National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 18 (May 16–22)
This week the news was A Lot in every sense of the term, and navigating it is about as fun as following the Ever Given into the Suez canal. I’ve kept it to the stories I think are most developed and most essential, but we’ve got some pretty rough waters ahead of us. Suffice to say, I’ll try not to steer us into any icebergs.
Standard standing reminders still 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 court case!–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!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
Weirdly, this was a moment of lucidity for Election Rejection news, even though most stories this week are a whole thing. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Updates. After considerable GOP posturing, Congress announced a deal for a formal January 6 commission, which has already passed in the House by the time I type this. The House also passed legislation creating more security at the Capitol Building. (Though it’s only tangentially related, they also passed some iffy hate crime legislation.) Meanwhile, Arizona officials are not best pleased by the ridiculous vanity recount still happening there. And apparently Florida was feeling left out, because they passed a bill that fines social media platforms for enforcing their own codes of conduct, which is definitely super normal and constitutional.
After much consideration, I’ve decided to also start up a separate section for theHeritage Foundation Nightmare Factory–though these new state trends started out as election rejection fodder,they keep multiplying and mutating every week, and now many of them have nothing to do with voting. At any rate, here’s what I have for you that’s unrelated to scary voting news:
- Republicans Behaving Badly (General Assembly Edition). Tennessee passed three pieces of painful legislation regarding trans rights this week: 1) a bill signed that prohibits schools from letting trans individuals use public bathrooms that match their gender identity; 2) a bill that forces all public buildings to specify that trans people can use their bathrooms before trans people are, in fact, allowed to use public bathrooms; and 3) a bill that bans prescription of hormone blockers for trans prepubescent kids–and if you’re thinking that last one makes no sense, you are completely correct, as children without hormones generally do not need them blocked. Meanwhile, Texas passed 4) a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools, joining a growing group of states that are trying to replace a Trump executive order Biden has reversed; and 5) a bill banning abortions at six weeks of gestation, which is still presently flagrantly unconstitutional as well (and I’ll talk more about that below).
Your New Normal:
- I’ve Got Gaza On My Mind.* This week, the Gaza conflict began more directly involving America, which means it’s now on the beat of the NNR and We’re Going There. I’m sure most readers already know about the eleven-day conflict in Gaza which killed 219 people in Palestine, 63 of whom were children, alongside 12 people in Israel, 2 of whom were children as well. This past week, President Biden took significantly more action than he had when the conflict began, presumably because his own staff were organizing about his lack of action. He began by telling Netanyahu that he wanted a cease-fire on Wednesday and apparently adding pressure in private for de-escalation, even as his public statements talked about “Israel’s right to defend itself.” Netanyahu, of course, latched onto Biden’s public statements as grounds to resist a cease-fire for several days, presumably because bombing Gaza strengthens his precarious political position. Eventually Israel did agree to a cease-fire on Friday morning, and ostensibly Gaza can now begin rebuilding. But as Israelis criticize the cease-fire, there is nothing actually settled in the region, and rebuilding efforts will probably come with more efforts to disarm and occupy Palestinian settlements. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic attacks are increasing in both Europe and the U.S., where none of the Jewish politicians actually responsible for any of this are living.
- SCOTUS Signals. Efforts from several GOP states to pass blatantly unconstitutional abortion laws in the hopes of overturning Roe v Wade appear to be finally paying off, because the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about it this week. The case in question is a pretty awful Mississippi law that has been consistently declared unconstitutional in the lower courts because it’s, y’know, quite obviously unconstitutional on purpose. SCOTUS appears to be signaling that it’s open to overturning the fifty-year precedent for Important GOP Reasons, so that’s fun, and I guess we’ll have to see what happens.
- State of the COVID-19. The actual health news relating to COVID transmission is currently pretty good, although there was some news about underlying conditions that may hinder the vaccine’s efficacy. Nonetheless, some states are taking that ball and running with it, and Texas has been particularly egregious. (You’d think they would be too busy with their abortion and race relations theory nonsense, but here we are.) At any rate, Texas is banning all mask mandates at state and municipal levels and joining Iowa in also banning them in all public schools–you know, those buildings where kids who can’t yet get vaccinated will be spending most of their time.Needless to say, this is not considered best practice by experts, who say that re-opening needs to be tied to vaccination rates.
- Recent Immigration Resilience. Improbably, the good news this week is about immigration! For us local folks in Massachusetts, it’s helpful to know that a particularly notorious ICE center in Bristol County (as well as another one in GA) is being closed due to egregious abuses that have been documented as occurring there, and the contracts are also being revoked. But there’s good news on the national stage too; lawyers have reunited 54 more children separated under the Zero Tolerance campaign. It’s not a final resolution, and of course reunification cannot undo all the trauma that was caused for these families by the policy in the first place. But their reunification still matters, and it’s important to note and celebrate it.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve British period ocean dramatics and a more consistently improved government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved 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 a better news cycle!