Issue #194, 2021 Week 20

Hey everyone,

Some things still need some work. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

The Activism Team

Another week, another holding pattern, dear readers.  As I type this, things are coming closer and closer to a head on regarding S. 1, the For the People Act; there was a mark-up on the Senate floor on Tuesday and discussion is ongoing.  It remains a great idea to reach out to your senators, whether you live in a progressive area or not–less progressive senators can use the nudge and more progressive senators can use the numbers in negotiation!  And as I’ll get to below, the state push for voter suppression is intense, and federal legislation can make a real difference for folks living in those states.

Events to Know

Voter Suppression Law Redux (Florida Edition). This week, it’s Florida passing the crappy law designed to suppress voting, and as you might imagine from the Florida Man State, it’s pretty bad. Among other things, it limits mail-in voting and drop boxes, it restricts distribution of food and water to people in line, and it encourages bipartisan ‘observers’ with a lengthy history of use for voter intimidation. Florida is particularly noteworthy because it’s the first swing state where Trump won and they’re passing a law like this anyway. Meanwhile, the state voter suppression fight is moving to Texas, which didn’t flip in the 2020 election either. And all the while, the bonkers Arizona recount that is somehow moving forward in May 2021 has garnered significant attention, mostly because it might be a civil rights violation.

Key links:

  1. NPR – Florida Legislature Oks Bill That Limits Voting By Mail, Ballot Drop Boxes
  2. New York Times – Florida Republicans Pass Voting Limits In Broad Elections Bill
  3. Washington Post – Florida ran a nearly flawless election in 2020. Republicans decided to change the voting rules anyway. Here’s how.
  4. New York Times – Inside Democrats’ Scramble to Repel the G.O.P. Voting Push
  5. The Hill – DOJ: Arizona Recount Could Violate Civil Rights Laws

Russia Investigation Rerun. We also had more 45 in the spotlight this week than in other recent weeks (for a variety of reasons). There was a messed-up story about 45’s Justice Department obtaining journalists’ phone records as they investigated collusion with Russia, which definitely does not sound like an abuse of power at all. And speaking of the Russia investigation, Judge Amy Berman Jackson–whom you may remember as the judge who had to deal with the neverending flood of Roger Stone trial nonsense–issued an irate opinion which ordered the release of Mueller’s full memorandum summarizing the Russia investigation findings. The order also had many choice words to say about then-Attorney General William Barr’s decision to withhold it; my favorite is the part where she notes that the ethics watchdog organization that filed the suit “had never laid eyes on the document [in question, but] its summary was considerably more accurate than the one supplied by [Trump’s administration].”

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Trump Justice Department Secretly Obtained Post Reporters’ Phone Records
  2. New York Times – Judge Says Barr Misled On How His Justice Dept. Viewed Trump’s Actions

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  Immigration news remains a bit mixed, though mixed is a step up from previous updates. Both Biden and Harris appear to be struggling to grapple with immigration policy tasks, but there was very modest progress in reuniting families separated at the border. Additionally, Biden did officially raise the refugee cap to 62,000 people by executive order this week. On that last point, I would be remiss if I didn’t do some unpacking, so I want to give you a bit more context. While 62,000 is obviously much better than the historically low 15,000 that Trump set in his final year, and was Biden’s original goal, outside of Trump’s unconscionable numbers it is the lowest cap in thirty years–even the Dubbya years generally had a cap of 70,000 people per year. (Trump does deserve the lion’s share of the blame for this, as he had only admitted 1,000 refugees in the first fiscal quarter of 2021, but I want to make sure folks reading this understand that 62,000 is not a high number–it just seems comparably high because Trump’s cap was in the sub-basement.)

Key links: 

  1. NBC – Biden Lays Border Crisis On Trump Admin’s Refusal To Cooperate
  2. Washington Post – Biden Says He Will Raise Refugee Cap From 15,000 To 62,500, After Widespread Criticism For Extending Trump-Era Levels
  3. Migration Policy Institute – U.S. Annual Refugee Resettlement Ceilings And Number Of Refugees Admitted, 1980-present

Recent Resilience

Transgender Health Updates.  The Biden administration announced this week that it is reinstating protections for transgender patients in healthcare settings, shielding individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  The decision is being framed as implementing a recent Supreme Court decision that states that both are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  However, it can also reasonably be viewed as a rejection of conservative policy regarding the “freedom” of providers to refuse to treat people because they don’t like them. Frankly–and here I speak as a health professional–I think that it’s incredibly important to reject that line of thought, so I’m really pleased to see the Biden Administration take these steps.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – US Restores Transgender Health Protections Denied By Trump
  2. NBC – Biden Administration Announces Reversal Of Trump-era Limits On Protections For Transgender People In Health Care

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.   On the one hand, vaccine redistribution has become necessary, in part because some states have too much vaccine hesitancy to need additional doses, though vaccine hesitancy among populations of color has lessened somewhat as rollout continued.  Additionally, a federal judge struck down the CDC eviction moratorium despite the sluggish job growth mentioned above, reasoning that the moratorium was beyond the scope of the CDC’s authority.   (I personally don’t agree with the reasoning of the opinion at all, and am unsurprised that the Justice Department is already appealing this decision.)  But on the other hand, the Biden administration agreed to support a WTO push to waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, making it easier to distribute to countries that badly need support. President Biden believes the country can reach 70% adult vaccination by July, despite the vaccine hesitancy in some parts of the country, and is planning his next stages accordingly.  Europe is on track to reach roughly 70% vaccination in July as well.  And Pfizer is officially authorized to vaccinate adolescents aged 12 and older as of today, which is a huge relief for many families in the United States.
Key links:

  1. NBC – White House To Shift How Vaccines Are Allocated To States As Biden Sets New Inoculation Goals
  2. New York Times – Federal Judge Strikes Down Moratorium On Evicting Renters
  3. NPR – Biden Backs Waiving International Patent Protections For Covid-19 Vaccines
  4. Associated Press – Biden Aims To Vaccinate 70% Of American Adults By July 4
  5. Washington Post – Europe’s Vaccine Campaign Is Accelerating. It Expects To Match The U.S. By July.

American Violence Updates. This was a truly horrific week for police brutality and American violence in general.  In Arkansas, new DNA evidence has been released that potentially exonerates an inmate already executed in 2017.  In Atlanta, the police officer that shot Rayshard Brooks has been reinstated to his job.  In Chicago, a man intentionally drove his car into a group of picnickers while yelling anti-Asian slurs.  And there were a stunning ten mass shootings over the weekend, though the most attention is being directed towards Colorado, where a man killed six people at a birthday party before shooting himself as well. It’s hard for many of us to make sense of this ongoing violence, but it remains a stark reminder that our country still has so much work to do.

Key links:

  1. NBC – After death row inmate is executed, attorneys find DNA that belongs to someone else
  2. ABC – Atlanta police officer fired after fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks has been reinstated
  3. Washington Post – He yelled at ‘yuppies’ in a park. Then he drove his truck into a crowd of picnickers, police said
  4. CNN – There were at least 11 mass shootings across the US this weekend
  5. New York Times – 7 Dead in Shooting at Birthday Party in Colorado, Police Say

Congressional Updates Again. As the Senate moves closer to deciding whether to protect voting rights, the House is bizarrely preoccupied with ejecting Liz Cheney from her role as House Republican Conference Chair due to her apparently unacceptable adherence to objective reality regarding the 2020 election.  (After even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy started to back away slowly, it became clear that her time was nigh, and she was indeed removed from her position this afternoon.)  Meanwhile, in response to a sluggish economy and, presumably, Biden’s relief plans, Republican governors in a few states are cutting COVID federal unemployment benefits to try to force workers to return.

Key links:

  1. CBS – Senate Committee To Hold Markup On Controversial Voting Bill
  2. NBC News – Cheney defiant as Republicans oust her from leadership for rebuking Trump
  3. Washington Post – GOP Governors Slash Jobless Aid To Try To Force More Americans To Return To Work

Actions for Everyone

Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May is Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) in the US, a month devoted to celebrating the rich history and culture of the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have contributed to America’s diversity and success. Since the Covid-19 pandemic started there has been a rise in Asian hate crimes and discrimination; celebrating AAPI Heritage Month is a way to raise awareness and raise the voices of those who need it right now. Check out this website for daily online events,  articles, art exhibits and more.

Here are some good organizations you can contribute to this month:

Stop AAPI hate: Started in March 2020 as a response to the pandemic, this organization tracks and responds to incidents of hate and xenophobia.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice: Their mission is to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.

Hate is a Virus: They are aiming to give back to not just national community organizations but local organizations with programs that serve various short-term and long-term goals of the community, including mental health services, improving safety & care for the elderly and efforts that build solidarity and consider the effects on other BIPOC communities.

Get trained against harassment: I was recently made aware of this amazing organization called Hollaback! Their mission is to help stop harassment. They have been around since 2005 and they specialize in training people on how to respond, intervene and heal from harassment. Anyone can join their training (they are online) and they are free (but they run on donations!). I personally just joined a police violence and anti-black racism bystander intervention workshop for next week.  I work in customer service and have to deal with many different issues on the daily, but there are instances of racism and hate that I have encountered and haven’t had the skills to know how to de-escalate and handle the situation correctly. I think these training sessions would benefit everyone! They also train groups in work settings. Check them out.

Supporting the vaccine patent waiver: About 40% of Americans are vaccinated and now kids from 12-16 can get it too; but it hasn’t been the same for most of the global south. The rest of the world needs vaccines desperately. President Biden and his administration have publicly acknowledged that they support a waiver on the patents for the Covid vaccine so that the rest of the world is granted access and some equity is reached regarding global vaccinations. This week they released a statement that says they will actively participate in World Trade Organizations to free the patent.   A waiver on patents was established in 1996 regarding AIDS/HIV medications and treatment, which resulted in a global turning point of that pandemic. We always talk about calling your elected officials when you disagree with their actions but it also helps to call when you support them too!

Call your elected representatives and let them know you support this decision, it is the right thing to do.

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 and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

The Activism Team

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