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:

Eliminate higher education: That’s an idea proposed by Tennessee state Sen. Kerry Roberts on his radio program. Roberts said it would “save America” by eliminating a “liberal breeding ground.” According to the Associated Press, Roberts had been talking about a legislative hearing he attended regarding abortion, and appeared to be linking higher education with progressive views about abortion. He has since walked back those comments, referring to them as a hyperbolic “rant.”

Solar breakthrough: Heliogen, a clean energy company, says it has created a “solar oven” that can generate temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius — particularly useful for replacing fossil fuels used to make products like cement, glass and steel. The creation uses artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors, and is said to be less expensive than fossil fuels. Manufacture of cement causes a full 7% of CO2 emissions, according to the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.

Foods that can be toxic for your dog include xylitol, chocolate, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, cooked bones and processed people foods that are sugary, salty or fatty. Also avoid foods in the onion family, caffeine, alcohol, bread dough and cooked beans, says online veterinarian and writer Dr. Karen S. Becker. Pet poisoning emergency numbers: call 1-888-426-4435 or 1-855-764-7661.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed on Dec. 5 an unconditional extension of New START, which caps deployed offensive strategic nuclear weapons at no more than 1,550 for Russia and the United States. Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, an international movement seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons, stated that U.S. President Donald Trump should accept the offer if he is “serious about addressing the catastrophic threat of nuclear weapons.”

With so many good causes, how does one decide who deserves your donation? A tip from AARP: check with and set an annual budget for donations so you know when it’s time to say “no.” Also, never donate over the phone or at the door.

In other charity news, donations are more important than ever with the passage of the 2017 Tax Cut Act. The Act made itemized donations, especially to smaller nonprofits, less inviting. The decline in tax-deductible charitable giving has paralleled enactment of the Tax Cut Act, according to the Giving Institution, which studies philanthropy.

Trump has been raising campaign funds for senators that will serve as jurors at his impeachment trial in the Senate, Newsweek reports. According to Richard Painter, ethics chief to former-President George W. Bush, “This is a bribe. Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. … Any senator who accepts cash from [Trump] before the impeachment trial is guilty of accepting a bribe and should go to the slammer.”

Five hundred law professors signed their names to an open letter regarding Trump’s impeachment, noting that impeachment is an “essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections.” The law professors stated that whether the president’s actions are regarded as bribery, a high crime,  misdemeanor “or both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.”

In BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, two doctors recently wrote that one of the solutions to climate change is increased access to effective contraceptives. Better birth control access, the authors wrote, would slow population growth and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% — if not more. There are 99 million unintended pregnancies annually, and world population is expected to jump from 7.7 billion today to 10.6 billion by 2100. The authors recommended more investment in family planning programs, research and development for new contraceptives, as well as pursuing a dialogue about overconsumption, overpopulation and “the true ecological limits of the Earth.”

In 2015, Title X funding helped prevent 822,000 unintended pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2010 that amounted to an estimated savings of $7 billion for taxpayers due to Title X programs, which the Trump administration is attempting to dismantle.

Blast from the past: In the past 50 years, federal political scandals have resulted in numerous convictions connected to wrongdoing by U.S. presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 0; Richard Nixon, 55; Gerald Ford, 1; Jimmy Carter, 0; Ronald Reagan, 16; George H.W. Bush, 1; Bill Clinton, 1; George W. Bush, 6; and Barack Obama, 0. As of November, six Trump associates have been convicted of crimes — all related to the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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.