Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

| January 7, 2022 7:00 AM

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

Fish say goodbye to 2021: Residents of Texarkana, Texas, saw fish raining from the sky at the end of December, USA Today reported. A similar event occurred in 2017 in Oroville, Calif.

Last week, former President Donald Trump’s lawyers added a supplemental brief to his executive privilege case before the U.S. Supreme Court, The Hill reported. The brief claimed that the info the House select committee seeks about Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt has nothing to do with lawmaking. Therefore, the argument went, the National Archives records sought by the select committee should not be released. Former Department of Justice and executive branch lawyers (including those who worked for former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush) disagreed. They filed a brief claiming that the information should not be blocked, since it could be used to create legislation for responding “to the most significant attack on the Capitol in 200 years, and the effort to undermine our basic form of government that that attack represented.”

On Monday alone the U.S. saw 1,042,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous high was 590,000 new cases, a record that was set at the end of December, USA Today said.

Inflation or greed? Columnist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich doesn’t think inflation is always due to rising costs of labor or materials. When competition is healthy, prices stay lower, he noted. Large companies with little to no competition don’t fear losing customers by raising prices. Reich said profit margins at large corporations are now at a 70-year high.

Examples of unnecessary inflation: One large company recently promised to raise prices on items from diapers to toilet paper by the end of September, despite a 24.7 percent profit margin. The company’s main competitor coordinates their prices and production with that company, Reich said. Rather than efforts to slow the economy to dodge inflation, Reich suggests “enact a windfall profits tax to any large corporation that raises its prices during the same quarter its profits have risen.”

After a wet spring that fostered healthy grasses, followed by extreme drought that dried them, an end-of-December wildfire in Boulder Colo., destroyed up to 1,000 buildings, The Guardian reported. The BBC said two people are missing and presumed dead. Winds reached 105 miles per hour. It has been labeled Colorado’s most destructive fire.

December wildfires are not normal for Colorado, and regional climatologists are blaming climate change. What triggered the blaze has yet to be determined.

In Kentucky and surrounding states, NPR said a powerful storm again touched down, causing flash floods, power outages and property damage. It is speculated that the event included a tornado. Initial reports indicated no deaths.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), on ABC and CBS TV, stated that “Any man…who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes … who would watch television as police officers are beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol … is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again.”

She warned Republicans that they “can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both.”

Blast from the past: A year ago preparations were underway for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol, an attack attempting to derail the electoral vote count that would confirm Joe Biden as president. During prior weeks, Trump urged supporters to attend the “Save America March” at the Capitol while claiming he was the true winner of the 2020 election. Sixty federal courts and the Justice and Homeland Security departments found no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Speaking to the Capitol crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump said “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” This occurred after two months of trying to alter the vote, which included antics such as asking officials in Georgia to drum up 11,780 ballots for him

When that met with disapproval, Trump plotted with an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department to replace Jeffrey Rosen, the current attorney general, who had said the vote was fair. That failed when top Justice Department officials threatened to resign en masse if Trump followed through with the scheme.

On Jan. 6, three hours after lawmakers pleaded with Trump for help, the former president called for the event to end. Five people had died and two law officers later committed suicide. Republican lawmakers initially blamed Trump, but several of them later called the Capitol invasion a “normal tourist visit” (never mind the violence, broken glass and smeared feces).

After Jan. 6, Trump continued his quest to retain office aided by far right news media hosts and Facebook groups. His efforts to call the election fraudulent resulted in his removal from Twitter. More is being learned by the House select committee, which includes two Republicans who did not participate in the coup attempt. The New York Times editorial board argued that, based on events of the last six years, that the Republic is under threat by those “openly contemptuous of democracy” who are willing to use violence, and “we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country.”