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:

Which do you prefer? Being lied to or subjected to swear words? According to Business Insider, Facebook has adopted a policy that allows lies in political ads but does not allow profanity or swearing.

Lyme disease breakthrough: A study in the journal Antibiotics looked at the use of 35 essential oils from plants or fruits and found that 10 “showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing ‘persister’ forms of the Lyme disease bacterium.” The study was limited to the use of the oils to fight non-growing “persister” Lyme bacteria cells. Additional study is expected, with applications speculated to be suitable for both humans and animals.

A Russian-born woman living homeless in Los Angeles had a big break when a police officer recorded her singing at an L.A. subway stop. When the officer turned the video loose on the internet, offers poured in to help Emily Zamourka with her career, as well as donations totalling $77,000. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Zamourka suggested people help the homeless because, “Everyone deserves a chance.”

Whether or not you’re touched by climate change appears to depend on where you live, according to a recent paper in Science. The southern states are expected to be hit the hardest, while agricultural yields are estimated to fall 30% to 90% in parts of the Midwest, Texas and California. But yields may rise in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast will not experience the climate suffering of the South.

With the sudden order by President Donald Trump to pull the U.S. military from Syria, the State and Energy departments were unexpectedly working on plans for evacuating about 50 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stored 250 miles from the Syrian border at an Air Base in Turkey, The New York Times reported.

Forbes magazine has listed the nation’s wealthiest citizens: Jeff Bezos ($114 billion), Bill Gates ($106 billion), Warren Buffett, ($80 billion) and Mark Zuckerberg ($70 billion). Americans for Tax Fairness says the wealthy pay a 20% rate on their investments, in contrast to the top tax rate on wages and salaries being 37%. “Since most of their income comes from investments, not salaries or wages, they pay relatively little federal income taxes each year,” AFT notes.

University of California Professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman say that last year the overall tax rate on the 400 richest households was 23% — less than a quarter of their total income. In contrast, they say the rate was 70% in 1950 and 47% in 1980.

More than 700 scientists have signed a declaration of support for those using civil disobedience to push leaders to get busy on climate change. In an interview with the Reuters news agency, one signatory said scientists can no longer print studies and hope the information will be noticed — they also need to be activists.

Children’s Hospital in Boston has announced a breakthrough in treating autoimmune multiple sclerosis after researchers successfully prevented and reversed MS in mice. The scientists have filed a patent and created a company with equity ownership with the hospital, and will move forward with the research.

Green-washing: When electrified travel became popular in Los Angeles, a fossil fuel advocacy group began a campaign to classify natural gas-powered buses as “zero emissions” vehicles. But, says Earthjustice, natural gas does generate carbon dioxide and also emits methane during its production. L.A. has voted to transition to an electric bus fleet by 2030.

Every year almost 42,000 U.S. women develop breast cancer. A 2013 study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, stated that glyphosate, in “low and environmentally relevant concentrations,” causes breast cancer proliferation by stimulating hormone-dependent cancer cell lines. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of glyphosate were used in 2016, according to the Organic Consumers Association.

Germany has joined Austria in banning glyphosate, but in the U.S. efforts remain under way to obscure information pointing to health problems associated with glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Sans government protection in this country, the Environmental Working Group is testing products for glyphosate presence and is urging companies to stop using the toxic weed killer.

Blast from the past: Civil war? “If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.” — Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. president from 1869 to 1877.

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