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: 

Essential oils are showing “strong killer activity” for addressing Lyme disease syndrome, according to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, printed in the journal Antibiotics. The oils from oregano, cinnamon bark, clove buds, citronella and wintergreen were deemed more effective than the best-performing pharmaceuticals. 

Democracy for All, a bill to amend the United States Constitution by addressing unbalanced influence on politics, has been introduced to the Senate. Yet, it fails to address the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which in 2010 granted personhood status to corporations. The group Move to Amend says the correct legislation to pass would be the We the People Amendment, which aligns with the non-partisan organization’s goal of establishing that “money is not free speech” and that “human beings, not corporations, are persons.”

With Florida voting to outlaw dog racing, it’s expected that up to 6,000 greyhounds will be seeking adoption. Check out The Greyhound Project, a non-profit that shares greyhound info.

Due to objections over references to climate change evidence, the Trump administration halted the release of a USDA report on how farmers can remain resilient when facing rising temperatures, new precipitation patterns and more chaotic weather. The report, says Politico, sought to safeguard the nation’s food supply and stabilize the ag industry. 

Super volcano in New England? There is an “upwelling” of lava forming below Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. But Rutgers University professor Vadim Levin indicated to The WEEK that an accurate status of the activities will be more obvious in 50 million years.

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has released the first of a five-volume report about Russian interference with the 2016 elections. The Russian effort began in 2014 and occurred in all 50 states. No votes appeared to have been changed, the report says. Meanwhile, significant election vulnerabilities remain today. A minority report from Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden says that in order to defend our elections, “Congress must establish mandatory nationwide cyber security requirements.” The Senate is blocking that. The Washington Post published an opinion piece on July 26 alleging Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who controls what legislation the body votes on, is a Russian asset. That’s based on numerous reports showing a Russian company, with possible ties to the Russian mafia, investing in business in McConnell’s home state.

The new photo-documentary book Bitter Leaves explores a range of problems stemming from the tobacco industry: deforestation, exploitative child labor practices and marketing that targets youth.  

At a recent Turning Point conservative student summit, the presidential seal located behind President Donald Trump was altered: the eagle had two heads (reminiscent of the Russian imperial eagle) while its talons clutched golf clubs and cash. The Post reported that organizers don’t know how the faux seal ended up being projected behind the president. 

The FDA has taken mesh pelvic repair devices off the market. Use of the mesh resulted in urinary problems, organ injuries and internal scarring. Nonprofit progressive group Public Citizen requested the ban in 2011, and said the “reckless delay” by the FDA contradicted the agency’s claim that “patient safety is our highest priority.”

Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe has been fronted as the next director of National Intelligence, but his confirmation will depend on whether intelligence expert John McLaughlin’s insights are heeded. McLaughlin says Ratcliffe lacks an adequate background for that position, and his hyper-partisan, pro-Trump history is a danger. Others don’t like his opposition to net neutrality.

Blast from the past: in 1957, oceanographer Roger Revelle and chemist Hans Suess warned readers of the journal Tellus that the rapid pace of releasing carbon dioxide and other gases into the air amounted to an alarming experiment with the environment. Those releases increased dramatically as populations grew and more soil was cultivated (releasing releasing more CO2) to feed more people. Revelle’s work led the USDA and the EPA to begin examining the issue in the 1980s; they wanted to determine how much soil carbon was already lost, and how to recapture it. The topic has gained momentum worldwide with scientists and farmers. One such scientist, Rattan Lal, is working on test plots worldwide to determine the best agricultural practices for removing CO2 from the air and getting it back into soil; which, along with other efforts to shrink society’s carbon footprint, has the potential to reverse climate change. Further details are in the 2014 book “The Soil Will Save Us,” by Kristin Ohlson.

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