The Full Belmonte, 5/25/2022
Members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“Just two days before students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were set to begin their summer break, an 18-year-old lone gunman rushed his way into the school and opened fire on classrooms of young children, killing 19 students and two adults, officials said. The gunman was killed by law enforcement and is also believed to have shot his grandmother before carrying out the attack, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. In a national address last night, President Joe Biden called on the US to turn its collective pain into political action. Authorities are continuing to search for clues about the gunman's motive. Yesterday's tragic event marks the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade since 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.” Read more at CNN
“According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 43 mass shootings in the U.S. since May 1.” Read more at The Hill
“Eva Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher, was killed while trying to protect her students, according to a relative.” Read more at New York Times
“The gunman in Tuesday’s elementary school massacre was a lonely 18-year-old who was bullied over a childhood speech impediment, suffered from a fraught home life and lashed out violently against peers and strangers recently and over the years, friends and relatives said.
Using weapons purchased this month, days after his 18th birthday, authorities said, Salvador Rolando Ramos shot and critically wounded his grandmother. He then went on a shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School near his home in Uvalde, Tex., killing at least 19 children and two adults and injuring others.
Ramos also was fatally shot, apparently by police. The Texas Department of Public Safety said he was wearing body armor and armed with a rifle.” Read more at Washington Post
“Voters made their way to the polls yesterday for primaries in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas -- amid news of the deadly school shooting. Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defeated former Sen. David Perdue, who was backed by former President Donald Trump. Kemp will face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in a rematch in November. In Alabama, Rep. Mo Brooks -- the Senate candidate who Trump backed away from -- is advancing to a runoff. He will face Katie Britt in a June for the Republican Senate primary, CNN projects. And in Texas, a loss for the Bush family political dynasty. George P. Bush -- the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of the late former President George H.W. Bush -- lost his bid to unseat Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under indictment for alleged securities fraud.” Read more at CNN
“Five Republican contenders for governor in Michigan could be disqualified after a state elections bureau said it found tens of thousands of forged signatures gathered by petition circulators.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections said late Monday that it found 68,000 invalid signatures on petitions across 10 Republican campaigns, leaving five campaigns short of the needed 15,000 signatures to qualify for the August primary. The winner of the primary will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.
The bureau of elections’ findings threatened to scramble the primary, because two of the leading contenders were among those without enough valid signatures: James Craig, a former Detroit police chief, and Perry Johnson, a Bloomfield Hills businessman.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“The Michigan manufacturing plant at the heart of the nationwide baby formula shortage will reopen on June 4. The first new batches of formula are expected to be available to consumers on or around June 20. Similac and Alimentum powder formulas that were recalled in February are not included in the upcoming product release, the plant said in a statement. The facility, Abbott Nutrition, shut down in February after FDA investigators found dangerous bacteria in several areas inside the plant. Under a consent decree, the company will be required to keep an independent expert on site to review operations and to make sure the plant is in compliance with FDA rules before restarting production.” Read more at CNN
“Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention announced Tuesday that they were preparing to release a secretly maintained list of hundreds of ministers and church workers they say are credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The existence of the list was revealed Sunday in a bombshell report on the denomination’s handling of sexual abuse over the past two decades. The report, produced by a third-party investigator and totaling almost 300 pages, alleges that the denomination’s top leaders had suppressed reports of sexual abuse, opposed proposals for reform, and denigrated and discouraged abuse victims who approached them for help.
One of the report’s most shocking revelations was the existence of an internal list of 703 people suspected of abuse, compiled by an employee of the denomination’s executive committee, its national leadership body.
According to the report, an executive committee staff member compiled and maintained the list over the course of a decade and shared it with D. August Boto, the committee’s former vice president and general counsel. Mr. Boto and the staff member both retired in 2019. Mr. Boto could not be reached immediately for comment.” Read more at New York Times
“Two years after George Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests, President Joe Biden will sign a wide-ranging executive order Wednesday that aims to hold police accountable for excessive use of force . Biden's order will require all federal law-enforcement agencies to limit the use of force, ban the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized, restrict the use of no-knock entry warrants and require the activation of body-worn cameras during arrests and searches, according to senior administration officials. Rev. Al Sharpton described Biden's order as ‘an important step’ that showed the president ‘took the initiative’ when Congress failed to act, but he said activists would "never give up" on pushing for legislation. On May 25, 2020, Floyd, 46, was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. The incident fueled a national social justice movement targeting police reform and systemic racism.” Read more at USA Today
“The charges were tossed for Atlanta police officers involved in a May 2020 confrontation with two students who were stunned with Tasers and pulled from a car while they were stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd’s death.” Read more at USA Today
Two women embrace in front of a mural of George Floyd following the guilty verdict the trial of Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering George Floyd.ELIJAH NOUVELAGE, AFP via Getty Images
Immigrants wait to board a U.S. Border Patrol bus after crossing from Mexico. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
“As many as 50,000 migrants are waiting in Mexican shelters for a chance to cross the border, hoping to run out the clock on Title 42, the COVID-era rule limiting entry to the U.S., according to internal documents viewed by Axios' Stef Kight.
Why it matters: That's double the estimate from March, when Axios first reported federal preparations for a ‘mass migration event.’
The administration's internal data now counts about 8,000 people attempting to cross the Southwest border each day — an enormous number.
It reflects growing numbers of migrants from Cuba, Colombia, Haiti and Peru as well as traditional centers of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico.
Documents show Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) releasing roughly 1,200 migrant adults and 1,300 family members into the U.S. every day.
The big picture: A judge intervened last week to block the Biden administration's plans to end Title 42, which allows the rapid expulsion of asylum seekers.
But tens of thousands of migrants already are poised along the border, with many expected to attempt to cross despite the May 20 ruling.
What's happening: The documents were discussed in a high-level, interagency meeting on Friday, before the Title 42 ruling was issued.
They show Department of Homeland Security intelligence tracking between 40,000 and 50,000 migrants now waiting in Mexican shelters to cross. That includes more than 10,000 Haitians.
In a video posted Tuesday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said: ‘The U.S. Border Patrol already is managing numbers at historic levels due to large movements of people fleeing violence, corruption, poverty, climate change and other hardships.’
He added: ‘Numbers could rise further from confusion over recent court orders and as smugglers continue to peddle misinformation to make a profit.’
What we're hearing: Border Patrol recently has had to release dozens of migrants directly into El Paso communities as non-governmental organizations who typically take in migrants have been at capacity, according to one of the documents viewed by Axios.
“The U.S. birthrate rose 1 percent last year, its first increase since 2014.” Read more at New York Times
“WASHINGTON — A Black sergeant who battled German soldiers during World War I. The Army’s first Hispanic four-star general. A woman who served as an Army surgeon during the Civil War.
A commission established by Congress last year has suggested new names for nine Army bases that honor Confederate officers, as the American military continues an examination of its history with race that was intensified in the summer of 2020, after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The commission’s recommendations, if approved by Congress and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, would see Fort Bragg — named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg — renamed Fort Liberty, the only one of the bases that would be renamed for an abstract idea and not a person.
In the past, Army bases were largely named for white male soldiers. But the commission’s recommendations cover a multicolored swath of Americans, including women and minorities — two long-ignored populations that have served in or supported the army since its inception.” Read more at New York Times
“A man suspected of Sunday’s fatal New York City subway shooting turned himself in.” Read more at New York Times
“Republican legislators in Indiana banned transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams at school, overriding the Republican governor’s veto.” Read more at New York Times
“A luggage search at a Detroit airport turned up a moth species not seen since 1912.” Read more at New York Times
“New rules | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban launched a new government yesterday by declaring a state of emergency less than a week after he shared a plan to override democratic checks and balances to take total control of a country. It came hours after he changed the constitution to let his government rule by decree in certain situations, which critics say will allow him to further tighten his grip over the European Union member state.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that he can only talk with Vladimir Putin once the Russian President steps out of his ‘bubble’ of ‘alternative reality.’ Putin has said the invasion began to protect Russian speakers from genocide at the hands of ‘neo-Nazis,’ despite the lack of any concrete evidence. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has effectively halted all maritime trade at Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, according to a US official. Ukraine provides about 10% of the world’s wheat exports, the vast majority of which exit the country from Black Sea ports. The UN has called on Putin to reopen the ports to exports to prevent people around the world from starving. Separately, at least 22,000 Ukrainian residents are believed to have died during Russia's three-month assault on the port city of Mariupol, according to a Ukrainian official. The figure, however, cannot be independently verified.” Read more at CNN
“North Korea tested a presumed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and two other missiles today, according to South Korean officials. The test comes a month after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to ‘strengthen and develop’ its nuclear forces at the ‘highest possible’ speed. Last week, a US official warned that North Korea appeared to be preparing for an ICBM test after satellite imagery revealed activity at a launch site near the capital, Pyongyang. The latest launches, which come on the heels of President Biden's first trip to Asia since taking office, mark the 16th time that North Korea has tested its missiles this year.” Read more at CNN
“An extensive data leak from Chinese police computer networks has shed new light on Beijing’s mass detention centers in Xinjiang—and the Uyghurs who have been trapped in them.
The hacked data, known as the ‘Xinjiang police files,’ includes more than 5,000 images of Uyghurs, police spreadsheets, and confidential documents from two counties in Xinjiang. It adds to a trove of evidence on Beijing’s brutal, years-long crackdown on Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
The thousands of mugshot-like photographs, in particular, offer a chilling glimpse into who the detainees are, and the conditions that they face in the centers. Of the 5,000 images obtained, corresponding data confirms that more than 2,800 of the people were detained, according to researchers.
In some instances, the detainees are photographed while an armed guard holding a baton stands by their side. Others appear to be distressed, even tearful.
As the files reveal, minors are not spared from detention. Of the Uyghur detainees documented in the leak, fifteen were minors, with the youngest person just 15 years old when she was detained. The elderly aren’t spared, either: the oldest person photographed was 73 years old.
‘In terms of visual evidence that evokes sympathy and an emotional response, this collection of documents stands apart from what we’ve seen so far,’ said Tim Grose, a professor at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. ‘These are really kind of arresting images … We’ve had nothing like that before.’
Internal police documents reflect a brutal system, with an official ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in place when Uyghurs attempt to leave. Under protocol, the documents say, all detainees must also be handcuffed and blindfolded while moved between buildings.
These files, which date back to 2018, were verified and published by a group of media outlets and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. They build on years of survivor testimony, reporting, and satellite imagery that experts have used to help uncover the scale and scope of Beijing’s crackdown. One Uyghur county has the highest imprisonment rate in the world, according to the Associated Press, and reports have emerged of forced sterilization and labor. In 2018, the United Nations said it had credible information that as many as 1 million Uyghurs could be detained in the camps.
With the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, in China this week, Beijing insisted the leak was an act of political sabotage. ‘The U.S., Britain and other Western countries have been repeatedly staging political farces around the U.N. high commissioner for human rights’ visit to China,’ said Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Elsewhere, the findings have sparked global outcry. Germany announced that it would adjust its foreign policy toward China, while the U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reiterated her ‘commitment’ to holding Beijing accountable.
‘We are appalled by the reports and the jarring images’ said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. ‘This new reporting further adds to an already damning body of evidence of the PRC’s atrocities in Xinjiang.’” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Afghanistan’s airport deal. A United Arab Emirates-based company will soon run Afghanistan’s airports in Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar, under a new agreement signed Tuesday.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“The high-profile trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard continued on Tuesday, in its sixth and final week. The trial revolves around a defamation lawsuit Depp filed against Heard, his ex-wife, regarding a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote, in which she alleged that she had endured domestic abuse (though she did not refer to Depp by name).
The day began with Depp’s attorneys asking for Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate to dismiss Heard’s countersuit of $100 million that was filed in response to Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman referring to her accusation as a ‘hoax.’ In response, Heard’s attorneys defended their countersuit claims and Azcarate ruled against the motion to dismiss the countersuit saying, ‘It is not my role to measure the veracity or weight of the evidence.’” Read more at Time
“Walmart pulled a Juneteenth ice cream after critics call it insensitive and a ‘cheap copycat.’” Read more at USA Today
“Amid political firestorms over books deemed by rightwingers to be unsuitable for school libraries, the author Margaret Atwood has announced an ‘unburnable’ edition of her most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Canadian author, 82, appeared in a short YouTube video to announce the project, attempting to flambé the one-off tome with a flame-thrower.
Announcing the book, Penguin Random House said: ‘Across the United States and around the world, books are being challenged, banned and even burned. So we created a special edition of a book that’s been challenged and banned for decades. Printed and bound using fireproof materials, this edition of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was made to be completely un-burnable. It is designed to protect this vital story and stand as a powerful symbol against censorship.’” Read more at The Guardian
“LONDON (AP) — Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea is ending after the British government approved the sale of the Premier League club by the sanctioned Russian oligarch to a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.
The government had to be sure that Abramovich, who was sanctioned over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine, did not profit from the enforced sale of the club that his investment turned into one of the most successful in European football.
The reigning FIFA Club World Cup winners and 2021 European champions will be sold for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) — the highest price ever for a sports team — with Premier League approval already granted on Tuesday.
Chelsea has been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March and it expires on May 31.” Read more at AP News