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Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

by LORRAINE H. MARIE
| January 28, 2022 7:00 AM

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

The Pentagon has ordered up to 8,500 troops to be on standby for Eastern Europe in the event of a “lightning attack” by Russia in Ukraine. Russia has 106,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, The Guardian reports. President Joe Biden reportedly has been heartened by European allies who favor pursuing diplomacy and punitive measures in the event of Russian aggression.

A 33-year-old Idaho mother with a blood infection urgently needed an intensive care unit bed, but there were none in Idaho, Washington or Oregon. Her obituary said, “There were no beds available thanks to unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Please, get vaccinated… your actions really do affect others.”

The Biden administration is planning to distribute millions of free, high-quality COVID-19 masks to the public via pharmacies and community health centers, according to the White House.

NPR said D.C.’s attorney general is suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for their role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The suit claims the groups coordinated and plotted violence to disrupt a peaceful transfer of presidential power. Politico reported that the Oath Keepers had “quick reaction teams” for getting guns to the Capitol building, including a 30-day stash of “essentials.”

The Supreme Court voted 8 to 1 to deny former President Donald Trump’s request to block release of National Archives Records linked to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. The dissenting vote: Clarence Thomas. Efforts to dodge the releases, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “raise serious and substantial concerns.”

The House Jan. 6 Select Committee now has over 700 pages of records Trump tried to shield from them, including a draft executive order — never acted upon — that would have seized, retained and analyzed all voting machines. That could have kept Trump in power until “at least mid-February of 2021,” Politico reported.

Who specifically was behind illegitimate elector documents from the seven states that Trump lost is under investigation by the Jan. 6 Select House Committee, CNN said.

The Guardian shared that White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, also Melania Trump’s chief of staff before Grisham resigned on Jan. 6 2020, has told the committee that Donald Trump had several secret, off-the-books meetings days before the insurrection effort.

Fifteen former Trump aides have been meeting to determine ways to deter the violence, extremism and damaging rhetoric that has been dividing the country, The Hill reported.

Why do some in the same household test positive for COVID-19 and others don’t? Dr. Lucy McBride, a D.C.-based physician and medical news contributor, said variations are linked to how much virus comes from an infected person, indoor conditions, the status of each immune system and vaccination status.

It’s been 12 years since five of nine Supreme Court Justices decided unlimited amounts of money could be spent by special interest groups on political campaigns, a decision that said corporations are people. Americans for Tax Fairness assesses that decision: Since then, billionaires have spent 39 times more on federal elections. Today the ultra-wealthy, aided by weak taxation on their wealth and anemic regulation of campaign fundraising have outsized political influence that threatens to outweigh the voices of everyone else, the group concluded.

An open letter pleading for tax increases on the wealthy was signed by more than 100 millionaires and billionaires. The Patriotic Millionaires chair, a former managing director with Blackrock, stated that the injustice of the international tax system inflates the wealth of the world’s richest while billions experience “preventable poverty … deep, systemic change … starts with taxing rich people…”

Why does the Republican Party resist enhanced voting rights? Two years ago, Trump stated that voting reforms such as vote-by-mail, early voting and same-day voter registration could lead to never having “a Republican elected in this country again.” The party has been ultra-aware of conservative activist Paul Weyrich’s 1980 statement that “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down,” The Guardian has reported.

Last week’s senate vote on voting rights was defeated when all Republicans and Democrats Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) voted no. Since that vote the Arizona Democratic Party board has voted to censure Sinema for failure to ensure the health of U.S. democracy, according to NBC News.

Blast from the past: Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Based on a Sept. 2020 random survey in the U.S., it appears that Holocaust knowledge is dim for adults under 40. The survey found that close to two-thirds of those surveyed did not know that 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust — 36 percent thought the figure was about 2 million. Other survey figures: 23 percent thought the Holocaust was a myth, 12 percent had not heard of the Holocaust, and 11 percent believed Jews caused the Holocaust.

More than two-thirds said holding neo-Nazi views is unacceptable. Wisconsin had the best knowledge score (42 percent) while Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas had the worst scores, averaging 18 percent.