Issue #179, 2021 Week 2

Hey everyone,

Well 2021 is off to a…start.  After a couples of weeks off we came back to this.  Want to know the latest? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

I’m sure by now, many readers are aware of the insurgent attack on the Capitol building yesterday, which interrupted electoral procedure for nearly six hours.  It’s hard to make sense of that mob, which unquestionably perpetrated terrorism in their own nation’s seat of power, and it’s hard to make sense of Trump’s role in their organizing.  If you are struggling with what just happened, you are not alone, and we are here.  And as always, we have suggestions for ways to respond below.

 

Events to Know

Attempted Coup at the Capitol Building.  On Wednesday early afternoon, at a rally held at the Ellipse, Trump encouraged thousands of his supporters to storm the Capitol building, noting that “I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made.”  His armed mob of supporters then did exactly what he instructed, breaching the Capitol building and planting at least two explosive devices on the grounds.  They forced congresspeople to shelter in place or evacuate and delayed proceedings for several hours, looting and vandalizing and generally scaring people.  Trump openly condoned the behavior in a released video, prompting Twitter to lock his account for 12 hours and then eventually ban him entirely.  Five people died from the fray, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was fatally assaulted by rioters.  A federal murder probe has begun regarding the death of the officer, and Congress is still assessing the full damage done to property.  Virginia and Maryland ultimately sent in their national guard to deal with the chaos, and eventually Vice President Pence stepped up and ordered the DC National Guard in as well.  Mayor Bowser imposed a 6pm curfew on the city and declared a state of emergency for the next fifteen days.  Eventually after the mob was cleared, Congress resumed, and did finish counting the electoral college votes around 3:40am that morning.  Those arrested include a West Virginia state representative, a guy who photographed himself stealing a congressional podium, and a man who had eleven Molotov cocktails in his truck when he was apprehended; total arrests number at least 70 so far.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Woman dies after shooting in U.S. Capitol; D.C. National Guard activated after mob breaches building
     
  2. NBC News – 4 dead, Congress evacuated, National Guard activated after pro-Trump rioters storm Capitol
     
  3. Politico – Justice Department warns of national security fallout from Capitol Hill insurrection
     
  4. CNN Politics – Pence took lead as Trump initially resisted sending National Guard to Capitol
     
  5. New York Times – Resuming electoral counting, McConnell condemns the mob assault on the Capitol as a ‘failed insurrection.’
     
  6. Twitter.inc – Permanent Suspension of @realDonaldTrump


We Found the Election Fraud. 
 It’s a bit overshadowed now, but let’s not lose sight of the other impeachable offense Trump committed this week.  On Saturday, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and, in a surreal, audio-recorded hour-long conversation, appears to pressure the sitting Secretary of State to “find” 11,780 votes in his favor or suffer unnamed political consequences A transcript is available of the entire call, but you can also read or listen to some choice bananas quotes if you don’t want to wade that far in.  Apparently, Trump tried calling Raffensperger 18 times before he gave in and answered the phone, which sends its own message, and I don’t blame Raffensperger for being ready with a tape recorder when he finally answered.  Although the New York Times cautiously says this call “might” violate state and federal law, that underplays the seriousness of what just happened–as the GA elections board member requesting investigation has noted, the whole call is extremely textbook illegal election tampering

Key links

  1. Washington Post – ‘I Just Want To Find 11,780 Votes’: In Extraordinary Hour-long Call, Trump Pressures Georgia Secretary Of State To Recalculate The Vote In His Favor
     
  2. CNN – There Were 18 Attempted Calls From The White House To GA Secretary Of State’s Office, Sources Say
     
  3. Washington Post –  Georgia Elections Board Member Calls For Probe Into Trump’s Call Seeking To Pressure Raffensperger

Black Lives Still Matter.   There was another police extrajudicial shooting of a Black man in Columbus, Ohio last week–which makes two in that location in the past month alone. Incredibly, the police officer involved in the first Columbus shooting was also in the news because a tape surfaced of him advocating extrajudicial violence in a church sermon. In Kenosha, no police were charged in the shooting of Jacob Blake.  Meanwhile, there was yet another police shooting of a Black man in Minneapolis.  Needless to say, this is an awful backdrop to the white supremacist violence earlier this week, and now is an excellent time to support communities of color and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Key links

  1. New York Times – Columbus Police Kill Black Man Weeks After Protests Against Brutality
     
  2. Washington Post –  Black Man’s Fatal Shooting By The Police Exposes Ohio Congregations’ Bitterly Opposing Interpretations Of Faith And Justice
     
  3. Washington Post  – No Charges To Be Filed Against Kenosha Police Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake
     
  4. New York Times – Minneapolis Police Fatally Shoot Man During Traffic Stop

 

Recent Resilience

Georgia Runoff Results.  Amid the chaos of the past 48 hours, the Senate runoff election results haven’t fully sunk in, but these elections were both encouraging and the Warnock results are historic. Both Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff ultimately won their races, returning control of the Senate to Democrats and illustrating the sheer power of organizing for enfranchisement. The results mark the first time a Black American has ever served as a Senator from Georgia, and the first time Georgia has sent Democrats to the Senate floor in over twenty years. Much like the general election, it’s also worth noting that early turnout was very high, particularly among young voters.   

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Warnock, Ossoff win in Georgia, handing Dems Senate control
     
  2. New York Times – Raphael Warnock’s Win Is One for the History Books
     
  3. Washington Post – Democrats win control of U.S. Senate as Ossoff defeats Perdue

Recent Organizing Efforts. Employees of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, also announced today that they are organizing an Alphabet Workers’ Union in conjunction with Communication Workers of America.  The new union represents years of work within the company, and the Alphabet Workers’ Union already has over 400 members as I type this.  This is really encouraging news, and I hope we see a cascade of organizing efforts as a result.  

Key links:

  1. Verge – Google Workers Announce Plans To Unionize
     
  2. New York Times – The Great Google Revolt

Recent COVID Resilience. We did see some positive policies relating to COVID this week, and it’s worth drawing attention to them. New York held a special legislative session to extend their moratorium on most evictions during the pandemic, which would have otherwise expired on December 31. And in Washington DC, a new law was passed this week facilitating early release for old or ill prison inmates who are particularly high-risk for COVID complications.  

Key links:

  1. ABC 7 – Coronavirus NY: Lawmakers Extend Eviction Moratorium In Special Session
     
  2. Washington Post – Sick, Elderly Prisoners Are At Risk For Covid-19. A New D.C. Law Makes It Easier For Them To Seek Early Release.

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.    This was another weird, bad week for COVID news.  We’re starting to see impact from the unusually high travel rates for Christmas, and the results are not encouraging–hospitalizations continue to rise, we’ve eclipsed 20M cases, and the presence of a new, more contagious strain of COVID isn’t helping anything.  Meanwhile, vaccine distribution has encountered a number of issues: 1) Several states are not following CDC guidelines; 2) In West Virginia, people were accidentally given antibodies instead of the vaccine; 3) There’s renewed concern about whether pregnant women can take the vaccine; and 4) Over 500 doses of Moderna vaccine were intentionally destroyed by a pharmacist in Wisconsin, who has since been arrested and charged with recklessly endangering safety.  There was also a story about distilleries who emergency-produced hand sanitizer being charged heavy fees for their production, but thankfully that decision was reversed by Health and Human Services a day later. 
 
Key links:

  1. Politico – U.S. Coronavirus Cases Eclipse 20 Million
     
  2. Washington Post – Some States Buck Federal Vaccine Recommendations And Prioritize The Elderly Over Essential Workers
     
  3. CNN – Health Officials In West Virginia Mistakenly Gave 42 People Covid-19 Antibodies Instead Of The Vaccine
     
  4. Washington Post – Pregnant Women Agonize Over Whether To Get Coronavirus Vaccine
     
  5. NBC – Wisconsin Hospital Employee Fired, Arrested After ‘Intentionally’ Destroying 500 Doses Of Covid Vaccine
     
  6. Reason – In A Last-minute Reversal, HHS Voids FDA Fees On Distillers Who Produced Emergency Hand Sanitizer


What Happens Now?
  At the time that I type this, it’s not fully certain what will happen in response to this week’s news. Several prominent Congresspeople are calling for another impeachment, invocation of the 25th Amendment, or both. Perhaps because of the threat of getting roped into a 25th Amendment discussion, several members of Trump’s cabinet have resigned in the past day. Everything is even further complicated by the fact that Congress is supposed to be on break as of Thursday, and members need to be called back in order for impeachment proceedings to begin, though Nancy Pelosi has indicated impeachment proceedings will begin on Monday (and Mitch McConnell has begun circulating procedures accordingly). Meanwhile, news recirculates that Trump plans to pardon himself, and the banning reckoning happening on social media platforms like Redditapp storesFacebook, and Twitter will likely impact any further white supremacist organizing.  All told, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of calls for action, but also a lot of potential for change, so we need to be calling our reps and watching the next few days very carefully.  

Key links:

  1. Anchorage Daily News – Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski calls on President Trump to resign, questions her future as a Republican
     
  2. Washington Post – Twitter warns of new violence to come, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban
     
  3. New York Times – Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself
     
  4. Axios – Exodus begins for White House staff after pro-Trump siege on Capitol
     
  5. NBC News – Over 200 lawmakers are calling for President Trump’s removal. Here’s who they are
     
  6. The Hill – McConnell circulates procedures for second Senate impeachment trial of Trump
 

Actions for Everyone

Well, Happy New Year! This week’s newsletter is pretty much in direct response to the DA ruling in Kenosha, WI and the attack on Capitol Hill. While there is already so much we can’t control (eg. Trump continuing to be unfit for office, the National Guard being denied by the Department of Defense in DC, Winter bringing on Vitamin D deficiencies, etc), there is still plenty that is within our control and well within our ability to act on. Ready to see change in 2021? Let’s put in the work. 

 

Check Your White Privilege: If you identify as white, and you get defensive at the mere mention of white privilege, you are struggling with white fragility. It’s important not to get defensive, or feel guilt or shame, because those feelings will keep you in a state of fragility and not able to be anti-racist, which is what ya need to be. Practice saying the words – supremacy, power, colonization, fragility, privilege. Think of them through the lense of whiteness. Sit with those concepts and reflect on how you benefit from a society that rewards proximity to whiteness. Dwell in the difficulty of it. I think one step in the right direction would be to work on acknowledging privilege to the point that you atleast feel neutral around those concepts. 

 

Subscribe to Anti-Racist Daily, which has some great content on how to process yesterday for BIPOC and also for white folks. Robin DiAngelo has a book titled White Fragility. I’ve heard criticisms of the book because DiAngelo is white woman who wrote the book, which is in some ways problematic because she’s benefitting from the book. I still recommend reading it, but also make sure you decolonize your bookshelves with all genres of BIPOC authors.  

 

Nix The Six: This is sort of a two in one. I want to tell you about the work of Campaign Zero. They encourage policymakers to focus on solutions with the strongest evidence of effectiveness at reducing police violence. One of their programs is called Nix The Six, a campaign to hold police unions accountable. “The Six” refers to disallowing the following:

  1. Police union contracts block accountability.
  2. Rehiring officers fired for misconduct.
  3. Police bill of rights laws.
  4. Police union influence over budgets.
  5. Police unions buying political power.
  6. Negotiations without community representation.

Another amazing aspect of this campaign is the ability to check in on your City and State to find out what police union protections are in place, as well as when the policing contract expires so you can plan your local campaign to change policing before the next contract is created. Read up on their research and sign up to volunteer for a campaign near you.

 
We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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The Activism Team

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Issue #178, 2020 Week 51

Hey everyone,

Usually we want to end a year in style, this year it will just be nice if it ends calmly.  Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The electoral college voted, and I can’t get over how uneventful that event was–we ended the day of voting with no faithless electors and I didn’t hear any reports of violence. Of course, we were hacked by Russia and the attorney general resigned, so there was still plenty of sensational news that day. But the electoral college, at least, was functional.

Events to Know

Trumped-Up Election Challenges.    As I mentioned above, the electoral college vote went… exactly how people expected it too, which by this point is deeply unnerving. It’s extra jarring, to be fair, because election challenges abounded the entire week beforehand. Trump asked the Pennsylvania House Speaker to overturn election results there, marking the third state he has pressured to throw out legal election results. Meanwhile, Texas sued to toss out legal election results and two dozen states countersued to stop them.  (Within a few days of the suit being filed, the Supreme Court had tossed it out the door with a subtle note to Texas to stay in its own lane, and rejected a case challenging Pennsylvania’s results while it was at it.)  While the case was pending, 126 GOP lawmakers urged SCOTUS to throw out election results in support of the Texas suit, and some prominent officials even began alluding to secession.  Against that backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that at least one retiring Republican has officially left the party over the matter.  Now that the challenge has been tossed, Trump is telling his base to “fight on,” whatever that means, and is still saying the election isn’t over.  Here’s hoping he’s not thinking about telling Pence to mess up the official count, which will be held on January 6.

Key links:

  1. NBC – After Electoral College Cements Win, Biden Unleashes Scathing Attack On Trump’s Refusal To Concede
  2. Washington Post – Trump Asks Pennsylvania House Speaker For Help Overturning Election Results, Personally Intervening In A Third State
  3. New York Times – Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking To Subvert Election
  4. Rolling Stone – Rush Limbaugh Goes Viral For Talk Of Secession, Now Claims It Wasn’t His Idea
  5. Washington Post – After Supreme Court Dismisses Texas Case, Trump Says His Efforts To Challenge Election Results Are ‘Not Over’

State of Unrest.  As an unfortunate corollary to the legal challenges above, we also saw a fair amount of rallies and resulting violence about the election results. In Olympia, Washington, members of the Proud Boys shot counterprotesters on two separate occasions in an eight-day period. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, four people were stabbed and Proud Boys also vandalized several prominent D.C. Black churches. Michigan also reported credible threats of violence ahead of the electoral college vote, although there are no reports of violence at the building today.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – 4 Stabbed And One Shot As Trump Supporters And Opponents Clash
  2. Washington Post – Multiple People Stabbed After Thousands Gather For Pro-Trump Demonstrations In Washington
  3. Washington Post – Michigan Closes Legislative Buildings Due To ‘Credible Threats Of Violence’ Ahead Of Electoral College Vote

Goodbye Barr!   Apparently I still have some skill with tea leaves, because as I predicted last week Attorney General William Barr did indeed get resigned-slash-fired. He leaves too late to prevent the execution of Brandon Bernard, but his departure may have implications for the remaining scheduled executions between now and late January. Given his methods of upholding the law while serving included acting as the President’s personal attorney on more than one occasion and lying about the contents of the Mueller report, I can’t imagine much of the country is sad to see him go.

Key links:

  1. NPR – William Barr To Step Down As Attorney General Before Christmas
  2. CNN – Brandon Bernard Executed After Supreme Court Denies Request For A Delay
  3. Washington Post – Trump Administration Sets Wave Of Executions For Days Leading Up To Biden Inauguration

Recent Resilience

COVID Vaccine Approved. In a historic move, the FDA cleared the Pfizer vaccine on Friday, and the first batch was shipped very quickly; at the time that I type this, the first recipients have already received their first shots. Naturally, people have a lot of questions about how the vaccine works and what we can expect, but this is nonetheless a monumental moment and a bright spot in what promises to be a dark winter.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – F.D.A. Clears Pfizer Vaccine, And Millions Of Doses Will Be Shipped Right Away
  2. NBC – How To Get A Covid Vaccine: Everything We Know, From Cost To Effectiveness
  3. CNBC – U.S. Administers First Shots Of Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine, Launching A Historic Rollout

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   We continue to have horrifying new records of daily death, infection, and hospitalization counts in this country.  Congress is considering another modest relief bill, which first appeared to be enjoying more support than previous efforts, and outlets are again saying that we may be nearing a deal that includes another stimulus payment as well as enhanced unemployment benefits.  The FDA did approve the Pfizer vaccine for use, as noted above, but not before Trump threatened to fire the head of the organization because it was taking too long.  News broke that a former Trump advisor was actively trying to get people sick with COVID because he (falsely) believed it would lead to herd immunity.  And Florida police raided the home of a scientist who drew attention to the state’s COVID data manipulation earlier in the summer.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – U.S. Sets Record For Daily Deaths As Hospitals Nationwide Near Or Exceed Capacity.
  2. Washington Post – White House Proposes Dramatically Lower Unemployment Benefit In Exchange For $600 Stimulus Check
  3. ABC – White House Threatens FDA Chief’s Job Over Vaccine Approval
  4. CNN – Raid Of Former Florida Covid Data Scientist’s Home Could Affect Other State Employees, Legal Experts Warn

From Russia, We Think.*  News broke over the weekend that several government entities had been hacked, with the security breaches bearing hallmarks of Russian cyberespionage.  The attacks also appear tied to a recent attack on FireEye, a cybersecurity company with many government contracts–FireEye reports that the perpetrators stole their own hacking software.  Needless to say, Russia spying on our internal emails at several different U.S. agencies, including the Commerce Department, National Security Council, and Department of Homeland Security, is not great news.  This is especially true when the head of cybersecurity at DHS was just let go for saying there was no election fraud.

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Suspected Russian Hackers Spied On U.S. Treasury Emails – Sources
  2. New York Times – Scope of Russian Hack Becomes Clear: Multiple U.S. Agencies Were Hit
  3. Associated Press – US Agencies Hacked In Monthslong Global Cyberspying Campaign

Transition Tidings Continue.    President-Elect Biden appears to be continuing the trend with this week’s proposed appointments.  His pick for Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, is a potentially problematic pick, as he hasn’t been retired from the military long enough to be a civilian commander in accordance with federal law.  (Austin would, however, be the first Black Secretary of Defense if confirmed, and that part is awesome.)  He also proposed new heads of HUD and DOA, Marcia Fudge and Tom Vilsack respectively, and both of those picks look very
traditional.  He proposed Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation.  And his suggestion for Secretary of Interior, Rep Deb Haaland, will be the nation’s first Native American to fulfill the role.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Biden Explains Defense Pick Amid Concerns There Be Civilian Control Of The Military
  2. New York Times – Biden Picks Marcia Fudge For HUD And Tom Vilsack For Agriculture Secretary
  3. Washington Post – With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center

Actions for Everyone

Hoping everyone has been having a safe holiday season thus far! This week, we’ve got some holiday related actions as well as some equity related actions, and last, but not least, some Trump post-transition karma news.

Give to TranSanta: Indya Moore, along with their friend Chase Strangio, has launched TransSanta which allows you to anonymously give gifts to trans youth and adults in needAlmost 200 children have sent letters that you can read on their Instagram page. Users can then select a child to be taken to a Target registry with their wish list. There’s a 15-year-old in Tennessee asking for a cozy color-blocked sweater, while an 8-year-old in California asks for a tablet pen. Other gift requests range from a basketball to a rice cooker. It’s estimated that LGBTQ youth make up 40% of the youth homeless population in the United States, despite representing 7% of the general youth population, according to True Colors United.

Check out the gift list, and donate to this great holiday program!

Tax The Rich for COVID-19: This week marks the first mass distribution of COVID vaccines being circulated throughout the country. This round, termed Tier 1A, will most likely make for a big learning opportunity and hopefully will be a huge step closer to the end of this pandemic. I’m cautiously optimistic.

That said, I wanted to let you all know that Argentina passed a Millionaire’s Tax aimed at anyone with $2.5 million to pay for virus expenses. “Tax the rich” seems prettier than “Eat the rich,” and as a vegetarian, I’d much rather have a Millionaire’s Tax in the good ol’ US of A. So far, six states have passed a Millionaire’s Tax – California, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C (not a state). This summer, several millionaires actually asked to be taxed.  If your state isn’t on this list, write to your state elected officials.

Support BIPOC Farmers: Related to my last post, “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich” – Jean Jacques Rousseau. Again, I’d rather tax the rich and eat the food grown at family farms and by farmers who have a living wage. So, this is some great news about that. The Justice For Black Farmer’s Act would provide land grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture that allows Black farmers to reclaim up to 160 acres each that has been lost over the past 100 years due to system racism. You can read over the whole bill and then engage with your senators and representatives to tell them you support this bill. This feels like a step toward reparations for Black Americans that our country needs.   

Support farmers internationally, as well! Have you heard about the farmer strikes in India? Nearly 60% of Indian’s rely on income from Agriculture for their livelihoods, and are striking against three new agriculture reforms that will drive down crop prices without subsidizing their income.

Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in Punjab and Haryana states. The situation escalated three weeks ago when tens of thousands marched to New Delhi, where they clashed with police.

Transition of Power: There aren’t any action items here, but just some fun headlines:

Trump must turn over financial documents to New York attorney general, judge rules. 

The 126 GOP House Reps Who Tried To Overthrow Democracy Must Not Be Seated.

Mar-a-Lago neighbors say Trump can’t live there after White House.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Issue #177, 2020 Week 50

Hey everyone,

Are you tired of digging through the same news? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Another week of Trump temper tantrum is behind us, and I’m running out of ways to summarize the same exact news week over and over.  I would apologize for boring y’all, but at least stale stories would suggest there isn’t new bad news. Mostly.

Events to Know

Trumped-Up Election Challenges.  Election tantrums continue for another week even at this point all fifty states have certified their election results for Biden.  The biggest Trumpian effort of the week was his hissy fit in Georgia, where he ostensibly was stumping for the special election scheduled on January 5.  In true Trump fashion, he instead used the opportunity to lie about winning his own election, pressure Georgian officials to throw out the election results, and have his team file yet another lawsuit.  This move doesn’t exactly distance him from his former lawyer Sidney Powell, who along with fellow bonkers attorney Lin Wood spent the week telling Georgian Republicans not to vote unless the state refuses to acknowledge Biden’s win.  He also asked the Pennsylvania House Speaker to overturn election results there, marking the third state he has pressured to throw out legal election results. Against that backdrop, it’s depressing but hardly surprising that over 200 Republican elected officials refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory, and Trump is demanding the names of those 25 Republicans that did. Meanwhile, Texas is suing to toss out legal election results and two dozen states are countersuing to stop them.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – At Rally For Georgia Senators, Trump Focuses On His Own Grievances
  2. Washington Post – Trump Roils Georgia Gop As Party Waits To See If Presidential Visit Helps — Or Hurts — In Crucial Senate Runoffs
  3. The Hill – Trump Demands Names Of The Congressional Republicans Who Said They Recognize Biden As Winner
  4. CNN – Explaining the Supreme Court lawsuit from Texas and Trump challenging Biden’s win
  5. NBC News – ‘Seditious abuse of judicial process’: States fire back at Texas’ Supreme Court election challenge

Your Ordinarily-Scheduled Corruption.   Despite his busy anti-stumping schedule, Trump managed to find plenty of time to be sketchy this week. News broke that he is now allegedly looking into pardoning his three oldest children and Rudy Giuliani, the former of whom have not even been charged with a crime yet, although Ivanka was deposed in an AG investigation this week. He also threatened to veto defense spending unless Congress repealed legislation that protects tech companies from lawsuits. And finally, yet more people were fired from the Pentagon and replaced with loyalists; resident scary COVID advisor Scott Atlas also left a week early, although nobody seems too sad about the latter’s departure.

Key links:

  1. ABC – White House Vetting Pardon Requests As Some Push Trump To Preemptively Pardon Family
  2. Washington Post – Ivanka Trump Confirms She Was Questioned By The D.C. Attorney General’s Office Over Inaugural Committee Spending
  3. Washington Post – The Daily 202: Trump’s Threat To Veto NDAA Follows Pattern Of Tenuously Invoking ‘National Security’
  4. Politico – White House Fires Pentagon Advisory Board Members, Installs Loyalists
  5. New York Times – Scott Atlas, A Trump Coronavirus Adviser, Resigns


Unexpected Political Updates.
  There’s a lot of weird political news floating around right now, and I’m not sure what to make of all of it.  Since the tentative stimulus package definitely won’t be ready before December 10, Congress will vote on a one-week stopgap measure this week to avoid a shutdown on Thursday.  Meanwhile, the Georgia runoff election is taking all kinds of strange turns, including one of the candidates refusing to show up for the campaign debates on Saturday.  Additionally, the Trump administration passed changes this week that make the citizenship exam harder and more Republican, presumably for funsies since Biden can start rolling that back only six weeks after it goes into effect.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Congress To Seek One-week Government Funding Bill As Stimulus Negotiations Continue
  2. The Hill – Ossoff Debates Empty Podium As Perdue Refuses To Participate
  3. Politico – Trump’s New Citizenship Test Is Full Of Conservative Bias—and Dotted With Mistakes

Recent Resilience

Recent Government Resilience. By this point, we know not to expect much from the executive branch, but we did see a few bright spots in both the judicial and legislative branches this week. Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly was sworn in this week, giving Arizona two Democrat senators for the first time in nearly sixty years, and the House voted to decriminalize marijuana (though that bill is likely DOA in the current Senate). On the judicial side, a federal district judge reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ordering the administration to accept first-time applications. Though DACA’s position remains precarious, this is still a step in the right direction.   Additionally, the Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch millionth effort to challenge Biden’s win in Pennsylvania

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Mark Kelly Sworn In As Senator, Giving Arizona Two Democratic Senators For First Time In More Than Six Decades
  2. NPR – Supreme Court Rejects Gop Bid To Reverse Pennsylvania Election Results
  3. New York Times – They’re Playing With Our Lives’: What Happens Next For DACA’s ‘Dreamers’
  4. Washington Post – House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana As GOP Resists National Shift

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We continue to have horrifying new records of daily death, infection, and hospitalization counts in this country.  In response to the growing infection rates, California issued new stay-at-home guidance, tying the restrictions to ICU capacity.  Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has invited 900 people to his house for a holiday party, and Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for COVID.  In vaccine news, Bush, Clinton, and Obama have agreed to take the vaccine publicly once it becomes available, trying to forestall mistrust of the development process, and experts recommend people get the vaccine even if they’ve already had a COVID infection.  Additionally, Congress is considering another modest relief bill, which appears to be enjoying more support than previous efforts, but negotiations looked on the verge of collapse again by Tuesday evening.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – U.S. sets record for daily deaths as hospitals nationwide near or exceed capacity
  2. Washington Post – Most Of California To Impose Stay-at-home Orders By Sunday As ICU Capacity Drops
  3. NBC – Trump Announces Rudy Giuliani Has Covid
  4. CNN – Former Presidents Obama, Bush And Clinton Volunteer To Get Coronavirus Vaccine Publicly To Prove It’s Safe
  5. New York Times – Natural Immunity’ From Covid Is Not Safer Than A Vaccine
  6. CBS – Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Roll Out $908 Billion Coronavirus Relief Plan

Transition Tidings Continue.    There was a bit more Biden transition news this week, though not as much as previous weeks.  He announced a plan to ask everyone to wear a mask for 100 days, which hopefully is not the sum total of his COVID messaging (although the CDC is finally admitting it’s important).  He also announced several picks for top health-related positions:  He is asking former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to reprise the role for his administration, asking Mass General Hospital’s head of its infectious disease division, Rochelle Walensky, to run the CDC, and he plans to tap current California AG Xavier Becerra as his Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The first two are solid picks, but I have concerns about Becerra’s selection to head DHHS, which is an extremely broad agency that runs everything from the FDA to the CDC to Medicare and Medicaid to NIH.  Health experts are saying the agency should have a health professional at the helm during the COVID crisis, and though Becerra has considerable experience litigating the Affordable Care Act, he has no background in healthcare or human services.  Similarly, Biden announced his pick for head of Veteran’s Affairs today, who is former Obama chief of staff Dennis McDonough.  Much like Becerra, he is another person without basic in-field background, and veteran organizations are frustrated as well.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Biden Transition Highlights: Biden Says He Will Ask Americans to Wear Masks During First 100 Day
  2. STAT – Public Health Experts Are Pressuring Biden To Include Health Expertise In His Cabinet
  3. NPR – Biden Names Health Secretary, COVID Czar, Other Key Members To Health Team

Goodbye Barr?   Between investigating potential pardon abuses and loudly proclaiming that there was no election fraud, Attorney General William Barr appears to be suddenly out of synch with Trump all over the place.  (This may or may not be related to Trump pardoning Flynn, which almost certainly was not what Barr wanted to happen.)  Unsurprisingly, outlets are already starting to report that Trump is less than thrilled about this.  If Trump fires his sitting Attorney General (again) in the two or so months he has left, that has a lot of implications for what changes he may be able to make on his way out the door–especially given the spate of executions currently scheduled to occur before Biden is sworn in. It’s worth keeping an eye on this and seeing how it develops.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Justice Dept. investigated potential ‘bribery-for-pardon’ scheme involving White House
  2. Associated Press – Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud
  3. NPR – Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty To Lying About Russia Contact
  4. Washington Post – Trump administration sets wave of executions for days leading up to Biden inauguration

Actions for Everyone

This week is all about persistence; even though it gets old quick, this week is about calling your elected officials to push them to do the right thing; after all, they work for us (not the other way around).

What do you need to tell your congresspeople?

The USPS still needs help – As you may remember, Trump tried to bring down one of our most beloved social institutions, the mail; even though he was unsuccessful; he still caused some damage and we need our Congress to step up and help this invaluable institution. Back in August, the House of Representatives passed the Delivering for America Act, “this bill prohibits the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from making changes to operations or levels of service from those that were in effect on January 1, 2020, establishes requirements for the processing of election mail, and provides additional funding for the Postal Service Fund.” The Senate has halted this bill and we need you to call  by thethem and give them hell for it. You can use this link by the American Postal Workers Union to do so.

Pandemic Relief – Our government has basically left us alone during a catastrophic pandemic. The Senate has been discussing back and forth on a Pandemic relief fund since last May. Soon many could face going without unemployment benefits; homelessness and hunger. Somehow, our elected officials have failed miserably at doing what they are elected to do; protect and serve their constituents. Give Mitch McConnell and his buddies a call; they need to be told off. The new bill must have an extension of unemployment benefits, keep people safe from evictions, provide help to businesses and give out more stimulus checks; ensuring more people can stay home to curve this deadly virus. Call them! 

Covid Vaccine Roll-out! – It’s super exciting that we finally have a vaccine for this deadly horrible virus and we will start seeing immunizations happening real soon in the USA. These will be given out will be determined by state and each state will decide who is priority to receive the sought-after vaccine. We’re hoping states will prioritize healthcare workers and older citizens. You can find your  state’s vaccination plan in this USA Today article.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #176, 2020 Week 49

The Activism Newsletter
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Hey everyone,

Wondering what is changing and what hasn’t?  Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Well folks, another week, another holding pattern, but we’re slowly marching forward into a new administration.  There’s still a lot to do, and as always we’ll have suggestions for actions below!

Events to Know

Trumped-Up Election Challenges.   The cockroach metaphor remains apt for another week as courts fumigate Trump’s election claims, with the 3rd Circuit throwing extra rat poison on Giuliani’s arguments and the PA Supreme Judicial Court mopping up any remaining aftermath.  The last-minute Wisconsin recount is also over, and in the end only resulted in 86 more votes for Biden.  At this point, all six of the states where Trump tried to contest results have certified their election results for Biden.  He also brought another lawsuit in Wisconsin, though it’s unclear how he expects the judge to do anything when the state has already certified. With the certification game more-or-less over, Trump has mostly pivoted to lashing out at staff again and engaging in lengthy video rants.  But nonetheless, he also indicated earlier this week that he’ll step down if the electoral college votes for Biden.  It’s tempting to believe we’re truly out of the woods, but his clear and conditional capitulation makes me think he’s got some kind of bananas scheme in place regarding elector appointments.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Mail Ballots With Prejudice In Another Defeat For Trump
  2. New York Times – Recount In Two Wisconsin Counties Reinforces Biden’s Victory.
  3. CBS – Trump Repeats Baseless “Fraud” Claims But Says He’ll Go If Election Results Formalized

Pardoning A Turkey. As we were waiting for final word on whether Attorney General William Barr would be allowed to drop Michael Flynn’s criminal charges, Trump went ahead and pardoned Flynn via tweet on Wednesday. Though the move isn’t especially surprising, it does highlight the close relationships between Flynn and Trump, as Flynn’s attorney was handling Trump’s election challenges until she was fired sometime last week. Flynn is not the first Russia investigation associate pardoned by Trump–that honor goes to Roger Stone–but unlike Stone, Flynn still had an active legal case. Ironically, since he accepted a pardon, Flynn now effectively has admitted his guilt again, which was the very thing Barr was trying to avoid. That task being done, Trump is also now allegedly looking into pardoning Rudy Giuliiani and his three oldest children, the latter of whom have not even been charged with a crime yet.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty To Lying About Russia Contact
  2. CNBC – Rudy Giuliani discussed getting preemptive pardon from Trump before president leaves White House, report says
  3. ABC News – White House vetting pardon requests as some push Trump to preemptively pardon family


Unexpected Political Updates.
  There were a handful of other noteworthy political stories this past week as well. In “I can’t believe this happened, even though it needed to” news, Senator Diane Feinstein announced that she is stepping down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after alienating half her party with her handling of the Comey Barrett hearing.  Along a similar vein, the Washington Post reports that the NRA straight-up told the IRS about its executives misappropriating funds in 2019–great news in the long run, but you don’t often see a nonprofit just admit its executives were stealing money.  It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, happens in the wake of both of these stories.  

Key links:

  1. Sacramento Bee – A Hug That Divided The Democratic Party: Feinstein Could Pay A Price For Supreme Court Hearings
  2. New York Times – Feinstein, Under Fire By Progressives, Says She Will Step Down As Top Democrat On The Judiciary Committee.
  3. CNN – NRA Says It’s Aware Of ‘Significant Diversion Of Its Assets’ In Tax Filing

Recent Resilience

Positive Pandemic Updates. There is still some positive COVID news this week, mostly regarding vaccines. Pfizer might start distributing its first doses as soon as mid-December, and Moderna is now seeking FDA authorization as well–so it might not be far behind. The technology used in both vaccines, which modifies viral RNA, also has a whole host of other promising applications for public health. In other vaguely positive pandemic news, workers are organizing to seek hazard pay at many major retail establishments in light of the risk created by this year’s holiday season. And finally, new research analysis suggests that many people do not remain contagious for longer than seven days, which has resulted in the CDC shortening their recommended period for self-isolation in cases of exposure.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – First 6.4 Million Doses Of Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine Could Go Out In Mid-December
  2. Lancet – SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV Viral Load Dynamics, Duration Of Viral Shedding, And Infectiousness: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis
  3.  Washington Post – Workers Call On Walmart, Amazon And Other Retailers To Bring Back Hazard Pay Ahead Of Holiday Rush
  4.  WBUR – ‘It’s Like Star Trek’: Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine Moves Toward Approval
  5. STAT – Moderna To Submit Covid-19 Vaccine To FDA As Full Results Show 94% Efficacy

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  In the awful COVID news bucket, infections are still rising and so are death rates.  More specifically, hospitalization reached a new all-time high on Sunday, and death and infection rates reached a new all-time high on Wednesday.  At the time that I type this, we have literally seen two million new cases in the past two weeks and four million new cases in the past month.  Experts remain extremely concerned about the coming winter, and the director of the CDC has gone on the record as saying that it may be the worst period in American public health history.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass 4 Million For The Month Of November, Doubling The Record Set In October.
  2. CNN – White House coronavirus task force warns states: ‘We are in a very dangerous place’
  3. NBC News – U.S. tops 14 million Covid-19 cases, sets daily record for deaths, cases and hospitalizations

Transition Tidings.    President-elect Biden continues to name his cabinet staff picks, though many of those choices need to be confirmed by the Senate once he is inaugurated.  In the past week, he has named a foreign policy team, including a proposed Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, and National Security Advisor.  He also officially nominated his chosen secretary of treasury this week, which made the stock market very happy.  And as I type this, he also just announced the first all-female White House communications team.  Some of his choices have obvious issues, which we can expect to see highlighted at Senate confirmation hearings, but I’ll address those once they become front-and-center.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Key Lines From The Unveiling Of Biden’s Top National Security And Foreign Policy Team
  2. Politico – Biden Announces All-female White House Communications Team
  3. Washington Post – Who Is Janet Yellen, Biden’s Pioneering Pick To Lead The Treasury Amid A Deep Crisis?

Goodbye Barr?   Between investigating potential pardon abuses and loudly proclaiming that there was no election fraud, Attorney General William Barr appears to be suddenly out of synch with Trump all over the place.  (This may or may not be related to Trump pardoning Flynn, which almost certainly was not what Barr wanted to happen.)  Unsurprisingly, outlets are already starting to report that Trump is less than thrilled about this.  If Trump fires his sitting Attorney General (again) in the two or so months he has left, that has a lot of implications for what changes he may be able to make on his way out the door–especially given the spate of executions currently scheduled to occur before Biden is sworn in. It’s worth keeping an eye on this and seeing how it develops.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Justice Dept. investigated potential ‘bribery-for-pardon’ scheme involving White House
  2. Associated Press – Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud
  3. NPR – Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, Who Pleaded Guilty To Lying About Russia Contact
  4. Washington Post – Trump administration sets wave of executions for days leading up to Biden inauguration

Actions for Everyone

Happy December! It’s the season for giving kindness and compassion. There’s only a few weeks until solstice, and then we’ll get some sunlight back. A COVID19 vaccine is starting to be authorized for use in some parts of the world, thanks in no small part to Dolly Parton and some of the world’s best. Let’s keep up the good work!

Rosa Parks Day: December 1st was Rosa Parks Day. On December 1, 1955 she was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white male passenger on a segregated bus upon the demands of the bus driver. The Montgomery Bus Boycott started four days later on December 5th. There’s a great biography on her at RosaParks.org.  

In honor of the her, and of #GivingTuesday which landed on the same day, I wanted to share the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation in hopes maybe even a small percentage of Activism Newsletter recipients would donate to it in her honor.

World AIDS Day: December 1st was also World AIDS Day, a day to unite in the global response to HIV/AIDS, support people living with HIV, and honor lives lost to the HIV epidemic. The website HIV.gov has resources and information on future HIV/AIDS awareness days, as well as, ways to get involved in making a difference.

I can’t help but think that the fear and confusion that we’ve experienced during COVID pandemic has some parallels to the AIDS pandemic. I hope we can learn lessons from AIDS for the COVID Pandemic.

I can’t help but think, also, of how Transgender Awareness Week was just a few weeks ago in November, and how Black and Latinx transfolks have the highest rates of HIV. I wanted to connect you again to GLAAD. They’ve been leveraging media to gain cultural change and acceptance since 1985 – they even have a Trump Accountability Project.

COVID19 Relief: I mean, frick. The politics behind this most recent relief bill seem layered *understatement* but as always, we can write or call our Senators and tell them to support COVID19 relief. Beyond waiting for Capitol Hill, and January 20, 2021, here are a few suggestions for keeping yourself healthy this Winter while we wait:

Have any tips? Feel free to email them over to us at activism@patrothfuss.com

Thing that made me smile: This anti-gerrymandering map designed by an algorithm created by middle school students from New York. 

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Issue # 175, 2020 Week 48

Hey everyone,

Let us help find the news that snuck in during the holiday week. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

This week saw an improbable amount of news even with a holiday in the middle of it–unsurprisingly, we saw several things sneak in under the turkey radar while most people weren’t paying attention.  As always, we’ll have suggestions for actions below, and we’re here if anyone needs anything.

Events to Know

Trumped-Up Legal Challenges.   Despite (or perhaps due to) the underprepared vaudeville act Trump calls a legal team, his challenges to the election results remain like cockroaches–numerous, unwanted, and improbably resistant to pest control.  In Michigan, we had over a week of high drama while the administration abandoned its clownish lawsuit in favor of persuading board officials to refuse to certify voting results in Wayne County.  In light of public outcry, the board officials walked that back and certified, only to double down by “rescinding” those signatures after receiving encouragement from Trump personally.  Finally, after nearly a week of this, a final vote to certify was held, and that’s the ballgame for official results in Michigan.  Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Trump keeps losing court cases faster than I lose pen caps–he even lost the one case he had previously won, which allowed ballots with facial defects to be tossed in Allegany County, because it was remanded by the state supreme court.  Perhaps it’s unsurprisingly, in light of this, that he also requested a recount in two counties in Wisconsin, both of which skew heavily blue, and by the end of the week he had graduated to trying to get ballots discounted there.  In Georgia, a lengthy and expensive hand count came down in Biden’s favor, so Trump went ahead and requested another recount, by a less reliable method, at taxpayer expense.  Also, an independent witness came forward and corroborated the Georgia Secretary of State’s account of Lindsey Graham asking him to throw out legally-cast ballots, but with everything else going on we all just kind of forgot about it by the end of the week. Needless to say, these prolonged Presidential attacks on our democratic process are not normal and they do lasting damage to the fabric of our government.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Trump Campaign Drops Michigan Lawsuit Over Certification Of Election Results
  2. NBC – Michigan Election Board Votes To Certify Biden Win, Dealing Blow To Trump Effort
  3. MSN – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reverses One Of Trump’s Only Post-election Litigation Wins
  4. Washington Post – In Last-gasp Maneuver, Trump Campaign Tries To Invalidate Thousands Of Votes As Wisconsin Recount Gets Underway
  5. ABC – Statewide Audit Results Reaffirm Biden Winner In Georgia
  6. CNN – Witness Corroborates Claim That Lindsey Graham Asked About Tossing Ballots In Georgia

Transition Triumph?  Given how the paragraph above was going for him, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Trump also spent the week delaying transition as much as possible, but in the end he seems to have caved.  His vaccine team refused to brief President-Elect Biden for another week, and he also implemented a bunch of foreign policy changes that seem designed to make President-elect Biden’s life difficult when he assumes control of the White House.  For most of the week, he also continued to instruct his head of the General Services Administration to refuse to begin the transition. Perhaps due to his miserable performances in court, however, she relented in apparent response to Trump’s tweets on Monday evening, and eventually sent a letter to Biden and started doing her job.  By this point, everybody from Republican national security experts to a giant group of CEOs to Chris Christie were telling Trump to give it up already, and Pennsylvania and Nevada have both certified alongside Michigan, but he still hasn’t actually conceded the election as I type this. The closest he has come to date is to say that he’ll step down if the electoral college votes for Biden, which honestly makes me wonder what he knows that we don’t (but I suppose we’ll find out soon enough).

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Trump’s Vaccine Team Will Not Brief Biden Administration: U.S Senators
  2. CNN – Trump Team Looks To Box In Biden On Foreign Policy By Lighting Too Many Fires To Put Out
  3. Politico – Trump Relents As Administration Begins Biden Transition
  4. NPR – CEOs Urge Trump To Concede: ‘Not A Moment To Waste’ In Fighting COVID-19
  5. Washington Post – The Founders Didn’t Prepare For A President Who Refuses To Step Down, Historians Say

Fire and the Hole. We saw a continuation of sketchy personnel changes this week, as Trump fired the head of cybersecurity for saying we had a safe election–truly a stunning thing for a sitting President to do.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t also give a shoutout to Trump’s decision to skip the G-20 event on global pandemic preparedness this weekend to go play golf in Virginia, as well as his decision to tweet about the election during the portion he did attend.  Seriously, I know that we’re inured to his awful behavior by this point, but we unquestionably have the most COVID cases in the world, which I’ll talk more about below, and he literally skipped the world summit about it to go play golf.
Key links:

  1. Axios – Trump Says He Fired Top Cybersecurity Official Christopher Krebs
  2. CNBC – Trump Attends His Final G-20 Summit But Does Not Participate In Pandemic Preparedness Session
  3. New York Times – Covid World Map: Tracking The Global Outbreak

Recent Resilience

COVID Vaccine Updates. There was also promising news this week about vaccines, which are starting to look like a concrete reality. In the wake of the Moderna vaccine announcement last week, some news outlets began to note that Dolly Parton personally donated $1M to its early research efforts because she is friends with one of the researchers, which is kind of cool. In more health-related news, Pfizer released full results of its trial 3 study, saying its vaccine is 95% effective in the general population and that the company is seeking FDA approval this week. Additionally, a third vaccine has been found 90% effective, and it is significantly cheaper than the first two. Health officials estimate that distribution may begin for essential workers as soon as mid-December. It will take time for full distribution of any approved vaccine, and many health professionals still want more data before accepting an injection, but having three potential vaccines is excellent news.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Dolly Parton Helped Fund Moderna’s Vaccine. It Began With A Car Crash And An Unlikely Friendship.
  2. Washington Post – Doctors And Nurses Want More Data Before Championing Vaccines To End The Pandemic
  3. Reuters – Covid-19 Shots Could Reach First Americans By Mid-december, Top Health Official Says
  4. Associated Press – 3rd Major Covid-19 Vaccine Shown To Be Effective And Cheaper
  5. CBS – Pfizer Says Covid Vaccine 95% Effective, Will Seek FDA’s Okay “Within Days”

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news falls into two different extremes this week, so I have separated it out accordingly.  In the awful news bucket, the U.S. has now surpassed 250,000 deaths from COVID-19, and hospitals remain overwhelmed.  Additionally, nearly 12.5 million cases have been reported as I type this, with rates rising in every state but Hawaii; we have literally seen two million new cases in the past two weeks.   The CDC is more-or-less begging people not to travel for Thanksgiving, but the TSA reports that they saw about one million people per day in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile, several forms of federal economic protection are ending at the end of the year, even though several states are shutting down again and we can expect several more months of economic hardship.  But the Dow has risen anyway in response to stabilizing influences such as the vaccine news above, Biden’s apparent pick for treasury secretary, and probably Trump’s decision to let official transition start as well.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Coronavirus Hospitalizations In U.S. Continue To Set New Records, Led By Plains And Midwest
  2. New York Times – As The U.S. Nears The 200,000 Daily Case Mark, Americans Are Urged To Avoid Thanksgiving Travel.
  3. The Hill – TSA Screens 2M Flyers In Two Days After Warning Against Travel
  4. New York Times – A U.S. Record: Two Million New Virus Cases in Two Weeks

Other Election Updates.   Trump’s legal team was its own weird this week, featuring everything from impressive lack of legal knowledge to Rudy Giuliani’s melting hair dye to firing one malpracticing attorney but not another.  Meanwhile, over 235 organizations are urging President-elect Biden to cancel student loans as a form of economic stimulus on his first day of office.  President-elect Biden continues to name his cabinet staff picks, which makes an odd juxtaposition with Trump’s constant terminations, and has now named a foreign policy team in addition to more domestic positions such as secretary of treasury.  Biden also signaled his team may meet imminently, and this is a good space for us to watch in the weeks leading up to inauguration.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Team Disavows Lawyer Who Peddled Conspiracy Theories On Voting
  2. CNN – Key Lines From The Unveiling Of Biden’s Top National Security And Foreign Policy Team
  3. Washington Post – Calls For Biden To Cancel Student Debt Grow, Alongside Tensions Surrounding The Policy

SCOTUS Sea Change.   Very early in the morning leading into Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court released an anonymous 5-4 opinion stating that the governor of New York was being prevented from limiting in-person religious gatherings in COVID red zones.  This would be concerning enough, given the rapid rise of COVID-related deaths, but as an attorney I really want to stress that this opinion was rife with inconsistencies, bizarre arguments, and legal irregularities that appear to usher in a scary new age for SCOTUS cases.  Among the irregularities to note: 1) They granted an injunction, which is designed to be an emergency remedy when harm is imminent, for religious groups that were no longer in red zones; 2) The decision overturned decisions that were issued only a few months before, which is an incredible fast window to overturn precedent; 3) There were six different opinions written for this decision, which is an unusually high number of separate opinions even for a court known for routinely writing concurrences and dissents; 5) The decision was written anonymously despite the fact that there were six different opinions written and the other five were all signed, leaving only a few justices as the possible author of the per curium opinion.  (I’ve seen legal scholars speculate that Amy Comey Barrett probably wrote this opinion, and I think they’re likely correct.)  I would disagree with this opinion even if it illustrated none of these irregularities, but the fact that they are there suggests that court processes may be breaking down at the highest level right now in this country. We need to be watching the court’s activity over the next couple of months very, very carefully, and we should brace ourselves now for potential fallout.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Splitting 5 to 4, Supreme Court Backs Religious Challenge to Cuomo’s Virus Shutdown Order
  2. Washington Post – Trump’s imprint on Supreme Court shows conservative effect in key coronavirus ruling
  3. New York Times – Midnight Ruling Exposes Rifts at a Supreme Court Transformed by Trump

Actions for Everyone

The year is almost over and we need to keep holding on to our hopes and to each other (virtually!) so we can surpass the dark Covid winter. The light at the end of the tunnel is near with various vaccines on the horizon. We have done it so far, we can do it for a little more. We got each other. Stay strong, stay safe!

November is National Native American Month, a month dedicated to honor and recognize the contributions Indigenous people have made to the United States.

Consider buying your holiday gifts from Native companies.

You can find a list of companies and products here: Beyond BuckskinShop Native and Sweetgrass Trading Co.

Follow indigenous creators on Social Media.

Donate to Native American organizations like:

Native American Rights Fund – An organization that provides assistance to tribes, other native organizations and individuals in need of legal representation.

Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations – An organization that brings Indigenous women together to exchange knowledge, support, and resources that fuel personal and professional growth.

The Association on American Indian Affairs – The oldest non-profit serving Indian Country protecting sovereignty, preserving culture, educating  youth and building capacity.

Various Native American communities have been hit very hard by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic; especially the Diné (Navajo) Nation.

You can donate to the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to help. You can also keep calling your representatives to keep pushing for a second Covid relief plan. Senate has had it in their hands since May and they are still not doing anything about it. People need help. Find your representatives in the Senate and call them!

Learn about the #LandBack movement. The core principle of the movement is to establish sovereignty for indigenous groups/nations and to get back the land that was taken from them by colonialism and bringing justice.

Here are some Things That Made Me Smile (other than pumpkin pie!):

These dogs standing on mushrooms

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Issue #174, 2020 Week 47

Hey everyone,

Is it just getting tiresome or overwhelming or dig through the news? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

It’s impressive how quickly the news seems to find new routines–only a week after we got tentative election results, pretty much every day now follows a script. I don’t much care for the script, mind, because it involves blatant autocracy and a dangerous pandemic. But one has to respect the quick adjustment.

Events to Know

Transition Trials.  When Trump signaled that he wasn’t going to accept a peaceful transfer of power, he apparently meant that quite literally, because this administration has been refusing all attempts at transition and just straight-up planning like they’re not going anywhere for the last week and a half. The General Services Administration still hasn’t begun a Presidential transition as I type this, which may end in the Democrats suing them if they don’t give a reason by Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” and the White House told officials to move forward with next year’s budget plan.  The administration also instructed staff not to comply with Biden’s transition team, which means President-elect President-elect Biden is not getting intelligence reports and the State Department is intercepting his messages from world leaders.  Top medical official Dr. Anthony Fauci publicly expressed concern about the lack of COVID transition, prompting our President-elect to warn that this obstruction could kill people–and he’s absolutely right.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Democrats Could Sue GSA If Transition Standoff Continues
  2. Bloomberg – Pompeo Talks Of New Trump Term, Playing To False-claim Furor
  3. Washington Post – White House, Escalating Tensions, Orders Agencies To Rebuff Biden Transition Team
  4. CNN – State Department Is Preventing Biden From Accessing Messages From Foreign Leaders
  5. ABC – Trump Refusal To Ease Biden Transition Opens ‘Dangerous Gaps’ In Nation’s Security: Experts

Other Election Updates.   We saw less scary election updates as well, but many of them were still strange.  Georgia confused everybody by conducting a hand recount of all of its ballots, which is both more expensive and less accurate than other methods of recount, and Trump can still demand another recount when it ends.  This is particularly baffling, as I’ll discuss below, because Biden definitely won this race even if Trump somehow flips Georgia back.  Meanwhile, Corey Landowski, who was part of the crew at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, has tested positive for COVID, which means we might continue to see infection among campaign officials even after the campaign has ended.  And in comparatively benign election news, President-elect Biden has named his chief of staff, which will be longtime aide Ron Klain, as well as several other senior staff picks.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In Georgia, A Laborious, Costly And Historic Hand Recount Of Presidential Ballots Begins
  2. New York Times – Corey Lewandowski, A Trump Campaign Adviser, Has Tested Positive For The Virus
  3. NBC – President-Elect Biden Picks Longtime Aide Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff

White House Revolving Door Still Spins.  Following Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s firing last week, several additional Department of Defense officials resigned, and now we have yet more scary staff changes in the Pentagon.   The Department of Homeland Security has seen forced resignations as well, and officials describe the staff changes as purging employees who are suspected of incomplete loyalty.  The new acting officials are all staunch Trump loyalists, which matches the reports out of the Department of Homeland Security.  Trump also fired the head of cybersecurity for saying we had a safe election, which is a truly stunning thing for a sitting President to do. Needless to say, this has a lot of bad implications during a time of transition, and even if we otherwise transition smoothly it will create confusion to have high turnover just before a new administration comes in.  It’s also likely not a coincidence that the administration announced it wants to sell unprecedented arms to the United Arab Emirates in the same week.

Key links:

  1. Politico – ‘Devastating’: Top Pentagon Leadership Gutted As Fears Rise Over National Security
  2. Washington Post – Two Senior Homeland Security Officials Forced Out As White House Firings Widen
  3. CNBC – Trump Loyalists Elevated To Powerful Roles At The Pentagon After Firing Of Defense Secretary Esper
  4. CNN – Trump Administration Informs Congress Of Intent To Sell $23B In Arms To UAE

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience. We did see a promising federal court case this week. A federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was unlawfully appointed to head the Department of Homeland Security, and concluded that his decision to refuse DACA applications was therefore unlawful as well. It’s likely that President-elect Biden planned to reinstate DACA when he assumed office, but this will create continuity for DACA recipients, and is a nice piece of news regardless.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Federal Judge Rules Acting DHS Head Chad Wolf Unlawfully Appointed, Invalidates DACA Suspension

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  I know I say this every week, but no seriously, COVID keeps getting worse. At the time that I type this, the U.S. has surpassed 250,000 deaths from COVID-19. Infection rates have also risen 77% in the past 14 days, and on Friday we saw 184,000 new infections in one day. Over 68,000 people were hospitalized on the same day.  Things are so bad, in fact, that Doctors Without Borders is coming here, considering our pandemic response to be an international health disaster.  Unfortunately, things will probably get worse before they get better, especially if people aren’t careful over the Thanksgiving holiday Several states are restricting business or social activities in response to the surges in infection, and we may see more of that in the coming weeks.  In more positive news, early data suggest that Moderna’s COVID vaccine is almost 95% effective, which makes two different vaccines with promising results.  Distribution will be difficult since the scale of distribution is unprecedented, but first responders might begin to receive vaccines as soon as next month.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Covid In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. Hill Reporter – Doctors Without Borders Now Aiding U.S. Coronavirus Response
  3. CNN – Physician Predicts ‘Unprecedented Surge’ In US Covid-19 Cases After Thanksgiving
  4. Politico – There Are 2 Effective Covid-19 Vaccines. What’s Next?
  5. Associated Press – States Ramp Up For Biggest Vaccination Effort In US History

Protests and Violence.   This wasn’t a great week for protest news.  On Saturday, Washington DC hosted a “Million MAGA March” that ultimately resulted in a stabbing as well as twenty people arrested, and featured Proud Boys marching in merch that read “Stand back and stand by.”  An FBI report was also released documenting a stark rise in hate crime murders in the past year.  Against these backdrops, it’s disturbing to learn that the governor of Florida wants to expand “stand your ground” law to cover protests–the proposed change would almost certainly make stabbings like the one in DC more common as well as creating immunity for them.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – After Thousands Of Trump Supporters Rally In D.C., Violence Erupts When Night Falls
  2. Miami Herald – DeSantis Pushes Expansion Of Stand Your Ground Law As Part Of ‘Anti-Mob’ Crackdown
  3. Washington Post – Hate-Crime Killings Set A Record In 2019, FBI Data Reveals

Trumped-Up Legal Challenges.   As final information trickles in about the 2020 election, it becomes glaringly obvious that Trump’s refusal to transition is both dangerous and baseless. Official records show that President-elect Biden likely flipped five states and won a total of 290 electoral votes even before Georgia’s recount was concluded.  Trump had brought lawsuits in several states on the theory that there was widespread voter fraud, but no evidence of that materialized and eventually every lawsuit had either been conclusively lost or dropped.  The Supreme Court has not weighed in at the time that I type this, and it’s very possible they never will.  Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr is still investigating nonexistent voter fraud even though a major federal witness recanted and the DOJ’s top prosecutor for election crimes, Richard Pilger, has quit in protest.   And news broke that South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham asked Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, to throw out entire county batches of legally-cast ballots during the recount, which Raffensberger doesn’t even have legal authority to control.  In Michigan, board officials threatened to refuse to certify voting results, then walked that back and signed, and then doubled down by “rescinding” those signatures–apparently due to encouragement from Trump personally.  This shows no signs of abating anytime soon, even though some GOP officials have indicated that they think Biden should receive briefings.  We need to be keeping an eye on it.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – AP Fact Check: Trump Conclusively Lost, Denies The Evidence
  2. Washington Post – Trump’s Attempts To Challenge The Election Results Suffer Further Setbacks
  3. CNN – Top Prosecutor Quits After Barr Election Fraud Order
  4. Law And Crime – Lindsey Graham And Other Top Gop Pressured Georgia’s Secretary Of State To Exclude Legal Ballots: Report
  5. Slate – GOP Election Officials in Michigan Now Want to “Rescind” Their Vote  to Certify Detroit-Area Results

Actions for Everyone

Good people of the Activism Newsletter, I’m glad to be on the other side of that election. However pretty soon there will be, you guessed it, more elections – including this runoff election in Georgia. I hope you all enjoyed a few post-election moments of relief, because we now gotta bounce back and stronger.

Postcards to Swing States: I was a recipient of one of these postcards, as a resident of Wisconsin, and I must say, it was my favorite attempt to get me to vote. I do respect and admire everyone who phone and textbanked, door knocked, and canvassed on the streets. There is no doubt that helped inform and inspire people to vote, but postcards are my personal favorite.

With Georgia’s runoff election set for January 5th, now is the perfect time to write postcards to eligible Georgia voters urging them to vote safely on January 5th. Postcards to Swing States is a project of Progressive Turnout Project, aiming to get Democrats out to the polls.

Check out Postcards to Swing States and purchase postcards for $0.35 – they come in packages starting at 50 for $9 and then Postcards to Swing States will email you addresses of eligible voters you can write to, as well as instructions. Then you have until December 26-28th to mail them! Please do this!

Celebrate Transgender Awareness Week: Transgender Awareness Week, Nov 13- Nov 19, is a week when transgender people and their allies take action to bring attention to the community by educating the public about who transgender people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community. GLAAD has a wonderful website with resources for allies, transgender resources, and a form for reporting defamation in the media.

Transgender Day of Rememberance is November 20th. GLAAD is hosting an online memorial with the names of those who have died because of anti-transgender violence.

Take Good Care of Yourself: It seems now more than ever, it’s important to keep your immune system boosted. Up here in the Northern US, we also have to be aware of seasonal depression. Vitamin C, B6, and E are all well known for keeping your immune system strong. Vitamin D is important this time of year when the sunlight hours are few.

We can get most vitamins, minerals and nutrients from healthy foods, but I find in the late fall, winter, election season and during a pandemic, I need a little extra help so I take supplements. Stay healthy out there everyone!

End Qualified Immunity: I just had to email the Milwaukee Common Council and request that they reject $9.7 million dollars of what they consider “free Federal money” to hire more police officers, on the grounds that taking money to hire more cops isn’t free money, it’s millions of dollars of future lawsuits. This got me thinking about qualified immunity.

In the United States, qualified immunity is a legal principle that grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

Those civil suits fall on taxpayers. In fact, most cities have a line item in their budget for lawsuit payouts. What happens if police officers carry their own liability insurance? Well, lawsuits wouldn’t fall on taxpayers, and would instead fall on the violent actors themselves, and would perhaps minimize the excessive force used by police officers. If you live in a small town, your sheriff, alders, your DA, your Mayor are all very accessible – talk to them about ending qualified immunity. In bigger cities, find organizations calling for changes, and find out how you can support them.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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The Activism Team

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Issue #173, 2020 Week 46

Hey everyone,

We’ve all had a moment to celebrate and now we need to focus ourselves back on the work that needs to be done. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The last couple of weeks have been quite the mad tea party ride, and that is taking its toll on all of us. That said, the news did gentle out a bit over time with Saturday’s developments. But don’t let that lull you back to sleep–we’re not out of the woods just yet.

Events to Know

Presidential Progress.  As predicted, there were several days of confusion regarding the Presidential Election which took place on Tuesday.  But by early Saturday morning, election data began to suggest a conclusive victory for Joe Biden; by mid-afternoon, the Associated Press had declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.  A huge chunk of the country began celebrating in the streets, and even other countries congratulated us, which seems like something of a referendum abroad. That said, we still lack conclusive Presidential tallies in several states, though Biden definitely has enough electoral college votes to win.  And in hilarious weird news, Team Trump held a press conference outside of Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, right between a sex shop and a crematorium–which, as Ali Davis put it, is where we all are, metaphorically speaking.  (One presumes that the team tried to book the Four Seasons Hotel and missed.)

Key links:

  1. New York Times – 2020 Presidential Election Results — Biden Wins
  2. NPR – World Leaders Congratulate Biden On Win, And Some Celebrate Trump’s Defeat
  3. Washington Post – Centrist House Democrats Lash Out At Liberal Colleagues, Blame Far-left Views For Costing The Party Seats
  4. The Daily Beast – The Universe Has a Message for Porn-Adjacent Rudy

Concession Cancelation.   Despite the happy news above, we don’t have a settled race, because Trump is showing no signs of backing down in the face of defeat. He is still moving forward on several bogus lawsuits as I type this, refusing to acknowledge the lack of evidence of his claimed voter fraud as he makes it extremely clear that he will not be conceding in this or any other lifetime.  To punctuate the point, his person at the General Services Administration flat-out refuses to officially affirm the election results, a necessary step for beginning the transition process.  Meanwhile, a number of Republicans are backing his play, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” this week.  Lest we believe he was only joking, the White House has also told officials to move forward with next year’s budget plan and has instructed staff not to comply with Biden’s transition team. Additionally, the Department of Justice has authorized a probe of the 2020 election–again, despite the utter lack of evidence to suggest voter fraud was a thing.  The DOJ’s top prosecutor for election crimes, Richard Pilger, has quit in protest, and President-Elect Biden says he is thinking of suing over everything as well.  Officials have also become concerned that Trump might disclose state secrets out of spite if he is forced out.  Needless to say, though Saturday gave us a bit of a breather, we need to be watching election news very, very carefully.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – The Refrain From State Officials Is Consistent: The Trump Campaign’s Fraud Claims Are Unfounded
  2. Politico – Trump Campaign Adviser: Conceding ‘Is Not Even In Our Vocabulary Right Now’
  3. CBC – Trump Agency Official Privately Says There Is ‘No Transition In Place’ After Biden’s Victory
  4. Associated Press – Barr Tells DOJ To Probe Election Fraud Claims If They Exist
  5. CNN – Top prosecutor quits after Barr election fraud order
  6. CBS – Biden Team Considering Legal Options If Trump Administration Keeps Stalling The Transition

Other Post-Election Sketchiness.  Disturbingly, we haven’t even yet made it through all of the election-related sketchiness of the week.  There was also a court case ordering the U.S. Postal Service to reverse mail collection limits and sweep USPS locations for ballots left behind–and the USPS totally failed to comply with the order.  Additionally, it became clear by Friday that the U.S. Postal Service processed 150,000 ballots after Election Day, and more than 12,000 were in swing states Trump is suing over. Unsurprisingly, the judge was not impressed, and hinted that he may hold officials in contempt of court.  This has implications against the larger backdrop of the news above, so it’s worth watching.  News also began filtering down by Friday that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was preparing a resignation letter because he expected to be fired after the election. And Esper was absolutely correct, because Trump fired him on Monday, making him the fourth official fired in the past week. Esper’s firing is particularly disturbing because it’s believed he was let go in part due to his reluctance to deploy U.S. troops in domestic cities.

Key links:

  1. Politico – ‘Someone May Have To Pay A Price’: Judge Lashes Postal Service For Defying Ballot Order
  2. Washington Post – USPS Processed 150,000 Ballots After Election Day, Jeopardizing Thousands Of Votes 
  3. New York Times – Trump Fires Mark Esper, Defense Secretary Who Opposed Use Of Troops On U.S. Streets

Recent Resilience

Promising Biden Beginnings.  Despite not taking office until January at the earliest, President-Elect Biden is already moving forward on several key issues. On Monday, he announced a COVID-19 task force today, and speaking as a health law professional I am very reassured by its members. He also signaled he will issue executive orders to undo damage on several critical issues upon assuming office, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, undoing the Muslim ban, and revoking the global gag rule. Not everything can be undone by executive action, but given his extensive political experience I do trust President-Elect Biden to know exactly what can be remedied quickly.

Key links:

  1. CNBC – President-Elect Joe Biden Announces Covid Task Force
  2. The New York Times – Biden Could Roll Back Trump Agenda With Blitz of Executive Actions

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID numbers look really bad–case numbers are continuing to set new records, and hospitalizations are rising quickly too.  The White House continues to have high-profile infections: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tested positive sometime last week, apparently asking people not to disclose this fact, and as of Monday Ben Carson tested positive as well.  The stimulus legislation is also going nowhere as I type this, though that might change in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, we have more positive news on this front than we’ve had in a long time, because Pfizer announced their early vaccine data suggests 90% effectiveness.  (Unsurprisingly, the stock market loved this news.)  As mentioned above, President-Elect Biden also announced his COVID-19 advisory board, which is full of very qualified medical professionals.
Key links:

  1. CNN – The US Just Set A Staggering New Covid-19 Daily Case Record With More Than 120,000 Infections
  2. Washington Post – White House Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows Tests Positive For Coronavirus
  3. Washington Post – Stimulus Talks Set to Resume in Washington, but Pelosi and Mcconnell are At Odds Again
  4. Associated Press – Pfizer Says Covid-19 Vaccine Is Looking 90% Effective
  5. CNBC  – President-Elect Joe Biden Announces Covid Task Force

Affordable Care Act Arguments.  The Supreme Court heard arguments about the Affordable Care Act this week, shortly after both a pivotal election and a new justice’s appointment to the bench.  The oral arguments appeared to suggest that the court is considering removing the insurance mandate and retaining the rest of the law, which would make legal sense given previous precedent on the matter.  Nonetheless, it’s 2020 and politics are pretty wild, so we can’t fully predict what is about to happen and during a pandemic, it could impact a lot of people.  We’ll want to keep an eye on this.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Supreme Court Appears Ready To Uphold Affordable Care Act Over Latest Challenge From Trump, GOP 
  2. New York Times – Key Justices Signal Support For Affordable Care Act

Congressional Election Results.  Control of the Senate is looking uncertain as I type this, and we’ll have to sit with that for some time. Both GA senate races are definitely going to a runoff, which will be held on January 5, and it’s honestly an open question who will hold the Senate majority as a result–an unusual result to cap an unusual year.  Compounding that long wait, several close races resulted in states staying red, and only one net gained seat (Colorado) has been confirmed by every outlet. We’re definitely stuck with Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham another term, and Susan Collins emerged the victor in Maine as well. Meanwhile, House Democrats are already fighting about why they didn’t perform better, though they have officially retained their majority as I type this–so we might see further changes or developments on that front as well.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Where Votes Are Still Being Counted
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Georgia’s Twin January Runoffs Are Set To Determine Control Of Senate
  3. The Hill – Abrams Says Georgia Democratic Senate Candidates Can ‘Absolutely’ Win Runoff Races
  4. Bloomberg – Democrats See Senate Majority Prospects Wither After Gop Wins
  5. CNN – Senate Results

Actions for Everyone

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me (America) and I’m feeeeeeling GOOOOD!

Ya’ll we did it! We took the big step and stuck the landing. It brings me great joy to say that Donald Trump lost the election. I feel I was able to take a full breath after 4 years, I know we’re all feeling that sweet relief. So what to do now? Oh, so much left to do. But first of all, let yourself relax and celebrate the coming change. We all deserve it.

Trump’s election denial: Even though it’s pretty clear Biden won the election, Trump and his goons are contesting the democratic process, arguing for recounts, suing, putting out conspiracies about voter fraud and more. We all knew this was going to happen, but it still hurts to see. What can we do to ensure democracy prevails?

Stay vigilant: Trump is going to do EVERYTHING to stay in power but it’s extremely unlikely it will work. But just in case some of his law maneuvers actually do something, stay vigilant to call your governors. “Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada all have Democratic governors who would refuse to approve a set of Trump electors with the popular vote clearly showing Biden winning their state. Instead, they would submit the electors Biden is entitled to as the winner of the popular vote.” is explained by this The Guardian article.

Call your representatives:

They need to pressure the GSA (General Services Administration) into starting an official transition. They have refused to start the transition process which keeps President-elect Biden from getting his daily briefings. For this to happen the GSA administrator needs to sign a letter of “ascertainment” where it determines who is the winner. So far, GSA administrator (republican and Trump appointee) Emily Murphy, had refused to do so. You can reach her directly on Twitter @GSAEmily

You can also follow this guide by Celeste Pewter.

Your representatives should be also pressured into asking Trump to concede. Especially if your congresspeople are Republicans.

Please, don’t panic. Trump doesn’t have what he needs to successfully pull a coup. He will try, and he will fail. Just making everything harder than it has to be, cause he is a bad person.

Healthcare Enrollment!: Just a reminder that open enrollment for the Healthcare Marketplace at healthcare.gov is open and you and yours have till December 15th to enroll!

And here are some Things That Make Me Smile: 

People Celebrating Biden’s win

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #172, 2020 Week 43

Hey everyone,

The election is right around the corner and we all need reminders to breathe. We are here to lend support. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

We’re at T minus one week, give or take, and all I have to show for it is an empty bottle of Tums. If you’re feeling the stress too, feel free to reach out–this is rough, and I want to support you. We’re already doing it for the antacid industry; we might as well do it for each other!

Events to Know

Guess Who’s Coming to COVID. Five–count ’em, five–members of the Pence staff working on the Coronavirus Task Force now have tested positive for COVID-19, including Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short. Though infection can happen to any of us, the Pence team was famous for refusing to wear masks even though they were literally in charge of telling us all to wear masks, so this seems fair to file under the “disregard of governing norms” folder. Meanwhile, Pence is continuing to travel despite repeated exposure to five different COVID-positive people. I think this Twitter user speaks for us all when she notes, “If that doesn’t sum up this administration I don’t know what does.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – Five Pence Aides Test Positive For Covid-19
  2. Axios – Pence To Continue Traveling Despite Aides Testing Positive For Covid-19

Surprise, It was Iran! Probably. Voters in three states received threatening emails this week telling them to “vote for Trump or else!” from the email address “info @ officialproudboys.com,” but investigation showed that the emails had originated overseas. Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security said that Iran was responsible, and that Russia was likely interfering as well. Both Russia and Iran deny these charges, which in the before times I would say is a likely lie, but since our own President lies fifty times per day I no longer believe we have any stones to throw here.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Emails Threatening Florida Voters To “Vote For Trump Or Else!” Linked To Overseas Servers
  2. NBC – Iran And Russia Deny Fbi Accusation They Are Behind Threatening Emails Sent To Florida Democrats
  3. Washington Post – Trump Is Averaging More Than 50 False Or Misleading Claims A Day

Black Lives Still Matter.  This was another bad week for racial justice.  An officer in Illinois opened fire on a car apparently without provocation, killing Black teen Marcellis Stinnette and hospitalizing driver Tafara Williams.  The grand jury on the Breonna Taylor case was in the news again for confirming that no homicide charges were even offered, while the charged officer gave an interview saying the case “wasn’t a race thing.”  And to cap everything off, Jared Kushner went on television to claim Black Americans just need to try harder in order to be successful.  So, y’know, real banner week all around.
Key links:

  1. ABC7 Chicago – Waukegan Police Officer Fired After Shooting That Killed Teen, Injured Woman; FBI Joins Illinois State Police Investigation Into Incident
  2. Washington Post – Fatal Shooting Of Breonna Taylor Was ‘Not A Race Thing,’ Officer Says In First Public Interview
  3. Bloomberg – Jared Kushner Says African-Americans Must ‘Want To Be Successful’

Recent Resilience

Socially Distant Halloween.  Halloween is next Saturday, and with COVID-19 in the air people are starting to get creative.  Some folks are creating candy chutes that allow trick-or-treaters to safely get candy at the door; others are hosting virtual costume parties or hiding candy in yards for kids to find.  Still others are creating self-serve trick-or-treat tables or hedges for trick-or-treaters on an honor system.  It might look a little different this year, but there are a lot of ways to keep the holiday spirit without face-to-face contact!

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Super Spooky: Halloween Trick-or-Treating Amid COVID-19

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  This section is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, because I keep having to type the same things over and over–you can probably guess the entire paragraph by now, but let’s go through it anyway.  Congress keeps failing to reach a COVID relief deal, mostly because an increasingly-zombified and distracted Mitch McConnell is too focused on Amy Comey Barrett to bother with good-faith negotiation.  Nancy Pelosi keeps saying there will be a deal anyway, but Mitch McConnell just dismissed the Senate for recess until November 9, so it won’t be before the election if it happens at all.  (This is your obligatory reminder that Mitch McConnell is up for re-election in his home state of Kentucky, and his opponent could use your support.)  Meanwhile, we have record-breaking infection numbers yet again, with 85,000 infections on Friday marking the highest daily instance of new cases since the pandemic began in March. The CDC has expanded its definition of “close contact” accordingly.  Though there is evidence to suggest that Trump rallies have kicked off infection spikes, we’re not alone in this struggle, as Europe is seeing a surge as well.  We can probably expect things to continue to get worse as we head into winter and outdoor gatherings become impracticable, which makes it particularly frightening that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows just straight-up abdicated responsibility for controlling the pandemic, saying, “We’re not going to.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – ‘Help Is On The Way’: Pelosi Says Covid-19 Relief Deal Could Be Imminent
  2. Washington Post – Trump Predicts Massive Stimulus Deal After Election, But Negotiations Have Mostly Ended
  3. New York Times – ‘It Has Hit Us With A Vengeance’: Virus Surges Again Across The United States
  4. The Hill – Rising Covid-19 Cases Raise Worries About Trump Rallies
  5. CBS – “We’re About To Go Into A Dark Winter”: Biden Says Trump Has No Plan For Coronavirus
  6. AP – Trump Aide: ‘We’re Not Going To Control The Pandemic’

SCOTUS Hearing Updates.  This story somehow got even more disturbing in the past week.  After a couple of days of floor debate, the Senate GOP moved to limit debate on Sunday and teed up a final vote Monday evening–and shock of shocks, everybody but Susan Collins voted along party lines. So now Amy Comey Barrett is on the court in time to hear arguments about the Affordable Care Act in a couple of weeks, and Joe Biden’s only plan for this so far is to study the damage by commission if he’s elected President–which will leave a lot of people high and dry.  Predictable as it may be, this entire paragraph is bad news, and we need to be thinking about how to protect people.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Amy Coney Barrett Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice, Cementing Conservative Majority
  2. CNBC – Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Obamacare On Nov. 10, A Week After Election Day
  3. Washington Post – Biden, Squeezed On The Supreme Court, Promises A Commission To Consider Changes

Other Election Oddities (Again).   The final debate came and went on Thursday, and Trump did in fact show up even though his microphone could be muted.  (Everyone was pretty well-behaved, although Trump did say of COVID, “I take full responsibility, it’s not my fault.”)  Meanwhile, people are still worried about the U.S. Postal Service, which will be responsible for delivering millions of ballots but is still having issues even though the June changes have been recalled.  (This seems like a fine time to remind folks that many places permit remote voters to deposit ballots at secure drop-boxes in the days leading up to the election.) Perhaps because of the post office issues, early voting numbers are historically high, but reports of in-person voter intimidation are coming in as well.  We can probably expect things to amp up even more in the coming week.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – In Calmer Debate, Biden And Trump Offer Sharply Different Visions For Nation
  2. Vox – Trump On Covid-19: “I Take Full Responsibility. It’s Not My Fault.”
  3. CNN – USPS Did Not Analyze How Changes Would Affect Mail Delivery, Watchdog Says
  4. Washington Post – Shouting Matches, Partisan Rallies, Guns At Polling Places: Tensions High At Early-voting Sites

Actions for Everyone

This week bodycam footage of the police killing of Marcellis Stinnette was released, and police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia. Also, the SCOTUS nomination went through into the Senate and they voted Amy Coney Barret into the lifelong position of Supreme Court, which raises the question: Why do we have an entire branch of national government that gets appointed, without a vote by the American people? …I feel like I haven’t used the words “dumpster fire” enough in these newsletters.

Abolish the Supreme Court: “Why should the Supreme Court, an unelected body that is richer, whiter, and more male than the United States is, continue to have such outsized power in the lives of ordinary people?” A direct quote from an article printed in The New Yorker, The Case for Ending the Supreme Court. I’m not sure I have a clear stance on this, but I think it’s an important question to raise and to think about. Which systems are working for us and which aren’t?

2020 Presidential Election: Here we are folks. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote and yet has been the President for the past four years (talk about systems that aren’t working for us). Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd and it’s the last day to vote. We’ve been pushing ya’ll to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, early vote, and become a poll worker, and then do GOTV advocacy work. In a best case scenario everyone who reads these newsletters sent in their ballot weeks ago, but here’s a final reminder to turn your ballot in – don’t risk the mail, just drop it off at a designated drop off spot in your town. I’ll be watching Election Night Results on Democracy Now because I know they’ll help remind viewers of the minutiae of counting votes for this election.

How to Stop a Coup: I almost hate to mention it because it creates an atmosphere of fear, or atmosfear if you will, but it seems important to at least have in your toolkit for this election. Here are a few tips on How to Stop a Coup: 

  • Commit to actions that represent rule of law, stability, and nonviolence.
  • Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals.
  •  Be ready to act quickly—and not alone.
  •  Don’t expect results on election night.

This Yes! Article has more on that topic.

Things that Made Me Smile This Week: Searching the internet for the tag #votewithlove and seeing the beautiful content that people have created. It’s so nice to feel hopeful.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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Issue #171, 2020 Week 42

Hey everyone,

Hang in there, the election is close. We are here for you. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

We have two weeks until Election Day, and though the news is less frenetic than it was a week ago, that doesn’t mean it’s much more pleasant. It’s impossible to predict what we’ll be seeing by this time next week, given how unprecedented everything continues to be. But one thing’s for certain, y’all: I don’t think the chocolate supply in my house is going to make it.   

 

Events to Know

October Election Illegalities. The Trump administration had multiple instances of illegal election stuff this week. Ivanka Trump violated the Hatch Act eight times in a 48-hour period on Twitter, making her the fourteenth Trump staffer to commit that kind of violation this election season. Then Trump gave a soundbite in Arizona today that sounded an awful lot like normalizing quid pro quo dealings yet again, though he halfheartedly framed his interaction with Exxon as a hypothetical donation he didn’t want. So I guess the surprise this year is… probably more law violations with no consequence? But that’s not particularly surprising.   

Key links:

  1. Citizens For Ethics – Ivanka Trump Violated The Hatch Act Eight Times In Just Over 48 Hours
     
  2. Guardian – Top Trump Administration Figures Flout Law Banning Partisan Campaigning
     
  3. The Hill – Trump Says He Could Out-raise Biden With Calls To Wall Street, Oil Execs

Black Lives Still Matter.  We also had some disturbing protest-related problems this week. Allegations persist that U.S. marshals shot an activist suspected of shooting without even trying to arrest him, which the U.S. Marshal’s official statement seems to tacitly support. Moreover, eyewitnesses are now saying they didn’t even announce themselves as police before shooting. Extrajudicial shootings are always concerning when there’s evidence of excessive force, but Trump went ahead and illustrated exactly why this is a problem by praising the marshals who “didn’t want to arrest him” because the entire judicial process “took fifteen minutes.” Then the administration followed that up by again signaling it will refuse to send COVID aid to “anarchist jurisdictions,” which, spoiler, is just as illegal now as it was the last time they threatened this.   

Key links

  1. New York Times – ‘Straight To Gunshots’: How A U.S. Task Force Killed An Antifa Activist
     
  2. Oregon Public Broadcasting – New Eyewitness Accounts: Feds Didn’t Identify Themselves Before Firing On Portland Antifa Shooting Suspect
     
  3. Forbes – Trump Praises U.S. Marshals Who Shot And Killed Antifa Activist
     
  4. Washington Post – Administration Wants To Exclude ‘Anarchist Jurisdictions’ From Coronavirus Safety Grant
     

Other Election Oddities (Again).   Even the non-illegal election stories this week were really weird.  The New York Post attempted to support Trump with a story about Hunter Biden fed to them by Rudy Giuliani that was so dubious that Facebook and Twitter limited reader access to it, and apparently Fox News refused to run it.   (I honestly hope Hunter Biden sues them for libel.)  We also had competing town halls on Thursday instead of a debate because Trump refused to debate remotely.  As I type this, Trump is already making demands about Thursday’s debate that seem like he may be laying groundwork to get out of that one too–my pet theory is that he hates the debate commission’s plan to mute the microphones during candidate rebuttals.  We’re also seeing a lot of chaos in the courts regarding voting laws, although there was a positive SCOTUS case today that I’ll talk more about below.  But early voting numbers are very high, which hopefully means that people are successfully voting.  

Key links

  1. Business Insider – Biden Calls Controversial New York Post Story About His Son Hunter A ‘Smear Campaign’
     
  2. Washington Post – Facebook And Twitter Take Unusual Steps To Limit Spread Of New York Post Story
     
  3. Politico – Trump Refuses To Denounce Qanon — And Other Key Moments From The Town Halls
     
  4. Independent – Trump Campaign Trashes Debate Commission For Leaving Foreign Policy Off List Of Topics
     
  5. New York Times – Federal Appeals Courts Emerge As Crucial For Trump In Voting Cases
     
  6. BBC – US Election 2020: Early Voting Records Smashed Amid Enthusiasm Wave

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  There was one positive Supreme Court decision today, which is something I guess.  The court was evenly split in a 4-4 decision, which in this instance means the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision remains in place.  The PA court’s decision was upholding a PA law permitting extended mail-in voting due to the pandemic, so this is good news for voting rights.  That said, I do want to caution that a 4-4 split would likely have become a 5-4 split and come down the other way if Barrett were already on the bench.  We’ll need to keep a close eye on those proceedings over the next couple of weeks.  
 

Key links:

  1. Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Republican Bid To Limit Mail-in Voting In Pennsylvania

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We appear to be seeing a surge of COVID cases in much of the nation as I type this, with rolling averages hitting new highs in 37 different states, and over eight million cases nation-wide. Johnson and Johnson was in the news because it was forced to pause its large-scale vaccine testing due to an “unexplained illness” in a participant.  The CDC has issued guidelines strongly recommending masks be worn on all public transit, including planes, buses, and trains.  The Trump administration is oscillating between advocating for herd immunity and slandering their own top health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, because he doesn’t like the herd immunity idea.  (Just to reiterate for the people in the back, herd immunity is an incredibly unethical, dangerous, and flat-out non viable option for dealing with this pandemic.)  And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has set a Tuesday deadline for a stimulus deal, but Mitch McConnell has told the White House not to strike a deal because it may interrupt appointing Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court–in other words, he quite explicitly won’t pass COVID relief because fast-tracking a judge to the Supreme Court is more important to him. 
 

Key links:

  1. CNBC – Coronavirus Hospitalizations Are Growing In 37 States As Fauci Warns The World Not ‘On The Road’ To Ending Pandemic Yet
     
  2. Associated Press – 2nd Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Paused Over Unexplained Illness
     
  3. Washington Post – CDC To Passengers And Workers: Wear A Mask When You Are On A Plane, Train, Bus Or Other Public Transit
     
  4. The Hill – Fauci Blasts Herd Immunity Proposal Embraced By White House As ‘Total Nonsense’
     
  5. New York Times – As McConnell Advises White House Against Pre-Election Stimulus Deal, Pelosi And Mnuchin Make Headway In Talks
     

SCOTUS Census Decision. While all of this was going on, the Supreme Court went ahead and more-or-less gave the Trump administration permission to end the census count on October 15, fifteen days before it was supposed to end per federal district court order. This order is related to a second case SCOTUS will hear in the near future, about whether the Trump administration can just unilaterally exclude undocumented people when calculating congressional seats based on population. Needless to say, the first decision doesn’t bode well for the second case–and that’s particularly upsetting because the government arguments on the latter case uncomfortably echo discarded precedent about whether to count human beings as people during the American era of slavery. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Barrett’s Testimony Is A Deft Mix Of Expertise And Evasion
     
  2. NPR – Takeaways From Amy Coney Barrett’s Judiciary Confirmation Hearings
     
  3. Slate – Oh Good, Dianne Feinstein Concluded The Barrett Hearings By Giving A Maskless Lindsey Graham A Hug
     
  4. CBS – Judiciary Committee Sets Vote On Barrett Confirmation For October 22

SCOTUS Hearing Updates.  The remainder of the Amy Coney Barrett hearing… happened… and though she mostly presented well on the floor, the whole thing was still incredibly horrifying in both substance and process from start to finish.  A lot can be gleaned by what Barrett refused to answer, as she was willing to confirm some ideas but not others.  Among the list of things she signaled in her multi-day hearing:  She might not preserve peaceful transfer of power; she won’t care about unconstitutional immigration enforcement; she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade; and she probably also wants to revoke same sex marriage. At the conclusion of the hearing, ranking Democrat member Dianne Feinstein thanked committee chair Lindsey Graham and hugged him, which is disturbing on a number of levels given his refusal to get tested for COVID.  On October 22, Democrats refused to show up to the committee vote as a last-ditch attempt to pause the process.  The 12 Republican members unanimously voted to move forward, and the matter proceeds now to the Senate floor (If that last piece of news enrages you, by the way, you are not alone, and I believe it should.  Five of those GOP members are currently up for re-election, and several of the races are quite close right now; their opponents could use support.  Just sayin’.)  Barring some kind of unforeseen circumstance, Senate floor debates begin October 23.   

Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration To End Census Counting On Oct. 15
     
  2. Washington Post – Supreme Court Will Review Trump Plan To Exclude Undocumented Immigrants From Calculations For Congressional Seats
 

Actions for Everyone

Nip Fake News in the Bud –  The term “Fake News” has been a constant topic throughout the last 4 years, being a topic Trump loves to scream about. He seeks to destroy the reputation of any media that doesn’t agree with him. Lots of people are weary of the media, and it’s understandable, but the demonization of actually credibles news has become a big problem and serves as a trail towards far-right radicalization.  Having media literacy will keep the #pizzagate and Q-Anon at bay. And even though all media is somewhat biased and left leaning news sources can also fall into “fake news” territory, the main culprit is the media that sides with the President and his party. It’s important we know how to determine the veracity of a news source to stop spreading misinformation.  

How to identify Fake News:

  1. Check the source; if it comes from a website you can’t recognize, Google search the article to see if you can find a trusted source like Reuters or the Associated Press; legit international news agencies.
  2. Read the article, not just the title. Many times, Fake News websites use scandalous or hyperbolous titles to get people to click on their link. If you’re going to be sharing media, you should make sure you know what you are sharing. Read it before you share!
  3. Many grammatical errors or misspellings are a telltale sign of Fake News articles. 
  4. Use media literacy websites like Snopes and FactCheck
  5. Does the article take a stance or a side? Most trusted news sources try to have impartial writing (I said, try!). 
  6. When you see someone sharing Fake News, let them know. 

 

This cool article from Ryerson University has more guidelines to help you keep an eye out. 

 

SCOTUS Vote – The Senate Judiciary is going to place a vote this week on the new Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret. The Senate will place their vote on Monday, the 26th. It’s time to call, call, call. If you have Republican Senators, demand they say NO to Barret’s nomination.  She is not fit for the job and is likely to roll back important historical legislation like Roe v. Wade, ending the Affordable Care Act and possibly LGBT rights. 

Call the Capitol: 202-224-3121

You can use this script to help you. 

 

Diné (Navajo Nation) Covid Relief – The Diné (Navajo) Reservation has been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has been inefficient and slow in their response, so much that for the first time in history the non-profit organization Doctors Without Borders established a clinic in the Navajo Reservation, first time happening in the USA. If you can, please donate to their funds to help the community heal and stay healthy. 

Official Navajo Nation Covid-19 Relief Fund 

Navajo and Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief

 

Here are some Things That Make Me Smile

These Bolivian skater girls 

SPOOKY Mushrooms!

 
We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

Want to sign up for the list? You can do that right here.

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #169, 2020 Week 40

Hey everyone,

Well, that was a week. Trying to figure where to turn.  Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Apparently, we thought that week’s news cycle was particularly accelerated, which seems delightfully naive in retrospect.  Needless to say, we’ve all aged a hundred years since writing that, and news stories are flying incredibly fast. Daily summaries like WTFJHT remain particularly helpful as we all try to make sense of the chaos.

Events to Know

COVID in the White House. News broke at about 1:30AM Thursday night that Melania and Donald Trump had tested positive for COVID-19–apparently for the second time that day, though we didn’t learn this until much later. At first he was expected to remain at home, but he was eventually taken to Walter Reed hospital on Friday afternoon with fever and congestion, and we later learned he was given supplemental oxygen as well as an experimental antibody cocktail before the transfer. By the next day, he was being given Remdisivir and dexamethasone, both of which can potentially signal serious health complications. Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “That’s an awfully fast onset of severe symptoms,” which is certainly what I thought at the time, but it turns out the news has a response for that! First Chris Wallace admitted that Trump had dodged the on-site test at Tuesday’s debate, and then on Saturday Trump’s own doctor said that he was doing well “just 72 hours into his diagnosis” on Saturday–which, for those of you doing the home game, was definitely not 72 hours after early Friday morning. Though his doctor later insisted he misspoke, it appears increasingly likely that Trump had probably been COVID-positive by the time of the debate, whether he knew it or not, and it would also appear that he is seriously sick as I type this. Nonetheless, he took a trip around the hospital on Sunday, and was discharged from the hospital back to the White House on Monday night, even though many experts agree on the increased risk of the second week of infection. The administration is adamant that Pence will not be taking the reins anytime soon, despite the many difficulties of Trump governing while all of the above is happening, and White House staff remain at high risk of infection.

Key links:

  1. Wall Street Journal – Trump Didn’t Disclose First Positive Covid-19 Test While Awaiting A Second Test On Thursday
  2. NPR – Staying At Walter Reed Hospital, Trump Has Started Remdesivir Therapy
  3. Newsweek – Chris Wallace Says Donald Trump Wasn’t Tested For Covid Pre-Debate Because He Arrived Late
  4. HuffPost – Trump’s Doctors Raise Major New Questions About His Covid-19 Timeline
  5. Face The Nation – O’brien Says Trump Transfer Of Power “Not Something That’s On The Table”
  6. Washington Post – Concern Rises For White House Residence Staffers As Their Workplace Emerges As A Virus Hot Spot

GOP Superspreading. Trump was far from the only high-profile member of the GOP to test positive for COVID this week, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the Rose Garden event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Comey Barrett on Saturday was a superspreading event, although the White House refuses to use contact tracing for it. (Coney Barrett herself apparently had COVID this summer, and has not tested positive at this time.) At the time that I type this, twelve high-profile people who were present on Saturday have tested positive, and twenty people affiliated with the White House have contracted the virus overall. Among those on the list: 1) Top White House aide Stephen Miller; 2) former counselor Kellyanne Conway; 3) campaign manager Bill Stepien; 4) White House advisor Hope Hicks; 5) former NJ governor Chris Christie; 6) WI senator Ron Johnson; 7) Utah senator Mike Lee; 8) NC Senator Thom Tillis; and 9) White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnaney. Additionally, IA Senator Chuck Grassley was also present and refused to get tested, so he might be positive as well, and there were also several outbreaks at the Secret Service training center. Joe Biden is still testing negative at the time that I type this, though he could still be in an incubation period.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Where Trump Went (And Who He Was With) Leading Up To His Coronavirus Diagnosis
  2. New York Times – White House Is Not Tracing Contacts For ‘Super-Spreader’ Rose Garden Event
  3. New York Times – Trump’s Secret Service Has Struggled With Outbreak At Training Center
  4. Politico – Biden Still At Risk After Debating Trump At ‘Peak Of Contagion’

Election Oddities.  With everything going on, it’s easy to forget that the first Presidential debate on Tuesday was less than a week ago–and the entire country watched Trump fail to condemn white supremacy, instead telling the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by.”  (The hate group, for their part, immediately made it clear that they’ll be taking these statements as a set of marching orders.)  There was also news about a massive Trump campaign strategy to deter Black Americans from voting in 2016, as well as news about a massive gubernatorial strategy now to make dropping off ballots in Texas increasingly difficult for marginalized voters.  On the debate front, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris did duke it out in person in Salt Lake City, and the general consensus is that both Kamala Harris and that fly that landed on Pence’s head for two minutes straight were the frontrunners of the day.  Trump announced that he won’t participate in virtual debates, despite literally being currently contagious with a deadly disease.  And, of course, people are starting to wonder what it will mean for the election if Trump isn’t able to run, given that voting has already begun in many states.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump’s Refusal To Condemn White Supremacists Launches An Online Furor
  2. Guardian – Trump 2016 Campaign ‘Targeted 3.5M Black Americans To Deter Them From Voting’
  3. NBC – ‘Racist Voter Suppression’: Texas Laws Keep Latinos From The Ballot Box, Groups Say
  4. Politico – The VP debate offers the nation a glimpse of a post-Trump future
  5. CNN – Trump’s rejection of virtual format puts future of debates in question
  6. Washington Post – We’re In The Final Stages Of The Presidential Election. What Happens If A Candidate Withdraws Or Dies?

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  There were a few bright spots from a court perspective this week, though much of the news was a hot mess.  The judge who blocked the administration’s attempts to curtail census counting has issued a clarifying judgement making it extra super-duper clear that yes, the census counting must continue until October 31 despite everything going on.  And in Florida, a movement in response to a recent court decision has donors supporting re-enfranchisement efforts for those convicted of crimes, including paying court fees so that people are eligible to vote.  It’s a coalition effort that is making a real difference for the collective re-enfranchisement of a very marginalized group–one that had been denied the right to vote for life for a long time before the right was granted by majority referendum.  Especially in 2020, it means a lot to see groups pushing back against court efforts to overrule that collective will.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In A New Ruling, Judge Says Census Count Must Continue Through October
  2. New York Times – ‘Real Change’: A Race Is On To Register Ex-Felons In Florida

Things to Watch

COVID and Congress.  All of the COVID news above has implications for the legislative branch as well.  In relief news, the House passed a second COVID relief bill, with Nancy Pelosi meeting with Steven Mnuchin Trump was, uh, indisposed.  The FDA also unilaterally published its proposed rules for vaccine standards, leaving the White House more-or-less forced to sign on. When he got back to the White House, Trump retaliated by announcing that he would refuse to sign any COVID relief until after the election, which of course made the Dow plummet again, but he walked that back within a day or two and now says Americans should get stimulus payments again. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has postponed the Senate’s return by two weeks, calling everyone back on October 19–but he still wants to have confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett on October 12 as originally planned.  The astute of readers may note that two of the infected GOP senators are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, while four more were present at the Comey Barrett event on Saturday–and the whole committee is only nineteen members. If Democrats refuse to participate and any GOP members are still quarantining on Monday, the committee may not have quorum to proceed, and Mitch McConnell may learn it’s nice to want things.
Key links:

  1. The Hill – House Approves $2.2T Covid-19 Relief Bill As White House Talks Stall
  2. Wall Street Journal – White House Agrees To FDA’s Guidelines For Vetting Covid-19 Vaccines
  3. CNN – Dow Swings 600 Points After Trump Rejects Stimulus Plan
  4. Associated Press – GOP Seeks To Call Off Senate Work, But Not Barrett Hearings
  5. Chicago Tribune – With 2 Senators On Judiciary Committee Positive For Covid-19 And Others Exposed, Quick Supreme Court Confirmation Called Into Question
  6. Washington Post – White House, Congress continue pressing on economic relief package but Pelosi bristles over Trump approach

Black Lives Still Matter.  Information about the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings was released this week at a grand juror’s request, and unsurprisingly, the records show that homicide charges were not even presented as an option.  Meanwhile, protests continue in Portland, where a local police officer drove his motorcycle into a protester and the total arrest toll has crested 1,000 people.  Also, the Proud Boys did indeed show up in droves to join the fray, as discussed in last Tuesday’s debate–and speaking of Proud Boys, gay twitter co-opted their hashtag this week in glorious retaliation for the hate group’s recent everything.  In other positive news, California passed a law this week establishing a path towards reparations for Black Americans impacted by our history of slavery.
Key links:

  1. Time  – Released Grand Jury Records Reveal Conflicting Accounts Of The Moments Before Breonna Taylor Died
  2. Oregon – Portland Police Officer Drives Motorcycle Into Protester Blocking His Path At Friday Night Demonstration
  3. CNN – Gay Men Have Taken Over The Proud Boys Twitter Hashtag
  4. NBC – Historic California Law Establishes Path To Reparations For Black People, Descendants Of Slaves

Appalling Immigration Updates.  Despite Trump’s hospitalization, we still had an influx of impressively bad and occasionally weird immigration news.  The administration announced that only 15,000 people maximum would be admitted as refugees for Fiscal Year 2021, which for context is only slightly over one-tenth of the number admitted in Obama’s final year–definitely a historic low in every sense of the term.  We also started to hear about ICE raids planned in sanctuary jurisdictions yet again, though it’s unclear whether that will move forward with everything else going on.  The New York Times ran a story that somehow makes the zero tolerance practice sound even more heartless, including gems about U.S. attorneys getting in trouble for refusing to prosecute infants.  And just before she tested positive, tapes leaked of Melania Trump dropping f-bombs about both concern about migrant children during that period and, improbably, Christmas.
Key links:

  1. CBS – Trump Administration Sets Refugee Cap At 15,000, A New Record Low
  2. Washington Post – ICE Preparing Targeted Arrests In ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ Amplifying President’s Campaign Theme
  3. New York Times – ‘We Need To Take Away Children,’ No Matter How Young, Justice Dept. Officials Said
  4. Washington Post – Tapes Reveal Melania Trump Appearing To Downplay Child Separation Policy, Bemoaning Christmas Decorations

Actions for Everyone

Oh what a year this week has been! To top off the newscycle, last Wednesday we saw the first (and only) Vice-Presidential Debate. In it Mike Pence and Kamala Harris kept a semi-civil discourse, acting as cheerleaders for their respective running mates. I’d like to use said debate to talk about a couple of outstanding topics.

Why is Fracking important? – The topic of fracking came up and both candidates mentioned their respective administrations don’t have plans to ban it; which is a disheartening stance.

Fracking (other than my favorite curse word used in the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica) is the practice of hydraulic fracturing. This is when energy companies drill into the earth and pump a pressurized mix of water and chemicals in order to fracture rock and release trapped natural gas. Fracking is tremendously bad for our environment, even though it is usually green-washed into being an environmentally friendly practice. It can deplete water resources, poison drinking water, pollute the air and cause earthquakes. All of these problems have been experienced by communities that surround fracking areas, where they are now living in areas that are suddenly earthquake prone and their drinking water can literally be set on fire because of the chemicals that have leached into it.

For more info on fracking you can visit the National Resource Defense Council and you can also donate to their organization.

If you want to organize your community against fracking in your area, our neighbor’s to the north in Canada have created this handy toolkit to help.

Environment America also has lots of good information to read up on.

The vice-presidential candidates also discussed the new Supreme Court nomination and at least we can hope that this nomination will be met by Kamala Harris with top-notch prosecution.

SCOTUS nominee – and it’s possible outcomes. Because most of our government apparatus had to go into isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak started by President Trump and friends, Congress will not be in session till after October 18th. But the Supreme Court confirmation hearings will still begin on October 12th. Judge Amy Coney Barret is very conservative, she is thought to be the final piece for the removal of the Affordable Care Act (leaving 20 million Americans without healthcare during a pandemic) and taking away a pregnant person’s right to choose by overturning Roe V. Wade.

Call your senators! Leave them voicemails. Annoy the hell out of them! Tell your friends and family to call them too! Especially if they are republicans. Remember, some republicans have come out against the nomination. You can follow this script for guidance.

After your call your senators, call your local state governments too! If Roe V. Wade is overturned, the right to an abortion will depend on each state. Ask them what stance they are taking to secure the right to choose.

VOTE! – Trump just announced he will not be attending the next Presidential debate because it is a virtual one. He literally has Coronavirus and is ok with exposing all of his staff plus all of Biden’s staff, Biden himself and the moderator to it just to have an audience. This and SO MANY INFURIATING REASONS more, is why we need to vote and encourage others to do the same. We have less than a month! November 3rd is just around the corner.

Use this sites to guide you:

Ballot Ready 

Better Know A Ballot 

Progressive Voters Guide

And here for some Things That Made Me Smile:

The fly that landed on Mike Pence.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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