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:

“Something happened,” but reports no one knows why victims of “sonic attacks” in Cuba showed “significantly less white matter” — a dense collection of nerve fibers in the deep tissues of the brain — via MRI examination across their whole brains. There was also evidence of less connectivity in the brain region involved with hearing and vision. A study author said victims showed no sign of concussion or traumatic brain injury.

In another mystery, the Washington State Department of Transportation recently captured two photos of what appears to be Bigfoot. The first occurred near Sherman Pass and the second was east of Snoqualmie Pass. Two possibilities: January doldrums have driven someone to don a furry suit or Bigfoot is similarly bored and opted for a walkabout. Believe it or not?

A 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women who drank milk three times a day revealed they broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says the most healthful sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables and legumes. As well, active people tend to keep calcium in their bones, while sedentary people lose calcium. Excess salt can significantly increase calcium loss through the kidneys, and animal proteins tend to leach calcium from bones, as opposed to plant proteins.

Months-long bushfires in Australia have so far released about 900 million tons of carbon — almost double what Australia emits from fossil fuel sources over a full year, according to NBC News.

One of the top Democratic presidential candidates has a plan for transferring more power to workers while addressing weaknesses created by the 2017 Trump tax cuts. The Corporate Accountability and Democracy plan includes the option for workers to elect 45% of their firms’ boards of directors, for large corporations and publicly traded companies “to provide at least 2% of stock to their workers every year until the company is at least 20% owned by employees,” closing corporate tax loopholes, rolling back “disastrous” corporate tax breaks, halting mega-mergers and eliminating the use of offshore tax havens.

Scientists in Germany have discovered that chromium and nickel particles can enter the body from tattoos. The particles, shed by needles, are “impurities” and are linked to allergies and carcinogens.

Novel birthday celebration: For her 80th birthday, Peggy Wheatcroft bought 80 blue envelopes and put four $20 bills in each. Then, she told AARP Bulletin, she inserted a self-addressed stamped postcard and asked each recipient to give the money to anyone they chose, to be followed by writing her back and sharing the story. “Let’s spread a small bit of joy,” she added. Most of the envelopes she delivered over the next year — specifically by hand to emphasize the joy of personal interaction. Wheatcroft said the stories that came back ranged from buying 52 pair of socks for a homeless shelter to large tips for service workers. Most notable: All were delighted to help her celebrate her 80th birthday.

Internet and video game addicts now have a way out with long-term rehab programs, which grapple with “gaming disorder” and “intimacy disorder,” The New York Times Magazine reports. A successfully completed program allows graduates to discard the all-consuming electronic lifestyle and engage more with the world. One such program, reStart, is based in Washington state.

Florida Republican lawmaker and well known Trump supporter Matt Gaetz said the arguments against impeachment by attorneys for President Donald Trump looked like “an eighth-grade book report.” In Sean Hannity’s coverage at Fox News, wherein muted footage of the impeachment proceedings ran to the side of the screen, Hannity told viewers “none of this matters.” Polls of Americans’ thoughts about removing Trump from office: from Fox, 50% and CNN, 51%. Higher percentages from both sides want Senate Republicans to lift their prohibition on introducing witnesses in the trial. 

Blast from the past: During the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Mitch McConnell (who is now overseeing Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, and has pushed for no witnesses and minimal media coverage) said, “My view was that we were entitled to witnesses … I voted for live witnesses myself. I voted for the one live witness the House asked for and I voted to allow videotaping of the witnesses they asked for.”

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