Indivisible Upper Yellowstone Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.48, Week of June 12 – 18, 2021 [Tectonic Political Shifting]

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 12 through Friday, June 18, 2021 [Vol.2 No.48]

Tectonic Political Shifting

The Week’s Most Notable

This was one of those weeks that needs a review of several events to draw the picture – some important political shifting is underway.

Start with Biden’s G7 and NATO meetings, where he reasserted America’s desire for leadership in the fight for democracy and a recommitment (compared to Trump) for strengthening ties with allies. He left a good impression; few question his administration’s competence, but many wonder if his policies will survive the 2022 midterms. In the new politics of this era, U.S. positioning with the world must include China and Russia, whose influence radically affect NATO and European economics. Even with preserving democracy, it’s a new political world complicated by the presence of populist/authoritarian governments (China, Russia, Hungary, Brazil, UK, Poland, Philippines, Vietnam etc.).

Having reset relationships with U.S. allies, Biden met with Putin. It was carefully staged to allow relatively evenhanded spin while affirming some obvious channels for further discussion, such as nuclear disarmament. Of course, Biden wanted to emphasize a massive shift in policy from Trump’s fawning over Putin to Biden’s post-cold war “détente with sharp elbows.” Now we wait to see to what degree Putin got the message.

Then there was the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which sent a loud message to Republicans: the 7-2 margin was stunning, especially Justices Thomas and Barrett voting with the majority. In effect the court announced it was stupid for the 17 Republican state attorneys general to file as the aggrieved party. The court ruled they had no standing and therefore the case was rejected. For practical purposes, this ruling marks the end of years of efforts to kill the ACA, a huge victory for the Democrats.

Enter Joe Manchin, acknowledged kingpin for Democrats’ legislative hopes. On Thursday he dropped a memo with more than two dozen suggestions for the voting rights acts (For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act). It included items like an end to gerrymandering but also offered ideas for voting ID alternatives. The memo was a major bombshell, because it meant Democrats could coalesce around a new “compromise” voting rights act and demand that Republicans show their true colors. Unfortunately, most of the media pronounced the compromise a dead end, assuming the Republicans would filibuster it. Meanwhile, Manchin was also dropping breadcrumbs about rejecting Republican obstructionism and being in favor of “strengthening of the original idea of the filibuster.” He even let it be known that maybe dropping to 55 votes for cloture could be considered or, more radically, that filibuster would require 41 votes and continuous debate (the Franken/Ornstein proposal). Manchin’s moves suggest some massive negotiations at least among Democrats. It could be the beginning of the end of the crippling Senate legislative logjam.

Finally, the week closed with a symbolic act, the creation of a federal holiday for Juneteenth commemorating the official end of slavery in the U.S. This passed Congress with a huge bipartisan margin, at the same time that many Republican states were passing laws to disadvantage voters of color and even going so far as to ban teaching the history of racism. Does the support of Juneteenth represent a shift in fundamental attitudes toward racism? Obviously not, but having the day will provide a platform for ongoing fulminations about fully addressing American racism.

Saturday, June 12

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 34,318,232; Deaths: 614,976

[G7 Summit] First Biden-Era G7 Summit Ends with Final Communiqué – Agreements include promises on COVID-19 vaccines, international corporate minimum tax, carbon emission goals, and human rights in China. Although limited in effect, several of these items – especially the minimum corporate tax of 15% – represent a major change in policy, and not only from Trump times. The hand of Biden negotiators in this document is striking.

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IUY: Weekly Journal, Vol.2 No.47, Week of June 5 – 11, 2021 (Allies Renewed)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 5 through Friday, June 11, 2021 [Vol.2 No.47]

Allies Renewed

The Week’s Most Notable

Among other things the week ended with a picture of Merkel, Macron, and Biden walking away together in a hall; Macron had his arm over Biden’s shoulder, the body language all around was warm. It’s hard to extrapolate any durable message from events like the G7, but current preferences have a role to play in diplomacy. America under Biden is renewing its relationships with allies. Given the pandemic, worldwide economic instability, and provocation from antidemocratic governments (starting with Russia and China), Biden’s going to need help. It won’t be given unconditionally, if it ever was, but Trump’s turn at trampling international relations has made everyone wary. Biden gets a familiarity bonus, but his foreign policy decisions will be closely evaluated.

Trump’s manipulating of the DOJ was a running theme for the week, starting with the news that the DOJ had been collecting (debatably illegally) information on reporters and culminating with the New York Times and Washington Post expositions on Thursday that the DOJ had surreptitiously and perhaps illegally put pressure on electronic sources, in this case Apple, to provide personal information on members of Congress, in this case Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) of the House Oversight Committee. Although not explicit in the revelations, it’s clear that the series of investigations, which began with AG Sessions and were magnified by AG Barr, were at the behest of Trump. The targets of the investigation, Trump enemies (including their staff and family members), were not informed until the recent ending of gag orders. In other words, somebody in the DOJ was secretly looking for leaks of classified material – found none, but continued investigating anyway. In a way, most observers assumed the Trump administration always was doing this kind of abuse of power thing, now confirmed by some of the first publicized evidence. Many think this has the air of a Pandora’s Box with more revelations, IG, House, and Senate investigations to come. Others say, nobody cares – especially Republicans – so this will take up some headline space but have no lasting impact. Much depends on how well the ensuing rollout of evidence and accusations are handled.

Saturday, June 5

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 34,216,585; Deaths: 612,236

[Trump GOP] Trump Speaks at North Carolina GOP Convention – Heralded as a triumphant return to the political podium, perhaps the key thing to note is that neither CNN nor Fox News carried his speech live.

[Georgia Politics] Georgia GOP Convention Boos Their Governor and Secretary of State – In another startling demonstration of Republicans eating their own, the pro-Trump convention censured their Secretary of State and booed the Governor for defending the honesty of Georgia elections. Similar stories have played out in several other GOP-controlled states.

[DOJ] Beginning a Week of Revelations about Trump Meddling in the DOJ – Saturday began with the DOJ saying they would no longer secretly attempt to obtain reporters’ records. A few hours later it was learned that Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, had asked the AG to investigate election fraud claims, including one about Italian satellite technology being used to change voter tabulation machines.

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IUY: Weekly Journal, Vol.2 No. 46, Week of May 29 – June 4, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 29 through Friday, June 4, 2021 [Vol.2 No.46]

Defending Democracy

The Week’s Most Notable

On Memorial Day, President Biden made the usual speech at Arlington National Cemetery. It contained the usual reminders of wars past and the motivation of patriotic heroism, but his speech contained something unprecedented: “Democracy is worth fighting for and dying for; but democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.” Echoing Lincoln, Biden began the process of reframing what American elections, legislation, and the “soul of America” are ultimately about in the coming years – preserving democracy. He understands this to be preserving “all men are created equal” in the multicultural approach to governance. He also knows the current far-right Republican party rejects multiculturalism and is publicly promoting nondemocratic behaviors such as voter suppression, election day intimidation, and allowing partisans to override ballot counting. In short, the Republican electoral policy is that any election they don’t win is automatically illegitimate – a cornerstone of authoritarianism.

Despite a lack of focus, this was unofficially “notice the violent crime week.” With surprising little fanfare, other than what would be expected from right-wing media, the rising rate of violent crime throughout the U.S. (homicides up nearly 40%) is beginning to show up in polls – both Democrat and Republican – and in a rising drumbeat of media coverage. So far, Biden and the Democrats have been able to tuck this issue behind COVID-19 and the economy, but that already looks like it won’t last. The issue is also instantly enmeshed with police reform and the right-wing attack on the “defund the police” movement. Most analysts relate the rise to pandemic conditions; some are even claiming that it will decrease now that the country is “normalizing.” Unfortunately, as complicated as reality might be, violent crime gets attention, and the attention almost always turns into right-wing advantage.

Saturday, May 29

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 34,106,679; Deaths: 609,552

[Coronavirus] U.S. Travel Highest Since Pandemic Onset – More than 7 million largely vaccinated and mask-less people took to the air and an estimated 37 million hopped into vehicles, going places for the Memorial Day weekend.  Usually, when countries get exuberant about outlasting the virus, there’s a lockdown coming. But this time, thanks to almost 200 million vaccinations, the majority of adults are fully vaccinated. This could break the link between the rise in the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.45 – Week of May 22 -28, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 22 through Friday, May 28, 2021 [Vol.2 No.45]

Memorial Weekend: Hit the Road

The Week’s Most Notable

You could almost hear it this week, a massive collective sigh of relief across the U.S. as it appears the COVID-19 pandemic is receding. The numbers are good, with new cases decreasing in all states and the death rate falling to around 500 a day (which is still bad but a helluva lot better than 3,000 a day). The apparent reason for the good news is the massive number of vaccinations, now approaching 60%, of all adults. In fact, the effectiveness of vaccines used in the United States is so high that the CDC’s seemingly problematic decision to approve of maskless congregation (movies, restaurants, sport events) for vaccinated people has caused a wave of optimism and a feeling that things could return to normal. This was the week prior to the Memorial Day weekend and Americans prepared to hit the road, with millions returning to the air and planning travel to classic Memorial Day events that once more include families and friends. Despite the medically crazy but politically motivated vaccine opposition, the national mobilization to get “shots in arms” has been a testament to America’s ability to overcome seemingly impossible logistical challenges. We deserve to feel good about what has been achieved, at least for a few days.

The death of democracy by a thousand cuts makes it difficult to dramatize. The “threat to democracy” seems to live in a nether-world caught between derision for the extreme behavior of some in the GOP, the seemingly abstruse legislative activity in key states, and the belief that somehow democratic institutions will weather the storm. Yet the evidence is accumulating: By plan and deliberate orchestration the Trump-Republican party is gaslighting democracy, making it difficult to vote, establishing key posts to redefine election verification, gerrymandering a larger Republican advantage, and establishing PR rationales to hold the Republican base to the Big Lie. (It’s working, in the latest poll 66% of Republicans think Biden is not a legitimate president.) Finally, as a big piece of evidence, the Senate Republicans killing a bipartisan investigative commission on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Put it all together, and the path to circumventing the legitimate results of an election are there. Keep in mind that Biden won the electoral college by hardly enough votes to fill the Rose Bowl, about 80,000, and that it took a handful of bold actions by election administrators to hold that victory together. With margins that thin, it is not exaggeration to suggest they can be broken. There is nothing new about this observation, but as the weeks pass by, warning flags, alarms, and calls to action become more frequent and clamorous. At some point, non-Trumpian Americans will need to exercise one or all of three options: strongly demonstrate opposition to the antidemocratic Republican Party, support congressional legislation. e.g., the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and participate in a get-out-the-vote effort exceeding that which flipped the House in 2018. Right now, it seems like people who favor democracy just don’t believe we could be on the road to losing it. Living in that illusory comfort zone has got to change.

Saturday, May 22

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 33,890,473; Deaths: 605,755

[Coronavirus] Pfizer Vaccine Effective against India Variant – Good news on a major pandemic worry. The India variant, sometimes called the “double mutant,” and known to be more infectious than the British variant, now dominates most northern countries and is considered a major factor in the astounding surge of cases and deaths in India.  The biggest concern was about the effectiveness of current vaccines against it. “Vaccine escape” means that a variant of the COVID-19 virus does not respond to vaccination – a very bad news scenario that would require a new formulation of vaccine. However, this first confirmed study indicates that people with a completed Pfizer vaccination (two shots) have an 88% effective immunity against the India variant; people with one Pfizer dose have about 60% protection. A study by Public Health England showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine is also about 60% effective. Similar results were expected for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Though the effectiveness is reduced, it is believed that all the vaccines will limit the severity of India variant cases, meaning that infection will rarely lead to hospitalization or death.

[Infrastructure] Senate Committee Releases Draft of Bipartisan Surface Transportation Bill – This chunk of what could be an infrastructure bill, which covers $303.5 billion in highway, road, and bridge development, was hammered out by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Could it be part of Biden’s infrastructure plan? Could it be an honest answer derived from Republican senators’ lowball infrastructure offer? Or is it just a pointless placeholder? Throughout June, Democratic lawmakers in the Senate will be formulating the specifics of the administration’s plan, and language from this draft bipartisan bill will likely show up in the new bill. In any case, the majority of Republicans will not support any infrastructure bill acceptable to Democrats, the method of payment – raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations – being an insurmountable block. This ultimately means the bill will have to be passed by budget reconciliation and probably without any Republican support.

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IUY Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.44, Week of May 15 – 21, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 15 through Friday, May 21, 2021 [Vol.2 No.44]

Israel/Palestine Ceasefire

The Week’s Most Notable

Last week, as missiles began to rain from the sky over Tel Aviv and bombs began falling in Gaza, it looked like once again Israel and Palestine were about to commit to total war. By the end of this week, it was over. Often labeled by the media as a “fragile ceasefire,” the serious fighting actually was over. Both sides claimed victory, with Hamas boasting how many rockets it fired and Israel claiming destruction of the Hamas tunnel infrastructure. As usual, reliable facts about the origin of the attacks are hard to come by, but the evidence so far leads in the direction of Israel deliberately provoking a Hamas reaction, probably to advance PM Netanyahu’s political fortunes. If so, it worked, Netanyahu’s “wartime government” has surged in popularity. Hamas is still in control, although Gaza once again lies mainly in ruins, more than 200 dead, and a humanitarian crisis looming for lack of supplies, medical support, and the ever-present COVID-19 threat. The other leader benefiting from the acute outbreak appears to be President Biden. He promised last weekend that the war would be over quickly; surprising many, it was. Biden did not and could not claim credit, but it appears that forceful U.S. diplomacy, combined with Israeli worries over an internal uprising of Palestinian-Israeli citizens, was the right combination of pressures. If the war has any long-term consequences, it might be that for a new generation of Jewish Americans, this did not put the Israeli government in a good light.

Saturday, May 15

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 33,699,338; Deaths: 599,892

[Israel/Palestine War] Israeli Airstrikes Destroy Media Tower, Kill 10 in a Refugee Camp – Although claiming to be striking at Hamas military in, around, or under the media tower, the symbolic value of attacking the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press seems to have registered as the more likely motivation.

[Arizona 2020 Election] Arizona GOP Election Official: Trump Statement “Unhinged” – Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who leads the county’s election department, forcibly rebutted Trump’s claim that the election database of Maricopa County had been deleted. The county still had a copy or two. A few hours later the so-called election audit, run by Cyber Ninjas, admitted it also had a copy. The incident demonstrated what the audit is all about – garnering ongoing PR coverage while gaslighting the American election process.

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IUY: Weekly Journal Vol. 2 No. 43 May 8 – 14, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 8 through Friday, May 14, 2021 [Vol.2 No.43]

If you’ve been vaccinated…

The Week’s Most Notable

The sudden CDC announcement on Thursday that it was no longer necessary to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, if you have been fully vaccinated, evoked all kinds of emotions. Officially and as far as most of the media was concerned, this is great news, if abrupt. In fact, it was something worthy of celebration. That, it was; however, dancing in the streets was not apparent. It’s probable that after a year and several months of living in COVID-19 constriction, a significant relaxation was greeted with “good” but let’s see what happens next. What happens next has largely been a mad scramble to adjust tourism, schools, work – just about everything – to what is obviously a new regime, even if it is not complete and not fully spelled out. The whip end of the announcement was clear – only if you’ve been fully vaccinated. Vaccination makes you a member of the club and puts pressure on those who haven’t been vaccinated. On the other hand, it was also immediately obvious to ask, “How do we know somebody’s been vaccinated? Because they say so?” Odds are, many if not most people are going to carry on wearing masks, or not, as they did before. However, it appears progress is being made, so, huzzah.

War in Israel/Palestine – some call it war, some call it advanced rioting. Generally, rioting is not conducted with tanks, missiles, and jets dropping bombs. So, another war has broken out in Israel/Palestine. It looks very much like other such wars. The Palestinians, this time led by Hamas, are squaring off against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) with scores of civilian casualties already recorded. The Israelis seem intent on using the incident to smash as much of the Palestinian military infrastructure as possible. However, there is something new on the Palestinian side, or more exactly among Israeli-Palestinians, Israeli citizens who are Arab and Palestinian and now organizing against the Israeli government. All wars in the Middle East are complicated and difficult to disentangle, this one may become worse than most. As usual, the U.S. will probably have to do much of the disentangling. Wish Biden luck.

Parties built on a cult of personality love them purges. The leader’s way, or the highway. It’s simple; kiss the ring of the dear leader, or kiss the pavement. The titular decapitation of Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY) would be bizarre though interesting, if it weren’t for the fact that the Republican Party supposedly represents 40% (or more) of American voters – tens of millions of people. Do we consider such intolerance, in this case for refusing to tell lies, a one-off spasm of political identity, or a genuine and enduring mark of devotion for the dear leader? Whatever it is, it’s not what most people consider the American way.

Saturday, May 8

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 33,463,072; Deaths: 595,565

[Coronavirus] India Reaches 4,000 Deaths in a Day for the First Time – Most medical observers agree that the total number of deaths is undercounted by a factor of four or five; nevertheless, 4,000 deaths a day is a gruesome official record. Throughout India the hospitals are no longer able to cope with the incoming patients – COVID-19 or otherwise – and crucial medical supplies are running out. Indian officials are for the first time identifying the India variant (B.1.617.2) as the driving factor in the rapid spread of infection. The variant is already causing havoc in neighboring Nepal, Sri Lanka, and probably Thailand. [Update: WHO names India variant as a global health threat.]

[Afghanistan] Girls’ School Bombing in Kabul Kills 50+ – The intent of Islamic extremism to punish women has been clear for a long time; this event is both a reminder and perhaps an augury for the future. [Update: 68 fatalities, mostly schoolgirls, most of them killed by secondary bombs designed to go off when the children ran into the streets.]

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IUY Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.42 May 1 – 6, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 1 through Friday, May 7, 2021 [Vol.2 No.42]

Loyalty to Lies

The Week’s Most Notable

Start with the Republican Big Lie litmus test: If a politician doesn’t pronounce a profound belief that the election was stolen and Trump was done wrong – implying above all, loyalty to Trump – then by definition they are not Republicans and should be purged from the party. Ask Liz Cheney what she thinks about that. The Republicans are now pitching, with no holds barred, that all American elections can be rigged, therefore they must be shrouded with protections that deliberately limit the number of people who can vote who, by the way, turn out to be mainly people of color. Right now, 47 states have some anti-voting legislation in process and Georgia, Florida, and Texas have enacted systematic voter suppression laws. The underlying assumption seems to be that no election is legitimate unless Republicans win it.

In a week without any epic contours there were a few wrinkles: For example, the Arizona Senate Republicans’ “recount” of the Maricopa County presidential vote, which they farmed out to a company run by a QAnon supporter in Florida, was reportedly searching for ballots containing bamboo, supposedly because tens of thousands of fake ballots were shipped over from “somewhere in the Orient” to favor Biden. Tidbits from their procedures continue to leak out and always manage to rope a few Democrats, most of the media, and probably some of the public into discussion. The whole recount procedure is predicated on the Big Lie that Biden stole the election. Unfortunately, the glaring antidemocratic razzmatazz pleases the Republican base. Some of them believe that limiting democracy is a good thing; others are happy with trolling the liberals for fun and profit. In the end, when the clowns have finished with their performance, they get back in the car, drive on to the next state, and leave people with only one impression – the circus (elections) was in town. That’s the point; the goal is not to represent a point of view, or policy, or even an ideology, but to sow doubt about democracy. It’s called gaslighting. This is not, as people are beginning to recognize, the modus operandi of what we used to call American politics; it is the approach taken by a number of newly authoritarian countries – Brazil, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines to name a few – whose leaders are following decades of Russian right-wing doctrine for political manipulation. For them craziness and chaos are good things. This is what best characterizes the core of current Republican behavior, most especially from acolytes associated with Trump.

Saturday, May 1

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 33,155,014; Deaths: 590,819

[GOP] Romney Booed but Not Censured – It’s read as a sign: Mitt Romney (R-UT) was booed in a convention of his own people because he voted for Trump’s impeachment and continues to say Trump’s “win” is the Big Lie. On the other hand, the convention voted down censuring Romney.

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IUY Weekly Journal Vol. 2 No. 41 April 24 – 30, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, April 24 through Friday, April 30, 2021 [Vol.2 No.41]

Biden Addresses Congress

The Week’s Most Notable

A couple of world-class bets were revealed this week: The first bet was fairly obvious, President Biden in his speech to Congress (the pseudo-State of the Union) previewed the last major piece of his legislative agenda, the American Family Plan. In effect, he has now issued a challenge and placed the big bet that on COVID-19 (American Rescue Plan, already passed), infrastructure (American Jobs Plan), and the social safety net (American Families Plan) the majority of American voters, including some Republicans, support what he’s doing – enough so that he can get these bills through Congress. What he’s proposing (which amounts to a thorough reversal of the Republican view of government) is that the federal government and big spending can and in fact must help to solve big problems. It’s a helluva bet. The other bet is that the COVID-19 crisis is coming to an end. The northern hemisphere, essentially North America, Europe, and northern Asia have achieved relatively stable, though not great, pandemic numbers and have proceeded with almost universal happy talk about returning to normal. Meanwhile, India is experiencing 400,000 new cases a day, and South America is struggling with major increases. The big bet is that the mutant viruses behind these stunning numbers are either not going to spread, or are not as infectious or vaccine resistant as feared by many immunologists. This is also one helluva bet, seldom articulated in public – with millions of lives in the balance.

Saturday, April 24

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 32,786,590; Deaths: 585,738

[Armenian Genocide] Biden Officially Recognizes Armenian Genocide of 1915 – After 40 years of avoiding the issue, an American president has officially crossed the final line with Turkey: Turkey did commit genocide against the Armenians. Reagan mentioned it, but Biden has made a major statement, as promised during his campaign. What’s changed?  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing policies that shade in favor of the Russians, and defy Turkey’s role in both NATO and Europe. In other words, Biden seems to believe that calling Armenian genocide by name was not only the right thing to do, but that this was right time to do it.

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IUY Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.40 April 13 – 23, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, April 17 through Friday, April 23, 2021 [Vol.2 No.40]

Guilty, Guilty, and Guilty

The Week’s Most Notable

What would the week have been like if Derek Chauvin had been acquitted or even not convicted on all counts? Most legal observers expected the conviction, though not necessarily on all three charges. That there was any doubt is a measure of just how tenuous convictions of policemen for killing black men can be. The evidence and testimony in this case was by almost all accounts overwhelming, yet the decisive factor was a unique and moving piece of video capturing the very end of George Floyd’s life, recorded by a courageous 17-year-old girl. Darnella Frazier testified that she wished she could have done more. This case was flagrant, well-documented, involved racial bias in policing, and instantly became an extremely high-profile national and even international legal event. Yet virtually nobody mistook the verdict as the end of the story. Institutionalized racism in American policing has many forms, a long history, and will require enduring and serious effort to undo.

Saturday, April 17

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 32,372,939; Deaths: 580,778 – Global Death Toll Reaches 3 Million.

[Climate Crisis] U.S. and China Agree to Cooperate on Climate Crisis – As a prelude to Biden’s virtual climate change summit during the week, the agreement between China and the U.S. was negotiated by special envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua. It is a significant signal, though plagued with interference.

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IUY: Weekly Journal Vol.2 No.39 – Week of April 10 – 16, 2021

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, April 10 through Friday, April 16, 2021 [Vol.2 No.39]

Police Violence – Mass Shooting

The Week’s Most Notable

The announced end of the Afghan War might have been the story of the week, but U.S. violence took its place. It started Sunday with the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, followed by an outbreak of riots. It was punctuated by almost daily updates from the Minneapolis trial of former policeman Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd. On Thursday, Chicago authorities released police body-cam video from the March shooting of a 13-year-old boy, Adam Toledo. It appears to show the officer shouting “Show me your hands!” and the boy complying by raising his empty hands, whereupon he was shot dead. This video quickly triggered demonstrations. The week climaxed with another mass shooting, this time in Indianapolis where eight FedEx employees were killed by a former employee using two newly purchased AK-47 rifles. Guns, racial injustice, violence – old themes. The difference now is that Democrats could be in position to actually pass relevant legislation; it’s close. Again, it will come back to the filibuster and whether it can be altered to allow at least some legislation based on a 51-50 vote in the Senate.

It’s a Looney Tunes mix: Start with Trump, his weird stolen-vote mantra, and his base of about 40 million voters, add a gaggle of presidential wannabes (Cruz, Rubio, et al.); add the traditional power center around Mitch McConnell; the Crazy Chorus (Jordan, Cotton, Greene, Boebert, others); the right-wing media pushing the Big Lie; the festering Matt Gaetz scandal and finally add Republicans in the House announcing the formation of an America First Caucus dedicated to white supremacy. Two days before, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had denounced the racist and white supremacy strain of Republican politics. This is not likely to end well for the Republican Party, although its craziness is mostly buffered for Republican voters by constant and effective propaganda from Fox News, MaxNews, and OAN. At least temporarily it also means the Republican Party is almost incapable of mounting more than a pro forma attack on Biden’s many initiatives. Democrats are enjoying the spectacle.

Saturday, April 17

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 31,878,937; Deaths: 575,574

[Republican Politics] Trump Excoriates McConnell, Fauci, Pence, and Others in Mar-a-Lago Speech – Calling Mitch McConnell “a dumb son of a bitch” did nothing for party unity. The former president continues to stake out a divisive role, which other Republican leaders will eventually need to “adjust.” Trump holds the loyalty of perhaps 40 million voters, although his direct link as Twitterer in Chief cum president is gone, exposing him to the erosion of reality.

[Coronavirus] China Admits its COVID-19 Vaccines Aren’t Very Effective – China has two principal vaccine makers, Sinovac and Sinopharm, that sell traditionally manufactured COVID-19 vaccines to numerous countries. In admitting that these vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” the Chinese are “under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines of the immunization process,” such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna. In a world where international competition over COVID-19 vaccines has recently become very significant, the admission by the Chinese may be pivotal.

[Police Violence] Army Officer Abused during Traffic Stop Sues Virginia Police – U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario, stopped for not having license plates (it was a new car; he had the temporary plates taped to the back window), was pulled from the car at gunpoint, pepper sprayed, and pushed to the ground. Nazario is a Black-Latino and was in full uniform at the time. He is suing for violation of his rights. [Update: The officer in charge during the incident was fired on Sunday.]

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