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:

A U.S. District Court judge in Boston declared the search of electronic devices at border crossings unconstitutional and a violation of the Fourth Amendment, according to Business Insider. Any searches require a warrant based on reasonable suspicion. California is the second state to let cities and counties create public banks. The banks may provide capital at interest rates lower than those offered by commercial banks, the Los Angeles Times reported. North Dakota began public banking in 1919 to dodge predatory lending practices.

Since 2009, euthanasia rates at animal shelters in the nation’s 20 largest cities have dropped 75 percent, The New York Times said. The reasons behind the decrease include more spaying and neutering, higher regard for animals and efforts by shelters to nurture a more adoptable pet, such as housing pets in rooms instead of cages.

After a new outbreak of E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce, Congress has the chance to approve the Expanded Food Safety Investigation Act. According to Consumer Reports, the proposal would allow the FDA to use existing technology to quickly determine a source of contamination. If enacted, uncontaminated food could still be sold. Under the current practice, all sales of a particular food are halted, whether or not each item is contaminated.

What oceans do: They are essential to our oxygen supply, regulate the climate and absorb carbon dioxide. But, according to the U.N’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the oceans have already absorbed 90 percent of the planet’s excess heat, leading to rising water temperatures, dead zones bereft of marine life, and an acceleration of acidity levels that threaten fisheries and entire ecosystems.

Farm-raised salmon can contain PCBs and other environmental toxins at a higher rate than is found in wild salmon, according to Green America.

In South Africa, rapes have reached a crisis point. But, The New York Times reported, a survivor of sexual violence has created an effective training that has cut the number of rapes in half. The program pivots around teaching schoolboys about consent and how to stop attacks. Girls are taught self-defense and how to identify risks. The program’s advocates see it as easily replicated worldwide.

In an effort to raise money for medical bills, a quarter million GoFundMe campaigns are launched every year, according to Public Citizen.

Move over Ukraine. A similar withholding of promised aid by the Trump Administration also occurred with Lebanon, The New York Times reported. The aid suspension prompted two people at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to resign. When the illegitimate blockage gained media attention, the funds were released. The halted aid made Lebanon vulnerable to hazardous influence from Russia and Iran.

Owing to his Republican Party ties, the latest Democratic presidential hopeful, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, is being questioned about his motives. Politico reported that Republican Rudy Giuliani (now under investigation) endorsed Bloomberg’s race for mayor of New York City. Bloomberg has spent millions on Republican congressional campaigns. During the George W. Bush years, he only gave to Republicans. While he does donate to some Democrats, he typically does not donate to politicians who support taxing the rich. He helped the Senate retain a reduce-taxes-on-the-rich Republican majority.

Three senators have introduced the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act for consideration. The act would raise the corporate tax rate by 0.5 percent for companies that pay their executives 50 times more than a typical worker. For companies that pay their CEOs 500 times that of their median workers’ salary, the tax rate would be 5 percent.

Speaking of taxes, FedEx paid no taxes last year, despite showing $4.6 billion in profits, The New York Times reported. FedEx’s founder was among 7,000 corporate lobbyists who fought for corporate tax breaks in 2017. They were rewarded when their tax rate dropped from 35 percent to 21 percent. (The tax rate is 24.2 percent for the bottom half of tax payers. In 1950, the tax rate for the top 400 households was 70 percent.)

Blast from the past: While there has been question as to whether a sitting president can be indicted, arrested, handcuffed, etcetera, history shows that President U.S. Grant was arrested by a black police officer in Washington, D.C., for speeding in his horse-drawn buggy. In an area where a mother and child had been run over by speeding carriages, the officer stopped the president, explained the problem, and encouraged Grant to set a good example.

But it happened again the next evening: same officer, same president. The officer arrested Grant and other speeders and took them to the police station. A trial the next day resulted in no appearance by the president, but it did result in heavy fines following testimony from 32 “ladies of the most refined character.”

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