Issue #210, 2021 Week 43

Though things have been rough for a while now, this week was definitely a new low in American news. I certainly felt discouraged watching a lot of this unfold, so I’m not going to tell you not to; instead, I’ll just note that I’m here if anybody needs anything. And also, Halloween candy is very cheap right now, if you need some comfort food. Just sayin’.

Events to Know

Building Back Better Bust.  A whole laundry list of things were cut from the Building Back Better Act this week as Biden attempted to negotiate a deal with Senate moderates Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. In particular, the complete removal of paid family leave got a lot of attention, as that’s an area where the U.S. lags badly behind the rest of the world. Then, in response to a rapidly-shrinking Building Back Better bill, progressives in the House forced another delay on the infrastructure bill. Then after Biden released his new comprehensive plan, which was designed to placate moderates in the first place, Joe Manchin still refused to vote for it. Because, I don’t know, inscrutable Manchin reasons. But in the House, family and medical leave got added back in, and a provision that lowers prescription prices also was added as part of a negotiated deal with the Senate. (But that last part was negotiated with Sinema, not Manchin, so it’s honestly not clear whether we’ll see another take-backsie from him.) Just another successful week for the Democrats, amirite?

Key links:

  1. New York Times – The World ‘Has Found A Way To Do This’: The U.S. Lags On Paid Leave
  2. Politico – Liberal Frustration Imperils Quick Dem Social Spending Deal
  3. Washington Post – Biden Unveils $1.75 Trillion Spending Plan, But Divisions Delay Economic Agenda
  4. CNBC – Democrats Reach A Breakthrough Deal On Drug Prices, As Spending Bill Nears The Finish Line

Facebook Fakeout.  In the immediate aftermath of the release of the Facebook Papers, a major leak which outlined lots and lots of sketchy decisions made inside the company, Congress wants to grill Zuckerberg and journalists are starting to share more details about their process. But it’s okay, because Mark Zuckerberg has a brilliant plan!  (The brilliant plan consists of changing the company’s name and recreating Google Glass, but, y’know,  you can’t fault his commitment to moving fast and breaking things.)

Key links

  1. NPR – The Facebook Papers: What You Need To Know About The Trove Of Insider Documents
  2. CNBC – Senators Demand Facebook Ceo Mark Zuckerberg Answer Questions After Whistleblower’s Revelations At Hearing
  3. Verge – What Is The Metaverse, And Do I Have To Care?

State of the COVID-19.   By far, the biggest news this week is the pediatric vaccine–significantly more details have been shared about how its rollout will work, and the Pfizer vaccine was officially approved by the FDA on Friday and by the CDC the following Wednesday. This cleared the way for implementation of the pediatric vaccine to begin this week. But the CDC also added several psychiatric diagnoses to the list of qualifying booster conditions, and Biden is trying to expand access to rapid testing as well.

Key links

  1. Washington Post – White House Unveils Plans To Roll Out Coronavirus Vaccines For Children Ages 5 To 11
  2. NPR – CDC Recommends Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine For Children Ages 5 Through 11
  3. Healthline – People With Anxiety And Depression May Need A Covid-19 Booster Shot

Recent Resilience

X Marks the Passport. This week, the United States issued its first passport with an X gender marker. Admittedly, this was the a result of a lawsuit regarding intersex rights, but nonetheless it is progress! And frankly, given the state of the news this week, I’ll take it.  

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – United States Issues Its 1st Passport With ‘X’ Gender Marker
  2. Reuters – Navy Veteran Sues U.S. State Department For Denying ‘Intersex’ Passport

Things to Watch

Roe v. Why Are You Like This (cont again). As I mentioned last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Texas abortion law on Monday. All told, several justices signaled that they might be willing to strike down some of the more disturbing provisions, but we’re far from out of the woods on this topic; this isn’t even the last abortion challenge that SCOTUS will hear this year. We definitely need to keep our eyes on this, and now’s a great time to donate to funds supporting access to reproductive healthcare.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Supreme Court Seems Willing To Allow Challenge Of Texas’s Restrictive Abortion Law
  2. CNBC – Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments In Mississippi Abortion Case Challenging Roe V. Wade On Dec. 1

Election Rejection Eruption.  Trump is still trying to block subpoenas regarding the January 6 insurrection, and Biden is still refusing to invoke executive privilege for him.  As the panel gathers information, we also learn more about just how much the authorities ignored warnings regarding the planned insurrection in the days leading up to January 6. This is shaping up to be a major ongoing fight between our two political parties with a lot of very important implications; it’s going to be very important that we keep our eyes on this.

Key links:

  1. CBS – White House Rejects More Trump Claims Of Executive Privilege
  2. Washington Post – ‘Like Any Other Day’: Frequency Of Violent Threats On Capitol Hill Unnerves Staffers

Actions for Everyone 

Lots going on this week, SCOTUS, election week, and so much more. Here are some ideas of actions you can take to make a difference. 

Off Year Elections: Van Jones called this election seasons’ results in New Jersey and Virginia a “five alarm fire” for Democrats as they prepare for the 2022 midterm elections. I have to admit I’ve been disillusioned by the Democratic Party (still vote for them though) and the two-party system for years, but it is thee institution and the Republican party is the worst, so we obvs don’t need them to win anything, but it makes real change feel almost impossible.

You could find your local dems office and start volunteering, especially if you have new ideas and energy to bring to the table cause the strategies going into those last elections didn’t work. Find local candidates you can get behind and start volunteering for them or donate to them if you can.

Also, can we keep talking about how to dismantle the two party system though? Here’s an article on the topic just in case you’re curious to dig into it a little bit more.

Be Pro-Choice: Challenges against the Texas abortion laws were heard by SCOTUS this week. So wanted to take the chance to remind everyone the options to end a pregnancy through Planned Parenthood, including the abortion pill.

This is obviously not the last that will come up in front of SCOTUS, and Planned Parenthood is only one option, but it’s a national option and ya’ll shouldn’t forget about it.      

Rittenhouse Trial: Do not take your eyes off this case. The jury was skewed heavily white, one juror has been removed already for making a joke about the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Please watch this trial 

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