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:

•Low-fat dairy re-assessed: Nine-year research reported by The Week found that of 130,000 people eating two or more daily servings of full-fat dairy there was 22 percent lower risk of heart disease, 23 percent lower risk of death via cardiovascular disease and a 34 percent lower risk of stroke. A co-author from McMaster University in Ontario advised moderation rather than a massive increase in full-fat dairy. A serving: 8 oz. milk or yogurt, a half ounce of cheese.

•When talking to your dog, it may tilt its head to the side. Why? Dr. Karen S. Becker, in her on-line veterinarian column, says experts suspect dogs are trying to locate key words associated with fun.

•It’s an annoying plant pest in the southern U.S., but the invasive Brazilian peppertree appears to be a powerful healing plant that could neutralize the MRSA infection. In 2011 the methicillin-resistant bacteria killed 11,285 of 80,000 Americans with MRSA, according to the CDC.

•North Dakota is grappling with the impact of tariffs on their soybean crops, of which 99 percent are typically sold to China. But, says the Washington Post, U.S. tariffs have caused China to instead make a “record” soybean purchase from Russia.

•During WWII, NS, the Dutch state railway, coordinated with Nazis to transport 107,000 Jews who ended up at death camps. Of those, only 5,000 survived. They and relatives of victims are now being offered compensation by NS, according to The Week.

•Worldwide, a mysterious “sex recession” is occurring, The Atlantic reports. Reasons include disillusionment with dating choices, distraction by electronics, obesity, online porn, nervousness by males about the #MeToo movement, and young adults who live with their parents, which reduces their relationship options.

•A recent Pew poll shows 65 percent of Americans approve of automatic voter registration for all citizens; 76 percent also approve of a requirement to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

•Concern about Vitamin D toxicosis is behind a recent recall of some dry dog food. The problem was caused by a formulation error. Whole Dog Journal says Vitamin D toxicosis can cause vomiting, appetite loss, thirst, increased urination, drooling, weight loss, abdominal pain, constipation, muscle tremors, seizures, dark tarry feces, depression and renal dysfunction.

•Bi-partisan action in Congress: Co-chairs of the Congressional Reformers Caucus have introduced the Political Accountability and Transparency Act. If approved, it would require identification of top donors and dark money groups in TV and other ads, and also disallow the use of PAC funds for a candidate’s personal use, such as five-star dinners. Another aim of the bill is to ensure that PACs operate independently from a candidate.

•About 1.6 million Venezuelans have abandoned their country since 2015; a United Nations report says another 5,000 leave every day.

•Political chaos in Venezuela is severely impacting family planning. According to a spokesperson for the Turimiquire Foundation (which offers humanitarian services as well as family planning), the country no longer has a middle class. Foundations like Turimiquire are attempting to fill in cavernous health care gaps, but efforts aren’t enough to help with unintended pregnancies, unsafe (illegal) abortions, infanticide, and higher maternal and infant mortality (the latter rose 30 percent in 2016). Many females now seek voluntary sterilization, since birth control currently costs as much as 10 months of minimum wage work.

•Moms’ Clean Air Force lists five currently significant threats to the health of children: attempts to relax EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics standards, thereby affecting children’s brains; the possible appointment of a coal industry lobbyist to head the EPA (use of coal further pushes climate change); unraveling Clean Car standards, which would cause a return to regressive emission standards; threats to safety standards for controlling methane releases (which are worse long-term for the climate) and dismantling of chemical safety regulations, such as for cleaning products and toys.

•Blast from the past: “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” Mahatma Gandhi, spiritual and political activist, 1869-1948.

Lorraine H. Marie is a writer based in Colville, Washington.

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