Tuesday, February 07, 2023
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Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| April 8, 2022 7:00 AM

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

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s neutrality is under scrutiny after revelations his wife Ginni had regular communications with the White House after the 2020 election; she begged them to keep Donald Trump in office, despite Trump’s loss of both the Electoral College and the popular vote, The New York Times reported. There is talk of Justice Thomas needing to recuse himself from cases related to Jan. 6, 2021. Thomas was the only Supreme Court Justice to vote against making a cache of White House records available to the Jan. 6 House Committee (Trump had claimed executive privilege to prevent release). The release of 9,000 pages of documents from Trump’s chief of staff revealed Mrs. Thomas’ extensive efforts to overturn the election, which included Q-Anon language. She has admitted to attending the Jan. 6 Capitol rally before it turned violent. The Washington Post reported that Justice Thomas has affiliations with people involved with the Jan. 6 House investigation, including John Eastman, a former Justice Thomas clerk, and the main strategist in efforts to overturn the election.

Eastman has tried to dodge disclosure of documents related to Jan. 6 by invoking the Fifth Amendment, and by claiming the turnover would violate attorney-client privilege. A U.S. District Court Judge personally went through the documents and found only 10 that fit the privilege category. The other 101 must be disclosed. The judge said Eastman’s and Trump’s “campaign was…a coup in search of a legal theory,” according to historian and columnist Heather C. Richardson. As well, The Washington Post has reported that there is a seven hour gap in Trump’s phone log from Jan. 6 (during the riot).

Congressional Republicans have blocked $22.5 billion in emergency aid for 31.2 million uninsured people seeking C-19 assistance, The New York Times said. As a result, uncovered and under-covered patients may be charged up to $195 for a C-19 test.

Ukraine-Russian headlines: Longtime aid to Vladimir Putin resigns amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; U.S. assesses Russian forces committed “war crimes” in Ukraine [including bombing of civilians and children]; Russian military correspondent quits over Ukraine war and says Putin is sending army to ‘slaughter’; Ukraine captures one of Russia's most advanced electronic warfare systems, which could reveal military secrets, reports say [it was designed to jam low-orbit satellites, drones and missiles and will be examined by Western spy agencies]; Ukraine has suffered $564.9 billion in losses since beginning of war; Kremlin TV Hopes Russia’s Unhinged Ukraine War Claim Will Help Re-Elect Trump.

In a speech during his recent trip to Europe, Biden stated that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” While the White House hastened to say the statement was meant to mean that Putin’s aggression in Ukraine should not be tolerated, The Daily Beast pointed out that during squabbling over Biden’s statement, this is what was happening on Putin’s behalf in Ukraine: six Russian missiles were fired at Lviv; photo evidence of white phosphorous raining down was reported (the chemical substance can burn through human flesh), the city of Slavutych surrendered to save civilian lives; survivors in heavily hit Mariupol were burying the dead in quickly dug graves in apartment building courtyards; Russian forces abducted staff and the sick from a Mariupol hospital, where they had been sheltering in the basement from continual bombing; and, a tweet from a Mariupol woman fleeing the city, who suspected many have tired of hearing about the devastation: “Unfortunately, not many people want to hear about ripped off legs, fecal matter in buckets, and dead children with ashes instead of lungs.”

More sanctions against Russia were announced during Biden’s recent meeting with the European Council, as well as $1 billion from the U.S. in humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The U.S. will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, and will provide $320 million or more to support media freedom, counter war disinformation, and benefit the security of activists and vulnerable groups, various media reported. Accountability for war crimes instigated by Russians is also sought.

Russian soldiers ran over and killed their own commander in protest of heavy losses during the Ukraine invasion, Business Insider reported. Up to 15,000 Russian troops appear to have been killed since Russia’s aggression began in late February. By comparison, fewer than 3,000 American troops were killed over 20 years in Afghanistan. Russia has stated just 1,351 deaths of their troops have occurred.

CBS News says one month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 4.3 million Ukrainian children have been forced to flee their homes -- over half of all Ukrainian children.

Hearings for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson revealed interesting views: MSNBC reported that Tennessee’s Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling lifting restrictions on birth control access was “constitutionally unsound,” and The Washington Post said Indiana’s Sen. Mike Braun questioned the Court’s, rather than states, legalization of interracial marriage.

Blast from the past: 12 years ago the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, providing millions of people with access to health care, prescription drugs and preventative services.