National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 45 (November 21–27)
It was a bit of a quieter week, all things considered, but the news is still here and so are we. And we’ll likely see increased chaos as things start to churn again, so this is a great time to keep your eyes open.
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 guilty plea!–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:
There’s more Election Rejection to report this week, and it’s still all over the map. Here’s what happened this week:
- Insurrection Updates. In the few days leading into the holiday, we managed to see a lot of activity regarding January 6. Several more subpoenas have gone out, largely to organized groups like the Proud Boys and more high-profile Trump aides like Roger Stone. The House panel is also looking into law enforcement failures that exacerbated the Jan 6 attack and considering holding more Trump aides in contempt. Meanwhile, Trump is still trying to block the release of his records, but it’s looking increasingly likely that they will be released.
All things told, this was a pretty quiet week on the Biden Rebuilding front. Here’s all I have for you:
- Biden Administration Updates. After months of needling from Democrats, Biden began discussing inflation this week, likely because this month’s unprecedented price hikes will impact holiday commerce. Biden did also take an opportunity to discuss the Omicron variant, which has occupied the public consciousness for much of the week–but more on that below.
Your New Normal:
- Shifting Political Landscape. With Congress in recess all of last week, this seems like a good time to talk a bit more about the redistricting occurring across the country. The process occurs after every census, but for the first time in many decades it’s occurring with a gutted Voting Rights Act and more permissive redistricting rules. Unsurprisingly, this is leading to massive amounts of gerrymandering for both state and federal districts, to say nothing of the mess naturally created by population movement. Overall, it seems clear that Republican districts are growing and competitive districts are shrinking, and increasingly districts will not reflect the actual ideology of the majority of voters. In a time when we’re already seeing so much challenge to democracy, obviously, this is very concerning. It’s also a fine reason to urge your representatives to support pending voting legislation in the House and Senate.
- State of the COVID-19. The main COVID news this week is the Omicron variant, which has everybody justifiably very concerned. It’s a new mutation first identified in South Africa that has been found in several countries, including Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and Italy–but, notably, not the U.S. at the time that I write this. Scientists believe it represents an increased risk of reinfection, due to the high number of spike protein mutations, and increased transmissibility in general as well. Travel bans are now in effect in many places, including the U.S., particularly regarding flights from South Africa. The DOW also dropped dramatically in anticipation of further market upheaval. The news is particularly unpleasant because infection rates in the U.S. are already rising again, despite the lack of Omicron COVID here. Needless to say, everybody eligible is urged to get their booster shot as soon as possible.
- Black Lives Still Matter. After the slow-motion mockery of the Rittenhouse trial, it is a modest comfort, but comfort nonetheless, to report that all three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial were convicted of murder this week. It’s another case with major racial implications, and given the response in Congress to the Rittenhouse trial, it’s pretty evident that there are political ramifications to mishandling these trials. On a related note, we’re increasingly seeing courts all over the country revisit wrongful convictions that were based on racial animus from years past. It’s a trend that highlights very old systemic bias in this country, and it’s my hope that we’ll continue to see systemic reform.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry that slow news is not good news. For making it through, you deserve this happily digging doggo 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 your favorite hot cocoa recipe!