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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Opposition leaders from Belarus to Venezuela and Hong Kong will speak during the inaugural "Summit for Democracy" this week, according to an official schedule obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has timed the summit with the rollout of a number of pro-democracy initiatives, including the first-ever U.S. government strategy for countering corruption.

  • The summit has sparked debate about how democracy is defined, and whether the U.S. has alienated allies by picking and choosing which countries deserved an invite — including several that have experienced democratic backsliding.
  • China and Russia also have condemned the summit, accusing the U.S. of a "Cold War mentality." China in particular was infuriated by Taiwan's invitation.

Highlights:

  • Both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will give remarks, with the president both opening and closing the two-day event.
  • "Day Zero" of the summit will kick off at 6am ET on Wednesday with remarks from Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, journalists in the Philippines and Russia, respectively, who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will host a leaders' plenary session at 9:15am ET on Thursday — despite protests from Hungary, the only EU member state that did not receive an invitation.
  • Interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaido — recognized by the U.S. and dozens of other countries as the nation's leader — will speak on Thursday at 11:45am ET.
  • Hong Kong activist Nathan Law, who claimed asylum in the U.K. after Beijing imposed its draconian "national security law" on the territory on the last year, will deliver remarks at 7:30am ET on Friday.
  • He'll be followed by Belarus presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced into exile after dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko cracked down on pro-democracy protests last year.
  • Taiwan's digital minister Audrey Tang will participate in a panel on countering digital authoritarianism at 9:30am ET on Friday. She's the only Taiwanese official scheduled to speak.
  • National leaders of New Zealand, Ghana, Romania, Moldova, Botswana, Slovakia, Sweden, Dominican Republic, Malawi, Lithuania, Zambia, Estonia, Denmark and Latvia also will participate at various points throughout the summit.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden backs filibuster changes to pass voting rights bill

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday threw his support behind changing the Senate's filibuster rules in an effort to pass voting rights legislation.

Driving the news: "I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass the voting rights bill, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail," Biden said in a major speech in Atlanta. "And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rule, including getting rid of the filibuster for this."

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.