Issue #156, 2020 Week 26

Hey everyone,

Starting to feel burning out from shifting 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

 

The main story this week is Attack of the Return of the COVID-19, and that horror movie has just as many bad life choices as you might expect. I think a Twitter user put it quite well: “Any zombie movie that doesn’t have hordes of people running towards the zombies to deliberately get bitten because they’re convinced it’s a liberal hoax is going to look pretty unrealistic now.”  

 

Events to Know

Bounties for Russia.  The incredible news broke over the weekend that Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Taliban agents to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and that Trump has known about this since March.  Or, more accurately, that Trump should have known about this since March, as that’s when his team was briefed–or he could have learned when he was first briefed in 2019, y’know, if he’d actually read the briefing.  Intelligence officers had been tackling the issue since late January Trump’s initial defense was “nobody told me,” which of course just led to more and more news about how many times he’d been told. 

Key links:

  1. Guardian – Outrage Mounts Over Report Russia Offered Bounties To Afghanistan Militants For Killing U.S. Soldiers
     
  2. Associated Press – AP Sources: White House Aware Of Russian Bounties In 2019
     
  3. Wall Street Journal – Trump Says U.S. Intelligence Didn’t Find Russian Bounty Information Credible

Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. This was a pretty awful week for learning administrative missteps during the pandemic. News broke that federal officials allowed flawed tests to circulate, despite knowing that they are flawed, because Trump had promised test access that simply wasn’t possible. Outlets also revisited the news that the Treasury sent $1.4B in stimulus checks to over one million dead people. And news broke that the SBA exempted lawmakers from its own ethics rules when administering its $660B loan program. And, of course, there’s the current and unprecedented rate of infection, which this administration is minimizing as experts grow increasingly concerned about containment. So, y’know, A++ management all around.    

Key links

  1. CBS – Flawed Covid-19 Antibody Tests Shipped Without FDA Review
     
  2. NBC – Dead Wrong: Feds Sent $1.4B In Stimulus Checks To Over A Million Deceased
     
  3. Washington Post – SBA Exempted Lawmakers, Federal Officials From Ethics Rules In $660 Billion Loan Program
     
  4. NPR – U.S. Sets Daily Record For New Coronavirus Cases

 

Roger Stone Trial Updates. The House heard testimony this week from former Roger Stone prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who confirmed that prosecutors were pressured to give him a more lenient sentence due to his relationship to Trump.  Perhaps relatedly, Stone himself was ordered to report back to prison on July 14th, denying his request for another two months’ reprieve due to COVID.  (I’m guessing Judge Berman feels that someone so obviously cozy with Trump can go ahead and follow Trump’s guidelines about the crisis.) 

Key links

  1. CNN – Ex-Stone Prosecutor Says Stone Treated Differently ‘Because Of His Relationship To The President’
     
  2. Washington Post – Roger Stone Ordered To Report To Prison July 14, As Judge Denies Request For Two-month Delay

 

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  Adding to our growing list of moderate SCOTUS successes, the court issued a decision today on a Louisiana case regarding abortion, which featured a conclusion that an obviously-unconstitutional law that mimicked a law the Court overturned four years ago was, in fact, unconstitutional, because stare decisis is still a thing. (Poor Justice Breyer probably had to be restrained from writing “I’m sorry, was I writing in Esperanto last time?” when he drafted this opinion.) The Ninth Circuit also found that this administration’s border wall funding was illegal, which is encouraging as well, and a federal district court judge stuck down a law that makes asylum harder to claim.
 

Key links:

  1. NPR – Supreme Court Hands Abortion-rights Advocates A Victory In Louisiana Case
     
  2. NBC – Appeals Court Rules Funding For Trump Border Wall Construction ‘Unlawful’
     
  3. Washington Post – Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rule targeting Central Americans

 

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. As I mentioned above, we’re currently experiencing an unprecedented rate of infection in the United States, with over 2.5 million recorded cases and over 126,000 recorded deaths reflecting new daily high records.  Cases rates are increasing in 32 states, with 14 states holding steady and only a few states experiencing a decreased rate of infection–Dr. Fauci estimates we may see rates of up to 100,000 new cases per day, and we’re at 40,000 per day now.  Against this backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that some states are closing back down. The infection rate is particularly concerning in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, where lax standards combined with high concentrations of people seem to be creating a perfect storm.  Nonetheless, none of these states are closing back down, though smaller restrictions are being implemented–Texas is limiting gatherings to 100 people (yes, you read that right) and limiting restaurants to 50% in-house dining capacity; Florida is banning drinking in bars (but not in restaurants) and closing some beaches; and Arizona’s only concession appears to be finally allowing municipalities to require masks.  Needless to say, it’s unsurprising that the European Union won’t let us travel there now that they’re reopening their borders.  Meanwhile, another virus with ‘pandemic potential’ was uncovered in China, and that sound you are hearing is my head hitting my desk repeatedly. 
 

Key links:

  1. New York Times – How The Virus Won
     
  2. NPR – 5,489 New Covid-19 Cases: Texas Reports All-Time Daily High
     
  3. New York Times – E.U. May Bar American Travelers As It Reopens Borders, Citing Failures On Virus
     
  4. BBC – Flu Virus With ‘Pandemic Potential’ Found In China
     

Black Lives Matter News. News on this front continues to be one step forward and two steps back.  We have several more stories of gun violence against protesters–white civilians in St Louis brandished guns at peaceful protesters, images of which Trump retweeted, and a photographer died after someone fired a gun into a crowd of protesters in Louisville, KY.  Trump issued an executive order creating a felony charge for vandalizing Confederate statues, and also retweeted videos of someone yelling “White power”.  In more positive news, there’s research indicating that no spike in cases was caused by outdoor protest, and the House passed an expansive police force overhaul bill.  
 

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – 1 Dead After Man Shoots Into Crowd At Breonna Taylor Protest In Louisville
     
  2. CBS – Trump Signs Executive Order To Protect Monuments
     
  3. NPR – Trump Retweets Video Of Apparent Supporter Saying ‘White Power’
     
  4. CNN – Black Lives Matter Protests Have Not Led To A Spike In Coronavirus Cases, Research Says
     
  5. New York Times – House Passes Sweeping Policing Bill Targeting Racial Bias And Use Of Force

ACA Acrimony (Again). Our illustrious leader has filed an emergency brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act again, because… reasons? I’m honestly not even sure what is motivating him to yank 23 million people’s insurance in literal middle of a re-escalating pandemic, beyond “I must spite Obama even if it kills you.” Recent SCOTUS cases, however, suggest they may not be so inclined to listen to him–but more on that below. In the meantime, House Democrats have introduced legislation to re-expand the Act, presumably just to be on the safe side. 
 

Key links:

  1. CBS – Trump Administration Urges Supreme Court To Overturn The Affordable Care Act
     
  2. PBS – Watch: Pelosi And House Democrats Unveil Patient Protection And Affordable Care Enhancement Act
 

Actions for Everyone

We can’t let our guard down regarding Covid-19. We’re back where we started.The badly planned re-opening of many states, the disregard of our current administration to take this virus seriously and the politicization of the issue has put us all in danger. What can we do?

Call your representatives in the Senate to pressure them into voting for the Heroes Act. This legislation was passed in the House back in May 5th and Mitch McConell has tried to bury it like the disgusting evil goblin he is. This act would give a second stimulus check, hazard pay to workers who are more exposed to Covid-19, help the USPS, give more funds to unemployment, Child Nutrition programs, Rental Assistance program and Supplemental Nutrition programs.

Call your representatives today! They are supposed to vote this week. You can use this script by Celeste Power to help you guide your call. 

Wear a Mask! The mask wearing issue has been made into a right vs.left issue when it really should be an “us” issue. It’s been proven that wearing a mask helps to diminish infections and keeps all of us safe, but Trump and his goons refuse to wear one, for some weird and truly perplexing reason. Wear a mask, normalize mask wearing, show yourself in social media wearing a mask, talk to the people you know about how wearing a mask is safe and good and helps. Give masks to people who are in need or can’t afford one.

Stay home! Even if it’s summer, even if it’s the 4th of July, even if your friends are going out. Call your friends on it. We are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic; the beach, brunch and parties can wait.

Russia Revelations: What should our government be doing right now? Addressing Russia’s involvement in paying bounties to the Taliban for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan. We recently learned that there are reports of the White House having knowledge of Russia’s involvement in the killing of US troops and allies, but how much did they know? Did they do anything about it? How much did the intelligence community know about this? We want answers. Call your representatives in Congress and demand that they hold a thorough investigation regarding this issue and what they are willing to do to hold Russia accountable. And what are they doing to hold our own President accountable for withholding this knowledge? You can use this script to guide you.

Black Lives Matter:The cops that killed Breonna Taylor are still free. Demand justice. 

Things That Make Me Smile: 

Mississippi changed its flag  to abandon the Confederate flag on it. 

Word of the Week by The Black Emily Dickinson. Check out her work and expand your vocabulary!

 
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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