According to federal data, alcohol is already the second deadliest drug in the country — topped only by another legal substance called "tobacco," which causes an astonishing 480,000 deaths each year by some estimates and 540,000 by others. No other drug comes close to the staggering fatalities of these two. Heroin, which has consumed widespread media attention in the past few years, was linked to fewer than 9,000 deaths in 2013,

Among U.S. cities with populations of over 30,000, only 20 percent of mayors are women. A 2015 report by the American Planning Association not only notes the lack of gender diversity in urban planning careers—the field is 42 percent female—but also the fact that women are more likely to be affected by urban affordability issues: Up to three-quarters of households living in public housing are solely headed by females.

Mastery-based learning, also known as proficiency-based or competency-based learning, is taking hold across the country. Vermont and Maine have passed laws requiring school districts to phase in the system. New Hampshire is adopting it, too, and piloting a statewide method of assessment that would replace most standardized tests… More than 40 schools in New York City — home to the largest school district in the country, with 1.1 million students — have adopted the program.

The US consumes more than 80% of the global opioid pill production even though it has less than 5% of the world’s population. Over the past 20 years, one federal institution after another lined up behind the drug manufacturers’ false claims of an epidemic of untreated pain in the US. They seem not to have asked why no other country was apparently suffering from such an epidemic or plying opioids to its patients at every opportunity.

People 55 and older own 53 percent of U.S. owner-occupied houses, the biggest share since the government started collecting data in 1900...That’s up from 43 percent a decade ago. Those ages 18 to 34 possess just 11 percent. When they were that age, baby boomers had homes at almost twice that level... Property-tax exemptions for longtime residents keep older Americans from moving. Zoning rules make it harder to build affordable apartments attractive to senior citizens.

Ohio has purged 2 million voters from 2011 to 2016, more than any other state, including 1.2 million for infrequent voting. At least 144,000 voters in Ohio’s three largest counties, home to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, were purged since the 2012 election, with voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods twice as likely to be removed as those in Republican-leaning ones, according to a Reuters analysis.

Before Palantir, building each profile was a time-consuming job...for an analyst to tie together information from disparate sources... Because Palantir could automatically integrate everything from citizen tips and crime incidents to field interviews and partial license plates, it dramatically accelerated the production of Chronic Offender Bulletins. What used to take an hour could be generated in three to five minutes. The analysts could now profile every single person stopped by police

even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed—and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese—this one dietary change...substituting beans for beef...could achieve somewhere between 46 and 74 percent of the reductions needed to meet the target ... if everyone were willing and able to do that—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Population swells, climate change, soil degradation, erosion, poaching, global food prices and even the benefits of affluence are exerting incredible pressure on African land. They are fueling conflicts across the continent, from Nigeria in the west to Kenya in the east ... The quality of farmland in many areas is getting worse, and the number of people squeezed onto that land is rising fast

Now, researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a new material that mimics spider silk’s strength, stretchiness and energy-absorbing capacity. This material offers the possibility of improving on products from bike helmets to parachutes to bulletproof jackets to airplane wings. Perhaps its most impressive property? It’s 98 percent water.