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How the Trump administration is defending its indefensible child separation policy.
The Trump administration is playing a game of choose your own facts, but every single version of this story ends with screaming children in cages.
You can call it a “policy” (Jeff Sessions) or you can call it a not-policy (Kirstjen Nielsen) or you can call it a “law” (Sarah Huckabee Sanders). You can say that yes it’s a policy but nobody likes it (Kellyanne Conway) or you can say it’s a “zero-tolerance” enforcement of a Democratic law (Donald Trump) or a zero-tolerance enforcement of an amalgam of various congressional laws (Nielsen) or a zero-tolerance enforcement of the Department of Justice’s own preferences with respect to enforcing prior laws (Sessions).
You can say the purpose of the Justice Department’s family separation policy is deterrence (Stephen Miller, John Kelly) or you can claim that asking if the purpose of the policy is deterrence is “offensive” (Nielsen). You can claim in your legal pleadings that the family separation policy is wholly “discretionary” and thus unreviewable by any court, meaning that only the president can change it (Justice Department in Ms. L v. ICE). Or you can claim that only Congress can “fix loopholes” (Nielsen) or you can say that Congress as a whole can’t fix anything because congressional Democrats are entirely to blame (Trump, Mike Huckabee).
538  children  gov2.0  immigration  politics  psychology  religion  trump 
14 hours ago by rgl7194
Why Rank-And-File Evangelicals Aren’t Likely To Turn On Trump Over Family Separation | FiveThirtyEight
Over the past few weeks, religious leaders have emerged as some of the strongest critics of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.’s southern border. More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church brought a formal complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a Methodist, saying that the policy violates church rules and may constitute child abuse. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also spoke out harshly, calling family separation immoral.
trump  religion  immigration  politics  psychology  children  gov2.0  538 
14 hours ago by rgl7194
Driving? Your Phone Is A Distraction Even If You Aren’t Looking At It | FiveThirtyEight
I was in the car with a friend recently when she pulled up to a stoplight, picked up her phone and replied to a text. I gave her the side eye. What? she glared back. “I only use my phone when we’re stopped.”
“OK, fine,” I said. But, I wondered, is it?
We all know that it’s dangerous to text while driving, but our phones have become overlords that demand our constant attention. In the car, I limit my phone use to things I can do hands-free — talking and listening to preloaded playlists — and assumed this made me safer. But I may be fooling myself. Research has found that when it comes to distracted driving, what your eyes and hands are doing is only part of the issue — what your mind is doing is at least as crucial. Before you can reduce the risks of cellphone use while driving, you need to understand the nature of distraction itself.
cars  driving  cellphones  538 
18 hours ago by rgl7194
Injuries And Underperformance Couldn’t Keep The Dodgers Down | FiveThirtyEight
In retrospect, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-5 loss to the Miami Marlins on May 16 was probably the low point of their 2018 season. It was the Dodgers’ sixth consecutive defeat and their ninth in 10; it dropped their overall record to 16-26, then only the fourth-best in their division; and it brought their playoff odds to a season low of 22 percent.
For a team that had won 473 regular-season games over the previous five seasons (the most in baseball during that period), came within a game of winning the World Series last year and was expected to waltz to a sixth consecutive division crown this year, the season’s ugly start was hard to understand or explain. After that loss to the Marlins, L.A. manager Dave Roberts could only reach for Winston Churchill. “When you’re going through hell,” he told the L.A. Times, “keep going.”
dodgers  baseball  538 
18 hours ago by rgl7194
What Is Really Behind Trump’s Controversial Immigration Policies? | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to Secret Identity, our regular column on identity and its role in politics and policy.
The Trump administration’s policy that has resulted in separating children from their parents as part of its border-enforcement strategy is generating widespread opposition, even from people who have traditionally been allies of the president. It has forced the administration to defend an approach that polls terribly1 and results in images of children in cages and accounts of breastfeeding kids being taken away from their mothers.
It seems like bad politics.
gov2.0  politics  trump  immigration  children  538 
19 hours ago by rgl7194
Doug Jones Thinks He’s Supposed To Be Here | FiveThirtyEight
ou probably know Alabama’s new senator, Doug Jones, because he narrowly won a special election last year against a man accused of molesting underage girls. But there are probably quite a few things you don’t know about him. His first name is actually Gordon, and he is left-handed,1 hitches his head a bit when he’s making a point and is what experts on emotions might call an “active listener.”
That last point dawned on me while I was sitting in the back of an SUV as he praised the virtues of the peanut butter factory we’d just been to — “the technology!” — and we jostled along a central Alabama road on a late May afternoon. Throughout a sweaty, hair-netted tour, he had nodded and peered into things and patiently asked questions. (I, meanwhile, had strained to hear over the nut-rumbling din and contemplated a literal death by peanut butter underneath some sort of hot, belching still that smelled unnervingly like cookies.) The visit was a reminder of just how much the life of a politician is filled with interactions that are mundane for him but momentous for the other person; the conscientious officeholder knows that a bit of attentive listening can go a long way. That’s perhaps doubly the case for Jones, an Alabama Democrat wading through his state’s overwhelmingly Republican politics. Sometimes, he might not agree with what people have to say to him, but, by God, Jones will smile, nod and hear them out.
gov2.0  politics  Dems  538  racism 
19 hours ago by rgl7194
What Do Men Think It Means To Be A Man? | FiveThirtyEight
We asked more than 1,600 men whether #MeToo changed their thinking on masculinity.
Headlines this year have been rife with allegations of sexual harassment against many high-profile men. At the same time, an ongoing national reckoning over gender disparities in the workplace, the patriarchal social system and the role of masculinity in society are calling into question long-standing gender norms.
Along with WNYC Studios’ “Death Sex & Money” podcast, we wanted to know: What does it all mean for how men feel about being men?
FiveThirtyEight and WNYC partnered with SurveyMonkey for a nationwide survey of 1,615 adults who identify as men.1 We asked respondents to reflect on their ideas of masculinity, workplace culture and intimacy, among other things. The results: A majority of men in the workplace say they haven’t rethought their on-the-job behavior in the wake of #MeToo; a little more than half of men feel it’s at least somewhat important that others see them as masculine; and nearly half of all men say they sometimes or often feel lonely or isolated.
society  men  survey  538 
yesterday by rgl7194
You’ve Been Arrested. Will You Get Bail? Can You Pay It? It May All Depend On Your Judge. | FiveThirtyEight
hen Dawud Moore heard he’d been assigned bail, he felt relieved. It was January 2015, and Moore, a black man who was a 38-year-old Brooklyn resident at the time, was in an arraignment hearing on forgery charges — he had cashed a paycheck that his employer claimed was fraudulent. He maintained then and now that the company accidentally paid him twice, once in person and once by mail. The company claimed he’d forged a duplicate check.
All things considered, the $10,000 bond1 felt manageable. Moore had been arrested before, including for a drug-related conspiracy charge that put him in federal prison for nearly a decade. This time he was a little more than a year out of prison and had several months of steady work as a mason under his belt. He had a little bit of cash in his bank account, enough to pay the bondsman and make bail. Posting it would allow him to be released from jail while he awaited trial, and Moore was familiar enough with the system to know that he was much more likely to beat the case if he wasn’t locked up. “It’s funny because this is the first time in my adult life where I got a bail,” he said recently. “I was thinking, ‘I’m working, I’m out of trouble, I can pay this.’ And I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Moore said.
legal  money  538 
yesterday by rgl7194
The Russia Investigation Isn’t Less Popular — It’s Just More Polarizing | FiveThirtyEight
And that was inevitable.
Are Americans growing tired of the Russia investigation? On Wednesday, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 36 percent of registered voters have a negative view of special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed last year to probe whether members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign worked with the Russian government in an effort to influence the election. It’s a significant increase from last summer, when only 23 percent of voters had a negative view of Mueller.
The poll got a lot of attention.
At first blush, Morning Consult’s survey appears to show that President Trump’s narrative about the Russia investigation — that it is a “witch hunt” run by politically motivated law-enforcement agents bent on undermining Trump’s victory — is taking hold, giving the president and his allies more ammunition to argue that Mueller should wrap it up.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538  survey 
yesterday by rgl7194
The Next Phase Of NBA Superteam Technology: Creating One From Scratch | FiveThirtyEight
A Big Three of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would be the first of its kind.
When healthy, San Antonio Spurs swingman Kawhi Leonard is a card-carrying MVP candidate and one of the game’s premier all-around talents. But here’s the thing: Leonard hasn’t really been healthy since the 2017 playoffs, when he landed awkwardly on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Between that season-ending ankle sprain and a mysterious quad injury that sidelined Leonard for all but nine games of the 2017-18 season — fueling rumors of a growing rift with the Spurs organization — most of the recent headlines about Leonard have been over rehab schedules and locker-room turmoil, not his on-court brilliance.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538 
3 days ago by rgl7194
The 500-Page Inspector General’s Report In 900 Words | FiveThirtyEight
The long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general examining the department’s conduct in the Hillary Clinton email investigation came out on Thursday, and, if nothing else, it’s exhaustive. At more than 500 pages, it carefully and meticulously unpacks how organizations and individuals acquitted themselves before and after the 2016 election. Of course, very quickly, much of the nuance was stripped out; interested parties — President Trump, his supporters, former FBI Director James Comey — all found in the report plenty of ammunition to load the gun they were already holding. Cherrypicking aside, however, the report did come to some conclusions.
So let’s look at the legal, policy and political implications of the report but also try to keep the nuance while losing some of the complexity (and adding some brevity). Here are four key takeaways from those 500+ pages in about 900 words. (Note: The report is overwhelmingly about the Justice Department’s and the FBI’s conduct in the Clinton email probe, not the investigations surrounding Trump or his campaign’s alleged connections to Russia. Inspector General Michael Horowitz is now looking into elements of the Trump investigation.)
gov2.0  politics  election  hillary  FBI  trump  report  538 
5 days ago by rgl7194
What Would Happen If Trump Fired Rosenstein? | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump has never had a particularly friendly attitude toward the Department of Justice. But his attacks on the nation’s chief law enforcement agency have escalated in recent months, culminating in a demand — by tweet — for an investigation into whether the FBI engaged in politically motivated surveillance of his 2016 presidential campaign. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein quickly assented (sort of), to the dismay of critics who say that Trump is trying to weaken the department’s historic independence in an attempt to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Some even speculated that the order could strengthen the obstruction of justice case against Trump — especially if he uses it as a pretext to fire Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s probe and has been the subject of veiled threats from the president for months.
What would happen if Trump were to give Rosenstein the boot? Dismissing him would be a more obvious attempt to control the outcome of Mueller’s investigation than insisting on a separate probe of the FBI. But even in the case of a hypothetical Rosenstein firing, there isn’t a clear line between the president’s legitimate authority over law enforcement agencies and criminal interference in an ongoing investigation. Dismissing the deputy attorney general would be a political bombshell, but the extent of the legal fallout would depend largely on what the president did next.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
16 days ago by rgl7194
A Half-Day Of Diversity Training Won’t Change Much For Starbucks | FiveThirtyEight
Diversity training in general doesn’t change much for any corporation.
Every Starbucks in America will be closed Tuesday afternoon so the company’s nearly 175,000 employees can attend a mandatory training session aimed at reducing racial bias and discrimination. Starbucks decided to take the sweeping action after a high-profile incident in April involving a white employee who called police on two black men waiting in a Philadelphia Starbucks to meet with a business partner. But research suggests that just one half-day of training is unlikely to turn things around.
The Starbucks training isn’t typical of most diversity training, which usually attempts to improve internal relations between employees of different races and cultures. Instead, Starbucks is focusing on improving the way employees interact with customers. But the company is hardly alone in relying on training sessions to reduce bias and discrimination. Diversity training is a hugely profitable industry. A one-day class for 50 people is estimated to cost as much as $6,000, and large corporations budget hundreds of millions of dollars for diversity initiatives annually.
business  coffee  racism  training  bias  538 
16 days ago by rgl7194
Forget Norms. Our Democracy Depends On Values. | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump this week tweeted his intention to order the Department of Justice to investigate whether the FBI had “infiltrated” the Trump campaign for political purposes. He then met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to push the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The episode, like many before it, set off alarms among legal and political commentators. Throughout the 2016 campaign, the outsider candidate demonstrated that he would not be bound by the usual unwritten rules of the game. Political scientists, in particular, have emphasized the decline of “norms” in their efforts to explain the danger posed by the Trump administration and the president’s possible role in the decline of liberal democracy in the U.S.
But as with any word that has picked up heavy traction in political discussions, “norms” has gotten a bit imprecise. What do we actually mean when we talk about norms? Why do such informal rules exist? And what norm violations should we really care about?
politics  gov2.0  trump  538 
16 days ago by rgl7194
The Supreme Court Is Stubbornly Analog — By Design | FiveThirtyEight
The Supreme Court is an openly — even proudly — technophobic institution. Cameras are forbidden, which means there are no images or videos from high-profile cases, and briefs and other legal filings only recently became available at the court’s website. Chief Justice John Roberts argued in 2014 that these Luddite tendencies are just part of the legal system: “The courts will always be prudent whenever it comes to embracing the ‘next big thing.’” The justices — who communicate mostly on paper, rather than via email — can sometimes seem as analog as the institution they serve. There was the moment when in a 2014 case about cell phone privacy, Justice Samuel Alito asked what would happen if a suspect were carrying personal information on a “compact disc.” That same year, Justice Stephen Breyer was ribbed for spinning out an extended hypothetical about a “phonograph record store.”
There are systemic reasons for the court’s reluctant approach to technology — American law is a backward-looking enterprise even outside the highest court. But regardless of why it’s happening, legal scholars say the consequences are clear: When Supreme Court justices lack an understanding of what technology means for the lives of the people affected by their decisions, they will struggle to respond effectively to technological change.
gov2.0  SCOTUS  technology  538  legal 
18 days ago by rgl7194
How Harmful — Or Helpful — Are E-Cigarettes, Anyway? | FiveThirtyEight
Wanna vape?
E-cigarettes are gaining popularity, and they’re prompting all sorts of public health questions. A lot of the concern revolves around kids and teens, especially since nicotine may have long-term consequences for their still-developing brains and most people who become smokers start as adolescents. Some health officials worry that e-cigarettes are being marketed to young people, and the FDA recently issued warning letters to several companies that were selling the liquids used in e-cigarettes with packaging that seemed to be aimed at kids — the containers resembled juice boxes or featured cartoony drawings. One high school in Annapolis, Maryland, even went so far as to remove the doors from some bathrooms to discourage students from “vaping,” as e-cigarette use is called.
So, how harmful are e-cigarettes and vaping? It depends on the role you think they play.
health  smoking  538 
20 days ago by rgl7194
The Supreme Court Made It Easier For More People To Place Bad Sports Bets | FiveThirtyEight
With the Supreme Court’s landmark gambling decision this week, many more Americans might soon be able to place a legal wager on their favorite sport. So what kind of money are we talking about?
The U.S. casino industry says Americans illegally bet at least $150 billion on sports every year. But it’s hard to measure exactly how much of that money might flow into legal establishments as a result of this decision; underground bookies don’t readily publish their balance sheets. But the casinos in Nevada do, and a closer look into the action taken by sportsbooks over the past few decades gives us a window into how Americans bet on sports — and how well they’re doing.
sports  politics  gambling  SCOTUS  538 
4 weeks ago by rgl7194
Humans Are Dumb At Figuring Out How Smart Animals Are | FiveThirtyEight
And that has major implications for what rights we think they’re owed.
If an animal is smart enough, should we treat it like a human? An abstract question, but one that found its way into a courtroom recently. A case bidding for consideration by the New York State Court of Appeals sought to extend the legal concept of habeas corpus — which allows a person to petition a court for freedom from unlawful imprisonment — to cover two privately-owned chimpanzees. The case for giving the chimps a human right like freedom from unlawful incarceration is based on their similarity to humans — they can think, feel and plan, argue the people bringing the case on behalf of the chimpanzees, so shouldn’t they have some guarantees of liberty? The court declined to hear the case, but one judge did say that some highly intelligent animals probably should be treated more like people and less like property.
animals  intelligence  538 
4 weeks ago by rgl7194
Very Few Voters Actually Read Trump’s Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
Poll of the week
President Trump’s tweets often dominate news coverage, particularly on cable news. But let’s be honest: We here at FiveThirtyEight have occasionally written about them too. What is more, well, newsworthy than the words of the chief executive of one of the world’s most powerful nations? And since politicians are known for boring, repetitive, long-winded speeches, what could be a better political platform than one that literally forbids using more than 280 characters at a time? Twitter seems good for Trump, too: As his allies often say, it gives the president a way to speak directly to the American electorate, getting around the media’s filter. Trump’s Twitter account is followed by 52 million people, not that far off from the nearly 63 million who voted for him in 2016.
trump  twitter  gov2.0  politics  538  survey 
4 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Mueller’s First Year Compares To Watergate, Iran-Contra And Whitewater | FiveThirtyEight
And what those past investigations tell us about where the Russia investigation might go next.
It’s a big day for Robert Mueller and his team: One year ago today, Mueller was appointed to lead the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian officials. It’s a miracle, in some ways, that Mueller has lasted this long. President Trump’s relationship with the investigation has grown increasingly adversarial, and at many moments over the course of the past 12 months, it seemed like Mueller’s job was in jeopardy.
So this hasn’t been an easy year for Mueller, but it’s certainly been productive. Since the first indictments came down in the investigation last fall, the special counsel has racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals.1 He also reportedly gave a referral to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York that led to a raid on the office, home and hotel room of presidential lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, which has turned into its own separate investigation.
We’ve taken a look at how Mueller’s first year measures up against the initial 12 months of other special counsel and independent counsel investigations. In terms of the number of charges he’s been able to file, Mueller is moving quickly. At one year after the formal appointment of a special or independent counsel, only the Watergate special prosecution force had obtained more indictments and guilty pleas.
538  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  comparo 
4 weeks ago by rgl7194
You Can’t Opt Out Of Sharing Your Data, Even If You Didn’t Opt In | FiveThirtyEight
The Golden State Killer, who terrorized Californians from Sacramento to Orange County over the course of a decade, committed his last known murder in 1986, the same year that DNA profiling was used in a criminal investigation for the first time. In that early case, officers convinced thousands of men to voluntarily turn over blood samples, building a genetic dragnet to search for a killer in their midst. The murderer was eventually identified by his attempts to avoid giving up his DNA. In contrast, suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo, who was apprehended just last week, was found through other people’s DNA — samples taken from the crime scenes were matched to the profiles his distant relatives had uploaded to a publicly accessible genealogy website.
You can see the rise of a modern privacy conundrum in the 32 years between the first DNA case and DeAngelo’s arrest. Digital privacy experts say that the way DeAngelo was found has implications reaching far beyond genetics, and the risks of exposure apply to everyone — not just alleged serial killers. We’re used to thinking about privacy breaches as what happens when we give data about ourselves to a third party, and that data is then stolen from or abused by that third party. It’s bad, sure. But we could have prevented it if we’d only made better choices.
data  sharing  privacy  security  gov2.0  police  538 
5 weeks ago by rgl7194
Democrats’ Horrible 2018 Senate Map Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time | FiveThirtyEight
You hear it all the time: The 2018 Senate map is bad, even “brutal,” for Democrats. Of the 35 seats on the ballot this cycle, 26 are held by senators who caucus with the Democrats, and just nine are held by Republicans. Democrats must flip two of those nine — without losing any seats of their own — in order to take a Senate majority. That’s not going to be easy given that only one of those Republican-held seats is from a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. At the same time, 10 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election in states won by President Trump, including deep red ones like North Dakota and West Virginia.
But while the 2018 map is the party’s steepest uphill climb in a long time, defending red-state Senate seats isn’t a new challenge for Democrats. In fact, they’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. They haven’t had a choice: It gets less ink than the gerrymandered districts in the U.S. House, but the Senate — which reserves the same number of seats for a sparsely populated state as for a crowded one — has an inherent Republican bias as well. Within the past 25 years, Democratic majorities in the Senate — up through 1995, briefly from 2001 to 2002 and then finally from 2007 to 2015 — were possible because more Democrats represented red states than Republicans represented blue states. To wield a majority in 2019 and beyond, Democrats will simply (OK, not so simply) have to pull off the same trick.
gov2.0  politics  election  congress  Dems  GOP  538 
7 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Five Types Of Nicolas Cage Movies | FiveThirtyEight
Our Hollywood Taxonomy series, which just turned 3 years old, is all about the pursuit of clarity through categorization — using box office data and critical reviews to sort through long, complicated filmographies. I’ve analyzed the careers of enormous figures in the entertainment industry, iconoclastic storytellers, revered actors, compelling comedians, bona fide phenomenons and also Adam Sandler. But, today, a series dedicated to understanding creative people and their careers faces its greatest challenge: the ineffable Nicolas Cage.
I could claim that this article is timed to the release of Cage’s latest movie, “Mandy,” which recently premiered at Sundance, but that would be a lie. Pick any random weekend in the year and there’s a pretty good chance that a Cage film has been recently released or will soon be released. He puts out like four a year. I just thought it would be interesting to look at Cage’s work.
movies  actor  538  review 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Way Everybody Measures NFL Schedule Strength? It’s Wrong. | FiveThirtyEight
After Thursday night’s two-hour special on the NFL Network, we now know exactly what every NFL team’s schedule looks like for the upcoming season. But what we don’t know is how hard any of those schedules will be.
Every year when the schedules are released, NFL analysts ritually compare the strength of the 32 teams’ slates. And every year, they do it the one way we know doesn’t work.
football  analytics  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Everyone Tries To Dodge The Tax Man, And It Keeps Getting Easier | FiveThirtyEight
Al Capone was busted for tax evasion. Leona Helmsley was, too. But gangsters and entitled millionaires aren’t the only ones who hold something back from the tax man. Each year, Americans of all stripes underpay the IRS by hundreds of billions, aided by the fact that the agency lacks the resources to catch all the cheaters.
Recently, tax dodging has found a new champion: liberal state governments fighting back against the Republicans’ far-reaching tax reforms, which seem to hit a number of blue states particularly hard. New Jersey and California want to reclassify certain state and local taxes as tax-exempt charitable donations, while New York might swap the state’s income tax for a deductible payroll tax, among other ideas under consideration. There’s little doubt about the underlying goal of these potential changes, nicely summarized by Connecticut’s state revenue commissioner when he called his state’s plan a “bit of payback for what I think was the utter disregard of the Congress for the impact of this on states like Connecticut.”
538  gov2.0  politics  taxes 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Americans Are Partisan About Everything — Even Sex Scandals | FiveThirtyEight
...Perhaps because Daniels is in the news, along with other alleged affairs by Trump, just 26 percent of Democrats (vs. 67 percent of Republicans) agreed that “an elected official who has committed an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.”
I’m recording this as exhibit No. 3,519,099 in our “partisanship is a helluva a drug” file. The two parties both seem to be reversing the views they had two decades ago — when a president of the other party was in the White House and faced accusations of affairs and misconduct...
sex  gov2.0  politics  trump  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
A Million Children Didn’t Show Up In The 2010 Census. How Many Will Be Missing In 2020? | FiveThirtyEight
In today’s Washington, even the Census Bureau is a source of drama. The department has no director. Due to funding constraints, it has abandoned pre-census research in West Virginia and Washington state that was meant to check the integrity of parts of its survey process. It is weighing whether to add a question about citizenship to the decennial census; community groups around the country have spent months imploring Congress and the Census Bureau not to do so. They’re afraid that adding the question would lower response rates and make the survey less reliable.
At stake: nearly $700 billion in federal money and how we decide to apportion congressional representation.
gov2.0  research  survey  census  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
We Need A Better Way To Talk About ‘Sexual Misconduct’ | FiveThirtyEight
Vague, umbrella terms make an already difficult conversation even harder.
Matt Lauer was fired last year from his job co-hosting NBC’s “Today” show in response to allegations of “sexual harassment.” Or was it “inappropriate sexual behavior”? Maybe “sexual misconduct.” These are all headlines about the same reports — just using different language to describe them. As the media scrambles to cover wave after wave of accusations, the variation in language is making an already difficult national conversation about what crosses the line even more so.
sex  sexism  language  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Chief Justice Roberts Is Reshaping The First Amendment | FiveThirtyEight
It’s been a big year for free speech at the Supreme Court. Two of the most high-profile cases argued before the court so far have revolved around free speech rights, four other cases on the docket this term involve free speech questions, and yet another case where the issue is paramount greets the court on Tuesday.
The court today is hearing arguments on whether the state of California is trampling on the free speech rights of crisis pregnancy centers — nonprofit organizations that do not perform abortions and encourage women to seek alternatives to the procedure — by requiring them to post notices explaining patients’ ability to access abortion and other medical services. In December, attorneys for a baker at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado argued that a state anti-discrimination law violates his free speech rights as a self-described cake artist by requiring him to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Last month, the justices heard oral arguments in a case about whether state laws allowing unions to require nonmembers to pay fees violate those employees’ right to free speech.
gov2.0  politics  SCOTUS  legal  free  speech  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
These Researchers Have Been Trying To Stop School Shootings For 20 Years | FiveThirtyEight
Mary Ellen O’Toole calls the teenagers who murdered 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999 by their first names — Dylan and Eric. O’Toole did not personally know Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, but she’s thought about them for decades. At the time of the Colorado shootings, O’Toole was a profiler for the FBI and had been tapped to write the bureau’s report on how to prevent mass shootings in schools. What began as a research project has become a life’s work — and a deep source of frustration.
O’Toole is part of a small group of academics, law-enforcement professionals and psychologists who published some of the first research on mass shootings in schools. She and other members of this group began paying attention to the phenomenon in the late 1990s. Two decades later, some of them say not much has changed. The risk factors they identified back then still apply. The recommendations they made are still valid. And, as we saw last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students are still dying. “On the news, people are saying we should be concerned about this and that,” O’Toole said, “and I thought, ‘We identified that 20 years ago. Did you not read this stuff 20 years ago?’ … It’s fatiguing. I just feel a sense of fatigue.”
guns  high_school  crime  538  research 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Census’s New Citizenship Question Could Hurt Communities That Are Already Undercounted | FiveThirtyEight
After a long career as a banker and investor, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is no doubt familiar with cost-benefit analyses. That seems to have carried over to his political work. In a memo declaring that the 2020 census would ask U.S. inhabitants whether they are U.S. citizens,1 he wrote, “I find that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reinstatement of the citizenship question would impose outweigh fears about a potentially lower response rate.” The inclusion of the question was a request of the Justice Department, which says that it needs the information to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
But Ross isn’t the only one weighing costs against benefits when it comes to the census — respondents do it as well. Demographers and civil rights groups are concerned that under a president who has called for a ban on Muslims and immigrants from certain countries, dramatically reduced the number of refugees allowed into the country and cracked down on undocumented immigrants without criminal records, a citizenship question will push more people to decide that the risks of responding accurately to the questionnaire, or responding at all, outweigh the benefits. And the groups that seem most likely to be put off from responding — immigrants, members of households with immigrants, people living in poverty, among others — are the same ones that are already at highest risk of being uncounted.
gov2.0  politics  statistics  immigration  538  survey  census 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Even After 22 Trillion Digits, We’re Still No Closer To The End Of Pi | FiveThirtyEight
Depending on your philosophical views on time and calendars and so on, today is something like the 4.5 billionth Pi Day that Earth has witnessed. But that long history is nothing compared to the infinity of pi itself.
A refresher for those of you who have forgotten your seventh-grade math lessons1: Pi, or the Greek letter π, is a mathematical constant equal to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter — C/d. It lurks in every circle, and equals approximately 3.14. (Hence Pi Day, which takes place on March 14, aka 3/14.)
math  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Gun Policy Is Already Changing In The Wake Of Parkland | FiveThirtyEight
After a shooter killed 17 people in a school in Parkland, Florida, last month, the political question dominating public discussion was whether the event would result in any policy changes that were backed by gun control advocates. In the past, outrage spurred by mass shootings has often been met by inaction in Congress and state legislatures.
But this time has been different — and not just in terms of how much pro-gun control activism it has sparked, including last week’s March for Our Lives. Since the Parkland shooting, a slew of gun control measures have been adopted at the local, state and federal level, while the private sector has moved to make guns less available, and some proposals to expand gun rights have been stalled. Although most of these changes are fairly limited in scope and fall far short of gun control advocates’ goals, they represent a shift in momentum from expanding gun rights to constricting them.
Here are the biggest developments.
guns  activism  protest  high_school  teenager  politics  gov2.0  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
What We Know And Don’t Know About Election Hacking | FiveThirtyEight
Also, what we don’t know we don’t know.
When talk of Russian interference in U.S. elections comes up, much of the focus has been on state-sponsored trolls on Facebook and Twitter — special counsel Robert Mueller recently indicted a number of these actors, and Congress has taken Silicon Valley to task for allowing such accounts to flourish. But there’s another side of Russian meddling in American democracy: attacks on our election systems themselves.
We know that Russian hackers in 2016 worked to compromise state voting systems and the companies that provide voting software and machines to states. That could blossom into more concrete attacks this year. As I wrote earlier this week, the worst-case scenario is that on Election Day 2018, votes are altered or fabricated and Americans are disenfranchised.
election  gov2.0  russia  hack  privacy  security  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
There’s Still No Such Thing As Sound Science | FiveThirtyEight
Scott Pruitt wants to base EPA decisions on a kind of science that doesn’t exist.
Last week saw a major development in how the Environmental Protection Agency plans to engage with scientific evidence. On Friday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt gave The Daily Caller an exclusive interview and said he would soon end the agency’s use of what he called “secret science” — research whose underlying, raw data sets are not released publicly. That sounds simple enough, but it would preclude the agency from relying on a great deal of scientific knowledge.
According to the Daily Caller story, Pruitt’s upcoming policy is inspired by the Honest Act, a congressional bill championed by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. If that’s the case — the EPA has not responded to a request for comment — it would drastically limit the kind of evidence the agency uses for its decision-making. For example, it appears as though the policy would preclude the use of public health research that included confidential personal information about study subjects.
science  gov2.0  politics  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Congress Needs To Understand Facebook Before Dealing With It | FiveThirtyEight
I joined Facebook in the spring of 2005 with the first email address I ever had. I still remember the photo I chose: me in a silver cocktail dress I spent too much of my summer lifeguarding money on. Facebook was a constant throughout college: There was the thrill of the new friend request, the agony of an unflattering tagged photo, the titillation of new-crush “Facebook stalking.” The site was a phone directory, a photo album and a way to invite people to parties. It was social ephemera — important, don’t get me wrong, but we all knew its place and form in our world.
Thirteen years later, I now know Facebook to be a shape-shifter. It appears to me one moment as a temptress, with ads for expensive dresses I’ve clicked on elsewhere (lifelong habit, I guess). The next it’s a sober scholar, lecturing me on the news. It remains a photo album, digitally pasted with old friends, dead relatives and past lives, but it’s shed that earnest, embryonic form of itself. My data, memories and digital habits fuel its everyday metamorphosis — there’s something unsettling in that. Maybe Facebook was never earnest, even in its most nascent form.
gov2.0  politics  538  congress  facebook  privacy  data  CxO 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Your Guide To The 2018 National League | FiveThirtyEight
NL West
Team to beat: Los Angeles Dodgers. At times last season, L.A. looked like it might belong among the greatest teams of all time. But it also looked like trash during one September stretch — then turned around and very nearly won the World Series. We can’t guarantee this season will hold as many ups and downs for the Dodgers, but they should be quite good once again. Start with the NL’s best projected pitcher (Clayton Kershaw), add in its top reliever (Kenley Jansen), and mix in four hitters projected for at least 3.3 WAR (Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig), and you’ve got a recipe for the top team in the National League. This division is pretty stacked in general, though, so you might see both wild-card slots go to NL West teams again.
baseball  dodgers  preview  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Claiming Executive Privilege To Avoid Mueller Could Backfire For Trump | FiveThirtyEight
Will President Trump sit down for a one-on-one interview with special counsel Robert Mueller? It might be more likely after the president’s lead lawyer on the Russia investigation resigned last week. The lawyer, John Dowd, had reportedly advised the president against such a move, and now he’s out.
If Trump does talk to Mueller, there’s a possibility that he could invoke executive privilege to try to avoid answering some of the special counsel’s questions.1 That would be the first formal invocation of executive privilege in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, although legal experts say Trump is already expanding the power by instructing or allowing aides to refuse to answer questions in congressional testimony in case he wants to claim it later. The power of executive privilege isn’t unlimited. But because the courts and Congress have never established firm boundaries around it, any invocation of executive privilege in this context, whether formal or informal, could lead to a legal showdown in the courts if Congress or Mueller decided to challenge him — and it could also have serious political ramifications.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
12 weeks ago by rgl7194
What Stephen Hawking Taught Me | FiveThirtyEight
How could someone write a history of time? And how could that person possibly make it brief? Time is a dimension; it is the fabric of reality. Writing a history of time would be like trying to write a history of up, or the history of green.
But when I read “A Brief History of Time,” Stephen Hawking’s popular-science touchstone, at some point in middle school, it felt more accessible than I expected. It described how we know what we know, and in doing so, it taught me the rules of the universe. I found those rules had profound implications. The book introduced me to the idea that science is a search for meaning amid complexity, and for the answer to why the universe — and everything else — came to exist.
Depending on your thoughts about the afterlife, Hawking is no longer among us. He died March 14 at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
science  celebrity  disease  RIP  quantum  astronomy  books  538 
12 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Gun Laws Could Change Even If Republicans Don’t Embrace Restrictions | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans are signaling newfound support for gun control measures after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I’m skeptical that these ideas will go far because we’ve seen Republicans propose gun restrictions after past mass shootings only to quietly drop them after media attention recedes. The reality is that many GOP lawmakers, influential groups in the party like the National Rifle Association and a sizable bloc of conservative-leaning voters remain leery of gun control. Even if they do move forward, any such GOP bill is likely to be too incremental and narrow to satisfy the demands of gun control advocates.
But a widespread Republican embrace of gun control measures is not the only way that the U.S. gun debate could change. With polls showing a rising number of Americans backing moves like expanding background checks and limiting the sale of some types of guns, let’s look at three other (and more likely) ways that American gun policy might shift.
guns  gov2.0  politics  legal  538  GOP 
march 2018 by rgl7194
Why Dozens Of Mass Shootings Didn’t Change Americans’ Minds On Guns | FiveThirtyEight
And why Parkland may be different.
The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, isn’t fading quietly from the headlines like so many acts of gun violence before it. Nearly two weeks after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, media attention is still focused on the survivors and parents of victims who are demanding action on gun control, and lawmakers are showing signs of responding.
That’s enough to make the reaction to this shooting feel different from the aftermath of other gun-related massacres. But is it a sign that Americans are actually changing the way they think about mass shootings and coalescing around a push for gun control? That may depend on whether this event is able to move people past a series of complicated psychological barriers that can keep Americans from thinking about shootings in the same way they think about about other acts of mass carnage, like terrorism, that can sometimes spark more national unity and political momentum.
Understanding why mass shootings haven’t translated into a broader national movement for gun control in the past can help us evaluate whether the Parkland shooting is likely to spur change. According to psychological research, there are a few key reasons why mass shootings haven’t galvanized a lasting, large-scale crackdown on guns so far.
guns  crime  murder  politics  gov2.0  538  activism 
march 2018 by rgl7194
The Russia Investigation Is Moving Really Freaking Fast | FiveThirtyEight
The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election took a significant step forward Friday, with the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and and three Russian organizations along with the announcement of a guilty plea from a California man for identity fraud.
The indictment and guilty plea are important because they are the first charges related to Russian attempts to sabotage the election. (The other indictment and pleas in the Mueller investigation have been in relation to other criminal activities.) The election interference is an activity long denounced by the U.S. intelligence community but routinely called into question by President Trump.
The indictment is also the latest sign that Mueller’s investigation is still moving quickly and ambitiously in pressing charges against those involved.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  538  infographic 
march 2018 by rgl7194
Pennsylvania’s New Map Helps Democrats. But It’s Not A Democratic Gerrymander. | FiveThirtyEight
Pennsylvania’s new congressional district map, released Monday by the state Supreme Court, is sure to improve Democrats’ electoral outlook in the state. Over the long term, Democrats can expect to occupy one to two additional seats compared with the current map, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis. (The state’s congressional delegation currently has 12 Republicans and five Democrats. One seat is vacant.)
The court ordered that the map be redrawn after finding that the current one, which was enacted by the Republican state legislature in 2011, was a partisan gerrymander and violated the state’s constitution. (Republicans were given a chance to submit a substitute plan — which they did. And the Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, was given a chance to reject the plan — which he did.) The map submitted by Republicans probably would have benefited them less than the current map does, but it would still have been better for the GOP than what would be expected based on the partisan makeup of the state. Because the legislature and the governor couldn’t come to an agreement, the court stepped in.
gov2.0  politics  state  gerrymandering  Dems  538 
march 2018 by rgl7194
Mueller Had Another Busy Week | FiveThirtyEight
His investigation continues to move quickly compared to past special investigations.
Rick Gates, an aide to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and making a false statement, according to a copy of the plea document obtained by CNN. This comes a day after special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed dozens of new charges against him. The move is seen as a sign Gates is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and another indication the prosecutor is acting aggressively, as we’ve noted in our ongoing effort to track the pace and scope of his probe. In addition, a new figure in the case, European lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty earlier this week to lying to prosecutors about a conversation he had with Gates. Gates had previously been indicted, so he was already included in the above chart, but van der Zwaan has been added.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  538  infographic 
march 2018 by rgl7194
Presidential Ratings Are Flawed. Which Makes It Hard To Assess Trump. | FiveThirtyEight
And it may not get easier in the future.
Donald Trump is the worst president? Ever? In the entirety of U.S. history? Throughout all time and space? After only one year?
Yes, said 170 presidential scholars who were asked last month to rate the performance of all Oval Office-holders as part of a survey published by two political scientists, Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn.1
Which presidents do scholars put in history’s bottom bin?
Average presidential rating given by 170 members of the American Political Science Association in a survey from Dec. 22 to Jan. 16.
These results, which placed President Trump below2 notable presidential failures like James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, drew some criticism for being premature, including from FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver.
POTUS  ranking  538  gov2.0  trump 
march 2018 by rgl7194
How Much Did Russian Interference Affect The 2016 Election? | FiveThirtyEight
It’s hard to say.
One of my least favorite questions is: “Did Russian interference cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election?” The question is newly relevant because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians on Friday on charges that they used a variety of shady techniques to discourage people from voting for Clinton and encourage them to vote for Donald Trump. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to answer, however. But here are my high-level thoughts in light of the indictment. (For more detail on these, listen to our emergency politics podcast.)
1. Russian interference is hard to measure because it wasn’t a discrete event.
You know what probably did cost Clinton the election? The letter that former FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, and the subsequent media firestorm over it. The impact is relatively easy to measure because it was the biggest news event in the final two weeks of the campaign, and we can compare polls conducted just before the Comey letter to the ones conducted just after it.1
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
From Where I Sit, The Trump Era Began In 2014 | FiveThirtyEight
People are always trying to pinpoint the moment that the free-wheeling, summer-of-love spirit of the 1960s died. For those who look back on the era fondly, maybe it faded away after Woodstock. For the pessimists, it’s more like the Manson Family murders and Altamont. It’s futile, of course, but I’ve always liked the idea of trying to pinpoint when an era begins or ends. It’s a nice, digestible way for the brain — soft and squishy with emotion and memory — to bookend vast swaths of history.
A year into this president’s first term, I’ve been trying to answer a similar question about the era of Donald Trump: When was America’s emotional table set for his election? Trump has been driving the American political conversation in one way or another for a while now, ever since he floated, tanned and confident, down an escalator to the strains of Neil Young, like an aging mallrat. But I think the real emotional buildup to Trump started before he appeared on that escalator. I think it starts with a year: 2014.
trump  politics  gov2.0  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
White Democrats Have Gotten Way More Liberal On Identity Issues | FiveThirtyEight
The ongoing fight over funding the government — which may finally be on the verge of a long-term resolution — has centered in large part on immigration. Democrats want a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and if they settle for a deal without one, they’re likely to incur a good deal of wrath from their base.
That wrath probably would have been substantially milder even a few years ago. But there is a broader story happening here, according to public opinion polls and the moves of key elites in the party: Democrats have grown more liberal on issues of race, gender and identity — and not just the nonwhite and female Democrats.
gov2.0  politics  racism  sexism  Dems  liberal  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
Why Democrats And Republicans Did A Sudden 180 On The FBI | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump is weighing allowing the release of the second of two memos addressing allegations of improper conduct by the FBI. The latest classified memo, drafted by Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, allegedly defends the agency in a rebuttal to a memo that was released last week. The earlier memo was written at the direction of the committee chairman, California Republican Devin Nunes, and criticized the FBI’s surveillance methods in the early part of the Russia investigation.
The tussle over the two memos is leaving many observers with a sense of political whiplash. Democrats who were once quick to castigate the FBI and other intelligence agencies for overreaching on surveillance are now defending the agency’s need for secrecy. Meanwhile, Republicans like Nunes — who led the charge just a few months ago to pass legislation extending the government’s surveillance powers — are arguing that agents abused their authority.
gov2.0  congress  politics  Dems  GOP  FBI  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
The Shutdown Lesson People Seem To Have Trouble Learning | FiveThirtyEight
If another continuing resolution to fund the government is passed Thursday without an immigration deal, Democrats will learn a hard lesson from history: If you’re in Congress and planning to shut down the government to score political or policy points, you might want to think again.
The idea that every shutdown has political “winners” and “losers” is an oversimplification; historically, the compromises that emerge from these standoffs have often allowed people on both sides to point at something that they could claim as at least a small victory. That said, the side that has consistently gotten the shorter end of the stick during shutdowns is the members of Congress who oppose the president. That’s bad news for 2018’s Democrats, who, if the historical trend holds, are unlikely to extract many concessions on immigration in the wake of their decision to force a government shutdown over the issue last month.
gov2.0  politics  congress  money  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
The Eagles’ Offense Needed To Be Virtually Flawless. And It Was. | FiveThirtyEight
Nick Foles matched Tom Brady strike for strike in the Super Bowl shootout to end all shootouts.
In Super Bowl LII on Sunday night, the New England Patriots racked up 613 yards, the most ever for a team in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady threw for 505 yards, which was the most by a quarterback in playoff history. The Patriots didn’t punt once in the entire game. It was a masterclass in offensive execution, and it was all for naught.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 win over New England will be rightly remembered for the triumph of backup quarterback Nick Foles over a Super Bowl legend. But perhaps more remarkable was that the Eagles needed to be virtually flawless on offense to keep pace with New England, and they succeeded.
football  superbowl  foles  538 
february 2018 by rgl7194
Why The Nunes Memo Probably Won’t Do What Trump Wants It To | FiveThirtyEight
Public opinion on the Russia investigation has been pretty stable all year — Republicans are skeptical but Americans overall support it. It’s hard, therefore, to see the much-hyped “Nunes memo,” which Trump declassified and congressional Republicans then made public on Friday, changing all that much.
Trump has reportedly told friends he thinks the document — which was written by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by California’s Devin Nunes, and criticizes the FBI’s conduct in the early stages of the Russia investigation — will undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, but opinion on Trump, Mueller and Russia largely falls along partisan lines, which will make it hard to move. And where it doesn’t, Trump comes out the worse. So Trump should be careful about taking any action based on the memo, like firing Mueller — at least if he wants to avoid a public backlash.
538  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  nunes 
february 2018 by rgl7194
Is Trump Delivering On His Promises To Reverse Obama’s Policies? | FiveThirtyEight
A year into his term, President Trump has not yet completely dismantled President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, many of which Trump pledged to get rid of during the real estate mogul’s presidential campaign. But he has chipped away at several of them, and Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday suggested that he will not give up on getting rid of Obama-era policies that he strongly opposes.
In September, I came up with an informal list of Obama’s top 10 policy achievements, relying on the Obama White House’s descriptions of his key accomplishments, several media outlets’ lists of Obama’s biggest successes, the views of authors of books on the Obama presidency, and my own analysis. Obama enacted thousands of laws, executive orders and other administrative guidance in his eight years, so this list is far from a full picture of his presidency.
Since September, I’ve found four general patterns:
A subset of the 10 achievements that Trump either can’t or hasn’t tried to affect very much (or wouldn’t want to)
One that is still in place but might be overhauled dramatically very soon
A couple that Trump has changed modestly but whose core policy remains
A couple that have been largely stalled by Trump but that a future Democratic president could easily put it back into place.
trump  obama  gov2.0  politics  538  obamacare  banking  climate_change 
february 2018 by rgl7194
What To Make Of Republicans’ Decision To Release The ‘Nunes Memo’ | FiveThirtyEight
The House Intelligence Committee’s vote on Monday night to release the so-called Nunes memo, which is expected to criticize the Department of Justice’s handling of the Russia investigation, is the latest illustration that some key Republicans and President Trump are prepared to break with traditional norms to work in opposition to the probe. But the memo probably doesn’t matter that much for the actual investigation, which is the bigger story and remains a threat to Trump’s presidency.
The push to release the memo, which relies on classified information for its findings, is the most recent in a series of moves by congressional Republicans and Trump to break with traditional practices of letting the Justice Department and FBI operate mostly independently on investigative matters.1 Over the last week, reports have emerged that...
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  FBI  538  nunes 
february 2018 by rgl7194
We Measured Trump’s First Year According To His Own Goals. Here’s What We Found. | FiveThirtyEight
Well, it’s been a year — how is President Trump doing? Last spring, we picked seven measures that would allow us to gauge Trump’s success or failure in office according to his own goals. Now, as Trump prepares to deliver the State of the Union address on Tuesday, we take a look at where the country is headed and compare that with the direction Trump wanted it to take.
For the sake of this exercise, we weren’t interested in whether Trump’s actions directly caused any of the changes we saw in the metrics. We cared only about outcomes, not what produced them. The story of Trump’s presidency so far: Some things are going his way, but many results, both good and bad, are a continuation of trends that began well before Trump took office.
trump  statistics  politics  gov2.0  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
If You Stop Thinking Of Exercise As A Way To Lose Weight, You May Actually Enjoy It | FiveThirtyEight
For years, I thought of exercise in terms of calories in and calories out: Eat too much pizza on Saturday night, take an extra spin class. Skip an hourlong run, skip a bagel the next day. Train for a triathlon, eat whatever I want — because, hey, wasn’t I burning like a zillion calories a day?
This approach had two problems. First, it didn’t work. My workout load seemed to have no bearing on my weight, and this isn’t just anecdotal; studies have shown that exercise isn’t a particularly effective way of losing weight. Second, it seriously screwed up my relationships with both food and exercise, two things that I inherently enjoy. I worked out way past the point of fun because I felt I had to make up for the previous day’s overindulgences — which I hadn’t really enjoyed because I was already anticipating the need to burn them off.1
health  exercise  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The Gerrymandering Project – FiveThirtyEight
Redistricting has a huge effect on U.S. politics but is greatly misunderstood. This project uncovers what’s really broken, what's not and whether gerrymandering can (or should) be killed.
gerrymandering  gov2.0  congress  politics  538  election 
january 2018 by rgl7194
We Drew 2,568 Congressional Districts By Hand. Here’s How. | FiveThirtyEight
In most states, district maps — which define where the constituency of one representative ends and that of another begins — are drawn by the state’s lawmakers. Having politicians define their own districts has not gone entirely smoothly — and two cases involving political gerrymandering, or the drawing of districts (especially oddly shaped districts) to favor one party over another, are now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
But if gerrymandering is a bad way to draw districts, what happens when you try other ways? At FiveThirtyEight, we’ve been exploring this and other questions in “The Gerrymandering Project.”
As part of this project, we set out to determine what districts for the U.S. House of Representatives could look like if they were drawn with different goals in mind. We did the drawing ourselves … 258 state congressional maps, or 2,568 districts, sketched out over the course of months, with the indispensable help of one developer’s free online redistricting tool.
gov2.0  politics  election  gerrymandering  538  congress 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Hating Gerrymandering Is Easy. Fixing It Is Harder. | FiveThirtyEight
As politics in the U.S. has polarized along geographic and racial lines, drawing political maps has become a partisan arms race. Even the smallest decisions about where to draw district boundaries can alter the power dynamic in Congress — without a single voter switching parties or moving.
It’s easy for opponents of gerrymandering — the drawing of political boundaries for the benefit of one party or group over another — to argue what districts shouldn’t look like. All they have to do is ridicule the absurdity of the most bizarre patchworks ever woven to elect members of Congress. For example, “The Rabbit on a Skateboard,” “The Upside-Down Chinese Dragon” or the “Mask of Zorro.”
gerrymandering  gov2.0  politics  election  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Ending Gerrymandering Won’t Fix What Ails America | FiveThirtyEight
Gerrymandering. It’s become the embodiment of so many of the evils in the U.S. political system. Frustrated by the lack of competitive elections? Blame gerrymandering. Appalled by the growing number of ideological extremists in Congress? Blame gerrymandering. What about congressional gridlock? Gerrymandering did it.
But gerrymandering — the drawing of political boundaries for the benefit of one party or group over another — is a far more complex topic than some analysts and partisans care to acknowledge. As our gerrymandering series has shown, there’s no “right” way to draw a district. Prioritize one goal — competitiveness or nonwhite representation, for example — and you have to sacrifice others.
Gerrymandering contributes to issues like the drop in competitive elections, extremism and gridlock, but it’s far from their sole cause. If you want to solve these problems — and the problems themselves are very real — you need to understand what’s really behind them.
gov2.0  politics  gerrymandering  538  election 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The Media Is Misreading How The Shutdown Blame Game Shook Out | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup. Today’s theme song is Sammy Davis Jr.’s rendition of “Chico and the Man” from the television show “Chico and the Man.”
Poll of the week
A new Quinnipiac University survey found that 32 percent of voters believe congressional Democrats were primarily responsible for the recent government shutdown; 31 percent blame President Trump, and 18 percent blame congressional Republicans. A number of news outlets have thus focused on the fact that Democrats and Trump are about equally to blame in the public’s eye. Quinnipiac’s own write-up of their poll led with this description.
I think, though, that’s a bad interpretation of the data.
gov2.0  politics  survey  trump  Dems  GOP  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Beside The Points For Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 | FiveThirtyEight
Best 2 minutes ever
With 2 minutes and five seconds to go in the fourth quarter, the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings had even chances of winning the NFC divisional playoff game. New Orleans had just scored a touchdown to take a 21-20 lead. What happened next was the stuff of legend: two field goals and a last second touchdown throw this one to Minnesota. The win probability swings were whiplash inducing: At 1:55 remaining, Minnesota had a 65 percent chance of winning; at 40 seconds left, New Orleans had a 66 percent chance; with 14 seconds to go, the Saints had a 96 percent chance; and with no time on the clock, Minnesota pulled it off. []
football  538  SMH 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Vegas Has The Best Expansion Team In The History Of Pro Sports, And It’s Not Close | FiveThirtyEight
The Vegas Golden Knights are only halfway through their inaugural season, and they’ve already redefined what anyone thought was possible for an NHL expansion franchise. Against all odds, the Knights are currently 29-10-3 with 61 points, good for the best record in the Western Conference — and only 4 points shy of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the best record in the entire league. It’s enough to make the Knights hockey’s greatest debut team ever, hands down.
But that’s not all: Vegas is also lapping the field of expansion teams across every major pro sport. Even after adjusting for the way records are distributed in other sports, no other brand-new club in modern history came close to doing what the Knights have done so far. Expansion teams just aren’t supposed to have this kind of success this early.
hockey  analytics  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The GOP Plan To Overhaul Entitlements Misses The Real Problem | FiveThirtyEight
To cut the debt, Congress needs to focus on health care costs.
Energized by the successful passage of tax cuts, some Republicans are eying a new target: entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. House Speaker Paul Ryan is leading the charge, arguing that the only way to break the cycle of rising deficits and surging debt is to reduce entitlement spending.
Political resistance is likely to be fierce, not only because these programs are massively popular, but also because President Trump opposed any such cuts during his campaign. Even if the political hurdles can be cleared, though, the bigger problem is that this push for entitlement reform attacks the wrong target.
economics  health  taxes  politics  gov2.0  538  insurance 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Damn, We Wish We’d Done These 11 Stories | FiveThirtyEight
For a few years now, Bloomberg Businessweek has chronicled a list of stories its writers wish they’d done. We wish we’d thought of that idea ourselves, so we’re shamelessly cribbing it for the second year running. Here are 11 stories we read, watched and consumed with a mix of admiration and regret this year. Hopefully our jealousy will lead to your discovery.
news  politics  sports  538  gender  astronomy  maps  data  storage  parenting 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The Jobs Report Is Overhyped. Here’s Why That’s A Problem. | FiveThirtyEight
It was shaping up to be another hot summer.
On Aug. 4, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released monthly hiring data for July. A pack of economists and journalists pounced, excited to spread the numbers across social media. Good news! The United States had added 209,000 jobs, an above-average result that exceeded the consensus prediction of Wall Street analysts.
“America’s economy has beaten expectations,” the Guardian reported. Stock markets jumped when trading opened an hour later; the Dow Jones industrial average climbed to a record high. President Trump was moved to open his Twitter account. “Excellent Jobs Numbers just released – and I have only just begun,” he said. “Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!”
Here’s the thing: The U.S. didn’t add 209,000 jobs in July. Not even close.
We’ve broken down the latest figures in the jobs report and explained the context you need to understand them. Explore our jobs report interactive »
One month after the announcement, the BLS revised its original estimate. The new number: 189,000 — decent, but unimpressive. And then in October, the BLS revised the July figure a third and final time: 138,000 — mediocre at best.
data  statistics  gov2.0  politics  economics  538  report  jobs 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Is President Trump Above The Law? Possibly | FiveThirtyEight
Mueller could force the issue, but he might not want to.
The dispute over whether a president can be put on trial was nearly settled in 1974, when special prosecutor Leon Jaworski wrestled with whether to indict President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate break-in. The Supreme Court ruled that Nixon did not have the power to block Jaworski’s subpoena for the infamous Watergate tapes, but Jaworski ultimately decided not to push for an indictment. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached — at which point he became vulnerable to prosecution, but he was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.
The question of whether the president can be indicted re-emerged in the 1990s, when Clinton was investigated by independent counsel Kenneth Starr. In a 1998 memo, Starr concluded that he did have the authority to indict Clinton, but, like Jaworski, he decided instead to refer the case to Congress for impeachment.1
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  russia  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
I Was A Skeptic Of Mindfulness … Until I Tried To Make My Case | FiveThirtyEight
ometime around, oh, my 60th panic attack last year,1 I figured it was time to see a therapist. On top of weekly cognitive-behavioral therapy, she mentioned that I should really try this mindfulness thing people keep talking about. It sounded simple — you sit, you concentrate on your breathing, and you try to find some solace in the modern world. My therapist told me that meditation could make me feel better and that it had been shown to change the physiology of the brain.
Hmmmm, I thought.
Skepticism is a FiveThirtyEight staffer’s currency. The only mantras we chant around the office are: Wait for the evidence; wonder if the evidence has something wrong with it; trust the good evidence only until better evidence comes along.2 I was especially distrustful because mindfulness and meditation have been having a moment — meditation apps occupy some of the top spots on the App Store’s rankings of most popular health and fitness apps; Anderson Cooper has profiled the merits of mindfulness on “60 Minutes”; mindfulness is being used in schools as a way to help manage classrooms. Given the hype and this publication’s natural aversion to health trends, I figured I was safe disregarding my therapist’s big claims.
factcheck  538  meditation  health  brain 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn’t. | FiveThirtyEight
Our science staff is trying to lead a more scientific life in 2018. Throughout the week, we’ll be questioning whether some of our favorite habits and hobbies are based on junk science or real evidence. Here’s the first entry, on personality quizzes.
If I were a witch, my Hogwarts House would be Ravenclaw. Or possibly Slytherin. It depends on what publication is directing the Harry Potter Sorting Hat’s work.
I am also a mild extrovert, my moral alignment is neutral, and the Star Wars character I’m most like is the Tauntaun Luke sleeps inside of in “Empire Strikes Back.”
Another big part of my personality: I really like online personality quizzes. Maybe you could tell.
test  538  science 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Why Democrats Are Finally Pushing Franken To Resign | FiveThirtyEight
Three weeks ago, after Leeann Tweeden accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of groping her and kissing her without her consent, we argued that Democrats ought to have pushed for Franken to resign. Doing so would have allowed them to claim the moral high ground at a time when allegations of sexual misconduct had implicated both Democratic and Republican politicians — including President Trump and Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama. It would also have come at a relatively small political price, since Franken’s replacement would be named by a Democratic governor and Democrats would be favored to keep the seat in a special election in 2018.
Democrats didn’t see it the same way; instead, the party line was that Franken’s case should be referred to the Senate ethics committee. But the party has since shifted gears: On Wednesday, a cavalcade of Democratic senators — first several female members, such as New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, but eventually including party leaders such as New York’s Chuck Schumer — called on Franken to resign. Franken’s office has said he’ll make an announcement about his future on Thursday, which many reporters expect to be a resignation.
gov2.0  politics  congress  franken  538  sexism 
january 2018 by rgl7194
It’s Probably Not Possible To End Gerrymandering | FiveThirtyEight
Gerrymandering was once only the concern of map drawers and politics nerds. Most people didn’t know who their congressional representatives were, let alone the contours of their districts. But gerrymandering is having a moment. People don’t like it, and they want it fixed.
It’s easy to understand why. As we’ve mentioned before, gerrymandering takes the blame for partisan polarization, uncompetitive elections, marginalizing minorities and rigging elections in favor of one party or the other. If you could solve those things by ending gerrymandering, why wouldn’t you?
Because it wouldn’t fix all those things. There’s little doubt gerrymandering has shaped our electoral outcomes, and current maps do benefit Republicans overall. But the conversation about ending gerrymandering frequently overlooks two important realities: 1. Gerrymandering has played a relatively small role in the growth of things like partisan polarization and uncompetitive elections, and 2. Drawing electoral maps is a game of trade-offs that will always leave groups of people unhappy.
If ending gerrymandering means creating maps that simultaneously enhance competition, don’t benefit either party, promote minority representation and keep cities, counties and communities whole, then it is impossible to end gerrymandering.
538  gerrymandering  gov2.0  podcast  politics 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Even A Gerrymandering Ban Can’t Keep Politicians From Trying To Shape Their Districts | FiveThirtyEight
In America, critics say, voters don’t pick their politicians: Politicians pick their voters. It’s a cynical way of describing the American process of drawing political boundaries. In most states, politicians carve up districts and can sort voters in ways that benefit themselves electorally. As awareness about gerrymandering has grown, reformers have increasingly called for that power to be turned over to independent commissions.
In 2008 and 2010, California did just that. Voters passed a series of ballot initiatives that set up an independent citizen commission. As former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told FiveThirtyEight, “What we did in California, what we were obsessed about, was to get (redistricting) completely away from the politicians. Take that power away from them and give it back to the people.”
But politicians and political parties have a lot at stake in the redistricting process, and they were not about to relinquish control without putting up a fight — particularly the Democratic lawmakers who held a majority in the state. After losing the battle over whether to set up a commission in the first place, they set out to influence the commission’s work. Did they succeed?
538  gerrymandering  gov2.0  podcast  politics 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Should Partisan Gerrymandering Be Illegal? | FiveThirtyEight
The Supreme Court’s decision in a Wisconsin case could change how we build our democracy.
Editor’s note: Earlier iterations of this post and podcast were first published on Sept. 28, before Wisconsin’s gerrymandering case was heard by the Supreme Court. Now that it has been heard by the court, we’ve updated both the post and podcast.
Is partisan gerrymandering constitutional? And if not, how is it to be measured? Those are the questions at the heart of one of the most consequential Supreme Court decisions of the coming year. How the court answers those questions in Gill v. Whitford has the potential to fundamentally change how we build our representative democracy.
This is the second installment of FiveThirtyEight’s podcast series “The Gerrymandering Project.” Throughout the series, we will travel around the country to explore the effects of gerrymandering and what reformers are doing to try to change the system. In our first episode, we laid out the basics of how we draw political boundaries and why it matters. You can listen to the new episode below or by subscribing to the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast feed.
politics  gov2.0  gerrymandering  podcast  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
There’s No Such Thing As ‘Sound Science’ | FiveThirtyEight
Science is being turned against itself. For decades, its twin ideals of transparency and rigor have been weaponized by those who disagree with results produced by the scientific method. Under the Trump administration, that fight has ramped up again.
In a move ostensibly meant to reduce conflicts of interest, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has removed a number of scientists from advisory panels and replaced some of them with representatives from industries that the agency regulates. Like many in the Trump administration, Pruitt has also cast doubt on the reliability of climate science. For instance, in an interview with CNBC, Pruitt said that “measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do.” Similarly, Trump’s pick to head NASA, an agency that oversees a large portion the nation’s climate research, has insisted that research into human influence on climate lacks certainty, and he falsely claimed that “global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago.” Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s nominee to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a Senate hearing last month that she thinks we “need to have more precise explanations of the human role and the natural role” in climate change.
science  politics  538  gov2.0 
january 2018 by rgl7194
What Is Kirsten Gillibrand Up To? | FiveThirtyEight
During her decade in national politics, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been profiled, ad nauseam, by any number of very important publications: The New Yorker, New York Magazine (a couple times), Vogue, The New York Times.
But her 2012 interview with Self magazine, three years into her Senate tenure, is among the most compelling and useful texts for the Gillibrand close-reader. In a span of 599 words, the senator manages to ruminate on fitness tips (her 40-pound postpartum weight loss being the ostensible reason for the story), touch on the difficulties of being a working mother, name-drop several across-the-aisle friendships, and plug, in the most deft of humblebrags, her tireless spirit: “I approached losing weight the same way I’ve approached any other challenge throughout my life: I figured out exactly what I needed to do to succeed and dove in. I was determined.” Through Self, Gillibrand was cleverly reaching beyond snoozy news stories to a voting public that would perhaps remember a young senator who talked food-journaling and breastfeeding.
politics  gov2.0  gillibrand  538  congress 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The Goals Of The GOP’s Anti-Mueller Campaign And Their Likelihood For Success | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump, officials from his administration and political operation, many Republicans in Congress, and conservative pundits and activists are criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller and his team and questioning the fairness of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Liberals see the anti-Mueller campaign — which has cast the investigation as akin to an attempted coup and in the last week escalated to calling for Mueller’s dismissal — as the obvious prelude to Trump firing Mueller.
But it’s best to understand what is happening as an anti-Mueller campaign with four potential goals, only the most dramatic of which is Trump dismissing the special counsel. Fundamentally, this is a campaign to weaken and undermine Mueller, even if he remains in his post.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  538  russia 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Trump Will Have A Hard Time Stopping The Russia Investigation — Even If He Fires Mueller | FiveThirtyEight
In the nearly seven months since Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate possible collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia, he has already obtained two indictments and two guilty pleas. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the indictees, are back in court Monday, when their trial date could be set, and more charges could well be coming for other people in Trump’s orbit. But even as the investigation gathers steam — or perhaps because of it — there are increasing concerns about just how long Mueller will be able to keep his job.
The prosecutor serves under the authority of the deputy attorney general and could be asked to leave at any time.1 And external opposition could help grease the wheels for his departure. A growing drumbeat to this effect seems to be building on the right. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote for the second time that Mueller is too “conflicted” to run the investigation and called on him to step down in favor of someone more “credible.” Fox News host Sean Hannity recently condemned Mueller’s investigators as “an extremely biased team of liberal crusaders,” and Newt Gingrich, who called Mueller a “superb choice” to run the investigation when he was appointed in May, is now attacking him as “corrupt.”
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  538  russia 
january 2018 by rgl7194
Mueller Is Moving Quickly Compared To Past Special Counsel Investigations | FiveThirtyEight
For months, there were rumors about a possible indictment against Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and key campaign aide. He had been under investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller since soon after the probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia began in May. On Friday morning — more than six months after Mueller’s inquiry started and more than a month after the first charges were leveled in the investigation — Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. That may seem like a long time for an investigation to begin yielding criminal charges, but based on the timing of the first indictments and guilty pleas, Mueller is moving fast.
Our analysis of special counsel probes in the modern era, starting in 19791 shows that the fact that Mueller’s investigation has produced criminal charges at all sets it apart — a majority of the investigations over the past four decades ended without charges being filed against anyone. Moreover, in the inquiries that produced criminal charges, the first occurred more than a year, on average, after the special prosecutor was appointed — while Mueller’s investigation produced its first charges after less than five months.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  538  russia 
january 2018 by rgl7194
We Have A New Prime Number, And It’s 23 Million Digits Long | FiveThirtyEight
Somewhere out there on the number line, huge prime numbers are lurking, waiting to be discovered. On Wednesday, a new one was. The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, an organization devoted to doing exactly what its name suggests, announced that it had discovered a new prime number, the largest ever found: (2^77,232,917)−1. That’s more than 77 million 2s all multiplied together, minus 1. I’d write it all out for you, but there’s a big problem: It’s 23,249,425 digits long. (So, it goes by its nickname: M77232917.)
Instead of writing it out, I’ll offer this chart, which shows how long the longest known prime has been over time. (We’ve charted it on a log scale so we can more easily compare the huge range of numbers.)
math  computers  538 
january 2018 by rgl7194
The Healthiest State In The Country Has Some Of The Steepest Premiums | FiveThirtyEight
When Dave Rossi visited Breckenridge, Colorado, in the summer of 2001, he intended to stay for a season and then return to California. But Summit County’s mountain lifestyle lured him into staying. He set up his own design and marketing business and built a life full of mountain biking, hiking, skiing and other outdoor pursuits. As a self-employed business owner, the fit 51-year-old buys his own health insurance on Colorado’s insurance exchange. “My joke is that it’s my very expensive flu shot,” Rossi said. Typically, a flu shot is all the medical attention he needs in a given year.
That flu shot has only gotten more expensive. Despite his good health and scant use of health care services, Rossi’s insurance premiums have skyrocketed. In 2016, he paid $294.39 for an individual ACA plan with a $5,000 deductible. For 2018, Rossi is facing a monthly premium of $753 for a silver plan that has a $4,500 deductible. He’s not alone: Insurance premiums for ACA plans in Summit County rose an average of 32 percent for 2018 over the previous year.
538  state  gov2.0  health  insurance  obamacare 
january 2018 by rgl7194
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