The Full Belmonte, 5/18/2022
Republican candidate for a Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat, Dave McCormick and his wife Dina Powell, at their returns party in Pittsburgh last night. Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP
“That hot Senate race in Pennsylvania is tied at this hour, with some mail-in votes not counted — and a recount possible.
With 94% of the GOP primary vote counted, Dr. Oz and Dave McCormick each tally 31% — separated by about 2,600 votes out of more than 1 million cast.
"Ultra-MAGA" wildcard Kathy Barnette, who appeared to be surging in the campaign's final days, is far short in the tally, at 25%.
On the Democratic side, progressive John Fetterman, 52 — who gets lots of press for being 6-foot-9, and survived a stroke just four days before the election — demolished moderate Conor Lamb, 59% to 26%.
Two Trump wins: Pennsylvania's GOP race for governor was easily won by Trump-endorsed Doug Mastriano. That puts a 2020 election denier within striking distance of running a battleground state in '24, AP reports.
In North Carolina, Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd, a little-known congressman, for the Senate seat of retiring Republican Richard Burr. Budd easily beat a crowded field, including former Gov. Pat McCrory.
Also in North Carolina, scandal-scarred Rep. Madison Cawthorn, 26, the youngest member of Congress, lost his Republican primary to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, 33% to 32%.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little survived a Republican primary challenge from Trump-backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.
Zoom out: ‘Republican voters mostly rewarded candidates who dispute the 2020 election.’ —N.Y. Times Read more at Axios
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg displays documents from Sweden and Finland in Brussels today. Photo: Johanna Geron/Pool via AP
“Finland and Sweden handed over their NATO applications this morning to a beaming Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who hailed the ‘historic moment’ and urged all 30 allies to move quickly to ratify the Nordic countries' membership.
NATO's ninth enlargement since its founding in 1949 will fundamentally transform European security, adding 830 miles of border with Russia along the Finnish frontier and reversing 200 years of Swedish military non-alignment.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet today with his Turkish counterpart, after Turkey's threat to oppose Finland and Sweden's NATO bids sent allies scrambling.
Go deeper ... Axios explains: NATO Read more at Axios
A memorial outside the Tops supermarket in Buffalo.Doug Mills/The New York Times
“President Biden visited the site in Buffalo where a gunman killed 10 people. ‘White supremacy is a poison,’ he said.” Read more at New York Times
“The 18-year-old White man who allegedly carried out a racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket on Saturday created a private chat room on the communications app Discord and invited people to view his chat logs approximately 30 minutes before he opened fire, a Discord spokesperson told CNN yesterday. The posts, which showed Payton Gendronhad been planning the shooting for several months, ultimately became public when he invited people to join, the spokesperson said. New details are also emerging about the weapon believed to be used in the shooting -- a legally obtained AR-15 style rifle. Law enforcement officials said there appear to have been no red flags that would have prevented the 18-year-old from obtaining the three guns said to be found in his possession -- the one used in the attack and two guns in his car.” Read more at CNN
“A Pentagon investigation found no wrongdoing in a 2019 airstrike in Syria that killed dozens of people, including women and children.” Read more at New York Times
“The Justice Department requested transcripts from the Jan. 6 committee, potentially as evidence in future cases.” Read more at New York Times
“In a hearing on U.F.O.s, Pentagon officials revealed video of an unidentified craft flying past a fighter jet.” Read more at New York Times
“The Justice Department sued the casino mogul Steve Wynn, saying he lobbied Trump on China’s behalf.” Read more at New York Times
“Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged yesterday that the agency has ‘not seen a significant decrease’ in migrants coming to the US-Mexico border despite its efforts to restrict the flow. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, Mayorkas said, ‘We're seeing about a seven-day average of over 7,500 people, so we have not seen a significant decrease in the flows.’ In April, US Border Patrol stopped border crossers 201,800 times, a 4% drop from March, according to newly released data. But numbers remain at historic highs, straining resources. Mayorkas' remarks come amid uncertainty over the futureof the pandemic restriction known as Title 42. The public health authority, which allows officials to turn migrants away at the US-Mexico border, is set to end on May 23 -- but an ongoing lawsuit may prevent those plans.” Read more at CNN
“The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on the Access to Formula Act , the bill that would give the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – the federal assistance scheme known as the WIC program – emergency authority to ease non-safety restrictions, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bill would allow WIC participants to use vouchers on any formula brand, rather than be limited to a brand that could be unavailable amid the nationwide formula shortage. House Democrats also unveiled a $28 million spending bill to increase Food and Drug Administration staffing to boost international supplier inspections and gather stronger data on the marketplace. The FDA is looking to increase imports with a more streamlined review process.” Read more at USA Today
“Johnny Depp’s lawyer challenged Amber Heard’s account of abuse, asking her why she had not presented medical records to back up her story.” Read more at New York Times
“The U.S. government is bracing for a potential surge in political violence after the Supreme Court hands down the ruling that's expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, Axios' Sophia Cai and Stef Kight report from a Department of Homeland Security memo.
Law-enforcement agencies are investigating social-media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building, kill justices and their clerks, or attack places of worship and abortion clinics.
The unclassified May 13 memo by DHS' intelligence arm says threats that followed the leak of a draft opinion ‘are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.’
The threats target justices, lawmakers and other public officials, as well as clergy and health care providers.
The memo warns that extremist acts could come from either side.
Across the country, regional fusion centers — state-level hubs for communicating threat-related information — are also sounding the alarm.
A memo from a Nevada counterterrorism agency raised concerns about the impact of a court decision on November's midterms, and safety of election workers.
A Virginia document flags the possibility of doxing and cyberattacks on abortion facilities.
In response to a request for comment from Axios, a DHS spokesperson said the department ‘is committed to protecting Americans' freedom of speech and other civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest.’
‘DHS is also committed to working with our partners across every level of government and the private sector to share timely information and intelligence.’
Between the lines: The Roe decision is flypaper for extremists. The memo, along with communications between government and the private sector, shows how multiple agencies are mobilizing to try to get ahead of civil unrest.
The mass shooting in Buffalo ‘complicated everything even more,’ said Jonathan Wackrow, a risk-management consultant and former Secret Service agent: ‘You see that people are willing to engage in the most violent acts in furtherance of that ideology.’
Context: Even before the Supreme Court leak, the Biden administration had made a focus of combating domestic violent extremism. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has called the issue one of the greatest terrorism-related threats to the U.S.” Read more at Axios
“The U.S. is in the middle of a great gun-buying boom, the N.Y. Times' Glenn Thrush reports (subscription):
The annual number of firearms manufactured has nearly tripled since 2000 — and spiked in the past three years, according to an ATF report that The Times calls ‘the first comprehensive federal tally of gun commerce in two decades.’
‘Starting in 2009, Glock-type semiautomatic handguns, purchased for personal protection, began to outsell rifles, which have been typically used in hunting.’
Why it matters: The report paints ‘a vivid statistical portrait of a nation arming itself to the teeth. Buyers capitalized on the loosening of gun restrictions by the Supreme Court, Congress and Republican-controlled state legislatures,’ The Times writes.” Read more at Axios
“Public schools in the U.S. have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, with some switching to home-schooling and others dropping out.” Read more at New York Times
“The F.D.A. authorized Pfizer’s booster for children 5 to 11.” Read more at New York Times
“The average gas price is above $4 in every state. How long will they continue to rise?” Read more at USA Today
This Shell station in Bridgeport, Calif., was the most expensive gas a USA Today reporter could find in Mono County on May 12, 2022.USA Today/Amanda Lee Myers
“Lives Lived: Urvashi Vaid, a lawyer and activist, was a leading figure in the fight for L.G.B.T.Q. equality for more than four decades. She died at 63.” Read more at New York Times