Issue #185, 2021 Week 8

 
 

Hey everyone,

Want to know what is going on? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

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

 

Events to Know

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

 

Key links:

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

 

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 We did see a bit more movement on this front in the past week, as President Biden officially rescinded the emergency order that authorized building a wall at the U.S. southern border.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

 

Key links: 

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

 

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

 

Key links: 

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

 

Recent Resilience

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

 

Key links:

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

 

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

 

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

 

Key links:

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

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

 

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

@austinmutualaidhotels

@feedthepeopledallas

@mutualaidhou

@dawaheals

 

There are several other ways to help listed here. 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #184, 2021 Week 7

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

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

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

 

Key links: 

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

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

 

Key links: 

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

CW: Suicide/Mental Illness

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

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

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

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

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

Reach out – 

Text 741741 for a free crisis text line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #183, 2021 Week 6

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

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

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


Key links: 

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

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

 

Key links: 

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

Happy Black History Month and also holy snow batman!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #182, 2021 Week 5

Hey everyone,

News seems to finally be on an upward trend. Ready to be involved or just plain keep up? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links: 

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

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

Key links: 

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

What should we paying attention to?

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

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

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

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

Help organizations like:

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

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

And here are some :

Things That Made Me Smile!

The possibility of a cat living in the White House

This list of 50 things Biden has already made better

The existence of nudibranchs

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #181, 2021 Week 4

Hey everyone,

Ready to see what the new administration does?  Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Issue #179, 2021 Week 2

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

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

 

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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


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

Key links

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

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

Key links

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

 

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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


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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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The Activism Team

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Issue #178, 2020 Week 51

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

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

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

Key links:

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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

Issue #177, 2020 Week 50

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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


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

Key links:

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

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

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

Actions for Everyone

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

What do you need to tell your congresspeople?

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

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Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #176, 2020 Week 49

The Activism Newsletter
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Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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


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

Key links:

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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

Issue # 175, 2020 Week 48

Hey everyone,

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

Thanks,
The Activism Team

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

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

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

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

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

Consider buying your holiday gifts from Native companies.

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

Follow indigenous creators on Social Media.

Donate to Native American organizations like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These dogs standing on mushrooms

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
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