National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 47 (December 5–11)
Collating the news is starting to feel like staring at that whiteboard from Cabin in the Woods, y’all. I can’t say I enjoy the feeling, but at least somebody’s keeping track? (Although, just for the record, I don’t want to see the merman.)
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 House panel!–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:
Boy howdy are there a lot of Election Rejection updates to report this week. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Updates. Remember last week, when Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows did eventually start cooperating with Congress, and was supposed to appear before the Jan 6 panel? Yeah, after more details of his actual actions on Jan 6 went public he did a hardcore takebacksie, and now he’s not cooperating so hard that he’s held in contempt and suing the panel. His contemporary Jeffrey Clarke, in contrast, is held in contempt for pleading the fifth after showing up, which appears to be an increasingly common tactic. The panel is responding by continuing to make it rain subpoenas. Meanwhile, Trump’s attempt to block the release of his records got pretty much laughed straight out of appeals court, so now those records will be released unless the Supreme Court intervenes. In other lawsuit news, the Department of Justice is suing Texas over redistricting again and the DC Attorney General is suing the Proud Boys.
In comparison, things looked distressingly quiet on the Biden Rebuilding front. Here’s what has happened:
- Congressional Updates. The main stories this week are about Congressional action (and lack thereof). On the plus side, apparently everybody worked together to raise the debt ceiling, so that can has been effectively kicked out to this time next year. But there’s no movement in the Senate on the Build Back Better Act, unless you count Joe Manchin loudly trashing it, because they were too busy symbolically voting to repeal testing and vaccine mandates. Your tax dollars at work, distinguished guests.
Your New Normal:
- Climate Change and Working Conditions. This one touches on a number of different dystopian themes at once, so we’ll go through them one at a time. An unprecedented spate of severe tornadoes caused over 80 deaths and left over 100 people unaccounted for this weekend. The tornadoes hit across six states, though the lion’s share of the damage occurred in Kentucky. This would be a national tragedy all by itself, and the unusual weather pattern is almost certainly caused by climate change. But as people began to ponder the fatality rate in the aftermath, stories started to focus on the 14 deaths that occurred at two specific work sites: an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, IL and a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, both of which were completely destroyed. Workers at the Mayfield candle factory reported that they were told they would be fired if they left ahead of the storm; several of the workers present were also inmates on a work-release program. Amazon workers also expressed concern about plans to resume banning cell phones on the floor in light of the role mobile phones played for the Illinois workers. These deaths are tragic, and they highlight the increasingly-common domestic exploitation that has caused so many factory worker strikes across the country.
- State of the COVID-19. We’re still waiting for consensus about what’s going on with omicron, but Pfizer says its booster is effective against the variant and preliminary studies suggest less fatality in general. Meanwhile, SCOTUS refused to block a vaccine mandate for workers in New York. And the good folks at Listerine would like us to know that it does not prevent COVID, no matter what the GOP tells you.
- Recent LGBT Resilience. We had some pretty good international LGBTQA+ news this week. Chile legalized same-sex marriage after a lengthy legal dispute. And Canada joined a growing number of countries that have banned conversion therapy of minors, a psychologically dangerous and medically contraindicated practice which is already banned in 20 states here and frankly should just be banned everywhere.
- Organizing Updates. In light of the story above, I thought I would also share some bright points regarding labor organization from the past week. The Kellogg’s strike, which has been ongoing since October 5, gained some support in the face of the company’s plan to permanently replace striking employees when Zoomers began a campaign to spam their application site with fake applications. Meanwhile, a Starbucks in Buffalo became the first-ever to unionize after months of organizing efforts, which is honestly really cool to see.
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 cat workplace saga 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 more sachets of Cold 9–1–1 tea!