Bits ‘n pieces from east, west and beyond

| July 3, 2020 8:30 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

Lacking statehood, the nation’s capitol operates under a system of taxation without representation. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 233 to 180 to make Washington, D.C., the nation’s 51st state. If enacted, D.C. would add two senators and one representative to Congress. All would, most likely, be Democrats. President Donald Trump told The New York Post that adding Democrats to Congress would be “very, very stupid.”

D.C.’s 700,000 residents serve on juries, in the military and pay taxes, but have no say on issues before Congress. They do have shadow senators and a shadow representative, but none are allowed to cast votes. A non-voting delegate from D.C., Eleanor Holmes Norton, may sponsor legislation, but similarly cannot vote.

A “60 Minutes” TV segment scheduled for July 5 will review evidence that inaccurate COVID-19 tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were knowingly released. The program is expected to assert that the faulty test results led local and state officials to respond inappropriately to the virus, causing more deaths.

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says there’s been an increase in younger people contracting COVID-19 as opposed to those over the age of 65. Media coverage of the pandemic has indicated that younger people believe they won’t suffer from COVID-19 and are disinclined to take protective measures. That, coupled with states prematurely re-opening, has driven a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Officials with the CDC said there is likely 10 times the number of COVID-19 cases than indicated by testing. The spike in cases has prompted the removal of immigrant children from over-crowded detention facilities.

New U.K. research shows those severely afflicted with COVID-19 can end up suffering from strokes, damage related to dementia, heart attacks, amputated limbs and permanent brain damage.

Russians linked to assassination attempts and efforts aimed at destabilizing the western democracies are now also accused of secretly offering cash bounties to the Taliban for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops.

Breaking stories on the allegations from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were confirmed by the Washington Post and buttressed with additional reporting by the Associated Press. Trump has denied being informed about the bounties and suggested it was a hoax.

“It’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia,” a Times reporter tweeted in the wake of the allegations. “Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.”

Responding to Trump calling it a hoax, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he reviewed the intelligence and “if you continue ignoring the facts, more soldiers and Marines are going to die.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said his constituents (29 percent of which are registered Democrats and the rest primarily are Republicans) are “livid.”

John Bolton, the administration’s former national security advisor, did state that he had personally briefed Trump on the information, the AP reported. Investigations indicate the White House knew about the bounty situation for more than a year.

Taking funds (about $2.5 billion) from the Pentagon to build the U.S.-Mexico wall violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled, as reported in The Hill.

The new Waters of the U.S. rule is in effect. It threatens the quality of drinking water for 117 million people by stripping protections from a fifth of rivers and streams and half of wetlands from toxic runoff and contamination, according to Food and Water Watch. They’ve joined others in suing to stop what they say is an illegal rule that defies “clear Supreme Court precedent.”

The U.S. death count from COVID-19 was 129,043 on June 30, up from 122,596 on June 22, according to It was 106,562 on June 1.

Blast from the past: Slavery was in full swing while Founding Fathers hammered out guidelines for a new freedom-loving nation. Historical accounts show that several founders were hesitant to grant rights to slaves, and kicked that can down the road until it burst into the Civil War.

Some deny the war had anything to do with slavery, but documents defy that. South Carolina called for “A Confederacy of Slaveholding States.” Georgia’s state Declaration included “The prohibition of slavery in the territories is the cardinal principle of the organization.” In Mississippi, those declaring their secession from the United States said “…a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization,” and regarded slave ownership as “the greatest material interest in the world.”

Texans’ reasons for disengaging from the Union included a statement about African slaves being justified as the will of the Creator, “as recognized by all Christian nations.” And Virginia decided to secede because “Lincoln’s opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”