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A gathering of leaders in the Western Hemisphere seemed on the verge of irrelevance Monday as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he would not attend.
It’s likely that leads to smaller nations similarly snubbing an invitation, many irritated by the decision of U.S. leaders to refuse invitations to hostile nations including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
“There cannot be a summit if all countries are not invited,” López Obrador said.
The Associated Press reports a growing number of voices openly irritated at a decision not to invite countries in poor standing with the U.S.— and some blame Florida, a state that serves as home to a high percentage of refugees from the nations in question. Some wonder if Florida had too great a level of input.
Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the first Ecuadorian American ever elected to Congress, served as a special adviser to the President regarding the summit. She previously represented South Florida in the U.S. House and made clear she still sees value in the summit.
“In Los Angeles for the ninth Summit of the Americas, where we will work with leaders of the region on the most important issues for all citizens: democracy, economic prosperity, public health, the environment/climate crisis and digitization,” she tweeted Monday.
The Miami Democrat told Florida Politics last week there was no way Cuba would be invited to the event.
Building up to the event, several Florida political leaders, including Sen. Marco Rubio, made clear criticism would accompany any decision to host Cuban leaders on American soil. The Miami Republican expressed no concern about Mexico’s boycott of the summit.
“Happy to see that the Mexican President who has turned entire sections of his country over to drug cartels and is an apologist for a tyranny in Cuba, a murderous dictator in Nicaragua and a narco-trafficker in Venezuela won’t be in America this week,” Rubio tweeted.
This marks the first time since the first Summit of the Americas in 1994 that the event took place within the U.S., but the return to American soil may have brought with it an imbalance for domestic political consideration. Florida remains a swing state, one Democrats won twice in Presidential Elections in 2008 and 2012 when President Joe Biden served as Barack Obama’s running mate.
And voices within the delegation endorse the decision to trim the guest list.
“I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to exclude the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from the Summit of the Americas,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat. “Promoting democracy and human rights should be a top foreign policy priority. These regimes represent the very opposite of those values.”
Other members of the delegation suggested too many invitations went out. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat, sent a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking the administration to rescind an invitation to Haiti’s transitional government and de facto President Ariel Henry. “The engagement of Dr. Henry merely promotes his undemocratic practices and undermines the will of the Haitian people,” she wrote.
Outside the state, left-leaning voices in the hemisphere suggested that if objectionable politics should earn shunning, the list of invites should have been slimmer.
“Brazil’s fascist leader (Jair) Bolsonaro is attending the Summit of the Americas, as it opens in California today,” said Multipolarista editor Benjamin Norton. “The far-right Brazilian president will be holding a one-on-one meeting with Biden. The U.S. government happily welcomes fascists, but never socialists.”
Many nations will attend but won’t send their heads of state, greatly reducing the prestige of the event.
“If all the nations are not here, it is not the Summit of the Americas,” said Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who will send a foreign minister in her stead.
In April, Rubio blocked votes on four of President Biden’s nominees for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. But he released a hold after the appointees — Dana Bilyeu, Leona Bridges, Michael Gerber and Stacie Olivares — signed a letter stating: “It is unfitting for Americans to invest in companies from China or elsewhere that undermine U.S. national security.”
The message came in response to a query from Republican Sens. Rubio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Tommy Tuberville from Alabama expressing concerns about the potential exposure of U.S. pension funds through properties controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Rubio had accompanied his concerns with placing a hold on their nominations.
Florida’s senior Senator said obtaining that sentiment in writing justified stopping a vote and leaving posts on the board unfilled for the past few months.
“We know these Chinese companies do not play by the rules,” Rubio said. “There is absolutely no reason the retirement savings of service-members and federal employees should be funding companies working with the Chinese government and military. It is encouraging that these nominees understand their fiduciary duties. I look forward to working with them to ensure retirement funds do not flow to those unaccountable companies.”
Sen. Rick Scott, the richest man in the Senate, posited that the “rich kid” Biden doesn’t understand inflation because he’s out of touch with the working class.
“We’ve got Biden at the beach,” he complained. “And we’ve got people who moved to Florida to enjoy the beach going back to work. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Scott, Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has routinely hammered Biden on the topic of rising costs of goods, which have escalated at record levels this year. His explanation for why Biden lacks understanding turned heads.
“Think about this. Biden’s a rich kid. His whole life has been paid for by your tax dollars. Has no idea how to deal with inflation, no plan to deal with inflation,” Scott complained to Fox and Friends. “All he does is blame everyone else, including Vladimir Putin, for inflation.”
Scott said that Biden has been “part of the game that has been bankrupting this county,” noting ongoing currency depreciation since the Delaware Democrat was first elected to the Senate in the 1970s.
Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack has been actively campaigning to defeat GOP Conference Leader Rep. Liz Cheney ever since she was first elected to the House.
Recently, Cammack took part in a Wyoming rally for Harriet Hagerman, the Republican challenging Cheney in a Primary.
Former President Donald Trump headlined the rally, which also featured a video message from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, fully demonstrating the rank change in Cheney’s standing since her ouster last year. But it also shows Cammack’s growing power with the pro-Trump wing of the party. Indeed, among in-person guests, Cammack was among the last heard at the event, where she touted herself as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s least favorite member of Congress.
She suggested stakes were high in the Primary in deep-red Wyoming.
“We take back Wyoming, we save America,” Cammack told the crowd.
A more predictable name on the roster of speakers was Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz, a longtime detractor of Cheney’s. He only appeared in a video message to slam the one-time GOP leader, calling the upcoming Primary the one time a “Cheney had an exit strategy.”
To watch the video, click on the image below:
An executive order by Biden to increase manufacturing in alternative energy drew starkly different reactions from members of the delegation from different sides of the aisle.
Scott slammed the decision as light on China.
“Joe Biden bows to Communist China and ignores human rights again,” Scott said. “This will likely increase U.S. imports of solar panels made through Uyghur forced labor in Xinjiang. The Biden admin must stand against forced labor and prevent tax dollars from funding this horrific abuse.”
China has faced human rights accusations about forced labor and genocide in the Uyghur region, and the area remains one of the top sources in the world for panel material.
Meanwhile, Scott noted the administration refuses to allow oil companies to step up production to cut the costs of fossil fuels.
But Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat and chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, saw Biden’s moves as a boon in a move to step up domestic production of solar.
“President Biden’s executive action will help more families enjoy the cost-saving benefits of our clean energy economy, as we power more homes and businesses with clean energy produced right here in America,” Castor said.
“By using the Defense Production Act to unleash the economic potential of clean technologies, President Biden is taking an important step to lower energy costs and to protect existing American jobs in the clean energy industry, while helping create new ones in domestic manufacturing and construction projects. He’s also working to ensure America’s true energy independence and security, which means investing in clean technologies and renewables produced in the USA, while helping more families avoid volatile and expensive fossil fuels.”
Fishing season for red snapper will last just two days, July 8 and 9, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last month. But fishing industry leaders say there are enough fish to support a longer period in the water. It’s why the Center for Sportsfishing Policy renewed a call to analyze research championed by Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy and Jacksonville Republican John Rutherford studying red snapper populations in the South Atlantic.
“The two-day South Atlantic recreational red snapper season is a prime example of the absolute failure by NOAA Fisheries to collect sound data on recreational fisheries and apply adaptive management to a stock that is rebuilding faster than anticipated. While the South Atlantic Council and Congress are working to obtain better data, we are years away from those efforts bearing fruit,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center.
“Recreational anglers are doing their part to reduce discard mortality and participate in the management process. It’s beyond time for the federal government to do its part to facilitate better data for more informed management decisions.”
Murphy agreed and said more data will likely validate industry concerns.
“The two-day red snapper fishing season in the South Atlantic is too short,” she tweeted. “That’s why Rep. Rutherford and I secured $3.3M to assess the red snapper population. This will hopefully lead to a longer fishing season, more tourism and an economic boost for Florida.”
Legislation introduced by Castor appears poised to be included in a bipartisan data privacy package. The Congresswoman announced key portions of her Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth (Kids PRIVACY) Act (HR 4801) will be lifted and inserted into the discussion draft bill being crafted now.
“This is a good day for parents, advocates and legislators who have been working to shore up online privacy protections for children,” Castor said. “Americans expect their private information to be protected, and it is refreshing to see bipartisan work in Congress toward that goal.”
While it remains unclear which parts will transfer, Castor’s bill, which she has filed for the past two Congresses, would prohibit targeting advertising at minors, require opt-in consent on sharing personal information for anyone under 18, allow consumers an ability to correct information being shared, establishing a protected class of consumers aged 13 to 17, and limit the sale of data to third parties. She proposed the language as an update to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), just like the bipartisan bill under consideration now.
“We must ensure that children are not tracked and targeted and reduce the mental and physical harm to kids due to online dangers,” she said. “COPPA is long overdue for an update, and I look forward to playing an active role in improving the discussion draft and championing the interests of families and the well-being of children online.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children released its annual report card celebrating those members of Congress who step up in the “best interest of children.” The Democrat-dominated list recognized a number of delegation members as “champions” or “defenders.”
Champions include those crafting and pursuing a policy aimed chiefly at the well-being of children, and both Castor and Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto made a list of 80 House members honored.
A list of defenders with voting records supporting children grabbed a number of other colleagues within the delegation, including Democrats Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Al Lawson of Tallahassee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Hollywood.
“Kids don’t vote, and they don’t have political action committees,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “That’s why it’s up to lawmakers to make children a priority and protect their best interests. We commend Congresswoman Wilson for putting children first and hope their contribution will inspire their colleagues to do the same.”
“As a lifelong educator and advocate for children, I am honored to be named Defender of Children by First Focus, an organization that works tirelessly to put children at the center of our legislative priorities,” Wilson added. “By investing in healthy and productive children, we are investing in the future and prosperity of our nation. I have made it my life’s work to help children succeed in all facets of life and I will continue to put our nation’s students first as we work to give our next generation of leaders a brighter future.”
NetChoice, the most aggressive advocacy group for the tech industry, started putting ads on the air last week in Southwest Florida pressuring Sens. Rubio and Scott on new regulations impacting the sector.
“As Americans, innovation’s always been what makes us unique,” a narrator declares. “We’ve outpaced the world, growing the most innovative companies that power our economy and way of life. That’s what makes us No. 1. But some in Washington want to put big government in charge of America’s top innovators attacking our own in the name of competition while our true competition closes the gap.”
The ad closes by encouraging viewers to contact the Florida Senators and make them side with innovation. Available online now, it just started airing on broadcast in the Fort Myers-Naples market, where Scott calls home.
To watch the clip, click on the image below:
One former member of the delegation just put the brakes on an attempted return to The Hill.
Lakeland Republican Dennis Ross bowed out of a race to return to Congress.
“After much thought, deliberation and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy,” he said.
“I firmly believe that I am the most qualified candidate in this eight-person race, and I had been looking forward to running a very positive, issue-oriented campaign. However, with limited resources and a crowded field of candidates, I have decided to discontinue my efforts.”
The move came months after Ross said he wanted to return to Washington. A new congressional map designed by Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared to spur on his determination, with an open Florida’s 15th Congressional District covering a significant portion of land Ross represented during his last stint in Congress.
But as one of several open congressional races in the state this year, the contest drew enormous interest from politicians in the Central Florida area. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, state Rep. Jackie Toledo, former Secretary of State Laurel Lee and veterans Jay Collins, Demetries Grimes and Kevin McGovern all jumped in just on the Republican side. Another Republican, Jerry Torres, on Tuesday shifted his candidacy to Florida’s 14th Congressional District.
On this day
June 7, 1965 — “Supreme Court stops contraceptive ban, cites right to privacy” via Educational Broadcasting System — In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled a state’s ban on the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. The case concerned an 1879 Connecticut law that criminalized the encouragement or use of birth control. Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, doctor and professor at Yale Medical School, were arrested and found guilty as accessories to providing illegal contraception. They were fined $100 each. Griswold and Buxton appealed, claiming that the law violated the U.S. Constitution. The Connecticut court upheld the conviction, and Griswold and Buxton appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
June 7, 1998 — “James Byrd Jr. killed in Texas after being dragged by three white men” via KTRK — Byrd was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in a rural area near Jasper. The FBI was immediately called in and three men were arrested and convicted of his murder. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed for this crime in 2011. John William King was executed in 2019. Shawn Berry is serving a life sentence. Byrd’s gruesome slaying led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed by Obama in 2009, which added crimes motivated by victims’ race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the federal hate crime law.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by A.G. Gancarski.
June 7, 2022 at 2:44 pm
Republicans complain about the cost of gasoline but fail to realize that OPEC controls fossil fuel pricing and OPEC countries are governed by ruthless dictators. The USA needs to find the least offensive totalitarian government to deal with. Maybe US oil producers will commence drilling now that crude is once again profitable for them.
June 10, 2022 at 9:04 pm
This is I believe b.s people are moving to Florida because of the housing market and stock plans not because of a beach day.they need to bring there products for support that is all
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