Issue #153, 2020 Week 22

Hey everyone,

Not sure how to keep up. Let us help (or try to). 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

Somehow, this week managed to be even worse than the last one, because we’re all fielding multiple serious crises at once. I think one Twitter user put it pretty well: “I’m at the global pandemic. I’m at the civil unrest.  I’m at the combination global pandemic/civil unrest.”  (These are strange and difficult times, but as always, we’ll have suggestions for actions below.)

Events to Know

Government COVID Response. Before all eyes were on civil unrest, we did manage to see some really messed up COVID news. Trump kicked things off by banning noncitizen travel to and from Brazil, because as we all know the virus definitely cares whether you’re a U.S. citizen. He also started taking concrete steps to force the United States to leave the World Health Organization, though it’s unclear if he legally can.  Meanwhile, the WHO is pausing a global trial on hydroxychloroquine, both because prescription is contraindicated and because it doesn’t improve outcomes in people who test positive for COVID.  Meanwhile, Justice Roberts joined with his liberal colleagues on the Supreme Court to refuse to force governors to open churches during the pandemic, noting in his 5-4 opinion that it “seems quite improbable” that the situation merits the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief. (Kavanaugh, in contrast, wrote a tinfoil hat dissent literally claiming it was discrimination to close churches at all.) I’m glad the court came down on the correct side, just barely, but I find it unsettling that four justices wanted to force a governor to walk back restrictions on indoor gatherings during a pandemic.

Key links:

  1. CNN – White House Announces New Travel Restrictions On Brazil
  2. Vox – Trump Announced US Withdrawal From The WHO. It’s Unclear If He Can Do That.
  3. Politico – World Health Organization Pauses Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Global Trial
  4. New York Times – Supreme Court, In 5-4 Decision, Rejects Church’s Challenge To Shutdown Order

The Shifting Position of the Press. Historically, established press members have always been able to cover protests, and even riots, as necessary information sources for what is unfolding–press covered the Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, for example, and the Los Angeles riot of the early 1990s. Given this backdrop, it’s understandable that the sudden arrest of a CNN team in Minneapolis on Friday startled even the journalism team–in the associated video, the reporter can be heard asking “Why am I under arrest?” as he’s being cuffed mid-report in broad daylight. This was escalated dramatically and violently over the weekend, as police action against the press began to seem intentional and systemic. At the time that I type this, outlets have identified over two dozen incidents around the country: a reporter in Louisville lost her eye when police shot her in the face with a rubber bullet; journalism teams in Denver reported paint balls and tear gas used against them; a team in Detroit took pepper spray to the face while holding up their badges; a team in D.C. report physical assault; several teams in Minneapolis report police threw them to the ground or fired rubber bullets at them; teams in the larger LA area report rubber bullets and tear gas used as well. Many of these incidents occurred after the press had identified themselves, and many of them also have accompanying video. Though violence is part of the landscape right now, we need to pay particular attention to any state action that involves knowingly committing violence against the press, because it has major First Amendment implications.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Journalists Covering Protests Face Assault And Arrest
  2. Vox – “Directly At Us”: Louisville Law Enforcement Shoots Reporters With Pepper Bullets
  3. Reuters – Reuters Camera Crew Hit By Rubber Bullets As More Journalists Attacked At U.S. Protests
  4. Washington Post – ‘The Norms Have Broken Down’: Shock As Journalists Are Arrested, Injured By Police While Trying To Cover The Story

Other Election Oddities (Again).  It didn’t quite rise to the level of the other stories, but there was a lot of strange election news this week.  Joe Biden was in the news for saying Black voters who consider voting for Trump “ain’t Black,” which he of course later had to apologize for saying (though he apparently acquitted himself well in public appearances after the weekend’s riots).  Trump kept threatening to pull the RNC from Charlotte because they wanted literally any safety precautions, and then finally did pull the plug on that this week.  Several states and D.C. held freighted primaries in the middle of the week’s mess, with some curfews starting before polling places closed.  And Trump was also in the news for trying to register in Florida despite living in D.C., which is against Florida’s voting rules.

Key links:

  1. Business Insider – ‘I Should Not Have Been So Cavalier’: Joe Biden Apologizes For Saying Black Voters Deciding Between Him And Trump ‘Ain’t Black’
  2. Washington Post – Biden begins to map out ‘revolutionary’ agenda, reimagining his presidency amid national upheaval
  3. NPR – Tuesday’s Primaries: Races To Watch And Live Results
  4. New York Times  – Trump Threatens To Pull Republican National Convention From North Carolina

Recent Resilience

Recent Space Resilience.  This week did see the first successful space shuttle launch in nearly a decade, as the private company SpaceX had their first launch and rendezvoused with the International Space Shuttle on Sunday.  As one Twitter user put it, “Congratulations to the Astronauts that left Earth today.  Good choice.”

Key links:

  1. New York Times – SpaceX Lifts NASA Astronauts To Orbit, Launching New Era of Spaceflight

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We have officially surpassed 100,000 deaths in this country, and over 1.8 million cases have been reported.  Given this news, combined with high rate of asymptomatic infection and a country that is increasingly reopening, an effective method of contact tracing has become extremely important.  It’s particularly alarming that we’re also seeing news of businesses banning masks and government officials hiding COVID-positive test results.    WHO is warning about a second peak, but Disney World is reopening, and so is New York City–or at least, that was the plan before all the riots; I’m not sure if that changes anything.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. CNN – CDC Estimates That 35% Of Coronavirus Patients Don’t Have Symptoms
  3. Washington Post –  While U.S. Struggles To Roll Out Coronavirus Contact Tracing, Germany Has Been Doing It From The Start
  4. New York Times – New York City, Battered By Outbreak, Finally Moves Toward Reopening

Black Lives Still Matter in Minneapolis.  This was, frankly, a very bad week for civil rights of Black Americans.  The unrest started gaining steam in Minneapolis, where an unarmed man named George Floyd was choked to death by police, with videotape very clearly showing one officer’s knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.  Protests of the death resulted in even more deaths and mass arrests, and there were fatalities from Louisville protests as well.  The situation in Minneapolis continued to devolve as more and more awful details about Floyd’s death came out, police response became more brutal, and protesters began setting fires and damaging property.  The governor of Minnesota mobilized the National Guard, and the Pentagon put military police on standby.  Eventually the officer in question was arrested and charged with murder as we went into the weekend, and the other officers present were charged on Wednesday.
Key links:

  1. CNN – Prosecutors Do Not Announce Charges In George Floyd’s Death But Say ‘Justice Will Be Served’
  2. CBS – George Floyd’s Death Sparks Large Protests, Confrontations With Police
  3. CBS Local Minnesota – Former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin In Custody, Charged With Murder In George Floyd’s Death
  4. Washington Post – All 4 officers in the George Floyd case are now charged

Black Lives Still Matter Everywhere.  In response to news in Minneapolis, protests of all types continued to grow in over 140 cities all around the world.  Increasingly, police escalation and increased violence have been reported, as I noted above–everything from cruisers driving into crowds of protesters to rubber bullets and pepper spray to people being fatally shot.  Many cities now have curfews in place in an attempt to get things back under control, but it’s unclear whether that is working.  All of this was exacerbated by 45’s response, which has oscillated between bravado (inciting state officials to violence and threatening to declare antifa a terrorist organization) and utter cowardice (literally turning all the White House lights off so he could pretend no one is home).  On Monday, Trump indicated he would use military force in DC in a seeming invocation of the Insurrection Act.  He then immediately put his money where his mouth was by having military police use tear gas to disperse a completely peaceful protest, apparently so that he could have a photo op in front of a nearby damaged church.  This behavior was so egregious that his current Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, spoke out against the practice, though he ultimately caved to pressure and will implement the policy.  Another previous Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, spoke out against Trump’s protest militarization in general, rightfully saying, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – George Floyd Protest Turns Deadly; Minneapolis Mayor Requests National Guard
  2. The Guardian – George Floyd Protests: The US Cities That Became Hotspots Of Unrest
  3. NPR – Grief, Outrage Over George Floyd Spread Further
  4. Politico – Trump Warns Protesters As Unrest Sweeps America
  5. Washington Post – Trump Administration To Significantly Expand Military Response In Washington Amid Unrest
  6. CBS – Esper says he opposes deploying active-duty troops to states to quell protests
  7. Atlantic – James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

Actions for Everyone

Oh what a week it has been. Nobody envisioned we’d be taking part of the new civil rights movement in the middle of an on-going deadly pandemic while having the worst President in this country’s history, yet here we are. 2020 has been a ride. I hope you are doing fine in the middle of all of this and that you can find peace in the moments where you need it.

Civil Rights Movement 2.0 – The people have taken the streets in an outpouring call to justice after the Minneapolis Police murdered another black man, George Floyd. 10 days later there are protests in every State, the world has joined-in protesting in their streets in support of Black Lives Matter and finally today we heard all 4 policemen have been charged. But these protests are not just about George Floyd, they are about every single black person that has died in the hands of brutal police, about dismantling institutionalized racism and bringing justice to all People of Color. All this is going on while Pride month commences, another movement started by a black trans woman. I hope this is the start of a new era of civil rights, justice and reparations.

What can you do to help the movement?

If you can protest, protest. Remember to wear a mask, bring sanitizer, bring water and snacks, wear comfortable clothing and shoes, bring first aid supplies if you can.

If you can’t protest, you have many options, don’t feel that because you can’t be on the streets you are not valuable to the cause. Especially with Covid-19 outbreak, many people can’t put themselves and their families at risk. What can you do?

  • You can donate or fundraise
  • Offer to do childcare or take care of seniors
  • Cook a meal for protestors
  • Bring or gather supplies like food, water and first aid supplies to protesters
  • Start conversations, specially with your white friends and family members
  • Campaign on social media

Use these links to learn more:

Black Lives Matter “Ways You Can Help”

26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond The Streets

You can also access this document, a National Resource List, that has gathered lots of information on where to donate, legal resources if you or someone you know is arrested, tips for protesting, organizations to support. It has lots of good information to know and share.

Dictator Trump – The President wants to bring the military in to stop the protests. He has pointed to the fact numerous times in tweets and in his last speech in front of St. John’s Church.  He is basically considering attacking the people he is supposed to be serving. He keeps using the word “dominate” and is encouraging state governments to use force on the protesters. Right now, DC looks like a war zone, as shown in this AP article. 

Using the military against civilians is specifically prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.  I don’t think Trump knows, now you do! So use this knowledge to call your elected officials and let them know that they have to use their power as congresspeople to restrain our wannabe dictator. That is basically why Congress exists in the first place. You can find your representatives here:

Senate

House

And here are some Things That Made Me Smile this week:

Guerrilla Grafters! Grafting fruit trees into city trees. 

The History of Antifa, which Trump designated as a terrorist organization when it’s not even an organization and it’s just a literal ideology against the ideals of Hitler.  I want to write more about this but maybe next week.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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Issue #152, 2020 Week 21

Hey everyone,

We are trying to keep up and we are here for you. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

This week was a rough one, and it’s not even over yet.  In COVID news, we’ve made it to partially open, and now we may be here for a while–though since everyone is anxious about a second wave, we may end up moving backwards before we move forwards.  And in non-COVID news, we have a lot of disturbing official action and a very real reminder that Black lives still matter.  As always, we have suggestions for action below.

Events to Know

‘Obamagate’ Investigation. Though William Barr was quick to downplay its importance, Republican Senators are trying to subpoena several Obama-era officials. The request is extremely broad, covering everything from the Carter Page surveillance to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine–welcome to 2020, where everything’s made up and the points of law don’t matter. They did this, by the way, at the same time that they narrowly voted in a new Director of Intelligence that even said GOP senators wouldn’t endorse in July, forcing his nomination at the time to be withdrawn. (It’s kind of hilarious to compare Rubio’s quote from July with his lukewarm vote of confidence this week.) This does, however, mean we see the retreating back of acting director and MAGA horrorshow Richard Grenell, so that’s something, but it likely has implications for the Obamagate investigation.

Key links:

  1. Guardian – Trump’s Attorney General Dismisses Possibility Of ‘Obamagate’ Investigations
  2. Politico – Lindsey Graham Seeks Broad Authority To Subpoena Former Obama Officials
  3. Washington Post – Senate Confirms John Ratcliffe As Next Director Of National Intelligence In Sharply Divided Vote
  4. CBS – Staunch Trump Ally Richard Grenell To End Tumultuous Tenure As U.S. Ambassador To Germany

Retaliatory Firing (Again Again). Speaking of investigations, the acting Transportation Department inspector general, Mitchell Behm, was removed from the role over the past week–so that makes four inspectors general removed in two months. And wouldn’t you know it, just like the State Department IG removed, Behm was looking at the conduct of his department’s head–in this case, whether Elaine Chao was improperly favoring Kentucky for project priority. (Chao is the wife of Kentucky Senator and overall nightmare man Mitch McConnell, for those of you playing the home game.) The replacement acting IG, “Skip” Elliott, works in the Transportation Department and literally reports directly to Chao, so that’s nice and normal and in no way an obvious conflict of interest.    

Key links:

  1. Politico – Democrats Blast Removal Of Acting Dot Inspector General
  2. Washington Post – Democrats Open Investigation Into Trump’s Replacement Of Acting Transportation Department Inspector General

Black Lives Still Matter. This was, frankly, a bad week for civil rights of Black Americans.  In Minneapolis, a name named George Floyd was choked to death by police, with videotape very clearly showing one officer’s knee on his neck for several minutes.  Protests of the death resulted in even more deaths and mass arrests, including the arrest of a journalism team that was caught on camera.  Several grassroots groups are organizing efforts as I type this, both locally and nationally, and the officer in question has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder.  Meanwhile, in New York, a woman was caught on camera calling 911 and filing a false report that claimed a fellow park-goer was assaulting her because he asked her to leash her dog.  Needless to say, one of these stories informs the other–calling police on Black individuals so commonly results in danger to those individuals that the 911 call should be viewed as an assault of its own.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Through the lens of a CNN camera on the ground, a view of American disintegration
  2. NBC – George Floyd Protest Turns Deadly; Minneapolis Mayor Requests National Guard
  3. Minnesota Freedom Fund
  4. CNN – White Woman Who Called Police On A Black Man Bird-watching In Central Park Has Been Fired

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  This was another good week for court cases, for the most part!  In Florida, a federal judge struck down a law that would prohibit voting for people with outstanding court fees.  The court used very clear language when calling the law unconstitutional, noting that it created “a pay-to-vote system” that is reminiscent of poll taxes.  And another federal judge ordered the FCC to server logs on its net neutrality public comments, which the New York Times is alleging were fraudulently filed.  Progress!

Key links:

  1. NPR – Federal Judge Rules Florida Law Restricting Voting Rights For Felons Unconstitutional
  2. Tampa Bay Times – Federal Judge: Florida Can’t Stop Poor Felons From Voting
  3. Ars Technica – NYT Defeats Ajit Pai As Judge Orders FCC To Provide Net Neutrality Records

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We have officially surpassed 100,000 deaths in this country at the time that I type this, and over 1.7 million cases have been reported.  Current national data suggest that more infections are happening in rural areas, which is important to note as well.  Also, remember how last week, I said that Georgia’s numbers looking more promising than Texas or Florida’s?  Yeah, about that: News broke this week that they were doctoring their numbers, which apparently was intended in Florida as well (but their top data scientist refused, and was fired for her efforts.)  Given this news, combined with high rate of asymptomatic infection and a country that is increasingly reopening, an effective method of contact tracing has become extremely important.  It’s particularly alarming that we’re also seeing news of businesses banning masks and government officials hiding COVID-positive test results.
Key links:

  1. New York Post – Georgia Department Of Health Slammed For Misleading Coronavirus Data
  2. NPR – Florida Ousts Top Covid-19 Data Scientist
  3. Washington Post – A Deadly ‘Checkerboard’ – Covid-19’s New Surge Across Rural America
  4. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  5. Washington Post – While U.S. Struggles To Roll Out Coronavirus Contact Tracing, Germany Has Been Doing It From The Start

Trump’s Continuing COVID Mess.  Trump continued to publicly illustrate his obvious unfitness for office this week, visiting a Ford plant and refusing to wear a mask, then yelling at the state’s Attorney General about it on Twitter.  He also refused to close down the country if there’s a second wave of COVID outbreaks on the same tour.  For an encore, he implied the official death toll is inflated and threw a tantrum about houses of worship, demanding governors reopen them regardless of COVID threat level.  He also started taking concrete steps to force the United States to leave the World Health Organization, though it’s unclear if he legally can.  I seriously cannot overstress what a bad idea this is in the middle of a pandemic; we need to be calling our reps about that.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Trump Says He Won’t Close The Country If Second Wave Of Coronavirus Hits
  2. New York Times – Trump Suggests Virus Death Count Is Inflated. Most Experts Doubt It
  3. NBC – Trump Deems Places Of Worship ‘Essential,’ Claims He Can Order Their Reopening
  4. STAT News – Trump: U.S. will terminate relationship with the World Health Organization in wake of Covid-19 pandemic
  5. Vox – Trump announced US withdrawal from the WHO. It’s unclear if he can do that.

Market Mess Continues. The market continues to be…struggling, to put it politely.  The unemployment rate isn’t really slowing, and another 2.4 million Americans filed for the first time in the past week, bringing the total over the crisis to about 41 million people.  Experts worry that these lost jobs may not be coming back–even a White House official has expressed concern, contradicting Trump and probably becoming next week’s retaliatory firing paragraph.  Despite this, Mitch McConnell wants to end unemployment supports, even as our Treasury Secretary says we need another stimulus bill.  There’s growing support in Congress for paycheck subsidy, but the SBA subsidy loans are still a mess, so hopefully any new efforts will be better managed.
Key links:

  1. Bloomberg – Americans Again File By The Millions For Unemployment Benefits
  2. CNBC – Another 2.1 Million File Jobless Claims, But Total Unemployed Shrinks
  3. Washington Post – Top White House Economic Adviser Expresses Uncertainty About Recovery Despite Trump’s Confidence
  4. Politico – Mcconnell Vows End To Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
  5. Wall Street Journal – Mnuchin: Strong Likelihood We’ll Need Another Stimulus Package
  6. New York Times – A Struggling Stimulus Program

Social Media Standoff. Trump’s ongoing standoff with Twitter this week has truly been a sight to behold.  The conflict started brewing over the previous week, when Trump falsely tweeted that Joe Scarborough killed somebody repeatedly and the deceased person’s widower publicly called on the platform to delete it.  Though Twitter did not in fact delete that one, they did fact-check his subsequent tweets about mail-in voting, which is something they’ve never done before Trump went ballistic in response, yelling that this was censorship that violated his First Amendment rights (spoiler: No, it really doesn’t).  He then passed a bonkers executive order that will probably be successfully challenged in courts.  Twitter, meanwhile, has continued to fact-check his tweets and also started adding warnings to tweets they think are violating their policies by glorifying violence.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Pushes a Conspiracy Theory That Falsely Accuses a TV Host of Murder
  2. Axios – Husband of deceased Scarborough staffer asks Twitter to delete baseless Trump claims
  3. NPR – Twitter Places Fact-Checking Warning On Trump Tweet For 1st Time
  4. Bloomberg – Trump Aims Order at Social Media Giants Amid Fury Over Twitter
  5. CNN – Trump tweets threat that ‘looting’ will lead to ‘shooting.’ Twitter put a warning label on it

Actions for Everyone

I wish I could screen share with all of you right now and share the 18 open tabs I have featuring articles and podcasts, links to places we need to invest and divest our money. Since we can’t all screen share, I’m going to try to summarize in three paragraphs below.

Disability, Visability: The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture. One outspoken disability activist, Stacy Park Milbern, passed away unexpectedly on May 19th, 2020 of complications from surgery. To honor their work, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about the Disability Visibility.

It’s so important for able-bodied people to spend time learning about the daily lives of folks with disabilities, because a. getting to know people is important and also b. we need to dismantle abilism. Check out Disability Visibility Podcast and consider hiring this org for feedback, research, strategic planning, etc.

Black Lives Matter: This week, George Floyd was killed by a Minnesota police officer. The video of the murder has been circulating, as well. As someone who watched the video with great heartbreak, fury, and disgust, I know it can feel right to share the video in hopes of igniting shared feelings with the online community.

There is a lot to work on. For starters, the video and images of Floyd is graphic and triggering for many people. There are definitely some white folks who need to see it to believe it, but there are lots of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) who know and live with the fear of police violence every day. For them, please consider not spreading the video and image, OR if you feel like it’s necessary for your audience to see, add a Content Warning (CW). It’s nice in this case that Instagram will blur our sensitive content so you can consent before clicking on it.

You may have seen the unnecessary use of force, again, from police during the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd. Police adorned riot gear and used tear gas on non-violent protesters. Please consider donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. They make bail for people arrested by ICE, and also for people who are criminally arrested like many of the protestors.

Last and not least (not least at allllll – there are books and films and podcasts and support groups, and we haven’t even talked about Amy Cooper, but I can’t get to it all in one newsletter, so I’ll like to more soon), sign the Justice for George Floyd petition, AND call County Attorney Michael Freeman, the local prosecutor, who has the power to arrest and charge these police officers to ask him to hold them accountable for the murder of George Floyd.

Trump’s an Idiot: Before I go any farther, I want to remind everyone about Make America Kittens Again, which replaces pictures of Trump with pictures of kittens.

After yeeeeaaars of saying inaccurate, sometimes hateful, mostly incomprehensible things on Twitter, the Twitter Safety team stepped in to fact check him, and now Trump wants to shut down the internet. This effing guy. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but how far does he think he’s going to get fighting against some of the richest, most powerful companies in the world over free speech? THE FIRST AMENDMENT?! Read this Politico article for answers to questions like: Can he really do that? (not really, is the short answer.) What is Section 230? Has this ever happened before?

No direct action needed yet, but stay tuned. Also, for issues concerning Freedom of Speech follow the ACLU – they have all sorts of great lawsuits going on.

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 #151, 2020 Week 20

Hey everyone,

Thank you for hanging in with us while we were delayed last week! Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

The news remains strange and a bit hard to fully process this week, in part because America feels like it’s on two different tracks at once. We’re still not in the clear, COVID-wise, but now we have a bunch of other Trump-era nonsense to contend with as well. It’s exhausting, and a part of “normalcy” that I would have happily left behind, but here we are.  

 

Events to Know

Retaliatory Firing (Yes, Again). The biggest story this week is that Trump unceremoniously fired yet another inspector general on Friday evening, this time from the State Department–which makes three watchdogs fired since the COVID crisis began, and that’s a completely unprecedented number. To make matters worse, said inspector was investigating Mike Pompeo for potential misconduct at the time he was fired, and it would appear that Pompeo was the one to suggest the firing. It’s noteworthy that this inspector general had nothing to do with COVID response, unlike the two before him–it’s a clear indication that the administration has returned to combating entities that combat corruption. Unsurprisingly, House Democrats have opened an investigation into the matter, and the story just keeps getting worse the more they dig–it turns out the misconduct being investigated involves arms sales in the Middle East.

Key links:

  1. Vox – Inspectors general, explained by a former inspector general
     
  2. New York Times – Trump Ousted State Dept. Watchdog At Pompeo’s Urging; Democrats Open Inquiry
     
  3. Washington Post – State Department Inspector General Steve Linick Fired, Top Democrats Launch Investigation
     
  4. Politico – Fired State Department watchdog was probing protocol office

Trump’s Messed Up COVID Response. In case anyone was worried, Trump is continuing to be, well, Trump. He opined that the country should reopen “vaccine or no vaccine,” (no it shouldn’t) but said we’ll have a vaccine by January (no we won’t). Then he said even if we don’t have a vaccine, coronavirus will just go away (what). For an encore, he called testing ‘overrated’ and also threatened to “hold up” federal funds for states that expand mail-in voting–but only the Democrat-controlled ones.   He also announced he apparently is taking hydroxychloroquine as a COVID prophylactic, which is a bad idea on a truly impressive number of levels–but more on that below.  

Key links

  1. BBC – Coronavirus: Trump Says Us Reopening, ‘Vaccine Or No Vaccine’
     
  2. Politico – Trump Names Team To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine At ‘Warp Speed’
     
  3. The Hill – Trump Says Testing May Be ‘Frankly Overrated’
     
  4. NBC – Trump Says He Takes Hydroxychloroquine To Prevent Coronavirus Infection Even Though It’s An Unproven Treatment
     
  5. STAT – Utah Went All-in On An Unproven Covid-19 Treatment, Then Scrambled To Course-Correct

 

Election Oddities (Again). Election news is a study in contrasts this week.  Despite everything else going on, the RNC is expecting 50,000 people to attend their convention in Charlotte in a few months.  Democrats, conversely, are looking into remote voting for theirs, though who knows if Trump’s tantrum about absentee ballots will change any minds.  And in libertarian news, Justin Amash announced he isn’t running after all, so we’re down to just Trump and Biden again as we head into June.  

Key links

  1. NPR – GOP Officials Say They’re Expecting 50,000 In Charlotte For Republican Convention
     
  2. NPR – Democrats Developing Contingency Plans For Remote Convention
     
  3. Washington Post – Rep. Justin Amash says he won’t run for president

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  There were a lot of promising court actions in the past week. The Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Congress can subpoena Trump’s taxes this week, though a final decision likely won’t be out for some time.  The FBI obtained a search warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr’s phone to investigate his handling of stock trading ahead of the COVID crisis, forcing him to step down from his role as Intelligence Committee Chair.  The Fourth Circuit more-or-less revived the emoluments case about Trump’s D.C. hotel, which is particularly timely given news about 45 making the secret service pay for golf carts this summer (yes, really).  And the judge on Flynn’s case has invited other parties to weigh in, and has appointed someone to argue against dropping charges.  So all of those things are promising!  

 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Hears Cases Involving Trump’s Taxes, Financial Records
     
  2. The Hill – FBI Serves Search Warrant On Sen. Richard Burr Amid Stock Trading Controversy: Report
     
  3. Associated Press – Appeals Court Reinstates Lawsuit Over Trump’s Hotel Profits
     
  4. Washington Post – Secret Service Signs $179,000 Contract To Rent Golf Carts In Bedminster, N.J. This Summer
     
  5. New York Times – Judge Appoints Outsider To Take On Justice Dept. In Flynn Case
     

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  At the time that I type this, over 90,000 people in this country have passed away from COVID-19 and over 1.5 million people have been infected. The CDC has finally issued some brief guidance after a lengthy fight with the White House about them, and it was one tenth the length of their original guidance.  Top health official Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate about the dangers of reopening the country too quickly, and ousted vaccine official Rick Bright’s testimony was similarly dire.  Trump, for his part, called Fauci’s testimony “not an acceptable answer.”  And hydrochloroquine was in the news as potentially killing people with COVID, which makes 45’s life choices interesting to say the least. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
     
  2. ABC – After Delay, CDC Releases New Guidance On How States Can Safely Reopen
     
  3. Politico – Colleagues Paint A Mixed Picture Of Ousted Vaccine Chief
     
  4. NBC – Trump Criticizes Fauci’s Senate Testimony: ‘Not An Acceptable Answer’
     
  5. Washington Post – Drug Promoted By Trump As Coronavirus ‘Game Changer’ Increasingly Linked To Death
     

Reopening Rodeo.  Reopening continues to be an unsafe hot mess for a third week, despite how many states have started the process. In Texas, and Florida, cases are already rising, and that’s without full data even available. (Georgia was looking more promising, but then news broke that they were doctoring their numbers.) In Wisconsin, a state supreme court decision that struck down the governor’s order has created chaos across the state. And scary protests are continuing in Michigan, one of the few states that isn’t reopening–hinting at dangers that exist either way.  Many states lack benchmarks for progressing forward with the opening process, and it seems like something of a free-for-all. I agree with this columnist’s take that we seem to be moving to a harm reduction model of operations.   
 

Key links:

  1. Atlantic – The Horror Of The Coronavirus Data Lag
     
  2. NY Post – Georgia Department of Health slammed for misleading coronavirus data
     
  3. Associated Press – Wisconsin High Court Tosses Out Governor’s Stay-Home Order
     
  4. Washington Post – We’re Retreating To A New Strategy On Covid-19. Let’s Call It What It Is.

Market Mess Continues.  Market news is a lot of ups and downs.  House Democrats unveiled and subsequently passed a $3T proposal for coronavirus response, but Trump is threatening to veto it.  Unemployment rates appear to be slowing somewhat, but three million new people still filed this week.  The Dow is riding high after vaccine news made people optimistic, but several news outlets are suing the Small Business Administration over its messy loan practices.  So it’s all kind of a mixed bag. 
 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – House Democrats Pass $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Despite Trump’s Veto Threat
     
  2. New York Times – America’s Employment Losses Might Be Slowing: Job Tracker
     
  3. Washington Post – The Post Among Five News Organizations Suing Small Business Administration For Access To Loan Data
 

Actions for Everyone

Protecting Workers: The Covid-19 Pandemic has made it very clear that society works because of its workers. With the added adjective “essential” many service workers, which are usually paid low wages, are in the frontlines of this crisis. Our nurses, our food industry, our postal workers, our clerks. These are the people society needs to protect and support the most in these trying times. 

 

The House of Representatives just passed the HEROES Act which includes a $3 Trillion stimulus relief package that would allow to allocate benefits to healthcare workers, first responders, police, firefighters and more. It includes funds to help essential workers with child and adult care and even help with helping health workers pay student loans (I personally think they should just be pardoned, for everyone!). This bill also proposes another stimulus check! Trump says he foresees another round of checks but he isn’t considering it as part of this bill.  

 

The Senate is saying they will halt this bill as soon as it hits the floor, because Mitch McConell hates everyone, but we need to support it and we need to call our representatives. Call your reps in the Senate and ask them to support this bill. 

 

While you’re at it, ask them how they are planning to help workers in meat plants who are forced to work under Trump’s directions and also if Congress has any plans on how to deal with the animals that may be put down because of shutdowns in plants because of Corona virus outbreaks.  Many animals may die in vain because of this. 

 

They are set to discuss it after Memorial Day weekend. 

 

Let’s talk bugs! – Summer is here and so are bugs. I love bugs, they are my favorite critters. Lately, news outlets have been feeding the public some scary stories about them and I’m here to dismantle this. Let’s stop the disinformation! 

 

So, cicadas! Every year, we have Annual Cicadas, which are our screaming buddies who are green and scream on the treetops every summer, and then we have Periodical Cicadas who emerge from the ground every 13 or 17 years (it varies) to mate. It’s millions of them at the same time coming up from the ground, doing their metamorphosis, screaming for a while, mating and then dying, not before laying eggs for the next generation that will emerge in the next 13 to 17 years in the future. It’s truly fascinating! 

 

But, I’ve seen many articles around warning people about this as if it is another threat that 2020 is imposing on humanity (like the Giant Asian Hornet ordeal). I’m here to say, it is not! AT ALL! Periodical Cicadas emerge almost every year in different parts of the country and nothing bad happens. If anything, you’ll get to witness an amazing natural wonder. You can learn more about Periodical Cicadas here!

 

And here are some Things That Made Me Smile this week:

 

Coyote Peterson showing up for Wolves! <3 (CW: Gruesome images of wolves eating deer)

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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Issue #150, 2020 Week 19

Hey everyone,

More frustration on the next steps. 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 news this week is chaotic and rough, as more parts of the country reopen and bring a wider news cycle with them. As a result, we have a combination of COVID and non-COVID news for you today.  As always, we’re here if people have questions, and we’ll also have suggestions for actions below!

Events to Know

White House Messed Up COVID-19 Response. Despite our apparent return to commerce, this was a real banner week for White House COVID response–by which I mean, it will make you want to Hulk out and smash something. Trump continued to block coronavirus task force members from testifying before the House because–and I quote–“the House is a bunch of Trump haters.” The White House also threatened to disband the task force entirely, before reversing course and resuming coronavirus briefings instead, and refused to release CDC guidance on safely reopening. Meanwhile, a watchdog agency found that scientist Rick Bright had a credible complaint of retaliation because he was removed from his position when he refused to support Trump’s sudden push for hydroxychloroquine. Trump refused to wear a mask while touring a mask production facility, and Trump’s personal valet and Pence’s press secretary both tested positive for COVID. Trump continued to refuse to wear a mask, saying “the whole concept of tests isn’t great,” and Pence refused to change his patterns on the grounds that he “has tested negative every single day.” There are also, apparently, no plans to keep Trump and Pence apart.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – White House Prohibits Coronavirus Task Force Members From Testifying Before Congress In May
  2. New York Post – Trump: Coronavirus Briefings Will Return, Blasts ‘Angry’ CBS News Reporter
  3. CNN – Ousted Vaccine Director Files Whistleblower Complaint Alleging Coronavirus Warnings Were Ignored
  4. New York Times – White House Races To Contain Virus In Its Ranks: ‘It Is Scary To Go To Work’

Reopening Rodeo. Needless to say, reopening is not smooth sailing on the state level either, despite most states beginning the process as I type this. Data suggests that most reopening states do not meet the criteria put forward by the White House for reopening, and that guidance was more modest than the CDC’s. As if to punctuate the point, a recording of Texas governor Greg Abbott also surfaced this week acknowledging that reopening will increase spread of COVID-19. And early reopening data suggests that official steps don’t make consumers return to their prior patterns anyway. Given the resurgence of infection in other countries where infection was waning, such as South Korea and China, this caution seems pretty reasonable.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Most States That Are Reopening Fail to Meet White House Guidelines
  2. Progress Texas – Leaked Audio (Full): Gov. Abbott Knows Reopening Will Cause an Increase in Infection Rate for Texans
  3. Washington Post – Where states are reopening after America’s shutdown
  4. NPR – South Korea Records Spike In New Coronavirus Cases After Nightclub Outbreak

Flynn Flyover (and other federal news). The Department of Justice truly stunned the legal field this week by trying to drop charges against Michael Flynn, an unprecedented move given Flynn had pleaded guilty back in 2017. It illustrates just how much William Barr appears to follow Trump’s agenda rather than leading an independent department–a point only punctuated by Trump’s follow-up attack on the head of the FBI, and Trump’s request that SCOTUS block the release of other evidence from the Mueller investigation. The judge on Flynn’s case has invited other parties to weigh in, and has signaled that there will at least be a hearing before the charges can be dropped. Meanwhile, things aren’t great on the federal judicial side either, with the Senate considering McConnell’s truly unqualified protege for an appeals court appointment and the GOP doing its best vulture impression when asked about Justice Ginsburg’s recent hospitalization. Betsy DeVos used a chaotic week to release her new regulations about sexual assault on campus, despite many college campuses housing no students at the moment. And rounding everything out, Trump appointed a Republican fundraiser to head the U.S. Post Office instead of, y’know, someone from the post office. Given the giant pile of everything in this paragraph, it’s hardly a surprise that the House wants to continue investigating Trump for impeachable offenses.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’: Experts Question Dropping Of Flynn Prosecution
  2. Washington Post – ‘A Constant Battle Of You Against The Leadership Of Your Country’: Justice Dept. Rattled As Flynn Fallout Reaches FBI
  3. Politico – ‘We’re Going To Fill It’: Republicans Ready For Any Supreme Court Vacancy
  4. New York Times – Devos’s Rules Bolster Rights Of Students Accused Of Sexual Misconduct
  5. Reuters – Republican Donor Named U.S. Postmaster General

Recent Resilience

Recent CA Resilience.  The state of California is suing Lyft and Uber for refusing to classify its drivers as employees under a recent California law that expands worker protections to gig laborers. We’ll have to see what happens, but this is a promising bit of news–given the dire employment news above, this is a way to potentially get more protections without workers taking a hit for it.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – California AG And Cities Sue Uber And Lyft, Alleging They Misclassified Workers As Contractors
  2. NPR – California Sues Uber And Lyft For ‘Cheating’ Drivers And Taxpayers

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is… still not great.  Scientists have begun to study an apparent COVID-related infection that has begun to surface in young kids, though this version thankfully appears treatable.  The food supply chain still has issues, with beef shortages and pork shortages reported, and over a thousand workers have tested positive at Tyson plants in Iowa and Indiana.  Meanwhile, the drug with modest treatment efficacy in trials, remdesivir, is being inconsistently administered to hospitals.  In a silver lining, blood thinners are showing promise as a secondary treatment for patients with severe infection, and the FDA also granted emergency approval for a new antigen test.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Children Are Falling Ill With A Baffling Ailment Related To Covid-19
  2. CNBC – Nearly A Fifth Of Wendy’s Us Restaurants Are Out Of Beef, Analyst Says
  3. Stat News – Doctors Lambaste Federal Process For Distributing Covid-19 Drug Remdesivir
  4. Washington Post – Blood Thinners Show Promise For Boosting The Survival Chances Of The Sickest Covid Patients
  5. Washington Post – FDA Issues Emergency Approval Of New Antigen Test That Is Cheaper, Faster And Simpler

Cases to Watch.*  There were a number of noteworthy proceedings in the past few days, and all of them are worth keeping your eye on. The Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Congress can subpoena Trump’s taxes this week, though a final decision likely won’t be out for some time.  Meanwhile, top health official Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate about the dangers of reopening the country too quickly, and ousted vaccine official Rick Bright’s testimony is similarly dire.  The FBI obtained a search warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr’s phone to investigate his handling of stock trading ahead of the COVID criss.  And on the state end, over two months after a Georgian man was killed while jogging, police have arrested two Georgia residents for his murder.  The official action was likely spurred by video of the murder, which was posted to the Internet in the past week–apparently by a local defense attorney.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Supreme Court Hints at Split Decision in Two Cases on Obtaining Trump’s Financial Records
  2. AP News – Fauci warns: More death, econ damage if US reopens too fast
  3. Washington Post – Ousted vaccine official to warn of ‘darkest winter’ if virus returns without better response
  4. Los Angeles Times – FBI serves warrant on senator in investigation of stock sales linked to coronavirus
  5. NPC News – Video appears to show Georgia man shot while jogging; lawyers call for arrests

Market Mess Continues.  Financially speaking, things are still a mess.  Unemployment is continuing to grow at the same rate as previous weeks, resulting in the highest rate since the Great Depression.  Needless to say, this makes federal response in the coming weeks particularly important.  It’s not surprising that several Senators have begun promoting universal base income, introducing a bill that would grant $2K per month for the duration of the crisis.  House Democrats have unveiled a $3T proposal as well.  And speaking of granting funds, the Small Business Administration’s programs are still a total mess–they’re in the news this week for dramatically lowering maximum loan amounts on one of their programs without telling any applicants about it.
Key links:

  1. CNN – April Was Probably The Worst Month For American Jobs Since The Great Depression
  2. New York Times – As Job Losses Mount, Lawmakers Face A Make-or-break Moment
  3. The Hill – Harris, Sanders, Markey Propose $2,000 Monthly Payments Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
  4. Washington Post – Democratic Lawmakers Criticize ‘mismanaged’ Sba Loan Program In Letter To Administrator

Actions for Everyone

I’m not sure how to write about everything we need to work on this week without focusing on race, so I’m going to do that. Hope you’re feeling healthy and safe, and that you’re using those breathing exercises we sent a few weeks ago.

Feeling bad isn’t helpful, we gotta keep working on it: I know it’s hard, and it can feel hopeless to work on systemic change when the very foundation of this nation is rooted in the violent oppression of black and brown people. Your feelings of grief and sadness are valid, but don’t stop trying. We all have got to keep working on it. Here’s a list of 65 things white people can do for racial justice. There are so many things we can and need to DO to fight against injustice and I promise that this whole list is achievable by everyone, including and not limited to:

#2: Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.

#33: Decolonize your bookshelf.

#37: Find out how slavery, the Civil War, and the Jim Crow era are being taught in your local school…There are a lot of great resources out there with a little googling, like PBS’s resources for teaching slaveryTeaching for Change, and The National Association for Multicultural Education.

#60: Personally divest your investments in private prisons and detention centers. Start here. Many people are divesting from Wells Fargo for their substantial role in Standing Rock and from private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S.

#63: Talk to the white people you know who aren’t clearly upset by white supremacy. Use “I” statements and “I care” messages (“I feel [feeling] when you [behavior]”). They need to know you see a problem. Call them out, and call them in…

Check out The Loveland Foundation: Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. The Loveland Group was started by Rachel Cargle, and they’ve also started The Loveland Foundation. One of their initiatives is a Therapy Fund offering free therapy for black women and girls. Please consider donating to their fund, or using it. They have partnerships with Therapy for Black Girls, National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color NetworkTalkspace and Open Path Collective, Loveland Therapy Fund recipients will have access to a comprehensive list of mental health professionals across the country providing high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls.

Late stage capitalism: Talking about the dangers of capitalism is always relevant, but now that our economy which is built on over consumption is shocked when people are only buying what they need, businesses are risking their employees lives for the sake of profit, our market is all over the place, the poorest people in our country have to work the hardest to receive federal stimulus checks and unemployment, I think it’s a poignant time to talk about capitalism. 

I’m late to the late stage capitalism conversation, but I’m gonna write about it in case other people are too. Late stage capitalism can be defined as the hypocrisy and absurdities of capitalism as it digs its own grave. I’m on a list-kick this week, so here’s a list of 99 Ways to Fight Capitalism. Many of these are individualized actions and behavioral changes you can make in your daily life.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #149, 2020 Week 18

Hey everyone,

Are you ready to throw in the towel trying to keep up with all the information?  You are not alone. 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 week definitely didn’t hit the low water mark set by suggestions to inject bleach at a press conference, but that’s not saying much–it was still pretty rough. We’re here if anyone needs anything, and always we’ll have suggestions for action below.

Events to Know

Trump’s Messed Up COVID-19 Response. Trump’s grasp of leadership didn’t get any better this week, which makes it even more unsettling that he officially is ending his social distancing advisory. His new thing is theorizing that China unleashed COVID from a lab (spoiler: no they didn’t, not that this is provable), but he also dismissed another watchdog employee, this time someone who found that hospitals had massive testing and PPE shortages. His top officials say we’re likely to experience a more severe second round if we reopen too early, and even Trump is upping his death estimates, though he’s also complaining he’s treated worse than Abraham Lincoln while he does it and pushing to shield businesses from liability for COVID-related deaths caused by reopening. The cliff is plainly visible ahead, so it would be great if somebody could wrest the wheel from this guy before we all sail over the edge.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Trump Says He Won’t Extend Social Distancing Guidelines
  2. New York Times – Trump Moves To Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages
  3. CNN – Us Could Be In For ‘a Bad Fall And A Bad Winter’ If It’s Unprepared For A Second Wave Of Coronavirus, Fauci Warns
  4. Washington Post – White House And Congress Clash Over Liability Protections For Businesses As Firms Cautiously Weigh Virus Reopening Plans

Reopening Rodeo. About half the country’s states are beginning the process of resuming business, with the two original state consortia on the East and West coasts making up the bulk of states staying closed. The rush comes in part due to the White House releasing blueprints for reopening process, which appear to mostly involve holding collective breath and saying a quick prayer. The entire process has been divisive, with some owners in reopening states refusing to resume business and some municipal governments in closed states refusing to enforce stay-at-home orders. And even in states that are already open, COVID numbers are still rising at alarming rates. Nonetheless, Trump has already moved on to instructing governors to “seriously consider reopening schools.”

Key links:

  1. New York Times – See Which States Are Reopening And Which Are Still Shut Down
  2. NBC – Trump Lays Out New Coronavirus Testing ‘blueprint’ As States Weigh Reopening
  3. The Hill – More Than 120 Atlanta Restaurants Refuse To Open Despite Georgia Gov Kemp Lifting Stay-at-home Orders
  4. Washington Post – In Some States, Local Jurisdictions Defy Governors’ Orders
  5. Business Insider – Georgia Reported Over 1,000 New Coronavirus Cases On The Same Day Its Governor Lifted The Stay-at-home Order For Most Residents
  6. CNN – Trump Tells Governors To ‘Seriously Consider And Maybe Get Going’ On Opening Schools

Other COVID Misconduct.  The overall COVID news this week is not exactly uplifting.  At the time that I type this, over 60,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the virus, and over one million people have been infected.  The FDA has cautioned against hydroxychloroquine use to treat COVID, noting that it has been linked to heart rhythm problems and there is increasing indication that the virus impacts the blood.  New York is also reporting high fatality rates among patients on ventilators, derailing medical expectations about treatment methods.  Nurses are starting to organize in response to inadequate workplace protections, bringing three lawsuits against the state of New York and multiple hospitals.  Major players in the food industry warn that the supply chain may be breaking, which prompted Trump to sign an executive order forcing meat plants to remain open.  And the United States is not participating in a WHO global initiative to develop a COVID vaccine, which may reflect growing antagonism towards the global organization as our administration seeks a scapegoat.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus Map: Tracking The Global Outbreak
  2. STAT – FDA Warns Against Widespread Use Of Hydroxychloroquine, Drug Touted By Trump
  3. Washington Post – “We’re Beyond Angered” – Fed-up Nurses File Lawsuits, Plan Protest At White House Over Lack Of Coronavirus Protections
  4. Reuters – U.S. Says Will Not Take Part In Who Global Drugs, Vaccine Initiative Launch

Recent Resilience

Recent Michigan Resilience.  Most of us didn’t have a great week, but it was apparently a good time for Michigan education.  The Sixth Circuit found that Detroit students have a constitutional right to literacy under the Fourteenth Amendment, which is a pretty significant form of new constitutional precedent.  And independently, Michigan’s governor announced a new tuition-free educational program for the state’s essential workers, which would permit those workers to complete a variety of types of programs.  The announcement comes after a particularly rough week of protests in the state, with many armed constituents marching on the capitol as the governor signed a new stay-at-home order, so it’s nice to be able to offer some positive news from the state as well.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Detroit Students Have a Constitutional Right to Literacy, Court Rules
  2. CNN – Michigan governor announces tuition-free educational program for essential workers

Things to Watch

Election Oddities (Again).   This was a strangely active week in election news.  Given everything going on, New York has taken the unprecedented step of canceling its primary election for a Democratic candidate.  The governor of the state was quoted as saying it would be “unnecessary and frivolous” to hold an election when Joe Biden is already the presumptive nominee, but Bernie Sanders’s campaign was not happy.   Meanwhile, Justin Amash more-or-less announced that he’s running for President on the Libertarian ticket by forming an exploratory committee Joe Biden formally responded to credible allegations of sexual assault brought by former staffer Tara Reade, retaining the support of several prominant Democrats.  And Trump reportedly lost it at his campaign team because polling in several swing states supports Biden.
Key links:

  1. CNN – U.S. Monitoring Intelligence That North Korean Leader Is In Grave Danger After Surgery
  2. New York Times – South Korea Confident That Rumors Of Kim Jong-un Illness Are Wrong
  3. ABC – How Reports Of Kim Jong Un’s Health Spread And What They Tell Us About What Comes Next For North Korea
  4. New York Times – U.K. Coronavirus Briefings Offer A More Genteel Spin Than Trump’s

State of the COVID-19.*  Despite (because of?) the paragraphs above, COVID news is very bleak.   At the time that I type this, almost 70,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the virus, and over one million people have been infected.  The administration blocked its top advisor from testifying to a House committee about COVID response in much the same fashion as during impeachment proceedings.  Many states still don’t have enough testing, and the Capitol’s physician says he doesn’t have enough tests for all the senators who are returning this week under McConnell’s orders.  COVID model projections are now estimating many more deaths, which may be related to news that the CDC believes deaths have been underreported Major players in the food industry warn that the supply chain may be breaking, which prompted Trump to sign an executive order forcing meat plants to remain open.   And the push for a vaccine or at least functional treatment is causing the administration to barrel ahead with another potentially faulty drug, but at least this one has actual studies in its favor.  (Unsurprisingly, vaccine efforts are going better abroad than they are here.)
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus Map: Tracking The Global Outbreak
  2. NBC – White House Blocking Fauci From Testifying Before Congress About Coronavirus Response
  3. CNN – Coronavirus Model Projects 134,000 Deaths In Us, Nearly Double Its Last Estimate
  4. The Hill – Trump Uses Defense Production Act To Order Meat Processing Plants To Stay Open
  5. Time – Leaked Data From A Key Remdesivir Study Suggest The Potential Coronavirus Drug Is Not Effective
  6. New York Times – In Race For A Coronavirus Vaccine, An Oxford Group Leaps Ahead

Market Mess Continues.   There’s scant good news on the market front too.  Though the small business program restarted after bill 3.5 was passed, it was also in the news for giving $1B to publicly traded large companies instead of small businesses per its mission.  Another 3.8 million people filed for unemployment, bringing us to 30 million total since the pandemic began.  Some states have begun threatening to end unemployment benefits upon reopening so that workers are forced to return.  Nonetheless, we’re starting to see more sectors impacted, and the first major retail bankruptcy was filed this week as well.  Several labor groups at seven different corporations also organized protests on May Day, drawing attention to unsafe working conditions during the pandemic.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Small Business Administration Funds To Public Companies Top $1 Billion 
  2. CNBC – Us Weekly Jobless Claims Hit 3.84 Million, Topping 30 Million Over The Last 6 Weeks
  3. New York Times – J. Crew Files For Bankruptcy In Virus’s First Big Retail Casualty
  4. Washington Post – Republican-led States Signal They Could Strip Workers’ Unemployment Benefits If They Don’t Return To Work, Sparking Fresh Safety Fear
  5. Fast Company – Amazon, Walmart, Target Mega-strike: Here’s What To Know About The Sprawling Protest

Actions for Everyone

I hope this week finds you in good health, physically and mentally. And that we will all continue to stay safe and keep protocols to finalize this Covid disaster, even if our government isn’t doing anything right. We have a supermoon tonight! Go out and see it and feel its energy, it’s the last one in 2020!

The USPS needs help – Steps haven’t been taken by Congress to ensure the USPS can survive this pandemic. The Postmaster General has asked for financial relief yet our elected officials haven’t addressed it. (You see my weak mail-related pun?). We need to keep the USPS afloat, they are extremely essential and we can’t let the government forget about this.

What can we do?

Call your elected officials. You can follow THIS script written by Celeste Pewter, a great political writer, to help you in your requests.

Keep using the mail.

Buy stamps, even if you don’t need them right now.

Covid-19 Task Force to supposedly wind down – Our government has had a horrible response on how to deal with this pandemic, especially the executive branch. I am actually elated to see states taking matters into their own hands because we really can’t trust the President and his goons right now. Yesterday, Trump mentioned the Task Force created to deal with Covid-19 may start to wind down, when we’re still in the middle of it and the number of daily predicted deaths for june has actually risen instead of lowering. When you call your elected representatives to talk about helping the USPS, mention that the Task Force must stay together, we’re not out of this yet and we need to see our government step up and just “Be Best” like Melania says.

2020 Census- Why is it important to fill the 2020 Census in the middle of a pandemic? The date gathered from the census is used to “distribute federal money — currently about $675 billion a year — to states and communities for schools, hospitals and roads, as well as Medicaid, welfare, school lunches, food stamps, college grant money for low-income students and dozens of other programs for those in need.  Census data are also used to determine how many seats in Congress a state receives, and they inform how congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. Businesses use the information to find good places to open up shop.”

Covid-19 is making the usual outreach in under-represented communities to have less impact which could end up affecting very much these disenfranchised communities in the long run. How can you help?

Take the 2020 Census if you haven’t.

Tell everyone you know to do it! IRL and social media.

Even though the Census Bureau moved the deadline to finish the Census count for October instead of July, we also need Congress to delay the deadline for state population counts, as well as the deadline for the data used for state redistricting. Ask them about it when you give them a call!

Visit https://2020census.gov to learn more and also find community outreach material.

Here are some Things That Made Me Smile this week:

Body Positive workouts at home

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #148, 2020 Week 17

Hey everyone,

We know things are stressful right now, please remember to take care of yourselves and ask for support if you need it. Trying to keep up with news, let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

This past week was rough by any metric you might care to use, and it’s okay if you need a little bit of support right now.  As always, we’ll have suggestions for ways to feel like you’re helping make a difference, and we’re here if anybody needs anything.

Events to Know

Trump’s Messed Up COVID-19 Response. This week was a whole new level of longing for the 25th Amendment. The real nadir was likely when Trump publicly asked about injecting bleach into people as a way of treating COVID-19 during Thursday’s press conference, forcing the good people at Lysol and health experts everywhere everywhere to tell people not to do that. He apparently got the idea from prominent snake oil salesman Mark Grenon, who wrote to the President a few days before praising the virtues of “wonderful detox” product chlorine dioxide. (Spoiler: Chlorine dioxide is exactly as bad to ingest as you think it is, and the FDA had already publicly warned Grenon to knock it off by the time he sent the letter.) Trump tried to backpedal by claiming he was being ‘sarcastic,’ which might have even worked, except that he immediately went on a tear on Twitter the next day. The whole thing capped with Trump threatening to stop doing coronavirus pressers, calling them not worth “the time and effort”. We should be so lucky, dear readers.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Trump Suggests ‘Injection’ Of Disinfectant To Beat Coronavirus And ‘Clean’ The Lungs
  2. The Guardian – Revealed: Leader Of Group Peddling Bleach As Coronavirus ‘Cure’ Wrote To Trump This Week
  3. New York Times – Trump’s Suggestion That Disinfectants Could Be Used To Treat Coronavirus Prompts Aggressive Pushback
  4. Axios – Trump: White House Press Conferences Aren’t Worth The “Time And Effort”

Reopening Rodeo. Despite medical recommendations to the contrary, several states are either reopening now or reopening imminently, and the public discourse does not inspire confidence. Georgia took an initial step on Friday and reopened restaurants, tattoo parlors, gyms, movie theaters, and massage parlors–you know, those businesses that you think of first when you hear the phrase “social distancing.” South Carolina is also reopening some retail stores and beaches, and several other Southern states are opening retail stores as well. Experts say this is very risky, a fact underscored by 40 new COVID cases in Wisconsin traced back to their recent primary election. But the Texas lieutenant governor responded to this by saying that “there are more important things than living,” a quote so yikes worthy that Andy Borowitz barely had to change it in his satire column.

Key links:

  1. Business Insider – South Carolina Has Already Begun To Reopen Beaches, Department Stores, And Flower Shops
  2. Washington Post – States Rushing To Reopen Are Likely Making A Deadly Error, Coronavirus Models And Experts Warn
  3. The Hill – Texas Lt. Governor On Reopening State: ‘There Are More Important Things Than Living’

State of the COVID-19.  The overall COVID news this week is not exactly uplifting.  At the time that I type this, over 60,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the virus, and over one million people have been infected.  The FDA has cautioned against hydroxychloroquine use to treat COVID, noting that it has been linked to heart rhythm problems and there is increasing indication that the virus impacts the blood.  New York is also reporting high fatality rates among patients on ventilators, derailing medical expectations about treatment methods.  Nurses are starting to organize in response to inadequate workplace protections, bringing three lawsuits against the state of New York and multiple hospitals.  Major players in the food industry warn that the supply chain may be breaking, which prompted Trump to sign an executive order forcing meat plants to remain open.  And the United States is not participating in a WHO global initiative to develop a COVID vaccine, which may reflect growing antagonism towards the global organization as our administration seeks a scapegoat.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus Map: Tracking The Global Outbreak
  2. STAT – FDA Warns Against Widespread Use Of Hydroxychloroquine, Drug Touted By Trump
  3. Washington Post – “We’re Beyond Angered” – Fed-up Nurses File Lawsuits, Plan Protest At White House Over Lack Of Coronavirus Protections
  4. Reuters – U.S. Says Will Not Take Part In Who Global Drugs, Vaccine Initiative Launch

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  The Supreme Court had some promising cases come down this week.  They opted to punt on a second amendment case, which given the current court constellation I’m considering a win–especially because the decision made Gorsuch, Thomas, and Alito unhappy.  But the real good news from SCOTUS today is that the court decided 8-1 that it wanted to leave the ACA standing, at least when it comes to risk corridors.  That majority is nearly as encouraging as Sotomayor’s excellent majority opinion, which pointedly notes that “The Government should honor its obligations.”

Key links:

  1. Washington Post –  Supreme Court Dismisses Anticipated New York Gun Rights Case Because The Law In Question Has Been Rescinded
  2. Vox – A Republican Effort To Sabotage Obamacare Was Just Rejected By The Supreme Court

Turtle Triumph.  We may not be enjoying the stay-at-home advisories, but apparently they are good news for turtles. Outlets report that the leatherback sea turtle has begun to experience a comeback in the wake of reduced beach traffic in places like Thailand and Florida. We’re also seeing a positive impact on manatees for similar reason. At least somebody’s having a good month!

Key links:

  1. Good News Network – Beaches See Huge Increase In Leatherback Sea Turtle Nests After Travel Restrictions In Florida And Thailand
  2. CBS – Experts Say Coronavirus Concerns Could Have Positive Impact On Marine Life

Things to Watch

North Korean Speculation.   Speculation is starting to mount after two weeks of absence from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, but nobody can agree on what it means.  Some outlets are focused on likelihood of COVID infection, and TMZ is touting the rather dubious claim that he has died, while South Korea is saying there is nothing unusual happening at all.  No matter what else is going on, the speculation itself may have potential implications for North Korea, and might forecast a closer look into whether there is COVID infection there in general.  (Boris Johnson, in contrast, definitely returned to work this week.)
Key links:

  1. CNN – U.S. Monitoring Intelligence That North Korean Leader Is In Grave Danger After Surgery
  2. New York Times – South Korea Confident That Rumors Of Kim Jong-un Illness Are Wrong
  3. ABC – How Reports Of Kim Jong Un’s Health Spread And What They Tell Us About What Comes Next For North Korea
  4. New York Times – U.K. Coronavirus Briefings Offer A More Genteel Spin Than Trump’s

Market Mess Continues.   The fourth COVID response bill did pass this week, making it through the Senate last Tuesday and the House last Thursday before being signed by Trump on Friday.  The bill contains more money for the small business loan program, which relaunched today, but is already rife with problems.  Meanwhile, another 4.4 million people filed for unemployment, bringing our total to over 26 million people since this crisis started.  The IRS was in the news for sending stimulus payments to dead people, and state and local governments worry about major budget shortfalls while Mitch McConnell tells them to just file for bankruptcy.
Key links:

  1. NBC – Trump Signs Coronavirus Aid Bill As Tensions Rise Over Next One
  2. Politico – Unemployment Claims Top 26 Million 5 Weeks Into Pandemic
  3. New York Times – Mcconnell Says States Should Consider Bankruptcy, Rebuffing Calls For Aid

No Election in New York.  Given everything going on, New York has taken the unprecedented step of canceling its primary election for a Democratic candidate.  The governor of the state was quoted as saying it would be “unnecessary and frivolous” to hold an election when Joe Biden is already the presumptive nominee, but Bernie Sanders’s campaign was not happy.  It’s unclear whether this is the beginning of a new trend or a reflection of New York’s unique circumstances within the current crisis, so we’ll want to keep an eye on the election cycle.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – New York Board of Elections Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary
  2. The Hill – Sanders adviser: NY presidential primary cancellation a ‘blow to American democracy’
  3. Reuters – New York state cancels presidential primary over coronavirus risk

Actions for Everyone

Bust out the Justin Timberlake memes because “It’s gonna be May” is here! Happy May everyone. Please take a deep breath and jump on the May Day strike ASAP. Stay healthy and safe!

May Day Strike: May Day is May 1 and is International Workers DayOn this day, show solidarity with workers at Amazon, Instacart, Shipt, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and FedEx who are on strike for better working conditions amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Don’t order online or show up, and simply schedule around today if you need to go grocery shopping at these places. Alternatively, consider shopping locally instead of shipping through Amazon or Walmart and support small groceries and businesses. This is generally a good rule of thumb, but especially today.

Celebrate the Earth (but Avoid Ecofascism): It’s incredible to see Earth heal while we’re all in quarantine. Many of us are on tight budgets and aren’t buying from Amazon, the demand for gasoline has dropped, lots of big industry is paused. It really makes you think about how our economy relies on high levels of American consumerism, and while that version of our economy is tanking, pollution rates are too. I believe this is a greeeeat news, but I’ve been seeing sentiments saying “humans are the virus” “Darwinism in real time” circulating, so I wanted to talk about Ecofascism, the theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the “organic whole of nature.”

I understand how easy it is to think that way, but if there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that social justice and environmental justice are the same. damn. thing. This article “People aren’t Bad of the Planet – Capitalism Is”  that I think is worth the read, and definitely worth practicing and internalizing.

Seeding Sovereignty: The Navajo Nation is experiencing the third-largest infection rate of COVID19 following New York and New Jersey, which are currently the Nation’s epicenters. The organization Seeding Sovereignty has set up a Rapid Response Fund, mask drive, and petition to Congress for financial aid because they haven’t still haven’t received aid and it’s urgently needed to help spread the virus. Please consider donating to the fund! Please consider sewing, sending, or sponsoring PPE! It is critical that the Navajo Nation and all indigenous nations receive support and not be left out of COVID19 recovery initiatives.

Things that Make me Smile: 

Fiona Apple’s interview with Democracy Now! (and especially her new album Fetch The Bolt Cutters)

This free virtual tour of Frida Kahlo’s house – it’s so lush and bold and beautiful

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?
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Issue # 147, 2020 Week 16

Hey everyone,

Tired of mixed messages and bickering people on the television. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

  Another week, another COVID mess. This week is actually a bit better than last week’s on a number of fronts, but we’re still not experiencing what you’d call a great time–comfort foods are recommended. We’re here if anyone needs anything.

Events to Know

Trump’s Messed Up COVID-19 Response. This week we saw yet another installment of a by-now fixture of the NNR; Trump just can’t seem to stop himself from misbehaving even during a crisis. After more weeks of threatening to withhold funding from the WHO because he doesn’t like how they are reporting virus spread in the U.S., Trump went ahead and officially announced he was halting funding. This is particularly concerning because he remains focused on opening up the country, convening calls with hundreds of business leaders and setting up a pandemic council. Though at one point he was threatening to adjourn Congress, by the time that I type this he has settled into a three-point plan that would reopen the retail and entertainment industries first. He’s also acknowledging that states retain the right to set their own schedules when it comes to reopening, though his hand might have been forced on that one–more on that below.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump Halts Funding To World Health Organization
  2. NPR – Who Will Advise Trump On ‘reopening’ The U.S.? White House To Set New Pandemic Council
  3. Washington Post – Trump Threatens To Adjourn Congress To Get His Nominees But Likely Would Be Impeded By Senate Rules
  4. NBC – Trump Unveils Three-phase Plan For States To Reopen Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
  5. New York Times – Trump Says States Can Start Reopening While Acknowledging The Decision Is Theirs

State Pacts Unpacked.  After weeks of Trump signaling to states that they were on their own, states apparently got the message, because they are starting to organize with each other instead of the federal government.  The first to appear was a three-state coalition on the west coast, with California, Washington, and Oregon banding together to coordinate their reopening efforts and resources.  Then an eight-state bloc appeared on the East Coast, extending from Massachusetts down to Maryland.  Then the three north-most states on the East Coast created their own separate group.  Now seven Midwestern states have organized as well, and we’re officially seeing this effort in more-or-less all regions.

Key links:

  1. NBC Bay Area – California, Washington, Oregon Announce Coronavirus Pact
  2.  MarketWatch – East Coast Governors Create Joint Council To Open Up Economy Again
  3. Bangor Daily News – Maine Coordinating With Nh, Vermont On Reopening Economy Amid Coronavirus
  4. CNN – 7 Midwestern Governors Announce Their States Will Coordinate On Reopening

“If You’re Sick, Still Come.”   Apparent frustration with stay-at-home orders has driven some of the country into what I can only describe as rampant nihilism, which naturally 45 felt inclined to encourage. Some states are beginning to reopen some public spaces more-or-less immediately, despite all of the issues listed above. And in states where leaders are keeping things locked down, protests are popping up with alarming alacrity. In Michigan, people gathered at the state house to criticize their governor, yelling “Lock her up!” in apparent response to a stay-at-home order. In Denver, protesters squared off against medical providers, yelling “Go to China if you want communism!” (Why medical scrubs suggest communism is, of course, left as an exercise for the reader). In Austin, people simply chanted “USA!” standing neck-and-neck outside the statehouse. Adding fuel to the fire, Trump encouraged protesters to “LIBERATE” several additional states “and save your great 2nd Amendment,” which he said was “under siege!” (Why a virus involves the second amendment is, again, left as an exercise to the reader.) Some advertisements for rallies even said things like “If you’re sick still come, it’s your right,” prompting a twitter user to wonder if the rally was being organized by the virus.

Key links:

  1. Fox 5 Atlanta – Kemp: Restaurants, Other Businesses To Reopen In Georgia Amid Covid-19 Fight
  2. Washington Post – ‘Go To China If You Want Communism’: Anti-quarantine Protester Clashes With People In Scrubs
  3. Politico – Trump Breaks With His Own Guidelines To Back Conservative Anti-quarantine Protesters

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We saw several promising court cases this week.  An Obama-era standard for school lunch programs was reinstated by a federal district court judge in Maryland, who found that this administration’s attempt to roll back regulations violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  And in SCOTUS news, the court held that non-unanimous jury verdicts are unconstitutional.  Progress!

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Court Strikes Down Trump Rollback Of School Nutrition Rules 
  2. The Hill – Supreme Court Rules Non-unanimous Jury Verdicts Unconstitutional

Things to Watch

Postal Service Purgatory.  As mentioned last week, the U.S. Postal Service is still struggling in the face of COVID-19 crisis, particularly when it is combined with Trump’s bizarre vendetta against them.  But reporting this week draws the issue into focus by noting the ways in which debt has been a problem for USPS since 2006, leaving the agency insolvent as a final step of decline.  Without further supports from Congress, we may be looking at a total collapse of the service, as unfathomable as that seems–it’s stunning that this administration refuses to provide supports.  We need to keep an eye on this.
Key links:

  1. Wall Street Journal – Postal Service Warns Of $22 Billion Hole From Coronavirus
  2. Washington Post – The Postal Service Needs A Bailout. Congress Is Partly To Blame.
  3. New York Magazine – The U.S. Postal Service Needs Help Now: ‘the Situation Is Absolutely Dire’
  4. NPR – Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls For National Voting Overhaul

Immigration Updates.    Trump announced this week that he plans to close down all immigration by executive order, like that’s totally normal and a thing he can do.  Unsurprisingly, he apparently did this without consulting his advisers, who now get to figure out how they will do this without the courts smacking it down again.  I really cannot stress enough how incredibly unprecedented this is, and it likely runs afoul of several international treaties regarding humanitarian aid.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Plans To Suspend Immigration To U.S.
  2. Politico – Trump’s surprise immigration ban expected to include major exemption

Market Mess Continues.*  Another five million people have filed for unemployment in the past week, bringing our new total to 22 million people, and experts are starting to say we’re experiencing a depression.  Nonetheless, stimulus payments have hit a number of snags, between delays to get Trump’s name printed on the paper checks, a glitch in online tax filing systems, and bank seizures of stimulus payments to apply to account fees.  (There is, however, a tracking site you can use to find out what is happening with yours.) Meanwhile, the small business loan program created three weeks ago has already run out of funds, and the administration is already under fire for giving limited funds to big chains instead of, y’know, small businesses.  There is an effort to get more funding put in place in the fourth federal bill, which passed in the Senate yesterday, but we’re not out of the woods until it’s also passed in the House.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Weekly Jobless Claims Hit 5.245 Million, Raising Monthly Loss To 22 Million Due To Coronavirus
  2. CNN – Trump’s Name Will Be Added To Stimulus Checks
  3. New York Post – Tax Preparer Glitches Reportedly Delay Millions Of Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
  4. CBS – Stimulus Check Tracking Site Goes Live In Bid To Speed Emergency Payments
  5. Washington Post – White House, Gop Face Heat After Hotel And Restaurant Chains Helped Small Business Programs Run Dry
  6. The Hill – Senate passes $484B coronavirus relief package

Actions for Everyone

CW: Suicide, depression, mental health

These are trying times. It’s taking a toll on all of us. Give yourself space to feel all the feelings, and know, likewise, are also going through the motions.  We will get over this, but we need to feed our patience. What feeds your patience? I feed it with the fajitas I just made, by hanging out with my cats, by doing crafts, by doing absolutely nothing too. The narrative of being productive and “bettering yourself” during this crisis is damaging. It takes away from our patience, it makes it go hungry. Try to step away from this discourse rooted in capitalistic ideals of worth. Being is just fine.

Racial disparities during Covid-19 – Last week, Dr. Fauci, spoke up during a White House briefing about how the inequalities faced by African Americans are affecting the outcomes of Covid-19 infections and death in the community. So far, statistics are showing that African Americans are dying more often from the virus than any sector of society. He brought the issue forward, (which I was really elated to hear, and will probably cost him his job), comparing it with how the HIV/AIDS epidemic targeted the gay community.

  • African Americans face higher risk of contracting the virus because they are more likely to be working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work from home, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Racial inequities in Healthcare leads to people being more at risk of death because they may be suffering from underlying conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart or lung disease. African Americans are twice as likely to lack health insurance compared with their white counterparts, and more likely to live in medically underserved areas, where primary care is sparse or expensive.
  • Racial bias can also affect how African Americans and other minority groups are treated when they are receiving healthcare.
  • Food deserts are also more abundant in African American communities.

This article by Vox expands on the topic.

What can we do? When you talk to your officials in congress and your local government, ask them to up the number of tests,  ask them what are they doing to help minority groups being affected by the pandemic, vote for candidates that support expanding healthcare. Not only talk to your officials, talk to everyone. Race has to be a topic we talk about with everyone, especially with our white friends and our white colleagues and our white families.

Mental health and Covid-19 – The fear from the pandemic, the isolation and social distancing, the loss of income, the feelings of loneliness, the anxiety of what’s to come, are all things we are dealing with together right now as a society. The pandemic is likely to cause a rise in suicides.

How can you help or what can you do if you or your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Their website has very detailed articles and lists on how to deal with someone you know being suicidal or for yourself.

Text the Crisis Text Line 

Text HOME to 741741 (if you live in the US/Canada) and someone will get back to you immediately that will help you with the crisis you are experiencing at the moment. Remember, there is always someone to listen.

Keep an eye on your loved ones. Don’t forget to check up on the ones that seem alright. It’s a hard time for everyone. Be compassionate with yourself and with others.

And here are the Things That Made Me Laugh this week:

This woman who is giving free ASL classes from home 

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 #146, 2020 Week 15

Hey everyone,

Life is somehow changing quickly outside our windows while we shelter in place. 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 COVID crisis is looming large again for the umpteenth week in a row, and I think I can safely say this is the most terrifying monotony I’ve ever experienced. Speaking as a social worker: Now might be a time to think about emotional first-aid, your personal coping strategies, and stages of loss. (Speaking as a lawyer: I know, Social Worker Me can be really annoying. Sadly, that doesn’t make her suggestions incorrect.)

Events to Know

White House Staffing News.  The White House Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, is leaving her post after eight months of literally never briefing the press about anything.  (Grisham is returning to be Melania’s staff, from whence she came.)   But the big staff reshuffle news of the week is that Trump announced the staffing of his ‘Opening the Country’ council, and it… leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least, in terms of medical and public health expertise.  Nonetheless, even his council is stressing the importance of testing in controlling virus spread, and it’s at least progress in the sense that planning is beginning.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham leaving job without ever briefing press, to be first lady’s chief of staff
  2. NBC – Kayleigh Mcenany Expected To Be Next White House Press Secretary
  3. New York Times – Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council
  4. CNN – Trump told testing is key to reopening during business panel call

Trump’s COVID-19 Mismanagement. Trump’s response to this crisis keeps getting uglier and uglier.  He keeps signaling he’ll reopen the country next month, hinting that he may force regions open and claim he supercedes governors’ orders if they stand in his way.  He also removed the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who was named to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, so that the CARES Act funds going to big businesses would have no oversight. Trump is also starting to signal that he may fire the leading specialist on COVID, Andrew Fauci, because Fauci keeps being the grown-up in the room.  And after more than a week of threatening to withhold funding from the WHO because he doesn’t like how they are reporting virus spread in the U.S, Trump went ahead and formally announced he was officially doing it.

Key links:

  1. Bloomberg – Trump Declares He Has ‘Total’ Authority To Reopen After Virus
  2. Politico – Trump Removes Independent Watchdog For Coronavirus Funds, Upending Oversight Panel
  3. CNN – Trump Retweets Call To Fire Fauci Amid Coronavirus Criticism
  4. STAT – Trump Pledges To Put A Hold On U.S. Funding For The World Health Organization
  5. Washington Post – Trump announces cutoff of new funding for the World Health Organization over pandemic response

Other COVID Misconduct. Of course, Trump’s administration has plenty of other malfeasance this week as well. An honorable mention goes to William Barr and Steven Mnuchin, both of whom lack any medical expertise whatsoever but are nonetheless loudly supporting Trump’s cockamamie plan to reopen the country on May 1st. And several people have enabled Trump’s bizarre vendetta against the U.S. Postal Service, which Trump refuses to support despite its struggles because he doesn’t want to allow voting by mail to happen. But the most obnoxious action from the White House this week was Mike Pence blocking top health experts from appearing on CNN–a retaliatory action because the station refused to cover any more of Trump’s dangerously misinformative “press briefings.”  He did eventually reverse the position, but it’s horrifying that this happened at all.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Mnuchin: Economy Could Reopen In May
  2. Business Insider – Trump Reportedly Rejected Approving A Bailout Package That Would Rescue The Us Postal Service, And It Could Be A Disaster For States Trying To Expand Voting By Mail
  3. New York Times – Why Republicans Are So Afraid Of Vote-By-Mail
  4. CNN – White House Reverses Position After Blocking Health Officials From Appearing On CNN

Recent Resilience

Recent State Resilience. Though things have been bleak, we’ve seen some glimmers of encouraging state action. A Kansas court upheld the governor’s order to limit in-person gatherings, ignoring “war on Easter” rhetoric to note that the governor had authority to make the order. As the Washington Post notes, Ohio has unusually low hospitalization rates due to its governor modeling ideal epidemic response early. And in Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court forced an ill-advised election, constituents voted out one of the judges who made them vote during a pandemic.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Kansas Court Strikes Down Gop Measure Allowing In-person Easter Church Services, Lets Coronavirus Restrictions Stand
  2. Washington Post – Did Ohio Get It Right? Early Intervention, Preparation For Pandemic May Pay Off.
  3. New York Times – Live: Wisconsin Supreme Court And Statewide Election Results

New Tracing Technology. Apple and Google announced this week that they are working on new technology that would trace coronavirus contact, allowing people to receive warnings about recent exposure. The proposal is for new smartphone software that could be easily added to people’s phones, and it won’t be ready for several months, but that window would still cause it to arrive before vaccines. Though there is obvious potential for abuse, it also has great potential for expanding testing and tracking infection vectors, so I’m tentatively excited about it.

Key links:

  1. Ars Technica – Apple And Google Detail Bold And Ambitious Plan To Track Covid-19 At Scale

Things to Watch

2020 Election Updates. As noted last week, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ordered in-person elections in the eleventh hour on Monday, resulting in a messy Tuesday election with only five polling locations open in the state.  While results were pending, Bernie Sanders ended his campaign, leaving Joe Biden the near-certain Democratic nominee for 2020.  Sanders also endorsed Biden, presumably trying to avoid a mess like 2016.  Meanwhile, several states that aren’t Wisconsin continue to postpone their primaries, worried about public health risk during a pandemic.  And Elizabeth Warren has released a comprehensive proposal for voting during the pandemic, because of course she has a plan for that.  
Key links:

  1. Vox – Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Rules Along Partisan Lines To Require The State To Hold Its Election On Tuesday
  2. Washington Post – Bernie Sanders Endorses Joe Biden: “We Need You In The White House”
  3. New York Times – 16 States Have Postponed Their Primaries Because Of Coronavirus. Here’s A List 
  4. NPR – Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls For National Voting Overhaul

State of the COVID-19. We are unquestionably being hit hard by this pandemic–at the time that I type this, we definitely lead the world in cases, and over 23,000 people in this country have lost their lives to COVID-19.  We’re increasingly seeing fatalities in younger adults and food industry workers, and COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States. We’re also beginning to experience massive food waste because food migratory patterns have changed dramatically.  Experts say the pandemic is unlikely to improve with warmer weather, and New York is still hit particularly hard.   Several outlets have also started writing about the disproportionate infection rate experienced by Black Americans, which is exacerbating existing health disparities Immigrant communities and prisons are hit disproportionately hard as well.
Key links:

  1. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center – Covid-19 Map
  2. Washington Post –  Grocery Workers Are Beginning To Die Of Coronavirus
  3. Guardian – ‘A Disastrous Situation’: Mountains Of Food Wasted As Coronavirus Scrambles Supply Chain
  4. NBC New York – Massive Spike In Nyc ‘Cardiac Arrest’ Deaths Seen As Sign Of Covid-19 Undercounting
  5. ABC – ‘Torn Up’: African American Family Mourns 4 Loved Ones As Covid-19 Racial Disparities Exposed

Market Volatility Continues. Negotiations continue to go poorly on a fourth Coronavirus response bill.  Bill Mnuchin has requested more money for small business relief, saying the original amount in the CARES Act will be gone within days, though SBS officials say the problem lies with big banks.   Mitch McConnell seems amenable to Mnuchin’s request, but refuses to negotiate with Democrats to get a final version of the bill.  So now Nancy Pelosi won’t negotiate either, and everything appears to be at a standstill.   The Congressional gridlock is unfortunate, because things are still very bad.  More than 17 million people have filed for unemployment in the past four weeks, and experts are starting to say we’re experiencing a depression–but stimulus checks have been delayed further by Trump ordering the Treasury to print his name on the checks themselves.  And more people may experience unemployment soon, since the small business loan fund is expected to run out sometime in the next few days.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Mnuchin Seeks $250 Billion More In Small Business Aid, As Senate Vote Is Planned For Thursday
  2. Bloomberg – Mcconnell Moves On Quick Aid Vote While Pelosi Urges More Cash
  3. Politico – Unemployment Claims Near 17 Million In Three Weeks As Coronavirus Ravages Economy
  4. Washington Post – America is in a depression. The challenge now is to make it short-lived.
  5. CNN – Trump’s name will be added to stimulus checks

Actions for Everyone

As far as being in a constant state of grief goes, this week feels a little better than last week, am I right? Holidays are being celebrated. The IRS is sending out disbursements. In the Midwest, we received what I truly think will be the last snow of the season, and the world watches with hope as Wuhan’s 76-day lockdown was lifted April 8. Here’s to hoping we see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

Find Your Breath: In order to use your voice, you must also find your breath. That can be a challenge if you’re internalizing the collective stressors of our times. Sometimes I reflect on my day to find that I haven’t taken a full breath yet. So, get ready and *breathe in for 4 seconds* *hold it for 4 seconds* and *breath out for 4 seconds* That’s a method called Box Breathing, also known as square breathing, which is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths. It can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever. Healthline.com has a great box breathing visual which may help before you launch into your activism for the day, or listen to the news, or do anything really.

Additionally, this healing justice online community called Irresistible has compiled and created some great resources. Check them out!

Fight Against Voter Suppression: Having just gone through the Wisconsin primaries, it seems like our newsletter’s ongoing advice to register to vote and double check that you’re registered to vote hasn’t been vigilant enough. Last week, the WI Supreme Court and the SCOTUS voted not to postpone elections in spite of “safer at home” orders and to not extend the deadline for absentee ballots, respectively.

So, any lawyers out there, what lawsuits can be happening? Do you all have a chat room for lawyers? If yes, please activate and protect democracy from this attack! The first federal class-action lawsuit has been filed against Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, but how about representing the thousands of folks who got their absentee ballots past the deadline, or didn’t receive one despite their request?

For all of us who can’t file lawsuits, here are Robin Vos’ and Scott Fitzgerald’s office contact information incase you want to give them a piece of your mind:

Robin Vos 

Mailing Address:

Room 217 West, State Capitol,

PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708

Email:

Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov

Telephone: 

(608) 266-9171

(888) 534-0063

Scott Fitzgerald

Mailing Address:

Room 211 South, State Capitol

PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707

Email:

Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov

Telephone:

(608) 266-5660

If you live in a state with a spring primary coming up, please request an absentee ballot if you’re able. Additionally, if you can request an absentee ballot for the rest of 2020, do that. If you live in Wisconsin, here’s a link to request an absentee ballot for all 2020 elections so the GOP can’t pull this on us again.

Stimulus Updates: The IRS has started dispersing stimulus checks to folks who have filed 2018 or 2019 taxes, have set up direct deposit with the IRS and who make less than $99,000.

If you haven’t filed those taxes or know anyone who hasn’t filed, for reasons, the IRS made a simple tax return tool to help you receive those funds. Also, there’s also an IRS tool called Get My Payment which helps you track the progress of your disbursement.

Also, reiterating last week’s newsletter, OMG UNIVERSAL INCOME PLEASE. 

Things That Made Me Smile this past week:

If Busta Rhymes was an egg

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 #145, 2020 Week 14

Hey everyone,

Trying to sort through the abundance of information (and misinformation). 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 week, we graduated from ever-present coronavirus news to coronavirus news and administration corruption news.  Essentially, we’re moving away from the incompetence part of the program, and Act II will be quid-pro-quo and personal enrichment issues.  (I don’t know about you, but I’m not enjoying this show at all.  Who do I speak with for a refund?)

Events to Know

Retaliatory Firings (Again).  This week Trump fired Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the man who did his job and passed along a credible whistleblowing complaint literally six months ago.  Though the official notice gave no reason for the firing, counter to Congressional intent, it seems pretty clear that this was retaliatory and intended to be a distraction from COVID-19 news.  (Ironically, Mitch McConnell went ahead and said the quiet part out loud this week, complaining that impeachment news diverted attention from coronavirus–but he was trying to excuse Trump’s inaction in January and February, claiming that impeachment kept him from doing his job.)  For an encore, Trump also removed the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who was named to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Not coincidentally, Trump had been talking about removing accountability for the CARES Act funds for days beforehand.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Trump Fires Intelligence Community Watchdog Who Told Congress About Whistleblower Complaint That Led To Impeachment
  2. Washington Post – Trump Fires Yet Another Official Who Played A Key Role In Investigating Trump
  3. The Hill – McConnell: Impeachment Distracted Government From Coronavirus Threat
  4. Politico – Trump Removes Independent Watchdog For Coronavirus Funds, Upending Oversight Panel
  5. New York Times – Trump Suggests He Can Gag Inspector General For Stimulus Bailout Program

Trump’s Wild COVID-19 Adventures. Governors are reporting that Trump is showing favoritism with medical equipment, pitting states against each other instead of encouraging fair pricing and undergranting supplies to blue states while overgranting to red states. (Trump, of course, did nothing to disabuse anybody of this notion when he announced that states needed to be ‘treat [him] well’ to get supplies the week before.) Similarly, the administration has been accused by several countries of seizing masks and other equipment mid-transit that were supposed to go to Germany, Canada, and other countries–I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I definitely did not have ‘America accused of piracy by its own allies’ on my COVID Bingo card. Trump also refused to reopen the ACA marketplace for newly-unemployed Americans and has doubled down on his false claim that hydroxychloroquine can treat COVID-19. Some outlets are starting to report that the latter is because he has a business interest in hydroxochoroquine, though some simply think he is incompetent or ignores objective reality.  Then he threatened to withhold funding from the WHO because he was angry about how they are reporting virus spread in the U.S.

Key links:

  1. Guardian –  New York’s Andrew Cuomo Decries ‘eBay’-Style Bidding War For Ventilators
  2. BBC – Coronavirus: Us Accused Of ‘Piracy’ Over Mask ‘Confiscation’
  3. NBC – Trump Admin Will Not Reopen Obamacare Exchanges During Coronavirus Pandemic
  4. CNN – Heated Disagreement Breaks Out In Situation Room Over Hydroxychloroquine
  5. New York Times – Trump’s Aggressive Advocacy Of Malaria Drug For Treating Coronavirus Divides Medical Community

Other COVID Misconduct. Of course, Trump didn’t have a corner on bad government behavior this week. Jared Kushner was in the news for claiming the Health and Human Services stockpile of emergency medical equipment was ‘our stockpile’ and not supposed to go to the states–despite the HHS website clearly saying otherwise. When this was pointed out to him, Kushner’s response was to change the language on the HHS website, removing the language about state access. And the Acting Navy Secretary, Thomas Modley, was in the news after relieving a commander because he reported COVID spread on his aircraft carrier. Modley also mocked the commander for making the right call, calling him “too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer” of the aircraft carrier.  Within a few days, Modley had been forced to resign.

Key links:

  1. MarketWatch – Jared Kushner Slammed For Saying The Federal Medical Supply Stockpile Isn’t Meant For States
  2. Washington Post – The Trump Administration Just Changed Its Description Of The National Stockpile To Jibe With Jared Kushner’s Controversial Claim
  3. Reuters – U.S. Navy Relieves Commander Of Coronavirus-hit Aircraft Carrier
  4. NBC – Acting Navy Secretary Resigns After Criticizing Ousted Captain Who Raised Alarm On Outbreak

Recent Resilience

Recent Ocean Resilience. We got some unexpected good news this week in the form of marine biology–scientists are now saying that we have the knowledge to restore ocean life by 2050.  Needless to say, this optimism still hinges on finding a solution to climate change, because conditions would continue to threaten life without a solution for the cascade of changes it creates.  But the fact that it’s even possible is new, and definitely welcome information!

Key links:

  1. Guardian – Oceans Can Be Restored To Former Glory Within 30 Years, Say Scientists

Worker Strike Updates. Several of the strikes mentioned last week have already seen successes! Instacart will now provide their workers with health and safety kits containing cloth face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers, and Amazon will begin conducting temperature checks and providing masks. Target and Walmart have announced similar policies as well. Progress!

Key links:

  1. Verge – Instacart To Provide Face Masks For Workers As Part Of Covid-19 Safety Kit
  2. Reuters – Retail Sector Companies Turn To Masks, Gloves In Coronavirus Fight

Things to Watch

2020 Election Updates. The Wisconsin primary turned into quite an ongoing saga, and ended up shaping the entire primary.  Though the state legislature wanted to hold in-person elections, the governor ordered a postponement for safety reasons in light of the current crisis.  Then the state’s Supreme Court blocked the governor on Monday in the eleventh hour, which means in-person voting was back on with only five polling locations open in the state.  Wisconsin Republicans may or may not have been taking cues from Trump, who said this week that Republicans would ‘never’ be elected again if vote-by-mail were permitted–an incredible claim even before you consider the obvious risk it promotes during a pandemic.  The final results won’t be available until next week, but while they were pending, Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, leaving Joe Biden the near-certain Democratic nominee for 2020.
Key links:

  1. Vox – Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Rules Along Partisan Lines To Require The State To Hold Its Election On Tuesday
  2. The Hill – Trump Says Election Proposals In Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Would Hurt Republican Chances
  3. New York Times – Voting in Wisconsin During a Pandemic: Lines, Masks and Plenty of Fear
  4. Washington Post – Bernie Sanders ends his presidential campaign

State of the COVID-19. The virus is starting to hit us really hard, and there’s a lot of mess in its wake.  At the time that I type this, we definitely lead the world in cases, and almost 13,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the pandemic.  Data is starting to suggest that the virus is more fatal to men than women, though that’s far from conclusive, and reports also suggest that Black Americans are being disproportionately infected, exacerbating existing health disparities.  We’re also starting to see infection among essential workers who do not treat the virus New York is still a major hotspot, and though the U.S.N.S. Comfort docked in New York Harbor, it is not yet treating many patients.  The United States is still missing a lot of test data, making it hard to get accurate numbers, and the CDC is now recommending that everyone wear cloth face masks in public.  Nonetheless, some states are allowing religious exemptions for stay-at-home orders, which Trump seems to be supporting.
Key links:

  1. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center Map
  2. Slate – “Essential” Workers Are Dying
  3. New York Times – The 1,000-Bed Comfort Was Supposed To Aid New York. It Has 20 Patients.
  4. CNN – Top Doctor Says White House Coronavirus Task Force Still Missing 50% Of Testing Data
  5. NPR – CDC Now Recommends Americans Consider Wearing Cloth Face Coverings In Public

Market Volatility Continues. Market volatility continues to be an unprecedented problem, with 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment last week–more than twice the previous week, and bringing the total for the month over 10 million.  For perspective, we’ve already outstripped total job loss during the Great Recession, and we might see major long-term changes as a result.  Meanwhile, after outlets began reporting that Americans on Social Security would need to file taxes to get their stimulus payments under the CARES Act, the IRS corrected course and permitted recipients to get their stimulus without filing after all.  The current implementation plan will issue disbursements from April through September, with the lowest-earning Americans receiving their checks first.  With everything going on, Congress is beginning to talk about a fourth Coronavirus relief bill, though there are no specifics yet.  Mitch McConnell is expressing resistance, but Nancy Pelosi seems equally determined, and she also is acting to create more oversight for the third bill.  It’s sort of anybody’s guess what happens next on this front, so we’ll need to see where we are in a week.
Key links:

  1. CNN – A 3,000% Jump In Jobless Claims Has Devastated The U.S. Job Market
  2. Washington Post – Retailers Furloughed Nearly 1 Million Workers This Week. But The Industry’s Troubles Are Just Beginning.
  3. ABC – What You Need To Do To Get Your Government Stimulus Check
  4. MarketWatch – Top Republican Lawmakers Maintain Their Opposition To ‘Phase 4’ Coronavirus Package
  5. CNN – Pelosi Announces House Committee On Coronavirus Crisis To Exercise Oversight Of Pandemic Response

Actions for Everyone

Take a deep deep breath, let it out. Do that as long as it takes to calm your heart a little. We’re all in this together. It’s been a hard couple of weeks, hasn’t it? We’ll be ok, we need to focus on community, in mutual aid and in taking care of each other and ourselves. We got this, because we got us.

The Covid-19 pandemic has us all feeling completely powerless and frustrated. What can we do? It’s an invisible enemy and we’re all scared. Meanwhile, our government is taking this time to show it’s true incompetence.

Small things we can do:

Calling our Representatives about various important topics. Find your reps here. 

Federal seizing of medical equipment – Hospitals have been reporting that the Federal government is seizing masks and other important supplies to fight the pandemic. Leaving them without knowledge of where these equipment is going and how to acquire the things they need to protect their healthcare workers. Demand an answer from your representatives, what is happening with the equipment, we must have transparency.  You can read more about it here. 

Inspector General in charge of Covid-19 Stimulus package is fired – As mentioned on our Events to Know section, General Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General who was to oversee the management of the 2 Trillion stimulus package was fired. He wasn’t told why he was terminated and received the news as a surprise. Demand transparency in this government. We are in the middle of the greatest crisis we’ve encountered in decades and Trump is out here firing folks for revenge and playing politics as if nothing is going on.

Universal Income – Covid-19 has hit Spain specially hard and as the country arrives to it’s 4th week of lockdown, the Economic Minister has said they will be planning to establish a system of universal basic income to maintain people afloat. This would be the first time this type of policy has been established in Europe for an extended frame of time, and possibly become a permanent measure. Why aren’t we doing this? The USA gave out $1,200 to some of its citizens and expects people to be able to pay the bare necessities? Who are they kidding, that doesn’t even pay rent. Canada is giving out $8,000. Spain is establishing basic income. We need to start having this conversation. Why are corporations being bailed out while the people are left to fend for themselves?

Victory Gardens!

The arrival of Covid-19 has brought up the discussion of food security and establishing safe measures of food supply, especially for communities that are food deserts. I think we should take a look at our past history as a nation and re-visit Victory Gardens.

As the US entered WW I and then WW, the need to grow food in our communities became a line of defense. “These gardens were located at private homes, in public parks, vacant lots, baseball diamonds, even window boxes! Lawns were converted into vegetable gardens. Flower beds were replaced with lettuce gardens. Schools had gardens to help feed students.  Various companies planted food on their grounds to help their employees.” These gardens became our now valued community gardens. As we see how the pandemic has affected our supply chains, made people panic buy and hoard food and supplies, we should try to move towards self-sufficient means of growing food for ourselves and our communities.

I believe growing food is an act of resistance and mutual aid that is beautiful, beneficial for all, needed and also act as a way of relaxation and self care. Growing a garden right now is a literal seed of hope.

Here is a guide to starting seeds indoors!

Reach out to your local community garden organizations or use the quarantine time to learn how to establish your own! Food is hope and power and resistance.

You can find more info on Victory Gardens here. This article even has what vegetables you can plant according to season and recipes you can make with them!

If you can’t grow your own, support those that do by joining a Community Supported Agriculture program or donating to local community farming efforts.

And here are some Things That Made Me Smile this past week:

This badass radical playlist

It’s Wednesday My Dudes

Issue #144, 2020 Week 13

 

Hey everyone,

Looking for news but not sure where to turn.? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

We’ve officially reached the point where the news is All COVID-19, All the Time, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m already heartily sick of it. That said, there’s still a lot of news that definitely needs to be closely tracked, so here we are. I’ll keep folks posted, and I hope everybody is staying safe. I’ve got a stockpile of memes if anybody needs them.    
 

Events to Know

Attorney General Overreach (Again). Improbably, this week’s installment of Attorney General Overreach is actually not about William Barr! Executive branches in Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi all ordered abortion services to cease, claiming the procedure is a “nonessential medical surgery.” Needless to say, women’s health providers didn’t agree, and Planned Parenthood and the ACLU brought a lawsuit on the subject. That lawsuit resulted in an order to keep the clinics open while the merits of the case are decided–an early signal that the District Court judge presiding over the case thinks that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have a point. Hopefully, this will mean no one’s access is actually removed while the case is decided.

Key links:

  1. USA Today – Are Abortions Considered Essential Surgery During Coronavirus Crisis? Texas, Ohio, Mississippi Say No
     
  2. The Hill – Planned Parenthood, ACLU Sue Four States Over Abortion Restrictions During Pandemic

Trump’s Wild COVID-19 Adventures. In the face of the current crisis, trying to predict what 45’s policy planning has become even more of an arcane art than usual. Early in the week, he was still asserting that we should end stay-at-home protocols by Easter, for no better reason than–and I quote–he “just thought it [would be] a beautiful time.” He also stated that he will only aid states if they “treat us well” and “are appreciative” of basic federal response, withholding disaster funding from the three states hit hardest. Then he did a 180 from that cavalier position and started threatening to quarantine New York, but then walked that back the same day. Eventually his leading expert got him to wander into the middle and order another month of social distancing, which will last at least through April 30. Then he gave the CEO of MyPillow air time at a COVID-19 news conference, where the man proceeded to tell the country to read the Bible more

Key links

  1. Business Insider – ‘It’s A Two-way Street’: Trump Suggests Federal Coronavirus Aid Will Be Given To Governors Who ‘Treat Us Well’
     
  2. Washington Post – As U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 2,000, CDC Issues Travel Advisory For Hard-Hit New York Tri-State Region
     
  3. Politico – Trump Backs Off Quarantine Of New York, Surrounding Area
     
  4. CNN – Trump Extends Federal Social Distancing Guidelines To April 30
     
  5. Salon – My Pillow Ceo Claims God “Gave” President Trump To America During White House Coronavirus Briefing

State of the COVID-19. More states issued stay-at-home orders this week, bringing the total up to 32 states and one district.  At the time that I type this, the U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases, with nearly half of those cases located in New York, and over 3,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the pandemic. The FDA has given emergency approval to use antimalarial meds to treat COVID-19 as health centers struggle to get enough personal protective equipment and ventilators in place.  Trump has ordered General Motors to start producing the latter–more on that below–and Pornhub has donated 50,000 masks to NYC first responders.  The U.S.N.S. Comfort docked in New York Harbor, providing more hospital beds and more personnel to the beleaguered city.  Meanwhile, more and more attention is being drawn to the seriously unsafe conditions created for incarcerated populations, who frequently cannot observe any best practices for slowing infection spread.  We’re also showing more concern about anticipated increase of domestic violence during stay-at-home orders, which is a very real risk right now. 

Key links

  1. CNN – These States Have Implemented Stay-At-Home Orders. Here’s What That Means For You
     
  2. New York Times – 13 Deaths In A Day: An ‘apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge At An N.Y.C. Hospital
     
  3. Washington Post – U.S. Coronavirus Cases: Tracking Deaths, Confirmed Cases By State 
     
  4. CNBC – Trump Orders General Motors To Make Ventilators Under Defense Production Act
     
  5. WBUR – Powerful Sheriffs Rarely Held To Account As Families Fight For The Truth
     
  6. Time – As Cities Around The World Go On Lockdown, Victims Of Domestic Violence Look For A Way Out
     
  7. Washington Post – What’s in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus Senate stimulus package
     
  8. Associated Press – AP Exclusive: Coronavirus vaccine test opens with 1st doses

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience. We had some good court cases this week. In addition to the injunctive relief for Planned Parenthood mentioned above, another District Court judge struck down permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, concluding that their issuance violated the National Environmental Policy Act. And the First Circuit held that the administration cannot withhold crime prevention funding because it dislikes a jurisdiction’s immigration enforcement practices. 

Key links:

  1. Earthjustice – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Prevails As Federal Judge Strikes Down DAPL Permits
     
  2. Washington Post – “Sanctuary” Laws Are Latest Immigration Battle To Draw Supreme Court’s Attention

Workers Strike. This week also saw a lot of worker solidarity in the face of extreme circumstances. Both Instacart and Amazon employees have initiated a strike to get hazard pay and safer work conditions. Meanwhile, as General Motors suspends production and cuts paychecks, its workers are trying to persuade the company to comply with Trump’s order and make ventilators to address national shortages. 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Demand Coronavirus Protection And Pay
  2. Vice – General Electric Workers Launch Protest, Demand To Make Ventilators

Things to Watch

Goodbye, 2020 Olympics. Japan officially announced this week that it is postponing the 2020 Olympics, given the uncertainty created by the current pandemic.  The event is rescheduled to begin July 23, 2021.  Though this is an understandable move, it’s also unprecedented, and nobody’s quite sure what it will mean for the next year. 
 

Key links:

  1. ESPN – Tokyo 2020 Olympics Officially Postponed Until 2021
     

CARES Act Finalized. Before everything shut down in the D.C. area, Congress managed to pass the CARES Act, and Trump signed it into law on Friday evening.  (The bill was stalled for quite some time, but it impacts a lot of Americans, and it’s the third in a three-part legislative series.)  Steptoe put out a pretty good summary of the whole bill, but the parts that impact most people are likely the individual payments to taxpayers, the expanded unemployment payments (including to independent contractors), the paid family leave, and the small business loans. Since a lot of the sections involve state implementation, we’re still waiting to see what some of it will mean for people on the ground–and Trump is already signaling he won’t follow some of the oversight portions, so there’s still plenty to watch here.
 

Key links:

  1. Politico – House passes $2 trillion coronavirus package — but not without last-minute drama
     
  2. CNN – Trump signs historic $2 trillion stimulus after Congress passes it Friday
     
  3. Steptoe – President Trump Signs CARES Act into Law
     
  4. Washington Post – What’s in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus Senate stimulus package
     
  5. New York Times – Trump Suggests He Can Gag Inspector General for Stimulus Bailout Program

More Market Volatility. Once again, we had a scary week of market volatility, though hopefully the CARES Act will quell some of the storm.  The biggest new piece is that over three million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past week, which is a wildly unprecedented number for claims filed–the previous record was 700,000 claims in one week in 1982.  The Dow, for its part, had a jump after the Senate passed the CARES Act but dropped again by the end of the week, continuing its overall slump.
 

Key links:

  1. NBC – More Than 3 Million Americans Filed For Unemployment Claims Last Week
     
  2. Washington Post – U.S. Stock Markets Drop Sharply, Snapping Three-day Winning Streak
 

Actions for Everyone

How quickly some of our lives have changed (I’d assume ALL of our lives have changed, but also, I don’t know you so I don’t want to assume). Many states have instituted safer-at-home orders, and for those states who haven’t officially ordered it, hopefully everyone is keeping their distance and is safe and healthy. 

 

Open Sourced Assistance: From States’ basic unemployment insurance, to foundations, philanthropists, and credit unions offer loans and grants. Restaurants are helping feed people, people are volunteering at food pantries and all the while, trying to be as safe and healthy as possible.

 

We sent this list out last week, but I’m sending it again. Here’s a COVID-19 Assistance Resource List – Open Sourced on Google Doc meant for YOU to add to. You should have access to editing it because you have the link, but please feel free to request access if there are issues.  Please take a pass over and add anything you can think of. 

 

Keep Making Phone Calls: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) passing is a big deal and will certainly help a lot of people (myself included) during this difficult time. And yet, it’s also a bit of a corporate bail out. Let’s keep our eyes peeled on its progress and hope we see the benefits of it soon.  

 

While CARES already has momentum, don’t forget that there are still issues on the table we need to address. Some wins, like this victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and some we’re still fighting, like Texas trying to sneak some anti-abortion laws through during this crisis. 

 

If calling your reps is off the table for right now because getting out of bed each day feels like enough work (and that would be really okay right now – we all have a lot we’re dealing with) feel free to pick up the phone and make calls for the candidate of your choice. Primary elections are still happening across the country. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone else’s voice other than news anchors and your quaranteam? 

 

Support Workers Rights: I’m over here brushing up on Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution cause phew, can’t you feel it coming in the air? Here’s one revolution that we should all get behind – worker’s rights! Amazon workers are striking over safety precautions taken in response to the COVID19 outbreak as well as wage disparity. Something is wrong with the picture when the world’s richest person is asking the public to donate to his employee’s relief fund

 

We can support the cause by supporting this fight, reading up and educating other people around us about the topic, boycotting Amazon and its subsidiaries as much as possible. All essential workers should be getting supported right now, not just emotionally with heart emojis on social media, but also financially especially when a CEO Jeff Bezos and stockholders and gaining so much from this worldwide crisis. 

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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