Tag Archives: doctor

These air pollution standards kept people out of the hospital. Trump just rolled them back.

The Trump administration isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of its deregulatory agenda. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would not tighten air quality standards for fine particle pollution, despite warnings from scientists, including former agency staffers, that the current rules were not strict enough and could result in tens of thousands of premature deaths. The agency then finalized a decision on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, determining that it is not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury and other pollutants from power plants despite the fact that utilities have already spent millions of dollars to comply with the standards.

The announcements arrived the same week as a new study that links these two regulations to tangible public health improvements. When these rules, in addition to other air quality regulations, were strengthened under the Obama administration, Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E), a utility in Kentucky, was forced to retire three coal plants and spent almost a billion dollars upgrading another plant to comply with the rules.

The study, published in the journal Nature Energy last week, analyzed public health data in Louisville to see how rates of asthma-related hospitalizations, ER visits, and symptom flare-ups changed in relation to improvements in air quality. Using zip code–level data from the city’s Department of Public Health and Wellness, the researchers found that after one of LG&E’s power plants in Louisville was retired in 2015, and pollution controls were installed on three other coal plants in the area, there were approximately three fewer asthma-related hospitalizations and ER visits per zip code per quarter over the following year across the county’s 35 zip codes. That adds up to nearly 400 avoided doctor visits.

The researchers also analyzed data from a program that tracked inhaler use among 207 residents with the help of digital inhalers, and found that after new pollution controls were added to one of the coal plants in 2016, average inhaler use went down by 17 percent. Among participants who had the highest inhaler usage before the controls were added, average use went down by 32 percent.

In Louisville, as in the rest of the country, the health impacts of air pollution aren’t distributed equally. The study shows a clear concentration of asthma-related hospitalizations and ER visits in the West End of Louisville, a predominantly African American neighborhood, even after the controls were installed. The coal plants are only one part of the picture there — the neighborhood is also home to a cluster of chemical and manufacturing plants dubbed “Rubbertown.”

The city implemented a toxic air reduction program in the early 2000s that was largely successful in reducing emissions from the Rubbertown plants, but the West End still suffers disproportionately from the impact of ongoing pollution. According to a health report published by the city in 2017, inpatient admissions for asthma in west Louisville are more than 10 times that of more affluent neighborhoods to the northeast. Higher cancer death rates and lower life expectancy are also clustered in the western half of the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the reality of these health disparities into the headlines recently, when a preliminary study showed that people who lived near major sources of pollution are more likely to die of the virus, and new data revealed that it is killing black Americans at higher rates than any other demographic. “Communities of color, they’ve always been the sacrifice zones,” said Mustafa Ali, the vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, in a recent Twitter video. “They’ve been the places where we’ve pushed things that nobody else wants.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, acknowledged the structural inequality underlying the numbers during a White House press briefing earlier this month. “When all this is over — it will end, we will get over the coronavirus — but there will still be health disparities which we really do need to address in the African-American community,” he said. The research from Louisville shows that upholding — and strengthening — our air quality standards is one place to start.

Read this article: 

These air pollution standards kept people out of the hospital. Trump just rolled them back.

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, solar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on These air pollution standards kept people out of the hospital. Trump just rolled them back.

Texas scientists want to school Governor Greg Abbott on climate

Subscribe to The Beacon

A group of scientists affiliated with universities throughout Texas has offered to tutor the state’s Governor, Greg Abbott, on climate science.

Abbott, an established climate denier, dances around the subject so effectively that he’s helped introduce the term “future-proofing” into our lexicon. (It’s what he wants to do to prepare for storms like Hurricane Harvey — as opposed to, you know, climate adaptation.) Pressed by a reporter last month about the role of climate change in bringing about disasters like Harvey, he offered a well-worn denier turn of phrase: “I’m not a scientist.”

Okay. We can’t all be scientists. We can’t all be doctors, either. But when your doctor tells you what’s up, do you raise an eyebrow and say, “Well, I’m not sure there’s any way to know if what you’re saying is true.”

In a letter sent to Abbott on Tuesday, 27 Ph.D.s, professors, and researchers request the opportunity to brief their Governor on the science: “We, the undersigned, are climate scientists and experts, and can report to you that climate change is happening, it is primarily caused by humans, and it is having a devastating impact on Texas, including increasing deadly flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey.”

The letter goes on to cite relevant data points from the recent National Climate Assessment, released late last year, and suggests that Texas, as one of the biggest wind-producing states in the nation, can play a key role in reducing emissions and avoiding climate disaster.

To borrow a phrase from the scientists: “The only thing missing is leadership.”


Texas scientists want to school Governor Greg Abbott on climate

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Texas scientists want to school Governor Greg Abbott on climate

Best climate scenario is still too hot for many communities of color

It’s no surprise that the U.N.’s new major climate report has a lot to say about heat. But as average global temperatures continue to rise, certain communities are more at risk of getting burned than others.

Extreme heat already kills more people in the United States than any other weather event, including hurricanes or flooding. And when it strikes, urban low-income and communities of color often pay the highest price.

To paint a picture of how serious this is, we’ll need to get into some numbers. Scientists say that if we want to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we have to stop the world from reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030. This is a hard number to hit, considering we’re currently on track to reach 3.4 Celsius by the end of the century. But even if we succeed, that moderate rate of warming would still lead to 38,000 more heat-related deaths each year compared to rates from the 1960s to 1990s.

Just how much heat mortality rates rise will depend on additional factors, including the vulnerability of specific populations, the built environment, and whether or not people have access to air conditioning. Older people, children, and people with pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable to the heat. It can trigger asthma attacks and other complications as the body struggles to cool itself.

“You have more emergency room visits, more doctor visits, it’s just bad all around,” says Afif El-Hasan, a pediatrician and national spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

El-Hasan, who also serves on the Environmental Justice Advisory Group at the Southern California Air Quality Management District, says some of his low-income patients keep their windows open in lieu of air conditioning, inadvertently increasing their exposure to nearby sources of air pollution. Those pollutants can end up damaging their lungs, making them even more vulnerable to heat waves. The changing climate, coupled with socioeconomic inequities, trigger an avalanche of health risks, El-Hasan says. “Everything just cascades on top of each other and becomes a bigger problem than it might have otherwise been.”

Like real estate, heat vulnerability is very much about location. Not only are neighborhoods that border freeways more polluted, but they’re also actually hotter too. Plants and trees help cool the air, while dark pavement traps heat. As a result, places with more concrete and less green — often low-income, black and brown neighborhoods where there’s been a history of redlining or disinvestment — are several degrees warmer than their typically more affluent neighbors. It’s called the urban heat island effect, and in places like New York City, its consequences are stark. On average, 100 people die each year in the city — half of them African Americans, even though they only make up a quarter of the population.

“It’s becoming unlivable in urban cities,” says Cynthia Herrera, Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community-based organization in Harlem. Over the summer, her organization tracked the number of weather advisories in the hopes of gathering information to help the community adapt to a warming climate. They recorded four heat waves this past summer — a number that’s likely to rise but already feels overwhelming to residents.

“Even if we just stay the same and have four heat waves every summer for the next 10 years we’re not prepared,” she said.

Heat-related deaths are entirely preventable, and there are still ways for communities to adapt — like greening cities and making sure people have places to cool down. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist and deputy director at the National Resources Defence Council, has hope that the U.N. report will be a wake-up call.

“The science about this has to do with everyone,” Knowlton says. “I hope that people start to demand protections for themselves.”

Read this article:  

Best climate scenario is still too hot for many communities of color

Posted in alo, Anchor, Cascade, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, Radius, Thermos, Ultima, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Best climate scenario is still too hot for many communities of color

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

As you might have heard, those of us who live in the Bay Area are breathing air this week that rivals Beijing’s, thanks to the fires raging across Northern California. West Oakland deals with bad air quality all the time, so I reached out to some folks there seeking perspective.

Margaret Gordon, a local grassroots activist, suggested I talk to Eryk Maundu. He’s a techie-turned-urban farmer who takes a data-driven approach to agriculture, and he had an inkling before most of us that something very bad was happening to the Bay Area’s air.

Just last week, he put up some new air quality sensors around his food plots. They registered a huge spike in contamination levels on Sunday night — three times worse than when he had tested the sensors around some friends who smoke. “I never thought I’d see it go higher than that,” he told me.

Your gift to Grist will get matched today. DONATE

Maundu thought he might have to throw the sensors out, until news broke Monday morning of wildfires tearing through Napa and Sonoma counties, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Within the next few days, all of us in the Bay Area could see the same thing Maundu’s sensors were telling him: Our air was unhealthy to breath.

“The numbers are off the charts,” says Walter Wallace with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The big health concern: Particulate matter carried by the smoke sticks to our lungs and can cause breathing and other health problems. “It’s so small that our bodies can’t defend against it.”

Suddenly, everyone in the region is getting double dose of what the air is like in parts of West Oakland, where one of the country’s busiest ports brings in a steady stream of truck traffic, nearby highways ferry tens of thousands of cars every day, and asthma rates are some of the highest in the state. On Thursday, the air quality throughout Oakland was second-worst in the nation behind Napa, where fires raged.

NASA Earth Observatory

More than 20 blazes consumed more than 200,000 acres of land statewide, largely north of the Bay Area, where at last count 31 people have died, close to 500 are missing, and 90,000 have been displaced. The largest of the fires, the so-called Tubbs fire, which is primarily raging in Sonoma County, was just 25-percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fires have destroyed homes and businesses in the region north of San Francisco often called “wine country.” In the Bay Area — which includes Oakland, where I live — we have been told to stay indoors. It’s a tall order in a part of the country where the predictable weather and the natural beauty begs residents to be outside. And our current predicament may continue through this weekend.

Anthony LeRoy Westerling, an environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Merced, says that wildfires are bigger, more frequent, and burn for longer now than they did in the 1980s. You’ll never guess what Westerling concludes is behind this phenomenon: A warmer climate that dries out forests. And more fires means more destruction where they burn and more intolerable air downwind.

The smoke blowing into the Bay Area has prompted a run on 3M N95 Particulate Respirator masks and air purifiers. Many who have the means have taken spontaneous road trips south or east to flee the particulate matter readings hovering around five times normal. Others are reporting headaches and respiratory problems. I suffered from childhood asthma, and spending about 10 minutes outside without a mask, breathing in air that smells like a campfire, made my lungs feel heavy.

All of this sent me to the Ace Hardware on 3rd St and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in West Oakland, where I joined a flow of customers buying N95 masks that sold for $2 a piece (I bought 12). The store has sold tens of thousands of masks in the past few days, struggling to try to keep up with demand.

“Yesterday morning was the big push, and then today has been even bigger,” the store’s general manager, Brian Altwarg, told me on Thursday. “And from what I see on the news, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Florine Mims has lived in the area for nearly 60 years, and she arrived at the Ace around 2 pm on Thursday, riding and then pushing her electric wheelchair after its battery lost its charge. She has a number of health problems, including asthma, and hoped getting a mask would bring her some relief.

“They gave me two,” she says about the N95 masks she carried out of the store. “I’m hoping they’ll help me breathe better.”

Mims, and a significant percentage of West Oakland residents, are the group most at risk over the remaining days if fire containment, a change in wind direction, or rainfall doesn’t help clear out the noxious air, says John Balmes, a medical doctor and environmental health scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

“A week of exposure to this level, it’s going to affect people with preexisting asthma, but it won’t cause their asthma to stay bad,” Balmes says. “They have bad pollution all the time in a lot of the megacities in Asia.”

While the regular air quality readings in West Oakland don’t quite rival those in places like Beijing or New Delhi, its residents are used to living with pollution. The community recently filed a federal civil rights complaint against the port of Oakland and the city for discriminating against the largely black part of town by allowing more development to creep into the area and ignoring pleas to monitor air quality.

For now, though, the experience of breathing in dirty air is a shared burden for people in the Bay Area. And that’s an irony that isn’t lost on those living in West Oakland, like Margaret Gordon.

“This whole thing with the fire was a real equalizer for everybody,” she says.

Source – 

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

Posted in alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, PUR, Sterling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution – Jonathan Eig


The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution

Jonathan Eig

Genre: History

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 13, 2014

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton

A Chicago Tribune "Best Books of 2014" • A Slate "Best Books 2014: Staff Picks" • A St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Best Books of 2014" The fascinating story of one of the most important scientific discoveries of the twentieth century. We know it simply as "the pill," yet its genesis was anything but simple. Jonathan Eig's masterful narrative revolves around four principal characters: the fiery feminist Margaret Sanger, who was a champion of birth control in her campaign for the rights of women but neglected her own children in pursuit of free love; the beautiful Katharine McCormick, who owed her fortune to her wealthy husband, the son of the founder of International Harvester and a schizophrenic; the visionary scientist Gregory Pincus, who was dismissed by Harvard in the 1930s as a result of his experimentation with in vitro fertilization but who, after he was approached by Sanger and McCormick, grew obsessed with the idea of inventing a drug that could stop ovulation; and the telegenic John Rock, a Catholic doctor from Boston who battled his own church to become an enormously effective advocate in the effort to win public approval for the drug that would be marketed by Searle as Enovid. Spanning the years from Sanger’s heady Greenwich Village days in the early twentieth century to trial tests in Puerto Rico in the 1950s to the cusp of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, this is a grand story of radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes. Brilliantly researched and briskly written, The Birth of the Pill is gripping social, cultural, and scientific history.

Originally from – 

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution – Jonathan Eig

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, PUR, Ultima, Uncategorized, W. W. Norton & Company | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution – Jonathan Eig

Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body – Hugh Aldersey-Williams


Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body
Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 3, 2013

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton

“A marvelous, organ-by-organ journey through the body eclectic…Irresistible [and] impressive.” —John J. Ross, Wall Street Journal The human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives. It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey-Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear on this richest of subjects. In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey-Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human: Why are some people left-handed and some blue-eyed? What is the funny bone, anyway? Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver? A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey-Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor’s office and the morgue. But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey-Williams’s reporting. It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history. Aldersey-Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage—Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001: A Space Odyssey—to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X-rays, and more. From Adam’s rib to van Gogh’s ear to Einstein’s brain, Anatomies is a treasure trove of surprising facts and stories and a wonderful embodiment of what Aristotle wrote more than two millennia ago: “The human body is more than the sum of its parts.”

See the original article here:  

Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized, W. W. Norton & Company | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

The High Cost of Health Care Is Stealing Years of Life From Poor Americans

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

According to a new series of studies in The Lancet, the United States risks a “21st century health-poverty trap” if it does not address low-income Americans’ growing inability to access or afford quality health care. The five papers published today in the British medical journal describe how the high cost of health care is intensifying the widening gap between the rich and poor and issue a call for a single-payer health care system.

The studies highlight several alarming trends: America’s richest 1 percent live more than a decade longer on average than the poorest Americans; 40 percent of poor Americans skip going to the doctor because they can’t afford to; the neediest 20 percent of Americans spend almost twice what the richest 20 percent Americans spend on private health insurance; and 1 out of every 10 households facing high medical costs declares bankruptcy, even after the implementation of Obamacare.

“We are witnessing a slow-moving disaster unfolding for the health of lower-income Americans who have spent their working lives in a period of rising income inequalities,” says Dr. Jacob Bor, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Some of the health effects of poverty documented in the studies are staggering. The average life expectancy rates of the poorest 5 percent Americans have not budged since 2001, despite gains by middle and high-income Americans, who can now expect to live an extra two years on average. Instead, entrenched poverty is elevating mortality rates: The wealthiest 1 percent now can expect to live 10 to 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent of Americans.

The Lancet series kicks off with an introduction by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders calling for a single-payer health care system. “Health care is not a commodity. It is a human right,” he writes. “The goal of a health-care system should be to keep people well, not to make stockholders rich. The USA has the most expensive, bureaucratic, wasteful, and ineffective health-care system in the world.”

The studies also conclude that America would benefit from a single-payer health care system. Authors Dr. Adam Gaffney of the Cambridge Health Alliance and Dr. Danny McCormick of Harvard Medical School argue that offering comprehensive health coverage to all Americans would close the current gaps in access to health care: “A single-payer, Medicare-for-all reform—championed by Senator Bernie Sanders during his upstart presidential campaign, as well as by many physicians and the nation’s largest nurses union—would, in our view, best address health-care inequalities.”

View the original here: 

The High Cost of Health Care Is Stealing Years of Life From Poor Americans

Posted in FF, GE, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The High Cost of Health Care Is Stealing Years of Life From Poor Americans

Sass, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Mother Jones

Forty years ago, when Julia Negron was married to a rock star and addicted to heroin, ODs were so common in her household that she kept a paramedic on call. When someone nodded out, he would dispense emergency injections of naloxone, a drug with a reputation for bringing seemingly lifeless bodies back from the dead. Today, the back of Negron’s black SUV is loaded with the drug as she pulls into a Sarasota, Florida, parking lot and pops the trunk. A trickle of people approach to grab doses of the drug, which may one day revive a friend, a spouse, or a child.

Drugs Kill More People Than Cars or Guns

Naloxone, which has been around since 1971, reverses the effects of overdoses from opioids like heroin, OxyContin, and fentanyl. It has saved countless thousands of lives. Between 1996 and 2014, more than 26,000 potentially fatal overdoses were stopped, not by medical professionals, but by users, family members, or strangers who quickly administered a nasal spray or injection of naloxone. Yet it isn’t widely available in many places where the opioid epidemic has hit hardest—like Negron’s backyard.

Negron runs the Suncoast Harm Reduction Project, a scrappy group that’s pushing to make naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, more accessible in Florida. The 68-year-old “former injection drug user cleverly disguised as a nice grandma” oversees a team of about 15 volunteers, mostly stylish suburban moms whose children have struggled with drug use. They give away free naloxone and conduct trainings on how to administer it, using Facebook to announce “pop up” distributions. Negron estimates her group has given out more than 500 naloxone kits, though she doesn’t keep track. “I’m like a Johnny Appleseed who doesn’t remember how many trees he’s planted,” she says in a raspy voice. Over the past three years, her giveaway program has saved 25 lives that she knows about—and likely many more.

Negron lives near Manatee County, which has the highest number of opioid overdoses in Florida. In just three months last year, there were 550 overdoses in the county. The local morgue got so full that it had to transfer bodies to another location. “My life is spent feeling like I’m trying to stop a tornado or stick my finger in a dam,” says Mark Sylvester, a young psychiatrist who was Manatee County’s only addiction doctor until 2015. Sylvester, who also serves as Suncoast’s medical adviser, says he routinely loses three or four patients to overdoses each week.

“And yet I go to a lot of meetings and town halls and it’s like they don’t get it,” says Negron. “It’s an overdose epidemic! Why isn’t naloxone on every corner?” Naloxone is readily available in some places: Billboards throughout Ohio read, “Stop Overdoses. Carry Naloxone.” Baltimore runs a how-to website called DontDie.org. New York state prisons have given out 5,000 kits to inmates and staff members. When San Francisco was hit with a lethal batch of heroin in the fall of 2015, naloxone reversed more than 340 overdoses in four months. But it can be hard to come by in Florida. Only 11 of the state’s 400-plus police departments have officers carrying the drug. Though the state has asked local CVS and Walgreens stores to stock it, many do not. In 2014, there were 644 community programs nationwide that distributed free naloxone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was only one distributor in Florida: Julia Negron.

I Went to a Town Hall Meeting in a County Ravaged by Opioids. What I Saw Broke My Heart.

Before Sylvester joined her group, Negron would only say that “naloxone fairies” supplied her pop-up giveaways. That’s because handing out free naloxone if you’re not a doctor is legally tricky. Under federal law, the drug can only be acquired with a prescription. To get around this, Florida and 43 other states let pharmacists sell the drug without a doctor’s order. Making naloxone available over the counter would require a lengthy review by the Food and Drug Administration. It would also require the cooperation of one of the pharmaceutical companies that make the drug, whose price has shot up more than tenfold in a decade. (Two doses cost about $150.)

Drug-related deaths have skyrocketed

A major reason naloxone is scarce in the Sunshine State is that not everyone sees it as a miracle drug. Critics say naloxone, like needle exchanges, further fuels the opioid epidemic by enabling users to overdose without consequences. “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” wrote Maine Gov. Paul LePage last April as he vetoed a bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense the drug.

Negron and Sylvester don’t buy the argument that stopping overdoses enables users. While some people may be saved by naloxone several times before they seek treatment, Sylvester says, “I can’t treat a dead patient.” Negron adds that the stigma surrounding addiction compounds the problem. Though drugs kill more Americans than cars or guns do, there is no equivalent of Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the parents of OD victims. “When your kid dies of an overdose,” she says, “people don’t show up with casseroles.”

Julia and Chuck Negron Courtesy of Julia Negron

Negron learned about addiction the hard way. At 12, she was put into foster care because of her mother’s barbiturate addiction. She promised herself she would never follow in her mom’s footsteps. But as an 18-year-old in the late ’60s Sunset Strip scene in West Hollywood, California, she started snorting coke and dancing at the Whisky a Go Go. It was there that she met a handsome man with big blue eyes and shaggy hair named John Densmore, the drummer in an up-and-coming band called the Doors. As Jim Morrison and other stars sang “Here Comes the Bride” at her wedding to Densmore, Negron thought to herself, “How could anything possibly go wrong?”

But things went wrong quickly. Negron soon left Densmore and took up with Berry Oakley, the bassist of the Allman Brothers Band. In 1972, while Negron was pregnant with their son, Oakley died in a motorcycle accident. As a single mother in her 20s, Negron started using the drug du jour: heroin.

In 1976, Julia Negron married Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron, a fellow heroin user. The drug worked its way into the couple’s every waking hour. In the mornings, Julia dosed at a glitzy methadone clinic attended by the Hollywood elite, and in the afternoons she injected or snorted heroin with Chuck. They burned through money, taking out multiple mortgages and selling off furniture. Just before Negron gave birth to her second son, the couple snorted heroin in the delivery room. “We had a great marriage because every drug we got was split 50-50,” she later told People. Negron overdosed twice, waking up in a hospital bed feeling like she’d been run over by a fleet of trucks.

Meet the 33-Year-Old Genius Solving Baltimore’s Opioid Crisis

Meanwhile, the people she knew and loved “started dropping like flies.” Morrison died in 1971 from a possible drug overdose, followed by Negron’s mother a year later. “Now that I’m an old broad, I spend a lot of time thinking what it would be like to still have her and be old broads together. We would have worn Golden Girls outfits and hung out,” she says. Quietly, she adds, “That’s gone. No family.” An overdose took her sister in 1984. Her youngest son is in recovery.

Once sober, she split with Chuck and went to school to become a drug counselor. By the mid-2000s, she had become a prominent advocate of “harm reduction,” which emphasizes making illicit drug use safer so users may seek treatment. Three years ago, she moved from Los Angeles to Florida for the low taxes and the weather. Stunned by the lack of drug treatment options, she began the Suncoast Harm Reduction Project. She’s testified in support of opioid-related bills, and she made news last fall when she grilled Sen. Marco Rubio in a town hall meeting about federal funding for opioid treatment and overdose prevention drugs.

For Negron, any concerns about the legality of her operation are trumped by the avoidable overdoses she constantly hears about. “Do you mean to tell me,” she recalls the mother of one overdose victim asking her in disbelief, “that when I heard him making those noises, that if I’d had naloxone, I could have saved him?”

View post:  

Sass, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Posted in alo, Everyone, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Oster, OXO, Safer, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sass, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Republicans Now Considering How to Make a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Complete Wreck

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Our acronym for the day is EHB, which stands for Essential Health Benefits. These are things which every health care plan is required to cover, and Obamacare spells out ten of them:

  1. Doctor visits
  2. Emergency room visits
  3. Hospital visits
  4. Prescription drugs
  5. Pediatric care
  6. Lab services
  7. Preventive care
  8. Maternity care
  9. Mental health care
  10. Rehabilitation services

The Republican health care bill is still having trouble getting enough votes to pass, so Paul Ryan is thinking about placating conservatives by repealing all of these EHBs. This means that a health insurer could literally sell you a policy that didn’t cover doctor visits, hospital visits, ER visits, your children’s health care, or prescription drugs—and still be perfectly legal. Here’s a rough estimate of how much we spend nationally on each of these categories of EHB:

There are many problems with repealing Obamacare’s minimum required benefits, but I’d like to list just three:

Oh come on. This is ridiculous.

Even if the current version of AHCA doesn’t cause a death spiral, it sure would if EHBs got repealed. Insurers would assume that anyone who asks for a policy that covers one of these (former) EHBs is pretty sure they’re going to need it. Naturally they’d price their policies accordingly: Worthless policies would get really cheap, but comprehensive policies would get astronomically expensive. Virtually no one would be able to afford them.

There’s a good chance that repealing the EHBs would not only produce crappier insurance policies, but would also cost the government more money. Think about it. Every year AHCA provides you a tax credit for health insurance. You might as well use it, right? So insurers would all compete to offer policies that cover almost nothing but cost exactly $2,000 or $3,000 or $4,000. Everybody would sign up for one, because it’s free so they might as well. So instead of, say, 10 million people using the tax credits, 30 million would. These policies wouldn’t do squat, but Uncle Sam has to pay for them anyway—and now he’s got to pay for three times as many of them.

This is all pretty straightforward stuff, and it’s hard to believe that Ryan would go down this catastrophic road. Enough’s enough. If I had to guess—and we might well know the answer before I wake up on Thursday—I’d say that Ryan tries to buy off the conservatives by taking maternity benefits off the EHB list and leaving everything else alone. After all, it’s maternity care that really seems to be a burr in the ass of the Freedom Caucus folks.

Why? Because they’re knuckle-draggers. It’s hard to put it any other way. They figure that being pregnant is solely a woman’s responsibility and there’s no reason men should have to help pay for it. Really. I’m not joking. What can you even say to people so terminally dimwitted?


Republicans Now Considering How to Make a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Complete Wreck

Posted in alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Republicans Now Considering How to Make a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Complete Wreck

The Most Popular Theory About What Causes Obesity May Be Very Wrong

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

You’ve heard it over and over again: The obesity crisis, which affects more than a third of US adults and costs the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year, is due to the fact that people eat more calories than they expend. In other words, one of the leading causes of preventable deaths is rooted in gluttony and sloth. If people jogged more and ate fewer Big Macs, they wouldn’t get obese.

What if that idea is just wrong? Gary Taubes thinks it is. Taubes joined us on the most recent episode of Bite to talk about the flaws in this popular idea of how we get fat.

As a journalist and author, Taubes has devoted his career to understanding how what we eat affects our weight. Taubes sees serious flaws in the “energy-balance theory”—that you just have to eat less and move more to stave off the pounds—and thinks that the idea is seriously undermining the fight against obesity. The more nutritionists and doctors promote that theory, he argues, the more they avoid talking about what Taubes sees as a more convincing cause of our public health woes: sugar.

Taubes traces the roots of the energy-balance theory in his new book, The Case Against Sugar. In the 1860s, German scientists invented a calorimeter which measured how many calories a person consumed and then used up. This innovation helped inform the “new” nutrition science of the early 1900s: “You could measure the energy in, you could measure the energy out,” Taubes explains. “Clearly if someone was getting fatter, they were taking in more energy than they expended. From this came this theory that obesity was an energy-balance disorder.”

But in the 1960s, researchers developed radioimmunoassay, allowing them to measure the circulation of hormones in the blood. Scientists could soon establish how hormones regulate the fat we accumulate, and how the food we eat influences those hormones. But at that point, notes Taubes: “The obesity and nutrition community continues to say, ‘look, we know why people get fat: It’s because they take in more calories than they expend.'”

That stubborn theory—Taubes sarcastically deems it “the gift that keeps on giving”—prevails even today. As my colleague Julia Lurie pointed out in this story, junk food companies use this idea in order to peddle sugary foods to kids. In one lesson of Energy Balance 101, a curriculum backed by companies like Hershey and PepsiCo and taught to 28 million students and counting, students learn that going for a bike ride can balance out munching on a chocolate bar.

The problem with this mentality, Taubes and numerous doctors and scientists argue, is that it ignores the way certain ingredients play a unique role in the way our bodies develop fat. Sugar is metabolized differently, and it doesn’t trigger the hormone that tells us when we’re full. Doctor Robert Lustig argues that too much sugar causes metabolic syndrome, a condition linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

So if obesity isn’t an energy-balance disorder, but is rather a metabolic defect, says Taubes, “you have to fix the hormonal thing.” And “the way you start fixing it is you get rid of all the sugar in your diet.”

Taubes realizes all of this is such a bummer to swallow. He’s written a book that’s “the nutritional equivalent of stealing Christmas,” he writes. So I wanted to know, if not sugar, what’s his vice? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out.

Bite is Mother Jones‘ podcast for people who think hard about their food. Listen to all our episodes here, or subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or via RSS.

Read this article: 

The Most Popular Theory About What Causes Obesity May Be Very Wrong

Posted in alo, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Most Popular Theory About What Causes Obesity May Be Very Wrong