Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| August 9, 2022 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact.

A recent sampling:

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has hatched a paid-leave plan for parents. If approved, all new parents would get three months of paid leave. The catch: parents would have to agree to delay their Social Security retirement schedule by three months per child. The other catch: if they die before they reach retirement age, their family will be billed by the government to repay the cost of the leave.

Monday night a CIA drone strike took out an al-Qaeda leader who had replaced Osama Bin Laden, the Washington Post reported. The man had helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. attacks.

After insulin merchants refused to reign in their prices, California’s governor recently announced that the state will begin production and distribution of generic insulin, to be sold just above cost.

U.S. Senate Republicans stopped passage of a bill designed to provide medical benefits for veterans experiencing poor health from exposure to burn pits and other toxins, according to Military Times.

The U.S. House recently passed legislation to ensure nationwide access to contraception, The New York Times reported. Eight Republicans joined the Democrats to pass the vote.

The move is a response to Justice Clarence Thomas saying contraception and same sex marriage could be “reconsidered” by the Supreme Court.

(Gallup poll: 92% of the population supports contraception.)

But, in the U.S. Senate, Republicans blocked guaranteed access to birth control. They said the Democrats’ bill could fund abortion providers; Democrats said a proposed Republican bill had no language to prevent states from restricting or banning birth control, Huffington Post reported.

Over 20 Republican attorneys general recently filed a lawsuit that claims the federal government should not go forward with a Dept. of Agriculture school meal program.

The disputed program prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, NBC reported.

Yep, we’re tired of Covid, but a spike in cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 has resulted in rising Covid deaths.

The New York Times says epidemiologists are predicting 200,000 COVID-19 deaths within the next year.

Because Omicron is significantly different from the original C-19, vaccinations designed specifically for Omicron are sought, and expected to be on the U.S. market in September.

In the House, 47 Republicans recently voted with Democrats to safeguard marriage equality. And in a 217 to 213 vote, the House passed a ban proposal on assault weapons.

Mother Jones scored another leaked audio, this one again featuring Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former administration advisor. In the audio Bannon bragged about spreading lies regarding the contents of the laptop of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

According to the Bannon audio, the lies were intended to make it easier for Republicans to make election fraud allegations against Biden.

With confidence in the Supreme Court at a record low of 25% (June, Gallup poll), a bill introduced in the House would create term limits for U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

Currently the U.S. is the only advanced democracy without a mandatory retirement age or fixed terms for high court judges, according to The Guardian.

Speculation is the bill is unlikely to pass due to Republican opposition.

NBC said the top western oil companies reported record profits while gas prices topped a national average of more than $5 a gallon.

President Biden noted: “Exxon made more than God this year.”

Inflation update from historian and author Thom Hartmann: inflation continues to rise in the U.S.(currently it’s around 9.1%).

Hartmann asks why, and looks at history: Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter where one-term presidents because of inflation woes. If inflation can be maintained, that could mean a presidential win for corporate-supporting Republicans; Biden has been defending corporate-defying actions, such as unionization and increasing taxation on the low-tax-paying ultra-wealthy.

Trends since 1982 to favor corporations, such as ignoring anti-trust laws and stopping most prosecutions of monopoly law violations have resulted today, for example, with 90% of American beer being controlled by two companies.

Monopolies offer less incentive to price competitively.

Hartmann suggests that corporations are helping to keep inflation high in hopes of ousting Democrats from office.

In response to news that the central bank is raising interest rates and may yet again in September, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says it would be more productive to go after corporate structure that perpetuates inflation than to put the burden of fixing inflation on people.

President Joe Biden announced $2.3 billion in FEMA funds for infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather, BBC reported.

The funds will also go to expansion of flood control efforts, retrofitting buildings, increasing the structural integrity of utilities, and helping families pay for heating and cooling.

According to numerous media sources, the Republican National Committee has warned Donald Trump that they will stop paying his legal bills if he runs for president.

Blast from the past: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell, author, including the books 1984 and Animal Farm, 1903-1950.