National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 40 (October 17–23)
This week, though outlets and public officials are reluctant to acknowledge it, the news really highlights just how many different systems are broken at once. It’s rough to watch, and it’s even rougher when everyone acts like it’s no big deal. But it’s not just you; it is a big deal. And as always, I’m here if I can help.
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 filibuster!–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:
We’re seeing an exponential increase of nonsense on the Election Rejection front, and it does feel like this will get worse before it gets better. Here’s what happened this week:
- Election Rejection Eruption. As of this week,former Trump aide and overall garbage human Steve Bannon has officially pissed off so many people with his flagrant refusal to testify to the House panel investigating January 6 that the whole House voted to hold him in criminal contempt. As I mentioned last week, President Biden already gave his blessing on that tactic, saying that his Justice Department should go after anyone who ignores the committee’s subpoena. There were also leaked details this week about planning done by the sitting Congresspeople as well as White House officials in the days leading up to the insurrection. Needless to say, there’s a lot to watch here.
We also saw some Biden Rebuilding news, particularly regarding immigration. Here’s what I have for you:
- Immigration Updates. The Washington Post ran a story this week saying that border arrests were at an all-time high in FY 21, which would be a pretty disturbing indictment of Biden’s first six months in office. But the Migration Policy Institute–a nonpartisan and highly respected authority on migration–says this view of the data is an oversimplification of patterns caused by high desperation during the pandemic. Either way, there was also significant news about CBP misconduct this week; the Human Rights Watch released internal reports of staff abusing detainees and a House investigative report revealed a flawed internal disciplinary system for addressing these types of agent infractions.
Your New Normal:
- Current Senate Dysfunction. On Wednesday, all 50 Senate Republicans voted to block consideration of a supposedly bipartisan voting rights bill, highlighting the need to revisit the filibuster discussion. Surprisingly, this appears to be something of a final straw for Biden, who is now saying he would be open to eliminating the filibuster. That said, this opinion somewhat contextualizes the way reconciliation negotiations are going as I type this. As he finalizes negotiations, Biden is signaling that many key provisions will be cut to appease Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema; though he appears to believe he can achieve things by executive order, that may or may not be successful. Speaking of Sinema, she also received five resignations from her own advisors this week for her actions, who told her that she was “one of the principal obstacles to progress” on their way out.
- Worker Conditions.* Last week, I wrote a quick summary of the ongoing supply chain issues. In this last week of Striketober, I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same for ongoing worker condition news. This is an unprecedented time for many industries, as unsafe working conditions–and to some extent, labor shortages–combine with gilded age rule enforcement and practices to create untenable employment situations. As a result, people are quitting jobs in record numbers, and we’ve seen a sharp increase in organized strikes as well. Right now, over 10,000 workers at Deere & Co are striking for safer work conditions and fair pay. Hollywood workers also nearly went on strike last week, and though a deal was reached, it’s possible the recent fatality on the set of Rust due to unsafe working conditions will mean a strike happens regardless. Workers at Kellogg’s have continuously been on strike all month, marking the third food conglomerate with workers protesting unsafe conditions for low pay since July. And in New York, desperate taxi drivers are staging a hunger strike as part of ongoing protest of the taxi medallion bubble.
- State of the COVID-19. After some initial confusion, because experts didn’t agree about whether the second shot should be a different vaccine or the same one, the CDC officially recommended a mix-and-match approach to boosters last Wednesday and subsequently officially approved Moderna and J&J boosters in general. The FDA is also considering authorizing boosters for everyone over 40, though that will wait until after the pediatric vaccine rollout. And speaking of the pediatric vaccine, significantly more details have been shared about how its rollout will work, and we’re now expecting implementation may begin as soon as early next month.
- Roe v. Why Are You Like This (cont again). Though the Supreme Court yet again refused to block the terrible Texas abortion law like the Department of Justice requested, they did agree to grant expedited review next week–which, given the current court constellation, is vaguely terrifying. We’re also starting to see projected nightmare scenarios play out in other states–in Oklahoma, a woman was convicted of manslaughter because she experienced a miscarriage at 15 weeks. I would be remiss if I didn’t stress that this type of prosecution is definitely a violation of Roe v. Wade, in addition to being an unconscionable violence against people who just experienced a traumatic loss.
- Recent Medical Resilience. Despite the paragraph above, it was actually a decent week for medical news. Rachel Levine became the country’s first female four-star officer of the health corps, which is pretty cool. (She’s also the first transgender four-star officer, but given the TERFy week we’ve had I figured I would lead with the female part.) In other cool health news, in New York, surgeons successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human body for the first time ever. 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 the October doge Olympics as well as 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 sunshine up on the shelf!