The massive displays of discontent have been a significant challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Months of demonstrations across the country have so far only resulted in deadlocked talks between farmers and his administration. Today’s planned protests coincide with India's Republic Day, a national holiday that marks the first time India's constitution went into effect in 1950 following independence from British colonial rule.” Read more at CNN
“Dutch riots continue. Riots in the Netherlands against new coronavirus restrictions continued for a third consecutive night on Monday as police arrested at least 70 people across the country. The unrest followed the announcement of new restrictions on movement, including a 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew, with rulebreakers facing a roughly $115 fine.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Puerto Rico is declaring a state of emergency over gender-based violence after a wave of killings targeting women and transgender people. Newly minted Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced an executive order aimed at preventing and protecting against gender-based violence through a number of programs, including a committee tasked with providing education, support and rescue around gender violence. The order is the culmination of years of efforts by activists and advocacy organizations to demand action in the US territory against the rise of gender-based violence, which has worsened in the face of the pandemic and natural disasters like 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Pierluisi says the state of emergency will last until the end of June 2022.” Read more at CNN
“Amazon continues its U.S. expansion. The tech giant is planning to add 3,000 employees in the Boston area, one of a number of expansions of technology jobs in major American cities. The jobs will include roles in technology and software development.” Read at Wall Street Journal
“BBC documents Wuhan timeline. A doctor who worked in a Wuhan hospital at the heart of the initial coronavirus pandemic has said he and colleagues understood the high transmissibility of the disease in early January but were stopped by hospital officials from relaying the information. The revelation comes in a new BBC documentary addressing the 54 days between the first known COVID-19 case and Wuhan’s first lockdown. The news comes as a World Health Organization team finished up its quarantine precautions before launching into its investigation of the origins of the coronavirus, beginning in Wuhan.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Agent Orange lawsuit. A French court is to hear a case brought against a number of international companies involved in the development of the toxic chemical defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, with possible implications for the United States. The case was brought by Tran To Nga, a 78-year-old French-Vietnamese woman, who alleges that the companies—which include Monsanto and Dow Chemical—played down the herbicide’s toxicity and misled the U.S. government. The companies named in the lawsuit maintain that it was the U.S. government that ultimately designed Agent Orange, leaving the firms blameless for the severe illnesses, birth defects, and other medical problems experience by those who were exposed.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“A Canadian former gambling corporation CEO and his wife have been fined after the two went to extraordinary lengths to get a coronavirus vaccine. According to the Yukon News, Rodney and Ekaterina Baker traveled to remote Beaver Creek via private chartered plane to join a community of roughly 100 people, including members of the White River First Nation (WRFN), who were benefiting from a mobile vaccine rollout.
The couple allegedly posed as nearby motel workers to receive the Moderna jab, but were apprehended at the airport after an anonymous tip and issued with fines of roughly $900 each. WRFN has asked Canadian law enforcement to ‘pursue a more just punishment’ than the fines as a way to deter others from trying the same scheme.
The couple needn’t have gone through the trouble: Canada has already purchased 214 million vaccine shots for its 38 million people, the most per capita of any nation.” Read more at Foreign Policy
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