Issue #201 Week 34
Well readers, we’re back, and just in time for yet another clearance sale here at Bargain Basement Dystopiaville. The writers have really jumped the shark this week, so I recommend reading this with your comfort food of choice.
Events to Know
Climate Change Crises. Natural disasters continue to arise at a very unnatural clip as climate change, well, changes our baseline for weather. In Tennessee, flash flooding caused major devastation outside of Nashville on Saturday. This was immediately followed by a cat 4 hurricane touching down in New Orleans on Sunday, leaving nearly 1 million people without power for the foreseeable future. The storm made landfall on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, because irony is dead, and almost certainly was exacerbated by climate change. We also saw major climate change devastation in the American Northeast, as Ida made its way north and created tornadoes and floods, killing at least 41 people.
- Washington Post – Tennessee Floods Show A Pressing Climate Danger Across America: ‘Walls Of Water’
- Reuters – Hurricane Ida Lashes Louisiana, Knocking Out Power In New Orleans
- New York Times – Ida Strengthened Quickly Into A Monster. Here’s How.
- Washington Post – Deaths Climb To At Least 44 From Northeast Floods Caused By Hurricane Ida’s Remnants
Supreme Court Malfunction. Unfortunately, the other major news story of the week is pretty rough as well. The Supreme Court, illustrating why appointments matter, temporarily blocked reinstatement of a terrible and probably illegal Trump era asylum policy known as Remain-in-Mexico, only to pull a 180 and order the policy reinstated in its final opinion. I would need to do a deeper immigration law dive than I’m prepared to do to really unpack just how kangaroo this court ruling is, but it has serious consequences for families exercising their lawful right to seek asylum. Then for an encore, in the dead of night they released an unsigned 5-4 opinion that permits enactment of the new Texas abortion law, which is both blatantly and strategically unconstitutional and literally designed to create a new McCarthy era. I seriously cannot overstate how concerning these opinions are, not just politically, but because they indicate that the rule of law is being willfully and repeatedly disregarded on a very basic level.
- Associated Press – Supreme Court Orders ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy Reinstated
- Texas Tribune – Revival Of “Remain In Mexico” Policy Could Have Deadly Consequences For Asylum-seekers, Advocates Warn
- Washington Post – Abortion Opponents Watch For Violations Of Texas Ban As Providers Weigh Legal Options
Congressional Updates. This was a busy couple of weeks for the House. On the Biden package front, they managed to advance both the infrastructure and budget bill, and passed the budget bill on Tuesday. The infrastructure bill is expected to pass in late September, though whether we hit more roadblocks before then is anybody’s guess. The John Lewis Act, which restores and preserves a number of federal voting rights, passed this past week in the House as well. Unfortunately, that last one is expected to languish in the Senate, which is kind of its own commentary.
- Washington Post – House Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan, Aims To Vote On Infrastructure Package By Late September
- NPR – The House Has Passed A Bill To Restore The Voting Rights Act
- New York Times – House Passes A Voting Rights Bill, But A G.O.P. Blockade Awaits In The Senate
COVID Legal News. For all that this was a bad week for both COVID and court news, we did have some promising COVID legal developments. As I insinuated above, the Pfizer vaccine is officially fully approved, which opened the legal doors for vaccine mandates from all kinds of entities. Meanwhile, a Florida court ruled that schools may impose mask mandates, and the Biden administration is investigating states that prevent mask wearing in schools on the basis of disability rights. The action might end up being the basis of several other lawsuits around the country, so it’s an encouraging development.
- New York Times – With F.D.A. Approval For A Covid Vaccine, The Pentagon And Others Add Vaccine Requirements.
- New York Times – Florida Court Rejects Effort By Gov. Ron Desantis To Ban Mask Mandates.
- Washington Post – Biden Administration Opens Civil Rights Investigations Over Bans On School Mask Mandates
- Associated Press – Mask Debate Moves From School Boards To Courtrooms
Things to Watch
State of the COVID-19. COVID news is… well it’s not great on the whole, to be honest (though I do have some positive updates below). The Supreme Court, keeping with the theme above, threw out the CDC eviction moratorium because, I don’t know, Reasons, which will leave a lot of people in rough spots when unemployment aid also ends this week. Meanwhile, the EU is again restricting American travel to those who can show vaccination. And I can’t say I blame them, given that we’re a country full of people who refuse to take perfectly good vaccines even after they’re fully approved by the FDA, opting instead to ingest horse medication that’s not even an anti-viral drug.
- CNN – Supreme Court Throws Out Biden Administration Eviction Moratorium
- Washington Post – Millions Of Americans Face Financial Cliff As Eviction Ban, Unemployment Aid Lapse Amid Washington Inaction
- Associated Press – EU Takes Us Off Safe Travel List; Backs Travel Restrictions
- NBC – Vaccine Hesitancy Unlikely To Disappear Because Of FDA Approval
- NBC – ‘Stop It’: Fda Warns People Not To Take Veterinary Drugs To Treat Covid-19
Updates on Afghanistan. The other terrible news of the week, of course, is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which has resulted in a surge of violence as U.S. and Afghan nationals attempt to flee. On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked Kabul airport, killing 170 people (including 13 American service members). A subsequent attack was threatened on Saturday, prompting the U.S. embassy to encourage people to clear the area. Monday was the last day of U.S. evacuation due to a deadline set by the Taliban, according to the deadline the Taliban set, and 98 countries have agreed to take in Afghan refugees after the evacuation is complete.
- New York Times – As U.S. Troops Searched Afghans, A Bomber In The Crowd Moved In
- The Hill – US Tells Americans To Leave Kabul Airport ‘Immediately’
- Washington Post – Last U.S. Military Flight Leaves Kabul; Biden To Address Nation Tuesday
- New York Times – 98 Countries Pledge To Accept Afghans After U.S. Military Departs
Actions for Everyone
This past two week has been sort of a rude awakening. The Delta variant Covid surge is in full force and after a 20 year long war in Afghanistan, the Taliban have also come back in full force. I don’t have answers to what America should or shouldn’t do. The only thing I know is that the people of Afghanistan need the world’s help.
How to help Afghans right now:
Contact the White House: You can ask President Biden to take action and protect at-risk Afghans. You can go to the International Rescue Committee to send an email to the White House. According to this organization, “”many Afghans say they fear for their lives as violence continues to increase. Women and children represent 80% of Afghans who have been forced to flee since May. The rapidly escalating need for protection options in Afghanistan demonstrates how imperative it is for the Biden Administration to take immediate action to help the estimated 18.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.”
Give away your air miles: You can pledge your accumulated air travel miles, credit card points or travel vouchers towards getting refugees a plain ticket. The organization Miles 4 Migrants does exactly this!
Volunteer: The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is asking for volunteers to help refugees upon their arrival. They will need rides from the airport, help with food and shelter, tutoring and friendship. Click HERE to sign up as a volunteer.
Donate: These organizations are trustworthy according to NPR.
Aid for Haiti after Earthquake aftermath: Haiti was hit by a destructive and deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake. There have been almost 2,000 deaths and many people need help. I found this Tweet that can guide you towards organizations you can donate to who are on the ground and are trustworthy. You can also donate to Lambi Fund of Haiti, who provide resources to other local Haitian community led organizations.
Covid vaccine boosters: Starting September, Americans will be able to get a third booster shot of the Covid vaccine. It is encouraged you get it! Please get vaccinated and help your community get vaccinated too. I believe we should do what we can to stop this spread, but we shouldn’t turn a blind eye on the lack of access most poor countries have had to the vaccine. We have been very lucky, but for many, the idea of getting the vaccine isn’t possible yet. In order to stop the pandemic, everyone must have access to the same resources to fight this deadly and ugly virus. We must get vaccinated and encourage others to do so, while also doing whatever is possible to help others in need. I know, it’s not our responsibility, corporations and governments should do that, but the system is broken; our hearts don’t have to also break with it. You can help refugees to get vaccinated by donating to the International Rescue Committee.