The Full Belmonte, 5/26/2022
People gather yesterday outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“Families of the 19 students and two teachers killed in a shooting at a Texas elementary school have begun to make funeral arrangements for their loved ones. New details from the attack are emerging, including that the 18-year-old shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos, remained inside Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, for up to an hour Tuesday after he entered the building with an AR-15-style rifle. He then barricaded himself inside a classroom and opened fire on the students and teachers inside before being shot and killed by law enforcement, officials said. President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he will travel to Uvalde in the near future to meet with the families of the victims. As the country mourns the tragedy in Uvalde and other recent mass shootings, the Supreme Court may soon loosen gun laws in New York -- while several other Second Amendment cases continue to pile up on the court's docket.” Read more on CNN
Beto O'Rourke today. Photo: Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters
“Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke (D) confronted Gov. Greg Abbott (R) during a briefing in Uvalde this afternoon, yelling: ‘You're offering us nothing!’
‘The time to stop the next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing,’ O'Rourke yelled before he was kicked out.
After O'Rourke interjected, Sen. Ted Cruz told him to ‘sit down.’
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called O'Rourke a ‘sick son of a b*tch [to] come to a deal like this to make a political issue.’
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said O'Rourke was ‘out of line and an embarrassment.’
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott leads a briefing in Uvalde this afternoon. Screenshot: NBC News
O'Rourke spoke again after he was removed: ‘I want us to do something right now. We can do something right now. But if we continue to accept this, it is on us.’
Video.” Read more at Axios
Cover: The New York Times
Eliahna García. Photo: Siria Arizmendi via AP
“Fourteen of the 21 victims — 19 kids and two of their teachers — have been identified so far, Axios' Erin Doherty and Shawna Chen report.
The victims were all in the same classroom, law enforcement said.
Eliahna Garcia, 10, loved to sing, dance and play basketball, AP reports.
Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10, ‘had the biggest heart,’ her father, Jacinto Cazares, told ABC 7.
Jose Flores Jr. was a fourth grader who loved baseball and video games.
Uziyah Garcia, 8, was ‘the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,’ his grandfather said, per AP.
Alithia Ramirez, 10, wanted to be an artist, her father told a local NBC affiliate. She'd submitted an entry to the Doodle for Google contest.
Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was ‘full of life, a jokester, always smiling,’ her father told the N.Y. Times.
Xavier Javier Lopez, 10, was a ‘bubbly’ boy who loved to dance with his brothers and mom and was anxiously awaiting a summer of swimming.
Rojelio Torres, 10, ‘was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person,’ his aunt said.
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, was in the same classroom as her cousin, who was also killed in the shooting, her family said.
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, had been eagerly awaiting her last softball game of the season on Tuesday, her family told a local CBS affiliate.
Jailah Silguero loved to dance and had started to imitate TikTok videos, her grandmother told The Daily Beast.
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos was Jailah's cousin and loved making people laugh.
Irma Garcia, a teacher for 23 years, loved to barbecue with her husband and listen to music. She was a mom of four.
Eva Mireles was a teacher for 17 years. She loved to run and hike and her ‘laughter was contagious,’ relative Amber Ybarra told AP and NBC's "Today" show.” Read more at Axios
Uziyah Garcia, 8, on spring break in San Angelo, Texas, in March. Photo: Manny Renfro via AP
The backstory: The satirical site first used the headline in May 2014, after the Isla Vista killings, when a gunman killed six people near U.C. Santa Barbara.
The Onion has used that headline, with slightly updated text, after each new tragedy.
‘Why this Onion article goes viral after every mass shooting,’ The Washington Post wrote in 2017.
Marnie Shure, who at the time was The Onion's managing editor, told Vice in 2017: ‘By re-running the same commentary it strengthens the original commentary tenfold each time.’” Read more at Axios
“The world over, mass shootings are frequently met with a common response: Officials impose new restrictions on gun ownership. Mass shootings become rarer. Homicides and suicides tend to decrease, too.
After a British gunman killed 16 people in 1987, the country banned semiautomatic weapons like those he had used. It did the same with most handguns after a 1996 school shooting. It now has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the developed world.
In Australia, a 1996 massacre prompted mandatory gun buybacks that saw, according to some estimates, as many as one million firearms melted into slag. The rate of mass shootings plummeted from once every 18 months to, so far, only one in the 26 years since.
Canada also tightened gun laws after a 1989 mass shooting. So did Germany in 2002, New Zealand in 2019 and Norway last year.
Though such restrictions have always brought some controversy, most were broadly embraced by voters in other countries.
Even in Australia, where conservative-leaning politics and rural traditions had long favored gun ownership, citizens broadly accepted the buyback. Some even surrendered weapons they were legally permitted to keep, in a show of support for their country’s tightening gun laws.
Every mass shooting is, in some sense, a fringe event, driven by one-off factors like the ideology or personal circumstances of the shooter. The risk is impossible to fully erase.
Still, the record is clear, confirmed by reams of studies that have analyzed the effects of policies like Britain’s and Australia’s: When countries tighten gun control laws, it leads to fewer guns in private citizens’ hands, which leads to less gun violence — and to fewer mass shootings.” Read more at New York Times
“For years, proponents of tougher gun restrictions have placed much of the blame for America’s crisis of gun death on the National Rifle Association. So it was no surprise that in the aftermath of the mass murder at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, President Biden and former President Obama both pointed to the ‘gun lobby’ as one of the culprits blocking change. ‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?’ Biden said in an address to the nation from the White House.
By the ‘gun lobby,’ Biden was referring in large part to the NRA, the gun-rights behemoth that has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting Republican candidates who oppose tighter gun laws. The NRA still has undeniable cachet in right-wing circles, including the power to convene many of the country’s top GOP politicians. In just a few days, former President Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are among those slated to attend the group’s annual meeting in Houston, just a few hours from Uvalde, where a gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults.
But the NRA isn’t the primary reason that Congress is unlikely to enact the laws that Biden, Obama and other national Democrats seek. The grim drumbeat of mass shootings in America and the political stalemate over guns have obscured the fact that the NRA’s power is in steep decline, sapped by ongoing lawsuits, leadership scandals, and even a bankruptcy filing.
Start with its political spending. The NRA shelled out just over $29 million on the 2020 elections—a big number, but down from more than $54 million in 2016. So far in the 2022 cycle the group has spent less than $10,000, according to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of OpenSecrets, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. The gun-rights group’s spending has been in ‘precipitous decline,’ Krumholz says, although she cautions that the NRA will likely ramp up spending just before the November election.
The group’s clout is fading in other ways. NRA membership stagnated around 5 million for several years after 2013, and has steadily declined every year since 2018, according to internal documents obtained by The Reload, a publication focused on the firearms industry. By August 2021, revenue from membership dues fell more than $16 million short of what the organization had projected, according to the documents obtained by The Reload. There are also signs that the NRA’s supporters are aging. In 2019, 56% of donors to the NRA Political Victory Fund identified themselves as retired, compared to 40% in 2003, the first year this was recorded.
The NRA has been hobbled by a growing number of lawsuits for allegations that included violating campaign finance laws, diverting charitable donations, and the misuse of millions of dollars by executives. One such suit, brought by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, sought to dissolve the group altogether. As a result, the NRA attempted to declare bankruptcy, which was later blocked by a judge. (The NRA did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
Legal fees for the group’s court battles swelled to one-fifth of its expenses last year, jumping from $6.5 million in 2020 to $31.1 million in 2021, according to financial documents obtained by The Reload. On the popular social messaging app Telegram, the organization has taken to hawking schemes that promise to convert followers’ retirement savings to gold and other precious metals to combat ‘Bidenflation.’…
But America’s obsession with guns runs deeper than the NRA’s balance sheet. Many gun owners vote on gun rights even if they’re not dues-paying NRA members. And with or without the NRA’s financial and organizational muscle, the committed activism of gun owners endures. Supporting guns ‘has become part of what it means to be a Republican for a lot of people,’ says Lacombe. ‘Even if the NRA were to close up shop tomorrow, that wouldn’t go away.’” Read more at Time
“PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — By now it’s as predictable as the calls for thoughts and prayers: A mass shooting leaves many dead, and wild conspiracy theories and misinformation about the carnage soon follow.
It happened after Sandy Hook, after Parkland, after the Orlando nightclub shooting and after the deadly rampage earlier this month at a Buffalo grocery store. Within hours of Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, another rash began as internet users spread baseless claims about the man named as the gunman and his possible motives.
Unfounded claims that the gunman was an immigrant living in the U.S. illegally, or transgender, quickly emerged on Twitter, Reddit and other social media platforms. They were accompanied by familiar conspiracy theories suggesting the entire shooting was somehow staged.
The claims reflect broader problems with racism and intolerance toward transgender people, and are an effort to blame the shooting on minority groups who already endure higher rates of online harassment and hate crimes, according to disinformation expert Jaime Longoria.” Read more at AP News
“Russia is trying to ‘blackmail’ the international community with an offer to unblock Ukrainian ports if sanctions against it are lessened, Ukraine's foreign minister said yesterday. He warned that if Moscow does not lift its blockage of Ukrainian exports of crops, the entire agricultural cycle will be interrupted and could spur a ‘multi-year food crisis.’ Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin met yesterday with soldiers wounded in Ukraine during a rare visit to a military hospital, according to footage released by the Kremlin. The visit comes as he announced that state pensions and the minimum wage will rise substantially in Russia from June 1 amid rising inflation. Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, "fierce battles" are escalating around strategically important cities, including areas in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, parts of which have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.” Read more at CNN
“Russian forces expanded their Donbas assault but suffered heavy losses. The fighting was centered around two cities on either side of the Siverskyi Donets River, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are among the easternmost parts of Donbas that Ukrainian forces still control. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s powerful Russian Orthodox Church ally, Patriarch Kirill, is helping to cement the country’s support for the war.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Former President Donald Trump reacted with approval to chants of ‘hang Mike Pence’ from rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the House committee investigating the insurrection. Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide, also testified that Trump complained about his then-vice president being hustled to safety while Trump supporters breached the Capitol, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. At a rally preceding the Capitol riot, Trump said to the crowd: ‘Mike Pence, I hope you're going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country.’ After Pence said that he did not believe he had the authority to reject Electoral College votes, Trump tweeted that ‘Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.’” Read more at CNN
“Oklahoma on Wednesday implemented the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation, giving the country a preview of a possible post-Roe future . Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation to prohibit most abortions beginning at fertilization. Stitt signed House Bill 4327 that allows private citizens to sue anyone who ‘aids or abets’ a person seeking an abortion at any point in their pregnancy. The person pursuing the abortion could not be sued. The law that took effect immediately and openly flouts longstanding abortion protections established by the U.S. Supreme Court has limited exceptions for medical emergencies, rape and incest. Abortion providers and reproductive rights groups have vowed to challenge the law in court where they are suing over two other anti-abortion laws Stitt signed this year.” Read more at USA Today
“Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt yesterday signed into law a bill that requires students at schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates. The law specifically applies to students in pre-K through 12th grade at public and public charter schools in the state. The measure, which cleared the state Legislature last week, will take effect immediately because it was passed with an emergency clause. School districts that fail to comply can have a portion of their state funding cut and could be sued by school parents. The governor's approval of the law comes as conservative state lawmakers around the country have pushed more than 100 anti-trans bills this year, with a particular focus on transgender students.” Read more at CNN
“The FDA responded too late to a warning about safety problems at a baby formula plant, the agency commissioner said. Closing the Abbott Laboratories manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Mich., after bacteria was discovered exacerbated infant formula shortages, Robert Califf told a House subcommittee. The hearing is the latest in Congress on the short supplies of the crucial baby product, which have left some store shelves empty, triggered an outcry from parents and prompted the Biden administration to try to address the problem.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Food companies across the US are recalling peanut butter products due to salmonella contamination concerns. J.M. Smucker has recalled certain types of Jif peanut butter that were sold nationwide, the company said. The recall affects 45 kinds of products, including both creamy and crunchy peanut butter, peanut butter to-go packs, and the natural squeeze pouch. Customers should discard any product immediately if it is included in the recall, which is being conducted in coordination with the FDA. ‘We recognize your trust and our reputation are built on our fundamental commitment to high standards for ingredients and manufacturing,’ Jif said in a statement, adding they will reimburse affected consumers.” Read more at CNN
“Johnson’s future. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has once again faced opposition calls to resign following the publication of a report investigating allegations of COVID-19 rule breaking among Downing Street staff that laid blame on senior leadership.
Just one member of Johnson’s Conservative party has joined calls for Johnson’s resignation. Douglas Ross, the head of the Scottish Conservatives, said Johnson should resign once the war in Ukraine is over.
The scandal drags on as British government is expected to enact a windfall tax on energy company profits in order to fund measures to address the country’s cost of living crisis.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“At least 11 newborns were killed after a fire tore through a neonatal unit of a regional hospital in the West African nation of Senegal, the country’s president, Macky Sall, said on Thursday on Twitter.” Read more at New York Times
“Turkey’s NATO stance. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said his country would continue to block Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications if ‘Turkey’s security concerns are not met with concrete steps in a certain time frame’ following five hours of discussions with officials from the Nordic countries on Wednesday.
Among other demands, Turkey is seeking to lift the arms embargo and for Sweden to sever ties with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, otherwise known as the PKK.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Ukraine peace efforts. Cyprus, Italy, and Hungary have urged EU countries to include language calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict in a concluding statement to be released following an EU summit on May 30-31. A previous draft seen by Reuters gives no mention of peace talks.
The apparent divisions come as ways to end the war remain a subject of debate, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissing a suggestion by Henry Kissinger that Ukraine’s borders should be set at the pre-invasion status quo.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Bloated livestock carcasses and sun-bleached bones litter the parched landscape around Garissa in eastern Kenya, the epicenter of a humanitarian and environmental crisis unfolding across the Horn of Africa. The worst drought in at least four decades has depleted the area’s rivers and dams and driven thousands of destitute farmers from their lands. At least 16 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are already at risk, as the threat of famine looms.” Read more at Bloomberg
Children push plastic water containers on the road leading out of Garissa, eastern Kenya, on May 20. Photographer: Simon Marks/Bloomberg
“Philippines-China ties. Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday he would uphold a 2016 international court ruling that sided with his country in a dispute with China over maritime territory in the South China Sea. His comments come as analysts watch for signs that Marcos may be more conciliatory in his approach to China than his soon-to-be predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.
‘We have a very important ruling in our favor and we will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights. It is not a claim. It is already our territorial right,’ Marcos said.
On China, he said he would speak with a ‘firm voice’ but added: ‘We cannot go to war with them. That’s the last thing we need right now.’” Read more at Foreign Policy
“A prospective student club at Australia’s University of Adelaide has been denied affiliation with the student union over fears it may summon Satan to campus.
The Adelaide University Occult Club had provisionally registered as a club in 2021, but hopes of receiving funding and campus space appeared to be dashed after its formal application was not approved. The club, which claims to accommodate a variety of beliefs, plans to appeal the decision.
‘Even if we did want to summon Satan, it’s not against university or union policy to do so, so it’s still not really grounds to reject us,’ club president Ashley Towner told ABC News.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“People seeking abortions are disproportionately poor and people of color. A large body of research shows that people who are denied abortions can fall even deeper into poverty. The financial fallout extends well into the lives of their children. Read more at NPR
“Twitter will pay $150 million in fines after federal law enforcement officials accused the site of illegally using peoples' personal data to sell targeted ads.” Read more at NPR
“ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia voters didn’t get much of a break from election talk on the day after the Tuesday primary in which Republican Gov. Brian Kemp demolished GOP challenger David Perdue and Democrat Stacey Abrams finally clinched a nomination waiting for her after no other members of her party jumped in.
The Republican Governors Association, a key contributor to Kemp’s victory, launched a television ad attacking Abrams Wednesday. And the state Democratic Party announced the launch of its coordinated campaign that seeks to grab victories in November for Abrams, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and others.
Those were opening moves in what will be a brutal slog of a governor’s race between Abrams and Kemp, a contest that Republican strategist Ryan Mahoney estimated could cost $250 million overall after campaigns and other groups finish spending.
Kemp’s romp, where he won nearly 75% of the Republican vote despite former President Donald Trump’s support of Perdue, made headlines worldwide as proof that Republicans could defy Trump and thrive. And Abrams, once unknown, vaulted to first rank of national Democrats with her 2018 loss to Kemp and subsequent advocacy for voting rights.” Read more at AP News
“Fifty years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark law banning sex discrimination in education, colleges and universities are circumventing its intent by manipulating athletic rosters to appear more balanced than they are. By packing their women’s teams with extra players who never compete, double and triple-counting women while undercounting men, and even classifying male athletes as women, schools across the nation collectively conjured the illusion of thousands more female athletes, a USA TODAY investigation found. USA TODAY found widespread use of roster manipulation across many of the nation’s largest and best-known colleges and universities. While some of these techniques are well-documented and individual schools have been exposed for using them, USA TODAY’s reporting reveals the problem is pervasive throughout the highest echelon of college sports.” Read more at USA Today
“Eight of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. lost population during the first year of the pandemic, with New York, Los Angeles and Chicago leading the way. Between July 2020 and July 2021, New York lost more than 305,000 people, while Chicago and Los Angeles contracted by 45,000 residents and 40,000 people, respectively.
Although San Francisco’s not among the 10 largest cities, almost 55,000 residents left that city, or 6.3% of its 2020 population, the highest percentage of any U.S. city.
Among the 10 largest U.S. cities, only San Antonio and Phoenix gained new residents, but they added only about 13,000 people each, or less than 1% of their populations, according to 2021 vintage population estimates.” Read more at AP News
“HONOLULU (AP) — After guests checked out of a corner room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort on Waikiki beach, housekeeper Luz Espejo collected enough trash, some strewn under beds, to stuff seven large garbage bags.
She stripped the linens from the beds, wiped built-up dust off furniture and scrubbed away layers of grime on the toilet and bathtub. She even got on her hands and knees to pick confetti from the carpet that a heavy-duty vacuum failed to swallow up.
Like many other hotels across the United States, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has done away with daily housekeeping service, making what was already one of the toughest jobs in the hospitality industry even more grueling.
Industry insiders say the move away from daily cleaning, which gained traction during the pandemic, is driven by customer preferences. But others say it has more to do with profit and has allowed hotels to cut the number of housekeepers at a time when many of the mostly immigrant women who take those jobs are still reeling from lost work during coronavirus shutdowns.” Read more at AP News
“'19 Kids and Counting'' star Josh Duggar was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for downloading and possessing child pornography.” Read more at USA Today
“Lives Lived: Julie Beckett’s daughter, Katie, contracted viral encephalitis in 1978, leaving her dependent on a ventilator. The two became advocates for changes to Medicaid that let families care for disabled children at home. Julie Beckett died at 72.” Read more at New York Times
‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ started in 2003.Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times
The end of ‘Ellen’
“After 19 years, Ellen DeGeneres’s daytime talk show airs its final episode today.
At its peak, ‘Ellen’ was a ratings success, known for its playful tone, A-list celebrity interviews and cash giveaways. DeGeneres, a groundbreaking comedian, appeared in millions of living rooms daily as an openly gay person, beating the odds after coming out nearly ended her career in the ’90s.
But her legacy became more troubled in recent years. BuzzFeed News revealed that members of the show’s staff had confronted racism, fear and intimidation on set, as well as sexual harassment from producers. Warner Bros. fired three executives, and DeGeneres, whose motto was ‘be kind,’ issued an on-air apology in 2020.
Even before the hit to her reputation — and the show’s declining ratings — DeGeneres had suggested in 2018 that she was weary of daytime TV and was preparing to leave.
‘In the heyday of ‘Ellen,’ that show was a career-defining booking,’ a Hollywood publicist told BuzzFeed News. Now, the publicist’s up-and-coming celebrity clients prefer spots on ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show’ and ‘The Drew Barrymore Show.’” Read more at New York Times