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:

• Prices going up? TIME magazine suggests that’s from a 15% tariff rate imposed on $125 billion worth of Chinese imports, orchestrated by the Trump Administration. More tariff increases are expected in October and December. That is calculated to cost American households up to $970 this year.

• When climate changes happened in an area of today’s Utah, about 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, archaeologists discovered that a unique potato helped Native Americans there to survive, High Country News reports. The potato Solanum jamesii, has twice the protein and calcium of today’s grocery store potato (Solanum tuberosum) and three times as much zinc, iron and manganese.

• While the U.S. has no native parrot species, there are tropical escapee species gone wild, in places as far north as New York City and Chicago, The WEEK reports.

• Fifty legal experts recently signed a letter of support for creating a 28th Amendment that would undo the contentious Supreme Court decision that declared money is free speech. Those signing said they had a broad spectrum of political beliefs. There is one bill each in the House and the Senate that would create that amendment, which would “put us back on a strong foundation of free speech for all Americans, not just those with unlimited wealth,” stated Jeff Clements, president of America’s Promise, a non-profit seeking to undo the “money is speech” Court decision.

• Dealing with domestic terrorists is further complicated by funding cuts: Just two years ago Homeland Security had 16 employees and a $21 million budget; now it’s down to eight employees and a budget of $2.6 million, NBC News reports.

• Carbon neutral by 2040: that’s Amazon’s plan, the Los Angeles Times reports.

• In the U.S. transportation accounted for 29% of all emissions in 2017, in particular medium and heavy duty trucks, according to the EPA. Those wanting to make amends for their carbon footprint can purchase carbon offsets. But ProPublica, in a May report, said a review of two decades of forest carbon offset organizations found some accomplish very little. If uncertain how to select an offset organization, consider instead making a donation to your favorite environmental protection group.

• The U.S. military has 883 bases in 183 countries. Russia has 10 bases, with eight of them in former USSR countries, according to the Independent Media Institute.

• Poverty can be a disease, says Sir Michael Marmot, Director of Institute for Health Equity at London’s University College. It’s complex, but reversible: while U.S. poor are rich compared to the poor in other countries, the U.S. poor die sooner. Marmot’s research indicates that, along with lack of resources, the poor also suffer from a “sense of marginalization in society.” That causes feelings of deprivation, which creates stress and declines in health. Add in variations in parenting skills, such as 20% of mothers in a UK study who found no significant need to talk to and cuddle their kids. A U.K. parenting program, which focused on more interaction with offspring, showed children from those low income families performing better academically and behaviorally, helping them later on with employment.

• Archaeologists now enjoy the benefits of LiDAR - Light Detection And Ranging, which uses radar for surveying large areas quickly and accurately. Using LiDAR a Mayan site was found to encompass an unexpected 67 square miles, and would have taken 25 years to survey and excavate. LiDAR drawback: while it’s easier to locate archaeological sites, it’s also easier to loot them, reports American Archaeology. Other LiDAR uses include surveying glacier melt and preventing self-driving cars from crashing

• The EPA has proposed cutting back on rules that reduce methane leaks from oil and gas companies. Methane makes up 10% of all greenhouse gasses. Various members of the fossil fuel industry are objecting to EPA’s rule-cutting plan, saying regulations should instead be tightened, The New York Times reports. Why? The industry says tighter regulations would be good for the country, and for their reputations.

• Green-washing: when electrified travel became popular in Los Angeles, a fossil fuel advocacy group began a campaign to classify natural gas-powered buses as “zero emissions” vehicles. But, says Earthjustice, natural gas does generate carbon dioxide and also emits methane during its production. L.A. has voted to transition to an electric bus fleet by 2030.

Blast from the past: “You don’t have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something.” Zig Ziglar, 1926-2012, American author, salesman and motivational speaker.

And another blast: Electric cars are not so new. The first one is credited to English inventor Robert Anderson, in 1828. Not a typo.

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