Weekly RoundUp (6/14-6/20)


Naftali Bennett is set to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s new Prime Minister following Netanyahu’s 12-year long term. Bennett is part of the right-wing nationalist party Yamina (translated from Hebrew as “rightwards”). He describes himself as more right-wing than Netanyahu and has long championed Jewish claims to East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Syrian Golan Heights. Excessive heat warnings throughout the nation have worsened wildfire threats in California and drought-induced water shortages. About 2 million Northern California residents have been placed under a water shortage emergency and asked to reduce their water consumption. In Southern Oregon, the federal government has shut off water supply from the Klamath Basin to preserve fish species that are on the brink of extinction. The C’waam and Koptu are fish species that are sacred to local Native American tribes. Struggling farmers in the area have threatened to open the gates by force out of desperation. In response to new laws introduced by the GOP that restrict access to voting, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “within the next 30 days we will double the division’s enforcement staff for protecting the right to vote. … We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access. And where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act. We are also scrutinizing current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discriminate against Black voters and other voters of color.”


It appears as though Finland has been on the remote work train long before it became a trend. With the start of the pandemic, we have seen many changes to the workforce. Companies have had to adapt and so many jobs have become hybrid (half in office, half remote), fully remote, and some companies have gone completely remote. As Finland has been a huge proponent of remote working in recent years, what has blossomed are new in-home office designs. Check some out in this EuroNews article. MacKenzie Scott has followed through with her plans to donate a majority of her wealth. The Sydney Morning Herald reports “[Scott] has given $2.7 billion ($3.5 billion) to a variety of charities, she wrote in a blog post on Tuesday, bringing her total donations since her first giving spree in July 2020 to $8.5 billion ($11.06b).” The United States Department of Transportation has announced that they plan to fine Air Canada over 20 million dollars over their delay in refunding passengers who have had canceled or rescheduled flights. 


Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veteran Affairs announced a plan to make gender confirmation surgery available to transgender veterans through the Veteran Affairs health care coverage plan. The Department of Veteran Affairs plans to begin this process over the next two years so that the VA can adequately meet the needs of transgender veterans. Currently, the VA Health Benefits package excludes coverage or funding for gender confirmation surgery but does include coverage of mental health services and hormone therapy. It is estimated by The National Center for Transgender Equality that there are about 134,000 transgender veterans who would benefit from McDonough’s new benefits package proposal. Biden’s administration has also stated an interest in expanding protections for transgender students and reviving anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender people.  On Wednesday, June 16th, The U.S. Department of Education overturned a Trump administration stance that states gay and transgender students are not included in Title IX protections. Since this reversal, Title IX now prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona stated: “…that all students — including LGBTQ+ students — deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.” On Saturday, June 19th, thousands march in the Warsaw Equality Parade to protest the rise of homophobia in Poland. The participants of the Equality Parade demand equal treatment of LGBTQ+ citizens and an end to discrimination facing the community. 


North Carolina’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks has been deemed unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in a unanimous vote from its three-judge panel. Genevieve Scott, a lawyer from the Center of Reproductive Rights, argued that “Forcing someone to continue a pregnancy against their will is a violation of their basic humanity, their rights, and their freedom.” Following last month’s mass shooting in a San Jose rail yard, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to require gunshops to maintain video records of all firearm purchases. This tactic is part of Mayor Sam Liccardo’s 10-point plan to implement gun control and is aimed at deterring people from purchasing guns to supply to people that are prohibited from owning them, also known as straw purchasing. A massive power failure in Puerto Rico has left hundreds of thousands of residences without power as a result of Luma Energy’s takeover of the electric grid. Luma Energy is a US and Canadian company. Many Puerto Ricans have been protesting the privatization of the island’s energy grid. 


The Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act brought on by Republican-led states backed by the Trump administration. Currently, around thirty-one million people are insured under the ACA. The justices ruled 7-2, with the dissent of Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. President Biden passed legislation to officially establish Juneteenth as a national holiday. This holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Despite this, other legislation that targets racial inequality and discriminatory practices remain in stalemate within Congress. Efforts to pass police reforms following the death of Black-Americans at the hands of the police are blocked as bipartisan support struggled to be reached. Legislation that would expand voting access and prevent undemocratic voting restrictions is also countered by Republicans in the Senate. In Indonesia, more than 350 healthcare workers have caught COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine. This outbreak seems to be driven by the Delta variant that is more transmissible. This becomes a point of concern as it fares into question the efficacy of other vaccines against new variants of COVID-19


The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, has signed three gun bills into law. This comes after a mass shooting that killed ten people at a King Soopers in Boulder. These laws will provide funding for a gun violence prevention initiative, reverse a ban that allowed smaller jurisdictions to have their own gun regulations, and requires a more extensive background check for someone who is buying a gun. The Mayor of New York, Mayor Bill De Blasio, has announced his criticism of Amazon’s Prime Day. He is quoted saying “Today’s Prime Day — it’s a perfect day not to shop Amazon, it’s a perfect day to keep it local, to buy from neighborhood stores,” and has affirmed his stance against the maltreatment of Amazon workers.  Kerry Washington, George Clooney, Don Cheadle, and other Hollywood celebrities have combined efforts to open a public film school in Los Angeles. The name of the school is The Roybal School of Film and Television Production and its mission is to provide underserved communities with the necessary tools to succeed and achieve in the film industry. 


Activists recently started protesting climate change right outside Texas sen. Ted Cruz’s house, who believes that climate change is fake. 8 arrests were made after some went onto his lawn. The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA could no longer bar student-athletes from payments that relate to education. Health officials have started to warn the public of the new Covid-19 Delta variant that is more susceptible to the youth and unvaccinated. “It’s easier to transmit so it’s more contagious,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the Chair of the White House Covid-19-19 Equity Task Force. With only 45% of the US population being vaccinated, more and more doctors are recommending the vaccine as a way to protect yourself and others. Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador states that he will look into the deadly border shooting that left 19 dead over the weekend. The local government says that they think it was “organized crime,” which in Mexico is generally used to refer to drug cartels.”

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