Friday, July 19, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| June 28, 2024 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

Ending no-fault divorce, currently legal in all 50 states, is a new target of conservative lawmakers, The Guardian reported. For those who think it can’t happen, it was noted that Roe vs. Wade was regarded as stable, until the current right-leaning Supreme Court reversed it.

The first presidential debate between Trump and Biden was June 27 on CNN. Both sides agreed to no studio audience and muted mics, except for when it was their turn to speak.

Belt tightening? Under a new program requiring no receipts, over 300 House members were reimbursed $5.8 million for food and lodging for “official business,” The Washington Post reported. Top spender: a Michigan Republican who collected more than $11,000 for meals and $32,000 for lodging.

The Libertarian think tank, The Cato Institute, has critiqued Trump’s proposal to eliminate income tax and replace it with a high tariff on all goods coming into the U.S. 

They said, “Terrible economics aside, there’s simply no possible way it could work.” Along with economic uncertainties, Americans would import less due to higher costs and fewer imports would lead to a smaller tax base. 

And if tariffs are raised too high, there could be basically no imports at all, and “thus no revenue. Oops!” The Institute says Trump’s plan would put large burden on low earners, since they generally pay more of their income for traded goods as compared to wealthier households. There is a need for “bold” tax and spending reform, the Institute says, but relying on tariffs for that is “unicorn math all the way down.”

The Congressional Budget Office says Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will cost an estimated $1.9 trillion before its 2025 expiration, and did not generate the promised $1 trillion in new revenue.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld, 8-1, a federal law prohibiting people with restraining orders to possess guns. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the lone dissent.

The Surgeon General declared firearm violence a public health crisis. TIME magazine noted there have been 247 mass shootings this year, and close to 50,000 die annually due to gun violence.

JAMA Pediatrics: Texas’s abortion ban led to a 13% increase in infant and newborn deaths.

Can Supreme Court Justices who ought to recuse themselves, but refuse to, be made to do so? In The New York Times, Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote that the U.S. Dept. of Justice can petition the other Supreme Court Justices to require a recusal not as a matter of grace, but as a matter of law.

ABC: Charges against students arrested at a pro-Palestine protest, for occupying a campus building, were dropped. Dismissal was due to no property damage and lack of criminal histories.

Recently in New Mexico: first wildfire, then floods, after a tropical storm dropped downpours and humongous hail. The Guardian called it a new type of catastrophe supercharged by the climate crisis. In the Midwest various media reported flooding followed by a heat wave, with an impact on 44 million.

The top weather-related killer in the U.S. is excessive heat, the National Weather Service says.

BBC: Heat’s impact on the body includes opening of hotter blood vessels, which causes the heart to work harder to push blood. Heat exhaustion includes dizziness, nausea, fainting, muscle cramps, headaches, heavy sweating, tiredness and cold, pale, clammy skin. Stroke is one risk.

Doctors can now be certified in Colorado in climate medicine, CNN has reported. The journal Lancet has warned that climate change is the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” Course work includes responding to a weather disaster, what to do if a hospital generator fails, dealing with failed energy generation, and addressing compromised supplies of goods.

In Hawaii 13 youth climate activists won a settlement that forces their Department of Transportation to take action to decarbonize their transportation system by 2045. The plaintiffs said the state’s pro-fossil fuel transportation policies violated their Constitutional rights and created “untenable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.” 

After the settlement, The Guardian said the youth spoke of feeling hope after a lifetime of witnessing disappearing beaches, vanishing coral reefs and immediate impacts on farms. 

Similar cases are pending in Alaska, Florida, Utah and Virginia, and against the EPA.

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently said he will arm North Korea if western countries continue to provide military aid to Ukraine, CNN reported. Russia recently launched its eighth attack since March on Ukraine’s power grid, according to Business Insider. A concern: rebuilding before winter.

Blast from the past: On June 27, 1936, in his acceptance speech for his Democratic nomination for president, Franklin D. Roosevelt labeled the wealthy as “economic royalists.” He said they governed “without the consent of the governed,” resulting in the average man being a “pawn to the mercenaries of dynastic power” with laws “imposed by this new industrial dictatorship.” The royalists objected and said their foes, like FDR, opposed “the institutions of America.” Working in favor of FDR’s re-election was the fact that the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression had discredited the economic royalists -- and voters had direct experience and ample awareness of economic royalists’ disregard for their well-being.