It’s Valentine’s Day as I type this, but I’m not really loving the news this week. We’re more on the “Bees!” side of St. Valentine’s legacy, all things considered, but that’s 2022 for you. Maybe next week we’ll get honey.
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 convoy!–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:
As a follow-up, this week we learned from Maggie Haberman’s new book that he also liked flushing document shreds down the toilet and/or eating them after he ripped them up (hopefully not at the same time).
- Insurrection Updates. You may recall that last week, Trump was in the news regarding his habit of ripping up official documents that he was legally required to preserve in office and hoarding classified information documents at Mar-A-Lago. As a follow-up, this week we learned from Maggie Haberman’s new book that he also liked flushing document shreds down the toilet and/or eating them after he ripped them up (hopefully not at the same time). We also learned that some White House call logs from January 6 are missing. The National Archives have asked the Justice Department to investigate all of this mishandling of records, because said behaviors are in fact flagrantly illegal. Meanwhile, all of this is a very disturbing backdrop to the Supreme Court’s decision this week to restore gerrymandered districting maps in Alabama.
There were also some not-awesome developments on the Biden Rebuilding front. Here’s what has happened:
- Blinking Biden. Biden announced a decision this week to award $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds to people suing the Taliban about 9/11, leaving only half of all available funds to actual Afghan people who are fleeing said Taliban. This came on the heels of his top science advisor, Eric Lander, stepping down due to systemic mistreatment of subordinates. Between that and the continued increase of inflation, it hasn’t been a particularly great week for the Biden administration. But on the plus side, a talk with Putin on Saturday left both countries in a stalemate; though the U.S. is still evacuating diplomats, Russia has signaled that it might be open to more negotiation.
Your New Normal:
- Congressional Updates. This was a weirdly functional week for Congress, all things considered. A bill to ban stock trading in Congress has been gaining traction in both the House and the Senate. Meanwhile, both houses also passed a workplace sexual misconduct bill that banned a corporate practice of forcing arbitration for workplace harassment claims. Both of these bills are particularly unique for their bipartisan support, although in fairness, it did take four years for a #MeToo bill to actually pass.
- State of the COVID-19. Over the last week, there were more and more stories about states removing their mask mandates as the omicron surge starts to subside. In the case of school mask mandates, there is some science to support the call, particularly for very young children who need to see faces in order to develop communication skills. However, in the wake of Pfizer stepping back its timeline for vaccination of young children, this is a tough pill for some parents to swallow, and the CDC isn’t supporting it either. And certainly for more general indoor mask mandates, which are also expiring or being removed in most states, there’s no real science to support the plan–particularly when we’re still coming back from the highest COVID death rates in a year. But speaking of mandates and poor decisions, the “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa has continued on for another full week, blocking off more and more border crossing routes as the week went on. Earlier today, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever, which means he’s essentially calling in the military to deal with it.
- Recent Constitutional Resilience. In anticipation of the upcoming Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights, Vermont is preparing to guarantee reproductive rights in their state constitution. They’re the first state to consider this kind of protection, but I’m hoping they won’t be the last.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this otter snoot 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 goofy memes for Palentine’s Day!