Folks, I really appreciate your patience last week during a traumatic time for those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community. Now that we’ve had a bit of a breather over the long weekend, the NNR is back and ready to tackle the last week and a half. And ho boy, is there a lot to tackle.
Standard standing reminders still apply: I guess after six years I’m conceding that I’m a journalist, but I summarize news within my areas of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not an election!–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:
On the Election Rejection front, even with elections over there is still a lot to report. Here’s what has happened:
- Election Rejection: Investigation Roundup. There sure are a lot of election-related investigations right now, almost all of which are centered on 45, and we’ve gained a few more in the last couple of weeks. Right now, we’re tracking: 1) The House January 6 investigation, which is racing to completion ahead of the new session and has subpoenaed the secret service driver mentioned in their last public hearing; 2) the separate Department of Justice investigation into January 6, which appointed a special counsel this week and is currently trying to get Mike Pence’s testimony; 3) the grand jury probe into Trump’s election interference currently happening in Georgia, which finally heard testimony from current Senator Lindsey Graham this week and ordered former NSA advisor Michael Flynn to testify; 4) the Mar-A-Lago stolen document investigation, which is still ongoing and will also be handed by special counsel as of this week; and finally, 5) the Manhattan investigation into Trump paying off Stormy Daniels, which is somehow back from the dead now that it’s 2016 all over again (but more on that below). Of additional and related note, though not a separate investigation per se, is the Supreme Court decision this week that the House may indeed subpoena Trump’s tax records–those documents will almost certainly find their way into several of the investigations listed above.
- Original Flavor Election Rejection. Though the GOP wanted Trump to put off announcing a 2024 campaign until the Georgia special election was over, in true 45 form he didn’t even last a week before filing paperwork and announcing a 2024 bid last Tuesday. Notably, Rupert Murdoch, who among other things runs Fox News, has made it clear that his empire won’t support Trump this go-round, and as I discussed above the announcement won’t protect Trump from his zillion investigations either. Meanwhile, in the other form of original flavor election rejection, as I type this there is already a lawsuit challenging election results in Arizona. The lawsuit is being brought by GOP candidate for attorney general Abe Hamadeh, who lost by about 510 votes, and it’s alleging that the technical ballot issues in Maricopa county precluded accurate results. That said, since his fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake still hasn’t conceded, it’s very possible she’ll join the suit as well.
The melange above makes the Biden Rebuilding front look quiet, but there’s still news on that front as well. Here’s what I have for you:
- Loan and Union Updates. In light of the ongoing student loan cancellation legal limbo, the Biden Administration announced this week that they would extend the payment pause on federal student loans in general, rather than allow them to come due in January as originally planned. We also got word of a final $6B student loan settlement for a class action lawsuit about borrower defense to repayment, which is a type of relief available to students whose colleges defrauded them. And speaking of settlement, four freight rail unions have rejected Biden’s negotiated rail settlement from earlier this fall. In the short term, this is being handled by an extension of the status quo period so that further negotiation can happen, but if no deal can be reached, we may see a railway strike as soon as December 9.
Your New Normal:
- Your Normally Scheduled Election. We do still have traditional election updates to track, both from Georgia and from remaining seats that have been called since last week. The House has officially changed hands for the next session, with the GOP obtaining 220 seats by the time I type this. Nancy Pelosi will be handing House leadership over to Kevin McCarthy, who is current minority leader, though it looks like the GOP’s margin will be very narrow–Democrats did preserve at least 213 seats, leaving the GOP with a total maximum possible majority of nine votes. One of the two seats still not settled is Lauren Boebert’s seat in the Colorado Third District, where her opponent Adam Frisch has conceded but nonetheless is entitled to a recount unless he formally withdraws. Meanwhile, in Alaska, famously moderate Republican Lisa Murkowski emerged the victor of this week’s Senate race through ranked-choice voting. Finally, in Georgia, the state Supreme Court had to step in to protect early voting over the weekend, preserving people’s ability to cast ballots until December 2 as the state gears up for the special election on December 6. Due to a number of voter suppression provisions already in place, ballot places saw very long lines on Saturday, with some voters having to wait multiple hours even though voting early. It’s likely we can expect even longer lines on the actual date of the special election next week.
- Contagion Corner. The biggest news from contagion corner is that we appear to have a new dominant variant of COVID again, this time the BQ variant that is particularly dangerous for immunocompromised people. We are also seeing an uptick in XBB cases, which is a variant similarly resistant to monoclonal antibody treatments. That said, a study was also published this week suggesting that two-thirds of first wave COVID infections have led to long COVID. Needless to say, none of that news is awesome, but I’ll keep people posted on further updates.
- Multiple Mass Murders. As I referenced in the intro paragraph, this was a very difficult week for gun violence. First, while on a University of Virginia field trip to DC, a student–who apparently wasn’t even in the African American studies class taking the trip–opened fire on the bus and killed three people, injuring two others. Then over the weekend, at a queer club in Colorado Springs, a person with an AR-15 managed to kill five people and injure twenty-five more in what was almost certainly a hate crime before being subdued by other club patrons and brought into custody alive. Finally, as we headed into the holiday, an employee of a Walmart in Chesapeake, VA brought a gun to his shift and fatally shot seven people, including himself. It is incredibly disheartening to have to keep reporting repeatedly on this kind of senseless violence in civilian public spaces, and as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community the Club Q murders truly get under my skin. I want to stress that the rhetoric being espoused about trans people by the Republican party demonstrably incites violence and is very dangerous. We need to take it seriously and work to counter it, just as we must work to counter all forms of violent white supremacy.
- Recent Climate Resilience.* At the COP27 climate summit last week, though emissions agreements proved elusive, we did see an interesting form of agreement entered. More specifically, the over 200 countries involved agreed to form a “loss and damage fund” which, in effect, set up compensation for climate damage caused by wealthy countries that generate the most pollution. It’s a form of support that countries experiencing climate change hazards have been trying to set up for a long time, and hopefully it will prove helpful as we experience more and more natural disasters.
So that’s all I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this cat parkour and a more functional 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 your favorite recipe for pumpkin pie!