Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Nov. 4, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

Multi-billionaire Elon Musk is objecting to congressional proposals for a tax on the ultra rich. As author and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out, Musk became $36 billion richer on Oct. 25 and has frequently paid little to no taxes. It would take the average American 800,000 years to earn what Musk gathered in one day.

The U.S. House may vote on the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better legislation this week. Sen. Joe Manchin is again asking for delays on the vote, despite saying he would vote for the bill if it was whittled to half (it was). Current key components of the plan, reported by Americans for Tax Fairness: closure of tax loopholes and ending tax handouts for the rich, and a 15% minimum corporate tax rate, to pay for addressing the climate crisis, lower child care costs, eldercare, college, housing and healthcare; extending the Child Tax Credit, and no tax rises for people and businesses earning less than $400,000. 

An inexpensive anti-depressant, fluvoxamine, could be repurposed and reduce the need for COVID-19 hospitalization for high-risk adults, CBS News reported. The cost would be $4 for a course of treatment. It was tested on 1,500 high-risk Brazilians with COVID-19, and showed 11% needed hospitalization and emergency care as opposed to 16% using a placebo. To be resolved: best dosage, suitability for low-risk patients, and if the drug could or should be combined with other treatments.

It’s called “pre-bunking”: Seeds of doubt, according to disinformation experts, are already at play since the FDA’s advisory committee recommended authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 for kids ages 5 to 11. Mother Jones recently shared a few responses to pre-bunking efforts. Some say only kids with pre-existing conditions will have severe COVID-19 cases, but a third of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 had no known underlying conditions (COVID-19 risks in youth are enhanced by asthma, premature birth, obesity and immune system problems). In 2021 COVID-19 was the sixth leading cause of death among ages 5 to 11.

CDC data shows those who are unvaccinated are 4.5 times more likely to contract COVID-19, and 11 times more likely to die from the infection, compared to those who are vaccinated. So far 21% of Americans have not had a single vaccination, according to The New York Times.

Facebook faces heat after a former employee released an internal document showing right-wing publications and politicians get favorable treatment, even when public safety is at risk, Accountability Journalism reported. Other notable problems: promotion of human trafficking, interference with voting, failure to remove blatant misinformation and putting profits above responsibility. 

Deep dive: Using 25 reporters and staff to aid them, The Washington Post just published a review of video and court transcripts, social media posts and interviews of more than 230 people about the Jan. 6 insurrection. The conclusion was that extensive planning preceded the event. There was nothing spontaneous about it: ex-President Donald Trump orchestrated the event. As well, aid from the D.C. National Guard was deliberately delayed to aid the insurrectionists, and key federal agencies (including the FBI) that would normally investigate and stop national security threats were “frozen in place.” Trump is attempting to block release of more information, adding to suspicions about the further depth of his involvement.

Undermining the integrity of U.S. elections and playing political games with the debt ceiling is likely to create economic upheaval, the Investment Monitor recently warned. Example: In Texas, voter suppression is expected to cost $14.7 billion in annual gross product, along with a loss of more than 73,249 jobs by 2025, due to businesses and investments leaving the state. Political stability attracts investment. This is the first time since the Cold War there’s been concern about the U.S. being a risky business environment, according to Jonathan Wood, lead analyst at Control Risks. He blamed voter suppression acts and gerrymandering for the perception the U.S. may not be a predictable and stable country.

Blast from the past: “Socialism is a scare word they’ve hurled at every advance the people have made. Socialism is what they called public [electrical] power, Social Security, [bank] deposit insurance and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for anything that helps all people.” — U.S. President Harry Truman, 1945-1953. He died in 1972.

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