Bits ‘n’ Pieces: May 6, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

The Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 was recently introduced to Congress with bipartisan support. According to The Washington Post, it would end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System. Congressional critics of the SSS described it as “an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy.” Another new bill would require women to sign up with the SSS. If enacted, the Act would be a dodge for the Supreme Court, which has been asked to determine if the SSS is even constitutional.

The nation’s wealthiest 1% do not report more than 20% of their income to the IRS, according to a new analysis by economists and researchers at the IRS. Part of the problem has been the shrinking of the IRS budget. It’s estimated that investing $100 billion in the IRS over the next decade would generate up to $1.4 trillion in additional revenue. 

This year, estimates are that unreported income cost more than $600 billion in revenue, The New York Times reported. Legislation introduced to Congress calls for a $70 billion boost in IRS funding so 95% of large corporations can be audited, along with 50% of those earning more than $10 million per year, and 20% of those earning more than $1 million.

The Seattle Times reported that of those 65 and older in Washington state, those not vaccinated are being hospitalized for COVID-19 at 9.7 times the rate of those who have been vaccinated.

The largest live in-person concert since the pandemic began was held in New Zealand recently. There were 50,000 fans, no social distancing requirements and very few masks. Fewer than 3% of the nation’s population has been vaccinated, according to The New York Times database. The island nation has had success holding back the virus due to following strict rules, and has had only 2,600 cases and 26 deaths since the pandemic began. In the U.S. deaths from COVID-19 exceed all the U.S. deaths of WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War.

A supporter of former-President Donald Trump who advised, in a post-Capitol insurrection online video, to, “Kill your senators: Slaughter them all,” was found guilty of making a death threat against elected officials and faces up to 10 years in prison, The Washington Post reported. 

Prosecutors told jurors that Brendan Hunt’s talk was not protected speech: He offered detailed descriptions for killing people he said had stolen the election from Trump, and offered to do the killings himself.

New charges: Three men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan in 2020 now face additional charges of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, according to CNN. The men are alleged to have ordered $4,000 worth of explosives with IED shrapnel — from an FBI agent.

Proponents of the newly introduced Judiciary Act of 2021, which would add four new seats to the Supreme Court, according to, note that of the nine current justices, five were appointed by presidents who had fewer votes than their opponents. The result has been a block of six justices who appear out of step with average voters, such as opposing voting rights and advocating for more corporate money in politics. Originally the states had six justices — that was reset to 10 under President Abraham Lincoln.

More than 400 people now face charges stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection while another 100 are expected to be charged, Reuters reported. 

In a House Armed Services Committee meeting last week a national security expert told lawmakers that, while we are not formally at war, the “information warfare threat to the United States is different from past threats, and it has the potential to destroy reason and reality as a basis for societal discourse, replacing them with rage and fantasy. Perpetual civil war, political extremism, waged in the information sphere and egged on by our adversaries is every bit as much of an existential threat to American civilization and democracy as any military threat imaginable.”

Blast from the past: “The mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure.” Prince Philip, recently deceased, commenting on long sermons.

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