Positive disruption

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.When Saamon Legoski sees something wrong, he feels compelled to make it right.Last year, for example, while working as a behavioral specialist and staff sergeant for the U.S. Army in Kuwait, he helped several of his peers and soldiers come forward with allegations of sexual violence. A formal investigation substantiated the allegations, he said, and the accused sergeant was discharged from the Army.“I’ve learned to be disruptive in a positive way,” said Legoski.These days, as a student in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s M.P.H.-45 program, he’s focused on redressing the wrongs that arise when people, because of race, national origin, or income, are treated unfairly with respect to environmental laws and policies. He said it riles him that underprivileged neighborhoods are often the most polluted, that tax credits for electric cars predominantly benefit the wealthy, and that the world’s poorest communities bear the biggest burdens from global warming.Legoski plans to become an environmental justice attorney — one who understands enough science to be an expert litigator in court. “At the end of the day, I don’t want the opposing counsel to fool judges, juries, or me with scientific-sounding nonsense,” he said. “I want to be a one-stop shop for interpreting scientific data in the courtroom.”Saamon Legoski joined the military after high school. He is pictured in Kuwait. Courtesy of Saamon LegoskiOrder from chaosLegoski is clear about his goals these days, but that wasn’t always the case. His childhood was chaotic. He grew up in southern California, where parental disputes sometimes led to living in homeless shelters with his mother and younger siblings. He worked in school cafeterias to pay for his lunches. “I got better in high school, but in the earlier years, the disruption would come with me from the house to the classroom,” he recalled.After high school he decided to join the military “to get away from everything” — and loved it. “It was the first place where I challenged myself and leaders really encouraged me,” he said. “Plus, in the military I found a lot of people who had the experience that I did. Growing up I was usually the poorest kid, the least well-dressed, usually just the ‘least’ among people. But when I got to the Army, I was on pretty equal footing with a lot of people.” He says the Army helped him mature and straighten out his rough edges.During his yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Legoski saw scores of what he thought were needless deaths, and fellow soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress. The experience cemented his interest in psychology, and also led him to think deeply about how to avoid war. “The Afghanistan war led me to believe that our political leaders weren’t effective at conflict resolution and would keep us in Afghanistan indefinitely,” Legoski said.In 2013 he enrolled at Stanford to study psychology. He chose as his adviser social psychologist Lee Ross, who had done real-life conflict resolution work in Ireland, Israel, and other parts of the world. “I spent a lot of time in and outside of class picking his brain about political and social conflicts and pathways to resolution,” Legoski said.Matters of justiceDuring a Stanford quarter in Washington, D.C., Legoski took a seminar in civil rights law and learned about “disparate impact,” which occurs when laws or rules negatively impact a particular group of people. “It’s up to civil rights lawyers to prove disparate impact through testimony, data, and analysis in the courtroom,” Legoski said. He decided that becoming a lawyer “would be a good career match for my strong sense of justice,” he said.The field of environmental justice caught his attention when he spent a year as an executive fellow in California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, working on projects to keep consumers and workers safe from the toxic chemicals found in some nail products. The field “had all the civil rights components that I want and I love,” he said.Environmental advocateThanks to support from the Harvard Presidential Scholars Program, Legoski was able to come to Harvard Chan School to get the science background he wanted. In a class last fall on analytical methods and exposure assessment, he and a group of fellow students studied the role of compostable beverage containers in microplastic contamination.Jonathan Buonocore, research scientist at Harvard Chan School, advised Legoski and the other students on their research. “With the issue of plastics, we have been hearing about impacts on sea turtles and pollution on beaches, but Legoski wondered if humans are getting exposed to microplastics through compostable cups,” he said. “He took it upon himself to find a way to address the question.” Previous studies have suggested that microplastics consumption may harm health. The students found significant leaching of microplastics from some of the compostable cups they looked at.While at Harvard Chan, Legoski has done field work at Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group. Last fall he spoke on the organization’s behalf to a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection panel about the health impacts of the Wheelabrator Saugus incinerator, the nation’s oldest. He also spoke at a Massachusetts Department of Transportation board hearing about the need in underserved communities for better public transit service, lower fares, and reduced transportation-related pollution. On campus, he serves as a student ambassador for the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE), helping promote collaborations among departments to address environmental issues.“He’s definitely a driven individual and has a good line of sight on how to use both scientific evidence and the legal mechanisms we have to improve public health and, in particular, right environmental justice wrongs,” said Buonocore.“What I love as an environmental justice advocate and future lawyer is that I will be able to tackle civil rights from a perspective that takes many issues into account — environmental issues, housing, transportation, job insecurity, food costs— that are often treated as separate issues by policymakers,” said Legoski. “It’s a field where I’ll be able to channel my passion for helping people and making sure there’s justice.”last_img read more

From Nixon to Trump: Bob Woodward, chronicler of US presidents

first_imgIn one of the 17 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with Trump for the book, the president admits to minimizing the threat from the coronavirus at the outset of a pandemic which has gone on to take nearly 200,000 lives in the United States.”I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in one conversation with Woodward. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”Trump also told Woodward that he understood early on that the virus was “deadly stuff” and far more dangerous than the common flu. At the same time, he was reassuring the American public the virus would just “disappear.”Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden attacked the president’s decision to downplay the health crisis as a “life and death betrayal of the American people.” “He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months,” Biden said.Woodward, in an interview with the CBS show “60 Minutes,” described as a “tragedy” the president’s failure to inform the public early on about how deadly the virus was.”The president of the United States has a duty to warn,” he said. “The public will understand that but if they get the feeling that they’re not getting the truth, then you’re going down the path of deceit and cover up.”Watergate It was the unraveling of a cover-up — Watergate — that made the reputation of Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein.Woodward studied at Yale University and did a five-year tour in the US Navy, before turning to journalism.After a stint at a local paper in the Washington suburbs, he got his shot at the Post in 1971.Woodward had barely a year of reporting experience when he and Bernstein stumbled into the story of a lifetime — the 1972 break-in by Republican operatives of the Democratic Party offices in Washington’s Watergate compound. Their classic gumshoe investigation prompted congressional hearings and led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.Woodward and Bernstein wrote a best-selling book, “All the President’s Men,” about the scandal which was turned into a hit 1976 film starring Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein.”Rage” is already topping the Amazon bestseller list even before it goes on sale on September 15.Since leaving daily journalism, Woodward has put out 20 books, including authoritative tomes on Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.His in-depth reporting about Washington’s corridors of power is unmatched, and his ability to back up whatever insider tales he hears has earned him grudging respect in the US capital.’Curiosity’Why Trump agreed to conduct 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward — 16 of which were recorded — is something of a mystery, particularly after his previous book portrayed the president in an unflattering light.Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” published in 2018 painted a portrait of an angry, paranoid leader and a White House which Trump’s own chief of staff described as “Crazytown.””Bob Woodward is somebody that I respect just from hearing the name for many, many years,” Trump said on Thursday in explaining his decision to be interviewed.”I thought it would be interesting to talk to him,” he said. “I did it out of curiosity.”Woodward, who retains an honorific title of associate editor at the Post but no longer writes for the newspaper, has come in for some criticism for withholding the details of his interviews with Trump — which were conducted between December 2019 and July 2020 — for his book.”If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they could prepare,” Trump said.Woodward, in an interview with the Post, defended his decision to hold back the material for his book.Woodward said he wanted to deliver “the best obtainable version of the truth” in book form and with proper context and fact-checking.In addition, he said, in dealing with the president’s revelations, “the biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true.”Topics : Nearly 50 years after Watergate, Bob Woodward is still breaking front page news and rattling US presidents.His reporting about the Watergate scandal as a journalist for The Washington Post brought down Richard Nixon.Now a best-selling author, the 77-year-old Woodward’s latest book, “Rage,” is shaking the White House of President Donald Trump less than two months ahead of the November 3 election.last_img read more

Police search for tips in death of Kentucky woman

first_imgColumbus, In. — Investigators from the Columbus Police Department are trying to figure how a Lexington, Kentucky woman ended up dead on the side of I-65 in Bartholomew County.Police confirmed the woman is Araceli Jaimes Macedo, 21. Her body was found on the shoulder of the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 near the 64.5 mile marker on Monday, September 17.The investigation into her death is ongoing.  Anyone with tips or information in regards to this case is urged to contact the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600.  Tips and information can be left anonymously.last_img read more