The Full Belmonte, 6/21/2022
Dear Readers - Thank you so much for supporting The Full Belmonte, a labor of love I began on a whim in 2016. I will be traveling in Europe for several days, so the daily summary might be appearing at unusual times.
FILE - Incumbent Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, center, and his wife Tricia arrive for an election night party on May 24, 2022, in Peachtree Corners, Ga. The House selection committee is expected to hear testimony from Raffensperger about the extraordinary pressure he faced from former President Donald Trump to ‘find 11,780’ votes that could flip the state to prevent Joe Biden's election victory. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
“WASHINGTON (AP) — The House 1/6 committee is set to hear from the caretakers of American democracy — elections workers and local officials — who fended off Donald Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election, at times despite frightening personal attacks.
The hearings investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol resume Tuesday to probe Trump’s relentless effort to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the most local way — by leaning on officials in key battleground states to reject ballots outright or to submit alternative electors for the final tally in Congress. The pressure was fueled by the defeated president’s false claims of voter fraud which, the panel says, led directly to the riot at the Capitol.
Embattled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is scheduled to testify about Trump’s phone call asking him to ‘find 11,780’ votes that could flip the state to prevent Biden’s election victory.
Raffensperger, with his deputy Gabe Sterling and Arizona’s Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, are scheduled to be key witnesses, along with Wandrea ‘Shay’ Moss, a former Georgia election worker who, with her mother, have said they faced such severe public harassment from Trump allies they felt unable to live normal lives.” Read more at AP News
“President Joe Biden is considering backing a plan to send Americans gas rebate cards to help fight soaring prices at the pump. Although the White House has previously downplayed the prospect of such a program because it would be difficult to administer, Biden told reporters on Monday the plan has not been ruled out. He also said he plans to decide whether to support a temporary suspension of the federal gasoline tax. Such a pause in the 18.3-cent-per-gallon federal tax would require Congress to act, and there has been little traction among lawmakers on the idea so far. Meanwhile, despite high gas prices and the prospect of a recession looming, Americans are on track to set a road trip record for July 4, AAA predicts. Approximately 42 million Americans -- more than ever -- will take a road trip of 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, the automotive group said.” Read more at CNN
“Ukrainian troops are resisting a heavy Russian offensive in and around the city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, despite the continued bombardment from several directions, according to the Ukrainian military. Russian forces have tried to carry out offensive operations under cover of heavy shelling, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration said, but they are having trouble dislodging the determined Ukrainian resistance. Officials say Russian forces are making modest gains and have resorted to one principal tactic: fire at any and all Ukrainian positions to leave nothing standing that can be defended. Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Ukraine is moving along the path to becoming part of the European Union. The EU is deciding this week whether the country should be formally considered for candidate status.” Read more at CNN
“Covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 are rolling out this week following a recent sign-off from the FDA and CDC. The safety data from Moderna and Pfizer found potential side effects were mostly mild and short-lived. Side effects most commonly included pain at the injection site and sometimes there was swelling or redness. As far as systemic or body-wide symptoms, the most common were fatigue or sleepiness. Some children had irritability or fussiness, loss of appetite, headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, enlarged lymph nodes, mild diarrhea, or vomiting. But everyone got better quickly, the data showed.” Read more at CNN
Screenshot: Eric Greitens online ad
In Missouri, U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens (R) posted an ad that simulates a SEAL raid and urges supporters to go ‘RINO hunting,’ referring to ‘Republicans in name only.’ Twitter has a warning ahead of the video, saying it violates rules about ‘abusive behavior.’ Facebook removed the video ‘for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.’ Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
“New details on the Uvalde shooting: Records show that officers on the scene were equipped with rifles, shields, and a door-unlocking tool, but still waited outside classrooms for over an hour while the gunman fired shots.” Read more at THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Graphic: Texas GOP
“At a state convention in Houston, nearly 5,000 Texas GOP delegates on Saturday ‘overwhelmingly passed a resolution questioning the 2020 election,’ the party announced.
‘We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected,’ the resolution says.
The Platform Committee's final report has a ‘State Sovereignty’ section declaring: ‘Texas retains the right to secede from the United States.’
A ‘Texas Independence’ section calls for the legislature to hold a statewide 2023 referendum ‘to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.’
Reality check: ‘No, Texas can't legally secede from the U.S.,’ The Texas Tribune notes.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement about the platform saying the state GOP ‘showed us that they live in a parallel universe.’” Read more at Axios
“In a historic deal with the Biden administration, Native American tribes will now co-manage Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios
“A record number of LGBTQ candidates are running this year, motivated partly by new red-state laws targeting LGBTQ people, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.
Why it matters: LGBTQ voters are among the fastest-growing parts of the electorate, and have higher turnout than other groups. Yet there are just 11 out LGBTQ lawmakers in Congress.
104 LGBTQ candidates ran for House or Senate this year.
Some of those campaigns have ended. 57 candidates are still running, according to data provided to Axios by the Victory Fund, which supports and tracks LGBTQ leaders.
In the 2020 election cycle, 87 people ran.
Sean Meloy, Victory Fund's vice president of political programs, told Axios: ‘People know that their rights and their livelihoods are on the ballot.’
What we're watching: Several congressional candidates have the potential to shatter specific rainbow ceilings.
Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, Calif., could become the first out immigrant LGBTQ person elected to Congress, after winning the Democratic nomination for California's 42nd District.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who won the Democratic primary in North Carolina's 11th District, would be the first out LGBTQ person elected to any federal office from the state.
Share this story. Read more at Axios
“Medical debt can ruin lives, and many states don't adequately protect patients. North Carolina lawmakers are considering new laws that would strengthen financial protections and ‘de-weaponize’ medical debt.” Read more at NPR
”Cryptocurrency's appeal lies in its decentralized system meant to resist interference from banks, companies and the governments. But a report commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency reveals how the blockchain technology that runs the system could be compromised.” Read more at NPR
New era of virtual pink slips
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
“The work-from-home revolution is changing the rules of the firing game, writes Axios managing editor Javier E. David.
Why it matters: Some employers are using remote work — with its heavy reliance on virtual meetings and other impersonal methods of communication — to take the easy way out with terminations.
Best practices: In a world where knowledge workers don't come into the office as often as they used to, workplaces need new etiquette for layoffs.
Virtual firings should be conducted just like their in-person counterparts, human-resource experts tell Axios.
Pavel Podkorytov, founder of San Francisco-based HR platform TalentService, says: ‘No fire announcements should be made by e-mail or messenger, and certainly not during group calls.’
‘[B]oth the employee and his manager switch on the cameras during the conversation,’ Podkorytov added.
Our thought bubble: Abrupt virtual firings amplify one of the biggest complaints about remote work — how isolating and impersonal it can be.”
Share this story. Read more at Axios
Musk undecided on Trump '24
Elon Musk appears via video in Doha today. Photo: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“Elon Musk declined today to say whether he'd back former President Trump in 2024:
‘I think I'm undecided at this point about that election,’ Musk said during a remote interview with Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha.
Why it matters: Musk's deal to buy Twitter, and his criticism of Big Tech, have made him a favorite of Trumpers. Musk said last month that he'd reverse Twitter's ban on Trump.
The backstory: Musk tweeted last month that he ‘gave money to & voted for Hillary & then voted for Biden. However, given unprovoked attacks by leading Democrats against me & a very cold shoulder to Tesla & SpaceX, I intend to vote Republican in November.’
Musk said in the interview today that a U.S. recession ‘is inevitable at some point. As to whether there is a recession in the near term, that is more likely than not.’
Musk said there are still a few ‘unresolved matters’ about his deal to buy Twitter.”
Watch the interview. Read more at Axios
Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the influential Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, poses for a picture next to his 23-karat gold medal before it is auctioned at the Times Center, Monday, June 20, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
“NEW YORK (AP) — The Nobel Peace Prize auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees sold Monday night for $103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel.
A spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale, could not confirm the identity of the buyer but said the winning bid was made by proxy. The $103.5 million sale translates to $100 million Swiss francs, hinting that the buyer is from overseas.
‘I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity, but I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount,’ Muratov said in an interview after bidding in the nearly 3-week auction ended on World Refugee Day.
Previously, the most ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his. Three years later, the family of his co-recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in bidding also run by Heritage Auctions.” Read more at AP News
“Israel is on track for its fifth election in less than four years after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he would move to dissolve the country’s parliament, the Knesset, this week in a surprise Monday announcement.
The move comes weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden is set to visit, and adds another chapter to Israel’s continuing political turmoil. New elections are now expected in late October.
In Bennett’s telling, the government will be dissolved in order to preserve the two-tier legal system that separates Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. With regulations granting settler protections set to expire at the end of the month and their extension mired in parliamentary gridlock, Bennett said the dissolution—which automatically extends the law until a new government is formed—was necessary to avoid ‘security risks’ and ‘constitutional chaos.’
In reality, Bennett’s governing majority had been eroding for months as lawmakers in his broad and tenuous coalition defected or lost faith in the government. Haaretz reports that Bennett made the Monday decision in order to pre-empt rebel and opposition lawmakers who were set to vote to dissolve the Knesset themselves later this week. (Religious parties, who were left out of the coalition, hailed the collapse and credited divine intervention.)
The move opens the door for Benjamin Netanyahu—who is still on trial facing corruption charges—to potentially return as prime minister. His Likud party is on track to remain the largest in parliament in fresh elections, likely to take place in October, although whether he can win enough seats to build a working majority remains to be seen.
The visit of U.S. President Joe Biden, itself seen as a chance to buoy Bennett’s coalition, is now searching for a purpose. The White House on Monday said Biden still plans to make the journey, which includes a controversial stop in Saudi Arabia.
The trip comes at an opportune time for Yair Lapid, who would have become prime minister in August 2023 under the terms of a rotation agreement. He will now serve as caretaker prime minister during Biden’s visit, and hold the role until a new government is formed.
‘In all of Netanyahu’s victories, with the exception of his first, he was the interim prime minister. And Lapid will now occupy that position, which will strengthen his hand going into elections.’ Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East advisor to six U.S. secretaries of state and now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
No fan of Netanyahu, Biden has a chance to help tip the scale in Lapid’s favor and grant him a statesmanlike sheen with the upcoming visit. ‘Israelis put a lot of stock in how their prime ministers handle Israel’s most important relationship,’ Miller said. ‘It’ll be fascinating to see what signs and signals the administration sends over the next three or four months as we enter the prime ministerial sweepstakes.’” Read more at Foreign Policy
Passengers stand around inside Euston station in London on the first day of a rail strike on Tuesday June 21, 2022. Britain's biggest rail strikes in decades went ahead Tuesday after last-minute talks between a union and train companies failed to reach a settlement over pay and job security. Up to 40,000 cleaners, signalers, maintenance workers and station staff are due to walk out for three days this week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
“LONDON (AP) — Tens of thousands of railway workers walked off the job in Britain on Tuesday, bringing the train network to a crawl in the country’s biggest transit strike for three decades.
About 40,000 cleaners, signalers, maintenance workers and station staff were holding a 24-hour strike, with two more planned for Thursday and Saturday. Compounding the pain for commuters, London Underground subway services were also hit by a walkout on Tuesday.
The dispute centers on pay, working conditions and job security as Britain’s railways struggle to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Major stations were largely deserted on Tuesday morning, with only about 20% of passenger trains scheduled to run.” Read more at AP News
“Kaliningrad tensions. Russia’s foreign ministry said the country ‘reserved the right to take actions to protect its national interests’ after Lithuanian authorities began banning the transport of EU-sanctioned goods to Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland. Lithuania’s control of the sole rail corridor from Russia to the exclave puts Vilnius especially in Moscow’s crosshairs.
‘The situation is more than serious,’ Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. ‘This decision is really unprecedented. It’s a violation of everything.’
Also speaking on Monday, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has so far shrugged off the threats: ‘It’s not Lithuania doing anything: it’s European sanctions that started working from 17 of June.’
Anton Alikhanov, Kaliningrad’s governor, told Russian media that the issue could be resolved diplomatically. ‘As far as I know, tomorrow Marcus Ederer, the European Union ambassador to Russia, will be summoned to the foreign ministry …. and he will be told of the appropriate conditions involved here,’ Alikhanov said on Monday.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Voice prints, phone trackers and DNA: China is collecting a staggering amount of data to monitor its citizens.” Read more at New York Times
“Macron’s bloody nose. French President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble party fell well short of an absolute majority following parliamentary elections on Sunday, the first time a reelected president has failed to do so since 1988. In the final tally, Macron’s Ensemble won 245 seats, 105 fewer seats than in the previous election. The left-wing coalition New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) came second with 131 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s National Rally won 89 seats, a record for the far-right party.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“Colombia’s new leadership. Colombia will soon have the first leftist president in its history after Gustavo Petro prevailed over Rodolfo Hernandez in Sunday’s presidential run-off, winning 50.48 percent of the vote to Hernandez’s 47.26 percent according to the latest results. Petro’s win provides the country with another first; his vice president, Francia Márquez, will become the first Black woman to hold the office.
In his victory speech, Petro said he would welcome all members of the opposition to the presidential palace as well as listen to “that silent majority of peasants, Indigenous people, women, youth.”
“Sri Lanka’s government. Sri Lanka’s cabinet on Monday approved a constitutional amendment aimed at reducing presidential powers, a key political concern of anti-government protesters as the country endures an economic crisis. The amendment will now be brought before parliament. The move comes as IMF officials arrived in Colombo on Monday to negotiate loan terms with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“An iconic giant floating Hong Kong restaurant has capsized in the South China Sea, less than one week after the 260-foot-long vessel was towed away from the city. Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd. said the Jumbo Floating Restaurant encountered ‘adverse conditions’ as it was passing the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands. Read more at USA Today
An aerial photo shows Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant, an iconic but aging tourist attraction designed like a Chinese imperial palace, being towed out of Aberdeen Harbour.PETER PARKS, AFP via Getty Images
“Summer anglers have a new record to aim for after villagers on Cambodia’s stretch of the Mekong river landed the world’s heaviest ever freshwater fish: a 661-pound stingray.
The 13-foot long creature, christened Boramy or ‘full moon’ in Khmer, was released with a tracking device soon after its capture. Boramy takes the title from a 645-pound catfish caught on Thailand’s Mekong in 2005.” Read more at Foreign Policy
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14) scores past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) during the second period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final on Monday, June 20, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
“TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning’s bid for a three-peat is alive and well.
With Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy leading the way, the star-laden, two-time defending champions beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The victory two nights after suffering the most lopsisded loss in the team’s playoff history trimmed Tampa Bay’s series deficit to 2-1 and breathed hope in the team’s quest to become the first franchise in nearly 40 years to win three consecutive NHL titles.” Read more at AP News
“Lives Lived: Dr. Paul Ellwood Jr. developed the model for managed care known as the health maintenance organization, or the H.M.O., changing how Americans receive private medical services. He died at 95.” Read more at New York Times