Addressing The Gap: Why More Black Women Than White Women Die of Breast Cancer

You’ve no doubt noticed the influx of pink this month, drawing attention to breast cancer awareness. While October is filled with celebrations for survivors, memorials for those who died of the disease and Public Service Announcements reminding women (and men) to take early detection seriously, this month also serves as a reminder of yet another challenge for Black women. According to the American Cancer Society: Black women die more frequently from breast cancer than White women. In fact, the numbers for breast cancer diagnosis are about the same for African-American and White women; but when it comes to the death rate, Black women are 20-40 percent more likely to die from Breast Cancer than their White counterparts.

The Chicago Defender looked into what’s behind the troubling statistics.

According to the study, “A Perfect Storm: Highlighting Breast Cancer Disparities Among African-American Women,” led by Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in partnership with MDS Robert Daly and Funmi Olopade of the University of Chicago, one of the reasons for the disparity is that African-American women often have more aggressive forms of breast cancer, including what’s called triple negative breast cancer. Another reason, the study states, is the misuse and underuse of proven therapies that can contribute to lower survival rates among African-American women.

Funmi Olopade

Another factor that plays a role in the disparity has to do with the differences in the quality of mammograms African-American women receive. There also are issues with appropriate follow-up or delays in diagnosis and treatment.

The Chicago Defender asked representatives at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Chicago Chapter about the disparities and the best way to address them.

As with most things, cost is a factor.

“Cost can sometimes serve as a significant barrier to care,” said Tiosha Bailey, the executive director of Komen Chicago. “To address this need, it is critical that we advocate for changes to public policy that ensure access to quality care.”

Tiosha Bailey

Another factor is the time between the diagnosis and treatment. The average time from diagnosis to treatment was nearly 30 days for African-American women versus about 22 days for White women. Once treatment does start, studies show African-Americans often do not receive the recommended standard of care.

Researchers also found in the studies that African-American women were more likely to stop treatment early or have more treatment delays than White women. This was not due to treatment side effects, but to possible barriers.   Barriers to treatment such as not being able to find childcare, not wanting to miss work and not trusting doctors, lack of transportation and other social issues that may come as a surprise to some. However, if these barriers are not addressed, Black women are fighting an uphill battle to survive a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Addressing social determinants of health is a critical piece of the puzzle in order to treat the full patient,” Bailey said.  “There must be a concerted effort to better understand the distinction between perceived and actual barriers for each patient. We need to bridge the gap between patient education and physician communication. Patient navigation is a potential solution to help Black women receive the information they need to make an informed decision about their health care.  I want to stress the importance of building awareness around existing programs available to women. Komen Chicago can help with making connections to local resources.”

Addressing cultural barriers, building a diverse clinical workforce and educating all clinicians on best practices for providing culturally compotent care are key, Bailey added.

Systematic Changes

Who is responsible for making the “systematic” changes in terms of treatment for African-American women? Bailey said, “We all have the collective responsibility for addressing the systemic challenges and demanding change.  The vision for Komen Chicago 2.0 is to influence systems transformation by collaborating with Federally Qualified Health Centers and every major health system in Cook County. These critical partnerships will enable us all to become more patient-centric, deliver high quality breast cancer education and medical services, ultimately, creating a permanent safety-net infrastructure through community collaboration and patient navigation. The Chicago Health Equity Initiative will address socio-economic barriers to care and system fragmentation across the continuum. We anticipate that data collected by each partner will inform our public policy efforts, while contributing to a culture of continuous quality improvement.”

Reducing the disparity rates for African-American women is one of Komen’s top priorities.

Studies have also revealed other areas of concern including the mistrust of the medical field and concerns about racism.

Patient navigation empowers patients with information and resources necessary to make informed decisions about their care, according to the study. This approach connects women with trained community health workers and/or health care professionals who help them navigate through the health care system, ensuring timely diagnosis and follow-up, while providing access to local resources that support the patients’ individual needs. Research has shown an improvement in 5-year survival rates of women with breast cancer who were supported by patient navigation.

System Change Interventions are typically aimed at the patient rather than the system, but demanding changes in health systems is essential to changing these disparities. For example, inner-city health facilities need well-maintained equipment and the mammography technologists at these facilities should have access to continuing education. Interventions that address all stakeholders are needed to close the racial survival disparity in breast cancer. Programs should aim to provide precision medicine. The goal of precision medicine is to give the most effective treatment at the right time for each person’s breast cancer. Understanding the biologic and genomic characteristics of each person’s tumor will help tailor treatments. Precision medicine should focus on initiatives that will help reduce the mortality gap. More data on African-American women is necessary to create useful breast cancer risk assessment tools for early detection and prevention. Initiatives are needed to address the gap in referrals to genetic counseling and testing. In addition, interventions that provide high-quality cancer care coverage are needed, as well as access to and participation in innovative clinical trials.

Knowing Your Risk

Knowing your family history and personal health history are important parts of understanding your risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. With this information, women (in partnership with their doctors) can make informed decisions about genetic counseling and whether genetic testing is right for them. But a study showed that African-American women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are less likely to get referred for genetic counseling for BRCA and other similar tests than White women. There are options available for women at higher risk of breast cancer to help lower their risk. While more studies in diverse populations are needed, there appears to be a need for more education in the community and for physicians serving the African-American community about the role and value of genomics and genetic counseling.

According to Shannon Lightner, Deputy Director, Office of Women’s Health and Family Services, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH),  the latest news in terms of risk factors states that “the science around breast cancer is constantly emerging, and sometimes it conflicts with previous studies—just today a new study came out about the role of processed meat as a risk factor in breast cancer. However what we recommend is that women speak with their physicians to better understand their personal risk factors, including the role their family history may or may not play, and how to take steps to reduce those risks and improve their health.”

As for timeline and frequency women should have a mammogram, according to the Illinois Dept. of Health, there has never been a requirement for an annual mammogram.  However, recommendations by various medical and cancer advocacy groups vary on the frequency of mammograms (every year or every other year) as well as the age when women should begin to get regular mammograms.

IDPH recommends that a woman speaks with her doctor about the best time to begin getting mammograms, and how frequently to get them, based on her own health history and risk factors.

However, despite that progress, breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. There is still a large racial gap in mortality, with African-American women having higher death rates compared to Whites, even as incidence rates are similar. There is still much to be done.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for

2018 are:

  • About 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 63,960 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,920 women will die from breast cancer.
  • While Black and White women get breast cancer at roughly the same rate, the mortality rate is 42% higher among black women than white women.

At this time, there are more than 3.1 million people with a history of breast cancer in the United States – including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.

Risk factors:

  • Numerous studies have confirmed that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women by about 7-10 percent for each one drink of alcohol consumed per day on average. Women who have 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day have a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to non-drinkers. Obesity increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Risk is about 1.5 times higher in overweight women and about 2 times higher in obese women than in lean women.
  • Growing evidence suggests that women who get regular physical activity have a 10-25 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who are inactive, with stronger evidence for postmenopausal than premenopausal women
  • Limited but accumulating research indicates that smoking may slightly increase breast cancer risk, particularly long-term, heavy smoking and among women who start smoking before their first pregnancy.

What the American Cancer Society is doing

The ACS currently funds 155 multi-year grants focused on breast cancer totaling $60.2 million. The organization has played a key role in many of the advances against breast cancer, including funding early work that eventually led to the development of tamoxifen and Herceptin.

To learn more about ACS CAN’s advocacy work and to help make fighting breast cancer a priority in your community, visit

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Urban, rural and everywhere in between, McCaskill casts wide net in re-election bid

As she battles for a possible third term, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill appears to be embracing her reputation as a dogged competitor who can give as good as she gets.

And she gives some of the credit to her mother, Betty McCaskill, who was the first woman elected to the Columbia City Council.

After Claire McCaskill lost the governor’s race in 2004, she said her mother advised her to ignore the old Democratic state adage of focusing primarily on St. Louis, Kansas City and their suburbs in order to get elected.

As the senator recounts the advice: “You cannot expect to work for the people of this state, if you’re not in every corner of this state.”

After spending more than a year campaigning heavily in rural Missouri, McCaskill now is under fire from both sides:

  • Republicans who are out to dismantle her rural reputation by accusing her of making rural voters think she is more moderate than she is.
  • Some fellow Democrats who complain that she hasn’t spent enough time in the urban areas where she needs the most votes.

McCaskill appears to be paying attention to the urban beefs. Just in the last few days, she’s appeared at rallies in Kansas City and dropped by church services in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, the senator’s allies have accused her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, of campaigning almost exclusively in GOP strongholds, which include St. Louis’ western suburbs.

Rural roots, but urban success

Born in rural Missouri, McCaskill spent her youth and college years in Columbia.

Politics often had been on the family menu: “My parents made me say, ‘Trick or Treat, vote for JFK, JFK,’ when I was 7 years old,” McCaskill recalls. “My parents were not politically powerful, but they were interested.”

She went to Mizzou for college and law school, then moved to Kansas City, where she soon was elected to the Missouri House. McCaskill ran successfully in 1992 for Jackson County prosecutor, and won a spirited contest for state auditor in 1998.

In 2006, two years after her loss for governor, McCaskill literally hit the road for the U.S. Senate in a bus. Her mother often rode along.

Her frequent rural tours since then have been part of McCaskill’s quest to snag any possible votes, even if that means making pitches to infrequent voters who may not support her.

Which is why McCaskill recently set up camp in the middle of the student center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, as part of a statewide tour of college campuses.

Amid a backdrop of rock music, McCaskill fielded students’ questions on a variety of topics, including reproductive rights, health insurance, student loans and net neutrality.

Sophomore Taylor Jackson was impressed. “I believe she gave an excellent speech. She was specific. She was definitely passionate,” he said.

McCaskill acknowledges that young voters are notorious for not showing up at the polls. But she’s hoping this fall might be different.

“They’re the ones with the most at stake,’’ she said. “They’re the ones that are going to have to pay the bill on this incredible tax cut that went to millionaires and billionaires and they’re the ones getting out of school with an anvil around their neck in the form of college debt.”

Health care is her campaign centerpiece

McCaskill’s big issue this electionis health care, and protecting insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

She has been hammering at Hawley over his involvement in a lawsuit – backed by President Donald Trump – that would do away with the Affordable Care Act’s protective provisions. That includes a requirement that young adults be allowed to stay on their family’s insurance until they are 26, and a mandate that insurers offer coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

“He is currently in court, trying to ask the court to invalidate every single consumer protection in the ACA. With nothing to replace it with. Nothing,” McCaskill said.

At one rally in recent weeks, she blasted Hawley’s ads where he contends that he does support such protections, and accuses McCaskill of misrepresenting his views.

“This is called the Potomac two-step,” McCaskill said, noting that many GOP candidates around the country are offering the same argument.

“They’re getting so much heat about trying to take away protections for pre-existing conditions, a group of Republicans introduced a bill to say, ‘We want to protect pre-existing conditions,” she continued. “Well, I read the bill. You’re not going to believe this. Do you know what the bill says? They’ve got to give you insurance, but not for your pre-existing condition.”

Hawley says there are ways to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions without the ACA, which he contends has been too costly and hurt many American families.

Hawley frames the health care fight as being part of a broader battle. “It’s a very stark choice between what folks voted for in 2016, and what the Democrats are offering.”

Attacks over family wealth and Kavanaugh

Hawley’s chief line of attack has focused on McCaskill’s opposition to new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He says McCaskill has been “complicit’’ with the effort by Democratic leaders to destroy Kavanaugh’s reputation in order to block the judge’s confirmation because they oppose his conservative views on such issues as abortion rights.

McCaskill says she primarily voted against Kavanaugh because of his apparent support for secret campaign donations, known as “dark money.”

She also has blasted the confirmation process as too partisan.

“One side saw it very clearly one way, the other side saw it very clearly the other way, and probably a whole lot of Missourians thought the whole thing was a big mess,” she said.

Outside groups have spent more than $52 million so far on ads that primarily attack Hawley or McCaskill. In her case, the key target has been the wealth of her husband, businessman Joseph Shepard, who she married in 2002.

Senate financial filings show that Shepard has invested in close to 300 limited partnerships. Some of them focused on the development of low-income housing, much of it in rural Missouri, which have received government subsidies.

A typical TV attack asserts, in part, that McCaskill has been “using government to enrich herself. That’s McCaskill’s money machine.”

Nonpartisan fact-checking groups say the claims are false.

“They know they’re distorting,” said McCaskill, who has run at least one ad where she makes her response directly into the camera. “They’re taking the amount of money that went to the people who got low-income housing. And somehow trying to give the impression that it went to my husband.”

Pivoting to urban turf

Despite her quest for new voters, McCaskill’s success will likely hinge on attracting huge turnouts from traditional Democratic groups, including women, union members and African-Americans.

Those blocs made up the enthusiastic crowd at a recent St. Louis event, where the senator received an award for her work to help protect Social Security, Medicare and retirement pensions.

Some African-American officials, while declaring their support for the senator, say she hasn’t done enough to energize urban voters.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby agrees with some of the criticisms, but says fellow African-Americans must understand the stakes and show up at the polls.

“You know, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. So we’re going to go in and make sure she goes back to Washington.”

McCaskill has gotten more public support lately from such prominent urban Democrats as state Rep. Bruce Franks – who has sparred with Hawley’s camp on Twitter – and U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, who led a contingent Monday that blasted Hawley over his defense of the state’s newly implemented photo ID law.

Clay dismisses any talk that African-American voters will sit out the Nov. 6 election. “I think the electorate is sufficiently engaged in this election because they don’t like what they see in Washington, they don’t like what they see in Jefferson City.”

There’s no debate that Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest is among the most closely watched in the country and could determine which party controls the Senate next year.

Both sides also agree that the contest remains neck and neck as McCaskill and Hawley head into the final stretch.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Chairman of Preston Black History Group honoured by Prime Minister

The Prime Minister has recognised a Preston man for raising awareness of the contributions African and African-Caribbean people have made.

Clinton Smith, chairman the Preston Black History Group, has been honoured with a Points of Light award, which recognises volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. This award was in celebration of Black History Month.

Clinton Smith

Clinton Smith

In a personal letter to Clinton, Theresa May said: “You are promoting cultural understanding, challenging misconceptions, and raising awareness of the far-reaching contributions African and African-Caribbean people have made. You should feel very proud of your inspiring work sharing previously untold stories and collaborating with local museums, galleries, and libraries.”

Clinton Smith, who was also awarded the 2018 Fusion Lifetime Community Achievement Award for services to race relations, said: “Over the years I have tried to make a positive contribution to race, diversity and community cohesion, with the support of the members and supporters of Preston Black History Group. Our work is to educate and to have pride in what we do and what we have achieved. The future is to ensure the present and future generation will follow in our footsteps to continue what we have started. I feel humble and proud to receive this award.”

Read more: Celebrating the achievements in black African American history and Lifetime achievement award for city’s Clinton Smith in honour of his dedication to equality in Preston

Clinton Smith has chaired the Preston Black History Group since 2012 to research, celebrate and share the contribution of Black history to British society. He hosts regular presentations at schools, libraries, museums and police forces, to promote diversity and improve multicultural understanding. Clinton oversaw an innovative partnership with the Preston-based Turner Prize winning artist Professor Lubaina Himid, the first female Black artist to ever receive the prize, to advise on a local exhibition about race and representation. He has also worked with the University of Central Lancashire to promote the study of Black Atlantic culture in the UK, bridging the gap between academia and the local community.

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AARP’s ‘Be the Difference. Vote.’ stresses the importance of voting in this year’s midterms


“‘Be the Difference. Vote.’ is a non-partisan campaign whose goal is mobilizing African Americans voters — and all voters 50 and older — to exercise your power and vote,” says Edna Kane-Williams, the senior vice president of Multicultural Leadership at AARP. “Critical issues like Medicare, Social Security, prescription drugs and family caregiving are on the line and older voters need to show up and protect what they’ve earned.”

“‘Be the Difference. Vote.’ is a non-partisan campaign whose goal is mobilizing African Americans voters — and all voters 50 and older — to exercise your power and vote,” says Edna Kane-Williams, the senior vice president of Multicultural Leadership at AARP. “Critical issues like Medicare, Social Security, prescription drugs and family caregiving are on the line and older voters need to show up and protect what they’ve earned.”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

      Next month’s fast-approaching midterm elections count as one of the most consequential in a lifetime, according to political scholar Norman Ornstein.

The folks at AARP “whole-heartedly concur,” and not just in word, but also by actions.

The organization, which was founded in 1958 on the principles of promoting independence, dignity and purpose for older adults, has launched a campaign titled, “Be the Difference. Vote.”

AARP doesn’t endorse candidates or parties; they focus in-stead on policy that affects older adults.

“‘Be the Difference. Vote.’ is a non-partisan campaign whose goal is mobilizing African Americans voters — and all voters 50 and older — to exercise their power and vote,” says Edna Kane-Williams, the senior vice president of Multicultural Leadership at AARP. “Critical issues like Medicare, Social Security, prescription drugs and family caregiving are on the line and older voters need to show up and protect what they’ve earned.”

Launched in May, the “Be the Difference. Vote,” campaign relies on studies that show voters 50 and older are the most reliable.

The multifaceted campaign seeks to encourage the largest possible turnout of older voters to the polls during the midterm election, Tuesday, Nov. 6. This election places issues like Medicare, Social Security, financial security and caregiving – topics of particular interest to older voters — front and center.

Kane-Williams referenced U.S. Census statistics that re-veal that only 57 percent of all U.S. citizens between ages 25 and 44 voted in the 2012 general election, compared to 68 percent of those between 45 and 64. Among African Americans, 65 percent of individuals between 25 and 44 voted, compared to 72 percent who were between the ages of 45 and 64.

African Americans will be a deciding voting bloc in key races across the country, especially in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and other swing states, according to multiple political experts. However, forecasters also predict potential Black voter dropout, a serious issue.

In 2016, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6 percent after reaching a record high of 66.6 percent in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.

“We are at a moment in which important decisions need to be made on matters key to the lives of older Americans,” AARP editors noted in the October 2018 AARP Bulletin.

“Some are obvious, like the future funding and structure of Medicare and our health care system,” the editors wrote. “At the same time, many states are grappling with issues related to worker discrimination, retirement savings, underfunded pensions, Medicaid, caregiving and more. Those we put into office could shape the resolutions of these issues for decades to come.”

In a colorful graphic for the magazine, AARP editors outlined what’s at stake, including 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats; all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives;  and 36 of 50 states will elect a governor.

Nearly 300 state appellate judges, including 71 state Supreme Court justices will be elected or appointed; 25 of America’s largest cities will elect mayors; and 82 percent of state legislator positions, totaling 6,070 seats in 87 legislative chambers, are up for grabs.

AARP’s campaign is important, and the organization listed 10 ways in which the midterm elections will affect older Americans:

  1. Shoring up Social Security.
  2. Rising Drug Prices.
  3. Medicare Funding.
  4. Medicaid: Grow or slow it?
  5. The future of Health Insurance.
  6. Bolstering Retirement Savings.
  7. Lower Retirement Taxes.
  8. Fixing Pension Shortfalls.
  9. More Help for Caregivers.
  10. Fraud Targets.

Through the “Be the Difference. Vote.” campaign, AARP has used its website as a one-stop portal for voters to get information about the election, including issue briefings, polling results and voter guides.

AARP has pledged to conduct polls of 50-plus voters across the country and in battleground states, tracking voter sentiment on key issues. Throughout the initiative, the organization has delivered information on issues and election news, and has notified members of local events, tele-town halls and candidate forums.

Candidates are pressured to address issues of vital importance to older Americans in campaign speeches, literature and advertising messages, based upon the input received from AARP tracking polls and member communications.

AARP has also applied advanced data analytics to target turnout of 50-plus voters in major races across the country, while reaching out to African American and Latino voters — especially in races where they represent a key or deciding voting bloc.

“AARP encourages all voters, regardless of their ages, to take part in the ‘Be the Difference. Vote.’ campaign by signing AARP’s pledge to vote, using the voting tool to ensure they have the information they need to vote, and learning where the candidates stand on issues that matter to them and their families,” Kane-Williams said.

Voters can sign pledge and get information at

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Distrust Of Health Care System May Keep Black Men Away From Prostate Cancer Research

Black men are twice as likely as whites to die from prostate cancer, one of the deadliest cancers that affect males. Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF hide caption

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Black men are twice as likely as whites to die from prostate cancer, one of the deadliest cancers that affect males.

Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the U.S.(other than non-melanoma skin cancer) and one of the most deadly. It’s especially deadly for black men, who are more likely to get it and twice as likely as white men to die from it. Yet black men tend to be underrepresented in research for prostate cancer treatment.

A study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine captured a snapshot of the attitudes black men have regarding prostate cancer research and the evolving field of genomic testing, finding significant mistrust of the healthcare system and medical research. It builds on earlier research that has documented that African-Americans are less likely to trust clinical research than white Americans.

Researchers interviewed 56 participants in seven focus groups between April, 2015, and April, 2017 to explore how black men think about participating in prostate cancer research and genomic testing. The researchers recruited focus group members in California, Minnesota, and Alabama through the meetings of 100 Black Men of America, an organization that provides educational and economic opportunities for African-Americans, and by word of mouth. All participants were over 18-years-old, and were either black men or the spouses of black men.

This was a small, preliminary study. But researchers were able to glean some important themes.

They found participants were largely unfamiliar with genomic testing, a promising and fairly new approach to help doctors and patients identify personalized approaches to monitoring and treating the cancer. This lack of knowledge might mean they are less inclined to pursue such novel testing.

“Genomic testing is on the frontier of our new tools for managing prostate cancer,” says Dr. Christopher Warlick, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of urology at University of Minnesota Medical School. Given the mistrust black men have of the medical system, he says, it’s important to understand how they respond to new developments in prostate cancer research.

But the most significant theme was a general distrust in the healthcare system which could suggest an unwillingness to participate in prostate cancer research. The distrust results from ways African-Americans have been historically treated by the medical system, says Dr. Charles Rogers, an assistant professor of family and preventive medicine at University of Utah School of Medicine, and the study’s first author.

“The biggest barrier to black men participating in prostate cancer trials stems from a lot of historical mistrust,” says Rogers.

Past clinical research abuses include the Tuskegee syphilis study in which black men with syphilis were unaware that they were intentionally not being treated during the 40-year span of the study, even when penicillin became an accepted treatment for syphilis.

Some of the focus group participants brought up the Tuskegee syphilis study as a reason for distrusting clinical studies, which adds to previous research finding that the Tuskegee incident has led to a general distrust of clinical research and healthcare systems among African Americans.

Warlick says there are a number of ways that researchers of clinical studies could mitigate this distrust.

“Having more African-American researchers would be a good first step,” Warlick says.

Study researchers should also make an extra effort to reach out to African-American communities when recruiting participants, he says. One example of such an initiative is All of Us, a project sponsored by the National Institute of Health to recruit participants of all ethnicities to contribute their health data for use in medical studies. But despite the program’s effort to partner with black faith-based groups, black participation remains a challenge, Rogers says.

Warlick suggests that medical researchers could acknowledge historical events like the Tuskegee syphilis study during the recruitment process to improve transparency.

Transparency of clinical research was important to some focus group participants. For example, participants wanted to know how their data collected in studies would be used. One participant told researchers he was worried it could be “used in a way that would deny you something. I think that’s something that hangs over people’s heads. If I’m predisposed to have cancer, would that cost me a medical coverage?”

Warlick says that while it’s not always possible, giving people access to their own results from research studies could be a way to establish transparency.

The study authors wrote that these issues are important because they believe black men’s underrepresentation in clinical research might contribute to health disparities.

Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the study, says he encourages racial diversity in research studies for “social justice reasons.” He thinks it’s important to have good representation of all races, classes, and genders in research because participating in clinical research can lead to improvement of care for the populations studied, and can mean doctors that participate in clinical research are more apt to deliver better care.

But, Brawley says, researchers should be very careful about assuming racial difference in disease, because, he says, biology doesn’t differ much by race.

Brawley says African-American communities’ distrust in the medical system has been well-documented beyond this study. But what this new research does show, is that there’s still a lot more medical professionals can learn about the barriers minorities face to participate in clinical research studies.

“The concerns of the subjects are all very reasonable, and things we need to address,” Brawley says.

Rachel D. Cohen is an intern on NPR’s Science Desk.

This New York election is a test of whether bigotry is enough to win

October 16 at 5:54 PM

When Democratic congressional candidate Antonio Delgado arrived in the hometown of his opponent on Saturday night, more than 250 people were waiting to hear him at the Elks Hall.

Peter Volkmann, police chief of nearby Chatham, did the introduction, ticking off Delgado’s gold-plated résumé: Colgate University athlete, Rhodes scholar, Harvard Law School graduate. “We’re going to demonstrate to everybody — change happens,” Volkmann said. “How much more of a great candidate can we give to the community?”

When Delgado took the microphone, the 41-year-old lawyer added wryly: “I’ve had a couple of careers, and I’m sure you’ve heard of one of them.”

Indeed, so has pretty much everyone here in the 19th Congressional District, a vast and picturesque swath of Upstate New York.

That is because Republican groups have saturated the airwaves and the Internet with ads that highlight Delgado’s brief time, more than a decade ago, as an unsuccessful rap artist who called himself A.D. the Voice.

Delgado’s lyrics included the n-word and the f-word, along with sexual references and criticism of white supremacy — all of which is pretty standard fare in rap music.

But some of the lyrics featured in the ads were yanked out of context. In one, for instance, there is an image of the World Trade Center burning as Delgado says: “God bless Iraq.”

A more complete version of that song goes like this: “We must fight with love and goodness in our hearts and peace in our minds if democracy, equality and freedom are truly to prevail. God bless America, God bless Iraq, God bless us all.”

The racial overtones of these spots are hardly subtle. And they are having the intended effect: GOP strategists say privately the ads are the main thing keeping their candidate, first-term incumbent Rep. John Faso, competitive in the race.

More than 80 percent of the district’s voters are white, making it one of the least diverse in the country. I counted five African Americans in the Kinderhook crowd Saturday night; three of them were the candidate, his wife and his brother.

The ads — which are being produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — are also fueling a backlash. A Woodstock radio station has pulled one from the air, deeming it “highly offensive” and “factually distorted.”

“It’s really firing up the Democrats, because it’s repulsive,” said Louise Roback, who heads a local Democratic organization in Stockport. But as she knocks on doors canvassing for Delgado, she is discovering “the independents and Republicans have this vague sense of ‘oh, he’s the rapper.’ It’s implanted.”

While Faso’s campaign did not make the ads, the Republican congressman defends them as being well within bounds: “The ads are provocative, but many of his lyrics are provocative. It’s fair to ask: Do they represent his views today?”

There’s a better question: Why did the Republicans feel it was necessary to stoop to this?

Although Barack Obama won the 19th District twice, Donald Trump carried it by six points in 2016 and remains popular here today.

But like much of the rest of the country, this district is experiencing a surge of liberal activism, and it is considered one of the most likely to flip if there is a large blue wave in November.

The other big factor is Delgado himself. He moved to the district just last year from New Jersey and quickly emerged as a political phenom. He beat out six other candidates to win the Democratic nomination and has outraised Faso nearly 2-to-1.

For all the attention the ads are getting, voters here have plenty of other things beside race on their minds. On Saturday night, Delgado took more than an hour of questions on topics that ranged from affordable health care to the safety of their water, the opioid epidemic and climate change.

His answers were substantive and thoughtful, while cautiously avoiding some of the more liberal positions of the Democratic left. He rejected one man’s appeal to support Medicare-for-all, saying he prefers a system in which people could buy into the system if they chose to. And he said he does not support further investigation that could lead to the impeachment of newly sworn-in Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, arguing that it is more important to focus on the fights ahead.

“It’s important to be able to talk about these issues honestly and be genuine and be authentic,” Delgado said.

That, ironically enough, was exactly what Delgado once tried to do as a rap musician. His words were a form of artistic expression back then. Now, they have been twisted into a test of just how cynical our politics have become.

They were a gay, interracial couple in an age of relentless bigotry. The two Harolds didn’t flinch.

An assortment of wedding photos of Harold Mays and Harold Herman. Though they recently died — within a year of each other — their untold story lives on in their extensive collection of African American and LGBT paraphernalia, being sold piecemeal out of their D.C. home. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
October 16 at 5:51 PM

Estate agent Verna Clayborne takes a seat in the dining room of an expansive 16th Street Heights home and sighs.

The two Harolds have tired her out.

It’s Clayborne’s job to get rid of the stuff of the deceased. The couple who lived in the house for more than half a century — Harold Herman, a white man who died in 2016 at 87, and Harold Mays, a black man who died almost exactly a year later at 81 — had a lot of it.

These aren’t your typical finds in the home of retirees. Clayborne is sitting amid a pile of antiques and memorabilia — paintings, LPs, books, coins, stamps, personal correspondence — worth, she estimates, $500,000. These objects, curated lovingly by two collectors in love for over five decades, offer glimpses of what it was like to be black and gay in America when it was dangerous to be either.

“They knew how to live and lived well,” she said of the Harolds.

The Harolds met in New England before moving in together in post-integration, pre-riot Washington in 1965. One was a black Army veteran from St. Louis, the other a white college professor from Pennsylvania. Though family and acquaintances say they were a private couple, they could not help being pioneers.

They later ran Two Harolds Antiques in Alexandria for more than a decade and owned a collection of thousands of signed first editions so extensive that they kept an in-house card catalogue. The books are varied — works by gay raconteur Quentin Crisp amid Janet Evanovich thrillers.

Much of what’s left in the Harolds’ home doesn’t explicitly bear their mark. There’s large black-and-white prints of the last century’s black royalty: Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, Lou Rawls, Cicely Tyson. Another photo includes two faces lesser known outside the Beltway in the 1960s and 1970s, but inescapable within it: Marion Barry and his first wife, Blantie Evans, on a beach.

But every collection reveals the collector, and in other ephemera the Harolds left behind, they come into sharper focus. One snapshot shows Mays shaking Belafonte’s hand at a Politics and Prose. Another shows their modest wedding, held in 2013 at what looks like a courthouse following the legalization of same-sex marriage — after they had already been a couple for almost 50 years.

A selection of photographs from the Harolds’ home featuring famous people such as Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, President Nixon, Cicely Tyson, Josephine Baker and Marion Barry. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Mays was also a diligent correspondent, pounding out letters to authors he admired on a manual typewriter left behind on the home’s second floor. He would read a book by, say, acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni, then strike up a correspondence with her. There are notes from Fanny Ellison, the widow of “Invisible Man” author Ralph Ellison, and famed black poets Rita Dove and Gwendolyn Brooks.

More substantial letters the Harolds received speak directly to the struggles of black artists in America.

In a 1990 letter, novelist Raymond Andrews — whose work offered a vision of “a world in which blacks and whites sometimes hate and mistreat one another but ultimately arrive at an understanding,” according to a 1983 review in The Washington Post — effused about his career.

In another letter dated two years later, Andrews’s brother Benny wrote to say Andrews was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 57.

“I’m writing to say that my brother, Raymond, committed suicide,” the letter read. “It is always good to hear that people liked Ray’s works.”

Another exchange was with Audrey Lee, a little-known black author who wrote two novels, “The Clarion People” and “The Workers,” in the 1960s. The books have since gone out of print: Mays apparently wrote Lee to ask what she was up to two decades after their publication.

In a 1995 letter, Lee responded, opening up about her medical problems and troubles with “race discrimination, evictions, hunger and an alarmingly dishonest judiciary.”

“I have spent years brooding about my experiences,” she wrote. “I am awakening to the waste of years that I spent in a crawl space contemplating my wounds.”

Half a set of correspondence, of course, tells only half a story, and Clayborne said she’s yet to uncover diaries or other writing from either Harold. But their lives are detailed in the work of E. Patrick Johnson, chair of the African American studies department at Northwestern University, who interviewed Mays for his 2011 book “Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South.”

Johnson, who wrote a play that included the Harolds’ story and is producing a documentary about them, said they were “renegade figures” when they moved into their home in 1965 and lived openly as a couple.

“Even in D.C. in the ’60s, they were dealing with discrimination on two fronts,” he said. “They were truly remarkable.”

In a 2005 interview for “Sweet Tea,” Mays told Johnson he met Herman, a professor at the University of Maryland, in Providence, R.I., in 1965. The couple initially settled in Herman’s D.C. apartment but moved to 16th Street Heights because other residents didn’t want a black man in the building.

Their new home across from Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park was in a “mostly white” neighborhood, Mays said, that would become “totally black” after the riots. Mays recalled police officers following him when he got off a bus near his home, asking for identification. When he produced ID, they still didn’t believe he lived in the neighborhood and followed him home to watch him let himself in.

Harold Mays and Harold Herman’s home in 16th Street Heights. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Mays said, he was criticized by black men for choosing a white partner.

“I remember someone telling me, ‘Oh I didn’t know you dealt in snow,’ ” he told Johnson.

Still, he said: “I don’t feel as torn up inside as I was when I was young.”

“Sometimes I stop and think about all the turmoil of … being black and gay in America,” he said. “And it has not been as traumatic as it sounds. And I’m not sugarcoating this either. It happened and you move on. I also have to tell you that now I feel much more confident in who I am.”

Agnes Jackson, Mays’s 79-year-old sister, said the Harolds’ relationship was accepted by both of their families. She recalled the couple showing her around Washington during a visit when she was treated like “royalty.”

“They lived there so long,” she said. “I guess they were accepted into the neighborhood.”

Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and a neighbor of the Harolds, said gay men like them are rarer in the District these days. HIV devastated their generation. Now, gentrification and old age are taking a toll on those who remain.

“There were any number of older black gay men in town available to get to know,” he said. “They would tell you stories, give you a sense of their lives in the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s. Those men are largely no longer with us. … They were an example of a couple that really was available.”

Jim Hill, right, examines a framed image to appraise as Verna Clayborne, center, and Reginald Cromer walk through the Harolds’ collection. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Now that the Harolds are gone, crate-diggers and estate-sale enthusiasts are left to sort out who they were. Jim Hill, an 84-year-old former Howard University professor Clayborne brought in to help appraise the couple’s extensive art collection, rested after combing through yet another box.

The estate game is getting harder, Hill said. Millennials — “millenniums,” he calls them — don’t have much interest in dusty old stuff.

“They’re interested in the here and now,” he said.

But while Hill didn’t know the Harolds, he can speak to the impulse that apparently ruled their lives and their home.

“While we’re collecting, we’re hoping someone on the other end will be interested,” he said. “I’m sure they were hoping it would provide a story.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

How Howard Thurman can help Christians heal their political divides

(RNS) — In his timeless book “Jesus and the Disinherited,” black minister and theologian Howard Thurman wrote, “There is one overmastering problem that the socially and politically disinherited always face: Under what terms is survival possible?”

This was not an abstract question for Thurman.

During the Great Depression, he observed already impoverished black people further crushed by the nation’s worst economic crisis. He saw the political gamesmanship that made the New Deal into a “raw deal” for black citizens.

Devastation in Florida from Michael

Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael block a road Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael block a road Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Images trickle out of Michael’s vast devastation


AP Media Writer

Friday, October 12

NEW YORK (AP) — The urgency of hurricane coverage with its colorful satellite maps and reporters standing in the wind is a television staple, but devastation in Hurricane Michael’s wake was so severe that it made images of some of the hardest-hit areas in Florida trickle out Thursday as slowly as if from a distant, third-world nation.

Broadcast news organizations faced a challenge in getting reporters to Mexico Beach, 40 miles east of the more populated Panama City, where wind and storm surge left behind a moonscape of damage. Roads were impassable and some reporters had been pulled out of the town in advance of the storm because of safety fears.

“We knew that was a bad place and our mission was to try to get there today,” said Michael Bass, CNN’s executive vice president of programming. A source’s cell phone footage of water rushing through the town, picking up houses and cars along the way, and an official’s anguished cell phone call on Wednesday gave hints about the damage.

Thursday’s coverage illustrated that there are still limits to technology and reportorial ingenuity in the face of a massive disaster. For several hours, television viewers following the story had the ominous sense that something was missing. Cable networks filled time with other stories, but even the sight of Kanye West meeting in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump seemed like a distraction.

By arranging a helicopter ride, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin broke through. The network aired aerial shots of the town and, shortly before noon, Baldwin landed to deliver reports. “When I tell you that all of Mexico Beach has been leveled, this is the truth,” Baldwin said, standing before a mound of debris.

With cell phone towers blown down, CNN had to use a satellite transmitter to get pictures out. It made for some blotchy pictures and malfunctions, and at one point she said she had to stand in one place to make sure the signal wasn’t lost.

CNN was also trying to get a reporter to Mexico Beach by boat. Another CNN reporter, Brian Todd, made it in by ground by Thursday afternoon.

“These are very brave people that we send out to do these things,” Bass said. “There’s a lot of danger to this area.”

Baldwin’s helicopter arrival made CNN’s rivals look flat-footed for a few hours. In one report MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders, standing in Panama City, pointed above him to a helicopter flying to more damaged areas.

“Mexico Beach is going to be the place that a lot of people talk about,” Sanders said.

ABC News’ Ginger Zee, who was in Mexico Beach during the storm on Wednesday, transmitted pictures and video of water rushing under the condominium building where she was staying. She stepped on a balcony a few hours later to show the aftermath. “It’s really wild to see,” she said.

The Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams was stationed 10 miles from Mexico Beach before the storm but reported that with what she was seeing on the satellite images, she didn’t think the house she was in would withstand the wind, said Nora Zimmet, the network’s programming chief. Abrams was told to get out of town. With a police escort, she tried beginning at 3 a.m. to get to Mexico Beach, but had to turn back. She finally made it later in the day.

“I applaud all of our media brethren for going out in the field and covering this,” Zimmet said. “No story is worth risking your life. We take calculated risks.”

Fox News Channel’s Mike Tobin similarly struck out before dawn for Mexico Beach from the Pensacola area and made it by 9 a.m. The lack of cell service meant he had to leave town to transmit reports, he said.

“It was a little hairy,” he said in an interview. “The biggest obstacle was all the power lines.”

NBC News’ Mariana Atencio filed a report on Instagram when she made it to Mexico Beach, describing what she had seen on the road in as like a war zone.

“There are chunks of the road which are completely gone,” she said. “Boats, cars, pancaked on top of houses.”

Drones proved to be the secret weapon of networks that could get them in place. They provided striking aerial footage of damage, in some cases sweeping inside damaged buildings. On his newscast, Fox’s Shepard Smith used a drone’s sweep over a canal in Mexico Beach and compared it to an earlier satellite image of the same area to show how many homes used to be there but no longer were. He described the pictures as “mind-altering.”

Fox’s Tobin said he’s seen more powerful and larger hurricanes, but none that combined the two traits like Michael. “I haven’t seen one with such miles and miles and miles of destruction as this one,” he said.

“You don’t want to lose track that so many lives have just been shattered,” he said.

Attorney General DeWine Offers Charitable Giving Tips After Hurricane Michael

October 12, 2018

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered giving tips to Ohioans who want to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.

“Ohioans have always reached out to their neighbors in need with compassion and generosity. We’re confident that once again they’ll reach into their pockets to help those who were harmed by Hurricane Michael, and we encourage them to make sure that charitable solicitations are legitimate before they donate,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Unfortunately, scammers are quick to exploit those with good intentions and too often enrich themselves with contributions that were meant to assist victims.”

After a natural disaster or tragedy, some sham fundraisers try to take advantage of donors’ generosity. They make claims that seem legitimate and use names that sound reputable or similar to those of well-known, established organizations, but ultimately they keep most or all of the money they collect for themselves, without using it for the charitable causes they claim to support.

Signs of a potential charity scam include:

  • High-pressure tactics.
  • No details about how contributions will be used.
  • No written information about the charity, its mission, or how it operates.
  • Requests for payment to an individual, rather than an organization.
  • Someone who offers to pick up donations immediately.
  • Requests for donations via cash or gift card.
  • Callers who ask for donations but don’t identify themselves and won’t provide written information about the cause.
  • Some people who raise money after a natural disaster or tragedy have good intentions but lack the experience to properly handle donors’ contributions.
  • To help ensure donations are used as intended, donors should check requests before contributing. For example:
  • Don’t rely on a group’s name alone. Many sham charities have real-sounding names.
  • Don’t assume a charity recommendation you find online has been vetted, even if it’s posted by someone you know. Check it out yourself.
  • Research charities using the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and other resources.
  • Check an organization’s IRS Form 990, which is typically available on GuideStar, to find program descriptions, expenses, and other details.
  • Determine how you can best help. For example, a charity may prefer monetary donations rather than donated goods. Similarly, if you want to set up a fundraiser for a specific group, contact the organization in advance to determine how you can properly collect donations.
  • Be aware that some calls come from for-profit companies that are paid to collect donations. If you ask, these professional solicitors must tell you how much of your donation will go to the charity. They also are required to identify themselves.
  • When evaluating crowdfunding or online fundraising campaigns set up to help those impacted by the storm, keep additional considerations in mind. For example:
  • Determine which campaigns are supported by those close to the tragedy and which haven’t been vetted. In some cases, the person who sets up an online fundraiser may not have permission to do so or may not use the funds as promised.
  • Find out how your money will be used. For example, will it be used for a specific person or family, or will it be used for the greater community? Keep in mind that that giving money to an individual is different from donating to a charity. Your donation may not be tax deductible. Also determine whether you will be charged any fees for making the donation and what percentage of your donation will go to the cause itself.
  • Determine what the website will do (if anything) with your personal information. Be wary of websites that do not provide a privacy policy. Also, make sure the site is secure before entering your payment information or other sensitive details. Look for the “https” in the web address; the “s” indicates that it’s secure.

Those who suspect a charity scam or questionable charitable activity should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515. The Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section investigates suspected violations of the state’s charitable laws and pursues enforcement actions to protect Ohio donors.

The Conversation

Why doesn’t the U.S. bury its power lines?

October 12, 2018


Theodore J. Kury

Director of Energy Studies, University of Florida

Disclosure statement

Theodore Kury is the Director of Energy Studies at the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, which is sponsored in part by the Florida electric and gas utilities and the Florida Public Service Commission, none of which has editorial control of any of the content the Center produces.


University of Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

It is nearing the end of a highly destructive hurricane season in the United States. The devastation of Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina caused more than 1.4 million customers to lose power and Hurricane Michael has cut service to an estimated 900,000 customers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Soon, winter storms will bring wind and snow to much of the country

Anxious people everywhere worry about the impact these storms might have on their safety, comfort and convenience. Will they disrupt my commute to work? My children’s ride to school? My electricity service?

When it comes to electricity, people turn their attention to the power lines overhead and wonder if their electricity service might be more secure if those lines were buried underground. But having studied this question for utilities and regulators, I can say the answer is not that straightforward. Burying power lines, also called undergrounding, is expensive, requires the involvement of many stakeholders and might not solve the problem at all.

Where should ratepayer money go?

Electric utilities do not provide service for free, as everyone who opens their utility bill every month can attest. All of the costs of providing service are ultimately paid by the utility’s customers, so it is critical that every dollar spent on that service provides good value for those customers. Utility regulators in every state have the responsibility to ensure that utilities provide safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates.

But what are customers willing to pay for ensuring reliability and mitigating risk? That’s complicated. Consider consumer choices in automobile insurance. Some consumers choose maximum insurance coverage through a zero deductible. Others blanch at the higher premiums zero deductibles bring and choose a higher deductible at lower premium cost.

To provide insurance for electricity service, regulators and utilities must aggregate the preferences of individual customers into a single standard for the grid. It’s a difficult task that requires a collaborative effort.

The state of Florida’s reaction in the wake of the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons provides a model for this type of cooperative effort. Utilities, regulators and government officials meet every year to address the efficacy of Florida’s storm hardening efforts and discuss how these efforts should evolve, including the selective undergrounding of power lines. This collaborative effort has resulted in the refinement of utility “vegetation management practices” – selective pruning of trees and bushes to avoid contact with power lines and transformers – in the state as well as a simulation model to assess the economic costs and benefits of undergrounding power lines.

Nationally, roughly 25 percent of new distribution and transmission lines are built underground, according to a 2012 industry study. Some European countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, have made significant commitments to undergrounding.

Burying power lines costs roughly US $1 million per mile, but the geography or population density of the service area can halve this cost or triple it. In the wake of a statewide ice storm in December 2002, the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the electric utilities explored the feasibility of burying the state’s distribution lines underground and concluded that the project would take 25 years to complete and increase electricity rates by 125 percent. The project was never begun, as the price increase was not seen as reasonable for consumers.

A 2010 engineering study for the Public Service Commission on undergrounding a portion of the electricity system in the District of Columbia found that costs increased rapidly as utilities try to underground more of their service territory. The study concluded that a strategic $1.1 billion (in 2006 dollars) investment would improve the reliability for 65 percent of the customers in the utility’s service territory, but an additional $4.7 billion would be required to improve service for the remaining 35 percent of customers in outlying areas. So, over 80 percent of the costs for the project would be required to benefit a little more than one third of the customers. The Mayor’s Power Line Undergrounding Task Force ultimately recommended a $1 billion hardening project that would increase customer bills by 3.23 percent on average after seven years.

Shifting risk

In addition to the capital cost, undergrounding may make routine maintenance of the system more difficult, and thus more expensive, because of reduced accessibility to power lines. This may also make it more difficult to repair the system when outages do occur, prolonging the duration of each outage. Utility regulators and distribution utilities must weigh this cost against the costs of repairing and maintaining the electricity system in its overhead state.

Electricity service is valuable. A 2009 study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated an economic cost of $10.60 for an eight-hour interruption in electricity service to the average residential customer. For an average small commercial or industrial customer the cost grew to $5,195, and to almost $70,000 for an average medium to large commercial or industrial customer. The economic benefits of storm hardening, therefore, are significant.

Beyond the economic value of undergrounding, one could consider other benefits, such as aesthetic ones, which may be more difficult to quantify. The safety of the electricity grid is also a concern. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection recently concluded that high winds and above-ground power lines were the cause of the Cascade Fire of October 2017. But all costs and benefits must be considered to ensure value for the customer’s investment.

In terms of reliability, it is not correct to say that burying power lines protects them from storm damage. It simply shifts the risk of damage from one type of storm effect to another.

For example, it is true that undergrounding can mitigate damage from wind events such as flying debris, falling trees and limbs, and collected ice and snow. But alternatives, such as proper vegetation management practices, replacing wood poles with steel, concrete or composite ones, or reinforcing utility poles with guy wires, may be nearly as effective in mitigating storm damage and may cost less.

Also, undergrounding power lines may make them more susceptible to damage from corrosive storm surge and flooding from rainfall or melting ice and snow. Areas with greater vulnerability to storm surge and flooding will confront systems that are less reliable (and at greater cost) as a result of undergrounding.

So, the relocation of some power lines underground may provide a cost-effective strategy to mitigate the risk of damage to elements of a utility’s infrastructure. But these cases should be evaluated individually by the local distribution utility and its regulator. Otherwise consumers will end up spending more for their electricity service, and getting less.

This is an update to an article originally published September 12, 2017.

Nevada Senate race could test Kavanaugh impact


Associated Press

Friday, October 12

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Many Republicans are breathing easier this week, confident that the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination fired up their voters.

Dean Heller isn’t one of them. Facing a female challenger in a state gradually becoming more Democratic, the senator and longtime fixture in Nevada politics has long been one of the few GOP incumbents at risk of losing their seat this year.

Now, in the final weeks of the campaign, he’s got a full-scale gender politics fight on his hands, infused with a stoked debate over abortion rights that will test whether the Supreme Court showdown will help or hurt the GOP’s effort to maintain control of the Senate.

He’s facing freshman congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who blasted Kavanaugh and railed on Heller’s characterization of sexual misconduct allegations against him as “smears” and a hiccup in the confirmation process.

Heller, who voted last week to confirm Kavanaugh, “never had any intention of being an independent voice on this Supreme Court nominee,” Rosen said after the vote. “Voters will hold Senator Heller accountable for becoming just another rubber stamp.”

She’s betting her message will resonate with a broad swath of suburban women who are angry with Trump, especially in the aftermath of Kavanaugh’s confirmation following allegations of sexual assault.

For most Republicans this year, supporting Trump and Kavanaugh make for good politics. GOP candidates in North Dakota and Missouri have made inroads by arguing the Democratic incumbents, who opposed the pick, are out of step with voters in these Republican-leaning states who overwhelmingly support Trump and his Supreme Court pick.

But Nevada is different. Heller is the only Republican up for re-election this year in a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. And though the state is often up for grabs by both parties, the urbanization of the Las Vegas area and the swelling number of Latino and Asian voters are shifting Nevada to the left.

Keenly mindful of Heller’s bind, Rosen frequently showcases his conflicting positions. On Kavanaugh, she blasted his support for an FBI investigation while simultaneously pledging to confirm him. On health care, an issue that Democrats think will hold special resonance with voters this year, she slams him for opposing legislation that would have repealed the 2010 health care law only to author a measure a few months later scrapping the overhaul.

“He is guilty of one of the biggest broken promises,” Rosen said in an interview.

Rosen’s arguments, Heller’s campaign says, are aimed at distracting voters from her light record in the House, where she’s served in the minority for less than two years.

“Jacky Rosen is doing everything she possibly can to distract Nevadans from the fact that she has done zero in Congress,” Heller spokesman Keith Schipper said, echoing Heller in his campaign’s ads.

There’s a dose of irony in the attacks on Heller as being too close to Trump. Heller was a target of the president’s consternation after initially opposing efforts to repeal the health care law. Seated alongside Heller at the White House in the summer of 2017, Trump not-so-subtly threatened the senator in a room full of his GOP peers.

“Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump remarked, insinuating the possibility that he would back a primary challenger.

Since then, the two have made peace, in part through Heller’s work writing provisions of the 2017 tax cuts. Trump has campaigned for Heller in Nevada twice and plans another stop before the Nov. 6 election.

“Your incredible senator, Dean Heller, is going to be with us all the time,” the president said at a rally last month.

Heller, who has been on the raucous Nevada political scene for 24 years, is viewed as an affable personality. But he’s been less visible in the state this year than Rosen, in part because the Senate has been in session more than the House. A campaign aide said Heller’s schedule was still taking shape, but that he planned to participate in a debate with Rosen on Oct. 19.

Beyond running as a Republican in a gradually Democratic trending state, he faces other challenges, including his residency near Reno, in the northern part of the state. Most voters live in the Las Vegas area, where he can’t lose too badly if he wants to win.

Rosen has hurdles of her own. She lacks Heller’s name recognition and has had to fight with little active assistance from Harry Reid, the former Senate Democratic leader and longtime Nevada power broker. Though Reid helped recruit Rosen to run, and has authored email fundraising solicitations for her, he has been absent from the public political fight as he battles pancreatic cancer.

Still, Rosen has had help from rising Democratic women. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a potential 2020 presidential contender, lauded Rosen in June at the Nevada Democratic convention and headlined a fundraiser for her that evening.

Another potential Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, recently spoke to a Nevada Democratic women’s group to promote Rosen and condemn Kavanaugh

As Election Day nears, Rosen is working feverishly to solidify a coalition of African Americans, women and immigrants, including Latinos who hold sway in Las Vegas’ powerful Culinary Union.

She began a recent weekend morning at breakfast with the wives of a dozen pastors who lead some of the most active African American churches in Las Vegas. Over a plate of fried catfish, grits and hash browns, Rosen listened to concerns from the black community, including what can be done for faith-based charities for women.

“We help the homeless women on very limited resources,” said Carmen West, who works with her husband at a church in suburban north Las Vegas. “It would be good to know that we have someone in a position of power and authority to help us help those people.”

Rosen responded with a message of solidarity.

“We are strong together when we form those friendships and those bonds,” she said, slapping the table. “Amen to that, sisters. Women, women, women.”

She later dashed through blocks of Spanish mission-style homes to speak at University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Asian student conference before driving past the strip’s gleaming entertainment monuments to events in the historically black Westside. There, she heard from mothers who expressed concern about police shootings and the safety of young African Americans.

“Every day, it’s just a constant worry about his safety,” said Tracy West, who is unrelated to Carmen, referring to her son attending graduate school in Ohio as a dozen women listened, nibbled on crostini and sipped wine.

Sitting straight and focused on West, Rosen responded: “Some changes only come about through, I think, friendship and trust.”

Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael block a road Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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