Austin Eubanks became addicted to painkillers after the 1999 shooting – lean into the pain and grief, not try to escape it, he cautions

in New York

Austin Eubanks is the chief operations officer of an addiction treatment center in Colorado, and speaks widely on trauma and addiction.
Austin Eubanks, now 36, is the chief operations officer of an addiction treatment center in Colorado, and speaks widely on trauma and addiction.Photograph: Courtesey of Austin Eubanks/Courtesy of Austin Eubanks

Nineteen years ago, Austin Eubanks hid under a table in his high school library as two students opened fire on their classmates. He and his friends had been ready to get lunch when they first heard gunshots outside. They had not recognized the sound, thinking the bangs were just construction noises. Then a teacher ran into the library and screamed at them to hide.

When the shooting stopped, Eubanks fled through the smoke out of the library, and out of the school. He was 17, with gunshot wounds in his hand and knee, and he had just witnessed his best friend killed in front of him.

Hours after a new school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Eubanks, now 36, spoke about the vivid parallels between yesterday’s school shootings, and the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999.


“The similarity here, just in the images coming out in the media, with Columbine, is pretty surreal: The students rushing out with their hands above their heads and the armored vehicles and the police cars and the ambulances on the grass,” Eubanks said on Wednesday evening. “This one is really close to home.”

“The primary emotion for me these days is anger,” he said. “That’s because I see the aftermath of what happens.”

Eubanks, who works at a long-term residential treatment center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, now speaks publicly on the links between mass shootings and other violence and America’s growing opioid crisis.

“We’re dealing with a problem of massive proportions with the rise in mass violence, and I think there’s a direct correlation with the rise in addiction,” he said.

When he was 17, injured and grieving the death of his friend, Eubanks did not know how to process the trauma he experienced. Instead, he tried to hide from the pain.

Within months of the Columbine shooting, Eubanks, who was prescribed opiate medication for his shooting injuries, was addicted to painkillers, using medication to avoid dealing with the grief of the shooting. It would be more than 12 years of damaged relationships, and, multiple arrests for fights, theft and impulsive behavior, before he finally got sober.

His advice for the survivors of Wednesday’s school shooting is to lean into the pain and grief that they are feeling, not try to escape it.

“You can heal physical pain while you’re medicating it. You cannot heal emotional pain while you are medicating it,” he said. While survivors will look for something in their lives that allows them to detach from the pain – substance abuse, negative relationships, technology – that’s the wrong choice.

Austin Eubanks with his girlfriend during a community wide memorial service in Littleton, Colorado, on 25 April 1999, for the victims of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School.
Austin Eubanks with his girlfriend during a community wide memorial service in Littleton, Colorado, on 25 April 1999, for the victims of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School. Photograph: Laura Rauch/AP

“In order to health emotional pain, you have to feel it,” he said. “You want to feel better immediately, [but] you have to have the courage to sit in and feel it, and if you can do that long enough, you will come out on the other side.”

Along with post-traumatic stress, Eubanks said, there is also the potential for post-traumatic growth. “That doesn’t imply you will ever be the same person again. After a trauma, you will be changed forever.”

At Columbine, 12 students and one teacher were murdered, and two dozen injured, before the two perpetrators killed themselves. In Parkland, after two decades of Congressional refusal to pass stricter gun laws, the death toll is even higher, with at least 17 people dead, including a football coach. The Parkland shooting is the deadliest high school shooting in contemporary American history, according to mass shooting statistics compiled by Mother Jones, which has tracked incidents going back to 1982.

But the effect of a shooting like Columbine or Parkland cannot be measured only in the number of those injured or killed, Eubanks said. The students who witnessed the shooting, the ones who lost friends, the first responders who have to witness the full extent of the carnage, the family members – all of these people are affected by a shooting, and the impact of the trauma and grief they experience can be passed along, to their partners and their children, particularly when survivors turn to substance abuse to cope with what they’ve experienced.

“The trauma, it ripples through society,” he said. “What would initially start as a few hundred directly affected will become thousands, and, in ten years, tens of thousands just from this one shooting.”

“These are massive, massive traumas, and it’s like an earthquake, it ripples. That’s what I want people to see.”

“My fear is that we’re going to be in the same place that we are every time: that everyone is going to fracture in their opinion and nothing is going to change. If we have a government that is not even willing to fund a study into why this is occurring--there’s no better definition of putting your head int the sand than that.”

Eubanks said he would like to see the government invest in research to understand and address violence, rather than bowing to political pressure to cut off funding for public health research on guns at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the United States did in 1996.

“There’s a common thread through all of this and nobody’s talking about it. The common thread is isolation, loneliness and adverse childhood experiences.”

“Why is it always men? It’s not testosterone that’s doing this,” he said. “There’s something wrong in our society and we have to figure out what it is.”

Social media users have loved the sight of Antti Koskinen and the Finnish Winter Olympic squad knitting, for the second Winter Olympics in a row

Martin Belam

and agencies

Antti Koskinen, snowboard head coach, shows off his knitting skills in Pyeongchang
Antti Koskinen, snowboard head coach, shows off his knitting skills in PyeongchangPhotograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

The head coach of Finland’s snowboarders, Antti Koskinen, became a social media sensation this week when he was seen knitting at the top of the run in Pyeongchang during the Winter Olympics.

But this is not the first time that Finnish Olympians have got their knitting needles out in competition. Koskinen caused a similar stir in 2014 at Sochi.

Shelby-Jai Flick (@ShelbyJaiFlick)

The Finnish coach is KNITTING at the top of the slopestyle course. Someone please find out what this man is making!!!

February 10, 2018

In 2014, the team said they were working together to knit a scarf to hand over to Finland’s summer Olympic team for 2016 summer games in Rio. Not that it’s entirely clear why you would have needed a scarf in Brazil.

Finland’s Antti Koskinen spotted knitting in Sochi in 2014
Finland’s Antti Koskinen spotted knitting in Sochi in 2014 Photograph: Twitter/GraceWen

This time there’s a very different cause the team are knitting for – a blanket for the Finnish president’s child.

Olympic Team Finland (@OlympicTeamFI)

We are #knitting again 😀 In Sochi we made a huge scarf, this time we are knitting a blanket for our presidential couple’s newborn son. 💙🇫🇮

February 12, 2018

President Sauli Niinisto’s wife Jenni Haukio gave birth to the couple’s first child on 2 February.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and spouse Jenni Haukio leave hospital with their new baby boy in Helsinki
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and spouse Jenni Haukio leave hospital with their new baby boy in Helsinki Photograph: Emmi Korhonen/AFP/Getty Images

“Everyone is knitting a little square, and then we will join them together” explained Koskinen. The coach said that around half of the 102-strong Finnish team were knitting at these Games.

He also said that the habit also helps him during competitions. “It has become something of a hobby for me. I mean I do it every four years … it is a nice, Finnish thing … it means no unnecessary chit-chat is needed.”

Antti Koskinen, snowboard head coach and snowboarder Roope Tonteri gave a news conference about the knitting on Valentine’s Day
Antti Koskinen, snowboard head coach and snowboarder Roope Tonteri gave a news conference about the knitting on Valentine’s Day Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

One of Finland’s snowboarders, Enni Rukajärvi, took enough of a break from the knitting to win the bronze medal in the slopestyle competition in Pyeongchang.

Enni Rukajärvi, of Finland, celebrates her bronze medal after the women’s slopestyle final
Enni Rukajärvi, of Finland, celebrates her bronze medal after the women’s slopestyle final Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

Former anti-apartheid activist replaces Jacob Zuma after he dramatically resigned

Africa correspondent

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at parliament in Cape Town to be sworn in as president.Photograph: Mike Hutchings/AFP/Getty Images

Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president of South Africa by a parliamentary vote, less than 16 hours after his rival Jacob Zuma resigned after days of defiantly refusing to leave office.

The appointment as head of state of Ramaphosa, 65, who became interim leader following Zuma’s late-night resignation on Wednesday, was announced by South Africa’s chief justice in Cape Town, who presided over the vote.

Ramaphosa, wearing a dark suit and red tie, sat quietly while lawmakers from the ruling African National Congress stood, clapped and sang in celebration. He was elected unopposed.

MPs in the South African parliament
South African MPs sing and raise their hands as Ramaphosa is sworn in. He was elected unopposed. Photograph: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

In a short speech, the former deputy president reached out to opposition parties, telling parliamentarians that “South Africa must come first in everything we do” and pledging to fight corruption.

“This is not yet uhuru (freedom). We have never said it is uhuru. We are going to seek to improve the lives of our people on an ongoing basis, and since 1994, we have done precisely that,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANC has a substantial majority in parliament and the vote was effectively a formality. Although deeply divided, the party has already closed ranks after the crisis of recent days and rallied around Ramaphosa.


Who is Cyril Ramaphosa?

Early life

Ramaphosa was born in Soweto, a township near Johannesburg and the centre of the anti-apartheid struggle, in 1952. He became involved in activism to end the apartheid system while studying at university and was arrested in 1974, spending 11 months in solitary confinement.

End of apartheid

After graduating, he co-founded the National Union of Mineworkers, which is now one of the biggest and most powerful trade unions in South Africa. Ramaphosa was a key part of a taskforce that led South Africa's transition to democracy and is credited with being a skilled negotiator. Despite Nelson Mandela describing him as one of the most gifted leaders of the "new generation", Ramaphosa failed to get the ANC nomination to succeed Mandela as president in 1999.


After that blow, Ramaphosa swapped politics for a lucrative foray into business, using his union connections and becoming one of the richest men in the country. His popularity took a knock in 2012 when police shot dead 34 striking workers at a mine operated by London-listed Lonmin. At the time of the killings, Ramaphosa was on the board of directors and had called for a crackdown on the strikers, whom he accused of "dastardly criminal" behaviour.

Return to politics

In 2012 Ramaphosa returned to politics and two years later he became South Africa's deputy president. Despite being part of Zuma's administration, he is seen as a reformer who will steer the country away from the corruption scandals that have hurt the economy.

Photograph: Cornell Tukiri/EPA
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Party officials who nominated him described the president as “a revolutionary cadre who has served the people of South Africa all his life and will strength the unity of our country”.

Patrick Maesela, an ANC MP, said: “Africa and the world are pinning their hopes on your revolutionary leadership.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical leftwing opposition party, walked out of parliament, saying the assembly was illegitimate and new elections were necessary.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, offered congratulations and said his party would “cooperate” if the president “acts in the interests of the people of South Africa”. Maimane said the country did not have a “Jacob Zuma problem but ... an ANC problem”.

Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist turned successful businessman, is the standard bearer for the moderate, reformist faction of the ANC. Zuma, 75, represented the party’s more populist, nationalist elements, commentators said.

The latter’s resignation put an end to an intense political crisis that threatened to inflict significant damage on the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the country’s first free elections in 1994.

In a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday, Zuma said he was a disciplined member of the party, to which he had dedicated his life.

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Jacob Zuma: South Africa’s scandal-struck president resigns – video

“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment,” he said. “I will continue to serve the people of South Africa and the ANC. I will dedicate my life to continuing to work for the execution of the policies of our organisation.

“The ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.”

The announcement ended an extraordinary day in South African politics, which begun with a dawn raid on the home of the Guptas, a business family at the centre of recent corruption allegations levelled at Zuma.

Ajay Gupta, one of the three Gupta brothers accused of having improper links to Zuma, was declared a fugitive from justice on Thursday after failing to hand himself in to police.

Zuma, who has led the ANC since 2007 and been South Africa’s president since 2009, was due to leave power next year. His tenure was marred by economic decline and multiple charges of graft, undermining the image and legitimacy of the party that led the struggle against apartheid.

African National Congress supporters celebrate outside parliament in Cape Town
African National Congress supporters celebrate outside parliament in Cape Town. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

The crisis of recent days has further damaged the ANC, as well as angering many South Africans, who are becoming increasingly impatient with the party’s opaque internal procedures.

In December, Ramaphosa won a bitterly fought ANC leadership election. Party strategists wanted Zuma to be sidelined as quickly as possible, to allow the ANC to regroup before campaigning starts for elections in 2019.

The party suffered significant setbacks in municipal polls in 2016 and could be forced into a coalition government at the national level, experts have said.

As president, Ramaphosa will have to balance the need to reassure foreign investors and local businesses with the intense popular demand for dramatic measures to address South Africa’s deep problems. The former trade union leader has said South Africa is coming out of a “period of uncertainty, a period of darkness, and getting into a new phase”.

Richard Calland, an expert in South African politics at the University of Cape Town, said Ramaphosa would have “the chance to rebuild government and the party at the same time”.

Annika Larsen (@AnnikaLarsen1)

President elect Cyril Ramaphosa and Former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel catching up at 6 am for a POWER walk on the Sea Point promenade this morning. No red socks and very few bodyguards. @eNCA#ZumaResigns . These are my running friends!

February 15, 2018

In recent days, the rand has strengthened and many analysts have revised upwards their predictions of South Africa’s economic growth.

After Zuma’s address, the ANC immediately closed ranks. Jessie Duarte, the party’s deputy secretary general, told reporters the ANC was “not celebrating” at a “very painful moment”.

The EU has not abandoned the idea of suspending British access to parts of the single market, if the government flouts the rules of a Brexit transition, EU diplomats have told the Guardian.

A “punishment clause” that would allow the EU to suspend some single market benefits, such as free movement of goods, sparked a row between David Davis and Michel Barnier last week. The Brexit secretary accused Brussels of discourteous behaviour, while the EU’s chief negotiator said he was surprised by the uproar.

In a controversial footnote appended to a draft legal text, the EU said it should be allowed to suspend UK access to the single market during a transition.

European judges take 15 months on average to reach a verdict on cases of EU law-breaking, which has prompted worries the UK might be tempted to ignore the rules during the 21-month transition.

While the footnote has been dropped, the idea has not gone away and will be covered in a different chapter of the Brexit treaty dedicated to dispute-management.
EU diplomats had objected to the last-minute insertion of the footnote by Barnier’s team. The language was described as aggressive, but sources denied reports that it had been watered down.

One diplomat told the Guardian the EU had not given up the idea of suspending single market access during the transition.

In the end what instrument does the EU have to make the UK pay or change if they are infringing something, because they are diverging from the acquis [EU law]

A second said it was likely the EU would insert “similar language into our enforcement text” adding that small businesses “can’t sit around and wait for lengthy legal procedures”, especially when Britain’s future ties with the EU remained unclear.

The next text, however, is likely to spell out a fast-track process for investigating rule-breaking based on the EU’s regular infringement procedures, where the UK has the right of reply. The draft has yet to be agreed by diplomats.

It’s Political Messaging 101: You can’t beat Trump by talking about him all the time.

We should be talking about our economic future, but all we’re talking about our 45th president. Look at this chart, which shows the top story on social media accounts by social category for the first year (more or less) of Trump’s presidency:

(Source: Echelon Insights)

Stunning, isn’t it? Trump dominates the media landscape like some paint-and-plaster Colossus, his conquering limbs striding from news cycle to news cycle.

I agree with Ezra Klein on at least one crucial point about this chart. (It’s from Klein’s piece, “Trump is winning.”) The president is “setting both the terms and tone of the debate.”

The Rest of the Story

When everyone is focused on our 45th president, how can Democrats hold your attention long enough to make the case that they will make people’s lives better? Here’s what that chart looks like if you take Trump coverage out of the picture:

Two stories seem to have staying power across all four categories: the Russia investigation, and healthcare. One of those stories involves Trump and the people around him, but doesn’t address the issues that affect people’s day-to-day lives. The other affects their lives – and sometimes deaths – directly.

A Rorschach Test

Democrats have devoted a lot more attention to the first story, Russia, than they have to the issue of healthcare. 16 Democratic senators joined Bernie Sanders in sponsoring a Medicare For All bill, including most of the party’s presidential candidates in that body. But the party is divided on the topic, as it is on other crucial economic issues.

The party’s predilection for mingling with lobbyists and other high-dollar donors, as reported here and elsewhere, isn’t helping to resolve its split. And so, leading Democrats and sympathetic pundits have been focusing on Trump’s personality and the Russia investigation instead.

A Democratic email blast sent last month included the rather plaintive subject line, “Let’s get into Trump’s Twitter feed.” Is that as high as the party now dares to dream?

↓ Story continues below ↓

But the Russia investigation is something of a Rorschach test. Many party loyalists see it as an open-and-shut case: Trump has treasonously conspired with a foreign power and must be impeached. I hate to be a killjoy, but that does not seem to have been confirmed by any independent investigation, including Robert Mueller’s. It may be someday, but that’s far from certain.

Russia certainly fires up the Democratic base. It is the topic that seems to interest it the most, aside from Trump himself. But it should be noted that the Russia story is itself a Trump story, and this interest has been fueled in part by the relentless focus on this narrative by party leaders and media allies.

An Open Conspiracy

That lets the Republican Party, including Trump, off the hook for its better-documented nefarious deeds. With this week’s unveiling of Trump’s infrastructure plans and budget proposals, as well as other recent stories, American have learned that the president and his party:

Want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by $1.8 trillion.

These cuts would hit seniors especially hard, since Medicare is their primary source of health care and Medicaid pays roughly two-thirds of all nursing home costs. As Nancy Altman of Social Security Works says, Trump also has proposed slashing Meals on Wheels, home heating assistance, and other programs for seniors.

Seniors turn out to vote in off-year elections in disproportionately large numbers. When voters miss this story, it helps Republicans.

Would impose work requirements and lifetime caps on Medicaid.

The Administration’s drive toward work requirements for Medicaid will be devastating for poor families. 43 million Americans are poor. And since 60 percent of Americans will spend at least one year of their lives in poverty, according to a 2015 study, this could affect many more working families in coming years.

Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services is also looking at imposing lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage, as noted by Fierce Healthcare, a health industry newsletter. This could result in Dickensian horror stories, and the deaths of thousands of people every year.

Want to sell large chunks of America’s infrastructure, including highways, to corporate interests.

As Sam Pizzigati notes, the intrusion of corporations into government, combined with the free-market ideology that has gripped leaders of both parties, has already led to rush-hour highway tolls that approach $50 for a one-way trip in suburban Washington D.C.

Rather than tax the area’s millionaires to build and maintain adequate roads, leaders in the surrounding states have opted to impose “market-driven” tolls on commuters. Meanwhile, the DC-area Metro subway system – once a source of national pride – continues to crumble as funding declines.

Trump’s infrastructure plan is a sham. Its “$1.5 trillion” price tag actually amounts to only $200 billion in federal spending over ten years – less than one-sixth of the advertised figure – and that amount would be purloined from other vital programs.

This much-vaunted plan is a letdown, even from previous Republican presidencies. George W. Bush signed a $286.4 billion infrastructure bill in 2005. That’s $359 billion in 2018 dollars. Bush also started a $2 trillion war by misleading the American people. That hasn’t stopped a majority of Democrats from wallowing in misplaced nostalgia for his presidency, according to an October 2017 poll.

The Other Republicans

And therein lies the danger for Democrats. When they paint Trump as uniquely venal, they open the door for a public embrace of other Republicans – including Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

That’s not just politically foolish. It’s also a misreading of the man himself. Trump is not a deviation from Republican ideology or beliefs; he is their fullest flowering. He is not the party’s nightmare. He is its id, the manifestation of its darkest impulses. His biases are their biases, as seen in a recent GOP immigration bill that echoes Trump’s proposals. On economic matters, he now shares his party’s Randian, dystopic vision.

Democrats should respond, first and foremost, by distinguishing their policies from those of Trump and his fellow Republicans. The House Democrats’ $1 trillion infrastructure plan is a good start, but it has failed to get media traction in today’s Trump- and Russia-dominated discourse.

They should link other Republicans to Trump – not because they are personally as crude and hateful, but because they share the same goals and values.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who seems determined to match the carbon footprint of a coal-fired power plant with his extravagant private plane usage, is a Republican. So is Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the Big Pharma executive who is spearheading that inhumane experiment in Medicaid coverage limits. (He used to work for George W. Bush, that Democratic sentimental favorite.)

Despite the pundits’ misplaced hopes in Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s ex-Marine Chief of Staff exacerbates all his leader’s worst tendencies. Anybody who was paying attention to Kelly during his tenure at Homeland Security knew he is a terrible human being. Now we know he’s also an incompetent manager.

Marco Rubio, who’s positioning himself as a civilized alternative to Trump, recently proposed that working people should trade family leave for Social Security coverage. That’s like saying, “I don’t have to share our food. You can gnaw off your own leg instead.”

Mess on the Highway

We can’t ignore Trump as a personality, because his behavior sets a tone for the nation. His greed, racism, corruption, and troglodytic attitude toward women and their abusers, appear to be having a profound and damaging effect on society. Attacks on Muslims and Latinos are on the rise, and he is trying to lead a backlash against the rights of women and minorities.

Trump is is impossible to ignore, like a festering carcass on a six-lane highway. That makes him irresistible to writers; I’ve slipped a time or two myself. But what’s true for that carcass is also true with him: if you don’t turn your eyes away eventually, sooner or later you’re going to crash.

Good Morning, Madame President

It’s true that the Democratic base loves to dish about Russia, and loves to trash Trump. These stories have probably played a significant (though hardly exclusive) role in a string of off-year victories since Trump took office. Democrats still face a struggle trying to retake the House, but things are looking better.

Still, what happens if Democrats eke out a slim majority and retake the House? Will they pass a bold series of bills that show voters what their party would do if it took back the Senate and White House? Or will the party avoid alienating its funders by restricting itself to hearings about Trump and Russia?

Democrats might even succeed in impeaching Trump; it only takes a simple majority to do so. But what then? A Republican Senate would not vote to convict him. And even if Trump stepped down or was removed, another Republican would replace him. In the meantime, the party would have failed to present an agenda voters can rally around – especially the 40 to 50 percent who don’t vote at all.

Unless… Mike Pence is impeached and forced from office too. If that happens, Nancy Pelosi would become president. Now that would be interesting.

But the question would remain, as President Pelosi sat down at her desk in the Oval Office to begin the first day of her presidency:

What does her party want to do now?

crossposted from

Last night, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio tweeted out the same trite banality he always does when there's been a particularly bad massacre (as opposed to a run-of-the-mill, almost daily massacre) in the United States:

Heartbreaking news out of Florida. Jane and I send our prayers to the school, the community, and the victims of this tragedy.

— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) February 14, 2018

MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle didn't think much of his standard-issue boiler-plate, especially so as Portman is part of the problem himself, with over $3 million in NRA donations over the years. ($3,061,941 to be exaxt, according to the Center for Responsive Politics).

Thoughts, prayers & $3mm in donations from the NRA.

— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) February 15, 2018

So where does this figure come from? From the same source, the NRA gave Portman $710,000 for his 2016 race against Ted Strickland. They also spent $2.3 million running negative ads and mailers against Strickland, all to make sure that this pro-death Senator stays in Congress to do their bidding. In total, the NRA spent over $54 million in the last election alone to keep their pro-death agenda humming along.

And who are the leading pro-death Senators? Portman isn't even the worst offender. Not by a long shot, pardon the pun.

Are the lifetime leaders, according to the data, and presented in a New York Times article last fall.

And for 2016 alone, here are your most pro-death recipients:

Donald Trump — $31,194,646

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — $6,297,551
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — $3,298,405
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — $3,105,294
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) — $2,888,132
Former Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) — $2,529,305
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)— $2,319,755
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)—$650,745
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.)—$215,786
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)—$167,411

A rogue's gallery of villains, one and all.

  • Americans fail to convert chances as Canada win 2-1
  • Teams still tipped to face each other again in next week’s final


Canada players celebrate during their victory over Team USA at the Winter Olympics
Canada players celebrate during their victory over Team USA at the Winter Olympics.Photograph: Javier Etxezarreta/EPA

The US women have no problem getting chances when they play the Canadians. At the moment they just can’t seem to get them into the net.

The American women’s scoring dilemma against their arch-rivals was never more evident than in Thursday’s preliminary round matchup between the only two women’s ice hockey teams ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Team USA, who hit the post at least three times and missed a penalty shot, outshot Canada 45-23 but came away with a 2-1 loss.

Both teams advance to the semi-finals, where Canada will face either Switzerland or the Olympic Athletes from Russia. Team USA will play either Sweden or Finland.

“We gotta bury our chances,” said US forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who set an Olympic record on Tuesday for the shortest span between goals by the same player – six seconds – against the Olympic Athletes of Russia.

“We had a lot of shots on net and had a lot of opportunities, I think, to get some loose pucks in the net on scrums, and we just were a few inches off on a lot of them. So we just gotta find a way to get those hard-nosed goals.”

Emblematic of their scoring travails, Lamoureux-Davidson failed to convert a penalty shot late in the second period. After getting Canadian goalkeeper Genevieve LaCasse down to her knees, leaving an opening to the net on her stick side, Lamoureux-Davidson lifted a backhander that rose over the cross bar. “I got her to drop and then I caught the knob of her stick,” she said.

The US have now dropped five straight matches to the Canadians, getting outscored 11-4 in that span despite outshooting them 166-132.

While his players are clearly frustrated, coach Robb Stauber felt his team will soon start scoring more. “When you do those little things right, when the seal breaks, it’s going to break open and we believe that if we stick to the process of outshooting teams two-to-one, it’s not a matter of is it going to happen, it’s a matter of when,” Stauber said.

The Hopi tribe is taking on an Arizona ski resort over its use of artificial snow: ‘People compare it to baptizing a baby with reclaimed water’

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in Flagstaff, Arizona

Snow-generating cannons sit alongside a ski lift at Arizona Snowbowl.
Snow-generating cannons sit alongside a ski lift at Arizona Snowbowl.Photograph: Caitlin O'Hara/for Getty/The Guardian

To the Hopi tribe, the San Francisco Peaks are sacred. The cluster of mountains rise dramatically from grasslands and ponderosa forests in northern Arizona, and the Hopi say they are home to spiritual beings called kachinas that are believed to bring the rain and snow to their reservation.

But the tribe has been allowed to move forward with a lawsuit against a local ski resort over what the tribe deems to be a desecration of the holy mountains: spraying artificial snow made from treated sewage.

“People compare it to baptizing a baby with reclaimed water,” said Ed Kabotie, a Hopi tribal member and artist. “Nobody would think about something like that.”

Signs around the Arizona Snowbowl resort, about 15 miles from Flagstaff, warn skiers not to drink the water used in making snow, but state regulations allow for its use in irrigating crops and watering parks. It has been found to contain trace amounts of substances such as Prozac, Deet and ibuprofen. They occur on the order of a few dozen to a few hundred parts per trillion, which, for comparison, is far less than a grain of salt in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

In its complaint, the tribe contends that the purity of sacred sites and natural resources will be compromised by artificial snow that gets blown outside the ski resort boundaries or seeps into the surrounding forest as it melts.

Ed Kabotie, a member of the Hopi tribe.
Ed Kabotie, a member of the Hopi tribe. Photograph: Caitlin O'Hara/for Getty/The Guardian

Even the act of making snow – of turning to manmade technology to replace the natural water cycle – goes against Hopi beliefs, said Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, the recently retired Hopi Cultural Preservation Office director. It is the duty of the spiritual people, the kachina people, to bring that snow, Kuwanwisiwma said.

For a people who have learned to live with the cycles of the sun, the moon, seasons and moisture, “making snow is kind of like shaking your fist at God”, Kabotie said.

The Hopi’s opposition to snowmaking echoes other recent efforts by Native American tribes to stand up to oil pipelines and mining on historic and sacred lands. In many cases, as at Snowbowl, these areas are now designated as public lands and are under the control of the federal government.

As climate change brings warmer and drier conditions to the US south-west, snowmaking is a hedge against shorter snow seasons and precipitation falling as rain instead of powder. There have been just 34in of natural snowfall at the resort this winter, too little to keep it open for business, but thanks to the snow guns the resort has made about three-quarters of its runs skiable with a thick layer of manmade powder..

“I don’t ever question tribal beliefs or culture. I don’t question that when they say it’s sacred. But it’s public land with a land use designation for a ski area and it has been designated that way since 1938,” said JR Murray, Snowbowl’s general manager. “There are hundreds of thousands of people per year that enjoy the recreation we provide and the snowmaking sustains that.”

Arizona Snowbowl opened 80 years ago and is one of just four ski resorts in this desert-dominated state. In legal battles that have continued for more than a decade, the Hopi and other tribes, sometimes joined by environmental groups, have sued the federal government and the city of Flagstaff to halt snowmaking at Snowbowl. So far, both county and federal judges have decided against the Hopi and other tribes, and Snowbowl has fired up its snow guns every winter since 2012.

A sign warning visitors not to ingest the snow generated from wastewater at Arizona Snowbowl.
A sign warning visitors not to ingest the snow generated from wastewater at Arizona Snowbowl. Photograph: Caitlin O'Hara/for Getty/The Guardian

In 2016, the city and the tribe seemed close to reaching a settlement under which the city would construct a filtration system to further treat water before it is pumped up to the mountain. As part of the system’s design, water would percolate through earthen materials, emulating the spring water that emerges from desert mesas on the Hopi reservation. The tribe unanimously approved the agreement, but the Flagstaff city council chose to set the measure aside.

One lawsuit by the Hopi now remains in play and tribal members claimed a rare victory when, last week, the state appeals court ruled that their deep connection to the peaks gives the tribe standing to move forward with its claim that snowmaking causes a public nuisance.

In the tourism-focused economy of Flagstaff, hotels, stores and restaurants depend on snow. “There is a direct correlation between what I’m doing in the shop and what Snowbowl has to offer,” said one local ski shop owner, Josh Bangle, who added that without artificial snowmaking, he probably would not be able to keep his doors open.

“It’s a frustrating thing for me because I live to ski and this is the closest and best option,” a Flagstaff resident, Caitlin Winterbottom, said. “But I also don’t necessarily love the idea of supporting an organization that is not respectful of the native tribes.”

The New York Times has hired conservative (but anti-Trump) ex-Wall Street Journal opinion writers Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss in the past year, and now The Washington Post has responded in kind:

The Washington Post today announced Megan McArdle will be a columnist for the Opinions section starting March 1. In this role, McArdle will write columns with a focus on the intersection of economics, business and public policy.

“Megan offers one of the liveliest, smartest, least predictable takes on policy, politics and everything else, from the history of washing machines to essential rules for living,” said Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page editor for The Post. “We’re excited to share her perspective and her distinctive voice with our readers and to deepen our coverage of economic and financial topics.”

What do we regard as McArdle's most appalling hot take? Perhaps your choice would be the column in which she recommended training children to rush mass murderers:

I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

My pick would be the column in which, after a horrendous fire in England, she argued that not installing sprinkler systems in public housing might be justified on cost-benefit grounds:

Maybe sprinkler systems should be required in multifamily dwellings. It’s completely possible that the former housing minister made the wrong call. But ... safety regulations come at a cost, which may exceed their benefit. Such calculations have to be made, no matter how horrified the tut-tutting after the fact.

↓ Story continues below ↓

... When it comes to many regulations, it is best to leave such calculations of benefit and cost to the market, rather than the government. People can make their own assessments of the risks, and the price they’re willing to pay to allay them, rather than substituting the judgment of some politician or bureaucrat who will not receive the benefit or pay the cost.

Grenfell Tower, of course, was public housing, which changes the calculation somewhat. And yet, even there, trade-offs have to be made. The government spends money on a great number of things, many of which save lives. Every dollar it spends on installing sprinkler systems cannot be spent on the health service, or national defense, or pollution control. Would more lives be saved by those measures or by sprinkler systems in public housing? It’s hard to say.

The New Republic's Jeet Heer writes:

It's strange how Never Trump Republicans have no real constituency in general population but are becoming ever more beloved by newspaper editorial pages.

— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 13, 2018

The press is the child who finds a pile of manure under the Christmas tree and optimistically says, "There must be a pony somewhere!" The manure pile is the contemporary Republican Party; the pony being sought is a future post-Trump party that's hawkish and fiscally conservative but is house-trained and able to maintain good manners in the presence of decent, well-bred people. The editors of the Times and Post opinion sections don't seem to care that every Republican in government is either a Trumper or a soon-to-be-retiree, and that the GOP voter base is besotted with Trump -- there simply is no #NeverTrump GOP anymore. The editors also seem to have overlooked the fact that a significant percentage of what's awful about the GOP predates Trump: its choice of Ayn Rand as a guiding spirit, its undying faith in plutocrats and deregulation, and its reliance on Fox News to generate both publicity and ideas. No matter -- opinion writers will be hired as if the party will someday be a good-faith participant in the process of governing. Our top editors don't understand that that won't be the case at any time in the foreseeable future.

As I've said many times, when 2020 comes around the media's distaste for Trump won't necessarily result in positive coverage for his Democratic opponent. I expect the press to all but beg John Kasich to run, or Mitt Romney (who'll be a Utah senator by then). If either of these guys runs third-party, the media's energy will be directed to the "insurgent" campaign, not to the Democrat's. Trust me.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

Former Haiti director Roland van Hauwermeiren says media will be ‘blushing’ when they hear facts about claims of sexual misconduct

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Bill and Melinda Gates FoundationAbout this content

The logo on the front of an Oxfam bookshop
Speaking to the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Roland van Hauwermeiren did not elaborate on what he felt was untrue.Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

The former senior Oxfam official accused of being at the centre of a sexual misconduct ring while working in Haiti has hit back at the “lies and exaggerations” about his case.

In his first interview since being accused of hosting sex parties with prostitutes while working in the country in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, Roland van Hauwermeiren claimed many would be “embarrassed” when he finally told his version of events.

“A lot of people, including the international media, will be blushing when they hear my version of the facts,” the 68-year-old told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, which visited him at his apartment on the Belgian coast.

“There are things correctly described,” he said, without explicitly elaborating on what he felt was untrue. Van Hauwermeiren told the paper that he would respond further through a lawyer in due course.

Roland van Hauwermeiren
Roland van Hauwermeiren

“But I’ve also read a lot of lies and exaggerations. Parties every week? Chic villas? Women paid with money from the organisation?” he asked.

“Now everything appears exaggerated and that hurts, especially because my family does not want to see me any more.”

“I don’t feel like reacting at all,” he added. “What I see appearing everywhere is hard to bear. It hurts. It is especially very bad that my family does not want to see me any more. But now I say too much again.”

Van Hauwermeiren made his comments as it emerged that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) had temporarily suspended funding to a joint project with Oxfam while it examined whether claims made against van Hauwermeiren while he was working for another British agency in Liberia had been properly flagged up.

Announcing the move, the head of humanitarian aid at Sida, Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, said the project, which assists 250,000 people in Iraq, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would be suspended, conceding that beneficiaries would be affected.

The scandal over Oxfam and wider allegations of sexual exploitation came as the Catholic aid agency Caritas Belgium – which appears to have been van Hauwermeiren’s first employer after he left the Belgian army following a secondment to conduct humanitarian work – said its review of his time with the agency had revealed no complaints of wrongdoing.

“We interviewed all possible people who worked with him between 1995 and 1999. Nobody ever noticed anything wrong. On the contrary. We heard nothing but praise for his work,” said a spokesman.

Van Hauwermeiren resigned as Haiti country director for Oxfam before the end of the 2011 investigation into his use of prostitutes working in the earthquake-hit country.

Four members of Oxfam staff were dismissed and three, including van Hauwermeiren, left before the investigation had completed.

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Ubisoft Cracks Down On Hate Speech In Rainbow Six Siege

Starting this week, Ubisoft plans to issue permanent bans for Rainbow Six Siege’s most toxic players, according to a recent announcement on the game’s subreddit.


Top New Games Releasing This Month On Switch, PS4, Xbox One, And PC —...

This week's episode of New Releases kicks off the month of March, which brings plenty of sequels and console exclusives, like the much-anticipated Sea of Thieves, which is finally leaving port after a few delays. Nintendo Switch gets an adventure all its own with Kirby Star Allies, while RPG fans can dive into Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom on PS4 and PC. You can also work together to escape prison in the EA Original title A Way Out, or shoot your way to freedom in Far Cry 5.

Kirby Star Allies -- March 16

Available on: Nintendo Switch

The pink puffball's latest adventure is all about working together, even if you're playing alone. That means four-player co-op is included, but you can also use the new heart mechanic to bring enemies over to your side if you don't have a full party. Of course, the real treat here is seeing an insanely buff King Dedede.

Further Reading:

Sea of Thieves -- March 20

Available on: Xbox One, PC

If I tell you that Sea of Thieves is all about gathering a pirate crew with your friends, you can probably figure the rest out: you can explore a massive ocean, run a tight ship, battle other crews, search for buried treasure, and so much more. You might even run into a kraken or two.

Further Reading:

A Way Out -- March 23

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

A Way Out is a forced co-op game--one player controls Leo, the other controls Vincent--where your goal is to escape prison. In practice, this means one of you can be stuck in a cut scene while the other explores or take on a sticky situation from multiple angles.

Further Reading:

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Available on: PS4, PC

This RPG sequel had its own set of delays, but it'll soon be time to help King Evan restore his stolen throne. New to the game are the Pikmin-like Higgledies, which can be commanded in battle. And you'll definitely be having plenty of those across the game's open world.

Further Reading:

Far Cry 5 -- March 27

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Even Far Cry 5 had its share of delays, but it's still looking to make a bang this month. The latest entry in the shooter series eschews the typical exotic locale for a home-grown conflict in the American midwest. You'll be fighting to liberate an entire county from a gun-toting cult.

Further Reading:

Monster Hunter World Becomes Capcom’s Best Seller Ever, Dev Wants It On Nintendo Switch

Monster Hunter Worldhas been throwing haymakers left and right for Capcom, regularly overcoming sales milestones for the developer. Consider the most important milestone of all conquered as of today, as Monster Hunter World becomes the best-selling Capcom game of all time.

Eurogamerreports that Monster Hunter World current sits at 7.5 million copies shipped since its launch in January and this is well before the PC version releases this fall. The game has already earned the label of “fasting selling” for Capcom and, even with a significant drop-off after three months, the overall sales of the game are going to receive a major shot in the arm when it launches on PC. Another developer would like to bring it to another platform as well.

IGNcaught wind of a tweet showing that Iron Galaxy, the studio responsible for somehow porting Bethesda’s massive Skyrim to the Nintendo Switch,is interested inan opportunity to bring Capcom's big hit to the hybrid console.

The Monster Hunter franchise is no stranger to Nintendo platforms, having made appearances on the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, so this potential outcome isn’t far-fetched at all. With Monster Hunter World performing so admirably for the company, maybe we’ll get a response sooner rather than later and add to the Switch’s solid library. We’ll report as more information is made available. No matter where you play the game, keep ourMonster Hunter World Guide and Walkthrough bookmarked.

We Talk Curling And Stats With The Guys Who Won The Gold

It all started as a predawn tweet:

But after the U.S. men’s Olympic curling team won gold in Pyeongchang, we knew it had to become reality. So, on Friday, despite bad weather in the Northeast — which left Nate calling in from an airport tarmac after his flight was diverted — I was joined in the FiveThirtyEight podcast studio by Olympic champion curlers John Shuster, Tyler George and Matt Hamilton.

We talked about curling analytics, the team’s new celebrity fans and where the sport goes from here. You can listen to it on your phone by subscribing to our NBA podcast, “The Lab,”1 or by clicking the play button below.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

On advice for first-time curlers:

Hamilton: “My best advice would be, don’t fall. In my first game at the Olympics, I fell. So don’t go down — it’s still hard ice. But in seriousness, if you go in with an open mind and are really curious about the sport itself — not just the throwing aspects, but actually immersing yourself in what curling is about — you’ll find all these people who are so willing to help and teach and get you into the strategy, which is really the draw. … Making shots is great, and it felt good when you made your first couple of shots in curling when you tried it, but when you finally learn why you’re throwing that shot, why making that shot set you up later in the game to win, it’s just a remarkable feeling. It really is like chess on ice, just that mental game mixed with a finesse game, mixed with the brute force of sweeping. It has all the aspects of a really fun game.”

On preparing with analytics guru Gerry Geurts of

Hamilton: “He sat us down at our summer camp and explained to us where we sat [among] elite players at certain things, like with the hammer/without the hammer, up by one with the hammer/down by one with the hammer … and it went on for all of the potential scoring scenarios. And he gave us feedback [on] which positions we could be better at, which ones we’re really good at, where we need to keep doing what we’re doing. Then he gave us some info on other teams in those same kind of numbers. … I’d be lying if I said that didn’t come into play at all.”

On the flaws of using curling percentage to judge players and teams:

George: “It’s incredibly subjective because it depends on what types of shots you’re playing. And the way that they do stats for the television events [is] really simplistic because they’re only going on make/miss or how close you were to making the shot [but] not factoring in the difficulty of the shot. … So for the viewer at home, looking at our percentages, they probably thought that we weren’t playing nearly as well as our record would imply. … But a lot of that is because we’re playing with a lot more rocks in play. We’re making a lot more difficult shots, but the viewers are not seeing that.”

On the role analytics might have in the game in the future:

George: “There’s a major change coming up next season where they’re literally changing the rules in the game, where stats are going to have to be applied to figure out what the best strategies are … (Editor’s note: The change involves being able to add one extra protected stone to the area in front of the house.) It doesn’t seem like much — it’s only one more rock that you can’t take out to play — but it completely changes the strategy of how you start ends out, and they’ve been using it in Grand Slam events so far. So you see it maybe six or seven times a year, and teams are still kind of tinkering with strategy on how to defend, especially [because] it’s a way more offensive game. … Stats are going to be huge in figuring out the best ways to go about defending with this new strategy because we just haven’t done it that much.”

On whether curling will be able to capitalize on its newfound popularity:

Shuster: “I think you’re going to see it because [of] the ratings that we were getting during the Olympics and the ratings we’ve been getting with “Curling Night in America” the last couple of years. What happens is, we haven’t had national television coverage between Olympic cycles, and then every Olympics we get more and more coverage and the ratings get better and better. And then all of a sudden, NBC Sports Network ran “Curling Night in America,” so we had a weekly show going on. After we won the gold, they’re going to show one live game every single day during the world [championships] that are coming up in Vegas. … I think curling right now could be on [the same] trajectory as something like poker was 10 years ago. If the world championships are high-quality, entertaining TV this year, people are going to demand it more, and we’re going to start seeing it on more of a regular basis moving forward.”

Have You Played… Dark Souls 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. Dark Souls > Bloodborne > Dark Souls 3 > Demon’s Souls > Dark Souls 2. But if you like the rest, you should still play number 2. It’s good. Being good just isn’t quite enough when […]