Bits’ n pieces of the east, west and beyond

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In the east, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere can have a local impact. Recent sampling:

Impressions of scientists on the omicron variant: “The strangest creature …”, relayed the Washington Post. “There was an unruly swarm of mutations,” many of which were known to be “problematic,” such as rendering the antibodies unable to neutralize the virus. Other disturbing variants of COVID-19 have been extinguished by the delta variant. It remains to be seen whether omicron can compete with delta.

There were only 700 flu deaths in the United States during the 2020-21 flu season, Scientific American reported. In comparison, there were 22,000 deaths from influenza the previous year and 34,000 deaths in the previous influenza season. The low rate last year is linked to masking, social distancing and hand washing.

Covid-19 cases are at least 30 percent from five weeks ago, according to USA Today analysis of Johns Hopkins data. The increase is blamed on a lack of vaccines and misinformation: Experts initially said at least 85 percent of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that 60 percent of Americans are fully immunized. Typically 1 to 2 percent of people oppose vaccines, so there was no expectation that the subject would be politicized with a deliberate spread of misinformation.

With only 5 percent of low-income countries vaccinated, these countries provide a greater playground for the virus to mutate and potentially create resistant variants to current vaccines.

The internal resistance movement to former President Donald Trump first caught public attention with a 2018 New York Times editorial by “Anonymous”, who was later revealed to be Miles Taylor, chief of staff from Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary. Speaking to Salon recently, Taylor said many Republican colleagues told him they could not engage in the resistance for fear of physical retaliation. Taylor said he frequently hears “Look, I have kids and it’s too crazy right now” from the Conservatives.

The Department of Justice continues to Texas for violation of the law on voting rights with new districts gerrymandered. Ari Berman, an expert in voting, says the new cards allow 40% of the population (whites) to control 60% of the districts.

One of the reasons additional funds are requested for the Pentagon: While the Department of Defense has been quietly working on the many challenges that climate change poses to the military (see “All Hell Breaking Loose: the Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change ”, by Michael T. Klare), there have already been clear financial demands due to climate change. CNN reports National Guard use to fight wildfires has increased 10-fold from five years ago, while hurricane damage to military bases cost $ 8 billion in 2018 to 2020. There are 1,400 military installations around the world that the Pentagon wants to assess to determine if they need reinforcement. investments that would help them withstand climatic events.

An Alabama woman acquitted of shoplifting has received $ 2.1 million in damages. She had done a self-check-out, which was complicated by the blocking of the scanner. After her acquittal, she received a letter from a law firm demanding a settlement of $ 200, more than the cost of the groceries she bought. WKRG reports that such letters are sent regularly. The corporate store the woman shopped at has raised millions of dollars in just two years.

The woman sued, saying that the defendants “have engaged in a pattern and practice of falsely accusing innocent citizens of Alabama of shoplifting and … attempting to collect money from them. innocently accused “. She won.

The Democracy Summit hosted by President Joe Biden in 110 countries aims to “prevent and fight corruption” to demonstrate democracy at its best. Items on the agenda include money laundering and tax evasion. The Washington Post has suggested that Biden focus more on the United States, where a political party seeks to corrupt the electoral process, limit access to ballots and wink at violence. The comment followed a Fox News interview with Trump, where he appeared to admit to obstructing justice by admitting to firing former FBI Director James Comey to prevent his own impeachment.

Blast from the past: In 1987, President Ronald Reagan took to the radio to talk about the dangers of not raising the debt ceiling. He said: “Congress systematically brings the government to the brink of default before it faces its responsibility. This scam threatens holders of government bonds and those who depend on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would soar, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar [if the debt ceiling were not lifted]. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and to the world to fulfill its obligations. ”

During Reagan’s eight years in power, he raised the debt ceiling 18 times. The debt ceiling was raised 74 times between early 1962 and May 2011.


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