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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| November 5, 2021 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling: Billionaire Elon Musk is objecting to proposals in Congress for a tax on the ultra-rich. As author and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out, Musk became $36 billion richer on Oct.

25 and has frequently paid little to no taxes. It would take the average American 800,000 years to earn what Musk accumulated in one day.

An inexpensive anti-depressant, fluvoxamine, could be repurposed and reduce the need for COVID-19 hospitalization for high-risk adults, CBS News reported. A course of the treatment could cost as little as $4. It was tested on 1,500 high-risk Brazilians with COVID19. About 11 percent of the participants required hospitalization as opposed to 16 percent among those using a placebo. To be resolved: best dosage, suitability for low-risk patients and if the drug could or should be combined with other treatments.

It’s called “pre-bunking:” seeds of doubt, according to disinformation experts, are already growing since the FDA’s advisory committee recommended authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

Mother Jones recently shared a few responses to pre-bunking efforts. Some say only kids with pre-existing conditions will have severe COVID-19 cases even though a third of kids hospitalized with the disease had no known underlying conditions.

COVID-19 risks in youth are elevated by asthma, premature birth, obesity and immune system problems. In 2021, COVID-19 was the sixth leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 11.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows the unvaccinated are 4.5 times more likely to contract COVID19 and 11 times more likely to die from the infection, as compared to those who are vaccinated. About 21 percent of Americans have not had a single vaccination, according to The New York Times.

Facebook remains on the hot seat after a former employee released internal document showing right-wing publications and politicians get favorable treatment on the platform, even when public safety is at risk, Accountability Journalism reported.

Other notable problems with the social media giant: promotion of human trafficking, interference with voting, failure to remove blatant misinformation and putting profits above responsibility.

Due to use of coal, China emits more greenhouse gasses than all other developed nations combined, CNBC.com said.

Deep dive: Using more than 75 reporters, The Washington Post just published a review of video and court transcripts, social media posts and interviews of more than 230 people about the Jan.

6 insurrection. The conclusion was that extensive planning preceded the event, and it came close to becoming a horrific medieval-style spectacle. There was nothing spontaneous about it: former President Donald Trump orchestrated the event. As well, aid from the D.C. National Guard was deliberately delayed to aid the insurrectionists and key federal agencies — including the FBI — that would normally investigate and stop national security threats were “frozen in place.” Trump is attempting to block release of more information, adding to suspicions about the depth of his involvement.

Undermining the integrity of U.S. elections and playing political games with the debt ceiling could create economic upheaval, the Investment Monitor recently warned.

Example: in Texas voter suppression is expected to cost $14.7 billion in annual gross product, along with a loss of more than 73,249 jobs by 2025, due to businesses and investments leaving the state.

Political stability attracts investment. This is the first time since the Cold War there’s been concern about the U.S. being a risky business environment, according to Jonathan Wood, lead analyst at Control Risks. He blamed voter suppression acts and gerrymandering for the perception the U.S. may not be a predictable and stable country.

A recent Gallup poll shows 61 percent of Americans support abolishing the Electoral College.

Rethinking the definition of socialism: Newt Gingrich recently told Fox News that big government socialists love “free” programs, and noted nothing is free because taxpayers foot the bill. Former Labor Secretary and author Robert Reich notes that it is socialism-for-therich when big banks are bailed out while Big Pharma and the fossil fuel industries are subsidized by taxpayers who earn moderate wages.

Blast from the past: “Socialism is a scare word they’ve hurled at every advance the people have made. Socialism is what they called public [electrical] power, Social Security, [bank] deposit insurance and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for anything that helps all people.” U.S.

President Harry Truman, a Democrat who served in the White House from 1945 to 1953. He died in 1972.