Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Bits n' pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled Lorraine H. Marie
Contributor | November 1, 2019 11:20 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

Sugar could be more addictive than recreational drugs, according to cardiovascular research scientist James DiNicolantonio, quoted in The Week. He said animal studies have shown most rats on intravenous cocaine will ditch the Schedule II drug in favor of sugar.

A federal appeals court said earlier this month that internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T can be classified as “information services” instead of “telecommunications services,” thereby dodging responsibility to provide open and non-discriminatory access to their networks. This allows them to create fast and slow “lanes.”

The New York Times said while that may sound like the death of internet neutrality, the appeals court ruled that states could create their own net neutrality requirements. So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia are undertaking that process.

It’s okay to sleep with your dog, said online veterinary columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker. Studies indicate close proximity to a dog enhances comfort and security for women, and can diminish PTSD nightmares. For those suffering chronic pain, “co-sleeping” with a dog may also boost relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Dr. Becker said being near one’s dog releases oxytocin, a.k.a. the “love hormone,” which is associated with the benefits of bonding and happiness.

Two U.S. senators are urging U.S. Customs and Border Protection to investigate and ban cocoa imports if they are linked to forced labor. Three major U.S. chocolate companies admit they won’t meet a 2020 deadline to eliminate child labor. This month, it is anticipated some 300,000 tons of candy will be sold (worth about $2.5 billion). Only a small fraction will be “fair trade” chocolate says the Organic Consumers Association.

“Income volatility” during formative earning years can affect the brain, according to a study in the journal Neurology. Subjects ages 23 to 35 were followed for 20 years. MRI brain scans showed smaller brain volume for those who endured two or more significant income drops (25 percent or more), and reduced connectivity between brain parts for those with one or more income drops. An author of the study noted that income volatility is now at a record level.

Americans for Financial Reform says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to create a banking system, using a new currency called Libra, for the “unbanked” and the “underbanked.” But they don’t want to follow bank rules.

Facebook may be unreliable, AFR says, since this year they paid over $5 billion for various violations, such as misleading investors. There are alternatives to address banking problems, AFR points out, such as bringing back banking at post offices.

The new World Nuclear Industry Status Report says alternative energy is now less expensive than nuclear power. Solar costs dropped 88 percent and wind power costs dropped 69 percent while nuclear power costs rose 23 percent.

A sturdier monument to Emmet Till has been erected in Mississippi, where the 14-year-old African American boy was tortured and murdered in 1955. Other monuments had been destroyed. The new one weighs 500 pounds, is made of steel and is coated with bulletproof glass. According to the Emmet Till Memorial Commission, the monument intends to keep alive the significance of the boy’s murder, which increased the focus on the civil rights movement.

FOX News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano shared with viewers that congressional closed-door hearings “are consistent with the rules,” which were last written in 2015 and enacted by a Republican majority. On Oct. 23, in defiance of those rules, more than 30 Republican lawmakers forced their way into a closed-door, fact-gathering presidential impeachment hearing regarding Ukraine.

They delayed the hearing for five hours. They brought electronic devices that are prohibited in the room for national security reasons. The speaker scheduled for an interview, according to Business Insider, was a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Of the intruding lawmakers, 12 had already been granted access, but they said they were protesting the hearing’s secrecy. The contents of the hearings, which members of both parties attended, are to be released once the initial hearings are completed.

Blast from the past: Historically, cities have regarded noon as the time when the sun reached its overhead apex, a.k.a. solar noon. That, of course, meant time was slightly different in the nearest city. So standardization of time resulted in time zones. It may not be “high noon” when your clock strikes 12 p.m.

A century ago efforts were made by farmers to kill Daylight Savings Time, since they could not work early morning hours with dew on the ground. But their concerns were bypassed, Scientific American records show, since it was discovered that the time schedule saved on lighting bills and use of coal, “which we cannot afford to ignore.”

Speaking of time, turn your clocks back one hour on Nov. 3.