Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Aug. 12, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

Big splash: The recent climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approved by 195 governments and based on 14,000 studies, made it clear that climate change is already locked in and will become more intense over the next 30 years. But, with quick action, there is still a chance to prevent the worst. At 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming (the planet has heated up 1.1 degrees C since the 19th century and that is accelerating), scientists say the planet will be hotter with more life-threatening heat waves, severe droughts and die-offs of coral reefs that sustain fisheries. Inaction will result in global temperatures rising as high as 4 degrees C, resulting in floods and heat waves, worse drought and the collapse of existing ice sheets in Greenland and west Antarctica. 

The biggest greenhouse gas emitters: China, the U.S., the E.U., India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran and Canada.

On proposals to tax only the super rich: As noted by Civic Action, the daily lifestyle of Elon Musk, the world’s second richest person (worth $162 billion), would not change if he paid in taxes what the average American pays, instead of his current 3.4%. According to CA, those with wealth in other nations are taxed more than the wealthy in the U.S. A millionaire Danish entrepreneur told the Pitchfork Economics podcast that on average half his earnings go to the Danish tax system, but in a good year that can be as high as 70%. He remains an advocate of wealth taxes, and appreciates that in his country he doesn’t see people sleeping in the streets. “We have security,” he said, and “everybody can make a pretty decent living.” 

Two prominent COVID-19-vaccine opponents died recently from the virus: H. Scott Apley, a Texas Republican Party leader who urged people to burn their masks, and radio host Dick Farrel, who died after three weeks in the hospital. Shortly before dying, Farrell texted that he wished he’d gotten the vaccine because “this virus is no joke.” He urged his friends to get vaccinated.

The idea that COVID-19 usually spares children is no longer true. From July 31 to Aug. 6, 216 children per day were hospitalized for COVID-19, The New York Times reported, and 20% of new cases are diagnosed among children. The Delta variant appears related to the increased hospitalization, along with lack of approval (so far) for COVID-19 vaccines for those under 12. Symptoms for most children include congestion, runny noses, coughs or fevers. Doctors say it’s obvious the Delta variant is causing the surge in childhood infections, and the CDC has estimated that 80% of new COVID-19 cases are due to Delta. 

A large study of the drug Ivermectin for treating COVID-19 was withdrawn due to “ethical concerns,” The Guardian has reported. Ivermectin is typically used to address parasites and headlice. The study, from Benha University in Egypt and published on Research Square last November, included plagiarized material, conflicting data, data that appeared to contradict study protocol, inaccuracies about ages and deaths of people studied, and repeats of data between patients. The medical student in London who first noticed irregularities in the study commented that, “Thousands of highly educated scientists, doctors, pharmacists and at least four major medicines regulators missed a fraud so apparent that it might as well have come with a flashing neon sign. That this all happened amid an ongoing global health crisis of epic proportions is all the more terrifying.” 

The University of Oxford is currently testing to see if giving Ivermectin to people who have COVID-19 prevents them from being hospitalized.

Recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by former acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen revealed that while still in office, ex-President Donald Trump and Justice Department political appointee Jeffrey Clark attempted to get Rosen to state that the 2020 election had been fraudulent. If Rosen would do only that, Trump said Rosen could “leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” Due to no evidence of fraud, Rosen said he did not participate in the scheme, even when Trump threatened to replace him with Clark. When top Justice Department attorneys threatened to resign if Trump installed Clark, Trump backed off. Sources: The New York Times, Washington Post and ABC News.

Blast from the past: Early in his career, Richard Trumka said, “If corporations can impose their will on this country, we’ll see a future where oil and gas take preference over children, where education doesn’t matter as much as a dollar … that’s lost all social conscience.” Trumka, born in 1949, was an American attorney and organized labor leader. He died Aug. 5.

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