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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled Lorraine H. Marie
Contributor | September 18, 2020 7:00 AM

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

Despite pleading from the Federal Reserve for more funding to stop further erosion of the economy, the second COVID-19 relief bill, which needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, earned only 52 votes, the Washington Post reported. The Dem-controlled House passed a more far-reaching stimulus bill in May, but the Senate did not take action on it.

The Republican’s Senate proposal did not include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and no money for cities and states suffering a decline in revenues.

“The threat of eviction, hunger and poverty remains high,” the Post commented, since half of jobs lost in March-April have not been recovered, and rehiring has slowed.

This month marks the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attack in the U.S. that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001. A Brown University report argued that the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, the Global War on Terrorism, caused the displacement of at least 37 million people in eight countries and left 800,000 dead. The cost to the U.S. taxpayer is estimated at $6.4 trillion.

The U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching 200,000 (198,818 on Monday, according to Worldometer).

Recently, Smithfield Foods meat plant in South Dakota was fined $13,500 after four employee deaths attributed to COVID-19 and nearly 1,300 workers were infected with the coronavirus, Democracy Now reported.

Several members of Congress have introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act of 2020. If enacted, it would end handouts and close tax loopholes for fossil fuel billionaires.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recently in their weekly report that adults with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the previous 14 days as those testing negative. Patrons saw the lowest risk at food businesses with delivery, drive-thru or curbside pickup. The highest risk came at locations where seating capacity was not reduced and tables were not at least six feet apart, USA Today said.

As of last week, at least six teachers had died from COVID-19 since schools reopened, MSN.com reported. The teachers were from Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Bob Woodward’s just-published book, “Rage,” got its title from a conversation with President Donald Trump. Trump reportedly said “I bring rage out … I always have … I don’t know if that’s an asset or a liability.” Woodward helped expose Watergate, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Trump had been warned not to talk to Woodward, but consented to 18 taped interviews used in the book. He also urged administration members to speak with the venerated journalist.

Of particular note is Trump confiding that he knew early on that COVID-19 is “more deadly than even your strenuous flus…” But he stated he preferred to play it down to avoid panic.

POLITICO revealed that appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have been making changes to COVID-19 information in weekly CDC reports. The changes were intended to create alignment with false information put out by Trump. Members of Congress are calling for an investigation.

As of Monday there were 35 deaths from the wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington, Democracy Now reported. Converging with an unprecedented heat wave, wildfire ravanged nearly five million acres, along with homes and entire towns. California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed out that fires in his state could be repeated across the country “unless we get our act together on climate change” and free ourselves from all the “BS” from climate deniers. The burning of fossil fuels has increased fire risk by 500 percent, according to scientists.

The wildfires and excessive heat have also affected the electrical grid, Democracy Now relayed, since more air conditioning is being used and fossil fuel gas plants struggle with high heat. As well, excessive smoke has rendered some solar panels unable to collect power.

States also have been short of firefighters due to releasing inmates early to lighten prison loads during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his state, Newsom signed a bill expunging former prison firefighters of their records, enabling them to get jobs as municipal firefighters.

Causes of the fires have included lightning, power lines that were faulty or knocked down and accidents, NBC News said. Rumors of arson by antifa are being flatly denied by law enforcement.

To help victims of wildfire, donate to the Red Cross and designate which state in the memo line of the check: P.O. Box 37864, Boone, IA 50037-0864.

Blast from the past: “True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it,” said Karl Popper, Austrian-born philosopher, academic and social commentator. Born in 1902, he died in 1994.