Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

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East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

•The sound is alarming, but a dog with reverse sneezing is usually OK. The respiratory issue is rare in cats. Air is pulled in through the nose, and may sound like choking or an asthma attack. It can last up to two minutes, says on-line veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. Causes can include a too-tight collar, leash pulling, environmental irritants and sudden temperature changes. If it becomes chronic or more frequent, consult a vet.

•Lifting a burden for medical students -- New York University School of Medicine says their current and future students will receive free tuition.

•High-speed evolution? Apparently responding to tusk loss due to ivory poaching, 32% of female elephants seem to be adapting by being born without tusks, National Geographic has reported. Typically 4% of female elephants are born without tusks, making them unlikely targets for poaching.

•Over a 20 year span methane emissions are 86 times more potent than CO2 emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Newer analysis reported by Scientific American says methane may actually be 100 times more potent than CO2. Therefore Dr. Robert Howarth of Cornell University says cutting methane emissions now will actually slow the rate of global warming… immediately. How to do so? By ending all new oil and gas extraction. That also means putting an end to the myth of “clean” natural gas. While it burns cleaner than coal, gas and oil, natural gas emits enough methane during production that it can be as bad as coal is for the climate, if not worse, Earthworks Journal reports.

•Old info: for best results stroke needs to be treated within six hours. Now, says the American Stroke Association, stroke treatment can be administered within 24 hours for a good outcome.

•Since many of California’s wild fire victims lost everything, they need more than short-term help. Mother Jones recommends donations be given to organizations that will help for as long as it’s needed, such as: United Way of Northern California, North Valley Community Foundation, Community Foundation Sonoma, and the international disaster relief group Tzu Chi Foundation.

•The baby Jesus in his manger is enclosed by a cage, separated from family and Wise Men at a Boston Parish church. Church leaders told the Boston Globe that they hope the display will trigger discussion about treatment of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, where 100 children are still separated from families. As other church leaders have commented, the Bible wants people to show mercy and welcome those who are homeless and fleeing danger.

•To avoid online crowd-funding scams, a report in THE WEEK recommends sticking to making donations to people you know.

•Trending: Activated charcoal for the stocking. Used in emergency rooms, it also comes in handy at home for addressing gas, diarrhea and removal of toxins. Serious users know to research it before use, since overuse can also remove nutrients.

•Racial discrimination activist Rosanell Eaton died recently at age 97. She defied life-long prejudice in North Carolina, at age 21 when she registered to vote. But white registrants said she could not register unless she recited the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Which she promptly did. Over her life she registered over 4,000 voters, and inspired other activist.

•Recent research reported in TIME says people are sleeping 18 more minutes every weeknight as opposed to the average in 2003. The new weeknight average is eight hours of sleep.

•A “frozen brain” can occur no matter how intelligent one is. In his new book, Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change, author Leonard Mlodinow explains that frozen thoughts are entrenched ideas that are easily accepted as truth, but in reality may warrant new thinking. Why? He cites a 2014 JAMA study that shows a patient can have better results with a younger doctor since those doctors are more open-minded and less inclined to make too-fast determinations. The book offers elastic thinking strategies for gaining a new perspective, including reasons for talking to people you disagree with.

•Wired reports there is now affordable at-home senior care for around $200 a month. Computer avatar programs, which are controlled remotely by a human caregiver, can provide observation and help 24 hours a day.

•Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, has plans for their $10 million tax cut provided courtesy of the Trump Administration. It will be donated to environmental groups, because, as stated by Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario, “our home planet needs it more than we do.”

•Blast from the past: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz

Lorraine H. Marie is a writer based in Colville, Washington.

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