I’m big mad that the same intro remains relevant for two weeks in a row, but frankly, this past week was A Lot, and we all are still pretty weary. Suffice to say, we still have so much work to do, and I’m here if I can 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 Bitcoin!–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, although this week it’s a bit broader than average. Here’s what I have for you:
- White Supremacist Mélange. This week was a painful mix of white supremacist danger nonsense, and several forms involved voting. In the House, several problem children founded a new bigot caucus to “promote Anglo-Saxon political traditions” such as–hang on, let me check my notes here–European architecture and Bitcoin. (I swear I kill brain cells every time I read something these people write.) In state news, Arkansas passed comprehensive voter suppression legislation that mirrors Georgia’s in scope. Meanwhile, in January 6 news, a founding member of the Oathkeepers has flipped, and will be cooperating with federal prosecutors in exchange for a lenient sentence.
We also continue to track stories on the Biden Rebuilding fronts as well. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Dismantling the Deportation Machine? As I mentioned last week, President Biden never finished dismantling the Trump-era 15,000 person refugee cap, which was putting us on track for the lowest number of refugee resettlements in American history. This gained more national attention after inside sources claimed Biden was leaving the cap in place because he didn’t want the political optics of changing it, and Biden doubled down on leaving the cap in place. Finally, after disgust from basically every Democrat and even a few Republicans, the White House walked that back and agreed to raise the cap again. Against this backdrop, it’s hard to get all that excited about his memo to ICE telling them to stop saying the i-word.
Your New Normal:
- Congressional Updates Again. With Congress back in session, there was a lot of movement this week. I’ll talk in more detail about a few particularly promising developments in the Good below, but there were also a number of other beginnings to track: 1) An increasing number of Congresspeople are calling to create a USPS postal banking pilot program; 2) Progressive Democrats introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court; and 3) There’s a modest bipartisan effort in the Senate to increase the minimum wage, which doesn’t make it up to the $15 per hour we frankly need but would nonetheless be better than the truly embarrassing $7.25 per hour that we’ve had for over ten years.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is still mixed, shocking no one. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is officially paused after it was discovered to cause dangerous blood clots in a very small number of cases, and the pause will likely remain in place for most of the week. This has equity implications, as its single dose and lack of refrigeration made this vaccine easier to distribute in more remote locations. Hospitalizations are also increasing again nationwide (though that may or may not be related to the pause). But in more positive news, as of today, all adults are eligible for the vaccine and over 50% of adults have received at least one immunization shot.
- Gun Violence Updates. Just like last week, this was a brutal, painful week for violence against Black Americans and gun violence in general. The officer in Minnesota who fatally shot a Black man last week is being charged with secondary manslaughter, which in my opinion is a lesser charge than the situation deserves. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a newly-released video shows police fatally shooting an unarmed 13-year-old boy. Understandably, protests are ongoing in Minnesota and Illinois as I type this. In Austin, an ex-officer shot three people, including his own wife and daughter. The Chauvin trial also wrapped this week after the defendant invoked the Fifth Amendment in lieu of testifying. There were also several more civilian mass shootings in the past week. In Indianapolis, eight FedEx employees were fatally shot, and several more were wounded; it’s possible this was another hate crime, as several deceased were members of the local Sikh community. There was also a bar shooting in Kenosha and a shooting at a gun violence vigil in Columbus, Ohio. All in all, that brings us to at least fifty mass shootings in the last month, which is a sickening and globally anomalous rate of violence.
- Recent Congressional Resilience. We did see some promising movement on several groundbreaking bills. A COVID-19 hate crime bill easily overcame threat of filibuster with unusually broad bipartisan support, though it’s unclear when a final vote will occur. A bill granting DC statehood has made it out of committee, and will likely have a floor vote relatively soon. And the House has advanced a bill to create a committee to study reparations for descendents of enslaved people.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are still no news refunds. For making it through, and in celebration of my upcoming birthday, you deserve Kiss from a Rose by Seals and this gradation of birthday singing, 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 memes with seals in them!