Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

| February 25, 2022 7:00 AM

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

For those who’ve already earned $147,000 this year, this week marks the end of their contribution to Social Security for 2022. Americans for Tax Fairness argues that if the wealthy paid a larger share of their income into Social Security, the lifespan of the trust fund could be greatly expanded.

Mud and “naked aggression:” U.S. intelligence says Russian commanders have been given the go-ahead to invade Ukraine, with human rights violations and abuses part of the plan for those in opposition in-country. Lethal force would be used against peaceful protesters.

Russian aggression recently began with a “live” (staged five hours earlier, before input from self-styled Ukrainian leaders and part of what has been labeled a false flag act) declaration that sections of Ukraine wanted to rejoin Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Ukraine is a puppet regime. He sent in what he called “peacekeeping” troops to those Ukrainian regions he says want to break away.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Putin has asserted Russia’s claim to all former territories of the Russian Empire, and the European Union and U.S. will impose sanctions for violations of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty in an effort to return to diplomacy. Sanctions against Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine, declared by Germany, include halting the Norstream 2 pipeline. Gas and oil compose 50 percent of Russia’s exports. A letter from the U.N. noted that past Russian operations against those opposed to Russian politics have included targeted killings, kidnappings, forced disappearances, unjust detentions and use of torture.

Nature could alter Russia’s plans: mud season is approaching and could hinder troop movements.

A class action lawsuit filed against the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa is seeking $306 million for disruption of lives and livelihoods perpetrated by anti-vaccine, anti-mask truckers and their supporters, the Ottawa Citizen reported. After three weeks of occupation, police cleared a main protest site. At least 170 were arrested and vehicles were seized. Funds for supporting the protesters have been frozen, said.

Actions that marred the protest included public drunkenness, the harassment of workers at homeless shelters, dancing on Canada’s tomb of the unknown soldier and urination on the nation’s war memorial. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in COVID-19 quarantine with his children, said Canadians were “shocked, and frankly, disgusted” by the protesters. Fox 5, a Washington, D.C., affiliate, reported plans for a similar event in the U.S. capital.

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support and will be signed by President Joe Biden. It was first proposed in 2017.

Maus: Conservatives want to remove from school libraries the true story of Maus, an account of the author’s experience with his parents during the Holocaust. Prior to the attention, the critically acclaimed book had drawn minimal interest. Now it’s an Amazon best-seller.

Peter Thiel, worth $2.6 billion, according to Forbes, and an early investor in Facebook, has confessed to no longer believing democracy and freedom are compatible. An NPR report found Thiel’s other ideas include support for monopolies. He also views monarchies as being a more efficient form of government. He has become one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. The Federal Election Commission says he has also given generous donations to Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), both known for blocking popular legislation, such as Build Back Better.

Diet can influence COVID-19 outcomes: BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health, found the more plant-based the diet, the less likely health care workers were to contract a serious case of the disease.

Former President Donald Trump sought to have three lawsuits against him dismissed, Politico reported. But a federal judge said the suits, which accuse Trump of responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, said the evidence suggests there’s no reason the suits can’t go forward.

Remington recently reached a $73 million settlement with families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The mass shooting in Connecticut killed 21 first-graders and six educators, and left two wounded. While gun makers are shielded from gun misuse lawsuits, the suit used a different angle: that Remington deliberately marketed to young, at-risk males. Such ads are prohibited in Connecticut, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Blast from the past: President Harry Truman confessed to once being racist, but changed his mind. He was appalled when a black veteran in South Carolina was arrested, beaten and blinded by police for the “crime” of asking a bus driver to not be rude to him. A friend begged Truman to not address civil rights. Truman wrote back and said failure to dish out consequences for maiming and killing represented a system that needed to be fixed, so the nation could live up to the Constitution’s promise of individual liberties and equal protection under the law.