Issue #155, 2020 Week 25

Hey everyone,

Feel like you’re falling behind on 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 this week was a wild, wild ride from start to finish, and covered a pretty broad range. If nothing else, the administration’s actions suggest that they really do plan to just go back to business as normal. (Of course, for this administration, “business as normal” means an impressive blend of corruption and incompetence, so the news reflects this accordingly.)

Events to Know

Bolton Windows.  John Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is scheduled for release this week, and Trump is big mad about it.  In fact, the administration was so angry about this book that they filed a court case asking a judge to block its release.  The judge denied this request, but did note that Bolton is a piece of work in the opinion.  Among the allegations supposedly included in the book: Trump asked China’s President to help reelect him and definitely tied Ukraine aid to them investigating Hunter Biden.  Needless to say, if the latter is true, Bolton’s testimony would have been appreciated several months ago.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump Launches The Tell-All Playbook On Bolton: Lawsuits And Twitter Threats
  2. New York Times – Judge Rejects Trump Request For Order Blocking Bolton’s Memoir
  3. Washington Post – Trump Asked China’s Xi To Help Him Win Reelection, According To Bolton Book

Retaliatory Firing (Again Again). This weekend, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman received quite a surprise when Attorney General William Barr announced that Berman was stepping down and being replaced by Jay Clayton, who heads the SEC.  Berman quickly issued a statement saying that he was not stepping down, just so that we’re all clear on this point, and by the way did this have anything to do with his investigation of Rudy Giuliani?  After Barr issued Berman a nastygram, Chuck Schumer and Amy Gillibrand refused to approve the swap, and Barr appointed Berman’s deputy like the law says he’s supposed to, Berman did step down.  Needless to say, all of this makes Barr look pretty bad, and he didn’t even get the guy he wanted installed, so I wouldn’t call it a win for him even though Berman is now gone.

Key links:

  1. CNN – Powerful US Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates Refuses To Step Down After Barr Tries To Push Him Out
  2. The Hill – Schumer Calls On Clayton To Withdraw From Consideration To Be US Attorney
  3. Washington Post – Trump Ousts Manhattan U.S. Attorney Who Investigated President’s Associates

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. Trump sure had some stuff to say about COVID this week, and none of it exactly screamed “competent management.” In addition to his refusal to work with Tulsa on its request to make the rally safer (more on that below), he attracted attention for announcing at his Saturday rally that he asked for less testing so that fewer people would test positive for COVID-19. This is consistent with the $14B earmarked for testing that he hasn’t distributed, and nobody in his camp can give a coherent story on the admission, so it seems very likely to be true. For bonus fun, he also used racist language to refer to the virus while disclosing this, because of course he did. And just to cap the whole thing off, two members of his team who attended the rally have tested positive for COVID, but he’s nonetheless cutting back on checking symptoms for visitors and staff at the White House.

Key links:

  1. Politico –  White House Says Trump Rally Attendees ‘Assume A Personal Risk’
  2. CNN – White House Officials On The Defensive After Trump Says He Wanted Testing Slowed Down
  3. NBC – Top Democrats Say Trump Is Sitting On $14B For Coronavirus Testing, Contact Tracing
  4. CNBC – Two Trump Campaign Staffers Who Attended Tulsa Rally Test Positive For Coronavirus

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  The Supreme Court held this week by 5-4 vote that the Trump administration improperly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, calling its process “arbitrary and capricious.”  It was a very unusual decision that focused on procedural grounds, and left the door open for the administration to try again–which Trump says they will definitely do.  But the decision means the DACA program remains in place as we head into the November election, and that’s an unexpected if precarious win with value that cannot be overstated for its roughly 690,000 recipients, all of whom are now safe from legal deportation for the time being.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Rules For DREAMers, Against Trump
  2. New York Times – What Is DACA? And How Did It End Up In The Supreme Court?

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. Though this administration is treating COVID like an afterthought, the W.H.O. is cautioning that we’ve entered a “new and dangerous phase” as infections grow in the American South and West Cases have also skyrocketed in prisons, which has implications for arrested protesters.  Meanwhile, many restaurants are closing again despite recently reopening for in-house dining, finding their workers are becoming infected. AMC was in the news for announcing that when they reopen next month, moviegoers wouldn’t have to wear masks, though they quickly walked that one back for obvious reasons.  In more positive news, a University of Oxford study found that a commonly-available steroid may save lives in severe COVID cases.  That same university is also reaching Phase 3 of their vaccine study, which may mean we have more information on possible vaccines soon.
Key links:

  1. CNN – 10 States Are Seeing Their Highest Average Of Daily New Covid-19 Cases Since The Pandemic Started
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus Cases Rise Sharply In Prisons Even As They Plateau Nationwide
  3. Washington Post – ‘There Is No Playbook’: Restaurants Are Closing Again After Workers Test Positive For Coronavirus
  4. New York Times – After Backlash, AMC Says Masks Will Be Required In Theaters
  5. Reuters – Steroid drug hailed as ‘breakthrough’ for seriously ill COVID-19 patients

Black Lives Matter News.  As seems to be the trend on this topic, we saw a lot of push and pull on racial equity this week. The former officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta last week has been charged with murder, as well as several other things–but several other officers protested the decision.  We still have two Congressional bills active as well as Trump’s toothless order, but negotiations appear stalled as I type this.  And Bubba Wallace, the driver who persuaded NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at events, found a noose in his Talladega garage stall this week.
Key links:

  1. CBS – Fired Atlanta Officer Charged With Murder In Rayshard Brooks Shooting
  2. Washington Post – Atlanta Police Call In Sick To Protest Murder Charge Against Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks
  3. NBC – Senate Democrats block GOP policing bill, calling it ‘irrevocably flawed’ and ‘partisan’
  4. ESPN – Nascar Says Noose Found In Bubba Wallace’s Garage At Talladega

Primary Election Update.  Primary elections were held in several states on Tuesday, and they appear to show a country still figuring out how to balance elections during the COVID crisis.  In New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez handily won her district, which is fun to note, and progressives appeared to do well in general, though we’re still waiting on a large number of mail-in ballots.  (The elections didn’t otherwise seem noteworthy–which is itself noteworthy, given how badly COVID had gripped the state.)  Kentucky closed most of its polling locations and saw huge numbers of absentee ballots as well.  This means delays in tabulating results, and with a closely-contested primary for the privilege of running against Mitch McConnell, those results are definitely worth watching.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Live Primary Election Results: Races In Kentucky, New York And Virginia
  2. Business Insider – LIVE UPDATES: Charles Booker takes the lead over Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Democratic primary for the US Senate
  3. Courier Journal – RECAP: What all happened in Kentucky on a historic primary Election Day
  4. CNN – 3 takeaways from primary night in New York, Kentucky and North Carolina

Actions for Everyone

We, as a collective of engaged citizens, are creating and witnessing progressive changes that years of elections haven’t been able to get us. We are tired of waiting, and have been learning, acting, and are prepared for what’s to come. Keep it up, folks! Educate, Agitate, Organize.

Black Lives Matter: Say her name – Breonna Taylor! This week, Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, was fired. This is a success, but there are several more officers who were involved in the no-knock warrant, and we can’t forget that being fired still allows police officers to collect a pension and/or other types of pay. In the 2014 Milwaukee murder of Dontre Hamilton, the police officer responsible for Dontre’s death, Christopher Manney, is able to still collect 75% of his previous $71,000 salary in disability retirement pay, tax free. If that doesn’t hugely incentivize police violence, I don’t know what does.

For her 27th Birthday on June 5th, Bustle put together a list of ways to Demand Justice for Breonna Taylor.

  1. Send a birthday card, letter, postcard, or other paper mail to the Office of the Attorney General and Louisville Metro Mayor, explaining that Taylor will not get to celebrate her birthday this year, and demanding justice for her and all Black people killed by the police. The addresses for both offices are on the #BirthdayForBreonna website. 
  2. Send an email to the Kentucky attorney general, the mayor, and the governor demanding accountability for Taylor’s death. The link on the #BirthdayForBreonna page will open your mail app with the email addresses already filled in and a pre-written email of what to say.
  3. Sign the official petition calling for Kentucky Governor Andy BeshearKentucky Attorney General Daniel CameronKentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Louisville District Attorney Tom Wine to arrest all the Louisville officers involved in the killing of Taylor, for Taylor’s family to be compensated for wrongful death and negligence, for Governor Beshear to or Attorney General Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Louisville Police Department immediately, and for no-knock warrants to be deemed unconstitutional.
  4. This GoFundMe will wire money directly to Breonna’s family, who have been working hard to seek justice for Breonna, and the Louisville Community Bail Fund helps support the people who have been on the front lines of protests for Taylor in Louisville.
  5. You can also call the offices of Governor Beshear, District Attorney Wine, Attorney General Cameron, Senator Paul, as well as Representative John Yarmuth, and the Kentucky Senators General Hotline. All their numbers are listed here, as well as a script of what you can say.

Earn It Act: As an activist, I can tell you first hand that using end-to-end encryption is integral to organizing. The EARN IT Act can not pass. (How have I never written anything in a Gandalf-voice before? You. Shall not. Paaaassss.)

Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act).  Additionally, it fails to effectively protect children from online sexual exploitation according to the Human Rights Watch. keep children safe.

The bill also violates the Constitution’s protections for free speech and privacy. As Congress considers the EARN IT Act—which would require online platforms to comply with to-be-determined “best practices” in order to preserve certain protections from criminal and civil liability for user-generated content under Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230)—it’s important to highlight the bill’s First and Fourth Amendment problems.

So, this is a call to contact your senators, and sign petitions to stop it. Here’s a nice write-up on how to call your senators if you have social anxiety. ActionNetwork has a petition you can sign and a phone number you can call to connect with Congress here.

The Marshall Project: The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. They have information on movements around Police Abolition, ImmigrationRace, and so many other urgent and important topics. Please know about them, read their research, and share widely.

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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