Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Sept. 16, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

President Joe Biden released a 16-page FBI report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which showed ties between hijackers and Saudi nationals living in the U.S. According to NPR, the new report is a “starkly different portrait” than that of the 9/11 Commission Report from 2004. Biden has promised the release of more documents.

Nearly 72,000 jobs in Texas were lost due to failure to stem the COVID-19 surge, CBS News reported. That translated to a $13 billion output decline, due primarily to employees’ fear of getting COVID-19 or needing to stay home to care for family members with COVID. 

Last week more than 250,000 children tested positive for COVID-19. Just seven states showed no deaths of children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

According to the CDC, more than 90% of current COVID-19 hospital patients had not been vaccinated. Two other CDC studies show reduced protection for vaccinated older adults: those 75 and older had 76% protection as compared to 89% for all other adults. It’s yet to be determined if the decline is due to the vaccine itself or to those vaccinated being less cautious.

Biden recently shared plans for fighting the Delta-fueled COVID-19 pandemic: mandatory vaccinations for federal employees and contractors, for workers at businesses with 100 or more employees, mandatory time off to get vaccinated and vaccination requirements for all health facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid. 

The Washington Post reported that Biden is asking governors to require vaccinations for teachers and school staff. U.S. Postal Service workers will not be required to be vaccinated. Fines will double for travelers who refuse to wear masks. As well, hospitals will get aid from a doubling of Department of Defense clinical teams, as well as increases this month in shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatments, which are shown to reduce COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

While Biden admitted no one got all they wanted, last Thursday there was a bipartisan deal for a $579 billion infrastructure plan that addresses transportation infrastructure, broadband internet, electric utilities, waterways, environmental remediation, climate change and more. The catch, The Post reported: It can only attain the presidential signature if separate bills that address human infrastructure and more climate change efforts accompany the infrastructure bill. Some of the bill’s funds would go to the IRS for enforcement to gain $100 billion in tax revenues. The compromise resulted in no new taxes on the wealthy or corporations, and Republicans’ call for a gas tax was eliminated. Funding for affordable housing was also eliminated, but plans are to pursue that and other issues later. 

Blast from the past: Haiti is on an earthquake fault line and in a hurricane zone. French colonists on the island’s west side removed almost all trees along with the indigenous Taino people, replacing them with African slaves to work the plantations. The slaves revolted and ejected the French in 1804, under a settlement requiring financial reparations for the price of the slaves. They borrowed the money, but to repay the loan were forced to neglect building infrastructure. 

U.S. forces occupied Haiti in 1915 to avoid a German takeover, but in the meantime plundered the nation’s gold reserves and imposed forced labor and racial segregation. When Haitians revolted, the U.S. killed 2,000 protesters and pulled out. In the 1950s, the U.S. lent support to dictators Papa Doc and Baby Doc, who pocketed vast sums of money and, with U.S.-trained death squads, “disappeared” 30,000 people.

By 1990 Haiti had a democratically elected president, a former priest who planned wealth redistribution. With the aid of the U.S. military he was deposed, then reinstated with President Bill Clinton’s support, then deposed in 2004 by a military coup in which the Bush administration was implicated. 

When U.N peacekeepers came to provide relief after the 2010 earthquake that killed 250,000, they brought cholera that killed 10,000 people, mostly children.

A pop singer was elected president in 2011, but he and fellow leaders were accused of embezzlement and mismanagement of loans. Banana exporter Jovenal Moise was his replacement, but was not popular due to using violence to control his opponents. Moise was gunned down last spring and replaced with a neurosurgeon backed by the EU, the U.N. and six other nations, including the U.S.

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