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:

•The red-berried Brazilian pepper tree, now an invasive pest in the U.S., appears promising as a treatment for MRSA, Scientific Reports says. MRSA infected 80,000 people in 2011, according to Center for Disease Control stats; of those, 11,285 died. For centuries traditional healers from the Amazon have treated infections using the pepper tree plant.

•A recent university poll found 86 percent oppose repealing net neutrality; that strong majority is in favor of all Internet users having equal access to online information.

•Ten U.S. cities now have mobile stroke units, ambulances that cost $1 million, plus another million to operate annually. While the units are pricey, so is long-term care, rehab and lost wages from a stroke. For every minute of a stroke, 1.9 million neurons die, as do 7.5 million nerve fibers in the brain.

•A Carter Center program reports success helping kids at risk for jihadi recruitment. Preventing Violent Extremism workshops train religious and community leaders in ways to counter propaganda from extremists. The Center says fewer young people are joining extremist movements.

•Is there a couch potato personality? While sedentary habits affect health, they also appear to affect personality, according to a study cited in Scientific American. Of 9,000 people followed for two decades, the less active people were less conscientious, less open, less agreeable and less extrovert. The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

•Monopoly threat? In 1983 some 50 corporations were major players in the news industry. Today it has narrowed to just five, Time reports.

•Worldwide there’s been an 81 percent decline in freshwater fish and amphibians since 1970, says the World Wildlife Federation. Part of the problem has been due to stocking waterways with non-native fish that can devastate native populations and their ecosystem, Scientific American reports. In some locations where stocking fish has stopped, and the non-natives removed, native habitats have rallied.

•Carbon-free cities: Rocky Mountain Institute (founded 1982), a sustainable development organization, now offers The Carbon-Free City Handbook. So far 1,000 paper copies have gone to city leaders interested in climate action, and another 6,500 electronic copies have been downloaded. There is also a Carbon-Free Regions Handbook. The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy says the information in the handbooks helps to move from “general strategies to specific actions.”

•The U.S. was tied with Mexico last year for fourth most deadly country for a journalist to work.

•For dogs, depending on their coat’s thickness, hypothermia is a real risk below 20 degrees F. Signs include: pale skin, strong shivering, lethargy, weakness, a low heart rate and difficulty breathing. Consider helping your dog with a coat, advises online vet columnist Dr. Karen Becker.

•Whether resigning or being fired, President Trump’s first year saw the departure of 25 top Administration officials and Cabinet members. Time recently said that’s more than triple the percentage of Obama, Clinton and both Bush administrations, and double that of Reagan’s administration.

•The U.N. and the Walk Free Foundation estimate that over 40 million people are enslaved — today. A quarter of them are children. Types of enslavement include forced labor, sexual exploitation, mandatory military conscription and agricultural work.

•Blast from the past: the government shutdown in 2013, according to Standard and Poor’s, took approximately $24 billion out of the U.S. economy. At that time Donald Trump told Fox News that the shutdown was a worldwide embarrassment, and that President Obama should be fired for it. Trump explained that “problems start at the top and they have to get solved at the top and the president’s the leader and he’s got to get everyone in a room and he’s gotta lead. And, he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t like doing that, that’s not his strength. And that’s why we have this horrible situation going on in Washington. It’s a very, very bad thing…”

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

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