National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 9 (March 14–20)
This past week was a rough reminder that racial equity still has so far to go in this country. I’ll do my best to summarize, though I’m certainly not the voice to uplift on these issues, and I’ll also include links to ways you can help. I’m here if anyone needs 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 a stimulus payment!–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 continue to get updates on Election Rejection, and I’m legitimately mad that I have a new story for you on this. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Redux. Somehow, the insurrection news just keeps coming. The latest is that a Texas man was arrested with a semi-automatic just outside of Vice President Harris’s official DC residence–thankfully, while she was not present. And in January 6 court news, prosecutors believe they have enough material to charge some suspects with sedition. Meanwhile, suspects with less serious charges are beginning to enter plea bargains.
We are continuing to track stories on the Biden Rebuilding fronts as well. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Dismantling the Deportation Machine? Much like last week, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors and holding them longer than is legally permissible. I am not unsympathetic to the uniquely difficult position faced by the administration when unaccompanied children arrive in unprecedented numbers, and I do appreciate that Biden is negotiating supports for Guatemala and Mexico. But the fact remains that between confusing messaging and legally questionable detention practices, the administration appears to be floundering right now. Legislation like the bills outlined below help somewhat, but they’re ultimately a bandaid on a deep cultural wound–we need more comprehensive reform if we’re to build a better system.
Your New Normal:
- Congressional Updates. Congress this week is… a mixed bag, shall we say. We did have several promising developments: 1) the Senate began deliberation on the For the People Act (which we’ll talk more about below); 2) the House passed two bills that create paths to citizenship for Dreamers and farm workers; and 3) DC statehood is being seriously considered on Capitol Hill. But some victories are nonetheless concerning; the House barely gathered the votes to renew the previously-uncontroversial Violence Against Women Act andtwelve Republicans voted against the movement to honor Capitol police that protected them two months ago. That last one, by the way, is because they objected to the word “insurrectionists” being used to describe the people who violently stormed the capitol and literally erected a gallows on-site for Mike Pence. (Remind me why these people are allowed to govern again?)
- Filibuster Fighting. The For the People Act hitting the Senate isforcing a showdown on changing the filibuster, and this promises to be a fascinating fight. Mitch McConnell has been hitting the ground running, promising A Scorched Earth Senate if anybody else uses the nuclear option that was literally last used by him in 2017. At this point, even President Biden has come out in favor of reforming the rule, though that might just be his way of telling Mitch McConnell where to take his opinions.
- State of the COVID-19. The CDC is changing its suggested social distance practices in education, recommending three feet between students instead of six. Nonetheless, four in ten healthcare workers are not vaccinated, despite their early access. Taxes are now due in May to help people struggling financially during the pandemic. And this week’s “I can’t even make this up” award goes to the Republicans suing over the stimulus bill because it can’t be used to fund state tax cuts.
- Racial Violence in the United States. This was a painful week for racial violence in America. On Tuesday evening, an armed white man hit three different massage parlors in Georgia, ultimately fatally shooting eight people–six of whom were women of Asian descent. The incident highlights violence against Americans of Asian descent that has been on the rise all year, stoked repeatedly by Trump first while he was in office and again as recently as the night of the attack. This incident is also inextricably tied to violence against women and fetishization of women of Asian descent. Official response to the incident has been itself appallingly racist. First, a local police official stated the crime wasn’t racially motivated despite overwhelming evidence otherwise, claiming that the perpetrator was “tempted” by sex work and was having “a really bad day.” (Unsurprisingly, it took about five seconds for news outlets to begin noting that this police officer shared racist memes on his social media account.) More recently, news outlets began reporting that the Latino husband of one of the deceased has held in police custody as a suspect for hours without even being told what had happened to his wife. But perhaps it is unsurprising that the incidents were mishandled this badly, because the New York Times also reported this week on a bevy of comprehensive reports which outlined exactly how badly police forces mismanaged situations during Black Lives Matter protests all over the country from an administrative perspective. At any rate, groups all over the country are organizing town halls, vigils, bystander intervention trainings, donation efforts, and other forms of supports; there are many things we can be doing to help.
- Recent COVID Resilience. We did see some good COVID news this week. President Biden noted this week that the U.S. is on track to surpass 100 million administered doses by Friday. Our vaccine supply rate remains so high that although AstraZeneca was found to be effective by Phase III study, the U.S. might not need any doses. And early research suggests that vaccinated pregnant women may pass antibodies onto their babies.
So that’s what I have for this week, and it was rougher than we’ve had in a while. For making it through, you deserve this kitten discovering its other paws 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 more coffee because we’re almost out!