Sunday, March 03, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| November 4, 2022 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warned banks that surprise overdraft fees and customer depositor fees are “likely unfair and unlawful under existing law.” President Biden has asked agencies to find ways to cut junk fees, which can save consumers over $1 billion annually.

  • Researchers for Food and Water Watch say data–sourced info makes it plain most U.S. sourced gas goes to the highest bidder, to attain higher corporate profits. That drives up the price of domestic gas when near-record levels of U.S. gas are exported. To address the issue the Gasoline Export Ban Act has been introduced to Congress by Rep. Ro Khanna.

  • Pennsylvania children who’ve grown up within about a mile of fracking wells are twice as likely as others to develop juvenile leukemia, a study from Yale School of Public Health found.

  • Voting into office election denial candidates could bring the demise of U.S. democracy, The WEEK reported. More than half of Republican candidates for congressional or key state offices this year are on record as supporting the claim that their party actually won the presidency in 2020. The New Republic: “It’s getting harder to see how democracy can survive” Republicans’ rush to “fascism.”

  • A bigger threat to democracy, The Guardian points out, could be the upcoming far right-dominated Supreme Court’s decision on the “independent state legislature” theory. The theory claims that partisan majorities in state legislatures can toss a popular vote outcome in favor of their own party thereby putting the U.S. “squarely on the path to authoritarianism.”

Supreme Court watchers will be surprised if a Justice decision dominated by the right repudiates the independent state legislature theory.

Hope for retaining democracy: The House bi-partisan Electoral Count Reform Act has passed, and shows promise for passing in the Senate, CBS says. It would safeguard the electoral process and preserve the will of voters via greater clarity than that of the original 1887 Electoral Count Act.

  • Facebook’s parent company has been fined $25 million for multiple violations of Washington state’s campaign finance laws, according to The Seattle Times.

  • In order to dodge supply line shortages, a coalition of 322 business groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to make sure the railroad deal he helped broker last month gets approved, the AP reported.

The Stand, which reports on union issues, says Class A railroads are experiencing records profits, and should cover a top employee contract concern: lack of sick leave.

  • Winter snow crab season in Alaska was cancelled, The WEEK reported. Their population dropped from 8 billion in 2018 to 1 billion last year due to warmer waters that cause lethal starvation.

  • Political violence in the U.S. has gone up nearly 50% since Donald Trump was elected in 2020, according to The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. That was highlighted when, early Oct. 28, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, 82, was attacked with a hammer by a 42-year-old MAGA-type assailant.

The FBI affidavit about the incident stated Paul was sleeping at their San Francisco home when the assailant broke a glass door, announced he was looking for Nancy, and said he would tie Paul up with zip ties until she arrived.

Paul called 9-1-1 from his bathroom; officers arrived six minutes later, where they found Paul and the assailant both holding onto a single hammer, with Paul in the grip of the man’s other hand. When the FBI demanded the hammer be dropped, they said the attacker secured the hammer and used it to fracture Paul’s skull. In custody, the assailant said he planned to hold Nancy hostage; he said he intended to break her kneecaps for lying - as a demonstration to others in Congress when she would enter Congress in a wheelchair.

More than 9,600 threats against elected officials, by Trump followers, have been recorded in the last year, according to the Carnegie Endowment and Vox.

Action is typically taken based on disinformation on marginally regulated social media, or a favored bias-based news source. Various media reports state that Paul Pelosi’s attacker had a history of posting 2020 election conspiracy theories. MAGA supporters repeated a Santa Monica Observer story claiming the Pelosi incident was a case of engagement with a male prostitute gone awry, fueled by alcohol.

The Observer has a low 44.5% trust score from NewsGuard, based on printing false claims and defying journalistic standards.

Politico says one in five Republican men feel that violence is “justifiable” at this political time.

Ironically, new Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted (and later removed) info based on the Observer story, after assuring advertisers that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape.”

Blast from the past: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel, survivor of Nazi death camps and Nobel Prize Laureate, 1928-2016.

And another blast: In 1988 all lawn dart sales in the U.S. were prohibited after the deaths of three children.