Tag Archives: Oster

When stories about drought spike, people use less water.

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

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When stories about drought spike, people use less water.

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100-degree October temperatures? Welcome to ‘hotumn.’

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

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100-degree October temperatures? Welcome to ‘hotumn.’

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In New York City, rising seas could cause Sandy-like floods every five years.

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

Link:

In New York City, rising seas could cause Sandy-like floods every five years.

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Donald Trump’s Vision of Pittsburgh is Sooooooo 80s

Mother Jones

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This story was originally published by Slate and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Donald Trump officially announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change on Thursday, framing the 2015 deal as a kind of global plot to sabotage America.

“The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” Trump said. “They don’t put America first. I do, and I always will.”

And if Paris was the symbol of that ideology, the alternative, a nation of miners and pipelines, belching smoke like a charcoal grill, was represented by…Pittsburgh? “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said.

It was a bad comparison, since citizens of both Pittsburgh and Paris share an interest in averting a minimum projected sea level rise of 2.4 feet by 2100, in the scenario in which the climate accord’s goals aren’t met.

But it was an especially bad comparison because Pittsburgh isn’t the burned-out steel town Trump thinks it is. In fact, it’s a pretty good example of how a city can recover and adapt to changing economic circumstances. Pittsburgh’s doing OK.

Once again, Donald Trump has shown himself a man who has acquired little to no new knowledge since the 1980s. And during the 1980s, Pittsburgh was indeed having a very tough time. The city lost 30 percent of its population between 1970 and 1990; in 1983, unemployment in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area hit 17 percent. Neighboring counties fared even worse. Deindustrialization and globalization slammed the Monongahela Valley. But that was 35 years ago.

Today, Pittsburgh’s biggest employer is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Its other university, Carnegie Mellon, is home to a world-renowned robotics laboratory. The Golden Triangle is a landmark of downtown renewal. And Homestead, site of the great American labor battle of the 19th century, is a mall.

Before Pittsburgh was the poster child for a midsized, postindustrial city, it was a symbol of the ills of pollution. The soot from the steel mills hung so thick in the air the streetlights had to be on during the day. In 1948, 25 miles south of the city, the town of Donora was enveloped in a thick yellow smog that killed 20 people and sickened half the town. It was the worst air pollution disaster in US history and led to the passage of the Clean Air Act.

There’s no city in America that stands to benefit from climate change, whose enormous costs are and will continue to be borne mostly by the federal government (and hence distributed among us). But as a symbol for withdrawal from a global climate treaty, Pittsburgh is an especially poor choice.

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Donald Trump’s Vision of Pittsburgh is Sooooooo 80s

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The White House Is Weighing A Plan To Weaken The Special Prosecutor’s Investigation Into Trump’s Russia Scandal

Mother Jones

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By Julia Edwards Ainsley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday.

Trump has said that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation “hurts our country terribly.”

Within hours of Mueller’s appointment on Wednesday, the White House began reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations, which restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm’s clients for one year after their hiring, the sources said.

An executive order signed by Trump in January extended that period to two years.

Mueller’s former law firm, WilmerHale, represents Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who met with a Russian bank executive in December, and the president’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is a subject of a federal investigation.

Legal experts said the ethics rule can be waived by the Justice Department, which appointed Mueller. He did not represent Kushner or Manafort directly at his former law firm.

If the department did not grant a waiver, Mueller would be barred from investigating Kushner or Manafort, and this could greatly diminish the scope of the probe, experts said.

The Justice Department is already reviewing Mueller’s background as well as any potential conflicts of interest, said department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.

Even if the Justice Department granted a waiver, the White House would consider using the ethics rule to create doubt about Mueller’s ability to do his job fairly, the sources said. Administration legal advisers have been asked to determine if there is a basis for this.

Under this strategy, the sources said the administration would raise the issue in press conferences and public statements.

Moreover, the White House has not ruled out the possibility of using the rule to challenge Mueller’s findings in court, should the investigation lead to prosecution.

FOCUS ON CASTING A CLOUD OVER MUELLER

But the administration is now mainly focused on placing a cloud over his reputation for independence, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Kathleen Clark, a professor of legal ethics at Washington University School of Law, said the Justice Department can grant a waiver if concerns about bias are minimal.

She said subjects of the investigation could later argue that its results cannot be trusted, but she believes the argument would not stand up in court.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether it is reviewing the ethics rule in order to undermine Mueller’s credibility.

Mueller’s former colleagues at WilmerHale, James Quarles and Aaron Zebley, are expected to join his investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the law firm. Neither Quarles nor Zebley represented Kushner or Manafort.

Mueller will now lead the ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Trump’s associates and senior Russian officials.

Unlike Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed by a three-judge panel to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton’s real estate holdings in the 1990s, Mueller depends on the Justice Department for funding and he reports to Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump.

When he announced Mueller’s appointment this week, Rosenstein said Mueller will have “all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”

(Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley, additional reporting by Gina Chon in Washington and Jan Wolfe in New York; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)

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The White House Is Weighing A Plan To Weaken The Special Prosecutor’s Investigation Into Trump’s Russia Scandal

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Republicans Who Backed Trumpcare Aren’t Holding Town Halls. So Democrats Are Going in Their Place.

Mother Jones

On Monday evening, about 500 residents of New York’s 19th Congressional District gathered at a wedding venue near the Hudson River to ask a local congressman about the American Health Care Act. But the congressman holding the town hall wasn’t the area’s newly elected representative, Republican John Faso, who had voted for the bill. Instead, they heard from Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a neighboring district.

Members of Congress don’t often invade each other’s turf without an invitation—and Faso had most certainly not invited his colleague—but Maloney told the attendees he hoped to start a trend. “Let’s just imagine for a minute if in every district in this country where a member of Congress voted for this terrible health care bill and they won’t hold a town hall meeting, what if somebody else adopted that district?” he said. “Might be a Democrat! And then went in and did what we’re doing doing tonight. What do you think? We can adopt a district anywhere.”

It was a gloves-off affair from there. “He may be upset that I’m in his district, but I will just point out that he is not,” Maloney joked, noting that Faso was at a fundraiser in Albany. “I mean, they say nature abhors a vacuum, right?” Before Maloney began taking questions, he asked attendees to take out their phones and send a mass of tweets to Faso about the town hall. Maloney even brought an empty chair—just in case, he said, Faso decided to show up after all.

“This guy should not be on some milk carton—he’s your congressman,” Maloney said. “He should be here.”

Maloney’s stunt may indeed mark the beginning of a trend. On Tuesday evening, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) followed suit, appearing at a Tucson high school for a “Rally to Stop Trumpcare” in a district represented by one of its supporters, Republican Martha McSally. Unlike Maloney’s event, which he attended as part of his official duties, Gallego’s town hall was sponsored by the Arizona Democratic Party and more closely resembled a campaign function. McSally, who was not seriously opposed in 2016, is one of 14 Republican “yes” votes in districts won by Hillary Clinton.

Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan has planned a town hall in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and a rising star in the party who was (briefly) floated as a 2020 presidential candidate, has also expressed interest in adopting a district, although he would have to travel a bit further to find one; there are no Republican congressional districts in southern New England. A group in Yolo County, California, has launched a campaign to get local Democratic Rep. John Garamendi to hold a town hall in a neighboring district represented by Republican Tom McClintock, a supporter of the bill. Organizers even included a sample call script to help constituents lobby Garamendi.

The adopt-a-district campaign is a new form of trolling for the Trump age. But it also marks an evolution for the Democratic grassroots, which since January have seized on town halls to put their representatives on the spot, express their anger, and produce viral moments. That was part of the idea behind the Indivisible Guide, a user’s manual for bugging the hell out of Congress, drafted by a group of ex-congressional staffers in December. Indivisible quickly went from a Google Doc to a movement with thousands of registered groups, in every congressional district in the country. It offered a blueprint for badgering congressional offices ahead of key votes and showing up to hassle officials in their own districts.

The problem: Most Republicans aren’t holding town halls, and many of the town halls that are being held require constituents to enter a lottery or present a driver’s license to get in. As Maloney noted, of the 217 Republicans who voted for the House health care bill last week, just 14 have scheduled town halls to talk about it. So the tactics of raising hell had to evolve, too. Indivisible groups have turned the town-hall schedule into a guerilla marketing campaign. They’ve put images of their representatives on milk cartons and cardboard cutouts and put up “missing” posters on telephone poles. In February, the national Indivisible group put out a “Missing Member Toolkit” to encourage local groups to set up their own “citizen” town halls. One of the suggested ideas for giving the events some zest (and legitimacy) if the local representative turned down their invitation was to invite another elected official to the event instead.

What’s happening in Faso’s district neatly illustrates the role these new (and some old) progressive grassroots groups have played in the Democratic Party’s attempts to block President Donald Trump. New York’s 19th District is a sprawling, largely rural swing area that veered hard toward Trump in 2016 after twice voting for Barack Obama. In early February, Indivisible CD-19 held its first big rally, a demonstration and concert outside Faso’s office in Kinderhook followed by a march to the congressman’s home nearby. Faso was not home at the time, but when he arrived 40 minutes later, he came out to speak to the protesters. Among them was a local woman named Andrea Mitchell, who has a brain tumor. She asked Faso if he would protect the Affordable Care Act’s ban on denying insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions, and when Faso said yes, the two hugged.

But Faso voted for AHCA, and Mitchell—and NY-19 Indivisible—want answers. “I honestly believed after the first vote he wouldn’t repeal it,” Mitchell said in an interview with Rachel Maddow last week. “A lot of my friends and constituents thought that that was very naive of me.” It was Mitchell’s interview with Maddow that first got Maloney thinking about adopting a district, and when he saw that the group’s invitation to Faso to attend the Monday event had gone unanswered, he accepted on Twitter. If Mitchell couldn’t get a straight answer from her congressman, Maloney concluded, he could at least offer one.

Helen Kalla, a spokesperson for the national Indivisible group, said the group is hoping the Maloney and Gallego events are the start of something bigger. “This is going to be a major push over the next several weeks across the country, with what we hope is a huge turnout during the Memorial Day recess in a few weeks,” she said. On Wednesday, the group unveiled a new “toolkit” on how to promote adopt-a-district town halls. Four months after the inauguration, with national Democrats bickering over a big-picture strategy, the cart is still dragging the donkey. And for now, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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Republicans Who Backed Trumpcare Aren’t Holding Town Halls. So Democrats Are Going in Their Place.

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Macron Campaign Hit With "Massive and Coordinated" Hacking Attack

Mother Jones

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A massive trove of documents purporting to contain thousands of emails and other files from the campaign of Emmanuel Macron—the French centrist candidate squaring off against right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen—was posted on the internet Friday afternoon. The Macron campaign says that at least some of the documents are fake. The document dump came just over a day before voting is set to begin in the final round of the election and mere hours before candidates are legally required to stop campaigning.

At about 2:35 p.m. ET, a post appeared on the 4chan online message board announcing the leak. The documents appear to include emails, internal memos, and screenshots of purported banking records.

“In this pastebin are links to torrents of emails between Macron, his team and other officials, politicians as well as original documents and photos,” the anonymous 4chan poster wrote. “This was passed on to me today so now I am giving it to you, the people. The leak is massvie and released in the hopes that the human search engine here will be able to start sifting through the contents and figure out exactly what we have here.”

The Macron campaign issued a statement Friday night saying it was the victim of a “massive and coordinated” hacking attack. That campaign said the leak included some fake documents that were intended “to sow doubt and misinformation.”

The Macron camp compared the document dump to last year’s hacking of emails associated with Hillary Clinton. The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia was responsible for the Clinton hacks. “This operation is obviously a democratic destabilization as was seen in the United States during the last presidential campaign,” the Macron statement said.

The timing of the leak is particularly noteworthy. Under French law, candidates and their campaigns cannot speak to the media or do anything in public in the 24 hours before the start of Sunday’s election. The Macron campaign’s statement was issued three minutes before the deadline.

It’s unclear when the files originally appeared on the internet. The official Twitter account for WikiLeaks—the group that released the Clinton emails last year—tweeted a link to a page where the Macron data was hosted at 1:13 p.m. ET.

“Fully analyzing the hacked documents to verify that they are genuine will take some time, but from what I’ve seen so far, it looks very serious,” said Matt Tait, a former information security specialist for the GCHQ (the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the National Security Agency) and CEO of Capital Alpha Security.

In February, Macron said he had evidence his campaign had “suffered repeated and multiple attacks from hackers” and that “many come from Ukraine.” At the time, the Macron campaign blamed the Russian government for the attacks, a claim the Kremlin denied. The campaign suspected the attacks were coming their way because of Macron’s tough stance on Russia. Le Pen, on the other hand, has taken a much more favorable stance toward Russia.

Earlier on Friday, according to the New York Times, the Le Pen campaign claimed in a statement that its campaign website had been the victim of “regular and targeted” attacks, and that a hacker “close to extreme-left circles” had been arrested.

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Macron Campaign Hit With "Massive and Coordinated" Hacking Attack

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A New International Advice Line Will Help American Women End Their Pregnancies

Mother Jones

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Concerned about President Trump’s promise to drastically roll back legal access to abortion, an international feminist group launched a project on Thursday that aims to help women in the US safely end their own pregnancies.

Since 2014, Women Help Women has responded to over 100,000 emails from women around the world seeking abortions in countries where the procedure is highly restricted or outright banned. Among other services, the group sometimes arranges to have the abortion-inducing drugs misoprostol and mifepristone sent internationally and then counsels the recipient on their safe usage.

“We know there are different barriers that prevent people from being able to access the abortion care that they need,” says Jessica Shaw, a professor at the University of Calgary in Canada and a Women Help Women board member. “This is already going on, and we’re stepping up in anticipation that things likely will get worse with new laws coming in over the next few years.”

Women Help Women—whose new American project is called Self-Managed Abortion, Safe and Supported (SASS)—won’t be sending misoprostol or mifepristone to women in the United States for fear, says Shaw, of litigation. Instead counselors will advise the small but significant number of women in the US who manage to obtain the drugs without the assistance of a health care provider on how to successfully administer them. For added protection, WHW counselors responding to queries from American women will be working abroad, including from Canada.

Misoprostol and mifepristone are both prescription-only in the United States and are only used early-on in pregnancy. But as state legislatures continue to make it harder to access abortions—over 300 state-level anti-abortion laws have been enacted since 2010—advocates and medical experts expect that more women will look underground for ways to self-induce. Several surveys studying the approximately 900,000 women in the US who get clinical abortions in a given year indicate that many are already using misoprostol, as well as other methods, to end their pregnancies without medical supervision. In one, 2.6 percent of patients surveyed said they’d taken drugs, herbs, or vitamins in an attempt to end their pregnancy before seeking an in-clinic abortion. In another, researchers at the University of Texas estimated that as many as 240,000 women in the state had tried to self-induce at some point in their life.

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States, more than a dozen women have faced prosecution or jail time after self-inducing an abortion, sometimes after taking misoprostol. Shaw says that most women who call WHW from know what the legal risks are where they live. “That’s how the end up on our website in the first place,” she says. “But for many people, the legal risk is far less than the risk of having a pregnancy and carrying it to term.”

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A New International Advice Line Will Help American Women End Their Pregnancies

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Donald Trump Is Really Learning a Lot at the White House Academy for Government Studies

Mother Jones

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I’m just writing these down for posterity:

Trump on health care: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Trump on China and North Korea: “President Xi then went into the history of China and Korea….And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that it’s not so easy. You know I felt pretty strongly that they have a tremendous power over China….But it’s not what you would think.”

Trump on the Export-Import Bank: “I was very much opposed to Ex-Im Bank, but it turns out that, first of all lots of small companies will really be helped….So instinctively you would say it’s a ridiculous thing but actually it’s a very good thing and it actually makes money. You know, it actually could make a lot of money.”

So far, Donald Trump has learned that health care is complicated; Korea used to be part of China; and the Ex-Im bank helps small companies too.

On health care, Trump gets solid marks. It is complicated. On the other hand, pretty much everyone except Trump already knew this. And the graders would have liked him to demonstrate a little more familiarity with why health care is complicated. Still, it’s a good first step. Let’s give him him a B-.

On Korea, Trump didn’t do so well. Is it true that Korea “used to be a part of China”? Sort of, in the sense that, back in the day, China repeatedly invaded Korea with varying success. At times it was a vassal state, at other times it wasn’t. But Trump talks as though maybe Korea was a province of China until maybe World War II or something. It’s actually been more than six centuries. Still, I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give a gentleman’s C-.

The Ex-Im bank is even more problematic. The bank itself claims that “more than 90 percent of EXIM Bank’s transactions—more than 2,600—directly supported American small businesses.” But take a look at dollars:

This comes from a longtime opponent of the Ex-Im Bank, so take it with a grain of salt. Small businesses do a little better on other metrics. Still, there’s not much question that agitprop aside, the Ex-Im Bank is primarily a tool for gigantic corporations. On the other hand, Trump is right that it makes money and doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything. But I still think I have to give him a D on this for his core claim.

Overall, then, Trump is learning, but he’s not learning especially well. So far I’d give him about a C-. He really needs to spend more time on his homework and less time watching TV.

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Donald Trump Is Really Learning a Lot at the White House Academy for Government Studies

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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.

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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?”

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Sass, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

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