Bits ‘n’ Pieces – July 2, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

Lacking statehood, the nation’s capital operates under taxation without representation. Last week the U.S. House voted 233 to 180 to grant D.C. 51st state status. If enacted, D.C. would add two senators and one representative to Congress — Democrats, most likely. President Donald Trump told The New York Post that adding Democrats to Congress would be “very, very stupid.” D.C.’s 700,000 residents serve on juries, in the military and pay taxes, but have no say on congressional issues.

A 60 Minutes TV segment scheduled for Sunday, July 5 will review evidence that inaccurate COVID-19 tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were knowingly released, and the faulty test results led local and state officials to respond inappropriately to the virus, causing more deaths.

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says there’s been an increase in younger people contracting COVID-19 as opposed to those over 65. Numerous media sources point out that younger people believe they won’t suffer from COVID-19, so are less inclined to take protective measures. That, coupled with states prematurely reopening, has driven a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The CDC says there is likely 10 times the number of COVID-19 cases than what testing shows. The COVID-19 acceleration is also prompting removal of immigrant children from overcrowded detention facilities.

New U.K. research shows those severely afflicted with COVID-19 can suffer strokes, damage related to dementia, heart attacks, amputated limbs and permanent brain damage. 

Russians linked to assassination attempts and destabilizing the West are now also linked to secretly offering cash bounties to the Taliban for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including U.S. troops. Breaking stories came from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, with confirmation from The Washington Post and the Associated Press, with other outlets sharing new info daily. Trump has denied being informed about bounties and suggested it’s a hoax. 

“It’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia,” a Times reporter tweeted. “Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.” 

To Trump calling the story a hoax, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said he reviewed the intelligence and it is not a hoax. “[I]f you continue ignoring the facts, more soldiers and marines are going to die,” he said. 

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse said his Nebraska constituents (29% registered Dems, the rest primarily Republicans) are “livid.” Meanwhile, former National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that he personally briefed Trump on the info, the AP reported. Investigations indicate the White House knew about the bounty situation for more than a year.

Taking $2.5 billion from the Pentagon to build the U.S.-Mexico wall violates the Appropriations Clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, as reported by The Hill. 

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was 126,161 as of June 30, according to The New York Times. Between June 22 and June 29, the U.S. added 6,187 confirmed and probable deaths from the virus, The Times reported.

Adoption of de-escalation training for police is occurring in Europe and several U.S. locations, The Week reported. De-escalation relinquishes control via intimidation and force in favor of allowing subjects to explain themselves; police then communicate with them “clearly and emphatically.” There are 1,100 deaths annually from U.S. police actions, significantly higher than in comparable nations.

Blast from the past: Slavery was in full swing while the Founding Fathers hammered out guidelines for a new freedom-loving nation. Historical accounts show that a number of Founders were hesitant to grant rights to slaves, and kicked that can down the road until it burst into the Civil War. Some deny the war had anything to do with slavery, but documents defy that: South Carolina called for “A Confederacy of Slaveholding States.” Georgia’s state Declaration included, “The prohibition of slavery in the territories is the cardinal principle of the organization.” In Mississippi, their Declaration to part ways with the U.S. said “… a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization,” and regarded slave ownership as “the greatest material interest in the world.” Texans’ reasons for disengaging from the Union included a statement about Black slaves being justified as the will of the Creator, “as recognized by all Christian nations.” And Virginia decided to secede because “Lincoln’s opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”

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