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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

| November 10, 2020 7:00 AM

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

A federal judge recently struck down a Department of Agriculture plan to deny food stamp benefits to 688,000 people, NBC.com reported. Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the plan as one with the aims of restoring dignity of work to a “sizeable segment of our population” and being respectful to taxpayers. But the judge noted that since May, due to COVID-19, there have been over six million new enrollees. A Columbia University study found that eight million people have slipped into poverty since May.

Cnet reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not considering another stimulus aid package for two months, despite a recent single-day record of 99,000 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and despite pressure from the House to do so months ago. President Donald Trump had promised a “tremendous” stimulus package for right after the election.

Once a stimulus bill is signed, there is a one-week gap before checks go out. The Senate bill did not have provisions for $1,200 stimulus checks, as opposed to the House proposal.

Miami-Dade’s U.S. Post Office is under investigation after a postal employee documented mail-in ballots that sat there for a week, undelivered, NBCMiami.com reported. Florida law says a mailed ballot cannot be counted if it arrives after 7 p.m. on Election Day, regardless of when it was postmarked.

The Wall Street Journal compiled data that shows homicides from white supremacists and far-right extremists, since 2016, have become the nation’s deadliest source of extremist attacks. The data was collected by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. As well, a Department of Homeland Security annual assessment of threat lists domestic terrorists as a greater threat than foreign terrorists, Politico reported. A Department of Homeland Security leak to The Nation indicated “lone offender white extremists” as being the “greatest threat of lethal violence” in the 2020 election cycle.

Doctors in Brazil said President Jair Bolsonaro should face charges of crimes against humanity for how he’s handled COVID-19, The Week reported. A complaint was filed with the International Criminal Court. Bolsonaro has opposed health experts’ efforts to curtail the virus. The nation has one of the top rates of infection, but not as high as the U.S.

Trump, prior to his own hospitalization for COVID-19, stated at a campaign rally that it only affects “elderly people with heart problems” and “virtually nobody” else. The U.S. is fast approaching the quarter million death mark from COVID-19.

“Maybe I’ll leave the country, I don’t know,” Trump said at a recent rally, speculating about if he were to lose the presidential election. An opinion piece from retired Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack, in Politico, drawing upon his U.S. Army career, deemed Trump a “flight risk.” How so? If he loses reelection, Trump will no longer enjoy presidential protection against the charges and lawsuits against him that could lead to imprisonment, debts in the $421 million range and the likelihood that his real estate holdings may plummet in value once he’s out of office.

If there is no clear majority of Electoral College votes for former Vice President Joseph Biden or Trump, a contingent election process comes into play. It was used in 1801, 1825 and 1837 and has Congress determine who will be president. Those making the decision include newly elected members of Congress, who are sworn in before the president, on Jan. 3.

Legal battles over voting were already well underway before Election Day, as detailed by many media sources. Attorneys were seeking either to expand voter access (Democrats) or suppress it (Republicans), since Democrats typically have more wins when more voters show up. Due to the ease of mail-in voting, because of perceived COVID-19 risks, voter turnout has been high. In Texas, one of an estimated 400 Republican lawsuits nationwide was struck down Monday by a federal judge when they sought to invalidate 127,000 votes in the Houston area, on the grounds that the ballots were not cast in a building, but in tents.

In Nevada’s Clark County, where 70 percent of the state’s population lives, the Republican Party tried to stop mail-in ballots, but a judge blocked them. Trump has said the results should be known on election night, whether or not mail-in ballots not yet received are counted. Attorneys for Democrats stand ready to defend all votes cast on time being counted.

Participants in a peaceful assembly-walk in North Carolina this last weekend accused the police of disturbing the peace, according to the Washington Post. Despite having a permit to walk from church to a voting site, the walkers were told to clear the street. When they refused, police used pepper spray on people of all ages and made arrests. The governor called the police action “unacceptable.” The sheriff defended the action, saying the walkers were blocking traffic.

Blast from the past: Armistice Day, commemorated Nov. 11, marks 102 years since World War I ended on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. After the decision to end the war, another estimated 11,000 people died before the conflict abated.