The Full Belmonte, 2/12/2022
“WASHINGTON — The United States is set to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv as Western intelligence officials warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is increasingly imminent.
U.S. officials say the State Department plans to announce early Saturday that all American staff at the Kyiv embassy will be required to leave the country ahead of a feared Russian invasion. The State Department would not comment.
The department had earlier ordered families of U.S. embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave. But it had left it to the discretion of nonessential personnel if they wanted to depart. The new move comes as Washington has ratcheted up its warnings about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said a limited number of U.S. diplomats may be relocated to Ukraine's far west, near the border with Poland, a NATO ally, so the U.S. could retain a diplomatic presence in the country.” Read more at USA Today
“The FDA wants more time to consider the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children under age 5. The drug companies informed the regulators of additional data from a continuing study evaluating a third dose of the vaccine. Each dose for younger children is one-tenth what older kids and adults receive.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“U.S. drug regulators authorized the use of a new Covid-19 antibody drug from Eli Lilly & Co. that retains effectiveness against the Omicron variant of the virus, filling a void after authorities stopped distributing some older antibody drugs that lost effectiveness against the strain.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared the drug, bebtelovimab, for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in nonhospitalized individuals 12 and older who are at high risk of getting severely sick. The drug is intended for people who can’t get access to alternative Covid-19 treatments, or for whom those treatments aren’t appropriate.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Biden to Tap Frozen Afghan Funds for 9/11 Victims, Aid
Biden issued an executive order to transfer the $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets frozen in the U.S. so they can be used to compensate victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and support aid efforts in Afghanistan, Justin Sink writes.” Read more at Bloomberg
“OTTAWA — Canada’s capital was bracing Saturday for an influx of anti-government and anti-vaccine mandate protesters for a third straight weekend, while demonstrators partially blocking a vital U.S.-Canada border crossing defied an injunction ordering them to leave.
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly told reporters Friday that intelligence suggested that the total number of trucks and demonstrators would be similar to last weekend, when some 5,000 people and roughly 1,000 trucks flooded the city.
‘Our message to you is do not come,’ he said. ‘And if you do commit unlawful acts, there will be consequences.’
It was one of several warnings issued Friday to protesters of the self-styled ‘Freedom Convoy,’ which has paralyzed the capital city. They have blockaded several U.S.-Canada border crossings, including economic symbols such as the Ambassador Bridge, a key trade corridor linking Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, and inspired similar protests abroad.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it a ‘siege’ and declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday, warning protesters of ‘severe’ consequences, including fines up to $78,500 and prison terms. He said he would convene a provincial cabinet on Saturday to urgently enact measures to make it ‘crystal clear’ that it is illegal to block critical infrastructure.” Read more at Washington Post
“How Protests Shut the Canadian Border and Rocked the Economy
The Canadian protests began by championing the rights of truckers, but as Brian Platt and Josh Wingrove write, they’ve spread into sprawling anti-establishment demonstrations across the country.” Read more at Bloomberg
Counter-protesters along Wellington Street during a "Freedom Convoy" demonstration in downtown Ottawa on Thursday.
Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg
“TikTok is explicitly banning misogyny, ‘deadnaming’ and misgendering on its social-media app. The move was prompted by calls for action by LGBT and civil-society advocates. Deadnaming means using the birth name of a transgender person who has changed their name. Misgendering is identifying someone as the wrong gender.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Photo: IRID/Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy via AP
“A remote-controlled robot captured images of what appear to be mounds of nuclear fuel at the bottom of the most damaged reactor at Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, AP reports.
The 2011 tsunami and earthquake caused the meltdown of three reactor cores.
The images show broken structures and pipes (above) and mounds (below) of what appears to be melted fuel and other debris submerged in cooling water.”
Photo: IRID/Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy via AP
The bottom line: About 900 tons of melted nuclear fuel remain inside the plant’s three damaged reactors. Removing it could take decades.” Read more at Axios
“Koalas are now an endangered species. The Australian government blames habitat loss, brush fires and drought fueled by climate change for pushing the cuddly marsupials to the edge of extinction. Roughly 58,000 koalas remain in the country; an estimated 30% have died since 2018, according to one conservation group.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Despite wide outreach to encourage voting in the last election, new changes to Texas voting laws mean early batches of mail ballots are being rejected at historic rates.LM OTERO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“A restrictive new voting law in Texas has sown confusion and erected hurdles for those casting ballots in the state’s March 1 primary, with election administrators rejecting early batches of mail ballots at historic rates and voters uncertain about whether they will be able to participate.
In recent days, thousands of ballots have been rejected because voters did not meet a new requirement to provide an identification number inside the return envelope.
In Harris County, the state’s most populous county and home to Houston, election officials said Friday that 40 percent of roughly 3,600 returned ballots so far have lacked the identification number required under Senate Bill 1, as the new law is known. In Williamson County, a populous northern suburb of Austin, the rejection rate has been about 25 percent in the first few days that ballots have come in, the top election official there said.” Read more at Boston
“A Black FedEx driver who was allegedly shot at by a white father and son in Mississippi while delivering packages said he ‘can definitely see the similarities’ between his case and that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was murdered in 2020 by three white men while jogging in Georgia.
‘Because Ahmaud Arbery didn’t survive to speak up for himself, so I want to take that upon myself to do that for me and him as well,’ said D’Monterrio Gibson, 24, in an interview with CNN on Friday.
The father and son, Brandon and Gregory Case, were reportedly arrested and charged this week over the incident. According to Gibson, he was delivering packages on an evening route in Brookhaven, Mississippi, on 24 January when the two men allegedly chased him in a truck for several minutes and fired at least five shots towards his van.” Read more at The Guardian
“The U.S. childcare industry has been crushed by the pandemic. As Bryce Covert reports, since early 2020, about one-third of centers have closed and some 111,000 workers have departed the sector.” Read more at Bloomberg
Kay Strahorn runs the Bidwell Riverside Center in Des Moines, Iowa. A shortage of teachers has forced her to limit enrollment.
Photographer: Kathryn Gamble/Bloomberg
“England Calls Time on Pandemic With Plan to Lift All Covid Curbs
Johnson plans to scrap self-isolation rules for people in England who test positive for Covid-19. That would end the last of the pandemic restrictions that have dominated daily life for the past two years, Emily Ashton writes.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Olympics Mascots Selling for Up to $500 Spark Police Warning
A chubby panda decked out in a suit of ice has become a national sensation in China. Prices have surged so much for stuffed versions of the Winter Olympics mascot that police in Beijing have issued public warnings against buying them from scalpers.” Read more at Bloomberg
Customers line up overnight for Olympics merchandise in Beijing on Feb. 8.
A building formerly named for David Bibb Graves, a former governor and Ku Klux Klan leader, on the University of Alabama’s Tuscaloosa campus.Credit...Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News, via Associated Press
“The trustees of the University of Alabama on Friday reversed a decision to name a building after both a Ku Klux Klan leader and the first Black person to attend the school, instead voting to solely honor the student, Autherine Lucy Foster.
During a special meeting on Friday morning, 13 trustees unanimously voted to rename Lucy-Graves Hall for Ms. Foster, who became the first Black person to attend the school in 1956. The building will now be called Autherine Lucy Hall.
Friday’s vote amended a decision the university made on Feb. 3, when it said that a building named for David Bibb Graves, a former governor and Klan leader, would also carry the name of Ms. Foster. That decision drew an immediate backlash, as students and others criticized the school, accusing it of conflating their legacies.
The university said this week that its priority was to honor Ms. Foster, who ‘opened the door for students of all races’ at the school. ‘The complex legacy of Governor Graves distracted from that important priority,’ the school’s statement said.” Read more at New York Times
“Marie-Claire Chevalier was 16 when she was raped by a high school classmate and became pregnant. She then had an abortion, which was illegal at the time in France unless the woman’s life was in danger.
Her classmate was later arrested on unrelated charges of auto theft. In a bid to avoid prosecution, he revealed Ms. Chevalier’s abortion to the authorities; he was released, and she was arrested and imprisoned.
In a sensational 1972 trial, Ms. Chevalier was represented by Gisèle Halimi, one of France’s most renowned lawyers and a prominent feminist. She won an acquittal, and the landmark case helped pave the way for the decriminalization of abortion in France.
While many in France celebrated the outcome, Ms. Chevalier was traumatized by the whole experience. She changed her first name to Catherine after the trial to try to regain her anonymity and lived the rest of her life out of the public eye.” Read more at New York Times
“Gloria Rojas, who was billed as New York City’s first Latina broadcast journalist when she was hired by WCBS-TV in 1968, and who went on to work as a journalist for every major network affiliate in the city for 23 years, died on Feb. 2 in Cambridge, Md. She was 82.
The cause of her death, at a nursing facility, was complications of cancer and kidney failure, her son, Chris, said. She moved to Maryland in 2012.
In 1974, after working at other stations in New York and Chicago, Ms. Rojas was recruited by Al Primo, the innovative news director who created the ethnically and racially diverse hometown ‘Eyewitness News’ format on WABC-TV, at a time when even women newscasters were still something of a novelty.
In addition to being a trailblazer herself, Ms. Rojas was credited with helping to launch the broadcasting career of a 20-something antipoverty lawyer when she told him that WABC was seeking a bilingual reporter. In 1970, the station hired the young lawyer, Geraldo Rivera, who later became a national TV host and commentator.” Read more at New York Times