We’re riding another heat wave as I type this, and news plus heat is not any more fun the second time around. It’s rough right now, but I’ll be here, in a puddle in front of my air conditioner, if anybody needs anything.
Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a post office!–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Constitutional Crisis Corner:
On the Disregard of Governing Norms front, we have yet another week of Operation Terrible and overall administrative mishandling. Here are the things to know:
- Portland Pressure Cooker. The situation in Portland continued to escalate for another week, and it doesn’t show signs of abating as I type this. Trump’s federal CBP agents teargassed the mayor, who was standing with protesters in an attempt to heal the city’s rift, prompting said mayor to call Trump’s response “flat-out urban warfare.” Now both CBP and Portland’s police are under independent investigation. Meanwhile, Trump is sending agents into more cities, such as Chicago and Kansas City, under a banner he’s calling “Operation Legend”. Unsurprisingly, this is increasing civil unrest in several more cities as well, such as Seattle and Oakland, even though the administration claims the push is crime-related. Several cities declared riots to authorize further force against protesters, and one man was fatally shot in Austin. The weekend closed out with the U.N. calling us out and Trump sending even more troops to Portland.
- Who Needs a Post Office, Anyway. We also saw a further push against the post office, this time from its own postmaster, who issued a memorandum this week dramatically changing a number of procedures. The biggest immediate change for consumers will be that some letters will now get left at distribution centers, but the memorandum seems to indicate a sea change in general. Needless to say, an internal memorandum comparing the post office to private institutions that can go bankrupt is not normal, but for this administration it’s just Tuesday.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Election Oddities (Again). This week’s weird election news is that Trump has canceled the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, which he insisted move to Jacksonville in the first place. In true Trump fashion, he’s claiming “the timing wasn’t right,” but it’s presumably canceled because Jacksonville couldn’t make it safe to attend. Unsurprisingly, the GOP is now fighting with itself, and it’s likely not a coincidence that Republican Senators also overwhelmingly voted for a bill provision Trump publicly hates.
- State of the COVID-19.* COVID news remains a mess on an impressive number of levels. We continue to break records about daily infection rates, and death rates are rising again as well. At the time that I type this, over 4 million Americans have been infected and over 145,000 people have died–or at least, that’s our best understanding of the numbers, as data may still be having issues. Unemployment rates are still rising, possibly because PPP money is running out. And speaking of running out, a lot of workers are poised to run out of $600 unemployment supports on Friday, and the federal eviction moratorium is ending too. The Senate has not yet passed a final version of the Heroes Act, and Mitch McConnell says getting an agreement could take “weeks”–though his final version of the bill looks pretty sparse, so he might just be estimating how long they’ll be fighting over the difference between versions. An ICE facility was in the news for having staggeringly high infection rates–more on the below–and major league baseball experienced disruption due to an outbreak among members of the Miami Marlins. Studies were also published about the quick rate of antibody decay, prompting question about whether people can be infected twice or more–which in turn prompts further questions about what this means for vaccines. (Antibody tests also suggest that rates of infection are much higher than reported, which is pretty disturbing given how high the report rates are.) Oh, and 4,000 federal employees have contracted the virus at work, apparently including Trump’s own national security advisor.
- Immigration Updates. We had a significant amount of bad immigration news this week. Trump announced that he’s going to instruct the U.S. Census to stop counting undocumented people, which is both illegal and probably a bluff, because it’s unclear how he would even implement this with the census halfway done and no citizenship question. (That said, it can and probably will have a chilling effect on immigrant populations completing the survey.) The administration was also in the news for holding migrant kids in hotels and then deporting them, which is a pretty clear violation of the Flores agreement that requires them to matriculate unaccompanied minors through shelters and into sponsors’ homes. Against that backdrop, it’s unsurprising that Canada concluded this week that their asylum treaty with us should be invalidated, because the U.S. is not a safe country for asylum seekers anymore.
- Recent Racial Change Resilience. On the more positive side, we have promising follow up on several stories from earlier roundups. The NFL team based in Washington has settled on–wait for it–the ‘Washington Football Team’ as their name for the next season. (They say it’s temporary, but I hope they keep it forever, because this is hilarious.) In Chicago, an official decision to remove statues of Christopher Columbus from two park locations was enacted without incident. The House voted to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. capitol. And in Philadelphia, the District Attorney publicly outlined his plan for arresting and charging any federal agents who engage in the abduction methods reported in Portland. It’s not comprehensive, by any stretch, but progress is progress.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this particularly savvy black bear showing how a bear can rest at ease and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully more tolerable) news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me ice cubes and Mr. Freeze memes!