Jill Richardson

How the death penalty is getting crueler

For years, most of the U.S. has been changing death penalty laws in the direction of phasing it out, or at least applying it in a more humane way.

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Scott Pruitt's Corruption Is Bad, But His Planetary Sabotage Is Worse

Did you hear that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, is so corrupt that he spent $1,560 on 12 customized fountain pens? Or that he spent another $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth in violation of government spending laws?

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NYT Food Columnist Michael Pollan Talks Psychedelics, Science and Mental Health

Longtime Michael Pollan fans will find How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence is a different book from his past work - mostly. Although in the past, Pollan wrote about food and agriculture, his love of nature carries through to his new book, especially in one section when he forages for magic mushrooms with mushroom expert Paul Stamets. As in past books, he uses an engaging, first-person style of telling a story by introducing readers to the people he meets along the way who teach him about various topics. Unlike previous books, instead of teaching him about food and agriculture, the characters you'll meet in this book teach about psychedelic drugs. Specifically: LSD, psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms), ayahuasca, and the dried and smoked venom of a toad that Pollan and others refer to as "the toad."

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Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness

After every mass shooting, we repeat all of the same things.

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Why Some Students Fail

Another semester is about to begin at the community college where I teach.

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Rethinking the ‘Goldwater Rule’

Maybe it’s time America’s psychiatrists reconsider their Goldwater Rule.

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There Is an Ugly War Being Waged Against Poverty-Stricken Grad Students

The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students.

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Sometimes the Poor Make It Big; Usually They Stay Poor

We all want to live in a country where all it takes is hard work and some talent for anyone to succeed. We tell ourselves that we do. We even see examples of people who “came from nothing” and ended up rich and famous.

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Trigger Happy With Toxins

For many years, genetically engineered crops were said to be environmentally responsible.

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Whaddya Know, Whole Foods Is Already Selling 'Farm Fresh' Amazon Electronics

Now that Amazon’s taken over Whole Foods, a natural foods grocery known for its high prices, the new owners have pledged to lower prices.

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Could the Dust in Your House Make You Gain Weight?

While scientists agree that diet and exercise are the most important factors in weight gain, some wonder if the chemicals we are exposed to in our daily lives—such as those found in household dust—could contribute to weight gain.

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Soda Doesn’t ‘Feed the World’

Coca-Cola has a new ad in which a young girl wishes to grow a garden for the whole world. Then, as a grown woman who works for Coca-Cola, she says that she’s fulfilling that dream.

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Is Our Clothing Toxic? It's More Complicated Than We Think

Google "toxic fabrics" and a host of sites will come up, some from as far back as 1993. Generally they list a number of synthetic fabrics (acrylic, nylon, polyester) along with rayon (which is made from chemically processed wood pulp) and make the case that all are bad because they are made from scary chemicals. Obviously, natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, wool, and linen are the way to go. Those are made from plants and sheep, not coal and petroleum derivatives.

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Have You Ever Tried a Fad Diet to Lose Weight? Here's Why It Didn't Work

It's tempting to think that by rearranging your entire diet, you could quickly lose weight and keep it off. All you need to do is eat right for your blood type, or give up carbs, or eat like a Paleolithic human, or eat only raw foods, and so on, and you will be thin before you know it. At least, that's what fad diets promise.

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What's the Most Eco-Friendly Pet? The Answer May Surprise You - and If You Own a Cat or Dog, Here Are 7 Ways to Make Their Lives More Sustainable

Google "how pets harm the environment" and you'll find articles decrying a litany of environmental sins committed by dogs and cats. Dogs and cats eat and poop, apparently, and they can harbor and pass on diseases to humans and wildlife. A 2009 book (Time to Eat the Dog) claims a dog harms the environment as much as an SUV. Specifically, it found feeding a medium-sized dog is twice as bad for the planet as driving a Toyota Land Cruiser, whereas feeding a cat is equivalent to driving a Volkswagen Golf.

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Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs

When Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, Scientific American used his own words to criticize it for not going far enough.

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Trump Is the Nation's Abuser-in-Chief

As an emotional abuse survivor, I get an eerie feeling watching Donald Trump.

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Two Terrible Toxins Are Now Banned from Soap - What Took the Feds So Long?

Some people love to hate government regulations. Many believe they’re just bureaucratic barriers that waste our time. But the Food and Drug Administration just passed a new regulation that’ll actually protect us, and may save you a few bucks and an unnecessary purchase at the store.

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The Miserable Catch-22 of Mental Illness

I’m depressed.

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Are We Really Going to Let Corporations Buy Naming Rights to Our National Parks?

Imagine painstakingly making up your way up the cables of Yosemite National Park’s famous Half Dome peak — only to see swooshes and slogans encouraging you to “Just Do It.”

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Oligarchs Have Been Peddling the Idea that Poor People Are to Blame for Their Problems for Centuries

Even major American philanthropists have subscribed to this idea.

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What Can You Do When the Farmer Next Door Sprays Toxic Pesticides?

A friend of mine is a farmer out in Montana. She’s also eight months pregnant with her first child.

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How Racism Sneaks Into Everyday Life

This spring, the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has been the site of several heinous acts of racism: An Asian student was spat on and a black student received a note with obscenities and racial slurs slipped under her door.

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Why Do the Biggest Food Companies Want Us in the Dark About Whether Their Food Is GMO?

I’m sick of writing about labeling genetically engineered foods.

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How Your Emotions Could Be Making You Sick

We often hear about public health crises related to poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. But what about chronic stress?

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Should We Be Paranoid About Hormone Risks from Essential Oils?

When three little boys began growing breasts, their mothers were understandably concerned. Breast growth, known as gynecomastia, is not uncommon in boys during puberty, but it is extremely uncommon prior to puberty. Since estrogen causes breast growth and the boys' hormone levels were normal, their doctor, Clifford Bloch, looked for potential endocrine disruptors that caused the problem. He concluded that lavender and tea tree essential oils were the culprits.

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How McDonald's Tricks Cash-strapped Schools Into Serving Up Their Own Students

When it comes to predatory marketing to children, nobody’s lovin’ it like McDonald’s.

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Letting Pepsi Police Itself Isn’t Very Sweet

If you drink Mug Root Beer or the apple-flavored Manzanita Sol soda, you might unwittingly become one of the first people to try a brand new artificial sweetener. The new product is called Sweetmyx 617, and PepsiCo is blending it with high fructose corn syrup to reduce the calories in these sugary drinks.

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The Beauty of Ugly Food: You Won't Believe How Much Edible Food We're Wasting

After harvesting a bounty of organic tomatoes, the workers at Sage Mountain Farm in Aguanga, Calif., gathered around a table to grade them into four categories: uno (one), dos (two), aguado (mushy), and compost. Only a handful of moldy tomatoes went into the compost. Everything else had a use.

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How Corporate Farmers Are Waging War on Our 1st Amendment

The First Amendment may be inconvenient to some people at times, but it’s still the law of the land. Case in point: so-called “ag-gag laws.”

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