Issue #190, 2021 Week 15

Hey everyone,

Spring seems to be bringing us warm weather and news. Want to keep up? 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

This is the first roller coaster week I think we’ve had in a little while; it had a lot of notable dips but we also had some exciting advances. (Though I would prefer an abjectly good week, I’ll take the wins where I can!)

Events to Know

New Voting Suppression Laws. When it became apparent that no voter fraud evidence was forthcoming, a lot of states began a coordinated push to restrict voter access, and some of those toxic plans are starting to bear fetid fruit. At the time that I type this, over 250 voter suppression bills have been introduced in 45 different states. Though there have been a few earlier bills passed, we need to talk about the bill that passed in Georgia this week specifically, and there are a few different reasons for that: 1) It is particularly comprehensive, imposing limitations on early voting, runoff elections, dropoff boxes, voter transportation, and voter identification methods; 2) It is particularly onerous, including draconic provisions such as criminal consequences for giving voters food and water while they wait in line; and 3) A Black legislator was arrested for attempting to witness the bill’s signature.  Needless to say, there has also been a lot of pushback.  First Major League Baseball announced that it was taking its ball and leaving Atlanta, or at least, wouldn’t host its annual All Star Game there, and made it very clear that this was motivated by the new law. After facing boycotts as well as public statements from Black business leaders, several prominent Georgia-based companies also issued statements against the law, and by the time that I type this we’re up to almost 200 companies issuing statements in support of free elections. This is, of course, in addition to the three lawsuits that have already been filed against the Georgia law.

Key links:

  1. ACLU – Amidst A Wave Of Voter Suppression Bills, Some States Expand Access To The Ballot
  2. NBC – Georgia Governor Signs Sweeping Election Regulations Into Law. There Are Even Restrictions On Snacks
  3. Mother Jones – Georgia State Rep. Arrested While Protesting A Restrictive Voting Law, Video Shows
  4. Associated Press – Georgia Governor Vows A Fight After MLB Yanks All-star Game
  5. New York Times – Black Executives Call On Corporations To Fight Restrictive Voting Laws
  6. Reuters – Georgia Sued For Third Time Over Voting Restrictions As Delta, Coke Face Boycott Calls

Dismantling the Deportation Machine? President Biden made the decision this week to name former prosecutor Kamala Harris the point person at the border, noting that she will be working with Northern Triangle countries to address root causes of destabilization. I can’t say I’m thrilled about having a former prosecutor in charge of this, but he also authorized border agents to begin releasing detainees without court dates and moving unaccompanied minors out of CBP centers, so it remains pretty hard to see a pattern in this administration’s approach.

 Key links: 

  1. Politico – Biden Makes Harris The Point Person On Immigration Issues Amid Border Surge
  2. NBC – Amid Surge, Border Agents In Rio Grande Valley Are Releasing Migrants Without Court Dates
  3. CNN – Pentagon Approves Hhs Request To House Migrant Children At 2 Military Bases

Confirmation Tango (Still)We had a few more interesting appointments this week. On the labor end of things, former Boston mayor Marty Walsh was confirmed as the next Secretary of Labor, which in this Bostonian’s opinion is mostly interesting because it cleared the way for Kim Janey to serve as Boston’s first-ever Black or female mayor. And Rachel Levine was confirmed as Assistant Health Secretary, making her the first openly transgender person to ever hold a Cabinet level position.

 Key links: 

  1. NPR – Marty Walsh, Boston Mayor With Union Roots, Confirmed As Labor Secretary At Key Time
  2. WBUR – Kim Janey Sworn In As First Woman, First Black Mayor Of Boston
  3. CNN – Senate Confirms First Out Transgender Federal Official, Rachel Levine, As Assistant Health Secretary

Recent Resilience

Recent Racial Equity Resilience.  Though it was a bad week for transgender rights, we did see some promising racial equity developments.  In Illinois, a city named Evanston became the first city in the U.S. to offer reparations to its Black residents.  And a recent Supreme Court case expanded citizens ability to sue police for use of excessive force, which has a lot of positive implications for moving away from qualified immunity doctrine in that context.  The timing is good, because we’re also witnessing Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd, which has proven re-traumatizing for many Americans.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Illinois City 1st In US To Offer Black Residents Reparations
  2. Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Widens Ability To Sue Police For Excessive Force
  3. New York Times – What To Know About The Trial Of Derek Chauvin

Recent Trans Equity Resilience.  We also saw some small progress in trans right this week.  During Trans Day of Visibility, President Biden announced he was rescinding a Trump era policy that banned transgender individuals from serving in the military.  And in a move I honestly did not see coming, an awful transgender discrimination bill in Arkansas–which would have banned access to gender-affirming care for all minors–was vetoed by Governor Hutchinson.  The bill could still be passed by override, but it’s nonetheless really noteworthy that the Governor refused to sign it.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Arkansas governor vetoes bill banning medical treatments for transgender youths

Recent Medical Advances. In other “I can’t believe I’m typing this” news–of the good kind, not the Trump kind–an early study shows 97% effectiveness of a novel HIV vaccine. We definitely need to do more research, but it’s tentatively looking like breakthroughs that resulted in COVID vaccines may have implications for HIV infection as well.

Key links:

  1. European Pharmaceutical Review — Novel HIV Vaccine Approach Shows Promise In “Landmark” First-in-human Trial

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   COVID news has been a mixed bag of late.  On the one hand:  1) Infection rates are rising again, likely because we’re reopening too quickly and testing less despite most locations having less than 25% total vaccination rate, and experts disagree about what this means; 2) AstraZeneca was in the news for sketchiness regarding its efficacy study; 3) there was a manufacturing error in Maryland that ruined 15 million Johnson and Johnson doses, though the company says it’s still on track to produce 100 million doses by late May; 4) Dr. Deborah Binx let us know just how many deaths were preventable in the last year; and 5) The CDC has announced that vaccinated Americans are low-risk while traveling, which would be good except that discussion of “vaccine passports” that has already prompted backlash (and in Florida, an executive order banning them).  But on the other hand: 1) Studies are beginning to test vaccine efficacy in children, and some early research suggests that Pfizer may be effective for adolescents, though further study is still needed; 2) Moderna and Pfizer are both found 90% effective in real-life conditions; and 3) the Biden administration estimates that 200 million doses will become available by April 30; and 4) Experts are beginning to discuss travel and documentation protocols for vaccinated people.
Key links:

  1. Politico – Internal CDC Data Shows Virus Regaining Foothold As Biden Urges States To Pause Reopening
  2. Washington Post – AstraZeneca Used ‘Outdated And Potentially Misleading Data’ That Overstated The Effectiveness Of Its Vaccine, Independent Panel Says
  3. CNN – Birx Shares Her Chilling Conclusion As America Arrives At A Moment Of Introspection On The Coronavirus
  4. Stat – Pfizer And BioNTech To Begin Testing Covid-19 Vaccine In Children
  5. Washington Post – Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Are 90% Effective After Two Doses In Study Of Real-life Conditions, Cdc Confirms
  6. Washington Post – More Americans To Become Eligible For Vaccines And FEMA Sites To Open

Gun Violence Updates. It truly pains me to say this, but gun violence remains highly relevant for yet another week.  There was yet another mass shooting in Boulder last Tuesday, which resulted in ten dead and occurred immediately on the heels of a judge tossing out responsible gun legislation in the state.  This was followed within four days by a mass shooting on Virginia Beach, which brings us to three mass shootings in a two-week period.  Then in Orange, California, an assailant fatally shot at least four people, including a nine-year old boy.  Finally, there was also a vehicular assault on Capitol Hill which has resulted in the death of yet another Capitol Police officer as well as fatal shooting of the assailant.  News articles are beginning to emerge about the Capitol Police struggling to maintain staffing during this period of unprecedented strain, and apparently two officers are suing over the January 6 riots.

Key links:

  1. ABC – 10 Killed In Boulder Shooting: Victims Identified, Suspect Charged
  2. Associated Press – Judge Rules Colorado Cities Unable To Enact Gun Restrictions
  3. New York Times – The Shooting Occurred Less Than A Week After Eight People Were Killed In Atlanta.
  4. Washington Post – Suspect In Southern California Shooting Had A Relationship With Victims, Police Say
  5. CNBC – One Capitol Police Officer, Suspect Dead After Car Rammed Into Two Officers
  6. New York Times – Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over January Riot

Infrastructure Updates.  Right now, the most important federal legislation to track is probably the comprehensive infrastructure package the Biden administration revealed this past week. The plan is extremely ambitious in scope, and includes a lot of things not traditionally considered infrastructure purview. On the more-traditional side, it would rebuild roads, expand train track infrastructure, repair bridges, eliminate lead pipes from our water supplies, and modernize the electric grid. But it would also make several less-traditional infrastructure changes, such as funding electric vehicle charging stations along highways, building new schools, and broadening access to broadband Internet. And, of course, there’s always the fact that the whole thing is funded by corporate tax increases. Unsurprisingly, this plan is less than popular with many Republicans, who have spent the last four years railing against things like “corporate tax increases” and “clean water” and “education.”

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Biden Details $2 Trillion Plan To Rebuild Infrastructure And Reshape The Economy
  2. Associated Press – Biden announces huge infrastructure plan to ‘win the future’
  3. Washington Post – 5 Key Takeaways From Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
  4. New York Times – Biden Wants To Pay For Infrastructure Plan With 15 Years Of Corporate Taxes

Actions for Everyone

2020 did something to unravel time, right? The days are flying by. The spring thaw seems to have created even more action nation-wide. Suffice to say, there’s been a lot going on. Read on to learn more about some of it.

Celebrate Trans Day of Visibility: Though the week has come and gone, I hope everyone was able to celebrate! There are more people who are able to transition now than ever before, and although the legislative blow in Alabama happened a few weeks ago @thequeeradvocate posted so much helpful information that I want to share here. Click the link to learn about Trans

  • Books
  • Film, TV, Webseries
  • Fictional Characters
  • Organizations
  • Instagrams

To dismantle the binary, it’s important to diversify your media and environment. In addition to uplifting the trans men, women, and people in your lives, diversify your books, podcasts, movies, TV shows and other art. Art and media help create shifts in your awareness and culture. Trans Awareness Month will be November 2021.

Derek Chauvin Trial: For those who haven’t been watching, this trial is incredibly painful to witness. Please consider this when sharing videos and images on your social media platforms that are traumatic. Violence against Black people being shared across the internet forces folks to relive that trauma over and over. Please be considerate of that. If you feel that you have to share information because it will be helpful for your followers, be sure to mark them with Content Warnings (CW) with a brief summary of what people will find if they keep watching.

The death anniversary of George Floyd’s death is coming soon, May 25th. What will you be doing in your community? I’ve heard that there are caravans driving to Minneapolis, MN to be there with the City. Mark the date now, and start making plans if you haven’t already.

End Voter Suppression: Voter suppression is active, everyday, everywhere. Our nation’s history and daily actions are riddled with oppression. During November election season, I got so frustrated hearing “That’s why you young people need to get out and vote!” Because it’s like, yeah, of course please do go vote, but also recognize how complicated that seemingly simple action is.

Stacy Abrams et. al. have their work cut out for them in Georgia. The voter suppression laws that passed there recently have been hit with their first lawsuit. What can you do about it? Be informed about State Senate hearings in your state – senators usually have hearings on bills before they pass. My state’s website is clunky and sterile and it’s hard to find information, so another thing you can do is go through the work of finding out when your State Senate hearings are, pull them out, and make a cool design to share on your socials. Also, do voter empowerment work around every election that works for your community.

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

Issue #189, 2021 Week 13

Hey everyone,

There are still things that need fixing.  Want to be part of the change. 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

This past week was a rough reminder that racial equity still has so far to go in this country. We’ll do our best to summarize, and as always, we’ll include ways to help in the Actions for Everyone section below.

Events to Know

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  Much like last week, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors and holding them longer than is legally permissible. I am not unsympathetic to the uniquely difficult position faced by the administration when unaccompanied children arrive in unprecedented numbers, and I do appreciate that Biden is negotiating supports for Guatemala and Mexico. But the fact remains that between confusing messaging and legally questionable detention practices, the administration appears to be floundering right now, and I’m not encouraged by today’s decision to make former prosecutor Kamala Harris the point person at the border. Legislation like the bills outlined below help somewhat, but they’re ultimately a bandaid on a deep cultural wound–we need more comprehensive reform if we’re to build a better system.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Border Crisis Creates New Risks For Biden
  2. New York Times – Surge In Migrants Defies Easy Or Quick Solutions For Biden
  3. ABC – White House Officials To Visit Mexico, Guatemala To Address Root Cause Of Migrant Surge
  4. Axios – Ice Securing Hotel Rooms To Hold Growing Number Of Migrant Families
  5. New York Times – House Passes Bills To Create Path To Citizenship For Some Undocumented Immigrants

Congressional Updates. Congress this week is… a mixed bag, shall we say.  We did have several promising developments: 1) the Senate began deliberation on the For the People Act (which we’ll talk more about below); 2) the House passed two bills that create paths to citizenship for Dreamers and farm workers; and 3) DC statehood is being seriously considered on Capitol Hill. But some victories are nonetheless concerning; the House barely gathered the votes to renew the previously-uncontroversial Violence Against Women Act and twelve Republicans voted against the movement to honor Capitol police that protected them two months ago. That last one, by the way, is because they objected to the word “insurrectionists” being used to describe the people who violently stormed the capitol and literally erected a gallows on-site for Mike Pence. (Remind me why these people are allowed to govern again?) And Congress is likely to consider more gun legislation at President Biden’s urging after yet another mass shooting in Boulder brings us to seven mass shootings in one week–but more on that below.

 

Key links: 

  1. CNBC – Schumer Says ‘everything Is On The Table’ To Pass Voting Rights Legislation In Senate
  2. Politico – House Passes Scaled-back Immigration Measures As GOP Support Wanes
  3. NBC – Democrats, Republicans Clash Over D.C. Statehood Effort
  4. Roll Call – House Votes To Reauthorize, Expand Violence Against Women Act
  5. Stars And Stripes – A Dozen Republicans Voted Against Congressional Gold Medals For Police Who Protected Them On Jan. 6
  6. NPR – Biden Urges Immediate Action From Senate On Gun Bills After Colorado Shooting

Racial Violence in the United States.  This was a painful week for racial violence in America.  On Tuesday evening, an armed white man hit three different massage parlors in Georgia, ultimately fatally shooting eight people–six of whom were women of Asian descent.  The incident highlights violence against Americans of Asian descent that has been on the rise all year, stoked repeatedly by Trump first while he was in office and again as recently as the night of the attack.  This incident is also inextricably tied to violence against women and fetishization of women of Asian descent.  As I type this, groups all over the country are organizing town halls, vigils, bystander intervention trainings, donation efforts, and other forms of support for our AAPI; there are many things we can be doing to help. Actions are particularly needed because official response to the incident has been itself appallingly mismanaged.  First, a local police official stated the crime wasn’t racially motivated despite overwhelming evidence otherwise, claiming that the perpetrator was “tempted” by sex work and was having “a really bad day.”  (Unsurprisingly, it took about five seconds for news outlets to begin noting that this police officer shared racist memes on his social media account.)  More recently, news outlets began reporting that the Latino husband of one of the deceased was held in police custody as a suspect for hours without even being told what had happened to his wife.  But perhaps it is unsurprising that the incidents were mishandled this badly, because the New York Times also reported this week on a bevy of comprehensive reports which outlined exactly how badly police forces mismanaged situations during Black Lives Matter protests all over the country from an administrative perspective.

 

Key links: 

  1. New York Times – Suspect In Atlanta Spa Attacks Is Charged With 8 Counts Of Murder
  2. NBC – Anti-asian Hate Crimes Increased By Nearly 150% In 2020, Mostly In N.Y. And L.A., New Report Says
  3. Guardian – Georgia Officer Condemned For Saying Atlanta Shooter Was ‘Having A Bad Day’
  4. Washington Post – An Atlanta victim’s husband survived the attack, but police detained and handcuffed him for hours
  5. New York Times – In City After City, Police Mishandled Black Lives Matter Protests
  6. Hollaback – Bystander Intervention Training To Stop Anti-Asian/American And Xenophobic Harassment

Recent Resilience

Recent COVID Resilience. We did see some good COVID news this week. President Biden noted this week that the U.S. is on track to surpass 100 million administered doses by Friday. Our vaccine supply rate remains so high that although AstraZeneca was found to be effective by Phase III study, the U.S. might not need any doses. And early research suggests that vaccinated pregnant women may pass antibodies onto their babies.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Biden On Track To Pass 100m Vaccinations, With Time To Spare
  2. NPR- Astrazeneca Vaccine Can Prevent Covid-19, Late-stage Study Says
  3. Washington Post – Vaccinated Mothers Pass Covid Antibodies To Babies In Utero And Through Breastmilk, Early Studies Show

Things to Watch

Filibuster Fighting.  The For the People Act hitting the Senate is forcing a showdown on changing the filibuster, and this promises to be a fascinating fight.  Mitch McConnell has been hitting the ground running, promising A Scorched Earth Senate if anybody else uses the nuclear option that was literally last used by him in 2017.  Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer is calling him out in response.  At this point, even President Biden has come out in favor of reforming the rule, though that might just be his way of telling Mitch McConnell where to take his opinions.
Key links:

  1. Axios – Senate To Introduce Comprehensive Voting Reform, Anti-Corruption Bill
  2. CNN – Mitch Mcconnell Warns Democrats That Overhauling Filibuster Rules Will Lead To ‘Completely Scorched Earth Senate’
  3. ABC – Biden Says He Supports Reforming Senate Filibuster In ABC News Exclusive Interview
  4. Washington Post – ‘Shame, shame, shame:’ Sens. Schumer, McConnell spar over GOP efforts to roll back voting access

State of the COVID-19.  The CDC is changing its suggested social distance practices in education, recommending three feet between students instead of six–which apparently is making some teachers’ unions nervous. Nonetheless, four in ten healthcare workers are not vaccinated, despite their early access. Taxes are now due in May to help people struggling financially during the pandemic. And this week’s “I can’t even make this up” award goes to the Republicans suing over the stimulus bill because it can’t be used to fund state tax cuts.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – CDC Changes School Guidance, Allowing Desks To Be Closer
  2. Washington Post – More Than 4 In 10 Health-care Workers Have Not Been Vaccinated, Post-KFF Poll Finds
  3. New York Times – I.R.S. Pushes Tax Deadline Back One Month
  4. The New York Times – Republican Attorneys General Press Biden Over Restrictions On State Aid In Stimulus Plan

Actions for Everyone

This week finds us hurting as a nation once more, after another mass shooting occurred in Boulder, Colorado. It’s never easy to write about these events that have become part of the fabric of our society. When will we see change coming from our elected officials? The people who have the power to make the right decisions have constantly failed us.

Gun Safety and race-based violence: I wrote about these bills a few weeks ago but they are still up for a vote in the Senate. The House already passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. These bills would expand the cases in which a background check is needed to get a firearm, closing the “Gun Show Loophole” and also close what is known as the “Charleston Loophole”;a gap in federal law that lets gun sales proceed without a completed background check if three businesses days have passed. Congress must address the obvious problem this country has with firearms. You know what to do, call your senators! 

And while you’re at it, tell them your support and expect them to vote in favor of the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would increase oversight of Coronavirus related hate-crimes, provide support for state and local agencies and provide information about hate crimes to the Asian American community. President Biden supports it.

PBS recently made their series Asian Americans available for free streaming online, you can watch it here.

Covid-19 Vaccine!: It’s increasingly hard to get a Covid vaccine appointment so I thought I could list a couple of resources to even your odds. Vaccine roll outs are happening at a faster rate than the Biden administration anticipated and this is a great thing, but it can get frustrating and after a year of quarantine, our patience is low. But we’re getting there! Slowly but surely. Having vaccine doubts? Check out this cool article by Scientific American.

Vaccine Spotter:  This website has a list of every state and it updates every minute.

CDC Vaccine Finder: Search engine for vaccines near you.

Do you know how to code? This article may be helpful to 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

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 #188, 2021 Week 12

Hey everyone,

This is from last week.  We are getting back on track, thank you for your patience.  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 probably jinxing myself by typing this, but as I draft this paragraph on Monday afternoon we appear to have sighted that mythical beast known as a slow news week. I haven’t really seen these in the last four years, so I’m throwing an impromptu desk party over here. The light switch rave is off the chain.

Events to Know

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  The Biden Administration has officially ended a Trump-era rule that penalized legal applicants for being low income, and they also will stop deporting people who step forward as sponsors for unaccompanied minors.  However, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors, who are coming to the U.S. in unprecedented numbers, and is holding them longer than legally permissible. Outlets are reporting that the administration will begin housing unaccompanied boys in the Dallas convention center, and FEMA has been sent to the border to respond to the large number of people emigrating. They also made it clear that they are not ending family detention, and several application process issues remain as well.

Key links:

  1. CNBC – Biden Justice Department Stops Defending Trump Rule That Limits Benefits For Immigrants
  2. NBC – Biden Admin To End Trump Policy That Let DHS Deport Caregivers For Migrant Children
  3. CNN –  Unaccompanied Migrant Children Staying In Border Patrol Facilities An Average Of 107 Hours, Internal Records Show
  4. NPR – DHS Directs FEMA To Help With Surge Of Migrant Children At Southern Border
  5. NBC – Despite Court Filings And Public Rhetoric, Official Says Biden Administration Is ‘Not Ending Family Detention’
  6. Politico – Biden Yet To Act On Overturning Some Trump Immigration Policies

Congressional UpdatesThe biggest Congressional update of the week is the good news below, but we also saw some other interesting bills.  A group of bipartisan senators have proposed a bill called the Sunshine Protection Bill of 2021, which proposes permanent daylight saving time.  The Senate began deliberation on the For the People Act, which is very likely to ultimately force a showdown on changing the filibuster.  And the House passed new responsible gun ownership laws which restructure background checks to make them more comprehensive.

 

Key links: 

  1. CBS – Group Of Bipartisan Senators Pushes For Permanent Daylight Saving Time
  2. NPR – House Passes Bills To Strengthen Gun Laws, Including Expanding Background Checks

Insurrection Redux.  The Justice Department has signaled they are still planning to charge many more people, including many members of the militia-style organization known as the Oath Keepers organization, which has also slowed down their proceedings. In the meantime, however, they have charged two individuals who fatally assaulted a police officer with chemical weapons. And in related news, outlets began reporting new information about additional pressuring phone calls Trump placed to Georgia officials, trying to make them find voter fraud so that he could justify challenging the election results. Against this backdrop, it’s not really surprising that his acting Secretary of Defense publicly opined that Trump caused the insurrection, even if he wasn’t sure if Trump was aware of it.

 

Key links: 

  1. ABC – At Least 100 More To Be Charged In Capitol Attack Investigation, DOJ Expects
  2. NPR – U.S. Arrests 2 Men, Saying They Sprayed Sicknick And Others With Chemical At Capitol
  3. CNN – Officials Located December Recording Of Trump Call In A Trash Folder On Georgia Investigator’s Device
  4. Politico – Former Defense Secretary Miller Blames Trump’s Speech For Jan. 6 Insurrection

Recent Resilience

Recent Legislative Resilience. We finally have an American Rescue Act as I type this! The final version in the Senate passed last Saturday in a 51-50 vote entirely along party lines, and it passed in the House on Wednesday. Then it was signed into law by President Biden on Thursday afternoon. In addition to the much-covered provisions about stimulus payments, unemployment supports, small business supports, and education and child supports, the final version includes a provision expanding the Affordable Care Act market as well as some increased taxes for businesses.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Senate Passes Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill After Voting Overnight On Amendments, Sends Measure Back To House
  2. New York Times – With House Passage, Congress Clears The Nearly $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan For President Biden’s Signature.
  3. CNN – Here’s What’s In The Covid Relief Package

Things to Watch

Confirmation Tango (cont).  This week, Michael Regan confirmed as new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Additionally, Deb Haaland was confirmed as the first Native American Secretary of Interior, and Xavier Becerra was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  We’ll likely see some more confirmations in the next few weeks, although the Senate is currently prepping a showdown over the filibuster, so we may see other Congressional news first.
Key links:

  1. Axios – Senate Confirms Michael Regan As EPA Administrator
  2. NPR – Deb Haaland Confirmed As 1st Native American Interior Secretary
  3. CNN – Mitch Mcconnell Warns Democrats That Overhauling Filibuster Rules Will Lead To ‘Completely Scorched Earth Senate’

State of the COVID-19. We have a surprising amount of positive COVID-related news this week. President Biden gave a prime-time address last Thursday to discuss his planning.  Some of the highlights: 1) Urging all states to make the vaccine available to all adults by May 1; 2) Aiming for July 4th celebrations in person; and 3) Streamlining vaccination processes in several different ways, including centralized registration, more vaccination sites, and expanding pharmacy vaccination.  He also announced plans for the U.S. to purchase another 100 million doses of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which presumably will help achieve Thursday’s stated goals, and he noted this week that the U.S. is on track to surpass 100 million administered doses by Friday.  In related vaccine eligibility news, Alaska has made its doses available to adolescents age 16 and older, and teachers are now eligible in all 50 states Case numbers also continue to drop nationally.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Texas, Mississippi To Lift Mask Mandates, Let All Businesses Reopen At Full Capacity
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  3. Stat – Biden Promises Enough Covid-19 Vaccines To Inoculate All Adult Americans By The End Of May
  4. Washington Post – Merck Will Help Make Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine As Rivals Team Up To Help Biden Accelerate Shots
  5. CBS – Some Roman Catholic Leaders In U.S. Call Johnson & Johnson Vaccine “Morally Compromised”
  6. New York Times – Vaccinated Americans May Gather Indoors In Small Groups But Should Still Wear Masks In Public, The C.D.C. Said.

Actions for Everyone

White supremacy, puritanism, and patriarchy keep hate crimes alive and well everyday. In parallel with #StopAsianHate we must also #EndWhiteSupremecy and say that #SexWorkIsWork, and also put in real work to make those hashtags happen.

#StopAsianHate: Anti-Asian hate crimes aren’t new, although there has been a rise since COVID19. There are amazing organizations working on uplifting, organizing, and protecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including Stop AAPI Hate. On their website, you can report a hate crime, learn more, and ACT. Here are a few organizations you should know about and support:

Like week’s past, I also want to reiterate that sex work, is work. Sex workers, are workers, and are not disposable because someone is “having a bad day.” Please read Open Society’s 10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work, check out the International Union of Sex Workers, contact your elected officials calling for an end to criminal prosecution of sex work.

8CantWait: This week I was reading up on Wisconsin State Senate Bills having to do with policing and public safety, so I wanted to write and remind everyone about 8CantWaitResearch shows more restrictive use of force policies can reduce killings by police and save lives. Tell your city to adopt all eight of these policies:

  1. A ban on chokeholds and strangleholds.
  2. Require de-escalation
  3. Require warning before shooting
  4. Require exhaust all alternatives before shooting
  5. Ban shooting at moving vehicles
  6. Duty to intervene
  7. Require use of force continuum
  8. Require comprehensive reporting

8CantWait has some great resources including a comprehensive use of force database. In Milwaukee, we really want to develop an app so people can police the police, or rather participate in holding them accountable for their actions. If you do app stuff, hit me up.

Work toward Arts Equity: It feels indisputable that the loss of art – galleries, films, concerts, etc – has been felt worldwide during the pandemic. If there was ever a question as to what art or artists are worth to us and to our culture, the answer is either priceless or bajillions of dollars because it keeps us living and keeps culture shifting. Thinking about equity within the arts is necessary, so I wanted to tag in an organization aptly called artEquity. The mission of artEquity is to provide tools, resources, and training at the intersection of art and activism. artEquity is building a broad base of individuals and organizations who are strategically poised to create and sustain a culture of equity, inclusion, and justice through arts and culture. If you’re an artist, and organizer, or an activist (which you probably are if you’re reading this) please check out their amazing resources and consider donating

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 187, 2021 Week 11

The Activism Newsletter
View this email in your browser
Hey everyone,

Do you want to know what is going on and how you can 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 biggest news of the week technically hasn’t happened yet, which makes drafting interesting to say the least. Think of it as a holiday gift, along with that extra hour of sunlight we’re getting back on Sunday–sure, Monday will be extra sleep-deprived, but it’s also the Ides of March, so we’re getting off light. (See what I did there?)

Events to Know

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  We did get some positive news on immigration fronts this week. The Biden Administration is converting family detention centers back into 72-hour processing facilities per their original legal purpose. It also announced it is creating a temporary protected status for displaced Venezuelans, which we should have set up years ago, and it has officially ended a Trump-era rule that penalized legal applicants for being low income.  However, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors, who are coming to the U.S. in unprecedented numbers, and is holding them longer than legally permissible.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Texas Family Detention Centers Expected To Transform Into Rapid-processing Hubs
  2. Axios – Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden’s child migrant dilemma
  3. Washington Post – Biden Administration Declares Up To 320,000 Venezuelans Eligible For Temporary Protected Status
  4. CNBC – Biden Justice Department stops defending Trump rule that limits benefits for immigrants
  5. New York Times – Biden Seeks Help On Border From Mexican President
  6. CNN – Exclusive: Unaccompanied migrant children staying in Border Patrol facilities an average of 107 hours, internal records show

Insurrection ReduxThose who followed the immediate insurrection aftermath may recall that QAnon started naming March 4th as another date of attack pretty quickly, latching onto the fact that it used to be the date of inauguration. And as it would happen, March 4th was also last Thursday. As the date approached, officials increasingly expressed concern that there may be further insurrection planned at the Capitol building complex–so much so that the House shifted its work schedule and canceled Thursday’s floor plans. After the date, it was announced that the National Guard will remain in place for the next two months.

 

Key links: 

  1. Associated Press – Police Uncover ‘Possible Plot’ By Militia To Breach Capitol
  2. CNBC – Police Preparing For Possible Militia ‘Plot To Breach The Capitol’ In Washington On Thursday
  3. Politico – House Scraps Work Schedule Amid Security Threat
  4. Washington Post – Pentagon chief approves request to extend National Guard protection of Capitol

Confirmation Tango (continued).  Although Tom Cotton delayed Merrick Garland’s final vote, he was confirmed this week anyway by 70-30 vote. Additionally, the Senate confirmed Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; she will be the first Black woman to lead the department in over 40 years.


Key links: 

  1. Forbes – Sen. Tom Cotton Reveals He’s Holding Up Merrick Garland’s Confirmation Vote
  2. NPR – Garland Confirmed As Attorney General 5 Years After Thwarted Supreme Court Bid
  3. Washington Post – Marcia Fudge confirmed as first Black woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years

Recent Resilience

Recent Legislative Resilience. In addition to the stimulus bill mentioned above, the House passed a couple of other promising pieces of legislation in the past week. First on the roster was the For the People Act, which is a very comprehensive voting rights act bill passed in response to coordinated state efforts to expand voter suppression and a pending Supreme Court case. (If this bill passed in the Senate, this could potentially curtail Supreme Court damage, but it’s unlikely to succeed unless the filibuster is removed or altered.) The House also passed The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a policing overhaul bill first passed in 2020. The new version was passed just as the trial began of George Floyd’s killer, highlighting the strong need for reform–which this bill does not comprehensively do, but it would be a start.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – House Democrats Pass Sweeping Elections Bill As GOP Legislatures Push To Restrict Voting
  2. New York Times – A Supreme Court Test For What’s Left Of The Voting Rights Act
  3. New York Times – The Filibuster Fight
  4. NPR – House Approves Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd
  5. Washington Post – Chauvin Murder Trial: What To Know As The First Officer Is Tried In George Floyd’s Death

Things to Watch

Stimulus News.  Democrats continued to fight about the $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9T stimulus package after the package itself passed in the House last Friday, and eventually the Senate parliamentarian decided that it couldn’t be included in the Senate version for procedural reasons. In a move to keep the Democrats united enough to pass something, President Biden ended up limiting who qualifies for the stimulus and keeping employment benefits at $300 per week. (He did, however, add an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.) The final version in the Senate passed on Saturday in a 51-50 vote entirely along party lines, and it passed in the House on Wednesday. It’s now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature, which is likely to happen on Friday.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Senate Can’t Vote On $15 Minimum Wage, Parliamentarian Rules
  2. NBC – Biden, Senate Democrats Agree To Limit Eligibility For $1,400 Checks
  3. Washington Post – Senate Passes Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill After Voting Overnight On Amendments, Sends Measure Back To House
  4. New York Times – With House passage, Congress clears the nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus plan for President Biden’s signature.

State of the COVID-19. Both Texas and Mississippi decided to end mask mandates for all businesses this week, which as health experts note is a pretty garbage way to apologize for utility failures.  This is particularly true as infection rates rise worldwide, although they are still going down in the U.S. for now. Meanwhile, in vaccine news, Biden is hoping to have enough doses to vaccinate all adults by the end of May, in part because Merck is helping Johnson and Johnson produce their single-dose vaccine.  But vaccine rollouts are still having a lot of issues, particularly regarding equitable distribution. Adding to the pile, several American Catholic officials have forbidden or discouraged parishioners from receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because something something stem cells.  (It is worth noting, however, that this is not the Vatican’s position.) Finally, the CDC issued new guidance today for people already vaccinated, clarifying what are and are not considered best practices.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Texas, Mississippi To Lift Mask Mandates, Let All Businesses Reopen At Full Capacity
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  3. Stat – Biden Promises Enough Covid-19 Vaccines To Inoculate All Adult Americans By The End Of May
  4. Washington Post – Merck Will Help Make Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine As Rivals Team Up To Help Biden Accelerate Shots
  5. CBS – Some Roman Catholic Leaders In U.S. Call Johnson & Johnson Vaccine “Morally Compromised”
  6. New York Times – Vaccinated Americans May Gather Indoors In Small Groups But Should Still Wear Masks In Public, The C.D.C. Said.

Actions for Everyone

The pandemic seems to be reaching some type of plateau, a stimulus bill was passed (not the best but it’s better than what we had), more people are getting vaccinated everyday and our days are slightly brighter as spring approaches. Lets keep the momentum up!

Make some seed bombs! – It’s the perfect time to make some seed bombs with your friends/family and go around spreading the joy; please make sure to use native seeds to ensure biodiversity and conservation. Here is a little tutorial.

Women’s History Month and voting rights – This year is a continuation of last year’s theme, which was interrupted by the pandemic declaration: Valiant Women of the Vote. 2020 marked the centennial of women’s right to vote in the US, even though it left BIPOC women out of their voting rights till mid-century.  You can read more about this year’s theme here. 

Congress is currently starting a debate to pass the For The People Act; that focuses on voting accessibility, election security, cuts down on partisan gerrymandering and more; all measures that will promote the vote for BIPOC communities. The Republicans are opposed to these changes and they will be fighting against these changes, so we must keep our eyes peeled for when the bill is up for a vote in the Senate; since it already passed in the House.

Gun Safety bill: The House recently passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act; a bill that requires “a background check on every gun sale or transfer, with carefully defined exceptions for gifts to family members, and temporary transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. It would require unlicensed gun sellers to use the same National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS), which is managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), that licensed dealers use” according to the gun safety group Giffords.

It’s now up to the Senate to pass the bill’s companion legislation; the Background Checks  Expansion Act. A similar legislation was proposed before but was shut down by the Senate lead by Mitch McConnell; but the new leadership and new Democrat administration could change the outcome of this bill that is supported by the majority of Americans. So lets call those Senators!

You can text UNIVERSAL to 34131 to call your senators and tell them to support universal background checks.

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 #186, 2021 Week 10

Hey everyone,

Want to know what’s happening and how you can 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

This week was a bit sobering; we’re seeing a lot of reminders that the alt-right is still present and a lot of reminders that fixing the last four years will be tough. Some weeks will be like this, but the Activism Newsletter has your back–as always, we’ll have suggestions for ways to help below.

Events to Know

CPAC MachineThe Conservative Political Action Conference happened this past week, and it would have been a golden opportunity to distance the party from the January insurrection attempt–but since this is the modern GOP, the only golden thing to materialize was a literal Trump idol. Between a Nazi stage design, repeated messaging which insisted the election was stolen, and attendee refusals to wear masks, the single biggest takeaways appear to be that the GOP will change nothing about its broken and treasonous party, and Donald Trump is still in charge. A 2024 Trump election campaign remains a very credible threat, and officials are also concerned that there may be further insurrection planned at the Capitol building complex–so much so that the House is shifting its work schedule and the National Guard will remain in place for the next two months.

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Golden Trump Statue Turning Heads At CPAC Was Made In … Mexico
  2. Daily Kos – The Nazi Stage At CPAC Is The Odal Rune
  3. CNN – Fact Checking CPAC: Speakers Make False Claims About The Election, The Capitol Attack, Immigration, Covid, And The Muppets
  4. Reuters – Trump Targets Disloyal Republicans, Repeats Election Lies And Hints At 2024 Run
  5. Associated Press – Police uncover ‘possible plot’ by militia to breach Capitol
  6. Politico – House scraps work schedule amid security threat

Confirmation Tango (Again). This was quite a week for Senate confirmation process. Early in the week, Tom Vilsack was confirmed again for a reprise of his role as Secretary of Agriculture; shortly after, Jennifer Granholm was confirmed as Secretary of Energy. Meanwhile, Xavier Becerra began his hearing for Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Deb Haaland began hers for Secretary of Interior. Voting on Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget got postponed amid growing opposition and eventually her candidacy was withdrawn. Merrick Garland advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee after several days of hearing; he will face a floor vote early next week. Finally, Miguel Cardona was confirmed as Secretary of Education.

 

Key links: 

  1. Washington Post – Tom Vilsack Confirmed For A Second Stint As Agriculture Secretary With Strong Republican Support
  2. The Hill – Senate Confirms Former Michigan Governor Granholm As Energy Secretary
  3. NBC – Biden Health Secretary Pick Xavier Becerra Faces Contentious Senate Hearings
  4. The Hill – Haaland Courts Moderates During Tense Confirmation Hearing
  5. Politico – Bipartisan Escape Hatch Emerges As Tanden Totters
  6. CBS – Merrick Garland Assures Senators He’s “Not The President’s Lawyer” In Hearing To Lead Justice Department

Post Office Updates. In more positive news, President Biden nominated three people to the U.S.P.S. Board of Governors, several of whom are uniquely qualified for the role. The move comes as Postmaster General Dejoy faces questioning about mail delays and other systemic issues, which is an edifying juxtaposition as well as a hopeful sign.

 

Key links: 

  1. Washington Post – Biden Nominates Three To USPS Board Of Governors As DeJoy Testifies On Mail Crises
  2. New York Times – Biden Seeks More Control Over Postal Service With New Appointments
  3. Washington Post – Biden administration is supplying emergency generators to Texas, White House says
  4. Texas Mutual Aid Directory
  5. Vanity Fair – Ted Cruz Blames Cancún Getaway On His Daughters

Recent Resilience

Recent State Resilience. We did see a smattering of positive state news from various places this week. New Jersey decriminalized marijuana, making it the fourteenth state in the country to adopt such regulations. A federal judge protected California’s net neutrality law, which clears the way for the state to begin implementing it in the near future. And the Manhattan District Attorney now officially has Trump’s tax returns, which will hopefully result in criminal charges further down the line.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Marijuana Is Legal In New Jersey, But Sales Are Months Away
  2. Washington Post – Net Neutrality Law To Take Effect In California After Judge Deals Blow To Telecom Industry
  3. Washington Post – Trump’s Tax Returns Have Been Turned Over To Manhattan District Attorney

Things to Watch

Congressional Updates.  Democrats continue to fight about the $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9T stimulus package after the package itself passed in the House on Friday by a mere seven votes.  The Senate parliamentarian has decided that it cannot be included in the Senate version for procedural reasons, and in a move to keep the Democrats united enough to pass something, President Biden also limited who qualifies for the stimulus.  House Democrats also passed several other forms of promising legislation: 1) The Equality Act, which is an LGBT protections bill that was first passed by the House in 2019; 2) The For the People Act, which is a very comprehensive voting rights act bill; and 3) The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a policing overhaul bill first passed in 2020.
Key links:

  1. The Hill – Democrats In Standoff Over $15 Minimum Wage
  2. NPR – Senate Can’t Vote On $15 Minimum Wage, Parliamentarian Rules
  3. Washington Post – House Democrats pass sweeping elections bill as GOP legislatures push to restrict voting
  4. New York Times – House Passes Sweeping Gay And Transgender Equality Legislation
  5. NPR – House Approves Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd

State of the COVID-19. As mentioned above, the House passed the $1.9T COVID relief package, though it has already seen some changes on its way through the senate.  Additionally, early studies of vaccination in the U.K. and Israel, two countries with a high per capita vaccination rate, are showing that hospitalizations drop dramatically as vaccinated populations rise.  Here in the United States, the CDC is recommending the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccination, which could be implemented as soon as this week–though its use may have health equity implications, as it’s slightly less effective than the dual-dose vaccines.  Speaking of health equity, Texas was also in the news for denying vaccination to undocumented populations and ending its mask mandate in the same week, both of which are counter to public health common sense.  We also saw a slowing of case drops nationally, and both New York and California are reporting new variants.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Vaccines Sharply Cut Coronavirus Hospitalization, U.K. Studies Show
  2. CNBC – FDA Panel Unanimously Recommends Third Covid Vaccine As J&J Wins Key Vote In Path To Emergency Use
  3. Washington Post – Texas Vaccination Site Turned Away Undocumented Immigrants Over Their Status, Against State Policy
  4. Politico – Texas, Mississippi to lift mask mandates, let all businesses reopen at full capacity
  5. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count

Dismantling the Deportation Machine? The administration did reverse several Trump-era policies which froze immigration visas and blamed it on the pandemic. Additionally, the administration announced it will permit families separated under the Zero Tolerance policy to reunite in the United States, and is converting family detention centers back into 72-hour processing facilities per their original legal purpose. But it also reopened tent city facilities where the Trump administration housed unaccompanied minors, which may be illegal under the Flores settlement agreement and definitely isn’t a best practice. This move was also compounded by another injunction on the 100-day deportation ban. All told, not a great week on the immigration front, but I’m hoping we’ll see more progress in the near future.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Biden Reopens Gateway For Green Cards Reversing Trump COVID-19 Freeze
  2. NBC- Biden Administration Will Let Migrant Families Separated Under Trump Reunite Inside U.S.
  3. Politico – Biden To Allow Migrant Families Separated Under Trump To Reunite In The U.S.
  4. Politico – Federal Judge Deals Biden Another Blow On 100-day Deportation Ban

Actions for Everyone

Maybe it’s the Women’s History Month, or perhaps the Mardi Gras in me, but this week’s issue is about stuff that’s stigmatized but needs to be normalized, and furthermore, needs infrastructural support from our society and government.

Decriminalize Sex Work: The pandemic has damaged so many industries, and the unemployment rate is climbing again, but can you imagine an industry more effected than sex work? Sex work is work. It’s up close and personal, and if in person and not virtual, it’s really dangerous in a pandemic. The odds are already stacked against the industry because paying for sex is illegal in the United States, and so, there are few safety standards for sex workers. On top of that, there is a virtual crack down on sex worker’s rights.

What can you do to further this conversation into action during this pandemic, so that when it’s safe for people to be close, we can have a safer sex work industry? Read up on Open Society’s 10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work, check out the International Union of Sex Workers, contact your elected officials calling for an end to criminal prosecution of sex work.

Women’s History Month: Yo! International Women’s Day is Monday, March 8th. It has a storied history with the labor movement, and the suffrage movement. In 1917, an International Women’s Day March became revolutionary as the crowds in St. Petersburg marched to the Czar’s palace and sparked the Russian Revolution (there’s a lot more to that obvs, but also that really happened).

I’m co-facilitating an effort called #PortraitsOfFemme, which you can follow on social media. I also love She Shreds all the time, but especially during Black History Month and Women’s History Month as they share edu-taining music history.

What are you doing to uplift and celebrate women this month? Whatever it is, make sure it’s intersectional. Trans women are women, thems can be femmes, and you can and should still celebrate this month while not excluding or harming others. The women’s rights movement has a past (and present, remember those pink pussy hats?) of white supremacy and transphobia. So, please celebrate joyously and inclusively this Women’s History Month.

End ICE: The Biden Administration is making strides toward undoing the predecessor’s violent policies, but real talk, Immigration and Customs Enforcement still has a long way to go – reformation unto dismantling. Here are some of the more recent changes as of a few days ago. We have to keep putting pressure on a centrist administration to end ICE. Here are a few organization doing just that:

This week, take a look at one or more of these groups, and decide how to get involved. Join a newsletter? Donate? Making phone calls? Dealers choice, but we’ve got to put pressure on if we want to see progress.

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 #185, 2021 Week 8

 
 

Hey everyone,

Want to know what is going on? 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

 

Between the impeachment conclusion and the crisis in Texas, we’re really getting a front-row seat to just how busted our government still currently is.  There’s a lot to unpack, and we need to be talking about next steps from here as well.  As always, we’ll have suggestions for actions below

 

Events to Know

Confusing Impeachment Conclusion. Against the general impeachment backdrop, Saturday was a confusing and disappointing day. Based on potential testimony from a Republican lawmaker–one of several eyewitnesses who could potentially have testified–the Senate voted to call witnesses by a 55-45 vote. But later that day, the impeachment managers made the baffling decision to skip witness testimony even though it had been cleared by the Senate. Ultimately, the Senate voted 57-43 in favor of Trump’s guilt, which was not enough votes to reach a constitutional conviction. It’s worth noting that this was nonetheless the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history, because these numbers include seven Republican senators as well as all 50 Democrats–Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA) and Patrick J. Toomey (PA) all voted to convict. Adding to the chaos, Mitch McConnell gave an elaborate speech about how incredibly guilty Trump was right after voting to acquit him, saying that the trial was unconstitutional once Trump had stepped down even though McConnell was the one who delayed the trial

 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Senate Vote To Call Witnesses Temporarily Throws Trial Into Uncertainty
     
  2. Washington Post – Late-night Talks And A Moment Of Chaos: Inside The Democrats’ Eleventh-hour Decision To Forgo Impeachment Witnesses
     
  3. NBC – Feb. 13 Highlights: Trump Acquitted In Senate Impeachment Trial For Second Time
     
  4. NPR – Trump Acquitted, Denounced In Historic Impeachment Trial

 

Dismantling the Deportation Machine (cont). We did see a bit more movement on this front in the past week, as President Biden officially rescinded the emergency order that authorized building a wall at the U.S. southern border. It’s a continuation of earlier efforts to halt construction, and though it’s certainly not comprehensive on its own, it’s another piece of rebuilding a responsible and humanitarian immigration policy. He also sponsored an immigration bill in Congress that facilitates family-based immigration and creates new pathways to citizenship. Many advocates (including myself) think that the proposed changes fall short of protecting immigrant health during the pandemic, but it is hopefully the beginning of a much longer conversation.

 

Key links: 

  1. The Hill – Biden Terminates Trump Emergency Order Used To Construct Border Wall
     
  2. Associated Press – Biden Halts Border Wall Building After Trump’s Final Surge
     
  3. NBC News – Democrats introduce an immigration overhaul bill. Here’s what would change.
     
  4. NILC – National Immigration Law Center Responds to Introduction of U.S. Citizenship Act

 

Crisis in Texas As an unprecedented cold snap swept through the middle of the country this week, physical and political conditions in Texas created cascading failures in public utilities. On Monday, millions of homes lost power and heat throughout the state, and over 100,000 households across Texas are still without power as I type this on Friday afternoon.  Meanwhile, millions of homes went under boil water notice as pipes began having issues as well–and several of those homes had no power with which to boil their water.  At this point, several people have died due to the extreme conditions.  President Biden declared a state of emergency earlier in the week, mobilizing FEMA and sending emergency generators as well.  Mutual aid has been providing a lot of support in the short-term, and several politicians and public figures are fundraising to help.  Note, however, that this group of politicians does not include Ted Cruz, who instead fled to Cancun and threw his daughters and his dog under the bus on his way there.

 

Key links: 

  1. Houston Chronicle – What went wrong with the Texas power grid?
     
  2. Axios – The status and politics of the Texas power crisis
     
  3. CBS News – Live Updates: Texans face drinking water shortage as power grid returns to normal
     
  4. Washington Post – Biden administration is supplying emergency generators to Texas, White House says
     
  5. Texas Mutual Aid Directory
     
  6. Vanity Fair – Ted Cruz Blames Cancún Getaway On His Daughters

 

Recent Resilience

Vaccination and Transmission News. Just like last week, case, death, and hospitalization rates have all been going down at the national level as well as worldwide. That said, testing rates are also going down, so the drop may be more modest than it looks, and we also need another week to see if Superbowl Sunday created any superspreader events. But even if these gains are modest, President Biden has indicated that he has secured more vaccination doses and the country has enough to vaccinate 300 million people by July.  

 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Four Reasons Experts Say Coronavirus Cases Are Dropping In The United States
     
  2. New York Times – Superspreader Sunday?
     
  3. Washington Post – Biden Says U.S. Will Have Enough Vaccine For 300 Million People By End Of July

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   COVID was a mixed bag for another week.  Several states had embarrassing management moments, as Governor Cuomo’s aide admitted that New York hid nursing home data and Massachusetts landed in the news for accidentally incentivizing elder-bribing for vaccine access.  Meanwhile, new research suggests that the virus may mutate more in patients with autoimmune deficiencies, suggesting that vaccination for these individuals should be a high priority.  The World Health Organization concluded that it was unlikely COVID came from a lab leak in Wuhan, which hopefully will help decrease attacks on Asian-Americans that have been spiking in recent weeks.  The CDC has issued new guidance for safety protocols during schools’ reopen processes, as debates about how much to reopen schools rage on.  And a new CDC study suggests that masks can be made more effective by creating a closer seal, either by wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask or by improving a cloth mask’s fit
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Cuomo Aide Melissa Derosa Admits They Hid Nursing Home Data So Feds Wouldn’t Find Out
     
  2. Masslive – How Some Seek To Take Advantage Of The New Massachusetts Policy Allowing Companions Of Seniors To Get The Covid Vaccine
     
  3. NPR – Extraordinary Patient Offers Surprising Clues To Origins Of Coronavirus Variants
     
  4. CNBC – Who Says Covid ‘Most Likely’ Originated In Animals And Spread To Humans, Dismisses Lab Leak Theory

 

Impeachment Aftermath. News broke this week that Georgia is criminally investigating Trump because of his election interference.  Not coincidentally, when the impeachment process created a very clear account of January 6, the House chair of Homeland Security immediately brought a civil suit against Trump for his role in the insurrection.  It’s not yet clear whether these materials will also be used to criminally charge Trump for his role in the insurrection, but it’s certainly a strong possibility–especially because President Biden has signaled that he would be open to creating a commission to investigate.  We need to keep watching this space, and it might not be a bad idea to call your rep about criminal charges.

 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Inquiry Into Trump’s Efforts To Subvert Election
     
  2. CNN – Leading House Democrat Sues Donald Trump Under A Post-Civil War Law For Conspiracy To Incite Us Capitol Riot
     
  3. Washington Post – Once Impeachment Is Over, The Threat To Trump Shifts To Real Courtrooms
     
  4. NBC – Pelosi Calls For ‘9/11-type’ Commission On Capitol Attack

Other Congressional Updates.  Though Congress went on recess this week, we did see some movement worth noting.  Bernie Sanders signaled that he’s trying to preserve the $15 minimum wage provision in the stimulus bill, and House Democrats have been working to finalize a version of said bill, which might be ready as soon as next week.  Meanwhile, Democrats are urging President Biden to replace the USPS board of governors, or at least get rid of malicious disaster man Louis DeJoy.  And several lawmakers introduced a bill to address Black maternal health, which is an issue gaining increasing attention as racial health inequities take center stage due to the pandemic. 

 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – CBO Report Finds $15 Minimum Wage Would Cost Jobs But Lower Poverty Levels
     
  2. New York Times – Where $10k Per American In Covid Relief Has Gone, And What Might Come Next
     
  3. Independent – ‘A Disaster’: Biden Urged To Replace Entire Usps Board As Dejoy Plans Slower Mail And Postage Hikes
     
  4. The Hill – Black Maternal Health Omnibus Package Introduced By Democratic Lawmakers
 

Actions for Everyone

The President came to Milwaukee on Wednesday for a Town Hall, and it got me thinking, with a platform like the Presidency, not only do you get the highest level of decision making powers – see “17 executive orders in the first afternoon in office” – but you also get to shape the kind of discussion happening in the country. Centrism just isn’t cutting it folks, and honestly it’s a shame to see such an opportunity to expand the spectrum of dialogue go to waste. Anyway, here are some things that are more in your control than the Biden Administration. 

 

 

Help Texas: It’s been in the news so much lately. Between Ted Cruz being the worst,  #Texit, and that pro-Trump governor who is currently lying and saying the emergency in Texas is being caused by solar energy, it has been bad down there but now it’s worse. The storms that have been crossing the nation, hit Texas hard and the Texas power grid (why does it have its own power grid) these storms have knocked out power for days.

 

It is urgent that we support community driven efforts to help Texans get clean water and warm places to stay. Here are some Venmo’s that you can send money to:

 

@austinmutualaidhotels

@feedthepeopledallas

@mutualaidhou

@dawaheals

 

There are several other ways to help listed here. 

 

 

Plan Your Garden: Did you know you can start dreaming of your garden, NOW? Even though it’s very, very much still Winter it’s not too early to order seeds and plan future food! I always look to Seed Savers first, but there are many organic heirloom companies you can visit. 

As you’re planning, which I do on 8.5 x 11 paper with a pencil, make sure you’re thinking of companion planning, https://www.farmersalmanac.com/companion-planting-guide. Companion planting helps to make sure your plants and your soil stay healthy. While you’re planning, listen to Erykah Badu’s, “Green Eyes.”

 

Do Primary Elections: It’s happening. There IS a world post the presidential election and the time is nigh. Wisconsin just saw its first primary election of the new administration, so this is just a reminder that there will be a Spring election. Have you moved since November? Re-register. Can you request an absentee ballot for the rest of 2021? Do it. 

 

Also, can we all take a page from the Stacey Abrams book by supporting and promoting all the organizing of people doing GOTV work around Spring elections – in a lot of ways, these more local elections will affect you much more directly than the presidential ones. Also, start thinking about who you want to see running for elected positions in two years and/or four years and start supporting them now!

 

 
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 #184, 2021 Week 7

Hey everyone,

Trying to keep up? 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 second impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump occurred this week, and it’s pretty stunning just how stark they are.  If you haven’t yet watched the opening video introduced by the impeachment managers–which shows a lot of new footage from January 6–the video does a great job of summing up how we got here and what we’re discussing.  The rest is window dressing.

Events to Know

Impeachment Update.  Needless to say, the biggest story of the bunch is the impeachment trial that started on Tuesday and likely will conclude on Saturday. The process technically began with an entire day’s debate about whether the whole thing was constitutional before the Senate deciding that it was by 56-44 vote. The impeachment managers’ arguments, as previously mentioned, kicked off with truly stunning riot footage and continued with the notion that Trump’s speeches were singularly responsible for the insurrection attempt. They then concluded on Thursday by noting the horrifying standard of Presidential misconduct created if Trump is not convicted. In contrast, Trump’s lawyers took a hot minute on Friday to reprise a truly impressive array of nonsense defenses from their 78-page brief–everything from claiming incitement is free speech (spoiler: it isn’t) to claiming the Senate doesn’t have constitutional authority to hold a trial (spoiler: it does).  And in a striking and unusual open letter, over 370 Congressional aides described the attack on their workplace that led to the impeachment charges and asked Senators to convict Trump so that he could never hold office again.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Senate Sets Stage For Rapid Trump Impeachment Trial
  2. Associated Press – Trump Trial Gets Go-ahead After Emotional, Graphic First Day
  3. Politico – Impeachment managers unveil dramatic footage of Capitol attack
  4. NPR – Impeachment Managers Argue Trump Is ‘Singularly Responsible’ For Capitol Attack
  5. New York Times – Trump’s team concludes incendiary defense, seeking to rewrite the narrative of his actions on Jan. 6.

MTG Tapped Out. The past couple of weeks have involved a lot of discussion of resident QAnon Congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene, largely because people spent a lot of time arguing that she shouldn’t get to sit in Congress after supporting death threats to the current Speaker when there was a credible threat to the Speaker’s life only a few weeks ago. QAnon Congressperson was also in the news this week for, among other things, calling Cori Bush and the Black Lives Matter movement terrorists and saying fires in California were caused by Jewish space lasers. (I feel like this is a good time to remind people that Violent QAnon Lady comes from a state that created its own KKK movement and also hosted the most famous lynching of a Jewish person in American history, so, y’know, probably not a coincidence that those fictional lasers were Jewish.) House Democrats warned that they were planning to bring the issue to the House floor if the GOP minority leader didn’t remove QAnon Lady Marjorie Taylor Greene from several committees.  As the week dragged on, despite significant pressure on the issue and some choice words from Mitch McConnell, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy proved unwilling to censure her.  So as was foretold by prophecy, the House put it to a vote.  Greene ended up removed from her committee appointments by a 230-199 vote, with 11 fellow Republicans voting to remove her.

 

Key links: 

  1. Politico – Rep. Jimmy Gomez Drafts Resolution To Oust Marjorie Taylor Greene From Congress
  2. CNN- Marjorie Taylor Greene Indicated Support For Executing Prominent Democrats In 2018 And 2019 Before Running For Congress
  3. Media Matters – Marjorie Taylor Greene Penned Conspiracy Theory That A Laser Beam From Space Started Deadly 2018 California Wildfire
  4. CNN – House Republicans Weigh Stripping Greene From Committee Assignments As Gop Senators Repudiate Her Views
  5. CNBC – House Votes To Strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Of Committee Assignments

Confirmation Tango (Reprise). We saw a few more noteworthy confirmations this week. Notably, Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as the first-ever Latino Secretary of Homeland Security, and it will be interesting to see what he has planned for immigration policy. Meanwhile, Mayo Pete Buttigieg was confirmed as the first openly-gay Secretary of Transportation, and though I’m still not clear on how leading South Bend made him qualified for this, he’ll probably still be better than Elaine Chao. Buttigieg and Mayorkas join Antony Blinken, who was confirmed as Secretary of State the previous week.

 

Key links: 

  1. NPR – Senate Makes Alejandro Mayorkas First Latino Head Of Homeland Security
  2. Washington Post – From Mayor Pete To Secretary Buttigieg: Appearances Hint At Expansive Role For Next Transportation Chief
  3. Associated Press – Senate Confirms Antony Blinken As 71st Secretary Of State

Recent Resilience

Vaccination and Transmission News.  Not all of this week’s COVID news is bad, and some of it is pretty promising.  As I mentioned above, case, death, and hospitalization rates have been going down at the national level.  Early studies suggest the Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine is about 67% effective, which is about on par with the Johnson and Johnson findings–and incidentally, Johnson and Johnson is now seeking FDA approval, which means we might soon have a single-dose vaccine.  In the meantime, Moderna is working with the Biden administration to increase vaccine access at pharmacies. Additionally, a new study suggests that recovered COVID patients are likely protected for at least six months after infection.

Key links:

  1. Guardian – Single Dose Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Could Cut Transmission By 67%
  2. Guardian – Johnson & Johnson Asks FDA To Approve World’s First Single-dose Covid Vaccine
  3. NPR- Biden Administration Will Ship Covid-19 Vaccines Directly To Pharmacies
  4. Reuters – Recovered Covid Patients Likely Protected For At Least Six Months, Study Finds

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news has some silver linings this week, which I will talk more about below, but there were some low points as well. Testing is apparently declining, which is baffling experts, and the Supreme Court removed restrictions on indoor, in-person worship that were put in place due to severe outbreaks in California.  Experts are also concerned that the Super Bowl may create superspreader events, particularly in the hosting city of Tampa, which is particularly dispiriting when transmission rates had finally been going down nationally.  The first U.S. Congressperson has died of COVID infection.  And finally, the FDA is expected to release guidance on how to deal with new variants.  The move is particularly timely, as the U.K variant is spreading rapidly in the U.S. and South Africa just halted use of one of its vaccines because it did not work on the new local variant.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – As U.S. Vaccinations Ramp Up, Some Recipients Struggle To Secure A Second Dose
  2. Washington Post – Supreme Court Says California Worship Restrictions Violate Religious Rights
  3. CNN – To Safely Enjoy The Super Bowl, Watch At Home With People With Whom You Live, CDC Says
  4. Washington Post – Rep. Ron Wright Has Died After Battle With Covid-19
  5. Washington Post – FDA Will Propose Guidelines To Deal With New Variants
  6. Los Angeles Times – South Africa Suspends AstraZeneca Vaccine Drive After Study Shows Minimal Protection [against local variant]

Insurrection Attempt Updates.  There was a bit more news about insurrection charges this week. With the latest set of arrests, we’re now up to 198 people charged, and the charges remain very varied. The FBI is also alleging in its documents that the Proud Boys were trying to retaliate against police because they were angry about response to an earlier stabbing incident. It’s still an open question whether anyone will be charged with murder.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Arrested In Capitol Riot: Organized Militants And A Horde Of Radicals
  2. Washington Post – Proud Boys May Have Planned Capitol Breach To Retaliate Against Police For Member Stabbed At Earlier March, FBI Alleges
  3. New York Times – People Died At The Capitol. Will Rioters Be Charged With Murder?

Dismantling the Deportation Machine. I mentioned last week that I want to pay particular attention to how we’re mopping up in the aftermath of the Zero Tolerance policy, and we’ve had further updates on that. President Biden passed several more immigration executive orders on the topic last week, including one that created the anticipated task force to address family separation and two others that order studies of immigration processes. He’s expected to continue to make further changes to enforcement this week such as returning to priority enforcement, and we’re also rejoining the UN Human Rights Council. However, ICE deportations are continuing despite Biden’s order to stop them, and a few outlets noted that ICE contract agreements made by Trump may limit how much Biden can do in the short-term.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – A Visual Breakdown Of Biden’s Barrage Of Executive Actions In His First Weeks
  2. NBC – Biden Signs Immigration Executive Orders To Address ‘Moral Failing’ Of Trump’s Policies
  3. NBC – Biden Administration To Rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council In Another Reversal Of Trump
  4. Guardian – New Claims Of Migrant Abuse As ICE Defies Biden To Continue Deportations
  5. The Hill – ICE Union Contract Prompts Fear Of Resistance To Biden

Actions for Everyone

Things are slowly getting better. Around 10% of the population has now received at least 1 dose of the Covid vaccine. Our numbers are slowly going down. We all need each other to make it. Don’t forget to check on your loved ones, even if they seem ok.

Black History Month –  All of February is Black History Month and here are some nice ways you can still observe the month within pandemic restrictions.

CW: Suicide/Mental Illness

It’s February and my mind/body knows- For a lot of us, we’re currently going through winter and it’s R O U G H T. I thought it would be a good idea to make one of our actions this week to try to keep the winter blues at bay.

What can you do to help yourself fight Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Up your dose of Vitamin D! – Try to get as much sun as you can and if that’s hard for you, consider talking to your physician to see if you can start taking Vitamin D supplements.

Try to stay active! – It’s always natural to want to settle down a little more during the cold months but if you add Covid into the mix, lots of us are not going out or walking anywhere. Try to add some type of exercise; be it yoga, walking, dancing, stretching, doing some spring cleaning. Anything helps! Just try to move a little to help your brain.

Consider getting a SAD lamp- These lamps are made to mimic the sunrise and sunlight and will help you battle the sad away.

Reach out – 

Text 741741 for a free crisis text line

Call 1-800-662-HELP, the National helpline for substance abuse or emotional distress

Call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Go to Open Path Collective to find an accessible and affordable online therapist

The USPS is not out of the weeds yet – The USPS has been under attack for a while now, specially all throughout 2020 with the appointing of Trump follower Louis DeJoy and the campaigns of mistrust regarding the role of the postal service in the elections. Currently, DeJoy is trying to make the mail more expensive and also slower by installing new measures. The USPS is an extremely important institution and it must be protected.

Call your House representatives to voice your opinion against these attacks. There will be a House Oversight Committee hearing on February 24th.

Push on Biden to fill the seats left of the postal Board of Governors that could overturn the Postmaster General’s decisions and ultimately replace him.

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 #183, 2021 Week 6

Hey everyone,

Want to catch up on what’s happening? 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

You know how in D&D, Barbarians can do that thing where they rage super hard for like a billion years, and then when the immediate battle ends and they finally get to stop and catch their breath, they have to sleep off like seven levels of exhaustion? …yeah, I’m not saying the 46th inauguration is what made my household buy that ten-gallon coffee maker, but I’m not not saying that, either. (Don’t feel too bad if your adrenaline has dried up and you’re starting to crash; you’re in good company. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Events to Know

Executive Order Roll Call. Just like last week, there were a lot of additional executive orders this week, as Biden continues to roll out attempts to fix what Trump has broken. The first set was a set of racial equity orders, which included the end of private federal prison contracts and increased provisions against housing discrimination. Then came another round of climate change orders, mostly pertaining to halting oil and gas leases and conserving federal land and water. Next, he issued a set of healthcare-related orders, including reopening ACA enrollment and ending the antiabortion global gag rule.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Biden Orders DOJ To End Private Prison Contracts As Part Of Racial Equity Push
  2. CNN – Biden Aims For Comprehensive Climate Approach As He Halts New Oil And Gas Leases On Federal Land
  3. NBC – Biden Moves To Roll Back Trump Restrictions On Abortion, Obamacare

Bad Court Calls.  We saw some bad federal court calls this week, and I think we can expect a lot of that in the near future–though two branches of our government are righting themselves, the courts remain a total mess.  In Texas, a federal judge has already blocked President Biden’s order pausing immigration deportation, arguing that a one hundred day pause to sort out the previous administration’s horrorshow constituted a “threat of injury to Texas.”  (The injunction, thankfully, is only valid for two weeks.)  And on the SCOTUS end, emoluments cases that had been winding through the courts since 2017 were dismissed because SCOTUS declared them moot now that Trump is no longer President.  The SCOTUS decision is at least somewhat understandable, but hopefully will prompt legislative action on this issue.


Key links: 

  1. NPR – Federal Judge Blocks Biden’s 100-Day Deportation Moratorium
  2. New York Times – Supreme Court Ends Emoluments Suits Against Trump

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is, to put it charitably, all over the place this week.  There was some really bad news:  The highly-contagious South African and Brazilian strains have now both been detected in the U.S.; we learned more about the previous administration’s misappropriation of COVID funds; the polar vortex is reminding us that winter storms create new challenges for a refrigeration-sensitive vaccine; it’s increasingly obvious that Black Americans are not receiving the vaccine at rates congruent with their increased infection risk–or indeed, even at the rate consistent with their percentage within the overall population; and the CDC predicts we may see 514K deaths by the end of the month.  But there is some promising news as well: Overall cases have notably dropped nationally in the last week, for the first time all pandemic; the Biden administration believes they may be able to get 300 million Americans vaccinated by the end of the summer, as they have purchased an additional 200M doses; and two more vaccine trials have shown promising results, with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine requiring only a single administration.

 

Key links: 

  1. NPR – South Carolina Reports 1st Known U.S. Cases Of Variant From South Africa
  2. Washington Post – Millions Earmarked For Public Health Emergencies Were Used To Pay For Unrelated Projects, Inspector General Says
  3. Associated Press – Health Workers Stuck In Snow Give Other Drivers Vaccine
  4. Guardian – Black Americans Receiving Covid Vaccines At Lower Rates Than Whites
  5. The Hill – CDC Projects Us Could See Up To 514k Coronavirus Deaths By Feb. 20
  6. New York Times – The Biden Administration Nears A Deal For Enough Shots To Vaccinate 300 Million Americans By The End Of Summer.

Recent Resilience

Probable Actual Trump Charges.  In news that makes me happy in my schadenfreude place, a judge in New York has ordered the Trump Organization to hand over documents to the New York Attorney General as part of the latter’s ongoing fraud case.  It’s the latest of several orders in the ongoing case, but has the unique distinction of being the first order since Trump has stepped down.  In other words, it’s the first order where there’s no immunity argument to speak of, and I’m here for this development.

Key links:

  1. New York State – Legal Pressure On Trump Increases With Judge’s Order In Fraud Inquiry
  2. CNN – NY Judge Orders Trump Organization’s Tax Firm To Hand Over More Documents To State Attorney General

Things to Watch

Freedom from Free Elections.  We have seen a rash of new proposed state legislation designed to limit people’s ability to vote, which is a novel and terrible form of election rejection we should probably be tracking.  It’s disturbing to realize that 28 states–more than half the country–have responded to 2020 by trying to make voting harder, but it’s certainly very traditional.  Of particular horrific note is a bill in Arizona which would allow the legislature to simply throw out election results they didn’t like, which, uh, kind of defeats the entire point of free elections.  That said, I also think it’s worth tracking a bill in Georgia requiring two different copies of ID for absentee voting, since it appears to be a direct response to the recent special elections.
Key links:

  1. Brennan Center – Voting Laws Roundup 2021
  2. NBC – Arizona GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Give Legislature Power To Toss Out Election Results
  3. The Hill – Georgia State Gop Lawmaker Introduces Bill Requiring Two Copies Of ID To Vote Absentee

Impeachment Update.  Impeachment news continues despite the pause in the Senate, and the main news of the week is that Trump is the world’s worst client.  By halfway through the week he was down two impeachment lawyers, and by the time that I type this he’s down all five.  Apparently, lawyers don’t like it when you try to claim that election fraud is an actual defense to attempted insurrection–go figure.  Meanwhile, House rep Joaquin Castro was selected to manage the impeachment trial, but the Senate is reportedly considering other means of censure due to concern that they might not have the votes to convict.  And the House asked Trump to testify, but his attorneys made it clear that this wasn’t going to happen.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Trump’s Impeachment Defense Team Leaves Less Than Two Weeks Before Trial
  2. Dallas Morning News – ‘Solemn Duty’: San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro To Help Manage Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
  3. Washington Post – Democrats Consider One-week Impeachment Trial, Censure Resolution After GOP Signals Likely Acquittal Of Trump

Stimulus Package Plans.  After a week of back-and-forth about the proposed stimulus bill, we have some clarity about the path forward from here.  Now that the Senate rules standoff has ended, we fast-tracked to a stimulus vote by using budget reconciliation to move the bill forward without GOP cooperation.  The House’s version moved forward on Wednesday at President Biden’s urging, and the Senate advanced its own bill early Friday morning.  We’ll want to keep an eye on this in the coming week.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Democrats Turn To Quick Action On Biden Covid Relief Bill After Power-sharing Deal In Senate
  2. Wall Street Journal – Democrats See Path To Biden’s Covid-19 Relief Bill Without Gop Help
  3. NBC News – ‘We need to act fast’: Biden, Democrats move to speed up process to pass Covid relief package

Actions for Everyone

Happy Black History Month and also holy snow batman!

In Wisconsin, along Lake Michigan, I’ve been shoveling a LOT of snow. Imbolc was this week, which marks halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It feels great to be past the halfway point of all this shoveling. Now, excuse me while I find some yoga for shovelers and try to feel better.

Celebrate Black History Month: Black History begins January 1 and ends Dec 31 every year, but February is an annual month of recognition of Black History, aka American History. What are you doing this month?

If you don’t already have a practice of decolonizing your bookshelves, let this month inspire you to buy Black authors’ work from your local bookstores, or make sure your library card is active and check out Black authors’ work from your library. If you’re used to reading non-fiction, I challenge you to also find fiction, poetry, sci-fi, and check out your library’s film selection. I bought Sister Outsider on a strong recommendation by Cree Myles, who is someone you should follow on all the things. For that matter, if you don’t already go ahead and decolonize your podcasts, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

On February 1st, I starting Black History Month by tuning into America’s Black Holocaust Museum programming. If you haven’t already been to their website, check out all their digital content, donate, and know that someday soon, when it’s safe and right, they’ll open up their physical space, so get ready for a field trip. Feel free to write in with your Black History Month plans at activism@patrothfuss.com      

End Pipelines: I remember hearing an NPR interview a few weeks back explaining why the Keystone XL pipeline was a more environmentally friendly choice because Americans need oil and the KXL project would at least be carbon neutral. To me, that reasoning says “Sure, we’re content with the crumbs,” when really we want the whole, damn meal. Or deal, in the case of the Green New Deal.

The executive order signed on the first day of the Biden administration showed us a strong stance against the ancient art of resource depletion, however there’s still a big pipeline project underway we need to get involved in.

Line 3, a pipeline expansion to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. A local resistance has been active since 2014, but they need our help! Take a look at their Take Action page to learn about ways that you can get involved – including divesting from allll the banks that fund this project and many others.

Believe Survivors (CW Sexual Assault):  Did you all catch that 90 min IG live that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made this week? Maybe you did because it got 5.6 million views. I’m blown away that in today’s day and age, there is a politician out there that can keep my focused attention for 90 whole minutes, but AOC does. I watched every minute of it. She shared her own account of January 6th with us, and made mention several times that her story is not the central story of what Jan 6th means to our country, but is her story which is important to remember so we don’t forget it, and so we don’t let the Republicans who are claiming it’s time to move on forget it.

Early on in the video, she shares that part of why what happened on Jan 6th was traumatic for her was that she is a survivor of sexual assault, and trauma often compounds on itself. She goes on to say that she hasn’t told many people because she’s been afraid of not being believed. I’d like to reiterate, specifically because AOC did several times, that her story is not the central story to what an insurrection against our democracy means, but I also want to highlight that whether people want to fact check her video or not, we know that every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, so I believe survivors.

I want to share resources that we’ve written about in the past, but are as important and relevant as ever. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN have help lines, statistics, ways to get involved, and are important resources to know about whether you are a survivor or not.

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 #182, 2021 Week 5

Hey everyone,

News seems to finally be on an upward trend. Ready to be involved or just plain keep up? 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

Welcome back, dear readers!  We’ve had a traditional, liberal politician step up to the Presidential plate, and his first few moves have been encouraging.  Things are looking up, and we’re all so tired. The temptation is great to write the last four years off as a fever dream and go back to sleep.  But here’s the thing: As much as we may want to claim otherwise, the last four years happened, and the groundwork for them has been building for at least a decade.  White supremacy is not gone, and 45’s followers are not gone, and frankly, some of them are still in Congress. We lost four hundred thousand Americans to a pandemic that is far from over.  Please don’t hit that snooze button; there is so much to do!

Events to Know

Yet Another Election Plot. Incredibly, we somehow have news of yet another incredibly corrupt election-related plot this week, because the Trump administration specialized in packing scandals into clown cars for four years straight. Before he left office, Trump apparently considered a plan to oust his acting Attorney General so that a new replacement AG could force Georgia to overturn their election results by suing them in the Supreme Court. (I don’t mind telling you, I really hoped his departure from office would mark the end of typing sentences like this.) The Inspector General is now investigating this matter at Senator Schumer’s request, so we may see more news trickle out. Ideally, we will also see consequences.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General
  2. Wall Street Journal – Trump Pressed Justice Department to Go Directly to Supreme Court to Overturn Election Results
  3. The Hill – Schumer Calls For DOJ Watchdog To Probe Alleged Trump Effort To Oust Acting AG

Electoral Dysfunction.  Almost as soon as the three newest Senators were sworn in, the new Senate started having issues.  Though Mitch McConnell clearly has no lost love for Trump, he immediately started fighting new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on arrangements for operating rules, saying he wouldn’t agree to anything until Schumer promised not to touch the filibuster via “nuclear option.”  McConnell wanted this promise because, if they agreed, it would make it virtually impossible to pass any legislation in a 50-50 split Senate.  (I should note that this is a particularly bad-faith request because the most recent person to use a nuclear option was Mitch McConnell in 2017, in order to push forward Neil Gorsuch with only 51 votes.  So he was literally saying that nobody can do anything until Schumer promises not to do something that McConnell himself just did.)  He eventually relented on this demand when it became clear that at least two centrists might not go for the nuclear option anyway, but it was an exhausting few days. Republicans also made it a point to use the newfound functional process to force a vote on whether the impeachment trial should go forward–and five GOP Senators crossed the aisle, so it is indeed moving forward on a 55-45 vote. 

Key links: 

  1. Daily Kos – McConnell’s Obstruction Of Biden’s Agenda Has Already Begun
  2. NPR – McConnell Relents On Senate Filibuster Stalemate
  3. Associated Press –  GOP Largely Sides Against Holding Trump Impeachment Trial

Confirmation Tango.  Despite the issues outlined above, the Senate did manage to confirm several of Biden’s appointments over the past week. On the national security front, Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for head of national intelligence, Avril Haines, was confirmed on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.  Similarly, his pick for Secretary of Defense, retired general Lloyd Austin, was confirmed on Friday in an even more bipartisan vote.  Monday evening, his pick for Secretary of Treasury, former Fed chair Janet Yellen, was confirmed as well.  And on Tuesday evening, Antony Blinken was confirmed as Secretary of State. 

Key links: 

  1. New York Times – Biden Kicks Off Term With Executive Orders and Prime-Time Celebration
  2. US News – Lloyd Austin Confirmed as Biden’s Secretary of Defense
  3. CNN – Janet Yellen Is Confirmed As The First Female Treasury Secretary In US History
  4. Politico – Blinken Confirmed As Secretary Of State

Recent Resilience

And We’re Off! The Biden administration has been truly remarkable in immediately tackling policy abuses from basically their first moment in office, and I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been pretty pleased with many of their priorities. At the time that I type this on Tuesday evening, there have already been about 35 Presidential proclamations designed to undo or fix Trump-era abuses on a myriad of issues–everything from new COVID protections to additional nutritional and economic supports to fixing the census to countering workplace discriminations to acknowledging climate change to ending military enrollment discrimination to extending environmental protections to creating immigration supports to creating federal employment protections to extending eviction and loan moratoriums. There is a strong emphasis on equity as well as science, and this must have involved a great deal of planning.  In addition, President Biden has been cleaning house internally, giving several Trump political appointees a chance to resign and firing some that didn’t exercise that option. The White House also immediately resumed daily press conferences, which will include daily ASL interpreters. It’s a truly impressive amount of work in a one-week period, and a good start for undoing what will likely be a staggering amount of broken government.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Biden’s 17 Executive Orders And Other Directives In Detail
  2. NPR – On Day 2, Biden Focuses On Covid-19 Strategy With 10 Executive Actions
  3. Washington Post – Biden Is Firing Some Top Trump Holdovers, But In Some Cases, His Hands May Be Tied
  4. New York Times – Biden Seeks To Define His Presidency By An Early Emphasis On Equity
  5. NBC – Biden Puts The ‘Daily’ Back Into The Administration’s Intelligence Briefings
  6. NPR – White House Enlists Asl Interpreters For Daily Press Briefings

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   President Biden has passed several different executive orders regarding the COVID crisis, but he has inherited quite a mess, and he cautions that nothing will change the trajectory of the pandemic over the next several months. He also has limited travel to the U.S. in an attempt to keep ahead of a new strain in South Africa which has not yet been detected in the U.S and a strain in Brazil that has.  There are, however, some moderate silver linings; cases are declining by a modest amount as I type this, and studies suggest that existing vaccines will likely at least partially protect against the more contagious UK variant.  (Several companies are beginning work on developing further vaccines for the South American variant.)  This news comes as pharmaceutical company Merck announces it will focus on therapies instead of finalizing its own attempt at a vaccine.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Biden Says Nothing Can Change The Trajectory Of The Covid Pandemic Over The Next Several Months
  2. The Hill – Biden Keeps Covid-19 Travel Restrictions For Europe And Brazil, Adds South Africa
  3. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  4. Barron’s – New Covid-19 Strains May Make Vaccines Less Effective, Fauci Warns
  5. STAT – In A Major Setback, Merck To Stop Developing Its Two Covid-19 Vaccines And Focus On Therapies

Impeachment Update.   We also saw more developments on the impeachment front.  Nancy Pelosi formally delivered the article of impeachment over to the Senate on Monday, but the Senate has agreed to put off the trial until February 8th to focus on other preliminary matters.  (Of course, the Senate already has its own problems, as we discussed above.)  Both sides are lining up their representation now, though, so we might see a bit more news on this in the intervening couple of weeks.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Trump Impeachment Trial To Begin Week Of Feb. 8
  2. New York Times – Divisions Harden In Senate As It Prepares To Receive Impeachment Article
  3. CBS – Meet The Impeachment Managers Who Will Argue Democrats’ Case Against Trump

Actions for Everyone

We’ve lived through the first week of the Biden-Harris administration and a lot of good changes have come forth already. The Muslim Travel Ban has been terminated, trans folks can serve in the military as they wish, the Keystone Pipeline is not happening, federal mask mandates, we’re back in the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization and more. It’s refreshing to see things going well for once. Let’s keep riding this high! The future looks already a tad brighter.

What should we paying attention to?

Impeachment Vote in the Senate: The Senate will be back to vote on the (second) impeachment of Donald Trump on the 9th of February. We have two weeks to get 17 more republican senators to vote in favor of impeachment. Even though Trump is no longer in office, impeachment sends a message and also stops Trump from running again in 2024.

Call your senators! ESPECIALLY if they are republicans. Let them know you want them to be in the right side of history.

Covid vaccine nationwide! – It truly feels good to be writing about vaccine roll outs. Most states are already vaccinating senior citizens and frontline workers. You can see in which stage your state is in by clicking on this handy New York Times article.

This past week, on January 27th, the world observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the world remembers the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Sadly, the echoes of extremism, nazism and white supremacy have become all too present in our country. What can we do?

Help organizations like:

Life After Hate – which focus on deprogramming people, specially young men, that have joined alt-right hate groups.

Free Radicals Project –  a global disengagement platform that aids individuals, and their families or communities, in exiting hateful and violence-based radicalization through non-aggressive, community-led methods of individual resiliency-building, reconnection, cross-cultural immersion, and making amends

And here are some :

Things That Made Me Smile!

The possibility of a cat living in the White House

This list of 50 things Biden has already made better

The existence of nudibranchs

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 #181, 2021 Week 4

Hey everyone,

Ready to see what the new administration does?  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

 Dear reader, I bet you will be shocked–just shocked–to learn that the final week of the Trump Administration was chockablock and much of it was twitch-worthy. Nonetheless, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the most venal and corrupt administration our country has ever seen is now officially over. That said, though the Trump administration is ending, the AN is not! We may do some restructuring as we adjust to the Biden administration, but one way or another, we’ll still be here. There’s too much to do to stop.

Events to Know

Further Updates from the Insurrection. Though a few of the immediate consequences for Trump underlings have been pretty funny–Pompeo canceling his EU trip because officials refused to meet with him and Trump telling his team not to pay Rudy Giuliani spring to mind–much of the new updates about the attempted insurrection are far less amusing. Early in the week, Rep Mikie Sherill asserted that GOP colleagues had given “reconnaissance” tours of the site the day before the attack, and over 30 Democrats are seeking an investigation into this matter. Those reports appear supported by a Stop the Steal organizer’s statement that he had the support of three reps in Congress as he planned. Eventually, CNN aired footage of Rep Steve Cohen accusing Rep Lauren Boebert of leading such a tour the day before the attack; though he did not have concrete proof beyond saying he had seen her lead a group, that proof might not exist because reps are not required to sign their guests in. Either way, many of the people who stormed the Capitol Building have proven to have good working knowledge of the building complex; a group apparently nearly made it to the Senate chamber while Mike Pence was still there before being diverted away by a lone police officer who made himself a target. Many of the insurrectionists are also very well-trained; several off-duty members of police forces and current or former members of the U.S. military have been identified as participants. All of this, of course, sets the stage for high concern about reports of repeat attacks in the week leading up to inauguration, which I’ll talk about more below.

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Luxembourg, EU Snub Pompeo In Final Europe Trip, Diplomats Say
  2. Politico – Dems Demand Details Of ‘Suspicious’ Capitol Visitors Day Before Attack
  3. CNN – Us Capitol Police Banned Building Tours On Day Of Riot After Democrats Raised Security Concerns
  4. CBS – Black Officer Seen Risking His Life To Lead Capitol Mob Away From Senate Chamber Hailed As A Hero
  5. Associated Press – Capitol Rioters Included Highly Trained Ex-military And Cops
  6. Cnet – FBI, DOJ Provide Update On Capitol Riot Arrests Amid Concern About Future Attacks

Last-Minute Pardons and Executions.  Three different federal executions were conducted in the past week, marking thirteen total federal executions in the past seven months after seventeen years without any executions at all. This would be monstrous enough to place as a priority during a pandemic, but the full context of these executions makes this particularly horrifying. Firstly, this is an incredibly high number for federal executions–in fact, a brief for one of the recent defendants notes it is more than three times the total for the past sixty years. But the part of this story that I consider most noteworthy is the fact that two of the three executions had been stayed by appeals courts, and were then summarily overturned by the Supreme Court this week. This news is bracketed by the developing story that Donald Trump has essentially been selling pardons, which contextualizes why he pardoned or commuted the sentences of over 140 more people before he left office on Wednesday, including former aide Steve Bannon— who was criminally charged for defrauding Trump’s own base. This kind of corruption seems pretty obvious on its face, but Margaret Love insightfully summarized the whole fetid ball of earwax by calling it “a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair.”

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Trump Administration Carries Out 13th And Final Execution
  2. SCOTUSblog – Reversing Several Lower Courts, Justices Allow Execution Of Lisa Montgomery
  3. New York Times – Prospect Of Pardons In Final Days Fuels Market To Buy Access To Trump

Inauguration Process.   As I mentioned last week, it remained a strange and scary time as we geared up for inauguration and officials remained vigilant, concerned about potential further attacks that ultimately, thankfully, did not materialize.  We limited public access to the Capitol grounds, and in fact, the National Mall was closed along with most major public bridges all week. The many National Guard troops stationed in the complex were vetted to prevent infiltration, and twelve people have been removed as a result.  There were also numerous checkpoints around the city, and one of them resulted in the arrest of a guy with 500 rounds of ammunition on Friday.  The Biden administration ended up moving many celebrations online to try to keep a festive atmosphere against this backdrop, but nonetheless had a poignant outdoor swearing-in ceremony despite the somber circumstances.  Main highlights include Youth National Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s reading of her phenomenal poem, “The Hill We Climb,” and the truly impressive number of memes about Bernie Sanders’s mittens.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Far-Right Groups Make Plans For Protests And Assaults Before And After Inauguration Da
  2. Associated Press – FBI Vetting Guard Troops In DC Amid Fears Of Insider Attack
  3. New York Times – A  Man With A Gun Arrested By Capitol Police At A Security Checkpoint Calls It An ‘Honest Mistake.’
  4. CNN – Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Drop A Playlist For Your Inauguration Watch Party
  5. Today – Amanda Gorman, 22, delivers powerful inaugural poem: ‘There is always light’
  6. NBC News – Biden sworn in as president, calls on Americans to ‘end this uncivil war’ of political division

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience. We had a few promising court moments this week.  In Pennsylvania, a federal judge ordered that a rightfully-elected state senator must be seated in the Senate, ending a multi-week standoff that echoed our Presidential spectacle.  And in New York, the Attorney General’s office is suing the NYPD for misconduct during the Floyd protests.

Key links:

  1. Philadelphia Inquirer – Federal judge rules in favor of Democratic Pa. Senate candidate GOP refused to seat
  2. Associated Press – NY attorney general sues NYPD over Floyd protest response

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   COVID news continues to be rough, but hopefully will shift over time.  Seven different House representatives have tested positive for COVID after being forced to shelter in place with colleagues who refused masks, prompting Democrats to seek $1000-per-day fines for mask infractions moving forward.  Meanwhile, news broke that this administration had completely exhausted its vaccine reserve, despite its announcement that it planned to expand access to said nonexistent reserve only a few days prior.  Needless to say, this has implications for President Biden’s vaccine distribution plans, and comes despite a lag in vaccine distribution generally over the last few weeks.  Officials are now recommending the vaccine be given to anyone over 65 in an effort to speed things up.  We also crossed the threshold of 400,000 deaths.  But there is more positive news as well; articles also started appearing about the vaccine’s excellent track record for preventing deaths–though it is not 100% effective against COVID infection, those inoculated near-uniformly experienced milder and non-lethal symptoms.  President Biden has also unveiled a comprehensive and aggressive set of Presidential orders that are designed to change the way the country handles the pandemic in several fundamental ways, and we will likely see impact from this over time.
Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Covid Fears Grow In Capitol As Three Lawmakers Test Positive
  2. Washington Post – Democrats Want To Fine Colleagues $1,000 A Day If They Refuse To Wear A Mask On Capitol Grounds
  3. Reuters – Trump Administration Accused Of Deception In Pledging Release Of Vaccine Stockpile
  4. NBC – In Push To Get More Vaccines Into Arms, Officials Recommend States Give To Anyone 65 And Up
  5. Science – ‘Absolutely Remarkable’: No One Who Got Moderna’s Vaccine In Trial Developed Severe Covid-19
  6. NPR – On Day 2, Biden Focuses On COVID-19 Strategy With 10 Executive Actions

Further Insurrection Consequences.  Unsurprisingly, given the information above, insurrection consequences continue on both criminal and non-criminal fronts. At this point, 117 people have been criminally charged, with charges ranging from simple trespass to sedition, and the first indictments have been issued as well. All told, officials are investigating over one hundred and seventy people. Countless people have given FBI tips about their own family members, disgusted by the destruction and multiple deaths caused by the mob. Meanwhile, various corporations have begun to pull their donations to the 147 members of Congress who appeared to support challenging Biden’s election win, which many people are taking as tacit support of the attempted coup itself. Trump himself, of course, continues to be banned from half the Internet and suffer a whole host of business consequences for his role in the storm of the Capitol building, including several contracts pulled by New York City itself. Now that he’s no longer protected from prosecutorial immunity, we are likely to see several forms of criminal consequences for him as well.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Justice Dept. Investigating Sedition And Conspiracy Charges And Any Terror Links To Violent Storming Of U.S. Capitol
  2. New York Times – Companies Pull Back Political Giving Following Capitol Violence
  3. New York Times –  An Urgent Reckoning For The Trump Brand
  4. NPR – House Impeaches Trump A 2nd Time, Citing Insurrection At U.S. Capitol

Shifting of Policy.  The Trump administration crammed a variety of last-minute policy changes through on the way out the door, piling onto the destructive policy that was a hallmark of the last four years. There have been a spree of final environmental rollbacks from the Department of Interior, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule permitting social service groups to discriminate based on orientation and gender identity. And the FDA and CDC finalized a rule that essentially imposes term limits on health experts and scientists, because forcing leading health experts out is definitely a reasonable and safe thing to do in the middle of a pandemic. However, the Biden administration has been immediately tackling these and so many other policy abuses from basically their first moment in office, and at the time that I type this on Friday evening there have already been about 30 Presidential proclamations designed to undo or fix Trump-era abuses on an extremely broad range of issues–everything from new COVID protections to additional nutritional supports and economic supports to countering workplace discriminations to acknowledging climate change to extending environmental protections to creating immigration supports to extending eviction and loan moratoriums. It’s a truly impressive amount of work in a 48-hour period, and we look forward to activism under this new administration.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In Trump’s Last Days, A Spree Of Environmental Rollbacks
  2. NBC – In ‘Nasty Parting Shot,’ HHS Finalizes Rule Axing LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections
  3. Politico – Trump Admin Races To Enact Term Limits For Top Health Scientists
  4. New York Times – Biden Seeks Quick Start With Executive Actions And Aggressive Legislation
  5. Washington Post – On his first day, Biden signs executive orders to reverse Trump’s policies

Actions for Everyone

Happy Inauguration Week! Feels better already, doesn’t it? All I have to say is:  Amanda Gorman. Amanda Gorman. Amanda Gorman. Also, I will no longer refer to the name Tr*mp, I will henceforth be calling him the predecessor. 

Beyond The Stoplight: If you’re a teacher, provide child care, or are a parent, you might want to look at Beyond The Stoplight – creating equitable and caring classrooms for children. Although January 6 was a few weeks ago, and much has happened since then, it was a traumatic event that hasn’t gone away for most Americans, including kiddos. It also seems inevitable that the insurrection will come up for weeks, months, years to come as we deal with the aftermath of the predecessor. Beyond the Stoplight has resources and language to talk with your classroom or kids about the attack on the Capitol and on Democracy.

Support Youth Arts Programs: In my opinion, the star of the inauguration was Amanda Gorman. Hands down. Her incredible poem made me feel hope for the first time in a while, and I’m not alone. She was able to paint a picture of today’s climate and somehow connect with each of us on a deeply personal level on how we imagine moving forward. If you haven’t already heard or read her poem, check out my website www.google.com  

So here’s the thing. While I am in literal awe of Ms. Gorman, there is talent like Amanda Gorman’s at high schools across this country that may not get recognized because they get written off as “low performing, urban youth” and/or their public school arts programs get cut because of budget cuts – maybe because 40-50% of city budgets goes to policing, but I digress. If we learned anything from Inauguration Day it has to be that the arts are as important in building a healthy democracy as any other field. So, an action I would LOVE you to make is to find a youth focused arts organization and give them your money and/or time. I’m really banking on your research to find a group near you, but I did a little search myself and found The Wallace Foundation whose mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.​

Celebrate Environmental Justice: I am cautiously optimistic about the Biden/Harris administration, but holy wow, cancelling the Keystone Pipeline within the first AFTERNOON in office feels like a great start. The argument for the pipeline is always “Americans rely on oil and natural gas, so you need these resources and the pipeline is the best way to get them to you,” but can we please agree to move away from this logic of dependency and use our imaginations to move toward an environmentally just future? In the long term, there is no alternative.

Have you all read The Green New Deal? Check it out. It’s short and shows the urgency of making moves like cancelling new pipeline builds.

In addition to showing us that environmental and social justice is important to the new administration, this is also a flex on the Big money in oil and natural gas. It shows us that there’s an agenda of economic equity here, too. Of course, there are people in the energy industry that are good, working class people, but there are also wealthy oil executives motivated by greed that drive destruction. I guess this action is to read The Green New Deal, and take steps in your life to be ready for a transition between our current energy system and the new one.

Also, just for good measure, look at all these other executive orders signed into action on Day One and please know that the predecessor only signed two executive orders on their first day in office.