Studies

This is a little crazy:

The study followed just under 11,600 men and women averaging 59 years old across the United Kingdom, surveying them once between 1993 and 1997 and again between 1998 and 2002. At the beginning and end of the 3.6-year period, participants estimated how many fruits (choosing from 11 kinds) and vegetables (choosing from 26) they ate. The changes in amount and variety gave the study its measure of the healthiness of participants’ divorce diets.

By the end of the study, 1.2 percent of men and 1.7 percent of women became separated or divorced. (The study also separately measured participants whose spouses had died.) Among them, the men ate 0.6 fewer grams of fruit per day than their married counterparts did, and with less variety. Divorced and separated women, on the other hand, didn’t change their habits much.

I thought about it and realized how small the numbers were: 1.2% of about half of 11,600 for the number of divorced men is about 50, it turned out to be 52 according to the study. The study also didn’t include a wide variety of people:

We used data from the prospective EPIC-Norfolk study. The EPIC-Norfolk study aimed to quantify the contribution of nutrition and other determinants of chronic diseases in middle and later life. It recruited from age-sex registers of general practices in Norfolk, UK, which is a geographical circumscribed area with little outward migration and a population mainly served by one District General Hospital, as described in detail elsewhere

It also didn’t exactly measure things exactly:

Participants also completed a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and detailed Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire in which they reported their occupation, educational level, health status and chronic health conditions (Day et al., 1999). A second health check (HC2), an average of 3.6 years following entry, was attended by 15 786 participants, among whom 12 331 completed a second FFQ.

So, results based on a small number of people from one small region that is 96.5% white that used two surveys to guess at what they ate (ok, it was really a 7 day food diary, but that still has problems) is worthy of an article in a newspaper? Perhaps this is why people don’t trust the results of studies. By the way, I’m not complaining about the study itself–it’s a fine study even if its results are weak.

Trump is a great prognosticator

Elizabeth Warren has hit on a wonderful quote by Donald Trump from 2007 just before the market really crashed:

Mr. Trump said he is poised to invest in depressed property as the downturn moves through individual cities. “People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is,” he said. “I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.”

It shows what a lovely man he is, but there’s more:

Donald Trump almost lost his shirt 15 years ago when the North American real estate bubble burst. The 2007 version of that disaster will be much more benign, the real estate magnate predicts, although there is softness in some urban markets, such as Toronto and San Francisco.

“We’re talking very minor [problems]compared with the depression of the early 1990s,” Mr. Trump said yesterday in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

Mr. Trump shrugged off concerns that a crisis in U.S. subprime mortgage lending, which caters to poor credit risks, would spread to the wider property market, including Mr. Trump’s luxury buildings.

“I don’t see the subprime problems affecting the higher-end stuff,” he said. In fact, he is advising investors that there are now great deals in buying subprime mortgages at a discount and repossessed houses at low prices.

He said that two years ago, when the market was at an all-time high, he was telling people not to buy real estate. “Now I’m telling them to do it.”

So, I guess the idea is to do the opposite of what Donald Trump says–he was badly wrong about housing in the early 1990s and did even worse in 2007.

No racism here

This is pretty stupid work:

The case, Foster v. Chatman, arose from the 1987 trial of Timothy T. Foster, an African-American facing the death penalty for killing Queen Madge White, an elderly white woman, when he was 18.
In notes that did not surface until decades later, prosecutors marked the names of black prospective jurors with a B and highlighted those names in green. They circled the word “black” where potential jurors had noted their race on questionnaires.

They ranked the black prospective jurors in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors,” as the prosecution’s investigator put it in a draft affidavit at the time. In the end, prosecutors struck all four black potential jurors.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the prosecutors had violated a 1986 decision, Batson v. Kentucky, in which the Supreme Court ruled that race discrimination in jury selection was unconstitutional and required lawyers accused of it to provide a nondiscriminatory explanation.

Lanier had offered a list of 11 reasons for striking Garrett, including that she was too young.

“Yet Garrett was 34,” Roberts wrote, “and the state declined to strike eight white prospective jurors under the age of 36. Two of those white jurors served on the jury; one of those two was only 21 years old.”

Lanier also said Garrett was unfit to serve because she was divorced. But, the chief justice wrote, Lanier “declined to strike three out of the four prospective white jurors who were also divorced.”

Lanier gave eight reasons for striking a second prospective juror, Hood, including that his son was the same age as the defendant and had been convicted of a crime that was, he said, “basically the same thing that this defendant is charged with.”

Roberts called this “nonsense.”

“Hood’s son had received a 12-month suspended sentence for stealing hubcaps from a car in a mall parking lot five years earlier,” he wrote. “Foster was charged with capital murder of a 79-year-old widow after a brutal sexual assault.”

And (via here):

Still, Georgia courts had consistently rejected Foster’s claims of discrimination, even after his lawyers obtained prosecutors’ notes that revealed their focus on the black people in the jury pool. In one example, a handwritten note headed “Definite No’s” listed six people, of whom five were the remaining black prospective jurors.

The sixth person on the list was a white woman who made clear she would never impose the death penalty, according to Bright. And yet even that woman ranked behind the black jurors, he said.

Let’s propose something obviously unconstitutional

You go Oklahoma:

The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind.

The bill would strip doctors who perform abortions of their medical licenses unless the procedure was necessary to save a woman’s life. The felony provision does not include that exception.

Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a Constitutional right, this law is going nowhere. I do love the fact that a doctor can go to jail for performing an abortion even to save the woman’s life, religious conservatives are so compassionate.

One thing you might want to know:

Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.

So they pass this bill which will probably cost the state millions:

In an open letter on Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal group based in New York, urged Ms. Fallin to veto what it said was a “blatantly unconstitutional measure.”

Noting that it has sued Oklahoma eight times in the last six years, blocking lesser restrictions like the state’s effort to ban the second-trimester surgical method, the center said that “this bill will almost certainly lead to expensive court challenges that the State of Oklahoma simply cannot defend in light of longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

Of course, Oklahoma doesn’t really care about schools–at least not as much as oil profits:

After intense lobbying, Oklahoma’s oilmen scored a victory two years ago. State lawmakers voted to keep in place some of the lowest taxes on oil and gas production in the United States – a break worth $470 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.

The state’s schools haven’t been so fortunate. In Newcastle, 23 miles from the capital of Oklahoma City, John Cerny recently learned that the school attended by his five-year-old granddaughter, Adelynn, will open just four days a week next year. The Bridge Creek school district will slash spending because of a projected $1.3 billion state budget shortfall next year.

Shale regions are hurting across the country. Since 2014, the U.S. energy industry has shed more than 100,000 jobs. But during the drilling spree of 2008 to 2014, oil-rich states like North Dakota and Texas saw a sharp rise in oil-and-gas tax revenue and salted away a chunk of it for education. Over the same period, Oklahoma’s oil and gas production tax revenue slid 32 percent, in spite of soaring oil prices and a doubling of oil output.

Oklahoma’s education spending per pupil fell by 24 percent between 2008 and 2016, the biggest drop in the country, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C. group that tracks budget and tax issues on behalf of low-income people.

There’s this saying that conservatives only care about a fetus until it’s born. I always thought this was hyperbole, but it seems it’s true for Oklahoma conservatives.

Still hot

Another month, another record. The global temperature in April according to NASA (go here for the main page) was 1.11 degrees Celsius above the 19511980 average. No month on record, starting in 1880, was more than 1 degree above the average until October 2015; every month since then has been. 2014 broke the record for the highest average temperature, .75 degrees Celsius above average; 2015 broke that record, .87 degrees Celsius above average; so far 2016 is 1.18 degrees Celsius above average.

If you’re not a global warming denier, you might notice a trend (I first put together this graph here):

Temps

and you’ll notice this doesn’t even include this year yet. This really is quite scary.

Another reason newspapers should have a Labor section

Here is the full article of something in the Boston Globe a couple days ago:

A report from international advocacy group Oxfam says poultry workers in the United States labor in a ‘‘climate of fear,’’ with some forced to wear diapers on the job. It says many workers are afraid to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. The report says a worker at a Simmons Foods plant in Arkansas told Oxfam that she and many others resorted to wearing diapers. A Tyson Foods worker says in the report that many workers at his North Carolina plant ‘‘have to urinate in their pants.’’ Simmons says the allegations are ‘‘troubling’’ and the refusal of bathroom breaks isn’t tolerated. Tyson says it’s concerned by the claims, but currently has ‘‘no evidence they’re true.’’ The National Chicken Council says it believes that ‘‘such instances are extremely rare.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here’s the beginning of the report by Oxfam:

While the poultry industry today enjoys record profits and pumps out billions of chickens,  the reality of life inside the processing plant remains grim and dangerous. Workers earn low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, toil in difficult conditions, and have little voice in the workplace.

Despite all that, though, workers say the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack  of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women.

Routinely, poultry workers say, they are denied breaks to use the bathroom. Supervisors mock their needs and ignore their requests; they threaten punishment or firing. Workers wait inordinately long times (an hour or more), then race to accomplish the task within a certain timeframe (e.g., ten minutes) or risk discipline.

This is a report that applies to more than 100,000 workers in one of the biggest industries in the US, but it rates one paragraph in a major US newspaper. They will spend more time on an article trying to say why the stock of a company went up or down than this. Why? The Business section is meant to focus on stories about business and stories about workers only affect business if there is some form of action or punishment. That’s why there are no stories about the strike by Verizon workers. That’s why this story rates one paragraph

Tipping

Hmm, I missed this article about tipping when it came out. It’s not a pretty picture:

The restaurant industry is the second largest and fastest growing industry, and yet the Department of Labor reports every year that seven of the 10 lowest paying jobs are restaurant jobs. And, in fact, of those seven lowest paying jobs in America, four are tipped occupations. So even including tips, restaurant workers make up four of the ten lowest paying jobs in America.

But even in places like New York and D.C., seventy percent of tipped workers are actually women, largely working at casual restaurants, like Applebees, IHOP , and Olive Garden, earning a median wage of $9 an hour when you include tips. These people suffer three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, use food stamps at double the rate, and, the worst part, suffer from the absolute worst sexual harassment of any industry in the United States.

Well, the law has always said from the very beginning that the employer has to make up the difference between the lower tipped-minimum wage and the regular tipped minimum wage, but the U.S. Department of Labor reports an 84 percent violation rate in regards to employers actually ensuring that they make up that difference.

There is still a $4 per hour wage gap between what white workers and workers of color make in the restaurant industry, and it’s because workers of color are relegated to lower level positions. In fine dining, they work as buses and runners, instead of as server and bartenders. They also work in lower level segments, at places like Olive Garden instead of at places like Capital Grille. They work in places where you make less money.

For our most recent report, which came out in 2014, we asked hundreds of restaurant workers to answer this question: ‘Have you experienced sexual behavior in the restaurant industry that is scary or unwanted?’ And 90 percent of workers, both male and female, said yes.

More broadly, the data show that the restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States. It’s actually five times the rate of all other industries. Seven percent of American women work in restaurants, but thirty percent of sexual harassment complaints from women come from the restaurant industry. It’s the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints of any industry in the United States.

What’s ironic is that the idea of tipping in the US came out of Europe and then there was a movement in the US to get rid of tipping in the mid 1800s which spread to Europe. The movement mostly succeeded in Europe but not in the US, which is why tipping is far less common in Europe.

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