DOJ investigating Trump aides over Jan. 6. Is polio re-emerging in the US? Expect gas prices to rise again after Russia all but cuts off Europe.
DOJ investigating Trump aides over Jan. 6
Yesterday, following Trump’s first address in Washington, DC, since leaving office, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice was investigating efforts by Trump’s team to interfere with the certification of the 2020 election. Sources familiar with the matter revealed that DOJ is currently looking at communications between key players in the conspiracy. These include Trump counsel John Eastman, who hatched the plot to replace state electors and to recruit VP Mike Pence to certify pro-Trump electors in their stead. Pence’s former chief-of-staff Marc Short recently testified before a DC grand jury in connection with the probe.
Another person who has come under scrutiny is Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ official whom Trump briefly considered elevating to the post of Attorney General. This was after then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen refused to sign his name to a letter Trump wanted to send out to state legislatures. The FBI recently raided Clark’s home and office.
Currently, it doesn’t appear that Trump himself is the focus of the probe. However, sources say the witnesses have been questioned about their conversations and interactions with Trump, suggesting that Trump may be the ultimate target.
Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement indicating, in a roundabout way, that Trump himself could face consequences. “We pursue justice without fear or favor,” Garland said. “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable, that’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”
Is polio re-emerging in the US?
A case of polio, a debilitating and sometimes deadly viral disease that mostly affects children, has recently surfaced in New York state. This is the country’s first recorded case since 2013. A young man was recently diagnosed with the disease after suffering paralysis. Officials have not identified the man, nor disclosed anything about his recent travel and whereabouts. However, some outlets report that the patient is a member of the state’s Orthodox Jewish community, who are known to resist vaccinations of any sort.
The man likely contracted the disease as a variant derived from an oral vaccine. Since the early 2000s, the US and most western countries have done away with oral vaccines in favor of subcutaneous (injected) vaccinations, which do not carry this risk. But in some countries, the practice of administering polio vaccine via a few drops on the patient’s tongue persists. This is a cheaper and simpler method of administering the vaccine to a target population largely consisting of young children.
Patients who receive the weakened version of the virus through oral vaccines can “shed” these weakened viruses through excrement. In places with poor sanitation, other unvaccinated people may be exposed to the weakened virus and thus obtain immunity. But there is a risk that an unvaccinated person with poor immunity can actually develop symptoms of the disease and pass a reactivated virus onto others.
Around 70% of people infected with the virus show no symptoms. So, by the time there’s a case of paralysis, 100 to 1,000 people may have been infected. Most of those who do get sick have mild symptoms, including fever, sore throat, muscle weakness and nausea. But about 5 in 1,000 people infected develop irreversible paralysis.
Expect gas prices to rise again after Russia all but cuts off Europe
Today the Russian state-run gas company Gazprom announced it would be cutting off its supply of gas to Europe via Germany. This follows a recent 10-day shut down which Gazprom claimed was for maintenance. Gazprom now says it is shutting the flow through Nord Stream 1, its main pipeline to Germany, to allow work on a turbine. However, German authorities dispute any technical reason for the shutdown.
Germany imports roughly 55% of its gas supply from Russia, mostly through Nord Stream 1. Of the EU countries, Germany is by far the most dependent on Russian oil and gas. However, the entire continent depends heavily on Russian fossil fuels. Now, many EU countries must tighten their belts energy-wise ahead of winter.
The bloc recently agreed a scheme calling for several countries to cut their fossil fuel use by 15% in their energy sectors. Some southern European countries, and countries like Malta and Ireland that are not part of the continent’s gas delivery infrastructure, are exempt.
This sudden loss of energy supply to Europe will doubtless create further chaos in global oil markets and a rise in prices worldwide.
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