To say this week is an improvement from last week is to say that Detroit is wetter than the Sahara, but I suppose that progress is still progress. At any rate, several stories have improved from last week. That said, not all have, and Black lives still matter.
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 labor law!–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’re back to more specific stories on Election Rejection, and they’re at least slightly less horrifying overall, though that’s not saying much. Here’s what I have for you:
- Original Flavor Election Rejection. Somehow, on April 26, 2021, I still have news for you about a new audit of the November election results, because Republicans in Arizona sure are importing a sketchy Florida firm to lead one this week. Meanwhile, federal authorities are estimating that over 500 people total will be charged in the January 6 riots, making this one of the largest investigations in American history. But if you prefer your news voter suppression flavored, don’t worry, we have that too–Texas is already gearing up to be the new voter suppression battleground.
We also continue to track stories on the Biden Rebuilding fronts as well, which are a bit more varied than usual. Here’s what has happened in the past week:
- Recognizing Armenian Genocide.* Biden took the largely symbolic step this week of directly acknowledging that much of the world observes Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24 each year because the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenian people was, in fact, the first major genocide of the twentieth century. This is a pretty basic truth that the U.S. has declined to acknowledge for over a hundred years, despite many other countries doing so, due to its alliance with Turkish government. I’m inclined to think that recognition of genocide is important all by itself, given the surplus of literal Nazis littering the political landscape, but it’s also worth noting that this move highlights our current strained relations with Turkey.
- Other Biden Priorities. This was a fairly interesting and at least moderately positive week for the Biden administration on a number of other topics as well. In labor news, he urged companies to grant paid time off for vaccination recovery and issued an executive order promoting labor unions and collective bargaining. A virtual climate summit the administration held over Earth Day appears to have concluded more-or-less unremarkably, but honestly that is a huge change from the last four years all by itself. And the administration’s proposed capital gains tax increases have wealthy people freaking out, even though the changes only impact people who earn more than $1M per year and Wall Street doesn’t even expect it to pass.
Your New Normal:
- Congressional Updates Again. Congressional news was mostly continuations of the past week, but they were positive continuations so I’ll take it. In the House, the DC statehood bill passed by 216-208 vote, though it’s not clear what will happen in the Senate. But speaking of the Senate, that COVID-19 antiracism bill passed by an incredible 94-1 vote, and unsurprisingly the sole dissenter was human treasonous garbage pile Josh Hawley. And for some reason (well, “some reason”), Republicans wanted to censure Maxine Waters for a vague statement advocating civil disobedience, but that failed along 216-210 party line votes as well.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is a bit better this week. Johnson and Johnson is officially allowed to unpause their vaccine, though the Maryland plant that badly messed up production has lost vaccine-making privileges on account of being a hot mess. We also hit another major milestone in vaccine rollout, with 200 million Americans vaccinated by Biden’s 92nd day in office. The CDC has indicated that pregnant women can safely vaccinate, and the E.U. has also signaled that vaccinated Americans may begin traveling there again this summer. But the bad COVID news this week is nonetheless very sobering–the New York Times reported that COVID caused the greatest death rate in over a century during 2020, killing even more Americans than the 1918 flu pandemic. Despite this news, vaccine hesitancy is emerging as a particularly partisan issue, with 40% of Republicans saying they will not immunize. We’re also seeing an alarmingly high number of people skipping their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, for logistical reasons as well as hesitancy reasons.
- Black Lives Still Matter. In the week after Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts, the country is still reacting. More information has come out about the shooting in Columbus, wherepolice killed a sixteen-year-old girl who apparently called them for help during an altercation with two other girls. Disturbingly, the Ohio news was only one of six different police shootings to occur within 24 hours of the Chauvin verdict, with police also shooting civilians under questionable circumstances in NorthCarolina, Texas, California, and Massachusetts. Likewise, the most recent shooting in Columbus was apparently the fourth local instance in four months, highlighting the egregious abuses of the police force in that area. Meanwhile, the biased medical examiner who testified in the Chauvin trial is now under investigation in his own state because his testimony calls his “inconclusive” findings on several other cases into question. And in reaction to the unusually thorough and humanizing prosecution that occurred due to extended protests in Minneapolis, some GOP lawmakers are creating legislative penalties for protesting. (It never ceases to amaze me that people who complain about “First Amendment violations” whenever trolls tell them to shut up on the Internet are so excited to create actual First Amendment violations in their legislation, but here we are.)
- Recent Congressional Resilience. Though some states are proposing legislation to make more things crimes, Manhattan proposed the opposite this week, when their District Attorney announced that the city will no longer prosecute prostitution. He also requested dismissal of over 900 cases going all the way back to the 1970s. This is a really significant win for several different movements at once–though it’s obviously a great relief for sex workers, it also has a lot of positive implications for survivors of sexual trafficking, particularly because the District Attorney will be continuing to prosecute sex trafficking. It likewise is a great moment for the trans community; the dismissals also included over a thousand cases of targeted enforcement to harass transgender individuals, a practice so widespread that it was colloquially called a “walking while trans” charge. The news is the latest in a growing movement that I didn’t expect to see in my lifetime, and I’m really excited to share it with you all.
So that’s what I have for this week, and it was more than enough. For making it through, you deserve these otters trying out sparkling water 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 photos of delicious salads!