The Full Belmonte, 4/2/21
100% Pure News. Distilled.
“At the onset of the pandemic, analysts feared it would mark a disaster for women. The strain of coronavirus lockdowns would exact a disproportionate toll on the sexes — forcing more women out of the workforce, deepening their load of uncompensated labor, leaving them more vulnerable to domestic violence.
All those concerns proved to be true. But the social damage wrought by what’s been dubbed the ‘shadow pandemic’ may be felt for decades to come. That’s the grim conclusion of an annual report on the global gender gap released this week by the World Economic Forum, which keeps an index on gender parity in 156 countries.
Based on its graded evaluations in each country on four broad benchmarks — ranging from women’s participation in politics and the economy to access to health and education — the organization had previously forecast that gender parity was a century away. But the effect of the pandemic has now added roughly 36 years to its calculation, effectively the span of another generation.” Read more at Washington Post
“The World Health Organization harshly criticized Europe’s coronavirus response, calling the region’s vaccine rollout ‘unacceptably slow’ as new variants threaten to wipe out progress. Many European nations have struggled to carry out effective vaccination programs as drug companies have repeatedly under-delivered on scheduled shipments. WHO says the region has vaccinated only 10% of its population with one shot in a two-dose regimen. In the US, health experts are pleading with people to wait until their second vaccine shot to resume normal activities. A fourth surge, concentrated among young people, could be on the horizon if people aren’t careful. And with surges come new restrictions, like in Ontario, where a jump in ICU admissions has forced the province to issue an ‘emergency brake’ shutdown beginning this weekend.” Read more at CNN
“U.S. jobs growth appears set to take off. The U.S. labor market is poised for a hiring spree that could deliver jobs to the industries, regions and workers that took the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Updates in the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin: Two paramedics told jurors Thursday that George Floyd appeared to be in medical distress or dead when they arrived at the scene. Also, David Pleoger, the Minneapolis Police Department supervising officer the day Floyd died, was asked when the restraint should have ended. He replied, ‘When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint.’
⚖ Also on Thursday in the Chauvin trial: Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, gave jurors an intimate glimpse of a ‘mama's boy,’ amateur athlete, restaurant lover and struggling drug user.” Read more at USA Today
“A train partially derailed in eastern Taiwan on Friday after colliding with an unmanned vehicle that had rolled down a hill, killing 48 people. With the train still partly in a tunnel, survivors climbed out of windows and walked along the train’s roof to reach safety after the country’s deadliest railway disaster.
The crash occurred near the Taroko Gorge scenic area on the first day of a long holiday weekend when many people were hopping trains on Taiwan’s extensive rail system. The train had been carrying more than 400 people. Images from the scene showed derailed train cars wedged against the walls of the tunnel; part of the wall of one car had smashed into a seat.
The National Fire Service confirmed the death toll, which included the train’s young, newly married driver, and said all aboard had now been accounted for. More than 100 people were injured, it said. Railways news officer Weng Hui-ping called the crash Taiwan’s deadliest rail disaster.” Read more at AP
“The NCAA faced a barrage of skeptical questions from the Supreme Court Wednesday as it sought to defend tight limits on the types of compensation that college athletes can receive.
Over more than 90 minutes of oral argument, justices across the ideological spectrum questioned how, consistent with U.S. antitrust law, the National Collegiate Athletic Association could lawfully prohibit schools from competing for athletes by offering better benefits.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one of several big sports fans on the court, said the antitrust laws shouldn’t work in a way that provides ‘cover for exploitation of the student athletes.’
The NCAA rules, he said, mean schools are effectively conspiring with one another ‘to pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars, on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing. And that just seems entirely circular and even somewhat disturbing.’
Justice Samuel Alito cited a litany of arguments critics have made against the NCAA—that college athletes in football and basketball have to work so hard they have no energy for their classes, are discouraged from taking harder courses and often don’t graduate.
And Justice Clarence Thomas, a passionate Nebraska football fan, noted the discrepancy between the NCAA’s insistence that athletes must be amateurs to preserve the integrity of college sports while many coaches are allowed to earn eye-popping salaries.
‘It just strikes me as odd,’ Justice Thomas said, later wondering aloud whether extra compensation for athletes would exacerbate disadvantages for schools with more-moderate budgets.
Justice Elena Kagan, meanwhile, said the NCAA could only rely on its appeals to its 115-year-old history for so long, especially because today’s college sports marketplace is so changed from the past. She offered a different framing of the NCAA’s efforts: ‘These are competitors, all getting together with total market power, fixing prices.’
At issue was the NCAA’s appeal of lower-court rulings that found the governing body of college athletics unlawfully suppressed competition for player talent.
Those rulings didn’t require the NCAA to remove all compensation limits but did say the association must allow colleges to recruit athletes by offering them additional compensation and benefits, as long as they are tied to education.
If those decisions are upheld, it would open the door to schools offering benefits beyond the cost of attendance, such as scholarships for graduate or vocational school, internships, computer equipment and study-abroad programs, and limited cash awards for academic achievement, which under those rulings could run to nearly $6,000.
NCAA lawyer Seth Waxman said those court-mandated additional benefits, no matter the label for them, are ‘akin to professional salaries’ and would erode college athletics.
‘For more than 100 years, the distinct character of college sports has been that it’s played by students who are amateurs, which is to say that they are not paid for their play,’ Mr. Waxman told the court. ‘Maintaining that distinct character is both pro-competitive because it differentiates the NCAA’s product from professional sports and can be achieved only through agreement.’” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Christians in the Holy Land are marking Good Friday this year amid signs the coronavirus crisis is winding down, with religious sites open to limited numbers of faithful but none of the mass pilgrimages usually seen in the Holy Week leading up to Easter.
The virus is still raging in the Philippines, France, Brazil and other predominantly Christian countries, where worshippers are marking a second annual Holy Week under various movement restrictions amid outbreaks fanned by more contagious strains.
Last year, Jerusalem was under a strict lockdown, with sacred rites observed by small groups of priests, often behind closed doors. It was a stark departure from past years, when tens of thousands of pilgrims would descend on the city’s holy sites.” Read more at AP
“A federal investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz is focusing on his involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex. Receipts showed that Gaetz and a former Florida official had sent money to the women using cash apps.” Read more at New York Times
“Virginia’s Supreme Court ruled that the city of Charlottesville could remove statues of two Confederate generals.” Read more at New York Times
“A Republican and a Democrat in the House have introduced a bill that would provide $1 billion in a fund to handle the migration influx at the southern border. To access the fund, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies would need to develop a plan to respond to increases in US-Mexico border crossings. The US is on track to encounter more than 2 million migrants -- which would be a record -- at the border by the end of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, a new watchdog report revealed violations at an Arizona ICE facility in 2020 threatened the health, safety and rights of detainees there. One cancer patient ran out of leukemia medicine when facility staff forgot to order a refill, and facility employees sprayed detainees with chemical agents and pepper spray when they held a peaceful protest because they felt the facility was not doing enough to prevent the spread of Covid-19.” Read more at CNN
“The United States Capitol Police's Inspector General has issued a scathing preliminary report about the department's ‘deficiencies’ leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot. Inspector General Michael Bolton found that the department didn't send out intelligence they had that warned the planned January 6 demonstrations could become violent. Bolton also criticized the department for failing to pass along information from others, such as the now-widely reported FBI Norfolk memo, sent the day before the riots, that warned for potential violence and a "war" at the Capitol. While this is the most complete review so far into what happened before and during the insurrection, it’s not the final report on the matter. Five people died in the January 6 violence, and nearly 140 law enforcement officers were injured.” Read more at CNN
“Police say the suspect in the Wednesday evening massacre that left four dead, including a 9-year-old boy, at an Orange, California, office building knew his victims and locked gated entryways into the office suite before opening fire . Victims were found in various areas of the building, including the boy, who was found dead in the arms of a woman believed to be his mother, officials said.” Read more at USA Today
“The cost of blocking shipping for almost a week through the Suez Canal, one of the most crucial waterways on Earth, apparently comes in at right around $1 billion. And Egypt could soon try to collect the bill.” Read more at USA Today
“Could the US rejoin the Iran nuclear deal soon? Representatives from Iran, China, Russia and Europe will meet today to discuss the United States' possible return to the deal, which former President Donald Trump walked away from in 2018. The Biden administration says it wants to rejoin the deal, known as the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but only when Tehran returns to full compliance with the pact's restrictions on nuclear development. Remember, the whole premise of the deal is that Iran reins in its nuclear development in exchange for relief from international sanctions.” Read more at CNN
“Myanmar’s military junta has cut all wireless internet services in the country, and leveled the most serious charges yet against ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been charged with violating the official secrets act, which could result in a 14-year prison sentence. Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide in the November 2020 elections, has not been seen in public since she and others were detained at the beginning of the military coup in February. Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning the ‘use of violence’ against protestors, who have been filling the streets of Myanmar to demonstrate against the junta’s suppressive tactics.” Read more at CNN
“News: Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is expected to issue a ruling today on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to reuse the fiscal year 2021 budget for one more fast-track reconciliation bill, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Schumer’s request is being closely watched by Republicans and the White House. If MacDonough agrees, then Senate Democrats will get multiple opportunities this year to pass the American Jobs Plan and other legislation with a simple majority, rather than 60 votes. And it would be a major change in the Senate’s budget procedures. If she says no, then the path for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill gets that much narrower. It also would make it potentially more difficult for Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to try to expand Medicare and reduce prescription drug prices.” Read more at Punchbowl News
“Thursday was Opening Day for the baseball season. The bad news? COVID-19 struck again as the Washington Nationals home opener against the New York Mets was postponed after three Nationals players tested positive for the virus.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that a fourth player is also a ‘likely positive.’ No players have been identified. The game will not be made up today, and it is unknown if the teams will take the field Saturday. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m.
The game was the only affected by the virus to open the season. The only other game postponed (Baltimore Orioles versus Boston Red Sox) was due to inclement weather.” [The Hill] Read more at ESPN
© Getty Images
“The Final Four of the NCAA women's basketball Tournament tips off Friday evening, when No. 1 seeds Stanford and South Carolina face off (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET). Both teams cruised to the Final Four by winning all of their NCAA Tournament games by double figures. On the other side of the bracket, UConn will square off against Arizona (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET). Unlike South Carolina and Stanford, both UConn and Arizona have dealt with close calls in this tournament. In the Elite Eight, UConn held off No. 2 Baylor, winning 69-67 in controversial fashion , while Arizona had to hold on to beat No. 11 BYU in the second round. The winners of Friday's games will meet for the National Championship on Sunday.” Read more at USA Today
“‘I love coaching, working the kids on the court, the locker room, the trips, the 'Jump Around' (pregame) music, the trying to build a team. I will always love that. And I'm scared to death of the next phase. But I no longer feel that I'm the right man.’
– Former University of North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williamsduring his retirement news conference.
Williams, 70, announced his retirement Thursday after 33 seasons as a Division I head coach. He won three NCAA Tournament titles at North Carolina, his alma mater and finishes his career with 903 victories (third all-time). He advanced to the Final Four nine times and was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.” Read more at USA Today
“Lives Lived: Bibian Mentel was a six-time Dutch snowboarding champion when she lost a leg to cancer. She was soon back on the slopes, competing against able-bodied snowboarders, and she won a gold medal seven months after her surgery. Mentel has died at 48.” Read more at New York Times
“450 — Roughly the number of people who attended Thursday's Miami Heat basketball game and were allowed into the stadium through a separate entrance for fully vaccinated people. Organizers let that group sit closer to the court than the other 3,500 or so fans in attendance. The Heat are the first sports franchise to test using CDC Covid-19 vaccination cards to determine priority access at events.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Travelers checking in for flights at Los Angeles International Airport in February.Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The state of summer vacation
“With Covid vaccinations underway, many people are wondering about travel.
The C.D.C. has recommended that Americans, even those who have been fully vaccinated, not travel yet. Case numbers have been rising in the U.S., and variants are spreading. But the reality is that many people who have received the vaccine are booking flights and trips again.
Though this summer likely won’t see travel at prepandemic levels, and many places remain closed, ‘bookings for almost everything are up,’ Tariro Mzezewa, a Times reporter who covers travel, told me.
‘Travel will go beyond the road trips of last summer,’ she says. ‘Vaccinated people will be more comfortable being around other people.’
So what will change?
Expect to show some sort of proof — either of a negative test or of vaccination — when traveling. ‘You should be planning on showing your negative test or staying home if you don’t have one,’ Tariro says.
The European Union, for example, has announced plans for the Digital Green Certificate, a so-called vaccine passport that countries can use to verify a person’s health status and allow free travel across the bloc.
The concept of a vaccine passport isn’t new: To travel to certain countries, for example, you already need inoculations against yellow fever and other diseases.
The travel industry and tech companies have been working on ways to streamline digital credentials for years, and during the pandemic some have started to repurpose that technology to show proof of vaccination. ‘It isn’t far off in the future,’ Tariro says.
Countries are approaching travel differently. The Biden administration has said that it will leave the development of a vaccine passport in the U.S. to the private sector. At least 17 initiatives are underway, The Washington Post reported.
‘Some think a coordinated, nationwide vaccine passport system could help us get back to a semblance of normal life and speed up economic recovery,’ Rebecca Heilweil wrote in Recode. ‘But this seems unlikely.’
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that vaccine passports would ‘definitely’ play a role in the future for international travel. China has already introduced its own digital certificate, which shows a person’s vaccine and testing history, and South Korea recently announced it would issue vaccine passports to immunized citizens using a mobile app.
A woman showing her ‘Green Pass’ at a bar in Tel Aviv last month.Amir Levy/Getty Images
A real-world example
In Israel, a possible vision of the postpandemic future is on display. More than half of Israelis have received both vaccine shots, and cases have dropped by 90 percent. The economy has reopened with help from a ‘Green Pass,’ an entry ticket to society.
The pass isn’t being widely used for international travel — Israel is still closed to foreign visitors out of fear of variants — but it offers access to restaurants, concerts and more. Newspapers and commercials in Israel are already advertising summer getaways for the fully vaccinated in countries that have agreed to take them, including Greece, Cyprus and Georgia, according to Isabel Kershner, a Times correspondent in Jerusalem.” Read more at New York Times