March 2, 2021

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The Headlines

U.S. Politics

$15 Minimum Wage Is Dead for Now, Thanks to Democrats Manchin and Sinema (Truthout)

Republicans Are Trying to Kill What’s Left of the Voting Rights Act (Mother Jones)

Backlash Over the Equality Act Is Fueling State-Level Attacks on Trans Youth (Truthout)

Trump Briefings? Always News. Biden Briefings? Not News. (FAIR)

COVID-19 Vaccine

How Inequity Gets Built Into America’s Vaccination System (ProPublica)


India Targets Climate Activists with the Help of Big Tech (The Intercept)

Biden “Illegally” Bombs Iranian-Backed Militias in Syria, Jeopardizing Nuclear Talks with Tehran (Democracy Now!)

Climate Crisis

Inside Biden’s uphill battle to restore the EPA after Trump (Grist)

Report Finds Biden Can Potentially Freeze Dozens of Trump’s Last-Minute ‘Egregious and Damaging’ Rollbacks (Common Dreams)

Scrappy Endeavor (Earth Island Journal)

Close the Circuit (Earth Island Journal)

U.S. Politics
$15 Minimum Wage Is Dead for Now

The push for a $15 federal minimum wage in the Biden administration’s upcoming $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is over now that the proposal’s last hope has been abandoned by its main proponents.

After the budget parliamentarian ruled that the minimum wage increase couldn’t be voted on through budget reconciliation, Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders proposed implementing a tax on large corporations that didn’t pay employees at least $15. This plan was dropped after advisement that corporate loopholes would likely have rendered it ineffectual.

Truthout writes Democrats failed an opportunity to get the measure passed even before Sanders’s plan, due to vocal opposition from Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and unwillingness to buck procedure.

Republicans Are Trying to Kill What’s Left of the Voting Rights Act

In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required that states with a long history of discrimination had to approve their voting changes with the federal government.

That ruling led to a wave of new voter suppression laws in states including Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, writes Ari Berman for Mother Jones.

Now, in two Supreme Court cases from Arizona, Republicans are trying to kill what remains of the VRA. If they succeed, the act would provide little protection to voters of color facing new GOP voter suppression efforts across the country.

Backlash Over the Equality Act Is Fueling State-Level Attacks on Trans Youth

The Equality Act—the landmark piece of LGBTQ legislation passed for a second time by the House of Representatives this week—appears unlikely to become law as currently written. Support in the Senate is far below the 60-vote threshold it would need to pass with the filibuster.

If passed, the Equality Act would codify critical and comprehensive updates to our federal civil rights laws. But its reintroduction is fueling a harmful backlash against transgender people amid governmental attacks on trans youth in state legislatures.

Putting the Equality Act on the Senate floor, while a welcome show of support, is unlikely to help young trans people across the country barred from school sports and healthcare, writes Truthout.

Trump Briefings? Always News. Biden Briefings? Not News.

Corporate media loved to hate Donald Trump. Many outlets have made this explicit, including CBS head Les Moonves, who had stated the ad money and ratings from Trump mattered more than damage the former president may have incurred. CNN, Fox, and MSNBC also all aired at one time an empty podium where Trump was to speak, rather than Bernie Sanders speaking.

It has become clear that Joe Biden’s presidency is not receiving the same attention; Barack Obama’s didn’t either by the end of his term. “But in early 2017, the DC press corps collectively decided that every Trump utterance had to be broadcast live,” regardless of the saturation of lies therein, writes FAIR. Just a month into Biden’s term, CNN has stopped airing daily White House press briefings.

COVID-19 Vaccine
How Inequity Gets Built into America’s Vaccination System

In the U.S., being eligible for a vaccine doesn’t mean you can easily get one—and getting to the front of the line isn’t equal for everyone.

“Intentionally or not, some vaccine programs have been designed with inherent barriers that disadvantage many people who are most at risk of dying from the disease, exacerbating inequities in access to health care,” reports ProPublica.

Vaccination appointments often exclude people without internet, a car, or English fluency, and one state is refusing undocumented workers with high-risk jobs to get prioritized for vaccination. ProPublica shares stories from individuals unable to claim their place on the line.

India Targets Climate Activists with the Help of Big Tech

India could be on the verge of terrible violence following an international conspiracy case against Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist recently allowed bail amid a legal saga that includes far-fetched charges of sedition and incitement.

Ravi’s arrest has spotlighted collusion “between the increasingly oppressive and anti-democratic Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Silicon Valley companies whose tools and platforms have become the primary means for government forces to incite hatred against vulnerable minorities and critics.”

For The Intercept, Naomi Klein writes, “Through it all, the giants of Silicon Valley have stayed conspicuously silent, their famed devotion to free expression, as well as their newfound commitment to battling hate speech and conspiracy theories, is, in India, nowhere to be found.”

Biden “Illegally” Bombs Iranian-Backed Militias in Syria

U.S. progressives are levying intense criticism against the Biden administration for carrying out airstrikes on eastern Syria said to be targeting Iranian-backed militia groups. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports at least 22 people died.

The Pentagon called the assault a response to recent rocket attacks on U.S. forces in northern Iraq. Those attacks came more than a year after Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops—an order ignored by both the Trump and Biden administrations.

Democracy Now! speaks with California Congressmember Ro Khanna, who says, “The administration’s actions are clearly illegal under the United States’ law and under international law.” 

Climate Crisis
Inside Biden’s uphill battle to restore the EPA after Trump

Joe Biden may be able to freeze, and quickly reverse, over two dozen more regulatory rollbacks that the Trump administration forced through at the end of his term. The progressive advocacy group Public Citizen is urging Biden to broaden his January 20 freeze memo to include 25 more regulations issued at the last minute by Trump, reports Common Dreams.

Donald Trump’s appointees to the Environmental Protection Agency dealt systematic damage to the agency over his four years as well, decimating its ability to penalize polluters breaking environmental rules.

The Biden administration is attempting to reverse course, reports Grist. After Biden’s executive order instructing federal agencies to “hold polluters accountable,” the Department of Justice retracted nine Trump policy documents that restricted the EPA.

Close the Circuit

In 2019, humans generated 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste worldwide, up 21% in five years. By 2030, global e-waste will reach 74 million metric tons, making it the world’s fastest growing domestic waste stream.

Recycling is not keeping pace with this rapid growth—only 17.4% of 2019’s e-waste was recycled, meaning “recoverable materials conservatively valued at US $57 billion—a sum greater than the Gross Domestic Product of most countries—were mostly dumped or burned” rather than collected for reuse.

Dangerous substances in e-waste and the high labor costs to dismantle it has led to an international movement of e-waste, and all “recyclable” waste, from the Global North to South, reports Earth Island Journal.

In the U.S., the Biden administration is signaling a move to a green economy. This will only be possible by reducing consumption and closing the loop on use and reuse globally.

In Other News

1. White supremacists on par with ISIS as ‘top threat,’ FBI director says at Captiol riot hearing (The Independent)

2. 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating (The Atlantic)

3. U.S. Announces Sanctions Over Russia Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny’s Poisoning (HuffPost)

4. Andrew Cuomo: Fresh calls for New York governor to resign over harassment claims (BBC)

5. ‘I don’t have money for food’: millions of unemployed in US left without benefits (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.