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:

General Motors hopes to have 18 new electric vehicles for sale by 2023. Others joining the electric-powered vehicle movement include Volvo, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover. Future bans on gas and diesel cars are planned in France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, China and India.

The recent hail storm that swamped Guadalajara, Mexico is rare but not entirely unprecedented. Mexico City experienced a similar weather phenomenon in 2014 with two to three feet of hail. The Guadalajara event included flooding, which, when combined with the hail, created drifts up to six feet deep.

Bank of America says it will no longer provide funding for private prisons and detention centers. The financial institution joins JP Morgan, which announced the same policy in March. An attorney suing on behalf of asylum seekers held at a private detention center said the problem with those facilities is that “to maximize profit, you minimize your expenditures.” Private prisons handle 9% of the United States prison population, and 73% of immigrant detainees. The Obama administration in 2016 ordered for-profit prisons to be phased out, but the Trump administration reversed the order in 2017.

Officials barred CNN from taking photos or video during a June 26 tour of a border patrol facility for holding asylum seekers. Nonetheless, CNN quoted a border patrol employee who said “the agency prepped for you guys.”

Logged rainforests can show significant recovery — so long they are not replaced as palm oil plantations. Tropical Conservation Science reported that clear-cut rainforests, during early recovery, show 87% of species can return; watershed abilities can be restored; and secondary growth can again store CO2 pollution.

Why is homelessness on the rise in Europe, but not in Finland? A report from the World Economic Forum says Finland’s Housing First program, begun in 2007, offers housing according to ability to pay, and, if needed, round-the-clock support including financial counseling. Some countries insist that housing only be granted under certain conditions, but Finland and other nations found those conditions are difficult to meet without first having housing. What’s more, having housing while working on economic recovery is found to be more cost effective.

Planting 10% of a field row or crops with buffer strips of native grass can reduce soil loss by 95%, according to a study from Iowa State University. The practice can also reduce fertilizer run-off by almost as much, which results in less water pollution and less need for pesticides.

Manslaughter charges were dropped against a pregnant woman in Alabama who was shot in the stomach during a fight with a co-worker, resulting in the miscarriage of her 5-month-old fetus. The woman who fired the gun was not charged. According to The New York Times, Alabama officials declared that in order to keep her unborn safe, the mother-to-be should have refrained from fighting in the first place — hence the charges. The defendant’s attorneys argue video footage shows the expectant mother was backing away the shooter fired on her.

A study from Michigan State University found dogs can be more responsive to training in midlife. For humans, conscientiousness peaks at mid-life. The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, also revealed that big changes in life can change a dog’s personality traits.

A study printed this month in the journal Nature reinforced the need for a Green New Deal to avoid limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial temperature levels. Commenting on the report, North America Director Tamara Toles O’Laughlin said, “We stand by the science, and furthermore demand that fossil fuel billionaires pay the damage they have caused to people and the planet.”

Coinciding with the study in Nature, Alaska has experienced a heat wave, with July temperatures as high as 18.6 degrees fahrenheit above normal, CNN reports.

On July 3, the New York Review of Books reproduced historical photos of propaganda rallies under fascist and other authoritarian regimes. The photos, lacking commentary, included a 1935 photo of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini reviewing tanks, fascist dictator Francisco Franco in Spain in 1939; a 1947 photo of tanks on parade in Stalin-era Moscow and a 2013 tank parade in North Korea celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.

A federal judge recently ruled that the United States Department of Justice must follow the law and grant asylum seekers a bond hearing within seven days of their request. Failing to do so would trigger detainees’ release, The New York Times reported.

Blast from the past: the American Indian Movement was founded in July 1968. The organization’s original goal was to address urban Indian issues, but it expanded to include the preservation of Indian culture; improving education; reviewing treaty commitments and violations; restoring terminated treaties; protecting Native religious freedom and culture; and working on issues like health, housing, employment and economic development. Infiltration of AIM by FBI agents resulted in distrust within the organization. In recent years the group split, following complaints of authoritarian-style leadership.

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