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:

•California’s firefighters include prisoners who are paid $2 a day, Newsweek reports. The average firefighter earns $74,000 annually. The use of prisoners saves the state up to $100 million. Due to their incarceration records, after their release prisoners are unable to seek employment as firefighters.

•A recent Reuters poll says 70 percent support Medicare for All (52 percent Republicans and 85 percent Democrats), and 60 percent support free college tuition (42 percent Republicans and 79 percent Democrats).

•Using civil asset forfeiture laws intended to cripple drug kingpins, law enforcement took more from people in 2015 than burglars did — $5 billion. According to Peter Kraska, PhD, professor at the School of Justice Studies, the “takings” are often from low-income people who, without an attorney, are forced to accept the loss. A 2018 report, Policing for Profit, says civil asset forfeiture has turned into a state-theft “industry.”

•Wolf “hybrids” in the wild: UCLA research using genetic sampling showed that some Pacific Northwest wolves have genetic markers from both B.C. and S.E. Alaska wolves, as well as those that have migrated west from the nation’s interior. The mix is speculated to boost adaptability to climate change.

•A month after court orders to reunite children separated from their asylum-seeking parents, over 500 kids are still in custody, some being five years or under. Of those, 139 are being held because their parents allegedly waived reunification. But the ACLU says the parents did so under duress and did not understand what they were signing. As well, 343 parents of held children have already been deported.

•The New York Times shared what they called “the most comprehensive look ever at fugitive methane emissions,” wherein scientists reported that methane pollution generated by oil and gas operations is 64 percent higher than prior estimates. Nonetheless, the current administration hopes to cripple the Methane Rule, thereby adding a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.

•A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, former Wall Street mergers and acquisitions banker William Cohen foresees another possible economic collapse. In Vanity Fair he said causes of the last collapse have not been fully addressed, and unwise risks are still being taken with other people’s money.

•A jury in San Francisco has decided unanimously that a man’s cancer (non-Hodgkins lymphoma) was caused by using Roundup, a product the company appeared to know could cause cancer. The man, a school groundskeeper, was awarded $289.2 million. There are some 4000 other plaintiffs with similar cases waiting to go forward. Bayer recently purchased the company that makes Roundup, and insists it is safe. Cities, towns and countries have banned, imposed partial bans on, or voted against re-licensing Roundup.

•A third of the planet’s people now live under authoritarian rule, and many others “are experiencing a decline in democratic freedoms,” TIME magazine reports.

•What the “pros” say about which homes are targets for theft: there is no dog (where there is a dog, size doesn’t matter), no security signs, no night lights or motion-detection lights, the home is isolated or on a dead-end street, trees and bushes obscure views of the home, neighbors are gone during the day, and a bonus: the home is near a handy “escape” route, such as a freeway. Information courtesy of AARP.

•The EPA must ban the use of chlorpyrofos, an agricultural chemical linked to brain damage in children and toxicity for farm workers. That order came recently from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Chlorpyrifos was a chemical developed by Nazi Germany; it was banned from in-home use 20 years ago, but has still been used on apples, oranges, broccoli and other crops.

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

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