November has jumped 2020 back on the “top three warmest” track becoming the second warmest November in the 141 year record, according to the latest monthly summary from the National Centers for Environmental Information. And with only one month left in the year, 2020 has a 54% chance of becoming the hottest year on record.
Many leading infectious disease specialists underestimated the fast-moving COVID-19 outbreak in its first weeks and months, assuming that the United States would again emerge largely unscathed.
The median age in the United States increased by a year in the time since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fueled by Baby Boomers reaching age 65 or older, the median age has risen to 38.2, meaning that half the nation's population is almost 40 years old or older. Moreover, as the nation continues to grow older, it is also changing by race and ethnicity. The Hispanic population in the United States grew by 2.0 percent (1,164,289) between 2017 and 2018, and now totals approximately 60 million, according to the Census Bureau. This population is roughly 18 percent of the total U.S. population. Los Angeles County, California, has the largest Hispanic population in the country, with a population of 4.9 million in 2018. The Black or African American population totaled almost 44 million, or approximately 13 percent of the nation's population. Cook County, Illinois, had the largest black or African American population, which was about 1.3 million in 2018. Harris County, Texas, had the largest numeric increase between 2017 and 2018, gaining 14,017 (1.5 percent) people.
Scientists fear Greenland’s melting ice sheet could generate more sea level rise than previously thought, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and warm the atmosphere at their current rate, according to a new modeling study. Paradoxically, one of Greenland's most significant glaciers actually has experienced growth during the last three years, according to NASA.
The modeling study was prepared by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, using data from specialized aircraft forming part of NASA's Operation IceBridge. The new model shows that if Greenland's ice continues melting at its present rate it could contribute 19 to 63 inches to global sea level rise in the next 200 years. These estimates represent an 80 percent increase over previous forecasts.
Meanwhile, the Jakobshavn Glacier — Greenland's fastest-moving and fastest-thinning glacier for most of the 2000s — grew from 2018 into 2019, marking three consecutive years of growth. The glacier grew 22 to 33 yards each year between 2016 and 2019. Scientists attribute the growth to a key ocean current which has been colder than it was prior to 2016, when the glacier's growth began. The colder water is not melting the ice from the front and underneath the glacier as quickly as the warmer water did. Importantly, although the melting rate has slowed, the glacier continues to contribute to sea level rise, ultimately losing more ice to the ocean than it gains from snow accumulation overall.
More than 15% of Americans covered by employer insurance plans receive "surprise" medical bills, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser defined a "surprise" bill as an inadvertent out-of-network charge. Kaiser found that 18% of all emergency room visits and 16% of in-network hospital stays resulted in a surprise bill. To reach this conclusion, Kaiser analyzed actual data from large employer plans from 2017, and not opinion polls. The Kaiser study recognized that emergency room stays could result in surprise bills, because a patient often cannot select the emergency room or the treatment options. However, surprise bills also resulted from stays at in-network hospitals, said Kaiser. According to Kaiser, patients in different states faced a wide variation in the incidence of surprise bills, with patients in Texas, New York and Florida most likely to face a surprise bill. Kaiser is a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues, and serves as a non-partisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public.
In 1796, George Washington presciently warned of the dangers of strong party rivalry in his Farewell Address: "All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to snake the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests. . . . .
"It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-rounded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."
Although this speech is associated with Washington, much of it is attributed to Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
The 2017 federal tax cuts did little to boost the economy, according to the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS). In analyzing the effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the CRS concluded that "the data appear to indicate that not enough growth occurred in the first year to cause the tax cut to pay for itself." Instead, on the "whole, the growth effects tend to show a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy." The CRS observed that a 6.7% increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was needed to offset the revenue loss caused by the tax cuts. However, a combination of projections and observed effects for 2018 suggests growth of 0.3% of GDP or less, only 5% or less of the growth needed to fully offset the reduction of tax collections. The CRS further observed that tax collections from individuals increased by $45 billion, while collections from corporations dropped by $40 billion. The CRS also concluded that the tax cuts did little to increase wages. These findings by the CRS confirm earlier predictions about the growth effects of tax cuts, as discussed here two years ago.
The San Francisco - Oakland metropolitan area tops the list as the most expensive big city in the country, according to the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis. The next most expensive cities are New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Cincinnati, Ohio ranked as the least expensive big city in the survey. As an example of the high costs in the San Francisco area, rents run almost double the national average. The chart below demonstrates the findings of this survey, which is based on 2017 statistics.
The "Space Force" proposed by the Administration could cost more than $1 billion or more to start up and another $1 billion to run each year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Although details remain few, the Administration has proposed an independent military service within the Department of the Air Force, a new combatant command, and a new agency that would develope and acquire new space systems. According to the CBO, the Department of Defense already has 23,000 positions dedicated to the nation's military space activities, not even including positions supporting intelligence services. The existing space activities include launching, operating, and maintaining satellites that are used for various purposes, such as communicating, observing the weather, and monitoring other countries’ missile launches. The CBO's billion dollar estimates cover only the increased costs of creating the proposed Space Force, and do not include the costs for the existing positions dedicated to space activities. Read the full CBO report here.
As the abortion debate heats up, a survey shows that most Americans favor abortion, at least in certain circumstances. A 2018 survey by the respected Pew Research Center indicates that 58% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or some cases, as opposed to 37% who say it should be against the law in all or most cases. When analyzing the issue in terms of party affiliation, the Pew survey found that 59% of Republicans believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 76% of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Sixty percent of independent voters said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. According to Pew, men and women express about equal views on abortion, with 57% and 60%, respectively, favoring abortion in all or most cases. According to the survey, 71 percent of college graduates believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 48 percent of individuals with a high school degree or less say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
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