Issue #217, 2022 Week 8

Last week, we said the news felt like it was holding its breath, which is never a comfortable feeling.  But this week, one of the things we were waiting for happened when Putin invaded Ukraine via Donetsk and Luhansk, and it’s definitely more miserable to have the shoe drop.  As always, we’ll keep everybody posted and have actions for everyone below. 

Events to Know

Insurrection Updates.   On the January 6 front, the head of the Oathkeepers was denied bail by a second judge this week, meaning he’ll continue to be held in jail pending his July trial. Additionally, the Washington Post published a cache of text messages to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that were subpoenaed by the panel, and though they’re hardly a smoking gun, they’re definitely worth reading.  An attempt by Trump to claim immunity against civil lawsuits regarding January 6 was rejected by a district court judge on Friday. Meanwhile, a Trump appointee district court judge issued an absolutely bananas opinion holding that only the Department of Justice can sue under the Voting Rights Act–which will probably get overturned on appeal, but good gravy.  And speaking of Trump news, a judge in New York also ordered Trump and his children to testify in the NY AG’s civil suit–which technically is about his business practices, not election fraud, but you know what, same difference at this point.  

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Oath Keepers Leader Stewart Rhodes Ordered To Be Jailed Until Trial On Seditious Conspiracy
  2. Washington Post – Texting Through An Insurrection
  3. New York Times – Judge Allows Civil Suits To Proceed Against Trump Over Jan. 6
  4. Vox – A Trump Judge’s New Decision Would Undo More Than 50 Years Of Voting Rights Law
  5. NPR – N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Orders The Trumps To Testify Under Oath

Land War Landmines.  As we entered the week, despite the stalemate over the weekend, the Biden administration cautioned that threat of Russia invading Ukraine remained very high.  Media began running more stories on Donetsk and Luhansk, regions of Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists had strongholds. Then on Sunday, the U.S. told the U.N. that Russia had a list of Ukranians to put in camps, and continued urging diplomats and affiliates to move to safer locations. By Monday, Russia had “recognized Donetsk and Luhansk’s independence” and began ordering Russian troops into both regions.  Very early on Thursday morning, Russia launched a multi-front invasion of Ukraine, and Biden ordered prompt  retaliatory sanctions. Needless to say, this is a volatile situation with a lot of implications, and it’s a very dangerous and stressful time for a lot of people.

Key links

  1. New York Times – Biden Says Putin Has Chosen ‘Catastrophic’ War Over Diplomacy
  2. New York Times – If War Flames in Ukraine, These 2 Little Enclaves May Be the Spark
  3. Washington Post – Ukraine’s Lviv Becomes ‘Western Capital’ As Some Diplomats Leave Kyiv
  4. NBC – Russian Troops Advance Within 20 Miles Of Ukraine Capital, Pentagon Says
  5. New York Times – The Ukraine Crisis: What To Know About Why Russia Attacked

Recent Resilience

Recent Medical Resilience. This week, a third person was cured of HIV using a novel medical procedure called a haplo-cord transplant. Notably, this patient was the first woman cured using this method, and she’s also the first mixed-race patient. It’s an awesome advancement during a very strange time.    

Key links:

  1. The Guardian – Third Person Apparently Cured Of HIV Using Novel Stem Cell Transplant
  2. NBC – Scientists Have Possibly Cured HIV In A Woman For The First Time

Things to Watch

State of the COVID-19. For another week, COVID news is startling in its disconnect. We’re still learning about the BA.2 subvariant, and we’ve reached a million excess deaths total during the pandemic (though not all are directly from COVID). Experts are concerned that people are losing the thread about practices. And with California officially transitioning to “endemic” status and most states removing mask mandates, while high-risk people are… well, still high-risk, it’s easy to see why experts are saying that. Meanwhile, the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada is also ending, mostly with arrests and towed vehicles, and as Canadian truckers try to distance themselves, U.S. Congress reps are looking into who started it.  

Key links:

  1. CNN – As Ba.2 Subvariant Of Omicron Rises, Lab Studies Point To Signs Of Severity
  2. Washington Post – Americans Are Tired Of The Pandemic. But Disease Experts Preach Caution — And Endure A ‘Kill The Messenger’ Moment.
  3. NBC – Nearly Half Of State Mask Mandates Have Ended In The Past 3 Weeks
  4. Washington Post – Vulnerable To The Virus, High-Risk Americans Feel Pain As The U.S. Moves On
  5. Washington Post – Police Regain Control Of Most Of Canada’s Capital, Say Protesters Will Continue To Be Identified And Charged As Holdouts Persist
  6. CBC – U.S. Congress Asks Facebook: What Role Did Fake Overseas Accounts Have In Promoting Canada Convoys?

LGBTQ+ Kids’ Concerns. There are a number of legal actions against LGBTQ+ kids in states from the past week. In Florida, a bill known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, which prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, has now passed in the House and moves to the Senate. In Texas, the governor has ordered mandated reporters such as teachers, doctors, and school officials to report gender-affirming care for transgender kids as “child abuse.” (I would be remiss if I did not stress that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that gender-affirming care is a form of abuse, though many credible medical organizations have put out statements indicating that withholding gender-affirming care can hurt transgender children.)

Key links:

  1. BBC – Florida House Of Representatives Passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
  2. Politico – Abbott Orders Texas Probe Of Medical Procedures For Transgender Children
  3. Society For Research In Child Development – Gender-Affirming Policies Support Transgender And Gender Diverse Youth’s Health

Actions for Everyone

Texas against Trans KidsGreg Abbot, Texas’ governor and all-around bigot, decided to criminalize trans youth, their parents and medical professionals, equating gender transition in minors to child abuse. He sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services stating that all instances of gender-affirming procedures on minors should be reported as an instance of child abuse and included that “all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers” to report such parents or guardians. These professionals would face “criminal penalties for failure to report.” This whole ordeal happened after Texas’ Attorney General Ken  Paxton said that parents who allow gender-reassignment surgeries and procedures should be investigated as child abusers.

There is no knowledge of how this new anti-trans measure will be carried out but it’s a travesty against the queer community and an obvious violation of freedom and human rights. 

How can you help? You can write Abbot’s office as well as Paxton’s office to let them know what you think of their backwards bigoted measure. 

You can also donate to local Texas organizations who work directly with trans youth.

Transgender Education Network of Texas

Equality Texas

Black Trans Texas Connection

ACLU Texas

Texas Trans Kids

Even if you don’t live in Texas, there is lots of legislation nationwide affecting the LGBTQ community. The ACLU has a list you can check out what is going on near you.  

How to help victims of war – By now, we all know the horrible situation happening in Ukraine with Russian coming in to attack the country. People are fleeing the country and the ones that are staying need aid, as many will be losing everything because of this stupid war. I’ve been sleepless for a couple of nights now seeing this unfold and I know lots of us are feeling the same. There is a huge feeling of impotence and powerlessness about what we can do to help ease the suffering of war; but we can help somehow. It may not be what we wish we could do, but any little thing helps in the long run. 

What can we do to help? 

Call Congress and ask them to come back to DC from their recess and figure out an emergency aid package to Ukraine. This can’t wait any longer. They need to do their job in a moment of crisis. Call them and tell them to get to work!

Donate. This NPR article has a list of organizations that can use donations during times of war. 

Register and vote. This is more of a long game,but making sure we have politicians that aren’t pro-Putin is rather important. Lots of Republicans are aligning themselves with Putin and it’s just surreal and abhorrent really. 

Stay informed with trustworthy news sources. It’s hard to know where to get news that isn’t biased or full of fake news but this article from Global Citizen has a good list of sources.

Mental Health Check – It seems like nothing is going right and we haven’t been able to feel like things are ok in a long time. There is always something going on, and now with the news of war in Europe the collective mental health seems to be in decline. It’s normal to want to stay informed and know what’s going on in the world but we need to let ourselves have some space to decompress and relax. 

We can’t be as helpful to the world if we’re internally in turmoil. Take regular breaks from the news and try to manage your exposure. It’s ok, you’re not a bad person if you need to stay away for a while. Take some time to practice self-care, whatever that look like for you. 

Try to stay active and practice some sort of exercise. This is helpful to relax your body and mind and you will get the benefit of endorphins, very needed in a stressful times

Don’t be afraid to cry and let it all out. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. 

Talk to someone. Try to not isolate; talk to friends and family about your concerns and fears. You can also consider talking to a mental health professional. My favorite unknown resource for affordable mental health is Open Path Collective; this organization will help you get an affordable therapist that you can connect with online or in person. 

It’s been hard to find a reason to smile this week but this article definitely made me feel better. To see the ex-policemen that were involved in George Floyd’s murder be convicted for violating his rights is definitely a win in my book. 

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