Bits ‘n’ Pieces: November 5, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

A federal judge recently struck down a Department of Agriculture plan to deny food stamp benefits to 688,000 people, reported. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the plan as one of restoring dignity of work to a “sizable segment of our population” and of being respectful to taxpayers. But the judge noted that since May, due to COVID-19, there have been more than 6 million new enrollees. A Columbia University study says 8 million people have slipped into poverty since May.

Cnet reports that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is not considering another COVID-19 stimulus aid package for two months, despite a recent single-day record of 99,000 new cases in the U.S. and pressure from the House to do so months ago. President Donald Trump had promised a “tremendous” stimulus package for right after the election. If he is not re-elected, McConnell will cease holding office Jan. 3. Once a stimulus bill is signed there is a one week gap before checks go out. The Senate bill, which did not advance, did not have provisions for $1,200 stimulus checks, as opposed to the House proposal.

The Wall Street Journal compiled data that shows homicides from white supremacists and far-right extremists since 2016 have become the nation’s deadliest source of extremist attacks. The data was collected by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Doctors in Brazil say President Jair Bolsonaro should face charges of crimes against humanity for how he’s handled COVID-19, The WEEK reported. A complaint was filed with the International Criminal Court. Bolsonaro has opposed health experts’ efforts to curtail the virus. The nation has one of the top rates of infection, but not as high as the U.S.

Trump, prior to his own hospitalization for COVID-19, stated at a campaign rally that it only affects “elderly people with heart problems” and “virtually nobody” else. The U.S. is fast approaching a 250,000 deaths from COVID-19.

“Maybe I’ll leave the country, I don’t know,” Trump said at a recent rally, speculating about if he were to lose the presidential election. An opinion piece from retired Brigadier General Peter Zwack, in Politico, drew upon his U.S. Army career to observe that other leaders with parallels to Trump lead him to see Trump as a “flight risk.” The risk stems from Trump no longer having presidential protection against charges and lawsuits against him that could imprison him, debts in the $421 million range and the likelihood that his real estate holdings may plummet in value once he’s out of office. 

Legal battles over voting were already well underway before Election Day, as detailed by numerous media sources. Attorneys were seeking either to expand voter access (Democrats) or suppress it (Republicans), since Democrats typically have more wins when more voters show up. Due to the ease of mail-in voting, sought due to COVID-19 risks, voter turnout has been high. 

In Texas, one of an estimated 400 Republican lawsuits nationwide was struck down Monday by a federal judge when they sought to invalidate 127,000 votes in the Houston area on the grounds that the ballots were not cast in a building, but in tents. In Clark County, Nev., where 70% of the state’s population lives, the Republican Party tried to stop mail-in ballots but were blocked by a judge. 

Trump has said the results should be known on election night, whether or not mail-in ballots not yet received are counted. Attorneys for Democrats stand ready to defend all votes cast on time being counted.

Participants in a peaceful assembly walk in North Carolina this last weekend accused the police of disturbing the peace, according to The Washington Post. Despite having a permit to walk from church to a voting site, the walkers were told to clear the street. When they refused, police used pepper spray on people of all ages and made arrests. 

The governor called the police action “unacceptable.” The sheriff defended the action, saying the walkers were blocking traffic.

Blast from the past: Armistice Day, commemorated Nov. 11, marks 102 years since WWI ended on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. After the decision to end the war, another estimated 11,000 people died before the war reached official termination.

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