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Sunday Briefing — May 23, 2021

Bennington

Bennington Shows Progress, Albeit Slow, on Battling COVID-19

Despite decreasing COVID-19 infection rates and active cases, Bennington County has remained in the “high risk” category for the spread of Coronavirus. Public health officials cite promising vaccination rates and warn the public to continue with COVID-19 protections.

Vermont

Vermont Governor Pushes Against Progressive Incarceration Legislation 

Late Thursday (5/20), Governor Phil Scott (R) vetoed a historic 21st legislation. The vetoed bill would have kept police from publicly identifying youth under 19 after being arrested, with high-level exceptions including murder and sexual assault. Gov. Scott argued that the legislature should address infrastructure for rehabilitation services for youth before the minimum age of “disclosing information” can be changed. He also stated that drug traffickers had been using young adults to commit crimes due to their low incarceration rate. The legislature has scheduled an override session in late June, but it is unclear if they will have the votes needed to overturn the veto.

Bald Eagles Come off Endangered Species List

After a 50 year campaign to introduce bald eagles back into Vermont wildlife, bald eagles are being considered to be taken off the endangered species list. This change does not mean that they still won’t be protected as a species–they still get protection under national laws–but is a sign of their thriving population in the state. 

The Vermont Section was written by Faith Embler.

The U.S.

Southeastern Oregon Counties Vote to Secede to Idaho 

Five Oregon eastern counties voted to secede and join the neighboring state of Idaho, the most visceral demonstration of the political divide that has fomented between the liberal northwestern counties and the central and eastern sections of the state. Leaders of the “Greater Idaho” secession drive expressed resentment of the near Democrat super-majorities in both houses at the state legislature and its D.C. congressional delegation. This move is only the first step in detaching a landmass the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined from Oregon: the proposal would need legislative approval at both the state and federal levels. Moreover, all five counties that voted by the majority for the secession voted strongly for the twice-impeached former president, Mr. Donald J. Trump, in the 2016 and 2020 elections.

Texas Governor Signs Regressive Abortion Ban

On Wednesday (5/19), Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation into law. The restrictive measure, referred to as a “heartbeat law,” bans abortive procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. Anti-abortion advocates believe that laws like these will be instrumental in undermining Roe v. Wade (1973), especially with the Supreme Court announcing they will be taking up a case this fall that could change the precedent set in Roe v. Wade. While Texas has seen one of the most conservative legislation sessions to date, anti-abortion laws are not new to Texas. In 2013, Texas passed a bill that targeted abortion clinics and was later struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. Governor Abbott was met with praise from anti-abortion advocates by the signing of this new legislation. Democrats across the country have spoken out against the new bill, and pro-choice advocates are preparing to take this legislation to court. 

The U.S. Section was contributed to by Faith Embler.

International

Fragile Ceasefire in Gaza Tentatively Holds after International Pressure

Early Friday morning, a truce between Israel and the militant faction of Palestine, Hamas, was brokered by Egypt. Following weeks of violence in Gaza and intense international pressure, Israel and Hamas engaged in indirect talks through diplomatic mediaries from Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations to agree on an “unconditional ceasefire” (N.Y. Times). As of Sunday (5/23), the tentative truce has been held, with no further casualties on either side.

Lauren Yanase is a first-year student with a passion for strong coffee and environmental education. When not playing in the woods, Lauren enjoys studying the interplay between history and storytelling through a multi-medium platform. Her award-winning documentary, Shikata Ga Nai: An Inconvenient American, has been shown at cultural and historical events, awareness seminars, and in classrooms across the West Coast.

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