This is the first roller coaster week I think we’ve had in a little while; it had a lot of notable dips but we also had some exciting advances. (Though I would prefer an abjectly good week, I’ll take the wins where I can!)
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 an All Star game!–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, with further updates on last week’s new salvo. Here’s what I have for you:
- New Voting Suppression Laws (cont). Georgia has begun to experience pushback for last week’s terrible law, and honestly it couldn’t happen to a nicer bill. First Major League Baseball announced that it was taking its ball and leaving Atlanta, or at least, wouldn’t host its annual All Star Game there, and made it very clear that this was motivated by the new law. After facing boycotts as well as public statements from Black business leaders, several prominent Georgia-based companies also issued statements against the law, and by the time that I type this we’re up to almost 200 companies issuing statements in support of free elections. This is, of course, in addition to the three lawsuits that have already been filed against the Georgia law. And in other voter fraud news, the New York Times did run a story about voter fraud this past week–that the Trump campaign defrauded its contributors by forcing repeat donations through sketchy practices. Too bad no GOP legislators are likely to make a law about that.
We are continuing to track stories on the Biden Rebuilding fronts as well. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Infrastructure Week. By far the biggest Biden Reopening story is the comprehensive infrastructure package his administration revealed this past week. The plan is extremely ambitious in scope, and includes a lot of things not traditionally considered infrastructure purview. On the more-traditional side, it would rebuild roads, expand train track infrastructure, repair bridges, eliminate lead pipes from our water supplies, and modernize the electric grid. But it would also make several less-traditional infrastructure changes, such as funding electric vehicle charging stations along highways, building new schools, and broadening access to broadband Internet. And, of course, there’s always the fact that the whole thing is funded by corporate tax increases. Unsurprisingly, this plan is less than popular with Republicans, who have spent the last four years railing against things like “corporate tax increases” and “clean water” and “education.”
Your New Normal:
- Gross Congressional (Non-)Updates. Honestly, the only real update to come out of Congress this week is that Matt Gaetz is, as SNL put it, “a full-on sex pest“–not that much of an update no matter what Tucker Carlson may say. about it. But the part where Gaetz is being investigated for sexually trafficking minors is definitely new, and the part where he allegedly showed naked photos of said minors to fellow politicians is uniquely disturbing as well. Just to ground this in legal perspective: Since the 1990s, simply possessing those photographs has been its own federal offense. So this is like the sex pest version of just whipping out a dollar bill and some cocaine at your fellow legislators like, “Hey, you wanna bump? My local tax collector hooks me up.” Except the cocaine in this analogy is an actual adolescent being sex-trafficked and why is this real life.
- State of the COVID-19. It was something of a rough week for COVID news, though we did see some silver linings. Infection rates continue to rise, despite high vaccination rates in many parts of the country, and experts disagree about what this means. This was likely exacerbated by a manufacturing error in Maryland that ruined 15 million Johnson and Johnson doses, though the company says it’s still on track to produce 100 million doses by late May. And the CDC has announced that vaccinated Americans are low-risk while traveling, prompting discussion of “vaccine passports” that has already prompted backlash (and in Florida, an executive order banning them). But there was a modicum of good news as well; some early research suggests that Pfizer may be effective for adolescents, though further study is still needed.
- Gun Violence Updates (again). It truly pains me to say this, but gun violence remains highly relevant for yet another week. In Orange, California, an assailant fatally shot at least four people, including a nine-year old boy. There was also a vehicular assault on Capitol Hill which has resulted in the death of yet another Capitol Police officer as well as fatal shooting of the assailant. News articles are beginning to emerge about the Capitol Police struggling to maintain staffing during this period of unprecedented strain, and apparently two officers are suing over the January 6 riots.
- Recent Trans Equity Resilience. We did see some small progress in trans right this week. During Trans Day of Visibility, President Biden announced he was rescinding a Trump era policy that banned transgender individuals from serving in the military. And in a move I honestly did not see coming, that awful transgender discrimination bill in Arkansas–specifically, the one that banned access to gender-affirming care for all minors–was vetoed by Governor Hutchinson today. The bill could still be passed by override, but it’s nonetheless really noteworthy that the Governor refused to sign it.
- Recent Medical Advances. In other “I can’t believe I’m typing this” news–of the good kind, not the Trump kind–an early study shows 97% effectiveness of a novel HIV vaccine. We definitely need to do more research, but it’s tentatively looking like breakthroughs that resulted in COVID vaccines may have implications for HIV infection as well.
So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this angry octopus 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 cookies because the holiday ended!