The States With The Most Gun Violence 24/7 Wall St. – Posted: 06/29/2014 12:22 pm EDT Updated: 06/29/2014 2:59 pm EDT


As mass shootings continue to appear in the news, many Americans and state leaders are asking how to address the problem without restricting constitutional rights.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the number of gun-related fatalities — including homicides, suicides, and accidents — in each state. The frequency of firearm-related deaths varies widely across the U.S. Firearms were associated with just 3.0 deaths per 100,000 residents in Rhode Island in 2011, the lowest gun-related fatality rate of any state. Louisiana, on the other hand, reported 18.8 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 residents, the most of any state. 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 states with the highest gun-related death rates.

Click here to see the states with the most gun violence.

Suicide is the leading cause of gun-related deaths across the nation in recent years. Of the 32,351 firearm deaths in 2011, nearly 20,000 were suicides. In all but one state with the most gun-related deaths, suicide accounted for the majority of fatalities. Six states — Alaska, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas, and New Mexico — reported more than 10.0 firearm-related suicides per 100,000 residents, versus the national rate of 6.2.

24/7 Wall St. discussed the CDC’s figures with John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy think tank. Roman explained the probability of accidents, suicides, and domestic violence goes up in homes with guns. Americans are “three times more likely to have a suicide in a home with a gun than [they] are in a home without a gun.”

According to Roman, “The overwhelming trend is that strong gun law states have seen dramatic declines in violence. Weak gun law states have not seen the same decline.” While stricter gun laws lead to less violence, Roman noted, this relationship is not exactly straightforward, because people may purchase a gun in one state and bring it into another. “As long as there are weak gun law states, even strong gun law states will see gun violence.”

Federal law controls some aspects of firearm regulation, but for the most part, state legislatures choose to what extent firearms are governed. None of the states with the most gun violence require permits to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns. Gun owners are also not required to register their weapons in any of these states. Meanwhile, most of the states with the lowest rates of gun deaths require a permit to purchase a handgun.

In a number of these states homicide and violent crime rates were also particularly high. Gun-related homicide rates in all but three of the 10 states with the most firearm death rates were above the national rate of 3.6 homicides per 100,000 residents. Louisiana, the only state on this list where homicide accounted for more gun-related deaths than suicides, reported 9.4 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2011, more than in any other state.

Although not necessarily gun related, violent crime, overall, was higher in many of these states. Seven states reported at least 420 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2011, versus the national rate of just 386.3 violent crimes per 100,000 residents that year. There were more than 600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Alaska, second only to Tennessee. Some specific crimes were even more likely in many of these states. Six of the 10 states reported more than 3,500 incidents of property crime per 100,00 residents, for example, versus a national rate of just 2,908.

According to Roman, politics and culture often influence gun ownership. In fact, a majority of the states with the most deaths from guns are politically conservative. They are also states with residents that tend to be comfortable with carrying and owning guns.

Economic factors also appear to be related to firearm death rates. The poverty rate in seven of the 10 states with the most gun violence was above the national rate of 15.9%. New Mexico and Mississippi, the states with the first and second highest poverty rates in the nation of more than 20%, were among the states with the most gun violence.

Educational attainment rates also tended to be lower in states with the most gun violence. The percentage of residents who had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2012 was lower than the national rate in all of the 10 states with the most gun violence.

Based on CDC data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the most firearm-related deaths in 2011, including suicides, homicides, and accidents.Firearm death rates represent the CDC”s age-adjusted figures, to avoid distortion in states with large populations of young people. We also considered 2012 data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) on the time between a gun’s purchase and its involvement in a crime. Violent crime data are for 2011 and are from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report. Poverty and income figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Information on firearm policies for each state are from the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action.

These are the states with the most gun violence, according to 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/29/states-gun-violence_n_5541292.html

How the Iraq War Launched the Modern Era of Political BS – —By Chris Mooney | Wed Jun. 25, 2014 6:00 AM EDT


Factual divides over whether Iraq had WMD, and whether Saddam was working with Osama, set the stage for today’s battles over reality.

Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney 

That queasy sensation of déjà vu you’re experiencing is understandable. With Iraq back in the news, and Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol on TV sounding off about the situation, there’s every reason to worry that a new wave of misinformation is on the way.

There is no debate that the Iraq War was sold to the American public with a collection of claims that ended up being proved false. Iraq was said to have weapons of mass destruction, but this wasn’t the case. Advocates for the war insinuated that Saddam Hussein was colluding with Al Qaeda and was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks. That, too, was false.

Yet many Americans (and some of their leaders) still believe this stuff. It’s a tragedy, but it’s also a kind of natural experiment in misinformation, its origins, and its consequences. And since 2003 social scientists, psychologists, and pollsters have been busy examining why false beliefs like these are embraced even in the face of irrefutable evidence—and what impact this sort of disinformation has on American political discourse.

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector taking samples at an Iraqi factory in 2002 IAEA/Wikimedia Commons

The resulting research shows that the Iraq War looks like an early version of a current phenomenon: the right wing rooting its stances in simple untruths about the world (see climate change). So here’s a quick trip through some of the ground-breaking scholarship on how the Iraq war polarized the US public over the acceptance of basic facts:

The role of Fox News. In a pioneering study that laid the groundwork for much future work, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland used a series of post-Iraq War polls (conducted from June through September in 2003) to analyze the the preponderance of false beliefs about the war. The study first defined three clear falsehoods: (1) real evidence linking Iraq and Al Qaeda had been uncovered; (2) WMD had been discovered in Iraq following the US invasion; and (3) global public opinion was in favor of the US invasion. Then, it examined the likelihood of holding such incorrect beliefs based upon a person’s political party affiliation and habits of news consumption.

Fox viewers led the way in embracing these false assertions, with 80 percent of them believing at least one of the three. For consumers of both NPR and PBS, in contrast, only 23 percent believed one or more of these pro-war myths.

Sure enough, Fox viewers led the way in embracing these false assertions, with 80 percent of them believing at least one of the three. Seventy-one percent of CBS viewers also held one of these three false beliefs. For consumers of NPR and PBS, only 23 percent believed one or more of these pro-war myths. Notably, Republicans and supporters of George W. Bush had a much higher level of belief in these falsehoods. So what caused these misperceptions to exist? Republican ideological allegiance likely led to an initial belief in these misrepresentations, but then Fox watching bolstered these views. For Democrats, too, watching Fox worsened their misperceptions.

 

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/iraq-war-wmds-saddam-political-unreason

Newfound Alien Planet ‘Gliese 832c’ May Be Able To Support Life – Space.com | By Mike Wall Posted: 06/27/2014 9:13 am EDT


Potentially habitable Super-Earth Gliese 832 c appears in an artist's conception against a background of a stellar nebula.

A newfound alien world might be able to support life — and it’s just a stone’s throw from Earth in the cosmic scheme of things.

An international team of astronomers has discovered an exoplanet in the star Gliese 832’s “habitable zone” — the just-right range of distances that could allow liquid water to exist on a world’s surface. The planet, known as Gliese 832c, lies just 16 light-years from Earth. (For perspective, the Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light-years wide; the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light-years away.)

Gliese 832c is a “super-Earth” at least five times as massive as our planet, and it zips around its host star every 36 days. But that host star is a red dwarf that’s much dimmer and cooler than our sun, so Gliese 832c receives about as much stellar energy as Earth does, despite orbiting much closer to its parent, researchers said. [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

Indeed, Gliese 832c is one of the three most Earth-like exoplanets yet discovered according to a commonly used metric, said Abel Mendez Torres, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

“The Earth Similarity Index (ESI) of Gliese 832c (ESI = 0.81) is comparable to Gliese 667Cc (ESI = 0.84) and Kepler-62e (ESI = 0.83),” Mendez wrote in a blog post today (June 25). (A perfect “Earth twin” would have an ESI of 1.)

“This makes Gliese 832c one of the top three most Earth-like planets according to the ESI (i.e., with respect to Earth’s stellar flux and mass) and the closest one to Earth of all three — a prime object for follow-up observations,” he added.

A team led by Robert Wittenmyer, of the University of New South Wales in Australia, discovered Gliese 832c by noticing the tiny wobbles the planet’s gravity induces in the motion of its host star.

gliese 832c

This artist’s illustration compares the size of potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 832c to that of Earth. The exoplanet may be larger if composed of gas/ice.

They spotted these wobbles in data gathered by three separate instruments — the University College London Echelle Spectrograph on the Anglo-Australian Telescope in Australia, the Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph on the Magellan II telescope in Chile and the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph, which is part of the European Southern Observatory’s 11.8-foot (3.6 meters) telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Gliese 832c is the second planet to be discovered around the star Gliese 832. The other one, Gliese 832b, was found in 2009; it’s a gas giant that circles much farther out, taking about nine years to complete one orbit.

“So far, the two planets of Gliese 832 are a scaled-down version of our own solar system, with an inner, potentially Earth-like planet and an outer, Jupiter-like giant planet,” Mendez wrote.

However, it’s unclear at the moment just how much Gliese 832c resembles Earth. Indeed, its discoverers think the newfound world may be more similar to scorching-hot Venus, with a thick atmosphere that has led to a runaway greenhouse effect.

“Given the large mass of the planet, it seems likely that it would possess a massive atmosphere, which may well render the planet inhospitable,” Wittenmyer and his team wrote in their paper, which has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. “Indeed, it is perhaps more likely that GJ [Gliese] 832c is a ‘super-Venus,’ featuring significant greenhouse forcing.”

Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/27/alien-planet-life-gliese-832c_n_5536601.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Nation editor destroys Bill Kristol: “You should enlist in the Iraqi army” – Sarah Gray Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 4:55 PM UTC


Katrina vanden Heuvel blasts Kristol and “armchair warriors” over Iraq VIDEO

Nation editor destroys Bill Kristol: "You should enlist in the Iraqi army"
Bill Kristol and Katrina vanden Heuvel on ABC’s “This Week”(Credit: screenshot)

On ABC’s “This Week” Katrina vanden Heuvel called out Bill Kristol for his hawkish stance on the Iraq war.

“We’re sitting here at a moment, George, where we’re talking about John Boehner, but the central question of war and peace for the country — there’s no military solution to Iraq,” vanden Heuvel stated. “And I have to say — sitting next to Bill Kristol, man — the architects of catastrophe that have cost this country trillions of dollars, thousands of lives — there should be accountability.”



“If there are no regrets for the failed assumptions that have so grievously wounded this nation, or politics and media accountability,” vanden Huevel continued.” We need it Bill, because this country should not go back to war. We don’t need armchair warriors. And if you feel so strongly, you should, with all due respect, enlist in the Iraqi army.”

“That’s a very cute line, Katrina,” Kristol shot back. The two then argued about the war and Kristol eventually went on to blame the current crisis on President Obama pulling troops out in 2011.

The clip can be viewed below via Media Matters:

7 Companies That Aren’t Waiting For Congress To Raise The Minimum Wage – Posted: 06/26/2014 10:42 am EDT Updated: 06/26/2014 2:59 pm EDT


Ikea workers scored a big victory Thursday when the purveyor of inexpensive Scandinavian furniture announced it’s raising its minimum wage at all U.S. stores starting next year. The average base pay for an Ikea employee will increase to $10.76 an hour, the company said.

The announcement comes at a time when businesses large and small are rethinking what they pay their workers. President Barack Obama has proposedraising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, but Republicans in Congress are stalling the measure, arguing that businesses can’t afford the added cost.

So some businesses, like Ikea, are taking matters into their own hands and raising wages without a federal mandate telling them to do so. The move doesn’t just reflect a concern for workers’ quality of life — it’s also a shrewd business tactic that helps retailers attract top talent, an economic analyst told The Huffington Post earlier this week.

Although Ikea’s move appears to be a powerful endorsement of a higher federal minimum wage, Rob Olson, chief financial officer and acting president of Ikea U.S., was quick to distance himself from party politics. “We’re not advocating for a federal or state movement,” Olson told HuffPost. “We’re more focused on our co-workers and doing the right thing for them.”

Here are seven major companies taking that philosophy to heart:

1. Ikea

ikea hacks

Ikea will peg its minimum wage in different stores to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, which estimates the minimum living wage a worker needs to make depending on where he or she lives. IKEA said none of its wages will fall below $9 an hour. The new rates are expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

2. Gap Inc.

california dark money

In February, Gap Inc. announced that it would raise minimum hourly pay for workers across all of its brands to $9 in June 2014, and to $10 an hour in June 2015. The company hit its first milestone this week when the $9 minimum wage took effect.

“With more than 65,000 workers getting an increase in their hourly pay rate [by 2015], we are making a positive impact for our employees,” Gap spokeswoman Paula Conhain said in a statement. “And, it is good for business; it is helping us to attract and retain the best talent in retail, which is a real competitive advantage for us.”

Since the announcement, the company has seen a surge in job applications.

3. Costco

costco

Costco’s starting pay is $11.50 an hour, and the average employee there earns $21 an hour, not including overtime. About 88 percent of Costco workers also benefit from company-sponsored health insurance, David Sherwood, Costco’s director of financial planning and investor relations, told HuffPost last year.

4. In-N-Out Burger

innout

The West Coast burger chain starts its employees off at $10.50 an hour and provides workers paid vacations and 401(k) plans, according to its website.

“We strive to create a working environment that is upbeat, enthusiastic and customer-focused,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “A higher pay structure is helpful in making that happen.”

5. Shake Shack

shake shack

This East Coast eatery has a starting salary of $10 an hour in New York and $9.50 an hour elsewhere. The chain also offers health care benefits for full-time employees and a 401(k) matching program.

6. Ben & Jerry’s

ben cohen occupy

Need another reason to love the makers of Chunky Monkey and Half Baked? An entry-level Ben & Jerry’s worker makes $16.29 an hour, according to company spokesman Sean Greenwood — more than double the current federal minimum wage. “As we as a business prosper, those around us should prosper as well,” Greenwood said in an email.

Ben & Jerry’s even treat their cows better than other companies.

7. Whole Foods

whole foods

At Whole Foods, workers earn a minimum starting salary of $10 an hour. The average hourly wage is $18.89, while the average annual salary is $39, 289. A company spokeswoman told HuffPost in an email that the chain’s wages have contributed to a low employee turnover rate of less than 10 percent.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/26/companies-minimum-wage_n_5530835.html

Fact-Checking Walmart’s Fact-Check Of The New York Times – Mark Gongloff Posted: 06/24/2014 3:25 pm EDT


Accused of paying its workers too little, Walmart has responded in the most 2014 way possible: by being snarky on the Internet with a “fact check.” Unfortunately, it is longer on snark than on facts.

Walmart rep David Tovar recently took a digital red pen and marked up a New York Times opinion column by Timothy Egan that suggested Walmart could help fix America’s income inequality problem simply by raising wages for its low-paid workers. It was a fun idea with a lot of viral potential, and way cheaper than actually paying a living wage.

thanks for sharing

So. Hilarious. At least to right-wingers: The Wall Street Journal’s in-houserape apologist James Taranto called it “devastating.” NewsBusters called it not just “devastating” but also “spirited.” Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller called it “EPIC.”

In the face of such success, it seems almost unsporting to fact-check Walmart’s fact-check — almost, but not quite. (Tovar’s full fact-check can be seen at the end of this story.)

can we see your math

Egan accused Walmart of draining U.S. tax coffers because its workers make so little that they have to go on food stamps and other public assistance to make ends meet. “We are the largest tax payer in America,” Tovar countered. “Can we see your math?”

Actually, we would like to see Walmart’s math, because Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Apple and Wells Fargo paid more in taxes than Walmart, according to a January study by 24/7 Wall Street. That study used 2012 data in some cases, but fresher numbers haven’t changed the picture much, according to HuffPost’s review of company financial reports. It could be that Tovar meant that Walmart has the biggest U.S. tax bill, but that would also not be correct — Apple paid more in U.S. taxes than Walmart in the latest fiscal year. Wells Fargo, too, if you count deferred taxes, as the bank does, taking a hit to earnings.

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in a phone interview that the company was looking into the discrepancy.

Walmart does pay a lot in taxes, for sure — more than $6 billion in U.S. federal taxes alone in its latest fiscal year. But by not paying its workers a living wage, which does force some unknown number of them onto public assistance, its policies also arguably eat into a lot of tax revenue. A recent study by Americans For Tax Fairness estimated that Walmart workers cost the U.S. government $6.2 billion a year. The group also estimated that Walmart and its founding Walton family cost the government another $1.6 billion in tax revenue through various tax loopholes.

we see more associates

Walmart has repeatedly disputed the ATF’s $6.2 billion number, and Tovar did so again in his fact-check. Trouble is, Walmart never offers any numbers of its own. Tovar claimed, “We see more associates move off of public assistance as a result of their job at Walmart.” But that is not a particularly informative statement. “More” than what? Do more associates move off of public assistance than move on to it? How many move in each direction annually? Tovar’s link takes you to one person’s story in a YouTube video — which, thanks, but without hard numbers, this is not so much a fact-check as it is an unsubstantiated assertion.

Walmart’s Lundberg said the company has studied the number of its workers who are on public assistance, but declined to share its data.

“There are people that come to Walmart on public assistance, and through their job at Walmart, we see that most are able to move off of it within a couple of years,” he said.

politifact

Regarding a 2013 study by House Democrats that estimated that one store in Wisconsin costs taxpayers nearly $1 million per year in assistance, Tovar claimed the fact-checking website Politifact has declared it “mostly false.” But Tovar’s claim is mostly misleading — Politifact was addressing an Ed Schultz segment on MSNBC that cited the study, not the study itself.

Tovar also claimed that the company pays hourly employees $12.91 an hour, and that this figure does not include the pay of any store managers. But Walmart’s pay figure has not changed much from what it was in previous years, when it did include some store managers who are paid hourly.

In a phone interview, spokesman Lundberg conceded that the latest figure does include some department managers who are paid hourly. Tovar’s fact-check is not factual.

 

Egan’s column cited a November 2013 story by Fortune reporter Stephen Gandel, which argued that Walmart could “give workers a 50 percent raise without hurting shareholder value.” In his “fact check,” Tovar questioned the credibility of Gandel, an established journalist, without offering any reason to do so. He suggested that we should instead listen to Jason Furman, chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council Of Economic Advisors, as if Furman had recently written something that countered Gandel’s argument.

Tovar did offer a link to an unrelated piece by Furman from 2006 about how Walmart helps the poor by letting them buy cheap stuff. Furman’s piece was flawed — Walmart could probably also help the poor by giving them better wages — but, more importantly, it has no relation to Gandel’s argument.

In the past, Walmart has also pointed to a 2005 paper by Furman that calls Walmart a “progressive success story.” But in that paper, Furman also wrote that Walmart “does not pay enough for a family to live the dignified life Americans have come to expect and demand” and that the company had tried to shred the social safety net on which many of its low-paid workers rely.

Tovar did not dispute a recent Lake Research Partners survey that found Walmart has a 28 percent disapproval rating among Americans. Instead, he used math to point out that this result means that Walmart has a 72-percent approval rating. He did not mention that rivals Target, Costco and Amazon have far, far higher approval ratings than Walmart.

starbucks

Tovar also rather desperately tried to co-opt some of the corporate goodwill that has been accumulated by Starbucks over the years, by marking up an Egan sentence about Starbucks’ OK pay and benefits to make it look as if Walmart offers OK pay and benefits, too.

Tovar wrapped up his rebuttal by suggesting that Egan write a different story. This story would be one about how Walmart is helping bring back the American Dream by buying more U.S.-made goods — which is pretty ballsy, after Walmart has spent decades helping to wreck America’s manufacturing base by selling us cheaply made foreign goods. This alternative story would also explain how Walmart is “expanding training, education and workforce development programs,” all stuff that Walmart says is more important than just paying a boring old living wage.

This is the standard corporate objection to raising wages: We’re not going to pay people more now, we’re going to train them so they can earn more in the distant future. But you can’t eat education, or pay your mortgage with a workforce development program. Why can’t low-wage workers have some of both?

I’m going to have to declare Walmart’s fact check “Mostly Bullshit.”

Here’s Tovar’s response in its entirety:

\\http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/walmart-fact-check-new-york-times_n_5525588.html