OPINION

President Biden isn't a puppet and the other top opinion columns of the week

USA TODAY

In today's fast-paced news environment, it can be hard to keep up. For your weekend reading, we've started in-case-you-missed-it compilations of some of the week's top USA TODAY Opinion pieces. As always, thanks for reading, and for your feedback.

— USA TODAY Opinion editors

1. 'He's dying': A teen called 911 for her dad with COVID-19 and watched her life turn upside down

By Connie Schultz 

"Most students at John Carroll don’t know that Mallory’s father died of COVID-19. “I don’t tell them because I don’t want to be that girl who everyone pities,” she says. “I was that girl in high school. I hate ‘I’m sorry.’ That’s pity. My father died. It’s something that happened.”

2. It's OK to want justice for Gabby Petito and acknowledge the thousands still missing. We should.

By Suzette Hackney 

"We've been here before – too many times. Tens of thousands of individuals – Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ, young, old, men and boys – disappear every year. Some return to their families; some remain unaccounted for; and, unfortunately, some end up dead. But very few receive the national spotlight that seems reserved for white women and white girls."

3. The new big lie Republicans want you to believe? That there's a puppeteer at the White House.

By Jill Lawrence

"Likewise, the attacks on Biden's capacities are rooted in the many questions about Trump's. The former president's disordered speech drew attention from experts who said it reflected cognitive decline. He himself has never stopped marveling at his “amazing” performance on a cognitive test in 2018 (best captured by comedian Sarah Cooper). Trump bragged about the test on the 2020 campaign trail and was still bragging in Texas this summer: “I aced it. And I’d like to see Biden ace it. He won’t ace it.” 

Mike Thompson, USA TODAY

4. As a domestic violence survivor, I can't stop thinking about Gabby Petito

By Lauren Krouse

"But psychological abuse is real. Contrary to popular opinion, it is the single clearest warning sign of a partnership that can become life-threatening. It’s the thread that runs through all abusive relationships. And it’s exceedingly common, especially in the years when we should be exploring new frontiers and chasing our dreams: ages 18 to 24. We have to find a way to pause and point it out to each other, regardless of our biases, regardless of all the different ways we explain it away. Before it’s too late."

5. 'Devastation is unreal': What life is like when a loved one dies of COVID and some still doubt

By Connie Schultz

"For months after her father’s death, Mallory was terrified of getting COVID-19, not for herself, but for Julie. “We could not expose my mother,” she says. “And we had to wait for the vaccine. When people say getting the vaccine is a ‘choice,’ it makes me angry. My father would have gotten the vaccine as soon as he could.”

6. A bad cop sexually assaulted me. Qualified immunity protected him and his boss.

By Lynette Christmas 

"Unlike most sexual assault victims who fear not being believed or have other reasons for not speaking up, I immediately reported the incident. In August 2017, Pierson was found guilty of sexual assault on a person in custody and six other charges related to traffic stops with myself and two other women. Two months later, he was sentenced by a Georgia Superior Court judge."

Mike Thompson, USA TODAY

7. 'Horrific': Biden administration's handling of Haitian migrants at US border is shameful

By The Editorial Board 

"The issues surrounding unauthorized migration across our nation's border with Mexico are undeniably complex. And the rush of Haitian migrants in recent days has presented Biden and his team with a difficult set of choices. Even so, the scenes that unfolded at the border Sunday are indefensible, no matter your politics or your position on border policy."

8. 'Blow his head off': Supreme Court must strip federal agents of absolute immunity

By The Editorial Board 

"Each of the federal circuit courts interprets prior high court rulings in its own way. In several, judges have shown more common sense, allowing citizens to find a remedy when a federal cop violates their rights. But citizens in the 5th Circuit, covering Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and in the 8th Circuit, which covers seven states running south from Minnesota and North Dakota, are barred from doing so. As Willett put it, in some places “federal officials operate in something resembling a Constitution-free zone.”

9. People with disabilities can't go back to 'normal' after COVID. We need better.

By Julia Bascom and Chris Jorwic

"Julia runs the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a policy advocacy organization working on disability rights issues. In April of 2020, ASAN began tracking COVID-19 deaths in institutions for people with disabilities. This research has borne out what we’ve always known: Our government’s actions can make the difference between a society where people like us get the services we need to thrive in our communities and a society that leaves us to die."

10. COVID and erectile dysfunction: Here's another good reason for men to get vaccinated

By Marcos Del Rosario Santiago

"Why are they related? COVID affects the pulmonary microvasculature. Erectile dysfunction is often a reflection of other health issues. For example, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and coronary diseases all affect the internal part of the arteries, or the endothelium. Endothelium are the cells that line the internal part of the arteries and veins."

Mike Thompson, USA TODAY

11. Have some damn respect: Why schools can't find enough teachers to fill classrooms

By Larry Strauss 

"The budget cuts necessitated by the 2008 financial collapse betrayed hundreds of young teachers, many of whom left teaching when they got laid off with no imminent hope of being reinstated. Could there be a worse moment for this than now – with ignorance threatening our very existence (climate change and deadly viruses made worse by the denial of science; political violence that betrays a meaningful understanding of our Constitution)?"

12. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, stop packing a major hot spot: prisons and jails

By Eric Reinhart

"COVID-19 outbreaks are surging again in jails and prisons across the country as the delta variant takes advantage of persistent local and federal government policy failures to control the pandemic. The recent cases and violence at New York's Rikers Island show – in deadly ways – why emptying these institutions is vital for the protection of incarcerated populations, staff and surrounding communities."