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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| June 18, 2021 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling, much of it about fossil fuels:

Methane-filled livestock belches are equal to 850 coal plants burning year-round, but there’s a solution, according to Mother Jones. A new study printed in PLoS One said that a cup of red seaweed, when used as an additive to livestock feed, can reduce the methane releases by a higher-than-expected 82 percent.

Seattle is the first U.S. city with a 70 percent vaccination rate, according to Forbes.com.

The International Energy Agency has declared there should be no new fossil fuel exploration projects in order to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Their report calls for quadrupling annual growth of solar and wind by the end of the decade.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide are the highest they've been in human history, The Washington Post reported. To avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists told the Post that carbon dioxide pollution must be reduced to zero at the earliest possible date.

Various media reported that the Keystone XL pipeline project was terminated by its Canadian owners after the U.S. permit was revoked. Objections to the crude oil pipeline that travelled through the U.S.’s interior included aquifer contamination, climate change, pipeline safety, eminent domain and damage to burial and archaeological sites. Those objecting: Native Americans, farmers, ranchers and environmentalists. Since much of the pipeline work was completed, job losses are expected to be minimal.

ExxonMobil’s boardroom recently took on three new directors who have a reputation for promoting a strong climate strategy while also creating wealth, The Guardian said.

ProPublica reported last week on the ultra-rich frequently not paying any federal income taxes after an evaluation of IRS records. When federal taxes were paid, the true tax rate was 3.4 percent, in contrast to the 14 percent tax paid by most American households. ProPublica noted that in 1918 only 15 percent of American families owed any tax. The top 1 percent paid 80 percent of the revenue raised. ProPublica’s findings, which included how the rich currently accomplish their no- and low-pay tax feat, are expected to inform current congressional decisions regarding taxing the rich. The IRS opened an investigation into how ProPublica gained what appear to be leaked agency documents.

Novel use of American Rescue Plan Act funds: The Washington Post said the Oxnard City Council, located north of Los Angeles, voted recently to give $1,000 bonuses to grocery or pharmacy workers who worked three or more months during the first 12 months of the pandemic.

Newly uncovered emails provided to Congress and reviewed by The New York Times show that, in his last weeks in office, former President Donald Trump leaned on the Justice Department to investigate election conspiracy theories. One theory was that Italy remotely tampered with U.S. voting machines to switch votes from Trump. The emails came to light due to the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation of the possibility that the Justice Department aided efforts to reverse the presidential election outcome.

The new information “underscores the depths of the White House’s efforts to co-opt the [Justice] Department and influence the electoral vote certification,” the committee chairman, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), stated.

Recently Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, select reporters and Trump’s former White House counsel were told they’d been under investigation for leaking classified information about Trump and Russia, The New York Times reported. The information came to light when Apple, which had been under gag order, informed those under surveillance after it was lifted.

No evidence tied lawmakers to the leak. Several involved with the investigation regarded it as politically motivated. So far there’s no evidence any Republican lawmakers on the House Committee were investigated, and Democratic leaders are calling the investigation a “weaponization” of law enforcement at the Justice Department. Democrats are exploring ways to reestablish independence of the Department of Justice from the White House.

The Biden administration is exploring ways to stem the flow of immigrants over the southern border, but they need to review North America’s role in creating conditions that compel people to flee, according to a report in In These Times. That includes destabilized governments as well as unequal trade, wherein large corporations displace people from their land, which pushes them into poverty. For every dollar from the Global North, the report found, the South loses $14 through “unequal economic exchanges” via “predatory elites” enabled by the U.S.

The research suggests effective aid would include investment in public education and healthcare, and repayment for what has unfairly been extracted.

A 59 to 1 vote by state lawmakers in Oregon ejected state Rep. Mike Nearman for helping a far-right crowd breach the Oregon State Capitol in December, according to The New York Times. Nearman’s was the “no” vote. Security cameras showed him letting the crowd, described as “violent,” inside the building.

Blast from the past: “You can’t do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.