Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| September 13, 2022 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

  • Ultra-rich tax evaders under-report their income by an estimated $600 billion a year, NPR reported. The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act has allotted $80 billion for the IRS for helping them address big-timers’ tax dodging.

The return is expected to be $220 billion in tax revenue over the next decade, according to The Washington Post. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that IRS audits on small businesses or households earning less than $400,000 annually will not increase.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the top 1% of tax filers “who account for 28% of the tax gap.”

  • Polling by Data for Progress shows 86% of voters are concerned that Social Security benefits for those who currently receive them will be reduced.

There appears to be a reason for that: under the George W. Bush administration, SS privatization was proposed (but quietly disappeared when the stock market was ailing), and more recently the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, Sen. Rick Scott, released an 11-point plan (Rescue America) that could end SS and Medicare after five years.

  • According to Global Forest Watch data, the amount of trees burned has doubled over the last 20 years.

Causes are higher temps and drier conditions, from climate change. Most of the loss was in Russia. A Global Forest Watch analyst noted that both trees and soil store carbon, which can be released with a fire. The analyst said about 50% of national fire budgets are dedicated to responding to fires, with less than 1% dedicated to preparing and planning.

The UN predicts a 50% increase in extreme fires by century’s end.

  • Alzheimer’s research is under question after it was revealed that a 2006 Nature paper may have been “deliberately manipulated,” The Guardian reported.

Attempts by scientists to replicate the research that has underpinned studies since then have not been successful. The National Institute on Aging says six million Americans are believed to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; conventional doctors regard it as untreatable.

But there are people who have reversed their Alzheimer’s and their stories can be found in The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s, with info about the program’s peer-reviewed studies.

Two companion books by author and neuroscientist Dr. Dale Bredesen explain details of the program, and why each person’s healing path will vary (which explains why a single all-purpose pill has failed).

  • Weather whiplash is the latest term for climate change events that include flash flooding and “flash droughts.” Rain in Texas recently fell at the second highest rate since 1932, triggering floods and rescues. Earlier in July extreme heat and drought in Texas killed corn crops.

And, numerous media report, people across Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas are under flood watches. In Europe the drought is deemed the worst in at least 500 years. And China is suffering record high temps and severe drought, crippling the economy due to compromised hydropower production and shutting down many factories.

  • A 29-year-old Russian woman, referred to as “Putin’s brain,” died in a Moscow-area car bombing, CBS reported. Russia is blaming Ukraine, but others disagree.
  • Donald Trump’s long-time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization pleaded guilty recently to conspiring with the former president’s company to commit numerous crimes, including tax evasion, The New York Times reported.

To reduce his prison time, Weisselberg will share information about the Trump Organization, but not about Trump.

Documents at Mar-A Lago: In recent months Trump White House attorneys have talked with the FBI about returning stolen documents. Two witnesses have claimed that Trump refused their return, claiming “It’s not theirs, it’s mine,” The New York Times reported.

A National Archives review of the material seized from Trump’s home showed hundreds of classified and improperly retained documents, The Guardian said. Security camera footage is also being reviewed, which shows people taking boxes in and out of storage area in question.

The Justice Department wants to look at more of that footage.

After bragging that his father “killed” the Bushes and Clintons, Eric Trump said, “Last night he killed the Cheneys,” referring to Sen. Liz Cheney’s recent (sizable) primary loss.

Financial Times writer Edward Luce noted that in his career of covering extremism and violent ideologies worldwide, he’d never come across “a political force more nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close.”

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden affirmed, “I agree. And I was the CIA Director.”

Blast from the past: A year ago the U.S. ended its longest war. Tens of thousands of Afghan people fled, some on foot. TIME magazine provided bios of how seven Afghan women have adjusted to their new lives, leaving behind freedoms (getting an education, participating is society) they had enjoyed for 20 years, but lost when the Taliban took over.

One of those who fled asked “how can a regime that ignores half of society survive?” Another, now living in London, is surprised by how the government accepts people from different backgrounds and “everyone seems to love each other.”

A 31-year-old woman now in France managed to arrange for her family to go to Canada, but doesn’t know if she’ll see them again. All wish they had been able to stay - Taliban-free - with family and loved ones in Afghanistan.