The news feels like it’s holding its breath, and it’s hard to know what happens next. But we’ll be here to keep you posted and give suggestions for how to respond, no matter what happens.
Events to Know
Insurrection Updates. You may recall that last week, Trump was in the news regarding his habit of ripping up official documents that he was legally required to preserve in office and hoarding classified information documents at Mar-A-Lago. As a follow-up, this week we learned from Maggie Haberman’s new book that he also liked flushing document shreds down the toilet and/or eating them after he ripped them up (hopefully not at the same time). We also learned that some White House call logs from January 6 are missing. On top of all of that Trump news, a judge in New York has ordered Trump and his children to testify in the NY AG’s civil suit. Meanwhile, all of this is a very disturbing backdrop to the Supreme Court’s decision this week to restore gerrymandered districting maps in Alabama.
- Politico – Trump denies flushing documents down White House toilet
- New York Times – Trump’s Missing Call Logs Present a Challenge for Jan. 6 Investigators
- NBC News – Judge orders Trump, children to answer questions about their business practices under oath
- Washington Post – Supreme Court stops lower court order requiring Alabama to draw a new district voting map favorable to Black residents
Blinking Biden. Biden announced a decision this week to award $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds to people suing the Taliban about 9/11, leaving only half of all available funds to actual Afghan people who are fleeing said Taliban. This came on the heels of his top science advisor, Eric Lander, stepping down due to systemic mistreatment of subordinates. Between that and the continued increase of inflation, it hasn’t been a particularly great week for the Biden administration. But on the plus side, a talk with Putin on Saturday left both countries in a stalemate; though the U.S. is still evacuating diplomats, Russia has signaled that it might be open to more negotiation.
- Associated Press – Biden frees frozen Afghan billions for relief, 9/11 victims
- Washington Post – Top White House scientist resigns after review finds he demeaned staff
- New York Times – Rapid Inflation Stokes Unease From Wall Street to Washington
- CNN – Biden and Putin will talk Saturday as US warns Americans to leave Ukraine in 48 hours over fears of Russian attack
Recent Constitutional Resilience. In anticipation of the upcoming Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights, Vermont is preparing to guarantee reproductive rights in their state constitution. They’re the first state to consider this kind of protection, but I’m hoping they won’t be the last.
- Washington Post – Vermont moves forward on becoming first state to guarantee the right to abortion in its constitution
- Associated Press – Vermont House approves ‘Reproductive Liberty’ amendment
Things to Watch
State of the COVID-19. Over the last week, there were more and more stories about states removing their mask mandates as the omicron surge starts to subside. In the case of school mask mandates, there is some science to support the call, particularly for very young children who need to see faces in order to develop communication skills. However, in the wake of Pfizer stepping back its timeline for vaccination of young children, this is a tough pill for some parents to swallow, and the CDC isn’t supporting it either. And certainly for more general indoor mask mandates, which are also expiring or being removed in most states, there’s no real science to support the plan–particularly when we’re still coming back from the highest COVID death rates in a year. But speaking of mandates and poor decisions, the “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa has continued on for another full week, blocking off more and more border crossing routes as the week went on. Eventually, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever, which means he’s essentially calling in the military to deal with it.
- Washington Post – School mask mandates are falling in states across the country
- STAT News – Pfizer and FDA pull back from plan to expedite review of Covid-19 vaccine in young children
- Reuters – U.S. CDC stands by K-12 school masking guidance as states relax rules
- New York Times – Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
- Washington Post – Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act against Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest
Congressional Updates. There are some promising bills to watch in Congress right now. A bill to ban stock trading in Congress has been gaining traction in both the House and the Senate, and we might see more movement on it soon! Meanwhile, both houses also passed a workplace sexual misconduct bill that banned a corporate practice of forcing arbitration for workplace harassment claims. Both of these bills are particularly unique for their bipartisan support, although in fairness, it did take four years for a #MeToo bill to actually pass.
- Vox – There’s finally momentum to stop stock trading in Congress
- New York Times – Congress Approves Bill to Nullify Forced Arbitration in Sex Abuse Cases
Actions for Everyone
Don’t forget to register to VOTE! Click the link to find out your local deadlines and requirements. Newsweek is already saying Republicans are looking strong for the Midterm elections and that’s something we don’t really want or need. CNN put out a very helpful article with an outline of all the important dates according to state and it’s a must read! Remember to mark your calendar so you can go out and make sure your vote counts. You can go on to Ballotpedia for a very in depth analysis of the elections too.
Cancel ALL student debt! – The ACLU (The American Civil Liberties Union) has a campaign that is supporting the canceling of student debt in our country. They are backed by a coalition of 105 organizations that are asking President Biden to cancel student debt loans in order to relieve younger generations from this burden. Around 45 million people hold almost $2 Trillions in student debt; it’s an unfair system, it doesn’t help the economy and with the pandemic things have gotten even worse. Freeing people from their student loans would allow the people who have been struggling with their debt to start acquiring assets like buying homes, improve overall credit scores and establish a more consumer driven economy. It’s a win for everyone! Canceling student loans would also address racial inequality, given that BIPOC people are more likely to have to acquire loans because BIPOC families are less likely to have the wealth to support their college careers. According to a letter drafted by the ACLU: the median white borrower has paid off 94% of their debt while the median Black borrower still owes 95% of their debt. For more information and in depth observations about this topic, you can visit the ACLU website. You can join their efforts on asking for a full cancellation by signing the letter they also have on there. And if you can, donate some $$$ to help them with all of their very important and just endeavors! This is a topic that affects so many of us and it would positively affect everyone if this measure was to be taken by the president.
Small but mighty! I think it’s important for us to be able to do small things that will ultimately have a positive impact on our world.
This week consider: Starting a garden! Gardening may seem like a very trivial and small pursuit but starting a garden is a really small but helpful direct action you can do to help yourself, your community and the world. “Why are you telling us to grow a garden in the middle of February?” you might be asking; because it’s already time to start growing your seeds indoors so once springtime comes you have sturdy plants to place on the ground. Gardens are powerful things.
- They decrease carbon dioxide in the environment and at the same time produce oxygen.
- They protect pollinators like birds, butterflies and other insects. Pollinator gardens are so helpful, especially for species like the monarch butterfly that depends on milkweed to survive and has been endangered for a while. Visit Save Our Monarchs for more info!
- It lowers your carbon footprint! Yeah we know, most of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are produced by big corporations and those are harder to control, but we can also help by growing the food we consume at home. Plus the fresh fruits, veggies and herbs are just generally more delicious!
- If you happen to grow a garden on your roof, you’d be helping cities to be less hot! The EPA calculates that a building with a rooftop garden can be 30–40°F cooler than a roof without one. It can also help you reduce your air-conditioning usage and save you some money.
- Growing some plants, especially native plants, will help with soil erosion. And some gardens can also help capture and filter polluted runoff water from rooftops and driveways.
- A garden can help with reducing noise pollution!
- Helps biodiversity by producing and saving seeds.
- Gardening gets you outside. It helps your mental health; it promotes community, you get to meet your neighbors and share your food with others. It’s a beautiful experience to have.