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.

Speech development

Since children learn speech from their parents, and more children are instead paying attention to smart phones and tablets, children are showing more speech development delays, according to a study from Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto, Canada. For every 30-minute increase of screen time, the study found a 49% higher risk of speech delay.

‘Fixing’ overly-productive wild horses

Animal welfare organizations are pushing Congress for adoption of a fertility control vaccine, starting with a pilot program, according to Humane Activist.

• Update on the Russian nuclear missile accident a month ago: CNN says a U.S. intelligence report states the mishap unfolded during the recovery of a previous nuclear-powered missile, not during a test process. The agreed-upon number of deaths appears to be five, not seven, as speculated. There was no mention of potential health or environmental risks in the U.S. report, CNN noted.

A lightning strike can carry nearly 200 million volts and travel at a third of the speed of light. The strikes kill more than 4,000 people every year. Survivors typically have unusual stories, if they remember the event, according to The Week.

Healthier lifestyles, less dementia

A British study of nearly 200,000 people ages 60 or over found those who ate well and had regular exercise were 32% less likely to be afflicted with dementia, as compared to the rest of those in the study. The group was tracked for eight years, and even those with a genetic pre-disposition for dementia fared better from their healthy choices, The Week reported.

To plant a trillion trees to absorb excessive CO2 in the atmosphere, each inhabitant of the earth would need to plant 142 trees. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology says the trees could be planted where forests have been removed; there’s room for those plantings in an area that is, collectively, the size of the U.S. Such a project is calculated to remove two-thirds of the 330 billion tons of carbon put into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Institute focused on six countries in particular for the plantings: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and U.S.

Pet ID tags

Pet ID tags should be backed up by another ID, suggests on-line veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. Options: digital ID tags, a GPS tracking device, tattoos, and microchips. Since some have drawbacks, carefully consider each: collars can drop off, tattoos can fade, and microchips are infrequently linked to tumors (read Dr. Jean Dodds comments on-line about micro-chipping).

Puerto Rico blackout

Two years after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the territory can still say they’ve experienced the longest power blackout in U.S. history, Earthjustice reports. The conventional power grid, which has relied on coal, oil and methane, is pricey -- twice what’s paid in the U.S. -- as compared to alternative energy. A 2009 University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez study says the territory already has the resources that, if used, could exceed power needs by using clean renewable energy.

WWII veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs says of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, almost a half million are still alive. But 350 die each day.


Two hours a week of nature. According to a study of 20,000 people in England, one out of four people who spend little time in nature have poor health and are not satisfied with life. In contrast, just one out of seven people with adequate nature exposure report the same.

Anti-deficiency Act

There’s a belief that citizens helping improve conditions of detainees at border detention centers would be violating the Anti-deficiency Act. But, Time magazine reports, the Act has an exception “in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”


By 2050, more people are expected to die from drug-resistant diseases than will die from cancer, the Organic Consumers Association reports.

Border update

Update on the southern wall: As of early August there was no evidence of any new wall construction, the Washington Examiner reported. But, at a rate of 1.7 miles per month, 51 miles of fencing has been reinforced or replaced.

Blast from the past

“Morphinism” was the name for morphine-dependency after the drug came into use during the Civil War. Expanding beyond treatment for war-injured veterans, it came into use for a broad variety of diseases and injuries. Morphine addiction alarmed doctors. So Bayer, a German company, introduced an alternative: heroin, which was five times stronger than morphine. At the turn of the 20th Century it could be bought for $1.50 from the Sears, Roebuck catalog.

And another blast

Non-stick Teflon cookware was introduced in 1945, with applications also developed for use in clothing, vehicles and self-cleaning ovens. It is now found in the blood of 99% of Americans, has been linked to severe deformities in babies and other serious health issues. More details are in the new documentary The Devil We Know.

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