Tag Archives: analysis

The coal industry is still declining, so Trump is considering a bailout.

According to a new study from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project, the current presidential administration has collected fewer civil penalties and filed fewer environmental enforcement suits against polluting companies than the Obama, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations did at the same point in office.

The analysis assesses agreements made in the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil enforcement cases. For abuses under laws like the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration has collected just $12 million in civil penalties, a drop of 60 percent from the average of the other administrations. Trump’s EPA has lodged 26 environmental lawsuits compared to 31, 34, and 45 by Bush, Obama, and Clinton, respectively.

The marked decrease in enforcement likely has to do with the EPA’s deregulatory agenda. Since confirmed, administrator Scott Pruitt has systematically tried to knock out key environmental regulations, especially those created during Obama’s tenure.

The Project notes that its assessment is only of a six-month period, so future enforcement could catch Trump up to his predecessors. Or he’ll continue to look the other way.

“I’ve seen the pendulum swing,” said Bruce Buckheit, who worked in EPA enforcement under Clinton and then Bush, “but never as far as what appears to be going on today.”

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The coal industry is still declining, so Trump is considering a bailout.

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The Pay Gap Costs Women $840 Billion Every Year

Mother Jones

Each year, Equal Pay Day is a grim reminder that working women still don’t earn as much as their male counterparts. In fact, the persistent wage gap means that, on average, women lose a combined $840 billion every year, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Using Census Bureau data from all 50 states and D.C., the report concluded that the average woman takes home 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And the gap is even worse for women of color: black women earn only 63 cents for each dollar picked up by a white male, while Latina women take home a mere 54 cents. Meanwhile, white women bring home 75 cents per dollar earned by a man, and Asian women earn 85 cents, though some Asian subgroups earn considerably less.

Wyoming, where women earn just 64.4 cents for every dollar brought home by a man, is the worst place in the country to earn a paycheck as a woman. New York and Delaware, where women earn 88.7 and 88.5 cents, respectively, are the two states leading the path to wage equity. The map below, created by the National Women’s Law Center, breaks down the gender wage disparities across the country.

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The annual losses amount to almost $10,500 for each working woman, according to the National Partnership report. And with over 15 million homes headed by women, the pay gap is hard on families. The money lost from the gap could pay for 1.5 years of food for every working woman and her family, 11 months of rent, or 15 months of child care.

“This analysis shows just how damaging that lost income can be for women and their families, as well as the economy and the businesses that depend on women’s purchasing power,” says National Partnership’s President Debra L. Ness. “Entire communities, states and our country suffer because lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination or advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would help erase the wage gap.”

During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Ivanka Trump famously championed President Trump’s support of women’s equal paychecks: “He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this, too, right alongside of him.” Despite Ivanka’s inclusion of women’s equality in the workplace as a key message of her platform, the Trump administration has not actually adopted any of her pledges. Instead, last month President Trump reduced paycheck transparency and rescinded other Obama-era workplace protections enshrined in the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, imperiling women’s overall ability to track the widening gap between men and women’s paychecks.

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The Pay Gap Costs Women $840 Billion Every Year

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Fast-Food-Loving Cornell Prof Faces Ethical Scrutiny

Mother Jones

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In 2014, I profiled Brian Wansink, a behavioral psychologist who studies how our surroundings affect our eating habits. Wansink runs Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, a prolific group known for its clever dining research—one widely cited study, for example, found that people who keep their breakfast cereal in a cabinet weighed 21 pounds less on average than those who keep it on the counter; another showed that diners who sit near a restaurant’s entrance are 73 percent less likely to order dessert than those who sit in the restaurant’s interior.

I wasn’t the only one who thought Wansink’s work was cool. His research—some 200 studies since 2005—regularly makes headlines. But in January, a team of researchers reanalyzed the data from four of the Food and Brand Lab’s studies about pizza and turned up what appear to be serious problems: The researchers spotted 150 data inconsistencies. As Columbia University statistician Andrew Gelman put it in a blog post: “Although the four papers were all based on the same data, they differed in all sorts of detail, which suggested that the authors opportunistically used data exclusion, data coding, and data analysis choices to obtain publishable (that is, p less than .05) results.”

In a blog post on Thursday, one of the researchers, University of Groningen Ph.D. student Nick Brown, pointed to what appear to be several incidences of self-plagiarism in Wansink’s writing. Brown also found that the data from two of Wansink’s studies—one from 2001 and another from 2003 “appear to be almost identical, despite purportedly reporting the results of two completely different studies.”

Wansink declined to comment on the accusations. Instead, he pointed to a statement on the lab’s website, where he writes, “We are currently conducting a full review of studies in question, preparing comprehensive data which will be shared and establishing new standards for future operations at the lab which will include how we respond to requests for research information.”

The statement also notes that Wansink has enlisted a Food and Brand lab member who wasn’t involved in the studies to reanalyze the data in question. This move has raised some eyebrows in the scientific community: Why not hire an independent researcher? Here’s how Wansink answered that question in a Q&A with the scientific integrity watchdog blog Retraction Watch:

That’s a great question, and we thought a lot about that. In the end, we want to do this as quickly and accurately as possible—get the scripts written up, state the rationale (i.e., why we made particular choices in the original paper), and post it on a public website. Also, because this same researcher will also be deidentifying the data, it’s important to keep everything corralled together until all of this gets done.

But before we post the data and scripts, we also plan on getting some other statisticians to look at the papers and the scripts. These will most likely be stats profs who are at Cornell but not in my lab. We’ve already requested one addition to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), so that’s speeding ahead.

But even though someone in my lab is doing the analyses, like I said, we’re going to post the deidentified data, the analysis scripts (as in, how everyone is coded), tables, and log files. That way everyone knows exactly how it’s analyzed and they can rerun it on different stats programs, like SPSS or STATA or SAS, or whatever. It will be open to anyone. I’m also going to use this data for some stat analysis exercises into one of my courses. Yet another reason to get it up as fast as possible—before the course is over.

In the same Q&A, Wansink defended his work on methodological grounds. “These sorts of studies are either first steps, or sometimes they’re real-world demonstrations of existing lab findings,” he said. “They aren’t intended to be the first and last word about a social science issue. Social science isn’t definitive like chemistry. Like Jim Morrison said, ‘People are strange.’ In a good way.”

Cornell has declined to intervene. In a statement to New York magazine, John J. Carberry, the university’s head of media relations, wrote, “While Cornell encourages transparent responses to scientific critique, we respect our faculty’s role as independent investigators to determine the most appropriate response to such requests, absent claims of misconduct or data sharing agreements.”

I’ll be tracking this story, and we will post updates as they occur.

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Fast-Food-Loving Cornell Prof Faces Ethical Scrutiny

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President Obama is giving us a parting gift: a bunch of new national monuments.

New California Sen. Kamala Harris grilled Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo about his views on climate change during a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

She asked if he has any reason to doubt current CIA director John Brennan’s assessment that climate change is a contributing factor to rising instability in the Middle East and other areas. Pompeo, a prominent tea partier, said he was unfamiliar with the analysis Harris mentioned. When Harris followed up, asking about whether or not he believes climate change is even happening, Pompeo was equally noncommittal.

Pompeo essentially argued that climate change isn’t relevant to the job he’s being vetted for: “Frankly, as the director of CIA, I would prefer today not to get into the details of the climate debate and science,” he said.

In the past, Pompeo has directly denied the reality of climate change. He has also called President Obama’s environmental agenda “radical” and “damaging,” and said that Obama’s signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, would not provide “any measurable environmental benefit.”

Unsurprisingly, Pompeo is friendly with the Koch brothers and has deep ties to the oil and gas industry, which has donated over a million dollars to his campaigns.

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President Obama is giving us a parting gift: a bunch of new national monuments.

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Tonight’s debate shouldn’t ignore Hurricane Matthew.

Six of the eight U.S. senators from Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are climate deniers, rejecting the consensus of 99.98 percent of peer-reviewed scientific papers that human activity is causing global warming. The exceptions are South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Florida’s Bill Nelson — the lone Democrat of the bunch.

Here are some of the lowlights from their comments on the climate change:

-Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who does not understand the difference between climate and weather, arguing against climate action in a presidential debate in March: “As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing.”

-Back in 2011, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said: “I have no clue [how much of climate change is attributable to human activity], and I don’t think that science can prove it.”

-In 2014, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis claimed that “the liberal agenda, the Obama agenda, the [then Sen.] Kay Hagan agenda, is trying to use [climate change] as a Trojan horse for their energy policy.”

-Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson offered his analysis  last year on whether the Greenland ice sheet is melting (it is): “There are mixed reviews on that, and there’s mixed scientific evidence on that.”

-Georgia Sen. David Perdue told Slate in 2014 that “in science, there’s an active debate going on,” about whether carbon emissions are behind climate change.

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Tonight’s debate shouldn’t ignore Hurricane Matthew.

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Trump’s Tax Plan Reveals His Contempt for the Middle Class

Mother Jones

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A couple of days ago, NYU law professor Lily Batchelder released a paper that takes a close look at the details of Donald Trump’s tax plan. She concludes that several million middle-class families will pay more under Trump’s plan than they do now. Jim Tankersley reports the Trump campaign’s response:

The Trump campaign called the findings “pure fiction,” contending the analysis neglects a crucial benefit for low-income taxpayers….Most importantly, Miller said Trump will instruct the committees writing his plan into law to make sure that it does not raise taxes on any low- or middle-income earners. “In sending our proposal to the tax-writing committees we will include instructions to ensure all low and middle income households are protected,” Miller said.

This is obviously spin, but the funny thing is that it’s true. The details that Batchelder analyzed really won’t matter much once Trump’s proposal gets fed into the congressional sausage machine. Rather, his tax plan is essentially a statement of values. It tells the voting public what he believes in.

And that’s the problem. If Trump truly cared about the middle class, he and his team would have taken a very close look at the details to make sure his plan benefited the entire middle class. Obviously they didn’t. They treated it like a throwaway that Congress would iron out later.

Conversely, does anyone doubt that they were very careful indeed about vetting the effect of his plan on the rich? There’s surely not a single person in the top 1 percent who will accidentally end up paying higher taxes under Trump’s plan. Why? Because Trump cares about rich people. They’re winners.1 Struggling families and single mothers are losers. Why sweat the details for the likes of them?

1Also because his plan is so overwhelmingly favorable for rich people that it’s basically impossible for small details to wipe out their average gain.

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Trump’s Tax Plan Reveals His Contempt for the Middle Class

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This List Shows You How Divided America’s Schools Are

Mother Jones

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In the wealthy West Jefferson Hills School District in western Pennsylvania, a new high school with an eight-lane swimming pool and terrazzo flooring was recently approved for construction. Meanwhile, in neighboring Clairton, where the district’s poverty rate is 48 percent, officials wrestled with whether to close schools earlier this year.

That striking disparity is just one of many in a new report that maps the country’s 33,500 school district borders and highlights places where high-poverty districts bump up against wealthy neighbors. The report, put out by the nonprofit EdBuild, sheds light on how these well-established boundaries create “barriers to progress that segregate children” and even worse inequities in the public education system. It also notes that existing school finance system, in which districts rely heavily on property taxes as a source of local funding for schools, creates an incentive for wealthier families to move across district lines to more well-resourced areas.

Between 1990 and 2010, income-based segregation among American school districts grew, according to Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis. Such disparities among districts result in unequal access to resources, such as underqualified teachers and subpar facilities, and could lead to gaps in academic achievement. Another recent Stanford study found that children in the wealthiest school districts performed, on average, four grade levels above children in the poorest school districts. In May, on the anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Government Accountability Office found that the share of schools with a high concentration of poor, black, and Hispanic students increased from 9 to 16 percent between 2000 and 2014.

“We’ve created and maintained a system of schools segregated by class and bolstered by arbitrary borders that, in effect, serve as the new status quo for separate but unequal…” conclude the authors of the EdBuild report. “Increasingly, the story of American school districts is a tale of two cities, one well-off and one poor—one with the funds necessary to provide its children ample educational opportunities and one without adequate resources to help its children catch up.”

Here’s a look at the biggest disparities in poverty between neighboring districts:

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This List Shows You How Divided America’s Schools Are

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There’s a 99% chance this will be the hottest year on record

There’s a 99% chance this will be the hottest year on record

By on May 18, 2016

Cross-posted from

Climate CentralShare

Odds are increasing that 2016 will be the hottest year on the books, as April continued a remarkable streak of record-warm months.

Last month was rated as the warmest April on record by both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released their data this week. In the temperature annals kept by NOAA, it marked the 12th record warmest month in a row.

How global temperatures have differed from average so far this year.NOAA

Global temperatures have been hovering around 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above preindustrial averages — a threshold that’s being considered by international negotiators as a new goal for limiting warming.

While an exceptionally strong El Niño has provided a boost to temperatures in recent months, the primary driver has been the heat that has built up from decades of unabated greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearing 1.5 degrees C

NOAA announced its temperature data for April on Wednesday, with the month measuring 1.98 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 56.7 degrees F (13.7 degrees C). It was warmer than the previous record-hot April of 2010 by 0.5 degrees F (0.3 degrees C).

NASA’s data showed the month was about the same amount above the average from 1951-1980. The two agencies use different baselines and process the global temperature data slightly differently, leading to potential differences in the exact temperatures anomalies for each month and year.

Both agencies’ records show that global temperatures have come down slightly from the peaks they hit in February and March, which ranked as the most anomalously warm months by NASA and NOAA, respectively.

Climate Central has reanalyzed the temperature data from recent months, averaging the NASA and NOAA numbers and comparing it to the average from 1881-1910 to show how much temperatures have risen from a period closer to preindustrial times.

The analysis shows that the year-to-date temperature through April is 1.45 degrees C above the average from that period. Governments have agreed to limit warming this century to less than 2 degrees C from preindustrial times and are exploring setting an even more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees C, which temperatures are currently close to.

“The fact that we are beginning to cross key thresholds at the monthly timescale is indeed an indication of how close we are getting to permanently exceeding those thresholds,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State, said in an email.

A year-to-date look at 2016 global temperatures compared to recent years.Climate Central

It will take a significant effort to further limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to realize those goals, experts say. Carbon dioxide levels at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii are already poised to stay above 400 parts per million year-round. They have risen from a preindustrial level of 280 ppm and from 315 ppm just since the mid-20th century.

Hottest year?

As El Niño continues to rapidly decay, monthly temperature anomalies are slowly declining. They are still considerably higher than they were just last year, the current title-holder for the hottest year on record.

Given the head start this year has over last, there is a more than 99 percent chance that 2016 will best 2015 as the hottest year on the books, according to Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which keeps the agency’s temperature data.

If 2016 does set the mark, it will be the third record-setting year in a row.

It is likely, though, that the streak would end with this year, as a La Niña event is looking increasingly likely to follow El Niño, and it tends to have a cooling effect on global temperatures.

But even La Niña years today are warmer than El Niño years of previous decades — a clear sign of how much human caused-warming has increased global temperatures. In fact, the planet hasn’t seen a record cold year since 1911.

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There’s a 99% chance this will be the hottest year on record

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News Analysis: Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad

Sunni extremists are being recruited and trained to fight in conflicts abroad. Taken from –  News Analysis: Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad ; ; ;

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News Analysis: Pakistan’s Hand in the Rise of International Jihad

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With Imposed Transparency and Concerned Millennials, a Boom in Corporate Responsibility?

In an era of rising transparency and concerns about corporate ethics, companies eager to please millennials appear to be shifting business models and messages. Link –  With Imposed Transparency and Concerned Millennials, a Boom in Corporate Responsibility? ; ; ;

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With Imposed Transparency and Concerned Millennials, a Boom in Corporate Responsibility?

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