Issue #212, 2021 Week 45

All three of this week’s biggest stories are exceptionally bleak, and the news has been a slog for months. That creates predictable struggles–we’re all running out of steam, but we’ve got swaths more to iron out. It’s okay if you need some time to regroup; the burnout struggle is very real. We’ll be here when you get back.

Events to Know

Insurrection Updates.   Several more subpoenas have gone out, largely to organized groups like the Proud Boys and more high-profile Trump aides like Roger Stone. The House panel is also looking into law enforcement failures that exacerbated the Jan 6 attack and considering holding more Trump aides in contempt. After being threatened with a bad time last week, Trump former chief of staff Mark Meadows did eventually start cooperating with Congress, and was supposed to appear before the Jan 6 panel this week–but then he stopped cooperating, so now he may be held in contempt again.  His contemporary Jeffrey Clarke, in contrast, is pleading the fifth in response to threats of being held in contempt himself. (The panel has already interviewed 250 people and expects to be holding public hearings beginning next year.) Meanwhile, Trump is still trying to block the release of his records, but it’s looking increasingly likely that they will be released.  And on a related tangent, news also broke this week that Trump’s first positive COVID test was before the first Presidential debate, which means he endangered Biden’s life by refusing to wear a mask during the debates before vaccines were available.    

Key links:

  1. CNN – New January 6 Committee Subpoenas Issued For 5 Trump Allies Including Roger Stone And Alex Jones
  2. Washington Post – House Jan. 6 Committee Intensifies Focus On Law Enforcement Failures That Preceded Capitol Attack
  3. Associated Press – Jan. 6 Panel Sets Contempt Vote For Former Doj Official
  4. NBC – Appeals Court Order In Jan. 6 Documents Case May Be Bad News For Trump
  5. New York Times – Trump Tested Positive For Virus Days Before Debate, 2 Ex-Officials Say
  6. Associated Press – Jan. 6 Panel Sets Contempt Vote For Former DOJ Official

Biden Administration Updates.  After months of needling from Democrats, Biden began discussing inflation, likely because this month’s unprecedented price hikes will impact holiday commerce. But the biggest news for the Biden administration this week is that GOP members threatened a government shutdown over his vaccine and testing mandates, though a stopgap measure was passed and signed into law by the week’s end.  Meanwhile, the House GOP is wrangling with the latest blatant bigotry parade from Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebart, concerned that attempts to rein them in could muck with their midterm elections.   

Key links

  1. Washington Post – Democratic Allies Press The White House To Focus More — And Say More — On Inflation Worries
  2. Vanity Fair – Republicans: Let People Die Of Covid Or So Help Us We’ll Shut Down The Government
  3. NPR – The Omicron Variant Is Cause For Concern — But Not Panic, Biden Says

Forced Birth News.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last Wednesday for a very high-profile forced birth case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, regarding a Mississippi law that makes abortion illegal after 15 weeks.  The law, along with a Texas law that was heard earlier this season, are both intentionally and blatantly unconstitutional under current legal precedent, which is commonly referred to as “Roe v. Wade” precedent. Nonetheless, in oral arguments, the current Supreme Court appeared to signal that it was planning to overturn about sixty years of settled precedent.  If that happened, reproductive healthcare would become substantially limited in about half the states in the country. And in the meantime, the Supreme Court announced just today that they’ll be leaving a comparable Texas law in effect while they decide the issue more generally.

Key links

  1. SCOTUSblog – Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
  2. Guardian – The Courts Have A New Chance To Block Texas’s Abortion Law. They Must Take It
  3. New York Times – Supreme Court Allows Challenge to Texas Abortion Law but Leaves It in Effect
  4. Washington Post – What Abortion Laws Would Look Like If Roe V. Wade Were Overturned

Recent Resilience

Black Lives Still Matter. After the slow-motion mockery of the Rittenhouse trial, it is a modest comfort, but comfort nonetheless, to report that all three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial were convicted of murder this week. It’s another case with major racial implications, and given the response in Congress to the Rittenhouse trial, it’s pretty evident that there are political ramifications to mishandling these trials. On a related note, we’re increasingly seeing courts all over the country revisit wrongful convictions that were based on racial animus from years past. It’s a trend that highlights very old systemic bias in this country, and it’s my hope that we’ll continue to see systemic reform.  

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – 3 Men Charged In Ahmaud Arbery’s Death Convicted Of Murder
  2. New York Times – How A Prosecutor Addressed A Mostly White Jury And Won A Conviction In The Arbery Case
  3. CNN – 4 Black Men Exonerated More Than 70 Years After Being Wrongly Accused Of Raping A White Teen Girl
  4. NPR – These 7 Black Men Were Executed For An Alleged Rape. Now, They Have Been Pardoned

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19.  The main COVID news this week is the Omicron variant, which has everybody justifiably very concerned.  It’s a new mutation first identified in South Africa that has been found in several countries, including Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and Italy–and as of last Wednesday, it also has been found in the U.S. (At the time that I type this, it has been found in seventeen states and it’s believed the mutation may have been here for weeks already.)  Early studies suggest that omicron may be three times more likely to cause reinfection than delta, possibly because it shares genetic material with the common cold. Needless to say, this may signal new restrictions in our future, which is disheartening given the mass tantrums about vaccine and mask mandates we were already seeing. Nonetheless, early research does not suggest that omicron is more dangerous than previous variants; it’s just more contagious. And of course, everybody eligible is urged to get their booster shot as soon as possible

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – What To Know About The Omicron Variant Of The Coronavirus
  2. Stat – What’s Known And Unknown About Omicron, The Coronavirus Variant Identified In South Africa
  3. Washington Post – Announcement Of New Virus Variant Alarms World, As Stocks Crash And Flights Are Banned
  4. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count

Shifting Political Landscape.  With Congress in recess all of last week, this seems like a good time to talk a bit more about the redistricting occurring across the country. The process occurs after every census, but for the first time in many decades it’s occurring with a gutted Voting Rights Act and more permissive redistricting rules. Unsurprisingly, this is leading to massive amounts of gerrymandering for both state and federal districts, to say nothing of the mess naturally created by population movement.  Overall, it seems clear that Republican districts are growing and competitive districts are shrinking, and increasingly districts will not reflect the actual ideology of the majority of voters. In a time when we’re already seeing so much challenge to democracy, obviously, this is very concerning.  It’s also a fine reason to urge your representatives to support pending voting legislation in the House and Senate.  

Key links:

  1. Brennan Center – The Redistricting Landscape, 2021–22
  2. New York Times – Republicans Gain Heavy House Edge In 2022 As Gerrymandered Maps Emerge
  3. Politico – States Are Redrawing Every Congressional District In The U.S. Here Is Where We Stand.

Michigan School Shooting.  A student in Michigan opened fire on his classmates on Tuesday, resulting in four fatalities and eight major injuries. As details slowly leaked out, more and more attention was drawn to the shooter’s parents, who had been called into the school that day to discuss concerns about their son’s behavior.  Eventually, the parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter; the shooter himself was charged with a count of terrorism as well as murder. Both the shooter and his parents are in custody as I type this, the latter held with a $500,000 bond due to their attempt to evade arrest.  This is the 29th school shooting this year and the 21st since August 1. Despite the prevalence of shooter drills in American schools, gun violence remains a major systemic educational problem.

Key links:

  1. Associated Press – Authorities: Student Kills 3, Wounds 8 At Michigan School
  2. NPR – Michigan Authorities Consider Charges Against The School Shooting Suspect’s Parents
  3. Washington Post – 15-Year-Old Charged With Terrorism, Murder In Oxford High Shooting As Fourth Victim Dies
  4. NPR – Parents Of Michigan School Shooting Suspect Are Held On $500,000 Bond After Manhunt
  5. Education Week – ​​School Shootings This Year: How Many And Where

Actions for Everyone

This week we’re going to focus specifically on what we can do about Roe V. Wade, the possibility of it being overturned by a majority conservative Supreme Court and what that would mean for reproductive rights in our country.

If Roe V. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that guarantees acceess to save abortion in all 50 states, ends up being oveturned it would affect everyone differently and it will ultimately depend on where you live. 

In the absence of the federal protection of Roe, abortion bans that pre-date 1973 and newer “trigger” laws that have been implemented in mostly the South and some areas of the Midwest, would automatically be enacted as the law of the land in those states. 

What can we do? Speak to your local government. Be mindful of where you state laws fall when talking about abortion and reproductive rights. Call your state legislature!

You can go to https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy to check out all the policies applied to each state. You can also donate to the Guttmacher Institute.  

Here is an in depth New York Times article about an America without Roe V. Wade: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/05/upshot/abortion-without-roe-wade.html And an overview from the Center for Reproductive Rights (which you can donate to!) https://maps.reproductiverights.org/what-if-roe-fell  

You can also call your congresspeople and ask them what is their stance on protecting the right to choose, since Congress has the power to protect it even if Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court. Also, keep an eye out for the people running in the 2022 midterms and their policies! 

Call your reps: A reminder! We always talk about calling your elected officials on Actions for Everyone but we haven’t touched on the topic of how to actually get in touch with them in a while now! It’s always good to be reminded or refresh on this info. 

How to find their number? Go here for the Senate and here for the House of Representatives.

Here is a quick how-to by the APA!

You can see how your elected officials voted here:

Senatehttps://www.senate.gov/legislative/votes_new.htm

Househttps://clerk.house.gov/Votes

Pay attention of which bills your congresspeople are sponsoring by following https://www.govtrack.us or https://www.congress.gov

And as always: wear a mask, get vaccinated and boosted! We’re still in a pandemic and we want you to be safe. 

Leave a Reply