You might have seen a map floating around in the last couple days showing what the most distinctive cause of death is in each state (see methodology and full write-up here). It was a pretty neat (if clinical and somewhat creepy) way of showing some interesting trends going on around the country.
To make the map (published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week), Francis P. Boscoe and Eva Pradhan, both at the New York State Department of Health, took data from 2001 to 2010 and calculated state rates of death for each of the 113 causes tracked by the CDC. They then divided those answers by the national rates of death for those specific causes. As Tech Times pointed out, the most distinctive cause doesn't necessarily mean high numbers. Rather, the map shows a cause of death for each state that occurs at higher rates than in the rest of the country.
Here's a look at what the CDC found, with the causes of death translated from medical speak into plain English:
National Security Agency headquarters in Ft. Meade, Virginia
A panel of federal judges slapped down the National Security Agency's telephone metadata collection program Thursday, effectively saying that the program goes way beyond what the law allows. In a 97-page decision released by the 2nd US Court of Appeals, the three-judge panel found that the Patriot Act doesn't allow the government to collect phone records in such a blanket way.
The court's ruling won't stop the program, as the New York Times notes. Rather, it punts the issue back to lower courts and Congress to determine exactly what's okay and what isn't. But the decision, written by Judge Gerard E. Lynch, doesn't pull any punches either. "Congress cannot reasonably be said to have ratified a program of which many members of Congress—and all members of the public—were not aware," he wrote.
Here are some highlights from his ruling, which you can read in full below:
On the government using "inapplicable statutes and inconclusive legislative history" in its arguments:
On the government's "unprecedented and unwarranted" definition of what material is relevant to an actual investigation:
On whether Congress, or the public, fully understood what the government was going to do with this program:
Turns out where you live as a child has a lot to do with how much you'll earn as an adult.
It's pretty obvious that where you live as an adult has a major impact on your financial situation.It's way more expensive to live in San Francisco, for example, than in Iowa. But a recent study suggests that where you grow up has a significant impact on your chances of financial success later in life.
The Equality of Opportunity Project, run by Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, looked at tax records on 5 million families who moved between counties from 1996 to 2012. Analyzing those records, the researchers were able to measure the relative annual income differentials before and after moving. The researchers found several local factors seem to impact a child's future earning capabilities: race and income segregation, exacerbated income inequality, quality of schools, crime, and the prevalence of two-parent households.
The full list of counties shows that DuPage County, Illinois, just west of Chicago, could be the best of the country's top 100 counties in terms of children's upward mobility. Simply by living there, a child could add about $200 to his or her annual income at age 26, a 15 percent premium over the county average nationwide. The worst county for future mobility, Baltimore City, puts children in a position to make more than 17 percent less than the county average.
To see how your county fares, check out the New York Times' interactive presentation of the study's findings.
Chetty and Hendren write that their study "suggests that policy makers seeking to improve mobility should focus on improving childhood environments (e.g., by improving local schools) and not just on the strength of the local labor market availability of jobs." In other words, trying to provide more economic opportunity for adults starts with leveling the playing field for kids, regardless of where they grow up.
Baltimore police faced off against protesters on April 30.
In Baltimore, white people make up 28 percent of the population but 50 percent of the city's police officers. In Philadelphia, where police and protesters clashed last Thursday during a #FreddieGray rally, whites are 37 percent of the population but 58 percent of the police force. In Sacramento, whites comprise just 36 percent of residents but 72 percent of police.
Those are just a few of the departments whose ethnic makeup is dramatically out of sync with the demographics of the cities they serve. Using census data, Chris Zubak-Skees of the Center for Public Integrity crunched the numbers for the nation's 50 most populous cities. In 49 of them—Atlanta being the lone exception—the cops are whiter than the community.
Zubak-Skees notes that police departments in many cities have worked hard to make themselves more diverse. Acting on recommendations by the 1968 Kerner Commission—which was appointed to investigate the causes of riots in Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit—many departments began reviewing fair promotion policies and recruiting African Americans. The numbers have improved somewhat over the years, but most big-city forces are still far from representative. The Kerner report warned that an "abrasive relationship between police and the minority communities has been a major—and explosive—source of grievance, tension, and disorder."
"For many, those words still ring depressingly true today," CPI notes.
The following charts give a breakdown for 15 cities, including those with the greatest disparities to those whose police forces closely reflect the people they serve. If you don't see your city here, scroll down to the table containing all of the 50 cities Zubak-Skees examined.
Thousands took to the streets in Baltimore last week following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died after his spine was nearly severed while riding in a police van. The "Baltimore Uprising" is the latest in a series of demonstrations to protest police brutality and the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. Crowds have come out around the country—and abroad—as part of a movement that's now being called Black Spring.