June 15, 2021

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The Headlines

PCIM: The Edge

Time to Stop Modernizing America’s Nukes and to Start Negotiating Peace (The Edge)

The Biden American Jobs Plan Is Also a Health Plan (The Edge)

Billionaires Aren’t Paying Income Tax – and Mainstream Media Doesn’t Care (The Edge)


2021 Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced (Pulitzer)

The Marshall Project Wins The Pulitzer Prize (The Marshall Project)

U.S. Politics

NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Released from Prison as Family Pushes Biden to Pardon Her (Democracy Now!)

Reality Winner, Whistleblower on Russian Hacking, Is Released From Prison (The Intercept)

The GOP Has Declared a War on Protests (In These Times)

Climate Emergency

Biden and G7 Announce Progress on Climate Change with One Major Failure (Mother Jones)

Will Biden Be Forced to Give Up What Some Say is His Best Shot at Tackling Climate Change? (Inside Climate News)

PCIM: The Edge

Time to Stop Modernizing America’s Nukes and to Start Negotiating Peace

The Biden administration’s proposed military budget calls for the production of nuclear “pits”—the spherical plutonium-based implosion bomb that dropped on Nagasaki. Not since 1992 has the U.S. arms industry invested in these, but Biden’s massive $753-billion National Security Budget has allotted funds to—prematurely—ensure the Plutonium-239 in America’s nukes hasn’t broken down enough to render them duds.

Dave Lindorff, 2019 Izzy Winner, deconstructs the reasons the U.S. has to restart its “pit” manufacturing:  “to serve as triggers for new thermonuclear bombs and warheads planned for use by new planes, ships and ballistic missiles, and perhaps as small ‘useable’ tactical bombs with yields as low as 5 kilotons.”

“This is a bunch of really terrible ideas.”

Lindorff delves into the U.S.’s history of nuclear production during peacetime, including its “first use” strategy—contrary to common belief, “retaliation is not what the Minuteman or Trident missiles were designed for.”

The Biden American Jobs Plan Is Also a Health Plan

Over a decade after the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and in the wake of the COVID-19 recession, Americans are experiencing precarity—“depending on the will or pleasure of another,” as author of “Having and Being Had” Eula Biss puts it.

Pay drops and job losses have largely hit low-income workers, disproportionately women, and especially women of color. In the first 10 months of the pandemic, women had a net loss of 5.4 million jobs, amounting to 1 million more lost than men. In December 2020 alone, 154,000 Black women dropped out of the labor force.

The Biden administration’s American Jobs plan of 2021 will help lessen this precarity, writes Jennifer Tennant. In bolstering infrastructure, supply chains, science, and care infrastructure, the plan directly and indirectly will improve the nation’s health, “particularly that of low-wage workers, women, and anyone affected by the care economy.”

Billionaires Aren’t Paying Income Tax – and Mainstream Media Doesn’t Care 

On June 8, ProPublica published an in-depth report revealing that American billionaires including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos pay little to no income tax.

Information obtained from the Internal Revenue Service detailed how the nation’s wealthiest managed to dodge taxes—“The most alarming part of this revelation is that this extreme tax avoidance is all done through perfectly legal means,” with loopholes for the ultra-rich netting a collective tax rate of 3.4% against the average individual rate of 14.6%.

Still, some mainstream media outlets glossed over the gravity of this massive tax evasion. Read PCIM’s roundup here.


2021 Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced

The 2021 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced, with several notable awards recognizing coverage of the pandemic and racial justice uprisings. Minneapolis’ Star Tribune won the Breaking News Reporting category for its “urgent, authoritative, and nuanced coverage” of George Floyd’s killing and its reverberations.

The Marshall Project, which won an Izzy Award in 2020, was recognized alongside AL.com, IndyStar, and the Invisible Institute, for National Reporting on a year-long investigation into the damage police dogs inflict on Americans.

In Explanatory Reporting, journalists at Reuters were awarded for “exhaustive examination” of how “qualified immunity” protects police from facing prosecution for excessive force; and Ed Yong at the Atlantic was recognized for “a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic that … provided clear and accessible context for the scientific and human challenges it posed.”

Other winners included The New York Times, Buzzfeed News, and the Associated Press. Read the full list of Pulitzer Prize winners here.

U.S. Politics

Reality Winner, Whistleblower on Russian Hacking, Is Released From Prison

Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner was released from prison Monday to serve the rest of her sentence in a halfway house, following her 2017 arrest under the Espionage Act for leaking classified government information about Russian interference in the 2016 election to reporters at The Intercept.

Winner got the longest sentence ever given by a federal court for unauthorized disclosure of government information to the press. Winner’s family and legal team say she should receive a pardon and are calling for her sentence to be commuted. 

The Intercept explains how Winner was prosecuted “even though election officials in the U.S. indicated that it was her action, rather than warnings from their own government, that had made them aware they were targets of Russian hackers.”

Climate Emergency

The GOP Has Declared a War on Protests

Florida’s HB 1, the Combating Public Disorder bill, was signed into law in April. The bill is “part of a surge of draconian anti-protest state bills,” and sets harsher penalties for protesters who block roadways or deface public monuments.

The bill also creates a new misdemeanor called ​“mob intimidation,” escalates some misdemeanor charges to felonies, and protects police budgets from cuts.

Whereas Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls HB 1 the ​“strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country,” Max Gaston, staff attorney at the ACLU of Florida, says, ​“HB 1 is not an anti-riot law. It is an anti-protest law that suppresses First Amendment rights by criminalizing peaceful protest and silencing government dissent.” 

In These Times contextualizes these anti-protest measures in the year after George Floyd’s murder.

Biden and G7 Announce Progress on Climate Change with One Major Failure

Joe Biden and other leaders of the world’s richest countries failed on Sunday at the G7 summit to agree on a deadline to end their use of coal for electricity. As Mother Jones writes, burning coal is among the biggest drivers of global warming, and curbing its use is a priority for Biden.

The United Kingdom had encouraged the other G7 nations to agree to phase coal out in the 2030s. Instead, the group agreed to stop international funding for coal projects that lack technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions within the next two years, and agreed to “net zero” emissions “no later than 2050.”

In the U.S., Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes a proposal to create a national clean electricity standard, which many environmentalists says could prove a powerful tool against the climate crisis. Inside Climate News writes a mandate for increasing the share of U.S. electricity that comes from carbon-free sources every year would help transition the nation to cleaner energy, but the administration is already dampening expectations for its survival.

In Other News

1. New York lifts Covid restrictions after reaching goal of 70% adults vaccinated (The Independent)

2. Extremism Has Spread Into the Mainstream (The Atlantic)

3. Racial Gaps Persist As COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 600,000 (HuffPost)

4. Illinois chemical plant fire being left to burn out to stop spillage into river (BBC)

5. Reverse Trump’s cuts to monument protections, Haaland asks Biden (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.