Guns don’t kill crowds of innocent people, explain our leader writers. Maniacs with easy access to military-grade weapons do. (via theeconomist)
(via theeconomist)If you live in America, you are four times more likely to be murdered than if you live in Britain, almost six times more likely than in Germany, and 13 times more likely than in Japan.
Somalia worst for child mortality, U.N. agency says
Somalia now has the world’s highest mortality rate for children under the age of five, according to new data released by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.
“Somalia’s child mortality rate in 2010, stood at 180 deaths per 1,000 live births which now ranks worst in the world,” the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a media statement.
Obama Tax Plan Would Ask More of MillionairesScott Eells/Bloomberg News, left; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule,” in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
Mr. Obama will not specify a rate or other details, and it is unclear how much revenue his plan would raise. But his idea of a millionaires’ minimum tax will be prominent in the broad plan for long-term deficit reduction that he will outline at the White House on Monday.via nytimes.com
New drug may treat virtually all viral infections
In a recently published article in the journal, researchers at claim to have developed a new drug that has the potential to cure nearly all types of viral infections ranging from the to highly deadly .
The new drug, known as(double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizer), is able to discriminate between healthy cells and those infected by viruses. It essentially signals the infected cells to die, preventing the virus from replicating and moving into other cells, all while leaving adjacent healthy cells completely unaffected. Furthermore, scientists believe that it would be difficult for viruses to develop a to this kind of treatment.
The researchers involved in the project have already tested this drug on mice who have been infected with lethal amounts of influenza and found that the mice were completely cured as a result. They hope to test this drug against several other types of viruses in mice before moving on to human trials in the future.via en.wikinews.org
Dow plunges 635 after S&P downgrade
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Wall Street had its worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, as fearful investors reacted to the United States losing its coveted AAA credit rating.
All three major U.S. stock indexes sank between 5% and 7%, pushing the Dow below 11,000 for the first time since last November.
U.S. stocks have fallen 15% during the past two weeks.
Though observers said S&P’s downgrade shouldn’t matter all that much, the market wasn’t buying it.
“Investors are having one reaction to the downgrade: sell first and ask questions later,” said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation with ING Investment Management.
Even if investors dismissed the downgrade, they’d still have to contend with the European debt crisis and rising fears of a new U.S. recession.
Those are the factors that led to a drop of more than 6% last week, the worst since the financial crisis of 2008.
The Dow Jones industrial average () sank 635 points, or 5.6%, to 10,810.
The S&P 500 () lost 80 points, or 6.7%, to 1,120.
And the Nasdaq Composite () dropped 175 points, or 6.9%, to 2,358.
The sell-off was worse than the 512-point drop stocks experienced only three trading sessions ago.
Few companies were spared. All members of the Dow 30 and all members of the S&P 500 traded lower.via money.cnn.com
The Flavor Of Your OJ Is A Chemically-Induced Mirage
There’s a dirty secret in your glass of orange juice. Even though it says “not from concentrate,” it probably sat in a large vat for up to year with all the oxygen was removed from it. This allows it to be preserved and dispensed all year-round. Taking out all the O2 also gets rid of all the flavor. So the juice makers have to add the flavors back in using preformulated recipes full of chemicals called “flavor packs.” Mmm, delicious, fresh-squeezed ethyl-butyrate!
Author Aliissa Hamilton covers this in her book, “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.” Of her findings, she writes on the Civl Eats blog:“Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor.”
Less you think this is some kind of organic hippy conspiracy theory, deaeration and pasteurization are very real in the orange juice and they do remove flavor. Here is a study to that effect posted on the USDA.gov site.
If this is the type of thing that bothers you, buying OJ from the store in May through June is the only way to ensure that most of the juice is from fresh Valencia oranges. The rest of the year it’s reflavored sugar water from a tank farm.via consumerist.com
$14.3 Trillion in Debt Who Borrowed? Who Loaned?
In particular, who racked up $6.1 trillion in debt?
Update 9:20am 7/29: Reader CoRev excoriates me for using a graphic along FY lines (well a lot of spending is baked in, so Presidents usually are more responsible for the FYs that the NY Times allocated). Well, since we have a set of magical instruments called the Internet, and Excel, we can easily see that there is little change using quarterly data, and timing the cumulations more tightly.
Figure 0: Cumulative changes in publicly held debt, by Presidential administrations, in millions of $, NSA. Source: Treasury via FREDII (series FYGFDPUN), and directly from Treasury for 2011Q1.
I don’t see a drastic revision to the stylized facts. Here is a corresponding graph normalized by GDP, which is more relevant.
Figure 1: Cumulative changes in publicly held debt, by Presidential administrations, in millions of $, NSA, normalized by GDP, in billions of $, SAAR, all through 2011Q1. Source: Treasury via FREDII (series FYGFDPUN), Band directly from Treasury for 2011Q1, BEA 2011Q2 advance release, and author’s calculations.
Note that in this last graph, the “Clinton” block is below the zero line because publicly held debt was paid down during the Clinton Administration, in ppts of GDP terms. If we normalized by potential nominal GDP, the Obama block would look smaller. I also find of interest the debt accumulated during Reagan, GHW Bush, and Bush Administrations versus that during Clinton and Obama… (recalling Clinton paid down, as a share of GDP).via econbrowser.com