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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| July 2, 2021 7:00 AM

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

As expected, even redrafted to appeal to Republicans, the GOP blocked the For the People Act last week via filibuster. The move upholds Republicans’ vow to block President Joe Biden’s agenda. The proposed act included provisions for protecting the right to vote, ending partisan gerrymandering, limiting the influence of money on politics and implementing additional ethics rules for federal officeholders. That the filibuster represented a minority of people, yet stopped a popular bill to expand democracy, has sparked renewed efforts to end or change the filibuster, according to multiple media sources reported.

The COVID-19 front: Health experts are contemplating the toxic mix of low vaccination rates in the U.S. and the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which they say is 60 percent more contagious than the Alpha variant previously discovered in the U.K. Predictions are that the Delta variant will spark a third wave of the pandemic, primarily affecting the unvaccinated.

President Biden recently presented his five-point proposal for addressing gun violence. NPR said it includes a zero-tolerance policy for gun sellers that violate federal laws; more support for local law enforcement to help with typical summer crime increases; investing in community violence intervention programs; broadening summer employment and services, especially for teens and young adults; and helping the formerly incarcerated to successfully re-enter their communities.

Causes of the climate-change driven Pacific Northwest heat dome (also in parts of Europe, Scandinavia and Russia) include a broad ridge of high pressure that brings lots of sun and sinking air, compounded by a low thermal trough that blocks cooling sea breezes, according to The Washington Post.

Close to four million people quit their jobs in April, according to a report in The New York Times. Those quitting come from all sectors of the workforce. They have a wide variety of reasons, including fear of contracting the coronavirus, child or elder care challenges, refusal to give up the flexibility of remote work, lack of respect from employers, an unwillingness to put up with inadequate wages and job burn-out. The report cited a marketing director who learned he was paid $13,000 less annually than others in his same position. He asked for a raise and quit after getting offered a paltry wage increase.

A House select committee will be created to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Axios reported. It will consolidate several House investigations and comes on the heels of Senate Republicans blocking a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to conduct the investigation.

Blast from the past: The fallout from obstructionist politics in Congress. Historian Heather Cox Richardson points out that Congress’ job is to make laws, and the president’s job is to execute them. But since the mid-20th century, the president’s office has seen an increase in power, often due to obstructionist tactics that prevent the office from moving forward with campaign promises. That prompts a president to act instead by executive order. It has also resulted at times with presidents sending out troops without a congressional declaration of war.