Current Events

Monday 5/10/21
Stuart Bell

Click here for  details about Comprehensive Immigration Reform

  1. Judge Amy Berman Jackson just completed her review of Attorney General Barr’s letter that essentially exonerated President Trump of Obstruction of Justice. She concluded, in a portion of the review made public, that Barr mislead the public and withheld material that was not positive toward President Trump. She redacted much of the material and delayed the release of the still secret Muller Report for two weeks pending a potential appeal. In a strange quirk, the present Attorney General is the person to decide if the potentially dishonest Trump acts would become public. In two weeks, if Attorney General Merritt Garland doesn’t itervent, the world will know what the Muller report really said about Trump and if any prosecution is warranted. Do you think Trump committed illegal acts that were revealed in the Muller report? Should he be prosecuted?
  2. Mitch McConnell “announced” that no Republican Senator would vote for the Infrastructure bill – exactly as no Republican Senator voted for the Covid bill. Chuck Schumer noted this means there is no longer any value in compromise with the Republicans so the bill must be passed through the limited process that requires only 50 Senate votes. Then, he implied that the Health Reform bill would be combined with the Infrastructure bill and those parts approved by the Senate Parliamentarian would be made into one bill. Then, in kind of a bombshell, Leader Schumer announced that the portions of Comprehensive Immigration Reform approved for use in this process would be combined into one giant bill. Do you believe the need to pass a bill with no Republican support justifies one hugh bill rather than many smaller bills, each of which could not pass?
  3. Facebook temporarily barred President Trump shortly after the activities at the Capitol on January 6. The Facebook Advisory Board affirmed the removal of President Trump’s account temporarily and gave Facebook 6 months to develop a permanent policy describing when an account would be blocked. In the Internet world, President Trump is barred from suing to force Facebook to re-activate the account by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that blocks suits against internet providers such as Facebook. Should Congress act to provide legal guidance to Facebook, Twitter and similar companies on when they can block subscribers? Should Congress permit suits against providers who block subscribers or place warnings on subscriber accounts? Should Facebook reauthorize President Trump’s account?
  4. Florida HB 1 targeted peaceful demonstrations though a combination of creating new crimes, escalating criminal and financial penalties, and overriding local law enforcement decisions. I believe this is bad bill, a priority for Governor DeSantis, is an explicit response to the peaceful protests that happened across our country last summer in response to incidents of police brutality. GOOD NEWS:  You can now run down and injure a protester with your car in Florida with legal immunity. How to we prevent riot-style damage and looting without limiting peaceful protests?
  5. Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe. How will you act in the face of a never ending, but low, risk of COVID?
  6. Biden has raised the cap on immigrants claiming asylum in a year from the 15,000 set by the previous administration to 62,500 this year and 125,000 next year. So far this year only about 2,000 asylum seekers have been admitted pending their hearings before an administrative law judge. In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, How many asylum seekers should the U.S. admit each year? Why is that the right number? How do we process those admitted without many more administrative law judges?
  7. The EPA proposed to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a class of man-made chemicals that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. The EPA also banned the manufacture of a related gas, CFC, in 2020 and a precursor gas in 1980 (based on data I helped develop at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies), Are you comfortable paying more, or possibly much more, for your home air conditioning?
  8. Norwegian Cruise Lines has responded to Governor DeSantis banning of vaccination passports by threatening to move their ships out of Florida.  Should they move?  Would you go on a cruise that didn’t require vaccinations? Where will they go?
  9. An Alaska lawmaker was prohibited from flying Alaska Air after refusing to wear a mask and creating a scene after flight attendants required her to wear a mask.  Should airlines be permitted to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask who lacks a medical reason to go maskless? Since we are unlikely to reach Herd Immunity, how long should the mask requirement remain?
  10. Big Business: Mitch McConnell has warned big business (think Coke and Delta Airlines among others) to stay out of state politics. Big companies have responded to boycotts and threat of boycotts to push back against Georgia’s new restrictive voting laws. Are the new laws truly restrictive? Are the restrictions anti-minority? How do we shape laws to properly restrict dishonest voting without improperly restricting fully legal minorities? Should major companies join and try to influence law by steering their donations? It appears the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses they represent have opposing views the business attempts to ensure more open voting. How will the conflict between business and the Chamber of Commerce be resolved?  In response to Georgia and other states restrictive voting laws over 100 major companies have begun planning to withhold political contributions from those states who restrict voting. Will this be effective? It must be because McConnell strongly objects.  Is it legal for companies to work to influence the states?
  11. Florida is on the path to passing a bill that would punish internet companies that refuse to carry political statements or advertisements from an individual or organization. The bill would require the internet company to explain why the client was stopped from advertising or posting on a platform. Think Twitter and Trump. Is this fair? How do we tell if the internet company’s action is OK? Is this a Federal responsibility?
  12. The Florida House has proposed nearly $250 million for Medicaid expansion to cover new mothers and their babies.  The Florida Senate has proposed under $100 million for the same expansion. The House plan will cover at least the first year of a baby’s life while the Senate plan will cover under 6 months. Should healthcare be provided free for babies in the first year of their life?
  13. CNN has been losing market share to Fox, the current leader in the cable news race. Why are people choosing Fox over other cable news networks?
  14. Noravax is working of a combined booster for seasonal flu and COVID. Other companies are in various stages of developing a modification to the vaccine to better fight the variants. This is big business. If the COVID vaccine turns into an annual booster, billions are to be made. It is likely Covid and Flu boosters will be required each fall?  Should the Government absorb the costs of an annual COVID booster? How about a combined COVID/Flu booster?
  15. Deborah Brix is speaking out that more could have been done to reduce the loss of life from COVID. Dr. Fauci spoke out a small amount and was taken off the public speaking role. Brix followed the Trump line and now says more could have been done. Could the press have done more to make the truth known? Right wing Government still seems to be doing negative items – outlawing masks, refusing passports. What can be done to improve the safety of our population when senior officials refuse to tell the truth?
  16. Voting: Over the past several years, every state has phased in Federally required “real ID” cards, typically attached to driver’s licenses and are offered to non-drivers in each state. There ID cards are required by the TSA to fly. Given the funding involved in voter rights (and suppression), why can’t we just help every legal citizen obtain a “real ID” card and accept it as sufficient proof to vote?
  17. Colonial Pipeline, the company that carries Diesel fuel and gasoline from Texas to New York (and every intermediate stop) was shut down due to a cyber attack. How serious are these attacks? Is Russia doing them all? What should be done?
  1. When will our life return to normal?