Monday, December 11, 2023

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| March 3, 2023 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R in swing state GA) wants a “national divorce,” via separating red from blue states.

Former Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted: “Our country is governed by the Constitution. You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Secession is unconstitutional. No member of Congress should advocate secession, Marjorie.” Greene says “everyone” she talks to supports the divorce.

But Utah’s Republican governor called Greene’s rhetoric destructive, wrong and “honestly, evil.”

It costs $17.74 to produce the highly effective C-19 treatment monupivar, but it’s sold to the government for $712, according to Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College in London.

Federal agencies spent $29 million on the drug’s development, leading Knowledge Ecology International to state that the public should have rights to the drug “under reasonable terms.”

The Dominion Voting Systems vs. Fox News Corporation defamation suit indicates Fox News opted to say what viewers wanted to hear about the 2020 elections, including statements about Dominion Voting rigging the election, to avoid viewers abandoning them.

Dominion’s filed material includes numerous instances of Fox personalities saying off-air there was no evidence of “widespread voter fraud.”

Tesla has voluntarily recalled 362,758 vehicles with experimental driver-assistance software, saying the software may cause crashes.

A train derailment this month in Ohio released toxic fumes and contaminated waterways, including the Ohio River, water source for 5 million people. Human health complaints have included nausea and headaches.

Reputable media say vinyl chloride was released, a known risk for various cancers. The controlled burn of the derailed cars’ contents released phosgene, used in World War I as a chemical weapon, and hydrogen chloride, linked to chemical burns, respiratory failure and death.

The politics regarding the catastrophe: examining fallout from corporate pressure on administrations (including big donations), determining who allowed lax safety standards and reviewing profit-maximizing measures (including stock buybacks) that led to exhausted railroad employees.

Two workers’ concerns about the train were dismissed; they said there was recognition the train could make headlines.

Several environmental groups may take the Dept. of Transportation to court for long-term failure to act.

The Lever said then-President Donald Trump had undone a 2015 Obama-era rule requiring better brakes, but the Biden Administration has failed to reverse Trump’s actions.

Big Ag and deadly viruses, a warning: evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace says current corporate ag practices shorten the interval before the next pandemic. Speaking to The Nation, Wallace pointed out that flu from birds and swine easily cross over from crowded corporate farms, whereas wild animal virus spillovers come from overcrowding of humans who interact with nature.

Pinpointing the economic sources of viruses has not favored his rise as a scientist: universities that protect certain ag practices that Wallace finds problematic have avoided hiring him. He now has a blog, Farming Pathogens, and has written Big Farms Make Big Flu. The solution to Big Ag approaches, Wallace says, is agroecology.

The Dept. of Agriculture has announced a $300 million initiative to invest in promoting the transition to climate-friendly organic agriculture.

At the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Vice President Kamala Harris said the U.S. has determined that Russia’s military actions in the Ukraine are war crimes, National Public Radio reported. That includes murder, torture, rape and forcible deportation, and targeting of children, many of whom have been taken to Russia for adoption and “re- education.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell was also at the conference and promised that U.S. Republicans would not abandon Ukraine.

President Joe Biden recently visited Ukraine, close to the war’s one-year anniversary since Russia invaded, the AP said. Biden stated that Russia had aimed to “wipe Ukraine off the map,” adding that Russia’s aggression has resulted in their economy struggling and a brain drain from those fleeing who see no future.

Current Russian billboards say “Russia’s borders end nowhere.”

PEN America, a free speech advocacy organization, says over 1,600 books were banned during the 2021-22 school year.

Blast from the past: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1928-2016.

Recently a high school principal in Pennsylvania ordered the school librarian to remove a poster with that quote.