Polaris Week of 3/8/2021

I’m Ellen, your newsletter writer, here to provide you with a weekly line to The North Star and the news. Here, we’ll break down big events worldwide and keep you updated on what’s going on right here in Naperville.

First up, coronavirus updates.

  • The seven day average for new coronavirus cases in the United States has dropped below 58,000, the lowest mark since mid-October.
  • 2.17 million doses of the vaccine were distributed per day last week, up 19% from last week and bringing the national proportion of people who have received at least one dose up to 18.4%.
  • Half of Illinois residents over 65 have received the vaccine, and are slightly ahead of the national average with an overall vaccination rate of 19.1%.
  • The United Center mass vaccination site opened on Tuesday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that additional appointments at the site should become available “later this week.”

Now, a voting rights bill faces a tough run in the Senate.

Filibuster: The measure that requires a supermajority of 60 Senators to pass legislation

The House passed a voting-rights bill last Wednesday, but it faces an extreme uphill battle in the Senate. Here's what you need to know:

  • After former President Trump's defeat this past November, Republican legislators across the nation have looked to tighten voting restrictions. This is not a new move--over the past decade Republicans have sought to restrict voting access in hopes of keeping power in a diversifying America. Many Republicans agree that higher voter turnout diminished their chances of winning elections. This leaves the Democrats with only three options to combat these changes- none of which look optimistic:
  • The Supreme Court is currently made up of six Republican justices, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.-- and only three Democrat justices. Under Chief Roberts the court has a track record of ruling against easing voter restrictions. That leaves the Democrats with just state governments and Congress.
  • Democrats are currently only in control of 15 state governments (none in swing states), largely due to their failure to appeal to blue-collar, rural voters. Though both sides have partaken in gerrymandering, Republicans benefit more from it, leaving Congress as the Democrats’ only option for enacting meaningful voting rights legislation.
  • The major opposition the Democrats face in Congress is the Filibuster. Senate Democrats will ultimately have to choose between protecting voting rights or protecting the filibuster. All 50 Democrats would need to vote in favor of scrapping or altering the filibuster-- which is no small task. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin already expressed hesitancy to scrap the filibuster, instead opting for changes that would make it more ¨painful¨ to enact.
  • The voting-rights bill would expand early voting, allow registration on election day, require states to register many eligible voters automatically, and allow people who have completed criminal sentences to vote, among other measures.

Next, Governor Cuomo's twofold controversies.

A Subpoena is a court order that requires a person to turn over documents or evidence to the court, come to court, give a deposition, or testify on a subject. Disregarding a subpoena could put you in contempt of the court.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is facing calls to resign on account of two recent controversies: sexual harassment claims and his handling of nursing home deaths in New York. Gov. Cuomo is in his third term as governor. Let’s dive into the controversies:

  • 5 women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and unwanted kissing, including some who worked for him. Former aides have also said that he created a toxic workplace environment with verbal attacks and humiliation on employees.
  • Cuomo has since apologized for the actions, yet said that they were “playful” jokes and “good-natured” teasing. A lawyer for one of the women, Charlotte Bennet, has said that the briefing where he apologized was “full of falsehoods and inaccurate information.” The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has said her office is expected to hire an outside law firm to investigate these allegations. The firm will have the power to subpoena many documents and witnesses, including Cuomo himself.
  • Cuomo is also under fire for his policies for counting Covid deaths attributed to nursing homes. His policy only counted deaths that occurred at nursing homes themselves, excluding deaths of nursing home residents who died at hospitals.
  • Other policies instituted on March 25 mandated that nursing homes could not refuse patients who had been diagnosed with Covid to free up hospital beds. This, according to his opponents, fueled Covid spread in nursing homes.
  • The policies about counting nursing home deaths differed from those of other states and hid the actual number of nursing home residents who had died from Covid. This policy came under fire by public health experts and the Justice Department opened an inquiry into the two policies in August 2020.
  • There were disagreements between Cuomo’s aides and state health officials involved in writing a report that included the nursing home death count. The health department estimated the number of deaths at 10,000 compared to Cuomo administration’s figure of 6,432, which went into the final report. There were also disagreements on whether to link the March 25 policy to the high number of nursing home deaths.
  • The count of nursing home deaths from Covid in New York (including deaths that happened at hospitals) to date tops 15,000.
  • State lawmakers have said that the full count of nursing home deaths was important for them to evaluate nursing home policies against Covid and determine how to prevent future deaths. Lawmakers also say that the coverup of the data was intended to help Cuomo keep his political stature.
  • The Democratic majority leaders of both the New York Senate and Assembly have called for Cuomo to resign. Cuomo has refused.
  • The State Legislature passed a bill on March 5 to cut Cuomo’s emergency powers as governor.
  • Crown Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House, has also said that there are no plans to reprint or release a paperback edition of Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” whose sales have slowed dramatically.

Finally, Meghan and Harry talk about their experiences with the royal family.

The Institution is the network of staff members working behind the scenes to ensure that the royal household runs smoothly. The Firm is the monarchy.

In a tell-all interview aired on Sunday, March 7, Oprah sat down with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to speak about their split from the royal family and experience living in the Palace. Here are some important points:

  • First, the Duchess detailed the amount of racism in the Palace. It was revealed that one unnamed member of the royal family expressed concerns about their son Archie’s skin color before the couple even knew they were expecting a boy. There were also many conversations about Archie’s title and the amount of security he would be given during Markle’s pregnancy.
  • Markle also shared that she had suicidal thoughts while inside the royal family. She felt like she “didn’t want to be alive anymore” and had asked for help from the Palace’s human resources department, but was denied. “I said that… I need to go somewhere. And I was told … that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” Markle said.
  • Prince Harry also said that he felt trapped while a member of the royal family. He also said that many members of the royal family were afraid of the British media and tabloids “turning on them” and described the relationship between the Crown and the press as “toxic.”
  • A response from Queen Elizabeth II said that she is “saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” She also stated that issues of race are being taken very seriously, closing with saying that “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

Take a look at the North Star's latest Heads Up Huskies, also found on our Instagram.

Welcome back to Polaris Recipes. This week, it's three options for chickpeas.

Crispy chickpeas three ways: These easy crispy chickpeas are the perfect sweet, salty, or spicey snack. Simply rinse and dry one 8 oz. can of chickpeas and then spray or drizzle with oil, coating evenly. Bake on a baking pan at 400 degrees for 20-30 min or air fry for 15-20 min. Once chickpeas are done, coat with spice mixture and serve hot.

Sweet chickpeas:

-1 tablespoon coconut oil

-2 teaspoons cinnamon

-2 teaspoons sugar

Spiced chickpeas:

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 teaspoon chili powder

-1 teaspoon paprika

-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

-1 teaspoon salt

Curry spiced chickpeas:

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-2 teaspoons curry powder

-1 teaspoon ground cumin

-1 teaspoon salt

This week in Naperville North news....

The Huskie girls badminton team scored a big win against the Metea Valley team on Monday. Read more about the matches here.

This week's news was written by Randy, Nora, Jeanine, Zayna and Ellen

And after all that news...

Take a break with this week's mini crossword from our graphics editor, Faith. One of the clues? Texas state capital.

We're trying a new game this week, too- it's a cryptogram. The goal is to figure out what the numbered blanks spell, and you can check your answers at the bottom of the newsletter.

Want to know more?

Check out the North Star website for more in-depth stories, and Heads Up Huskies on Instagram for your Naperville North updates.

Thank you for joining us here at Polaris, and I look forward to bringing you more news next week.

- Ellen

Cryptogram answer: heads up huskies