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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| December 24, 2021 7:00 AM

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

Ping-Pong: After a federal judge paused a nationwide workplace vaccination mandate, a federal appeals court panel voted 2 to 1 to allow the mandate to move forward. An appeal of that decision already is in the works. The Biden Administration estimates that, over six months, the workplace rule could save 6,500 lives.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) plays Lucy-style football: With Republicans opposing the Build Back Better (BBB) Act lockstep and Manchin announcing his break with his party this week, there are not enough votes to pass the legislation. The act includes social spending, like the child tax credit and free pre-school, caps Medicare prescription costs at $2,000, extends free Medicaid health care, caps child care costs at 7 percent of income, and addresses housing shortages and home health care issues. Manchin had firmly promised in November to sign on if the original bill was halved. It was, but on Sunday Manchin told Fox News he wouldn’t support the act.

Manchin’s cost concerns were based on a Congressional Budget Office analysis that did not apply to the bill in its current form. Democrats say they will continue to pursue an avenue for passing BBB. Sources talking to Huffington Post said that — off-the-record — Manchin maintains parents will use child tax credit money to buy drugs. The legislation also includes provisions addressing climate change, and Manchin gets a half million a year from coal stock dividends, Business Insider reported.

The United Mine Workers, which includes coal workers, is asking Manchin to reconsider his “no.” Motives for Manchin’s stance appear to be large donations from corporate interests that don’t like BBB, and supposed worries about inflation and the national debt (the bill is designed to be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy and big corporations).

Manchin claimed concern about BBB and inflation, but 17 Nobel Prize economists said even if all the BBB programs were extended for 10 years, they can be fully paid for by the bill’s taxation of the rich and corporations.

Due to Manchin’s “no” on BBB, Goldman Sachs cut its quarterly gross domestic product forecast, Newsweek reported. Goldman anaylists said that failure to pass BBB has “negative growth implications.” Recent Monmouth polling for BBB shows 64 percent approval, up from 61 percent in June.

Christmastime miracle: A Kentucky woman, who tucked her 3-month and 15-month-old grandchildren into a bathtub with bedding and a Bible just before a tornado hit this month, said the tub was lifted out of her home before the house was demolished. The children were found in good condition in the yard under the upside-down tub. Death toll from December’s 40 tornadoes: 90 people.

The House Select Committee is now indicating a text of interest sent to Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, came from Rick Perry, Trump’s energy secretary. CNN confirmed the text was sent from Perry’s device the day after the election, though he denies sending the text. The message suggested not waiting for all election results and appointing Republicans’ own electors instead, which would have prompted a presidential decision by the Supreme Court.

Trump had previously said the Court, to which three new Justices were added under his administration, would favor him.

Other House Select Committee events: Roger Stone has taken the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who sought to serve on the committee but was rejected, is now fingered as an individual who offered a plan to have former Vice President Mike Pence reject Biden electors to secure a win for Trump. The Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia that provided security for Stone, are cooperating with the House investigation.

Floridian Robert Palmer, who assaulted a police officer with a fire extinguisher, has been sentenced to five years in prison, the longest sentence so far. More than 700 people (of 800 involved) face charges for participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Spectrum News that the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was “horrendous” and “what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

Another House committee investigation, the coronavirus crisis report, stated that the Trump Administration abandoned efforts to curb the virus and let it spread unhindered to pursue herd immunity. Trump’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Deborah Birx, said she could not be part of the “herd” idea and that resulting higher deaths amongst minority groups were unacceptable. The report noted there was evidence Trump had interfered with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC figures have shown a nearly six-fold increase in COVID-19 infections with the omicron variant. In some areas, it’s responsible for 90 percent of new infections.

Russia’s state-controlled gas supplier has severely cut supplies to Europe, where they’ve suffered sub-zero temperatures, The Moscow Times reported. Gas prices rose 70 percent over fall prices.

The CDC is recommending those interested in getting vaccinated pursue the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over Johnson & Johnson. New data shows blood clotting from the J&J vaccine is rare but can result in death. Clotting occurs at a rate of one per 100,000.

Blast from the past: “Love everyone and tie up your camel” — A Sufi saying.