Earlier this month, Amazon.com posted a “heat map” that tracks the political books Americans are buying on their site. It’s updated daily. They say the map is a “novel way” to track political conversation in the run-up to November’s election.
In our recent interview with Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice, Bill highlighted new election laws that keep the young, elderly, minorities and the poor from voting.
Key to this disenfranchisement is a nationwide surge in voter ID laws. Since 2005 — when the Indiana and Georgia state legislatures passed strict photo ID requirements for voters, some thirty states have passed voter ID laws, many based on model legislation drafted in 2009 by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (we’ll have more coverage on ALEC in a few weeks).
You’ve probably heard about the ongoing investigation of global banks and the manipulation of Libor, the critical interest rate that banks use as a benchmark to borrow money from each other and to set rates on virtually all commercial loans, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Maybe you heard about it from The New York Times or Bloomberg News, or even here at BillMoyers.com.
Two places we’re sure you didn’t hear about it are ABC’s World News and NBC’s Nightly News, because they haven’t covered it — at all. According to Media Matters for America, the two networks ignored the scandal that The Financial Times‘s Chris Giles writes has “the power to make the heads of commercial banks quake in their boots.”
Ever wondered how many veterans there are in the United States? Or maybe which cities have the most veterans living in them? Well, we’re glad you asked because the U.S. Census infographics department has been hard at work making the data they collect more digestible to the general public. And as TIME’s Battlefield blogger Mark Thompson notes — you’ve already paid for the information — so why not learn something from it? MORE
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their June unemployment numbers for veterans. The report includes the breakdown for one closely watched group: Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans (“Gulf II-era veterans”). And while the numbers are still worse than the national average, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs blog reports that the rate for this group fell “more than three full percentage points to 9.5 percent.”
While much remains to be done, since January 2012, post-9/11 Veterans have experienced the lowest unemployment rate in any combined six-month period since 2008 — with the rate reaching single digits in four of the last six months. Additionally, the trend over the past 30 months — since January 2010 — remains downward for America’s most recent Veterans.
Month-to-month unemployment rate figures for this demographic are fairly volatile, but the long-term trend has shown a consistent decline over this two and a half-year period — a strong sign of recovery following the worst economic disaster since The Great Depression.
Suicide is surging as a cause of death among American military service people, with nearly one suicide a day in the first half of this year, according to Pentagon statistics reported by the Associated Press. That’s more than the number of soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan in the same time period. Suicide rates for members of the military used to be lower than the general public, but the number has been rising since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Jackie Garrick, the director of the Pentagon’s newly established Defense Suicide Prevention Office, said in an interview with The Huffington Post that this year’s suicide numbers are “troubling.”
“We are very concerned at this point that we are seeing a high number of suicides at a point in time where we were expecting to see a lower number of suicides,” she said, adding that the weak U.S. economy may be confounding preventive efforts even as the pace of military deployments eases.
Author and veteran Karl Marlantes, who will appear in conversation with Bill on Moyers & Company this weekend, blames the repeated tours of duty in today’s wars. During the Vietnam War, service was limited to about a year, he says “so that they know when it’s over.” Today, members of our all-volunteer army are serving longer than almost any time in our nation’s history.
In the lead up to our interview with Marlantes, we’ll be featuring a chart of the day related to the military and veterans. Check back here for more.
A new interactive feature on The Guardian’s “Data Blog” pulls in gun homicide data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Small Arms Survey to map the number of guns and gun deaths in countries around the world. Some key facts from their report:
• The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world — an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership — and even the number two country, Yemen, has significantly fewer – 54.8 per 100 people
• But the U.S. does not have the worst firearm murder rate — that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the U.S. is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people
• Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides — 94.8%. It’s followed by Sierra Leone in Africa and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean
Last week, the research and advocacy organization Demos held a policy conference in Washington on 21st century poverty issues. It included discussions led by Bob Herbert, E.J. Dionne, Ezra Klein, and an assortment of researchers and practitioners. The inspiration for the gathering was the 50th anniversary of Michael Harrington’s seminal exposé The Other America. Even before the recession, millions of Americans were living in poverty. Now, with many more out of work, economic inequality on the rise and proposed cuts to the social safety net, the issue is more relevant than ever.
Here are some of the highlights of the findings presented at the conference. MORE
Voters aren’t just passively watching the Obama campaign ads attacking Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital — they’re Googling to find out more and telling their friends about it via social media.
Ads produced by the Obama campaign and pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action portray the private equity firm that Romney founded as having laid off middle-class Americans and shipped their jobs overseas. The ads have sparked a major controversy in the media about the candidate’s role at Bain at the time the outsourcing took place. (Romney says he was no longer involved in the company “in any way” after 1999, but SEC filings list Romney as “Managing Director of Bain Capital, Inc.” through February, 2001.)
The chart below, courtesy of Talking Points Memo, shows that, presumably due to the power of the ads and the intrigue of the controversy, interest in Bain as represented by Google searches and Twitter mentions has increased dramatically in the last few days.
Everybody knows that the United States spends more money on health care than any other country. But how much exactly?
Over the weekend, the UK Guardian posted this interactive map (click to interact) that compares how much each country spends on health care. Find out how the United States’ spending stacks up against other Western nations and the world. MORE
Mother Jones just posted a new interactive map that lets you explore the dark-money universe of the 2012 election. They theorize that if “Citizens United is the big bang of a new era of money in politics,” then this is the universe it created. The size of the planets — super PACs and 501(c) groups — corresponds to the total money raised so far.
Best part? The data is live and updated on a weekly basis. Visit Mother Jones to explore the chart.
Today’s beautiful smart chart takes a look at America’s workforce and how it has changed over the past 50 years. It was produced by GE and the design firm Periscopic.