Friday, April 12, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| March 8, 2024 7:00 AM

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

A recent sampling:

“Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely,” stated Jack Posobiec, a MAGA influencer, on the opening day of a neo-Nazi convention known as CPAC. 

Democracy would be replaced with “this right here,” he said, holding his fist in the air. Mediaite indicated Posobiec’s comments were met with enthusiasm. 

On social media platform “X” Republicans Against Trump posted “Trump’s Republican Party openly wants to end democracy. We must stop them.”

This week millionaires no longer pay into Social Security for the remainder of the year. That would change with passage of the Social Security Expansion Act and the Social Security 2100 Act.

A mysterious cold body of water off the coast of Ecuador has scientists scrambling to determine not only why it’s cold, but possible climate impacts. New Scientist says the “cold tongue” could decide if the U.S. Southwest has mega-droughts, if Australia has deadlier wildfires, if Indian monsoons will be more intense and if famine will expand in Africa. 

Knowing more could alter current climate mitigation plans that impact agriculture, economies and infrastructure.

Top congressional leaders have met with President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss, yet again, avoiding government shutdowns that could occur March 1 and March 8. CBS pointed out that the funding deadline was dodged in September and November via continuing resolutions. 

Glitches preventing passage include policy riders related to abortion, a closed-door commission to cut programs like SNAP and Social Security and border security issues. Hard right Republicans previously rejected a bi-partisan effort to address border issues, since Donald Trump wants to save that issue for his campaign. 

A GOP lawmaker told Axios a government shutdown is likely, but Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell says a shutdown is harmful to the country and “entirely avoidable.”

A former professor from Albert Einstein College of Medicine has donated $1 billion to the school, likely the largest made to a med school. They will scrap tuition fees, numerous media reported.

From historian Heather C. Richardson: the Biden Administration has opposed a ceasefire by Israel because it would allow Hamas to beef up their war against Israel. Biden and others in the Middle East, who now see the security and economic benefits of normalizing ties with Israel, are putting effort into a two-state solution that allows Palestinians a homeland and that stops Israel from taking over the area they have significantly bombed. 

That effort is challenged by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is trying to stay in power by pleasing political allies so he can avoid going to prison for corruption. Netanyahu has insisted he wants Israel to retain control of Gaza post-war.

Reversal of Trump-era policies: The U.S. Secretary of State now says the U.S. considers Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory to be “inconsistent with national law,” The New York Times wrote.

A magician was paid $150 to create a fake Biden voice for a robocall that urged people to avoid New Hampshire’s recent primary, The Guardian reported. Paul D. Carpenter said a consultant for Biden primary challenger Dean Phillips recruited him; Phillips said he did not approve the robocall. 

For Carpenter the creation of the call was “scary easy”: it took under 20 minutes and cost $1. After news of the infamous AI call, the Federal Communications Commission ruled unanimously to either fine companies using AI voices in their calls, or to block service providers carrying them.

President Biden announced 500 new sanctions against Russian interests for their war on Ukraine. The Guardian said the new restrictions will target Russian exports and outside countries that facilitate Russia’s access to desired goods. 

A former U.S. national security official stated that U.S. military assistance for Ukraine, blocked by House Republicans, matters far more than the sanctions.

Bloomberg: Trump is appealing his recent financial fraud case that resulted in a $355 million judgment. That amount could balloon with failure to pay, via interest accruing at $112,000 daily. Failure to pay will result in seizure of assets.

Despite Republican opposition, Biden announced $1.2 billion in student debt cancellation for 153,000 borrowers, Business Insider said. Specifics: those who took out loans of $12,000 or less and have made 10 years of qualifying payments are eligible for the relief, which will occur “automatically.”

Peace wave”? In 175 U.S. cities surveyed by an independent criminologist, The Atlantic said violent crimes have dropped to a 50-year low; murders have fallen by 13%. But they said that’s not noticed by a portion of the public that relies on sensational media and certain political news sources.

Blast from the past: The 1862 Homestead Act “gave” 160 acres to those who built a home, cultivated the land and lived there for five years. In 1866, seeking freedom from Southern white violence, skilled Black people headed for the Great Plains to homestead. Their priorities included building schools and churches. The only surviving community is Nicodemus in Kansas, a National Historic Site, which holds an annual reunion. Nicodemus has up to 250,000 living descendants.