National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 29 (August 1–7)
The news continues to be A Lot for another week, and COVID stories in particular continue to show a country that is bizarrely divided over simple questions of health. It’s very exhausting, but I’m here if anybody needs anything.
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 procedural hurdle!–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 is a bit of a hodgepodge, though I guess that’s better than just straight bad news. Here’s what I have for you this week:
- Election Rejection News. Voting news was all over the place this week. In legal news, there’s the Texas judge who refused to allow the arrest of Democrats over their group jaunt to DC, as well as former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s testimony to the Justice Department regarding Trump’s attempts to subvert the election while Rosen was in his cabinet. In election audit news, Maricopa County is officially ending the farcical audit that has been ongoing for the past several months, calling the whole thing an “adventure in never-never land” in their delightfully blunt letter. And Trump is still trying to block the release of his tax returns because… reasons, I guess? I honestly can’t tell what legal argument there even is at this point, and apparently neither can his legal team.
There are also some minor developments for Biden Rebuilding. Here’s what has happened:
- Administration Updates. There is technically an update on the infrastructure package, because it cleared another procedural hurdle this week, but it remains a slow slog towards law. The budget reconciliation package introduced in the Senate is slightly more interesting, but we’ll have to see what comes of the actual voting. I’ll keep everybody posted!
Your New Normal:
- Climate Change Crises.* You got a week off, but we’re back with more terrible news about climate change realities. The word this week is that humans are bad for penguins, as a report noted that emperor penguins may go extinct by the year 2100 due to rapidly melting Antarctic sea ice. This is, of course, in addition to the melting arctic sea ice that we already knew about, and the collapse of the Atlantic current system that scientists worry both of these changes will bring about. Meanwhile, the California Dixie Fire is now the second-largest fire in state history, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon may rage until October, and we can expect more hurricanes than normal this season. Scientists do think it is possible to curb further climate change if we enact strict regulations now, but the drought and floods we’re already experiencing from global temperature increase will likely remain.
- State of the COVID-19. It’s tough to know where to even begin with this week’s COVID news. Infection rates in Louisiana and Florida have exploded, with the latter experiencing one-fifth of all new national infections and record-breaking rates for six days straight at the time that I type this. Nonetheless, mask mandates are still banned in Florida, and Texas has retained its ban on mask and vaccine mandates as well despite some high-profile COVID deaths in the state. (The Florida bans are already being challenged by lawsuits, and some school districts are just ignoring them.) Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, vaccine mandates are increasing. New York City announced it will require proof of vaccination for indoor activities such as dining or attending gyms, Virginia announced it is mandating vaccination or weekly testing for its state workers, and the Pentagon announcing it will require vaccination for active duty. And this makes sense, because vaccines remain highly effective for preventing deadly breakthrough infection and full FDA approval is expected within the next month or so. In fact, with vaccination remaining effective for at least six months after inoculation, the WHO is calling for a moratorium on booster shots through September–but Europe is still administering them.
- COVID Relief News. The dingy silver lining of the COVID news above is that pandemic relief programs are being extended as part of the hunkering down process. Though the eviction moratorium, which I touched on last week, did indeed expire on Sunday, ongoing pressure eventually caused Biden to put a new 60-day moratorium in place by Wednesday afternoon. Similarly, in early October, student loan payments were supposed to become due again. Instead, after a group of Democrats continually pushed to extend that benefit as well, Biden announced that payments will stay paused until February.
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 raccoon enjoying grapes 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 better climate change news!