Issue #207, 2021 Week 40

A lot has happened in the past week, and as has become the protocol, most of it is pretty rough. Here’s hoping we have better things to report soon–but as always, we’ll have actions for everyone below.

Events to Know

Election Rejection Collection.  A newly-released Senate report details exactly how Trump was pressuring his Department of Justice to overturn the November election, and it appears to pretty much say what you expect.  Speaking of 45, he’s also still telling his former aides to refuse to answer House subpoenas about his January 6 misconduct, shocking absolutely no one. And Biden refused to assert executive privilege to block his own party from investigating Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection, despite Trump saying pretty please, also shocking absolutely no one.  Meanwhile, redistricting attempts are foreseeably messy, and we should be keeping an eye on them.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Senate Report Details Trump’s Pressure Campaign At DOJ To Overturn The 2020 Election
  2. Politico – Trump Tells 4 Former Aides To Defy Jan. 6 Committee’s Subpoena
  3. NPR – The White House Authorizes The National Archives To Share Documents With Jan. 6 Panel
  4. Washington Post – The Imminent Impact Of Redistricting: Sharper Partisan Elbows, Less Compromise By Both Sides In The House

Student Loan News.  The nicest news this week is that the public service loan forgiveness program is getting a major reworking, and that reworking will be retrospective in nature.  It’s very exciting if you’re me, or any other of the thousands who have struggled to access the program since its creation in 2007.  The magic date to know, if you’re applying for the waiver to count prior payments, is October 31, 2022.  That said, since loan payments are paused in general until February 1, if you think you might qualify it probably makes sense to get your paperwork sorted before then.

Key links

  1. CNN – US Department Of Education Overhauls Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
  2. US Department Of Education – Fact Sheet: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Overhaul
  3. NPR – Troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Will Get Overhaul

Black Lives Still Matter.  This was a fairly eventful week for police misconduct. Newly-released body cam footage from Minneapolis shows police officers firing rubber bullets on peaceful assemblies, while another officer can be heard commending them for “hunting people.” Meanwhile, Pro Publica ran a story about elementary-age black children in Tennessee being jailed because they didn’t successfully intervene during a school playground fight.  And, of course, there’s the FBI raid of NYC police union headquarters and the union leader’s subsequent resignation.

Key links

  1. CNN – Body Camera Footage Reveals Minneapolis Police Officers Talking About ‘Hunting’ Civilians During May 2020 Protests, ‘f**k These People’
  2. ProPublica – Black Children Were Jailed For A Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened To The Adults In Charge.
  3. NBC – New York City Police Union Leader Resigns After FBI Raid On Headquarters

Recent Resilience

Roe v What Is Wrong With You (Again). We had a glorious two-day period where the anti-abortion law in Texas was paused, because a federal district judge recognized that it’s obviously illegal. Unfortunately, this was immediately overturned by the 5th Circuit, which was kind of a horrorshow even in the Before Times. But the appeals court decision is temporary in nature, so we may see more changes soon. 

Key links:

  1. Texas Tribune – ​​appeals Court Allows Texas Abortion Law To Resume, Stopping Federal Judge’s Order To Block Its Enforcement
  2. NPR – Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Reinstates Texas’ 6-Week Abortion Ban

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is getting slightly better overall, but is still a mess.  While Border Patrol protests the federal vaccine mandate, and Los Angeles mandates vaccination for most indoor services, down in Texas the governor is banning vaccine mandates as a condition for employment or services.  Meanwhile, Pfizer put in an official request to authorize their pediatric vaccine, and Merck is seeking authorization for an antiviral pill that they say can reduce hospitalization by lessening symptoms.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Anger In U.S. Customs And Border Protection As Biden Administration’s Vaccine Mandate Looms
  2. NBC – Texas Gov. Abbott Issues Order Banning Covid Vaccination Mandates In Rebuke Of Biden
  3. Washington Post – Pfizer, Biontech Ask FDA To Authorize Coronavirus Vaccine For Children 5 To 11
  4. Associated Press – Merck Asks US FDA To Authorize Promising Anti-Covid Pill

Current Senate Dysfunction.  The conclusion of the debt ceiling saga from the previous week is as predictable as it is dispiriting.  Mitch McConnell, apparently realizing that rich people didn’t want a default on the debt ceiling any more than the Democrats do, caved and offered a short continuance on the whole thing, which Congress promptly passed along party lines. But the bill only fixes the problem until December, which not-coincidentally is after the election season.  And now Mitch McConnell is already announcing that we’ll do all this again in December.  It really shouldn’t be this hard to make people do the literal bare minimum of their job.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Why The Senate Blinked And Moved Back From The Brink Of A Federal Default Crisis
  2. Washington Post – Mcconnell Vows Republicans Will Not Help Raise Debt Ceiling In December

Actions for Everyone

Thinking outside the supply chain: Y’all have probably been paying attention about the problems affecting our supply chain. Because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the entire globe is having issues with transporting goods! International ports have been shut down due to infections, as well as lots of factories; but another problem is that Americans are consuming more things in general! With people staying home, shopping online has skyrocketed. We’re buying so much stuff, our ports are being overwhelmed with cargo boats and there is a massive backlog. What can we do to move away from these bad spending habits we’ve adopted as a nation?

-Focus on buying local

-Find mutual aid groups online like Buy Nothing Groups

-Try to reuse or repair instead of throwing out and buying new

-Buy from a thrift store

-Start a garden to grow your own food or support local farmers by buying at farmer markets or at their farms

-Eat with the seasons

-Pick up hobbies that don’t depend on consuming stuff

These are all little micro things we can do to help the macro. Sometimes it feels like the things we do as individuals don’t have a bug effect on the world, but they do matter. Every little thing we do to help matters.

 Source:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/slate.com/business/2021/10/supply-chain-shortages-retail-united-states-explained.amp

Fighting misinformation: I don’t know about you, but I’m a big John Oliver fan. This past week his show touched on the subject of misinformation. I’ve personally touched on that subject various times in this newsletter since it’s become such a big problem, especially during Covid. His report specialized on how misinformation travels in immigrant groups by the use of apps like Facebook or Whatsapp. It was very on point! I’ve personally received crazy conspiracy theory forward messages from Whatsapp from my aunts and my mother in law who’s primary source of information is Facebook. It seems to be like immigrant groups and older folks, by not having the same media literacy and not being as tech savvy as younger and people with more access to education, are falling victim to misinformation, conspiracies and dangerous rhetoric. I think the piece on Last Week Tonight was really important and I feel everyone who is concerned about these topics should watch it. 

Here’s the episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5jtFqWq5iU

Some things that we may need to keep an eye on for future actions are:

The Texas Abortion Bill is being disputed 

Texas is also trying to censor books about racial topics 

Republicans opposing bills that would reduce climate change – https://www.npr.org/2021/10/16/1046778414/joe-manchins-objections-to-a-clean-energy-program-threaten-bidens-climate-promis

Issue #206, 2021 Week 39

I’m going to need you to bear with me, because the news is pretty terrible this week too. But as always, we’ll have suggestions for action below!

Events to Know

Election Rejection Collection.  There were some stories this week about gerrymandering in Texas; the state released new districting maps that appear pretty blatantly designed to favor white voters.  Similarly, some of the Facebook whistleblowing hubbub relates back to the role it played on January 6, though that testimony is of course much broader than that because Facebook’s misdeeds are too. And Trump aides are already dodging subpoenas in the House’s January 6 investigation.  But for the most part, this was a fairly quiet week for election rejection.  

Key links:

  1. Texas Tribune – Texas House Proposes Map That Increases Republican Strength And Decreases Black And Hispanic Majority Districts
  2. Associated Press – Whistleblower: Facebook Chose Profit Over Public Safety
  3. Guardian – Top Trump Aides Set To Defy Subpoenas In Capitol Attack Investigation

Deportation Detente.  Immigration remains in the news for another week, though only some of that is Biden’s doing.  The Department of Homeland Security released new arrest and deportation guidelines, the main takeaway being that arrests of low-threat undocumented individuals are now discouraged.  I’m sure this was in response to public pressure over the Haitian population, but I’m a bit perturbed by the fact that it took this administration nine months to get to “don’t arrest Grandma just for being here.”  Meanwhile, in the Senate, Tom Cotton tried to use an emergency stopgap funding bill to prohibit funding to Afghan refugees because of who he is as a person.  Thankfully, that measure got overturned by fifty senators who were having none of his nonsense.

Key links

  1. US News – DHS Issues New Priorities For Arrests And Deportation
  2. Washington Post – Biden Signs Government Funding Bill Hours Before Midnight Deadline To Avert Shutdown

Recent Resilience

Recent Health Care Resilience.   For yet another week, I have good news about how people are responding to the reproductive rights crisis in Texas. Perhaps in partial response to a massive women’s march in DC, the Biden administration undid a Trump-era provision that prohibited clinics from providing abortion services. But I’m excited to have a second health story as well: in groundbreaking global news, today the WHO endorsed the world’s first malaria vaccine.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Thousands Gather At Women’s March Rallies In D.C., Across U.S. To Protect Roe V. Wade
  2. Associated Press – Biden Lifts Abortion Referral Ban On Family Planning Clinics
  3. New York Times – A ‘Historic Event’: First Malaria Vaccine Approved By W.H.O.

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.    COVID news has some dark landmarks this week.  We officially passed 700,000 deaths in the United States, and apparently have also officially seen more COVID deaths in 2021 than we did in all of 2020.  But there were also a few stories about the effectiveness of vaccine mandates for increasing vaccination rates, which is kind of nice to see.  And Youtube officially started banning antivaccination misinformation, which is definitely nice to see. 

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Covid-19 Deaths Eclipse 700,000 In Us As Delta Variant Rages
  2. ABC – More Americans Died Of Covid This Year Than All Of 2020
  3. New York Times – Thousands Of N.Y. Health Care Workers Get Vaccinated Ahead Of Deadline
  4. The Verge – Youtube Bans Vaccine Misinformation

Spectacular Senate Dysfunction.  You may recall that last week, everyone was worried that we would be plunged into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic, though thankfully that didn’t happen.  The bad news is, the debt ceiling issue is still in play, despite the stopgap measure, and if we don’t fix it we’ll start seeing consequences as soon as October 18. Between the high stakes and the fact that the infrastructure vote was postponed, Congress this week was pretty much all about the debt ceiling. But it was still incredibly dysfunctional–Republicans want the Democrats to deal with the debt problem through budget reconciliation so that the GOP won’t be involved, which the Democrats don’t want to do for a variety of reasons. So a bill passed in the House, but in the Senate we keep seeing the Democrats introduce bills that the Republicans then filibuster so that the Senate can’t fix the debt stuff. This is presumably so that during election season, the GOP can campaign on the fact that the Democrats fixed the catastrophic debt stuff, which apparently is a bad thing to half the country. Also, for some reason, everybody’s talking about a trillion dollar coin? I don’t even know, y’all, the last week in Congress has been weird.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Congress Averts Shutdown, Sends 9-Week Funding Patch To Biden’s Desk
  2. Washington Post – Yellen Tells Congress That U.S. Will Run Out Of Debt-Ceiling Flexibility On Oct. 18
  3. New York Times – House Delays Vote On Infrastructure Bill As Democrats Feud
  4. Politico – Democrats Agonize Over Debt Limit Options Amid GOP Blockade
  5. The Hill – Cruz Says GOP Will Block Schumer From Bypassing Filibuster On Debt Hike

Actions for Everyone

Oil Spill in California coast: This past weekend an oil spill of at least 130 thousand gallons of crude oil occurred in the Southern California coast. The crisis is still on-going and here are a few things you can do to help:

Donate to organizations working with wildlife and cleanup efforts. They have repeatedly said the best thing to do is donate goods or money since they can’t use volunteers right now because they need people who are already professionally trained for this type of disaster. If you are in the area and see oiled wildlife, do not try to pick them up, calle professionals at the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-UCD-OWCN (823-6926).

If you want to become a volunteer whenever the time comes they need you, you can fill this form from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

California Coastkeeper Alliance

Surfrider Foundation

Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy

Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

California Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act last January to permanently ban oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Call your representatives and let them know you support this bill, which would prevent disasters like this one to ever happen again.  

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-10-04/how-you-can-help-with-the-oil-spill-cleanup-efforts

https://apps.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPRVolunteerForm/Default.aspx

https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=ED7BD4AE-AF79-4530-A62A-70131CE81303

Justice for Erica Thompson and her child: This past weekend I went to a rally for reproductive rights in Gainesville, Florida and learned about the story of Erica Thompson and her child. She was arrested last August on a probation violation for perjury and brought to an Alachua County jail while she was already having contractions. She pleaded that she was in pain and needed medical attention but instead of taking her to the hospital, she was left alone to give birth to her premature baby that was born on the 6th month of her pregnancy and the child died that same night after not getting any medical attention. This story is so cruel and sad and as I heard other activists at the rally telling her story my eyes watered and I felt so helpless. Reproductive rights are not only your right to be able to choose but also to have access to a safe pregnancy and to have medical assistance available to you, no matter where you are. This case is still on-going; I believe it’s important for this story to be known. They have a Go-Fund Me and you can also donate to Florida Prisoner Solidarity and Dignity Power, an organization dedicated to supporting incarcerated women and girls in the US.

https://mycbs4.com/news/local/i-basically-held-my-baby-all-night-until-she-died-mother-forced-to-birth-baby-in-jail

¡Si se puede!: The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) has been mobilizing to demand legal status for more than a million undocumented farm workers in the country. They are the people who ensure there is food on our tables yet they live in constant fear of being deported. They currently have a petition going and are also asking people to call their representatives to ask Congress to move towards giving legal status to essential workers like farm workers and other undocumented workers that keep our country going. We couldn’t live without them. 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/farm-workforce-modernization-act-legalizes-undocumented-farmworkers.aspx

Issue # 205, 2021 Week 38

If it seems like you’ve heard this week’s stories before, that’s because you have–every single one of this week’s topics is a continuation from a previous week.  In some instances, this is very frustrating, but in others, it’s reassuring; dumpster fires won’t change if nobody stands there with a hose.

Events to Know


Election Rejection Collection.  The Arizona audit results were officially released last week, and showed no signs of voter fraud in the state–in fact, they showed that Biden actually won the state by more votes than the original count suggested. But Republicans might have already known that, as a memo leaked this week showing that the Trump campaign already knew that several of its fraud claims were baseless as early as two weeks post-election. This is further supported by the fact that Trump is claiming the audit found evidence of fraud.  Experts are saying that the point of all of this might not relate to the 2020 election at all–experts think the point of this circus is to lay groundwork for delegitimizing election results in 2022 and 2024.  And frankly, since the Arizona audit is already being copied in Texas, despite the fact that a) the Arizona audit found no fraud and b) Texas voted for Trump in 2020, I think those experts might be right.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Republican Review Of Arizona Vote Fails To Show Stolen Election
  2. Washington Post – Trump Campaign Debunked Dominion Conspiracy Theories, Internal Memo Shows, Days Before Backers Kept Spreading Them
  3. Business Insider – Trump Releases Statement Falsely Claiming Gop Audit In Arizona Uncovered ‘Undeniable Evidence’ Of Fraud After The Audit Confirmed Biden Won
  4. NBC – The GOP’s Election Review In Arizona Is Over. Its Influence Is Just Beginning, Experts Say.
  5. New York Times – Texas, Under Pressure From Trump, Announces A ‘full Forensic Audit’ Of The 2020 Election In Four Counties.

Distressing Deportations (cont). There are updates on last week’s story about deportation of Haitian refugees as well.  The administration continues to defend its use of a Trump-era policy to deport people seeking asylum at the border, even after the practice was paused by a federal judge, and even though the process likely violates international law.  By the time of the week, all migrants had been cleared from the camp in Del Rio.  The administration clearly cares about the optics of the situation, because they temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol while they are investigating photos of agents whipping migrants.  And the Biden administration also announced that they are increasing the refugee cap to 125,000 people.  But the U.S. envoy to Haiti resigned in protest nonetheless, because the fact remains that these deportations are deeply troubling, and attempts to paper them over with feel-good cosmetic changes really don’t alter that.  (For a crash-course in context, I urge you to consider: 1) Presenting for asylum is supposed to be done at the border, precisely as these folks were doing; 2) Haiti is an incredibly destabilized country and circumstances there are what thousands of displaced persons are trying to flee in the first place; and 3) though 125,000 refugees might seem like a lot, it’s only about 15,000 higher than President Obama’s final refugee cap in 2016, despite the fact that asylum and refugee need is at a twenty-year high–so in context, it’s actually quite low.)

Key links

  1. NPR – The Biden Administration Is Fighting In Court To Keep A Trump-Era Immigration Policy
  2. Washington Post – All Migrants Have Been Cleared From Encampment In Del Rio, Tex., Homeland Security Secretary Says
  3. CNN – Dhs Temporarily Suspends Use Of Horse Patrol In Del Rio
  4. New York Times – The Biden Administration Will Raise The Cap On Refugee Admissions To 125,000.
  5. Washington Post – U.S. Special Envoy To Haiti Resigns, Says He Will Not Be Associated With ‘Inhumane, Counterproductive’ Deportations Of Haitians

Recent Resilience

Roe v. Why Are You Like This Reprise (again).  The fight against SB8 continues for another week. The major win this week is that the House successfully voted to enact federal reproductive right protections. Though this is by no means a panacea, it’s an important first step for many of the different paths we need to be treading, and directed action is the way to get walking.  So for now, I’ll take it.  

Key links

  1. NBC – House Passes Abortion Rights Bill Amid Challenges To Roe v. Wade
  2. Washington Post – House Passes Bill To Create Statutory Right To Abortion As A Battle Over Texas Law Heats Up

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19 COVID news is, to repeat a familiar refrain, a mixed bag again.  The CDC officially approved Pfizer boosters for older adults and immunocompromised individuals, which both the FDA and the CDC exploratory panel had recommended, and all frontline workers, which the FDA had recommended but the CDC panel hadn’t.  The result is a confused and complicated booster rollout which only exists for Pfizer right now, although that will likely change over time.  Meanwhile, studies are beginning to show that places where people voted for Trump are also places with the highest COVID infection rates and the lowest instances of vaccination, with one study noting that in counties where 70% of people voted for Trump, 47 out of every 100,000 people have died of COVID since late June.  (The same study notes that in counties where fewer than 30% of people voted for him, that number was 10 out of every 100,000.)  This is a pretty stark and disturbing series of findings, but it’s corroborated by news stories also published this week about which hospitals are enacting crisis standards of care and which morgues are running out of room.  

Key links:

  1. The Hill – CDC Director Partially Overrules Panel, Signs Off On Boosters
  2. New York Times – F.D.A. Authorizes Pfizer Booster Shots For Older And At-Risk Americans
  3. Pew Research Center – 10 Facts About Americans And Coronavirus Vaccines
  4. Washington Post – Hospitals Overwhelmed By Covid Are Turning To ‘Crisis Standards Of Care.’ What Does That Mean?

Spectacular Senate Dysfunction.   The biggest news is that true to form, and despite being warned about the many dangers, the Senate GOP went ahead and blocked the government funding bill that had passed in the House on schedule, which may or may not plunge us into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. Democrats were then stuck considering their options to avoid said shutdown, and ended up passing a partial stopgap.  That said, the stopgap is a limited and temporary measure that will still leave parts of the government furloughed. Meanwhile, the debt ceiling issue is still in play, and they’re still discussing the possibility of dealing with it through budget reconciliation–but as I covered last week, that was supposed to be bundled with an infrastructure bill that still isn’t finished as I type this at 6:36 Friday evening, because Democrats keep fighting over it.  Right now, budget reconciliation is being discussed again, despite leadership’s attempts to put it to rest, because the progressive bloc didn’t budge any more than the centrist bloc did.  As a result,  votes have been postponed again on the infrastructure bill until next week.

Key links:

  1. Politico – House Sends Shutdown Patch, Debt Fix To Senate Demise
  2. Washington Post – White House Tells U.S. Agencies To Get Ready For First Government Shutdown Of Pandemic
  3. NPR – A $3.5 Trillion Question: What Is Budget Reconciliation? Here’s An Explainer
  4. Washington Post – $4 Trillion White House Agenda In Peril As Democrats Still At Odds Ahead Of Key Votes

Actions for Everyone

Coping with anxiety: For many of you, coping with anxiety is part of your daily routine. For others, myself included, the pandemic, job insecurity, and maybe even the PTSD of being teargassed for days on end by police last year, is making my daily life more difficult to focus on than ever before.

I’m no doctor, and I guarantee you this isn’t new news to you, but rather a reminder that there are daily accomplishments we can make that will help ease our anxiety. Here are a few of them:

  1. Exercise: whether it’s chair stretching or doing something that makes you sweat, choosing to exercise is really one of the most healthy decisions we can make. 
  2. Consider sobriety: cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine can all contribute to anxiety. Try setting aside some time when you avoid those substances. 
  3. Breathe: breathing techniques can calm you in crisis, or right before you fall asleep. Check out https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/ for breathing tips.

Also, email and call your elected officials demanding living wage legislation so people can afford healthcare and/or FREE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Geez. This is why people get mad at rich white men who go to the moon for fun. 

Issue #204, 2021 Week 37

After a brief break, the news is back to being a bad parody of itself–seriously, folks, I couldn’t make half of this stuff up.  But here we are, and I haven’t found an escape hatch from this timeline yet, so here we will remain. Which means you know where to find us, if anybody needs anything–and as always, we’ll have actions for everyone below.

Events to Know

Election Rejection Collection.  Okay, this one kind of runs the gamut again. There was a rally for the January 6 rally in DC this weekend, which unsurprisingly had a lot more proactive policing this time, and equally unsurprisingly had fewer participants as a result. There were also some stories about Mike Pence and his sad, sidelong peer over the gates of Treasonville last fall– presumably as part of the news about Trump’s head general ahead of yet another tell-all book about the Trump administration.  And Californa’s governor successfully survived yet another recall election, which marks his fifth in four years.

 
Key links:

  1. NBC News – Small Crowd Gathers Near Capitol To Protest Treatment Of Those Jailed In Jan. 6 Riot
  2. CNN Politics – Memo Shows Trump Lawyer’s Six-step Plan For Pence To Overturn The Election
  3. CBS News – Top General Feared Trump Might Launch Nuclear War, New Book Says
  4. Washington Post – What to know about California Gov. Newsom’s recall

Distressing Deportations.  The Biden administration is showing a marked mismanagement of border policy yet again this week, this time regarding Haitian displaced persons. The administration began deporting people via plane back to Haiti on Sunday, ignoring the fact that Haiti cannot accommodate them–remember, the President was assassinated in July and they had a devastating hurricane in August–and many of these people haven’t been living in Haiti for over a decade.  Then after this began, footage began surfacing of border patrol officers on horseback brandishing whips at Haitian migrants, which is particularly galling when Haiti, the oldest black republic in the world, was founded by slave revolution.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – Biden Administration To Ramp Up Deportation Flights To Haiti, Aiming To Deter Mass Migration Into Texas
  2. New York Times – Haiti Protests Mass U.S. Deportation of Migrants to Country in Crisis
  3. Associated Press – US Officials Defend Expulsion Of Haitians From Texas Town
  4. Axios – Photos show Border Patrol whipping at migrants from horseback

Recent Resilience

Roe v. Why Are You Like This Reprise (again). There are more updates on this front, and it’s kind of good and kind of “are you kidding me.” Attorney General Garland, following up on his lawsuit against the bill, has moved for an injunction while the case is pending. (This part is not surprising, although it is edifying.)  A doctor in Texas, Dr. Alan Braid, also wrote a public op-ed about the fact that he violated the law, essentially writing “come at me, bro” in giant neon letters.  And sure enough, he’s already being sued, but neither plaintiff even lives in Texas, because standing is more of a suggestion under the new law apparently, and both plaintiffs are disbarred attorneys. In fact, one of the two plaintiffs is still serving out a criminal incarceration for felony tax evasion and is seeking $100,000 in “damages,” spelling out all kinds of things in a brief that is one wild ride to read.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In Asking For Emergency Halt On Texas Ban, Justice Dept. Describes Women, Girls Desperately Seeking Abortions Out Of State
  2. Forbes – First Private Citizen To Be Sued Under Texas Abortion Law Is Doctor Who Publicly Admitted Performing Abortion
  3. NBC News – Arkansas Man Sues Texas Doctor Who Admitted He Violated State’s Strict New Abortion Law

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  There were some highlights this week, which I suppose is something.  In vaccine news, Pfizer is apparently ready to submit data for emergency approval of vaccines for folks ages 5-11; the FDA also endorsed booster shots for elderly and immunocompromised Americans.  In social news, census data also shows that COVID relief impacted national poverty rates. But most of this week’s COVID news… well it’s bad, Jim. The U.S. hit the gruesome milestone of 1 in every 500 Americans dying from COVID, disproportionately in places with low vaccination rates and among people of color. Our hospitals are overwhelmed in many places, especially in the South.  Yet a quarter of eligible adults refuse to vaccinate, and GOP officials increasingly are publicly fighting vaccine mandates, despite the fact that experts increasingly are saying that mandates are the only way out of this mess. It’s like we’re all trapped in a lifeboat with people who insist that they have a constitutional right to poke holes in the lifeboat.

  

Key links:

  1. NBC News – Pfizer Says Its Covid Vaccine Is Safe And Effective For Children Ages 5 To 11
  2. Associated Press – Census: Relief Programs Staved Off Hardship In Covid Crash
  3. CNN – 1 In Every 500 Us Residents Have Died Of Covid-19
  4. New York Times – Covid Hospitalizations Hit Crisis Levels in Southern I.C.U.s
  5. Washington Post – Republicans maneuver to block vaccine mandates, undercutting a policy widely seen as an effective tool to end pandemic

Spectacular Senate Dysfunction.  For a number of reasons, it’s best if the budget reconciliation bill, which we’ve been talking about being dysfunctional and stalled for weeks, passes on a particular deadline,  Nonetheless, the Democrats still have to make it to fifty votes, and multiple moderates of their own party are refusing to vote for it, again. It’s further complicated by GOP threats regarding the debt ceiling, which would be legitimately very dangerous for our current economy if carried out, and intersect with the budget process in a number of ways. If we can’t find some kind of consensus on any of this, we have a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. So needless to say, this is very important to watch and to call about, and we need to keep a firm eye on it especially in the next week.

Key links:

  1. NPR – A $3.5 Trillion Question: What Is Budget Reconciliation? Here’s An Explainer
  2. Washington Post – Democrats Prepare For Next Phase Of Budget Fight As House Readies Package And Biden Meets With Senate Skeptics
  3. NBC News – House Passes Stopgap Bill To Avert Government Shutdown, Debt Default

Actions for Everyone

Haitian Refugee Crisis: Last week, terrible and disturbing images of Border Patrol agents on horseback using their whips against Haitian refugees went public. Such treatment of immigrants is unacceptable. The Biden administration is refusing asylum for Haitians under Title 42, which singles out asylum seekers under “public health” grounds. “This violent treatment of Haitians at the border is just the latest example of racially discriminatory, abusive, and illegal US border policies that are returning people to harm and humanitarian disaster” said the managing director at Human Rights Watch. 

How can you help?

Donate to Black Freedom Factory is working on site with the refugees and they are asking for the following:

Non-Perishable food items

Menstrual products

Hygiene products

Water

Baby supplies & diapers

Blankets, towels, socks and undergarments

You can also donate money directly to their website: https://blackfreedomfactory.org

Possible Shutdown: Congress has till September 30th to reach a deal where they can suspend the debt ceiling and approve emergency funds. House Democrats already approved a measure to do so, but top Senate Republicans have already said they will not support said emergency measures.The legislation could fail in the Senate, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will vote against raising the debt ceiling.

A government shutdown right now would mean hundreds of thousands of government workers going home, others deemed “essential” to work without pay and even agencies like the CDC could be affected. It would be the first time there is a shutdown during a national emergency like the Coronavirus pandemic. 

What can you do? Call your representatives! While you’re at it, you can also ask them to support asylum for Haitian refugees. 

Here is an article from Refinery29 to help you:

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/01/138465/how-to-call-senator

Covid Booster Shot: You may be eligible for your third Covid shot! The FDA just announced they are authorizing booster shots for the following people:

-Those 65 and older

-Those who are at high risk for severe disease or are immunocompromised

-Those who are at a higher risk for infection because of their line of work

If it’s been 6 months from your first shot and you fall under these categories, go get your shot to get protected. You can find where to get your shot by going to the following website: https://www.vaccines.gov

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/23/shutdown-congress-budget-debt-ceiling/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/21/government-shutdown-house-passes-funding-debt-ceiling-bill.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/22/health/fda-authorizes-covid-booster-bn/index.htm

Issue #203, 2021 Week 36

This was a very eventful week, and a lot of it was even promising! (I suggest you don’t think too hard about the fact that people bringing lawsuits about illegal things and requiring humans to get basic vaccines is promising. Just take the endorphins and call it a day.)

Events to Know

Election Rejection Collection.  We have a random collection of bits and bobs regarding election rejection this week, and they pretty much run the gamut.  On the scary end of things, we have that one dude who was picked up outside DNC headquarters in D.C. with a bunch of knives and swastikas, although apparently he didn’t have any ranged weapons on him.  Additionally, after a protracted and dramatic legislative battle that involved, among other things, Texas Democrats going awol for months, the Texas legislature managed to pass its godawful voting suppression bill.  But on the plus side, several advocacy organizations have already filed lawsuits intending to challenge Texas’s new voter suppression law, and I’ll definitely keep folks posted on that one.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Capitol Police Arrest Man With Bayonet And Machete In Truck Near DNC Headquarters
  2. Washington Post – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Signs Law Creating New Voting Restrictions As Opponents Sue

Modest Vaccine Mandates.   This week, Biden took some very decisive action on the current pandemic. The main headline is that he issued a federal vaccine mandate that requires all federal workers, as well as many healthcare providers, to get the vaccine within the next 75 days. He also passed a separate mandate requiring  all businesses with 100+ staff to require either testing or vaccination for their workers and grant paid time off during vaccination. Additionally, he provided incentives for schools to require masks, and though Biden’s provisions stopped short of requiring vaccination to fly, his top infectious disease expert implied that might be on the table as a future order. When asked about the fact that Republicans are already threatening to sue him over this (because of course they are), Biden apparently simply replied, “Have at it.”

Key links

  1. CNN – White House Releases Biden’s Updated Covid Response Plan
  2. Associated Press – Sweeping New Vaccine Mandates For 100 Million Americans
  3. NPR – Biden Dangles New Federal Funds For Schools That Defy Mask Mandate Bans
  4. Washington Post – Fauci Says He Supports Vaccine Mandates For Air Travel. Will It Actually Fly?
  5. Business Insider – Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Sparks Furious Reaction Among Republican Leaders, Who Are Threatening To Sue Him Over The ‘Cynical’ Decision

Climate Change Crises.  Natural disasters continue to be a rough and constant presence.  As I mentioned earlier, Hurricane Ida, a category 4 hurricane, touched down in New Orleans last Sunday, leaving nearly 1 million people without power for the foreseeable future.  True to that prediction, the power remained off in many places, and some parts of New Orleans have begun evacuating due to heat-related concerns. But after Ida left Louisiana, it went on to wreak major climate change devastation in the American Northeast, creating tornadoes and floods and killing at least 41 people. Meanwhile, fires raged in California and near Lake Tahoe again, highlighting the fact that climate-related disasters are happening all over the country with alarming frequency. A new study also suggests that people of color are disproportionately impacted by this phenomenon.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – New Orleans Begins Evacuating Residents Amid Outages As Power Could Come Back On In Coming Days
  2. New York Times – 43 Die As Deadliest Storm Since Sandy Devastates The Northeast
  3. New York Times – Overlapping Disasters Expose Harsh Climate Reality: The U.S. Is Not Ready
  4. Washington Post – Epa Just Detailed All The Ways Climate Change Will Hit U.S. Racial Minorities The Hardest. It’s A Long List.

Recent Resilience

Roe v. Why Are You Like This Reprise. It’s a silver lining, but we saw relatively quick actual response to last week’s SCOTUS nighttime nightmare adventure, which allowed a blatantly unconstitutional law to take effect in Texas. More specifically, Attorney General Merrick Garland filed a lawsuit against the bill on the grounds that it illegally infringes on constitutional rights, and it’s my hope that he’ll get a stay in place on the new law relatively quickly. In the meantime, Indivisible has advocacy suggestions for this issue if you’re looking for things you can do as well.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Texas Abortion Case Highlights Concern Over Supreme Court’s ‘Shadow Docket’
  2. Washington Post – Justice Department Sues Texas To Block Six-week Abortion Ban

Black Lives Still Matter.  A grand jury indicted three police officers and two EMTs, concluding that their actions in 2019–namely, administering a chokehold and forcibly injecting ketamine–resulted in Elijah McClain’s death. There are thirty-two indictments total, and each defendant has been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide at minimum. It’s not ‘good’ news, per se, but it definitely needed to happen, and it’s what we’ve got on tap this week.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Grand Jury Indicts Police Officers And Paramedics In 2019 Death Of Elijah McClain

The Denver Post – Elijah Mcclain Case: Grand Jury Indicts Police, Paramedics In Death

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  As was foretold by prophecy, pandemic unemployment benefits expired this week, but our workforce is still out of whack from the pandemic–which means the end of these benefits is likely to be rough for both individual workers and the whole economy.  Meanwhile, cases in some places are so high that hospitals are reinstituting crisis standards of care. On one side of the country, Los Angeles became the first major district in the nation to mandate vaccination in schools for all students twelve and older. On the other, in Florida, an appeals court hearing the mask mandate court case decided to reinstitute the mandate ban on a temporary basis.

  1. Washington Post – Millions In U.S. Lose Jobless Benefits As Federal Aid Expires, Thrusting Families And Economy Onto Uncertain Path
  2. New York Times – The U.S. Surpasses 40 Million Known Coronavirus Cases.
  3. New York Times – Los Angeles Mandates Vaccines For Students 12 And Older
  4. Politico – Appeals Court Reinstates Florida Ban On School Mask Mandates, Delivering Win To Desantis

Your Standard Senate Dysfunction. Biden’s decisive action does make the mess in the Senate look extra bad, but we’re pretty much just seeing the status quo there.  The short version is that Joe Manchin is earning his title as Country’s Most Useless Democrat, announcing that he’s just gonna refuse to vote for his own party’s reconciliation bill because he doesn’t like the deadline and he doesn’t like the compromise reached. So now it’s an open question whether they’ll manage to pass anything by the internal deadlines, since reconciliation needs votes from all 50 Democrats in order to go through.

Key links:

  1. CNBC – Sen. Joe Manchin Says There’s No Way To Pass $3.5 Trillion Budget Bill By September 27
  2. Politico – Schumer Rejects Manchin’s ‘Strategic Pause’ On $3.5T Bill

Actions for Everyone

Does anyone else feel like we should all get a Summer break? A paid one. I’ve been out of college for awhile, but let me tell you, I feel the most nostalgic about that time in my life when we didn’t have class or homework for just a few weeks and could breathe before getting back into the workload. 

Met Gala: Here’s the rub on the Met Gala – each ticket to the Met Gala costs $35,000. Not including the high fashion statement pieces on top of that which I can only assume could cost just as much. Protesters were arrested outside the Met Gala while the attention was one AOC’s dress – AOC, we still love you.

The real work here is that of anti displacement, so I want to link to the Association of Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) https://anhd.org/issue/ending-displacement. ANHD builds community power to win affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. Please check out their training programs because gentrification is a nation-wide pandemic and is certainly happening near you. If you’re in NYC, share their events – https://anhd.org/trainings-and-events. 

Hurricane Ida Relief: Climate Change is real. I know I don’t have to tell you that, but usually when hurricanes hit land they usually dissipate, at least a little bit, but Ida just ramped up and continued up the East Coast. Although this was several weeks ago, people still need our support. Here are a few groups you can and should donate to:          

If you know of other resources we can share through the newsletter, send them to activism@patrothfuss.com 

Pro-choice in Texas: TEXAS! Texas. Ok, there are a few things I’d like to discuss here. For starters, I wanted to make sure everyone knows that all genders are capable of birth because our bodies don’t define our gender. So, what that means for the sake of this write up is: the abortion laws in Texas do not effect only ciswomen, so don’t post information or discuss the topic under that harmful assumption.   

Secondly, the Texas legislation is terrifying. It’s now illegal to get an abortion after six weeks – which about two weeks after a missed period. Abortion bans are scary at any stage, but six weeks is like, barely enough time to grow a Chia Pet let alone decide if you want to birth and raise a human being. 

Here’s a link to groups you can learn from and support who are working on rectifying this legislative harm, https://nymag.com/strategist/2021/09/texas-abortion-ban-2021-where-to-donate.html 

Issue #201 Week 34

Issue #201 Week 34

Well readers, we’re back, and just in time for yet another clearance sale here at Bargain Basement Dystopiaville. The writers have really jumped the shark this week, so I recommend reading this with your comfort food of choice.

Events to Know

Climate Change Crises. Natural disasters continue to arise at a very unnatural clip as climate change, well, changes our baseline for weather.  In Tennessee, flash flooding caused major devastation outside of Nashville on Saturday.  This was immediately followed by a cat 4 hurricane touching down in New Orleans on Sunday, leaving nearly 1 million people without power for the foreseeable future.  The storm made landfall on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, because irony is dead, and almost certainly was exacerbated by climate change. We also saw major climate change devastation in the American Northeast, as Ida made its way north and created tornadoes and floods, killing at least 41 people

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Tennessee Floods Show A Pressing Climate Danger Across America: ‘Walls Of Water’
  2. Reuters – Hurricane Ida Lashes Louisiana, Knocking Out Power In New Orleans
  3. New York Times – Ida Strengthened Quickly Into A Monster. Here’s How.
  4. Washington Post – Deaths Climb To At Least 44 From Northeast Floods Caused By Hurricane Ida’s Remnants

Supreme Court Malfunction. Unfortunately, the other major news story of the week is pretty rough as well.  The Supreme Court, illustrating why appointments matter, temporarily blocked reinstatement of a terrible and probably illegal Trump era asylum policy known as Remain-in-Mexico, only to pull a 180 and order the policy reinstated in its final opinion.  I would need to do a deeper immigration law dive than I’m prepared to do to really unpack just how kangaroo this court ruling is, but it has serious consequences for families exercising their lawful right to seek asylum.  Then for an encore, in the dead of night they released an unsigned 5-4 opinion that  permits enactment of the new Texas abortion law, which is both blatantly and strategically unconstitutional and literally designed to create a new McCarthy era. I seriously cannot overstate how concerning these opinions are, not just politically, but because they indicate that the rule of law is being willfully and repeatedly disregarded on a very basic level.

Key links

  1. Associated Press – Supreme Court Orders ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy Reinstated
  2. Texas Tribune – Revival Of “Remain In Mexico” Policy Could Have Deadly Consequences For Asylum-seekers, Advocates Warn
  3. Washington Post – Abortion Opponents Watch For Violations Of Texas Ban As Providers Weigh Legal Options

Congressional Updates.  This was a busy couple of weeks for the House.  On the Biden package front, they managed to advance both the infrastructure and budget bill, and passed the budget bill on Tuesday. The infrastructure bill is expected to pass in late September, though whether we hit more roadblocks before then is anybody’s guess.  The John Lewis Act, which restores and preserves a number of federal voting rights, passed this past week in the House as well. Unfortunately, that last one is expected to languish in the Senate, which is kind of its own commentary.
 

Key links

  1. Washington Post – House Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan, Aims To Vote On Infrastructure Package By Late September
  2. NPR – The House Has Passed A Bill To Restore The Voting Rights Act
  3. New York Times – House Passes A Voting Rights Bill, But A G.O.P. Blockade Awaits In The Senate

Recent Resilience

COVID Legal News. For all that this was a bad week for both COVID and court news, we did have some promising COVID legal developments. As I insinuated above, the Pfizer vaccine is officially fully approved, which opened the legal doors for vaccine mandates from all kinds of entities. Meanwhile, a Florida court ruled that schools may impose mask mandates, and the Biden administration is investigating states that prevent mask wearing in schools on the basis of disability rights. The action might end up being the basis of several other lawsuits around the country, so it’s an encouraging development.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – With F.D.A. Approval For A Covid Vaccine, The Pentagon And Others Add Vaccine Requirements.
  2. New York Times – Florida Court Rejects Effort By Gov. Ron Desantis To Ban Mask Mandates.
  3. Washington Post – Biden Administration Opens Civil Rights Investigations Over Bans On School Mask Mandates
  4. Associated Press – Mask Debate Moves From School Boards To Courtrooms

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is… well it’s not great on the whole, to be honest (though I do have some positive updates below).  The Supreme Court, keeping with the theme above, threw out the CDC eviction moratorium because, I don’t know, Reasons, which will leave a lot of people in rough spots when unemployment aid also ends this week.  Meanwhile, the EU is again restricting American travel to those who can show vaccination.  And I can’t say I blame them, given that we’re a country full of people who refuse to take perfectly good vaccines even after they’re fully approved by the FDA, opting instead to ingest horse medication that’s not even an anti-viral drug.   

Key links:

  1. CNN – Supreme Court Throws Out Biden Administration Eviction Moratorium
  2. Washington Post – Millions Of Americans Face Financial Cliff As Eviction Ban, Unemployment Aid Lapse Amid Washington Inaction
  3. Associated Press – EU Takes Us Off Safe Travel List; Backs Travel Restrictions
  4. NBC – Vaccine Hesitancy Unlikely To Disappear Because Of FDA Approval
  5. NBC – ‘Stop It’: Fda Warns People Not To Take Veterinary Drugs To Treat Covid-19

Updates on Afghanistan.  The other terrible news of the week, of course, is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which has resulted in a surge of violence as U.S. and Afghan nationals attempt to flee.  On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked Kabul airport, killing 170 people (including 13 American service members).  A subsequent attack was threatened on Saturday, prompting the U.S. embassy to encourage people to clear the area.  Monday was the last day of U.S. evacuation due to a deadline set by the Taliban, according to the deadline the Taliban set, and 98 countries have agreed to take in Afghan refugees after the evacuation is complete. 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – As U.S. Troops Searched Afghans, A Bomber In The Crowd Moved In
  2. The Hill – US Tells Americans To Leave Kabul Airport ‘Immediately’
  3. Washington Post – Last U.S. Military Flight Leaves Kabul; Biden To Address Nation Tuesday
  4. New York Times – 98 Countries Pledge To Accept Afghans After U.S. Military Departs

Actions for Everyone

This past two week has been sort of a rude awakening. The Delta variant Covid surge is in full force and after a 20 year long war in Afghanistan, the Taliban have also come back in full force.  I don’t have answers to what America should or shouldn’t do. The only thing I know is that the people of Afghanistan need the world’s help. 

How to help Afghans right now:

Contact the White House:  You can ask President Biden to take action and protect at-risk Afghans. You can go to the International Rescue Committee to send an email to the White House. According to this organization, “”many Afghans say they fear for their lives as violence continues to increase. Women and children represent 80% of Afghans who have been forced to flee since May. The rapidly escalating need for protection options in Afghanistan demonstrates how imperative it is for the Biden Administration to take immediate action to help the estimated 18.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.”

Give away your air miles: You can pledge your accumulated air travel miles, credit card points or travel vouchers towards getting refugees a plain ticket. The organization Miles 4 Migrants does exactly this!

Volunteer: The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is asking for volunteers to help refugees upon their arrival. They will need rides from the airport, help with food and shelter, tutoring and friendship. Click HERE to sign up as a volunteer. 

Donate: These organizations are trustworthy according to NPR.

Women for Afghan Women

International Refugee Assistance Project

Support Afghanistan’s Journalists 

Aid for Haiti after Earthquake aftermath: Haiti was hit by a destructive and deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake. There have been almost 2,000 deaths and many people need help. I found this Tweet that can guide you towards organizations you can donate to who are on the ground and are trustworthy. You can also donate to Lambi Fund of Haiti, who provide resources to other local Haitian community led organizations. 

Covid vaccine boosters: Starting September, Americans will be able to get a third booster shot of the Covid vaccine. It is encouraged you get it! Please get vaccinated and help your community get vaccinated too. I believe we should do what we can to stop this spread, but we shouldn’t turn a blind eye on the lack of access most poor countries have had to the vaccine. We have been very lucky, but for many, the idea of getting the vaccine isn’t possible yet. In order to stop the pandemic, everyone must have access to the same resources to fight this deadly and ugly virus. We must get vaccinated and encourage others to do so, while also doing whatever is possible to help others in need. I know, it’s not our responsibility, corporations and governments should do that, but the system is broken; our hearts don’t have to also break with it. You can help refugees to get vaccinated by donating to the International Rescue Committee. 

Issue #200, 2021 Week 33

The news continues to be A Lot for another week, and COVID stories in particular continue to show a country that is bizarrely divided over simple questions of health. It’s very exhausting, but as always, we’ll have ways you can respond below.

Events to Know

Election Rejection News. Voting news was all over the place this week. In legal news, there’s the Texas judge who refused to allow the arrest of Democrats over their group jaunt to DC, as well as former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s testimony to the Justice Department regarding Trump’s attempts to subvert the election while Rosen was in his cabinet. In election audit news, Maricopa County is officially ending the farcical audit that has been ongoing for the past several months, calling the whole thing an “adventure in never-never land” in their delightfully blunt letter. And Trump is still trying to block the release of his tax returns because… reasons, I guess? I honestly can’t tell what legal argument there even is at this point, and apparently neither can his legal team.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Texas Supreme Court Halts Ruling That Protected Democrats From Arrest In Voting Rights Standoff
  2. New York Times – Former Acting Attorney General Testifies About Trump’s Efforts To Subvert Election
  3. CNN – Maricopa County Defies Latest Subpoena Request From Arizona State Senate Seeking To Expand 2020 Ballot Review
  4. NBC – Trump Seeks To Block Treasury Department From Giving His Tax Returns To Congress

Administration Updates.  There is technically an update on the infrastructure package, because it cleared another procedural hurdle this week, but it remains a slow slog towards law.  Nonetheless, the Senate passed a version of it this past week, and now it makes its way to the house.  The budget reconciliation package introduced in the Senate is slightly more interesting, but we’ll have to see what comes of the actual voting.  I’ll keep everybody posted!   

Key links

  1. NBC – Senate Grinds On With Infrastructure Bill Votes As Timing Of Final Passage Remains Unclear
  2. Politico – Senate Adopts Budget That Paves Way For $3.5T Spending Plan
  3. Associated Press – Senate Dems Unveil $3.5t Budget For Social, Climate Efforts

Recent Resilience

COVID Relief News. The dingy silver lining of the COVID news above is that pandemic relief programs are being extended as part of the hunkering down process.  Though the eviction moratorium, which I touched on last week, did indeed expire on Sunday, ongoing pressure eventually caused Biden to put a new 60-day moratorium in place by Wednesday afternoon.  Similarly, in early October, student loan payments were supposed to become due again. Instead, after a group of Democrats continually pushed to extend that benefit as well, Biden announced that payments will stay paused until February.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – The Biden Administration Issues A New Eviction Moratorium As The Virus Surges.
  2. The Hill – Schumer, Warren Call On Biden To Extend Student Loan Pause And Wipe Out $50K Per Borrower
  3. Politico – Biden Extends Freeze On Student Loans As Progressives Push To Cancel Them

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  It’s tough to know where to even begin with this week’s COVID news.  Infection rates in Louisiana and Florida have exploded, with the latter experiencing one-fifth of all new national infections and record-breaking rates for six days straight at the time that I type this.  Nonetheless, mask mandates are still banned in Florida, and Texas has retained its ban on mask and vaccine mandates as well despite some high-profile COVID deaths in the state.  (The Florida bans are already being challenged by lawsuits, and some school districts are just ignoring them.)  Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, vaccine mandates are increasing.  New York City announced it will require proof of vaccination for indoor activities such as dining or attending gyms, Virginia announced it is mandating vaccination or weekly testing for its state workers, and the Pentagon announcing it will require vaccination for active duty.  And this makes sense, because vaccines remain highly effective for preventing deadly breakthrough infection and full FDA approval is expected within the next month or so.  In fact, with vaccination remaining effective for at least six months after inoculation, the WHO is calling for a moratorium on booster shots through September–but Europe is still administering them.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Florida Breaks Record For New Daily Covid Cases For Third Time This Week
  2. Texas Tribune – As Coronavirus Rages Again In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott Resists Statewide Action, Hamstrings Local Leaders
  3. CNN – Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ Order On Masks In Schools Faces First Legal Challenges Over Constitutionality
  4. The Hill – NIH Director Remains Hopeful On Covid Surge But Says ‘We’re Paying A Terrible Price’
  5. New York Times – F.D.A. Aims To Give Final Approval To Pfizer Vaccine By Early Next Month
  6. Washington Post – Who Calls For Moratorium On Booster Vaccine Shots Through September, Citing Global Disparity

Climate Change Crises.  You got a week off, but we’re back with more terrible news about climate change realities.  The word this week is that humans are bad for penguins, as a report noted that emperor penguins may go extinct by the year 2100 due to rapidly melting Antarctic sea ice.  This is, of course, in addition to the melting arctic sea ice that we already knew about, and the collapse of the Atlantic current system that scientists worry both of these changes will bring about.  Meanwhile, the California Dixie Fire is now the second-largest fire in state history, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon may rage until October, and we can expect more hurricanes than normal this season.  Scientists do think it is possible to curb further climate change if we enact strict regulations now, but the drought and floods we’re already experiencing from global temperature increase will likely remain.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Climate Change Could Devastate Emperor Penguins, U.S. Officials Warn
  2. Washington Post – A Critical Ocean System May Be Heading For Collapse Due To Climate Change, Study Finds
  3. NPR – California’s Dixie Fire Is Now The 2nd Largest In State History
  4. New York Times – As Hurricane Season’s Peak Looms, Experts Issue An ‘Above Normal’ Forecast.
  5. New York Times – A Hotter Future Is Certain, Climate Panel Warns. But How Hot Is Up To Us.

Actions for Everyone

California recall election: If you live in California and you can vote, be aware that the Recall election ballots will be sent in the next two weeks to every registered voter in the State and election day will be on September 14th. It is important to vote; even though California is known to be a bastion for the Democrats, polls have shown that there is a very small margin. According to NBC registered voters likely to participate in the special election, the outcome becomes much closer with 47% favoring Newsom’s recall compared to 50% opposed. Having such a big and influential state lost to a Republican governor sounds horrible, specially when we compare how  republicans like Ron Desantis in Florida and Greg Abbot in Texas are handling the pandemic; prohibiting mask mandates and going as far as blaming undocumented immigrants for the latest Delta varian Covid surge. If you can, go out and vote! If you’d rather go to the polls, they will be open 10 days prior to election day. 

Improving Social Security Income: Last month, democrat senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown re-introduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act. This bill would raise Social Security monthly income, update the amount of assets an individual or couple receiving SSI may have (which hasn’t been updated since 1989), update new rules where individuals receiving SSI could make up to $399 in other income and also receive benefits from other programs and much more. Around 8 million elderly and/or disable Americans depend on this program to live and they shouldn’t be in poverty because they aren’t able to work anymore. That’s literally what government and society are for, to help the people that need it and keep everyone afloat. Considering how the Covid-19 Pandemic could be categorized as a mass disabling event in between the Covid long-haulers and people who survived the disease but now have permanent chronic systemic issues that can prevent them from going back into the workforce. It’s important for this bill to pass with flying colors! Please call your congresspeople and tell them you want their support in making this bill into law! You can also use Resistbot to sign a petition that will be sent to Congress!

And here are some Things That Made Me Smile:

In some good news, the Biden administration has extended Student Loan payment pause till January 31st. So that’s a little relief. 

This New York Times article about Alexis Nicole Nelson a black forager that has a huge following on TikTok! I love her, she is one of my favorite content creators and I’m happy to see her gain recognition in other media. Lover that “filthy vegan!” 

Issue #199, 2021 Week 32

Hey everyone,

Some things still need some work. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.com) with any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

This was a major news week for COVID, which is pretty noteworthy when there’s COVID news basically every week. If you can’t catch up on everything, we strongly recommend you catch up on that section, and after that we strongly suggest you eat some comfort food. As always, we’ll have suggestions for how to help below!

Events to Know

Election Rejection Throwback. The big election rejection news this week was the release of notes from a December 2020 phone call between Trump and the Department of Justice. Spoiler: they’re just as bad as you’re expecting, with Trump telling the DOJ to “just say that the election was corrupt” and “leave the rest to me [and the GOP].” If you share my weird talent for deciphering handwriting, you can do a more prolonged wade around the cesspool, but I assure you, the notes don’t get better from there. (My ‘favorite’ less-publicized bits are the part where Trump tells them “you figure out what to do with Biden” and his note that “statistically, the election night it was a done deal” with zero evidence whatsoever.)

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show
  2. NPR – Notes Show Trump Pressed The Justice Department To Declare The 2020 Election Corrupt

Infrastructure Updates.  The big news on the Biden front is that the infrastructure bill–or a watered-down version of the original one, anyway–is in fact moving forward on the Senate floor after a filibuster-proof vote on Wednesday. Now we begin another tedious and likely lengthy amendment process, and ostensibly that will be followed by addressing additional agenda items via budget reconciliation.  But let’s be honest; that will probably be a lengthy mess also.  

Key links

  1. Politico – Senate Negotiators Finalize Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
  2. NPR – The $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Is In. Next Up: Amendments And Votes
  3. E&E News – Questions Emerge On Reconciliation As Infrastructure Moves Ahead
  4. Roll Call – House Moderates May Oppose Budget Without Infrastructure Vote

Recent Resilience

Vaccine Mandate Trends. The one silver lining of the COVID news below is that it appears to be accelerating the vaccination mandate trends, as more and more companies exercise their legal right to require vaccination or a hybrid mandate/testing model for their employees. Among the entities now requiring employee vaccination: 1) Google; 2) the federal government; 3) over 600 colleges; 4) Walmart; 5) Disney; 6) Facebook; and 7) Netflix. It seems likely that we can expect this list to continue to grow.

Key links

  1. Associated Press – Explainer: Employers Have Legal Right To Mandate COVID Shots
  2. Washington Post – Biden To Federal Workers: Get Vaccinated Or Face Restrictions
  3. CNN – From Offices To Restaurants, Companies Are Requiring Proof Of Vaccination

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  As I mentioned above, this is a major week for COVID news, and not in a fun, “pandemic’s over” kind of way. A CDC document leaked this week which concluded, based on unpublished new data, that the Delta strain was “as contagious as chicken pox” (read: extremely contagious) and may cause more severe illness for older unvaccinated people than previous strains. The document did confirm that vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness, and infection is rarer among vaccinated populations overall–vaccination reduces the overall risk of infection threefold.  That said, infection is still very possible, and these infected vaccinated people can still infect those around them; in fact, new research suggests they might be as contagious as unvaccinated infected people.  All of this information contextualizes the CDC’s decision this week to reverse prior guidance on indoor mask use and recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in COVID hotspots. 

Key links:

  1. CNN – CDC Document Warns Delta Variant Appears To Spread As Easily As Chickenpox And Cause More Severe Infection
  2. CNBC – Cdc Warns That Delta Variant Is As Contagious As Chickenpox And May Make People Sicker Than Original Covid
  3. Stat – What Delta Has Changed In The Covid Pandemic — And What It Hasn’t
  4. WFLA – Florida Breaks Covid-19 Record With Biggest One-day Total In New Cases
  5. Stat – Cdc Recommends Masks Indoors Even For Some Vaccinated Against Covid-19
  6. Washington Post – House Republicans Refuse To Follow New Mask Mandate, Leading Pelosi To Call Mccarthy A ‘moron’ For His Comments

Social Supports Expiring.  Several pandemic relief programs received attention this week because their end is imminent, and they provided valuable support on ongoing social problems.  At the top of the list is the eviction moratorium, which did indeed expire on Sunday after a final round of hot potato between Congress and the President, though pressure eventually caused Biden to put a new 60-day moratorium in place.  Obviously, this means many people may become at risk of losing their homes, both because of eviction of tenants and because of homeowners hit with foreclosures.  In a few weeks, all of this will be followed by the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits, though some states have curtailed those programs already–and are finding that this did not improve unemployment.  And after that, in early October, student loan payments will become due again, though some Democrats are pushing to extend that benefit as well. Relatedly, Nancy Pelosi was in the news this week for arguing that Biden does not have legal authority to cancel student loans. However, that broad statement is laughably incorrect from a legal perspective–the President definitely can cancel loans in some instances, even if there’s an open question about how extensive that power is–and so we’re not going to spend much time on it. 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – A Tsunami Of Deferred Debt Is About To Hit Homeowners No Longer Protected By A Foreclosure Moratorium
  2. New York Times – The Biden administration issues a new eviction moratorium as the virus surges
  3. CNBC – Cutting Off Unemployment Benefits Early Is Not Pushing People To Find Work, Data Suggests
  4. The Hill – Schumer, Warren Call On Biden To Extend Student Loan Pause And Wipe Out $50k Per Borrower
  5. CNBC – Pelosi Says Biden Doesn’t Have Power To Cancel Student Debt
  6. NY1 – As Pandemic Pause On Loan Payments Winds Down, Will President Biden Cancel Student Debt?

Actions for Everyone

Extended eviction moratorium: After the Supreme Court, Congress and the President failed to protect renters from being evicted in the middle of a Covid surge,the CDC was able to extend the eviction moratorium.Thanks to the work of progressive congresswomen like Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush, who has been sleeping at the steps of the Capitol in protest, now renters that are living in areas with high infection rates will be protected until October 3rd. According to NBC News, more than 11 million Americans remain behind on their rent and research has found evictions lead to a spike in virus cases and deaths. This extended moratorium could help buy some time while the Federal funds allocated to help renters are finally distributed. Sadly, said funds have been rolling out super slowly, with states like Florida, who has the most Covid cases in the country, only giving out 2% of funds to renters. Check out last week’s Actions for Everyone to see the different programs you can qualify for to receive funds to pay rent. There is a full list of programs you can apply to at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

Stop Line 3!: Line 3 is a proposed pipeline expansion that would bring millions of tar sands per day from Canada to Wisconsin, using the Mississippi river to end up in Lake Superior.. It is owned by Canadian company Enbridge, a corporation already known for being responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the US. They are seeking to build through preserved wetlands and would violate treaty territory of the Anishinaabe peoples. It would cause terrible environmental destruction and will damage the fields of the ancestral wild rice, so important to natives of the area. The Pipeline has been kept from expansion since 2014 but they keep insisting in its construction and currently many water protectors are protesting in Minnesota, where they have been arrested and met with police brutality. 

How can you help?  

  1. Go to Stop Line 3 and send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers
  1. Text PUCZGE to 50409 (or DM it on Twitter) to use Resisbot to send letters to important elected officials
  1. Email the Minnesota EPA: line3.pca@state.mn.us and remind them that Line 3 threatens the already endangered Higgins mussel.
  1. Use the following hashtags: #stopline3pipeline #stopline3 #landback #indigenousrights
  1. Indigenous creators have been getting banned on Social Media for speaking and protesting against Line 3, they need our following now more than ever. Here are some of the creators: @ugrunna, @quiiroi, @nishgay, @showmeyourmask. Donate if you can!
  1. Check out Lakotalaw.org and check out their Instagram too for resources and to send emails to the President and Senators. They have an Ally Took Kit on their highlights!
  1. If you are able, go join the water protectors in Minnesota. 

Please stay safe! And don’t forget: get vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands! 

Issue #198, 2021 Week 31

This was another week of monumental change on scant few topics, which seems like it’s becoming our new normal.  It can feel a bit overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time, but that’s why we’re still doing the Activism Newsletter!  As always, we’ll have suggested actions below, and we’re here if anyone has questions.

Events to Know

Insurrection Updates.  The January 6 probe kicked off this past week with Nancy Pelosi blocking two obviously bad-faith nominations from House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, noting that both of them had already made public statements promising to undermine the investigation. In response, McCarthy refused to let his other GOP picks participate at all, and the House Freedom Caucus urged McCarthy to remove Pelosi as speaker. Nonetheless, the probe moved forward, with the committee hearing emotional testimony from four police officers present during the insurrection on its first day of testimony.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Pelosi Rejects 2 GOP Nominees For The Jan. 6 Panel, Citing The Integrity Of The Probe
  2. Politico – House Freedom Caucus Asks Mccarthy To Try To Remove Pelosi As Speaker
  3. Washington Post – ‘A Hit Man Sent Them.’ Police At The Capitol Recount The Horrors Of Jan. 6 As The Inquiry Begins.

Biden Administration Updates.  As was the case last week, many Democrats and activists remain frustrated with the lack of federal action to protect voting rights, and senators do appear to be working on a new voting rights bill as I type this.  Meanwhile, budget and infrastructure package negotiations began the week as a hot mess, but the Senate successfully began debate on an infrastructure deal towards the end of the week. All things considered, it has been a pretty productive week.  

Key links

  1. Business Insider – White House Officials Tell Civil Rights Leaders They Can ‘Out-Organize Voter Suppression’ As Voting Rights Bills Stall: Report
  2. Washington Post – Democrats Craft Revised Voting Rights Bill, Seeking to Keep Hopes Alive in the Senate
  3. Politico – Infrastructure Vote Fails As Senators Try To Salvage Bipartisan Deal
  4. CNN – Senate Opens Debate On Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Bill After Bipartisan Group Strikes Deal

Recent Resilience

Recent Health Law Resilience.  We did see some promising health law developments this week.  The Biden Administration indicated that long COVID will be legally considered a disability under the ADA, and also announced that HIV prevention medication must be fully covered by all insurance.  A federal judge in Arkansas also granted an injunction on the state’s extreme abortion ban, which is particularly welcome on the same week that Mississippi’s attorney general went ahead and urged SCOTUS to overturn Roe v Wade.

Key Links:

  1. Politico – Biden Administration Says Long Covid Can Be Considered A Disability Under Law
  2. NBC – PrEP, the HIV Prevention Pill, Must Now Be Totally Free Under Almost All Insurance Plans
  3. Washington Post – U.S. Judge Blocks Arkansas Ban On Nearly All Abortions
  4. The Hill – Mississippi’s Attorney General Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Roe V. Wade

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID updates remain important to track as the Delta variant shifts our landscape even further.  The variant now accounts for 83% of all sequenced cases in the U.S., and COVID cases are rising dramatically, especially in undervaccinated areas.  Even some GOP leaders are starting to push for vaccination, and the CDC issued guidance today urging people to resume wearing masks indoors–something leaders are increasingly doing across the country.  Incredibly, we’re still arguing about whether unvaccinated children need to wear masks in schools, even though pediatric groups are saying all kids should wear masks in schools–even vaccinated ones–and younger children might not have a vaccine until November.  Meanwhile, taking a page out of Europe’s book, at an increasing rate American universities, health groups, and even government entities are mandating vaccination.  Finally, several outlets are covering a variety of food shortages around the country as the economy still struggles to recover from the bizarre year we’ve had.  

Key links:

  1. CNBC – Delta Variant Now Accounts For 83% Of All Sequenced Covid Cases In The U.S., Cdc Director Walensky Says
  2. Washington Post – CDC Urges Vaccinated People In Covid Hot Spots To Resume Wearing Masks Indoors
  3. NBC – All Children Should Wear Masks In School This Fall, Even If Vaccinated, According To Pediatrics Group
  4. NPR – More Colleges Say They’ll Require Students To Have Covid-19 Vaccines For Fall
  5. Business Insider – Starbucks Has Run Low On Baked Goods, Its CEO Says — But Denies A Shortage Of Coffee Or Cups

Climate Change Crisis.  Climate change plagues continue for another week, with more West Coast fires and heat waves everywhere, which is messing up air quality in large swaths of the country.  There was another devastating flood, this time in China, which has caused at least 61 casualties at the time that I type this. In Utah, the drought conditions exacerbating sandstorms led to a twenty-two car pileup which killed several people.  Just like last week, there’s still a lot to do on this front.    

Key links:

  1. New York Times – See How Wildfire Smoke Spread Across America
  2. NPR – Record-Breaking Flooding In China Has Left Over One Million People Displaced
  3. ABC – At Least 8 Killed In 22-Car Pileup In Utah During Sandstorm

Actions for Everyone

Stand Up Against Evictions: The Federal moratorium on evictions is due to end on July 31st and many people are still unemployed or depending on unemployment benefits, need assistance in paying their rent or may have even gotten sick with Covid and are enduring the effects of the virus. We’re still in an on-going pandemic with surging cases all around the country and on top of that many will be facing homelessness come the end of the month. What can we do?

Check with your State – even though the moratorium ends nationwide, some States have enacted their own eviction moratoriums like New York and Nevada; this list compiles the moratorium stance per state. 

Apply for Rent Relief – Congress allocated $45 billion in Federal rent assistance as part of pandemic relief measures. By June 2021 only $1.5 billion had been given out so there is still lots of funds to be given for people in need.  The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a list of almost 500 different programs that can help pay your rent. They are listed by State on their website. 

Get a lawyer – If your landlord is trying to evict you in these trying times and the rent relief hasn’t been handed out to you or you were not approved,  you still have the law on your side. You can find a low income or pro-bono lawyer by going to LawHelp.org and also check out the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, they are updating constantly on the topic. For example, Milwaukee county just decided they will provide free counsel for any tenants facing eviction. 

Learn about Tenant Unions! – Renters have started to unionize to take care of each other and their rights. A group of neighbors will form a coalition to fight for rent control, eviction protection and more. Here are some cool resources: 

Tenants Together 

National Housing Law Project 

Tenants Union of Washington State has a list of unions by state. 

It’s also a good idea to keep calling your representatives in the House and Senate about them extending the eviction moratorium since the pandemic is far from over. 

Wear a mask, social distance when possible and get vaccinated! Stay safe everyone. 

Issue #197, 2021 Week 30

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I needed a nap even before I caught up on this week’s news.  Then I read about the past week, and I needed a nap that lasted all season.  Tragically, bears only hibernate in winter–but hey, at least we have the Activism Newsletter!

Events to Know

Insurrection Litigation News.  The first Capitol rioter convicted of a felony was sentenced this week, though he received eight months’ incarceration rather than the eighteen months the prosecutor was seeking. In other Trump election court news, apparently I was pretty prescient with the Laugh Test comment, last week because attorneys who filed spurious election cases are now getting dragged through a sanctions hearing.  Apparently, at least one is also refusing to follow rules for said proceeding, so we’ll see if any consequences happen. Of course, at least one election challenge is somehow still going, and Maricopa County just approved $3M to replace the voting machines that Cyber Ninja probably tampered with during the recount. 

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Capitol Rioter Who Breached Senate Gets 8 Months For Felony
  2. Washington Post – ‘A Propaganda Tool’ For Trump: A Second Federal Judge Castigates Attorneys Who Filed A Lawsuit Challenging The 2020 Results
  3. Reuters – Judge Eyes Sanctions On Pro-trump Lawyers Who Claimed Voter Fraud
  4. The Hill – Arizona’s Maricopa County Approves $3m For New Vote-counting Machines

Democrats In Action.  Moving from old election rejection to new, there were a number of different responses from Democrats to, y’know, everything this week.  The Texas Democrats are still in DC as I type this, and though Biden gave a speech about voting rights he hasn’t really done much else.  Vice President Harris has insinuated that something may be coming down the pike, but for now, it’s not really clear what organized action may be forthcoming.    

Key links

  1. Washington Post – Texas Democratic Lawmakers Who Left The State To Block Restrictive Voting Law Plead With Congress To Act
  2. CNN – Civil Rights Leaders Say Biden Fell Short On Outlining Action Steps To End Filibuster
  3. NPR – Vice President Harris Hints That She Has Discussed Filibuster Changes With Senators

Biden Administration Updates.  Though there wasn’t much action on voting rights, the Biden administration did start delivering child tax credits this week. They also released a $3.5T budget plan to go with the infrastructure package, which would tackle climate change and healthcare as well as raising taxes for the wealthy.  (Unsurprisingly, Republicans are already fighting about that last part, and have blocked a vote as I type this.)  Meanwhile, Attorney General Garland has formally banned prosecutors from seizing journalists’ records unless they have, y’know, some kind of reason to investigate said journalist.  It’s depressing that this is news, but here we are.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – Irs Begins Sending Monthly Checks To Millions Of American Parents In Crucial Test For Biden
  2. NBC – Senate Democrats Reveal $3.5 Trillion Plan To Invest In Health Care, Climate Change And More
  3. CNN – Republicans Block Vote On Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Pushing For More Time To Write It
  4. Associated Press – Garland Bars Prosecutors From Seizing Reporters’ Records

Recent Resilience

Awesome Medical Advances.  A neurosurgeon was in the news this week for creating a machine that successfully taps into brain waves to aid in verbal communication.  Though the technology is still being refined, it has incredible implications for speech therapy, and it’s also just really cool to see this kind of scientific breakthrough. It’s a great piece of news from the health sector!

Key Links:

  1. New York Times – Tapping Into The Brain To Help A Paralyzed Man Speak
  2. Associated Press – Device Taps Brain Waves To Help Paralyzed Man Communicate

Things to Watch

Climate Change Crisis.*  Unsurprisingly, climate change news remains bad for another week, implying that this is our new normalUnprecedented heat waves continue in the Pacific northwest and California, resulting in severe fires and an extreme drought.  Meanwhile, Europe has the opposite problem, with unprecedented floods in Germany and Belgium killing at least 180 people.  As I mentioned above, there is some legislation on the table in Congress right now, but it’s unclear whether that will go through or how much it will ultimately help. And, of course, Jeff Bezos launched himself into space this week, and is already talking about how to increase space tourism, which will in turn increase climate change.  There’s a lot to do on this front, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Extreme Heat Bakes Northwest And Northern Rockies Amid High Fire Danger
  2. New York Times – ‘No One Is Safe’: Extreme Weather Batters The Wealthy World
  3. Washington Post – Democrats Push Sweeping Climate Legislation Amid A Scorching Summer
  4. Vox – Welcome To The Age Of Billionaire Joyrides To Space

Bad Court Decisions. This was also a bad week for federal court decisions, though those are rapidly emerging as a new normal as well.  The Fourth Circuit concluded that a gun law imposing age restrictions was unconstitutional, willfully concluding that “virtually every Amendment” applies to 18-year-olds even though we literally have an amendment about alcohol consumption. And a federal judge in Texas concluded that DACA has always been unconstitutional because… I don’t know, reasons?  I’m gonna be honest with you, we’ve litigated this exact issue multiple times already so it’s pretty broken that this judge is even opining about it. There will almost certainly be further litigation on that.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Federal Court Says Restrictions On Handgun Sales To People Under 21 Are Unconstitutional
  2. New York Times – Judge Rules DACA Is Unlawful And Suspends Applications

State of the COVID-19.  Speaking of immigration, Ted Cruz was in the news this week for blaming COVID numbers on immigrants, because of course he freaking was, but it seems infinitely more likely that the zillion GOP antivaxxers are playing a role.  That situation is getting worse, by the way, with Tennessee firing an official for vaccine outreach to teens and Florida selling ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch.  Abroad, however, vaccination is being mandated for health workers, and there’s an in-field push to require the same here in the U.S.  This may be in part because cases are unquestionably rising here due to Delta variant contagion, which also caused a massive Dow drop today.  The CDC also released a report outlining the massive uptick in overdoses that have occurred since the pandemic began, which really should be getting more national attention.  And Canada announced it would reopen the U.S. border in early August, but with everything else going on we may see that walked back before it happens.  

Key links:

  1. NBC – Sen. Ted Cruz Says Covid-19 Cases Rising In South Texas Due To Border Crisis
  2. Washington Post – Health Official Fired In Retaliation For Coronavirus Vaccine Guidance For Teens, She Says
  3. New York Times – ‘It’s Huge, It’s Historic, It’s Unheard-of’: Drug Overdose Deaths Spike
  4. Washington Post – Canada To Open Border To Fully Vaccinated U.S. Citizens On Aug. 9

Actions for Everyone

My Body, My Choice: In an unsurprising twist of events, the party that is using “my body, my choice” rhetoric to avoid wearing masks and getting a proven effective vaccine against Covid-19 have been preoccupied this week with asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and inhibit bodily autonomy for pregnant people. Oh, the irony! The country is going through a surge of Covid cases, in what people are calling the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” yet these people are still obsessed with governing over other’s uteruses. Mississippi’s AG is asking to repeal the constituational right to abortion calling it “egregiously wrong” and in place sustain a State law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about Roe V. Wade in the fall and with the support of other GOP and with the now conservative majority in the highest court of the land, this could be a true attempt to repeal the right to end a pregnancy. 

Missouri republican Josh Hawley has joined two of his colleagues Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas in support of Mississippi’s attorney general’s move against reproductive rights. If you live in one of these states, it would be a good idea to give them a call and let them know how you feel about their urge to repeal constitutional rights and also how they should be focusing on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that is still ravaging our country and the world. 

You can find your representatives here: 

Senate 

House

You can also be connected directly via the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Mississippi’s Attorney General Lynn Fitch; his office number is 601-359-3680.

The ACLU has a good list of actions you can take to help to protect the right to a legal abortion, and it is always a good idea to donate to Planned Parenthood.  As fall approaches, there will probably be more actions to come, we’ll keep you updated! We must stay vigilant of this case. 

Promoting vaccination! We are already seeing what vaccine hesitancy and misinformation has done to the country. We’re seeing a surge with the Delta Covid-19 variant and the unvaccinated are the ones dying. This is extremely sad to see, we have a way to control it but the lack of information, science literacy and trust in our officials has literally driven people to death. We’re also seeing a rise in children being hospitalized and dying of Covid with this new variant, and kids cannot get vaccinated yet, so it comes up to the caretakers to be the first line of defense against them contracting the virus. How can you help? The CDC has resources to help educate your community on why taking the vaccine is the best step. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases also has lots of good info. Next month (August) is actually National Immunization Awareness Month! In 2019, the World Health Organization stated that vaccine hesitancy is now considered a global threat and this was before we were in the midst of a pandemic. Consider how you can affect people around you, your family,  your co-worker, your community and help end vaccine hesitancy.