“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
Belarus Protest Update
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered across Belarus for the fourth weekend in a row to protest the country’s recent election, which demonstrators allege was rigged.
A deeper dive…
Following the Aug. 9 general election, officials declared incumbent Pres. Alexander Lukashenko (who has been in power since 1994) the victor with more than 80% of the popular vote.
Belarus’s main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, fled to Lithuania immediately after the election, and claims she won 60% to 70% of the vote where it was properly counted.
A separate opposition leader, Maria Kolesnikova, was seized by masked men during a protest on Monday, according to eyewitnesses. The following day, she was identified at the Ukraine border in what Ukranian officers described as attempted “forcible expulsion” by Belarusian officials. Kolesnikova then tore up her passport to avoid leaving the country, and remains in Belarusian custody.
The EU on Monday demanded Belarus release all prisoners detained on political grounds, and said it plans to impose sanctions on those responsible for “violence, repression, and falsification of election results.”
What’s Next? On Tuesday, in his first public interview since the election, Lukashenko told a group of pro-Kremlin Russian journalists that he has no plans to step down. Lukashenko also re-asserted his claim that the protests are backed by shadowy foreign forces that would eventually target Russia.
Lukashenko is due to travel to Moscow in the coming days for a key meeting with Vladimir Putin, who previously declined to provide military assistance publicly requested by Lukashenko.
Late last month, Putin said the Kremlin has formed a special reserve of law enforcement officials to deploy to Belarus, but will only do so if “the situation gets out of control.”
So… what are people saying?
Will Belarus follow Ukraine out of the Russian orbit?
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Rochester Police Leaders Retire
Several top Rochester police officials retired on Tuesday, including Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito. The move came after the department last week released video footage of the death of Daniel Prude in March.
China and India accused each other’s troops of firing warning shots into the air at the border on Tuesday. If true, the incident would violate a 1996 agreement to not use firearms at the border. In June, the two sides met in a gun-free skirmish at the border that left 20 Indian soldiers beaten to death (and undisclosed Chinese casualties).
Two House subcommittees launched official investigations into the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, TX, on Tuesday following the death of Pvt. Corlton Chee last week (the 28th soldier at the base to die this year). The investigation will determine if the deaths resulted from “underlying leadership, discipline, and morale deficiencies throughout the chain-of-command.”
🏫Back To School… Classes began (mostly online) in a few of the U.S.’s largest public school districts on Tuesday, including Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, and Dallas (with some areas experiencing technical difficulties).
🤝 Let’s Make A Deal… Israel and the UAE will sign a historic deal normalizing relations between the two countries at the White House on Sept. 15.
Apple’s Epic Saga Continues
Apple filed a countersuit against Epic Games on Tuesday, accusing the software developer of duplicity and greed and asking a federal judge to award punitive damages to Apple. Last month, Epic filed a suit against Apple and Google after the tech giants pulled Fortnite from their respective app stores after Epic introduced a payment system that denied both companies their 30% cut on in-app purchases.
Cut To The Chase
In a memo to its employees sent Tuesday, JP Morgan Chase said it found evidence of employees and customers misusing funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, unemployment benefits, and other government programs targeting COVID-19. The bank, which delivered $28B in loans through the PPP, said it is cooperating with authorities.
The Electric Shuffle
General Motors announced it’s taking an 11% stake in EV-maker Nikola in exchange for in-kind services (not involving money) – notably the production of the Badger, Nikola’s marquee hydrogen fuel cell pickup truck. GM also received the right to nominate one Nikola board member, and is expected to deliver the Badger by the end of 2022.
New Product Launches: Peloton launched a new, more expensive stationary bike called the Bike+ ($2,495), and cut the price of its original model to $1,895. | Lucid Motors will unveil the Air, its first all-electric luxury sedan, in a live-stream later today. | Apple announced a Sept. 15 event where it is expected to reveal several new products, including an Apple Watch and iPad.
⏸️Pause For Thought… AstraZeneca’s late-stage trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine (developed alongside Oxford University) was put on hold due to a potentially unexplained illness.
📉Fall Guys… the six biggest tech stocks have lost more than $1T combined over the past three days, highlighted by Tesla’s worst single-day loss in history on Tuesday (21%).
Just Keep Swimming
The Salish Sea waters, just off the coast of Washington state and British Columbia, are home to approximately 75 energetic orcas – but their numbers are dwindling. A 2017 study found that two-thirds of the population’s pregnancies failed, and the whales’ pain is palpable. In July 2018, an orca named Tahlequah carried her stillborn calf around for 17-days in a heart-wrenching display of grief.
This week, researchers for the not-for-profit Center for Whale Research discovered that Tahlequah gave birth to a healthy baby on Friday. The new calf, known as J-57, was seen swimming spiritedly next to its mother, giving researchers hope for the future of the Northwest’s killer whale population.
If You Teach A Kid To Fish…
Carmen Garner of Washington, D.C., grew up in a dangerous neighborhood and without a strong parental presence. When Carmen’s mother passed away early in his life, the lonely youngster was forced to move between the homes of 17 different relatives as he worked his way through school. The highlight of his youth was spending time with his cousin’s boyfriend, who took little Carmen under his wing and taught him how to fish.
Now an elementary school art teacher, Carmen has dedicated his life to being a positive adult presence for young people. This spring, the generous educator demonstrated his commitment to this goal by using his $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus check to start Inner City Anglers, a program that exposes troubled youth to nature’s calming effects by teaching them how to fish.
Look On The Bright Side
Last month, when a medical evacuation plane attempted to conduct a nighttime rescue of a sick child in the remote community of Igiugig, AK, the pilot discovered that the runway of the village’s small airport was pitch black. Unable to land in the darkness, the plane circled the airport until the hum of its engines drew the attention of tribal clerk and newsletter editor, Ida Nelson.
After making 32 calls to the village’s 70 residents, Ida and more than 20 of her neighbors jumped in their cars and drove to the airport, where they aimed their headlights at the runway so that the medivac plane could land. After a successful landing, the medical team transported the ailing child 280 miles to a hospital in Anchorage, where the patient reached a stable condition.
🎵 Strike A Chord… the slowest musical composition in the world – designed to be played out over the course of 639 years – underwent its first chord change in seven years.