The Wider World

“Deep freeze” lashing the U.S.

THE WINTER STORM URI has slammed much of the South and is moving northeast (Flickr).

Cold weather – what’s being called a “deep freeze” – has snarled highways, knocked out electricity and generally made life miserable for millions of Americans in the southwest and Mexicans in the northern part of their country.

According to Reuters, as many as 5 million people are without power in that region. In Texas, the power grid was intact, according to Gov. Greg Abbott, but “the ability of some companies to generate the power has been frozen.”

Temperatures in that state plunged on Monday from 28 degrees Fahrenheit to 8 degrees. The snowstorm spread across several states in addition to Texas, complicating not just regular commerce but also the distribution of the Moderna vaccine that wards off the COVID-19 infection. At least three deaths have been attributed to the harsh weather.

President Joe Biden declared the region to be a disaster area, unlocking federal emergency aid. Weather experts also expressed fear that the freeze could lead to problems as serious as the massive hurricanes that annually slam into the southeast.

The storm, named Uri, will soon be moving northeast, bringing snow, winds and ice as far north as the southern part of New England.

News: Polls in aftermath of election, riot

MOST AMERICANS want Trump barred from office, but most Republicans do not  (White House photo).

A couple of recent polls may offer some insight into how the political landscape of the nation looks after the presidential election, the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

A poll by Quinnipiac University released Monday says 55 percent of Americans believe that Trump should not be allowed to hold elected office again. Disagreeing were 43 percent. Democrats and independent favored barring Trump, while Republicans strongly opposed it.

Another poll, conducted for CNBC and released on Thursday gives President Joe Biden historically high numbers in the first ratings of his administration. The survey has him with 62 percent approval, the best among the last five presidents. Bill Clinton debuted with 51 percent support, George W. Bush with 57 percent, Barack Obama with 60 percent and Trump with 44 percent.

Business: A big deficit projected for 2021

BIG BUDGET DEFICITS are looming (Shutterstock).

The good news is that the federal budget deficit projected for $2.3 trillion in 2021 is smaller than the $3.13 trillion pool of red ink for fiscal 2020. But the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate does not take in the potential impact of President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” The latest projection is that the federal budget deficit will hit $35.3 trillion in 2031, according to CNBC.

The effect of Biden’s plan is hard to calculate because its exact size has not been determined, and if it’s successful in stimulating the economy, it could work to reduce the deficit by increasing income tax revenue.

Wall Street stays warm: Much of the rest of the U.S. is getting cold feet (and other bodily parts, too) but the investment community is still pretty toasty. All three major stock indexes showed gains on Monday. The Dow Jones Average was up 27.70 points to 31,458.40. The S&P 500 rose 18.45 to 3,824,83 and Nasdaq improved by 69.70 to 14,095,47.

Sports: Gonzaga can’t be moved

The Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s college basketball team remains in this week’s rankings just where it started: unbeaten (20-0) and ranked number one in the AP poll announced Monday.

GONZAGA remains the nation’s top-ranked men’s basketball team (Shutterstock).

Following are Baylor (17-0, in second), Michigan (14-1, in third), Ohio State (17-4, in fourth) and Illinois (14-5, in fifth).

Rounding out the top 10 are Houston (17-2), Virginia (15-3), Alabama (17-5), Oklahoma (13-5) and Villanova (13-3).

USC (17-3) is 17th and San Diego State (15-4) is 25th. UCLA is unranked but received 10 votes.

On Sunday, the AP women’s poll has the University of Connecticut (16-1) ranked at the top, followed by South Carolina, Louisville, North Carolina State and Texas A&M.

Weather: Baby, it’s not that cold out there

The cool temperatures we experienced today (Monday) in West Orange County are nothing compared to what much of the nation is experiencing (see above). But knowing that doesn’t keep you warm if you forgot to put on a sweater. Tonight’s low will be 50 with overcast skies.

Tuesday will see partly cloudy skies and an expected high of 72 (low of 46). Sunny skies will return starting Wednesday and continuing through next Monday with highs rising from 70 on Wednesday up to 80 next Monday.

In the coastal areas – Huntington Beach – daytime highs will be about four degrees cooler.






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