Stanford Scientists: Switch to Renewables Would Save 7 Million Lives Per Year, Create 24 Million Jobs

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Stanford Scientists: Switch to Renewables Would Save 7 Million Lives Per Year, Create 24 Million Jobs

By Tim Radford     August 25, 2017

Californian scientists said a fossil fuel phase-out is achievable that would contain climate change, deliver energy entirely from wind water and sunlight to 139 nations, and save up to 7 million lives each year.

They said it would also create a net gain of 24 million long-term jobs, all by 2050, and at the same time limit global warming to 1.5°C or less.

The road-map is entirely theoretical, and depends entirely on the political determination within each country to make the switch work. But, the researchers argued, they have provided a guide towards an economic and social shift that could save economies each year around $20 trillion in health and climate costs.

The scientists have provided the calculations for only 139 of the 195 nations that vowed in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to “well below” 2 degrees C because these were the nations for which reliable energy data was publicly available.

But these 139 nations account for perhaps 99 percent of all the carbon dioxide emitted by human combustion of fossil fuels. And the clean-energy answer covers all economic activity—electricity, transport, heating and cooling, industry, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Workable Scenario

“Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Mark Jacobson of Stanford University’s atmosphere and energy program.

“There are other scenarios. We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”

Jacobson and 26 colleagues reported in the journal Joule that their road-maps to a new energy world free of fossil fuels and of nuclear energy can be achieved without the mining, transporting or processing of fuels.

According to their road-maps, 139 nations could be 80 percent complete by 2030 and entirely committed to renewable sources by 2050. Jobs lost in the coal and petroleum industries would be more than compensated for by growth in the renewable sectors, and in the end, there would be more than 24 million new jobs worldwide.

Energy prices would become stable, because fuel would arrive for free: there would be less risk of disruption to energy supplies because sources would be decentralized. And energy efficiency savings that go with electrification overall could reduce “business-as-usual” demand by an estimated 42.5 percent.

Lives Saved

“Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5°C degrees global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the earth’s atmosphere, transitioning eliminates four to seven million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term full-time jobs by these plans,” professor Jacobson said.

“What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits and cost benefits.”

The study is an extension of earlier research by professor Jacobson at Stanford: he has presented a master plan for renewable energy for all 50 U.S. states, and along with other researchers presented detailed arguments for the most efficient use of wind power, and even proposed that as a bonus wind turbines could sap the ferocity of hurricanes.

His is not the only group to calculate that the U.S. could free itself of fossil fuels and their associated costs. Nor is his the only group to make the case that clean power can save money and lives in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But the new study recognizes that global conversion from fossil fuels to sunlight, water and wind power won’t be easy. The European Union, the U.S. and China would cope better because there is greater available space per head of population: small densely-populated states such as Singapore would face greater challenges.

There is also the challenge of political will: President Trump has announced that rather than work with the rest of the world to reduce the risks of climate change, the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, and other researchers have repeatedly pointed out that the Paris accord is itself not enough, and is not being acted upon with sufficient vigor, anywhere.

Nor will the process be without contention. Professor Jacobson has lately been the focus of a bitter academic argument about whether fossil fuels can be entirely phased out without recourse to clean coal, nuclear energy and biofuels.

But the study in Joule excludes nuclear power because of the high costs, the hazards and the problems of disposing of waste. Biofuels and coal in any form also cause pollution.

Costs Slashed

The Stanford team wants to see what could be called a clean break with the past. Space shuttles and rockets have already been powered by hydrogen, aircraft companies are exploring the possibility of electric flight; underground heat storage—to cope with fluctuating demand—would be a viable option, and shared or “district” heating already keeps 60 percent of Denmark warm.

The switch to renewables would require massive investment, but the overall cost would be one fourth of what fossil fuel dependency already costs the world.

“It appears we can achieve the enormous social benefits of a zero-emission energy system at essentially no extra cost,” said Mark Delucchi of the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California Berkeley, a co-author.

“Our findings suggest that the benefits are so great that we should accelerate the transition to wind, water, and solar, as fast as possible, by retiring fossil-fuel systems early wherever we can.”


We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans.


August 24, 2017

We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans. Follow the journey of Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib as they push onwards to the Java Sea down the world’s most polluted river on plastic bottle kayaks.

We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans. Follow the journey of Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib as they push onwards to the Java Sea down the world's most polluted river on plastic bottle kayaks.Read more: via Make A Change World #PlasticBottleCitarum

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Have No More Patience for Trump Supporters


I Have No More Patience for Trump Supporters

Last night in Arizona, Trump came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him.

By Charles P. Pierce         August 23, 2017

At least, old Ted Agnew had the late William Safire writing his stuff for him. “Nattering nabobs of negativism.” “Pusillanimous pussyfooters.” I mean, that’s the top-shelf brand right there. It’s an honor to have such invective thrown in your direction. Ol’ Ted broke new ground in only two areas—taking cheap-ass bribes in the office of the vice president and attacking the media.

Instead, 45 years later, we get this mendacious litany of sixth-grade sneering:

So the — and I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say “a source says” — there is no such thing. But they don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the KKK.


I openly called for unity, healing and love, and they know it because they were all there. So what I did —


So what I did is I thought, I’d take just a second, and I’m really doing this more than anything else, because you know where my heart is, OK?


I’m really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.

And then:

You know why? Because they are very dishonest people. So I said, racism is evil. Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around a table that nobody ever heard of, and they all say what a bad guy I am. But, I mean do you ever see anything — and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. Because they’re putting like seven people all negative on Trump. And they fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord. I guess he was getting a little fed up, and he was probably fighting back a little bit too hard. They said, we’ve better get out of here; we can’t have that.And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold true as Americans. Now let me ask you, can it be any better than that, in all fairness? And you know I mention that, but to the best of my knowledge when there was a big problem, Barack Obama never said it took place because of radical Islamic terrorists, he never said that, right.

And, finally, the full Schickelgruber:

And — and I say it, and you know, we’re all pros. We’re all, like, we have a certain sense. We’re smart people. These are truly dishonest people. And not all of them. Not all of them. You have some very good reporters. You have some very fair journalists. But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, and they’re bad people. And I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that. And I don’t believe they’re going to change, and that’s why I do this. If they would change, I would never say it. The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news…These are sick people. You know the thing I don’t understand? You would think — you would think they’d want to make our country great again, and I honestly believe they don’t. I honestly believe it. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media…

Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I’d like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You’re all suckers. You’re dim and you’re ignorant and you can’t even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella. The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn’t have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too.

A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades. Especially, I guess, people like me who practice the craft of journalism in a country that honors that craft in its most essential founding documents. The President of the United States came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him. You’re on his team, by god.

Are you good people? I keep hearing that you are, but let’s go back to Tuesday night’s transcripts and see what we find:

One vote away. One vote away. We were one vote away. Think of it, seven years the Republicans — and again, you have some great senators, but we were one vote away from repealing it.


But, you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President don’t mention any names. So I won’t. I won’t. No I won’t vote — one vote away, I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn’t’ it? Very presidential. And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who’s weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won’t talk about him.

Right there, in the passive-aggressive fashion of the true moral coward, he made a bobo out of a former POW who currently is undergoing treatment for what is likely a terminal brain cancer. And you chanted and cheered. Do good people chant and cheer a rhetorical assault on a dying man of respect and honor?

I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don’t care why you’re anxious. I don’t care for anybody’s interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don’t want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there’s no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here’s a hint: They hate you, too.) I don’t care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you. Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.

As to the rest, I might have been a little groggy, but I thought I heard him say he was going to shut down the government unless Congress gives him money for his stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to finance. I thought I heard him tell that evil racist gossoon, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to count on a pardon down the line somewhere. And, I swear to god, I thought I heard him call the Democrats in the Congress communists.

Wait. What?

It’s all they’re good at. It’s all they’re good at. That’s all they do. On healthcare, they have 48 Democrats. We got no votes. We got no votes. And it would have been great healthcare. And by the way, would have been great healthcare for Arizona. Would have been great. So the Democrats have no ideas, no policy, no vision for the country other than total socialism and maybe, frankly, a step beyond socialism from what I’m seeing.


Thought so.

(Also, note to all the Purity Police who think people like Joy Reid are “red-baiting” when they mention that Russian ratfcking helped decide the last presidential election. That bit right at the end there? That’s actual red-baiting. Please take notes. I don’t want to have to go over this again.)

It was a deadening, numbing 77 minutes. (If there’s one modern orator he most resembles, it’s Fidel Castro.) The abiding feelings that I took away from this carnival of the Id were twofold: first, that this jefe manqué is on the verge of sending people infinitely better than he is to die in a war he doesn’t understand, and second, and probably most important, this is a president* who is scared to death. He’s frightened of the responsibilities of his office, of the mounting unpopularity of both himself and his policies, and of the hounds baying at the frontiers of his shady past and shadier present. He’s terrified, and he should be. He’s desperately shoring up the bubble that his ovine followers helped him build to insulate him from the truth and from empirical reality.

Come to this house.

Be one of us.

I’m Proud of My Husband for Knelling During the Anthem, but Don’t Make Him a White Savior

The Root

I’m Proud of My Husband for Knelling During the Anthem, but Don’t Make Him a White Savior,fl_progressive,g_center,h_80,q_80,w_80/kwnbevunwdwtruqyjgly.jpg  Erica Harris DeValve     August 23, 2017,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/aurf1sojpzm9aiulnpn6.jpgA group of Cleveland Browns players kneel in a circle in protest during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Aug. 21, 2017. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

On Monday night, I walked into FirstEnergy Stadium having absolutely no clue what was going to happen during the national anthem. When it began, I saw a group of Browns players kneeling and was proud. A few moments later, I noticed that No. 87—my husband, Seth—was among them, and I was even prouder.

That moment reconfirmed a few things that I knew: that the many in-depth conversations about race that Seth and I had—that every interracial couple must have had—resonated and took root with him; that he knew this was bigger than just one-on-one chatting with me over dinner or coffee; and that he gets it, beyond a simple desire to be protective of me as his wife.

While I understand (and am deeply proud) that Seth is the first white NFL player to kneel during a demonstration like this (on Sept. 4, 2016, Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. women’s soccer player, was the first white professional athlete to do so), I would like to push back against some of the attention he’s been getting that portrays him as some sort of white savior to a movement that was started and has been carried on by black football players for about a year now.

I am grateful for the widespread support and praise that Seth is getting for his actions, but I would like to offer a humble reminder that a man—a black man—literally lost his job for taking a knee, week after week, on his own. Colin Kaepernick bravely took a step and began a movement throughout the NFL, and he suffered a ridiculous amount of hate and threats and ultimately lost his life’s work in the sport he loves.

We should not see Seth’s participation as legitimizing this movement. Rather, he chose to be an ally of his black teammates. To center the focus of Monday’s demonstration solely on Seth is to distract from what our real focus should be: listening to the experiences and the voices of the black people who are using their platforms to continue to bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront. Seth, as a white individual, never has and never will truly have to feel the weight and burden of racial discrimination and racial oppression. No white person does or will. But all white people should care and take a stand against its prevalence in this country.

What I hope to see from this is a shift in the conversation to Seth’s black teammates, who realistically have to carry that burden all the time. I am discouraged by this idea that acknowledging and fighting against racism is a distraction that must be stored away in order to be a good football player. I wholeheartedly reject that narrative.

Black players in the NFL cannot just turn their concern on and off in order to be able to focus more on football. White players shouldn’t, either. Racism is a day-to-day reality, and I hope that, instead of holding Seth up on a pedestal, the response will be to do what he did: listen to the voices of the black people in your life, and choose to support them as they seek to make their voices heard.

To the people who are looking at pictures of us and saying, “Oh, well, that makes sense,” I offer a dramatic eye roll. People on Twitter have insinuated that it’s simply my appearance that inspired Seth to kneel with his teammates, or that I must’ve threatened Seth with leaving him or refusing to have sex with him if he didn’t join the demonstration. To even joke in this way is gross. Seth didn’t do what he did simply to obtain a gold star from his wife. His actions on Monday night were not the equivalent of him bringing home a bouquet of flowers after I’ve had a rough day.

In his interview after Monday night’s game, Seth said, “I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me, and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.” I don’t think either of us foresaw that this choice to share about his personal life would become the go-to narrative to explain Seth’s actions in their entirety.

Seth understands how racism systematically oppresses people across this entire nation. He understands that to be complacent about it is not just unacceptable as a “black wife’s” husband; Seth supported his teammates because it was the right thing to do, it was the godly thing to do and it was the responsible thing to do. If I were white, he should have done the same, and I am confident that he would have.

In the last few days, we have seen a lot of the same comments that have been expressed since Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem: people imploring players to stand up because it is disrespectful to the flag, to the country, and to active military and veterans. But what Kaepernick did (and what various NFL players are continuing this season) is something we should see as real patriotism. They are engaging critically with the national anthem and this country’s articulated ideals; they are consciously observing the reality of our country’s current state; and they are using their platforms to publicly hold the country in which they live accountable to the ideals it is supposed to be upholding.

To be complacent that the U.S. strives to be “the land of the free” while so many of its citizens of color are being oppressed for their race is unpatriotic and irresponsible. I applaud those who realize that and do something about it rather than ignore it.

Erica Harris DeValve recently graduated from Princeton University and will begin pursuing her master’s in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary this fall with a focus on the intersection of race and Christianity in the U.S.

Is America Turning Into a Soviet-Style One-Party State?


Is America Turning Into a Soviet-Style One-Party State?

Noah B. Lindell, Newsweek        August 24, 2017 

We are a polarized nation. Every day, every tweet, every new poll result brings more evidence of this fact.

A recent article in the New Yorker even asked whether we are headed for “a second civil war.”

Though another Fort Sumter isn’t likely in the cards, polarization is leeching the life from our democracy. And nowhere is this clearer than in the steady rise of uncontested elections across the country.

In Georgia last November, five of fourteen U.S. House races––and a whopping 81 percent of state legislative races––had only one candidate. The numbers in Massachusetts were not much better: four of nine congressional candidates, and more than three-quarters of state legislative candidates, ran without opposition from the other party.

Over 42 percent of the state legislative seats up for election last year had no major-party competition.

Uncontested races have been on the rise since the 1970s. But the problem has begun to accelerate lately, particularly in state house races. The numbers are even worse in local elections, where candidate name recognition is lower, fewer people vote, and challengers have higher barriers to entry.

All of these uncontested races lead to unaccountable elected officials. It becomes impossible to know if candidates won because the voters like them and their policy views or merely because potential opponents didn’t want to run. at the Brooklyn Museum polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on November 8, 2016. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty

In a number of states, the situation is even worse: unopposed candidates are simply “declared elected” without appearing on the ballot. These states take away people’s very right to vote in uncontested races.

American voters are not simply accepting their lack of options. They have registered their dissent the only way they can: by not voting.

The evidence shows that 13-17 percent more voters cast blank ballots in uncontested races than in contested ones. Sometimes the numbers are much higher. When Jeff Sessions ran unopposed for U.S. Senate in 2014, for instance, 360,000 Alabama voters (or 31 percent) voted for governor but refused to vote for Sessions.

How did we get to this point? There are several factors.

One is partisan gerrymandering, which packs people into districts where the minority party has little chance of winning. With the most recent round of redistricting, the number of uncontested races jumped. On average, 42 percent of state legislators saw no major-party competition from 2012 to 2016—ten points higher than in 2010.

Another factor is our campaign finance system, which favors big donors. Among incumbents’ many advantages is their control over government functions, which attracts large donors who hope to influence them. Without a competing source of funds, potential challengers will not spend months campaigning—especially in lopsided jurisdictions where they do not think they will win.

It is also true that people are sorting themselves into like-minded communities, which contributes to polarization. But self-sorting cannot explain all—or even most—of the recent increase in uncontested races. After all, there was no mass migration between 2010 and 2012 that can account for the sudden surge in unopposed candidacies after the last redistricting.

Natural partisan sorting also cannot explain why so few primary elections are uncontested. In Georgia and Massachusetts, a full 57 percent of state legislative candidates lacked both primary and general election opponents last year.

Nationwide, nearly four out of five incumbents face no primary opposition. It is the structure of our democracy, not the structure of our communities, that is at fault.

Gerrymandering and the campaign finance system are formidable foes. But tackling these problems will not only reduce uncontested races; it will also fix numerous other ills that plague our democracy.

Ending extreme partisan gerrymandering would give people the government they actually voted for, not the one that their legislature picked for them. This could help reverse the trend of uncontested races, but it would also create legislatures that are ideologically closer to the people they serve.

The Supreme Court will hear a watershed case in the next term that could curb the practice of partisan gerrymandering nationwide. Regardless of how the Court rules, however, people can push their state legislators or sponsor initiatives to create nonpartisan, independent redistricting commissions.

We should also consider adopting public financing for all of our campaigns, as most other industrialized nations do. Public financing programs, especially those that provide the full average cost of running a state legislative race, encourage people to contest otherwise uncontested races. They also take on corruption, and can shift power from the wealthy donor class to the average American.

Unless we do something about the toxic combination of uncontested races, partisan gerrymandering, and our campaign finance system, our own election process will push us ever further apart.

Rather than weaponizing our own democracy against ourselves, America should strive together for a less polarized society.

Noah B. Lindell, legal fellow at Campaign Legal Center, has litigated over a dozen election law cases, and has briefed numerous election law cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is the author of One Person, No Votes: Unopposed Candidate Statutes and the State of Election Law, forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review, and Williams-Yulee and the Anomaly of Campaign Finance Law, published in the Yale Law Journal.

‘Open carry’ and open debate don’t mix

Chicago Sun-Times

EDITORIAL: ‘Open carry’ and open debate don’t mix

Sun-Times Editorial Board     August 18, 2017 nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” with body armor and combat weapons evacuate comrades who were pepper-sprayed after the “Unite the Right” rally was declared an unlawful gathering by Virginia State Police August 12, in Charlottesville, Virginia. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Look at the photo accompanying this editorial. Is that a group of people with whom you would want to get into a heated argument?

We’re guessing no. There is something about a semiautomatic rifle that makes for a one-sided debate. Say goodbye to your cherished right to speak your mind.

Is this really what lawmakers and the federal courts had in mind in recent years as they have supported ever more lax “open-carry” and “concealed carry” gun laws?

What we see here is not Americans protecting themselves, as lawmakers likely envisioned, but Americans scaring the bejeebers out of other Americans. We see two constitutional protections — free speech and the right to bear arms — in fundamental conflict, and guns are winning.

The sight of heavily armed white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month was the predictable outcome of the expansive view of gun ownership that the courts and many state legislatures have taken in recent years. Open-carry laws have made it legal for people to carry powerful weapons even at the most contentious public gatherings. Illinois is one of just five states that prohibits people from openly carrying handguns, and it is one of just six states and the District of Columbia to prohibit the open carry of long guns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Even as authorities grow more lax about firearms of all kinds, gun carriers are growing more assertive, showing up at rallies in military-style clothing and body armor and toting big guns. Charlottesville wasn’t the first time people came to a rally armed to the teeth. In June, hundreds of people, many carrying rifles and wearing body armor, showed up at a park in Houston that includes the city zoo, alarming crowds of families with young children.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it no longer would represent white supremacist groups that want to bring loaded guns to their demonstrations. The ACLU believes fervently in free speech, but not in speech dictated only at the barrel of a gun.

When the Founding Fathers drafted the First Amendment, guaranteeing our right to assemble, there was a reason they included the word “peaceably.”

When a photo at the top of the news screams with meaning

Chicago Sun-Times

EDITORIAL: When a photo at the top of the news screams with meaning

Sun-Times Editorial Board      August 22, 2017 Police say these two suspects committed three armed robberies Friday morning, and may have pulled a fourth a short time later in East Chicago. | Hammond Police

What do you see?

All day on Tuesday, a report about two young men suspected of committing three armed robberies in Hammond in less than an hour drew more online readers than any other Sun-Times news story.

You can bet it wasn’t the words that pulled readers in. The news was breaking and details were sketchy.

It was the photo that mattered. It screamed with meaning.

In that photograph, taken by a surveillance camera, here’s what we see:

We see two young men, probably only teenagers, who should be getting ready for school in the fall or working jobs. They are running down a sidewalk in broad daylight with guns, and we wonder where they got the guns. We know it’s easy enough.

We wonder who the young men are pointing their guns at, and we admit we’re grateful it is not us. We wonder if they are running through a neighborhood where people are afraid to step outdoors because of people like them.

We see how one young man grips his gun with two hands, like he’s done this before. Or did he learn it from watching TV? Guns are everywhere on TV. Was he younger when he first held a gun? Did it feel heavier then?

We notice how the other young man keeps his right hand in his pocket. Even as he aims his gun, he projects an unsettling casualness. We wonder how somebody so young can be so apparently disengaged.

We see the hoodies and the clean white gym shoes and the neat haircuts. Take away the guns, and the two young men look like every good kid we have ever known. We can’t pretend they are made of entirely different clay. Too easy.

We see they are African-Americans, and this matters greatly. It is a heavy burden, now as always, to grow up a black man in America. If the gangs and drugs don’t get you, the racist stereotyping might. How can anybody claim otherwise less than two weeks after hundreds of white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia? And after the president of the United States failed to condemn the racists properly?

At what age does a young black child look in the mirror and begin to believe the lies might be true?

We study this photograph and we want to say this:

Young men with guns are the problem, not young black men with guns. Young people of any color who grow up in poor and dangerous neighborhoods, who are left by adults to run the streets, who go to bad schools, who can’t find work, who begin to wonder if they stand a chance, who come to believe they have no future — that’s the problem.

We know nothing specific about the two young men in the photo, not even their names. But whatever their full stories might be — whatever bad breaks they may have caught — they must be taken off the street. People who rob other people at gunpoint can’t walk free.

But we look at this photograph, and we wonder how it ever got to this. Why do we bicker over essential school funding? Why does our nation spend so much on the military and so little on jobs programs? Why do so many politicians favor a tax cut for the rich but oppose a living wage for working people?

The photograph is a Rorschach test. What do you see?

Send letters to:

The Opioid Epidemic’s Biggest Culprit Isn’t Heroin Anymore — It’s Something Deadlier


What Is Fentanyl?

The Opioid Epidemic’s Biggest Culprit Isn’t Heroin Anymore — It’s Something Deadlier

Stephanie Haney         August 22, 2017!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/169/n/43908841/tmp_ghhqdv_897a1e66ddda8df9_Jessica1.jpgPart of a series of images Jessica* created with photographer John Trew to portray the emotions associated with addiction. Photo courtesy of John Trew.

Andrew, an HVAC engineer, looks better than your average 37-year-old, college-educated man from Canton, OH. Clean-shaven, wearing a fitted maroon polo shirt and black dress pants. Athletic. Energetic. Flirtatious.

He sits on the patio of a local restaurant, sipping his cocktail, skimming the menu at the kind of place you take your kids to after soccer practice.

“Yesterday I had one glass of wine, today I had two. Tomorrow, I don’t know,” Andrew says, both hands cupped around a sweaty vodka-soda with lime. “But it’s not heroin.”

But it wasn’t heroin two weeks earlier, either, when the husband and father of three woke up on the floor of his sober-living house to six men shaking him. They told him it took two doses of Narcan, an opioid blocker, to revive him after he overdosed on carfentanil for the sixth time this year.

It wasn’t heroin, because if you ask drug users, people in recovery, medical personnel, and law enforcement, they’ll tell you that drug has all but dried up in the state of Ohio, a state leading the country in fatal opioid overdoses, according to the Center For Disease Control.

If it were heroin, it would’ve been made from morphine, which is derived from naturally occurring opium.!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/165/n/43908841/tmp_tuJVD9_142166ff08955b64_Andrew1.jpgAndrew, 37, looks out from the patio at a restaurant in Canton, OH, on Aug. 18. Photo courtesy Stephanie Haney.

Carfentanil — a synthetic form of fentanyl — is generally used to sedate very large animals, like elephants, and it’s 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It’s the new drug of choice for those manufacturing and selling illicit drugs in the Buckeye State, which was home to a record-setting 4,149 accidental deaths due to fatal overdoses in 2016.

Fentanyl itself is another popular option. The drug is “50 to 100 times more potent” than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Oftentimes, drug users don’t realize they aren’t getting quite what they bargained for until it’s too late.

Andrew noticed the switch about six months ago, when he started “falling out” — or losing consciousness — after doses he had previously considered normal.

“I was shooting up all day, every day,” he said, as he stretched out his arms to show dark bruises where his veins had collapsed under his skin. And then finally, one day, he overdosed.

The casual observer probably would never know that Andrew was battling opioid addiction at this very moment, but the crisis that’s hit America hard doesn’t discriminate.

Drug overdose deaths have now become the leading cause of accidental deaths in the US with 52,404 fatalities in 2015, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine; 33,091 of those deaths, which equates to more than six out of 10, involved an opioid.

And it’s getting worse. While official numbers aren’t in yet, a New York Times preliminary report has the total number of drug overdose deaths for 2016 at more than 59,000, which it described as “the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States.”

Addiction started for Andrew in 2009, when he started taking his mother’s oxycodone, which she had been prescribed after a medical procedure — he says because he “didn’t want her taking all of that.” He also had a longstanding Adderall prescription added to the mix.

His opioid and Adderall abuse went undetected by his wife until the Summer of 2016, when she noticed he was running out of the ADHD drug before the end of the month. After she made a call to his doctor, his prescription was revoked, and Andrew turned to cocaine. The way he tells it, his wife got fed up, took their kids, and left him, and one week later, he was shooting up heroin.

What Can We Do to Stop the Epidemic?

It’s not that uncommon of a story, and it can happen to anybody. President Donald Trump addressed that issue in his press briefing from New Jersey on Aug. 8.

“Nobody is safe from this epidemic that threatens young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural communities,” he said. “Everybody is threatened.”

But what’s debatable is Trump’s view that amping up incarceration is the answer to the problem. In the same briefing, he pledged to increase federal drug prosecutions and implied he’d fight to lengthen sentences for convicted federal drug offenders. This is in stark contrast to the Obama administration approach to dealing with drug users.

Two days later, Trump told reporters in New Jersey, “The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency. We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”

What methods the Trump administration will ultimately employ to combat the epidemic aren’t exactly certain at this time.

What we do know is that his comments about “upping federal prosecutions” were made despite a preliminary report issued on July 31 by his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The report almost exclusively recommended addressing shortcomings in access to treatment for addicts, along with prescription drug reform and stopping the influx of synthetic opioids (like fentanyl and carfentanil) from other countries, like China.

That approach is more in line with what people who are living in the throes of the epidemic think would be helpful.

Incarceration Doesn’t Work For Everyone

One of those people is Tugg Massa, 42, from Akron, OH. He’s a recovering addict and founder of Akron Say No to Dope, a nonprofit organization that serves Summit County, where as many as 250 people died last year from drug overdoses. Those deaths were largely attributed to the introduction of carfentanil in the area in June and July of 2016, according to

Both fentanyl and carfentanil are a whole lot cheaper on the street than morphine and heroin, he explained, which is why they’re being cut with anything and everything people use to get high — usually unbeknownst to the drug user.

“It’s not like it was when I was growing up,” Tugg said. “Not to glorify drug use of any kind, but it’s a lot more dangerous now. It’s not heroin. Heroin won’t even get the people out there using drugs high anymore because this fentanyl and carfentanil are so strong.”

He knows what he’s talking about, as someone who used drugs for 27 years. Tugg’s been sober since Oct. 10, 2012, the day he was arrested for illegal manufacturing of methamphetamines.!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/171/n/43908841/tmp_wLah64_e0a9bf31fee81da0_TuggMassa_2.JPGTugg Massa, 42, checks the call log for Akron Say No to Dope’s 24/7 helpline from his organization’s thrift store and boutique in Akron, OH, on Aug. 14. Photo courtesy Stephanie Haney.

When Tugg got caught, he was making meth to support his own opioid habit. He spent two years in prison for that charge, where, despite his surroundings, he got clean and earned his GED.

“It was difficult,” he said of his time there. “There’s a lot of drugs in prison. I had a drug dealer on one side of my cell and a drug dealer in the other cell next to me.”

Although he successfully overcame his addiction while incarcerated, he feels strongly that being locked up is not for everyone. Instead, Tugg is a major advocate for drug court, where people get the option of undergoing treatment in lieu of conviction. That means if they make it through a 12-month program, their convictions are dropped.

Treatment Is Crucial — When the Timing Is Right

Sheriff Steve Leahy of Clermont County, OH, generally agrees with Tugg about the need for more access to treatment, but also says it needs to be worked hand in hand with the judicial system.

“You can’t throw everybody’s ass in jail,” he said. “But what you also can’t do is hug your way out of it.”

Sheriff Leahy speaks from experience as both a member of law enforcement and someone who has witnessed firsthand a loved one’s battle against opioid addiction. His ex-wife’s struggles gave him valuable insight into what might work in his community.

He points out that some people simply aren’t responsive to treatment, possibly because they’re not ready for it at that point in their addiction.

“I think there are just some people who do need to be in jail or incarcerated. Maybe because they’re selling as a pusher or they are committing crimes and burglaries and other felonies,” he said. “You have to protect the community at large. Also, with the same breath, sometimes the only way to protect an individual from themselves is by having them locked up until you can get them to a point of treatment.”!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/173/n/43908841/tmp_LQ9f1u_09b5bbcbc73090e4_Jessica4.jpgPart of a series of images Jessica* created with photographer John Trew to portray the emotions associated with addiction. Photo courtesy of John Trew.

Whatever they’re doing in Clermont County seems to be working. The death toll skyrocketed to 94 in 2015, placing Clermont at the top of the state for accidental overdose deaths, according to Leeann Watson, associate director of Clermont County’s Mental Health Recovery Board. That figure was up from 68 in 2014 and 56 in 2013, Watson said, who is also co-chair of the opiate task force. But in 2016, the number dropped slightly to 82 deaths.

One tool that Leahy believes in is his county’s community alternative sentencing program, which people can choose to participate in while they are incarcerated.

The program is administered in a wing of the county jail dedicated exclusively to those who have volunteered for treatment. It’s an opportunity for convicted drug offenders who are ready to tackle sobriety to make the best use of their time.

“You have to have the buy-in of the court system, which includes the probation department and other mental health and addiction specialists,” Leahy said. “It’s kind of a multi-pronged attack.”

Court Programs Can’t Help When Drugs Don’t Show Up on Tests

Andrew, who was placed on probation in January after officers found a needle in his car when he got pulled over for speeding, hasn’t had to face a choice like those convicted in Sheriff Leahy’s jurisdiction yet.

Not after trying out replacement drug therapy with Suboxone and methadone; not after attending treatment facilities in both Mexico and Florida; not after witnessing two people die from opioid overdoses in his own home on two separate occasions. And not even after his own latest overdose.

When his sober-living housemates revived him just two weeks ago, the police were called and he was taken to the hospital.

If he had tested positive for drugs at the hospital, he would’ve been kicked out of the sober-living house and sent to jail for violating probation.

The crazy thing is, his drug test came back negative.

“I’ve been given a lot of grace,” he says.

“Grace” for Andrew, this time, came in the form of a standard urine test that didn’t detect the particular concoction of street opioids that shut his system down.

Yes, you read that right. The standard drug tests administered at many hospitals that treat overdose victims don’t pick up carfentanil and the street versions of fentanyl that are killing people in record numbers.!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/174/n/43908841/tmp_pQcwOi_c6ff6a6847a67aff_Andrew2.JPGEven after six near-death experiences and witnessing two fatal overdoses in his own home from opioid use in the past year, Andrew says he still can’t promise he won’t ever use opioids again. Photo courtesy Stephanie Haney.

“You have to know what you’re looking for,” said Dr. Barry Sample, senior director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics.

Dr. Allison Chambliss, assistant professor of Clinical Pathology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, elaborated, “Fentanyl and carfentanil are structurally distinct from the other major opioids, and so do not get detected up by the routine urine opioid drug screens out there that are designed to pick up morphine, codeine, and heroin.”

Even if you might have an idea what you’re looking for, oftentimes the proper tests simply aren’t run — either because they’re too expensive or the facility where the victim is being treated doesn’t have the proper equipment.

Usually it’s only large reference and specialty toxicology labs that have the tools required to carry out these kinds of tests, even though they could be run on urine or blood samples, just like more general opioid tests, Chambliss said.

In Andrew’s case, the standard test was apparently run, and it came back negative for opioids. He was released from the hospital and was able to go back to the sober-living facility with no probation violation recorded.

Even after that close of a call, where he narrowly escaped losing his liberty — and his life — he admits, “I still can’t promise I’ll never use opioids again. It’s too good.”

“Ready” and “Rock Bottom” Look Different For Everyone

Tugg pointed out that in his ministry of recovering addicts, “They have to come to me. I can’t go chasing people down.”

He shared Sheriff Leahy’s sentiment that drug users have to be ready on their own, which many addicts describe as their “rock bottom” moment. For him, it was a letter from his daughter while he was in prison, asking him, “Who do you think you are?”!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/176/n/43908841/tmp_k8N1Ns_ca4508f9568c656a_Jessica3.jpgPart of a series of images Jessica* created with photographer John Trew to portray the emotions associated with addiction. Photo courtesy of John Trew.

Rock bottom for *Jessica, 26, from Los Angeles looked very different.

Having used drugs since the age of 13, Jessica became addicted to opioids at 16 after trading away cocaine for “tar” and not realizing that it was, in fact, heroin.

At one of her worst moments, she was homeless, on the street, doing whatever was necessary to score drugs. At another, an obsessed partner held her against her will for half a year.

Jessica says her captor forbid her from speaking to anyone else, eating, showering, or even using the bathroom outside of his presence. She finally convinced this man that her going to treatment would be better for their relationship, which is how she escaped that situation.

“When I got to treatment, I had to learn how to form sentences again. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know how to raise my head and look somebody in the eye,” she said. “Even just eating was a big thing. I didn’t know how to do that anymore. I had to learn how to stop asking permission for things, which was really hard. That’s something that I still struggle with today.”

But even being held against her will wasn’t what brought her to the realization that she needed to get clean.

Her epiphany came in 2012 at the age of 21, when she had “everything” in every materialistic sense of the word. She was living with a wealthy man — who supported her $400-a-day heroin habit — in a beautiful home in Southern California. She said it was hitting an emotional bottom that finally did her drug use in over a period of four months when she was trying to overdose every single day.

“It was a feeling of desperation that was something I hadn’t felt before,” she said. “That true desperation of, ‘I have everything in the world, but I am nothing,’ that’s what was different this time than all the other times. I finally realized that I as a person had no self-worth.”

“I would be looking in the mirror at myself, because I was an IV user, and I would shoot in my neck, so I would have to be in front of a mirror. I’d be standing in front of a mirror, looking myself in the eyes as I’m injecting my neck with heroin trying to die,” she said. “Praying that you don’t wake up this time, that is the scariest feeling in the whole world,” she said.

Today, she’s five years sober and has been working for the last two and half years at a sober treatment facility in Texas, which she credits with helping to maintain her sobriety.

The Street View of How to Fight the Opioid Crisis!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/08/20/178/n/43908841/tmp_N7TDyF_612b794489d2ab96_TuggMass_ThriftStoreBetter.jpgSigns advertise free Narcan class outside New Beginnings, the thrift store and boutique Tugg runs in Akron, OH, in support of Akron Say No to Dope. Photo courtesy Stephanie Haney.

It’s unclear exactly what will happen to the wide-scale handling of this epidemic nationwide, if and when the opioid crisis is officially declared a national emergency, but Jessica and the other people we interviewed for this story have a wish list.

Sheriff Leahy, Jessica, and Tugg all agree that more in-house treatment facilities are crucial in this fight.

“When someone is ready to get off of drugs, we need to address that right then,” Tugg said. “We need more beds. No wait time.”

Jessica noted that in addition to more beds, facilities need more time.

“Long-term treatment is what’s working. The 30 day treatment centers are not long enough. You can’t work through all the trauma that you’ve caused to yourself as an addict. Your first week, you’re detoxing. Your second, third week, you might be going to groups and start having emotions again, and your fourth and fifth week, you’re planning your discharge already. So you’ve really only gotten a week of actual treatment,” she said.

“Starting to form new habits takes a long time. You can’t learn that in 30 days, which is why I stayed in treatment for a year and a half,” Jessica said. “A lot of treatment centers are only 30 days, which is why they’re always full because people, they’ll go in, 30 days, get out, relapse, and go back in. The long-term places are getting people and holding them and really turning them back out to be productive members of society.”

From a law enforcement perspective, Leahy would also like to see funds available for “one or two more” directed patrol officers, meaning members of law enforcement that are assigned a specific task for a particular purpose. In his community, that purpose would be to have more of a presence to help stop the flow of drugs across jurisdictional lines.

“And maybe a reinstitution of D.A.R.E. or something similar to that,” Leahy said. “We can do whatever we’re doing now, but we’ve got to get to the young people.”

At the federal level, Trump alluded to the fact that he’s talking with China about “certain forms of man-made drugs that come in” during his press briefing.

That prospect got Tugg excited.

“We need to put sanctions on China. If they’re not going to regulate what they’re sending over here, then there should be sanctions against them,” he said. “The fentanyl and carfentanil that’s going around, they can get it right through the mail from China and get it dropped off right at their house.”

Andrew says he got his last batch of opioids from his housemate, who is connected with one of the major drug cartels in Mexico. He won’t say how it arrived in Ohio.

We asked what advice he would give — after everything he’s experienced — to someone who was considering trying opioids for the first time today.

“I would say, ‘Pull out your phone and look up epitaph, because you’re gonna want to know what that word means,'” he says. “And then tell everyone you love that you love them. And then flip a quarter. Because there’s a 50/50 chance you’re gonna die.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of these sources.

If you or someone you know is in need of drug-related treatment or counseling, you can reach the Substance and Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on its Treatment Referral Routing Service helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

If you’re in the Summit County, OH, area, you can call Akron Say No to Dope’s 24/7 hotline at 855-246-LIVE (5483).

Agriculture a culprit in global warming, says U.S. research

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Agriculture a culprit in global warming, says U.S. research

by Ellen Wulfhorst Thomson Reuters Foundation    August 22, 2017,Jpeg/jpeg_q/70/resize_w/1230

While soil absorbs carbon in organic matter from plants and trees as they decompose, agriculture has helped deplete that carbon accumulation in the ground

NEW YORK, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Agriculture has contributed nearly as much to climate change as deforestation by intensifying global warming, according to U.S. research that has quantified the amount of carbon taken from the soil by farming.

Some 133 billion tons of carbon have been removed from the top two meters of the earth’s soil over the last two centuries by agriculture at a rate that is increasing, said the study in PNAS, a journal published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Global warming is largely due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from such activities as burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees that otherwise would absorb greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

But this research showed the significance of agriculture as a contributing factor as well, said Jonathan Sanderman, a soil scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts and one of the authors of the research.

While soil absorbs carbon in organic matter from plants and trees as they decompose, agriculture has helped deplete that carbon accumulation in the ground, he said.

Widespread harvesting removes carbon from the soil as do tilling methods that can accelerate erosion and decomposition.

“It’s alarming how much carbon has been lost from the soil,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Small changes to the amount of carbon in the soil can have really big consequences for how much carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere.”

Sanderman said the research marked the first time the amount of carbon pulled out of the soil has been spatially quantified.

The 133 billion tons of carbon lost from soil compares to about 140 billion tons lost due to deforestation, he said, mostly since the mid-1800s and the Industrial Revolution.

But the findings show potential for the earth’s soil to mitigate global warming by absorbing more carbon through such practices as better land stewardship, more extensive ground cover to minimize erosion, better diversity of crop rotation and no-till farming, he said.

The world’s nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels that are blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark Paris accord in May, saying it would undermine the U.S. economy and weaken national sovereignty.

Supporters of the accord, including some leading U.S. business figures, said Trump’s move was a blow to international efforts to tackle global warming that would isolate the United States.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

Will Trump Resign? Odds of Trump Quitting Before Impeachment Reach New High

Newsweek Politics

Will Trump Resign? Odds of Trump Quitting Before Impeachment Reach New High

Jason Le Miere, Newsweek        August 21, 2017

Will President Donald Trump jump before he can be pushed? That was the view put forward by Trump’s former ghostwriter last week, after one of the president’s worst weeks on the job. Those looking to make some money off the White House turbulence increasingly agree. The odds of Trump resigning from presidency are shorter than ever.

According to Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, large sums have begun to be placed on Trump calling it quits, taking the odds into evens, the equivalent of 50 percent. While still not as strong as the odds on Trump being impeached, which currently stand at 4/6, or 60 percent, it still represents a significant shift. A similar move was also witnessed at leading British bookmaker Ladbrokes, which took its odds in from 11/10 to evens.

Republicans control both houses of Congress, meaning there is almost no real threat of immediate impeachment. However, in the wake of Trump’s Charlottesville, Virginia, remarks, leading Republicans have begun to speak of the president in more critical terms than at any point since he entered the White House.

The move in the odds occurred after a week of controversy for Trump, beginning with his much-criticized comments about violence in Charlottesville, in which he equated the actions of white nationalists and neo-Nazis to those protesting them. One of the counter-protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car, allegedly driven by one of the marchers at the rally, drove into a crowd.

As the week progressed, multiple business advisory panels had to be shut down after corporate leaders decided they no longer wanted to be associated with a president accused of defending neo-Nazis. The week ended with Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, losing his job.

Amid the controversies, former Vice President Al Gore called on Trump to resign. Meanwhile, Tony Schwartz, who helped Trump write the 1987 book The Art of the Deal, said he “would be amazed if [Trump] survives till end of the year.”

He added: “Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and Congress leave him no choice.” Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington, D.C. on August 20, after a vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey. Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently leading an investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Paddy Power says Schwartz’s insight, coupled with Trump’s various controversies of late, including escalating rhetoric over a potential nuclear war with North Korea, have encouraged people to put their money on Trump walking out on the White House.

“Tony Schwartz spent 18 months with Trump when helping ghost-write his memoir, and while that must have been totally unbearable, it also means he knows The Donald pretty well,” Paddy Power said in a statement Friday. “After an awful week for the president that has seen other issues like North Korea pushed into the shadows, it’s no surprise punters are latching onto the fact Trump might call it a day.”