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:

•Fix diabetes? Bilio-pancreatic diversion, which shortens the path of food through the intestines, is being explored. Recipients have recovered normal blood sugar levels. Studies and clinical trials are exploring the use of surgery for treating diabetes, according to Scientific American.

•Is your dog sleeping too much? A normal dog sleeps 12-to-14 hours a day — puppies and senior dogs exceed that. Large breeds can sleep more than small breeds. Factors that can interfere with sleep, according to online veterinarian columnist Dr. Karen S. Becker, include inadequate exercise and food sensitivity. She said the typical dog sleeps when it needs to.

•A stunning 80 percent of Yemen’s 25 million war-ravaged people are now dependent on aid for survival. Of those, 12 million are on the brink of famine, with tens of thousands having already died from hunger. The U.N. calls it the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. The International Rescue Committee, in the country since 2012, helped over 800,000 citizens last year. Aid included operating medical centers, providing food vouchers and clean water, and training and paying health workers.

•Low levels of two gut bacteria appear linked to depression, according to a study in Nature Microbiology. The bacteria deficiency observed involves Faecalibacterium and Coprococcus, and possibly Dialister. Study authors say there’s a need to explore if diet plays a role in the gut-mind connection.

•Could there be a link between highly processed foods and cognitive decline? The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $3.9 million grant to University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Population Health to examine the issue.

•There does appear to be a link between toxic and non-toxic bodies and diet. A small study of four families found that, after eating an organic diet, they experienced reductions in malathion, clothianidin and chlorpyrifos in their bodies. And within one week those on an organic diet saw the amount of pesticides in their bodies drop up to 95 percent, according to the study from Universities of California Berkeley and San Francisco, Friends of the Earth and Commonweal.

•An Independent Australian think tank reports it’s too late to “follow a gradual transition to restore a safe climate.” The authors of What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, say it’s way past time to use caution and due diligence for addressing climate change: it now requires “emergency action.” In an op-ed in The Guardian, two of the report’s authors warned that “Either we act with unprecedented speed, or we face a bleak future.”

•That urgency was recently re-emphasized: a new computer simulation study shared in Nature Geoscience showed that, within 100 years, continuation of business-as-usual human-sourced carbon dioxide would cause the disappearance of stratocumulus clouds if CO2 levels reach 1,200 ppm. Those clouds, which currently cover two-thirds of the planet, deflect solar rays and cool the planet. But increases in temperature and CO2 cause cloud cover to decrease. Without the clouds there would be a 14 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise. Currently the monthly CO2 rate is over 410 ppm; 350 ppm is considered “safe.”

•Blast from the past: 50 years ago Alice de Rivera (16), highly skilled in math and science, applied for enrollment at an elite all-boys public school in Manhattan. She was rejected, but found an attorney that regarded the school’s male-only policy a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. When the media asked de Rivera if she would be a disruptive presence at the school, she said, “I intend to be disrupting not with my presence, but with my ideas.” Before the court could decide her case, the Manhattan school voluntarily repealed its male-only policy. But de Rivera’s parents moved and she did not enroll. She is now a medical doctor who serves Somalian refugees. And she runs a charity clinic.

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

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