Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| September 26, 2023 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

The bizarre side of climate events: typhoon rains in China resulted in a water overflow at a crocodile farm, with 70 escapees, the Washington Post reported. People were warned to stay indoors.

New research shows Iowa loses 12 million tons of their soil’s organic carbon each year, the Des Moines Register reported. At fault: soil erosion on bare-sloped soil surfaces, tillage, monoculture and lack of cover crops.

In just two years China has improved air quality by 42%, which will add 2.2 years to their citizens’ lives, CNN reported. The nation’s notorious reputation for severely compromised air quality prompted a multi-billion dollar war against pollution. The University of Chicago called it a “staggering success” that was fueled by political will and resources - but noted more remains to be done.

So far this year there have been 23 extreme U.S. weather events, each costing at least $1 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. There were 22 in 2020.

The recent March to End Fossil Fuels attracted an estimated 75,000 people to the New York City event, where they aimed to catch the attention of world leaders gathering for Climate Week. Protestors urged declaration of a climate emergency and phasing out and ending oil and gas projects.

NBC noted in their coverage that the U.S. has been responsible for more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any other country - although China now emits more carbon pollution annually.

According to The Hill, Republicans in the House have agreed to avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown by funding the government through Oct. 31. In exchange they want Defense and the Veterans Affairs office spending kept at current funding levels and discretionary funding cut by 8%. Numerous sources say the Senate is not likely to pass that.

Politico previewed the Republicans’ budget proposal and say it doesn’t directly cut Social Security and Medicare, but creates a closed-door commission for making such cuts. Other media say the House Republicans’ proposal has no funding for Ukraine or for disaster assistance.

Republican efforts to impeach President Joe Biden may run into a roadblock, since a Trump-era Justice Department opinion puts into question the ability to go forward with an impeachment inquiry without a House vote.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has started an inquiry without that vote. ABC said the Trump-era impeachment opinion is considered binding unless the Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel provides a new opinion.

Republicans want to prove their claim that Biden profited from his son’s business dealings when vice president.

Historian Heather C. Richardson notes that Oversight Committee witness accounts have not unearthed misconduct by Joe Biden.

And on Fox News, Rep. Michael McCaul-R, who is assisting the inquiry, admitted there was no evidence for an impeachment, “but we may find it later.”

Mexico’s Supreme Court has decriminalized abortion, making it the most recent Latin American country to expand access to the procedure, NPR reported.

A large private health insurer is suing the Biden Administration over the administration’s efforts to stop overcharges to Medicare, Social Security Works wrote. The Biden crackdown allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to compare bills of privatized Medicare Advantage plans to actual medical records. SSW calls the insurers’ lawsuit “frivolous.”

The Justice Dept. has begun their case against Google, alleging Google has stifled competition by illegally abusing its power over online search. At issue is the ability of large corporations to stifle competition. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says most households pay over $5,000 a year because large “corporations can raise prices without fear that competitors will draw away consumers.”

Recently on “Meet the Press” Donald Trump spoke about the 2020 election. Asked if he listened to some people “because they were telling you what you wanted hear?” he said “You know who I listen to? Myself, I saw what happened. I watched that election, and I thought the election was over at 10 o’clock that evening.” [It wasn’t.]

He said: “It was my decision” [to decide he had won].

Some of the reasons United Auto Worker are pro-strike: The Big Three automakers made $250 billion in the last decade, but car-making costs were “relatively low.” CEO pay rose 40% in the last four years; workers’ wages rose 6%. Stats are from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who also notes that CEO pay in 1965 was 20 times that of the average workers, but today the ratio is 398 to one.

Five Americans imprisoned in Iran were freed in exchange for five Iranians imprisoned in the U.S., media reported. The Biden Administration has freed a total of 35 wrongfully detained Americans.

Blast from the past: In case current political sagas leave your head spinning: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sh*t,” according to Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for President Donald Trump. He also said, “This is not about persuasion. This is about disorientation.”

Some would say “Mission accomplished.”