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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| October 22, 2021 7:00 AM

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

Withdrawn vaccine study: Business Insider reported that a study claiming one in 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine recipients could get myocarditis, a heart condition, contained a major miscalculation. The study was based on 32,379 vaccine recipients, but the actual number of recipients was 854,930.

The Wall Street Journal shared a report from Facebook that identified Russia as the largest producer of disinformation on social media. Facebook now has a team of about 200 experts that is trying to disrupt “sophisticated influence operations.”

Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917, is the European nation most resistant to fake news. It is teaching students how to resist it as well, The Guardian reported. Math lessons include how statistics can mislead while history classes analyze past propaganda techniques. Language teachers share how words can mislead and deceive. Critical thinking and fact-checking skills also are provided.

The recently released book “There is Nothing Here For You” by Fiona Hill, Donald Trump’s Russian expert, is described as “restrained” and lacking in scandal. Rather, the book has “fly-on-the-wall” details and shares the author’s opinion that the greatest threat to the U.S. comes from within.

Mass worksite raids seeking immigrants who lack work authorizations will stop, according to a memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

March-to-August data shows initial COVID-19 vaccinations are declining in effectiveness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After 120 days the Pfizer vaccine drops to 77 percent effectiveness (54 percent of those vaccinated have had the Pfizer shot). The Moderna vaccine remained at 92 percent effectiveness after 120 days.

A study in the recent edition of the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics found that an estimated 175,000 U.S. children have lost a parent or grandparent caregiver to COVID-19 since early April 2020. The majority are racial or ethnic minorities.

New York City public schools are opening college savings accounts for every enrolled kindergartner. The $100 nest egg is anticipated to eventually be worth $3,000 — not enough for four years worth of textbooks — but research shows even a small amount in a dedicated account can increase chances a student will pursue higher education. NYC Kids RISE manages the program.

Power for 10 million homes: the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior said work has begun to identify seven major zones for wind farms off U.S. coastlines, with auctions for those places expected to begin in 2025. Secretary Deb Haaland said the goal is to slash fossil fuel emissions with well-paid jobs while transitioning to a cleaner energy future to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Dangerous school board meetings: From verbal abuse to injuries to death threats, people opposing mask mandates and advocating for white-washed history have links to Koch-funded organizations, according to Accountability Journalism. The National School Board Association has requested federal assistance for securing safety for school board members and the public school community.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continues to block Democrats’ efforts to address climate change, objecting to the cost, which Build Back Better intends to lay on big money interests. His spokesperson told The New York Times that the senator “has clearly expressed his concerns about using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do the things they’re already doing.” But, according to the International Monetary Fund, the fossil fuel industry, including coal, in which Manchin has investments, benefits from $11 million in subsidies every minute.

The money trail is the current topic of interest for the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” congressional investigators. Talk show radio host Alex Jones has said 80 percent of the cost of the event was paid for by one donor, The Washington Post reported.

Rule of Law Defense Fund is being scrutinized for funding robocalls that encouraged attendance at the rally, which turned deadly. Not everyone affiliated with RLDF approves of rally actions taken by the organization: Alabama’s attorney general said days after the rally that RLDF actions taken were unauthorized and “the opposite of the rule of law.”

The mother of the 46-year-old Maryland man being held for a triple murder said her son believed conspiracy stories that COVID-19 vaccines were being used to kill people. He took action by slitting the throat of an 83-year-old woman, stealing her car and driving to his pharmacist brother’s home. He then shot and killed his brother and wife, The New York Times reported.

Senate Democrats hope to have a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote bill this week, which would encourage the return of one person, one vote. According to NPR, the bill would make Election Day a holiday, provide same-day voter registration, set minimum federal standards on vote-by-mail and do away with partisan gerrymandering, which allows disproportionate representation in Congress.

Blast from the past: “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how. But what is extremely important is this: who will count the votes, and how.” Boris Bzhnov attributed this remark to Joseph Stalin, the Georgian-born Soviet dictator who died in office in 1953. Bzhanov was at one time Stalin’s personal secretary. The quotation's origins are in doubt and many researchers consider it apocryphal. Bzhnov fled the Soviet Union in 1928.