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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd

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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind

A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife

Warner Shedd

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 27, 2000

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


In this fascinating book, wildlife expert and enthusiast Warner Shedd refutes popular animal myths like squirrels remembering where they bury nuts, wolves howling at the moon, and oppossums "playing dead." Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation. Offering scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals,  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  will captivate you with fascinating facts and humorous anecdotes about more than thirty North American species– some as familiar as the common toad, and others as elusive as the lynx.  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer.

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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd

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Republicans of Color Who Opposed Trump Find Themselves on the Margins

Mother Jones

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If the presidential election had gone according to expectations, Donald Trump’s loss might have been a win for one group of Republicans. Prominent Republicans of color who had been critical of Trump’s racially divisive campaigning and poor minority outreach efforts were positioned to become powerful voices in the party, working to pull it back onto the path outlined in the 2012 post-election “autopsy” report that called for increasing its appeal to nonwhite constituencies.

But with Trump’s surprise victory, these potential leaders now find themselves standing on the margins, wondering how or even if they should engage with a party whose voters delivered the presidency to a man who often appeared hostile to the concerns of minorities.

“If he governs the way he campaigns, then I will have no part of that,” says Charles Badger, a black GOP political strategist who worked on Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign as director of coalitions, leading its outreach efforts to African Americans, Asian Americans, and issue-based voters. “If that is the future of the Republican Party—if it’s going to be protectionism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and discriminatory acts from voting rights to policing—if that’s what it’s going to be, then I’m having no part of that whatsoever. I’ll just be a man without a party if I have to.”

Trump’s unorthodox presidential campaign disrupted much of the Republican Party, but for Republicans of color, the damage was considerably worse, fully exposing the racism, xenophobia, and bigotry the GOP had once said it would leave in the past. As the general election approached, some nonwhite Republicans became outspoken opponents of the Republican presidential nominee, arguing that he would damage the GOP for years to come.

Badger was among them, criticizing Trump on social media and joining Republicans for Clinton in 2016 (R4C16), a grassroots network urging conservative voters to pick Hillary Clinton over Trump. Even Michael Steele, the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee, couldn’t bring himself to vote for the party’s presidential nominee, announcing at a Mother Jones forum in October that he wouldn’t back Trump.

“I think that Trump’s victory makes addressing the GOP’s approach to race even more stark and important,” Steele says now. “The electorate of this country is changing. The demographic makeup of this country is changing, and the party had better get on the front end of that change and lead it as opposed to following it.” He says Republican critics of Trump must continue to apply pressure if they want to see the president-elect change his tone. But Steele, who led the national party from 2009 to 2011, could find himself with limited influence under the famously vindictive Trump.

Hughey Newsome, a black Republican, attended the 2012 Republican National Convention and was heartened by the party’s outreach to minority voters. This year, he was so disgusted by Trump’s campaign that he voted for a third-party candidate and wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post after the election explaining why he was leaving the party. “I can no longer associate with a party that supported such a man and such an indifferent campaign,” he wrote.

“He isn’t willing to communicate with me, communicate with people that think like me,” Newsome says. He believes the Trump campaign worked to intensify white Americans’ fears of minorities. “Instead of addressing those things and wiping them out of the party, they’ve placated those feelings to make sure those people don’t feel ostracized. In my mind, those feelings need to be ostracized.”

Prominent Latino Republicans feel just as frustrated with the direction of the party. Artemio Muniz, the chairman of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans, criticized Trump’s call to deport large numbers of undocumented immigrants and build a wall on the Mexican border. “During the election period, the rhetoric absolutely was a concern,” he says. Trump’s actions since winning the election have hardly been reassuring. Muniz says that Trump’s decision to include Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—a prominent immigration hardliner—on the presidential transition team has heightened his concerns that the administration will follow through on Trump’s aggressive campaign promises. (On Monday, Kobach was photographed outside of Trump’s New Jersey golf club holding copies of a plan that would broaden the definition of “criminal aliens” during Trump’s first year in office.)

Despite his concerns and his continued opposition to Trump’s position on immigration, Muniz is cautiously optimistic that Congress will be able to keep Trump in line. If Trump moderates his position on deporting undocumented immigrants without criminal records, Muniz would be open to working with him. But Muniz also says that if the Republican Party doesn’t change its stance on immigration soon, it will suffer the electoral consequences of alienating large numbers of Hispanic voters.

Badger doesn’t see any signs that the Trump administration will be more receptive to minority concerns than the Trump campaign.

“My initial reaction to the election result was disbelief,” he says. “Two weeks later, my disbelief hasn’t waned very much.” He was particularly dismayed by Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist. Bannon previously ran Breitbart News, which he proudly described to Mother Jones as “the platform for the alt-right,” the fringe movement dominated by white nationalists.

But Badger also acknowledges that Trump’s rise was facilitated by the Republican Party. “Trump is the GOP’s chickens coming home to roost,” he says. “When you spend 40 to 50 years doing racially coded stuff in your campaigns, Trump is the illegitimate child that’s born of that. He is the logical consequence of a lot of this coded language and dog-whistle stuff.”

Original article – 

Republicans of Color Who Opposed Trump Find Themselves on the Margins

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This Is The Best "Letter To The Editor" You’ll Read All Summer

Mother Jones

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Oh, Britain!

With their accents,

Harry Potters,

and balls (both “foot” and “net“).

Oh, Britain!

With their insane political choices,

badger culls,

and questionable condiments.

Oh, Britain!

Is from where

this funny thing comes.

Have a nice day.

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This Is The Best "Letter To The Editor" You’ll Read All Summer

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Report: Most Sunscreens Are Bad, But These 7 Brands Are the Worst

Mother Jones

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Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer, when our calendars fill up with beach days and we begin the obligatory slopping on of sunscreen.

Whether you’re putting it on yourself or someone else, the importance of sunscreen has been drilled into most of us from an early age. But choosing a bottle to throw in your beach bag can be pretty overwhelming. We have more products to choose from, each with different claims such as “broad spectrum”or “UVB protection.” For ten years, the Environmental Working Group has published a list of the best and worst products for shielding against the sun’s harsh rays. Here are some key takeaways, followed by the 2016 list.

Many products offer poor protection. This year, the group looked at more than 750 products and concluded that nearly 75 percent of them offered poor protection or had ingredients the group found “worrisome.” For example, oxybenzone is a sunscreen additive that the working group says is a hormone disrupter and allergen.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, says it’s a good thing that the number of mineral-only products has doubled since 2007, rising from 17 percent of products to 34 percent in 2016. These sunscreens, which offer protection against both UVA and UVB, generally don’t contain harmful additives.

We are still waiting for those SPF 50+ rules. While we no longer see claims like “sweat proof” and “water proof” on sunscreen (the FDA said they were too far-reaching), the agency’s proposed regulation that would cap SPF numbers at 50+ hasn’t kicked in yet. In 2011, the FDA stated that anything higher than that number is “inherently misleading.” In this year’s report, the Environmental Working Group found that 61 sunscreen products had an SPF higher than 50, as opposed to just 10 products in 2007. (We’ve reported about sunscreen companies’ misleading claims in the past, and my colleague Kiera Butler wrote about some ingredients that may actually speed up the development of skin cancer.)

Spray-on sunscreen may offer less protection. Because spray-on sunscreens evaporate quickly, Lunder said, it’s hard to tell if you’ve covered your whole body.

“We think, ‘I can get it on my kids faster,'” she said. “But that really doesn’t hold up in the real world, there’s evidence that they aren’t using as much and aren’t getting that thickness on their skin.”

The important thing to remember, the group says, is that sunscreen alone won’t do the job, and that we tend to give it more importance than we should. Hats, sunglasses, time in the shade and other essentials are also key for protecting against sun damage.

Here’s is the group’s list of the best and worst sunscreens of 2016:

(In no particular order)

The Best for Adults*

The organization rated sunscreens from 1 to 10 (products with 1’s were excellent and ones with 10’s were the worst). Just over 60 brands received a score of 1 or 2. These were designated “low hazard” for their ingredient list and because they had a good balance of SPF and UVA protection. Find the full list here.

All Good Sunscreen and Sunstick, SPF 30 and 50
All Terrain Aqua and TerraSport Sunscreens, SPF 30
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
Badger Sunscreen Cream and Lotion, SPF 25, 30, and 35
Bare Belly Organics, SPF 34
Beauty Without Cruelty, SPF 30
Kiss My Face Organics Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Nature’s Gate Face Sunscreen, SPF 25
Tropical Sands Sunscreen and Facestick, SPF 30
Releve Organic Skincare, SPF 20
Star Naturals Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25

(*The group did not release a list of the worst sunscreens for adults.)

The Best for Kids

Adorable Baby Sunscreen lotion, SPF 30
All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 33
All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
ATTITUDE Little Ones 100% Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
BabyHampton Beach Bum Sunscreen, SPF 30
COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen, unscented moisturizer, SPF 50.
Belly Button & Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30.
Blue Lizard Austrailian Sunscreen, SPF 35.
BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35
California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30
Goddess Garden Kids Sport Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Jersey Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen, SPF 32
Substance Baby Natural Sun Care Creme, SPF 30
Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50
Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 40
Thinksport for Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50
TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30

The Worst for Kids

On the 1 to 10 scale, the below products scored a 7 or higher (with 10 being the worst) because they made high SPF claims or had higher amounts of the additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100**
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, Wacky Foam, and Sunscreen lotion, SPF 55
CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen and Spray, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray and Stick products, SPF 70
Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

**This was the only product that got a 10.

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Report: Most Sunscreens Are Bad, But These 7 Brands Are the Worst

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"Crash" vs. "Accident" Doesn’t Seem Like It Matters Very Much

Mother Jones

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Emily Badger passes along news of a group trying to get us all to stop talking about traffic “accidents”:

An “accident” is, by definition, unintentional. We accidentally drop dinner plates, or send e-mails before we’re done writing them. The word also suggests something of the unforeseen — an event that couldn’t have been anticipated, for which no one can be blamed. That second connotation is what irks transportation advocates who want to change how we talk about traffic collisions. When one vehicle careens into another or rounds a corner into a pedestrian — call it a “crash,” they say, not an “accident.”

“Our children did not die in ‘accidents,'” says Amy Cohen, a co-founder of the New York-based group Families for Safe Streets. Her 12-year-old son was hit and killed by a van on the street in front of their home in 2013. “An ‘accident,'” she says, “implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths.”

I remember this from my driver’s ed class 40 years ago. Our instructor told us endlessly that they were “collisions,” not accidents. But we’re still talking about accidents 40 years later, so apparently this is a tough habit to break.

And the truth is that I didn’t really get it back then. I still don’t. “Accident” doesn’t imply that something is unforeseeable, or that no one can be blamed, or that nothing could possibly have been done to prevent it. Here’s the definition:

noun. an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap.

“Unintentional” is the key word here. If you drop the dinner dishes, it’s unintentional unless you’re pissed off at your family and deliberately threw the dishes at them. Then it’s not an accident. Ditto for cars. If you deliberately run over someone, it’s not an accident. If it’s not deliberate, it is.

Nearly all “accidents” are foreseeable (lots of people drop dinner dishes); have someone to blame (probably the person who dropped the dishes); and can be prevented (stop carrying the dishes with one hand). The same is true of automobile collisions. Driving while drunk, or texting, or speeding are all things that make accidents more likely. We can work to prevent those things and we can assign blame when accidents happen—and we do.

I have a tendency to use the word “collision” because I was brainwashed 40 years ago, but it’s hard to see that it makes much difference. Here is Caroline Samponaro, deputy director at Transportation Alternatives:

“If we stopped using that word, as individuals, as a city, in a national context, what questions do we have to start asking ourselves about these crashes?” says Caroline Samponaro, deputy director at Transportation Alternatives. How did they happen? Who was to blame? An erratic driver? A faulty vehicle? A perpetually dangerous intersection?

I’m mystified. We already do all that stuff. Collisions are routinely investigated. Fault is determined. The NTSA tracks potential safety problems in vehicles. Municipal traffic departments make changes to intersections. We pass drunk driving laws. We suspend the licenses of dangerous drivers.

So it doesn’t seem to me that use of the word “accident” is either wrong or perilous. If we had a history of ignoring automobile safety because is was common to just shrug and ask “whaddaya gonna do?” you could make a case for this. But we don’t.

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"Crash" vs. "Accident" Doesn’t Seem Like It Matters Very Much

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The Rehab Racket: The Way We Treat Addiction Is a Costly, Dangerous Mess

Mother Jones

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Illustration: Max-O-Matic

On December 30, 2012, as part of a series called Drugged, the National Geographic Channel aired an hourlong documentary about a 28-year-old named Ryan Rogers. It appeared to be a classic tale of a drunk trying against the odds to sober up, albeit with especially harrowing footage and an unusually charismatic protagonist, often shown with a radiant smile on his handsome face. In one scene, Ryan, in the midst of another day of drinking vodka straight out of the bottle, vomits into the trash can next to his armchair as his distraught grandfather looks on. In another, he roils around the passenger seat while badgering the elderly man to drive him to the liquor store.

“I apologize, you guys,” Ryan says to the camera crew in the backseat. Without a drink, “I can’t even focus or think or even understand anything.”

These scenes of craving and self-ruin unfold along the idyllic shores of Ryan’s home near Lake Tahoe, with a cheerful, late-spring alpine light dancing in the pines. During the rare moments of relative calm, Ryan’s warmth and a loving, if fraught, relationship with his family reveal someone who might have a shot at kicking addiction.

This episode of Drugged focused on the medical consequences of alcoholism, so the British production company, Pioneer Productions, followed Ryan until he entered a recovery program, which the company arranged in exchange for his willingness to lay bare his inner turmoil. Ryan’s first stop was a Texas medical clinic, where he underwent a comprehensive evaluation. After palpating his pancreas and liver, the doctor told Ryan that parts of his body were “screaming and dying” as a result of all the alcohol. The hip he broke when he fell off his bike, drunk, while pedaling to the liquor store never healed, leaving him with a rolling limp and in constant pain. At one point Ryan had permission from a psychiatrist to alleviate his withdrawal with some vodka, which he knocked back with an orange soda chaser in the men’s room. Then came the pivotal moment, a staple of addiction reality shows: the interview when the psychiatrist asked if he was willing to go into rehab.

Ryan said he was terrified, but vowed, “I want to amaze people, to let them know: I was gone, but here I am.”

The next day, Ryan arrived at Bay Recovery, a luxurious San Diego center where treatment ran about $1,800 a day. In a baggy white T-shirt, sagging jeans, and a blue bandanna, he carried his navy-blue duffel bag from a taxi to the front door of his new residence, one of several Bay Recovery houses in a neighborhood overlooking Mission Bay and SeaWorld. His room was in a tree-shaded four-bedroom house, set back from the road.

Ryan looked at the ocean and the verdant lawn. “I might not want to leave,” he said. The frame froze on his smiling face.

“Ryan took a courageous step,” the narrator intoned. “But 17 days into rehab, he died. He was only 28 years old.”

But things weren’t quite that simple. A look at the government records surrounding Ryan’s case—and the rest of the poorly regulated rehab industry—suggests that it might not have been just the drinking that killed him: It was the treatment, as well.

The documentary touched a chord with viewers. “I’m sitting here just fucking devastated,” one wrote on Reddit after the film was posted on the site. “Good God, that was absolutely crushing,” another wrote. “I was rooting so hard for him.”

Ryan’s story is a very specific tale of addiction and loss. But it’s also a case study of the fragmented, expensive, and poorly regulated rehab system. Desperate families struggle to find affordable treatment. Those who do all too often discover facilities subject to minimal standards, with regulators who do little to track what happens to patients or to assure that programs are following evidence-based best practices.

At the time of Ryan’s death, California’s medical board had opened the latest of four cases against Bay Recovery’s executive director, Dr. Jerry Rand. Among the concerns that they cited was the death of another patient several years before. And yet the center had been allowed to stay in business, leaving Rand responsible for Ryan and scores of other vulnerable addicts.

Of America’s estimated 18.7 million alcoholics, only 1.7 million—8.8 percent—are treated in specialized facilities, according to a 2012 report by Columbia’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. That five-year study reviewed more than 7,000 publications, analyzed five national datasets, conducted focus groups and surveys of addicts and treatment professionals, and investigated how rehab centers are licensed. Its conclusion: “Despite the prevalence of these conditions, the enormity of the consequences that result from them, and the availability of effective solutions, screening and early intervention for risky substance use is rare, and the vast majority of people in need of treatment do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.” Nine out of 10 people with alcohol or drug addiction, it said, get no treatment at all.

Compounding the problem is the fact that treatment is often not covered by insurance, but paid out of pocket by addicts and families. Traditionally, private insurance has covered 54 percent of Americans’ health care costs, but only 15 percent of alcohol addiction treatment. Obamacare—which requires many government-subsidized health plans to cover treatment—stands to improve matters, but quality of care remains a serious problem. While residential treatment programs must be licensed at the state level, standards vary widely. “For no other health condition are such exemptions from routine governmental oversight considered acceptable practice,” the Columbia report concluded.

A great deal of research supports modern evidence-based approaches to addiction, often involving medically supervised withdrawal, medication to help with withdrawal symptoms, support groups, and cognitive behavioral therapy. But because there are no national standards, the Columbia study notes, “patients face a patchwork of treatment programs with vastly different approaches; many offer unproven therapies and little medical supervision,” even at centers pushing “posh residential treatment at astronomical prices.”

Part of the problem is that alcohol and drug abuse have been seen less as medical conditions than moral failings requiring self-discipline, according to Scott Walters, a University of North Texas psychologist who has studied addiction treatment. The model popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, though effective in many cases, is not based on modern science or medical research. One result are clinics staffed by “counselors” who in many states are required to have only minimal training in responding to the serious medical problems that addicts like Ryan often face.

“There’s really no quality control,” Dr. Mark Willenbring, a former director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told me. “The consumer is hard-pressed to know what’s what.”

Ryan’s mother, Genene Thomas, and his father, Tim, met when she was 16, he was 18, and they were both working at restaurants in the casinos that line the southern shore of Lake Tahoe. When she was 20, they married, and went on to have four sons.

Now 51, long divorced and remarried, Genene welcomed me into the living room of her cozy ranch house, filled with Western memorabilia and sepia-toned photos of her family wearing cowboy outfits. Genene has a tendency to smile when other people might cry. Some viewers of the documentary said she came across as cold, but she confesses that she just shuts down when confronted with overwhelming emotions. Since Ryan’s death, she’s filled stacks of notebooks with thoughts about her son.

When Ryan was growing up, the family moved a dozen times, across the country: Tahoe to New Jersey, back to California, Colorado, and even Hawaii. “Everyone would ask if we were in the military,” she said. “But Tim was just restless.”

He was also dangerously unpredictable and seriously mentally ill: Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he drank and heard voices. Some days he organized scavenger hunts for his kids; others, he’d smack them around. Once Tim hit Genene for refusing to give him the bullets he wanted to use to commit suicide. When Ryan was 10, Genene had had enough and took the children to live in a safe house. After about two years of moving around, she took the boys to Las Vegas, where her parents lived.

Ryan grew into a cheerful teen, so skilled on a skateboard that a local dealership offered to sponsor him. Like many kids in his high school, he drank and experimented with marijuana. He even dabbled with meth, but it didn’t seem out of control. When he was 19, his paternal grandparents asked if he wanted to live with them to help care for his grandmother, who’d always doted on him.

Clockwise from left: Ryan at 15 months old; 10-year-old Ryan relaxing; the Rogers family with parents Tim and Genene, Ryan, Keith, Jason, and Sean; Ryan as a boyscout winning the top award for earning the most merit patches; Ryan, Jason, and Sean camping with their father.

There, in South Lake Tahoe, Ryan met Shaleen Miller, an outspoken 28-year-old single mother with a Bettie Page vibe. Her interests ranged from the British occultist Aleister Crowley to ribald jokes, and it was love at first sight. “There was just something about Ryan,” she said. “Anyone who met him loved him. He had this light to him I’d never seen before.” Shaleen’s two daughters adored him, and they would make up stories together. Soon Shaleen and Ryan were engaged.

But when Ryan’s grandmother passed away, he began drinking more heavily. A year and a half later, in 2008, his father—who had sobered up and reengaged in the lives of his sons—died of a blood clot at age 47. Ryan helped his grandfather clear out Tim’s room in a Carson City hotel and soon spiraled further out of control. These two deaths marked a turning point in Ryan’s life. Genene grasped the scope of the problem when she found him unconscious on his filthy bed, surrounded by more than 50 empty vodka bottles of all shapes and sizes. She couldn’t wake him up.

In 2009, Ryan secured a free charity bed at a 30-day treatment program in South Lake Tahoe. He liked it, but once he returned to his familiar surroundings, he started drinking again. (The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that 90 percent of alcoholics will experience at least one relapse during their first four years of sobriety.) Over the following two years, he was hospitalized several times for alcohol poisoning, including a stint lasting more than a month in intensive care.

In an attempt to jolt Ryan from his addiction, Shaleen broke off their engagement, but she remained determined to try to save him from himself. The average wait for subsidized treatment was six months, she and Genene were told, and Ryan would have to call every morning until a spot opened up. This was what he had done to get into the South Lake Tahoe program, but now he was too far gone to pick up the phone.

Desperate, Genene talked to a police officer she knew, and learned that her best shot might be to get Ryan arrested to force him into treatment. It was reasonably well-founded advice: The 2012 Columbia report found that 44 percent of addicts in publicly funded treatment programs are referred by the criminal-justice system, but only 6 percent come in via health care providers. When Genene heard that Ryan had tried heroin, she called the police. But his grandfather bailed him out, and the case stalled.

Then Shaleen stumbled upon a Craigslist ad from Pioneer Productions, a London television production company that was looking for severe alcoholics willing to be filmed in return for free treatment. Shaleen wrote an email and got a call the next day.

Pioneer declined to answer questions about the case, but Ryan’s family says the crew told them that they chose Bay Recovery because the clinic treated chronic pain as well as addiction, making it a good fit for Ryan’s twin struggles with alcoholism and his damaged hip. The clinic’s website boasted of its association with reality television producers like Lifetime and A&E and of the “unequaled” care provided by its medical director, Jerry Rand. Genene never found out who covered the cost of Ryan’s treatment.

Shaleen and one of the Pioneer crew dropped Ryan off in San Diego. “I just lost it,” she told me. For two years, she’d been emotionally preparing for him to die. Now, she allowed herself to take heart.

“Hope can be a bastard,” she said.

Even as Ryan arrived at Bay Recovery, Rand was fighting for his professional life. In 1988, when he was a general practitioner in Huntington Beach, the Orange County Superior Court had temporarily ordered him to stop practicing. The case came about after a woman whose daughter he was treating for a possible ear infection bolted out of Rand’s office and told a state medical board investigator—who happened to be sitting in the waiting room—that Rand was so impaired that his speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot, and he couldn’t even stand up straight. Though Rand sought treatment for his addiction to the pain pills he’d been prescribed after a back injury, the state medical board moved ahead and put his license on probation for seven years. By 1990, he had found work at a recovery center, and in 1992, he launched his own. By 2002, he was an associate director at Bay Recovery.

In 2003, Rand was barred from practicing for 60 days and put on seven years’ probation for what the medical board deemed gross negligence and incompetent treatment of a homeless patient. The board’s report does not detail what ended up happening to the patient, but in 2009—the same year Rand became Bay Recovery’s executive director—the medical board moved to revoke his license entirely. This time, the accusations included gross negligence in treating a 29-year-old woman who drowned in the bathtub at Bay Recovery. Rand had engaged in “extreme polypharmacy,” the board alleged, prescribing drugs to multiple patients with little regard for their interactions. Bay Recovery’s operations were unaffected. The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (DADP) investigated the drowning and ordered immediate steps to secure medications, but it did not issue any citations for 16 months.

What transpired at Bay Recovery is one example of why the rehab regulatory system is so often described as fragmented. DADP was responsible for licensing the facility, but it’s unclear whether it knew about Rand’s earlier probations. And while the medical board had charged that Rand was admitting patients who were too medically and psychologically unstable to be treated at his facility, DADP never addressed this issue while Ryan was alive.

In 2012, as a nonpartisan investigator for the California Senate, I wrote a report that exposed problems in drug and alcohol treatment facilities, including deaths that occurred when programs failed to monitor medically fragile clients or accepted addicts too sick to be in a nonmedical setting. My report found that DADP failed to pursue evidence of violations after deaths, and took as long as a year and a half to investigate the serious charges. At the time of Ryan’s death, I had been asking the agency for several months why it was allowing Bay Recovery to continue treating clients. I also interviewed Rand about Bay Recovery’s troubles for my report, but he was dismissive. The woman who died had hoarded drugs, he said, and had previously overdosed. He refused to talk about Ryan’s death. I was not able to reach him for this story.

Ryan did not have a cellphone with him, but he borrowed other residents’ phones to update Shaleen. He told her that detox—the first 72 hours without a drink—was not as bad as he had feared. He said he was “eating like a pig,” putting on weight, and could not remember when he’d felt so well. He joked that he was having a tough time sitting in a hot tub overlooking the ocean. And he was making friends with staff and fellow patients. “Everybody loved him,” Kanika Swafford, a residential technician at Bay Recovery, told me. “He never felt sorry for himself. He never blamed anyone for the choices he made.”

Clockwise from left: Ryan, 13, was a champion skateboarder; Ryan, at 14, on the top with his cousin Jared and brother Keith; Ryan goofing around with his brothers and their stepfather Glen Thomas; 15-year-old Ryan holding his baby cousin Jennifer.

On May 30, 10 days after Ryan arrived, Rand started him on buprenorphine, or “bupe,” which is often used to treat opiate addicts and may also help those who suffer from chronic pain. But it is not for everyone, and it came on top of a whole cocktail of other medications.

The day after starting on bupe, Ryan began to feel sick, according to a later report by the San Diego medical examiner, and in the following days he rapidly deteriorated. Sweaty and disoriented, he now could not hold a conversation. He urinated on the floor and tried to set things on fire. He grabbed at objects that were out of reach and tried to light a nonexistent cigarette. He told a staff member, “Thank you for the sandwiches; my ride is here.” One resident filed a complaint to Bay Recovery’s management, stating that Ryan was “hallucinating, talking to himself, stumbling about and almost falling down the stairs” and had turned a “gray-white color.” A residential technician told a counselor and one of the managers that Ryan needed medical attention.

The evening of June 5, a 20-year-old medical assistant named Giselle Jones heard banging from Ryan’s bedroom and found him on the floor of his closet, digging frantically through his things. She and a resident named Robert tried to put him back in bed, but he kept falling out, getting so agitated that he tried to crawl out a window. Jones tried to reach Rand and his brother Mitch, who was a manager of Bay Recovery, several times.

When Rand finally responded to the call, he prescribed more Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication, and Risperdal, an antipsychotic. Jones hesitated. The charts noted he’d already had two prior doses of both drugs earlier that evening. Was Rand certain she should give Ryan more? Even after he said yes, she called her manager, who told her to follow the doctor’s orders. She did, and 20 minutes later Ryan became listless. Jones tried to get him into bed, but every time she managed to move him, he collapsed. She watched as Ryan’s breathing became more labored. His pulse stopped for five minutes. Jones tried to reach Rand again, but there was no answer. Then she called her manager. Finally, at 3 a.m., she called 911. Robert, the other patient, performed CPR on Ryan. They waited for an ambulance.

At 3:40 a.m., Ryan was pronounced dead.

Later that morning, Shaleen tried to text Ryan via one of the other residents’ phones and eventually she got a response: “I’ll have the director call you back.” She left more messages, one more urgent than the next. She finally got a call back. “I could get in trouble if they knew I had contacted you,” the person said. “But we all loved Ryan so much.”

“I heard ‘loved’ and I just collapsed,” Shaleen said. She dropped the phone. Soon after, a police officer, whom authorities in San Diego had asked to contact the family, appeared at Genene’s door.

The San Diego medical examiner found that Ryan had died of acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which damage to the lungs prevents oxygen from reaching the blood. The deterioration apparently began around the time Rand started him on bupe, which—along with some of the other medications he’d prescribed Ryan—can depress breathing. While the evidence was not conclusive, “the suggestion is somehow that the treatment played a role in the development of the condition,” Dr. Jonathan Lucas, who certified the cause of death, told me.

Twenty days after Ryan’s death, officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the medical board, and the state licensing agency raided Bay Recovery and Rand’s home. They had already found that Rand had had employees illegally call in prescriptions for him under the name of another doctor. The state suspended Bay Recovery’s licenses in July 2012.

On September 6, 2012, the California medical board ordered Rand to surrender his medical license and “lose all rights and privileges as a Physician and Surgeon in California.” Police investigated Ryan’s death, and while no charges were filed against Rand, the state did find Bay Recovery “deficient” for failing to get Ryan to a hospital. Residents told state investigators that Rand excessively prescribed drugs with little regard for their interactions. One patient said he hadn’t been on any medications when he arrived, but now was taking at least 10. The state finally revoked Bay Recovery’s licenses and closed the facility in late 2012.

Pioneer Productions sent flowers and paid to have Ryan’s body cremated. It also gave Genene $1,020—money it had raised to help pay for Ryan to get his hip replaced. Pioneer wanted to arrange a memorial service, and a few weeks later family and friends gathered at Monitor Pass, an open slope south of Lake Tahoe with a dizzying view of Nevada’s basins and ranges, to scatter Ryan’s ashes. The crew filmed one last scene.

About a month after the memorial service, Pioneer told Genene that the company was sending someone from London to show her the film. A lawyer appeared a few days later and left Genene alone to watch the documentary on his laptop. She did—twice. The lawyer returned with a form for her to sign that stated she had seen the film and wanted it to run. Genene, feeling strong-armed so soon after losing her son, refused, but when the lawyer called from London a few days later to say that Pioneer had decided not to air the film on the National Geographic Channel, she was heartbroken. Genene and Ryan’s other relatives and friends saw the documentary as his legacy.

Clockwise from left: Ryan at 23 with his brother Sean, his uncle Brian Thomas, and his maternal grandparents Pat and Philette Thomas; Ryan hugs his mother Genene after his first hospitalization when he was 26; Ryan with his paternal grandfather Bob Rogers; Ryan right before he entered Bay Recovery; Ryan and the love of his life Shaleen Miller; in high school Ryan composed songs and played the guitar.

Eventually, things were resolved and Ryan’s documentary aired. Many viewers responded, expressing grief as well as concern. “I find this very strange, folks,” one posted online comment said. “The danger zone for any addict is the first 5 days at most. 17 days in he should have been feeling great and refreshed…I don’t think this documentary is telling the honest truth about what really happened to poor Ryan.”

To this day, Shaleen still gets Facebook messages from all over the world, and the shared grief has helped her cope. “That’s just an amazing thing to be able to hold on to,” she said. “Knowing his story made it out there. It gave some kind of purpose to it.”

But Genene continues to write in her notebooks the questions that plague her. Did Pioneer really want to help Ryan, or was it just about ratings? How could the state have allowed Bay Recovery to stay open after the death in the bathtub and the medical board’s case against Rand? Someone was bound to die there, she believes: “If it wasn’t Ryan, it would have been somebody else. And my son had to pay the ultimate price for trying to do the right thing.”

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The Rehab Racket: The Way We Treat Addiction Is a Costly, Dangerous Mess

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Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin Just Became the First Publicly Gay Player in Major College Football

Mother Jones

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Arizona State University offensive lineman Edward “Chip” Sarafin revealed he is gay in a newly published magazine profile, making him the first active player in major college football to come out publicly.

Although his conversation with Compete—a Tempe-based LGBT sports magazine—marks the first time Sarafin has told his story to the media, he said he came out to his teammates last spring. “It was really personal to me,” he said, “and it benefited by peace of mind greatly.”

Sarafin, who is a fifth-year senior earning a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, has not played in a game in his four years as a Sun Devil. With his announcement, he follows in the steps of current St. Louis Rams linebacker Michael Sam, who came out to the media after completing his college football career at the University of Missouri, and the University of Massachusetts’ Derrick Gordon, who became the first openly gay men’s college basketball player just months ago. Sam tweeted his support shortly after the news broke:

Arizona State football coach Todd Graham had this to say about Sarafin in a statement Wednesday:

We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual’s commitment to the Sun Devil Way. Chip is a fifth-year senior and a Scholar Baller, a graduate and a master’s student. His commitment to service is unmatched and it is clear he is on his way to leading a successful life after his playing career, a goal that I have for every student-athlete. Diversity and acceptance are two of the pillars of our program, and he has full support from his teammates and the coaching staff.

Sarafin, who plans to become a neurologist, is currently helping develop a lightweight, sturdy carbon-fiber football helmet. He does outreach with younger athletes, educating them on the dangers of playing through concussions. He says he strives to be the type of person who “gives back to everyone and loves his family.”

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Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin Just Became the First Publicly Gay Player in Major College Football

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Anonymous’ "Op Ferguson" Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown

Mother Jones

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Update (4:12 p.m. ET): Anonymous has obtained and posted St. Louis police dispatch tapes from the day of the shooting.

The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, says he is withholding the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, out of concern for the safety of the officer and his family. But that might be easier said than done. Just a few hours later, the hacktivist group Anonymous announced on Twitter that it was now “making a final confirmation on the name of Mike Brown’s murderer,” adding: “It will be released the moment we receive it.”

I traded emails last night with one of the half-dozen core Anonymous members working on Operation Ferguson, as the group’s effort to pressure and shame the local police department is known. They were still working to verify the identity of the shooter. “I can only tell you that our source is very close personally to the officer who killed Mike Brown, and that this person is terrified to be our source,” said the anon, whom I will call Fawkes. He added that the source “reached out to us, we did not seek out this person.”

The claim to have outed the Ferguson shooter comes only two days after Anonymous announced the launch of Operation Ferguson in this video:

The computer-generated voice, graphics, and hacking threats are trademark Anonymous, but one aspect is unusual: a demand for federal legislation “that will set strict national standards for police misconduct and misbehavior.” Though Anonymous has a strong anarchist strain that disdains politics, Fawkes told me that the idea wasn’t controversial within the group. “We have done a few of these ‘justice ops’ and it seems there needs to be a larger solution to the problem on a nationwide level,” he told me. “There was no debate—everyone on the team embraced the idea.”

Ferguson is 60 percent black. Virtually all its cops are white. Read more stats ››

It has been a busy few days for Operation Ferguson. The hackers shut down the city’s website for a few hours on Sunday night and Tuesday morning, posted the home address and number of St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, and dropped an email bomb that crammed city and police inboxes with junk messages. The goal was “to get journalists like you to do interviews with us, and incidentally maybe talk about the issue at hand in the process,” Fawkes told me. “Looks like it worked.”

In previous “justice ops,” Anonymous hackers have targeted the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to protest the Charles Hill and Oscar Grant shootings and the transit system’s attempt to dampen protests by shutting down cellphone signals. Other Anonymous ops have uncovered criminal evidence or the names of suspects. “It’s actually back to the classics,” said McGill University cultural anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, author of the forthcoming book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, whom I met last night in a chatroom where hackers were plotting their next moves. She added that “a lot of old-school folks came back for this,” though they’ve been careful to avoid the attention of law enforcement and other anons by using fresh pseudonyms.

But the veterans’ participation hasn’t stopped Op Ferguson from seeming unhinged at times. On Tuesday afternoon, one Anonymous Twitter account threatened to release information about the police chief’s daughter unless he disclosed the name of the officer who’d killed Brown. (The threat was later withdrawn.) And the op’s Twitter account repeated a bogus internet rumor attributing a screenshot of a racist Facebook tirade to Belmar’s wife—the tweet has since been deleted.

“We are not exactly known for being ‘responsible,’ nor for worrying overly much about the safety of cops,” Fawkes told me. “After all, they have vests and assault weapons. I think they can look after themselves. This is psychological and information warfare, not a love fest.”

Half outlaw, half idealist, Anonymous has always operated at the margins of legitimacy, its tactics ranging from gumshoe detective work to illegal hacking and shameless PR stunts. It’s hard to know whether its current claim to have ID’d Brown’s killer will be borne out. “I don’t think they have it,” Coleman told me. But, she added: “I would not be surprised if they do soon.”

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Anonymous’ "Op Ferguson" Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown

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Burn Your Beatles Records!

Mother Jones

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Early August 1966, Christian groups, primarily in the Southern United States took to the streets to burn the sin out of their beloved Beatles records in response to John Lennon’s remark that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.”

Birmingham disc jockeys Tommy Charles, left, and Doug Layton of Radio Station WAQY, rip and break materials representing the British pop group The Beatles, in Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 8, 1966. The broadcasters started a “Ban The Beatles” campaign. AP

Like all good moments of mass hysteria, getting a little context helps put things in perspective.

The quote originally appeared in March 1966, in part of an interview with Lennon published in the London Evening Standard. The interviewer, Maureen Cleave, commented that Lennon was at the time reading about religion. Here is the full, original quote from Lennon:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

In late July, five months after its original publication, a U.S. teen mag called Datebook republished the interview with Lennon. Turning to the tried and true method of generating scandal to gin up sales, Datebook put the “We’re more popular than Jesus” part of the quote on the cover. Woo-boy. Two Birmingham DJs picked up on the quote, vowing to never play the Beatles and on August 8th, started a “Ban the Beatles” campaign. Christian groups across the South rose up to protest the Beatles who, as it happened, were just about embark on what would be their last U.S. tour. Beatles records were burned, crushed, broken. Never a group to miss out on a good bonfire, the Ku Klux Klan got involved.

South Carolina Grand Dragon, Bob Scoggin of the Klu Klux Klan tosses Beatle records into the flames of a burning cross, in Chester, South Carolina, Aug. 11, 1966. The “Beatle Bonfire” was staged to take exception to a statement attributed to John Lennon, when he was quoted as saying that his group was more popular than Jesus. AP

On August 12, 1966 the Beatles set out on tour, meeting protests and stupid questions about the quote all along the way. It would be the last tour the Beatles would ever do in the United States, ending on August 29 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Young churchfolk from Sunnyvale on the San Francisco peninsula protest against the Beatles and John Lennon’s remark that The Beatles are “more popular than Jesus” outside Candlestick Park where the Beatles are holding a concert in San Francisco, Ca., Aug. 29, 1966. The picketers were seen by many of the teenagers but missed by the entertainers, who arrived and departed from a different direction. Some 25,000 fans went through the gates for The Beatles’ final U.S. performance on their tour. AP

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Burn Your Beatles Records!

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The Faces of Outside Lands 2014

Mother Jones

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For the seventh straight year, the Outside Lands Music and Art Festival took over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this past weekend for an extravaganza of wine, beer, shopping, all manner of hip food, panel talks with chefs, and comedy shows. Oh, and there was also the music, increasingly just one draw in the overall festival experience. Thousands of party-seekers and music fans showed up for what was considered one of the most expansive—both in sheer size and range of offerings—OSL fests ever. It may not be a national event like Coachella, Bonnaroo, or Lollapalooza, but it didn’t lack big-name entertainers (Kanye West), rock legends (Tom Petty), or indie darlings playing afternoon sets. The attendees—200,000 in all—were locals and out-of-towners alike, old and young, costumed and non-costumed. We talked with some of them to get a sense of the pulse.

Kenny, server, San Francisco: “I just saw Big Freedia, and I’m originally from the South. It’s good to see Southern artists out here.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Dre, animal nurse, Oakland: “Outside Lands is definitely one of those things you love and you hate, because it’s so crowded, but the lineup is so good.” On her Pikachu suit: “My friends and I all have our own onesies. We roll phat.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Taylor, Adam, and TJ, from San Francisco: “I think we came more for the experience. Excited for Tycho, Boys Noize, Duck Sauce. And Macklemore. Everyone. I’m excited for everyone!” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Robert, healthcare co-op owner, San Francisco: “It’s really different from my first concert, which was Woodstock in 1969, where there were no services whatsoever… I like the enthusiasm of the young folks who are here, it’s infectious!” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Britney, student, Los Angeles: “I love wine. I’m like a wine connoisseur, and being able to be at a festival as a 21-year-old, on top of all the great music and art stuff, to be able to enjoy some wine as well is like the best thing.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Pearl, San Francisco, on this year’s crowd: “Way more biddies. Way more biddies. I think they oversold. I know they were trying to increase capacity—I think they succeeded.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Jenae and Summer, students, Burlingame, California: “It’s so much different from last year—there’s so many more people. It’s packed. The lineup was better last year, but it’s still equally fun. It’s like an experience, the whole vibe and everything.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Tom, business intelligence professional, San Francisco: “I live like three blocks away. I usually try to at least make one day a year since I’m so close. I just walk down the hill and I’m here. The lineup I wasn’t as impressed with, but it’s always a good time.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Ranjiv, an Outside Lands first-timer: “This festival is so nice. It’s so much better than all the other festivals. The people are so much better. The music is quality. I’m lovin’ it.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Michael, elementary school worker, Los Angeles: “I’m sticking around for Tom Petty. My mom is with me; she loves it. Gonna stick around for Flume—he’s my favorite artist—and catch a flight home in the morning.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Mika and Natalie, from Cupertino and New York City: “We’re here for the summer and thought it’d be cool to check this out.” Best thing they saw: “Two super happy bunny-costumed people plowing through the crowd.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Tessa, voter registration canvasser, on the hundreds signing up to vote at OSL: “It’s the really happy people, the people we want to have voting.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Jason, deliveryman, Atherton, California: “It’s definitely not as great as a lineup I’ve seen in the past. It’s definitely just as crowded. I just saw the improvised Shakespeare troupe. They were amazing.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Monty and his daughters, Portland: “It’s their first music festival. I’m corrupting them. So, you know what, their mom will complain forever because now they’re gonna love music festivals.” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

Kerry and Erin, from Reno and San Francisco, on their favorite sets: “Capital Cities was really good. Arctic Monkeys were really good, too. ” Prashanth Kamalakanthan

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The Faces of Outside Lands 2014

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