National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 51 (January 2–8)
COVID news has center stage for yet another week, with everybody trying to make sense of this latest chaotic surge. We have more information on some things, and less on others, but I’ll do my best to boil it down for y’all.
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 subpoena!–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:
As you might expect on the one-year anniversary of January 6, there are a lot of Election Rejection updates to report. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Updates. This week marked one full year since the insurrection, which means it was on a lot of people’s minds–including Biden’s, as he gave a speech to mark the occasion. There’s still a great deal going on with the investigation, and in turn a great deal being uncovered; in particular, there has been a lot of news this week about Mike Pence and Sean Hannity‘s anticipated cooperation with the panel. And, of course, outlets are also talking about Jim Jordan’s refusal to do the same. But on the criminal side, sentencing has been noticeably lenient. And speaking of courts, since several entities are suing Trump for his role, we’re back to arguing about whether he has immunity.
Sadly, we’re still not seeing as much progress on the Biden Rebuilding front. Here’s what has happened:
- Biden’s Omicron Abiding. Biden Omicron news continues to be disappointing for another week. Although Fauci had signaled last week that maybe the CDC would start to require tests after five days of quarantine, the Biden administration quickly put the kibosh on that line of thought. They instead seem to signal that living with COVID is going to be our “new normal,” resisting pushes to close schools and implying that omicron response is a state problem. By the end of the week, the administration was tweeting that people should just use Google to find COVID tests, and I think it’s safe to say that’s a new low for everybody involved.
Your New Normal:
- Recent Senate Dysfunction. There is not a lot more Senate news, as far as I can tell, beyond Senate leaders indicating that they will blow up the filibuster if they don’t move the voting act forward by January 17–which we should definitely support, because voting rights are extremely important! But this didn’t stop Joe Manchin from having another couple of soundbites about how he won’t support the Build Back Better Act, not that anybody’s even talking about that right now.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID is, of course, the lion’s share of the news for another week, and a lot of it is pretty bleak. We’ve had another truly astronomical jump in cases, reaching 1.1 million new cases in one day in the U.S. as I type this. Hospitalizations are also skyrocketing, highlighting the need to take this variant seriously even though it often causes less severe infections. Complicating matters further, studies suggest that rapid tests may not be fully reliable in the first days of infection, though PCR tests remain difficult for many people to get. And somehow, while all this is going on, SCOTUS heard another case about vaccine mandates and seems to be resisting enforcing them in non-health settings. But I do have a sliver of good news, which is that Pfizer boosters for ages 12–15 are now officially approved by the CDC.
- Black Lives Still Matter. Sentences were released this week for the Ahmaud Arbery murder trials, and all three men were sentenced to life in prison. Notably, the judge asked the courtroom to sit in silence for one minute before releasing the sentences, noting that it was only a fraction of the five minutes that Arbery was running for his life. This sends a powerful message regarding white supremacist murder, and one that our country obviously still needs.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve these puppies’ first grooming session 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 hours in the day!