Bits ‘n’ Pieces

From east, west and beyond

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

MRI scans indicate that some people have brains that make them prone to lying, according to a new study from University of Southern California. The study involved 108 subjects, the Los Angeles Times reported, and noted that those inclined to lie also had less ability to feel remorse.

Finding a decayed human body on a wild landscape would seem like one psychological scar too many, but a judge in Arizona has charged members of No More Deaths for littering. The group picks up litter, leaves full bottles of water for migrants attempting to enter the U.S. through desert land and also reports bodies found. One defendant stated that, “I didn’t understand humanitarian aid was criminal.”

Why it’s a no-no: pulling a cat’s tail can stretch or tear nerves and can cause temporary or permanent inability to walk, incontinence or chronic pain, says Catster Magazine.

Currently, almost 7,000 U.S. businesses are all or partially owned by a trust called the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Advantages: more efficiency, better pay, fewer lay-offs and more wealth build-up for employees. The movement has been enhanced by the 2018 Main Street Employee Ownership Act. John Case, editor of Employee-Owned America, says when a company sells to an ESOP, usually shares are paid with borrowed funds and the loan is repaid from the business’ pre-tax earnings, not from employee contributions. There are also tax advantages for those selling to an ESOP.

Fifteen immigrants, represented by five justice organizations, have filed suit against the Trump administration to prove delays or denial of medical care, failure to provide mental health services and discrimination against those needing disability accommodations. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, instead of seeking damages, the plaintiffs are asking for better policies so other immigrants won’t share their experiences: blindness due to delayed care, lack of treatment for a severe brain parasite and denial of treatment for heart conditions. The plaintiffs note that many held could have been released via bond or parole, but ICE instead keeps them at a cost to taxpayers of $208 a day.

The federal deficit will reach $960 billion in 2019 fiscal year, says a recent Congressional Budget Office report. CBO blames trade wars and tax cuts for the deficit, but Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso says President Donald Trump wants to reduce the deficit with cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a “second term project.” Prior to his first term, Trump firmly stated he would not allow cuts to either program.

A combination of faulty decisions has fueled the Amazonian wildfires: a new president that wants to remove environmental barriers from the area, an inordinate appetite for meat and soybeans, and unscrupulous lenders who ignore environmental consequences. The World Bank says cattle ranching is responsible for 91% of Amazon deforestation since 1970. Because the Amazon alone has provided 20% of the planet’s oxygen, the region is called “the lungs of the planet.” Compared to this time last year, the Amazon has 80% more fires, according to the National Institute for Space Research.

Several clean water organizations sued the EPA for allowing the dumping of coal ash into U.S. waterways and won. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other chemicals that poison wildlife, cause birth defects, cancer and other health problems in affected communities. The EPA was court ordered to draft a rule protecting the public and waterways from coal ash, says the Waterkeeper Alliance.

A special August issue of High Country News took fake news to new heights: each article imagined the future from the perspective of failures to adequately address climate change. Topics included how the Forest Service became the U.S. Fire Service, hunting down prominent climate deniers to put them in front of climate tribunals for crimes against the environment, and how the Great Plains were restored, suitable for habitation by 2 million bison.

Blast from the past: “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist,” Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, 1909-1999. Camara worked for social progress and criticized dictatorial leadership that bred poverty and injustice. He defined his socialism as a quest for justice and respect for humans, as based on the Gospels.

Another blast from the past: In 1916, anarchist political activist and writer Emma Goldman was arrested for distributing birth control information.

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