n February of 2020, before the public knew the full extent of the coming pandemic but after senators were secretly briefed about the threat, Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Kentucky) wife bought stock in a company that manufactures an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19. Now, 16 months after the stock reporting deadline for the buy has passed, Paul has disclosed the purchase. Under the Stock Act, lawmakers have 45 days to disclose a stock transaction after it’s made. Paul’s disclosure on Wednesday came incredibly late, raising suspicions, experts say, over the already questionable stock trade first reported by The Washington Post. Paul’s wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the antiviral drug remdesivir shortly before the public was made aware of the pandemic in March and before the stock market crashed in March. The purchase was relatively small, between $1,000 and $15,000, and a spokesperson for the senator said that she actually lost money on the stock.
A group of anti-war activists blockaded the entrances to a Raytheon facility in Portsmouth, Rhode Island on Thursday morning to protest the role the weapons-maker plays in the killing of civilians in Yemen, the occupied Palestinian territories, and elsewhere around the world. The demonstration was organized and live-streamed on Facebook by Resist and Abolish the Military Industrial Complex (RAM INC) and The FANG Collective, a direct-action organization based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (Watch the stream here.) In a statement, The FANG Collective pointed to a 2018 CNN report revealing that Raytheon — the second-largest military contractor in the world and the largest producer of guided missiles — manufactured bombs and other munitions that the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition used to kill dozens of women, children, and other civilians in Yemen.
Looking at the state of the world, one is struck by the stark contradiction of progress being made on some fronts even as we are facing massive disruptions, tremendous inequalities and existential threats to humanity and nature. In this context, how do we evaluate the qualities of progress and decline? How significant is political activism to progress? In this exclusive interview, Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s greatest scholars and leading activists, shares his insights on the state of the world and the conundrum of activism and change, including the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement, the movement for Palestinian rights, the urgency of the climate crisis and the threat of nuclear weapons.
Congress just took a historic step forward for racial, economic and reproductive justice 45 years in the making. Every year since 1976, lawmakers have chosen to deny insurance coverage of abortion to people working to make ends meet by adding a policy known as the Hyde Amendment to federal spending bills. But now, for the first time since Hyde’s inception, the U.S House passed a budget without this harmful policy. The House vote marks a bold rejection of decades of injustice against women, people of color and people living paycheck to paycheck, among others targeted by Hyde. Now, we turn our attention to the U.S. Senate.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his resignation, effective August 24, after a week of intense pressure from fellow Democrats for him to step down. Cuomo, who has been in office since 2011, had few allies left after an investigation by New York’s attorney general found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women — allegations he continues to deny. “Governor Cuomo is still gaslighting New Yorkers,” says Yuh-Line Niou, a member of the New York State Assembly representing Manhattan, who says Cuomo must still be impeached. “Impeachment means that New York will not be paying Andrew Cuomo’s pension for the rest of his life. Impeachment means that Governor Cuomo will not be able to run for office again.”
On Monday, 10 people locked themselves to construction equipment and other apparatuses at a Mountain Valley construction site in Elliston, Virginia. The group blocked construction for 8.5 hours and were joined by nearly 100 pipeline fighters in support of them. All 10 people who locked down to block construction were later arrested. Their target, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), is a 42-inch diameter, 300-plus mile, highly volatile, fracked gas pipeline that runs through West Virginia and Virginia. It’s one of many extraction projects connected to the larger buildup of fracking in the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Central Appalachia.
Shortly after the Senate passed a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package on Tuesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus said a survey of its nearly 100 members showed that a majority of respondents are prepared to withhold their votes for the newly approved legislation until the upper chamber also greenlights a sweeping reconciliation bill. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), three top CPC members led by caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote that their fellow progressive lawmakers were “specifically asked” whether they would “commit to withholding a yes vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal… until the Senate has passed budget reconciliation legislation deemed acceptable by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
This first portion, a $1.2 trillion package aimed at modernizing the country’s moldering public works and power grids, passed the Senate today by a vote of 69 to 30. This is a significant step. The number of Republicans who voted “Yes,” including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is no surprise, despite the partisan strife that is our collective daily bread these days; 18 GOP senators voted with all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to evade the filibuster earlier in the process, and the bill itself is wildly popular across a broad spectrum of voters.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would be resigning in a webcast on Tuesday morning amid a months-long sexual harassment scandal in which multiple women have accused him of exhibiting inappropriate and alarming behavior spanning years of his time in power. “This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today,” said Cuomo. “Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.” “I think that, given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And, therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo continued. His resignation will take effect in 14 days, he said.
As the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, many hospitals are reporting record numbers of children being hospitalized, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Texas. Dr. Christina Propst, a pediatrician in Houston, says children under 12 who are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines are at risk. “They are currently our most vulnerable population, just as this highly transmissible variant is surging across the country,” Propst says. She says Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order banning mask mandates in schools is a purely political decision that ignores science. “What he is doing is a direct threat to the health and well-being of the children of Texas,” says Propst.