Issue # 205, 2021 Week 38

If it seems like you’ve heard this week’s stories before, that’s because you have–every single one of this week’s topics is a continuation from a previous week.  In some instances, this is very frustrating, but in others, it’s reassuring; dumpster fires won’t change if nobody stands there with a hose.

Events to Know


Election Rejection Collection.  The Arizona audit results were officially released last week, and showed no signs of voter fraud in the state–in fact, they showed that Biden actually won the state by more votes than the original count suggested. But Republicans might have already known that, as a memo leaked this week showing that the Trump campaign already knew that several of its fraud claims were baseless as early as two weeks post-election. This is further supported by the fact that Trump is claiming the audit found evidence of fraud.  Experts are saying that the point of all of this might not relate to the 2020 election at all–experts think the point of this circus is to lay groundwork for delegitimizing election results in 2022 and 2024.  And frankly, since the Arizona audit is already being copied in Texas, despite the fact that a) the Arizona audit found no fraud and b) Texas voted for Trump in 2020, I think those experts might be right.

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Republican Review Of Arizona Vote Fails To Show Stolen Election
  2. Washington Post – Trump Campaign Debunked Dominion Conspiracy Theories, Internal Memo Shows, Days Before Backers Kept Spreading Them
  3. Business Insider – Trump Releases Statement Falsely Claiming Gop Audit In Arizona Uncovered ‘Undeniable Evidence’ Of Fraud After The Audit Confirmed Biden Won
  4. NBC – The GOP’s Election Review In Arizona Is Over. Its Influence Is Just Beginning, Experts Say.
  5. New York Times – Texas, Under Pressure From Trump, Announces A ‘full Forensic Audit’ Of The 2020 Election In Four Counties.

Distressing Deportations (cont). There are updates on last week’s story about deportation of Haitian refugees as well.  The administration continues to defend its use of a Trump-era policy to deport people seeking asylum at the border, even after the practice was paused by a federal judge, and even though the process likely violates international law.  By the time of the week, all migrants had been cleared from the camp in Del Rio.  The administration clearly cares about the optics of the situation, because they temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol while they are investigating photos of agents whipping migrants.  And the Biden administration also announced that they are increasing the refugee cap to 125,000 people.  But the U.S. envoy to Haiti resigned in protest nonetheless, because the fact remains that these deportations are deeply troubling, and attempts to paper them over with feel-good cosmetic changes really don’t alter that.  (For a crash-course in context, I urge you to consider: 1) Presenting for asylum is supposed to be done at the border, precisely as these folks were doing; 2) Haiti is an incredibly destabilized country and circumstances there are what thousands of displaced persons are trying to flee in the first place; and 3) though 125,000 refugees might seem like a lot, it’s only about 15,000 higher than President Obama’s final refugee cap in 2016, despite the fact that asylum and refugee need is at a twenty-year high–so in context, it’s actually quite low.)

Key links

  1. NPR – The Biden Administration Is Fighting In Court To Keep A Trump-Era Immigration Policy
  2. Washington Post – All Migrants Have Been Cleared From Encampment In Del Rio, Tex., Homeland Security Secretary Says
  3. CNN – Dhs Temporarily Suspends Use Of Horse Patrol In Del Rio
  4. New York Times – The Biden Administration Will Raise The Cap On Refugee Admissions To 125,000.
  5. Washington Post – U.S. Special Envoy To Haiti Resigns, Says He Will Not Be Associated With ‘Inhumane, Counterproductive’ Deportations Of Haitians

Recent Resilience

Roe v. Why Are You Like This Reprise (again).  The fight against SB8 continues for another week. The major win this week is that the House successfully voted to enact federal reproductive right protections. Though this is by no means a panacea, it’s an important first step for many of the different paths we need to be treading, and directed action is the way to get walking.  So for now, I’ll take it.  

Key links

  1. NBC – House Passes Abortion Rights Bill Amid Challenges To Roe v. Wade
  2. Washington Post – House Passes Bill To Create Statutory Right To Abortion As A Battle Over Texas Law Heats Up

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19 COVID news is, to repeat a familiar refrain, a mixed bag again.  The CDC officially approved Pfizer boosters for older adults and immunocompromised individuals, which both the FDA and the CDC exploratory panel had recommended, and all frontline workers, which the FDA had recommended but the CDC panel hadn’t.  The result is a confused and complicated booster rollout which only exists for Pfizer right now, although that will likely change over time.  Meanwhile, studies are beginning to show that places where people voted for Trump are also places with the highest COVID infection rates and the lowest instances of vaccination, with one study noting that in counties where 70% of people voted for Trump, 47 out of every 100,000 people have died of COVID since late June.  (The same study notes that in counties where fewer than 30% of people voted for him, that number was 10 out of every 100,000.)  This is a pretty stark and disturbing series of findings, but it’s corroborated by news stories also published this week about which hospitals are enacting crisis standards of care and which morgues are running out of room.  

Key links:

  1. The Hill – CDC Director Partially Overrules Panel, Signs Off On Boosters
  2. New York Times – F.D.A. Authorizes Pfizer Booster Shots For Older And At-Risk Americans
  3. Pew Research Center – 10 Facts About Americans And Coronavirus Vaccines
  4. Washington Post – Hospitals Overwhelmed By Covid Are Turning To ‘Crisis Standards Of Care.’ What Does That Mean?

Spectacular Senate Dysfunction.   The biggest news is that true to form, and despite being warned about the many dangers, the Senate GOP went ahead and blocked the government funding bill that had passed in the House on schedule, which may or may not plunge us into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. Democrats were then stuck considering their options to avoid said shutdown, and ended up passing a partial stopgap.  That said, the stopgap is a limited and temporary measure that will still leave parts of the government furloughed. Meanwhile, the debt ceiling issue is still in play, and they’re still discussing the possibility of dealing with it through budget reconciliation–but as I covered last week, that was supposed to be bundled with an infrastructure bill that still isn’t finished as I type this at 6:36 Friday evening, because Democrats keep fighting over it.  Right now, budget reconciliation is being discussed again, despite leadership’s attempts to put it to rest, because the progressive bloc didn’t budge any more than the centrist bloc did.  As a result,  votes have been postponed again on the infrastructure bill until next week.

Key links:

  1. Politico – House Sends Shutdown Patch, Debt Fix To Senate Demise
  2. Washington Post – White House Tells U.S. Agencies To Get Ready For First Government Shutdown Of Pandemic
  3. NPR – A $3.5 Trillion Question: What Is Budget Reconciliation? Here’s An Explainer
  4. Washington Post – $4 Trillion White House Agenda In Peril As Democrats Still At Odds Ahead Of Key Votes

Actions for Everyone

Coping with anxiety: For many of you, coping with anxiety is part of your daily routine. For others, myself included, the pandemic, job insecurity, and maybe even the PTSD of being teargassed for days on end by police last year, is making my daily life more difficult to focus on than ever before.

I’m no doctor, and I guarantee you this isn’t new news to you, but rather a reminder that there are daily accomplishments we can make that will help ease our anxiety. Here are a few of them:

  1. Exercise: whether it’s chair stretching or doing something that makes you sweat, choosing to exercise is really one of the most healthy decisions we can make. 
  2. Consider sobriety: cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine can all contribute to anxiety. Try setting aside some time when you avoid those substances. 
  3. Breathe: breathing techniques can calm you in crisis, or right before you fall asleep. Check out https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/ for breathing tips.

Also, email and call your elected officials demanding living wage legislation so people can afford healthcare and/or FREE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Geez. This is why people get mad at rich white men who go to the moon for fun. 

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