Issue #174, 2020 Week 47

Hey everyone,

Is it just getting tiresome or overwhelming or dig through the news? Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

It’s impressive how quickly the news seems to find new routines–only a week after we got tentative election results, pretty much every day now follows a script. I don’t much care for the script, mind, because it involves blatant autocracy and a dangerous pandemic. But one has to respect the quick adjustment.

Events to Know

Transition Trials.  When Trump signaled that he wasn’t going to accept a peaceful transfer of power, he apparently meant that quite literally, because this administration has been refusing all attempts at transition and just straight-up planning like they’re not going anywhere for the last week and a half. The General Services Administration still hasn’t begun a Presidential transition as I type this, which may end in the Democrats suing them if they don’t give a reason by Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” and the White House told officials to move forward with next year’s budget plan.  The administration also instructed staff not to comply with Biden’s transition team, which means President-elect President-elect Biden is not getting intelligence reports and the State Department is intercepting his messages from world leaders.  Top medical official Dr. Anthony Fauci publicly expressed concern about the lack of COVID transition, prompting our President-elect to warn that this obstruction could kill people–and he’s absolutely right.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Democrats Could Sue GSA If Transition Standoff Continues
  2. Bloomberg – Pompeo Talks Of New Trump Term, Playing To False-claim Furor
  3. Washington Post – White House, Escalating Tensions, Orders Agencies To Rebuff Biden Transition Team
  4. CNN – State Department Is Preventing Biden From Accessing Messages From Foreign Leaders
  5. ABC – Trump Refusal To Ease Biden Transition Opens ‘Dangerous Gaps’ In Nation’s Security: Experts

Other Election Updates.   We saw less scary election updates as well, but many of them were still strange.  Georgia confused everybody by conducting a hand recount of all of its ballots, which is both more expensive and less accurate than other methods of recount, and Trump can still demand another recount when it ends.  This is particularly baffling, as I’ll discuss below, because Biden definitely won this race even if Trump somehow flips Georgia back.  Meanwhile, Corey Landowski, who was part of the crew at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, has tested positive for COVID, which means we might continue to see infection among campaign officials even after the campaign has ended.  And in comparatively benign election news, President-elect Biden has named his chief of staff, which will be longtime aide Ron Klain, as well as several other senior staff picks.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In Georgia, A Laborious, Costly And Historic Hand Recount Of Presidential Ballots Begins
  2. New York Times – Corey Lewandowski, A Trump Campaign Adviser, Has Tested Positive For The Virus
  3. NBC – President-Elect Biden Picks Longtime Aide Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff

White House Revolving Door Still Spins.  Following Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s firing last week, several additional Department of Defense officials resigned, and now we have yet more scary staff changes in the Pentagon.   The Department of Homeland Security has seen forced resignations as well, and officials describe the staff changes as purging employees who are suspected of incomplete loyalty.  The new acting officials are all staunch Trump loyalists, which matches the reports out of the Department of Homeland Security.  Trump also fired the head of cybersecurity for saying we had a safe election, which is a truly stunning thing for a sitting President to do. Needless to say, this has a lot of bad implications during a time of transition, and even if we otherwise transition smoothly it will create confusion to have high turnover just before a new administration comes in.  It’s also likely not a coincidence that the administration announced it wants to sell unprecedented arms to the United Arab Emirates in the same week.

Key links:

  1. Politico – ‘Devastating’: Top Pentagon Leadership Gutted As Fears Rise Over National Security
  2. Washington Post – Two Senior Homeland Security Officials Forced Out As White House Firings Widen
  3. CNBC – Trump Loyalists Elevated To Powerful Roles At The Pentagon After Firing Of Defense Secretary Esper
  4. CNN – Trump Administration Informs Congress Of Intent To Sell $23B In Arms To UAE

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience. We did see a promising federal court case this week. A federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was unlawfully appointed to head the Department of Homeland Security, and concluded that his decision to refuse DACA applications was therefore unlawful as well. It’s likely that President-elect Biden planned to reinstate DACA when he assumed office, but this will create continuity for DACA recipients, and is a nice piece of news regardless.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Federal Judge Rules Acting DHS Head Chad Wolf Unlawfully Appointed, Invalidates DACA Suspension

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  I know I say this every week, but no seriously, COVID keeps getting worse. At the time that I type this, the U.S. has surpassed 250,000 deaths from COVID-19. Infection rates have also risen 77% in the past 14 days, and on Friday we saw 184,000 new infections in one day. Over 68,000 people were hospitalized on the same day.  Things are so bad, in fact, that Doctors Without Borders is coming here, considering our pandemic response to be an international health disaster.  Unfortunately, things will probably get worse before they get better, especially if people aren’t careful over the Thanksgiving holiday Several states are restricting business or social activities in response to the surges in infection, and we may see more of that in the coming weeks.  In more positive news, early data suggest that Moderna’s COVID vaccine is almost 95% effective, which makes two different vaccines with promising results.  Distribution will be difficult since the scale of distribution is unprecedented, but first responders might begin to receive vaccines as soon as next month.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Covid In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  2. Hill Reporter – Doctors Without Borders Now Aiding U.S. Coronavirus Response
  3. CNN – Physician Predicts ‘Unprecedented Surge’ In US Covid-19 Cases After Thanksgiving
  4. Politico – There Are 2 Effective Covid-19 Vaccines. What’s Next?
  5. Associated Press – States Ramp Up For Biggest Vaccination Effort In US History

Protests and Violence.   This wasn’t a great week for protest news.  On Saturday, Washington DC hosted a “Million MAGA March” that ultimately resulted in a stabbing as well as twenty people arrested, and featured Proud Boys marching in merch that read “Stand back and stand by.”  An FBI report was also released documenting a stark rise in hate crime murders in the past year.  Against these backdrops, it’s disturbing to learn that the governor of Florida wants to expand “stand your ground” law to cover protests–the proposed change would almost certainly make stabbings like the one in DC more common as well as creating immunity for them.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – After Thousands Of Trump Supporters Rally In D.C., Violence Erupts When Night Falls
  2. Miami Herald – DeSantis Pushes Expansion Of Stand Your Ground Law As Part Of ‘Anti-Mob’ Crackdown
  3. Washington Post – Hate-Crime Killings Set A Record In 2019, FBI Data Reveals

Trumped-Up Legal Challenges.   As final information trickles in about the 2020 election, it becomes glaringly obvious that Trump’s refusal to transition is both dangerous and baseless. Official records show that President-elect Biden likely flipped five states and won a total of 290 electoral votes even before Georgia’s recount was concluded.  Trump had brought lawsuits in several states on the theory that there was widespread voter fraud, but no evidence of that materialized and eventually every lawsuit had either been conclusively lost or dropped.  The Supreme Court has not weighed in at the time that I type this, and it’s very possible they never will.  Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr is still investigating nonexistent voter fraud even though a major federal witness recanted and the DOJ’s top prosecutor for election crimes, Richard Pilger, has quit in protest.   And news broke that South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham asked Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, to throw out entire county batches of legally-cast ballots during the recount, which Raffensberger doesn’t even have legal authority to control.  In Michigan, board officials threatened to refuse to certify voting results, then walked that back and signed, and then doubled down by “rescinding” those signatures–apparently due to encouragement from Trump personally.  This shows no signs of abating anytime soon, even though some GOP officials have indicated that they think Biden should receive briefings.  We need to be keeping an eye on it.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – AP Fact Check: Trump Conclusively Lost, Denies The Evidence
  2. Washington Post – Trump’s Attempts To Challenge The Election Results Suffer Further Setbacks
  3. CNN – Top Prosecutor Quits After Barr Election Fraud Order
  4. Law And Crime – Lindsey Graham And Other Top Gop Pressured Georgia’s Secretary Of State To Exclude Legal Ballots: Report
  5. Slate – GOP Election Officials in Michigan Now Want to “Rescind” Their Vote  to Certify Detroit-Area Results

Actions for Everyone

Good people of the Activism Newsletter, I’m glad to be on the other side of that election. However pretty soon there will be, you guessed it, more elections – including this runoff election in Georgia. I hope you all enjoyed a few post-election moments of relief, because we now gotta bounce back and stronger.

Postcards to Swing States: I was a recipient of one of these postcards, as a resident of Wisconsin, and I must say, it was my favorite attempt to get me to vote. I do respect and admire everyone who phone and textbanked, door knocked, and canvassed on the streets. There is no doubt that helped inform and inspire people to vote, but postcards are my personal favorite.

With Georgia’s runoff election set for January 5th, now is the perfect time to write postcards to eligible Georgia voters urging them to vote safely on January 5th. Postcards to Swing States is a project of Progressive Turnout Project, aiming to get Democrats out to the polls.

Check out Postcards to Swing States and purchase postcards for $0.35 – they come in packages starting at 50 for $9 and then Postcards to Swing States will email you addresses of eligible voters you can write to, as well as instructions. Then you have until December 26-28th to mail them! Please do this!

Celebrate Transgender Awareness Week: Transgender Awareness Week, Nov 13- Nov 19, is a week when transgender people and their allies take action to bring attention to the community by educating the public about who transgender people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community. GLAAD has a wonderful website with resources for allies, transgender resources, and a form for reporting defamation in the media.

Transgender Day of Rememberance is November 20th. GLAAD is hosting an online memorial with the names of those who have died because of anti-transgender violence.

Take Good Care of Yourself: It seems now more than ever, it’s important to keep your immune system boosted. Up here in the Northern US, we also have to be aware of seasonal depression. Vitamin C, B6, and E are all well known for keeping your immune system strong. Vitamin D is important this time of year when the sunlight hours are few.

We can get most vitamins, minerals and nutrients from healthy foods, but I find in the late fall, winter, election season and during a pandemic, I need a little extra help so I take supplements. Stay healthy out there everyone!

End Qualified Immunity: I just had to email the Milwaukee Common Council and request that they reject $9.7 million dollars of what they consider “free Federal money” to hire more police officers, on the grounds that taking money to hire more cops isn’t free money, it’s millions of dollars of future lawsuits. This got me thinking about qualified immunity.

In the United States, qualified immunity is a legal principle that grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

Those civil suits fall on taxpayers. In fact, most cities have a line item in their budget for lawsuit payouts. What happens if police officers carry their own liability insurance? Well, lawsuits wouldn’t fall on taxpayers, and would instead fall on the violent actors themselves, and would perhaps minimize the excessive force used by police officers. If you live in a small town, your sheriff, alders, your DA, your Mayor are all very accessible – talk to them about ending qualified immunity. In bigger cities, find organizations calling for changes, and find out how you can support them.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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The Activism Team

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Issue #173, 2020 Week 46

Hey everyone,

We’ve all had a moment to celebrate and now we need to focus ourselves back on the work that needs to be done. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The last couple of weeks have been quite the mad tea party ride, and that is taking its toll on all of us. That said, the news did gentle out a bit over time with Saturday’s developments. But don’t let that lull you back to sleep–we’re not out of the woods just yet.

Events to Know

Presidential Progress.  As predicted, there were several days of confusion regarding the Presidential Election which took place on Tuesday.  But by early Saturday morning, election data began to suggest a conclusive victory for Joe Biden; by mid-afternoon, the Associated Press had declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.  A huge chunk of the country began celebrating in the streets, and even other countries congratulated us, which seems like something of a referendum abroad. That said, we still lack conclusive Presidential tallies in several states, though Biden definitely has enough electoral college votes to win.  And in hilarious weird news, Team Trump held a press conference outside of Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, right between a sex shop and a crematorium–which, as Ali Davis put it, is where we all are, metaphorically speaking.  (One presumes that the team tried to book the Four Seasons Hotel and missed.)

Key links:

  1. New York Times – 2020 Presidential Election Results — Biden Wins
  2. NPR – World Leaders Congratulate Biden On Win, And Some Celebrate Trump’s Defeat
  3. Washington Post – Centrist House Democrats Lash Out At Liberal Colleagues, Blame Far-left Views For Costing The Party Seats
  4. The Daily Beast – The Universe Has a Message for Porn-Adjacent Rudy

Concession Cancelation.   Despite the happy news above, we don’t have a settled race, because Trump is showing no signs of backing down in the face of defeat. He is still moving forward on several bogus lawsuits as I type this, refusing to acknowledge the lack of evidence of his claimed voter fraud as he makes it extremely clear that he will not be conceding in this or any other lifetime.  To punctuate the point, his person at the General Services Administration flat-out refuses to officially affirm the election results, a necessary step for beginning the transition process.  Meanwhile, a number of Republicans are backing his play, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” this week.  Lest we believe he was only joking, the White House has also told officials to move forward with next year’s budget plan and has instructed staff not to comply with Biden’s transition team. Additionally, the Department of Justice has authorized a probe of the 2020 election–again, despite the utter lack of evidence to suggest voter fraud was a thing.  The DOJ’s top prosecutor for election crimes, Richard Pilger, has quit in protest, and President-Elect Biden says he is thinking of suing over everything as well.  Officials have also become concerned that Trump might disclose state secrets out of spite if he is forced out.  Needless to say, though Saturday gave us a bit of a breather, we need to be watching election news very, very carefully.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – The Refrain From State Officials Is Consistent: The Trump Campaign’s Fraud Claims Are Unfounded
  2. Politico – Trump Campaign Adviser: Conceding ‘Is Not Even In Our Vocabulary Right Now’
  3. CBC – Trump Agency Official Privately Says There Is ‘No Transition In Place’ After Biden’s Victory
  4. Associated Press – Barr Tells DOJ To Probe Election Fraud Claims If They Exist
  5. CNN – Top prosecutor quits after Barr election fraud order
  6. CBS – Biden Team Considering Legal Options If Trump Administration Keeps Stalling The Transition

Other Post-Election Sketchiness.  Disturbingly, we haven’t even yet made it through all of the election-related sketchiness of the week.  There was also a court case ordering the U.S. Postal Service to reverse mail collection limits and sweep USPS locations for ballots left behind–and the USPS totally failed to comply with the order.  Additionally, it became clear by Friday that the U.S. Postal Service processed 150,000 ballots after Election Day, and more than 12,000 were in swing states Trump is suing over. Unsurprisingly, the judge was not impressed, and hinted that he may hold officials in contempt of court.  This has implications against the larger backdrop of the news above, so it’s worth watching.  News also began filtering down by Friday that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was preparing a resignation letter because he expected to be fired after the election. And Esper was absolutely correct, because Trump fired him on Monday, making him the fourth official fired in the past week. Esper’s firing is particularly disturbing because it’s believed he was let go in part due to his reluctance to deploy U.S. troops in domestic cities.

Key links:

  1. Politico – ‘Someone May Have To Pay A Price’: Judge Lashes Postal Service For Defying Ballot Order
  2. Washington Post – USPS Processed 150,000 Ballots After Election Day, Jeopardizing Thousands Of Votes 
  3. New York Times – Trump Fires Mark Esper, Defense Secretary Who Opposed Use Of Troops On U.S. Streets

Recent Resilience

Promising Biden Beginnings.  Despite not taking office until January at the earliest, President-Elect Biden is already moving forward on several key issues. On Monday, he announced a COVID-19 task force today, and speaking as a health law professional I am very reassured by its members. He also signaled he will issue executive orders to undo damage on several critical issues upon assuming office, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, undoing the Muslim ban, and revoking the global gag rule. Not everything can be undone by executive action, but given his extensive political experience I do trust President-Elect Biden to know exactly what can be remedied quickly.

Key links:

  1. CNBC – President-Elect Joe Biden Announces Covid Task Force
  2. The New York Times – Biden Could Roll Back Trump Agenda With Blitz of Executive Actions

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID numbers look really bad–case numbers are continuing to set new records, and hospitalizations are rising quickly too.  The White House continues to have high-profile infections: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tested positive sometime last week, apparently asking people not to disclose this fact, and as of Monday Ben Carson tested positive as well.  The stimulus legislation is also going nowhere as I type this, though that might change in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, we have more positive news on this front than we’ve had in a long time, because Pfizer announced their early vaccine data suggests 90% effectiveness.  (Unsurprisingly, the stock market loved this news.)  As mentioned above, President-Elect Biden also announced his COVID-19 advisory board, which is full of very qualified medical professionals.
Key links:

  1. CNN – The US Just Set A Staggering New Covid-19 Daily Case Record With More Than 120,000 Infections
  2. Washington Post – White House Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows Tests Positive For Coronavirus
  3. Washington Post – Stimulus Talks Set to Resume in Washington, but Pelosi and Mcconnell are At Odds Again
  4. Associated Press – Pfizer Says Covid-19 Vaccine Is Looking 90% Effective
  5. CNBC  – President-Elect Joe Biden Announces Covid Task Force

Affordable Care Act Arguments.  The Supreme Court heard arguments about the Affordable Care Act this week, shortly after both a pivotal election and a new justice’s appointment to the bench.  The oral arguments appeared to suggest that the court is considering removing the insurance mandate and retaining the rest of the law, which would make legal sense given previous precedent on the matter.  Nonetheless, it’s 2020 and politics are pretty wild, so we can’t fully predict what is about to happen and during a pandemic, it could impact a lot of people.  We’ll want to keep an eye on this.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Supreme Court Appears Ready To Uphold Affordable Care Act Over Latest Challenge From Trump, GOP 
  2. New York Times – Key Justices Signal Support For Affordable Care Act

Congressional Election Results.  Control of the Senate is looking uncertain as I type this, and we’ll have to sit with that for some time. Both GA senate races are definitely going to a runoff, which will be held on January 5, and it’s honestly an open question who will hold the Senate majority as a result–an unusual result to cap an unusual year.  Compounding that long wait, several close races resulted in states staying red, and only one net gained seat (Colorado) has been confirmed by every outlet. We’re definitely stuck with Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham another term, and Susan Collins emerged the victor in Maine as well. Meanwhile, House Democrats are already fighting about why they didn’t perform better, though they have officially retained their majority as I type this–so we might see further changes or developments on that front as well.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Where Votes Are Still Being Counted
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Georgia’s Twin January Runoffs Are Set To Determine Control Of Senate
  3. The Hill – Abrams Says Georgia Democratic Senate Candidates Can ‘Absolutely’ Win Runoff Races
  4. Bloomberg – Democrats See Senate Majority Prospects Wither After Gop Wins
  5. CNN – Senate Results

Actions for Everyone

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me (America) and I’m feeeeeeling GOOOOD!

Ya’ll we did it! We took the big step and stuck the landing. It brings me great joy to say that Donald Trump lost the election. I feel I was able to take a full breath after 4 years, I know we’re all feeling that sweet relief. So what to do now? Oh, so much left to do. But first of all, let yourself relax and celebrate the coming change. We all deserve it.

Trump’s election denial: Even though it’s pretty clear Biden won the election, Trump and his goons are contesting the democratic process, arguing for recounts, suing, putting out conspiracies about voter fraud and more. We all knew this was going to happen, but it still hurts to see. What can we do to ensure democracy prevails?

Stay vigilant: Trump is going to do EVERYTHING to stay in power but it’s extremely unlikely it will work. But just in case some of his law maneuvers actually do something, stay vigilant to call your governors. “Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada all have Democratic governors who would refuse to approve a set of Trump electors with the popular vote clearly showing Biden winning their state. Instead, they would submit the electors Biden is entitled to as the winner of the popular vote.” is explained by this The Guardian article.

Call your representatives:

They need to pressure the GSA (General Services Administration) into starting an official transition. They have refused to start the transition process which keeps President-elect Biden from getting his daily briefings. For this to happen the GSA administrator needs to sign a letter of “ascertainment” where it determines who is the winner. So far, GSA administrator (republican and Trump appointee) Emily Murphy, had refused to do so. You can reach her directly on Twitter @GSAEmily

You can also follow this guide by Celeste Pewter.

Your representatives should be also pressured into asking Trump to concede. Especially if your congresspeople are Republicans.

Please, don’t panic. Trump doesn’t have what he needs to successfully pull a coup. He will try, and he will fail. Just making everything harder than it has to be, cause he is a bad person.

Healthcare Enrollment!: Just a reminder that open enrollment for the Healthcare Marketplace at healthcare.gov is open and you and yours have till December 15th to enroll!

And here are some Things That Make Me Smile: 

People Celebrating Biden’s win

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #172, 2020 Week 43

Hey everyone,

The election is right around the corner and we all need reminders to breathe. We are here to lend support. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

We’re at T minus one week, give or take, and all I have to show for it is an empty bottle of Tums. If you’re feeling the stress too, feel free to reach out–this is rough, and I want to support you. We’re already doing it for the antacid industry; we might as well do it for each other!

Events to Know

Guess Who’s Coming to COVID. Five–count ’em, five–members of the Pence staff working on the Coronavirus Task Force now have tested positive for COVID-19, including Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short. Though infection can happen to any of us, the Pence team was famous for refusing to wear masks even though they were literally in charge of telling us all to wear masks, so this seems fair to file under the “disregard of governing norms” folder. Meanwhile, Pence is continuing to travel despite repeated exposure to five different COVID-positive people. I think this Twitter user speaks for us all when she notes, “If that doesn’t sum up this administration I don’t know what does.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – Five Pence Aides Test Positive For Covid-19
  2. Axios – Pence To Continue Traveling Despite Aides Testing Positive For Covid-19

Surprise, It was Iran! Probably. Voters in three states received threatening emails this week telling them to “vote for Trump or else!” from the email address “info @ officialproudboys.com,” but investigation showed that the emails had originated overseas. Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security said that Iran was responsible, and that Russia was likely interfering as well. Both Russia and Iran deny these charges, which in the before times I would say is a likely lie, but since our own President lies fifty times per day I no longer believe we have any stones to throw here.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Emails Threatening Florida Voters To “Vote For Trump Or Else!” Linked To Overseas Servers
  2. NBC – Iran And Russia Deny Fbi Accusation They Are Behind Threatening Emails Sent To Florida Democrats
  3. Washington Post – Trump Is Averaging More Than 50 False Or Misleading Claims A Day

Black Lives Still Matter.  This was another bad week for racial justice.  An officer in Illinois opened fire on a car apparently without provocation, killing Black teen Marcellis Stinnette and hospitalizing driver Tafara Williams.  The grand jury on the Breonna Taylor case was in the news again for confirming that no homicide charges were even offered, while the charged officer gave an interview saying the case “wasn’t a race thing.”  And to cap everything off, Jared Kushner went on television to claim Black Americans just need to try harder in order to be successful.  So, y’know, real banner week all around.
Key links:

  1. ABC7 Chicago – Waukegan Police Officer Fired After Shooting That Killed Teen, Injured Woman; FBI Joins Illinois State Police Investigation Into Incident
  2. Washington Post – Fatal Shooting Of Breonna Taylor Was ‘Not A Race Thing,’ Officer Says In First Public Interview
  3. Bloomberg – Jared Kushner Says African-Americans Must ‘Want To Be Successful’

Recent Resilience

Socially Distant Halloween.  Halloween is next Saturday, and with COVID-19 in the air people are starting to get creative.  Some folks are creating candy chutes that allow trick-or-treaters to safely get candy at the door; others are hosting virtual costume parties or hiding candy in yards for kids to find.  Still others are creating self-serve trick-or-treat tables or hedges for trick-or-treaters on an honor system.  It might look a little different this year, but there are a lot of ways to keep the holiday spirit without face-to-face contact!

Key links:

  1. Reuters – Super Spooky: Halloween Trick-or-Treating Amid COVID-19

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  This section is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, because I keep having to type the same things over and over–you can probably guess the entire paragraph by now, but let’s go through it anyway.  Congress keeps failing to reach a COVID relief deal, mostly because an increasingly-zombified and distracted Mitch McConnell is too focused on Amy Comey Barrett to bother with good-faith negotiation.  Nancy Pelosi keeps saying there will be a deal anyway, but Mitch McConnell just dismissed the Senate for recess until November 9, so it won’t be before the election if it happens at all.  (This is your obligatory reminder that Mitch McConnell is up for re-election in his home state of Kentucky, and his opponent could use your support.)  Meanwhile, we have record-breaking infection numbers yet again, with 85,000 infections on Friday marking the highest daily instance of new cases since the pandemic began in March. The CDC has expanded its definition of “close contact” accordingly.  Though there is evidence to suggest that Trump rallies have kicked off infection spikes, we’re not alone in this struggle, as Europe is seeing a surge as well.  We can probably expect things to continue to get worse as we head into winter and outdoor gatherings become impracticable, which makes it particularly frightening that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows just straight-up abdicated responsibility for controlling the pandemic, saying, “We’re not going to.”
Key links:

  1. NBC – ‘Help Is On The Way’: Pelosi Says Covid-19 Relief Deal Could Be Imminent
  2. Washington Post – Trump Predicts Massive Stimulus Deal After Election, But Negotiations Have Mostly Ended
  3. New York Times – ‘It Has Hit Us With A Vengeance’: Virus Surges Again Across The United States
  4. The Hill – Rising Covid-19 Cases Raise Worries About Trump Rallies
  5. CBS – “We’re About To Go Into A Dark Winter”: Biden Says Trump Has No Plan For Coronavirus
  6. AP – Trump Aide: ‘We’re Not Going To Control The Pandemic’

SCOTUS Hearing Updates.  This story somehow got even more disturbing in the past week.  After a couple of days of floor debate, the Senate GOP moved to limit debate on Sunday and teed up a final vote Monday evening–and shock of shocks, everybody but Susan Collins voted along party lines. So now Amy Comey Barrett is on the court in time to hear arguments about the Affordable Care Act in a couple of weeks, and Joe Biden’s only plan for this so far is to study the damage by commission if he’s elected President–which will leave a lot of people high and dry.  Predictable as it may be, this entire paragraph is bad news, and we need to be thinking about how to protect people.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Amy Coney Barrett Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice, Cementing Conservative Majority
  2. CNBC – Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Obamacare On Nov. 10, A Week After Election Day
  3. Washington Post – Biden, Squeezed On The Supreme Court, Promises A Commission To Consider Changes

Other Election Oddities (Again).   The final debate came and went on Thursday, and Trump did in fact show up even though his microphone could be muted.  (Everyone was pretty well-behaved, although Trump did say of COVID, “I take full responsibility, it’s not my fault.”)  Meanwhile, people are still worried about the U.S. Postal Service, which will be responsible for delivering millions of ballots but is still having issues even though the June changes have been recalled.  (This seems like a fine time to remind folks that many places permit remote voters to deposit ballots at secure drop-boxes in the days leading up to the election.) Perhaps because of the post office issues, early voting numbers are historically high, but reports of in-person voter intimidation are coming in as well.  We can probably expect things to amp up even more in the coming week.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – In Calmer Debate, Biden And Trump Offer Sharply Different Visions For Nation
  2. Vox – Trump On Covid-19: “I Take Full Responsibility. It’s Not My Fault.”
  3. CNN – USPS Did Not Analyze How Changes Would Affect Mail Delivery, Watchdog Says
  4. Washington Post – Shouting Matches, Partisan Rallies, Guns At Polling Places: Tensions High At Early-voting Sites

Actions for Everyone

This week bodycam footage of the police killing of Marcellis Stinnette was released, and police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia. Also, the SCOTUS nomination went through into the Senate and they voted Amy Coney Barret into the lifelong position of Supreme Court, which raises the question: Why do we have an entire branch of national government that gets appointed, without a vote by the American people? …I feel like I haven’t used the words “dumpster fire” enough in these newsletters.

Abolish the Supreme Court: “Why should the Supreme Court, an unelected body that is richer, whiter, and more male than the United States is, continue to have such outsized power in the lives of ordinary people?” A direct quote from an article printed in The New Yorker, The Case for Ending the Supreme Court. I’m not sure I have a clear stance on this, but I think it’s an important question to raise and to think about. Which systems are working for us and which aren’t?

2020 Presidential Election: Here we are folks. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote and yet has been the President for the past four years (talk about systems that aren’t working for us). Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd and it’s the last day to vote. We’ve been pushing ya’ll to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, early vote, and become a poll worker, and then do GOTV advocacy work. In a best case scenario everyone who reads these newsletters sent in their ballot weeks ago, but here’s a final reminder to turn your ballot in – don’t risk the mail, just drop it off at a designated drop off spot in your town. I’ll be watching Election Night Results on Democracy Now because I know they’ll help remind viewers of the minutiae of counting votes for this election.

How to Stop a Coup: I almost hate to mention it because it creates an atmosphere of fear, or atmosfear if you will, but it seems important to at least have in your toolkit for this election. Here are a few tips on How to Stop a Coup: 

  • Commit to actions that represent rule of law, stability, and nonviolence.
  • Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals.
  •  Be ready to act quickly—and not alone.
  •  Don’t expect results on election night.

This Yes! Article has more on that topic.

Things that Made Me Smile This Week: Searching the internet for the tag #votewithlove and seeing the beautiful content that people have created. It’s so nice to feel hopeful.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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Issue #171, 2020 Week 42

Hey everyone,

Hang in there, the election is close. We are here for you. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

 

We have two weeks until Election Day, and though the news is less frenetic than it was a week ago, that doesn’t mean it’s much more pleasant. It’s impossible to predict what we’ll be seeing by this time next week, given how unprecedented everything continues to be. But one thing’s for certain, y’all: I don’t think the chocolate supply in my house is going to make it.   

 

Events to Know

October Election Illegalities. The Trump administration had multiple instances of illegal election stuff this week. Ivanka Trump violated the Hatch Act eight times in a 48-hour period on Twitter, making her the fourteenth Trump staffer to commit that kind of violation this election season. Then Trump gave a soundbite in Arizona today that sounded an awful lot like normalizing quid pro quo dealings yet again, though he halfheartedly framed his interaction with Exxon as a hypothetical donation he didn’t want. So I guess the surprise this year is… probably more law violations with no consequence? But that’s not particularly surprising.   

Key links:

  1. Citizens For Ethics – Ivanka Trump Violated The Hatch Act Eight Times In Just Over 48 Hours
     
  2. Guardian – Top Trump Administration Figures Flout Law Banning Partisan Campaigning
     
  3. The Hill – Trump Says He Could Out-raise Biden With Calls To Wall Street, Oil Execs

Black Lives Still Matter.  We also had some disturbing protest-related problems this week. Allegations persist that U.S. marshals shot an activist suspected of shooting without even trying to arrest him, which the U.S. Marshal’s official statement seems to tacitly support. Moreover, eyewitnesses are now saying they didn’t even announce themselves as police before shooting. Extrajudicial shootings are always concerning when there’s evidence of excessive force, but Trump went ahead and illustrated exactly why this is a problem by praising the marshals who “didn’t want to arrest him” because the entire judicial process “took fifteen minutes.” Then the administration followed that up by again signaling it will refuse to send COVID aid to “anarchist jurisdictions,” which, spoiler, is just as illegal now as it was the last time they threatened this.   

Key links

  1. New York Times – ‘Straight To Gunshots’: How A U.S. Task Force Killed An Antifa Activist
     
  2. Oregon Public Broadcasting – New Eyewitness Accounts: Feds Didn’t Identify Themselves Before Firing On Portland Antifa Shooting Suspect
     
  3. Forbes – Trump Praises U.S. Marshals Who Shot And Killed Antifa Activist
     
  4. Washington Post – Administration Wants To Exclude ‘Anarchist Jurisdictions’ From Coronavirus Safety Grant
     

Other Election Oddities (Again).   Even the non-illegal election stories this week were really weird.  The New York Post attempted to support Trump with a story about Hunter Biden fed to them by Rudy Giuliani that was so dubious that Facebook and Twitter limited reader access to it, and apparently Fox News refused to run it.   (I honestly hope Hunter Biden sues them for libel.)  We also had competing town halls on Thursday instead of a debate because Trump refused to debate remotely.  As I type this, Trump is already making demands about Thursday’s debate that seem like he may be laying groundwork to get out of that one too–my pet theory is that he hates the debate commission’s plan to mute the microphones during candidate rebuttals.  We’re also seeing a lot of chaos in the courts regarding voting laws, although there was a positive SCOTUS case today that I’ll talk more about below.  But early voting numbers are very high, which hopefully means that people are successfully voting.  

Key links

  1. Business Insider – Biden Calls Controversial New York Post Story About His Son Hunter A ‘Smear Campaign’
     
  2. Washington Post – Facebook And Twitter Take Unusual Steps To Limit Spread Of New York Post Story
     
  3. Politico – Trump Refuses To Denounce Qanon — And Other Key Moments From The Town Halls
     
  4. Independent – Trump Campaign Trashes Debate Commission For Leaving Foreign Policy Off List Of Topics
     
  5. New York Times – Federal Appeals Courts Emerge As Crucial For Trump In Voting Cases
     
  6. BBC – US Election 2020: Early Voting Records Smashed Amid Enthusiasm Wave

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  There was one positive Supreme Court decision today, which is something I guess.  The court was evenly split in a 4-4 decision, which in this instance means the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision remains in place.  The PA court’s decision was upholding a PA law permitting extended mail-in voting due to the pandemic, so this is good news for voting rights.  That said, I do want to caution that a 4-4 split would likely have become a 5-4 split and come down the other way if Barrett were already on the bench.  We’ll need to keep a close eye on those proceedings over the next couple of weeks.  
 

Key links:

  1. Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Republican Bid To Limit Mail-in Voting In Pennsylvania

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  We appear to be seeing a surge of COVID cases in much of the nation as I type this, with rolling averages hitting new highs in 37 different states, and over eight million cases nation-wide. Johnson and Johnson was in the news because it was forced to pause its large-scale vaccine testing due to an “unexplained illness” in a participant.  The CDC has issued guidelines strongly recommending masks be worn on all public transit, including planes, buses, and trains.  The Trump administration is oscillating between advocating for herd immunity and slandering their own top health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, because he doesn’t like the herd immunity idea.  (Just to reiterate for the people in the back, herd immunity is an incredibly unethical, dangerous, and flat-out non viable option for dealing with this pandemic.)  And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has set a Tuesday deadline for a stimulus deal, but Mitch McConnell has told the White House not to strike a deal because it may interrupt appointing Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court–in other words, he quite explicitly won’t pass COVID relief because fast-tracking a judge to the Supreme Court is more important to him. 
 

Key links:

  1. CNBC – Coronavirus Hospitalizations Are Growing In 37 States As Fauci Warns The World Not ‘On The Road’ To Ending Pandemic Yet
     
  2. Associated Press – 2nd Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Paused Over Unexplained Illness
     
  3. Washington Post – CDC To Passengers And Workers: Wear A Mask When You Are On A Plane, Train, Bus Or Other Public Transit
     
  4. The Hill – Fauci Blasts Herd Immunity Proposal Embraced By White House As ‘Total Nonsense’
     
  5. New York Times – As McConnell Advises White House Against Pre-Election Stimulus Deal, Pelosi And Mnuchin Make Headway In Talks
     

SCOTUS Census Decision. While all of this was going on, the Supreme Court went ahead and more-or-less gave the Trump administration permission to end the census count on October 15, fifteen days before it was supposed to end per federal district court order. This order is related to a second case SCOTUS will hear in the near future, about whether the Trump administration can just unilaterally exclude undocumented people when calculating congressional seats based on population. Needless to say, the first decision doesn’t bode well for the second case–and that’s particularly upsetting because the government arguments on the latter case uncomfortably echo discarded precedent about whether to count human beings as people during the American era of slavery. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Barrett’s Testimony Is A Deft Mix Of Expertise And Evasion
     
  2. NPR – Takeaways From Amy Coney Barrett’s Judiciary Confirmation Hearings
     
  3. Slate – Oh Good, Dianne Feinstein Concluded The Barrett Hearings By Giving A Maskless Lindsey Graham A Hug
     
  4. CBS – Judiciary Committee Sets Vote On Barrett Confirmation For October 22

SCOTUS Hearing Updates.  The remainder of the Amy Coney Barrett hearing… happened… and though she mostly presented well on the floor, the whole thing was still incredibly horrifying in both substance and process from start to finish.  A lot can be gleaned by what Barrett refused to answer, as she was willing to confirm some ideas but not others.  Among the list of things she signaled in her multi-day hearing:  She might not preserve peaceful transfer of power; she won’t care about unconstitutional immigration enforcement; she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade; and she probably also wants to revoke same sex marriage. At the conclusion of the hearing, ranking Democrat member Dianne Feinstein thanked committee chair Lindsey Graham and hugged him, which is disturbing on a number of levels given his refusal to get tested for COVID.  On October 22, Democrats refused to show up to the committee vote as a last-ditch attempt to pause the process.  The 12 Republican members unanimously voted to move forward, and the matter proceeds now to the Senate floor (If that last piece of news enrages you, by the way, you are not alone, and I believe it should.  Five of those GOP members are currently up for re-election, and several of the races are quite close right now; their opponents could use support.  Just sayin’.)  Barring some kind of unforeseen circumstance, Senate floor debates begin October 23.   

Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration To End Census Counting On Oct. 15
     
  2. Washington Post – Supreme Court Will Review Trump Plan To Exclude Undocumented Immigrants From Calculations For Congressional Seats
 

Actions for Everyone

Nip Fake News in the Bud –  The term “Fake News” has been a constant topic throughout the last 4 years, being a topic Trump loves to scream about. He seeks to destroy the reputation of any media that doesn’t agree with him. Lots of people are weary of the media, and it’s understandable, but the demonization of actually credibles news has become a big problem and serves as a trail towards far-right radicalization.  Having media literacy will keep the #pizzagate and Q-Anon at bay. And even though all media is somewhat biased and left leaning news sources can also fall into “fake news” territory, the main culprit is the media that sides with the President and his party. It’s important we know how to determine the veracity of a news source to stop spreading misinformation.  

How to identify Fake News:

  1. Check the source; if it comes from a website you can’t recognize, Google search the article to see if you can find a trusted source like Reuters or the Associated Press; legit international news agencies.
  2. Read the article, not just the title. Many times, Fake News websites use scandalous or hyperbolous titles to get people to click on their link. If you’re going to be sharing media, you should make sure you know what you are sharing. Read it before you share!
  3. Many grammatical errors or misspellings are a telltale sign of Fake News articles. 
  4. Use media literacy websites like Snopes and FactCheck
  5. Does the article take a stance or a side? Most trusted news sources try to have impartial writing (I said, try!). 
  6. When you see someone sharing Fake News, let them know. 

 

This cool article from Ryerson University has more guidelines to help you keep an eye out. 

 

SCOTUS Vote – The Senate Judiciary is going to place a vote this week on the new Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret. The Senate will place their vote on Monday, the 26th. It’s time to call, call, call. If you have Republican Senators, demand they say NO to Barret’s nomination.  She is not fit for the job and is likely to roll back important historical legislation like Roe v. Wade, ending the Affordable Care Act and possibly LGBT rights. 

Call the Capitol: 202-224-3121

You can use this script to help you. 

 

Diné (Navajo Nation) Covid Relief – The Diné (Navajo) Reservation has been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has been inefficient and slow in their response, so much that for the first time in history the non-profit organization Doctors Without Borders established a clinic in the Navajo Reservation, first time happening in the USA. If you can, please donate to their funds to help the community heal and stay healthy. 

Official Navajo Nation Covid-19 Relief Fund 

Navajo and Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief

 

Here are some Things That Make Me Smile

These Bolivian skater girls 

SPOOKY Mushrooms!

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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Issue #169, 2020 Week 40

Hey everyone,

Well, that was a week. Trying to figure where to turn.  Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Apparently, we thought that week’s news cycle was particularly accelerated, which seems delightfully naive in retrospect.  Needless to say, we’ve all aged a hundred years since writing that, and news stories are flying incredibly fast. Daily summaries like WTFJHT remain particularly helpful as we all try to make sense of the chaos.

Events to Know

COVID in the White House. News broke at about 1:30AM Thursday night that Melania and Donald Trump had tested positive for COVID-19–apparently for the second time that day, though we didn’t learn this until much later. At first he was expected to remain at home, but he was eventually taken to Walter Reed hospital on Friday afternoon with fever and congestion, and we later learned he was given supplemental oxygen as well as an experimental antibody cocktail before the transfer. By the next day, he was being given Remdisivir and dexamethasone, both of which can potentially signal serious health complications. Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “That’s an awfully fast onset of severe symptoms,” which is certainly what I thought at the time, but it turns out the news has a response for that! First Chris Wallace admitted that Trump had dodged the on-site test at Tuesday’s debate, and then on Saturday Trump’s own doctor said that he was doing well “just 72 hours into his diagnosis” on Saturday–which, for those of you doing the home game, was definitely not 72 hours after early Friday morning. Though his doctor later insisted he misspoke, it appears increasingly likely that Trump had probably been COVID-positive by the time of the debate, whether he knew it or not, and it would also appear that he is seriously sick as I type this. Nonetheless, he took a trip around the hospital on Sunday, and was discharged from the hospital back to the White House on Monday night, even though many experts agree on the increased risk of the second week of infection. The administration is adamant that Pence will not be taking the reins anytime soon, despite the many difficulties of Trump governing while all of the above is happening, and White House staff remain at high risk of infection.

Key links:

  1. Wall Street Journal – Trump Didn’t Disclose First Positive Covid-19 Test While Awaiting A Second Test On Thursday
  2. NPR – Staying At Walter Reed Hospital, Trump Has Started Remdesivir Therapy
  3. Newsweek – Chris Wallace Says Donald Trump Wasn’t Tested For Covid Pre-Debate Because He Arrived Late
  4. HuffPost – Trump’s Doctors Raise Major New Questions About His Covid-19 Timeline
  5. Face The Nation – O’brien Says Trump Transfer Of Power “Not Something That’s On The Table”
  6. Washington Post – Concern Rises For White House Residence Staffers As Their Workplace Emerges As A Virus Hot Spot

GOP Superspreading. Trump was far from the only high-profile member of the GOP to test positive for COVID this week, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the Rose Garden event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Comey Barrett on Saturday was a superspreading event, although the White House refuses to use contact tracing for it. (Coney Barrett herself apparently had COVID this summer, and has not tested positive at this time.) At the time that I type this, twelve high-profile people who were present on Saturday have tested positive, and twenty people affiliated with the White House have contracted the virus overall. Among those on the list: 1) Top White House aide Stephen Miller; 2) former counselor Kellyanne Conway; 3) campaign manager Bill Stepien; 4) White House advisor Hope Hicks; 5) former NJ governor Chris Christie; 6) WI senator Ron Johnson; 7) Utah senator Mike Lee; 8) NC Senator Thom Tillis; and 9) White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnaney. Additionally, IA Senator Chuck Grassley was also present and refused to get tested, so he might be positive as well, and there were also several outbreaks at the Secret Service training center. Joe Biden is still testing negative at the time that I type this, though he could still be in an incubation period.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Where Trump Went (And Who He Was With) Leading Up To His Coronavirus Diagnosis
  2. New York Times – White House Is Not Tracing Contacts For ‘Super-Spreader’ Rose Garden Event
  3. New York Times – Trump’s Secret Service Has Struggled With Outbreak At Training Center
  4. Politico – Biden Still At Risk After Debating Trump At ‘Peak Of Contagion’

Election Oddities.  With everything going on, it’s easy to forget that the first Presidential debate on Tuesday was less than a week ago–and the entire country watched Trump fail to condemn white supremacy, instead telling the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by.”  (The hate group, for their part, immediately made it clear that they’ll be taking these statements as a set of marching orders.)  There was also news about a massive Trump campaign strategy to deter Black Americans from voting in 2016, as well as news about a massive gubernatorial strategy now to make dropping off ballots in Texas increasingly difficult for marginalized voters.  On the debate front, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris did duke it out in person in Salt Lake City, and the general consensus is that both Kamala Harris and that fly that landed on Pence’s head for two minutes straight were the frontrunners of the day.  Trump announced that he won’t participate in virtual debates, despite literally being currently contagious with a deadly disease.  And, of course, people are starting to wonder what it will mean for the election if Trump isn’t able to run, given that voting has already begun in many states.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump’s Refusal To Condemn White Supremacists Launches An Online Furor
  2. Guardian – Trump 2016 Campaign ‘Targeted 3.5M Black Americans To Deter Them From Voting’
  3. NBC – ‘Racist Voter Suppression’: Texas Laws Keep Latinos From The Ballot Box, Groups Say
  4. Politico – The VP debate offers the nation a glimpse of a post-Trump future
  5. CNN – Trump’s rejection of virtual format puts future of debates in question
  6. Washington Post – We’re In The Final Stages Of The Presidential Election. What Happens If A Candidate Withdraws Or Dies?

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  There were a few bright spots from a court perspective this week, though much of the news was a hot mess.  The judge who blocked the administration’s attempts to curtail census counting has issued a clarifying judgement making it extra super-duper clear that yes, the census counting must continue until October 31 despite everything going on.  And in Florida, a movement in response to a recent court decision has donors supporting re-enfranchisement efforts for those convicted of crimes, including paying court fees so that people are eligible to vote.  It’s a coalition effort that is making a real difference for the collective re-enfranchisement of a very marginalized group–one that had been denied the right to vote for life for a long time before the right was granted by majority referendum.  Especially in 2020, it means a lot to see groups pushing back against court efforts to overrule that collective will.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – In A New Ruling, Judge Says Census Count Must Continue Through October
  2. New York Times – ‘Real Change’: A Race Is On To Register Ex-Felons In Florida

Things to Watch

COVID and Congress.  All of the COVID news above has implications for the legislative branch as well.  In relief news, the House passed a second COVID relief bill, with Nancy Pelosi meeting with Steven Mnuchin Trump was, uh, indisposed.  The FDA also unilaterally published its proposed rules for vaccine standards, leaving the White House more-or-less forced to sign on. When he got back to the White House, Trump retaliated by announcing that he would refuse to sign any COVID relief until after the election, which of course made the Dow plummet again, but he walked that back within a day or two and now says Americans should get stimulus payments again. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has postponed the Senate’s return by two weeks, calling everyone back on October 19–but he still wants to have confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett on October 12 as originally planned.  The astute of readers may note that two of the infected GOP senators are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, while four more were present at the Comey Barrett event on Saturday–and the whole committee is only nineteen members. If Democrats refuse to participate and any GOP members are still quarantining on Monday, the committee may not have quorum to proceed, and Mitch McConnell may learn it’s nice to want things.
Key links:

  1. The Hill – House Approves $2.2T Covid-19 Relief Bill As White House Talks Stall
  2. Wall Street Journal – White House Agrees To FDA’s Guidelines For Vetting Covid-19 Vaccines
  3. CNN – Dow Swings 600 Points After Trump Rejects Stimulus Plan
  4. Associated Press – GOP Seeks To Call Off Senate Work, But Not Barrett Hearings
  5. Chicago Tribune – With 2 Senators On Judiciary Committee Positive For Covid-19 And Others Exposed, Quick Supreme Court Confirmation Called Into Question
  6. Washington Post – White House, Congress continue pressing on economic relief package but Pelosi bristles over Trump approach

Black Lives Still Matter.  Information about the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings was released this week at a grand juror’s request, and unsurprisingly, the records show that homicide charges were not even presented as an option.  Meanwhile, protests continue in Portland, where a local police officer drove his motorcycle into a protester and the total arrest toll has crested 1,000 people.  Also, the Proud Boys did indeed show up in droves to join the fray, as discussed in last Tuesday’s debate–and speaking of Proud Boys, gay twitter co-opted their hashtag this week in glorious retaliation for the hate group’s recent everything.  In other positive news, California passed a law this week establishing a path towards reparations for Black Americans impacted by our history of slavery.
Key links:

  1. Time  – Released Grand Jury Records Reveal Conflicting Accounts Of The Moments Before Breonna Taylor Died
  2. Oregon – Portland Police Officer Drives Motorcycle Into Protester Blocking His Path At Friday Night Demonstration
  3. CNN – Gay Men Have Taken Over The Proud Boys Twitter Hashtag
  4. NBC – Historic California Law Establishes Path To Reparations For Black People, Descendants Of Slaves

Appalling Immigration Updates.  Despite Trump’s hospitalization, we still had an influx of impressively bad and occasionally weird immigration news.  The administration announced that only 15,000 people maximum would be admitted as refugees for Fiscal Year 2021, which for context is only slightly over one-tenth of the number admitted in Obama’s final year–definitely a historic low in every sense of the term.  We also started to hear about ICE raids planned in sanctuary jurisdictions yet again, though it’s unclear whether that will move forward with everything else going on.  The New York Times ran a story that somehow makes the zero tolerance practice sound even more heartless, including gems about U.S. attorneys getting in trouble for refusing to prosecute infants.  And just before she tested positive, tapes leaked of Melania Trump dropping f-bombs about both concern about migrant children during that period and, improbably, Christmas.
Key links:

  1. CBS – Trump Administration Sets Refugee Cap At 15,000, A New Record Low
  2. Washington Post – ICE Preparing Targeted Arrests In ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ Amplifying President’s Campaign Theme
  3. New York Times – ‘We Need To Take Away Children,’ No Matter How Young, Justice Dept. Officials Said
  4. Washington Post – Tapes Reveal Melania Trump Appearing To Downplay Child Separation Policy, Bemoaning Christmas Decorations

Actions for Everyone

Oh what a year this week has been! To top off the newscycle, last Wednesday we saw the first (and only) Vice-Presidential Debate. In it Mike Pence and Kamala Harris kept a semi-civil discourse, acting as cheerleaders for their respective running mates. I’d like to use said debate to talk about a couple of outstanding topics.

Why is Fracking important? – The topic of fracking came up and both candidates mentioned their respective administrations don’t have plans to ban it; which is a disheartening stance.

Fracking (other than my favorite curse word used in the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica) is the practice of hydraulic fracturing. This is when energy companies drill into the earth and pump a pressurized mix of water and chemicals in order to fracture rock and release trapped natural gas. Fracking is tremendously bad for our environment, even though it is usually green-washed into being an environmentally friendly practice. It can deplete water resources, poison drinking water, pollute the air and cause earthquakes. All of these problems have been experienced by communities that surround fracking areas, where they are now living in areas that are suddenly earthquake prone and their drinking water can literally be set on fire because of the chemicals that have leached into it.

For more info on fracking you can visit the National Resource Defense Council and you can also donate to their organization.

If you want to organize your community against fracking in your area, our neighbor’s to the north in Canada have created this handy toolkit to help.

Environment America also has lots of good information to read up on.

The vice-presidential candidates also discussed the new Supreme Court nomination and at least we can hope that this nomination will be met by Kamala Harris with top-notch prosecution.

SCOTUS nominee – and it’s possible outcomes. Because most of our government apparatus had to go into isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak started by President Trump and friends, Congress will not be in session till after October 18th. But the Supreme Court confirmation hearings will still begin on October 12th. Judge Amy Coney Barret is very conservative, she is thought to be the final piece for the removal of the Affordable Care Act (leaving 20 million Americans without healthcare during a pandemic) and taking away a pregnant person’s right to choose by overturning Roe V. Wade.

Call your senators! Leave them voicemails. Annoy the hell out of them! Tell your friends and family to call them too! Especially if they are republicans. Remember, some republicans have come out against the nomination. You can follow this script for guidance.

After your call your senators, call your local state governments too! If Roe V. Wade is overturned, the right to an abortion will depend on each state. Ask them what stance they are taking to secure the right to choose.

VOTE! – Trump just announced he will not be attending the next Presidential debate because it is a virtual one. He literally has Coronavirus and is ok with exposing all of his staff plus all of Biden’s staff, Biden himself and the moderator to it just to have an audience. This and SO MANY INFURIATING REASONS more, is why we need to vote and encourage others to do the same. We have less than a month! November 3rd is just around the corner.

Use this sites to guide you:

Ballot Ready 

Better Know A Ballot 

Progressive Voters Guide

And here for some Things That Made Me Smile:

The fly that landed on Mike Pence.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue #168, 2020 Week 39

Hey everyone,

Finding it hard to keep up?  You’re not alone. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The news this week is ten pounds of chaos in a three-pound bag, and it can be hard to even keep track of everything happening. We’ve done our level best to give you a quick tour-de-force, but the news cycle is accelerated to a truly impressive level even by our modern standards, so who knows what will have changed by the time this roundup goes out. Daily summaries like WTFJHT may be particularly helpful right now!

Events to Know

Tax Return Tango. As I type this, everybody’s talking about the New York Times article summarizing Donald Trump’s taxes, which lo and behold are pretty terrible. The info dump involved was huge, and there’s a lot to unpack here, so the New York Times has also quite helpfully put out a summary. That said, there are some points that I think deserve particular discussion, so I’m going to spend a few minutes unpacking them here with the careful caveat that I am not, in fact, a tax attorney: 1) Trump’s massive debt as a sitting President is a really, really big deal because it’s a risk to national security, as Nancy Pelosi has already noted–that kind of debt creates leverage that can be used to influence behavior, which is why it traditionally is a reason to deny security clearance2) Ivanka’s “consultant” fees appear to be a pretty big deal too, because they illustrate yet more instances of Trump family double-dipping; and 3) Everybody’s yelling about the $750 paid in taxes during 2016 and 2017, and his tax avoidance is insulting, but the bigger story there is what gave him the legal means to do that–his history of constantly running a deficit.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Long-concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses And Years Of Tax Avoidance
  2. Associated Press – 5 takeaways from NY Times report on Trump’s tax returns
  3. CNBC – Trump’s reported massive debt load raises ‘a national security question,’ Pelosi says
  4. CNN Politics – Don’t miss the Ivanka Trump bombshell buried in the Times tax story
  5. Washington Post – Trump avoided paying taxes for years, largely because his business empire reported losing more money than it made, report says

Your Regularly-Scheduled Illegality. There sure was a lot of news about illegal government action other than Trump’s taxes this week, not that you’d know it given the last 24 hours. Among the laundry list: 1) Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is under investigation now for Hatch Act violations, which is practically a rite of passage in this administration; 2) An executive order was issued “combating sex and race stereotyping” that forbids diversity and inclusion training of any vendors that contract with the federal government3) Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is accused of awarding $6M in contracts to his wife’s security firm, which would definitely be self-dealing (and he hasn’t even had his confirmation hearing yet); 4) The Department of Justice is refusing to let senior officials testify before Congress because they “scold[ed] and insult[ed]” William Barr back in July; and 5) A National Security Counsel member is claiming the White House made things up to block publication of John Bolton’s book because the facts reported in said book made them look bad.

Key links:

  1. Politico – DeVos under investigation for potentially violating Hatch Act because of Fox News interview
  2. NPR -Trump Expands Ban On Racial Sensitivity Training To Federal Contractors
  3. NBC News – DHS awarded $6 million in contracts to firm where Acting Secretary Wolf’s wife is executive
  4. New York Times – White House Accused of Improperly Politicizing Review of John Bolton’s Book

Black Lives Still Matter.  News continues to mount regarding the grand jury that handed down a single indictment that related to endangering neighbors by shooting the walls, rather than any charges related to Breonna Taylor’s murder.  After several days of major protests in Louisville, as well as the arrest of the city’s sole black female legislator, things do not appear closer to any resolution.  New body cam footage and increasingly contradictory case information have prompted a massive call for grand jury information to be released, which the Kentucky AG appears to be considering.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Kentucky’s only Black female legislator arrested on felony rioting charge at Breonna Taylor protest
  2. Vice – New Body-Cam Footage Raises Questions About Breonna Taylor Death Investigation
  3. The Hill – Kentucky AG says he will release grand jury recording in Breonna Taylor case

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  A federal court found this week that U.S. Census counting must continue through its original date, which would force the administration to continue until October 31–though the administration is already appealing the decision.  Meanwhile, 3,500 U.S. companies are suing Trump over his tariffs on Chinese goods, which probably were in fact arbitrary and capricious.  And finally, a New York state judge has ordered Eric Trump to testify in an ongoing fraud case no later than October 7th, which should prove interesting at the very least.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Judge says 2020 census must continue for another month
  2. Reuters – Some 3,500 U.S. companies sue over Trump-imposed Chinese tariffs
  3. New York  Times – Judge Orders Eric Trump to Testify in N.Y. Fraud Inquiry

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news remains dispiritingly terrible for another week, and much of it is outright bizarre.  The U.S. passed the threshold of 200,000 deaths this week, and experts warn that that number might double as we move into winter; additionally, total instances of infection have surpassed 7 million.  Internationally, the virus has claimed over a million lives in the past ten months.  News also broke that the Pentagon diverted about a billion dollars of COVID relief fund, instead spending the money on jet parts and uniforms.  Meanwhile, several vaccines are beginning Stage 3 trials–which would be good news, except that Trump is already threatening to override the FDA if they are appropriately cautious about vaccine safety.  And speaking of vaccines, some media outlets are starting to pay attention to the low rate of child vaccination for other infections during the pandemic, which may in turn impact orders to reopen schools.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Experts warn U.S. covid-19 deaths could more than double by year’s end
  2. CNBC – Coronavirus updates: U.S. cases top 7 million; Florida lifts restaurant restrictions
  3. CNN Health – Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine is fourth to begin Phase 3 trials in the United States
  4. The Hill – Trump questions need for tougher FDA standards on coronavirus vaccine
  5. New York Times – Behind the White House Effort to Pressure the C.D.C. on School Openings

Supreme Court Nominee News. Trump announced his nomination on Saturday, and it was indeed Amy Coney Barrett, which remains extremely concerning. Additionally, it would appear that Mitch McConnell now has enough votes to put the matter on the Senate floor, and a hearing is now scheduled for October 12. Incredibly, some Republican voices (apparently including Mike Pence) want to skip the hearing entirely and just vote her in, which is utterly unprecedented. And as mentioned previously, Trump straight-up stated that he wants a nominee on the bench by the time the election happens because he expects the Supreme Court to decide the election. Needless to say, it remains extremely important that we call our Senators repeatedly to make our opinion of this Senate vote known, especially because it may inform the approach taken by Democrats in response.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – The Judiciary Committee will hold hearings starting Oct. 12. Here is what’s next.
  2. The Hill – Rush Limbaugh encourages Senate to skip hearings for Trump’s SCOTUS nominee
  3. Washington Post – Democrats debate whether to engage — or withdraw — in Supreme Court fight

Election Oddities (Again).  This was another nightmare week for election news. The Pentagon is beginning to plan for the possibility that he’ll try to deploy the military at some point during this election process.  Meanwhile, the head of the FBI indicated that they aren’t seeing instances of voter fraud by mail-in ballot (probably because spoiler, the data says they’re not), and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows started publicly attacking him for it and undermining the FBI’s credibility.  Folks, I know we’re all pretty inured to everything by this point, but I think it’s worth stepping back and thinking about that last point; the current White House chief of staff publicly stated that we can’t trust the current FBI’s investigation process because the head of the FBI said we can have safe free elections during a pandemic.  That’s just absolutely bananas, and it hurts the entire country. And of course, during the first Presidential debate on Tuesday, the entire country watched Trump fail to condemn white supremacy, instead telling the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by.”  The hate group, for their part, immediately made it clear that they’ll be taking these statements as set of marching orders.
Key links:

  1. Axios – Christopher Wray: FBI has not seen evidence of national voter fraud effort by mail
  2. CBS News – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows contradicts FBI Director Christopher Wray on voter fraud
  3. Politico – Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists launches an online furor
  4. New York Times – Proud Boys celebrate Trump’s ‘stand by’ remark about them at the debate.

Actions for Everyone

Sending you a big wave of Love and Compassion today. Did you get it? I always come back to those human traits as the only way out of what feels like the unraveling of democracy and one huge trauma cycle on loop. Share the Love today to your friends, family, and neighbors. After last night’s debate, they need it today and I promise it feels good to give.

Countdown to GOTV: If you haven’t registered to vote, get serious about it. Please, pretty please make sure you’re registered to vote. In many states, you can register at your polling place, but because of COVID19, we want to encourage you to request an absentee ballot or even early vote to avoid being around large groups of people. As a country, voting isn’t as straightforward as many narratives we hear. We’re up against voter suppression, including being disenfranchised by a two party system, electoral college, etc.       

Imagine being 18-22 years old and having this being the first presidential election you’re eligible to vote in. Rise Free is an organization Rise builds student-led advocacy campaigns and programs that put higher education within reach for all. They’ve also made a Guide to Organizing, specifically for student’s, but everyone could use these resources. Share it far and wide!

Report “stand back, and stand by” rhetoric: Trump says a lot of dangerous things that have real life consequences, but the call to action for the Proud Boys seemed less like a dog whistle and more like a tornado siren. Although hate groups like the Proud Boys have been banned from Facebook and have been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, we also know they’re still active.

In the weeks ahead, I want to empower you to continue to report hate groups and hate speech on social media, and to report hate crimes to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Related, but unrelated, I also want to empower you to report businesses that aren’t enforcing mask mandates. So many systems so often fail us. As the protest chant goes, who protects us? We protect us. Protect individuals who are targeted by hate crimes.

BLM Resources: We shared this list of BLM resources last week, but if you looked at it last week, you’ll know that there are so, so, so many resources here and you should look at them again this week. I’d like to highlight a few specific links this week:

Louisville, KY:  Louisville Community Bail Fund and Fight for Breonna.

Rochester, NY: Bail and Supply Support by CashApp: $BLMRoc and by Venmo: @BLMRoc

Portland, OR: PDX Protest Bail Fund, Contact the Portland General Defense Committee (Tweet), Jail support through the GDC at pdxgdc@riseup.net or by 503-442-0866

Check out the whole list here → https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/13O7yipKHeIF2-QJ_K9IKIdLQAlN8NgEOF62qQjUjEVM/mobilebasic

Things That Made Me Smile: This Wierd Al music video makes the debate a little more digestable.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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

Issue #167, 2020 Week 38

Hey everyone,

We know things are bad and it is hard to even look at the news. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

Okay, we know we said the news was going to keep getting worse as we head into the election season, but the news this week is Capital-B-Bad, y’all. Perhaps it’s repetitive to keep saying “We’re here if anybody needs anything,” but we are, and we have actions for you to help you feel like you’re making a difference. And we all have a lot of work to do.

Events to Know

Administrative Anarchy. First Attorney General William Barr signaled he wants to charge protesters who damage property with sedition, which is… a disturbing expansion of governmental power, to say the least. But I’m guessing it was intended to be an opening salvo, because he followed that up by declaring New York City, Portland, and Seattle “anarchist jurisdictions”–evidencing either further fascist tendencies or the fact that his house lacks a dictionary. Per the declaration itself, this is really just a fancy way of announcing that the administration is about to pull federal funding from those cities because people have been protesting there. Folks, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how illegal all of this; it runs counter to our First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, and a comparable attempt to punish cities that support immigrants in 2017 was enjoined as illegal by several courts because the move violates separation of powers. That said, a joint statement from the three mayors of impacted cities notes this declaration’s unconstitutionality as well.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Attorney General William Barr Suggests Charging Violent Protesters With Sedition
  2. Department Of Justice – Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property
  3. NBC New York – DOJ Designates New York City As An ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction’
  4. Portland City Government Press Release – Cities Targeted By President Trump Unite In Response

Your Regularly-Scheduled Illegality. Even before Barr made his announcements, this wasn’t a great week for governmental behavior. News broke that DC military police considered using a heat ray against protestors back in the summer when they cleared out a peaceful assembly so that Trump could take a photo in Lafayette Square. An HHS spokesperson accused CDC scientists of sedition because their work on COVID “undermines President Trump.” (Said spokesperson is now “taking a medical leave” to sit in a corner and think about what he’s done.) Trump called teaching about systemic racism “child abuse” and announced he would sign an executive order against the practice.

Key links:

  1. NPR- Military Confirms It Sought Information On Using ‘Heat Ray’ Against D.C. Protesters
  2. CNN – Top HHS Spokesman Apologizes To Staff For Accusing Government Scientists Of Sedition
  3. Politico – Top HHS Spokesperson Caputo To Take Medical Leave
  4. Axios – Trump Says He Will Sign Executive Order On “Patriotic Education” In Rebuke Of 1619 Project

Black Lives Still Matter.  The biggest piece of news to know on this front is that there was no justice for Breanna Taylor; the grand jury considering whether her shooters should be punished handed down a single indictment that related to endangering neighbors by shooting the walls, rather than any charges related to her murder.  Meanwhile, in Rochester, the Police Union President and Mayor are both arguing about which one of them should resign, while several officers and the Chief of Police have stepped down.  Meanwhile, a witness to the shooting says the suspect shot by police in Portland, Oregon was never arrested or even warned before he was fatally shot.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Breonna Taylor Live Updates: One Officer Charged With Endangering Neighbors
  2. ABC 13 WHAM – Mayor comes under increasing fire in fallout over Daniel Prude’s death
  3. Washington Post – Police shot Portland slaying suspect without warning or trying to arrest him first, witness says

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We had a few promising court cases this week.  In Seattle, a federal judge blocked the current Postmaster General’s attempted operational changes to the mail system, calling them “a politically motivated attack.”  (This is particularly welcome news as a report was also issued this week estimating that the policies disrupted up to 7% of total first class mail.)  In unrelated but also positive news, an order scheduled to go into effect on Sunday that banned WeChat and Tiktok is already blocked by federal court, who noted that the ban would likely infringe on First Amendment rights.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – US Judge Blocks Postal Service Changes That Slowed Mail
  2. Washington Post – Dejoy’s Postal Service Policies Delayed 7 Percent Of Nation’s First-class Mail, Senate Democrat’s Report Says
  3. Washington Post – Federal Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Halting Administration’s Ban Of Chinese App Wechat

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news remains dispiritingly terrible for another week, and much of it is outright bizarre.  The U.S. passed the threshold of 200,000 deaths this week, and experts warn that that number might double as we move into winter.  News also broke that the Pentagon diverted about a billion dollars of COVID relief fund, instead spending the money on jet parts and uniforms. Meanwhile, DHHS Secretary Alex Azar declared himself in charge of FDA policy this week, indicating that new matters will require his approval and signature before they can be finalized.  His announcement comes on the heels of yet more shifts in the CDC’s posted rules; namely, information about aerosol transmission that was added on Friday was then removed on Monday as an “error.”  This change comes as more news trickles out about last month’s changes, also reversed this week, which removed recommendations for asymptomatic testing–apparently, that change was made without CDC scientists’ review and over their objection.  These developments, unsurprisingly, leave people worried about the CDC’s functionality as a scientific entity.  Many countries in Europe and South America are experiencing a surge in cases, making experts worry about another wave of outbreaks.  And in Oregon, wildfires have apparently exacerbated COVID infection.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – ‘It affects virtually nobody,’ Trump says, minimizing the effect of the coronavirus on young people as the U.S. death toll hits 200,000.
  2. Washington Post – Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor
  3. Politico – CDC Reverses Course On Testing For Asymptomatic People Who Had Covid-19 Contact
  4. STAT News – As Controversies Swirl, CDC Director Is Seen As Allowing Agency To Buckle To Political Influence

The Passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (cont).  Recently passed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state at the Capitol building this week, and is the first woman ever to receive this honor.  Meanwhile, Trump plans to announce his nomination on Saturday, and it would appear that Mitch McConnell now has enough votes to put the matter on the Senate floor. (The nominee is very likely to be Amy Coney Barrett, by the way, which is definitely my nightmare fuel for the week.) Incredibly, Trump straight-up stated that he wants a nominee on the bench by the time the election happens because he expects the Supreme Court to decide the election–in other words, he wants to determine who gets to make a determination about whether he’s a valid PresidentNeedless to say, it remains extremely important that we call our Senators repeatedly to make our opinion of this Senate vote known, especially because it may inform the approach taken by Democrats in response.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87
  2. New York Times – Republican Senators Line Up To Back Trump On Court Fight
  3. Washington Post – Amy Coney Barrett, Potential Supreme Court Nominee, Wrote Influential Ruling On Campus Sexual Assault
  4. Bloomberg – Trump Talks Up Need for Full Court as He Casts Doubt on Election

Election Oddities (Again).  Needless to say, things keep taking further concerning turns and we’re still about forty days away from Election Day as I type this.   At a campaign rally, Trump threatened to sign an executive order that prevented Biden from being elected, because jokes about authoritarianism are hilarious, amirite? He also indicated he expects a winner declared on election night, despite states’ need to accommodate remote voting during a pandemic.  And as I noted above, if a winner is not declared on election night, he has indicated he plans to go to the Supreme Court about it.  Watchdogs and other experts are beginning to sound alarms about the state of this election, and have also started pressing media to detail how they will handle Election Night reporting–and in particular, what they will do if one party (read: Trump) simply declares himself the winner before counting is done.  We all definitely need to be watching this election very carefully and calling our representatives often about their planning.
Key links:

  1. Forbes – Trump Threatens To Issue Executive Order Preventing Biden From Being Elected President
  2. Huffpost – Trump: ‘We’re Counting’ On Federal Courts To Declare Election Night Winner
  3. Atlantic – The Election That Could Break America
  4. Slate – I’ve Never Been More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now
  5. Politico – Watchdogs Demand Election Night Clarity From The Media

Actions for Everyone

Every time I sit down to write, I feel the exhaustion of living in Trump’s America. Today, we found out the verdict for Breonna Taylor’s murderers. Two went free and one was indicted for endangering her neighbors, who were not hurt, proving once again that the State does not care about black lives. It’s a sad day for our nation. As many head out to protest this injustice, here are some resources for the protesters and the people who support the BLM movement.

BLM Resources – This Google Doc compiles many topics regarding the movement, from what organizations to donate to, bail funds, tips for protesters and more.

Justice in June – This website was created by two young women who saw the need to establish a “how to become a better ally to the black community” course. It’s a great tool for people who want to become better allies in the fight for social justice, people who don’t know much about the topic and want to learn and your friends and family who would rather read/watch stuff than listen to you. You can choose how many minutes you want to dedicate to this topic in a day (10,25 or 45) and it then creates a course with selected readings and videos for you.  It’s a great tool! Use it!

Louisville Bail Fund – The city of Louisville,KY is prepared for protests and possible rioting given the verdict. They have established a closed perimeter, the National Guard is there and police from other cities are there. There will probably be arrests. Please consider donating to this bail fund so that protesters don’t have to spend time in jail. I hope everyone that goes out to protest is safe.

Better Know a Ballot – The wonderful Stephen Colbert has created a website that explains voting registration, mail-in ballots and more (per individual state!) so that you and yours are informed of the important dates, how your mail in ballots look (some ballots are riddled with Trump propaganda and they look like ads) and more. You can go to his website to learn, get informed and PLEASE send it to your loved ones! You still have time to register and vote!

SCOTUS nomination –  The sad death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left an open seat in the Supreme Court and Republicans are flying over it like vultures. They didn’t even show sufficient respect for her death to at least give SCOTUS nominations a day. It’s disgusting really. Her death wish was for her seat to be replaced after the elections, and they can’t even give her that. So word is out that Mitch McConell wants to start the nomination process around mid-October, with plans to confirm the nomination by end of the month. We must call our Senators, especially the Republicans one. This process needs to be elongated for enough time to reach elections. Another conservative Justice will put many of our rights at risk of being overturned, and specifically dismantling the Affordable Care Act, leaving around 20 million Americans without health insurance during a global pandemic. Call the Senate!

Here are some Things That Made Me Smile (and maybe cry a little, but happy tears) this week:

Black divers document slave shipwrecks 

28 extinctions prevented by conservationists

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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

Issue #166, 2020 Week 37

Hey everyone,

Life is changing quickly and you may not know where to turn. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

We’re in the middle of yet another apocalypse multipack as I type this, with much of the West Coast in crisis and the rest of us not exactly thriving either. It gets overwhelming very quickly, but we’re here if we can help. Your good friend Comfort Food is here also.

Events to Know

Your Regularly Scheduled Illegality.  Trump is now facing yet another sexual assault allegation from the 1990s, this time by model Amy Dorris, who joins over a dozen women to have made similar allegations.  Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has signaled he wants to charge protesters who damage property with sedition, which is… a disturbing expansion of governmental power, to say the least. And in sketchy election news, the administration has signaled it may host a campaign event at the White House on Election Day, which would be a very blatant violation of the Hatch Act as well. Of course, this is hardly surprising given the giant indoor campaign rally Trump held this week, addressing thousands of people in clear violation of Nevada law.  These constant, conspicuous violations of law are exhausting, but we need to pay attention to them anyway, because if we stop responding to them they will continue to get worse.

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Donald Trump accused of sexual assault by former model Amy Dorris
  2. CNN – Attorney General William Barr suggests charging violent protesters with sedition
  3. NBC – Trump Campaign Weighing White House Event Around Election Day
  4. Associated Press – In Defiance Of Nevada Governor, Trump Holds Indoor Rally

Fire Crisis on the West Coast.  We’re experiencing an unprecedented rate and range of wildfire all along the American West coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle, and it’s only the beginning of fire season.  At the time that I type this, over five million acres have burned, and more than two dozen people have died.  In many places, the entire sky is orange, and air quality is dangerously poor along points on the entire coast. These unprecedented fires are not a coincidence; data shows that climate change is causing increasingly dangerous conditions–though of course, Trump is claiming the opposite.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Wildfire Burning In Northern California Is The State’s Largest On Record
  2. New York Times – As Wildfires Burn Out Of Control, The West Coast Faces The Unimaginable
  3. NBC – California, Oregon And Washington Wildfires Create Dangerous Air Quality Throughout West
  4. CNBC – ‘I Don’t Think Science K

The Passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Long-time Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday evening, apparently from complications due to pancreatic cancer.  Needless to say, the nation is devastated, and this has a lot of implications for the Supreme Court and our government.  NPR reports that a few days before her death, she informed her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”  Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to act immediately, despite his refusal to confirm Obama nominee Merrick Garland under less extreme circumstances.  Trump has also signaled he will nominate a new justice “without delay,” apparently meaning before the next Presidential debate (let alone the election).  It’s still an open question whether the Senate has the votes needed to confirm an unknown nominee, and it’s also possible the identity of the nominee will prove relevant.  It is extremely important that we call our Senators repeatedly to urge them to postpone a Senate vote until after the election, and ideally until the next Presidential term.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87
  2. Washington Post – Nine implications of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death – for 2020 and beyond
  3. New York Times – Trump Presses for New Justice ‘Without Delay’ as Election-Season Battle Looms

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We had a few promising court cases this week.  A federal court refused to let the Trump administration drop undocumented people from the census (again), ruling that it would violate the Fourteenth Amendment and federal law.  In Seattle, a federal judge blocked the current Postmaster General’s attempted operational changes to the mail system, calling them “a politically motivated attack.” And a different federal judge blocked the U.S. Postal Service from sending voting disinformation to denizens of Colorado, finding that the state would suffer irreparable harm if the mailer went out.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Federal Judges Block Trump Census Order On Undocumented Immigrants
  2. Associated Press – US judge blocks Postal Service changes that slowed mail
  3. CNN – Colorado Secretary Of State Sues USPS Over Election Mailers She Says Misleads State’s Voters

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s laughably inadequate new COVID response bill was introduced in the Senate this week, where it promptly failed in a matter of days.  The situation at schools also remains messy, with many remote learners experiencing tech glitches and colleges struggling to quarantine infected students or sending them back to their hometowns.  Meanwhile, the administration’s obvious interference with the vaccine process has prompted many pharmacy CEOs to take a voluntary pledge that they will engage in safe practices.  And many countries are experiencing a surge in cases, making experts worry about another wave of outbreaks.
Key links:

  1. Politico – Senate Democrats Block Republican Covid Relief Proposal
  2. New York Times – College Quarantine Breakdowns Leave Some At Risk
  3. Washington Post – Vaccine CEOs Issue Safety Pledge Amid Trump’s Quest For Pre-Election Approval
  4. CNN – ‘Play It Down’: Trump Admits To Concealing The True Threat Of Coronavirus In New Woodward Book
  5. New York Times – Covid World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak

Immigration Updates.  There’s a lot of immigration news to watch right now, and almost all of it is pretty dire.  The Ninth Circuit undid protections for people sheltering in the United States due to catastrophe in their home country, which throws the fate of nearly 400,000 people into limbo.  Meanwhile, the Second Circuit undid protections for people seeking lawful permanent status in its jurisdiction, permitting blanket denial of disabled and indigent applicants to be enforced across the country.  In Georgia, an ICE whistleblower alleges that an ICE medical vendor performed so many medically unnecessary hysterectomies on detainees they started calling him “the uterus collector.”  News also broke that the U.S. has expelled nearly 9,000 unaccompanied minor children since the pandemic began, which is an incredibly high number and strongly suggests that legal process has not been followed.  And finally, the Washington Post reported that high coronavirus numbers in ICE custody can be partially linked to failure to follow protocols about transporting patients, which were themselves brought about so that ICE agents could be deployed at protest sites.
Key links:

  1. Washington Post – ICE Flew Detainees To Virginia So The Planes Could Transport Agents To D.C. Protests. A Huge Coronavirus Outbreak Followed.
  2. Politico – Appeals Court OKs Trump Plan To End Protected Immigration Status For 4 Countries
  3. Law And Crime – ‘Like An Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies At ICE Detention Center
  4. Reuters – U.S. Has Expelled 8,800 Migrant Children Under Coronavirus Rules
  5. NPR – Biden Pledges To Dismantle Trump’s Sweeping Immigration Changes — But Can He Do That?
  6. New York Times – 400,000 Immigrants Can Be Forced To Leave The U.S., Court Rules

Election Oddities (Again).  There was a significant amount of odd election news even discounting the sketchy Trump shenanigans listed above.  In Florida, a federal appeals court blocked the re-enfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of denizens with criminal records who cannot afford to pay court fines.  In slightly more positive Florida news, Mike Bloomberg also promised to spend at least $100M in the state to help Joe Biden’s campaign–and though he said he would support the campaign of whoever wins, this kind of donation from a former candidate has got to be an election first.  The Fourth Circuit is considering a North Carolina law that would require voters to show ID, which has been enjoined by state courts already and hopefully will remain enjoined through the November election. And of course, the news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg above creates a whole new spectre as we enter the final fifty days of the election process.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Court Ruling Deals Blow To Ex-felons’ Voting Rights In Florida
  2. Washington Post – Mike Bloomberg To Spend At Least $100 Million In Florida To Benefit Joe Biden
  3. Washington Post – Court Examines North Carolina’s New Law That Requires Photo Ids For Voting

Actions for Everyone

Keep your face masks and respirators close. Who could have guessed they’d be preventing the spread of COVID19, helping breathing during facist teargas raids and also through wildfire smoke?

End ICE: As if DHS wasn’t the worst already (besides FEMA and the NWS, it’s the worst) news broke this week thanks to a whistleblower within an ICE facility alleging a lack of medical care and unsafe work practices that facilitated the spread of COVID-19. She also says that immigrant women received questionable hysterectomies, an allegation that lawmakers seized on in statements issued Tuesday.

Forced, or non-consensual sterilization has been a tactic the US has imposed on womxn of color before – even in the US. This 40-min documentary titled “La Operacion” explores the mass sterilization of Puerto Rican women during the 1950s and 1960s.

We need to be calling for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement! For starters, tell your public officials to call for ICE to keep people healthy and safe by releasing them quickly and preventing COVID19 outbreaks. American Friends Service Committee have an Action Center if you want to take further actions, check them out. 

Help Prevent Forest Fires: Fires across the West coast are still flaring, displacing thousands of West coasters as well as destroying millions of acres of habitat as they continue to blaze. The climate change denying administration isn’t helping, and with extreme drought creating wildfire conditions in California and beyond, we have to call for big changes and environmental justice.

For information on that, I went to the Environmental Defense Fund for 4 ways the right policies can help us confront wildfires. Beyond making sure that you are constantly checking and shrinking your environmental footprint, I think this action item is to read up on the right policies and then call your Senators about them. You can also get more involved with the Environmental Defense Fund through their Get Involved portal.

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

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Stevens Point, WI 54481

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Issue 165, 2020 Week 36

Hey everyone,

After a much needed break last week, we are back.  We know the news is a lot right now. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

We continue to scrape the bottom of the existential barrel, and this isn’t going to let up as we move towards November. It’s rough, but we’ll get through it.  My advice is to just go ahead and invest in ice cream now, y’all.

Events to Know

Your Regularly Scheduled Illegality.  By this point, the Trump administration blatantly breaks laws so often that the question isn’t whether they did anything illegal this week, it’s simply a matter of what. The first story of the week, unsurprisingly, involves Postmaster General Louis DeJoy yet again. This time, he’s in the news for pressuring workers at his former company to donate to GOP campaigns, which would then be ‘rewarded’ with reimbursement bonuses. (For those of you playing the home game, this is pretty obviously illegal even in a private context, as it appears to be a way around campaign contribution limits). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is already calling for an investigation, which Trump doesn’t appear to be blocking. To be fair on that last point, though, Trump may be distracted by this week’s failed attempt to end the Census early, which is the second illegal activity of the week. I say “failed” because a federal judge ended up weighing in on this one, issuing a restraining order that keeps the administration from changing anything before a hearing can happen mid-September.  Finally, in a stunning show of “l’etat, c’est moi,” the Justice Department has intervened on 45’s personal defamation case against a woman who alleges he raped her.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Washington Post: DeJoy Reimbursed Former Employees For GOP Donations
  2. The Hill – Schumer Calls For Investigation Into Reports Of Campaign Finance Improprieties By Dejoy’s Former Company
  3. New York Times – Federal Judge Blocks, For Now, Further Winding Down Of The 2020 Census
  4. Washington Post – Justice Dept. Intervenes On Behalf Of Trump In Defamation Case Brought By Woman Who Accused Him Of Rape

Trump vs the Military. Trump managed to sink his relations with the American military even further this week, which is rather impressive all things considered. First the Atlantic ran a story that Trump referred to fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers” when refusing to visit an American military cemetery in Paris in 2018. An AP reporter confirmed the story, and so did the National Security correspondent at Fox News. Trump then responded by calling for the Fox News staffer to be fired. Folks, I know it’s 2020 and we get inured to a lot of nonsense, but I want to take a step back and really look at that last detail for a moment–a sitting U.S. President called for a journalist to be fired because she publicly confirmed sources on a story about him that she didn’t even write. (Needless to say, Fox supported its correspondent on this one.) The whole thing also made more people notice the administration’s attempt to cut funding to a military newspaper, the Stars and Stripes, which Trump announced would be walked back.

Key links:

  1. Atlantic – Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’
  2. Newsweek – Fox Reporter Hits Back After Trump Calls for Her Firing Over Atlantic Story
  3. The Hill – Trump Says He Won’t Cut Funding for Stars and Stripes

“Anti-American” Diversity Training. Because the first two paragraphs weren’t enough for one week, the Trump administration also announced by memorandum that federal employers may not conduct diversity trainings, which the memorandum refers to as “anti-American propaganda.” The memo also instructs federal agencies to come up with a list of all training contracts that include the terms “critical race theory” or “white privilege.” Needless to say, this is not a view shared by all Americans, especially given the tense race relations we’ve experienced over the past several months.

Key links:

  1. BBC – Trump Bans ‘Anti-American’ Diversity Training
  2. Washington Post – White House Directs Federal Agencies To Cancel Race-Related Training Sessions It Calls ‘Un-American Propaganda’

     Recent Resilience

No More ICE Academy (for now).  This week, ICE announced that it will be postponing its plans for a vigilante group in Chicago it was calling a “Citizens Academy.”  Though ICE is claiming the postponement was due to COVID, it seems equally likely that the sustained advocacy campaign against the project had something of an effect.  Either way, we now don’t have to worry about this particular form of threat until the spring, and I’ll take it.

Key links:

  1. Chicago Sun-times – ICE Postpones Controversial ‘Citizens Academy’ In Chicago

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is a bit more mixed than usual today, which might be attributed to the approaching election as well.  The CDC issued a nation-wide eviction moratorium, which will prevent nonpayment evictions until the end of the year.  And new studies confirm that steroids can help people who become severely ill due to COVID infection.  But Trump has refused to work with the WHO to develop and distribute a vaccine, and yet his CDC is telling states to prepare for its distribution as early as October–which, incidentally, is a good six months before the WHO thinks vaccines will be ready.  Meanwhile, FEMA is saying it will no longer fund cloth masks for schools, despite the increasing chaos at college campuses, and a newly-released tell-all book says Trump has known how deadly COVID would be since March despite leading the public to believe otherwise.  Finally, at least one federal official has started advocating for a herd immunity strategy, which is both ignorant and callous from a public health perspective–definitely not prevailing medical approach in the country or the world.  We’ll need to keep a close eye on this.
Key links:

  1. NPR – CDC Issues Sweeping Temporary Halt On Evictions Nationwide Amid Pandemic
  2. Associated Press – Steroids Confirmed To Help Severely Ill Coronavirus Patients
  3. Washington Post – U.S. Says It Won’t Join WHO-Linked Effort To Develop, Distribute Coronavirus Vaccine
  4. CNN – CDC Documents Say States Should Prepare To Distribute Covid-19 Vaccines As Soon As Late October
  5. New York Times – A New Front In America’s Pandemic: College Towns
  6. CNN – A Herd Immunity Strategy To Fight The Pandemic Can Be ‘Dangerous,’ Experts Say. Here’s Why

Black Lives Still Matter.  This was another rough week for brutality against Black Americans.  In Rochester, New York, a video was released from March that showed police fatally suffocating 41-year-old Daniel Prude with a “spit hood.”  Prude was apparently one of several Americans who have been injured or killed by this type of restraint, and he’s also one of many Americans killed by police while in mental health crisis.  Meanwhile, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend is suing the Louisville police for misconduct.  And in Portland, police fatally shot a man suspected of shooting a conservative counterprotester, rather than apprehending him alive.  Needless to say, there’s a lot to watch here.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – 7 Police Officers Suspended as a Black Man’s Suffocation Roils Rochester
  2. Washington Post – Daniel Prude’s Death Highlights Dangers of ‘Spit Hoods’ and Calls for Regulation
  3. Mental Health America – Position Statement 59: Responding To Behavioral Health Crises
  4. CBS – Breonna Taylor’s Boyfriend Files Lawsuit Over His Arrest The Night She Was Killed By Police
  5. NBC – Suspect In Fatal Portland Shooting Is Killed By Law Enforcement During Arrest Attempt

Election Oddities (Again).  Other than a bright spot when Ed Markey won the Democratic primary here in Massachusetts, this week was a surreal nightmare on the election front.  Trump decided to fight mail-in voting by suggesting to his supporters that they should try to vote multiple times, presumably because there will definitely be evidence of voter fraud if his followers create it.  This left officials in multiple states scrambling to remind constituents that this is, in fact, illegal.  It is also closely related to the current Russian tactic for interfering with our election, shocking no one.  And speaking of Russia, a senior Department of Homeland Security alleged in a whistleblowing complaint this week that he was instructed to stop reporting on Russian interference, because it “made the President look bad.”
Key links:

  1. CNN – Sen. Ed Markey Defeats A Kennedy In Massachusetts
  2. The Hill – White House Seeks To Clarify Trump Remarks On Voting Twice
  3. CNBC – North Carolina Warns Voting Twice Is Illegal After Trump Urges People To Do So
  4. ABC – Russia Is ‘Amplifying’ Claims Of Mail-in Voter Fraud, Intel Bulletin Warns
  5. Washington Post – Senior DHS official alleges in whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on threat of Russian interference

Actions for Everyone

Last Monday we celebrated Labor Day, a day chosen to celebrate the working class.  We have a lot to thank the labor movement and worker’s unions. Because of union’s, some workers have benefits like healthcare, sick days, vacation days and protective gear in the workplace. Union’s helped establish a minimum wage, got the workday down to 8 hours and fought for our right to have a weekend. Yes, the weekend IS A RIGHT! You literally have a right to party.

Labor Day is a great day to reflect on the power of the working class. We still have a long way to go. We must keep on going to have wage equality, to raise the minimum wage, to establish universal healthcare, to fight against discrimination, to stand up for the enslaved prison-workers and to make the world a more just place for all. It’s easy to fall into the abyss of the media, the darkness that permeates our nation right now, but to keep looking onto the future, keeps our heads up high. Happy Labor Day to all the workers’ of the world.

Here is some more info on Labor Day. 

Prison Reform: A lot has been said about defunding and reforming the police, and the same can be said about the prison system. USA is #1 in the amount of imprisoned people. The rate of imprisonment has risen 500% in the last 40 years. There are around 2.2 million prisoners in the USA right now. That’s more than the entire population of New Mexico. Prison labor is basically modern slavery. Take for example California prisoners who are working as firefighters; these men who have risked their lives to extinguish wildfires are not eligible to become firefighters because they have a criminal record. There are more jails than colleges in the USA. Because of all of this and more, this country needs prison reform asap. What can you do to help?

Always talk to your representatives.

Check out The Sentencing Project and The Anarchist Black Cross

Talk about it. This is a topic a lot of people either don’t know about or choose to ignore.

Keep pestering the Senate: The Senate is back in session as of September 8th and they are probably counting to keep ignoring a Covid relief package and on how to help the hurt USPS. Don’t stop calling! Demand they vote on the Heroes act (They’ve had it since MAY!) and to pass the Delivering for America act.

Milwaukee Freedom Fund: The Milwaukee Freedom Fund was started by Black and Brown Milwaukee organizers who wanted to see residents supported as they asserted their rights to protest for justice. Since May, Milwaukee Freedom Fund has been collecting and distributing funds for bail, court-related costs, rides, food, water, and other needs of those who are asserting their rights to protest for justice.

Although it’s based in Milwaukee, it has recently extended to Kenosha to support the most recent uprising there. Please learn more about the Milwaukee Freedom Fund and donate to support those dedicated to protesting for justice.

Here are some Things That Made Me Smile!

Instant karma memes at the Trump Boat Parade

Celebrating National Mushroom Month and learning there is such a thing as the Mushroom Council

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Issue 164, 2020 Week 34

Hey everyone,

It has been a sad and difficult week to keep up with the news. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The news remains tiring and heartbreaking for yet another week, but Election Day is coming.  Hang in there, friends.  As always, we’ll have suggestions for action below.

Events to Know

DeJoy Killjoy. Post Officer General Louis DeJoy testified before the House on Monday, and it went about as well as you probably expected.  DeJoy, notably, continues to say he will not restore any of the equipment removed in the last few weeks, which has a lot of capacity to mess with the 2020 election.  But as a dishonorable mention, I found it pretty dispiriting to note that he also told the House that he did not know how much a postcard stamp costs.  (The answer, by the way, is thirty-five cents.)  Meanwhile, Twitter determined that Trump’s tweets about mailboxes had violated election integrity rules of the platform, which is definitely the most 2020 sentence I am going to type this week.  And New Jersey and New York are suing DeJoy and the Trump administration in an effort to make them put the dang mail equipment back.

Key links:

  1. Forbes – Democrats Call On Dejoy To Testify At ‘Urgent’ Aug. 24 Hearing Over USPS Delays
  2. CNN – Financial Disclosures Reveal Postmaster General’s Business Entanglements And Likely Conflicts Of Interest, Experts Say
  3. Politico – House To Vote On $25B Infusion For Postal Service Amid Trump Attacks
  4. People’s Worker – Letter Carriers Union Files Nationwide Grievance Against Mail Slowdown Scheme
  5. Washington Post – Postal Service Warns 46 States Their Voters Could Be Disenfranchised By Delayed Mail-in Ballots

What Hatch Act? Though most of the RNC is not worth speaking of, it’s worth noting that we did see a blatant Hatch Act violation on Tuesday.  More specifically, sitting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called in to speak while on an official assignment in Jerusalem.  Unsurprisingly, the House is launching an investigation, though this may or may not result in anyway.  (I seriously cannot overstress that this speech was quite obviously illegal; the open question is simply whether there will be consequences.)

Key links:

  1. Politico – State Department Memo Warned Senate-approved Officials Against Appearing At Partisan Events
  2. NBC – Diplomats Aghast As Pompeo Set To Address GOP Convention From Jerusalem
  3. Axios – House Committee Launches Investigation Into Pompeo’s RNC Speech

Immigration Horrorshow.  This week has been a tour-de-force of leaked horrifying immigration policy suggestions, most of which were apparently shot down by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson.  The worst offender was definitely a proposal to use a device that creates microwave rays to make people feel like their skin is burning, which apparently offended Nielson so much that she told staff to never bring it up in front of her again.  But news also broke that Nielson balked at a much more aggressive form of Zero Tolerance that would have separated 25,000 more families, including those that legally presented themselves at a port of entry for asylum. These stories certainly contextualize why Nielson was forced out of the position.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Border Officials Weighed Deploying Migrant ‘Heat Ray’ Ahead of Midterms
  2. NBC News – Trump Cabinet officials voted in 2018 White House meeting to separate migrant children, say officials

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We did get a bit of positive legal news this week. More specifically, the New York Attorney General, who is suing the Trump Organization, has asked the judge to compel Eric Trump to testify. Relatedly, a District Court judge has thrown out another of Trump’s attempts to block the subpoena of his tax records. It will be interesting to see where both of these cases ultimately go.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – N.Y. Attorney General Asks Judge to Order Eric Trump’s Testimony
  2. The Hill – Judge Throws Out Trump Effort To Block Subpoena For Tax Returns

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news continues to jump the public health shark for another week.  The CDC has removed asymptomatic people from testing guidelines, which will have a lot of negative consequences for our ability to track spread long-term. Speaking of poor data management, the FDA had to apologize for“grossly misrepresenting” data about a new type of COVID treatment due to pressure from the Trump administration.  (Trump also made the baseless claim that “the deep state” was holding back COVID vaccine release, leaving his top experts to argue with him about vaccine development process.)  Meanwhile, multiple colleges have been forced to send attendees home due to COVID outbreaks.
Key links:

  1. New York Times  – C.D.C. Changes Testing Guidance To Exclude People Without Covid-19 Symptoms, Worrying Experts
  2. Politico – FDA Chief Issues Mea Culpa For His Plasma Treatment Claims
  3. Reuters – Exclusive: FDA Commissioner Disputes Trump, Says No ‘Deep State’ Thwarting Vaccine
  4. CBS – Notre Dame Coronavirus Cases Surge To 222 After Off-campus Parties

Black Lives Still Matter. This was an awful week for extrajudicial violence against Black Americans.  In Kenosha, WI, police shot Jacob Black, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, in the back multiple times as his young children watched from the family’s car.  (Blake is, thankfully, expected to survive, though he is currently hospitalized.)  In Lafayette, LA, police fatally shot Trayford Pellerin, a 31-year-old Black man, as he was entering a convenience store.  And in Pasadena, CA, police fatally shot Anthony McClain after a routine traffic stop resulted in asking him to step out of the car for his arrest.  Unsurprisingly, protests remain in full force in many parts of the country.  In Kenosha, these protests were compounded by further death on Tuesday night when a seventeen-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on three protesters, killing two of them.  In response to the ongoing violence, and in coordinated organization with their sister teams in the WNBAthe Milwaukee Bucks went on strike on Wednesday.  After the Bucks walked out, the NBA canceled all games, and the WNBA followed suit.  Several Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer teams have refused to play as well.
Key links:

  1. BBC – Kenosha Shooting: Protests Erupt After US Police Shoot Black Man
  2. CNN – Police Clash With Protesters In Lafayette, Louisiana After Police Fatally Shoot 31-year-old Black Man
  3. New York Times – Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings
  4. Los Angeles Times – Police Shooting Death Of Black Man Prompts Protests In Pasadena
  5. Washington Post – Sports come to a halt: NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS postpone games as players protest Jacob Blake shooting

Actions for Everyone

My heart goes out to everyone that has been affected by the terrible police shooting of Jacob Blake; him, his family and his community, and yesterday by the emboldened teenager who shot at protestors, killing 2 and injuring 1. My heart is heavy and broken.  It is painful to keep writing over and over about the same topic and to see people get shot over and over by the police. But we are on the right side of history.

May we only see better days.

What can we do?

Keep protesting.

Follow and support local organizations that are calling for defunding the police and bringing justice.

Donate to Black Lives Matter. 

Talk to your friends and family about systemic racism, even if it’s uncomfortable. This NPR article helps. 

Delivering for America Act – The story repeats itself yet again, with the House having passed a bill that would be beneficial to our country and then having the Senate ignore it or not act upon it. Yet again, here we are. The Delivering for America Act needs to be passed in the Senate and we need to call to make Mitch McConnell DO HIS JOB of serving the people. The act would “prohibit the Postal Service from implementing or approving any changes to the operations or service levels in effect on January 1, 2020, that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient service.” We all know Trump and his friends want to interrupt the efficiency of our post office so we can’t do mail-in voting. Please call our representatives. You can follow this script to guide you!

This week:

August 29th is International Day Against Nuclear Tests – A day to increase awareness and educate about the negative effects of nuclear weapon’s testing and the global need of cessation and absolute elimination of nuclear weapons.

Some (very needed) Things That Made Me Smile:

This couple who found humor and beauty in their bad luck

Flying spiders

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

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

Best,
The Activism Team

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

Our mailing address is:

The Activism Team

PO Box 186

Stevens Point, WI 54481

Add us to your address book

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