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:

Transdigm, producer of military products, says it will repay the federal government $16 million for price gouging that was discovered in a Dept. of Defense investigation. According to Reuters, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said more need to be done to “prevent unscrupulous contractors from holding us hostage through abusive monopoly contracts.”

CBD, usually sourced from hemp, is not psychoactive and may be helpful with medical and behavioral issues in pets, says online veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. She says use of psychoactive marijuana can even be toxic for dogs and cats. CBD oil or CBD extract (the latter could be superior to oil) is used for pain, anxiety, inflammation, cancer, glaucoma, kidney and liver problems, seizure, chemotherapy and encouraging appetite. Sometimes one brand will not work as well as another, so Dr. Becker advises experimenting with brands if necessary.

In 2009 there were no electric vehicles on the road, and today there are over a million, the Union of Concerned Scientists says. That’s part of an effort to address global warming emissions while also enhancing fuel efficiency. Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S.

UCS says if U.S. oil consumption can be cut to 1.5 billion barrels a day by 2030 it will save drivers $50 billion a year, with a bonus of reducing heat-trapping carbon emissions by over 500 million tons. Since 2005 vehicle fuel economy has improved almost 25% due to the first improvements in fuel economy standards in 20 years, which proves the auto industry is capable of better mpg, UCS says.

With a wingspan of 3.5 to four inches, the monarch butterfly can travel up to 5.5 miles per hour. Compare that to a human jogging six to eight mph. But they increasingly are migrating to and from habitats in decline, such as those caused by fires and by herbicides that destroy milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant they lay eggs on. The butterflies’ numbers have declined 99.4% since the 1980s. To help boost monarch numbers, the Xerces Society recommends planting milkweed and early-blooming flowers.

With Russia a long-term adversary of the U.S., why didn’t Jared Kushner call the FBI when he was contacted by Russians about helping his father-in-laws presidential campaign? Asked this during an interview on HBO, Kushner indicated he was busy and it did not occur to him. But now with hindsight, he was asked, would he do so? Kushner stated, “It’s hard to do hypotheticals.”

World Refugee Day is June 20. Worldwide there is an unprecedented 68.5 million people who’ve been forced to leave their homes – an average of 42,500 daily. Of Syria’s population, 45% are displaced.

They’re called Birth Strikers: women who are deciding that bringing children into a world devastated by climate change is morally and ethically irresponsible. On Facebook they have a site called Conceivable Future, where they review issues like climate-induced weather extremes, famine, violence and wars over resources. Another concern: no indication climate change will be adequately addressed.

There are other factors causing women to re-think child bearing, according to USA Today. They include inadequate wages for raising a family, student debt and lack of affordable child care.

Both U.S. and international law says stepping onto U.S. soil entitles an immigrant to apply for asylum. The WEEK reports that 89% of asylum seekers in 2018 passed the “credible fear” interview: they fear persecution or harm if they return to their country. But new asylum policies from the Trump Administration have whittled that number down to 17%.

Since 2016 more than a million Americans have lost health insurance coverage, the Congressional Budget Office says. According to, that is particularly due to loss of Medicaid coverage in Republican-governed states, where it’s more difficult to qualify for coverage.

Blast from the past: 65 years ago this month the CIA supported a coup in Guatemala that overthrew that nation’s democracy. The new “president” quickly formed a dictatorship that reversed all prior social reforms, such as a minimum wage and property granted to the landless. The dictator also tortured and imprisoned thousands of his opponents. The CIA’s cover-up claim, that the democratically-elected Guatemalan government had solid connections with the Soviet Union, was never proven; the world community instead tended to believe the coup had been about protecting United Fruit Company’s economic grip over Guatemala. After completion of a U.S. Commission report that linked the U.S. military’s support to genocide in Guatemala, President Bill Clinton apologized to Guatemala for the atrocities that occurred under U.S.-backed dictators. Citizens have continued to protest government corruption, including severe income inequality, genocide and extra-judicial killings.

Lorraine H. Marie lives in northeast Washington where she writes and works on soil and forest regeneration of her rural land.

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