December 7, 2017

An estimated 15 million Americans will have clinical Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 2060, a concerning new study published Thursday found. The estimates mean that cases of Alzheimer's and MCI will more than double in four decades, as just 6 million cases have been recorded in 2017, HealthDay News reports.

The leap in numbers comes from the aging Baby Boomer generation, as about 47 million Americans currently live with "some evidence of preclinical Alzheimer's," said the study's author, Ron Brookmeyer. "Many of them will not progress to Alzheimer's dementia in their lifetimes. We need to have improved methods to identify which persons will progress to clinical symptoms, and develop interventions for them that could slow the progression of the disease, if not stop it altogether."

The study estimated that 9.3 million Americans would have Alzheimer's disease by 2060, and 40 percent of people living with Alzheimer's by then would need around-the-clock care, such as a placement in a nursing home. Another 5.7 million people would have the milder MCI, which HealthDay News describes as "significant short-term memory loss" but not necessarily "problems with daily functioning."

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, which is the fifth-leading cause of death for adults over the age of 65. Jeva Lange

August 22, 2017

If you're a politician looking to build up your social media following, your best bet is to avoid the political center. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by Pew Research Center, which found that the closer a lawmaker is to the ideological extremes, the larger their social media presence tends to be.


The disparity was stark. In the House, the representatives furthest to the left and right "had a median of 14,361 followers as of July 25, compared with 9,017 followers for those in the middle of the ideological spectrum," Pew reports. In the Senate, the more ideological lawmakers had a median following of 78,360. Centrists had just 32,626.

Beyond general polarization, Pew attributes its findings at least in part to a tendency among the politicians at the edges of the political spectrum to share more inflammatory — and thus more engaging — content. Lawmakers with a clear philosophical stance also tend to get more media exposure, Pew notes. Bonnie Kristian

August 1, 2017

The popular face of America's opioid epidemic is white and rural, but new research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates the crisis of opioid misuse and addiction has become just as pressing in urban areas.

(The Washington Post)

As The Washington Post reports, the study found that more than one-third of Americans were prescribed opioids in big cities, small towns, and rural areas alike. Within that group, about 1 in 10 prescription recipients misused the drugs across locational categories. Misuse without a diagnosis of an opioid use disorder was actually slightly more common in urban areas, while rural regions still remain the leader in diagnosed misuse. Bonnie Kristian

March 23, 2017
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A study completed by the Women's Media Center (WMC) finds the Fox News website boasts the "best gender ratio" among its writers out of 20 major news outlets analyzed in the annual report. The WMC is led by feminist activists Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, and its goal is to ensure women's representation in the press is on par with their representation in the population at large.

The Fox site achieved near-perfect parity between male and female writers, the study found, with 50.1 percent of its bylines naming men and 49.9 percent going to women. On average in the online outlets the report considered, men receive 53.9 percent of bylines to women's 46.1 percent.

Other media sectors were much further from gender parity, with broadcast media exhibiting the greatest imbalance. "Overall, men report 74.8 percent of the broadcast news; women report 25.2 percent," the WMC reports. "The study also found that men produce most stories on sports, weather, and crime and justice. Women's bylines are largely on lifestyle, health, and education news." Bonnie Kristian

December 8, 2016
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The ideological uniformity of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominations to date is, perhaps, in the eye of the beholder: Those more sympathetic to the new president may be more likely to see a healthy "team of rivals" coming together, while critics see a dangerous mélange of yes-men and sycophants.

Americans should hope Trump's supporters are closer to the truth, argues Bilal Baloch, an Oxford scholar, at The Washington Post. Baloch's research indicates a rivalrous team of advisers is a bulwark against rash action and intolerance:

Ideologically plural governments are more likely to behave tolerantly. Ideas act as weapons, and no one position can "win out" and undo institutional integrity. In other words, what's key to a government that behaves tolerantly isn't sharing a partisan ideology, be it conservative or liberal; rather, it's having internal ideological checks and balances, including administration officials in positions of power who vigorously disagree amongst themselves. [...]

If presidents or prime ministers plan to govern in an authoritarian manner, they will emphasize loyalty when picking advisers and by relying more on military and security personnel. If they plan to govern democratically, they will emphasize selecting advisers with legislative and political experience who can advance the policy agenda effectively. [The Washington Post]

Read the rest of Baloch's analysis here. Bonnie Kristian

February 12, 2016
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The Tax Policy Center (TPC) released its take on Marco Rubio's tax plan on Thursday. They concluded it would overwhelmingly benefits top earners the most, largely because it greatly reduces taxes on wealth income. And maybe eliminates them entirely — it's unclear.

Which brings up another point the analysis highlights: details matter.

For instance, Rubio's plan makes heavy use of tax credits, which allow filers to eliminate a set amount of their final tax liability. But what if the tax credit eliminates all of their tax liability, and there's still some of the credit left over? If the credit is refundable, the filer gets the remainder back from the government. If it's not, they don't.

How refundability would work has massive implications for who Rubio's tax plan would help the most. The TPC said Rubio's people didn't provide them the necessary details, so they went with assumptions based on the Rubio campaign's assertion that "our reforms would not create payments for new, non-working filers." Here are their results, in terms of the percent change in people's after tax income. ("Lowest quintile" means the bottom fifth of workers, "second quintile" means the second-lowest fight, and so on.)

(Graph courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.)

TPC found the plan would also massively reduce government revenue. Since Rubio has promised both a balanced budget and an increase in military spending, this implies enormous reductions in spending elsewhere. Jeff Spross

January 8, 2016
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There are currently 3.3 million Muslims living in the U.S., but, according to Pew Research Center's prediction, that number will double. Pew estimates that by 2050 the U.S. Muslim population will grow from its current 1 percent share to twice that — 2 percent.

The estimate, Pew reports, is based on age, fertility, mortality, migration, and religious switching figures. Along with natural population growth, Pew predicts immigration will be the most robust cause of growth. Muslim immigration to the U.S. has increased steadily in the last 20 years and, between 2010 to 2015, immigration accounted for over half of the American Muslim population's projected growth, Pew reports.

"Recent political debates in the U.S. over Muslim immigration and related issues have prompted many to ask how many Muslims actually live in the United States," Pew senior researcher Basheer Mohamed writes. "But coming up with an answer is not easy, in part because the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask questions about religion, meaning that there is no official government count of the U.S. Muslim population." Becca Stanek

December 1, 2015
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The U.S. saw its highest level of terrorism-related arrests since September 2001 this year, a study released Tuesday reveals. Through a review of social media accounts and legal documents, researchers at George Washington University found that 56 individuals were arrested in 2015 for either supporting ISIS or plotting to assist the extremist group. "The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals, and college students," GWU's director of the program on extremism Lorenzo Vidino told The New York Times. "The diversity is staggering."

That diversity, Vidino suggests, is exactly why identifying and monitoring potential terrorist threats can be such a challenge for law enforcement agencies. "For law enforcement, it's extremely difficult to determine who makes a big leap from keyboard jihadist to doing something," Vidino said.

The average age of the Americans arrested was 26, though individuals ranged from a 15-year-old boy to a 47-year-old former Air Force officer. The overwhelming majority of arrests made were American citizens or permanent residents. An estimated 40 percent of those arrested were converts to Islam and over half of those arrested had attempted to travel abroad.

The FBI has about 900 open inquiries into activity related to ISIS. Becca Stanek

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