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:

•In 2017 the IRS conducted 675,000 fewer audits as compared to seven years ago, which allowed a lapse of $8.3 billion in old debt taxes, according to a joint report by ProPublica and The Atlantic. Fewer audits are caused by budget cuts forced on the IRS. Those who are primarily skating away from IRS debt are corporations and the wealthy.

•There are 12 notably cat-friendly dog breeds; the golden retriever tops the list. The others are the Papillon, pug, beagle, basset hound, Labrador retriever, Japanese Chin, Newfoundland, Pomeranian, Bichon Frise, English bulldog and the Havaness. The American Kennel Club says most dog breeds can do well with cats if they are socialized as puppies and trained to leave the cat alone.

•As many as 44 percent of refugees in the U.S. have survived torture, according to the Center for Victims of Torture. Psychological wounds can include nightmares, anxiety, and depression — all endured while building a new life in a new country. The center offers treatment for post-torture recovery.

•A Yale poll of people across the political spectrum found an overall 81 percent approval rate for the proposed Green New Deal, which would address climate change. More specifically, that’s 92 percent support from Democrats, 88 percent support by Independents and 64 percent support from Republicans.

•Prosecutors in Japan are asking for five-year prison sentences for three former executives from Tokyo Electric Power. Prosecutors claim the three chose not to, but could have ensured safety at the nuclear plant complex when there were massive tsunami warnings. Failure to suspend operation of the plants (over seven years ago) led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, wherein up to 1,600 people died.

•If nothing else, at least move your body, advises the latest federal guidelines on physical activity. While the guidelines urge 75 vigorous minutes (or 150 moderate minutes) a week of aerobic activity, as well as muscle-strengthening via weight lifting or yoga, just 23 percent of Americans do so. So the new guidelines say to “move more and sit less.”

•While formal exercise is going to get you healthier faster, increased movement will correspond with better health, says Michael LaMonte in TIME. LaMonte is a research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at University of Buffalo. He recommends going back to the “old days,” when “movement was a way of life.”

•Seven million Americans live near 131 military sites. Only one of those sites is not contaminated by PFAS, which is linked to risks of cancer, liver damage and fetal health disorders, according to Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

•Speaking of questionable real estate, 22 million Americans live in mobile homes, but for many the land the home is on is rented. Recently a Florida-based land company notified mobile home owners that their mobile home park land rent would rise 40 percent come spring.

•The medical journal Lancet has said climate change will trigger health consequences such as heat stroke and the spread of disease. But action is possible: the Depression-era New Deal is a model for the proposed Green New Deal. Some 37 members of Congress have already signed on. One goal of the Deal is to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 via Americans building a new energy infrastructure with already existing technology.

•Georgetown, Texas, is one of the first U.S. cities to run on 100 percent renewable energy. The mayor called the move a “no brainer” since the transition led to lower costs and lower climate emissions.

•Rethinking unnecessary ultrasounds during pregnancy: a study from Sweden, presented in Epidemiology, compared men born between 1973 and 1978. They found 7,000 had received ultrasonic scans in the womb; 170,000 had not. Of those receiving the scans, 32 percent more than expected were left-handed. A study author noted that it is known amongst neuropsychiatrists that right-handed people can become left-handed by slight damage to the brain.

•While the White House recently blocked a 2.1 percent raise for federal workers, they did approve raises averaging $10,000 a year for the Vice President and for direct political appointees, according to documents from the Office of Personnel Management.

•The American Psychological Association nixed plans to roll back APA rules shielding psychologists from complicity in torture and unethical medical care. The action aims to prevent psychologists from participating in torture and coercive interrogations, according to the Center for Victims of Torture.

•Ten percent of Americans under age 30 regard themselves as Evangelicals. By 2024 Evangelicals may no longer be a significant political force, says the Public Religion Research Institute. Nudging the decline is the emergence of the youth-led Exvangelical movement.

•The world’s second-largest ice sheet, in Greenland, is melting even in winter at a rate that’s the fastest it’s been in 7,000 years, according to a report from the Scottish Association of Marine Science.

•Once said to be unaffordable at $100 a ton, carbon capture from smokestacks or even the air, could cost just $20 a ton by 2025, Scientific American reports. Trapped carbon can be turned into fertilizer, and may be used as raw material for making concrete or plastics.

•One of the steps needed to help ward off the worst of climate change is reforestation of 3.9 million square miles, according to the U.N. climate report. As well, a minimum of 70 percent of electricity needs to come from renewable sources by 2050.

•Lipomas — those fatty lumps on dogs — are non-cancerous and don’t need to be removed, says on-line veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. But they should be monitored for changes in size and shape. And removal is advised if a lipoma interferes with a dog’s mobility or quality of life.

•Why separate refugee families? At the Syrian-Jordan border children have been detained in a dark underground dungeon for weeks, in an effort to get their parents to turn themselves over to authorities. In the case of one 10-year-old girl, reports the Center for Victims of Torture, her father did turn himself in, and was then murdered. She was then allowed to cross the border.

•Sleep better with a to-do list: A Baylor University study of 60 people found those with a to-do list go to sleep nine minutes faster.

•Blast from the past, 1963: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed… One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws… any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., written from an Alabama jail. He would have been 90 on Jan. 15 had he not been assassinated at age 38.

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

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Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

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