Tag Archives: prevention

The water crisis the Trump administration didn’t want you to know about

The government just released a huge study about chemicals. Mazel tov! You made it through the most boring part of this article. Now for the fun stuff: The Trump administration didn’t want you to see the results of this study.

As you go about your daily business, you’re surrounded by compounds called perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS. They’re used in carpeting, food packaging, clothing, pots and pans, and the foam firefighters use to douse flames, to name a few. That’s because PFAS are resistant to heat, water, and oil. They’re incredibly helpful! They’re also toxic.

According to a major study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, the EPA has seriously underestimated how much of this stuff human beings can safely be exposed to. The major takeaway? PFAS have thoroughly contaminated many of the nation’s water sources, and they are associated with cancer, liver damage, fertility issues, and more — even in small doses. The study is the most fleshed-out assessment of information on PFAS to date, and it found that the EPA’s exposure limits should be 10 times lower than they are now.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the study’s findings, here’s the story behind why EPA chief Scott Pruitt and the White House wanted to block its publication in the first place.

White House emails from earlier this year show that the Trump administration was worried the study would cause a “public relations nightmare,” and Pruitt’s aides intervened to block the report. An unnamed White House aide also said, “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful,” according to a report in Politico last month.

In other words, the Trump administration headed off a study that highlighted a major public health crisis because officials didn’t want to deal with the fallout. When members of Congress got vocal about releasing the report, Pruitt decided to hold a summit at EPA headquarters about PFAS in drinking water systems at the end of May.

The saga, already pretty dramatic, started to resemble an episode of House of Cards when an AP reporter was forcibly removed from that summit. The reporter, along with journalists from CNN, Politico, and E&E News, were barred from entering the summit because of limited space, but reporters who were allowed to sit in on the meeting tweeted out pictures of empty chairs in the room.

It seems like Pruitt should have learned by now that doing something like, oh, I don’t know, forcibly ejecting a reporter from a summit, only serves to attract attention to the very thing he’s trying to downplay. Luckily for us, he’s a slow learner. It’s worth highlighting two more notable revelations from the newly published 852-page CDC report.

In studies of rats and mice, researchers found regular exposure to PFAS affected development, body weight, and brain activity. If you’re thinking, “Well, those are just rats!”, keep in mind that the CDC assumes humans are more sensitive to this stuff than other animals when it goes about setting exposure limits.
The CDC only looked at 14 PFAS compounds in its study. There are more than 4,000 kinds of PFAS chemicals out there in the world, and the chemical industry regularly switches between types. So there’s a lot to learn about these pesky and incredibly harmful little compounds.

It’s no wonder the Trump administration wanted to keep this one quiet. A Harvard study from 2016 that analyzed PFAS contamination in drinking water showed that 6 million Americans were drinking water that exceeded the EPA’s limits — and that was using the agency’s old standards. This new study indicates a lot more people are at risk than previously thought.

There’s another reason why White House officials may have hoped this report would fly under the radar. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense reported to Congress that 126 water systems at or nearby military bases in the U.S. were contaminated with PFAS. More than 600 additional sites are at risk of serious contamination, which means the federal government will have to foot a hefty cleanup bill. But if there’s one thing we know about Scott Pruitt, it’s that he hates spending money on the environment.

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The water crisis the Trump administration didn’t want you to know about

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A Cup of Tea for Your Garden: How & Why to Make Compost Tea

Compost tea is an easy, organic way to enhance your soil. It is rich in nutrients and microorganisms vital for plant and soil health. Compost tea is made by soaking composted materials in water, and then using the water in your garden.

There are a few different methods of making compost tea. Each one needs a relatively small amount of organic matter, and only takes a few days, or less, of brewing. Many gardeners find the benefits for their gardens are worth the little extra effort of brewing compost tea.

Benefits of Compost Tea

1. Provides a wide range of nutrients.

Compost tea contains all the water-soluble nutrients from your compost. This means that the richer your compost is, the more nutritious your tea will be.

The nutrients will naturally be more diluted than in straight compost, so there is no danger of harming your plants by over-fertilizing. You can give your plants compost tea regularly for gentle, ongoing nutrition support.

2. Boosts soil microorganisms.

Beneficial fungi, bacteria, nematodes and protozoa all naturally live in a healthy compost pile. Many of these microorganisms will multiply in a compost tea.

Microorganisms are what keep soils, and what grows in them, alive. A small particle of soil can contain thousands of different species of microbes. They break down organic matter, recycle nutrients, maintain soil structure, promote plant growth and control pests.

When you apply the high numbers of microbes typically found in compost tea, it will help the local plants and ecosystem literally from the ground up.

3. Suppresses diseases

Theres increasing evidence that plant diseases can be suppressed by treating plants with compost teas. Teas brewed from all different methods appear to have benefits.

This is most likely due to the enhanced microbial populations. They support plant health, and stronger plants are less disease-prone. Also, the beneficial microorganisms can out-compete and inhibit the harmful species both above and below ground.

What to Put in Your Compost Tea

The most important ingredient is, of course, high-quality compost. Compost made from diverse, healthy organic matter will give you the best compost tea. Well-aged compost is also preferable because the older it is, the more microorganisms it will have. It should have been decomposing for at least a few months.

The particles in your compost should be small and well broken down. This will make the nutrients and microorganisms more easily available to be released into the water.

If you have a worm box, worm castings also make excellent compost tea.

Its best to use well water or rain water if possible. If youre using tap water that contains chlorine, let it sit overnight for the chlorine to dissipate.

Manure isnt ideal for tea because its not as nutritionally well-balanced as a good compost. Research manure tea brewing before attempting it to make sure you dont spread possible manure-borne diseases.

Also, be cautious about adding extra ingredients to your compost tea. Plain compost naturally goes through a period of high temperatures as it decomposes. This will usually kill most pathogens.

But, some compost tea brewers recommend adding ingredients to increase the bacteria diversity in the tea. This is more common in aerated teas, which may add molasses, kelp, humic acid, fish hydrolase or other products.

These additives have not been heat-treated like compost and are shown to potentially increase dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella in compost teas. If youre using additives in your teas, avoid applying them to food crops.

Brewing Methods

One of the most important factors for a healthy compost tea is air. The beneficial microbes need oxygen in the water to reproduce. If you allow a tea to become stagnant, it promotes anaerobic, potentially harmful microbes to take hold.

You can maintain oxygen in your tea by either hand-stirring or installing an electric bubbler. Both methods are described below.

1. Anaerobic

This is the easiest method. You simply need to put some compost in a bucket, add water and let it steep for up to three weeks. Stirring it a couple times a day will help keep it oxygenated.

Any size of bucket or container will work, depending on how much compost tea you need. A good ratio is around one part compost to 3-10 parts water. If you make a more concentrated batch, you can dilute it more as you apply it.

Leaving your tea to steep longer will give the beneficial microorganisms more time to multiply. But dont leave your tea for much longer than three weeks, because it can start to stagnate and kill the beneficial microbes.

CaliKim has a great video that goes over the basics of anaerobic brewing.

2. Aerobic

Anaerobic teas have been brewed for centuries, but aerobic teas are a modern invention. They involve inserting an aeration device into your brewing compost tea, such as an aquarium pump. This will provide much more oxygen than simply stirring an anaerobic tea.

Instead of mixing compost directly into the water, it is suspended in a porous bag. This makes it easier to run a bubbler through the water. The nutrients and microbes will slowly leach out of the compost and into the water. It is only brewed for up to 24 hours.

A ratio of one part compost to 10-50 parts water is recommended, which is less than an anaerobic tea. This means the nutrients will be more dilute as there is less organic matter in the solution.

Its said this increased oxygen will produce more and better microbe populations. Currently, there is limited research to prove whether or not this is true. In fact, anaerobic compost teas are shown to have somewhat better disease controlling effects.

The only way to find out for sure is by experimenting with it in your own yard. If youd like to make your own aerated compost, Fine Gardening has an excellent description of how to set up a home bubbler system.

Many pre-made systems are available commercially if you dont want to make your own. Ask your local garden center if they can recommend one, or find one online.

You can also buy fresh compost tea at many garden centers. These are a good option if you dont have the time or interest in brewing your own.

Pre-packaged compost teas are available as well, although their quality is questionable. Alive and active microorganisms are a vital part of compost tea. These would be difficult to package for any length of time.

Using Your Compost Tea

Compost tea can be applied to any plants, either in the ground or in containers. Use it freely on your vegetables, flowering plants, trees, shrubs or lawn.

Most compost tea wont need dilution, unless you only have a small amount and want to make it go farther.

You can use compost tea as a drench by simply watering your plants with it.

Compost tea can also be applied as a foliar spray. Strain your tea through cheese cloth or a fine sieve first to remove any particles that could clog your sprayer. Adding a couple drops of mild dishwashing liquid will help the tea adhere to leaves better.

Foliar feeding with compost tea is shown to boost a plants immediate uptake of nutrients. Although, it doesnt appear to have any benefit on long-term soil fertility.

Make sure you use your tea as soon as its finished brewing to prevent any pathogen growth. If your compost tea smells bad, this likely means it hasnt gotten enough oxygen. Pour any rancid tea into an unused area of your compost and start a new batch of fresh tea.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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A Cup of Tea for Your Garden: How & Why to Make Compost Tea

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Is Steve Jobs Responsible For the Decline of Shoplifting in Denmark?

Mother Jones

Here’s a loyal reader who knows how to punch my buttons:

Fine. What fresh hell do we have today?

“In Denmark, we are observing a trend toward a much more law-abiding youth,” said Rannva Moller Thomsen, an analyst with the Danish Crime Prevention Council. A recent long-term study funded by the council found that the share of 14-to-15-year olds who confessed to shoplifting at least one time dropped from 46 percent in 1989 to 17 percent in 2016.

….There are numerous possible explanations….But the most surprising explanation may be the simplest one: the Internet. “When young people spend time together in public spaces or meet privately and unwatched, the likelihood of them committing crimes increases,” said Moller Thomsen. “Many young people spend significantly more time online today than they did a few years ago. Overall, they are less social — but also less criminal.”

….In Britain, where youth crime levels have also sharply fallen, government and privately owned initiatives have been praised for creating organized activities that keep kids away from both the streets and from their computers and smartphones.

Right. In Denmark juvenile crime is declining because teens are all hunched over their smartphones instead of hanging around corner shops. In Britain, juvenile crime is down because of innovative programs that pull kids away from their smartphones. So let’s take a look at crime in Denmark. I will give myself a maximum of five minutes to research this. Starting…now.

I’m back. That took longer than I expected. I’m sure there’s better data out there, but here’s what I found after six minutes of googling. The numbers are from Table 8 in Nordic Criminal Statistics 1950–2010:1

I’ve overlaid the shoplifting statistics, and as you can see they pretty much follow the overall crime stats for Denmark. There’s a divergence between 2006-10, when overall crime increased, but the rest of the time both crime and juvenile shoplifting move pretty much in sync. I doubt very much that smartphones are responsible for the decline in murder and rape and fraud and so forth, so I doubt it’s responsible for the decline in juvenile shoplifting either.2

Besides, give me a break. Shoplifting declined by nearly half between 1989-2005, when smartphone penetration was about zero. This whole theory is ridiculous. I really wish everyone would knock it off with the outré just-so stories every time they run across some kind of crime statistic. Seriously, folks, what are the odds that smartphones have put the kibosh on shoplifting?

1Just because I love you all so much, I went ahead and filled in the 2011-16 crime figures from Danmarks Statistik.

2I think everybody knows what I do think is responsible, so I won’t mention it.

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Scott Pruitt vs. Science

Mother Jones

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Outside Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the hall was packed with demonstrators. Some were Standing Rock activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Others were wearing face masks to make a point about Pruitt’s polluter allies. Many environmentalists argue that Pruitt is simply too deep in the pocket of the oil and gas industry to make his EPA anything but a farce when it comes to science.

Inside the hearing, Pruitt at times seemed to bolster that case. Throughout the morning, he hedged on the basic science on a range of issues under the EPA’s purview, faltering even when it came to the most well-established impacts of pollution.

On climate change, Pruitt claimed there’s more scientific controversy than there really is. He acknowledged that global warming is not a “hoax” and that humans have at least some impact on the climate. But, he added, “the ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.” That’s a common line used by Republicans to dodge the tougher question of what policies are needed to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. In reality, there is virtually no debate in the scientific community over manmade climate change, and many of its consequences—from drought, to rising seas, to increased wildfires—are well-established.

Pruitt repeatedly insisted that as head of the EPA, his job would simply be to carry out the intent of Congress and that his “personal opinion is immaterial” when it comes to climate science. What he didn’t mention, however, is that the EPA administrator is mandated by Congress to evaluate the best-available science and implement regulations based on what is needed to protect public health.

Pruitt also seemed unaware of the science surrounding lead poisoning. “That’s something I have not reviewed nor know about,” he said when asked if there was any safe level of lead in the human body. “I would be concerned about any level of lead going into the drinking water. Or obviously human consumption. But I have not looked at the scientific research on that.” (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”)

On other issues, Pruitt appeared to contradict his record as Oklahoma attorney general. Asked about the impact of mercury pollution, Pruitt said mercury is “very dangerous” and that he’s “concerned.” In 2012, however, he signed onto a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s mercury regulations, arguing that “the record does not support EPA’s findings that mercury…poses public health hazards.”

Asked about methane pollution—which often leaks from natural gas sites—Pruitt noted that it is a “more potent” greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. He added that he’s “concerned” about methane, but not “deeply concerned.” As attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA over its efforts to restrict methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure.

Pruitt also told to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that the EPA’s so-called “endangerment finding”—its ruling that that carbon pollution is a danger to public health and is therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act—should continue to be enforced. “Nothing I know of that would cause a review at this point,” he said. As attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA in an effort to overturn the endangerment finding.

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Scott Pruitt vs. Science

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The Obama administration pushed out an environmental rule just in time for Trump to reverse ’em.

That’s according to a Reuters investigation that analyzed blood tests from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 1,100 of those communities have lead levels four times as high as those observed in Flint.

Nationwide, the exposure could be much higher: Data was only available for 21 states, accounting for 61 percent of the U.S. population.

The CDC estimates that 2.5 percent of children across in the United States have at least slightly elevated levels of lead, which can lead to lowered IQs, developmental delays, and learning difficulties, as well as miscarriage and premature birth. The local water supply is frequently the source of lead, but some communities are additionally plagued by industrial waste, lead paint, and lead pipes.

On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump vowed to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — including the lead crisis — but many of his cabinet picks have a history of combating legislation that protect public health.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, sued that very agency for using the Clean Water Act to prosecute waterway polluters. According to Pruitt, the Act threatens the “property rights of the average American.” He didn’t mention their brains.


The Obama administration pushed out an environmental rule just in time for Trump to reverse ’em.

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Planned Parenthood Wins in a Florida Court

Mother Jones

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A federal judge permanently blocked parts of Florida omnibus legislation that aimed to cut off state funding for preventative health services at women’s clinics that also provide abortions, a measure that was perceived to have targeted Planned Parenthood clinics. Another provision in the law that would have vastly increased what providers have described as unnecessary records inspection requirements for abortion clinics was permanently blocked as well.

The ruling comes at a critical time for Florida—Zika is now spreading in Miami Beach and north of Miami, Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a new travel warning that advises pregnant women to avoid the area. So far, there have been 36 confirmed cases.

“We are grateful the court stepped in to stop Rick Scott in his tracks and protect access to health care,” said Lillian Tamayo, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. “If this law had gone into effect, it would have made a bad situation even worse. With the threat of Zika growing by the day, this care is even more critical. It’s time to stop political attacks on women’s basic health care.”

The legislation passed the conservative Legislature with ease back in March, and Scott signed it into law shortly thereafter. The law specifically took aim at Planned Parenthood’s funding in the wake of a smear campaign by anti-abortion activist David Daleiden that alleged Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit. (None of the investigations into Daleiden’s allegations have found the health care provider guilty of any wrongdoing.) In June, US District Judge Robert Hinkle temporarily put provisions in the law on hold after Florida Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged them as unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly—by withholding otherwise-available public funds—conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly,” Hinkle wrote in June when he placed the law on hold.

State and federal law already prohibit the use of federal funds to finance abortion procedures. The Florida law would have cut $500,000 in expected state funding that Planned Parenthood uses to fund health care screenings and a school dropout prevention program. Opponents of the law also criticized its requirements for records inspections at abortion clinics, fearing it would jeopardize patient privacy by making it easy to uncover details about mental health history, abortion care history, and HIV status.

As previously reported in Mother Jones, Scott had promised to allocate $26 million in state funds to deal with the health crisis, part of which would pay for CDC Zika prevention kits that include two kinds of mosquito repellent, tablets that kill mosquitos in water, and condoms. He has also said his office and Florida’s Department of Health were coordinating to go door to door in an effort to educate women in areas of concern about the risks Zika poses. It’s unclear whether any of those plans have been enacted.

The state could still appeal the decision, but because Scott ultimately decided to drop further legal action in this case, allowing for the injunction, it seems unlikely. Scott’s spokeswoman told ABC News that the governor is reviewing the order, and maintained that “Scott is a pro-life governor who believes in the sanctity of life.”

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Planned Parenthood Wins in a Florida Court

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The Devastation of the Opioid Epidemic, in One Chart

Mother Jones

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The opioid epidemic in America is taking its toll on a class of victims who have received relatively little attention in the crisis: babies. The rate of babies born in drug withdrawal has quadrupled over a 15-year stretch, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report looked at the prevalence of babies born between 1999 and 2013 with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), an illness caused by exposure in the womb to addictive drugs, primarily opioids—including heroin, methadone, and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (known by brand names OxyContin and Vicodin, respectively).

NAS isn’t known to have long-lasting effects, but babies going through it can suffer from tremors, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, and fevers. The increasing rates mirror the skyrocketing use of opioids across the country. In 2014, more than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses—a similar number to the fatalities during the HIV epidemic at its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (According to the CDC, NAS can also be caused by non-opioid drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and barbiturates, but opioids are detected in the vast majority of cases.)

Only 28 states currently collect data on NAS, and some of those states have kept figures on the condition only for the past few years. But as the chart below shows, the number of babies born dependent on drugs varies drastically by state, with West Virginia, Vermont, and Maine showing the highest rates. That’s due in part to different use rates of opioids. West Virginia and Maine have some of the highest prescription opioid rates in the country, while Vermont is struggling with a spiraling heroin problem.

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In an attempt to curb the opioid crisis, the CDC released the first national standards for prescribing painkillers this spring. The recommendations, which are not binding, call for doctors to first try ibuprofen or aspirin to treat pain, limit short-term opioid treatment to three days, monitor patients’ drug use with regular urine tests and prescription tracking systems, and advise patients—particularly those who are pregnant—about the addictive effects.

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The Devastation of the Opioid Epidemic, in One Chart

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Congress fails to pass Zika bill, and that’s an ominous sign of things to come

This bites

Congress fails to pass Zika bill, and that’s an ominous sign of things to come

By on Jun 28, 2016Share

The Zika virus epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean threatens to spread throughout much of the United States, causing birth defects and potentially deadly or paralyzing complications, but it looks like Congress isn’t going to do anything about it. With climate change increasing the prevalence of mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika, this is a chilling reminder of how political dysfunction may prevent timely responses to climate-related disasters.

The House passed a $1.1 billion bill to fight Zika last week, and on Tuesday, the Senate voted 52 to 48 in favor of the same measure. But it now takes 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate, thanks to rampant filibuster abuse, so 52 votes is not enough.

Strangely, Senate Democrats were the ones who voted the bill down. They had valid reasons. House and Senate Republicans stuffed the bill with a conservative wish list unconnected to Zika. “The package loosens Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on pesticides and strikes a measure that would have banned display of the Confederate Battle Flag at cemeteries run by the Department of Veterans affairs,” The Washington Post reports. The bill also excludes Planned Parenthood from its funding, even though the Zika crisis directly involves women’s reproductive health. And it pulls funding away from the Affordable Care Act.

So Democrats felt compelled to vote against the Zika funding bill rather than expose Americans to more dangerous chemicals, snub Planned Parenthood, and endorse racist, treasonous symbolism.

The end result is that we likely won’t have a federal response to Zika this year, though one is clearly needed. “At least four women on the U.S. mainland have given birth to infants with birth defects related to Zika, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring 265 women on the U.S. mainland and an additional 189 with Zika in Puerto Rico,” the Post reports. The CDC estimates that 25 percent of Puerto Ricans could be infected within a year, and 1.1 percent of blood donations on the island currently have the virus present. Puerto Rico is ill-equipped to handle a public health emergency right now as it is struggling with an economic and fiscal crisis.

Democrats have been trying for months to pass an emergency-funding bill that would provide for a robust response to Zika. In February, the Obama administration requested nearly $1.9 billion to bolster prevention measures such as mosquito control in states and territories facing Zika outbreaks and to invest in federal research and detection. For three months, Congress did nothing. In May, the Senate passed a $1.1 billion bill and House Republicans countered with a bill that would cover less than half of Obama’s request. Both included spending cuts to other public health programs. Unable to reconcile the House and Senate bills, Congress adjourned for a Memorial Day recess.

Now they have finally made a deal, but it’s one that Senate Democrats can’t accept. This is typical of congressional Republicans, who suffer from a pathological need to politicize everything. From Hurricane Katrina to Superstorm Sandy, Republicans have tried to capitalize on nearly every crisis by making funding contingent on passing unrelated measures to advance their preexisting agenda: stripping away labor protections, eliminating environmental regulations, undermining Obamacare, or just cutting domestic spending. They also have fetishized the idea of paying for emergency-spending bills with cuts to unrelated spending, though they never feel the need to pay for tax cuts with spending cuts. They seem to think fighting deadly disease is less important than showering money on the rich.

This congressional deadlock is an ominous sign for a future that will feature more outbreaks like Zika and other disasters like floods, heat waves, and wildfires.


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This Genius Lawyer Is Our Best Hope Against Deadly Food Poisoning

Mother Jones

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Listeria in frozen foods. E. coli at Chipotle. Salmonella-laced pistachios. Practically every week there’s a new tainted food to avoid—and as a result, foodborne illness sickens 1 in 6 Americans, hospitalizes 128,000, and kills 3,000. The problem of bugs in food has stumped government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

But there’s one guy who has arguably won more battles against foodborne illness than anyone. This week’s Bite podcast guest is Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who represents victims of food poisoning.

In a landmark 1993 case, Marler sued Jack in the Box over its infamous E. Coli outbreak—and won. Since then, he’s gone up against dozens of food industry giants: McDonald’s, KFC, Cargill, Taco Bell, Odwalla, and most recently, Chipotle, to name but a few. In addition to his work as a lawyer, Marler also fights for our government to tighten the rules that food suppliers have to follow. He runs the website Food Safety News, and he blogs at marlerblog.com.

We talked to Marler about why he insists on washing his own lettuce, how Chipotle became a victim of its own success, and tips on avoiding contaminated chow.

Also in this episode, Tom tells us how the giant poultry company Perdue is leading the way in ditching antibiotics (and what oregano has to do with it). And Maddie solves the mystery of how food behaves at 32,000 feet (and what sichuan peppercorns have to do with it). Have a listen!

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This Genius Lawyer Is Our Best Hope Against Deadly Food Poisoning

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Teenagers Are Having Fewer Kids—Here’s Why

Mother Jones

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The number of teenage women having children has hit an all-time low, thanks in large part to increased contraceptive access and use among Hispanic and African American teenagers, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For decades, the United States has had higher rates of teen pregnancy than most other developed countries. But recent increases in access to contraception, particularly to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as IUDs and implants, have helped women of all ages reduce the chances of unintended pregnancy. Since 2002, LARC use has increased five-fold, with most of that change being due to greater use of IUDs.

Though the CDC stopped short of completely attributing the drop in teen births to contraceptives like LARCs, according to the report “preliminary data” suggests that the use of evidence-based reproductive health services, including contraceptives, is what has led to the huge drop in childbirth among young women over the last ten years.

The drop was particularly notable among Hispanic and African American teenagers. Birth rates for young Hispanic women fell 51 percent since 2006, and for black teenagers 44 percent. That’s a big deal, because Hispanic and African American teenagers have historically had much higher rates of teen pregnancies than their white counterparts. Ten years ago, the birth rate for Hispanic teens was nearly 80 births per 1,000 women, but the rate for white teens was around 25. Now, the rate for Hispanic women is closer to 40.

Still, even though the number of white teens having children has also decreased, black and Hispanic teens still have twice as many pregnancies as their white peers. According to the report, that’s because social inequalities, like income and education, and employment opportunities, remain low in communities of color and influence rates of teen pregnancy.

“The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Washington Post. “But the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies.”

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Teenagers Are Having Fewer Kids—Here’s Why

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