Issue #150, 2020 Week 19

Hey everyone,

More frustration on the next steps. 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 chaotic and rough, as more parts of the country reopen and bring a wider news cycle with them. As a result, we have a combination of COVID and non-COVID news for you today.  As always, we’re here if people have questions, and we’ll also have suggestions for actions below!

Events to Know

White House Messed Up COVID-19 Response. Despite our apparent return to commerce, this was a real banner week for White House COVID response–by which I mean, it will make you want to Hulk out and smash something. Trump continued to block coronavirus task force members from testifying before the House because–and I quote–“the House is a bunch of Trump haters.” The White House also threatened to disband the task force entirely, before reversing course and resuming coronavirus briefings instead, and refused to release CDC guidance on safely reopening. Meanwhile, a watchdog agency found that scientist Rick Bright had a credible complaint of retaliation because he was removed from his position when he refused to support Trump’s sudden push for hydroxychloroquine. Trump refused to wear a mask while touring a mask production facility, and Trump’s personal valet and Pence’s press secretary both tested positive for COVID. Trump continued to refuse to wear a mask, saying “the whole concept of tests isn’t great,” and Pence refused to change his patterns on the grounds that he “has tested negative every single day.” There are also, apparently, no plans to keep Trump and Pence apart.

Key links:

  1. The Hill – White House Prohibits Coronavirus Task Force Members From Testifying Before Congress In May
  2. New York Post – Trump: Coronavirus Briefings Will Return, Blasts ‘Angry’ CBS News Reporter
  3. CNN – Ousted Vaccine Director Files Whistleblower Complaint Alleging Coronavirus Warnings Were Ignored
  4. New York Times – White House Races To Contain Virus In Its Ranks: ‘It Is Scary To Go To Work’

Reopening Rodeo. Needless to say, reopening is not smooth sailing on the state level either, despite most states beginning the process as I type this. Data suggests that most reopening states do not meet the criteria put forward by the White House for reopening, and that guidance was more modest than the CDC’s. As if to punctuate the point, a recording of Texas governor Greg Abbott also surfaced this week acknowledging that reopening will increase spread of COVID-19. And early reopening data suggests that official steps don’t make consumers return to their prior patterns anyway. Given the resurgence of infection in other countries where infection was waning, such as South Korea and China, this caution seems pretty reasonable.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Most States That Are Reopening Fail to Meet White House Guidelines
  2. Progress Texas – Leaked Audio (Full): Gov. Abbott Knows Reopening Will Cause an Increase in Infection Rate for Texans
  3. Washington Post – Where states are reopening after America’s shutdown
  4. NPR – South Korea Records Spike In New Coronavirus Cases After Nightclub Outbreak

Flynn Flyover (and other federal news). The Department of Justice truly stunned the legal field this week by trying to drop charges against Michael Flynn, an unprecedented move given Flynn had pleaded guilty back in 2017. It illustrates just how much William Barr appears to follow Trump’s agenda rather than leading an independent department–a point only punctuated by Trump’s follow-up attack on the head of the FBI, and Trump’s request that SCOTUS block the release of other evidence from the Mueller investigation. The judge on Flynn’s case has invited other parties to weigh in, and has signaled that there will at least be a hearing before the charges can be dropped. Meanwhile, things aren’t great on the federal judicial side either, with the Senate considering McConnell’s truly unqualified protege for an appeals court appointment and the GOP doing its best vulture impression when asked about Justice Ginsburg’s recent hospitalization. Betsy DeVos used a chaotic week to release her new regulations about sexual assault on campus, despite many college campuses housing no students at the moment. And rounding everything out, Trump appointed a Republican fundraiser to head the U.S. Post Office instead of, y’know, someone from the post office. Given the giant pile of everything in this paragraph, it’s hardly a surprise that the House wants to continue investigating Trump for impeachable offenses.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’: Experts Question Dropping Of Flynn Prosecution
  2. Washington Post – ‘A Constant Battle Of You Against The Leadership Of Your Country’: Justice Dept. Rattled As Flynn Fallout Reaches FBI
  3. Politico – ‘We’re Going To Fill It’: Republicans Ready For Any Supreme Court Vacancy
  4. New York Times – Devos’s Rules Bolster Rights Of Students Accused Of Sexual Misconduct
  5. Reuters – Republican Donor Named U.S. Postmaster General

Recent Resilience

Recent CA Resilience.  The state of California is suing Lyft and Uber for refusing to classify its drivers as employees under a recent California law that expands worker protections to gig laborers. We’ll have to see what happens, but this is a promising bit of news–given the dire employment news above, this is a way to potentially get more protections without workers taking a hit for it.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – California AG And Cities Sue Uber And Lyft, Alleging They Misclassified Workers As Contractors
  2. NPR – California Sues Uber And Lyft For ‘Cheating’ Drivers And Taxpayers

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  COVID news is… still not great.  Scientists have begun to study an apparent COVID-related infection that has begun to surface in young kids, though this version thankfully appears treatable.  The food supply chain still has issues, with beef shortages and pork shortages reported, and over a thousand workers have tested positive at Tyson plants in Iowa and Indiana.  Meanwhile, the drug with modest treatment efficacy in trials, remdesivir, is being inconsistently administered to hospitals.  In a silver lining, blood thinners are showing promise as a secondary treatment for patients with severe infection, and the FDA also granted emergency approval for a new antigen test.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Children Are Falling Ill With A Baffling Ailment Related To Covid-19
  2. CNBC – Nearly A Fifth Of Wendy’s Us Restaurants Are Out Of Beef, Analyst Says
  3. Stat News – Doctors Lambaste Federal Process For Distributing Covid-19 Drug Remdesivir
  4. Washington Post – Blood Thinners Show Promise For Boosting The Survival Chances Of The Sickest Covid Patients
  5. Washington Post – FDA Issues Emergency Approval Of New Antigen Test That Is Cheaper, Faster And Simpler

Cases to Watch.*  There were a number of noteworthy proceedings in the past few days, and all of them are worth keeping your eye on. The Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Congress can subpoena Trump’s taxes this week, though a final decision likely won’t be out for some time.  Meanwhile, top health official Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate about the dangers of reopening the country too quickly, and ousted vaccine official Rick Bright’s testimony is similarly dire.  The FBI obtained a search warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr’s phone to investigate his handling of stock trading ahead of the COVID criss.  And on the state end, over two months after a Georgian man was killed while jogging, police have arrested two Georgia residents for his murder.  The official action was likely spurred by video of the murder, which was posted to the Internet in the past week–apparently by a local defense attorney.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Supreme Court Hints at Split Decision in Two Cases on Obtaining Trump’s Financial Records
  2. AP News – Fauci warns: More death, econ damage if US reopens too fast
  3. Washington Post – Ousted vaccine official to warn of ‘darkest winter’ if virus returns without better response
  4. Los Angeles Times – FBI serves warrant on senator in investigation of stock sales linked to coronavirus
  5. NPC News – Video appears to show Georgia man shot while jogging; lawyers call for arrests

Market Mess Continues.  Financially speaking, things are still a mess.  Unemployment is continuing to grow at the same rate as previous weeks, resulting in the highest rate since the Great Depression.  Needless to say, this makes federal response in the coming weeks particularly important.  It’s not surprising that several Senators have begun promoting universal base income, introducing a bill that would grant $2K per month for the duration of the crisis.  House Democrats have unveiled a $3T proposal as well.  And speaking of granting funds, the Small Business Administration’s programs are still a total mess–they’re in the news this week for dramatically lowering maximum loan amounts on one of their programs without telling any applicants about it.
Key links:

  1. CNN – April Was Probably The Worst Month For American Jobs Since The Great Depression
  2. New York Times – As Job Losses Mount, Lawmakers Face A Make-or-break Moment
  3. The Hill – Harris, Sanders, Markey Propose $2,000 Monthly Payments Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
  4. Washington Post – Democratic Lawmakers Criticize ‘mismanaged’ Sba Loan Program In Letter To Administrator

Actions for Everyone

I’m not sure how to write about everything we need to work on this week without focusing on race, so I’m going to do that. Hope you’re feeling healthy and safe, and that you’re using those breathing exercises we sent a few weeks ago.

Feeling bad isn’t helpful, we gotta keep working on it: I know it’s hard, and it can feel hopeless to work on systemic change when the very foundation of this nation is rooted in the violent oppression of black and brown people. Your feelings of grief and sadness are valid, but don’t stop trying. We all have got to keep working on it. Here’s a list of 65 things white people can do for racial justice. There are so many things we can and need to DO to fight against injustice and I promise that this whole list is achievable by everyone, including and not limited to:

#2: Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.

#33: Decolonize your bookshelf.

#37: Find out how slavery, the Civil War, and the Jim Crow era are being taught in your local school…There are a lot of great resources out there with a little googling, like PBS’s resources for teaching slaveryTeaching for Change, and The National Association for Multicultural Education.

#60: Personally divest your investments in private prisons and detention centers. Start here. Many people are divesting from Wells Fargo for their substantial role in Standing Rock and from private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S.

#63: Talk to the white people you know who aren’t clearly upset by white supremacy. Use “I” statements and “I care” messages (“I feel [feeling] when you [behavior]”). They need to know you see a problem. Call them out, and call them in…

Check out The Loveland Foundation: Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. The Loveland Group was started by Rachel Cargle, and they’ve also started The Loveland Foundation. One of their initiatives is a Therapy Fund offering free therapy for black women and girls. Please consider donating to their fund, or using it. They have partnerships with Therapy for Black Girls, National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color NetworkTalkspace and Open Path Collective, Loveland Therapy Fund recipients will have access to a comprehensive list of mental health professionals across the country providing high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls.

Late stage capitalism: Talking about the dangers of capitalism is always relevant, but now that our economy which is built on over consumption is shocked when people are only buying what they need, businesses are risking their employees lives for the sake of profit, our market is all over the place, the poorest people in our country have to work the hardest to receive federal stimulus checks and unemployment, I think it’s a poignant time to talk about capitalism. 

I’m late to the late stage capitalism conversation, but I’m gonna write about it in case other people are too. Late stage capitalism can be defined as the hypocrisy and absurdities of capitalism as it digs its own grave. I’m on a list-kick this week, so here’s a list of 99 Ways to Fight Capitalism. Many of these are individualized actions and behavioral changes you can make in your daily life.

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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