We’re number 28! We’re number 28!

❝ Every study ranking nations by health or living standards invariably offers Scandinavian social democracies a chance to show their quiet dominance. A new analysis published this week — perhaps the most comprehensive ever — is no different. But what it does reveal are the broad shortcomings of sustainable development efforts, the new shorthand for not killing ourselves or the planet, as well as the specific afflictions of a certain North American country.

❝ Iceland and Sweden share the top slot with Singapore as world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations…

The massive study emerged from a decade-long collaboration focused on the worldwide distribution of disease. About a year and a half ago, the researchers involved decided their data might help measure progress on what may be the single most ambitious undertaking humans have ever committed themselves to: survival. In doing so, they came up with some disturbing findings, including that the country with the biggest economy…ranks No. 28 overall, between Japan and Estonia…

❝ The U.S. scores its highest marks in water, sanitation, and child development. That’s the upside. Unsurprisingly, interpersonal violence (think gun crime) takes a heavy toll on America’s overall ranking. Response to natural disasters, HIV, suicide, obesity, and alcohol abuse all require attention in the U.S.

Also noteworthy are basic public health metrics that America. doesn’t perform as well on as other developed countries. The U.S. is No. 64 in the rate of mothers dying for every 100,000 births, and No. 40 when it comes to the rate children under age five die…

It may come as a surprise to Americans; but, most of the world considers healthcare a necessity and a right. I had to feel the pain viewing a discussion on economics when a leading Danish economist had to laugh when asked a question about American insurance companies and their control over Congress.

He replied, “the United States is the only industrial nation in the world where healthcare is still considered a privilege.” He was right of course.

Another stodgy conservative newspaper just endorsed Hillary Clinton — their first Dem since Woodrow Wilson in 1916


The last Democrat endorsed by the Cincinnati ENQUIRER

❝ The last time the Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed a Democrat for president, the paper picked Woodrow Wilson as its choice in the 1916 presidential election. It’s been a long time.

Now Donald Trump has broken the streak. The Enquirer is joining other very conservative editorial pages in endorsing Hillary Clinton, calling Trump “a clear and present danger to our country.”

❝ While other typically conservative editorial boards have made clear that they’re holding their noses in endorsing Clinton as the only realistic alternative to Trump, the Enquirer’s endorsement is slightly more positive, describing her as a clearheaded pragmatist who can build coalitions and govern effectively. The board’s views on Trump are scathing:

Trump brands himself as an outsider untainted by special interests, but we see a man utterly corrupted by self-interest. His narcissistic bid for the presidency is more about making himself great than America. Trump tears our country and many of its people down with his words so that he can build himself up. What else are we left to believe about a man who tells the American public that he alone can fix what ails us?

❝ Even more surprising than the Enquirer breaking its streak, though, is that it actually might make a difference. Research has found that when newspapers break with tradition, readers take it seriously. And unlike the other two solidly Republican newspapers that have refused to endorse Trump so far — the Dallas Morning News and the New Hampshire Union Leader — the Enquirer is in a swing state.

❝ …Unusual endorsements like this might matter precisely because it’s not what readers expected to hear. Newspaper endorsements change the most minds when they break with the usual pattern to endorse a candidate of the other party.

So far, not a single major daily newspaper has endorsed Trump – and that’s especially important in conservative bailiwicks. Newspapers have a tough enough time staying alive in the age of digital media. Conservative newspapers stay alive only because of support from conservative readers.

That means my average peer – some old fart in East Overshoe, Ohio – still cares enough for old media and old-fashioned means of acquiring news to read and relate to a conservative newspaper like the Enquirer. He or she is also more likely to regard that editorial opinion as something of value.

3% of Americans own half the guns in the country


AP Photo/Danny Johnston

In the past two decades, Americans have added approximately 70 million firearms to their private arsenals. There are more gun owners, but they make up a slightly smaller share of the population. Handguns have surged in popularity, and the era of the super-owner is here: roughly half of all guns are concentrated in the hands of just three percent of American adults.

These are among the key findings of a sweeping new survey of gun ownership, provided in advance of publication to The Trace and The Guardian by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities. Our two news organizations are partnering to present a series of stories this week based on the survey.

There have been other evaluations of American gun ownership in recent years, but academics who study gun-owning patterns and behavior say the new survey is the most authoritative and statistically sound since one conducted in 1994 by Philip Cook, a researcher at Duke University.

Roughly 100,000 Americans are injured by a gun every year, with a third of those incidents resulting in death. But research into the causes of the violence, methods of prevention, and its toll on families and communities is almost entirely conducted by academics and other private groups.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government entity that studies other public health issues, virtually ignores gun violence, owing to legislation widely interpreted as preventing such research.

Otherwise known as chickenshit Congress.

The responses reveal a fundamental shift in gun-owning attitudes. Whereas most owners once considered their firearm primarily a hunting or sports shooting tool, a majority now say they keep guns to protect themselves, their families, and communities.

Accurate reporting on what these people believe. Whether evidence-based facts provoke those beliefs is another question.

The evidence is clear: film police confrontations! Always. Every time.

❝ Video won’t solve everything, but it sure seems effective at holding cops accountable.

With first-degree manslaughter charges filed against the Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, there is now a clear, recurring theme in police shooting cases: Video — whether from a body, cellphone, or dashboard camera — truly works for holding police accountable.

❝ Now, video doesn’t always work perfectly. There are still issues with how the public can access video maintained by the police — like in North Carolina, where police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, but have so far refused to release video of the shooting. And there are valid concerns surrounding privacy, how and when officers can turn cameras on, cases where cameras don’t work or aren’t at the right angle, and more.

❝ But when the camera is on, the public can see the situation unfold, and investigators can examine the video as evidence, there have now been multiple cases in which the video seemingly led to charges against a police officer — a real attempt to hold cops accountable for wrongdoing.

Time and time again, the video won the day. In the past, the public and prosecutors would have had to rely on a police officer’s account and maybe some eyewitnesses’ testimony to decide whether a shooting was justified — and almost always side with police in such cases, because the public by and large saw cops as trustworthy. Now, we have video to show just how dishonest police can be after they kill someone.

Still, these are charges. The police officers involved in these shootings will still need to go to trial and be convicted before they’re truly punished for the shootings…

❝ The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project analyzed 3,238 criminal cases against police officers from April 2009 through December 2010. They found that only 33 percent were convicted, and only 36 percent of officers who were convicted ended up serving prison sentences. Both of those are about half the rate at which members of the public are convicted or incarcerated.

❝ But video evidence has proliferated over the past few years, thanks to cameras on mobile devices and more police departments adopting body cameras and dashboard cameras. Video managed to lead to charges in cases where there likely wouldn’t have been charges before. Maybe it will lead to convictions where there wouldn’t have been convictions before…

Still, the charges are, by themselves, important. They signal to police that prosecutors and the public are more serious about holding them accountable.

Police misconduct against minority communities is the rule rather than the exception. Anyone who has lived on those streets knows who rules – and the rules of law and equal rights do not apply. Easy access to video technology is slowly proving that point to the larger community of Americans.

If I’m sitting and chatting with another geek about mobile phones one of the first things I let them know about is the ACLU mobile justice project. How to load an app on their cellphone that instantly communicates to a protected server via cloud and cell services. Record that video! It’s safe even if someone in a blue uniform decides to confiscate and destroy your phone.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Meet the Deniers Club — clouding the climate change debate


Click to enlarge

❝ August tied July as the hottest month on record, according to NASA data released this past week. This year we’ve seen half a dozen thousand-year floods, along with epic droughts. Mother Nature is telling us there’s a problem. The long-term trend lines are clear. Yet we have a Republican presidential nominee who has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax.”

“Perhaps there’s a minor effect,” Donald Trump told The Washington Post’s editorial board, “but I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.”

❝ So it goes in the madhouse of the climate debate. Even as the evidence has become unmistakable, and even though the alarm has been sounded several times, public policy has been paralyzed — sometimes from ignorance, sometimes from uncertainty, but often from a campaign of deliberate misinformation.

Click here to view some of the worst offenders.

Tom Toles rules!

Broad range driving growth of atheists, agnostics and religious “nones” in the U.S.

The share of Americans who do not identify with a religious group is surely growing: While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23% now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”

…Two, or even three, closely related things seem to be going on. Americans who are not religiously active and who don’t hold strong religious beliefs are more likely now than similar people were in the past to say they have no religion. But that’s not the whole story, because the share of Americans with low levels of religious commitment (on a scale combining four common measures) also has been growing…

Another factor is generational change. If you think of America as a house of many different faiths, then instead of imagining the “nones” as a roomful of middle-aged people who used to call themselves Presbyterians, Catholics or something else but don’t claim those labels anymore, imagine the unaffiliated as a few rooms rapidly filling with nonreligious people of various backgrounds, including young adults who have never had any religious affiliation in their adult lives.

Indeed, our Religious Landscape Study finds a clear generational pattern: Young people who are not particularly religious seem to be much more comfortable identifying as “nones” than are older people who display a similar level of religious observance. Nearly eight-in-ten Millennials with low levels of religious commitment describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” By contrast, just 54% of Americans in the Silent and Greatest generations who have low levels of religious commitment say they are unaffiliated; 45% claim a religion. A similarly striking gap between Millennials and others is also seen among those with a “medium” level of religious commitment…

…Whether Millennials will become more religious as they age remains to be seen, but there is nothing in our data to suggest that Millennials or members of Generation X have become any more religious in recent years. If anything, they have so far become less religious as they have aged.

Education, evidence-based factors, accumulated knowledge appear to be working as you might expect. Even in the United States.

Cripes! Optimism may yet surpass my cynicism.

11-year-old arrested in Georgia with a knife at school — in fear of clown attacks!

❝ Police say a fearful 11-year-old Georgia girl who took a knife to school told officers she needed the weapon to fend off clowns.

The girl was arrested…at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens amid reports and social media posts about clowns frightening children in Georgia and other states.

❝ An Athens-Clarke County police report states the girl said she needed the knife to protect her and her family because she had heard the stories about clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children.

Police…released the girl to her mother on a charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Related news…

❝ In Coweta County, southwest of Atlanta, police were investigating a suspicious Facebook post by a man claiming to be “The Newnan Clown,”…

The profile, which has since been made private, said, “If I see you, I will get You!!! I want kids and all”…

❝ In neighboring Alabama, law enforcement officials are warning that people involved in a rash of creepy clown hoaxes across the state could be prosecuted.

Not certain what’s creepier: Kids so afraid of clowns they think they need to be armed or the kids who don’t think first of trusting their safety to their parents, teachers or maybe even the local coppers?

Thanks, @ninjaeconomics

The banned speech by William Shakespeare on behalf of refugee rights

The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another….
Say now the king
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

Bravo!