The Full Belmonte, 5/14/2022
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a small group of Republican senators has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, though it's unclear whether the meeting took place Saturday morning or if the delegation is still there.” Read more at USA Today
“KRAKOW, Poland — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia faced fresh setbacks Friday over the Ukraine invasion, as Sweden became the second neutral country in two days to move toward joining NATO and the West devised ways to reroute Ukrainian grain past a Russian naval blockade.
New signs of a Russian military retreat near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, also added to Mr. Putin’s challenges, appearing to subvert or at least delay the Kremlin’s goal of encircling Ukrainian forces concentrated in eastern Ukraine.
But for Mr. Putin, the biggest vexation may have been the most personal: Britain slapped sanctions on his ex-wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, on a former Olympic gymnast long rumored to be his girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, and on three cousins: Igor, Mikhail and Roman Putin.” Read more at New York Times
“Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine's second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombardment, the Ukrainian military said Saturday as Kyiv and Moscow's forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country's east. Ukraine's general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern Donetsk region in order to ‘deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.’ Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was ‘entering a new – long-term – phase of the war.’ The developments come as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Friday that although Ukrainians are doing everything they can to resist and drive out Russia, ‘no one today can predict how long this war will last.’ Zelenskyy went on to say it would depend on the assistance offered by Ukrainian allies, calling on ‘our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world.’” Read more at USA Today
“Ukraine said it had opened talks on evacuating soldiers trapped in a Mariupol steel mill. Russia has besieged the city for two months and whittled down territory controlled by Ukrainian forces to the Azovstal plant. Hundreds of civilians were removed from the mill recently. Not everyone was so lucky. A 12-year-old boy whose mother and stepfather were killed in a Russian attack on a village near Kyiv recounted the sorrow and fear of wartime in his diary. Meanwhile, the first trial of a Russian soldier accused of war crimes started in the Ukrainian capital, and the U.K. sanctioned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputed girlfriend, retired Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“US Spies Say Putin’s Ukraine Goals Still Stretch Beyond Donbas
Putin’s decision to focus his military’s efforts in eastern Ukraine is probably temporary, the top US intelligence official said. As Peter Martin and Tony Capaccio write, the Russian leader may still be seeking to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Russia Trains Missiles on Ukraine’s Quiet Zone to Target Trade
Until recently, Ukraine’s southwestern-most corner had been largely untouched by the war, providing a path for exports not able to access sea ports that once handled 70% of Ukraine’s trade. As Marc Championreports, that’s no longer true.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Two days after the Russian invasion began, Dmytro Borysov took his restaurants — a chain of more than 50 across Ukraine — to war. What began as an effort to cook meals for families, the elderly residents, city workers, and soldiers has grown into an army of ‘kitchen troops’ who are sustaining the embattled nation in its fight against Russia.” Read more at Bloomberg
Volunteers in Uzhhorord, a town in western Ukraine, prepare free meals for about 2,500 people daily. Photographer: Serhii Hudak/Future Publishing
“Protests against the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion to overturn the nearly 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade are set to culminate Saturday with a nationwide ‘day of action’ featuring marches, rallies and speakers in dozens of cities. The ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ daylong event is organized by groups including Women's March and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and some of the largest demonstrations are expected in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Austin, Texas, according to organizers. The demonstrations are a ‘show of solidarity’ that ‘no bans should ever take your freedom and right to make personal medical decisions, including your right to abortion,’ said Planned Parenthood national organizing director Brianna Twofoot. Roe v. Wade is the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.” Read more at USA Today
“Providers of abortion pills in the U.S. and abroad prepare for a surge of patients from restrictive states. As many as 26 states are expected to ban or limit access to abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as a draft opinion leaked this month suggested it might. Abortion-rights advocates expect patients in those places to look elsewhere, despite potential legal and safety risks.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Overturning Roe v. Wade Will Make it Harder to Treat Miscarriage
Overturning Roe v. Wade will affect the quality and availability of maternal medical care across the US. As Ike Swetlitz lays out, it will exacerbate a problem that has been building for years as abortion restrictions have already tightened in parts of the country.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The accused Brooklyn subway shooter pleaded not guilty. Frank James, who allegedly shot 10 passengers during rush hour on April 12, is charged with carrying out a terrorist attack on mass transit and discharging a firearm. His lawyer declined to comment after the arraignment.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Russian authorities extended American basketball star Brittney Griner's detention by a month, her lawyer Alexander Boykov told AP.” Read more at Axios
“Inflation Is So Bad Democrats Tell Biden ‘Do More’ for Midterms
As Ronald Reagan might have said: Here we go again. Four decades after inflation helped sweep the former California governor into the White House and return the Senate to GOP control, surging prices are threatening to upend a Democratic administration, Nancy Cook and Laura Litvan write.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state can resume investigating parents for providing gender-affirming care.” [Vox] Read more at Texas Tribune / Eleanor Klibanoff
Store shelves typically stocked with baby formula are empty in many locations, including this one in San Antonio earlier this week.
PHOTO: ERIC GAY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“House Democrats plan to fast-track a vote on relaxing baby-formula regulations, as its Oversight Committee launched a probe into four major manufacturers amid a national shortage. The bill would allow the WIC federal nutrition program to loosen some nonsafety-related rules, with the goal of easing access to formula. In a letter, lawmakers asked the companies when they became aware of supply-chain problems and what steps they would take to increase availability. Manufacturers have said they are running factories at full capacity.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Inspectors Saw Bacteria Risk at Abbott Baby Formula Factory Last Year
Federal inspectors spotted the potential for baby formula made at an Abbott Laboratories plant to become contaminated months before a recall exacerbated a US shortage, Anna Edney reports. It’s a new twist to the saga that’s raising pressure on Biden’s administration.” Read more at Bloomberg
Jen Psaki leaves the room today. Photo: Andrew Harnik/A
“White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who is headed for MSNBC, told reporters today during her farewell briefing: ‘At times we have disagreed. That is democracy in action.’ Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
“It was President Yoon Suk-yeol’s first major outreach to Pyongyang since taking office this week. North Korea reported its first confirmed Covid death, after saying that there’s been no cases for more than two years. More than 350,000 people contracted a fever, and at least one of six people who died tested positive for the BA.2 Omicron variant of the virus. Pyongyang hasn’t requested help and previously rejected millions of vaccines offered by a program financed mostly by Western governments to help lower-income countries with inoculations.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“The president of the United Arab Emirates died at 73. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a pro-Western modernizer whose low-key approach helped steer the UAE through a tense era, Reuters reports. ... Biden statement ... Harris statement ... Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
“Germany Comes to Grips With Its Hard-Power Role in Europe
The war in Ukraine has shredded Germany’s entire postwar relationship with Russia, and the German government is struggling to come to grips with the new reality. Alan Crawford takes a look into a dilemma with ramifications for all of Europe.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Orban Is Losing Friends as Poland Gives Him the Cold Shoulder
The friendship between Hungary and Poland, which for years joined forces to defy the European Union over the rule of law, has frozen over since Russia’s invasion. As Piotr Skolomowski and Ewa Krukowska report, that’s bad news for Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The Faded Town Where Britain’s Brexit Vision Lives or Dies
Darlington has become the lynchpin of the UK government’s flagship ‘levelling up’ project to boost prosperity in poorer areas after Brexit, with a plan to hire 1,100 people for government jobs by 2025. As Emily Ashton explains, the stakes for Johnson couldn’t be higher.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Sri Lanka Leader Names Opponent as PM in Push for Unity
Rajapaksa appointed a long-time opponent to run the government days after his brother resigned as prime minister. Muneeza Naqv and Anusha Ondaatjie write that it’s a bid to quell growing tensions spurred by a months-long crisis over food and fuel shortages.” Read more at Bloomberg
“From Sneakers to Teslas, China Lockdowns Upend Supply Chains
The economic consequences from China’s Covid-19 lockdowns are starting to be felt by companies and consumers across the globe. Ann Koh and Augusta Saraiva explain how shortages of everything from building materials and chemicals to electronics will probably only get worse.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The directors of a role-playing game that requires students to debate slavery pulled it from print recently after college students and professors complained that advocating for, or listening to, the views of white supremacists made them uncomfortable.
The move has sparked debate among historians, and some professors who use the lesson plan said withdrawing the game infringes on academic freedom and teaching about race in America. Nationwide, schools from kindergartens to colleges are scrutinizing materials resulting in an increase in book bans at public schools and a series of protests preventing controversial figures from speaking on campuses.
The game is one of 30 historic debates in a series called Reacting to the Past. College students at about 500 colleges and universities spend weeks reading about different historical events. They include the debate in Athens over democracy in 403 B.C.E. and the 17th century trial of Galileo.
Students assume a character from a selected period and play a game that falls somewhere between Dungeons and Dragons and Model United Nations. The scenario is staged, a game master directs the debate but students script their own arguments, build their own coalitions and forge their own compromises.
Last month, Reacting to the Past removed from print the game featuring Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave turned abolitionist and author. The game was launched in 2010 but was drawing increasing concern from professors that students may either sympathize with the white supremacist rhetoric at the core of the debate—or be offended by it, said Nicolas Proctor, editorial board director of Reacting to the Past.
‘Racist speech can easily create an unsafe environment,’ he wrote in an email to the game’s co-creator. It ‘can be demoralizing and triggering, particularly for African-American students.’
The game is effective because it requires empathy to succeed, said Mark Thompson, who uses the game in his introduction to rhetoric class at California State University at Stanislaus. The shift in perspective helps students understand how others can hold vastly different beliefs because they are products of their time and context.
‘To persuade someone to actually change, you must understand those core values and beliefs,’ Dr. Thompson said.
Jae Basiliere, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Northern Vermont University, played the game at a conference in 2018. Dr. Basiliere listened to a man portraying Samuel Morton, one of the founders of long-debunked American scientific racism, deliver a presentation designed to convince his audience that Black people were inferior to white people.
In a re-enactment set in 1845, the man filled two water bottles—representing the skull of a Black person and a white person—with beans. Then he poured out the beans to show the greater capacity of the white person’s skull. The difference in volume was racially immutable and correlated to intelligence, he said.
‘I found myself so disgusted that I could not think back and reflect on the learning experience,’ said Dr. Basiliere, a member of the Reacting to the Past editorial board that made the decision that resulted in pulling the game from print.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks drives past Chris Paul of Phoenix in Game 6 of their playoff series.Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
“Some fans will argue the two greatest words in the world of sports are ‘Game 7.’ If that's you, then we've got some good news: there are seven winner-take-all Game 7s this weekend, five in the National Hockey League and two in the National Basketball Association. The action begins Saturday in the NHL with three first-round series finishing up. First, the Boston Bruins visit the Carolina Hurricanes (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Later, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup champions, head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, TNT). Finally, the action moves west as the Edmonton Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, TNT). On Sunday, the NBA wraps up two hotly contested conference semifinal series with deciding games. In the East, the Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks, the defending NBA champions (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). The NBA's nightcap features the Dallas Mavericks going west again to face the Phoenix Suns (8 p.m., TNT). The action-packed weekend shifts back to the NHL Sunday night when the New York Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, TBS) and the Dallas Stars travel north to take on the Calgary Flames (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).” Read more at USA Today
“ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Americans have bet more than $125 billion on sports with legal gambling outlets in the four years since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for all 50 states to offer it.
On Saturday’s anniversary of the decision in a case brought by New Jersey, two-thirds of the states in the country have legalized sports betting.
In just four years, the industry has worked itself into the daily lives of millions of Americans — from those who plunk down money hoping for a certain outcome to those who watch TV broadcasts with odds calculations to those struggling with gambling problems.
You don’t have to be a gambler — or even a sports fan — to be affected: The industry tsunami of advertising is practically impossible to avoid, particularly on TV and radio but in other media as well. For example, FanDuel is the official odds provider for The Associated Press.
On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court decided a case that had begun 10 years earlier in New Jersey as the longest of long shots: a bid to overturn a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, that restricted sports betting to just four states that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it.” Read more at AP News
Sharing her voice
“Elizabeth Bonker has nonspeaking autism, a type of autism that severely affects communication abilities. However, when she gave the commencement speech at Rollins College in Florida as one of five graduating valedictorians, she was heard loud and clear. Using a text-to-speech program, Bonker urged her fellow graduates to live a life of service, just like Rollins' most famous graduate, Mister Rogers. Bonker said because she cannot talk, she is often dismissed or minimized. Technology has opened up new opportunities for her to share her amazing brain, and she dreams of living a life in service to others like her. By her estimate, there are approximately 31 million people with nonspeaking autism around the world, just waiting to share their voice. ‘We are all called to serve as an everyday act of humility; as a habit of mind; to see the worth in every person we serve,’ she said.” Read more at CNN
One of the babies gets a checkup shortly after their birth in 2021.
“Happy birthday (birthday birthday birthday ...)!
The world's most famous nonuplets just turned one! Yes, you read that right, NINE. BABIES. The five girls and four boys were born last year to Halima Cissé and Abdelkader Arby of Mali, West Africa. The couple were flown to Morocco by the Malian government so Cissé could receive specialized medical care ahead of the birth, and it took a team of more than 30 doctors and paramedics to deliver the babies safely. The nonuplets made history as the most babies delivered in a single birth to survive. All of them were less than 2.5 pounds each when they were born prematurely, but the miracle siblings are all healthy and thriving under continued medical care. Their proud papa says raising a literal baseball lineup (plus a 3-year-old sister!) isn't easy, but it's worth it to see ‘all the babies in perfect health, [in a line] from right to left, we're relieved. We forget everything.’” Read more at CNN
Of course you can play!
“Some very cool inclusive toys are hitting the shelves! First up, Hot Wheels has released the company's first-ever remote-controlled wheelchair toy. The sporty racer was created in collaboration with five-time Wheelchair Motocross World Champion and Paralympic athlete Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham. For Fotheringham, the collaboration is a dream come true. ‘Growing up, I didn't have anything like this,’ he told CNN. At the toy's launch event, he saw children, including wheelchair users, playing with the toy. ‘You could kind of see their faces light up,’ he said. Then, a new Barbie release is bringing the party for every body. The Barbie Fashionista line is known for being size-, ability- , appearance- and culture-inclusive, and the latest release is no different. A Barbie with very cool pink hearing aids and a Ken doll with vitiligo are part of the fashionable new crew.” Read more at CNN
“WASHINGTON — Robert C. McFarlane, a former decorated Marine officer who rose in civilian life to be President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser and then fell from grace in the Iran-contra scandal, died on Thursday in Lansing, Mich. He was 84.
Mr. McFarlane, who lived in Washington, was visiting family in Michigan at the time. A family friend, Bill Greener, said the death stemmed from an unspecified previous lung condition.
Mr. McFarlane pleaded guilty in 1988 to charges of withholding information from Congress in its investigation of the affair, in which the Reagan administration sold arms covertly to Iran beginning in 1985 in exchange for the freedom of Western hostages in Lebanon. Profits from the arms sales were then secretly funneled to the contra rebels in Nicaragua, who were trying to overthrow the country’s Marxist regime, known as the Sandinistas.
Both parts of the scheme were illegal; Congress had imposed an arms embargo against Iran and prohibited American aid to the contras.” Read more at New York Times
“Randy Weaver, whose 1992 standoff against federal agents at a remote site in northern Idaho called Ruby Ridge left his son, his wife and a U.S. marshal dead and made him a hero to anti-government activists on the far right, died on Wednesday. He was 74.
His daughter Sara Weaver announced his death on Facebook but did not say where he died or give the cause.” Read more at New York Times