Issue #206, 2021 Week 39

I’m going to need you to bear with me, because the news is pretty terrible this week too. But as always, we’ll have suggestions for action below!

Events to Know

Election Rejection Collection.  There were some stories this week about gerrymandering in Texas; the state released new districting maps that appear pretty blatantly designed to favor white voters.  Similarly, some of the Facebook whistleblowing hubbub relates back to the role it played on January 6, though that testimony is of course much broader than that because Facebook’s misdeeds are too. And Trump aides are already dodging subpoenas in the House’s January 6 investigation.  But for the most part, this was a fairly quiet week for election rejection.  

Key links:

  1. Texas Tribune – Texas House Proposes Map That Increases Republican Strength And Decreases Black And Hispanic Majority Districts
  2. Associated Press – Whistleblower: Facebook Chose Profit Over Public Safety
  3. Guardian – Top Trump Aides Set To Defy Subpoenas In Capitol Attack Investigation

Deportation Detente.  Immigration remains in the news for another week, though only some of that is Biden’s doing.  The Department of Homeland Security released new arrest and deportation guidelines, the main takeaway being that arrests of low-threat undocumented individuals are now discouraged.  I’m sure this was in response to public pressure over the Haitian population, but I’m a bit perturbed by the fact that it took this administration nine months to get to “don’t arrest Grandma just for being here.”  Meanwhile, in the Senate, Tom Cotton tried to use an emergency stopgap funding bill to prohibit funding to Afghan refugees because of who he is as a person.  Thankfully, that measure got overturned by fifty senators who were having none of his nonsense.

Key links

  1. US News – DHS Issues New Priorities For Arrests And Deportation
  2. Washington Post – Biden Signs Government Funding Bill Hours Before Midnight Deadline To Avert Shutdown

Recent Resilience

Recent Health Care Resilience.   For yet another week, I have good news about how people are responding to the reproductive rights crisis in Texas. Perhaps in partial response to a massive women’s march in DC, the Biden administration undid a Trump-era provision that prohibited clinics from providing abortion services. But I’m excited to have a second health story as well: in groundbreaking global news, today the WHO endorsed the world’s first malaria vaccine.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Thousands Gather At Women’s March Rallies In D.C., Across U.S. To Protect Roe V. Wade
  2. Associated Press – Biden Lifts Abortion Referral Ban On Family Planning Clinics
  3. New York Times – A ‘Historic Event’: First Malaria Vaccine Approved By W.H.O.

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.    COVID news has some dark landmarks this week.  We officially passed 700,000 deaths in the United States, and apparently have also officially seen more COVID deaths in 2021 than we did in all of 2020.  But there were also a few stories about the effectiveness of vaccine mandates for increasing vaccination rates, which is kind of nice to see.  And Youtube officially started banning antivaccination misinformation, which is definitely nice to see. 

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Covid-19 Deaths Eclipse 700,000 In Us As Delta Variant Rages
  2. ABC – More Americans Died Of Covid This Year Than All Of 2020
  3. New York Times – Thousands Of N.Y. Health Care Workers Get Vaccinated Ahead Of Deadline
  4. The Verge – Youtube Bans Vaccine Misinformation

Spectacular Senate Dysfunction.  You may recall that last week, everyone was worried that we would be plunged into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic, though thankfully that didn’t happen.  The bad news is, the debt ceiling issue is still in play, despite the stopgap measure, and if we don’t fix it we’ll start seeing consequences as soon as October 18. Between the high stakes and the fact that the infrastructure vote was postponed, Congress this week was pretty much all about the debt ceiling. But it was still incredibly dysfunctional–Republicans want the Democrats to deal with the debt problem through budget reconciliation so that the GOP won’t be involved, which the Democrats don’t want to do for a variety of reasons. So a bill passed in the House, but in the Senate we keep seeing the Democrats introduce bills that the Republicans then filibuster so that the Senate can’t fix the debt stuff. This is presumably so that during election season, the GOP can campaign on the fact that the Democrats fixed the catastrophic debt stuff, which apparently is a bad thing to half the country. Also, for some reason, everybody’s talking about a trillion dollar coin? I don’t even know, y’all, the last week in Congress has been weird.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Congress Averts Shutdown, Sends 9-Week Funding Patch To Biden’s Desk
  2. Washington Post – Yellen Tells Congress That U.S. Will Run Out Of Debt-Ceiling Flexibility On Oct. 18
  3. New York Times – House Delays Vote On Infrastructure Bill As Democrats Feud
  4. Politico – Democrats Agonize Over Debt Limit Options Amid GOP Blockade
  5. The Hill – Cruz Says GOP Will Block Schumer From Bypassing Filibuster On Debt Hike

Actions for Everyone

Oil Spill in California coast: This past weekend an oil spill of at least 130 thousand gallons of crude oil occurred in the Southern California coast. The crisis is still on-going and here are a few things you can do to help:

Donate to organizations working with wildlife and cleanup efforts. They have repeatedly said the best thing to do is donate goods or money since they can’t use volunteers right now because they need people who are already professionally trained for this type of disaster. If you are in the area and see oiled wildlife, do not try to pick them up, calle professionals at the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-UCD-OWCN (823-6926).

If you want to become a volunteer whenever the time comes they need you, you can fill this form from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

California Coastkeeper Alliance

Surfrider Foundation

Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy

Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

California Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act last January to permanently ban oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Call your representatives and let them know you support this bill, which would prevent disasters like this one to ever happen again.

Justice for Erica Thompson and her child: This past weekend I went to a rally for reproductive rights in Gainesville, Florida and learned about the story of Erica Thompson and her child. She was arrested last August on a probation violation for perjury and brought to an Alachua County jail while she was already having contractions. She pleaded that she was in pain and needed medical attention but instead of taking her to the hospital, she was left alone to give birth to her premature baby that was born on the 6th month of her pregnancy and the child died that same night after not getting any medical attention. This story is so cruel and sad and as I heard other activists at the rally telling her story my eyes watered and I felt so helpless. Reproductive rights are not only your right to be able to choose but also to have access to a safe pregnancy and to have medical assistance available to you, no matter where you are. This case is still on-going; I believe it’s important for this story to be known. They have a Go-Fund Me and you can also donate to Florida Prisoner Solidarity and Dignity Power, an organization dedicated to supporting incarcerated women and girls in the US.

¡Si se puede!: The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) has been mobilizing to demand legal status for more than a million undocumented farm workers in the country. They are the people who ensure there is food on our tables yet they live in constant fear of being deported. They currently have a petition going and are also asking people to call their representatives to ask Congress to move towards giving legal status to essential workers like farm workers and other undocumented workers that keep our country going. We couldn’t live without them.

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