Bits ‘n pieces from east, west and beyond

| March 20, 2020 8:19 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact, which COVID-19 has illustrated so well. A recent sampling of events elsewhere, much of it about the corona virus pandemic:

Over the weekend Mother Jones reported that more than half of those in intensive care for COVID-19 in France were under age 60. The nation is shutting down restaurants, bars, theaters and other non-essential businesses.

Two weeks ago President Donald Trump said the U.S would soon have no cases of coronavirus. Last week, there were 2,200 cases and 49 deaths related to the illness, according to The Washington Post.

Sugars suppress the immune system and encourage the growth of viruses, bacteria and microorganisms, U.S. News and World Report and other sources have reported in the past. It’s not mentioned much lately, but is worth remembering.

U.S. prisons house 2.2 million people and are prime locations for spreading COVID-19, the ACLU pointed out. Inmates are in close proximity, have poor healthcare, poor ventilation, and an inadequate amount of soap and cleaning supplies.

To avoid accelerated spread of COVID-19, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced a bill requiring employers to allow workers seven days of paid sick leave annually and to provide 14 days of paid sick leave in the event of a health emergency. The Republican-dominated Senate rejected the bill. With untold numbers of workers unable to work during the pandemic, officials with the Trump Administration said they still plan to move forward with eliminating food stamps for 700,000 people on April 1.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense budget was $580 billion. This year it is $738 billion, The Nation reported. Militarybenefits.info says that’s a $22 billion increase over last year’s figure.

Voting and COVID-19: A bill proposed to the U.S. Senate would require all states to allow voters a vote-by-mail option, with federal funding of $500 million to aid state election departments.

Dropping the payroll tax from 14.4 percent to zero is one of the president’s solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox News reported. They said an administration source told them the president would like to make dropping the payroll tax permanent.

It funds Social Security, Medicare and unemployment. In lieu of workers paying in directly, the president wants funding to come from general revenue. The Wall Street Journal recently said tax revenues as a share of the U.S. economy have fallen. And the L.A. Times suggested that dropping the payroll tax could destroy Social Security.

Pets and COVID-19: There is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and World Organisation for Animal Health. People with COVID-19 are advised to limit their interactions with pets and service animals should remain with their handlers.

James Dannenberg, a member of the Supreme Court Bar since 1972, recently submitted his resignation. In a lengthy letter he explained his dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court, including his loss of respect for the court for its current inclination to side with wealthy interests. He also wrote, “You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.” The letter was printed in full on Slate.com.

Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the environmental sustainability realm were quadruple in 2019 what they were in 2018, The WEEK reported.

The Dutch company Lightyear has created an electric vehicle that has solar panels built into the body. The car already has a 450-mile range with a single charge; that increases with panel input.

As part of their updated energy policy, JP Morgan Chase has announced they will not fund drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Goldman Sachs said they will decline to fund oil projects anywhere in the Arctic. Over a dozen banks from Europe and Australia also are declining.

Low-tech, low-cost climate fix: In one year, a tree can store 48 pounds of CO2 emissions, making forests one of the “most powerful and cost-efficient carbon capture technologies in the world,” asserted Hans de Groot in Scientific American.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, testified to the U.S. House on March 11 that COVID-19 is 10 times more lethal than the standard flu. He also noted that the swine flu epidemic of 2009 was less lethal than COVID-19.

Blast from the past: The first case of swine flu was identified by the CDC on April 14, 2009. Twelve days later the Obama Administration declared a public emergency. Two days after that the FDA approved a rapid test.

And another blast: “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today,” said President Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933.