Issue #148, 2020 Week 17

Hey everyone,

We know things are stressful right now, please remember to take care of yourselves and ask for support if you need it. Trying to keep up with 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

This past week was rough by any metric you might care to use, and it’s okay if you need a little bit of support right now.  As always, we’ll have suggestions for ways to feel like you’re helping make a difference, and we’re here if anybody needs anything.

Events to Know

Trump’s Messed Up COVID-19 Response. This week was a whole new level of longing for the 25th Amendment. The real nadir was likely when Trump publicly asked about injecting bleach into people as a way of treating COVID-19 during Thursday’s press conference, forcing the good people at Lysol and health experts everywhere everywhere to tell people not to do that. He apparently got the idea from prominent snake oil salesman Mark Grenon, who wrote to the President a few days before praising the virtues of “wonderful detox” product chlorine dioxide. (Spoiler: Chlorine dioxide is exactly as bad to ingest as you think it is, and the FDA had already publicly warned Grenon to knock it off by the time he sent the letter.) Trump tried to backpedal by claiming he was being ‘sarcastic,’ which might have even worked, except that he immediately went on a tear on Twitter the next day. The whole thing capped with Trump threatening to stop doing coronavirus pressers, calling them not worth “the time and effort”. We should be so lucky, dear readers.

Key links:

  1. NBC – Trump Suggests ‘Injection’ Of Disinfectant To Beat Coronavirus And ‘Clean’ The Lungs
  2. The Guardian – Revealed: Leader Of Group Peddling Bleach As Coronavirus ‘Cure’ Wrote To Trump This Week
  3. New York Times – Trump’s Suggestion That Disinfectants Could Be Used To Treat Coronavirus Prompts Aggressive Pushback
  4. Axios – Trump: White House Press Conferences Aren’t Worth The “Time And Effort”

Reopening Rodeo. Despite medical recommendations to the contrary, several states are either reopening now or reopening imminently, and the public discourse does not inspire confidence. Georgia took an initial step on Friday and reopened restaurants, tattoo parlors, gyms, movie theaters, and massage parlors–you know, those businesses that you think of first when you hear the phrase “social distancing.” South Carolina is also reopening some retail stores and beaches, and several other Southern states are opening retail stores as well. Experts say this is very risky, a fact underscored by 40 new COVID cases in Wisconsin traced back to their recent primary election. But the Texas lieutenant governor responded to this by saying that “there are more important things than living,” a quote so yikes worthy that Andy Borowitz barely had to change it in his satire column.

Key links:

  1. Business Insider – South Carolina Has Already Begun To Reopen Beaches, Department Stores, And Flower Shops
  2. Washington Post – States Rushing To Reopen Are Likely Making A Deadly Error, Coronavirus Models And Experts Warn
  3. The Hill – Texas Lt. Governor On Reopening State: ‘There Are More Important Things Than Living’

State of the COVID-19.  The overall COVID news this week is not exactly uplifting.  At the time that I type this, over 60,000 people in this country have lost their lives to the virus, and over one million people have been infected.  The FDA has cautioned against hydroxychloroquine use to treat COVID, noting that it has been linked to heart rhythm problems and there is increasing indication that the virus impacts the blood.  New York is also reporting high fatality rates among patients on ventilators, derailing medical expectations about treatment methods.  Nurses are starting to organize in response to inadequate workplace protections, bringing three lawsuits against the state of New York and multiple hospitals.  Major players in the food industry warn that the supply chain may be breaking, which prompted Trump to sign an executive order forcing meat plants to remain open.  And the United States is not participating in a WHO global initiative to develop a COVID vaccine, which may reflect growing antagonism towards the global organization as our administration seeks a scapegoat.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Coronavirus Map: Tracking The Global Outbreak
  2. STAT – FDA Warns Against Widespread Use Of Hydroxychloroquine, Drug Touted By Trump
  3. Washington Post – “We’re Beyond Angered” – Fed-up Nurses File Lawsuits, Plan Protest At White House Over Lack Of Coronavirus Protections
  4. Reuters – U.S. Says Will Not Take Part In Who Global Drugs, Vaccine Initiative Launch

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  The Supreme Court had some promising cases come down this week.  They opted to punt on a second amendment case, which given the current court constellation I’m considering a win–especially because the decision made Gorsuch, Thomas, and Alito unhappy.  But the real good news from SCOTUS today is that the court decided 8-1 that it wanted to leave the ACA standing, at least when it comes to risk corridors.  That majority is nearly as encouraging as Sotomayor’s excellent majority opinion, which pointedly notes that “The Government should honor its obligations.”

Key links:

  1. Washington Post –  Supreme Court Dismisses Anticipated New York Gun Rights Case Because The Law In Question Has Been Rescinded
  2. Vox – A Republican Effort To Sabotage Obamacare Was Just Rejected By The Supreme Court

Turtle Triumph.  We may not be enjoying the stay-at-home advisories, but apparently they are good news for turtles. Outlets report that the leatherback sea turtle has begun to experience a comeback in the wake of reduced beach traffic in places like Thailand and Florida. We’re also seeing a positive impact on manatees for similar reason. At least somebody’s having a good month!

Key links:

  1. Good News Network – Beaches See Huge Increase In Leatherback Sea Turtle Nests After Travel Restrictions In Florida And Thailand
  2. CBS – Experts Say Coronavirus Concerns Could Have Positive Impact On Marine Life

Things to Watch

North Korean Speculation.   Speculation is starting to mount after two weeks of absence from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, but nobody can agree on what it means.  Some outlets are focused on likelihood of COVID infection, and TMZ is touting the rather dubious claim that he has died, while South Korea is saying there is nothing unusual happening at all.  No matter what else is going on, the speculation itself may have potential implications for North Korea, and might forecast a closer look into whether there is COVID infection there in general.  (Boris Johnson, in contrast, definitely returned to work this week.)
Key links:

  1. CNN – U.S. Monitoring Intelligence That North Korean Leader Is In Grave Danger After Surgery
  2. New York Times – South Korea Confident That Rumors Of Kim Jong-un Illness Are Wrong
  3. ABC – How Reports Of Kim Jong Un’s Health Spread And What They Tell Us About What Comes Next For North Korea
  4. New York Times – U.K. Coronavirus Briefings Offer A More Genteel Spin Than Trump’s

Market Mess Continues.   The fourth COVID response bill did pass this week, making it through the Senate last Tuesday and the House last Thursday before being signed by Trump on Friday.  The bill contains more money for the small business loan program, which relaunched today, but is already rife with problems.  Meanwhile, another 4.4 million people filed for unemployment, bringing our total to over 26 million people since this crisis started.  The IRS was in the news for sending stimulus payments to dead people, and state and local governments worry about major budget shortfalls while Mitch McConnell tells them to just file for bankruptcy.
Key links:

  1. NBC – Trump Signs Coronavirus Aid Bill As Tensions Rise Over Next One
  2. Politico – Unemployment Claims Top 26 Million 5 Weeks Into Pandemic
  3. New York Times – Mcconnell Says States Should Consider Bankruptcy, Rebuffing Calls For Aid

No Election in New York.  Given everything going on, New York has taken the unprecedented step of canceling its primary election for a Democratic candidate.  The governor of the state was quoted as saying it would be “unnecessary and frivolous” to hold an election when Joe Biden is already the presumptive nominee, but Bernie Sanders’s campaign was not happy.  It’s unclear whether this is the beginning of a new trend or a reflection of New York’s unique circumstances within the current crisis, so we’ll want to keep an eye on the election cycle.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – New York Board of Elections Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary
  2. The Hill – Sanders adviser: NY presidential primary cancellation a ‘blow to American democracy’
  3. Reuters – New York state cancels presidential primary over coronavirus risk

Actions for Everyone

Bust out the Justin Timberlake memes because “It’s gonna be May” is here! Happy May everyone. Please take a deep breath and jump on the May Day strike ASAP. Stay healthy and safe!

May Day Strike: May Day is May 1 and is International Workers DayOn this day, show solidarity with workers at Amazon, Instacart, Shipt, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and FedEx who are on strike for better working conditions amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Don’t order online or show up, and simply schedule around today if you need to go grocery shopping at these places. Alternatively, consider shopping locally instead of shipping through Amazon or Walmart and support small groceries and businesses. This is generally a good rule of thumb, but especially today.

Celebrate the Earth (but Avoid Ecofascism): It’s incredible to see Earth heal while we’re all in quarantine. Many of us are on tight budgets and aren’t buying from Amazon, the demand for gasoline has dropped, lots of big industry is paused. It really makes you think about how our economy relies on high levels of American consumerism, and while that version of our economy is tanking, pollution rates are too. I believe this is a greeeeat news, but I’ve been seeing sentiments saying “humans are the virus” “Darwinism in real time” circulating, so I wanted to talk about Ecofascism, the theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the “organic whole of nature.”

I understand how easy it is to think that way, but if there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that social justice and environmental justice are the same. damn. thing. This article “People aren’t Bad of the Planet – Capitalism Is”  that I think is worth the read, and definitely worth practicing and internalizing.

Seeding Sovereignty: The Navajo Nation is experiencing the third-largest infection rate of COVID19 following New York and New Jersey, which are currently the Nation’s epicenters. The organization Seeding Sovereignty has set up a Rapid Response Fund, mask drive, and petition to Congress for financial aid because they haven’t still haven’t received aid and it’s urgently needed to help spread the virus. Please consider donating to the fund! Please consider sewing, sending, or sponsoring PPE! It is critical that the Navajo Nation and all indigenous nations receive support and not be left out of COVID19 recovery initiatives.

Things that Make me Smile: 

Fiona Apple’s interview with Democracy Now! (and especially her new album Fetch The Bolt Cutters)

This free virtual tour of Frida Kahlo’s house – it’s so lush and bold and beautiful

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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