National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 33 (August 29 — September 4)
By this point, it’s late enough into Biden’s tenure to see what normal looks like under a competent administration, and frankly, normal under a competent politician still kind of sucks. There is a lot of work to do, and the news this week really highlights that. I’ll have some suggestions for response below, and I’m here if people need 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 an indictment!–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:
After a bit of a break, we’re back with more Election Rejection news, and it didn’t get any better during its brief time off. Here’s what happened:
- Updates from Texas. After a protracted and dramatic legislative battle that involved, among other things, Texas Democrats going awol for months, the Texas legislature managed to pass its godawful voting suppression bill this week. Needless to say, between this bill and SB8, which I’ll talk more about below, it’s a pretty dark week for Texas. Indivisible has some suggestions for action on the federal level to protect voting rights, and also has more information about their work in Texas specifically.
There are a few bits and bobs of Biden Rebuilding news, but they’re mostly about the pandemic. Here’s what I have for you:
- Administration Updates. As was foretold by prophecy, pandemic unemployment benefits expired this week, but our workforce is still out of whack from the pandemic–which means the end of these benefits is likely to be rough for both individual workers and the whole economy. This issue may be partially addressed in the new budget bill, which should be considered in the Senate in the next few weeks. In the meantime, Biden also published a pandemic preparedness plan for the next pandemic–though he’s probably jumping the gun a bit on that one, considering that we’re still in the middle of one.
Your New Normal:
- Climate Change Crises.* Natural disasters continue to be a rough and constant presence. As I mentioned at the top of last week, Hurricane Ida, a category 4 hurricane, touched down in New Orleans on Sunday, leaving nearly 1 million people without power for the foreseeable future. True to that prediction, the power remained off in many places, and some parts of New Orleans have begun evacuating due to heat-related concerns. But after Ida left Louisiana, it went on to wreak major climate change devastation in the American Northeast, creating tornadoes and floods and killing at least 41 people. Meanwhile, fires raged in California and near Lake Tahoe again this week, highlighting the fact that climate-related disasters are happening all over the country with alarming frequency. A new study also suggests that people of color are disproportionately impacted by this phenomenon.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is a bit quiet this week, aside from the above. The WHO identified a new variant of interest, tentatively called ‘Mu,’ though Delta appears to remain the dominant strain in the U.S. Two FDA officials have resigned this week, apparently because they are frustrated by Biden’s decision regarding boosters, and there were also a few stories about pandemic aid that has not been distributed properly.But Biden’s booster plan might not be enacted in full anyway, because it’s looking like only Pfizer recipients will be able to get them.
- Roe v. Why Are You Like This. This was a bad, bad week for reproductive rights.In the dead of night on Wednesday SCOTUS released an unsigned 5–4 opinion that permited enactment of an unprecedented new Texas abortion law, SB8. For those folks just tuning in, SB8 is scary even for a six-week abortion bill–and those, by the way, are blatantly unconstitutional under our current system, which is why people are so mad that SCOTUS let it through. But what makes SB8 unique is its bizarre McCarthy-style tattling clauses, which permit random residents to report and even sue each other over perceived violations. Thankfully, unlike the Supreme Court, other entities are stepping up and doing their job, as a state judge has already enjoined civilian lawsuits under the new law and webhosting entity GoDaddy has refused to host the online reporting site. Congress has also signaled that they may pass legislation to protect reproductive rights at the federal level. Indivisible has advocacy suggestions for this issue as well.
- Black Lives Still Matter. A grand jury indicted three police officers and two EMTs this week, concluding that their actions in 2019–namely, administering a chokehold and forcibly injecting ketamine–resulted in Elijah McClain’s death. There are thirty-two indictments total, and each defendant has been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide at minimum. It’s not ‘good’ news, per se, but it definitely needed to happen, and it’s what we’ve got on tap this week.
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 story about an enterprising doggo 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 apples and also honey!