I don’t even know what’s happening with the news anymore, y’all. It feels like everything is holding its breath, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad–did we just dive underwater, or are we going into anaphylactic shock? Your guess is as good as mine!
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 Joe Manchin!–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:
It’s not as mind-numbingly painful as it was last week, but Election Rejection news is still going strong. Here’s what I have for you this week:
- Voter Suppression Updates. After last week’s close call in Texas, Democrats in the state have appealed to Congress to shore up more protections as their governor threatens to defund the legislature and promises a special session to get the bill passed. But federal supports might not be forthcoming, because Joe Manchin has been increasingly unequivocal about his refusal to support the For the People Act, going so far as to write an op-ed that spits all over it. Other Democrats, in response, are increasingly unequivocal about their refusal to support Joe Manchin.
- Trump Tracking. There was a surprising amount of Trump news this week, given that the dude’s not President anymore. Starting with the least surreal news, prosecution of Trump Org corporate officials continues apace in New York as a grand jury decides who should face criminal charges. Meanwhile, former Trump lawyer Don McGahn has finally testified before the House for about eight hours–and sure, it was two full years after he was first compelled, but it’s the goss that counts. Moving from repulsive to ridiculous, Facebook also concluded that Trump will remain 45 non grata for another two years at least. Though they left open the possibility of a Trump return after that, they also changed how they handle politician statements in general, which doesn’t bode well for his continued access. Finally, several outlets began reporting that he expects to be ‘reinstated’ as President in August, which may or may not forecast additional danger nonsense in a couple of months.
Your New Normal:
- Administration Updates. We do have a few interesting Biden stories this week. A lot of eyes are on the budget proposal, obviously, which is garnering positive attention for its (well, relatively) comprehensive nature–though in fairness, everybody might just be really excited that we’re not watching Trump threaten Big Bird anymore. The administration also undid more Trump nonsense, this time involving a pause on reckless oil and gas drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuges. He also offered yet more concessions on his infrastructure overhaul plan, but Republicans don’t appear to be biting.
- State of the COVID-19. Once again, COVID news isn’t really too bad but does get pretty weird in places. President Biden has declared a “month of action” for getting vaccination rates up, and both infection rates and unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been since the pandemic began. (President Biden began distributing vaccines abroad this week accordingly.) That said, we are seeing an uptick in hospitalizations among teenagers, prompting the CDC to emphasize vaccination efforts for this population. Meanwhile, in the weird corner of COVID news, dogs are being trained to detect infection and West Virginia is incentivizing vaccination with a gun and truck lottery.
- Black Lives Still Matter. Given the recent anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, as well as the reopening of George Floyd Square, it’s disheartening but unsurprising that I’m again writing about police violence in Minneapolis. This week’s police shooting was a 32-year-old man named Winston Smith, who was shot in Uptown by two members of a U.S. Marshals taskforce. The U.S. Marshal Service is claiming there was no video footage, but it’s hard to know if this is accurate. Meanwhile, a California judge overturned a thirty-year-old assault weapon ban, which sure is a life choice during a year when we’ve experienced 194 mass shootings in 18 weeks but okay.
- Voter Counterorganizing. We did have at least a little bit of positive voter news this week. In New Mexico, a Democrat handily won the House special election without any apparent shenanigans, which is vaguely edifying given the big push for voter suppression happening nationally. And on the national stage, federal Democrats are increasingly organizing to deal with both the Manchin problem and the existential threat to free and fair elections we are currently experiencing.
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 sad aliens 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 a better senator from West Virginia!