Bits ‘n’ Pieces: June 11, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader columnist

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

Retired military generals were speedy in openly disagreeing with President Donald Trump’s response to peaceful protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn. One general faulted Trump for blaming anti-fascists for violence and property destruction. As pointed out by, so-called “antifa” operates primarily to shut down fascist events and defend against racists. Anti-fascist history began during World War II, in response to European fascism under dictators Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy. Current adherents to the loosely organized antifa group do not rule out use of violence when confronting fascists and racists.

Twitter announced last week that it had removed fake calls for violence by “antifa,” which were actually posted on the social media platform by white supremacists.

In May, the FBI stopped the plans of a white supremacist “Boogaloo Boi” to spark an uprising he believed would result in martial law and civil war. The FBI said the Ohio man was charged with plotting to kidnap and kill police officers so he could steal their equipment. Informants indicated the plan included help from armed militiamen. The broader scheme was to encourage other Boogaloo militia to adopt similar actions leading, ultimately, to “Patriots” establishing an authoritarian nationalist regime.

Other Boogaloo arrests have occurred in Colorado (where law enforcement discovered a large arsenal in a car trunk, en route to a protest), Missouri and Nevada. The latter included a suspect who allegedly told an informant he planned to blow up a power substation, The Hill reported.

In response to the ongoing police brutality protests, congressional Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. If enacted, The New York Times reported, it would put in place new requirements for police agencies to qualify for federal aid, such as bias training, a national registry documenting police misconduct, required reporting for use of force and a ban on practices like the deadly chokehold.

Reactions to the police brutality protests have come from across the political spectrum, including Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who marched in Washington, D.C., with a large crowd of evangelicals chanting Black Lives Matter and singing “this little light of mine”; numerous media accounts of black people, protesters and journalists  injured by police; protesters turned additional fencing put up at the White House into a memorial for black people who died from police or white brutality; Minneapolis is contemplating how to disband and rebuild its policing; The New York Times editorial page editor resigned after not pre-reading and then printing an editorial with false info advocating violence against protesters; a Marine stood for three hours with a sign asking for justice while wearing two Purple Hearts and black tape across his mouth with the words “I can’t breathe”; and civil rights groups are suing the president and Attorney General William Barr over their violent response to peaceful protests. What’s more, Trump advised state governors to use the military to create “total domination” over protesters. 

There have also been numerous Black Lives Matter solidarity protests overseas. According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll, 63% of American disapprove of how Trump has handled the protests, with 84% saying the protests are justified.

Due to an admitted “misclassification error,” unemployment in May was higher than the 13.3% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Washington Post reported. It was more likely 16.3%. The figure was 19.7% in April.

Politico reports that concerns over government spending to address a delayed response to COVID-19 may offer Social Security opponents a chance to quietly get out the knife. Romney’s TRUST Act calls for congressional committees to create “solutions” for the SS trust fund. Opponents of the Act regard it as a behind-closed-doors attack on SS and Medicare, and encourage lawmakers to fix funding gaps by lifting the payroll tax lid on the wealthy, rather than cutting benefits.

The U.S. death count from COVID-19 was 110,900 on June 9, according to data reported by The New York Times. Idaho is among the 22 states where new COVID-19 cases are increasing, The Times reported.

Blast from the past: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The First Amendment to the Constitution, written by James Madison.

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