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Analysis Finds Geographic Overlap In Opioid Use And Trump Support In 2016

Jun 23, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Analysis Finds Geographic Overlap In Opioid Use And Trump Support In 2016

In 2016, Donald Trump captured 68 percent of the vote in West Virginia, a state hit hard by opioid overdoses.

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In 2016, Donald Trump captured 68 percent of the vote in West Virginia, a state hit hard by opioid overdoses.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The fact that rural, economically disadvantaged parts of the country broke heavily for the Republican candidate in the 2016 election is well known. But Medicare data indicate that voters in areas that went for Trump weren’t just hurting economically — many of them were receiving prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

The findings were published Friday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open. Researchers found a geographic relationship between support for Trump and prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

It’s easy to see similarities between the places hardest hit by the opioid epidemic and a map of Trump strongholds. “When we look at the two maps, there was a clear overlap between counties that had high opioid use … and the vote for Donald Trump,” says Dr. James S. Goodwin, chair of geriatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the study’s lead author. “There were blogs from various people saying there was this overlap. But we had national data.”

Goodwin and his team looked at data from Census Bureau, the 2016 election and Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program that serves the elderly and disabled.

To estimate the prevalence of opioid use by county, the researchers used the percentage of enrollees who had received prescriptions for a three-month or longer supply of opioids. Goodwin says that prescription opioid use is strongly correlated with illicit opioid use, which can be hard to quantify.

“There are very inexact ways of measuring illegal opioid use,” Goodwin says. “All we can really measure with precision is legal opioid use.”

Goodwin’s team examined how a variety of factors could have influenced each county’s rate of chronic opioid prescriptions. After correcting for demographic variables such as age and race, Goodwin found that support for Trump in the 2016 election closely tracked opioid prescriptions.

Jump In Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened

In counties with higher-than-average rates of chronic opioid prescriptions, 60 percent of the voters went for Trump. In the counties with lower-than-average rates, only 39 percent voted for Trump.

A lot of this disparity could be chalked up to social factors and economic woes. Rural, economically-depressed counties went strongly for Trump in the 2016 election. These are the same places where opioid use is prevalent. As a result, opioid use and support for Trump might not be directly related, but rather two symptoms of the same problem – a lack of economic opportunity.

To test this theory, Goodwin included other county-level factors in the analysis. These included factors such as unemployment rate, median income, how rural they are, education level, and religious service attendance, among others.

These socioeconomic variables accounted for about two-thirds of the link between voter support for Trump and opioid rates, the paper’s authors write. However, socioeconomic factors didn’t explain all of the correlation seen in the study.

“It very well may be that if you’re in a county that is dissolving because of opioids, you’re looking around and you’re seeing ruin. That can lead to a sense of despair,” Goodwin says. “You want something different. You want radical change.”

For voters in communities hit hard by the opioid epidemic, the unconventional Trump candidacy may have been the change people were looking for, Goodwin says.

Dr. Nancy E. Morden, associate professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, agrees. “People who reach for an opioid might also reach for … near-term fixes,” she says. “I think that Donald Trump’s campaign was a promise for near-term relief.”

Goodwin’s study has limitations and can’t establish that opioid use was a definitive factor in how people voted.

“With that kind of study design, you have to be cautious in terms of drawing any causal conclusions,” cautions Elene Kennedy-Hendricks, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The directionality is complicated.”

Goodwin acknowledges that the study has shortcomings.

“We were not implying causality, that the Trump vote caused opioids or that opioids caused the Trump vote,” he cautions. “We’re talking about associations.”

Still, the study serves as an interesting example highlighting the links between economic opportunity, social issues and political behavior.

“The types of discussions around what drove the ’16 election, and the forces that were behind that, should also be included when people are talking about the opioid epidemic,” Goodwin says.

Fresh Air Weekend: John Prine; Novelist Stephen McCauley

Jun 23, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Fresh Air Weekend: John Prine; Novelist Stephen McCauley

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

John Prine On Music, Cancer And Why He Never Thought He’d Be A Recording Artist: The singer, songwriter and guitarist underwent surgeries in 1996 and 2013 that affected his throat and voice. He likes his voice better now: “It dropped down lower and feels friendlier.”

‘The King’ Fuses Elvis’ Turbulent Life Story With The Soul Of America: Eugene Jarecki’s documentary uses the rise and fall of Elvis Presley to track the ups and downs of America’s past century. Critic Justin Chang calls The King a “feverishly analytical” musical essay.

Novelist Stephen McCauley Embraces Life On A ‘Small, Everyday Scale’: McCauley’s novel, My Ex-Life, is a comedy about a couple whose marriage ended years ago when the husband came out as gay. “All relationships evolve — even for people who stay together,” he says.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

John Prine On Music, Cancer And Why He Never Thought He’d Be A Recording Artist

‘The King’ Fuses Elvis’ Turbulent Life Story To The Soul Of America

Novelist Stephen McCauley Embraces Life On A ‘Small, Everyday Scale’

Food Aid To Puerto Rico Is Salty, Sugary, And Unbalanced, Researcher Says

Jun 22, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Food Aid To Puerto Rico Is Salty, Sugary, And Unbalanced, Researcher Says

Puerto Rican residents received food and water from FEMA after Hurricane Maria, but many complained that some boxes were stuffed with candy and salty snacks, not meals.

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Puerto Rican residents received food and water from FEMA after Hurricane Maria, but many complained that some boxes were stuffed with candy and salty snacks, not meals.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

After Hurricane Maria hit, many people were left without access to water, food and power. But when food came, it raised a host of health concerns.

As food aid began to arrive last fall, Twitter was full of complaints from recipients and their families expressing shock that the contents of relief boxes appear to be stuffed with items like candy bars, potted meat and cheese crackers.

“Who in their right mind would think this qualifies as a meal?” tweeted CBS correspondent David Begnaud, quoting a Puerto Rican resident named Pedro who found candy and chips in his box.

After seeing a flood of such social media posts, Uriyoán Colón-Ramos, a professor of public health at George Washington University, and a group of researchers went down to Puerto Rico to check it out. Colón-Ramos and her group analyzed 10 days’ worth of food shipments found at a FEMA distribution center in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, six weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.

They found that 11 of the 107 different food items in the warehouse were candy and chips, including MMs and Twizzlers. And every item in the fruit category, which included sweetened fruit cups and applesauce, exceeded the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendations for added sugars. Eighty-three percent of veggies, which were all canned, exceeded the recommended content of sodium.

Some of the items analyzed were low-sugar and low-sodium, like canned sardines and fruit pouches packed in water, but these were in the minority, Colón-Ramos says.

Even when she excluded candy and chips, Colón-Ramos found that meals made with the foods provided would exceed the upper limit recommended for daily sodium, added sugars or saturated fats.

“As a public health nutritionist, I just don’t know why we are providing these foods,” she says. “How did these foods end up there, and who was monitoring them?”

Colón-Ramos presented this data on June 11 at the Nutrition 2018 meeting in Boston. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says to keep sodium below 2,300 milligrams per day and that less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats or added sugar.

A typical meal plan using the foods found in the FEMA warehouse could include a ready-to-eat cereal and milk for breakfast, a morning and afternoon snack like dried peanuts or a cereal bar, tuna salad and crackers for lunch and a pre-packaged pasta dinner, Colón-Ramos says.

Following the meal plan with these foods would meet the DGA food group recommendations but exceed the dietary limits for salt, saturated fat, or added sugars.

In a situation where disaster has wiped out food options, people are happy for help. And who would deny a child who has been through a hurricane a piece of candy? But it doesn’t make for a healthy eating plan in the long-term, which is what some food assistance operations in disaster zones sometimes become. As NPR has reported, the island is still struggling to access power and rebuild.

“In the past and traditionally, not just in the U.S. but globally, food aid has been focused on providing enough calories and enough water,” Colón-Ramos says. “It makes perfect sense: You don’t want people to be hungry, and you don’t want people to die out of dehydration.”

But now, this type of aid may be outdated and unhealthy. Thirty to 35 percent of Puerto Rican adults already are obese.

Ursula Marcos Tovar, a Manati, Puerto Rico, resident, received a FEMA box in October. She says the contents of the box were applesauce cups, animal-shaped cookies, beef jerky, canned pasta, bottled water and plastic cutlery. At that time, she and her family did not have power or water.

The box, which were handed out to each of the homes in her community, was too small to sustain her family of four for long, but luckily food stores in the area were starting to open. Marcos Tovar says at the time, there was only dry food available and the ATMs weren’t working due to power outages.

For the first two to three months after Maria, this was all the food her family could access. She only received one box of FEMA food aid during this time.

“I’m thankful for [the food], it was a terrible time after Maria,” she says. “It was a little, but it was something.”

In the municipality where Colón-Ramos did her analysis, she found that there was extremely low access to healthy food even before the hurricane. There was only one major grocery store in the entire municipality, with the rest being small corner shops.

Colón-Ramos says food aid should increase accessibility to nutritious food for survivors. People in the area already had access to candy and chips through local stores, but none of them had options like nonfat milk. Fruits and vegetables were limited, as well as low-sodium protein options. Those are the kinds of things that FEMA should have been providing, she says.

“Any foods that are distributed by the federal programs need to abide by the U.S. dietary guidelines,” she says, including limits on salt, sugar and fat.

Colón-Ramos says the federal government also offers emergency SNAP programs that allow survivors to purchase their own food. But in a situation like this, where grocery stores are limited, people could only get more of the same high-sodium and sugar snacks.

FEMA said in an email to NPR that food aid meals meet guidelines developed in consultation with various groups, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In a short shelf-life meal, there would be a fat content of 47 grams or less and a sodium limit of 800 milligrams, FEMA says. FEMA did not mention any requirements on sugar content.

While individual meals or snacks may fall under the fat or sodium content, Colón-Ramos found that many could not simultaneously fit the food groups in the Dietary Guidelines’ daily recommendations.

For example, one serving of canned Chef Boyardee ravioli that could be found in these boxes has a full meal’s worth of sodium and seven grams of fat.

FEMA manages multiple contractors, and according to The Washington Post, is moving away from MREs and snacks and towards grocery boxes and hot meals.

The food aid nutrition challenge isn’t new. Greg Gottlieb, a professor in nutrition and human security at Tufts who was not involved in the research, says that in the late 1990s, he ran into a problem like this one when delivering aid to the Soviet Union.

“When we opened up some of those packages, they were candy,” he says. “There were Twizzlers.”

Dried fruits like raisins and apricots could be a healthier option, but it’s also important to analyze what people actually eat where the aid is being delivered, he says. On top of that, it’s hard to escape sodium in things like canned tuna and vegetables.

Colón-Ramos says there is a need for better monitoring of food aid and its health value, as well as more specific guidelines for those providing help.

“We’re seeing a larger prevalence of chronic diseases that are diet-related, and we’re taking that in to consideration in food aid,” she says. “And we should, because those are now the most vulnerable populations to these kinds of disasters. The repercussions of what we may provide … it could have repercussions on people’s health.”

EU Tariffs Take Effect, Retaliating For Trump’s Taxes On Imported Steel And Aluminum

Jun 22, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on EU Tariffs Take Effect, Retaliating For Trump’s Taxes On Imported Steel And Aluminum

U.S.-made bourbon whiskey is now under a 25 percent tariff in the European Union, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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U.S.-made bourbon whiskey is now under a 25 percent tariff in the European Union, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

More than $3 billion worth of U.S. goods — from bourbon and corn to Harley-Davidson motorcycles — are now under a 25 percent tariff in the European Union, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs that hit the EU, Mexico and Canada this month.

“The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership,” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, said in a speech in Dublin on Thursday night. “The United States’ decision to impose tariffs on Europe goes against that. In fact, it goes against all logic and history.”

When the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum went into effect on June 1, the EU said they were “illegal,” pledged to impose its own tariffs, and filed a case against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization.

The EU put some 180 types of products on its tariffs list, from agricultural products like orange and cranberry juice; to steel and aluminium items; to manufactured goods, such as makeup, clothes and boats.

The steepest taxes — 50 percent — were imposed on shirts, pants and bedding, made from both cotton and synthetic fibers. Suntanning equipment — sunbeds and lamps — was hit with the same rate, as were washing machines and some electronic devices.

The U.S. tariffs hit some $7.5 billion of European products; the EU says that today’s measures target nearly half that figure, and that it plans to impose a slightly larger block of tariffs later — either in three years, or if/when the WTO rules in its favor.

U.S. Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Are 'Illegal,' EU Trade Commissioner Says

“The rules of international trade, which we have developed … with our American partners, cannot be violated without a reaction from our side,” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said. “Our response is measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules.”

Malmström added that if the U.S. removes its tariffs, the European taxes would also be lifted.

When the U.S. imposed the tariffs it said it was doing so as a matter of national security — further angering its closest allies, whose tariffs are now targeting President Trump’s base of support — in the steel and aluminum industries, but also in farming states, and in whiskey-producing Kentucky.

In addition to the EU, both Mexico and Canada have responded with their own tariff threats.

There could be yet another round of U.S. tariffs. Trump has threatened to impose new taxes on European and other imported cars — an idea that caught many by surprise, because domestic automakers GM and Ford have been thriving, and foreign companies such as BMW, Toyota and Honda now have large plants in the U.S.

The U.S. is also locked in a tariff showdown with China, after President Trump said he would use the import taxes to try to shift the balance of trade between the world’s top two economies. The countries have hit each other with tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods; Trump has threatened to add another $200 billion.

China Tells Farmers To Grow More Soybeans Amid Trade Fight With U.S.

As for what the effects of those tariffs could be, here’s what former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — and current chair of the National Foreign Trade Council — told The Financial Times this week:

“The parties that will be most impacted are US companies,” he said. “They are going to report bad earnings. It is going to hurt the stock market. Even worse we are going to put people out of work and it is going to spark inflation in our country … The logic of that is what companies throughout the country are feeling.”

Sara Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister’s Wife, Is Charged With Fraud

Jun 21, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Sara Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister’s Wife, Is Charged With Fraud

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, is charged with fraud and breach of trust over her ordering of food for private meals from pricey restaurants.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, is charged with fraud and breach of trust over her ordering of food for private meals from pricey restaurants.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Sara Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, is charged with fraud and breach of trust, over her ordering some $100,000 worth of food to be catered from pricey restaurants. Prosecutors say Netanyahu had the government pick up the tab – and falsely claimed there wasn’t a cook at the residence.

Sara Netanyahu was indicted and accused of “systematic fraud,” Haaretz reports, including allegations that she knew about rules against ordering food when a cook was on staff – and that she tried to hide a cook’s employment to cover up her actions.

Also indicted: Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the prime minister’s office.

Police have been investigating both of the Netanyahus over suspected corruption or fraud, with allegations that the prime minister traded favors for bribes from wealthy businessmen.

Netanyahu Leaves U.S. On A High Note But Troubles Await Him At Home

The indictment against Sara Netanyahu comes months after Israel’s justice ministry said she might face charges over the costly meals. For years, she has been accused of leading an extravagant lifestyle.

Benjamin Netanhayu had said those accusations would prove to be unfounded; he called the probe into his own activities a “media witch-hunt.”

Now the prime minister’s wife faces a trial. Israel’s Ynet News says that the attorney general’s office is seeking a three-judge panel to hold the trial, because of “the defendant’s public position.”

‘White Civil Rights Rally’ Approved For D.C. In August

Jun 21, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on ‘White Civil Rights Rally’ Approved For D.C. In August

Protesters and counterprotesters clash during the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville. One woman died when a car drove into a crowd.

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Protesters and counterprotesters clash during the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville. One woman died when a car drove into a crowd.

The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The National Park Service has approved an initial request for organizers to hold a second “Unite the Right” rally, this time across from the White House in August — one year after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va.

The park service has given initial approval to an application from Jason Kessler to hold a “white civil rights rally” on Aug. 11 and 12, as first reported by WUSA9. Kessler, along with Richard Spencer and others, organized the 2017 rally. The park service has not yet issued a permit for the event.

The rally in Charlottesville last year drew hundreds of white nationalists and supporters who faced off in clashes with counterprotesters. A self-described neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring more than a dozen others.

President Trump drew fierce backlash after blaming “many sides” for the violence. Protesters came out in cities across the country the day after his remarks to condemn white supremacists.

In an application dated May 8, Kessler estimated as many as 400 people would attend. He listed the purpose of the event as: “Protesting civil rights abuse in Charlottesville Va / white civil rights rally.” The LA Times reported that the park service is now “gathering information” to issue a permit, which will “specify the timing, boundaries, sound regulations and liability rules for the event.”

The Trickle-Up Theory Of White Nationalist Thought

National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst told the paper that “public safety and the protection of park resources are taken into consideration” and said the agency does not “consider the content of the message presented.”

Kessler also applied to hold a rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, but the city denied the application, according to The Washington Post. Kessler is suing the city; the case is still being decided. Kessler told the Post he will have rallies in both D.C. and Charlottesville if he wins in court.

A website from organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally lists the event’s primary location as “Lee Park” — now called “Emancipation Park” — the Charlottesville park that’s been at the center of controversy for its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Lafayette Square, which sits across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, is listed as an “alternate location.”

Kessler and other organizers have asked participants to be able to travel between Charlottesville and Washington.

An independent report issued in December faulted the city of Charlottesville in its response to the events of Aug. 12, saying authorities failed to protect both people’s safety and their free expression. The Charlottesville police chief, Alfred Thomas, retired later that month.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Combos

Jun 20, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on The Thistle & Shamrock: Combos

This week’s episode of The Thistle Shamrock includes music from Salsa Celtica.

Salsa Celtica


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Salsa Celtica

This week’s episode of The Thistle Shamrock includes music from Salsa Celtica.

Salsa Celtica

What goes with what? When it comes to Celtic music combos, almost anything goes, as long as it sounds good. So you be the judge when host Fiona Ritchie revels in the joyous sounds of multi-instrumental line-ups this week.

Brent Cowles Takes Us Back To That Emotional Night At ‘9th and Lafayette’

Jun 20, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Brent Cowles Takes Us Back To That Emotional Night At ‘9th and Lafayette’

The Colorado Sound asked Brent Cowles to help us celebrate the station’s first birthday. Cowles happily agreed and brought an all-star band to the party. Cowles had the crowd in the palm of his hand keeping everyone moving with mostly up-tempo numbers, but when Cowles decided to slow things down, you could have heard a pin drop. A silence fell over the crowd as they became mesmerized with the gorgeous harmonies and passionate lyrics of “9th and Lafayette.”

A Record Number Of People Were Displaced In 2017 For 5th Year In A Row

Jun 19, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on A Record Number Of People Were Displaced In 2017 For 5th Year In A Row

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12 in McAllen, Texas.

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A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12 in McAllen, Texas.

John Moore/Getty Images

A record number of people have been forcibly displaced by war, violence and persecution, according to a new report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced in 2017, setting a new record for the fifth straight year. 138,700 unaccompanied and separated children sought refuge and asylum in 2017, according to the agency.

DHS: Nearly 2,000 Children Separated From Adults At Border In 6 Weeks

'Your Children Are Safe': A Town In Wales Welcomes Refugees From Syria

The U.N. says an average of 44,000 people were displaced every day, or one person every two seconds. The agency calculates that one in every 110 people in the world is a refugee,either internally displaced or seeking asylum.

The annual UNHCR Global Trends report was released ahead of World Refugee Day on Wednesday. Commissioner Filippo Grandi said a global deal on the management of migration and refugees is essential. “Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly,” Grandi said in a statement.

“No one becomes a refugee by choice; but the rest of us can have a choice about how we help.”

According to the report, 85 percent of refugees are in developing countries, and many are “desperately poor.” Conflict remains the biggest driver of displacement, and the majority of refugees are fleeing from Syria. However new regions are driving up the numbers of the forcibly displaced, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Myanmar.

Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world, followed by Pakistan and Uganda. The majority of refugees in 2017 came from Syria (6.3 million); Afghanistan (2.6 million); South Sudan (2.4 million); Myanmar (1.2 million); and Somalia (986,400).

Four out of five refugees have fled to countries next door. Much smaller numbers are seeking asylum in the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Turkey. The report says the U.S. received 331,700 asylum requests.

The U.S. has the biggest resettlement program in the world, however the number of resettlement places in the U.S. has fallen from 110,000 under the Obama administration, to 45,000 under the Trump administration. Grandi tells Reuters he fears that number could fall even further because of cuts to funding and security vetting.

Grandi also expressed concern over the U.S. authorities’ separation of children from parents seeking asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border, adding that Washington needs to find ways to manage the flow “without penalizing the people themselves, people who oftentimes have very valid reasons to seek asylum.”

“Governments have projected an image of emergency, of invasion, and actually, unfortunately many political leaders have capitalized on that to gain votes … They’ve built fear to build their electoral bases. And I think that this is despicable and this is irresponsible,” Grandi said.

Khôrada, Forged From Agalloch And Giant Squid’s Ashes, Burnishes ‘Glacial Gold’

Jun 19, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Khôrada, Forged From Agalloch And Giant Squid’s Ashes, Burnishes ‘Glacial Gold’

Khôrada’s Salt comes out July 20.

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Khôrada’s Salt comes out July 20.

Cody Keto/Courtesy of the artist

Khôrada is a metallic sharktopus.

Let me explain: Khôrada formed a couple years ago after Agalloch broke up and three-quarters of the members of that band joined up with guitarist and vocalist Aaron John Gregory (of Giant Squid, currently on hiatus). The inclination when talking about such groups is to compare them to previous projects, which, in this case, isn’t completely unfair. After all, these were two forces of modern metal: one reshaping black metal into majestic, sidewinding epics, and the other extending cephalopodic lore to doomy prog-rock.

But hit play on “Glacial Gold” from the band’s debut album Salt, and it’s quickly apparent that Khôrada sounds like nothing before it.

“‘Glacial Gold’ is a turning-point song on Salt,” Aaron John Gregory tells NPR Music, “sorrowfully reflecting on what came before it, while looking for the means to move forward; a metaphor possibly for my own life, or even that of this band and what it represents for all of us involved in it.”

Gregory’s warbling baritone sets quite the gothic overtone for the six-minute track. “Dare I be so lucky to find / gold exposed behind them all? / Gold in every tragedy / that makes landfall,” he sings. It’s just as much a reflection on his life as it is a silver (er, gold) lining for the rest of the members who went through a very public breakup in Agalloch. Those searching for foggy black-metal riffs and blast beats won’t find much here; instead, guitarist Don Anderson, bassist Jason Walton and drummer Aesop Dekker conjure an explorative sense of wonder and deftly weave it throughout the doomy and wandering “Glacial Gold.” It’s all stitched together by Jackie Perez Gratz’s (Giant Squid, Grayceon, Amber Asylum) sorrowful and seeking cello. This is the kind of monumental chemistry that can’t be forced, but forged over years of work.

Salt comes out July 20 via Prophecy Productions.

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