Bits ‘n’ Pieces: December 10, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

Congressional Emergency COVID-19 relief may come in the form of a significantly shrunken bipartisan plan, The Washington Post reported. It appears to have money for the jobless, states and cities, vaccine distribution efforts, hospitals, the hungry and the Postal Service, as well as the Republican demand for protecting businesses from COVID-19 related lawsuits (that protection benefits corporations and shareholders, but not at-risk employees). Democrats have resisted corporate COVID-19 legal protections, since there is no incentive to rigorously protect against COVID-19. Republicans have resisted stimulus checks but have signaled approval for $300 a week in unemployment benefits — half of the previous $600 a week.

Newsweek reported that far-right Pastor Rick Wiles has suggested firing squads be used on Democrats and the media if it is determined that they conspired to “rig” the recent presidential election.

A former Florida state data scientist had her home raided Dec. 7 by law enforcement officers, who took computers, phones and the like. Rebekah Jones had allegedly been fired for insubordination when she refused to manipulate COVID-19 data to downplay its severity. According to, after her dismissal she then compiled and posted COVID-19 info from her home.

Judges from six states, where President Donald Trump has sued to contest the election results, have declared that the suits do not prove widespread fraud, have no merit and are baseless in their claims, The Washington Post reported. Federal District Judge Brett Ludwig, a recent Trump nominee, commented that Trump’s legal actions seeking “extraordinary” relief are hard to fathom, and his desire to “remand” the election to the state legislature is “bizarre.”

“Lock him up” appears to be a real possibility for Trump once he leaves office. Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner (now a legal analyst for NBC and MSNBC) described the various charges Trump could face: in New York State, falsifying business records, maximum penalty four years in prison; tax fraud, 25 years maximum; insurance fraud, 25 years; and conspiracy, 25 years. At the federal level: conspiracy to defraud the U.S., including paying hush money (five years); bribery, two years, regarding the Ukrainian attempt to dig up dirt on a relative of his presidential opponent; obstruction of Congress, five years, regarding the impeachment process; witness tampering, three years, regarding tweeted comments while the former ambassador to the Ukraine testified to Congress; delaying delivery of U.S. mail, five years, regarding imposing service cutbacks at the post office prior to an expectation of heavy mail volume with mail-in voting; violating campaign finance law, five years; involuntary homicide, eight years, regarding gross negligence in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of Dec. 6 the average number of new cases of COVID-19 per day had risen 15% as compared to two weeks ago, according to stats from The New York Times. On Dec. 6 there were 1,111 new deaths and 173,457 new cases. Last week there was an average of 196,826 cases per day. The number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19, since the beginning of the pandemic, was 282,300 on Dec. 6.

Yale University has been exploring why COVID-19 seems to have a lesser impact on children. Researchers compared the immune responses of 60 adults and 65 children and adults under age 24, all who were hospitalized for COVID-19. In general the younger age group had milder symptoms, and higher levels of two immune molecules, which seem to fight the virus. A study co-author said the young’s more robust response to COVID-19 may protect them from “progressing to severe pulmonary disease.

Commentator and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich stated that over the last 40 years hourly wages have stagnated, with most economic gains going to the top: “The richest 1% of U.S. households now own 50% of the value of stocks held by Americans.” And the richest 10% own 92%. The bottom line for making advances to redistribute power, Reich maintains, as in the times of FDR and LBJ, can only occur “when those without it demand it.”

Blast from the past: On Dec. 7, 1941, military forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 Americans. As of Dec. 8, 2020 the U.S. has seen the death of 283,700 Americans from COVID-19.

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