The platinum-selling rapper donated half a million dollars to provide water to Flint, Michigan. He discusses why he opened his wallet and pseudo-philanthropic celebs.
The Game took some time out from his busy schedule of beefing with Young Thug, posting thirst traps, and releasing a line of emojis for a very good cause: donating $500,000 towards providing water to the people of Flint, Michigan. And yes, we have the receipts.
On Tuesday, the Compton rapper posted a picture to his Instagram account of a wire transfer from his charity, the Robin Hood Project, to Avita for half a million bucks. Avita, an artesian alkaline water company, is matching The Game’s $500,000 for a grand total of $1,000,000. It’s the biggest public celebrity donation so far to Flint, which is in the throes of a federal emergency after it came to light that its water supply contained high levels of lead, poisoning its people. Experts estimate that roughly 8,000 to 9,000 children under the age of six may have suffered permanent brain damage after being exposed to the tainted water. And that’s just the kids.
“It’s obviously a very big deal and a tragedy in Flint, and I saw people donating small amounts, and I just thought I’d go above and beyond that,” says The Game. “So I donated the funds from the first 11 shows of my European tour. Avita matched it and they’ll be one million bottles of water given out—33,000 bottles of water at a time because of trucking and shipping it in and out. It’s not easy shipping it out because of the snowstorms, and trucks being backed up. But we’ll get it there, however long it takes.”
The Game isn’t the only celebrity who’s come onboard to help. Pop diva Cher got the ball rolling, donating 180,000 bottles of water; Mark Wahlberg and Diddy’s AQUAhydrate, joined by Eminem and Wiz Khalifa, pledged one million bottles; Meek Mill donated $50,000; and Madonna and Jimmy Fallon forked over $10,000 apiece.
In his Instagram post, The Game also called out celebs like Madonna and Fallon for donating only $10,000, which he felt was insufficient given their immense wealth.
Something is rotten in the state of biomedical research. Everyone who works in the field knows this on some level. We applaud presentations by colleagues at conferences, hoping that they will extend the same courtesy to us, but we know in our hearts that the majority or even the vast majority of our research claims are false.
When it came to light that the biotechnology firm Amgen tried to reproduce 53 “landmark” cancer studies and managed to confirm only six, scientists were “shocked.” It was terrible news, but if we’re honest with ourselves, not entirely unexpected. The pernicious problem of irreproducible data has been discussed among scientists for decades. Bad science wastes a colossal amount of money, not only on the irreproducible studies themselves, but on misguided drug development and follow-up trials based on false information. And while unsound preclinical studies may not directly harm patients, there is an enormous opportunity cost when drug makers spend their time on wild goose chases. Discussions about irreproducibility usually ends with shrugs, however—what can we do to combat such a deep-seated, systemic problem?
Lack of reproducibility of biomedical research is not the result of an unusual level of mendacity among scientists. There are a few bad apples, but for the most part, scientists are idealistic and fervent about the pursuit of truth. The fault lies mainly with perverse incentives and lack of good management. Statisticians Stanley Young and Alan Karr aptly compare biomedical research to manufacturing before the advent of process control. Academic medical research functions as a gargantuan cottage industry, where the government gives money to individual investigators and programs—$30 billion annually in the US alone—and then nobody checks in on the manufacturing process until the final product is delivered. The final product isn’t a widget that can be inspected, but rather a claim by investigators that they ran experiments or combed through data and made whatever observations are described in their paper. The quality inspectors, whose job it is to decide whether the claims are interesting and believable, are peers of the investigators, which means that they can be friends, strangers, competitors, or enemies.
Lack of process control leads to shoddy science in a number of ways. Many new investigators receive no standardized training. People who work in life sciences are generally not crackerjack mathematicians, and there’s no requirement to involve someone with a deep understanding of statistics. Principal investigators rarely supervise the experiments that their students and post-docs conduct alone in the lab in the dead of night, and so they have to rely on the integrity of people who are paid slave wages and whose only hope of future success is to produce the answers the boss hopes are true. The peer review process is corrupted by cronyism and petty squabbles. These are some of the challenges inherent in a loosely organized and largely unregulated industry, but these are not the biggest reasons why so much science is unreproducible. That has more to do with dumb luck.
Randall Munroe has a wonderful cartoon at xkcd that neatly summarizes the reason why most published research findings are false. In the cartoon, scientists ask whether jelly beans cause acne and determine that they don’t. They then proceed to do subgroup analyses on 20 different colors of jelly beans, and excitedly announce that green jelly beans are associated with acne “with 95% confidence!” This is a reference to the traditional gold standard for whether or not a research finding is considered to be statistically significant. Over the last century, scientists have somewhat arbitrarily agreed that if something has only a 1-in-20 chance of happening purely by chance, then when that thing happens, we will consider it to be meaningful. For instance, if the first time you asked someone out on a date that person declined in favor of attending a nephew’s birthday party, you might think of it as a coincidence. If the same excuse came up a second time, you might find it strange that the birthday parties always fell on Friday nights. By the third time, you would have to sadly conclude that there was a less than 1-in-20 chance that yet another nephew had a Friday night birthday party, and that the pattern of rejection was statistically significant.
One could quibble about whether or not 95% confidence is high enough to be truly confident. We wouldn’t fly on planes that had a 5% chance of crashing, but we would probably go on a picnic if there were a 5% chance of rain. Whether it’s the right number for scientific studies isn’t clear, but it is clear that this cutoff for statistical significance should not apply to multiple testing or multiple modeling. The jelly bean cartoon illustrates this point nicely. If the scientists had found an association between jelly beans and acne on the first try, they might reasonably think that it wasn’t just chance—maybe jellybeans cause acne, or maybe acne causes jelly bean cravings. After testing 20 colors of jelly beans, though, the 1-in-20 chance of finding an association by pure chance becomes meaningless. If you test enough jelly beans, you are bound to find an association by pure chance, and that association will be spurious and irreproducible, just like many scientific studies.
When scientists run experiments in labs or model large datasets in multiple different ways, they generate heaps and heaps of negative data, but these don’t get reported. All that gets published is the 100th experiment or analysis that “worked.” Furthermore, scientists are rarely required to state upfront how they will measure primary outcomes. To understand why this is a problem, imagine that I claim to have a magic coin. I tell you that I’m going to flip it 10 times, and if it is magic, it will it come up heads every single time. That’s a pretty good study. But what if instead I flip my coin a 1,000 times and comb through the data for patterns. When I find any pattern in a series of 10 flips, and I tell you that the probability of that sequence occurring by luck alone is less than one in 1,000. That’s correct, but are you impressed by the magic of my coin?
There are some potential solutions to the irreproducibility of medical science, but they would require an extensive overhaul of the system. For observational studies, Young and Karr have proposed sensible measures, like making data publicly available, recording data analysis plans upfront, and splitting the data to be analyzed into test and validation sets. For basic science, public money could be used to set up large testing facilities where experiments can be run by impartial technicians and all results, positive or negative, can be made available to the scientific community. If such changes were implemented, however, the number of published studies would plummet precipitously. Journals would go out of business and so would most scientists, unless new criteria were devised for doling out grant money and handing out promotions. Some areas of research would be invalidated if everyone had access to negative studies, and researchers would be discredited. The biomedical research community isn’t ready for these kinds of painful changes. One piece of evidence for this is that nobody knows which 47 studies Amgen was unable to reproduce. To gain the cooperation of the principal investigators of those studies, Amgen was forced to sign non-disclosure agreements about the results of their inquiries. It seems that the authors of the “landmark” cancer studies knew that they would be found out, and unsurprisingly, setting the record straight wasn’t high on their list of priorities.
23 Dec 2015, Brazil — In this Dec. 23, 2015 photo, Dejailson Arruda holds his daughter Luiza at their house in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Luiza was born in October with a rare condition, known as microcephaly. Luiza’s mother Angelica Pereira was infected with the Zika virus after a mosquito bite. Brazilian health authorities are convinced that Luiza’s condition is related to the Zika virus that infected her mother during pregnancy. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) — Image by © Felipe Dana/AP/Corbis
El Salvador wants women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018, out of concern for the Zika virus rampaging through Latin America. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects, a fact that has led several Latin American countries to ask local women to hold off on getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. El Salvador, however, is the first to announce a two-year ban on baby-making.
“We’d like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next,” El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza told Reuters.
Here’s the problem: Abortions are illegal in El Salvador, and birth control is hard to come by. The irony, which seems lost on El Salvador, is that the same government that denies women control over their reproductive health is now asking those same women to control their reproductive health until 2018.
More How The Anti-Abortion Movement Keeps On Fighting — And Succeeding
When it comes to abortions, El Salvador isn’t just a little bit behind the times. According to 2011 data from the United Nations, there are only six nations in the world that deny women abortions under any circumstances: the Holy See, Malta, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Chile.
“El Salvador has one of the world’s most draconian abortion statutes,” Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International wrote in a New York Times Op Ed in 2015. “It criminalizes abortion on all grounds, including when the mother’s life or health is in danger, and in cases of rape.”
In El Salvador, some women face lengthy prison sentences for miscarriages. In her Op Ed, Guevara-Rosas describes the plight of one such victim. “Ms. Vásquez became pregnant after being raped,” she writes. “When she miscarried and was taken to a hospital in San Salvador, the capital, her doctors accused her of having intentionally terminated her pregnancy. Despite the paucity of evidence against her, she was convicted of aggravated homicide, and imprisoned.” Several women, known as El Salvador’s Las 17, face similar sentences.
But even without abortions, women in El Salvador have limited options for family planning. Although birth control pills and condoms are legal—and the Salvadoran Demographic Association is working hard to bring birth control to the less educated populations—the Pill requires a prescription and can only be sold in specific locations, and El Salvador offers extremely limited subsidies for condoms, making them unaffordable for poor families.
The result is that, as of 2008, around 73 percent of El Salvadorian women used some form of birth control. Female sterilization is by far the most common method: close to 40 percent of the country’s women opt for this more permanent solution. Less than 10 percent of El Salvador uses temporary forms of contraception like condoms and the Pill, likely due to high cost and little access. The remaining women use longer-acting, injectable birth control methods.
“The reliance on sterilization among young women in El Salvador is striking: Nearly one-fourth of women under age 30 had been sterilized in 2004,” according to the Population Reference Bureau. “Sterilized women interviewed in a rural El Salvador community in 2005 said they had chosen the procedure because it was readily available and because they feared the side effects and contraceptive failures they had heard about with other methods.”
So when El Salvador asks women to hold off on having babies for two years, what are they really saying? Well, you can’t get an abortion if your birth control fails (or you are raped) and birth control pills and condoms are hard to come by. There are still two options for women in El Salvador—abstaining from sex or getting their tubes tied and giving up on reproduction, forever.
Nice, El Salvador. Real nice.
The United States National Research Center (NRC) has been commissioned by the National Institute of Drug Abuse(NIDA) to conduct comprehensive research evaluating the effects of cannabis on the human body.
The research, which will take part in seven facilities across the nation, is intended to determine whether or not cannabis can be used to relieve stress and stress-related disorders, while allowing consumers of the plant to maintain normal function in their lives.
“This is one of the first, very promising studies, that will finally reveal the answer of the age old acquisition that stoners are ‘Just Lazy’,” says lead researcher Michael Gregory. “It’s an exciting new study that may push the legality of marijuana to all 50 states.”
For the research, participants will be required to stay at the facility for six months (making it immediately un-doable for many if not most people), while performing various everyday activities such as cleaning, watching TV and reading, while also regularly consuming cannabis. During all of this, participants will be evaluated by medical staff.
Researchers looking to gather over 300 recruits into their facilities before the study begins; these recruits will be paid $3,000 for every week they take part in the study.
At the moment, the NRC isn’t accepting new applicants for those wanting to take part in the study, though that’s expected to change in the near future; we’ll update this article when it does.
Foria Relief is a new cannabis suppository dedicated to menstrual pain SOPHIE
As I continue to ascend through my 20s, I’ve become increasingly concerned with what I put in my body. I don’t know if it’s growing up, increasing knowledge, or an unconscious attempt to create the perfect incubation chamber for hypothetical babies. I swore off box hair dye after reading about the toxins, I’ve exchanged acrylic nails for DIY safer and cruelty-free nail polishes like Deborah Lippmann, and I even switched out drug store tampons for Etsy-purchased reusable menstrual pads.
The first — and only — cannabis suppository on the market dedicated to treating menstrual cramps, Foria Relief officially launched January 25th. You might know Foria from Foria Pleasure, the cannabis sensation enhancement oil (I tried this as well and can recommend it, vividly). With the launch of vaginal suppositories created to relieve menstrual cramps, Foria’s claiming their throne as the queen of all vagina-related cannabis needs.
The suppository capsules are made with just three natural ingredients: organic cocoa butter, CO2 extracted cannabis oil, and CBD isolate. According to doctors, this is news worth celebrating. “We know that cannabis does help pain. We do see a lot of patients with dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is painful menstrual periods. It’s a fantastic modality to help patients,” said Morton Barke, MD. Barke is a retired gynecologist with nearly 50 years of experience who is currently working as the medical director of a Venice, CA medical marijuana evaluation center.
Whether you’re using the Foria Relief for dysmenorrhea, run of the mill cramps, or mid-cycle discomfort, it works the same way: by activating your body’s cannabinoid receptors in the pelvic region. Foria Relief is safe to use with tampons, and is created in a mid-range of average vaginal pH as to not disrupt your balance. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes to kick in, and you can expect some light discharge (although I barely noticed any on my Etsy panty liners).
Period cramps are caused by uterine cramps triggered by pain and inflammation associated with your period. The suppositories contain both CBD (or Cannabidiol) and THC (aka Tetrahydrocannabinol) — the two big weed acronyms you need to know.
“We know that cannabis does help pain,” says Morton Barke, MD.
Tim Drennan, Foria’s Director or Product Development and “resident scientist,” explains how THC and CBD help with cramping: “If you view pain as frequencies, as a huge jagged piece like you’re looking at a radio signal, if you look at pleasure or baseline stimulation, it’s a long, nice, flowing, gentle wave,” Drennan says, “What THC does on the nerve terminal, is it modulates out the high frequency signals. It doesn’t allow the high frequency signals to go through. That’s how it is able to modulate pain and still not produce sensation or reduce nerve control. Whereas an opiate just blocks it.” Inflammation can also cause pain. According to Drennan, the CBD “reduces inflammation through your immune system actually, the cells that control inflammation.”
As marijuana continues to conquer America, it’s important to understand the differences between the cannabinoids CBD and THC. “The pharmacology of them is completely different. And THC is psychoactive. CBD is non-psychoactive,” says Drennan. In states where cannabis is legal, you can even purchase CBD pills, and experience the pain-relieving, cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory, and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD. CBD also works to counteract some of the less desirable effects of THC — that too stoned, paranoid, jittery feeling.
As you learn about the chemical structure of different strains, understanding the difference between CBD and THC and the levels found in various strains can make it easier to choose what you’re looking for. In states where weed is legal, patients have the luxury of medical marijuana doctors and budtenders at dispensaries to help them select what’s the best strain for them. Each serving of Foria Relief contains 60mg of THC and 10mg of CBD.
While most women do not experience a “high,” results may vary, so plan your day accordingly.
“These are women [who] would not necessarily want to get high, so they could get a vaginal suppository high in CBD.” said Barke. The insert that came with the tin box of Foria Relief (perfect for stashing nugs after you’ve used them all) suggested that while most women do not experience a “high,” results may vary, so plan your day accordingly.
The first day I took Foria, despite experiencing cramps all day long, I waited until I had filed all my articles and was done with work. Then, I lay on the floor with my head on a pillow, pulled down my pants, and inserted a suppository — a faint green color, like little alien eggs — up my vagina. In the next room my boyfriend cooked dinner.
I put on some relaxing instrumental music and chilled out for the 20 minutes suggested in the Foria pamphlet, letting the cannabis do its work. Not only did my cramps ease up, but I felt good. Really good. There was no heady high, but I felt serene. It was like if Ativan made a baby with Tylenol, except I hadn’t thrust any nasty pharmaceuticals into my vag; just cannabis and cocoa butter.
The next day my period ravaged on and, having my own anecdotal results that the suppository wouldn’t totally fuck up my day, I tried it earlier on. Except this time, I skipped the meditation and mood music, tapping away at my keyboard, creating checklists and brainstorming pitches as the cannabis did its magic.
The suppositories are a faint green color, like little alien eggs.
My cramps lightened, but without the chilled out exterior vibes, I felt none of the same calm and light high that had mellowed me out the previous evening. I asked Drennan why this might have happened.
“Whenever someone first takes something, they’re going to be looking harder for the effects. So a good bit of it very well could be psychological,” said Drennan. “Depending on your environment, your appetite, your stress level, even smoking psychoactive products — you’ll be high in different ways.” Totally. Being stoned in bed, making out with bae as Brian Eno plays is a vastly different experience than being blazed and stuck on a crowded subway.
The reason Foria doesn’t get you stoned (just your vagina) is the method of consumption. In layman’s terms, the reason for this is that the form of THC that gets you stoned — called delta 9 THC — isn’t absorbed the same way as when it’s inhaled or ingested. “When you do it vaginally or rectally, delta 9 THC is not technically getting absorbed. Delta 9 is too big to be absorbed,” Brennan says, “So when it’s absorbed [in your vagina] it does have the same properties of THC, but it’s non-psychoactive. So some people have experienced a mild psychoactivity, maybe creative thought or you know, [feeling like] ‘My mind was very open to things,’ but not traditional psychotropic effects like light headedness, and heavy eyes.”
The reason Foria doesn’t get you stoned (just your vagina) is the method of consumption.
Despite the lack of psychotropic activity, you do absorb more of the medicine using a suppository, making it so much more effective for treating menstrual pain than a regular joint. “When you take a suppository, vaginally or rectally, the bioavailability is higher. Bioavailability is a term – [that means] your body’s access to the medicine. So when you smoke it’s rather low. Most of it gets burned off, one. Then when it’s absorbed through your lungs it goes through the liver. And in your liver, it’s called first pass metabolism. Your liver takes away most of the efficacy of the product.” And yes — men (and everyone else) can experience this too by putting cannabis suppositories up their butt.
My favorite thing about Foria Relief, is my favorite thing about cannabis in general: it’s just so safe. In addition, Foria uses only cannabis grown in Northern California without the use of harmful pesticides. Advil and Tylenol are very low risk, but opiate pain killers come with a plethora of red flags. “Normally women go to their gynecologist and they’re told to take Advil or Tylenol. They try to avoid using opiates because if they give them oxycodone or Vicodin it’s going to take the pain away, but those are products that are addictive,” said Dr. Barke. “As far as safety, there’s the obvious. Marijuana has never killed anybody as far as a chemical overdose,” adds Drennan.
Foria is currently available in Colorado, where cannabis is legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes, and California, where it’s legal for medical purposes. “I always feel a doctor should be involved,” said Dr. Barke “In general, we talk to patients about what kind of marijuana to use: sativa, indica. THC. CBD. Just these kind of things, because it’s our responsibility to let patients know whatever their ailment is, what kind of marijuana they should be using. I think the vaginal suppository is a super idea,” he added.
Looking into my imaginary crystal ball, I predict this is the first, but certainly not the last time, we’ll see cannabis being used medically to make women’s lives a little less painful.