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:

Hope for cattle flatulence: In the U.S. cattle and other ruminants create 36 percent of the nation’s methane emissions. Methane traps 84 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, greatly accelerating climate change.

According to a report in Mother Jones, research from Australia indicates that cattle fed a two percent diet of seaweed show a 99 percent reduction in methane emissions. California is home to 1.8 million dairy cows, and researchers at the University of California-Davis are exploring how best to acquire seaweed for livestock.

The World Wildlife Fund says seaweed farming for bovines can provide jobs, enhance marine environments and produce a nutritious food for people as well as farm animals. The Atlantic magazine reports that seaweed does not affect the taste of milk.

Between 2004 and 2017, pharmaceutical companies paid $11 billion in penalties for unlawful promotion of their drugs, including off-label drugs, the AARP reports.

Don’t flush the meth: The WEEK reports that police in Tennessee are worried about methamphetamine being flushed down toilets and consumed by alligators, thereby creating hyper-aggressive gators. They also don’t like the idea of drugged-up geese, which hang out at sewage facilities.

Owing to more wealth accumulated at “the top,” only half of those born in the 1980s will out-earn their parents, according to University of California research. Other obstacles to getting ahead include 300 percent more student loan debt, stagnant wages and higher house prices. As The WEEK noted, it is no surprise that Democratic Socialists of America has seen an increase in membership.

New York City voters just approved instant run-off voting, a.k.a. ranked choice voting. The new method removes the prospect of a candidate with less than 50 percent of the vote winning an election, which was how Adolph Hitler attained elected office in Germany.

September saw a 24 percent rise in U.S. farm bankruptcies, according to Bloomberg. The surge was blamed on unfavorable weather and the trade war with China. Estimates indicate that 40 percent of farmers’ profits this year will come from federal subsidies, trade aid, disaster assistance and insurance payments.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to protect the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium mining. Now parks advocates are hoping the Senate will pass the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. The legislation would protect a million acres around the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims. Dangers posed by the mining include soil and waterway contamination, and radioactive sludge.

Insects are disappearing at a rate of 2.5 percent a year, reported Business Insider. The reasons include the loss of habitat, use of pesticides and fertilizers, and climate change. In another century, there may not be any insects, which are essential for the survival of birds, fish and mammal species and plants that rely on pollinators.

California legislators have banned private for-profit prisons, NBC reports. The action came following the discovery of “serious violations” during an unannounced prison investigation.

In federal court, the Trump Administration has been ordered to provide mental health services to families seeking new lives in the U.S., but who were separated from one another under the “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the dean of the School of Law at University of California-Berkeley, the ruling is a recognition that government-inflicted trauma deserves remedy by the government. Estimates are that the government separated 5,500 children from their parents. Many of those parents were deported and their children remain under U.S. “watch,” reported The New York Times.

Legislation recently passed in California will bring an end to the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in late 2020. Chlorpyrifos, used on food crops, has been associated with autism, ADHD, severe and permanent brain damage, and the loss of IQ in children. It has also poisoned farm workers.

Blast from the past: “When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” Said by Alexander Hamilton, U.S. statesman and political leader. He served in President George Washington’s Cabinet and died of a gunshot wound in 1804 after a duel with Aaron Burr.

And another blast: “When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant,” said Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president, 1801 to 1809.

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