Abbott vows arrest of fugitive Dems. Supply, labor shortages drive biggest price hikes since 2008. Iraq: 2nd deadly hospital explosion since April kills 92.
Texas Gov. Abbott vows to arrest Dem lawmakers
Texas Greg Abbott has called a special session of the state legislature to pass a raft of new voting restrictions. The new laws include restrictions on voting hours and voting by mail. Furthermore, they would ban 24-hour polling places, drive-thru voting and ballot drop boxes. Some of these voting methods were heavily used and expanded in many states for November’s elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critics have also argued that the new laws would disproportionately impact both disabled voters and minorities. A recent ruling by the Supreme Court also makes it unlikely that a legal challenge to such laws on these grounds would be successful.
Back in May, when the laws first came up for a vote, Democratic lawmakers in the state staged a walkout. Their absence denied state Republicans the two-thirds quorum necessary to pass legislation.
This time, Democrats have taken it a step further and fled the state for Washington, DC. This time, they say they will stay away from Texas for months if necessary. While in DC, they are campaigning for President Biden and Vice President Harris to step up their support for passing voter protections at the national level.
Abbott vows to arrest fugitive lawmakers
The reason Democrats have taken the extraordinary step of leaving the state is that the state House of Representatives has the power to recall them forcibly. The House could issue a quorum call, or call of the House, ordering law enforcement to hunt down and arrest lawmakers and bring them to the Capitol by force.
Gov. Abbott told Fox News that until they return, he will “continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year”. Abbot also said that, “As soon as [the Democratic lawmakers] come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested. They will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done”.
Consumer goods prices spiking at highest rate since 2008
If you’ve recently experienced sticker shock at supermarkets, restaurants and retail outlets, you aren’t alone. In the last year, consumer prices have risen 5.4%, the biggest 12-month spike since August 2008. Prices rose 0.9% from May to June alone. In fact, core inflation, which discounts the volatile oil and gas market, has risen 4.3% in the last year. That’s the greatest one-year increase since November 1991.
The rapid inflation has raised fears that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates, which may potentially stymie the post-pandemic economic recovery. To allay these fears, Fed officials have publicly maintained their belief that the spike is temporary, and that things may even out as supply and labor shortages left over from the pandemic subside.
Supply and labor bottlenecks
Supply bottlenecks that arose during the pandemic are indeed likely to dissipate over the next 12 months. One of the most impactful of these is a shortage of semi-conductors, which are computer chips used in everything from smartphones to vehicles. The semi-conductor shortage has caused several American automakers to pause production on some vehicles. This has driven up the price of used cars by more than 10% in recent months. However, overseas manufacturers are stepping up production, while US firm Intel has plans to open chip production plants in the US by the end of this year.
The labor bottleneck is more complicated. Many workers who were laid off during the pandemic are holding out for offers of better pay and working conditions. Low-wage employees in particular have been waiting decades for a rise in the federal minimum wage. While this has failed to materialize, the pandemic and federal unemployment boost has put them in the driver’s seat. Businesses offering large one-time sign-on bonuses have largely failed to entice applicants. Employers who have raised their minimum wage floor to $12 or $15 have been more successful in recruiting workers.
Explosion at Iraqi COVID ward kills at least 92
A deadly explosion in an Iraqi COVID isolation ward has sparked an outcry in the country. At present, at least 92 people are known to have died in the blast at al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriya. More than 100 were injured. Authorities say that faulty wiring in the isolation ward ignited an oxygen storage tank. A similar blast took place in April under similar circumstances, killing 80.
These two disasters have shone a light on poor conditions and a lack of basic safety measures in the hastily-built temporary wards. A medic at the hospital said, “The hospital lacks a fire sprinkler system or even a simple fire alarm. We complained many times over the past three months that a tragedy could happen any moment from a cigarette stub, but every time we get the same answer from health officials: ‘We don’t have enough money'”.
Years of war, economic misery and corruption have taken their toll on Iraq’s health infrastructure. While high-level officials have acknowledged systemic failures, finger-pointing and scapegoating seems to have taken the place of concrete action to correct he problem. After the April explosion, Iraq’s health minister resigned. This time, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered the arrest of the head of al-Hussein Hospital.
Greg Abbott, hospital explosion, inflation, international news, Iraq, labor shortage, national news, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news, price hikes, supply shortage, Texas, US news, voting restrictions, voting rights, world news