States weigh rebates for cash-strapped residents. Justice Thomas under ethics scrutiny over wife’s texts. EU, US strike gas deal. Mysteries remain 5 days after China plane crash that killed 132.
States weigh rebates for citizens facing inflation woes
Several states are considering direct cash payments for citizens struggling to cope with inflation. Many states are still flush with federal COVID cash and some want to use that money to cushion the impact of inflation on low and middle income household budgets. These calls have gained momentum as gas prices have risen precipitously in recent weeks. Other states want to adopt permanent income tax cuts, which would most benefit the wealthy.
Minnesota’s governor has proposed using some of the state’s budget surplus to send out $1000 tax rebate checks. In California, there are competing proposals. State senators have proposed plans for $200-$400 rebate checks, while Gov. Newsome has proposed a $800 debit card for gas purchases. Maine’s Gov. Mills wants to send out $850 direct payments to most of the state’s residents.
Justice Thomas under ethics scrutiny over wife’s texts
A series of texts between Mark Meadows, Pres. Trump’s Chief of Staff, and Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is raising eyebrows and questions. Mrs. Thomas, a conservative activist, is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and recently admitted attending Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally which immediately preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The texts between Thomas and Meadows show that Thomas was advocating and advising the campaign to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
These revelations have caused some to question whether it was ethical for Justice Thomas to rule in two recent cases related to the 2020 election and the investigation of the Jan. 6 riot. In January, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump must turn over records to the House Jan. 6 committee, with Thomas being the lone dissenter. It’s unclear whether the texts between Mrs. Thomas and Meadows were part of those documents covered by that decision.
Thomas also disagreed with a February 2021 decision by the court to reject a challenge to Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results.
Sen. Ron Wyden has called on Justice Thomas to recuse himself in any case the court hears related to Jan. 6 and any potential case that might arise from 2024’s elections. Wyden argues that judges should refrain from participating in any case where there is “even the appearance of a conflict of interest” and says that anyone “with an ounce of commonsense could see that bar is met here”.
Justice Thomas left hospital today after a week-long stay with “flu-like” symptoms.
EU to buy US gas to reduce dependency on Russian oil
So far, the international sanctions imposed on Russia have not prohibited countries from purchasing Russian oil and natural gas, which is Russia’s main income stream. While the US has announced plans to cease purchases from Russia, EU countries are far more dependent on Russia for its energy needs. Currently, about 40% of the bloc’s oil and gas supply comes from Russia. Today, President Biden announced that the US will be supplying liquid natural gas to Europe to reduce the continent’s reliance on Russia.
Mysteries remain 5 days after China plane crash
On Monday, China Eastern flight MU5375 crashed mid-flight in the southern Chinese province of Guanxi. Video shows that the plane rapidly descended nose down at a near-vertical angle. It crashed into some remote forested hills and exploded, scattering debris over a wide area and causing a huge forest fire. All 132 souls aboard perished.
Investigators have been combing over the site and have now recovered both “black boxes (the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder). The voice recorder was damaged and has been sent to Beijing for analysis. The black box was only found earlier today.
All week, there has been widespread speculation about the cause of the crash. Today, investigators recovered a piece of wreckage 6 miles away from the main crash site, which may support the theory that the plane broke apart in mid-air. Some experts have posed the possibility of a rear bulkhead failure. They say the plane might have suffered a tail strike during take-off or landing at some time which was improperly repaired. However, it may be months before investigators reach a definitive conclusion.
Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!