Issue #211, 2021 Week 44

The news this week contains a lot of doubling down on all sides, and I honestly can’t decide whether that’s good or bad.  But whatever it is, we’re here to summarize it for you, and we’re also here if anybody needs anything.

Events to Know

Election Rejection Eruption. Basically everybody doubled down on the ongoing January 6 fights this week. In the court case about whether Trump’s documents must be turned over, the obviously-annoyed district court judge issued an opinion stating that Trump et al had to fork everything over. But that decision was immediately appealed, and the circuit court panel issued a stay on releasing the documents while the appeal is pending. Meanwhile, the House January 6 panel, increasingly done with all the obstruction nonsense being shoveled their way, continued to just make it rain subpoenas. Former Trump aide Steve Bannon was officially indicted for contempt of Congress as well, and turned himself in earlier today. Also on the criminal side, the first person to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer on Jan 6 was sentenced to 41 months of incarceration.  More information was also released about Mike Pence’s precarious situation that day, which Trump immediately downplayed with characteristic surrealist garbage.  And speaking of Trump, a recent report noted that 13 of his officials committed Hatch Act violations by campaigning for him while serving as federal officials, though it’s unclear whether there will be any consequences for it. All told, there’s a lot to watch right now.    

Key links:

  1. CNN – January 6 Committee Is Losing Patience With Trump’s Former Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows As It Seeks His Testimony
  2. Washington Post – House Jan. 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas To 6 Top Trump Advisers, Including Pair Involved In Willard Hotel ‘Command Center’
  3. Politico – Watchdog: 13 Trump officials violated Hatch Act during 2020 campaign
  4. New York Times – Bannon Indicted on Contempt Charges Over House’s Capitol Riot Inquiry

Biden Bill Updates.   Last week, a deal was brokered for potentially voting on the Building Back Better Act sometime in the next few weeks, but after the initial procedural vote there wasn’t been much movement–the party experienced a lot of gridlocked, and Manchin is now citing our massive and unprecedented pandemic inflation problem as his new reason he won’t vote for it. Nonetheless, today the House passed the Build Back Better Act in a 220 to 213 vote. This complements the final version of the infrastructure bill, which last Friday night; since it had previously passed in the Senate, Biden signed it into law earlier this week. Meanwhile, disgruntled and violent Republicans continue to fling death threats at the thirteen GOP members that voted yea on that bipartisan bill. Of course, implementation of the bill will be its own process, especially with Biden struggling to address related supply chain issues and several provisions of the bill potentially tied to the reconciliation package. Also, somewhere in there, Senate Republicans yet again blocked debate on passing voter protection laws, which makes the third or fourth time in the past month.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – With Infrastructure Victory In Hand, Democrats Brace For Next Battle Over $2 Trillion Spending Bill
  2. ABC News – House Democrats pass sweeping social spending, climate policy bill
  3. New York Times – House Republicans Who Backed Infrastructure Bill Face Vicious Backlash
  4. NBC News – Manchin repeats worries about inflation amid final social spending bill battle
  5. CNN – Senate Republicans Block John Lewis Voting Rights Bill In Key Vote

Recent Resilience

Same Sex Survivor Social Security. The Biden Administration announced this week that it will be abandoning defense of a Trump-era policy barring survivors from receiving social security benefits if our history of marriage inequality barred them from meeting the formal requirements. This is a much bigger deal than might be obvious, because social security policy looks at federal definitions of marriage, which have only included same-sex couples for about six years. In fact, the plaintiff in Obergefell, the court case that resulted in full marriage equality in the U.S., was denied survivor benefits because his spouse died only three months later. This policy was likely leaving a lot of people behind.   

Key links:

  1. NBC – Same-Sex Partners Win Survivors Benefits After Justice Dept. Dismisses Lawsuits

Tiktok Hand Signals.  A missing teen was rescued this week because she made, and an onlooker recognized, an aid-seeking hand gesture popularized on Tiktok from the window of a moving car.  The gesture is designed to signal a need for help relating to intimate partner violence or risk of abuse, and it hopefully will remain a useful tool for people who need it.

Key links:

  1. ABC News – Missing teen rescued using popular TikTok hand gesture to signal help

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   By far, the biggest news this week is the implementation of the pediatric vaccine, which began this week and has vaccinated over a million children as I type this. Most people I know consider this extremely positive news, but it somehow still resulted in Ted Cruz getting into a fight with Big Bird, because protective vaccines remain extremely partisan in this country. On a related note, a federal judge has stayed the federal vaccine mandate for work environments, despite the fact that it creates exemptions for medical and religious reasons and almost certainly is constitutional. Shortly after,  the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion on Friday which affirmed the first decision.  In Oklahoma, the head of the National Guard elected to ignore the vaccine mandate ordered by the Pentagon for armed service members.  In Florida, the governor has called a special legislative session purely to challenge vaccine and mask mandates. Meanwhile, infection rates are rising again and several states are identifying a new substrain of Delta.  But there are some other bright spots as well; travel bans are being lifted for vaccinated travelers from many countries as of Monday, and both Merck and Pfizer have made strides towards a form of effective pill-based treatment for COVID.  

Key links:

  1. NPR – Nearly 1 Million Kids Ages 5-11 Will Have Their First Covid Shots By The End Of Today
  2. NBC – Big Bird’s Vaccination Announcement Sparks Backlash From Conservatives, GOP 
  3. Politico – Federal Court Blocks Biden Administration’s Vaccination Mandate
  4. CBS News – A potentially faster-spreading Delta variant, AY.4.2, has been spotted in 8 states
  5. Stat – Merck’s Covid-19 Antiviral Pill Receives First Authorization In U.K.

The Political Role of ViolenceThis week, we’re seeing a lot of news about political discourse including threats of violence.  In addition to the death threats addressed to bipartisan GOP voters that I referenced above, Rep Paul Gosar was in the news for tweeting a video that depicted him murdering fellow congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  (Nancy Pelosi is calling for an investigation, House Democrats are calling for a censure, and AOC took it as an opportunity to talk about workplace violence.) Meanwhile, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial over the past week highlights the role political contexts play in protest-related violence. While we’re discussing the Rittenhouse trial, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the prosecutor, the judge and the defense on that case have all displayed an appalling lack of professionalism that I believe is probably motivated by its own political context.  Nonetheless, Rittenhouse was acquitted today, which many people (including myself) believe to be a reflection of our system’s inherent bias against accountability for white supremacist action.

Key links:

  1. NBC News – Twitter flags GOP lawmaker’s anime video depicting him killing Ocasio-Cortez, attacking Biden as ‘hateful conduct’
  2. Washington Post – House Democrats introduce resolution to censure Rep. Gosar over animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez
  3. New York Times – Key Moments From Kyle Rittenhouse’s Testimony

Actions For Everyone

Well my dear friends, sh*t’s effed as usual. Here’s some stuff we can do about it. Action items actually can feel pretty good when times are this rough, and remember we’re in this together. 

Build a new Justice System: The Rittenhouse verdict is in and he was found not guilty on all five felony counts of things he actually did, and many people watched on live streams as he did them. There’s a lot that needs to be done with our justice system, but one actionable item is to submit a formal complaint to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission with regards to Judge Bruce Schroeder’s bias during this trial. When I wrote my email it went simply:

“Dear Wisconsin Judicial Commission, 

I’m writing to file a complaint against Judge Bruce Schroeder’s clear and apparent bias during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Sincerely,

(your name)”

Here’s the address, phone number and email you can write or call into:

Wisconsin Judicial Commission

110 East Main St. Suite 700

Madison WI, 53703

Ph: (608) 266-7637

Email: judcmm@wicourts.gov

The Milwaukee Freedom Fund will provide bail and legal support for protestors. If you have money to spare you can also donate to them.

Legalize Sex Work: Another ongoing case that’s heading into trial is that of Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex crimes. She’s accused of grooming underage girls for now-deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse. 

I wanted to share this article called It’s Dangerous to Confuse Sex Work and Trafficking, because it really is dangerous, and the Epstein ring is one of the wicked byproducts of that.

Decriminalizing and legalizing sex work maximizes sex workers’ legal protection and their ability to exercise other key rights, including to justice and health care. Legal recognition of sex workers and their occupation maximizes their protection, dignity, and equality. This is an important step toward destigmatizing sex work. 

Visit Human Rights Watch Take Action page to learn more about what you can do about it, http://www.hrw.org/take-action

Take care of your body: There’s nothing more radical than self love. As we approach Winter and cloudy days, I wanted to remind everyone to keep up your Vitamin D levels and get / give hugs (consensually) to keep Oxytocin going,

Here are some foods that can boost your Vitamin D – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d

Issue #210, 2021 Week 43

Though things have been rough for a while now, this week was definitely a new low in American news. I certainly felt discouraged watching a lot of this unfold, so I’m not going to tell you not to; instead, I’ll just note that I’m here if anybody needs anything. And also, Halloween candy is very cheap right now, if you need some comfort food. Just sayin’.

Events to Know

Building Back Better Bust.  A whole laundry list of things were cut from the Building Back Better Act this week as Biden attempted to negotiate a deal with Senate moderates Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. In particular, the complete removal of paid family leave got a lot of attention, as that’s an area where the U.S. lags badly behind the rest of the world. Then, in response to a rapidly-shrinking Building Back Better bill, progressives in the House forced another delay on the infrastructure bill. Then after Biden released his new comprehensive plan, which was designed to placate moderates in the first place, Joe Manchin still refused to vote for it. Because, I don’t know, inscrutable Manchin reasons. But in the House, family and medical leave got added back in, and a provision that lowers prescription prices also was added as part of a negotiated deal with the Senate. (But that last part was negotiated with Sinema, not Manchin, so it’s honestly not clear whether we’ll see another take-backsie from him.) Just another successful week for the Democrats, amirite?

Key links:

  1. New York Times – The World ‘Has Found A Way To Do This’: The U.S. Lags On Paid Leave
  2. Politico – Liberal Frustration Imperils Quick Dem Social Spending Deal
  3. Washington Post – Biden Unveils $1.75 Trillion Spending Plan, But Divisions Delay Economic Agenda
  4. CNBC – Democrats Reach A Breakthrough Deal On Drug Prices, As Spending Bill Nears The Finish Line

Facebook Fakeout.  In the immediate aftermath of the release of the Facebook Papers, a major leak which outlined lots and lots of sketchy decisions made inside the company, Congress wants to grill Zuckerberg and journalists are starting to share more details about their process. But it’s okay, because Mark Zuckerberg has a brilliant plan!  (The brilliant plan consists of changing the company’s name and recreating Google Glass, but, y’know,  you can’t fault his commitment to moving fast and breaking things.)

Key links

  1. NPR – The Facebook Papers: What You Need To Know About The Trove Of Insider Documents
  2. CNBC – Senators Demand Facebook Ceo Mark Zuckerberg Answer Questions After Whistleblower’s Revelations At Hearing
  3. Verge – What Is The Metaverse, And Do I Have To Care?

State of the COVID-19.   By far, the biggest news this week is the pediatric vaccine–significantly more details have been shared about how its rollout will work, and the Pfizer vaccine was officially approved by the FDA on Friday and by the CDC the following Wednesday. This cleared the way for implementation of the pediatric vaccine to begin this week. But the CDC also added several psychiatric diagnoses to the list of qualifying booster conditions, and Biden is trying to expand access to rapid testing as well.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – White House Unveils Plans To Roll Out Coronavirus Vaccines For Children Ages 5 To 11
  2. NPR – CDC Recommends Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine For Children Ages 5 Through 11
  3. Healthline – People With Anxiety And Depression May Need A Covid-19 Booster Shot


Recent Resilience

X Marks the Passport. This week, the United States issued its first passport with an X gender marker. Admittedly, this was the a result of a lawsuit regarding intersex rights, but nonetheless it is progress! And frankly, given the state of the news this week, I’ll take it.  

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – United States Issues Its 1st Passport With ‘X’ Gender Marker
  2. Reuters – Navy Veteran Sues U.S. State Department For Denying ‘Intersex’ Passport

Things to Watch

Roe v. Why Are You Like This (cont again). As I mentioned last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Texas abortion law on Monday. All told, several justices signaled that they might be willing to strike down some of the more disturbing provisions, but we’re far from out of the woods on this topic; this isn’t even the last abortion challenge that SCOTUS will hear this year. We definitely need to keep our eyes on this, and now’s a great time to donate to funds supporting access to reproductive healthcare.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Supreme Court Seems Willing To Allow Challenge Of Texas’s Restrictive Abortion Law
  2. CNBC – Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments In Mississippi Abortion Case Challenging Roe V. Wade On Dec. 1

Election Rejection Eruption.  Trump is still trying to block subpoenas regarding the January 6 insurrection, and Biden is still refusing to invoke executive privilege for him.  As the panel gathers information, we also learn more about just how much the authorities ignored warnings regarding the planned insurrection in the days leading up to January 6. This is shaping up to be a major ongoing fight between our two political parties with a lot of very important implications; it’s going to be very important that we keep our eyes on this.

Key links:

  1. CBS – White House Rejects More Trump Claims Of Executive Privilege
  2. Washington Post – ‘Like Any Other Day’: Frequency Of Violent Threats On Capitol Hill Unnerves Staffers

Actions for Everyone 

Lots going on this week, SCOTUS, election week, and so much more. Here are some ideas of actions you can take to make a difference. 

Off Year Elections: Van Jones called this election seasons’ results in New Jersey and Virginia a “five alarm fire” for Democrats as they prepare for the 2022 midterm elections. I have to admit I’ve been disillusioned by the Democratic Party (still vote for them though) and the two-party system for years, but it is thee institution and the Republican party is the worst, so we obvs don’t need them to win anything, but it makes real change feel almost impossible.

You could find your local dems office and start volunteering, especially if you have new ideas and energy to bring to the table cause the strategies going into those last elections didn’t work. Find local candidates you can get behind and start volunteering for them or donate to them if you can.

Also, can we keep talking about how to dismantle the two party system though? Here’s an article on the topic just in case you’re curious to dig into it a little bit more.

Be Pro-Choice: Challenges against the Texas abortion laws were heard by SCOTUS this week. So wanted to take the chance to remind everyone the options to end a pregnancy through Planned Parenthood, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion including the abortion pill.

This is obviously not the last that will come up in front of SCOTUS, and Planned Parenthood is only one option, but it’s a national option and ya’ll shouldn’t forget about it.      

Rittenhouse Trial: Do not take your eyes off this case. The jury was skewed heavily white, one juror has been removed already for making a joke about the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Please watch this trial 

Issue #209, 2021 Week 42

This week, though outlets and public officials are reluctant to acknowledge it, the news really highlights just how many different systems are broken at once. It’s rough to watch, and it’s even rougher when everyone acts like it’s no big deal. But it’s not just you; it is a big deal. And as always, we’ll have suggestions for ways to respond below.

Events to Know

Immigration Updates. The Washington Post ran a story this week saying that border arrests were at an all-time high in FY 21, which would be a pretty disturbing indictment of Biden’s first six months in office.  But the Migration Policy Institute–a nonpartisan and highly respected authority on migration–says this view of the data is an oversimplification of patterns caused by high desperation during the pandemic. Either way, there was also significant news about CBP misconduct this week; the Human Rights Watch released internal reports of staff abusing detainees and a House investigative report revealed a flawed internal disciplinary system for addressing these types of agent infractions.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Border Arrests Have Soared To All-Time High, New CBP Data Shows
  2. Migration Policy Institute – It Is Too Simple To Call 2021 A Record Year For Migration At The U.S.-Mexico Border
  3. Human Rights Watch – “They Treat You Like You Are Worthless”: Internal DHS Reports Of Abuses By Us Border Officials
  4. Washington Post – Border Agents Who Made Violent, Lewd Facebook Posts Faced Flawed Disciplinary Process At CBP, House Investigation Finds

Worker Conditions.* This is an unprecedented time for many industries, as unsafe working conditions–and to some extent, labor shortages–combine with gilded age rule enforcement and practices to create untenable employment situations.  As a result, people are quitting jobs in record numbers, and we’ve seen a sharp increase in organized strikes as well.  Right now, over 10,000 workers at Deere & Co are striking for safer work conditions and fair pay.  Hollywood workers also nearly went on strike last week, and though a deal was reached, it’s possible the recent fatality on the set of Rust due to unsafe working conditions will mean a strike happens regardless. Workers at Kellogg’s have continuously been on strike all month, marking the third food conglomerate with workers protesting unsafe conditions for low pay since July.  And in New York, desperate taxi drivers are staging a hunger strike as part of ongoing protest of the taxi medallion bubble.

Key links

  1. Time – What The Labor Movement Needs To Keep ‘Striketober’ Going, According To New Afl-Cio Leader Liz Shuler
  2. Guardian – Is America Experiencing An Unofficial General Strike?
  3. New York Times – How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, In Charts
  4. Associated Press – Deere & Co. Workers Go On Strike After Rejecting Contract
  5. LA Times – ‘Rust’ Crew Describes On-Set Gun Safety Issues And Misfires Days Before Fatal Shooting
  6. NBC – ‘I Lost Everything’: Desperate N.Y.C. Taxi Drivers Begin Hunger Strike For Debt Relief

State of the COVID-19.  After some initial confusion, because experts didn’t agree about whether the second shot should be a different vaccine or the same one, the CDC officially recommended a mix-and-match approach to boosters last Wednesday and subsequently officially approved Moderna and J&J boosters in general.  The FDA is also considering authorizing boosters for everyone over 40, though that will wait until after the pediatric vaccine rollout.  And speaking of the pediatric vaccine, significantly more details have been shared about how its rollout will work, and the Pfizer vaccine was officially approved by the FDA on Friday.  We’re now expecting implementation may begin as soon as early next week.

Key links

  1. New York Times – F.D.A. Authorizes Moderna And Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots
  2. Washington Post – FDA Strongly Considers Authorizing Vaccine Boosters For People As Young As 40
  3. Washington Post – White House Unveils Plans To Roll Out Coronavirus Vaccines For Children Ages 5 To 11

Recent Resilience

Recent Medical Resilience. It was actually a decent week for medical news. Rachel Levine became the country’s first female four-star officer of the health corps, which as well as the first transgender four-star officer. In other cool health news, in New York, surgeons successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human body for the first time ever. Progress!   

Key links:

  1. NPR – Dr. Rachel Levine Is Sworn In As The Nation’s First Transgender Four-Star Officer
  2. Associated Press – Pig-To-Human Transplants Come A Step Closer With New Test

Things to Watch

Roe v. Why Are You Like This (cont again). Though the Supreme Court yet again refused to block the terrible Texas abortion law like the Department of Justice requested, they did agree to grant expedited review next week–which, given the current court constellation, is vaguely terrifying. We’re also starting to see projected nightmare scenarios play out in other states–in Oklahoma, a woman was convicted of manslaughter because she experienced a miscarriage at 15 weeks. I would be remiss if I didn’t stress that this type of prosecution is definitely a violation of Roe v. Wade, in addition to being an unconscionable violence against people who just experienced a traumatic loss. Needless to say, this topic continues to need our attention and will likely require a lot of local action in the near future.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Supreme Court Lets Texas 6-Week Abortion Ban Stay In Place And Will Hear Oral Arguments November 1
  2. CBS – Manslaughter Conviction Of 21-Year-Old Oklahoma Woman Who Suffered Miscarriage Sparks Outcry
  3. National Advocates For Pregnant Women – Oklahoma Prosecution And Conviction Of A Woman For Experiencing A Miscarriage Is Shameful And Dangerous

Current Senate Dysfunction.  Last Wednesday, all 50 Senate Republicans voted to block consideration of a supposedly bipartisan voting rights bill, highlighting the need to revisit the filibuster discussion. Surprisingly, this appears to be something of a final straw for Biden, who is now saying he would be open to eliminating the filibuster.  That said, this opinion somewhat contextualizes the way reconciliation negotiations are going as I type this. As he finalizes negotiations, Biden is signaling that many key provisions will be cut to appease Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema; though he appears to believe he can achieve things by executive order, that may or may not be successful.  In response to a rapidly-shrinking Building Back Better bill, progressives in the House forced another delay on the infrastructure bill.  And speaking of Sinema, she also received five resignations from her own advisors this week for her actions, who told her that she was “one of the principal obstacles to progress” on their way out.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Voting Legislation Blocked — Again — In Senate As Republicans Unite For Filibuster
  2. CBS – Biden Says He’d Be Willing To Eliminate Filibuster To Pass Voting Rights And “Maybe More”
  3. CNN – Biden Discusses $1.9 Trillion Top Line For Economic Package And Tells Democrats Free Community College Is Out
  4. New York Times – Calling Sinema An Obstacle To Progress, 5 Veterans Quit Her Advisory Council

Election Rejection Eruption. There were leaked details this week about planning done by sitting Congresspeople as well as White House officials in the days leading up to the insurrection.  Additionally, at least twelve people involved in the insurrection are running for office next week. This is shaping up to be a major ongoing fight between our two political parties with a lot of very important implications; it’s going to be very important that we keep our eyes on this.

Key links:

  1. Rolling Stone – Exclusive: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated In ‘Dozens’ Of Planning Meetings With Members Of Congress And White House Staff
  2. Buzzfeed News – At Least 12 Republicans Who Participated In Jan. 6 Are Running For Office Next Week

Actions for Everyone 

FDA vaccine approval for kids: It’s official! The FDA has approved use of the Pfizer covid vaccine for kids ages 5 and up. In studies, a pediatric dose – one third of the one given to adults – of the vaccine, proved to be safe and  90% effective in preventing Covid-19.  The CDC said that after approval there are “plans to distribute the jabs via more than 25,000 paediatric offices and 100 children’s hospitals, as well as through pharmacies, school-based clinics and community health centres” according to BBC News. I thought we could start this week with some actions that are good news! Make sure to contact your local clinics or pediatricians to get your eligible kids vaccinated and win this battle against the virus. 

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59044853

Reproductive Rights in the Supreme Court: This next Monday, the Supreme Court will be entering deliberations regarding the strict abortion law in Texas, where getting access to abortion has become almost impossible. This marks the beginning of important discussions in the highest court of the land which next month will be hearing to consider overruling landmark cases like Roe V. Wade and Planned Parenthood V. Casey. This action is more a HEADS UP, cause we could see ourselves having to go hard on calls, emails and more civil actions if the access to these important reproductive rights are taken from us. 

Source:https://apnews.com/article/us-supreme-court-texas-abortion-1af2a23b9641e4f19ff6a7f6165fc850

Spending Plan Woes: Congress is trying to pass a spending plan and it’s being held back by Republicans who just don’t want to give people paid sick leave, family leave and access to healthcare. The plan is still being discussed and there needs to be a need for consensus within both parties but not at the expense of the American people. Please call and email your congresspeople, they need to hear what the people want. Tell them you support Sanders’ plan with Medicare dental/vision coverage and that we can do better as a nation. This is the switchboard for the Senate: (202) 224-312. 

Source: https://www.npr.org/2021/10/29/1050294669/paid-family-leave-gets-slashed-as-democrats-try-to-reach-consensus-on-spending-p

Issue #208, 2021 Week 41

As is fitting for late October, we’re starting to see the specter of elections really shift the news, especially on Capitol Hill. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but at least for this week, it sure is insufferable. Here’s hoping things get a bit less dysfunctional in DC in coming weeks.

Events to Know

Election Rejection Eruption. January 6 news is exploding, particularly regarding the House panel subpoena fight.  The panel is moving to subpoena former Trump official Jeffrey Clark because they believe Clark has information about how Trump attempted to misuse the Justice department to claim election fraud.  Meanwhile, former Trump aide and overall garbage human Steve Bannon pissed off so many people with his flagrant refusal to testify last week that the House has officially voted to hold him in criminal contempt.  Notably, President Biden also gave his blessing on that tactic, saying that his Justice Department should go after anyone who ignores the committee’s subpoena.  And Trump is suing the panel because they’ve subpoenaed his records, as well as apparently threatening to get voters to stay home if GOP candidates don’t adopt his election fraud narrative.  (Mitch McConnell is not best pleased about that last part, and is trying to talk Trump down.)

Key links:

  1. MSNBC – With New Subpoena, Investigation Into Jan. 6 Attack Intensifies
  2. Washington Post – Jan. 6 Committee Will Move To Hold Former Trump Aide Bannon In Criminal Contempt For Not Complying With Subpoena
  3. Washington Post – Biden Says Justice Department Should Prosecute Those Who Refuse Jan. 6 Committee’s Subpoenas
  4. Politico – Trump Sues Jan. 6 Committee, National Archives
  5. Business Insider – Trump Claims His Supporters Won’t Vote In The 2022 And 2024 Elections Unless The Gop Backs His Groundless Election-Fraud Theories

Immigration Updates. In the past week, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy encouraging workplace ICE raids.  Unfortunately, this change coincides with preparations to reinstate the Remain in Mexico asylum policy created under the Trump administration.  In the administration’s defense, the latter is by court order, and I could fill an entire roundup with what I think of that august opinion.  But since Mexico appears to have its own legal challenge going, we might not see the Remain in Mexico program reinstated by mid-November anyway.

Key links

  1. NPR – Homeland Security Secretary Orders Ice To Stop Mass Raids On Immigrants’ Workplaces
  2. CNBC – Biden Administration To Reinstate Trump-Era ‘Remain-In-Mexico’ Asylum Policy To Comply With Court Order
  3. KRGV – Mexican Government To Have A Say In ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy

Recent Resilience

Can We Use Cannabis (DOJ Edition). There was scant good news this week, but we did get a small gem in the Senate: Senators Booker and Warren are requesting that the Department of Justice remove cannabis from the federal schedule of controlled substances. The senators are hoping that this move will encourage more states to legalize its use, but it seems like they’re hoping to pass federal legislation as well.  

Key links:

  1. Regina Leader-Post – U.S. Senators Say Attorney General Should Exercise His Authority To Deschedule Weed
  2. National Conference Of State Legislatures – State Medical Marijuana Laws

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. COVID news was pretty focused on boosters again this week, with the FDA recommending booster shots for some Moderna recipients who are over 65 and immunocompromised and for all adults who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.  There was initially some question about how the J&J recommendation would be implemented, because experts didn’t agree about whether the second shot should be a different vaccine or the same one, but the CDC officially recommended a mix-and-match approach on Wednesday.  And speaking of shots, the White House is also urging states to prepare for the release of pediatric vaccination, which might come as soon as next month.  With so much of the international population potentially vaccinated, the U.S. is also opening its borders to vaccinated international travelers.

Key links:

  1. CNBC – FDA Panel Unanimously Recommends J&J Covid Booster Shots To Adults Who Already Got The First Dose
  2. Washington Post – FDA Panel Recommends A Booster Shot Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine For People 18 And Older
  3. News 10 – White House Urges States To Prepare To Vaccinate Kids 5-11
  4. Politico – U.S. To Reopen Border To International Travelers On Nov. 8

Current Senate Dysfunction.  The House did vote to pass the temporary debt relief bill from last week, so that’s over with until December, although notably no Republicans voted to pass the damn thing.  But now we’re just back to Democrats fighting with Joe Manchin again, as he refuses to back key climate change and child care provisions of the Build Back Better legislation.  Though progressives are downplaying it, it’s looking very likely that the party will have to cave to Manchin’s singular demands, which is galling when those demands come from an obvious conflict of interest.  Nonetheless, reconciliation negotiations are ongoing as I type this.  And on Wednesday, all 50 Senate Republicans voted to block consideration of a supposedly bipartisan voting rights bill, highlighting the need to revisit the filibuster discussion.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Congress Punts Debt Limit Crisis Into December
  2. Axios – Manchin’s Red Lines
  3. New York Times – This Powerful Democrat Linked To Fossil Fuels Will Craft The U.S. Climate Plan
  4. NBC – Voting Legislation Blocked — Again — In Senate As Republicans Unite For Filibuster

Broken Supply Chain.  Several outlets have run stories this week on our country’s ongoing supply chain issues, which are causing shortages in various places around the country and the world.  President Biden announced that he would dramatically expand work hours at the Port of Los Angeles to facilitate processing of goods; the Port of Long Beach’s hours were dramatically expanded a few weeks ago as well.  But the shipping crisis is only part of a much larger problem, because price jumps from shortages and rent increases are also fueling inflation issues.  It’s likely we can expect this to continue into 2022, because the pandemic created all kinds of issues that won’t resolve overnight.

Key links:

  1. BBC – The Shortages Hitting Countries Around The World
  2. The Hill – Port Of Los Angeles To Move To 24/7 Service To Address Supply Chain Bottlenecks
  3. New York Times – Inflation Warning Signs Flash Red, Posing Challenge For Washington
  4. BBC – The Shortages Hitting Countries Around The World

Actions for Everyone

I’d like to talk about cryptocurrency and NFTs. Do I understand what they truly are really? No. Are they a complicated subject? Yes. Is it still a new concept and we should try to understand it especially if it’s something that could cause more harm than good? Definitely. For the last couple of years we’ve seen cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Doge make people into billionaires by basically having hundreds and thousands of computers processing some transactions in what they call a “blockchain”, this is what is called “mining”. It’s hard to understand so here is an article I had to read to understand a little which basically tries to explain crypto to a child. So when you hear someone went mining for crypto, they just got a bunch of computers running in some warehouse, they aren’t actually digging up stuff. 

Now, what are NFTs? These are Non-Fungible Tokens, basically it’s a type of cryptocurrency that cannot be interchanged for another because it’s unique, and that’s why most NFTs are digital art. So why should we care? Crypto consumes tons of energy and it’s creating tonnes of CO2 comparable to that of small countries. Bitcoin alone is generating around 37 million tonnes of CO₂ every year. I just think we should know what these things are, so we can know what we’re talking about and where our economy is moving towards. Climate Change is imminent right now and now we have a whole new class of billionaire we must be wary of, the crypto billionaires. 

Not only are they polluting the world, some of these new digital miners have been going to my country, Puerto Rico, and trying to move their businesses there to use the island as a tax haven. They are taking advantage of policies that are trying to promote companies to come to the island and create jobs, but they are not creating jobs at all. They are just being wise guys to exploit the island which has had to establish these types of austerity measures because of a US imposed Federal Oversight Board. They’re also serving as gentrification agents in a country that is already filled with poverty.  

I don’t have a specific action to follow on this topic but I think knowing is the first step and this topic isn’t being talked about much in the media. I’ll keep you posted!

Sources:

https://www.wired.com/story/nfts-hot-effect-earth-climate/

https://mashable.com/article/nft-cryptocurrency-bad-environment-art

https://paxful.com/blog/bitcoin-for-kids-and-grandparents/

https://time.com/5955629/puerto-rico-tax-haven-opposition/

Support the Freedom to Vote Act – Congress announced a couple of days ago they will begin debating on the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate and this means we should start calling! This bill is an all around win. It would expand early voting, mail-in voting, establish Election Day as a national holiday, crack down on voter suppression, establish automatic voter registration and much more. Please call your representatives and tell them you support this bill! 

You can find your representatives here: http://icalledmyreps.weebly.com/find-your-reps.html

Source: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/freedom-vote-act

Keep an eye out for what will happen with the Texas abortion law. The Supreme Court is scheduled to review it but they have decided to keep the law in place till it is reviewed. This is a delicate one, and I think we should be very vigilant to ensure we can keep our reproductive rights. 

Source:

https://t.co/HM3CdWosJL?amp=1

We’d like to share with you this Ted Talk by Erica Chenoweth about nonviolent civil resistance. We may have shared this video with you before,to be honest it’s been a couple of years writing the newsletter and we’re not quite sure if it’s a double or not, but it’s still equally good. Please enjoy! Don’t lose hope.

The success of nonviolent civil resistance: Erica Chenoweth at TEDxBoulder

Issue #207, 2021 Week 40

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

-Focus on buying local

-Find mutual aid groups online like Buy Nothing Groups

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

-Buy from a thrift store

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

-Eat with the seasons

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

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

 Source:

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

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

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

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

The Texas Abortion Bill is being disputed 

Texas is also trying to censor books about racial topics 

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

Issue #206, 2021 Week 39

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

California Coastkeeper Alliance

Surfrider Foundation

Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy

Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Issue # 205, 2021 Week 38

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

Events to Know


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

Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links

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

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

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

Issue #204, 2021 Week 37

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

Events to Know

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

 
Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

  

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

How can you help?

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

Non-Perishable food items

Menstrual products

Hygiene products

Water

Baby supplies & diapers

Blankets, towels, socks and undergarments

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

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

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

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

Here is an article from Refinery29 to help you:

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

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

-Those 65 and older

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

Issue #203, 2021 Week 36

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

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

Things to Watch

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

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Issue #201 Week 34

Issue #201 Week 34

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

Events to Know

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links

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

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

Key links

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

Recent Resilience

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

Key links:

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

Things to Watch

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

Key links:

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

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

Key links:

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

Actions for Everyone

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

How to help Afghans right now:

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

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

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

Donate: These organizations are trustworthy according to NPR.

Women for Afghan Women

International Refugee Assistance Project

Support Afghanistan’s Journalists 

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

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