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 Russian company StartRocket wants to use mini satellites to create night sky billboards that would appear in 2021, says Two primary concerns have been raised: increased risk of collision with sky “junk,” and the creation of night sky “litter,” which, when it was first proposed in the 1990s, Carl Sagan referred to as “an abomination.”

Bobcat fever can be transmitted by ticks to domestic cats that share their territory. Signs of bobcat fever, reported by Dr. Karen S. Becker, an online veterinary columnist, include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, followed by breathing problems, dehydration and signs of jaundice in the eyes. Bobcat fever can include coma and, if there is not early veterinarian intervention, death.

Due to the spread of African swine flu, China has been forced to kill 20% of its hogs. Fewer hogs means fewer corn and soy exports from the United States to China, Mother Jones reports. 

New data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, printed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July, shows massive consumption of fossil fuels will create extreme ocean acidification, causing conditions similar to those that prompted a mass extinction event 250 million years ago. Without adequate action, that modern-day extinction appears to be likely toward the end of this century.

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet July 12 that Patrick Pizzella would replace Alexander Acosta as acting-U.S. secretary of labor,  after the latter resigned amid controversy over his illegal 2008 plea deal on behalf of accused billionaire child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. But Pizzella’s past is also troubled. His labor experience includes promoting sweatshop products from the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, in the 1990s. Those sweatshops paid far less than minimum wage to recruited immigrants, and engaged in human rights abuses, according to a recent report by Mother Jones.

Support for abortion is at its highest level since 1995, according to a poll published July 10 by ABC/Washington Post. Overall, 60% of the public supports legal abortion. The poll showed 41% of Republicans, 64% of independents and 77% of Democrats support current federal law making abortions legally available.

The Trump administration will not impose an Obama-recommended ban on chlorpyrifos, which is used on fruit, nut, cereal and vegetable crops. Meanwhile, an Earthjustice attorney says there is overwhelming evidence the pesticide harms children’s brains and a study in Environmental Health Perspectives urges a review of the connection between chlorpyrifos and autism. The decision to continue use may be linked to Dow Chemical, the biggest U.S. producer of chlorpyrifos, having made a $1 million donation to Trump’s inauguration, says the Natural Resources Defense Council.

More about food: The USDA has proposed eliminating food stamps for people receiving other forms of state and federal assistance; that would include stopping some children from accessing school meals. Estimates claim that the policy change would impact 3 million people. A comment period on the proposed measure began July 24.

From The WEEK’s short bio on renowned 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg: she first grew concerned about climate change at age 11, when her reading of the science on climate change indicated little possibility for a human-habitable future on Earth and, thus, no reason to pursue an education. Her conclusions plunged her into a deep depression and she stopped going to school. When she recovered, she vowed to do everything possible to prevent an unthinkable future. Her mild autism is linked to her very literal and ruthlessly logical” thinking processes, and to finding inaction on climate change entirely intolerable. That has been on public display when she’s addressed the European Union, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum with her unfiltered thoughts, backed up by facts. She told members of the British Parliament that adult leaders’ irresponsible behavior will be remembered “as one of the greatest failures of humankind.” In Switzerland, she told wealthy corporate executives and political leaders at the World Economic Forum that their greed was at fault for robbing her generation of its future.

In Norton Sound, Alaska, a Department of Fish and Game biologist says abnormally high temperatures this summer have overheated waterways, triggering heart attacks in salmon.

Blast from the past: Inspired by President Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern, the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention issued its “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials,” which stated that, “Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment.”

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