Friday, April 12, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| April 2, 2024 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

The recent presidential election in Russia saw Vladimir Putin win -- predictably -- with 87%. Some voters showed dissent: CBS reported there were ballots defaced with words like “killer and thief” and comments about Putin’s arrest warrant for war crimes.

The U.S. economy added 275,000 jobs in February, the 39th straight months of job gains, The Washington Post wrote. 

According to Business Insider, our economy is “crushing it.” The Economists says the U.S. economy has grown 8% since late 2019; for the EU it’s been 3%. Wages have risen for all but the top 20%, targeting “those who need them most,” one economist noted.

President Joe Biden’s 2025 budget proposal: tax breaks for families, lower healthcare costs, a smaller federal deficit and higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, according to The Guardian. Speaking in New Hampshire Biden said capitalists should make all the money they want, but they should also “pay your fair share in taxes.” 

He faulted his predecessor for tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy and expanded the federal deficit.

Activating Biden’s budget would trim $3 trillion from the deficit over 10 years, increase the child tax credit and charge billionaires a minimum tax of 25%. It would enable Medicare to negotiate prices on 500 drugs, saving $200 billion over 10 years.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Donald Trump in Florida, but also had a private meet-up with the right wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation, on March 8. 

Historian Heather C. Richardson notes that Orban has overseen Hungary’s undermining of their democracy, such as replacing civil service positions with loyalists, and turning over businesses to government friends and family. The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 calls for firing most of the U.S. government workforce, to be replaced with loyalists to a right-wing U.S. president.

Richardson interprets the 2025 Project as a “minority assuming power under a strongman and imposing their values on the rest of the country.”

While campaigning Trump has said violent Congolese prisoners are flooding U.S. borders; his campaign officials cannot corroborate the statements. Federal border data shows that of 753,000 southern Border Patrol encounters so far this year, 320 involved people from the Congo, CNN reported.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of a teen who killed four students at his school in Michigan in 2021, were recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The Guardian said the boy’s father, who bought the gun their son used, and his mother, were found “criminally responsible.” 

The parents had been called to school when the boy wrote on math papers, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.” 

An earlier diary entry said he knew he needed help “but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help...” He has a life sentence for murder and terrorism.

Jewish Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently stated that Israel’s ruling Netanyahu government “no longer fits the needs of Israel,” CNN reported. And, in light of Israel’s “shameless response” to Hamas and mass killings of Palestinians, their governing vision “is stuck in the past.” 

Schumer advocated for a new election in Israel once the war starts to wind down. Axios says polls in Israel show 65% support early elections when the war is over, and if held today, Netanyahu would lose.

The White House has come up with $300 million in aid for Ukraine after House Republicans had refused to vote on the issue. CNN said the Pentagon was able to find the funds.

Congress says they’ve now reached an agreement on spending legislation that would fund the federal government through fall, The New York Times reported. But they may not be able to pass it in time to prevent a short-term partial government shutdown.

At a recent rally, Trump said if he’s not elected, “it’s going to be a blood bath” for the auto industry and the nation, CNN reported. He proposed a stiff tariff on foreign-made cars. Campaigning in Virginia, Trump repeatedly confused Barack Obama (who left office 7 years ago) with Biden.

The Guardian said Biden recently confused Ukraine with Gaza. A White House physician says Biden is “fit for duty.” In U.S. history, Biden and Trump are the oldest to run for the presidency.

Blast from the (recent) past: Trump has a history of threats. In 2016 he said riots were likely if he did not get the presidential GOP nomination. In 2022 he warned of “terrible things” when the FBI searched his home. 

He threatened “death and destruction” if charged by the Manhattan district attorney. Then “bedlam” if criminal charges against him succeeded. Regarding possible removal from ballots due to the 14th Amendment, he predicted “big, big trouble,” adding “does everyone understand what I’m saying?”

And another blast: March of 1801 saw a peaceful transition of U.S. presidential power, despite a rancorous election. John Adams (incumbent) was defeated by Thomas Jefferson. Both used campaign fear tactics: Jefferson said Adams was a quasi-monarchist with authoritarian “instincts.” Adams claimed a win for Jefferson would result in “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest” being “openly taught and practiced.” 

The peaceful transition was seen as a sign of the nation’s strength.