Tag Archive for: infrastructure bill

Details on $2T infrastructure plan. Capitol police officers sue Trump. WHO: lab leak theory needs further investigation. Myanmar: Ethnic militia attacks police outpost. 


More details on $2T infrastructure plan

President Biden has released a more detailed initial proposal for $2 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next 15 years. This is the first of two proposals, which will total about $4 trillion in all. To pay for it, the plan would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. The plan would also tighten tax regulations that currently allow companies to move profits overseas. The proposal would also end subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. It’s difficult to pin down how much the US spends on fossil fuel subsidies every year, but estimates in media outlets range from 10s to 100s of $billions every year.

Biden’s initial proposal includes $650 billion in spending on “traditional” infrastructure, including roads, rails and bridges. A further $650 would go to “home” infrastructure to upgrade the nation’s broadband network, water systems, electric grid, and housing. Among other things, this portion of the bill would replace the lead piping that still delivers water to about 10 million households nationwide.

$400 billion would go to the “care” economy, providing better housing and care facilities for the elderly and disabled. Last but not least, $580 billion is slated for manufacturing upgrades, research and training.

A new New Deal?

The prospects for bipartisan support in Congress are unclear. The White House has billed the plan as a vision to fundamentally reshape the US economy. With the spending for these prospective bills, along with the recent COVID stimulus, the federal government would take on its biggest role in the US economy since the New Deal. Democratic proponents say the projects will create jobs and boost economic output across the country.

While Republicans generally favor “traditional” infrastructure, many are suspicious of the expansion of social welfare spending. Garret Graves, the senior Republican on the House Select Committee on the climate crisis, says, “If they’re just going to encapsulate a cow pie in a candy shell, then I’m not there”.

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What’s in Biden’s plan?


Capitol police officers sue Trump

Two Capitol police officers have filed suit against former President Trump for “physical and emotional injuries caused by Trump’s wrongful conduct inciting a riot on January 6, 2021”. James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, and Sidney Hemby, an 11-year veteran, are seeking at least $75,000 each in damages. Their suit cites Trump’s conduct before and after November’s election, going back as far as his initial 2016 campaign. According to the suit: “During his 2016 campaign, and throughout his presidency, Trump had threatened violence towards his opponents, encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence, and condoned acts of violence by his followers, including white supremacists and far rightwing hate groups”.

As a result of the Jan. 6 attack, Blassingame suffered head and back injuries and has since experienced depression. Hemby suffered similar injuries as well as a chemical attack, and still receives physical therapy.

Recent reports have shed new light on the hopelessly chaotic and volatile situation faced by Capitol law enforcement on that day.

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WHO chief: Wuhan lab leak theory needs further investigation

Investigators from the World Health Organization recently published the findings of their probe of COVID’s origins in China. The report concluded that the virus was most likely transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host. The investigators’ report called for further research of other potential sources, but dismissed the theory that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan lab as “extremely unlikely”.

Despite this published finding, it now emerges that the investigators voiced concerns that they had been unable to “access raw data” that would have allowed them to put the lab leak theory to bed once and for all. WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus shared these concerns publically after 14 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Canada, released a joint statement raising concerns about the report’s reliability.

The joint statement accuses China of “withholding access to complete, original data and samples” from the WHO investigators. Ghebreyesus says that the lab leak theory needs further investigation.

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Myanmar: Ethnic militia attacks police outpost

Militias in Myanmar’s ethnic minority regions appear to have joined the fight against the country’s military junta in earnest. Today, Kachin guerrillas based in northern Myanmar attacked a local police outpost. The guerillas seized weapons and other supplies. This follows the seizure of an army outpost on Saturday by the Karen National Union, the main militia and political body of the Karen ethnic minority based in eastern Myanmar. The KNU attack triggered retaliation from the military junta, who shelled a nearby village, killing ten. Following the army assault, some 3000 people fled to safety into neighboring Thailand while others sought shelter in caves.

The leaders of the national protest movement have sought an anti-junta alliance with the country’s armed ethnic militias. The protesters want to join forces with the militias to form what they are calling a federal army to fight back against the military.

It’s unclear whether any such alliance has been formally struck. But several of the country’s major ethnic militias have denounced the coup and vowed to protect protesters in their respective regions.

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Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame. Dems tempt GOP with $billions to back infrastructure. Putin on Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”. US, Russia in Afghan peace push.


Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame

The motivations behind the spree of massage parlor shootings in Atlanta that left 8 dead, including 6 Asian woman, are proving to be more complex than many first imagined. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, denies his crimes were racially motivated. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no,” Reynolds said.

Instead, what is emerging is that the deeply religious Long was ashamed of his sex addiction for which he frequently sought relief in massage parlors. Long’s former roommate in a halfway house for recovering addicts has attested to this.

Nevertheless, given a recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian-Americans across the country, some say the two motivations cannot necessarily be divorced from one another. Asian women have reported more than twice the number of hate incidents, ranging from name-calling to violence, compared to men. Activists say Long’s decision to scapegoat these women for his own shame is linked to a widespread perception that Asian women working in massage parlors are de-facto sex workers, whether or not they provide sexual services.

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Dems tempt GOP with earmarks to back infrastructure

Following last week’s announcement of an upcoming $multi-trillion infrastructure bill, Democrats in Congress are banking on $billions in earmarks to lure Republicans to the negotiating table. Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says, “I’m perfectly willing to divide it equally between Republicans and Democrats, and so it will be up to them if they want it. If they don’t, we’ll just have it on the Democratic side. But I think enough of them would like to have it on both sides”.

Deficit hawks on the Republican side, including Sen. Mitt Romney, argue that earmarks are not necessarily in the national interest. It largely comes down to seniority when it comes to Senators winning lucrative and job-creating earmarks for their districts. Nevertheless, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) estimates that 60% of his Congressional colleagues overall support bringing back earmarks.

The Democrats are billing the infrastructure bill as a further stimulus, in addition to the predicted $2 trillion in COVID stimulus that will likely come with it. Last week, Nancy Pelosi said she hoped the bill would bring “jobs to every zip code”.

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Putin responds to Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”

President Biden ruffled some feathers in Moscow yesterday when he characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a killer”. Moscow-Washington tensions have escalated further in recent days over allegations of that Russian meddling in the 2020 US elections and the attempted murder and subsequent imprisonment of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.

Responding to Biden’s comments, Putin retorted, “I remember, in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard, we used to say: ‘It takes one to know one’.”

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Strange bedfellows Russia, US push for peace in Afghanistan

Three decades after their proxy-war in the country, Russian and US envoys are pushing Afghanistan’s warring factions to get their acts together for peace. At two upcoming summits in Moscow and Turkey, representatives from Afghanistan and its neighbors will meet to discuss the next step in bringing a now-decades old conflict to an end.

Russian and US envoys are pushing for the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban to form an interim government. The US has already increased pressure on the Afghan government by refusing to confirm whether or not the US will move ahead on its planned May 1 troop withdrawal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that the Taliban may make territorial gains in spring fighting if the Afghan government does not take the opportunity for a political solution.

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