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:

Sugar could be more addictive than recreational drugs, according to cardiovascular research scientist James DiNicolantonio, quoted in The Week. He said animal studies have shown rats on intravenous cocaine will ditch cocaine in favor of sugar.

A federal appeals court said earlier this month that internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T can be classified as “information services,” instead of “telecommunications services,” thereby dodging responsibility to provide open and non-discriminatory access to their networks — and allowing them to create fast and slow “lanes.” The New York Times reports that while that may sound like the death of net neutrality, an appeals court ruled states would be allowed to create their own net neutrality requirements. So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia are undergoing that process.

Two United States senators are urging customs officials to investigate and ban cocoa imports if they are linked to forced labor. Three major U.S. chocolate companies admit they won’t be meeting their 2020 deadline for eliminating child labor. This month, some 300,000 tons of candy ($2.5 billion-worth )are anticipated to be sold; only a fraction of which will be “fair trade” chocolate, says the Organic Consumers Association.

“Income volatility” during formative earning years can impact the brain, according to a study in the journal Neurology. Subjects aged 23 to 35 were followed for 20 years, with MRI brain scans showing smaller brain volume for those who endured two or more significant income drops (25% or more) and reduced connectivity between brain parts for those with one or more income drops. A study author noted that, since the early 1980s, income volatility is now at a record level.

According to Americans for Financial Reform, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to create a banking system using a new currency called Libra for the “unbanked” and “underbanked.” But the tech giant doesn’t want to use bank rules. Facebook may be unreliable, AFR says, since this year it paid more than $5 billion for various violations, such as misleading investors. There are alternatives to address banking problems, AFR points out, such as bringing back banking at post offices.

A sturdier monument to Emmet Till has been erected in Mississippi, where the 14-year-old African American boy was tortured and murdered in 1955. Other monuments had been destroyed. The new one — a commemorative sign — weighs 500 pounds, is made of steel and is coated with bullet-proof glass. According to the Emmet Till Memorial Commission, the monument intends to keep alive the significance of the boy’s murder, which increased the focus on the Civil Rights Movement.

FOX News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano shared with viewers that Congressional closed-door hearings “are consistent with the rules,” which were last written in 2015 and enacted by a Republican majority. On Oct. 23, in defiance of those rules, more than 30 Republican lawmakers forced their way into a closed-door presidential fact-gathering impeachment hearing regarding the Ukraine, delaying the hearing for five hours. They also brought into the room electronic devices that are prohibited for national security reasons. According to Business Insider, the speaker scheduled for an interview with committee members was a Pentagon deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Of the intruding lawmakers, 12 had already been granted access, but said they were protesting the secrecy of the hearing. The contents of the hearings, which both parties attended, are to be released once the initial hearings are completed.

Blast from the past: Historically, cities have regarded noon as the time when the sun reached its overhead apex, a.k.a. solar noon. That of course meant time was slightly different in the nearest city. So standardization of time resulted in time zones; it may not be “high noon” when your clock hits 12 p.m. A century ago, efforts were made by farmers to kill Daylight Savings Time, since they could not work early morning hours with dew on the ground. But their concerns were bypassed, Scientific American records show, since it was discovered that the time schedule saved on lighting bills and use of coal “which we cannot afford to ignore.” Speaking of time, turn your clocks back one hour on Sunday, Nov. 3. 

Another blast: “It’s not who votes, but who counts the votes.” Joseph Stalin, 20th-century Russian totalitarian leader.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.