National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 25 (July 4–10)
Somehow, this week’s news feels like a firehose and a slow news week at the same time, which is kind of a neat trick. Though there are only a few main major stories, those stories all have significant and interrelated developments, and the week’s COVID news is particularly extra. All told, the net result is a weird week that makes it hard to see which end is up, but at least I get to write about civil disobedience.
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 plane flight!–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:
This week’s Election Rejection news has exciting variations after several weeks of Groundhog Day! It’s still bonkers, to be clear, but at least the bonkers comes in a new flavor. Here’s what I have for you this week:
- Insurrection Litigation News. The Laugh Test sure is getting a workout this week. First up we have Representative Mo Brooks arguing he can’t be liable for the insurrection on Capitol Hill because he works on Capitol Hill.(I think this is supposed to be a qualified immunity argument, but it reads more like the congressional equivalent of arguing that you can’t be charged for robbing a liquor store because you work at the liquor store.) Meanwhile, Trump is suing Facebook because something something First Amendment, by which I mean he’s pissed that nobody read his blog.
- Elections on a Theme (Again). We did have a noteworthy attempt to suppress Native American votes in Montana, and the DNC has unveiled vague plans to do something about the coordinated attack on voting rights generally. But the real story of the week is the Texas Democrats, who once again showed the DNC what it wants to be when it grows up. You may recall, dear reader, that these folks walked out of a legislative session in late May to protest egregious voter suppression legislation, capitalizing on a state rule that requires 2/3 of the legislative body for any official process. This time, in response to a special session called to reintroduce that bill–which the governor reinforced with all kinds of garbage legislation regarding bail process, trans rights, and critical race theory–the Texas Democrats took that strategy up another notch and simply flew out of the state en masse for the duration. Apparently this isn’t even the first time they’ve used this method to protect voter rights in the state; in 2003, they relocated to Oklahoma over a redistricting fight. The Texas Democrats note in their official statement that this time, they are headed as a group to Washington, DC to advocate for federal voting reform.
This was also a bit of a weird week for Biden Rebuilding. Here’s what has happened:
- Biden Administration Updates. Boy howdy are there a lot of Biden updates this week. The biggest story is Biden’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan by August 31, ending just about twenty years of ongoing aggression. In immigration news, ICE is also going to stop detaining people who are pregnant or nursing. The Department of Education is trying to convince Biden to keep student loans paused past October 2021. But Biden was busy signing an executive order designed to limit the growth of corporate monopolies and firing the MAGA head of Social Security that was put in place by Spray-Tan Perón.
Your New Normal:
- Climate Change Crisis.* In a gruesome expression of new normal, the western side of the country is experiencing another serious and unprecedented heat wave this week, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Unsurprisingly, California is already experiencing wildfires, and studies are suggesting that these changes are definitely part of systemic climate change. This news coincides with the first successful space tourism voyage, led by Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, and Jeff Bezos plans to embark soon as well. Experts predict that this space tourism will likely accelerate climate change as well, because it will create a significant secondary source of black carbon emissions. So if you were wondering when rich people would next find a new way to break our planet, the answer is apparently “this week.”
- State of the COVID-19. There is a lot of COVID news this week, and a lot of it is pretty weird. Pfizer is requesting authorization for booster shots for the Delta variant, which has the CDC, FDA, and WHO united in irritation because they all think it’s too soon–and besides, we have like a third of the U.S. still refusing to take the dang vaccine in the first place while other countries struggle to gain access to any doses at all. Meanwhile, the CDC is also updating its guidelines for children returning to school in the fall, despite rising infection rates in many anti-vax areas of the country and the likelihood of more changes by the time fall rolls around. And we also learned that it’s possible to contract multiple COVID variants at once, presumably because we have so many variants emerging all over the world (though at present, the Delta strain is the dominant strain in the United States).Somehow, none of this is stopping Republicans from trying to argue that unvaccinated people are a protected class experiencing discrimination.
- Flipping the Scripps. Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African American champion of the Scripp Spelling Bee this week, correctly spelling ‘murraya’ correctly to win the competition. Incredibly, she already held three Guinness World Records for her achievements in basketball at the time of her win. She sounds pretty Avant-garde!
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 bonkers rendition of jock jams 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 fewer meetings at 9am!