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Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| August 18, 2023 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, one of several Justices in the hot seat for not reporting sizeable gifts, claims Congress has no “authority to regulate the Supreme Court.”

That’s been met with humor, The Lever reported: They interviewed legal professionals, including judicial ethics expert Amanda Frost, who pointed out that Congress regulates the court’s size, where it meets, and writes the oaths of office for justices. Those oaths are intended to “ensure that the justices behave ethically.”

Heat is the deadliest kind of weather and kills an average of twice as many people as are killed by tornadoes and hurricanes, according to The Lever. Recent months saw an increase in heat-related deaths, and July registered as the hottest month in recorded history.

A UPS strike that would have begun Aug. 1 was averted with a new negotiated contract. Teamsters.org says the contract has more workplace protections and more full-time jobs.

The IRS, due to more funding from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, is now addressing “delinquent millionaires,” The Lever wrote.

The following is from numerous media sources: Former President Donald Trump has pleaded “not guilty” to allegations that he tried to overturn his 2020 election loss, including charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., obstruction of official proceedings and conspiracy against the right to have votes counted (violating a law passed to stop KKK terrorists from interfering in the 19th century with the counting of electoral votes). The indictment charges came from a grand jury of 23 “ordinary” citizens who were tasked with weighing evidence of criminal activity. It said that “…until 2021 [the election process] had operated in a peaceful and orderly manner for more than 130 years.”

The case’s top charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison for Trump.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Trump is the 1,078th person charged in connection with events of Jan. 6, 2021. He faces two other cases against him, one being mishandling of classified files and the other that of falsifying business records to cover hush-money payments.

“It is perhaps the most important indictment ever…to safeguard American democracy and the rule of law in any U.S. court against anyone,” David French noted in The New York Times.

The defendant is claiming that the several indictments he faces are good for his presidential campaign: “We need one more indictment to close out this [upcoming] election.”

After Trump made what were construed as threats on social media (including, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you”), prosecutors have asked for protection orders. Trump has been warned by judges to use caution in his comments, and to avoid inciting violence and civil unrest.

A comment on Trump’s guilt came from former Attorney General Bill Barr, who told BBC that Trump “knew well he lost the election.” Reports are that over 15 pages of the 45-page indictment confirm that Trump’s lies about election fraud were knowingly made. Barr says the apparent defense of “free speech” offers no protection when one enters a conspiracy; other legal authorities have clarified that the First Amendment does not cover criminal behavior.

Details from the recent indictment include plans by the election conspirators to use the military to control protests against overturning 2020 election results. That led military leaders to tell Congress they hesitated to respond to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot for fear they would be used under the Insurrection Act. The recent indictment references six unnamed co-conspirators.

Political chaos prompted Fitch Ratings to downgrade, for the second time in U.S. history, the nation’s long-term credit rating. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called that “arbitrary,” pointing out that U.S. economic growth is strong and the president “has delivered the strongest recovery of any major economy in the world.”

Nevertheless, she agreed that extremist politicians aiming for a debt default and to undermine the government does pose a threat to the economy.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in their next term that could undo any plans by Congress or the President to institute a federal wealth tax, according to The Lever.

Blast from the past: Adolph Hitler’s deputy, Rudolph Hess, was buried in a small German town in 1980. The town soon became a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. On Aug. 7 they march through the town, aiming to incite riots and violence, which, in the past, anti-fascists felt obligated to respond to. The town tried a different strategy: turn the Nazi parade into a charity walk. For every meter walked by neo-Nazis, people pledged 10 euros to EXIT-Deutschland, a group that helps extricate willing people from far-right groups.

When the neo-Nazis first crossed the finish line they were surprised to be greeted with confetti and loud cheers, and learned they had raised $20,000 euros for the EXIT group. The effort went further, and later t-shirts with Nazi ideology were given to neo-Nazi marchers.

When they were washed, the T-shirts had an offer to “free” them and calls to the EXIT-Deutschland organization went up 300%.