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:

The Smithsonian has looked at the ways in which people meet their mates today versus how it was done in the 1940s, when most couples met through friends or acquaintances. Today, one out of four couples first meet online, with 46% having the first encounter in spring or summer. Other data: 15% today are in a mixed political relationship and, in this decade, 24% of couples are in an interracial relationship.

The Guardian reports Amazon made $11.2 billion in profits in 2018, but will pay nothing in income taxes. Amazon explained that “our profits remain modest” in light of various retail factors and “our continued heavy investment.”

According to a VA audit, some 17,400 veterans needing emergency health care have had their claims improperly rejected. That amounted to $53.3 million in 2017. The VA’s Office of Inspector General faulted an agency-wide priority for quantity of work over quality of work when processing claims.

 Calculations indicate there will be 15 million electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2030. More preparation is needed for more EV charging stations, says Environment America. 

For many Americans, electric vehicles are less expensive: their power costs less than gas, and they are cheaper to maintain. Now, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, they are also becoming less expensive to purchase. Find the report at .

The Family Breakfast Project recommends sharing the first meal of the day if sharing dinner is rarely accomplished. Studies say the advantages of eating together include lower risk for childhood obesity, drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, teen pregnancy and depression. If early morning seems too early, Time magazine says getting to bed earlier, not eating three hours before bedtime and curtailing use of electronic devices before bed can make early wake-up hours more agreeable.

Kids are better off eating fruit rather than its juice, says a report in Time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice for babies and only occasional servings, rather than daily servings of juice, since juice sends a surge of sugar to the bloodstream and can be tied to weight gain. Meanwhile, juice in a bottle or sippy cup can cause cavities.

A White House ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration says that by giving fundraising cash to members of Congress prior to his impeachment trial, President Donald Trump may be committing “felony bribery.” Richard Painter, Newsweek reported, says those who Congress members who accept the financial support should face criminal charges.

A segment of the Keystone pipeline in North Dakota recently leaked 383,000 gallons of crude oil, covering a half acre of wetland near the Canadian border, according to state environmental regulators. Since 2011, there have been a total of 439,000 gallons spilled in the region.

Amid another rash of wildfires in California, the Trump has threatened to cut wildfire aid to the state, claiming California officials have been negligent in their forestry practices. According to University of California research, more than half of the state’s forests are under federal authority. Trump did offer wildfire aid to Russia three months ago, according to the Kremlin’s website.

Blast from the past: One hundred years ago, a year after the end of WWI, President Woodrow Wilson marked the first Armistice Day with this address to the nation: “With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought. Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.” Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954, and dedicated as a day for honoring all U.S. veterans.

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