More school employees are carrying guns to defend against school shootings. In Ohio, a contentious new law requires no more than 24 hours of training.
President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia; Merrick Garland and Donald Trump; the erased Secret Service texts; political changes; Columbia unranked.
U.S. News & World Report announced that it had “unranked” the Ivy League university after being unable to verify its data.
Large, simultaneous heat waves are growing more common. China, America, Europe and India have all been stricken recently, and scientists are starting to understand why certain far-flung places get hit at once.
Frustrated Americans ask whether the release of graphic photos of gun violence would lead to better policy. But which photos, and who decides?
Jerry Z. Muller’s “Professor of Apocalypse” tells the story of Jacob Taubes, who is largely forgotten today but was at the center of intellectual life after the war.
Lee Bollinger of Columbia, Wayne A.I. Frederick of Howard and Andrew Hamilton of N.Y.U. have had to guide their universities through Covid.
A professor identified several data discrepancies that Columbia University provided to U.S. News & World Report, renewing the debate over the value and accuracy of college rankings.
The virus does not infect nerve cells that detect odors, researchers have found. Instead, it attacks nearby supporting cells.
Intent and an apology must count for something.
The post from Jeffrey Lieberman, which described the model as possibly a “freak of nature,” drew negative attention from medical professionals.
Two small exhibitions, one at the Met Cloisters, the other at the Wallach Art Gallery, bring the personal and political dynamics of devotional art to the fore.
She helped show government agencies around the world how to predict upcoming droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events.
The federal lawsuit against Yale, M.I.T. and other colleges is the latest legal action to question admissions practices.
The agreement follows negotiations that grew tense at times, and those on both sides said they were glad to see the stalemate end.
The murder of a student adjacent to Columbia’s ever-expanding campus renews questions about the school’s obligations to the surrounding communities.
After administrators sent an email saying that students who remained on strike after Friday were not guaranteed jobs next term, union members turned up the heat.
The graduate student, Davide Giri, was fatally stabbed near the school’s campus in Manhattan on Thursday night.
Columbia University’s student workers’ union, made up of 3,000 workers, is striking for the second time this year, calling for higher wages and more protections.
She studied the impact of AIDS on women and explored the effects of famine and poverty on health with an “unwavering commitment to social justice.”
He succeeded in making French philosophy hip and provoking mainstream American culture, but he couldn’t vanquish his childhood memories of Nazi rule.
A half-dozen grocery services offer speed and convenience, but critics worry about their effect on neighborhood stores and crowded city streets.
Intercollegiate golf was born in 1896 when Yale thrashed Columbia with mashies and niblicks. Armed with titanium drivers, Columbia sought revenge.
Hospital staff members looked the other way while Ricardo Cruciani addicted vulnerable women to pain medications and assaulted them, according to a new lawsuit.
The recipe sounds simple: Improve drainage. Use plants, tanks and barriers to slow water. But it takes money and cooperation.
Psychedelics companies are all the rage right now. Compass Pathways is working with the magic mushroom compound psilocybin to treat depression. It’s has raised $290 million in total. Atai Life Sciences — backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel — brought in $258 million from its IPO. In the tech space, this has not gone unnoticed and the same business models that have been used in other platforms for health and wellness startups are coming to psychedelics.
The latest is Journey Clinical, based out of NYC, which has raised a $3 million seed round led by San Francisco VC firm Fifty Years. Also participating were Neo Kuma Ventures, Palo Santo, PsyMed Ventures, Lionheart Ventures, Christina Sass co-founder of Andela, Edvard Engesæth, MD co-founder of Nurx and, Hans Gangeskar co-founder of Nurx.
Journey joins other startups in the space looking at psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, where ketamine is used to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and trauma, known as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP). Miami-based startup NUE Life Health raised a $3.3 million seed round for the same purpose back in June. There is also Field Trip and Mindbloom playing in this space.
These startups are pushing at an open door on depression and anxiety. Pre-COVID-19, the National Center for Health Statistics estimated some 50 million Americans were fighting the afflictions. The pandemic has of course exacerbated this issue, with those figures doubling, by some estimates.
It’s still an early market. Journey says the market landscape for legal psychedelic therapies is very disparate, with over a million licensed mental health professionals lacking the infrastructure to offer these treatments as they lack access to prescribing clinicians. On the flip side, patients struggle to find psychotherapists who can prescribe psychedelics as treatment.
Journey says it has a “decentralized clinic model” that allows psychotherapists to offer legal psychedelic therapy treatments in their practice, starting with ketamine. The way it works is that Journey takes care of the pharmacology side, while psychotherapists that sign up to the platform take care of the psychotherapy of the patient. The treatment plans are then customized to meet the patient’s needs.
Jonathan Sabbagh, co-founder and CEO, was previously diagnosed with PTSD, but after discovering psychedelics, he went back to school to study clinical psychology, and went on to co-found Journey. He said: “We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in the field of mental health. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies are one of the most promising new means of treatment available; they will allow clinicians to tackle the growing global mental health crisis we are facing.”
Speaking to TechCrunch he added: “When we asked what was the main bottleneck for therapists to offer KAP to their patients, the #1 response was access to a prescribing doctor. Our alpha test group confirmed that guaranteeing access to a trained medical team and building a robust care management system would solve an essential bottleneck of mainstream adoption for KAP.”
Journey has two revenue streams. Psychotherapists pay them a $200 monthly membership fee which gives them access to a number of services including and access to the prescriber, an EHR (achieved through a white label), a KAP training (training materials created by a specialized training company), a profile on Journey’s directory, and a community of peers. Patients pay journey for medical services. They pay $250 for the intake consultation and $150 for follow-up consultations.
Ela Madej, Founding Partner at Fifty Years, said: “I dream of a world where those of us affected by trauma, anxiety, or depression don’t have to fall into learned helplessness. We’re lucky that powerful psychedelic treatments for the mind exist, but they need to be delivered responsibly, with proper screening, protocols, and follow-up. We’ve been incredibly impressed by Journey Clinical’s ambitious plan to empower psychotherapists to better treat their existing patients.”
The team also comprises Kyle Lapidus MD, Ph.D., who has over 20 years as a board-certified psychiatrist and has extensive experience working with ketamine; and Brigitte Gordon DNP a professor at Columbia University and also works for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS.)
His radio programs, most notably on Columbia University’s WKCR, were full of minutiae he had accumulated during a lifetime immersed in the genre.
Alen Hadzic of New Jersey is an alternate on the U.S. fencing team but has not been allowed to stay in the Olympic Village.
For his piercing insights on race and culture, Wesley Morris recently received his second Pulitzer Prize. But he won over colleagues long before that.
Throughout the pandemic, nothing has stopped her from going into the office every single day (with fresh flowers).
The first round of funding for the year totals $24 million and will support 225 projects across the country.
Prof. Carl Hart saw drugs as destroyers of communities. Then he saw the positive side. “We have miseducated the public,” he said.
There is a connection between people’s ability to pay rent each month and their mental health.
Retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient and better at withstanding climate change induced extreme weather is going to be a big, multi-billion dollar business. But it’s one that’s been hard for low-income communities to tap, thanks to obstacles ranging faulty incentive structures to an inability to adequately plan for which upgrades will be most effective in which buildings.
Enter BlocPower, a New York-based startup founded by a longtime advocate for energy efficiency and the job creation that comes with it, which has a novel solution for identifying, developing and profiting off of building upgrades in low income communities — all while supporting high-paying jobs for workers in the communities the company hopes to serve.
The company also has managed to raise $63 million in equity and debt financing to support its mission. That money is split between an $8 million investment from some of the country’s top venture firms and a $55 million debt facility structured in part by Goldman Sachs to finance the redevelopment projects that BlocPower is creating.
These capital commitments aren’t charity. Government dollars are coming for the industry and private companies from healthcare providers, to utility companies, to real estate developers and property managers all have a vested interest in seeing this market succeed.
There’s going to be over $1 billion carved out for weatherization and building upgrades in the stimulus package that’s still making its way through Congress
For BlocPower’s founder, Donnel Baird, the issue of seeing buildings revitalized and good high-paying jobs coming into local communities isn’t academic. Baird was born in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood and witnessed firsthand the violence and joblessness that was ripping the fabric of that rich and vibrant community apart during the crack epidemic and economic decline of the 1980s and early 90s.
Seeing that violence firsthand, including a shooting on his way to school, instilled in Baird a desire to “create jobs for disconnected Black and brown people” so they would never feel the hopelessness and lack of opportunity that fosters cycles of violence.
Some time after the shooting, Baird’s family relocated from Brooklyn to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and after graduating from Duke University, Baird became a climate activist and community organizer, with a focus on green jobs. That led to a role in the presidential campaign for Barack Obama and an offer to work in Washington on Obama’s staff.
Baird declined the opportunity, but did take on a role reaching out to communities and unions to help implement the first stimulus package that Obama and Biden put together to promote green jobs.
And it was while watching the benefits of that stimulus collapse under the weight of a fragmented building industry that Baird came up with the idea for BlocPower.
“It was all about the implementation challenges that we ran into,” Baird said. “If you have ten buildings on a block in Oakland and they were all built by the same developer at the same time. If you rebuild those buildings and you retrofit all of those buildings, in five of those buildings you’re going to trap carbon monoxide in and kill everybody and in the other five buildings you’re going to have a reduction in emissions and energy savings.”
Before conducting any retrofits to capture energy savings (and health savings, but more on that later), Baird says developers need to figure out the potential for asbestos contamination in the building; understand the current heating, ventilation, and cooling systems that the building uses; and get an assessment of what actually needs to be done.
That’s the core problem that Baird says BlocPower solves. The company has developed software to analyze a building’s construction by creating a virtual twin based on blueprints and public records. Using that digital twin the company can identify what upgrades a building needs. Then the company taps lines of credit to work with building owners to manage the retrofits and capture the value of the energy savings and carbon offsets associated with the building upgrades.
For BlocPower to work, the financing piece is just as important as the software. Without getting banks to sign off on loans to make the upgrades, all of those dollars from the federal government remain locked up. “That’s why the $7 billion earmarked for investment in green buildings did not work,” Baird said. “At BlocPower our view is that we could build software to simulate using government records… we could simulate enough about the mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing across buildings in NYC so that we could avoid that cost.”
Along with co-founder Morris Cox, Baird built BlocPower while at Columbia University’s business school so that he could solve the technical problems and overcome the hurdles for community financing of renewable retrofit projects.
Right before his graduation, in 2014, the company had applied for a contract to do energy efficiency retrofits and was set to receive financing from the Department of Energy. The finalists had to go down to the White House and pitch the President. That pitch was scheduled for the same day as a key final exam for one of Baird’s Columbia classes, which the professor said was mandatory. Baird skipped the test and won the pitch, but failed the class.
After that it was off to Silicon Valley to pitch the business. Baird met with 200 or more investors who rejected his pitch. Many of these investors had been burned in the first cleantech bubble or had witnessed the fiery conflagrations that engulfed firms that did back cleantech businesses and swore they’d never make the same mistakes.
That was the initial position at Andreessen Horowitz when Baird pitched them, he said. “When I went to Andreessen Horowitz, they said ‘Our policy is no cleantech whatsoever. You need to figure out how software is going to eat up this energy efficiency market’,” Baird recalled.
Working with Mitch Kapor, an investor and advisor, Baird worked on the pitch and got Kapor to talk to Ben Horowitz. Both men agreed to invest and BlocPower was off to the races.
The company has completed retrofits in over 1,000 buildings since its launch, Baird said, mainly to prove out its thesis. Now, with the revolving credit facility in hand, BlocPower can take bigger bites out of the market. That includes a contract with utility companies in New York that will pay $30 million if the company can complete its retrofits and verify the energy savings from that work.
There are also early projects underway in Oakland and Chicago, Baird said.
Building retrofits do more than just provide energy savings, as Goldman Sachs managing director Margaret Anadu noted in a statement.
“BlocPower is proving that it is possible to have commercial solutions that improve public health in underserved communities, create quality jobs and lower carbon emissions,” Anadu said. “We are so proud to have supported Donnel and his team…through both equity and debt capital to further expand their reach.”
These benefits also have potential additional revenue streams associated with them that BlocPower can also capture, according to investor and director, Mitch Kapor.
“There are significant linkages that are known between buildings and pollution that are a public health issue. In a number of geographies community hospitals are under a mandate to improve health outcomes and BlocPower can get paid from health outcomes associated with the reduction in carbon. That could be a new revenue stream and a financing mechanism,” Kapor said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in essentially taking the value creation engine they have and figuring out where to bring it and which other engines they need to have to have the maximum social impact.”
Social impact is something that both Kapor and Baird talk about extensively and Baird sees the creation of green jobs as an engine for social justice — and one that can reunite a lot of working class voters whose alliances were fractured by the previous administration. Baird also believes that putting people to work is the best argument for climate change policies that have met with resistance among many union workers.
“We will not be able to pass shit unless workers and people of color are on board to force the U.S. senate to pass climate change policy,” Baird said. “We have to pass the legislation that’s going to facilitate green infrastructure in a massive way.”
He pointed to the project in Oakland as an example of how climate policies can create jobs and incentivize political action.
“In Oakland we’re doing a pilot project in 12 low income buildings in oakland. I sent them $20K to train these workers from local people of color in Oakland… they are being put to work in Oakland,” Baird said. “That’s the model for how this gets built. So now we need them to call Chuck Shumer to push him to the left on green building legislation.”
An education program is immersing underprivileged students in Ivy League classes, and the students’ success has raised questions about how elite university gatekeepers determine college prospects.
Analysis of a trove of data extracted from the Chicago Police Department has revealed major differences between how black and white officers, as well as male and female ones, actually enforce the law. This rare apples-to-apples comparison supports the idea that improving diversity in law enforcement may also improve the quality of policing.
Historically hard data from police departments has been extremely hard to come by, for a variety of reasons. As the authors put it in the paper:
Rigorous evaluation of the effects of police diversity has been stymied by a lack of sufficiently fine-grained data on officer deployment and behavior that makes it difficult or impossible to ensure that officers being compared are facing common circumstances while on duty.
…At present, a patchwork of nonstandard record-keeping and disclosure practices across roughly 18,000 U.S. police agencies has severely impeded broader policy evaluation.
This study by B.A. Ba et al., however, is based on highly detailed CPD records resulting from requests made to the department over a period of three years. It’s a collaboration between researchers from UC Irvine, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Columbia, and was published today in Science (access is free).
The records include millions of shifts and patrols from 2012 through 2015, which the team carefully sorted and pruned until it had a set that would allow the kind of analysis they hoped to do: comparing police work that is similar in all respects except the demographics of the officers doing it.
If on a Monday in March, in the same district at the same time of day, no serious differences could be found between Black officers and white officers, then race could be tentatively ruled out as a major contributor to how police do their work. On the other hand, if there were serious differences found, then that might indicate — as a topic for further study — the possibility of systemic bias of some kind.
As you might expect, the analysis found that there are indeed serious differences that, having isolated all the other variables, only correlate with the race of the officer. This may seem obvious to some and controversial to others, but the point of this work is not to assume or confirm assumptions, but to show plainly with data that there are disparities associated with race that need investigation and explanation.
Some of the specific findings can be summarized as follows:
- Minority officers (black and Hispanic, self-identified) “receive vastly different patrol assignments,” something that had to be controlled for in order to provide effective comparisons for the other findings.
- Black officers use force 35 percent less than white officers on average, with most of the difference coming from force used against black civilians.
- Black officers perform far fewer “discretionary stops” for “suspicious behavior.”
- Hispanic officers showed similar, but smaller reductions.
- Female officers use force considerably less often than male ones, again especially when it comes to black civilians.
- Much of the disparity in stops, arrests, and use of force results from differences in pursuing low-level offenses, especially in majority-black neighborhoods.
The data show (as a sort of inverse image of the above list) that white male officers stop, arrest, and use force more often, especially on people of color, and frequently as a result of minor crimes or “discretionary stops” with vague justifications.
The researchers are careful to point out that as conclusive as the patterns may appear to be, it’s important to understand that there is no causal mechanism studied or suggested. In fact they expressly point out that the data could be interpreted in two directions:
One explanation for these disparities centers on racial bias, i.e., white officers are more likely than Black officers to harass Black civilians. Technically, it is also possible that Black officers respond more leniently when observing crimes in progress.
More study is required, but they point out that one explanation — leniency by Black officers on minor offenses — has very little effect on public safety (violent crimes are addressed largely the same regardless of race and gender). The other — systemic racism — is significantly more harmful. Though they are “observationally equivalent” in the context of this data specifically, they are not equivalent in consequence. (Nor in likelihood — nor are they entirely incompatible with each other.)
In a valuable commentary on the paper and its implications, Yale’s Philip Atiba Goff notes that its findings are rich in implications that we ignore at our peril:
The magnitude of the differences provides strong evidence that — at least in some cities — the number of officers who identify with vulnerable groups can matter quite a bit in predicting police behavior. Although this does not settle the matter, the work stands alone in its ability to make apples-to-apples comparisons across officers – regardless of how many may be bad apples.
Given that Ba et al. find negligible demographic differences in officers’ responses to community violence, such a large difference in discretionary stops compels a reader to ask: Are any of those excess stops by white officers necessary? Should a department even be making them, given the demonstrated risk for abuse so evident in vulnerable communities?
Are any of those excess use of force incidents by white officers necessary? And if the excess force is not necessary for public safety, why does the department target Black communities for so much physical coercion? These questions are difficult to answer outside a broader engagement with the purpose of policing — and its limitations.
In other words, while it may require further study to get at the core of these issues, police departments may look at them and find that their resources are not necessarily being used to best effect. Indeed they may have to face the possibility — if only to refute it — that much of what officers do has little, no, or even negative value to the community. As Goff concludes:
With violence trending downward the past three decades, mostly troubling small geographic areas, and possibly occupying a small portion of police activity, what should the role of police be? Failing to take seriously the possibility that the answer should be “much less” may end up frustrating both researchers and a public that has been asking the question for far longer than most scientists.
This revealing study was only possible because the authors and legal authorities in Chicago compelled the police there to release this data. As noted above it can be difficult, if it is even possible, to collect large-scale data from any department, let alone from many departments for analysis at a national scale. The authors freely admit that their findings, in their specificity to Chicago, may not apply equally in other cities.
But that’s meant to be a call to action; if when finally given access to real data, researchers find problems of this magnitude, every department in the country should be weighing the benefits and risks of continued obfuscation with those of openness and collaboration.
The university restored the diploma of the accused man, but stands by its initial findings against him.
Administrators and young graduate students have been inoculated at leading research hospitals, contrary to state and federal guidelines.
The Newark native has long been lauded for his brilliant abstractions. Lately he’s writing about something more concrete — and producing his most powerful music yet.
Over a third of young people in foster care in New York City identify as L.G.B.T.Q. and are struggling to find the support they need, according to a new survey.
He was one of the most accomplished foreign correspondents of his generation and a newsroom leader under the renowned executive editor A.M. Rosenthal.
Two new studies show the effect of the emergency $2 trillion package known as the Cares Act and what happened when the money ran out.
The bones are among the hardest to replace in the body. A trial of the new technique in humans is about to begin.
As they memorialize a past tragedy, New Yorkers face another profound and deadly crisis that is not yet over.
The New York-based scientist overcame sexism and personal tragedy to make major contributions to the field, for which she received recognition this year.
Samuel Bard was George Washington’s doctor and delivered Alexander Hamilton’s first son. He was also a “pretty significant slave owner.”
Thousands of Covid-19 patients have been treated with blood plasma outside of rigorous clinical trials — hampering research that would have shown whether the therapy worked.
Thousands of Covid-19 patients have been treated with blood plasma outside of rigorous clinical trials — hampering research that would have showed whether the therapy worked.
Getting medication long meant seeing a licensed provider. Now a strategy for evading Covid-19 makes treatment available via the web.