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:

Scared you’re too out-of-shape to exercise safely? Fitness professional Chad Landers tells AARP Magazine that a study of 1,200 cardiac arrests between ages 35 and 65 found only 5% happened during physical exercise. Landers says his oldest client started with him at age 87, and she increased her strength into her 90s.Moderate exercise can reduce premature death risks by 16 to 30%.

Due to anti-immigrant policies, convict leasing is increasing on farms, High Country News reports. A practice that was prohibited during most of the 20th Century, convict leasing pays $3 to $4 an hour where the minimum wage is $11. Convicts are excluded from policies like Fair Labor Standards and organizing for higher wages. Typically, their wages can be garnished to cover incarceration costs and restitution, leaving little to no money for building a new life beyond bars, or for helping their families.

A 15-year study of 90,000 dogs, purebreds and mixes, found it’s not likely that mixed breeds have fewer health problems. The study was done at UC-Davis. For information about genetically suppressing genes that could lead to pet health problems, see “Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health.”

Newsweek reports a crowd of mostly young Jews shut down access to the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey on June 30, chanting “never again” and “never is now,” referring to revelations of gross abuses of detainees at U.S. government camps. The next day members of Congress toured a border facility in Texas, NBC News said. They were particularly struck be observing that openly, in front of them, detainees were without water and told to drink from toilets.

Close to 70% of adults in the U.S. get some of their news from social media, Mother Jones says. Before social media, almost all news outlets had verification standards, although some were “thin and compromised.” Social media’s impact on newspapers: in the early 2000s there were 56,000 journalists in news rooms. That number is down to 24,000 as of this spring. Unaware of how to determine what creates valid news, readers are confused about what is biased, what’s propaganda and what’s real news. 

A state-of-the-art optical gas imaging camera captures images of leaking methane, along with other dangerous pollutants, from oil and gas industrial sites. Environmental organizations use the camera to not only help reduce climate-destroying methane emissions, but to protect nearby families who suffer headaches, bloody noses and respiratory problems from the emissions. Methane gas is over 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide, says Earthworks.

Bees aren’t the only creatures harmed or killed by neonicotinoid insecticides. Using sparrows in a lab, Canadian scientists fed them a small amount of neonic-treated seeds daily. What was initially thought to be a small neo-nic exposure resulted in birds with both disorientation and up to 17% loss of body weight, according to the researchers’ account in Scientific Reports.  

Scrutinizing the label: If beauty and body care products contain phthalates, recall that those are linked to birth defects. And if there are parabens, think breast cancer, says Green America. Best choice for health: look for companies that participate in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Since plastics began mass production 60 years ago, 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff has been created. National Geographic reports plastic typically takes 400 years to degrade; currently nine percent is recycled, and manufacturing of plastic doubles every 15 years.

Fewer people commit suicide when their financial pressures ease up, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates. A 10% increase in the minimum wage parallels a 3.6% decline in suicides, reported. And a 10% increase in Earned Income Tax Credit shows a 5.5% decline in suicides. The study suggested that increases in both the minimum wage and EITC could prevent 1230 suicides annually. The suicide decline was particularly true for women.

New York State just passed their Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. It requires 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Maine has become the first state to prohibit the use of styro-foam food containers, CNN reported. Similar legislation is expected to pass in other states. Less than 3% of Styrofoam is recycled; following brief use it persists in the environment for hundreds of years.

Blast from the past: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”  Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941, an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939.  He also said, “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”

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