Friday, May 17, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| March 10, 2023 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

House Republicans are proposing a renewal of the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy. Americans for Tax Fairness says new estimates show renewal could add $3 trillion to the deficit. The top 0.1% with incomes over $4.5 million would see an average tax cut of $175,000 in the first year; the half of taxpayers who make less than $75,000 annually would see a $329 cut per year.

Those making under $50,000 would get a tax cut of $200, about 50 cents a day.

As president of the pro-Trump think tank, The Center for Renewing America, Trump’s former budget director, Russell Vought, has been working with Republicans on the debt ceiling.

Vought’s 10-year budget proposal includes: $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid (health programs for the poor), $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act, slashing funding for student loans, freezing military spending, $400 billion in cuts to food benefits, “hundreds of billions” in cuts to educational subsidies and halving federal agencies like the State Dept. and Labor Dept., The Washington Post reported.

One goal: avoiding cuts to popularly supported Medicare and Social Security. During the Trump presidency Vought oversaw the ballooning of the debt by $1 trillion in his first year, then $4 trillion in his second year (25% of U.S. debt occurred under Trump).

Under his current plan Vought says workers will pour into the job market. Critics say he’s selling a conservative fantasy: a balanced budget without cutting “anything popular.”

William Galston, with the Brookings Institute, said “as a purely rhetorical ploy, they may be able to get away with it. As a matter of arithmetic, it’s ridiculous.”

Zero emission snowmobiles are being produced by Taiga Motors, based in Quebec. To deal with extreme cold, an “ultra-compact proprietary battery pack” is used, TIME reported. The machine’s regular size battery travels 62 miles on a charge; the larger battery option goes 83 miles.

A Florida lawmaker introduced legislation in that state to “cancel” the Democratic Party, Newsweek reported. A spokesman for the Democratic Party stated that disenfranchising 5 million voters is unconstitutional, “unserious” and a “publicity stunt.”

Florida again: A Republican-sponsored bill proposal would require bloggers who write about Florida’s elected officials to register with the state. Failure to do so would result in fines, CBS reported.

Critics say SB1316 does not align with the First Amendment’s freedom of the press.

Beginning in October, drug company Eli Lilly plans to cap out-of-pocket costs for two insulin drugs at $35 a month. The Inflation Reduction Act had already capped insulin co-pays at $35 a month for Medicare beneficiaries.

Erythritol, a sugar replacement, has been linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and death, according to a study in the journal Nature Medicine. Erythritol is especially problematic for those with existing risk factors like heart disease and diabetes, CNN reported.

Close to a billion people are expected to be impacted by sea level rise due to climate change, the U.N. General Secretary has warned.

The fallout: more competition for resources and creation of international laws to protect those rendered homeless.

The UN Human Rights Committee has ruled it unlawful to return people to climate-threatened countries if it endangers their lives.

Texas has enough geothermal potential to de-carbonize its power grid, according to Politico.

A federal labor judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate seven fired workers in Buffalo, New York, and to reopen a store after finding the company violated labor laws “hundreds of times,” CBS News reported.

An estimated 1,000 chemicals in processed foods have never been assessed for safety by the FDA, the Environmental Defense Fund says.

One, Prevagen, used in some protein drinks, is linked to “serious neurological and cardiovascular problems.”

EDF wants Congress to clarify that new chemical additives need to go through a formal review process to determine if they are safe for consumption.

The Secret Service recently shared a 60-page report on mass shootings (2016 to 2020): 96% of attackers were male, 57% were white, about 75% used a firearm, 72% had financial stress, and 19% had unstable housing.

Axios reported over 100 U.S. mass shootings this year (64 days in).

The American Cancer Society says deaths from cancer have fallen 33% since 1991. Credit is attributed to prevention efforts, better cancer treatments, drops in smoking and more early detection.

Blast from the past: Robert Hebras, age 97, the last survivor of the 1944 massacre by Nazis in Oradour-sur-Glane, France, died recently. In 1944 at age 19 he and fellow townspeople were ordered to assemble by Das Reich. The men were separated into barns, shot and then the barns were burned. Women and children were put into a church; the Germans threw in grenades and burnt it, too.

Hebras was hit by bullets, but managed to escape both the fires and German soldiers. It has not been confirmed why the town was singled out for this treatment.

“What shocks me is that we do not realize that children and women lost their lives in excruciating pain,” Hebras has said.