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:

Tulane University tested birds in high and low lead areas of New Orleans; those from high lead exposure areas were more aggressive.

A bill introduced to Congress, HR 1756, would stop car insurers from using credit scores to set insurance rates. Opponents say it is “well-intentioned” but flawed. Proponents claim credit scores have nothing to do with one’s driving skills.

At a recent Senate Agricultural Committee hearing a soy and corn farmer introduced the idea of helping farmers and the planet by adopting carbon credits. The concept would reimburse farmers for carbon sequestration practices such as the use of off-season cover crops, Mother Jones reports.

Keeping liberty by force: plans to cancel an annual God and Country Days event in northeast Washington followed international media attention when a recording of another G&C event was revealed. Speakers at the previous event told listeners to prepare for civil war; one encouraged people to buy an AR 15 and lots of ammunition. State Rep. Matt Shea claimed that compromise in the government arena has endangered the nation’s Christianity and “liberty must be kept by force,” The WEEK reports.

Is there a better use? Municipal vehicles in Grand Junction, Colo., are using fuel made from humanure, The Guardian reports. The project, said to be worth $2.8 million, is expected to pay for itself in less than 10 years. It powers dump trucks, buses, street sweepers and garbage trucks.

About 3,000 letters of support for immigrant children held at the Homestead, Fla., prison camp, written by school children were blocked from delivery, the Miami Herald reports. Security guards ignored the 100 people who had hoped to deliver the letters. Members of Congress, as part of their oversight duties, have tried to tour the for-profit prison, but were not allowed to.

In one week ABC News devoted more coverage to the birth of a royal baby than it did to climate crisis in one year, according to Media Matters.

So far the president’s tax bill for playing golf has been over $100 million, reports Huffington Post. That’s 300% more than the previous president’s tally after the same amount of time in office. While final figures are not yet tallied, the Mueller investigation is estimated to cost $34 million, not taking into account various forfeitures, such as Paul Manafort’s estimated $22 million in real estate, according to PolitiFact. The Special Counsel investigation of former President Bill Clinton cost $70 million.

Why do some dogs gain weight more than others? Based on research from New York University’s Langone Medical Center, weight gain may be linked to early-in-life use of antibiotics, says on-line veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. She notes that “massively” overprescribed antibiotics have been common — and that alters gut bacteria. And the gut is where 70% of a pet’s immune system resides. Health for canines can be enhanced with a high-quality pet probiotic.

Connecticut is the seventh state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Early this year three states had already done so.

Chained CPI is back on the drawing board. The plan would result in 250,000 older people and people with disabilities having to pay higher premiums for prescription drugs. And 250,000 would lose their Medicaid (which includes the Affordable Care Act). Also at risk, says Social Security Works, is help for children, pregnant women and seniors who can’t afford Medicare.

Following negotiations between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the latter ordered his negotiation team to be executed. That included his top diplomat, Bloomberg reported.

After reviewing 40 trips made by former EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt and his staff, an EPA report found that $124,000 was spent lavishly on luxury hotels and similar expenses. The 84-page report urged action for preventing fraud, waste and abuse. Pruitt resigned last year; 18 or more federal investigations await his attention.

At a town hall covered by NBC News, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., explained the Special Counsel findings that the President has committed crimes and impeachable offenses. A supporter of the president and Amash shared her perspective: “I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before. I’ve mainly listened to conservative news.”

Blast from the (recent) past: In June 2018, mindful of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the border, Red Hen restaurant co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson asked the White House press secretary to leave. An outpouring of threats and hate, targeting Wilkinson, followed. But there were an equal number of gestures of support, including donations to the restaurant and local organizations like the food bank. The attention has also benefited the area’s hospitality and sales revenues, and the restaurant itself is thriving.

Lorraine H. Marie lives in northeast Washington where she writes and works on soil and forest regeneration of her rural land.

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