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:

Eliminate higher education — that’s an idea first proposed by Tennessee state Sen. Kerry Roberts on his radio program. Roberts argued it would “save America” by eliminating a “liberal breeding ground.” The Associated Press reported that Roberts had been talking about a legislative hearing he attended regarding abortion, and appeared to link higher education with women’s attitudes toward abortions.

Solar breakthrough: Heliogen, a clean energy company, says they’ve created a “solar oven” that can generate temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius, particularly useful for replacing fossil fuels used to make products like cement, glass and steel. The creation uses artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors, and is said to be cheaper than fossil fuels. Manufacture of cement causes a full seven percent of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.

Nuts: raw or roasted? Either way, they’re a good source of minerals, fiber and healthy carbohydrates. Health advocate Dr. Andrew Weil said a few people find they digest roasted nuts better. Whether nuts are roasted, chopped or ground, they become rancid faster than whole nuts, and should be refrigerated.

And for your dog: potentially toxic foods include xylitol, chocolate, grapes and raisins as well as macadamia nuts, cooked bones and processed people foods that are sugary, salty or fatty. Also avoid foods in the onion family, caffeine, alcohol, bread dough and cooked beans, advised veterinarian and online writer Dr. Karen S. Becker. Call 1-888-426-4435 or 1-855-764-7661 if you suffer a pet-poisoning emergency.

On Dec. 5 Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an unconditional extension of New START, which caps deployed offensive strategic nuclear weapons at no more than 1,550 for Russia and the U.S. Derek Johnson, the executive director of Global Zero, an international movement seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons, argued that President Donald J. Trump should accept the offer if he is “serious about addressing the catastrophic threat of nuclear weapons.”

With so many good causes, how to decide who deserves your donation? AARP offered these tips: Check with charitynavigator.org and set an annual budget for donations, so you know when it’s time to say “no.” And never donate over the phone or at the door.

Furthermore, donations are more important with the passage of the 2017 Tax Cut Act. It made itemized donations, especially to smaller nonprofits, less inviting. A decline in tax-deductible, charitable giving has paralleled enactment of the Tax Cut Act, according to the Giving Institution, which studies philanthropy.

President Trump has been raising campaign funds for senators that will serve as jurors at his impeachment trial, Newsweek reports. President George Bush’s ethics chief, Richard Painter, had harsh words for the move: “This is a bribe. Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery… Any senator who accepts cash from [Trump] before the impeachment trial is guilty of accepting a bribe and should go to the slammer.”

Five hundred law professors signed their names to an open letter regarding Trump’s impeachment, noting that the tool is an “essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections.” The law professors stated that whether the president’s actions are regarded as bribery, a high crime, or as a misdemeanor, “or both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.”

In BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, two doctors recently wrote that one of the solutions to climate change is increased access to effective contraceptives. Better birth control access, the authors said, would slow population growth and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, if not more. Annually, there are 99 million unintended pregnancies, and the planet is expected to see the human population jump from today’s 7.7 billion to 10.6 billion by 2100.

The authors recommended more investment in family planning programs, research and development for new contraceptives as well as pursuing a dialogue about overconsumption, overpopulation and “the true ecological limits of the Earth.”

In 2015, Title X funding helped prevent 822,000 unintended pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2010, that amounted to an estimated savings of $7 billion for taxpayers as a result of Title X programs, which the current administration is attempting to dismantle.

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