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.
Sunday, April 18
[Coronavirus] CDC: Half of U.S. Adults Have Received at Least One Dose of Vaccine – The announcement acknowledged that vaccinating the second half of the adult population would be more difficult because of denialism and resistance. The problem for the U.S. is quickly turning from lack of vaccine supply to not enough people willing to take a vaccine.
[Mass Shootings] Shootings in Texas and Wisconsin Leave Six Dead – The two incidents, one at an apartment complex and the other at a bar, are typical of those occurring almost daily.
Monday, April 19
[Government] Former VP Mondale Dies at Age 93 – Walter “Fritz” Mondale is credited with permanently changing the office of VP from ceremonial to active under President Carter. He was the ‘84 Democratic presidential candidate, losing to Reagan in a landslide. He had previously been the senior senator from Minnesota and finished public service as ambassador to Japan.
[NASA on Mars] NASA-JPL Successfully Flies First Powered, Controlled Flight on Another Planet – At a time when good news is scarce, the video of the little helicopter drone rising from the surface of Mars represents a technical achievement and a huge boost to science-based morale.
Tuesday, April 20
[Chauvin Trial] Chauvin Trial Concludes with Guilty Verdict on all Charges – Second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter – it took the jury about 10 hours to reach the verdicts, relatively quickly and decisively. Chauvin was handcuffed and taken into custody from the courtroom. Outside the courtroom, literally millions of people worldwide reacted, mostly with relief. It was a profoundly iconic event, but it’s widely recognized that at best it’s a signal, perhaps marking a turning point toward more fundamental corrections in police and justice systems. Keep in mind that within 24 hours right wing media, including Fox News, was depicting the verdict as false and manipulated (blaming Biden and Maxine Waters); many want to make Chauvin a hero. [Update: Polls show American public support of the verdict around 70%.]
[DC Statehood] Biden Kicks off Push for DC Statehood – In a prepared statement supporting the House bill, he said “For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington DC have been deprived of full representation in the United States Congress. This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the Democratic values.” Because DC statehood will benefit the Democrats, all Republicans will vote against the bill. The only hope of passing the Senate will be either through changing the rules of filibuster or, more remotely, budget reconciliation. [Update: House passes HR 51, partyline vote 216-208.]
[Government] House Democrats Block Censure of Maxine Waters – Rep. Waters said demonstrators during the Chauvin trial should “stay in the street and get more confrontational to show they know we mean business.” Republicans accused her of inciting violence and the right-wing media inflated her statement into an incident, which immediately collapsed because it was superseded by the news that Chauvin was convicted on all counts.
Wednesday, April 21
[U.S. Policing] DOJ Announces an Investigation into Minneapolis Police Department Racism – AG Merrick Garland wants the civil investigation to determine if the department “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.” Obviously, this move has been planned for quite some time and waited only for the court decision in the Chauvin case. In fact, Garland said “Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.” At the DOJ, Bill Barr has truly left the building.
[DOJ] Senate Confirms Vanita Gupta to No.3 Position in DOJ – Gupta was the head of the civil rights division at the DOJ under Obama and is highly qualified. Although she was widely promoted by civil rights and police groups, her reputation for legal liberalism was enough to provoke total Republican opposition in the Senate – with one exception. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted for Gupta, making the final vote 51-49.
Thursday, April 22
[Climate Crisis] Biden Holds Livestreamed Summit on Climate Change – More than 40 world leaders convened in an unusual two-day Internet-based summit. Leaders pledged cooperation on fighting climate change, which as Greta Thunberg said “is mostly bullshit,” but represents the first international forward motion on the subject with the U.S. taking part in over four years. Biden said that the U.S. will attempt to reduce its fossil fuel emissions by as much as 52% by 2030.
[Infrastructure] GOP Senators Propose $568 Billion Infrastructure Bill – In a move signaling mainly that the GOP will compromise on nothing, this deeply unserious proposal – which even they know is not enough for any kind of meaningful infrastructure improvement – probably demonstrates what was already obvious: The Democrats will need budget reconciliation to pass their $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill through the Senate.
[Hate Crimes] Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill Addressing Asian American Hate Crimes – In a rare confluence of agreement (94-1 with only Josh Hawley against), the bill goes to the House where it will be quickly passed.
[Racial Justice] Daunte Wright Funeral Brings Calls for Racial Justice – The story of the 20-year-old black man from Brooklyn Park, MN killed by a policewoman using a gun instead of her Taser, was a fateful bookmark to the closing of the Derek Chauvin (for George Floyd’s murder) trial. The policewoman is charged with manslaughter.
Friday, April 23
[Russia – Navalny] Navalny Ends Hunger Strike after Being Allowed to See His Own Doctors – In an apparent concession by Putin, and probably because of his truly tenuous health, Navalny agreed to end his hunger strike and be treated by his doctors. This won’t stop the protests in his favor, but it will reduce their urgency.
[Russia – Ukraine] Putin Begins Withdrawal of Russian Troops from Ukraine Border – In this apparent de-escalation, for which there is no pressing explanation, perhaps Putin is signaling a lack of desire for international confrontation or, more likely, the need for domestic patriotic fervor has decreased.
[Coronavirus] CDC Panel Recommends J&J Vaccine for Further Use – It may take a few days, but the J&J vaccine will be released again for general use, probably carrying a warning label for younger women. Fifteen cases of serious blood-clotting have been documented with three deaths – out of 8 million doses. This is well within the range of expected side effects for any vaccine, COVID-19 or otherwise. The argument continues about whether the “pause” was more damaging to vaccination efforts in general, than the good it did for the safety of a particular vaccine.
[Coronavirus – India] India Ends Week with Another Daily Covid-19 Infection Record: 346,786 – Think about it, a good-sized city of newly infected people every day, a million new infections every three days. This is a world record, and it is still climbing. Several key cities (Delhi, Mumbai) are already running out of hospital beds and oxygen. The death rate is soaring, but the government is suppressing totals. What’s happening? Certainly, part of it is the collapse of mitigation discipline – no masks, no distancing, combining with massive public religious and political celebrations. There is something else: the India “double mutation” variant. It is literally a hybrid, two COVID-19 components combined. One component makes it more contagious; the other component contributes to hiding the COVID-19 signature from vaccines. How much more contagious is it, how much does it hinder vaccination? No one knows yet, which may be why there’s so little coverage in the media. The India Double Mutation is already present in the U.S., UK, and a dozen other countries, which means it’s been around for several months. As the phrase goes, watch this space.
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 32,735,704; Deaths: 585,075
Constitutional, Political, Election Notes
First Amendment be damned: 34 states introduce 81 anti-protest bills. They range from drivers being allowed to hit protesters with their vehicles in Iowa and Oklahoma, to barring state employment for protesters in Indiana, to making it a crime in Kentucky to insult or taunt a police officer, and in Florida a whole suite of laws to criminalize protesting. Hopefully, none of this will make it through the court system, though some might. It’s a fair measurement of Republican attitude.
Note to Libs: Trump has not disappeared; he’s merely resting in the arms of right-wing media (which you don’t see).
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
The jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial came to a unanimous and unequivocal verdict this afternoon: ‘Please don’t hurt us’. . .. Everyone understood perfectly well the consequences of an acquittal in this case. After nearly a year of burning and looting and murder by BLM, that was never in doubt.
Tucker Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” 04/20/2021.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]