Issue #161, 2020 Week 31

Hey everyone,

We are here to support you and and appreciate your support and ideas. There is a lot to keep our eyes on and it works best to work together. If you need a break from sorting through the… 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 have a number of unpleasant stories swirling around this week, and it feels like we’re somehow getting worse but staying stagnant at the same time. It’s a bit of a neat trick, and I would find it impressive, if I weren’t so busy being frustrated.

Events to Know

Barr Testimony. Attorney General William Barr testified before Congress on Tuesday, and it went about as well as you might expect. He defended administrative actions in Portland, calling the protests “an assault on government of the United States” and claiming Operation Legend had nothing to do with Portland but was rather just a completely normal mobilization of federal forces “to solve crimes and keep their communities safe.” He also covered the 2016 election, refusing to condemn solicitation of foreign assistance and calling the House investigation a “bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal” that involved “grave abuses.” And finally, he covered the Stone case, claiming that his own prosecutors were “not [following] the rule of law” when recommending seven to nine years–which, I feel the need to note, was literally the federal sentencing guideline recommendation. I’m certainly not the biggest fan of federal sentencing guidelines, but Barr’s willingness to commit brazen perjury when literally discussing prosecution for perjury is pretty stunning. If nothing else, it definitely showcases an incredible disregard for governing norms.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Barr Defends Protest Response, Handling Of High-Profile Cases Amid Democrats’ Grilling
  2. New York Times – Barr Clashes With House Democrats, Defending Responses To Protests And Russia Inquiry

Trump’s Election Idea. There was a lot of election-related news this week, and it can be hard to keep track of it all. But I would be remiss if I didn’t include a paragraph here about Trump’s incredible tweet on Tuesday, which appeared to sincerely float the idea of postponing the November election. Needless to say, he lacks legal authority to do this, as that date is set by Congress (a fact which Mike Pompeo appears confused about as well). Unsurprisingly, nobody in Congress wanted to touch that suggestion, and ordinary citizens weren’t too happy either. After doubling down on the idea once, the administration did walk this one back. I’ve heard a lot of people speculate that the entire thing may have been intended to distract from economic news which broke the same day, but we should definitely keep an eye on this either way.

Key links:

  1. BBC – Donald Trump Suggests Delay To 2020 US Presidential Election
  2. NBC – ‘Constitutionally Impossible’: Experts Say Trump Can’t Postpone The November Election
  3. The Hill – Pompeo Defers To Justice On Question Of Trump Election Tweet
  4. Washington Post – White House Steps Back From Trump Suggestion About Delaying The Election

Immigration Updates.  We also had a weird, bad week on immigration news.  The White House announced they will not be accepting DACA applications, despite the recent SCOTUS decision finding the program wasn’t legally terminated, so we’re all sort of waiting to see what happens on that one.  Meanwhile ICE is unhappy about their Netflix series, which launched today and accurately depicts, y’know, how bad they are.  And rounding out the bad news, a new immigration application fee schedule goes into effect this week which dramatically increases the cost of many applications and imposes asylum fees for the first time ever.  On the plus side, we did get new federal injunctions on the new public charge rule, and USCIS has already announced they will comply with them–which will bring relief to a lot of people seeking lawful permanent residence.

Key links:

  1. Slate – Trump Is Now Openly Defying The Supreme Court
  2. Newsweek – ICE Agents Complain About Nazi Comparisons, Say They’re Only Enforcing The Laws
  3. CNN – US To Raise Naturalization Application Fees By $500
  4. Buzzfeed News – The Trump Administration Will Start Charging Immigrants Fees For Applying For Asylum
  5. National Immigration Law Center – Two Nationwide Injunctions Block “Public Charge” Rules Amid Pandemic

Recent Resilience

Recent Twitter Decency.  After many years of frustratingly tepid response, Twitter continues to take off the kid gloves when it comes to irresponsible or hate-based communications.  First they penalized Trump Jr for spreading COVID misinformation, creating twelve hours of “limited functionality.”  Then they permanently banned white supremacist David Duke, which they probably should have done eleven years ago, but it’s at least an important step in the right direction to take away the KKK guy’s platform.
Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Twitter Bans White Supremacist David Duke After 11 Years
  2. NPR – Twitter Restricts Donald Trump Jr.’s Account Over Covid-19 Misinformation

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.*   COVID news continues to spiral further and further out of whack for another week.  Kodak–yes, the camera company–saw a jump in trade activity ahead of an announcement that they were receiving a giant government loan to make COVID treatments like hydroxychloroquine.  (For those of you playing the home game, yes, that’s the same drug Trump loves that is widely discredited as causing heart problems.)  NPR also reported irregularities in the contract awarded to track COVID data.  Meanwhile, the body of data itself shows a devastating second wave, with experts noting more dissemination than in March and April, seven-day averages staying high at about 65,000 new cases, and multiple runs of over 1,000 deaths per day.  Additionally, new research suggests that children can be carriers of COVID-19, and one of the first school districts to reopen had to quarantine someone within hours of opening.
Key links:

  1. Wall Street Journal – Tweets and Articles Sent Kodak Shares Surging Before Official Announcement
  2. Los Angeles Times – Trump Taps Kodak (Yes, That Kodak) To Bring Stability To The Drug Market
  3. NPR – Irregularities In Covid Reporting Contract Award Process Raise New Questions
  4. CNN – Birx Warns Us Is ‘In A New Phase’ Of Coronavirus Pandemic With More Widespread Cases
  5. New York Times – A School Reopens, And The Coronavirus Creeps In

Economic News. Adding to frustration, reopening the country too quickly didn’t even stabilize our economy, which was ostensibly the whole reason to risk it.  Unemployment is still rising, and it doesn’t help anything that Congress couldn’t reach a deal before supplemental COVID unemployment supports expired on Friday.  But the real story is that our economy had its worst second-quarter GDP ever, dropping 32.9% on an annualized basis.  It’s not clear what will happen in the third quarter, but this news is very bad–so bad, in fact, that some people theorized Trump tweeted about election postponement to distract from it.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Public Health Experts Issue Urgent Call For Change Of Course As U.S. Economy Tanks
  2. CNBC – Coronavirus Relief Talks Sputter As $600 Weekly Unemployment Benefit Expires And Washington Plays Blame Game
  3. Politico – U.S. Suffered Worst Quarterly Contraction On Record As Virus Ravages Economy

Portland Pressure Persists. After an unnecessary amount of back-and-forth about it, Trump did withdraw federal troops from Portland towards the end of the past week. But after they left, news broke that DHS was compiling “intelligence reports” on journalists who reported on the conflict, and analyzed protester communications as well. The official in charge of that has since been reassigned–but, notably, not fired–and Trump was already threatening to send in the National Guard on the first day of the phase-out, so this may be a brief respite. Meanwhile, protests in Portland continue, but have refocused on local police activity.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Calm Returns To Portland As Federal Agents Withdraw
  2. Independent – Department Of Homeland Security Found To Be Gathering ‘Intelligence’ On Journalists Covering Oregon Protests
  3. Guardian – Trump Says Oregon Leaders Must Clean Out ‘Beehive Of Terrorists,’ Threatens To Send In National Guard
  4. New York Times – As Federal Agents Retreat In Portland, Protesters Return To Original Foe: Local Police

Actions for Everyone

It is so great to hear from you all with messages of appreciation and encouragement. We’ve also been getting emails with some great activism ideas! It takes everyone to change everything, and by participating in this newsletter – reading up on current events and taking action – we’re changing everything. I mean, keeping some good stuff, and changing the rest.

Write Postcards To Voters: This action came from an Activism Newsletter community member –  Postcards To Voters allows individuals to handwrite friendly, fun postcards to help get out the vote in close elections around the country. It’s pretty easy — when you sign up, you write a postcard, take a photo, send it in, and get it approved. After that, you can get new addresses (and participate in new races!) via text, Facebook, Slack, or email. There are lots of places where you can get blank postcards (or even index cards) to write on.

Right now, they’ve got a huge effort to write to registered Democrats in the state of Florida and urge them to enroll in Vote By Mail — obviously very important with the way covid cases are going. I’ve written with these folks for a few years, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to write in support of progressive candidates all the way from county council to US Senate. The down ballot races are hugely important! They follow special elections, too. https://postcardstovoters.org/

Understand 911: Whether you’re an abolitionist, you’re in the Defund camp, or you truly believe in reform, it’s important to understand the “who, what, where, and when” of how emergency responses started in the United States. This is a part of history that is doing cartwheels in my brain everyday – I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m not talking about policing, which has its own complex history rooted in preserving property, when property included human beings. I’m talking about what happens when you pick up the phone and dial 911. I’m talking about how AT&T helped develop 911 and Texas, just as one example, adopted 911 as an emergency communications practice in 1987. Which is to say, if the 911 as the emergency response number were a person, they wouldn’t even be middle-aged yet! Certainly there’s room to grow and change. I like to keep that in mind whenever I’m talking with someone who doesn’t believe in defunding or abolishing the police.

To learn so much more, please listen to this podcast on the Freedom House Ambulance Service. https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/freedom-house-ambulance-service/

Donate to Independent Media: As I read about current events, and think about what to write about in the Actions for Everyone portion of the newsletter – Immigration, COVID updates, Elections, USPS, World News, etc – I often refer to Democracy Now! which is a viewer supported news outlet. There are countless media sources that rely on us for funding instead of the handful of media moguls that control most other news platforms. We. Cannot. Lose. Independent. Media. Please take a moment to donate any amount that makes sense for you, to a local or national independent media source of your choosing.

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

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Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #160, 2020 Week 30

Hey everyone,

We hope you all are remembering a little self care amidst all that is happening. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

We’re riding another heat wave as I type this, and news plus heat is not any more fun the second time around. It’s rough right now, but I’ll be here, in a puddle in front of my air conditioner, if anybody needs anything.

Events to Know

Who Needs a Post Office, Anyway. We saw a further push against the post office, this time from its own postmaster, who issued a memorandum this week dramatically changing a number of procedures. The biggest immediate change for consumers will be that some letters will now get left at distribution centers, but the memorandum seems to indicate a sea change in general. Needless to say, an internal memorandum comparing the post office to private institutions that can go bankrupt is not normal, but for this administration it’s just Tuesday.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Postal Service Memos Detail ‘Difficult’ Changes, Including Slower Mail Delivery

Election Oddities (Again). This week’s weird election news is that Trump has canceled the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, which he insisted move to Jacksonville in the first place.  In true Trump fashion, he’s claiming “the timing wasn’t right,” but it’s presumably canceled because Jacksonville couldn’t make it safe to attend.  Unsurprisingly, the GOP is now fighting with itself, and it’s likely not a coincidence that Republican Senators also overwhelmingly voted for a bill provision Trump publicly hates.

Key links:

  1. NPR – President Trump Cancels Jacksonville Component Of Republican National Convention
  2. Politico – ‘We Can’t Pull It Off’: Florida Sheriff Says He Can’t Muster Security For GOP Convention
  3. Reuters – U.S. Senate Passes $740 Billion Defense Bill, Bucking Trump On Confederate Names

Immigration Updates.  We had a significant amount of bad immigration news this week.  Trump announced that he’s going to instruct the U.S. Census to stop counting undocumented people, which is both illegal and probably a bluff, because it’s unclear how he would even implement this with the census halfway done and no citizenship question.  (That said, it can and probably will have a chilling effect on immigrant populations completing the survey.)  The administration was also in the news for holding migrant kids in hotels and then deporting them, which is a pretty clear violation of the Flores agreement that requires them to matriculate unaccompanied minors through shelters and into sponsors’ homes.  Against that backdrop, it’s unsurprising that Canada concluded this week that their asylum treaty with us should be invalidated, because the U.S. is not a safe country for asylum seekers anymore.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Trump Signs Memo To Omit Undocumented Immigrants From Census Apportionment Count
  2. AZ Family – Migrant Kids Held In Phoenix Hampton Inn Hotels, Then Expelled
  3. NPR – U.S.-Canada Asylum Treaty Unconstitutional, Judge Finds, Citing ‘Cruel’ U.S. Behavior

Recent Resilience

Recent Racial Change Resilience.  On the more positive side, we have promising follow up on several stories from earlier newsletters.  The NFL team based in Washington has settled on–wait for it–the ‘Washington Football Team’ as their name for the next season.  (They say it’s temporary, but I hope they keep it forever, because this is hilarious.)  In Chicago, an official decision to temporarily remove statues of Christopher Columbus from two park locations was enacted without incident.  The House voted to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. capitol.  And in Philadelphia, the District Attorney publicly outlined his plan for arresting and charging any federal agents who engage in the abduction methods reported in Portland.  It’s not comprehensive, by any stretch, but progress is progress.

Key links:

  1. ESPN – Washington NFL Team To Use ‘Washington Football Team’ For 2020 Season
  2. ABC – Mayor Cites ‘Public Safety Concerns’ In Decision To Remove Columbus Statues In Grant Park, Little Italy
  3. New York Times – House Votes To Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol
  4. Bloomberg – Philadelphia’s Top Prosecutor Is Prepared To Arrest Federal Agents

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. COVID news remains a mess on an impressive number of levels.  We continue to break records about daily infection rates, and death rates are rising again as well. At the time that I type this, over 4 million Americans have been infected and over 145,000 people have died–or at least, that’s our best understanding of the numbers, as data may still be having issues.  Unemployment rates are still rising, possibly because PPP money is running out.  And speaking of running out, a lot of workers are poised to run out of $600 unemployment supports on Friday, and the federal eviction moratorium is ending too. The Senate has not yet passed a final version of the Heroes Act, and Mitch McConnell says getting an agreement could take “weeks”–though his final version of the bill looks pretty sparse, so he might just be estimating how long they’ll be fighting over the difference between versions.  An ICE facility was in the news for having staggeringly high infection rates–more on the below–and major league baseball experienced disruption due to an outbreak among members of the Miami Marlins Studies were also published about the quick rate of antibody decay, prompting question about whether people can be infected twice or more–which in turn prompts further questions about what this means for vaccines.  (Antibody tests also suggest that rates of infection are much higher than reported, which is pretty disturbing given how high the report rates are.)  Oh, and 4,000 federal employees have contracted the virus at work, apparently including Trump’s own national security advisor.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. CNN – This Is The Last Week Of $600 Unemployment Benefits
  3. Washington Post – Here Is What’s In The Senate GOP’s $1 Trillion ‘Heals Act’ Package
  4. Washington Post – Can You Get Coronavirus Twice? Doctors Are Unsure, Even As Anecdotal Reports Mount
  5. Bloomberg – Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien Has Coronavirus

Portland Pressure Cooker. The situation in Portland continued to escalate for another week, and it doesn’t show signs of abating as I type this. Trump’s federal CBP agents teargassed the mayor, who was standing with protesters in an attempt to heal the city’s rift, prompting said mayor to call Trump’s response “flat-out urban warfare.” Now both CBP and Portland’s police are under independent investigation. Meanwhile, Trump is sending agents into more cities, such as Chicago and Kansas City, under a banner he’s calling “Operation Legend”. Unsurprisingly, this is increasing civil unrest in several more cities as well, such as Seattle and Oakland, even though the administration claims the push is crime-relatedSeveral cities declared riots to authorize further force against protesters, and one man was fatally shot in Austin. The weekend closed out with the U.N. calling us out and Trump sending even more troops to Portland.
Key links:

  1. BBC – Trump To Send ‘Surge’ Of Hundreds Of Federal Agents To Cities
  2. Washington Post – Department Watchdogs To Investigate Federal Law Enforcement Conduct At Protests
  3. Al Jazeera – Trump To Send Federal Officers To Us Cities To Tamp Down Unrest
  4. The Hill – Protests Erupt Nationwide In Solidarity With Portland Demonstrations
  5. Insider – Police Reveal Identity Of Man Killed At Black Lives Matter Protest In Austin, Texas
  6. Washington Post – U.N. Human Rights Office Calls On U.S. Police To Limit Use Of Force

Actions for Everyone

How are we doing? Hopefully healthy, staying safe, using masks and washing our hands! We got this! We are strong, even when we don’t feel like it. Please, remember to take time to process the times we are living in right now, take time for yourself, even if it’s a 5 minute sit-down, remember feeling scared and vulnerable and anxious is normal. I wish you all a great week! I’ve personally been using the app Relax Melodies, to help me fall asleep quicker.

Resistbot!: I wanted to share with you this amazing tool. It’s called Resistbot! Created after the outcome of the 2016 elections, ResistBot It’s a tool used to contact your representatives, local and federal, so you can voice your concerns and show your support for different pieces of legislation. It also helps with voter registration and education on different pressing and current topics .It will help you find your representatives and also deliver the message you want, all in one service. It is free but it runs on donations. Research shows representatives take written letters and emails into account more than phone calls.  Support this useful tool that helps our democracy.

You could use ResistBot this week to contact your representatives in the Senate to show support for the HEROES Act. At the moment, the Senate has introduced a lesser proposal, instead of passing the Heroes Act which already passed in the House in May. They have waited two months and are now trying to pass a bill that would leave out help for states, the USPS, no extra funds for SNAP Benefits when the unemployment rate is at its highest it has been since the Great Depression, lessen Unemployment assistance and more. Basically, trying to spend way less money during an international pandemic and the disastrous handling of it nationally.

Use ResistBot and let them know we deserve better.

The USPS is struggling. How else can you help?

  • Give your carriers PPE and hand sanitizers
  • Ask your carriers what you can do for them and be grateful
  • Buy extra stamps!

#JusticeforBreonnaTaylor: The organization UltraViolet has a campaign going to bring Justice for Breonna Taylor after she was murdered by police in March while she slept in her house. Protesting helps, calling your city if you live in Louisville, KY helps, signing petitions helps, keeping her name alive helps.

Less than 100 days to VOTE! – You still have time to register to vote. Do it ! Helps others do it too!

Things That Made Me Smile:

This video made me laugh for almost 10 minutes straight. Please enjoy!

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 #159, 2020 Week 29

Hey everyone,

Things are a bit scary and unsure right now.  We are here by your side. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’m finding our current heat wave and current news cycle to be a match that wasn’t exactly made in heaven. It’s rough right now, but I’m here if anyone needs anything–albeit from at least six feet away and in front of an air conditioner.

Events to Know

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. Of course, we also had a lot of Trump-flavored COVID news this week (and let me tell you, that is not a quality product). In addition to the smear campaign against Fauci, which I think we talked about last week, hospitals were ordered to give COVID data to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the CDC, which had been previously keeping track.  This was promptly followed by the disappearance of said data, which did eventually reappear after considerable complaint but will not be updated further by the CDC.  It also coincided with news that the CDC was prevented from testifying before Congress, and as other countries get their outbreaks under control, it becomes more and more starkly apparent just how badly the United States has handled this crisis.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Administration Strips C.D.C. Of Control Of Coronavirus Data
  2. CNN – US Health Department Directs CDC To Add Hospital Data Back To Its Website
  3. Politico – House Education Democrats Say CDC Director Blocked From Appearing Before Congress
  4. Washington Post – Unlike The United States, More And More Countries Are Making Masks Mandatory

Election Oddities (Again).  There was a fair amount of unusual election news this week.  Jeff Sessions lost his primary in Alabama, which feels fitting but does illustrate the strange times we live in.  After considerable back-and-forth the RNC will be scaled back when it’s held in Jacksonville next month (but more on the COVID news that prompted this below).  Perhaps the oddest news, though, is that Trump has already replaced his campaign manager, which reflects his unusually low polls as well as his high turnover rate in general.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Jeff Sessions Loses Comeback Bid In Alabama Runoff
  2. Washington Post – Republican Convention In Jacksonville Will Be Scaled Back Next Month
  3. NBC – Trump Shakes Up Campaign Staff, Demotes Top Manager Brad Parscale, As Polls Show Him Behind Biden

Confounding Shooting.  The household of the judge assigned to an Epstein-related Deutsche Bank civil case was attacked this week when a shooter showed up at their door dressed like a FedEx employee.  Judge Salas’s son was killed in the attack, and her husband remains in critical condition.  Confusing things further, the believed assailant was found dead this morning, about two hours away from the site of the shooting, and appearing to have shot himself.  Said assailant was a self-described “antifeminist” who had brought a case in front of her last year, but hadn’t had any contact with her since–and the shooting occurred the day after Judge Salas was assigned the Deutsche case, with no recent threats issued against her.  I’m sure you don’t need me to point out how incredibly sketchy this entire story is, but uh… this entire story is incredibly sketchy and disturbing, no matter what was motivating the shooter.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Husband And Son Of A Federal Judge Are Shot In New Jersey
  2. CBS – Investigators Believe Federal Judge Was “Intended Target” Of Attack That Killed Her Son And Wounded Her Husband, Source Says
  3. Bloomberg Law – Deutsche Bank Investors Sue Over Epstein Ties, Stock Drops

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  In Missouri news, the gun-toting married couple that brandished weapons at protesters in St Louis a few weeks ago are now facing criminal charges.  That said, it’s likely their case is being diverted to a civil court, so they’re unlikely to actually experience said criminal charges at all.  Still, it’s closer to actual sound public policy than it could have been, so for now I’ll take it.

Key links:

  1. NPR – St. Louis Prosecutor Charges White Couple With Threatening Protesters With Guns

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. COVID news remains a mess on both national and state levels.  We continue to break records about daily infection rates, and death rates are rising again as well. Unemployment rates are still rising too, with over a million new claims filed for the seventeenth week in a row.  Despite this news, a lot of workers are about to run out of benefits, because this is the last week of the extra $600 created by federal legislation. The Senate is expected to debate and/or vote on some version of the Heroes Act this week to respond, but current drafts include horrorshow provisions about forcing schools to reopen and shielding businesses from consequences if they make workers sick.  And though more and more franchises are requiring that their customers wear masks, Georgia’s governor has forbidden municipalities from requiring them, and is even suing Atlanta for ignoring his utterly bananas decree and requiring masks in public anyway.
Key links:

  1. Reuters – U.S. Shatters Coronavirus Record With Over 77,000 Cases In A Day
  2. ABC – Another 1.3 Million Workers Filed For Unemployment Insurance
  3. CNN – This Is The Last Week Of $600 Unemployment Benefits
  4. AP – GOP Leaders, Trump To Discuss Virus Aid As Crisis Deepens
  5. Washington Post – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Sues Atlanta Over Mask Requirement As Coronavirus Surges In The State

News Out of Portland. News out of Portland, Oregon is pretty extreme, and we need to be talking about it. As is true in many cities, protests there have been ongoing since the George Floyd murder–about fifty days all told, by the time that I write this. Protesters already had a lot of stories about tear gas being abused and police brutality in the city. But this week, they also began reporting that unmarked vans containing military personnel were snatching people off the street to take into custody, in sudden and unpredictable patterns that looked more like abduction than law enforcement. Incredibly, CBP has since confirmed this allegation, and government officials signaled that we can expect this pattern to continue and even spread to other cities. This statement was made despite a pending lawsuit, the obvious hostility of city officials, and mounting evidence that the federal agents have no training. This is all incredibly alarming, and we need to be acting on it immediately.

Key links:

  1. Rolling Stone – RS Reports: Progressive City, Brutal Police
  2. OPB – Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets
  3. NPR – DHS Official On Reports Of Federal Officers Detaining Protesters In Portland, Ore.
  4. New York Times – Federal Officers Deployed In Portland Didn’t Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said

Black Lives Matter News.  We touched on some of the biggest BLM news above, but there were some other things to know as well.  Demonstrators in Louisville were charged with felonies for protesting Breonna Taylor’s murder, though the police that actually murdered her have not been arrested, let alone charged.  A town near Seattle declared writing “Black Lives Matter” in chalk a crime as well.  Meanwhile, the military issued a broad rule apparently intended to remove confederate flags, which was probably so broad to avoid backlash from Trump, who keeps insisting those flags are a point of Southern pride.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – 87 Face Felony Charges After Protesting Breonna Taylor’s Death
  2. Seattle Times – Seeing ‘Black Lives Matter’ Written In Chalk, One Yakima County Town Declares It A Crime
  3. Washington Post – Defense Secretary Effectively Bans Confederate Flags From Military Bases While Rejecting ‘Divisive Symbols’

Actions for Everyone

Watch Portland: I just learned that a George W. Bush staffer called Portland “Little Beirut” because of the protestors he encountered during a visit there. It’s no stranger to protests, but from footage and first hand experiences being shared, it sounds like what’s happening in Portland is closer to a civil war. The ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit that prohibited police in Portland from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or directing physical force against journalists or legal observers, but we know, because of news coming from The white House (intentional lowercase I’m trying out), that Federal police will be sent to quell protests in many cities across America.

Since this involves our First Amendment Rights, I figured it was important to link to Know Your Rights resources. For starters, The National Lawyers Guild has a live hotline for activists and lawyers to report incidents of federal repression, such as FBI “door-knocks” at activists’ homes, grand jury investigations and subpoenas, and any other federal law enforcement efforts to undermine civil rights, including federal grab squads and the use of unidentified federal agents to police protests. The line is live at: 212-679-2811. As always, study the ACLU’s Know Your Rights for Protestors page.

End ICE: Speaking of secret police, ICE has been detaining people from right off the streets for no probable cause other than the color of their skin for years. Let’s end ICE too! The American Friends Service Committee is working on just that, and they could use your support. Check them out, https://www.afsc.org/abolish-ice.

Also, the ACLU has an Immigrant Rights page of resources that you should also check out. Did you know, for example, that the US spends 1.84 billion dollars detaining immigrants?

Create Consent Culture Shifts: This week, Burger Records announced they were shutting down after stories surfaced involving some of their staff and talent being sexual assault and misconduct assailants. In my opinion, these brave souls coming out of the #MeToo movement are making huge waves, and I’m here for it.

It takes a lot of courage to come forward with stories of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct because we live in a culture that isn’t designed to believe womxn and non-binary folks when they explain their experiences. Burger Records shutting down sends the message that they won’t participate in that culture. These are the culture shifts we need to see. I want to share RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network). After an experience of sexual assault or misconduct, it’s hard to know how to react. I wanted to share RAINN for the resources it has available. Misconduct is a spectrum of actions that can make a person feel unsafe and uncomfortable, which is why it’s so important to build a culture of consent.

Because of COVID 19, right now is a great time to get some great consent building experience by asking questions about your physical proximity to other people – “Can I sit this close to you?” “Are you hugging, elbow bumping, or do you prefer not to be touched?” Think of a question that is appropriate for your co-workers, your family, or quaranteam.

A thing that made me smile this week:

This video of Erykah Badu surprising Marc Rebillet. It’s a 7 minute video that feels like an emotional journey through 2020 put to music.

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 #158, 2020 Week 28

Hey everyone,

Trying to stay on top of what’s happening? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

  This administration’s new approach is that we have a new normal, in which COVID is just part of the backdrop of all of life. Needless to say, there are obvious problems with this approach–namely, a pandemic like this is not normal and the U.S.’s ever-climbing death rate is avoidable. If you feel like you’re being gaslit, that’s probably because you are; this administration is going all-in. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it.  

Events to Know

Stone’s Throw Away.  Trump apparently decided he hadn’t done enough corruption lately with the pandemic slowing him down, so he went ahead and commuted Roger Stone’s sentence a few days before the latter was due to show up to prison.  (It’s hard to keep up with the rogue’s gallery, but you may remember Roger Stone from such greatest hits as “didn’t bother to learn how WhatsApp would incriminate him,” “tried to get the presiding judge removed on the grounds that he wasn’t likable,” and “was found guilty of doing Trump’s dirty work literally seven times.”)  Unsurprisingly, the presiding judge is already examining the order for scope, but it’s unclear whether there will be any leeway there.  Needless to say, this is yet another new height of corruption, because no sitting President has ever pardoned somebody for crimes related to the President’s dirty work before.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Trump Commutes Sentence Of Longtime Friend And Adviser Roger Stone
  2. Washington Post – Roger Stone, And Trump’s Extraordinary Record On Clemency

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that the White House has hit rock bottom on COVID response and is starting to dig. Trump spent much of the week pressuring schools to reopen in person, complaining about CDC rules that urged caution and slow reopen. His cronies got into the action too, with Pence claiming new CDC regulations would be forthcoming (spoiler: no they aren’t) and Betsy DeVos following up by saying we don’t have to listen to the CDC anyway (spoiler: yes we do). When none of that worked, Trump started smearing his own head expert for listening to available data and for generally urging responsible pandemic policy. This is all, of course, in addition to the growing rhetoric that the growing infection numbers are part of life and “we need to live with it,” despite the administration also acknowledging that death rates will rise–but more on that below.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump Threatens To Cut Federal Funds From Schools That Don’t Reopen
  2. CNN – Education Secretary Won’t Say If Schools Should Listen To CDC Guidelines On Reopening
  3. NBC – White House Seeks To Discredit Fauci As Coronavirus Surges
  4. New York Times – Trump’s Health Officials Warn More Will Die As Covid Cases Rise

COVID and Immigration. I’ve been meaning to talk for a little while now about the immigration power grab happening during the COVID crisis, which seems designed to make legal immigration more and more impossible. Among the changes during the last month: 1) Closing the borders to asylum seekers from countries with infection on a “public health” basis, even while insisting that our schools need to reopen; 2) A suspension of visas that allow people to enter the U.S. to work, which uses job security for Americans as a rationale and was itself an extension of an earlier order for the suspension of travel to seek lawful permanent residence3) A new rule that students on visas will be deported if their schools reopen remotely4) Apparently ceasing print of immigration papers after the contract with a private vendor ended; and 5) A broad set of proposed changes to asylum that make it very difficult for anyone to claim asylum at all. That last one has a comment period that ends at midnight today, by the way, and I strongly encourage folks to write in and yell about it.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Trump Administration Proposes Blocking Asylum Seekers On Public Health Grounds
  2. New York Times – Trump Suspends Visas Allowing Hundreds Of Thousands Of Foreigners To Work In The U.S.
  3. CNBC – Foreign Students Fret Over Being Sent Home After U.S. Visa Rule
  4. Washington Post – How The Trump Administration Is Turning Legal Immigrants Into Undocumented Ones
  5. Lawfare – New Proposed Asylum Regulations Would Endanger Women’s Lives

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  The several schools that are suing Trump over his student visa power move have had a good past few days.  First seventeen state Attorneys General joined in, which I’m sure were welcome reinforcements.  Then said reinforcements got results, when the administration announced it was rescinding the decision rather than face numerous lengthy court battles.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – 17 States Sue To Block Student Visa Rules
  2. NBC – Trump Administration Backs Down On Restrictions For International Students

    Recent Racial Renaming.  After last week’s deliberations, the NFL’s Washington team did indeed decide to change its name. The new name won’t be released for a few days yet, which might be because they still need to secure rights, but I’ll keep folks posted.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Tribal Leaders, Politicians: Redskins’ Review Of Name Is Step Toward NFL Being On ‘Right Side Of History’

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. As I discussed above, we’re really not in great shape COVID-wise.   We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented rate of infection in the United States, with 3.3 million recorded cases and over 135,000 recorded deaths.  True to Dr. Fauci’s prediction that we may see rates of up to 100,000 new cases per day, we’ve already scaled past 63,000 per day at the time that I type this, and several million people have no health insurance to deal with it due to job loss.  Florida saw 15,300 new cases in a single day over the weekend, the single highest number we’ve ever seen, though that apparently didn’t stop Disney World from reopening.  In international news, the leader of Brazil has tested positive and the WHO has acknowledged the risk of airborne transmission.  But hey, at least Trump has finally started wearing masks in public, only three months after his own administration said everyone should!
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. New York Times – Millions Have Lost Health Insurance In Pandemic-Driven Recession
  3. NBC – Disney World Reopens Even As Coronavirus Cases Soar In Florida And Across U.S.
  4. BBC – Coronavirus: Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Tests Positive
  5. CNBC -Trump Wears Coronavirus Mask Publicly For First Time During Visit To Walter Reed Military Hospital

Black Lives Matter News. News on this front was a bit quieter this week, but the Marshall Project did cover the practice of peremptory challenges to jurors who support Black Lives Matter, which is a fancy way of saying “removed from jury service for thinking that extrajudicial killing is bad.”  Meanwhile, San Francisco passed a law against discriminatory 911 calls, which they have amusingly named The CAREN Act, and Amy Cooper was charged with filing a false police report.
Key links:

  1. Marshall Project – You Can Get Kicked Out Of A Jury Pool For Supporting Black Lives Matter
  2. CNN – San Francisco Official Proposes ‘CAREN Act,’ Making Racially Biased 911 Calls Illegal
  3. ABC – Amy Cooper Charged After Calling Police On A Black Bird Watcher

Election Oddities (Again).  In election news, a recent poll reveals that GOP voters don’t trust absentee ballots because Trump says they’re untrustworthy, despite him being pretty untrustworthy himself.  This is alarming to GOP operatives, because the attitude might hurt GOP candidates in the long run.  Of course, I think it’s safe to say Trump doesn’t care what happens to other GOP candidates, as long as he himself gets reelected, but this will be interesting to watch regardless.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Trump’s Attacks On Mail Voting Are Turning Republicans Off Absentee Ballots
  2. CNN – Trump’s War Against Mail-in Voting Lacks Republican Allies

Actions for Everyone

This week is a big call week. There are lots of things our representatives should be doing and we are here to remind them and demand they do the right ones.

Take some time to call Congress about:

  1. The Trump administration just started instructing hospitals to bypass the CDC and instead send all their pandemic data directly to their central database, starting this week. This raises concerns of data being manipulated or withheld from the public. We must have transparency in our government, especially during this pandemic, where knowing where we stand against Covid-19 is crucial to its demise. We must stay vigilant and demand transparency and access to this information. You can find more info on this topic in this article.
  2. In a surprising turn of events the Senate passed a law that would actually really benefit nature, who would have thought? Given this administration’s track record, I wouldn’t have expected. It’s the House’s turn to vote this week so give them a call and let them know you support them voting in favor of The Great American Outdoors Act. (S.3422). This act will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide funds to address the backlog of projects, repairs and maintenance in our National Parks, wildlife preserves,the Forest Service and more.
  3. Call Congress to ask your representatives to speak against Trump’s actions by commuting his friend Roger Stone’s prison sentence. We obviously know this is blatant corruption and something has to be done about it.

You can find your representatives HERE!
Black Lives Matter: Protests are still going on all around the nation. A smaller version of the street protests are going on inside our nation’s dining and living rooms. How can you talk to your family about the movement? A 16 year old TikToker produced a document called The Basic Guide To Why BLM Is Needed. The document has grown, is now being written by various contributors nationwide and is being translated to many languages. Use this resource to arm for the battle inside our houses, our dinnertime discussions, our conversations when meeting with friends (while socially distancing and wearing a mask).

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 #157, 2020 Week 27

 

Hey everyone,

Do you feel like you are treading water (I know I do). 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’re back to the combination COVID crisis/civil unrest this week, assuming we ever left, and I would way rather be at a Taco Bell. Parts of the country are starting to close back up, but racial tensions are still very much 45’s bread and butter, and it’s a rough week to be an American.

 

Events to Know

Bounties for Russia (cont). News about Russian intelligence officers offering bounties to Taliban agents to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan just keeps on trickling in, and none of it makes any of this better. Former national security adviser John Bolton apparently had information on this as early as March 2019, in addition to the written briefing Trump received this past February, but none of these facts are stopping Trump from calling the whole thing a hoax.  Meanwhile, some of Congress has been briefed as of this week, but not all, even though the White House is still claiming it was unverified intelligence.  And for Putin, all of this is probably better than Sweeps Week.

Key links:

  1. CNN – White House Was Warned About Potential Russian Bounties For Killing U.S. Troops In Early 2019
     
  2. New York Times – Trump Got Written Briefing In February On Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say
     
  3. NPR – Trump Calls Bounty Report A ‘Hoax’ Despite Administration’s Briefing Of Congress
     
  4. CBS – O’Brien Says Top CIA Official Decided Against Briefing Trump On Russia Bounty Intel

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. After saying his piece about race relations at Mount Rushmore, Trump moved on to messaging about COVID by Sunday, and it was about as inspiring as you might imagine. According to our current President, Americans “need to learn to live with” COVID because “99% of COVID cases are harmless.” This, of course, is not particularly effective camouflage for all of the crisis problems the administration has managed to exacerbate–namely, skyrocketing COVID-related drug overdoses, our highest single-day infection rate since March, a massively mismanaged COVID small business loan program, a worsening recession, an undercounted death toll, and increasing infection among White House staffers. And as of Tuesday, Trump is also officially moving forward with withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization, as well as putting pressure on schools to resume in person by, among other things, pulling the visas of students who are attending remotely.  

Key links

  1. ABC – Trump Makes False Coronavirus Claims
     
  2. Politico – Pandemic Unleashes A Spike In Overdose Deaths
     
  3. Washington Post – Treasury, Sba Data Show Small-business Loans Went To Private-equity Backed Chains, Members Of Congress
     
  4. CNBC – Official U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is ‘a Substantial Undercount’ Of Actual Tally, Yale Study Finds
     
  5. NBC – Trump Administration Gives Formal Notice Of Withdrawal From Who
     
  6. NBC – U.S. Says Foreign Students May Have To Leave If Their School Goes Online-only

Confounding Court Cases. It continues to be SCOTUS season, and it’s hard to find a rhyme or reason out of the cases coming down–and several of them aren’t exactly great news for Team Awesome.  Among the head-scratching and concerning cases released: 1) a decision that Trump can fire the head of the Consumer Protection Bureau without cause; 2) multiple decisions to delay voting by mail authorizations in Alabama and Texas; 3) a decision authorizing speedy removal proceedings on asylum cases; 4) a unanimous decision that faithless elector laws are constitutional; 5) a decision to permit employers to opt out of the birth control mandate of the ACA due to religious objection; and 6) two decisions collectively saying that Trump has no executive immunity from subpoena but Congress can’t have his taxes before November due to “separation of powers” concerns.

Key links

  1. New York Times – Supreme Court Lifts Limits On Trump’s Power To Fire Consumer Watchdog
     
  2. CNN – Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Court Order That Cleared The Way For Expanded Vote By Mail In Alabama Due To Covid-19
     
  3. Guardian – Trump’s Power To Deport Asylum Seekers Boosted By Supreme Court Ruling
     
  4. NPR – Supreme Court Rules State ‘faithless Elector’ Laws Constitutional

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We had some solid court cases this week in addition to the less-solid cases above.  A federal district court judge struck down a law that makes asylum harder to claim in the United States, saying that the rule forcing applicants to apply in unsafe other countries first was arbitrary and capricious.  Another federal court ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline must be closed down by early August for further environmental review.  And the Supreme Court held that large parts of  eastern Oklahoma are still reservation land that belongs to local tribes.
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Supreme Court Lifts Limits On Trump’s Power To Fire Consumer Watchdog
     
  2. CNN – Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Court Order That Cleared The Way For Expanded Vote By Mail In Alabama Due To Covid-19
     
  3. Guardian – Trump’s Power To Deport Asylum Seekers Boosted By Supreme Court Ruling
     
  4. NPR – Supreme Court Rules State ‘Faithless Elector’ Laws Constitutional
     
  5. Washington Post – Supreme Court says much of eastern Oklahoma remains Indian land

    Recent Racial Renaming. Increasingly, institutions with names that glorify racial violence are being pressured to change said names, and we saw movement on several fronts related to this last week. The NFL’s Washington team is reviewing their name as a first step towards changing it, and the Cleveland franchise doing the same. Meanwhile, students and faculty at Washington and Lee University are making a similar request, objecting to the glorification of a Confederate general in the school name. None of these steps are sufficient on their own, but it is progress in the correct direction. 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Washington Redskins And Cleveland Indians Are Rethinking Their Names
     
  2. Washington Post – Students And Faculty Ask Washington And Lee To Change Its Name
     

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. As I alluded above, things are really not going swimmingly in the COVID department.   We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented rate of infection in the United States, with over 3 million recorded cases and over 133,000 recorded deaths –about one fifth of the entire world’s total cases to date.  Dr. Fauci estimates we may see rates of up to 100,000 new cases per day, and we’ve already scaled past 50,000 per day at the time that I type this; thirty-nine states are recording rising infection.  Against this backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that some states are closing back down. The infection rate remains particularly concerning in FloridaArizona, and Texas, where lax standards combined with high concentrations of people seem to be creating a perfect storm.  Texas is now requiring masks in every county with more than 20 positive tests, while bar owners are suing the state because they were ordered closed again.  Meanwhile, Arizona lines for testing are sometimes miles long, and the country is beginning to prepare for a massive surge in evictions as people stop being able to pay rent. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
     
  2. ABC – Fauci Predicts Covid-19 Cases Could Top 100k Cases A Day: ‘It Puts The Entire Country At Risk’
     
  3. Reuters – Soaring U.S. Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations Overshadow July 4 Celebrations
     
  4. Washington Post – Where States Reopened And Cases Spiked After The U.S. Shutdown
     
  5. CNBC – As Coronavirus Cases Soar, Texas Issues Statewide Order Requiring Face Coverings
     
  6. Washington Post – Evictions Are Likely To Skyrocket This Summer As Jobs Remain Scarce. Black Renters Will Be Hard Hit.
     

Black Lives Matter News. We’re still seeing a lot of news about race relations and protests, particularly over the Fourth of July weekend In many locations, protests passed without major incidents.  But in Seattle, a protester was killed when a car drove onto the protest site, and Phoenix police surrounded and fatally shot a man sitting in a parked car. (Additionally, in Oregon tear gas was used on angry protesters.)  Meanwhile, Aurora police who killed autistic youth Elijah McCain last year were fired for taking photos mocking his death in response to his memorial this week. 
 

Key links:

  1. NPR – 1 Killed, 1 Injured After Driver Strikes Protesters In Seattle
     
  2. New York Times – Phoenix Police Kill Man In Parked Car, Igniting New Protests
     
  3. BBC – Elijah Mcclain: US Officers Fired For Pictures Mocking Man’s Death

Epstein Associate Apprehended. This week, long-time Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested this week for several years of helping Epstein groom teenage girls.  Since Epstein was arrested about a year ago, the charges are from the 1990s, and Maxwell doesn’t appear to have really gone anywhere, it’s not clear why she’s only being arrested now.  But presumably we’ll know more soon.  
 

Key links:

  1. CNN – Ghislaine Maxwell, Longtime Jeffrey Epstein Associate, Arrested For Recruiting And Abusing Girls In Sex-trafficking Ring
 

Actions for Everyone

Don’t forget about small wins. Have you registered to vote? Have you chosen to get all your ballots from now until forever mailed to you so that voter suppression can suck it (obviously there’s lots more to voter suppression, but I’m just saying). Have you decolonized your bookshelf and podcast selections? There’s plenty you can do that will help create progressive culture shifts. Got any ideas you want to share with us? Email activism@patrothfuss.com 


Black Lives Matter:
 Do you know when and where protests are happening in your respective towns and cities? Got a connection who is on on-the-ground giving FB Live updates? For disrupting dominant institutions, step one is showing up to do the disrupting. No Justice, No Peace. For those of you interested in marching, protesting, and showing up for the on-the-ground work, here are some tips:

  • Wear a mask: Wear a mask and bring hand sanitizer.
  • Bring a buddy: Not only is it safer to have someone with you, but also, getting a bigger turn out means it’s easier to reach a critical mass.  
  • Pack a bag: Water, electrolytes, and snack to help prevent heat exhaustion, as well as goggles and bandana to protect yourself incase the police decide your First Amendment rights don’t count and decide to send in teargas. Don’t forget a phone charger, incase you have to document it. 
  • Write down phone numbers: Have the ACLU on speed dial incase you need legal representation, and furthermore, make sure someone knows your plans so they can be on call incase you need some help. 

There are many organizations and institutions creating alternative solutions that deserve your support, including members of our own Congress. Congressmembers Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, who have introduced The BREATHE Act.  

This is basically an effort to defund police on a national level, and create a new vision of public safety. Call your electeds to show your support for The BREATHE Act. 

 
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 #156, 2020 Week 26

Hey everyone,

Starting to feel burning out from shifting through the news? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

The main story this week is Attack of the Return of the COVID-19, and that horror movie has just as many bad life choices as you might expect. I think a Twitter user put it quite well: “Any zombie movie that doesn’t have hordes of people running towards the zombies to deliberately get bitten because they’re convinced it’s a liberal hoax is going to look pretty unrealistic now.”  

 

Events to Know

Bounties for Russia.  The incredible news broke over the weekend that Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Taliban agents to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and that Trump has known about this since March.  Or, more accurately, that Trump should have known about this since March, as that’s when his team was briefed–or he could have learned when he was first briefed in 2019, y’know, if he’d actually read the briefing.  Intelligence officers had been tackling the issue since late January Trump’s initial defense was “nobody told me,” which of course just led to more and more news about how many times he’d been told. 

Key links:

  1. Guardian – Outrage Mounts Over Report Russia Offered Bounties To Afghanistan Militants For Killing U.S. Soldiers
     
  2. Associated Press – AP Sources: White House Aware Of Russian Bounties In 2019
     
  3. Wall Street Journal – Trump Says U.S. Intelligence Didn’t Find Russian Bounty Information Credible

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. This was a pretty awful week for learning administrative missteps during the pandemic. News broke that federal officials allowed flawed tests to circulate, despite knowing that they are flawed, because Trump had promised test access that simply wasn’t possible. Outlets also revisited the news that the Treasury sent $1.4B in stimulus checks to over one million dead people. And news broke that the SBA exempted lawmakers from its own ethics rules when administering its $660B loan program. And, of course, there’s the current and unprecedented rate of infection, which this administration is minimizing as experts grow increasingly concerned about containment. So, y’know, A++ management all around.    

Key links

  1. CBS – Flawed Covid-19 Antibody Tests Shipped Without FDA Review
     
  2. NBC – Dead Wrong: Feds Sent $1.4B In Stimulus Checks To Over A Million Deceased
     
  3. Washington Post – SBA Exempted Lawmakers, Federal Officials From Ethics Rules In $660 Billion Loan Program
     
  4. NPR – U.S. Sets Daily Record For New Coronavirus Cases

 

Roger Stone Trial Updates. The House heard testimony this week from former Roger Stone prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who confirmed that prosecutors were pressured to give him a more lenient sentence due to his relationship to Trump.  Perhaps relatedly, Stone himself was ordered to report back to prison on July 14th, denying his request for another two months’ reprieve due to COVID.  (I’m guessing Judge Berman feels that someone so obviously cozy with Trump can go ahead and follow Trump’s guidelines about the crisis.) 

Key links

  1. CNN – Ex-Stone Prosecutor Says Stone Treated Differently ‘Because Of His Relationship To The President’
     
  2. Washington Post – Roger Stone Ordered To Report To Prison July 14, As Judge Denies Request For Two-month Delay

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  Adding to our growing list of moderate SCOTUS successes, the court issued a decision today on a Louisiana case regarding abortion, which featured a conclusion that an obviously-unconstitutional law that mimicked a law the Court overturned four years ago was, in fact, unconstitutional, because stare decisis is still a thing. (Poor Justice Breyer probably had to be restrained from writing “I’m sorry, was I writing in Esperanto last time?” when he drafted this opinion.) The Ninth Circuit also found that this administration’s border wall funding was illegal, which is encouraging as well, and a federal district court judge stuck down a law that makes asylum harder to claim.
 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Hands Abortion-rights Advocates A Victory In Louisiana Case
     
  2. NBC – Appeals Court Rules Funding For Trump Border Wall Construction ‘Unlawful’
     
  3. Washington Post – Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rule targeting Central Americans

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. As I mentioned above, we’re currently experiencing an unprecedented rate of infection in the United States, with over 2.5 million recorded cases and over 126,000 recorded deaths reflecting new daily high records.  Cases rates are increasing in 32 states, with 14 states holding steady and only a few states experiencing a decreased rate of infection–Dr. Fauci estimates we may see rates of up to 100,000 new cases per day, and we’re at 40,000 per day now.  Against this backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that some states are closing back down. The infection rate is particularly concerning in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, where lax standards combined with high concentrations of people seem to be creating a perfect storm.  Nonetheless, none of these states are closing back down, though smaller restrictions are being implemented–Texas is limiting gatherings to 100 people (yes, you read that right) and limiting restaurants to 50% in-house dining capacity; Florida is banning drinking in bars (but not in restaurants) and closing some beaches; and Arizona’s only concession appears to be finally allowing municipalities to require masks.  Needless to say, it’s unsurprising that the European Union won’t let us travel there now that they’re reopening their borders.  Meanwhile, another virus with ‘pandemic potential’ was uncovered in China, and that sound you are hearing is my head hitting my desk repeatedly. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – How The Virus Won
     
  2. NPR – 5,489 New Covid-19 Cases: Texas Reports All-Time Daily High
     
  3. New York Times – E.U. May Bar American Travelers As It Reopens Borders, Citing Failures On Virus
     
  4. BBC – Flu Virus With ‘Pandemic Potential’ Found In China
     

Black Lives Matter News. News on this front continues to be one step forward and two steps back.  We have several more stories of gun violence against protesters–white civilians in St Louis brandished guns at peaceful protesters, images of which Trump retweeted, and a photographer died after someone fired a gun into a crowd of protesters in Louisville, KY.  Trump issued an executive order creating a felony charge for vandalizing Confederate statues, and also retweeted videos of someone yelling “White power”.  In more positive news, there’s research indicating that no spike in cases was caused by outdoor protest, and the House passed an expansive police force overhaul bill.  
 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – 1 Dead After Man Shoots Into Crowd At Breonna Taylor Protest In Louisville
     
  2. CBS – Trump Signs Executive Order To Protect Monuments
     
  3. NPR – Trump Retweets Video Of Apparent Supporter Saying ‘White Power’
     
  4. CNN – Black Lives Matter Protests Have Not Led To A Spike In Coronavirus Cases, Research Says
     
  5. New York Times – House Passes Sweeping Policing Bill Targeting Racial Bias And Use Of Force

ACA Acrimony (Again). Our illustrious leader has filed an emergency brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act again, because… reasons? I’m honestly not even sure what is motivating him to yank 23 million people’s insurance in literal middle of a re-escalating pandemic, beyond “I must spite Obama even if it kills you.” Recent SCOTUS cases, however, suggest they may not be so inclined to listen to him–but more on that below. In the meantime, House Democrats have introduced legislation to re-expand the Act, presumably just to be on the safe side. 
 

Key links:

  1. CBS – Trump Administration Urges Supreme Court To Overturn The Affordable Care Act
     
  2. PBS – Watch: Pelosi And House Democrats Unveil Patient Protection And Affordable Care Enhancement Act
 

Actions for Everyone

We can’t let our guard down regarding Covid-19. We’re back where we started.The badly planned re-opening of many states, the disregard of our current administration to take this virus seriously and the politicization of the issue has put us all in danger. What can we do?

Call your representatives in the Senate to pressure them into voting for the Heroes Act. This legislation was passed in the House back in May 5th and Mitch McConell has tried to bury it like the disgusting evil goblin he is. This act would give a second stimulus check, hazard pay to workers who are more exposed to Covid-19, help the USPS, give more funds to unemployment, Child Nutrition programs, Rental Assistance program and Supplemental Nutrition programs.

Call your representatives today! They are supposed to vote this week. You can use this script by Celeste Power to help you guide your call. 

Wear a Mask! The mask wearing issue has been made into a right vs.left issue when it really should be an “us” issue. It’s been proven that wearing a mask helps to diminish infections and keeps all of us safe, but Trump and his goons refuse to wear one, for some weird and truly perplexing reason. Wear a mask, normalize mask wearing, show yourself in social media wearing a mask, talk to the people you know about how wearing a mask is safe and good and helps. Give masks to people who are in need or can’t afford one.

Stay home! Even if it’s summer, even if it’s the 4th of July, even if your friends are going out. Call your friends on it. We are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic; the beach, brunch and parties can wait.

Russia Revelations: What should our government be doing right now? Addressing Russia’s involvement in paying bounties to the Taliban for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan. We recently learned that there are reports of the White House having knowledge of Russia’s involvement in the killing of US troops and allies, but how much did they know? Did they do anything about it? How much did the intelligence community know about this? We want answers. Call your representatives in Congress and demand that they hold a thorough investigation regarding this issue and what they are willing to do to hold Russia accountable. And what are they doing to hold our own President accountable for withholding this knowledge? You can use this script to guide you.

Black Lives Matter:The cops that killed Breonna Taylor are still free. Demand justice. 

Things That Make Me Smile: 

Mississippi changed its flag  to abandon the Confederate flag on it. 

Word of the Week by The Black Emily Dickinson. Check out her work and expand your vocabulary!

 
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.

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The Activism Team

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Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #155, 2020 Week 25

Hey everyone,

Feel like you’re falling behind on the news. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 The news this week was a wild, wild ride from start to finish, and covered a pretty broad range. If nothing else, the administration’s actions suggest that they really do plan to just go back to business as normal. (Of course, for this administration, “business as normal” means an impressive blend of corruption and incompetence, so the news reflects this accordingly.)

Events to Know

Bolton Windows.  John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is scheduled for release this week, and Trump is big mad about it.  In fact, the administration was so angry about this book that they filed a court case asking a judge to block its release.  The judge denied this request, but did note that Bolton is a piece of work in the opinion.  Among the allegations supposedly included in the book: Trump asked China’s President to help reelect him and definitely tied Ukraine aid to them investigating Hunter Biden.  Needless to say, if the latter is true, Bolton’s testimony would have been appreciated several months ago.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump Launches The Tell-All Playbook On Bolton: Lawsuits And Twitter Threats
  2. New York Times – Judge Rejects Trump Request For Order Blocking Bolton’s Memoir
  3. Washington Post – Trump Asked China’s Xi To Help Him Win Reelection, According To Bolton Book

Retaliatory Firing (Again Again). This weekend, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman received quite a surprise when Attorney General William Barr announced that Berman was stepping down and being replaced by Jay Clayton, who heads the SEC.  Berman quickly issued a statement saying that he was not stepping down, just so that we’re all clear on this point, and by the way did this have anything to do with his investigation of Rudy Giuliani?  After Barr issued Berman a nastygram, Chuck Schumer and Amy Gillibrand refused to approve the swap, and Barr appointed Berman’s deputy like the law says he’s supposed to, Berman did step down.  Needless to say, all of this makes Barr look pretty bad, and he didn’t even get the guy he wanted installed, so I wouldn’t call it a win for him even though Berman is now gone.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Powerful US Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates Refuses To Step Down After Barr Tries To Push Him Out
  2. The Hill – Schumer Calls On Clayton To Withdraw From Consideration To Be US Attorney
  3. Washington Post – Trump Ousts Manhattan U.S. Attorney Who Investigated President’s Associates

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. Trump sure had some stuff to say about COVID this week, and none of it exactly screamed “competent management.” In addition to his refusal to work with Tulsa on its request to make the rally safer (more on that below), he attracted attention for announcing at his Saturday rally that he asked for less testing so that fewer people would test positive for COVID-19. This is consistent with the $14B earmarked for testing that he hasn’t distributed, and nobody in his camp can give a coherent story on the admission, so it seems very likely to be true. For bonus fun, he also used racist language to refer to the virus while disclosing this, because of course he did. And just to cap the whole thing off, two members of his team who attended the rally have tested positive for COVID, but he’s nonetheless cutting back on checking symptoms for visitors and staff at the White House.

Key links:

  1. Politico –  White House Says Trump Rally Attendees ‘Assume A Personal Risk’
  2. CNN – White House Officials On The Defensive After Trump Says He Wanted Testing Slowed Down
  3. NBC – Top Democrats Say Trump Is Sitting On $14B For Coronavirus Testing, Contact Tracing
  4. CNBC – Two Trump Campaign Staffers Who Attended Tulsa Rally Test Positive For Coronavirus

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  The Supreme Court held this week by 5-4 vote that the Trump administration improperly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, calling its process “arbitrary and capricious.”  It was a very unusual decision that focused on procedural grounds, and left the door open for the administration to try again–which Trump says they will definitely do.  But the decision means the DACA program remains in place as we head into the November election, and that’s an unexpected if precarious win with value that cannot be overstated for its roughly 690,000 recipients, all of whom are now safe from legal deportation for the time being.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Rules For DREAMers, Against Trump
  2. New York Times – What Is DACA? And How Did It End Up In The Supreme Court?

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. Though this administration is treating COVID like an afterthought, the W.H.O. is cautioning that we’ve entered a “new and dangerous phase” as infections grow in the American South and West Cases have also skyrocketed in prisons, which has implications for arrested protesters.  Meanwhile, many restaurants are closing again despite recently reopening for in-house dining, finding their workers are becoming infected. AMC was in the news for announcing that when they reopen next month, moviegoers wouldn’t have to wear masks, though they quickly walked that one back for obvious reasons.  In more positive news, a University of Oxford study found that a commonly-available steroid may save lives in severe COVID cases.  That same university is also reaching Phase 3 of their vaccine study, which may mean we have more information on possible vaccines soon.
Key links:

  1. CNN – 10 States Are Seeing Their Highest Average Of Daily New Covid-19 Cases Since The Pandemic Started
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus Cases Rise Sharply In Prisons Even As They Plateau Nationwide
  3. Washington Post – ‘There Is No Playbook’: Restaurants Are Closing Again After Workers Test Positive For Coronavirus
  4. New York Times – After Backlash, AMC Says Masks Will Be Required In Theaters
  5. Reuters – Steroid drug hailed as ‘breakthrough’ for seriously ill COVID-19 patients

Black Lives Matter News.  As seems to be the trend on this topic, we saw a lot of push and pull on racial equity this week. The former officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta last week has been charged with murder, as well as several other things–but several other officers protested the decision.  We still have two Congressional bills active as well as Trump’s toothless order, but negotiations appear stalled as I type this.  And Bubba Wallace, the driver who persuaded NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at events, found a noose in his Talladega garage stall this week.
Key links:

  1. CBS – Fired Atlanta Officer Charged With Murder In Rayshard Brooks Shooting
  2. Washington Post – Atlanta Police Call In Sick To Protest Murder Charge Against Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks
  3. NBC – Senate Democrats block GOP policing bill, calling it ‘irrevocably flawed’ and ‘partisan’
  4. ESPN – Nascar Says Noose Found In Bubba Wallace’s Garage At Talladega

Primary Election Update.  Primary elections were held in several states on Tuesday, and they appear to show a country still figuring out how to balance elections during the COVID crisis.  In New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez handily won her district, which is fun to note, and progressives appeared to do well in general, though we’re still waiting on a large number of mail-in ballots.  (The elections didn’t otherwise seem noteworthy–which is itself noteworthy, given how badly COVID had gripped the state.)  Kentucky closed most of its polling locations and saw huge numbers of absentee ballots as well.  This means delays in tabulating results, and with a closely-contested primary for the privilege of running against Mitch McConnell, those results are definitely worth watching.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Live Primary Election Results: Races In Kentucky, New York And Virginia
  2. Business Insider – LIVE UPDATES: Charles Booker takes the lead over Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Democratic primary for the US Senate
  3. Courier Journal – RECAP: What all happened in Kentucky on a historic primary Election Day
  4. CNN – 3 takeaways from primary night in New York, Kentucky and North Carolina

Actions for Everyone

We, as a collective of engaged citizens, are creating and witnessing progressive changes that years of elections haven’t been able to get us. We are tired of waiting, and have been learning, acting, and are prepared for what’s to come. Keep it up, folks! Educate, Agitate, Organize.

Black Lives Matter: Say her name – Breonna Taylor! This week, Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, was fired. This is a success, but there are several more officers who were involved in the no-knock warrant, and we can’t forget that being fired still allows police officers to collect a pension and/or other types of pay. In the 2014 Milwaukee murder of Dontre Hamilton, the police officer responsible for Dontre’s death, Christopher Manney, is able to still collect 75% of his previous $71,000 salary in disability retirement pay, tax free. If that doesn’t hugely incentivize police violence, I don’t know what does.

For her 27th Birthday on June 5th, Bustle put together a list of ways to Demand Justice for Breonna Taylor.

  1. Send a birthday card, letter, postcard, or other paper mail to the Office of the Attorney General and Louisville Metro Mayor, explaining that Taylor will not get to celebrate her birthday this year, and demanding justice for her and all Black people killed by the police. The addresses for both offices are on the #BirthdayForBreonna website. 
  2. Send an email to the Kentucky attorney general, the mayor, and the governor demanding accountability for Taylor’s death. The link on the #BirthdayForBreonna page will open your mail app with the email addresses already filled in and a pre-written email of what to say.
  3. Sign the official petition calling for Kentucky Governor Andy BeshearKentucky Attorney General Daniel CameronKentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Louisville District Attorney Tom Wine to arrest all the Louisville officers involved in the killing of Taylor, for Taylor’s family to be compensated for wrongful death and negligence, for Governor Beshear to or Attorney General Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Louisville Police Department immediately, and for no-knock warrants to be deemed unconstitutional.
  4. This GoFundMe will wire money directly to Breonna’s family, who have been working hard to seek justice for Breonna, and the Louisville Community Bail Fund helps support the people who have been on the front lines of protests for Taylor in Louisville.
  5. You can also call the offices of Governor Beshear, District Attorney Wine, Attorney General Cameron, Senator Paul, as well as Representative John Yarmuth, and the Kentucky Senators General Hotline. All their numbers are listed here, as well as a script of what you can say.

Earn It Act: As an activist, I can tell you first hand that using end-to-end encryption is integral to organizing. The EARN IT Act can not pass. (How have I never written anything in a Gandalf-voice before? You. Shall not. Paaaassss.)

Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act).  Additionally, it fails to effectively protect children from online sexual exploitation according to the Human Rights Watch. keep children safe.

The bill also violates the Constitution’s protections for free speech and privacy. As Congress considers the EARN IT Act—which would require online platforms to comply with to-be-determined “best practices” in order to preserve certain protections from criminal and civil liability for user-generated content under Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230)—it’s important to highlight the bill’s First and Fourth Amendment problems.

So, this is a call to contact your senators, and sign petitions to stop it. Here’s a nice write-up on how to call your senators if you have social anxiety. ActionNetwork has a petition you can sign and a phone number you can call to connect with Congress here.

The Marshall Project: The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. They have information on movements around Police Abolition, ImmigrationRace, and so many other urgent and important topics. Please know about them, read their research, and share widely.

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 #154, 2020 Week 24

Hey everyone,

We apologize for not sending  out an issue last week. We simply could not get in front of all the changing news. We have given you an extra full newsletter this 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

Everything is still a giant mess–honestly, Trump planning a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa feels like a pretty succinct summary of where we are as a country.  But as always, pecan resist, and we keep pushing for a more just world. I’m here if anyone needs anything.

Events to Know

Regulation Free-For-All. We’ve officially reached the point where Trump is doing every garbage regulation change his id desires and claiming it’s necessary for COVID reasons, so this was a hell of a week for proclamations. First up was an order expediting permitting of construction projects, which obviated a lot of environmental review typically done under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Then that was followed by a relaxation of the way the Clean Air Act is implemented, and then that was followed by changes making it harder to dispute credit reports. Then he followed that by allowing commercial fishing at a marine sanctuary.  Continuing the trend, a lot of eyes are on their attempt to undo protections for transgender people and abortion in the ACA, which the administration released on the anniversary of the Pulse Massacre because of course they did. But they also finalized a rule that allows all kinds of egregious hunting practices in Alaska, which I take rather personally as an avid bear fan. And we should all pay attention to the proposed changes to asylum issued, which would effectively cement severe curtailment of asylum claims first constructed during the COVID crisis.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – Trump Signs Order Removing Environmental Review Of Major Projects
  2. New York Times – Trump, Citing Pandemic, Moves To Weaken Two Key Environmental Protections 
  3. Washington Post – Citing An Economic Emergency, Trump Directs Agencies Across Government To Waive Federal Regulations
  4. Bloomberg Law – HHS Moves To Curtail Abortion, Transgender Health Protections
  5. Washington Post – Trump Administration Makes It Easier For Hunters To Kill Bear Cubs And Wolf Pups In Alaska
  6. NPR – Trump Administration Proposes Rules To Sharply Restrict Asylum Claims

Other Election Oddities (Again).  We did see some positive election news this week, but mostly things remain a mess.  A judge in Tennessee ruled that voters must have the option to vote by mail during the pandemic, due to the risk presented by COVID.  Georgia’s primary did not exactly go smoothly, with new voting systems malfunctioning left and right and lines so long it prompted an independent investigation.  The GOP condemned “the current President” because they just straight-up didn’t update their copy from 2016 when rolling out the official 2020 platform, which leaves the talking points as stale as you might expect as they gear up for their convention.  Speaking of RNC news, the latest rumor is that the new destination will be Jacksonville, but that hasn’t been finalized (which feels pretty par for the course, given the rest of this paragraph). And in order to attend the first Trump rally on June 20, supporters have to sign a waiver saying they won’t sue if they get coronavirus there.

Key links:

  1. Chattanooga Times Free Press – Judge: Tennessee Must Allow Vote By Mail For All Amid Coronavirus
  2. Guardian – Georgia primary blighted by long lines and broken voting machines
  3. CBS – Georgia election ‘catastrophe’ in largely minority areas sparks investigation
  4. Politico – Republicans across the spectrum slam RNC’s decision to keep 2016 platform
  5. New York Times – Trump Supporters Must Waive Right to Sue Over Virus to Attend Rally

Flynn Flyover.  It almost feels quaint to discuss governmental malfeasance that doesn’t involve life or death by this point, but we nonetheless have more news on the Flynn trial. More specifically, the briefs to discuss dismissal were due this week, and the guy arguing against dismissal had a lot to say about the idea–one gets the impression that as a former judge, he takes the entire thing rather personally. I think my favorite was the part where he called the Department of Justice’s actions “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” but I’m also partial to his observations that they “abdicated . . . responsibility” and “everything about this is irregular.” At this rate, I hope the hearing on July 16 is televised.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Flynn Committed Perjury, And DOJ Request To Toss His Conviction Was ‘Corrupt,’ ‘Politically Motivated,’ Court-appointed Adviser Argues
  2. CNN – Justice Department Dropping Flynn Case Is ‘A Gross Abuse Of Prosecutorial Power,’ Court-appointed Lawyer Says

Recent Resilience

Recent Regulatory Resilience.  Many officials are discussing ways to defund, dissolve, or regulate police forces better in the wake of the last few weeks.  Most notably, the Minneapolis city council announced its intent to disband the police department and replace it with citizen patrols, a decision which came only a few days after they agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints Seattle is considering defunding its force as well.  Meanwhile, Democrats introduced sweeping police reform legislation in both the Senate and the House, and the House held a hearing on police violence, accepting testimony from George Floyd’s brother. People are increasingly losing their patience for racist symbols, with NASCAR banning the confederate flag at all events and the Senate proving receptive to renaming military bases. (Several monuments have been removed as well, by officials or otherwise.) Public opinion has also created pushback in other ways: an Ohio legislator was fired for his racist remarks; a top general apologized for appearing in the Lafayette Square photo op; more companies are refusing to let police use their facial recognition software; and over a thousand former DoJ employees have called for an investigation into Barr related to his clearing protesters with teargas.

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Minneapolis Lawmakers Vow To Disband Police Department In Historic Move
  2. NPR- Minneapolis Agrees To Ban Chokeholds And Neck Restraints By Police
  3. Washington Post – Seattle Politicians Consider Defunding Police Department Amid Outbreak Of Violence At Protest
  4. Politico – ‘Black Americans Want To Stop Being Killed’: Democrats Unveil Sweeping Police Reform Bill

Recent Court Resilience.  SCOTUS dropped a lot of promising orders this week, though some of them were baffling. They declined to hear a case challenging California protections for immigrants, which leaves those protections in place contrary to this administration’s aims. They also declined to hear cases challenging gun legislation based on the Second Amendment. But the biggest piece of news of the day was a 6-3 decision written by Justice Gorsuch, of all people, that concludes Title VII protects workers from being fired, disciplined, or denied opportunities due to sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ movement, and it may have a number of other implications as well.

Key links:

  1. Los Angeles Times – California ‘Sanctuary’ Rules Stay In Place After Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Challenge
  2. The Hill – Supreme Court Sidesteps New Cases On Gun Rights, Police Protections
  3. Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Rules Workers Cannot Be Fired For Being LGBT+
  4. Slate – The Supreme Court Just Tanked Trump’s Anti-Trans Agenda

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   COVID news continues to get worse on the national stage.  Hospitalization rates are rising in several states, as are other signs of increased communal transmission–and three states have their highest-ever rates right now.  Florida gained 1,300 more cases in one day on Friday, bringing its total over 60,000; Texas experienced a surge as well, with Dallas county reporting record highs; and overall, experts report that 23 states have seen an increase in the rolling seven-day average over the last week. Several research publications are now writing about the efficacy of masks, presumably to get more people wearing them.  On the economy front, the Dow dropped precipitously on Thursday as the Fed left interest rates low and people worried about a COVID resurgence.  There were also about 1.5 million new unemployment claims, suggesting some people are still being pushed out of the workplace even with states reopening.  Numbers are also increasing internationally, particularly in South America, But nonetheless most states are opening back up, including New York.  Meanwhile, Lancet is in the news for retracting the study that raised safety concerns about hydroxychloroquine, apparently due to inability to audit the data. Nonetheless, the FDA has ended emergency authorization to use hydroxychloroquine, probably because other trials concluded the same thing.  
Key links:

  1. CNBC – U.S. Coronavirus Cases Have Been Slowly Ticking Up Since Memorial Day
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus Cases Spike Across Sun Belt As Economy Lurches Into Motion
  3. Politico – FDA Ends Emergency Use Of Hydroxychloroquine For Coronavirus
  4. Washington Post – Spate Of New Research Supports Wearing Masks To Control Coronavirus Spread
  5. NPR – Federal Reserve Vows To Help Economy Weather The Pandemic Recession
  6. Politico – Unemployment Claims Climbed By 1.5 Million Last Week, Despite Jobs Gains In May

Documenting Police Brutality.  Needless to say, one of the biggest stories we need to keep tracking is the civil unrest which continued for another week.  There are many, many things to track here, so I’m beginning with stories that involve police forces directly.  On the one hand, there were several stories this week about police facing consequences for bad behavior, particularly when it was documented with cameras:  1) Six Atlanta officers face assault charges for dragging two college kids out of their car and stunning them during a protest; 2) All four cops involved in George Floyd’s death are now charged with murder; 3) The ACLU is suing the Minnesota police for their portion of over 149 documented police attacks on members of the press; 4) A Philadelphia officer faces assault charges after beating a Temple student with a baton without provocation; and 5) two officers in Buffalo were suspended for shoving an elderly man on camera.  But for each of these stories, there are seemingly even more new stories about violent police culture without consequences: 6) Officers who shot and killed Breanna Taylor in her own home still have not been charged, although there is now an FBI investigation pending; 7) 57 officers in Buffalo resigned in protest because the videoed assault mentioned above resulted in suspension; 8) Evidence of another asphyxiation-related homicide of a man in custody arose in Tacoma, Washington, with no charges filed; 9) Officers in Chicago assaulted their own police board president, again without any charges filed (though he did file an official complaint); 10) Officers in Asheville destroyed medical equipment and otherwise trashed a medic tent during a protest; and 11) Police in Vallejo fatally shot an unarmed man outside a Walgreens.  An attorney in North Carolina has documented over 300 violent incidents on camera since protests began two weeks ago, which is as disturbing as it is unsustainable.  And the Washington Post reports there have been nineteen documented instances of people driving cars into protest crowds, normalizing what was a shocking action only three years ago in Charlottesville.
Key links:

  1. NBC – Atlanta Officers Charged With Assault After Video Of Them Using Stun Guns On Black Students
  2. Washington Post – Murder Charges Filed Against All Four Officers In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Against Biased Policing Continue
  3. Time – Watchdogs Say Assaults On Journalists Covering Protests Is On A ‘Scale That We Have Not Seen Before’
  4. Philadelphia Inquirer – Philadelphia Police Inspector Joseph Bologna Will Face Assault Charges In The Beating Of A Temple Student At A Protest
  5. New York Times – Buffalo Police Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-year-old Protester
  6. ABC – FBI Opens An Investigation Into The Death Of Breonna Taylor
  7. Washington Post – 57 Buffalo Officers Resign From Special Squad Over Suspension Of Two Who Shoved 75-year-old
  8. New York Times – Another Man Who Said ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Died In Custody. An Autopsy Calls It Homicide.
  9. WTTW – Police Board President: Officers Struck Me 5 Times With Their Batons During Protest
  10. Des Moines Register – Fact Check: Police Did Destroy A Medic Area During Protests In Asheville, North Carolina
  11. NBC – Police In Vallejo, Calif., Fatally Shoot Man With A Hammer Kneeling Outside A Walgreens

Other Societal Response.  Needless to say, all of the above has prompted a lot of responses all over the country–many of which are worth tracking continually.  A memorial was held for George Floyd, which resulted in thousands of people gathering in cities all over the country, and protests continued all over the world as well.  The New York Times had a giant fight about publishing a fascist op-ed from Tom Cotton about the Insurrection Act, which ultimately culminated in the op-ed editor resigning after admitting he hadn’t even read the piece.  The NFL Commissioner admitted they were wrong to side against players who kneeled during the anthem, apparently prompted by an appeal from the players released by video.  A judge in Georgia has advanced the murder trial for three men charged with Ahmaud Aubrey’s death. Twitter found itself discussing the Third Amendment for probably the first time ever after the mayor of D.C. tried to remove troops stationed in hotels there.  And Kpop fans made the news for spamming police apps and hashtags to make it harder for police to identify protesters.
Key links:

  1. NBC – George Floyd Memorial: Loved Ones Say Goodbye To Man Whose Death Ignited National Conversation On Racism
  2. New York Times – James Bennet Resigns As New York Times Opinion Editor
  3. ESPN – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Says Nfl Was ‘wrong’ Not To Listen To Its Players About Racism
  4. CBS – Judge Advances Murder Case Against 3 Men In Ahmaud Arbery’s Death
  5. Business Insider – Trump And The Threat Of The Military In Us Cities Has Made The Third Amendment Suddenly Relevant. Here’s What It Means.
  6. Newsweek – Kpop Fans Spam Grand Rapids Police Department With Fancams After Crashing Dallas Police App

Actions for Everyone

BLM: As we reach the third week of national on-going protests after the murder carried out by the police of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, I’d like to re-share these very useful links for anyone who is protesting on the streets or wants to support the Black Lives Matter movement. We have sadly seen another black man die in the hands of the police in Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks, who’s killer has been charged with felony murder.

Ways To Help – Official Black Lives Matter website on ways to support the movement

National Resource Spreadsheet – A document with national resources from bail funds to protesting guidelines

As protests go on around the nation, the demand for defunding the police has harnessed great support. But what does the call for “defund the police” look like? I found these words by representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez explain is perfectly:

“It looks like a suburb. Affluent white communities already live in a world where they choose to fund youth, health, housing etc more than they fund police. When a teenager or preteen does something harmful in a suburb (I say teen bc this is often where lifelong carceral cycles begin for Black and Brown communities), White communities bend over backwards to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to ‘protect their future,’ like community service or rehab or restorative measures. Why don’t we treat Black and Brown people the same way?”

You can find more on her perspective in this Marie Claire article.  What else can you do to help #DefundThePolice?

  • Call your local government and find out how funding works for your community. And ask your representatives what they are doing in order to allocate funds towards at risk youth, health, education and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Sign the BLM initiated petition 
  • Read this Tool Kit by the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Go protest!
  • Donate to entities like the ACLU who are frontrunners in these topics
  • You can find more options in this article by Refinery29 

Given the state of the world, you’ve probably found yourself lately talking to friends and family about systemic racism, politics, police and other heavy topics. I’ve seen many posts on social media about fights with family over these topics and even I have found myself discussing these uncomfortable but necessary topics with loved ones. Like today, for example, I found myself discussing the racist history of Aunt Jemima, the pancake and syrup brand that has decided to change their image. 

How can you talk to your loved ones about these topics? It’s important we do so, even if it isn’t fun.

Here are some good sources to help you lead that conversation.

Want to have better conversations about racism with your parents? Here’s how

How to talk about racism with your white parents

How to talk to your non-black family members about race, according to therapists

On-going series of Trump Hates The Environment: These past weeks we’ve seen two major rules that protect animals being attacked.

First, Trump wants to roll back on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which leaves more than 1,000 species of birds unprotected against industry. We still have a 45 days period for the government to hear public comments so please call your representatives.

Then, they are finalizing a rule that will allow hunters to kill wolf, coyote and bear cubs in their dens in Alaska. Mention this to your representatives while you call them to ask for police defunding!

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

An underground plant exchange where white folks send plants to black folks

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 #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

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The Activism Team

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