Scientists said to buy cheaper, safer voter machines. South Carolina spent $51 million on these instead

For years, choices about voting technology in South Carolina have been made behind closed doors, say lawmakers, citizens and voting scholars. Scientists believe the technology products S.C. officials ultimately selected, including the voting machines now being used in the 2020 presidential election, have not always met the “gold standard” for safety. Since 2004, the methods favored by the SEC have benefited one corporation: Election Systems & Software (ES&S). Despite a decade of evidence that shows technology made by ES&S was involved with repeated voting problems in S.C. elections, the state has continued to award the majority of funds designated for election hardware and software to ES&S. The latest awards in 2019 and 2020 totaled over $57 million.

Americans Took Prevagen for Years—as the FDA Questioned Its Safety

Commercials for Prevagen have insisted that “it’s safe and effective,” an assurance Quincy echoed to regulators. But an investigation by WIRED now shows that for years officials at the FDA questioned the basis for the company’s claims. Multiple FDA inspections, most of which have not been reported before, found significant issues with Quincy’s manufacturing processes, complaint handling, and the quality control testing that was supposed to ensure its products were safe. And thousands of Americans have reported experiencing “adverse events” while taking Prevagen, including seizures, strokes, heart arrhythmias, chest pain, and dizziness. While the existence of adverse event reports alone don’t prove a product is the cause, the nature and pattern of complaints about Prevagen worried FDA officials, according to agency records. One internal report from 2015 stated that the “numerous adverse events reported” indicated “a serious safety hazard.”

Scientific research on the coronavirus is being released in a torrent

More than 7,000 papers on the pandemic—covering everything from virology to epidemiology—have been published in the past three months. Much of it is being done differently. There's less peer review and more speed, which is overwhelmingly a good thing. Leaders need quick answers to direct policy and better contain the new virus. But publishers have historically done a bad job at retracting false science, which needs to be watched as it can feed misinformation. A collaboration with reporter Alok Jha, this was the lead note in the science and technology section of the May 9 2020 edition of The Economist and was featured on the cover.

Medical community struggles with own opioid dilemma: How to heal the healers?

Published on the front page of The Boston Globe: Medical professionals are far from immune to opioid misuse. In fact, due to their easy access to pain medication and the high stress levels that come with treating patients, they may be especially susceptible. But many clinicians say they are often denied access to medication approved to help them recover from opioid addiction, precisely because they practice medicine.

Company accused of polluting ocean with plastic has an ally: SC ports

Never-before-seen documents reviewed by The State Media Co. — reported here for the first time — revealed leadership at the Ports Authority has been helping shield Frontier and its business supplier from scrutiny despite internally noting that the company was responsible for spills. And in emails exchanged in private, leaders of both organizations sometimes seemed to dismiss ecological concerns or public accountability, the documents show.

The rise of buildings for the deaf and blind

For The Economist's Christmas Special Edition, the only double edition of the magazine, I reported on how architects are adapting to the need for more multisensory design. A number of firms have started to prioritize the needs of people with a wide range of sensory abilities. In doing so, they've embraced new technology, and a different vision of architecture--one that considers a building’s acoustics, lighting, tactility and smell.

When People with Intellectual Disabilities Are Punished, Parents Pay the Price

A sex offense conviction can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But when the convicted is someone with an intellectual disability, who can’t understand and comply with the rules and restrictions of their sentences, it falls on the guardians to suffer the financial, social and psychological burdens of the crimes. I reported the story for The Marshall Project, and shot the photography.

How humans got bigger brains

My lead article for the science and technology section was featured on the cover of The Economist. I reported on the publication of two studies which, added together, form an important paragraph in the story of the human brain. Both concerned a version of a gene called NOTCH2, which has been known for some time to be involved in embryonic development. Both were supported by experiments which suggest that a change in the gene was crucial to the emergence of the big brains which distinguish human beings from all other living animal species.

Millions of voters’ personal information is being bought and sold on the dark web

The day after the voting technology failure in Iowa, the Globe published my story highlighting another aspect of the complexities and unknowns related to election technology: A massive dataset of voter registration information from 81 million Americans has been sold dozens of times on dark markets, sparking fears of identity theft and fraud. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea told me keeping voter registration information accessible allows the public to hold officials to account. I covered the both sides of the evolving story.

Celiac disease patients could soon have access to their first-ever FDA-approved drugs

I reported and helped produce this radio story for The Economist's podcast, which starts at time 6:30. Celiac disease is misunderstood and underserved by pharma—zero medications are approved for celiacs by the FDA, although over 3 million Americans suffer. I talked to patients and scientists to understand progress with new therapies, and the reason for the lag in development.

IVF may bring northern white rhinos back from the brink of extinction

Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros on Earth, died in March. He is survived by two females, Najin and her daughter Fatu, who live in a conservancy in Kenya. This pair (pictured) are thus the only remaining members of the world’s most endangered subspecies of mammal. But all might not yet be lost. Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, in Berlin, in collaboration with Avantea, a biotechnology company in Cremona, Italy, is proposing heroic measures to keep the subspecies alive. For The Economist's science and technology desk.

A new species of gibbon is found in a 2,200-year-old tomb

Royal burials are just not what they used to be. While still a child, Qin Shihuang, who founded the Qin dynasty and unified China in 221BC, ordered a mausoleum built for himself that would measure 6.3km across at its widest point and include over 8,000 terracotta figures. His grandmother, Lady Xia, was also buried with several companions. When her tomb near Xi’an was excavated in 2004, archaeologists found in it the remains of a leopard, a lynx, a crane and a gibbon—a type of small ape. For The Economist's science and technology desk.

How Will Arctic Seaports Survive If The Cruise Industry Doesn't? Let Vladimir Putin Explain.

Most places that built their economies around catering to cruise ship passengers are suffering. Stay-at-home orders intended to contain the spread of COVID-19 have cancelled vacations around the world. But Arctic seaports like the popular tourist destination of Tromsø, Norway are still busy, despite the disappearance of the cruise ships that usually stop by every month. I reported on why they're thriving -- and the environmental consequences of a growing shipping industry for the Arctic ecosystem.
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