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Syringe

Fewer Americans favor death penalty, yet support is strongest among religious white people and Republicans

death penalty opponents

Death penalty opponents cross a bridge on the way to protest an execution in Florida. (AP / PHIL SANDLIN)
Fewer Americans now favor the death penalty, but support is still strong among religious whites and Republicans. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 55 percent of adults support the death penalty for convicted murderers, while 37 percent oppose it. Whites remain the only racial group in the United States where a majority support the death penalty.

A sharp drop in violent crime, greater media attention given to wrongful convictions, and reports of inhumane and prolonged executions are some of the reasons for a shift in public opinion away for supporting the death penalty since the mid-1990s, Pew reports.

Across the nation's religious groups, support and opposition varies dramatically.
  • 67 percent of white evangelical Protestants favor the death penalty.
  • 64 percent of white mainline Protestants do.
  • 58 percent of black Protestants oppose the death penalty, making them the group most strongly opposed to it (33 percent support it).
  • 54 percent of Hispanic Catholics oppose it, while 37 percent support it.

Comment: It is unsurprising that political and religious conservatives would uphold capital punishment as these groups are largely populated by authoritarian followers. According to psychologist Robert Altmeyer, authoritarian personalities are characterized by hierarchical submission to traditional authorities, aggression and conventionalism. He found that authoritarians strongly favor capital punishment and that they tend to have a retributive streak that delights in the comeuppance of others as they see fit. Altmeyer has done extensive empirical research on the subject, which is summarized in his book, 'The Authoritarians'.

Hourglass

Anger with the 1%, not envy, is raising Americans' ire

occupy wall street
© Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

More than 2,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched near New York’s Bryant Park in May 2012. The movement was formed partly as a reaction against the deepening level of income inequality in the United States.
Suddenly, or so it seems, inequality has surged into public consciousness - and neither the 1 percent nor its reliable defenders seem to know how to cope.

Some of the reactions are crazy - "it's Kristallnacht," "they're coming to kill us" - and the craziness is quite widespread.

Notice how many billionaires, plus of course The Wall Street Journal, rallied around the venture capitalist Tom Perkins (who compared public criticism of the 1 percent to Nazi attacks on Jews in a letter to the editor of The Journal in January).

But even the saner-sounding voices evidently have a hard time wrapping their minds around the notion that anyone might find 21st-century finance capitalism a bit, well, unfair.

A case in point: a recent New York Times op-ed by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Brooks is deeply worried about changing popular attitudes toward wealth:
"According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who feel that 'most people who want to get ahead' can do so through hard work has dropped by 14 points since about 2000," he wrote on March 1. "As recently as 2007, Gallup found that 70 percent were satisfied with their opportunities to get ahead by working hard; only 29 percent were dissatisfied. Today, that gap has shrunk to 54 percent satisfied, and 45 percent dissatisfied. In just a few years, we have gone from seeing our economy as a real meritocracy to viewing it as something closer to a coin flip."
And what does he think is the reason for this sea-change in attitudes? Why, it must be about growing envy of the rich, which is a terrible thing.
Health

Life expectancy: The most and least healthy counties in America

How college education, housing, and transit affect the health status of Americans
least healthy counties
© Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Top and bottom ten percent least-healthy counties, by state.
I've written before about how moving from West Virginia to Connecticut is like moving from Mauritius to Belgium, as far as life expectancy goes.

But a new report shows just how much variation in quality of life there is within each state, if you look at the most- and least-healthy counties. In Kentucky, for instance, the percentage of children living in poverty ranges from 8, in Oldham county near Louisville, to 57 percent in nearby Owlsey county, where the local farming and mining economies have dried up.

"The least healthy counties in the U.S. have twice the premature death rates (years of life lost before age 75), twice as many children living in poverty, and twice as many teen births compared to the healthiest counties," write the authors of a new ranking by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute.

The researchers also found that a number of non-medical factors, such as housing, transit, and college attendance, are associated with health behaviors and outcomes. Here's a look at how those elements break down by county:
Book 2

18 years of school and I am now an over-educated nanny! Best-educated generation in U.S. history also the most plagued by poverty and unemployment

college education
© Los Angeles Times
Education used to be the answer for improving one's status and expanding opportunities. Now, for the first time in the history of America, it isn't.
You've probably heard about the array of problems facing millennials as we graduate and attempt to enter the job market. Well, what you've been hearing is true.

Emily, would you please put a bowl of water on the floor so I can drink like a dog?"

It was a sweet and funny request, and I was happy to do it. But it was also a reminder, once again, that I work for a 4-year-old.

You've probably heard about the vast array of problems facing my generation as we graduate and attempt to enter the job market. As a 24-year-old recent college grad, I can tell you that what you've been hearing is true.

I graduated last May with unpaid internships waiting for me in Mexico, Spain and Nicaragua. Even more exciting, my research proposal had been accepted, and I was all set to go to Namibia for three months of studying baby baboons. I had a passable GPA, a kick-ass resume and a nagging worry that all was for naught.

"To study the social and behavioral sciences is a labor of love," my professor told our graduating class, "because you aren't in it for the money!"

And sure enough, after an incredibly frustrating and depressing series of failed attempts to find funding for my research projects, watching my would-be departure dates slip by one at a time, I finally took a job as a nanny.
Dollars

Stealth inflation: Dollar devaluation at the grocery store

grocery cart
There are certain facts that are difficult to face in the world. One is that the currency you have spent you life working for isn't worth what you thought it was. In reality, it may not even be worth the paper that it's printed on. The United States paper currency has been very slowly devalued for over a century now. This was accelerated into high gear on August 15, 1971 when Nixon took the United States off the gold standard. By removing the gold backing (value) from the United States currency, it opened the door to the unfettered money printing that we have today. Many analyst over the years have seen the potential of a currency crisis and put their reputation on the line by bringing this information to the public. I will not attempt to parrot their thorough, highly-researched findings and predictions here.

The Dollar Is A Strong Fear Monger

One of the issues of debate among the public, informed and uninformed, is the fact that even though all the pieces are in place for a rapid devaluation, there seems to be a lack of perpetual hard evidence on main street. Specters of gyrating gas and commodity prices ebb and flow like a intensive care patient's heart rate monitor. Yet life seems to continue without the anticipated decline and flat line. However, in the age of information, things are done differently. Computer algorithms and Utah's NSA supercomputers reign over information, and strategic decisions are made using real-time data. Decisions can be precise, well hidden, and highly methodical given such technological advantages.
Flashlight

British police uncover another 'complex' paedophile ring, this time involving 'more than 500 victims'

© Paul Kingston/NNP
Neville Husband in 2003 when he was jailed for historical sexual abuse as a prison officer at Medomsley detention centre in County Durham.
Head of major inquiry into Medomsley detention centre in County Durham shocked by scale of historical sexual abuse

Police investigating sexual abuse at a Durham detention centre say they believe they have uncovered an organised paedophile ring operating in the 1970s and 80s with more than 500 potential victims.

The head of a 70-strong major inquiry into historical abuse at the Medomsley detention centre, near Consett, told the Guardian the inquiry was triggered by mounting evidence about isolated individuals. However, they were now investigating a complex paedophile ring, with many more victims than previously thought.

D Supt Paul Goundry, senior investigating officer, said: "We always knew this would be a major inquiry but the scale of it, and the sheer number of victims who have come forward, has been a shock."

He said that as well as sexual abuse they had evidence of a "brutal regime where violence was both extreme and routine". He suggested that prosecutions would be pursued for the offences, some of which occurred more than 40 years ago.

Nearly 100 men who had come forward were already receiving therapy via a local sexual assault referral centre and others had sought support from the children's charity NSPCC.
Question

Malaysia says there's sealed evidence on MH370 that cannot be made public

© Reuters
Steven Wang, a family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines MH370, is surrounded by the media outside Lido Hotel in Beijing March 26, 2014
A Malaysian team have told relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 that there was sealed evidence that cannot be made public, as they came under fire from the angry relatives at a briefing on Wednesday.

The sealed evidence included air traffic control radio transcript, radar data and airport security recordings.

The briefing at the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing focused on UK satellite analysis which led Malaysia to conclude that flight MH370 ended in south Indian Ocean, off Perth.

The Chinese relatives were told that a five-member high-level team from Malaysia plans to brief them once every five days. The team include MAS pilot Lim Jit Koon and senior civil aviation official Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar.

During the question-and-answer session, a relative said: "Thanks for demonstrating your ability to read every word out of the powerpoint slides."
Beer

Three Secret Service agents sent home from Holland for being drunk

© AP
April 14, 2012: U.S. secret service agents walk around the Convention Center in Cartagena, Colombia, prior to the Summit of the Americas.
Three Secret Service agents on President Obama's detail were sent home from the Netherlands after apparently spending a night out drinking in Amsterdam ahead of the president's arrival Monday.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Fox News that the agents had been sent home "for disciplinary reasons" and had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Fox News is told top officials are furious this happened in the wake of the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. In the latest incident, Fox News is told one agent was so intoxicated he couldn't get his key to work to enter his hotel room -- so he passed out on the floor in the hallway.

The Washington Post reported that the three agents, all members of the Secret Service Agency's Counter Assault Team (CAT), went out in the Dutch capital Saturday night. Staff at their hotel alerted the U.S. Embassy after finding one of the agents passed out in a hallway Sunday morning.
Radar

Private satellite company Inmarsat used radar pings and mathematical model to determine MH370 theoretically crashed in southern Indian Ocean


Solution: Inmarsat's scientists analysed the faint pings from MH370 using a technique based on the Doppler effect, which describes how a wave changes frequency relative to the movement of an observer, in this case the satellite. The changes in ping times indicated that the plane was moving south.
A private British satellite company used a wave phenomenon discovered in the nineteenth century to analyse the seven pings its satellite picked up from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and determine its tragic final destination.

The new findings led Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to conclude that the Boeing 777, which disappeared more than two weeks ago, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean, killing everyone on board.

Investigators working on the disappearance of the plane believe that it may have been flown on a suicide mission.

Radar pings from MH370, automatically transmitted every hour from the aircraft after the rest of its communications systems had stopped, indicated it continued flying for hours after it disappeared from its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
People

Louisiana parish bans saggy pants - About time somebody did!

© Joe Raedle Getty Images
The Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury has unanimously passed an ordinance making it illegal for any person to appear in a public place wearing pants below the waist and exposing the skin or undergarments.

Police Juror Steve Eastman initially asked the panel to consider banning saggy pants at the parish courthouse in January in response to courthouse employees' complaints about having to see people's underwear and body parts.

Juror Bryon Buller took the suggestion a step further and asked the panel to consider making it illegal for anyone to show their undergarments in public to limit indecent and lewd behavior.

"The guards that check people going into the courthouse complained about people coming into the courthouse dressed like that," Eastman said.
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