We’re in a second week in a row of news overdrive, and I’m still tinkering with the best way to handle it. This week, you’re getting all of the news through Sunday this evening; there is simply too much that happened today to cover Monday stories like normal. On the “plus” side, there was also too much news last week to cover everything through Wednesday, so we still have a very full docket!
Standard standing reminders still apply: I may be well into my seventh year of journalism, 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 a stay of injunction!–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 playing catch-up this week on the Election Rejection front, but it’s a good thing I waited on the Dominion settlement story. Here’s what has happened:
- Dominion Over Carlson. I’m sure some folks reading this have been following the elaborate defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion against Fox News for $1.6 billion for some time, since the depth of misinformation coming out during pretrial was already pretty stunning. That said, the lawsuit gained a lot of attention last week, when it settled for $787.5 million just as it was about to go to trial. The lawsuit gained even more attention today, despite being over already, when Fox fired Tucker Carlson, who played something of a starring role in the Dominion discovery. Though there isn’t a lot of information regarding why Carlson was abruptly let go, and it’s likely due to a combination of factors, it seems safe to conclude that the voting machine defamation cases were likely among them.
We also have a bit of catch-up on the Biden Rebuilding front, though I’m pretty excited about this week’s news. Here’s what I have for you:
- DACA Determination. The Biden administration announced recently that it plans to expand public healthcare access to include individuals participating in the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program. Including DACA recipients in programs like CHIP, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act coverage would be a major change in existing policy–DACA participants have never been included in federal public healthcare since the program begin in 2012. This story is technically still a bit under-ripe as I type this, but I wanted to make sure I flagged it, as it’s a big deal in my sector of public health.
Your New Normal:
- Extremely Normal SCOTUS and Senate News (again). Now that the onslaught of sketchy Justice Thomas news appears to be slowing to a crawl, we appear to be mired in an elaborate checks-and-balances fight about it. More specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been fighting with itself for two weeks as the committee head tries to take action about the spate of Thomas news. However, Judiciary committee member Diane Feinstein has been out since February for medical reasons, and has resisted calls to resign based on her ailing health. Meanwhile, the Republicans on the committee won’t let him replace her even temporarily for the sole purpose of permitting the committee to function. The end result was the chair “inviting” Chief Justice Roberts to testify about ethics, and Roberts inevitably telling the Senate to go hang–because he wasn’t being subpoenaed, so the committee can’t make him. Needless to say, this is all very normal and signals a super functional democracy.
- Healthcare Corner. There were some significant COVID odds and ends over the past few weeks, as another subvariant of interest called the Arcturus strain emerged and the FDA authorized another booster for people over age 65. On a related note, though the public health emergency is officially ending, the administration has signaled that it will retain some protections related to administering vaccines and boosters. Meanwhile, on the mifepristone front, the Supreme Court issued a brief decision on Friday to preserve full access as normal while the case makes its way through the lower courts.
- Wrong Place, RIP. There were not one, not two, but four shootings in the past week and change that involved young people being shot simply for showing up somewhere. In upstate New York, a 20-year-old woman was fatally shot because her friend pulled into the wrong driveway. In Texas, two teenage girls were shot because one of them opened the wrong car door in a parking lot, thinking it was her own car. In Missouri, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the head because he rang the wrong doorbell when picking up his siblings after school. In North Carolina, a six-year-old girl was shot for trying to retrieve her basketball, which had rolled into her neighbor’s yard. Needless to say, all of these stories are deeply horrifying, and highlight growing dysfunction around gun culture in America. (Speaking of dysfunction, it is also worth noting that the defendant in the Missouri case was released mere hours after arraignment on bond despite shooting a minor in the head.)
- Recent Parrot Resilience. A recent three-month study published this week has discovered that parrots benefit from video calls to each other in much the same fashion that humans do! The birds in the study engaged in social behaviors, learned skills from each other, and even showed preferences for specific birds that they had formed particularly close bonds with through the video calls. The calls were apparently an overwhelmingly positive social experience for the fifteen parrots who participated, and I really hope we see follow-up studies on this.
So that’s the news from last week Part 2, and there’s still more where that came from. For making it through, you deserve this dog bar 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 more hours in the day!