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,

The latest data by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that in state prisons, where about 87 percent of US inmates are held, nearly 53 percent are in for violent offenses (such as murder, manslaughter, robbery, assault, and rape), while only about 16 percent, as Pfaff said, are in for drug offenses.

less selective schools that accept a large number of students from low-income backgrounds...help them climb the income scale. They include schools like the City College of New York, or Cal State Los Angeles, or University of Texas Pan American... All three of those schools took more than a fifth of their students from the bottom fifth of the income scale, and all three are in the top 10 schools ranked by the share of students who move up two or more income quintiles.

while the federal government tends to be relatively diligent about maintaining the dams it owns, the vast majority of dams around the country are either operated by states or private interests, where upkeep tends to be patchier. (Though, in fairness, California, which owns the Oroville Dam, is much better about inspections than most states.)

And one of the remarkable things about this study is that it shows very, very little change in public opinion on Obamacare. Democrats had a theory, back when they passed the law in 2010, that health reform would get more popular as the benefits rolled out and more people got coverage ... But that change never happened — and the country remains just as divided on the health care law as it was on the day Obamacare passed.

it is now possible to aggregate large numbers of DERs into "virtual power plants." By using information technology to coordinate the behavior of a large number of distributed devices, an aggregator can effectively make them behave like a single, large, predictable source ... Virtual power plant" is somewhat too modest, however. DERs do more than generate energy. They can also store it. They can shift electricity demand in response real-time grid conditions.

Trees only improve air quality in their immediate vicinity, about 100 feet or so. That means cities need to figure out which neighborhoods benefit most from new trees (typically the densest areas, but also areas around hospitals and schools). They also have to plant species that are most effective at trapping pollution (typically those with large leaves ... if water is scarce, they’ll want...drought-tolerant varieties. And they may want to steer clear of trees that increase pollen and allergies.

The New York Times story treats GMOs as a single entity... The main thrust of that National Academy report was to...stop treating GMOs as a monolith and assess each crop on its merits. It’s not clear that non-GMOs are better: Europe’s rejection of genetic engineering has led to a surge in crops bred via mutagenesis — which has a higher likelihood of generating genetic unknowns... Even if we decide that genetic engineering isn’t worth the risks, we’ll face risks in other forms of breeding.

The Honeycrisp is a millennial apple born in the 1990s, after years of careful planning. It’s also considered the first “brand name” apple — the University of Minnesota had a patent on it, earning royalties from trees sold to growers ... The texture of a Honeycrisp is no accident: Its cells have been bred to be bigger than cells in other apples, making the fruit feel juicier and crunchier ... Honeycrisps are more expensive than nearly all other common varieties currently on the market.

According to the World Health Organization, as well as being one of the least happy developed countries in the world, the United States is, by a wide margin, also the most anxious, with nearly a third of Americans likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. A 2012 report by the American Psychological Association warned that the nation was on the verge of a “stress-induced public health crisis.”