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:

Hackers took a crack at finding vulnerabilities in more than 100 voting machines during the most recent “Voting Machine Hacking Village” event, and the results were sobering. All the voting machines had problems, Mother Jones reports. According to the magazine, many of the problems were first identified 10 years ago but remain unaddressed. Researchers involved in the project recommended election offices continue to use paper ballots, to be used for comparing election results to machine counts.

The inmate behind a documentary smuggled out from a Florida prison is in solitary confinement after Behind Tha Barb Wire made its way to the Miami Herald and YouTube. The Washington Post reported Oct. 7 that the film, containing footage going back to 2017 in one of Florida’s “notoriously dangerous prisons,” was shot using contraband cameras. One of the cameras was inside a hollowed out Bible, which used the “o” in “Holy” for the lens. The film focused on what happens when guards are not watching, such as brawls, prisoners passed out on synthetic drugs, mold covering kitchen walls and the widespread use of makeshift weapons.

Farmers and water managers may be able to use satellite data to help reduce unnecessary water consumption. The satellites are being developed by NASA, the Desert Research Institute, Google Earth Engine and Environmental Defense Fund. Information from the satellites will include measurements of evapotranspiration — water lost to the air through evaporation from the soil and from transpiration from leaves.

Most of the world’s variously located wheat growing areas will be at risk for “severe, prolonged and near-simultaneous drought” by the century’s end, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Scientific Advances. A fifth of the world’s calories come from wheat, and, researchers point out, food insecurity leads to political instability and migration.

More than 6,500 patients at the largest nonprofit hospital in Memphis, Tenn. saw their debt erased following an investigation into the health care provider’s collections process. One woman — whose case was among 8,300 collection lawsuits on file with the hospital — initially had a $12,000 bill, which grew to $33,000 due to the addition of attorney fees and interest. Per court order, she would have had to pay $100 a month until age 90 for her two-day hospital stay, Mother Jones reported earlier this month.

Indonesia is planning to move its capital city from Jakarta (population 10 million) to the island of Borneo to avoid the consequences of sinking land and rising sea level — the latter which has been accelerated by ice melt. In Greenland, the melt has increased six-fold since the 1980s, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After restricting births to one per family since 1979, in 2015 the Chinese government encouraged married college women to have a first or another child. According to The New York Times, the government’s campaign discouraged ethnic minorities and unmarried pregnancies. In 2017, the birth rate fell 3.5%. A survey of 40,000 Chinese women showed 40% preferred avoiding pregnancy, while 63% had a child and did not want another. Reasons: lack of time and energy, expense and career concerns.

For best post-surgery rehab results, get in good shape before surgery, according to the surgeon-in-chief for the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City. Also, stay positive and go into surgery well rested.

An estimated 33% of household trash is from packaging, according to the organization Green America. 

Blast from the past: When Christopher Columbus set foot in the “New World,” he named that land San Salvador. But it already had a name: Guanahani. Historians have described the natives as primitive because they did not wear fancy clothing and jewelry. But as author James Loewen points out, today’s European visitors to Guanahani are also practically naked — due to the heat. Loewen is the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus.

And another blast: “… The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Constitution of the United States, Article 2 Section 4. Rick Shenkman, founder of the History News Network, says turning to a foreign government to help influence a presidential election, requires an impeachment inquiry and “is exactly what the Constitution calls for.”

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