Tag: Extra

Extra! Extra!: Untangling the Staggeringly Long List of Culpable Parties for the Insurrection

Extra! Extra!: Untangling the Staggeringly Long List of Culpable Parties

Extra! Extra! is back! It’s been a wild three weeks and sometimes the news becomes more than we can bear. But we’re back, and we’ll be moving to a biweekly schedule moving forward.

So much has happened, and in many ways it feels impossible for me to not look at everything through the lens of the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. This is just one of those times where it’s as much as I can do to look at all the many ways America is, quite simply, falling apart right now. So this week’s Extra! Extra! is pretty much limited to American news: several angles of breaking down everything that’s horrifying about the insurrection, the Trump administration’s parting shots and how COVID continues to rage amid American incompetence. If there’s pressing international news we’ve missed please do share in the comments.

The Staggeringly Long List of Culpable Parties

Trump Impeachment II Was Just as Awful as the Original

Rachel: I agree with the overall thrust of this article, which is that the Republican party is beyond the point of no return in terms of its ability to publicly denounce the actions of its leaders that are objectionable even to their own stated values of country & party. I do, however, differ on the details of their analysis, which is that the failure of the GOP to join the Democrats en masse in impeaching Trump is “confirmation of how in thrall to Trump the Republican Party remains.” I don’t think the party or at this point almost any individual members of it are ‘in thrall to Trump;’ I don’t think Trump as an individual has had any real internal power for quite some time, even since before the election. All the internal sources say that Trump’s own staff has been avoiding him; now that he doesn’t have the carrot of future staffing in a second term to dangle, he has no leverage. The GOP is certainly in thrall, but it’s not to Trump; it’s to his base, and the critical mass of agitated white nationalists that he’s allied himself with. Multiple GOP members of congress said they received death threats related to their voting to impeach, something many progressive members of congress, especially representatives of color, are very familiar with. The GOP made a pretty literal deal with the devil to get the level of unchecked power they’ve had for so long, and the violent, ruthless groups they’ve made it with are open to turning on them at any time.

Capitol Police Officers Said They Wouldn’t Be Surprised If Members Of Congress Helped Plan The Attack

Natalie: This feels a bit like that Spider-Man meme, doesn’t it? The one where one Spider-Man is pointing at the other Spider-Man. Except here, it’s one set of accomplices to the insurrection is pointing fingers at another set of accomplices to the insurrection. After all, two Capitol police officers have already been suspended and many more are under investigation for their actions on Jan. 6th. This is a case of pot, meet kettle, if I’ve ever heard one.

That said: there seems to be prima facie evidence, at least, that some members of Congress aided the insurrectionists. A few of those arrested have pointed the finger at three members who helped organize the rally: Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama. Both Biggs and Brooks have denied those allegations. The Buzzfeed piece notes allegations from Rep. Mikie Sherrill that some of her Republican colleagues led “reconnaissance” tours on the day before the insurrection and we know that Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado used her twitter feed during the insurrection to update her QAnon followers on the Speaker’s whereabouts.

None of it is conclusive yet — not by a long shot — but there’s a lot of smoke and where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

Where sedition is rewarded

AOC on Capitol riots: Members were ‘nearly assassinated’

‘It was like looking at evil’: The Capitol attack through the eyes of the Massachusetts delegation

Natalie: It’s unsurprising to me that the Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — have been as clear-eyed about the danger the insurrectionists — and those who enabled them — posed to the members of Congress. Since being labeled enemies of the far right, they have had to hire additional security and work under constant threat. They know danger when they see it.

What’s increasingly distressing — aside from the simple fact that these women are subjected to this treatment in the first place — is that the threat is coming from inside the House (literally). It’s not just the insurrectionists climbing through shattered windows that these members have to be scared of, it’s their fellow members of Congress. Frightening.

The Pro-Trump Riot Renews Concerns About Extremism in the Military

Himani: I knew a woman in college, once, who would talk idyllically of joining the army, going to Iraq and shooting up a lot of people (this was the final years of W. Bush, for context). As the only brown Asian person in our department, I was always extremely disturbed by this sentiment expressed by one of the few people who actually talked to me and otherwise treated me decently (which is really more than I can say for most of the other students or my professors in my department, but I digress). I think I’m going to upset a lot of people when I say that I’ve always felt it takes a certain amount of dehumanizing of other people to be part of military operations knowing that your job will entail going to a different part of the world you don’t actually know anything about and then coming up with justifications for murdering them. And then the leaks started coming out about a fraction of the atrocities committed by U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and another fellow student in my department who was formerly part of the military very much took the attitude of “yea, that’s not great that this was leaked” as opposed to “it is horrifying that U.S. committed these acts of torture and debasement.” So imagine my surprise at reading that there’s a problem of extremism within the U.S. military and among veterans and that it’s been largely ignored and dismissed.

And as for the police, well — there really isn’t any more to say about that. The problem of white supremacy having a stronghold over police organizations is so well-established and has been reported on so, so many times that really I think it came as a surprise to no one when a video was posted showing Capitol police officers practically holding the door open for the heavily armed and violent mob.

In an interview linked further down, a Sri Lankan writer says “And, the violence of your culture, which has always been projected outward, is now falling in.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot because he is completely correct. See, this is the slippery slope of justifying all those civilian deaths abroad and all those Black lives cut short at the hands of law enforcement and their accomplices. The definition of who can hold power, who is human, — simply who is allowed to live, becomes infinitely narrower, and it’s only a matter of time before you, too, end up on that list of people it’s better to just kill rather than to reason through disagreements with. Which, as the insurrectionists are being prosecuted, it’s become undeniable that is exactly what they were there to do.

Natalie: So, I come to the table with a bit of a different perspective on military service than Himani…in part because so much of my family’s served and my existence literally would not have been possible without it…but we’ll save that conversation for another day.

But this does harken back to something I’ve talked about in EE before: a 2009 report called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”, released by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans lost their shit about it, Democrats folded like cheap suits and the report was shelved…but now it feels like something we should’ve listened to, right?

Twitter and Facebook lock Donald Trump’s accounts after video address

Natalie: I thought it was interesting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is certainly no friend of the president, spoke out in defense of him keeping his social media accounts. Via a spokesman, she called Trump’s removal from Twitter “problematic.” France’s Finance Minister chimed in too, saying, “The regulation of the digital world cannot be done by the digital oligarchy.”

I understand the concern about a “digital oligarchy” and, certainly, that’s something I’d want to guard against…but the thing with Trump and other right-wing users that have seen their accounts banned in the last week: TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES — THERE’S NO FREE SPEECH GUARANTEE HERE — AND THEY’VE ALLOWED TRUMP TO VIOLATE THEIR TERMS OF SERVICE FOR YEARS.

Sorry, I’m a little mad about that.

Himani: In some ways, this particular bit of news and all the follow up with Amazon Web Services finally dropping Parler and Twitter blocking several QAnon Accounts has angered me far, far more than pretty much any other thing I’ve read. Plain and simple, this is too little, far too late.These are empty gestures now as everyone is trying to distance themselves from the wreckage they had a hand in creating. And the emptiness of those gestures becomes increasingly apparent as other sources show how Capitol protesters are still able to fundraise through… Amazon and, completely unsurprisingly, Paypal.

And yet somehow, amazingly, in spite of everything, Republicans continue to whine about “infringement” on their First Amendment rights.

Per Natalie’s comments above about the response from European leaders, a lot of people want to act like this is going to herald in a new era of censorship on the internet. But the internet is already censored. It’s just not censored for straight, white, cis people who hold jobs we haven’t demonized.

Brace Yourself

FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week

Natalie: In my home state of North Carolina, the governor has mobilized 350 National Guard members to assist law enforcement in Raleigh, where Inauguration Day protests are expected, and sent another 200 headed to Washington, D.C. to support the federal efforts. These are 550 national guardsmen that could be spending their time helping the state effectively distribute the COVID vaccine to North Carolinians who qualify for it.

The lies and incompetence of this current administration continues to negatively impact us all.

And… They’re Still in Power

Justice Dept. Seeks to Pare Back Civil Rights Protections for Minorities

In ‘nasty parting shot,’ HHS finalizes rule axing LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Natalie: They’re going to try to do so much damage over the next few days, just because they can.

Democrats Won the Senate. Can They Fix the Courts Now?

Natalie: Five words: Get. Rid. Of. The. Filibuster.

Himani: Time for everyone to start calling Joe Manchin’s office.

The Hypocrisy, It Burns

UN predicts ‘famine not seen in 40 years’ due to Pompeo’s Yemen policy

Trump administration puts Cuba back on ‘sponsor of terrorism’ blacklist

Himani: And in his final sweep, Pompeo is hard at work to do as much irrevocable damage to non-white people around the world as he can. These actions would be egregious in any context, but they’re particularly hard to bear witness to right now, given that terrorists raided the U.S. Capitol last week with the intent of killing countless numbers of people but hey they aren’t really “terrorists” because they’re not brown, right?

As William Saletan wrote for Slate this week, “Republicans are tough on terrorism until the terrorists are Republicans.”

Natalie: Since you brought up Pompeo, I couldn’t help but flag this story about him packing up his ball and going home after Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called Pompeo’s boss “a criminal, a political pyromaniac who should be sent to criminal court.”

The View from Outside: “A First World Shithole Country”

Papa Don’s failed state: the US as seen from Kenya

Himani: Patrick Gathara spares no words for how badly American democracy has failed and he is absolutely, undeniably correct. As he writes: “[America’s] election system was an anachronistic mess long before the storming of the Capitol. Its imperial presidency is still the stuff of third world nightmares and its sycophantic legislature is reminiscent of our daytime realities. It may have more stuff and bigger guns, but at heart the west is simply a richer version of the rest.”

‘Even if a coup fails, it still damages your government’: What the US can learn from Sri Lanka’s coup attempt

Himani: This is probably the best perspective I have read on the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol last week. For me, as I was in some amount of denial and numbness to the news that was coming in, reading this interview with Sri Lankan writer and podcaster Indi Samarajiva really communicated the severity of the situation in the U.S. right now, and his palpable frustration with American exceptionalism is something I can deeply relate to. But perhaps the most poignant part of the interview, for me, was this observation:

“You guys have been inflicting all of this trauma on the world and now the chickens have, to a large degree, come home to roost. … I don’t mean that the rancor is coming home to roost. I mean, that’s sort of the militarization of your society, the violence of your society. A lot of the people who would have attacked your Congress, they might have been serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, causing God knows what problems to the people there. The militarization has come to your borders. Your militarization at the edges of your society has come home to roost. And the violence of your culture, which has always been projected outward, is now falling in.”

Nevertheless, They’re STILL Contesting Election Results…

After Rep. Lauren Underwood sworn into second term, rival Jim Oberweis seeks to overturn election

Jim Brewster’s Pa. Senate swearing-in will be delayed, top GOP senator says

Oh, And Stay Tuned for Further Disenfranchisement Out of Wisconsin

GOP has bill to reallocate Wisconsin’s electoral votes by congressional district

There Is No More Denying Disparities in Policing

US police three times as likely to use force against leftwing protesters, data finds

New York AG sues NYPD over excessive force at racial justice protests

Rachel: This lawsuit is an unprecedented step, the first time in history a state AG has sued a police department; AG James’ statement is pretty scathing: “There was ample ability and opportunity for the city and N.Y.P.D. leadership to make important changes to the way that officers interact with peaceful protesters, but time and time again, they did not… They did not train, they did not supervise, they did not stop officers who engaged in this misconduct. …And they did not discipline them either. Instead, they failed the people of the City of New York.”

However, at the same time, it’s hard not to feel like in material terms, this isn’t enough. From the NYT: “If Ms. James is successful, a monitor would join another already keeping watch over how the city implements changes to its stop-and-frisk policy. In 2013, a federal judge appointed a monitor after finding that officers targeted and stopped Black and Hispanic people without sufficient legal reason in violation of their civil rights.”

So, even if this lawsuit is granted, the outcome is… a monitor? In addition to the already existing monitor, which clearly hasn’t worked? In addition to being ineffectual, a new monitor would be one more avenue through which money and resources are actually being routed into policing, and another office that’s invested in the continued existence of police (and in fact, their misconduct) so it can keep funding. This isn’t a dig at AG James’s office; it’s just a reflection of how limited the options are in terms of ‘reforming’ this institution.

Things That Happened Before the Insurrection That Already Laid This Bare

Nashville bomber’s girlfriend warned police he was making explosives

The Kenosha officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t face any charges

Oh, And We’re Still in a Pandemic

3rd Member Of Congress Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Blames Capitol Attack Lockdown

And Other Areas America Is Struggling…

Cuomo Widens Eligibility After Vaccine Goes Unused or Is Even Thrown Out

The US economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. All of them were held by women

Things Are Really Grim Right Now, But Here’s a Little Uplifting News

Georgia Senate election in 2021 reveals the need for a new ‘Southern Strategy’

At First Wary Of Vaccine, Cherokee Speaker Says It Safeguards Language, Culture

Argentina Legalizes Abortion In Historic Senate Vote

Rachel: Both this news and the protests in Poland have been so affirming and uplifting to me; very moved and heartened now and always by the power of the people working together to change things!

Extra! Extra!: What Do We Actually Know About a COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout?

Extra! Extra!: What Do We Actually Know About a COVID-19

This week’s Extra! Extra! returns with some LGBTQ+ news from both sides of the Atlantic; an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, the havoc it’s wreaking in so many areas of life and the vaccine arms race; and rapidly deteriorating situations the world over.

LGBTQ+ News

A New Day for Queer People in the South

Natalie: So, as a queer person living in the South, I want to be optimistic about its future…I want to believe that the end of the HB2 era represents an opportunity for our communities to grow…but the thing about this particular date that you should know…and the thing that makes me more cynical than the activists in this story: it could’ve happened 3.5 years ago.

As the article notes: HB142 was an attempt to “repeal” the bathroom bill that’d brought withering political and economic blowback to the state. It passed with a provision that prohibited local governments from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances for a period of four years. What the article doesn’t mention is that before that repeal, there had been another compromise put forward: this one with just a six month sunset period. How or why Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina felt justified in passing a four year “cooling off period,” after rejecting a six month one, is anyone’s guess but it’s enough to make a person feel a lot more cynical about the South’s LGBT future.

Laverne Cox recounts transphobic attack in L.A.: ‘Never fails to be shocking’

Rachel: This is so heartbreaking and scary to read, and sobering to process during the same week of Elliot Page’s coming out. Even as trans identity becomes more visible and legible in the national conversation, we have to remain aware of the fact that visibility on its own isn’t a solution; and that in fact visibility can compound danger and harm, especially for Black folks.

UK court rules against trans clinic over treatment for children

Rachel: In a heartbreaking decision that marks the latest development in an extremely concerning trend of anti-trans ideology both culturally and in policy, the U.K. has issued a ruling that requires youth to get a court order if they wish to access puberty blockers, a medically appropriate option trans kids had previously been able to access to prevent unwanted secondary sex changes related to puberty before starting medical transition. The reasons given for this ruling — that puberty blockers are “experimental” with “long-term consequences” that kids can’t consent to — are inaccurate and fearmongering, inconsistent with well-documented science: that the number one factor in trans kids’ health and wellness in the longterm is affirmation and support for their identity, including socially and medically. The decision will be appealed, meaning this issue could land in the Supreme Court, a high-stakes possibility in the midst of a deeply transantagonistic milieu in the U.K.

COVID-19 Update

This Time, My COVID Patients Know How They’re Going to Die

Himani: An utterly heart-breaking read from a doctor in Italy about the second wave. The despair, bitterness and grief is just palpable: “In all this effort and despair, if there is one thing that pisses me off, it is the deniers. Until a few days ago, I was smiling at their bullshit. … Today I no longer laugh. A dull anger rises. Come on, denier, come and see how you die from COVID. Take reporters into hospitals to see patients who can’t breathe, the dead, or our dripping sweat.”

New Report Offers Clearest Picture Yet Of Pandemic Impact On Student Learning

Himani: So there are a few issues with this. First, it’s entirely premised on the belief that testing is actually an accurate measure of student learning which any teacher will tell you is simply not true. But, it’s the quantifiable metric we have so we use it because numbers make us feel safe.

Second and more troublingly, this article leads with comparisons saying that there was a modest drop in math learning and then follows up with a caveat that the most vulnerable students are actually missing from the data entirely. About half way down we learn that actually a quarter of students are missing from the data. A quarter! And who exactly were those missing students? As the NPR article reports: “these children are ‘more likely to be black and brown, more likely to be from high-poverty schools and more likely to have lower performance in the first place.’”

With such glaring holes in the data, how was the previous comparison worthwhile in the least? They’re basically comparing as much of the entire school population you would ever get to students coming from more resourced families to make the claim that “the pandemic-driven jump to online learning has had little impact on children’s reading growth and has only somewhat slowed gains in math.” That statement is only true for the students who were in the data, i.e. students who are in under-resourced schools, a greater proportion of whom are Black and brown.

So what is the real story here? What this article should’ve said is this: The latest testing data confirms what many have been suspecting all along. The pandemic appears to have the greatest impact on students from high poverty schools who are more likely to be Black and brown because many of them did not even take assessment tests in fall 2020 when their peers did. We don’t know how these students are faring academically or what kind of education they have or have not received since March. Among the students we do have data on (again, who are more likely to be white and from better resourced schools), reading growth has remained the same as previous years and math has dipped modestly.

[As a side note, to actually get at what I’m saying in the last sentence requires another analysis that isn’t reported on by the NPR article, and I don’t know if the testing nonprofit that did this analysis looked at that but just didn’t talk about it. In any case, now I’m getting way too far into the weeds.]

Framing is everything, y’all. How you say this has policy implications.

Natalie: The caveat of this study — “Many of the nation’s most vulnerable students are missing from the data” — is I think the most important part of this article examining NWEA’s research. It’s hard to square the rosy data with other reports I’ve seen during the pandemic like about 25% of secondary students in one of North Carolina’s largest school districts having at least one F. In Maryland’s largest school district, the situation is even worse. The same goes for Texas and California.

The kids are not alright and the most unfortunate thing? I don’t think that anyone has a good plan for how to make the situation better.

Mitch McConnell’s Relief Offer Is Actually Worse Than Doing Nothing

Himani: I feel like every article I read where Mitch McConnell’s name shows up in the headline (or where he’s mentioned in passing in the text) just makes me hate him more and more and more. The upcoming Georgia Senate races are our last hope of wresting power from the claws of this truly horrible human being. Phone bank, text bank, knock on doors, donate — do whatever you can because this matters so, so much for everything we care about.

Natalie: A few weeks ago, in this very column, we highlighted a story about a lawsuit against Tyson Foods for their capricious and malicious response to COVID-19 at their meat packing facilities. That article reported that managers were cavalierly betting on which of their employees would get COVID. There’s new reporting out that Tyson managers lied to interpreters about COVID-19 risks.

I mention all this to say: this is who Mitch McConnell is protecting. This is the hold up on the second stimulus that American families need so desperately to be able to eat and keep a roof over their heads. McConnell wants immunity for companies like Tyson Foods (or Publix) that forced their employees to work in unsafe conditions. He’s protecting the people who bet on their employees.

Like Himani said, those Georgia Senate races are crucial if we want to put an end to McConnell’s tyranny.

Justin Trudeau Promised a Feminist Economic Recovery. So Where’s the Plan?

Natalie: I will say, as someone who’s not that familiar with Canadian politics…and whose knowledge about Justin Trudeau comes from folks fawning over him over social media, this was illuminating.

The Vaccine Arms Race Ramps Up

Himani: The U.K. was the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which we shared some reporting on a few weeks ago), meaning the vaccine could start being given to people as soon as next week. Hours later, Putin ordered the start of mass immunization in Russia using the Sputnik V vaccine.

Neither vaccine has actually completed clinical trials (which, as we have covered previously can sometimes lead to devastating consequences). Also, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine hasn’t actually demonstrated that it doesn’t prevent transmission of the disease… I’m going to stop here before I start catastrophizing this situation because it’s just that kind of day, but… I can’t be the only person reading this and shaking my head in dismay, right?

Natalie: I’m trying to remain optimistic about the vaccine but, as we start moving into thinking about distribution — which may include paying people to get vaccinated — I’m starting to worry about how we avoid replicating existing systems and their deficiencies. Are the countries with the most money going to get prioritized? What does distribution to marginalized communities look like? How do we prioritize the incarcerated?

+ The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know

+ Putin Orders Mass Coronavirus Vaccination in Russia ‘Next Week’

The Growing Threat of Terrorism

“This Keeps Me Up at Night”: Radicalization Experts Fear What Trump’s Fringes Will Do Now

Rachel: I’m not always a huge fan of discourse that compares harmful large-scale power structures to abusive interpersonal relationships, but at the same time there are I think some kernels of parallel truism there about patterns of power and control in general. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot since election night (lol, election week and a half) is how abusers become most dangerous to their targets when their target has a chance of freedom from them; statistically, most violence to IPV survivors is enacted when those survivors were trying to leave their abuser. I think we’re entering a really dangerous period, and I’m concerned that there may be less attention paid and therefore pressure applied around the issue of far right domestic terrorism because some folks hope that a Biden presidency means they can stop having to think about this stuff all the time — a scenario where we have increased violence against people of color and immigrants, and white folks with political and social currency largely don’t respond to it because it doesn’t feel like it directly affects them.

Natalie: I’m scared about this too but more so because I actually don’t think the Trump family is going anywhere and, without the office as a constraint (such that it ever was), I think there’s an interest in continuing to sow chaos. Already, there are rumors of another run for Trump in 2024, his son running to head the most powerful lobby in Washington, the National Rifle Association and his daughter-in-law mounting a bid for the Senate in 2022. They are determined to keep their place on the national stage because they believe it inoculates them from facing the consequences of their illegal actions.

She witnessed the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings. Now she’s scared for herself.

Scores Killed In Massacre Of Farmers In Nigeria

“Making Peace with Nature Is the Defining Task of the 21st Century.”

Humanity is waging war on nature, says UN secretary general

Photography campaign shows the grim aftermath of logging in Canada’s fragile forests

Himani: These pictures were incredibly devastating. That was a giant, ancient tree reduced to a stump in a matter of what… hours? How many decades or possibly even centuries had that tree born witness to? How many catastrophes had it survived to be felled by humans for what? A few sheets of paper or maybe a table — both of which will rot some day in a landfill, unable to decompose and complete the cycle of death and rebirth? The world was in uproar over the fires in the Amazon rainforest last year but a first world country is doing essentially the same thing and it largely flies under the radar — is this really all that different?

Trump kick-starts oil drilling licence sales in Arctic refuge

Escalating Situations Around the World

Ethiopia’s unfolding humanitarian crisis, explained by top aid official Jan Egeland

Himani: I was hesitant to include this article in today’s round up because (1) I have linked a lot of Vox articles today, (2) we’ve talked about the crisis in Ethiopia a few times recently and (3) the interview is with a white European aid worker. However, I am including it in because Jan Egeland makes this incredibly important point while noting just how many refugees have fled Ethiopia for Sudan in response to the violence in Tigray:

People come every day, but fewer now than a couple weeks back, when there were more people coming to Sudan than a European country would get in a year. Sudan received more people in three weeks from Tigray than the United States is willing to take as its quota of refugees in a year.

It just goes to show that, in our time and age, nearly all refugees come from one poor country to another poor country. It’s the poor countries that give protection, give safe havens to refugees in our time and age.

Immigration and asylum are increasingly the catalyst for white supremacy to gain political power in Europe and the U.S. And yet while immigrants and asylum-seekers are villainized across the Western world, the Western world isn’t even doing its part to actually offer refuge to people.

And speaking of refugees….

Bangladesh Begins Moving Displaced Rohingya Muslims To Island

Himani: This latest relocation of the Rohingya Muslims is horrifying. But in the context of Egeland’s observation above, it feels a little rich for Western aid organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and the U.N. to tell Bangladesh it has to stop when these organizations and the powerful Western countries that rule them have done little to support the Rohingya Muslims or offer Bangladesh some kind of assistance in supporting them over the last three years. There’s about a million Rohingya Muslim refugees living in Bangladesh. Even during Obama’s presidency, the U.S. was accepting less than 100,000 asylum seekers in any single year. And obviously, asylum was completely gutted under Trump, but even raising admissions to the pre-Trump levels would not nearly address the scope of the problem.

China and Australia are in a nasty diplomatic spat over a fake tweet — and real war crimes

Himani: It’s incredible to me how Australia’s Brereton report has also largely flown under the radar in the U.S. (and I’m guessing Western, more broadly) news cycle.

3 Hong Kong pro-democracy icons were sentenced to prison in huge blow to protest movement

Himani: This is truly horrendous. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us who have been following the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong for the last year and more saw this coming.

The assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, briefly explained

The War Criminals Trying to Prevent a Genocide

Extra! Extra!: Everything Not the Election It’s Been Hard to Keep Up with

Extra! Extra!: Everything Not the Election It's Been Hard to

With less than two weeks to go until the presidential election, I find myself losing sight of all the many other things going on in the world. I’m sure many people feel this way as well. This week’s Extra! Extra! looks at a whole slew of non-election related news, including LGBTQ+ rights and the trifecta of global pandemics: police violence, climate change and COVID-19. And then, of course, we do take a look at election-related news too.

LGBTQ+ Issues

In Shift for Church, Pope Francis Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions

Rachel: I’ve been thinking all week about how to feel about this as a cultural/lapsed Catholic. On the one hand I think even this (ultimately abstract, as it doesn’t amount to a shift in dogma or Catholic theology) gesture will make a genuine difference for many queer folks growing up in Catholic-practicing families and communities, as families and loved ones may genuinely revisit their stances; on the other hand, the Vatican still went out of their way to state as recently as 2019 that the existence of trans people “annihilates the concept of nature”. On yet another hand, this is absurdly too little too late – it’s 2020! Civil unions??? – and ultimately, regardless of theological beliefs, the Vatican as an institution is an inherently oppressive and colonial one; symbolic tolerance of LGBTQ folks is… not liberatory, really. This thought does not have a resolution! I would very much like to hear from other LGBTQ Catholics and folks historically colonized by Catholic empires.

Texas social workers can now turn away LGBTQ, disabled clients

Himani: People keep talking about how Texas is turning purple. That may very well be true but as long as Greg Abbott is governor, it seems like state-driven policies in Texas will remain a deep shade of red. Earlier this year, we saw how Abbott used the governorship to try to undermine police reform in Austin. Now he’s at it again by “recommending” to the state’s Board of Social Worker Examiners to remove the civil rights protections for queer, trans and disabled people. And, unlike the city of Austin — which stood by its police budget cut — the Board caved to this pressure from the governor. The ramifications of this decision are clear.

Barrett was trustee at private school with anti-gay policies

Himani: Yes, this article is about Amy Coney Barrett’s deeply homophobic views, but also let’s talk about private schools for a hot minute. As per this AP article: “the school’s and organization’s teachings on homosexuality and treatment of LGBTQ people are harsher than those of the mainstream Catholic church” — which, given Rachel’s comments earlier, is a pretty low bar… This is a school that told a gay student to tell a lesbian parent of prospective student that they would have no place in the school, and that this applied to trans and queer families and students on the whole. The school has enshrined the notion of marriage being solely between a man and woman, prevented children from LGBTQ+ families from enrolling, itself bullied its own LGBTQ+ students, … the list goes on and on.

And yet, as the AP article continues, “The actions are probably legal, experts said.”

This is a private school that has received taxpayer money in the form of vouchers. And this is among the many, many reasons why the policy shift towards “school choice” is such a terrible, terrible idea. There’s a long list of other reasons why it’s bad, but tax-payer funded discrimination is pretty high up there.

Police Violence, the World Over

Himani: Police violence was at the forefront of the American conscience this summer. But police violence is, truly, a global problem. Right across the border, Canada is grappling with some of the same issues as the U.S. in terms of the wide latitude it gives to law enforcement and the deadly consequences of that. An ocean away, Nigerians have taken to the streets over that very issue. Over in the Philippines, Duterte is obstinately justifying the thousands upon thousands of extrajudicial killings that have happened at the hands of the police on his watch. In Belarus, police are violently suppressing protests as people demand their right to free and fair elections, much like we saw in Portland earlier this summer and witnessed in Nigeria this week as well. A similar situation is playing out in Thailand, but just today it seems like the government is responding to the pressure from pro-democracy protests. These are just a few instances of police violence that have made the news the past couple of weeks.

Police Were Warned About No-Knock Warrants. Now, a Black Man Is Dead

Tens of Thousands March in Belarus Despite Police Threat to Open Fire

Thailand’s Prime Minister lifts state of emergency. Protesters give him three days to resign

‘I’m the one’: Philippines president takes responsibility for drug killings

Federal Agents Used Toxic Chemical Smoke Grenades in Portland

Climate Change and Racism Go Hand in Hand

Himani: From the beginning, climate change and racism have been close bedfellows. For centuries, white, Western colonials prioritized their own (short-term) prosperity at the expense of indigenous people and the environment. And those patterns continue. The oil tycoons and land developers and big agricultural corporations know the environmental consequences of their actions. But they don’t care because they don’t have to live with them in the present and won’t have to deal with them in the future. And when some of the effects of climate change start to be felt by those in power, they turn to their two favorite approaches: cultural appropriation and trading in one problem for another.

The great hypocrisy of California using Indigenous practices to curb wildfires

Knock on Wood: How Europe’s wood pellet appetite fuels environmental racism in the South

This is my message to the western world – your civilisation is killing life on Earth

COVID-19 Update

‘Drastic rise’ in Malawi’s suicide rate linked to Covid economic downturn

Himani: It’s such a horrible bind we’ve put ourselves in the world over. The only safe way to exist, to try to fight the virus is to shut down economies. But shutting down economies leads to devastating consequences for the poorest people in society. In Malawi, where half the country lives below the poverty line, this has resulted in a sharp increase in suicides. If only, we as a global community, structured our societies differently. If only we did not endlessly chase after dollars, as Rachel notes below, as well. A pandemic might still have wreaked havoc in the world but perhaps not quite as much death, destruction and devastation.

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up

Rachel: There’s been a lot of (rightful) criticism of the passive voice here – people didn’t “slip” into poverty, as a happenstance, but were thrust into it by the government. Similarly, ‘dried up’ is some very careful phrasing; federal aid was actively denied to us despite calls for it; aid that was actually meant for small business was instead reallocated in bulk to corporations; many businesses that did receive aid weren’t actually beholden to use it to pay workers. All those points are crucially important; I’m also thinking of this news in light of the development just yesterday that GoFundMe has expanded its own relief program in the form of Causes, which include Covid-19 relief. It’s too kind to say it’s a farce – not only has the government abjectly refused to care for its people, but in doing so has created a vacuum that allows a private company to step in and make a profit just by facilitating other private citizens trying to keep each other alive. The invisible hand of the market, I guess!

California kept prison factories open. Inmates worked for pennies an hour as COVID-19 spread

On Elections, in America and Beyond

Himani: As the world anxiously awaits the results of the upcoming U.S. election, let’s take a look at a few other political situations around the world.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wins historic reelection

Himani: Ardern has been widely praised for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and that played a big role in her successful re-election. In a world of populist (essentially) dictators winning landslides and becoming even more authoritarian, this is such a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do in her next term.

The remarkable power of African elections

Himani: This article was a sobering reminder that even when democracy is suppressed to the point of no longer being anything even close to democracy, elections still serve a purpose. I’ve thought about this a lot when I think about the work Alexey Navalny has done for years in Russia. As Americans grow increasingly jaded with our own electoral process, this would be a lesson we would do well to learn.

Less Than Two Weeks Out : Let’s Talk about the Issues

The Swamp that Trump Built

The Neo-Imperialist’s Burden

The Dystopian Police State the Trump Administration Wants

Lawyers say they can’t find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration

What to Expect on November 3

We’re Living in the Shadows of a Bush v. Gore 2.0

Himani: I was in seventh grade when Bush v. Gore happened, and it literally disillusioned me on American democracy for the rest of my life. The 2016 election was absolutely devastating for me and others for so, so many reasons. And this. This is my absolute worst nightmare that I am very, very much afraid will be our reality.

How to Survive Election Night

Rachel: This isn’t political analysis, but my therapist also brought up this week how many of her clients are making or should make election night preparedness plans about how they’re going to spend the evening regardless of outcome and make sure they’re as well-resourced and cared for as possible. I think this is a great idea and would encourage it for you also! Are there folks you can be with, digitally if not in person? If you do want to get updates, what are sources you trust and share values with that you can get those updates from, and how can you turn off access to the other sources? Would it be a good idea (and possible) to take off work or other obligations the next day? Do you have plans for ways to get involved in making your communities healthier and safer through and beyond the election regardless of outcome? We’re here for you now, and will be on election day too.


Extra! Extra! is on a biweekly schedule for the month of October. We’ll see you in two weeks! (Yes, after the election…)

Got my eyebrow pierced today and I’m feeling extra gay! : actuallesbians

Got my eyebrow pierced today and I’m feeling extra gay!

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

This week’s Extra! Extra! brings news from yet another grim week of police brutality in America. The state-sanctioned violence continues, people protest peacefully and are attacked and even killed by law enforcement and vigilantes (who are also, more or less, supported by law enforcement). We also bring a brief update on the state of the US election after both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions wrapped up, an update on some of the situations we’ve been following in Lebanon and Russia and, finally, on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another Day In America, Another Story of Police Brutality

Fatal Police Shooting Of Black Man In Louisiana Sparks Outrage And Protest

Natalie: Today, you will be reminded that it is the 12th anniversary of Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for President. Today, you will also be reminded that it is the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Activists from across the globe are converging on Washington, DC — both physically and virtually — to echo King’s clarion call for civil and economic justice.

But what you might not hear about is that today is also the 65th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. For the sin of saying “bye baby” after purchasing bubble gum, the teenager was dragged “from his bed, beat…to the point of disfigurement, and shot…before [his body was tossed] into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton-gin fan attached with barbed wire laced to his neck to weigh him down.” Till’s mama, famously, left his casket open on the day of his funeral so America could see what it had wrought. It happened 65 years ago…we’ve never been so far from Till’s death and yet the environment that provoked it feels as alive today as it ever has during my lifetime.

After video shows Wisconsin police shooting a Black man multiple times, National Guard is called to Kenosha

Natalie: Last week, in this very space, I urged folks to do more to protect black and brown trans women. I castigated those who stood by and did nothing while three trans women were getting beaten. Then, because irony is so especially cruel, the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin kill Jacob Blake for doing something… he is paralyzed from the waist down and (!!) handcuffed in a hospital bed for breaking up a fight.

I don’t know what to do or say except that I’m tired. I’m heartbroken and I’m so, so tired.

Rachel: The unspeakably violent and brutal attempted murder of Jacob Blake absolutely knocked the wind out of me; after a summer of such intense and inspiring organizing, it felt unbearable to know that even with a once-in-a-generation moment of unity and outrage, police still felt comfortable doing this. I’m also so, so glad that Blake has survived, and am infuriated that he remains under arrest (for what???) and hope he can be reunited with his family soon. I also want to note that after his injuries, Blake joins a multiply marginalized group as a Black disabled man, and it’s all our duty to support him and other Black disabled people in the specificity of what they experience; we can’t forget about Blake as a person either because he survived the attempt at murdering him or because we think of him as somehow no longer a participant in our world because he’s disabled. Standing against the police violence enacted on Blake means continuing to support his needs as a disabled person in the long-term, especially knowing that we live in a state that won’t. Blake and other disabled folks are actually at greater risk of police violence now; disabled people experience extremely disproportionate rates of police violence, and Black disabled folks are at high particular risk. The pandemic we’re living through will also leave generations of people disabled in ways that they weren’t prior to COVID, and it’s a pandemic that’s disproportionately impacting Black folks in the US — it’s an extremely important time for able-bodied and non-Black people to really prioritize how to materially support and act in solidarity with Black disabled people.

FBI: Police fatally shoot man on North Dakota reservation

Natalie: Unbeknownst to most, the group with the highest rate of deaths from police brutality aren’t Black or Latinx; they’re Native Americans. Their communities are, historically, overpoliced and, far too often, the consequences are deadly. Native lives matter…and we should say their name too: Brandon Laducer.

Phoenix police held man on hot asphalt for nearly 6 minutes before he died, video shows

Natalie: DEFUND. THE. POLICE.

Himani: Every time I read a headline about another person (almost always Black or Native American) shot by the police (or someone who thinks they are the police, because really it doesn’t matter either way), I think to myself, “And how many more people are there who were shot by the police that I don’t even know about?”

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say, and this violence doesn’t shape my life the way that it does for Black and Indigenous people. I want to try to be hopeful that change is on the horizon — somewhere — because, as a friend so powerfully pointed out to me recently, it’s not my place to be hopeless when my life isn’t the one that’s on the line. But really, truly, what will it take to change this? I can’t understand how anyone supports law enforcement or those who think they’re acting in the spirit of law enforcement after all of this. And yet somehow, I’m still walking by houses and businesses with the police flag hanging outside. How can a person be so cavalier?

The people who commit these acts of brutality truly lack humanity. And the people who abet them also clearly do, as well.

There Is No Debate To Be Had: Police Reform Does Not Work

When “Police Reform” Came to Kenosha, Wisconsin

“Most Cops Are Good”

Himani: How many times have we heard this story? A city invested in police reform and the police violence continued. But as Natalie discusses in greater detail below, law enforcement has a white supremacy problem. How can you give so much power to people who are so clearly adherents of violent extremism and then think a couple of aluminum guardrails are going to keep them in check? The real question is why anyone has that much power in the first place.

White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says

Natalie: Remember in 2009 when the Obama administration released a report called, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” and Republicans proceeded to lose their shit? The administration stuck it quietly back on the shelf to quell the backlash. In the decade since, the tide of violence it portended has come to pass.

The Brennan Center’s report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement,” echoes a lot of that 2009 DHS report…only with a greater focus on law enforcement. We’d be fools not to listen this time.

Police Brutality Is Horrific. And It’s Just One Part of the Problem.

Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals

Natalie: This is egregious and offensive — it’s stunning how blatant this is — but, as someone who grew up in a multi-racial home, it completely tracks with my experience. Even today, I’m nervous about accompanying my white mother into certain spaces where my black skin might prove disadvantageous to her.

Black Workers Are More Likely to Be Unemployed but Less Likely to Get Unemployment Benefits

Himani: I’m not really sure this comes as news to anyone. But somehow, amazingly, stereotypes about who “exploits” social services abound.

To Reappropriate Orwell: “All Protests Are Equal, But Some Protests Are More Equal.”

Unmasked Protesters Push Past Police Into Idaho Lawmakers’ Session

Natalie: A few weeks ago in Tennessee, the state legislature passed a law cracking down on protesters. Under the new law, if Tennessee protesters illegally camp on state property, they face a Class E felony, punishable by six years and prison and the loss of the right to vote. Before the bills passage, State Rep. Jason Hodges spoke the quiet part aloud, “We seem to not worry about protesting when we as white people show up to our capitols with AR-15s, but when black people show up with signs, it just seems like all of a sudden we want to pass legislation.”

It is impossible to see these scenes out of Idaho and not think about that…about who the state allows to protest and whose voices are welcome on the public square and whose are not. This report from NPR notes that six years ago, activists advocating for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be added to the state’s Human Rights Act were arrested, despite being relatively silent. But these people, who carry weapons to intimidate the people around them and who vandalize state property, are just allowed to do so…without any repercussions.

Rachel: I’m reminded of the history of American gun control (“gun control,” such as it is) here — to the extent that we have laws regulating what kind of firearms one can own and who can own them, much of that is due to the Black Panthers’ (legal) open carrying of firearms for their self-defense and defense of their communities in the 1960s. This Buzzfeed piece goes into much more detail (very worth reading!) but as the head summarizes: “when Black people carried guns, conservatives supported gun control.” A bill aimed at restricting the open carry of loaded firearms was actually introduced by “a conservative Republican in the California legislature named Don Mulford, who sought to prohibit the public carrying of loaded firearms in the state — a move clearly targeted to disband or weaken the Black Panthers by criminalizing their signature tactic. The NRA supported Mulford’s bill, which was consistent with the moderate stance the organization had taken on gun control legislation throughout most of its history up to that point.” Since then, (limited) gun control measures have passed into law in the US; however, we can see from the unspeakable violence Kyle Rittenhouse was easily able to unleash that they’re enforced in a racially disparate way (Rittenhouse’s open carrying of firearms was no problem, but we’re supposed to agree that Blake’s allegedly inside his car somehow was?). Much like legally mandated COVID precautions, much like laws aimed at protesters, drug offenses, sexual assault offenses; much like everything. It’s a sobering reminder both of how entrenched anti-Black racism is in our infrastructures as well as the limits of trying to legislate our values if we don’t change our culture.

17-year-old charged with murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings

Natalie: There’s a continuum of how we allow whiteness and white supremacy in this country…which begins with insolent rage and allowing whiteness to assert its ownership over space that doesn’t belong to them, as in Idaho…and this feels like how it ends, with two dead at the hands of a whiteness that could not, would not, be contained.

The police welcomed Kyle Rittenhouse and his weapon of war to Kenosha. They gave him water and made him feel like one of them…the very thing he’d always wanted. Then he kills two people: the first because of a plastic bag apparently, the second because someone dared try to hold him accountable. That’s how fuckin’ fragile whiteness is: it can be sent into a murderous rage by a fuckin’ plastic bag.

Rachel: It’s truly impossible at this point to even pretend not to be aware of the obvious epidemic of radicalized, murderous young white men. The pattern is literally always the same: indoctrinated in extremist, violent communities on the internet linked to white supremacist, conspiracy theory and/or incel movements (the overlap between which is not coincidental!); usually early signs of intimate violence enacted against women in their personal lives, and culminating in a violent public outburst with a high-powered weapon, generally including a callout or public claiming of their extremist online communities, which then galvanizes those communities all over again, heightening and perpetuating the cycle. This is undeniable; it has happened constantly for… decades? now, from the École Polytechnique massacre to Elliot Rodger to the recent shootings in Hanau to Kyle Rittenhouse. The list goes on.

It’s not mysterious or even difficult to figure out how to address; police recently identified a protester through a blurry photograph of a t-shirt that they tracked the Etsy purchase of. Simply put, if they wanted to identify and monitor the people who are causing this, they absolutely could; they have chosen not to. These shootings keep continuing because their victims are women (often sex workers), Black people, and immigrants: people whose lives the state doesn’t care enough to try to protect, in the most generous reading. Before he started shooting, police in Kenosha welcomed the militia Rittenhouse was a part of, offering him a bottle of water; he was arrested in his home state of Illinois, after returning home freely, not at the scene where he murdered two people. Do we think it’s somehow just an unfortunate accident these attacks keep happening?

Himani: I agree with everything Rachel has said above. I also want to add this angle: America is so utterly hypocritical in how it thinks about “terrorism.” Message boards with white supremacists explicitly talking about harming civilians and elected officials? No problem, the FBI doesn’t care. Brown person taking a picture of a bridge? Quite possibly a terrorist, law enforcement better go check that out. (This did actually happen to someone I know in the wake of 9/11.) It’s just… I honestly don’t have words. Every time someone tries to make an argument that none of these things are about race, I really don’t have the patience any more. Everything. Every damned single thing in this country is about race and proximity to whiteness. That’s all it comes down to.

And what’s also disheartening is in the same breath we talk about how the future lies in the hands of Gen Z, we have indoctrinated young white supremacists of the Millennial and Gen Z age. We saw this in Charleston, and we saw this in Charlottesville, and we see this again now in Kenosha. So, what exactly is the future we have to hope for?

Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting

Natalie: Facebook has already shown itself to be a threat to democracy and now it has blood on its hands.

Himani: Isn’t it amazing how Facebook just blocked Thai protest groups under pressure from the monarchy, and yet somehow white supremacists inciting violence in America fly under its radar — even after being tagged as violating Facebook policies?

US Election 2020 Update

We Now Know How Much Trump’s Postmaster General Slowed Down the Mail

Two women say they didn’t know their naturalization ceremony would be used at GOP convention

Natalie: Of course they didn’t ask…of course they didn’t.

Himani: The really fucked up thing about this is that even if they had asked, what could any of these people have said? Who is going to pass up a naturalization ceremony when greencards and visas have been basically ground to a halt.

And speaking of the RNC:

Natalie: It is amazing the sheer number of lies one man can fit into an hour-long speech. Both Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Daniel Dale on CNN exhausted themselves addressing just a small portion of them.

Earlier this week, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, suggested that Joe Biden not debate the pathological president ahead of November’s election. She said, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”

After Trump’s display last night, it’s hard to argue that she’s not right.

Voting Is Broken. It’s the Only Way Out.

Why We’re Voting

Himani: With so much broken in the world, with so much broken in America specifically, with a primary election that was so disappointing to so many people, it is so easy to feel hopeless. I understand that, really I do. These five LGBTQ+ activists have no illusions about the choices before us: the man currently in office who openly supports white supremacists and the man who is stuck on the idea that “there are a few bad apples.” But they also have no illusions about which of these two men can actually be held accountable and which of these two administrations is more dangerous.

There’s so much that can be said and that will be said about this election. But this roundtable is definitely a powerful read.

And Other Things That Are Not Looking So Hot

Mexico’s Government Can’t Find 70,000 Missing People

Tortures and Enforced Disappearances: The Bloody History of Bangladesh’s Elite Paramilitary Force

Beirut’s devastating blast has not shaken the ruling class’s grip on Lebanon

Himani: It’s so disheartening to watch these moments unfold, where it seems like in the face of great tragedy, much needed change may finally be coming and then… the powerful and wealthy continue to grasp onto their power and their wealth.

It may seem Putin controls the Russian state personally. The reality is more dangerous

Himani: Sometimes it’s easier to believe that there’s one strong man, and if he (almost always he) were just removed from power the world would be a better place. But this grim article is a reminder that reality is much more complicated, cruel and difficult to unseat.

USCIS makes it official. They will ignore SCOTUS ruling and, “will reject all initial DACA requests.”

Himani: In another bit of news that did not really make headlines: back in July, USCIS indicated they would ignore the SCOTUS ruling. Now they have made that a matter of official policy.

Hurricane Laura was already a deadly storm before it reached the US

The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine

Himani: I’ve been thinking about water a lot the past few years. It’s becoming a scarcer and scarcer resource. And while that is abundantly clear when you read about places like India it’s also true in the West and so-called “Global North.”

COVID-19 Update

CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says

Emails show businesses held sway over state reopening plans

I work as a medic in Syria, where an unreported Covid-19 crisis is unfolding

Xinjiang residents handcuffed to their homes in Covid lockdown

COVID Has Caused Extra Harm for Guatemala’s Victims of Gendered Violence

How Young Women Journalists Helped to Fight COVID-19 in Rwanda

Extra! Extra!: If Trump’s Administration Is So Incompetent, Why Is It So Efficient at Enacting Anti-LGBTQ Policies?

Extra! Extra!: If Trump's Administration Is So Incompetent, Why Is

This week’s Extra! Extra! reports another bit of news that flew under the radar, this time regarding gun control (it’s not good, you guys). We also cover the heinous violence against three trans women in LA this week, USAID’s erasure of LGBTQ+ people and an update on what’s going on around the US regarding police violence and the protests. And then we turn to the elections – by which I mean Russia, Belarus and the US. (For coverage on the Democratic National Convention I will refer you to Carmen’s great round up in this week’s Also, Also, Also.)

The Gun Control News That Flew Under the Radar

9th Circuit ends California ban on high-capacity magazines

Natalie: I was surprised to see this decision come out of the 9th Circuit which has been, traditionally, one of the more liberal circuits. However, the Trump era, combined with the unprecedented obstruction by Mitch McConnell in the Senate during the Obama presidency, has caused a profound rightward shift in our judiciary and the 9th Circuit is no exception. This particular case (Duncan v. Becerra) was narrowly decided by a third judge panel: Kenneth K. Lee, a Trump appointee, and Consuelo Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee. Barbara M. Lynn, the lone Democratic appointee, dissented.

I cannot imagine Becerra not asking the 9th Circuit for an en banc review, as the California Attorney General has a better shot at being successful there than going straight for a Supreme Court decision.

LGBTQ+ News

Disturbing video shows man attacking 3 transgender women on Hollywood Boulevard

Los Angeles police arrest two men, seek another in attack against three transgender women

Natalie: I wanted to take a minute to highlight these two stories: in part to make you aware, if you’re privileged enough to forget, that the epidemic of violence against trans women persists — it takes no days off — and, as a result, we are obliged to take no days off in our efforts to protect trans women and especially black and brown trans women. Whatever we’ve been doing, whatever we are doing, it’s insufficient…we have to do more.

I’m heartbroken for the victims of that violence — Joslyn Allen, Jaslene Busanet and Eden Estrada — and hope that they soon know justice.

But even if the perpetrators are locked away, what of the crowd? What of the bystanders who “appear to celebrate the assaults rather than render aid and assist the victims?” Where is their humanity?

We have to do better. We have to do more. Black trans lives matter and we need to say it, talk to our friends and families about it and do the work of creating a safer world for black and brown trans women to exist in.

Erased From the Trump Administration’s Draft of a Key Foreign Aid Policy: Any Mention of LGBT People

Himani: In the Democratic National Convention this week, much was made of Trump’s incompetence and his “inability to meet this moment.” (I feel like I heard that phrase so many times.) But what strikes me is how effective that incompetence has been in moving forward some of the most transphobic and homophobic policies in the US and abroad at every level. This news about USAID’S newest gender policy guides seems like the most mundane bit of bureaucracy you could imagine. And yet, even in this arena, his administration has been incredibly successful at erasing trans lives and devaluing LGBTQ+ rights as a whole. Although unrelated, it’s hard not to take this as yet another tacit endorsement from this administration of the heinous actions and heartbreaking news Natalie shared above. As far as the Trump administration is concerned, not only do trans lives not matter, but trans pain simply doesn’t exist.

Lambda Legal Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Ruling Protecting LGBTQ Foster Youth and Parents

On Police Brutality, the Protests and Black Lives Matter

Georgia State Trooper Faces Felony Murder Charges In Traffic Stop Shooting

New video: Sheriff’s deputy the ‘undeniably initial aggressor’ in Toronto Raptors shoving match

Natalie: Imagine being at the pinnacle of your career and having that moment invaded by a police officer because you happen to be black…that’s what happened to Masai Ujiri, the president of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

His team had just done the improbable — beaten the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Championship — and he was excited to celebrate with the team. But when he approaches the floor with his credentials out (in a tailored suit, no less), a deputy pushes him back…not once but twice…and Ujiri is forced to defend himself.

That deputy, Alan Strickland, sued Ujiri and his police department, the Alameda Police Department, backed him all the way. They backed him up, despite accounts from witnesses who contradicted his story. They backed him even though, presumably, they’d seen this video that clearly disproves Strickland’s story. They backed Strickland up even though they had to know that this video would eventually come out…the Raptors and the NBA are too powerful and too monied for it not to. The Alameda Police department wanted to file baseless charges against a black man to support a deputy that they knew was lying.

Cops Who Charged Civil Rights Leaders With Felonies Try To Sideline Progressive Prosecutor

Natalie: Watch this case because, as we push to elect more progressive prosecutors, there will be more of this…more attempts to discredit and disallow those prosecutors for doing the job the people elected them to do.

‘Fort Lori’: Chicago police ban protests on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s block, order arrests for anyone who won’t leave

Himani: The only part of Chicago politics I’ve ever really followed is related specifically to education. So I really can’t offer much insight here on what expectations or hopes people had of Lightfoot going into last year’s mayoral elections. But, as we learned with De Blasio over here in the NYC metro area, sometimes it doesn’t matter who someone campaigns as. Lightfoot’s questionable (at best) approach to handling protests extends well beyond her block, as she and her administration have worked to actively disconnect different parts of the city in the name of protecting wealthy people’s properties and business.

Texas Governor Floats Plan To Freeze Tax Hikes In Cities That Defund Police

Himani: Last week we shared news that Austin had begun defunding its police department. Less than a week later, Texas governor Greg Abbott put forward a plan that would ban cities from raising property taxes if they defund their police departments. Permanently. Pro-police Republicans appear hell-bent on preserving police forces at the expense of communities. The state legislature still needs to vote on Abbott’s proposed law. Regardless, Austin plans to press forward with defunding the police department. It’s hard for me to read stuff like this and not feel deeply cynical about everything. Like it literally took six days for Republicans to attempt to block measures that are really just the first step of what needs to happen so that Black people can live the safe lives they deserve. Inevitably, as we get closer and closer to November, I think about just how important it is to vote.

Activists: Police killings of Latinos lack attention

Himani: This article was informative for me, but it leaves open a lot of questions in terms of how activist communities work together. And, at the end of the day, the Black and Latinx communities aren’t mutually exclusive, in terms of the individuals who are part of both communities and in terms of how violent police policies are used against both communities. (I’m thinking about stop and frisk in NYC, for instance, which very explicitly targeted both Black and Latinx communities.) This is one of the areas where I’d like to read and hear more from both Black and Latinx activists about how they think about police brutality in their own communities and in terms of the larger conversations happening in the US right now.

Immigration News

Trump Cabinet officials voted in 2018 White House meeting to separate migrant children, say officials

Natalie: I think Jamelle Bouie really said it best: “millions of Trump fanatics are in the grip of a deranged conspiracy theory about the abuse of children, meanwhile, top officials in the Trump administration conspired to abuse children as a matter of public policy.”

ICE guards ‘systematically’ sexually assault detainees in an El Paso detention center, lawyers say

Natalie: This is horrific.

Two Case Studies in How the Pandemic Has Made Dire Situations Impossible

All the Ways the Pandemic Makes the Wildfire Crisis Worse

India’s invisible catastrophe: fears over spread of Covid-19 into poor rural areas

Rachel: The wildfire crisis and the various ways it’s being made exponentially worse this year are honestly so upsetting it’s difficult to write about. Like, where to start — the fact that many folks I know on the West Coast already had their own personal supply of N95 masks before COVID because the fires have been so bad for so long? The fact that the pandemic and lack of resourcing around PPE means that now many people can’t find masks for the fires OR the pandemic? The fact that the frontlines of wildfire fighting, which was already incarcerated folks who are forced to do this life-threatening work for dollars a day and then aren’t even allowed to work as firefighters after release have been decimated because the government has been fine with leaving incarcerated people to die of COVID in overcrowded, unsanitary prisons? The fact that the health risks of exposure to smoke and ash — heart and lung damage — will mean everyone exposed to the fires is at significantly greater risk of COVID complications and death? You see how it quickly becomes almost impossible to even process.

We talk a lot about how the pandemic has made things fall apart, and made already-bad situations worse — but the flip side of that is that the things the pandemic is worsening are often things our government and overall infrastructure have knowingly hobbled and weakened for generations, often for the sake of profit and fueled by a sickening indifference. It’s beyond just having been unprepared logistically and epidemiologically for a pandemic (although, duh, we were); it’s about having an entire economy and social structure that’s based on devaluing human life when the only way to make it through something as globally devastating as a pandemic is by working collectively and prioritizing human life over profits. As with… virtually everything in the US right now, this just didn’t have to happen!

Himani: And I will just add that the larger themes Rachel is writing about above also apply to the situation unfolding in rural India, particularly around the lack of health infrastructure.

Russia’s 2020 Election Takes a Dark Turn

Rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin in coma, allegedly poisoned by toxic tea

Putin Critic Alexey Navalny Allegedly Poisoned by Toxin in His Tea

Himani: This whole situation is just… it’s really one of those beyond words situations for me. Russia has regional elections coming up in September, and opposition leader Alexey Navalny was campaigning for independent candidates in Siberia. Reports from earlier today indicated that there was an attempt to block Navalny’s transfer to Germany for treatment. Just hours ago he was allowed to be relocated. As both of the articles above explain, there’s a troubling pattern of Russian dissidents being apparently and suspiciously poisoned. It also seems that this isn’t the first attempt at poisoning Navalny specifically.

Natalie: Another in a long line of Putin critics to end up poisoned, including Viktor Yushchenko, Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal and his daughter…and those are just the ones we know about.

And An Update on Belarus

Belarus crisis: EU says it does not recognise election results

America’s 2020 Election

DeJoy’s USPS Policy Rollbacks Don’t Appear to Change Much

Rachel: If you, like me, have been talking to the (somewhat less Online) people in your life about your concerns about USPS, you may have heard, like me, the response “Oh, but there’s a new policy! They said they’re halting the shutdowns, at least until after the election.” However, as this Vice piece explains… are they?

…it’s not clear what, if anything, is actually changing. Some of the changes DeJoy has made to the post office have already been implemented, and cannot easily or quickly be rolled back. And the USPS declined to provide any further comment before DeJoy testifies in Congress.
“The only thing I take from it is that he is slowing down his plans,” said a postal worker in a processing and distribution facility, “not stopping them.’

It seems like, from a layman’s perspective, this is more about quelling concern (and thus, action) than anything else, and producing exactly the response I’ve heard from people “Oh, it’s actually not a problem anymore! No worries.” I would urge you… not to assume this is the case! With respect to this issue or really like, anything.

Win or lose, Trump’s new GOP is here to stay

And Here Are Just A Few of the Most Troubling Candidates

The QAnon Supporter Heading to Congress Is Only the Beginning

#NC11: Cawthorn Addresses Sexual Misconduct Allegations

GOP congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn on the defensive over social media post of visit to Hitler retreat

The Republican Party just took another step toward a dangerous conspiracy theory

Anti-Muslim Activist Laura Loomer Wins Florida GOP House Primary

Natalie: There is a segment of the Republican Party — and some members of the Democratic Party too, if we’re being honest — who want to believe that Donald Trump is an aberration…that, once he’s gone, the GOP regain their sensibilities and we will, once again have a functioning two-party system. We know that’s not true, though, because we’ve seen the unprecedented obstruction the GOP enacted during the Obama years — they stole a Supreme Court seat from him!! — and because we’re seeing “trumpism” manifest in other candidates and those candidates have been successful, at least in GOP primaries.

From afar, Madison Cawthorn might seem like the exception…unlike Laura Loomer and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Cawthorn isn’t outwardly bigoted and he often calls for the GOP to adopt “better messaging” that’s less “abravise.” But upon closer examination — best detailed by Esther Wang at Jezebel — Cawthorn is just a better dressed Trump: he lies about how he’s made his money, he has a record of assaulting women and he has an inexplicable fondness for fascists and white supremacists.

Lest you buy into the notion that the GOP is powerless to stop the rise of folks like Cawthorn, Loomer or Greene, consider this: Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is currently represented by Denver Riggleman, a former Air Force officer and craft distillery owner. Though he won his House seat in 2018 as a Republican with a libertarian streak, the Congressman has been a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill conservative thus far. But then Riggleman made “the mistake” of accepting that marriage equality is the law of the land, presiding over the marriage of two gay supporters last summer.

The Rappahannock County Republican Party censured him, the Cumberland County Republican Committee issued a “vote of no confidence” and the Congressional District Republican Committee opted to choose the nominee via convention instead of through a primary. The process change ensured that the 5th District’s nominee would be picked by the most ardent conservatives in the district and Riggleman was ousted by a substantial margin and replaced on the ballot by an unrepetant bigot.

I mention all that to say this: if the GOP wanted to excise these cancers from their Party, they could. If they could orchestrate Riggleman’s ouster in Virginia, they could get Cawthorn out in North Carolina, Greene out in Georgia or Loomer out in Florida…but, no matter what protests you hear in the next few days, they won’t do it because just in case they can’t suppress enough of our votes, they want to have bigots on their side.

Himani: What gets me about all of this is how beholden all of these people are to Trump. It’s hard not to feel like this is the end point of America’s cult of individualism.

Also: The Corruption That Never Ends

Steve Bannon charged with fraud over crowdfunding campaign for border wall

Natalie: I’m not going to lie, I took some profound joy in seeing this story break yesterday. Profound joy.

Both in this case and the NRA corruption case (which we talked about two weeks ago), I am shocked but not surprised by the brazenness of the grifting. It is the height of privilege and arrogance to be that blatant with your grifting and believe you won’t face accountability.

Is Jared Kushner Illegally Coordinating With Kanye West?

Natalie: Yes. Yes, he is.

Himani: What gets me is this part: “Kushner knows all of this; he’s been through this illegal solicitation business before.” Why? Because that’s entirely what the Mueller investigation was about! And wait! “Mueller concluded that team Trump’s solicitation of opposition research on electoral opponent Hillary Clinton could constitute an illegal solicitation of a contribution from a foreign national. But Mueller decided not to prosecute Kushner and others, in part, because of a lack of evidence that Kushner knew at the time that what he was doing was illegal (knowledge of the law is necessary for a criminal conviction in this area), and because of possible challenges proving the value of the solicited opposition research. [emphasis added]”

So last time Kushner was a freebird because he supposedly didn’t know what he was doing was a crime. This time he knows. Either way, clearly, he does not care. And why would he?”

Extra! Extra!: Is That Big Tech in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Extra! Extra!: Is That Big Tech in Your Pocket or

This week’s Extra! Extra! covers a few topics that haven’t gotten much attention in our coverage lately: big tech and the surveillance state, a look at America’s broken education system from several angles and violence against women. We continue to provide an update on the Black Lives Matter protests, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update on the Surveillance State

DHS Authorizes Domestic Surveillance to Protect Statues and Monuments

Natalie: Remember when progressives were calling for the elimination of the Department of Homeland Security and conservatives (both Democratic and Republican) absolutely lost their shit? What better indication that the Department of Homeland Security is a pointless entity than the revelation that it has time to devote to protecting statutes? I am astounded that the government thinks that this is a worthy use of American taxpayer dollars.

The most important question, though, is: what’s the constitutional basis for this? While the memo purports to prohibit “monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other Constitutional or legal rights, or for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, it’s hard to read this as something other than an effort to do precisely that.

The White House and Congress seem to be on a collision course on this issue, though. Last night the Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act which included an amendment from Elizabeth Warren to change the names of military installations bearing the names of Confederate leaders. The White House has vowed to veto any bill that seeks to change the names of these facilities but the NDAA passed by such substantial, bipartisan margins in the House and the Senate, a veto override would seem almost inevitable.

Your Zoom Interrogation Is About To Start

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Himani: For the various reasons described in this article, this is generally a good thing from a police accountability standpoint. But the question I am always, always left with is: How are tech companies using this data for their own self-serving and nefarious purposes?

Natalie: To your point, Himani, I’m reminded again of Andrew Yang’s campaign plank about treating data as property and I’m becoming increasingly convinced that it’s the only way to protect ourselves against the misuse of our data by tech companies.

With respect to the article, though, I think this is a really underreported aspect of the pandemic… not just interrogations — but I do think it’s interesting how this takes away officers’ ability to intimidate — but with the conduct of the judicial system as a whole. If we had a working justice department, perhaps there’d be more energy invested in creating a pathway for all aspects of the judicial system to continue working in the wake of this pandemic. Right now, we’re just accepting the suspension of people’s 6th Amendment rights and, honestly, the presumption of innocence, as if it doesn’t matter.

Rachel: I very much agree with Himani’s concerns about the long arm of tech’s involvement here, and hope that on the whole the takeaway that we settle on for this development is not “we need more tech disruption in justice” but “we actually get more and better justice when we abandon the myth of the cop as central and heroic.” The specific things that are being ID’d here as helpful — safer, more open conversations with suspects with community being able to observe the interaction — aren’t just arguments against intentionally threatening and violent police practices, although they are, but are arguments against the cop (even “good” cops like detectives) as primary driver and authority in investigations of crimes overall. The practices described here — intimidating, confusing and threatening witnesses, creating psychologically coercive environments, crafting narratives of guilt and blame that citizens are then challenged to disprove — aren’t just a few occasional police techniques, they’re part of what police are. What’s left when you remove them from interrogation is just “asking someone what happened and documenting their responses,” and evidence here shows that we actually get better results when we do that — and we don’t need a militarized police force for that.

Customs and Border Protection Can Track Cars Nationwide Via Commercial Database

Himani: This was an incredibly disturbing read and is more consistent with my usual understanding of tech’s role in law enforcement and the criminal justice system: more tools for civilian surveillance that no one has any reasonable way of opting out of.

Hong Kong’s protest movement keeps getting stymied by Apple

Himani: Related to the above point about surveillance technology, the situation in Hong Kong puts into relief what has been true around the world for a while now: Tech companies hold a substantial amount of political power. Their decisions make and break movements, which is literally the case in Hong Kong right now. Apple invested in the Chinese market, and, to that end, it is willing to cave to the Chinese government’s censorship demands in Hong Kong at this critical moment in Hong Kong’s history.

Update on the Protests and Local Activism

Accounts from the Battle of Grant Park

Breonna Taylor Activists Are Live-Streaming Their Hunger Strike

Natalie: It pains me that it’s come to this. It shouldn’t have to come to this. Enough bodies have been sacrificed at the altar of police violence, we don’t need more.

Arrest. The. Cops.

Police in riot gear clear New York’s Occupy encampment in dawn raid

Rachel: This is all so heartbreaking and enraging, and I’m thinking of all these stories in tandem with the absurd statue defense army developments above. Specifically: none of this is necessary. None of this needed to happen, and none of this is about making anyone safer or protecting anyone that matters. It is an exercise of power for the sake of power, harm and destruction for the sake of destruction.

Are We Hurtling Towards an Authoritarian State? Or Are We Already in One?

Trump’s Legal Justification for the Abduction of Portland Protesters Is Absurd

Himani: This situation in Portland and Trump’s subsequent dispersal of federal forces to cities across the US is just … honestly I have no words. As Slate reports, “The Federal Protective Service has the authority to make arrests ‘if the officer or agent has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.’” The bar for arresting someone seems to be going lower and lower by the minute. Which is a disturbing prospect, given everything we know about what happens, particularly to Black people, in police “custody” and in correctional institutes. In the words of the late John Lewis, “One of my greatest fears is that one day we wake up and our democracy is gone.”

Leaked Documents Show Police Knew Far-Right Extremists Were the Real Threat at Protests, Not “Antifa”

Natalie: Of course they did. They’ve known for a while.

Back in 2009, the Obama’ DHS released a report called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” (PDF) and Republicans lost their shit. The then-Minority Leader John Boehner chided then-Secretary Janet Napolitano, saying, “[T]he Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why… her own Department is using [‘terrorist’] to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

And just as predictably as the Republicans’ knee-jerk response, came the response of Democrats: folding like a cheap suit amid the criticism (despite the fact that they’d issued a similar report on Leftwing Extremism earlier in the year). Napolitano apologized and the report was shelved.

We’ve known for a long time how these groups operate and what their motivations are…and even though this administration feels obliged to divert attention to the lesser threat, the facts still remain.

Revealed: US spends millions of taxpayer dollars on ineffective voting restrictions

Natalie: I think this headline is a tad misleading: voting restrictions are ineffective only if you believe that they are a legitimate effort to prevent voter fraud… which, of course, is the reason Republicans give when they’re passing legislation like Voter ID. If you accept that voting restrictions are not actually meant to prevent voter fraud — because, as numerous studies have shown, it hasn’t — but instead to disenfranchise a specific segment of voters, then voting restrictions are highly effective. Voting restrictions are created to reduce the size of the electorate and bolster Republican chances in the general election…whatever it costs, monetarily or in terms of diminishing our democracy, it’s worth it to Republicans.

Everything That Is Broken in the American Education System

In Defense of Our Teachers

GOP Senators Push Big Private School Choice Bill Amid Pandemic Relief Debate

NAACP Sues Betsy DeVos Over Federal Aid Money For Private Schools

Natalie: I’ll admit: I’m surprised it took this long for Republicans to use the pandemic as an opportunity to undermine public education. I thought, for sure, that there’d be a big push for a divestment from public schools during the pandemic and a reallocation to pre-existing online schools like Connections Academy that already have the infrastructure in place to support online education. Then, once schools moved to reopen, there’d be a shortfall and kids would move to charter/private schools out of necessity. But no matter what path they took: the idea that Republicans — especially Besty DeVos, given her history of grifting money from Michigan to fund unaccountable charter schools — would seize on this as an opportunity to erode our public education system.

Himani: Unlike Natalie, I really didn’t see this coming because I was so caught up in the healthcare and economic side of what was going on with the pandemic. There are so many things I can say about “school choice” and all of its failings, but I will focus on just two. First, the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this year that many schools receiving state money have explicit anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Second, school choice has had a direct role in increasing inequality. As Michael Seeling explains writing for SSIR: “School choice doesn’t necessarily drive schools to compete for best practices; it more often drives them to compete for the best kids, the students who are easiest—and cheapest—to teach.”

Sen. Tom Cotton introduces bill withholding federal funding for schools teaching the 1619 Project

Himani: Natalie perfectly captured everything that needed to be said about this in our conversation in Slack: “Small government conservatism being proven for the farce that it is!”

And for further context on this point:

Also, because I am bad with names, it wasn’t until I did some digging into this latest news that I discovered that this is the same Tom Cotton who wrote that infamous op-ed for the New York Times invoking the US military to respond to the Black Lives Matter protests in June.

Rachel: As a ~media professional~, I have to admit that my first thought in reaction to this story was what a resounding testimonial it is to the success of the 1619 Project — although Cotton’s vile move here isn’t something to celebrate, it’s hard to imagine a clearer sign that your work on clarifying the real facts of America’s history is doing its job than hardline Republicans doing everything in their power to suppress it.

‘I Miss My Mom’: Black Teen Detained for Not Doing Her Homework Was Just Denied Release

Natalie: This is the most infuriating story I’ve read in the last weeks.

Understanding Native Rights and Tribal Sovereignty

Q&A: Lauren King on What the Five Tribes’ Agreement-in-Principle Means for Oklahoma

Half of Oklahoma Is “Indian Country.” What If All Native Treaties Were Upheld?

Natalie: Both these pieces were really helpful for me. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, in reading the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, it was hard to get my mind around the selective enforcement of treaties and respective for Native sovereignty…and both these pieces helped crystallize my thinking on those issues a bit more.

Rachel: I echo Natalie, and want to point up the question in the Intercept article — what if all Native treaties were upheld? — and its significance. Clearly America right now is going through something of a mainstream (white) reckoning of just how much of the fabric of its identity and present as a nation was formed by chattel slavery — a lot! arguably all of it! — and similarly, the questions of what treaties were made with the Indigenous people of North America from when it was colonized into the 19th century and the ways in which they were broken have had a determining role in almost everything about our nation as it is today. Looking at that closely has to be part of any conversation around what justice looks like and how it can be embodied.

How to Make a Deadly Pandemic in Indian Country

Immigration Update

Sex abuse claims revealed at Homestead shelter, where staff was not vetted for child abuse

Natalie: So the Department of Homeland Security has time to watch statues but it doesn’t have time to run a basic records check to see if its employees have histories of child abuse? The agency is behaving similarly with subcontractors who, according to a recent report by the Associated Press, are keeping migrant children as young as 1 year old, IN HOTELS to skirt the asylum process and allow for immediate deportation. DHS and ICE claim those subcontractors have been trained but won’t say “whether they’re licensed child care professionals or have received FBI background checks”

This is infuriating.

Federal Court Orders Trump Administration to Accept New DACA Applications

Rachel: So even just within the realm of domestic immigration policy, we can see a multiplicity of the ways that the Trump administration has undermined even the limited advances made by previous leaders — with DACA, they tried to shutter the program and ended up going through the court system, but with some programs like asylum, they (in an extreme oversimplification) just… quietly stopped doing it. As we are being reminded in so many ways right now, there’s what the law says and what those in power actually do, and sometimes even when they’re in conflict, nothing happens. Even though Trump’s admin lost on DACA—- a huge victory that I don’t want to dismiss or undercut! — there’s a remaining question of whether they’ll actually, like, do it. This court order is an attempt to make them do so, instead of starving the DACA program through inaction where they failed to effectively execute it; will it work? We’ll see!

On Violence Against Women

A Men’s Rights Activist Is Suspected Of Killing A Federal Judge’s Son And Shooting Her Husband

Femicides rise in Mexico as president cuts budgets of women’s shelters

What Domestic Violence Activists Can Teach Us About Police Abolition

Rachel: My feelings on all of these stories together are a sort of Greek chorus of “I told you so”s of varying emotional registers. We know that repeatedly demonstrated misogyny is a prime indicator for violence! We have seen this so, so many times! Why do we keep having to read stories like this and think “oh, look, it happened again”? We know that when women don’t have access to resources to safely leave their homes or be financially solvent outside of a marriage or nuclear family, they are at incredible risk for violence, and they die. Why do we have to watch that happen over and over and over again on a policy level? We know that there are myriad ways forward that don’t rely on a carceral state, and that if you just listen to criminalized folks like sex workers or women trying to escape violence (arguably a criminalized demographic especially when those people are women of color and Black women), you can see them modeled in real life! I think there is maybe some kind of crystallized larger lesson to take from these stories together that I am a little too worn out from reading these over and over to articulate – maybe it’s just that yet again, these are the places the state (globally) is repeatedly failing us; these are the places where the most successful solutions are being modeled by communities that care about each other.

COVID-19 Update

What Coronavirus Job Losses Reveal About Racism in America

White Neighborhoods Have Better Access to COVID-19 Testing Than Black and Hispanic Communities, Study Finds

Natalie: Imagine my shock.

‘We suffer in silence’: coronavirus takes heavy toll on Brazil’s army of gravediggers

Natalie: We don’t think enough about what these folks are witnessing…sure, they see death regularly but not like this…not so many people, in a relatively short amount of time, at the hands of the same malady. It’s awful. These will be the uncounted casualties of COVID-19…those workers who have to stare an unprecedented amount of death in the face and either learn to live with it or take their own lives, like Dr. Lorna Breen or John Mondello.