National News Roundup: Year 6, Week 6 (February 20–26)
The news is, quite understandably, very focused on the situation in Ukraine for another cycle, and that’s some grade-A nightmare fuel right there. Sadly, drinking the nightmare fuel is still important for many reasons, even though it’s awful. I’m going to do my best to help break it down, and if all else fails, remember that small sips 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 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:
There was a whole flood of Election Rejection stories this week, and we saw some related bits and bobs that might as well go in this section as well. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Updates. After the invasion of Ukraine last week, Trump was in the limelight an awful lot–emphasis on “awful.” First he went on the radio to call Putin a “genius” who was “pretty savvy,” though his spokesperson’s feed opted not to include those quotes for some mysterious reason. While I generally try to ignore the inane grindings of the orange noise machine, these soundbites proved the building blocks for his campaigning for 2024 at CPAC on Saturday night, and I think we have to take that seriously. The signals about 2024 feel particularly noteworthy when stories are also hitting about the new Manhattan DA abandoning the Trump indictment groundwork laid by his successor. There were some positive scraps of news this week too, though; apparently Ivanka Trump is in talks with the House January 6 panel, and so is Rudy Giuliani.
As I mentioned above, the big news on the Biden Rebuilding front is aggression with Russia. Here’s what has happened:
- Land War Landmine.* A lot has happened since Putin “recognized Donetsk and Luhansk’s independence” and began ordering Russian troops into both regions on Monday. Very early on Thursday morning, Putin declared a “special military operation” was occurring, and Russia launched a multi-front invasion of Ukraine. By Friday, Russia had reached the capital city of Kyiv and captured the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. In response, President Biden and several other countries ordered prompt and escalating retaliatory sanctions. Then on Sunday, Putin put nuclear forces on high alert. The invasion has created over half a million refugees, though many Ukranians are also choosing to stay behind to fight. Incredibly, there have been massive anti-invasion protests in Russia, where protest is currently a very dangerous thing to do. Needless to say, this is a volatile situation with a lot of implications, and it’s a very dangerous and stressful time for a lot of people.
Your New Normal:
- LGBTQ+ Kids’ Concerns. A number of hateful pieces of legislation have moved forward this week against queer kids. In Florida, a bill known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, which prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, has now passed in the House and moves to the Senate. In Texas, the governor has ordered mandated reporters such as teachers, doctors, and school officials to report gender-affirming care for transgender kids as “child abuse.”This apparently was done in response to an opinion from the state Attorney General, which some Texas district attorneys are already refusing to follow. I would be remiss if I did not stress that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that gender-affirming care is a form of abuse, though many credible medical organizations have put out statements indicating that withholding gender-affirming care can hurt transgender children.
- State of the COVID-19. The biggest COVID news this week is new CDC guidance that relaxes mask requirements, which according to the current CDC director was done “to give people a break from things like masking” for a while until there’s another surge. (If you find yourself wishing I made that quote up, I assure you, I wish that too.) That same CDC apparently also thinks people should wait longer before getting a second COVID shot if they haven’t already, because spacing them out can reduce risk of heart inflammation. In more amusing news, an attempt to organize an American version of Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” fell very flat when only five rigs showed up.
- Biden’s SCOTUS Pick. Biden announced his selection for Supreme Court nomination this week, which turned out to be current appellate judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. This would be at least moderately exciting no matter what was going on, because it means he fulfilled one of his campaign promises, but Judge Jackson is an incredibly solid pick for many reasons. First of all, she was approved by the sitting Senate within the past year for her current seat on the D.C. Circuit, which creates less political cover for GOP obstruction in general. Second, her actual credentials are impeccable: She’s been a sitting judge for nearly a decade; she clerked for Justice Breyer at the beginning of her career; and she was an editor on the law review at Harvard Law School during her educational years. But I am particularly excited about Judge Jackson as a nomination because she also served as a public defender for two years, and if appointed she would be the first SCOTUS judge with public defense experience in modern history.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve these booped danger kittens 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!