Something else that’s going downhill these days…the size of our prison population

After over 30 years of exponential growth, the number of prison admissions in this country is going down…so much so that in 2012 it was at a two-decades low.

The author of that piece, Stanford Psychiatry Professor Keith Humphreys, highlighted that as part of an overall trend.

The size of the prison population started to drop for the first time since the early 1970s and has kept dropping since. The rate of annual prison admissions fell to a two-decade low. Politicians on the right and left made common cause against mass incarceration in state after state, cutting sentences, promoting alternatives to incarceration, and closing correctional facilities. For the first time in 40 years, Congress and the President eliminated a mandatory minimum sentence. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization laws swept the land, and the intensity of pot enforcement swooned. Meanwhile, The Affordable Care Act and related reforms made addiction treatment more available than at any time in U.S. history.


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This Couple Is Making Roads Out Of Solar Panels, And They Actually Work

Finding a way to replace regular, concrete roads with ones that could better serve a sustainable world has long been Scott and Julie Brusaw’s dream. Lately, the couple has been working on that dream so much that — at least on Tuesday — they didn’t even sleep.

“All of the publicity is keeping us hopping,” Julie said by e-mail on Wednesday afternoon, after Scott had fallen asleep. “I have over 6,800 unanswered emails in my inbox right now. Not counting all of the thousands I have responded to of course!”

The e-mails are about the couple’s Solar Roadways project, which aims to replace traditional asphalt and concrete roadways with solar panels that are covered with four-square-foot glass hexagon panels. The glass panels are designed not only to withstand the heaviest of trucks, but are also textured, encouraging tires to grip the surface and water to run off. The solar panels underneath generate energy from the sun, which can not only power nearby communities, but also the electric vehicles that drive above them. The power could also fuel embedded heating elements that would melt ice and snow, essentially making plows obsolete. To top it off, the power also lights up yellow LED lights instead of painted-on road lines, making night time driving safer.

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Immune children aid malaria vaccine hunt

DNAA group of children in Tanzania who are naturally immune to malaria are helping scientists to develop a new vaccine.

US researchers have found that they produce an antibody that attacks the malaria-causing parasite.

Injecting a form of this antibody into mice protected the animals from the disease.

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Pharmacy technician sees Obamacare working every day

obamacare-loveIf you want to see the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at work, stand behind a pharmacy counter. That’s what Desirae Clayborn does, and she’s seen nothing but positive experiences.

Clayborn is a pharmacy technician and is studying to be a pharmacist. She admits that when the ACA was first being introduced, customers were “freaking out” despite the pharmacy’s efforts to educate them.

I haven’t noticed anything negative about people changing their insurance plans. The medications people were taking before are still covered, at close to the same amount or even less. Some people come in expecting to pay and find there’s no co-pay. Everyone seems incredibly satisfied with how their plans are working.

President Obama To Create His Largest National Monument So Far

OrganMountainsOn Wednesday, President Obama created his second national monument of the year, designating the Organ Mountains in New Mexico a protected area.

The Organ Mountains, located at the southern end of New Mexico, will be the 11th and largest national monument of Obama’s presidency. The White House says that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will create $7.4 million in new annual economic activity in the region, a finding that first appeared in a 2013 report. That report also found the monument would double the number of outdoor recreation and tourism jobs in the region and contribute $560,000 in state and local tax revenue.

The monument encompasses a total of 496,000 acres, land which contains Native American petroglyphs in its canyons and is one of the most botanically diverse mountain ranges in New Mexico, home to about 870 vascular (i.e. plants with roots, stems, and leaves) plant species and a recorded 210 species of birds. The monument’s designation will “preserve the prehistoric, historic and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. Cattle ranchers who grazed the land before it was designated a monument will still be able to graze there — a rule that’s typical of new monuments — but all drilling and fracking will be prohibited. The area may have some mineral resources, yet new mining is not allowed in areas designated as national monuments.

Insurers give $1.5B in rebates under O-Care

hcrInsurance companies returned over $1.5 billion in rebates to consumers between 2011 and 2012, according to a report issued on Tuesday.

The reason is an ObamaCare requirement meant to force companies to spend a higher proportion of premiums on medical costs or quality improvements.

The new law states that 80-85 percent of premiums must be used by companies to pay for treatment and medical costs. Companies that fail to meet that ratio must pay rebates.

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