Face Of The Day

Jul 29 2014 @ 6:49pm


A special forces soldier precedes a group of members of different Amazonian ethnic groups participating in the traditional military parade commemorating the 193rd anniversary of Peru’s independence in Lima on July 29, 2o14. By Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images.

The Age Gap On Gaza

Jul 29 2014 @ 6:17pm

Gaza Blame

Aaron Blake parses a new Pew poll asking Americans who’s to blame for the war in Gaza:

While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas. Young people are more likely to blame Israel than are Democrats, who blame Hamas more by a 29-26 margin. Even liberal Democrats are split 30-30. The only other major demographic groups who blame Israel more than Hamas are African Americans and Hispanics.

The poll echoes a Gallup survey from last week. Gallup asked Americans whether they thought Israel’s recent actions were justified. While older Americans clearly sided with Israel, 18 to 29-year olds said by a two-to-one margin (51-25) that its actions were unjustified. No other group was as strongly opposed to Israel’s actions.

Ron Fournier warns Israel of what polls like these portend:

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The Anti-Vaxx Movement Gets Worse

Jul 29 2014 @ 5:45pm

Amanda Marcotte explains:

It’s hard to believe it was possible, but anti-vaccination fanaticism has taken a darker turn, as Chris Mooney reports for Mother Jones: Now, it’s not just vaccines that parents are foolishly rejecting for their children, but also a simple injection of vitamin K that has been a standard part of newborn care since the 1960s. Some parents now find themselves rushing to the emergency room with babies sick with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. “This rare disorder occurs because human infants do not have enough vitamin K, a blood coagulant, in their systems,” Mooney writes. “Infants who develop VKDB can bleed in various parts of their bodies, including bleeding into the brain.” Bleeding in the brain can cause brain damage and, in some cases, death.

Mooney examines the overlap between the anti-vaccine and anti-vitamin crowds:

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Data Geeks Are Watching You Flirt

Jul 29 2014 @ 5:12pm

In a post yesterday cheerily titled “We experiment on human beings!”, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder admitted to conducting Facebook-style research on OKC users. As Sonali Kohli sniffs, the experiments “mostly show that people are extremely shallow and easily manipulated”:

For example, here’s what happened to traffic when OkCupid removed all the pictures from profiles for a day:


When people couldn’t see photos, they left the site in droves. Users who stuck around wound up responding to first messages faster, spent more time chatting than usual and exchanged contact information sooner. But when the photos returned, the blind dates generally stopped talking.

That’s “extremely shallow”? More like extremely human. The way we scope out potential partners doesn’t end when we go online. As Jacob Kastrenakes notes, another experiment involved the outright manipulation of users:

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Noah Smith hails the congressman’s anti-poverty plan as “a sea change in the way Republicans see the role of government”:

In his first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan famously declared: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Over the next 2 1/2 decades, Republicans and conservatives tended to drop the “in the present crisis” part. They’ve treated government as an obstacle to human welfare always and everywhere, instead of a tool that can sometimes be used to improve things. Ryan’s plan is the first glimmer of a big awakening on the right — the realization that the crisis we now face isn’t the same as the one we faced in 1981. Perhaps a decade-and-a-half of falling real incomes and falling mobility has finally cracked the hard shell of triumphal post-Reaganism. If so, the fear that the conservative movement would degenerate forever into obstructionist self-parody — that the Tea Party is the future — has proven unfounded.

Think about it: In 2014, the Republican Party’s main idea man — who just two years ago ran for vice president on the same ticket as a man who called the poorer half of America “takers” — is now proposing to use a government bureaucracy to send social workers to help poor people make more money, while simultaneously mailing them government checks. That is a big, big deal. Compared with that epochal shift, the particulars of Ryan’s plan hardly matter.

Michael Brendan Dougherty agrees:

Ryan’s plan — along with Dave Camp’s tax plan and proposals by Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee on a range of issues — reveals that at least some in the GOP are moving beyond the party’s “You didn’t build that,” anti-47 percent posturing. These proposals constitute green shoots in what had been a policy-thinking desert for the Obama-era right. If I had my druthers, some enterprising senator would pick up a few of Jon Huntsman’s proposed financial reforms.

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Mental Health Break

Jul 29 2014 @ 4:20pm

Two of the Internet’s favorite things – cat and parkour – combine to create a heh-worthy parody:

German Lopez voxplains Congress’ plan to fix the VA, which was unveiled yesterday with much bipartisan back-patting:

The bill sets $10 billion for a pilot program that reimburses private care for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or experience long wait times. It also allocates another $5 billion for the VA to hire more doctors and nurses and upgrade medical facilities. And it gives the VA permission to enter into 27 major medical facility leases across the country. The bill also allows the VA secretary to quickly dismiss or demote senior executive employees for misconduct and poor performance, and it forbids the VA from attaching bonus payments to wait time goals. Legislators estimate the bill costs $17 billion. About $12 billion of that is new spending, while $5 billion will be paid for with offsets from the rest of the VA.

The idea is to improve the VA’s ability to see patients in a timely manner within the VA system. If that’s not possible or a patient can’t access a VA facility, a private option is offered as an alternative. In any remaining situations where the VA can’t get patients into care quickly, there will also be less of a financial incentive to manipulate records. And it will be easier for the VA secretary to hold those who continue engaging in fraudulent behavior accountable, even if they hold senior positions.

But Vinik worries that the “fix” might not fix much:

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A new Economist/YouGov poll further illustrates the widening partisan gap on immigration and the isolation of Republicans in particular:

While most say they have at least some sympathy for the children, a majority of Republicans reports little or no sympathy. More than three in four Hispanics say they are sympathetic, and a majority of Hispanics report “a lot” of sympathy for the children. That reflects the large differences in these groups in how they judge the children and their motivations in coming to the United States. Overall the country is closely divided on whether the children now coming to the United States illegally are fleeing unsafe situations in their home country or have safe homes but would just rather live in the United States. Republicans see the children as coming from safe places; Hispanics, and a plurality of the public overall, do not.

This apparent nativist turn augurs poorly for the GOP, Molly Ball believes:

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The View From Your Window

Jul 29 2014 @ 3:35pm


Berlin, Germany, 9 am

The Cost Of Climate Inaction

Jul 29 2014 @ 3:22pm

It’s hefty:

A new report estimates the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change could rise by as much as 40% if action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is delayed 10 years — immediately outweighing any potential savings of a delay. The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, U.S. President Barack Obama’s source for advice on economic policy, compared over 100 actions on climate change laid out in 16 studies to extract the average cost of delayed efforts. Released Tuesday, the findings suggests policymakers should immediately confront carbon emissions as a form of “climate insurance.

Rebecca Leber adds:

Putting numbers to the cost of inaction takes aim directly at a classic Republican rebuttalthat it’s better to wait for the so-called “unsettled science” to settle on exact timing and magnitude of global warming’s consequences. “If anything, we understate the cost of delay,” Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman told reporters on a press call Monday.