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Monday, May 25, 2015

Warrior Class

David Zucchino and David S. Cloud write at The Los Angeles Times:
While the U.S. waged a war in Vietnam 50 years ago with 2.7 million men conscripted from every segment of society, less than one-half of 1% of the U.S. population is in the armed services today — the lowest rate since World War II. America's recent wars are authorized by a U.S. Congress whose members have the lowest rate of military service in history, led by three successive commanders in chief who never served on active duty.
Surveys suggest that as many as 80% of those who serve come from a family in which a parent or sibling is also in the military. They often live in relative isolation — behind the gates of military installations such as Ft. Bragg or in the deeply military communities like Fayetteville, N.C., that surround them.
The segregation is so pronounced that it can be traced on a map: Some 49% of the 1.3 million active-duty service members in the U.S. are concentrated in just five states — California, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.
The U.S. military today is gradually becoming a separate warrior class, many analysts say, that is becoming increasingly distinct from the public it is charged with protecting.

As the size of the military shrinks, the connections between military personnel and the broad civilian population appear to be growing more distant, the Pew Research Center concluded after a broad 2012 study of both service members and civilians

Memorial Day 2015: Accounting for the Missing

On Memorial Day, it is worth remembering that the government is still identifying remains from past wars.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency seeks to account for the 83,000 missing personnel from past conflicts: World War II (WWII), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other recent conflicts. Our research and operational missions include coordination with hundreds of countries and municipalities around the world.

A May 22 release:
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Richard L. Wing, 19, of Toledo, Ohio, will be buried June 5, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington D.C. In late November 1950, Wing was assigned to Company H, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, which was deployed north and southeast of the town of Kunu-ri, North Korea, when their defensive line was attacked by Chinese forces, forcing the unit to withdraw south to a more defensible position, near the town of Sunchon. Before they could disengage, the 1st Cavalry Division was forced to fight through a series of Chinese roadblocks, commonly known as the Gauntlet. Wing was reported missing in action after the battle.
In 1953, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Wing had been captured by Chinese forces in November 1950 near Kunu-ri, and died of dysentery in a prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5 in Pyokdong, North Korea.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over at that time, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Wing was believed to have died.
 To identify Wing’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, to include two forms of DNA analysis; mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister and brother and Y-STR DNA, which matched his brother.


Today, 7,852 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American recovery teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil  or call (703) 699-1420.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Big Cities

From the Census:
San Jose, Calif., is now among the 10 U.S. cities with a population of 1 million or more, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
California now has three cities with 1 million or more people (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose), tying Texas (Houston, San Antonio and Dallas) for the lead among states.
When the 2013 estimates were originally released last year, San Jose stood just shy of the 1 million mark. The 2014 population estimates released today show the city passing the 1 million milestone in the updated 2013 estimate. Each year, the Census Bureau revises its time series of previously released estimates going back to the 2010 Census.
The updated years in the time series supersede the previously released estimates to reflect additional data used in the population estimates.
New York remained the nation’s most populous city and gained 52,700 people during the year ending July 1, 2014, which is more than any other U.S. city.
Half of the 10 cities with the largest population gains between 2013 and 2014 were in Texas — Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth. Each added more than 18,000 people. The Lone Star State also had six of the top 13 fastest-growing cities by percentage — San Marcos, Georgetown, Frisco, Conroe, McKinney and New Braunfels.
San Marcos, situated between Austin and San Antonio, was the fastest-growing city for the third consecutive year, with its population climbing 7.9 percent between 2013 and 2014 to reach 58,892.
The West was home to eight cities among the top 15 fastest-growing cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Four were in California. Each of the 15 fastest-growing cities between 2013 and 2014 were in the South or West, as were all but two of top 15 numerical gainers. The lone exception, aside from New York, was Columbus, Ohio, which gained 12,421 people over the period to make it the nation’s 13th largest numerical gainer. Ohio’s capital was the nation’s 15th most populous city in 2014, with 835,957 residents.
The only change in the rank order of the 15 most populous cities between 2013 and 2014 was Jacksonville, Fla., and San Francisco, each moving up one spot to 12th and 13th place, respectively, passing Indianapolis, which fell from 12th to 14th.

 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Capitalism, Socialism, and Public Opinion, 2015

YouGov reports:
YouGov's latest research shows that when Americans are asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of socialism and capitalism, capitalism comes out on top. 52% of Americans have a favorable view of capitalism, while only 26% have a favorable view of socialism. Among younger Americans, however, attitudes are a lot more divided. 36% of under-30s have a positive view of socialism, while 39% have a positive view of capitalism. Among over-65s, who came of age at the height of the Cold War, only 15% look upon socialism favorably while 59% have a like capitalism.

Democrats (43%) are also much more likely than either independents (22%) or Republicans (9%) to have a favorable view of socialism. Democrats, in fact, are as likely to have a favorable view of capitalism (43%) as socialism. While only 9% of Republicans see socialism in a positive light, 79% have a good view of capitalism.
Some caution is in order.  It is likely that many respondents have only a hazy understanding of what the terms mean.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Retracted

Nick Gass reports at Politico:
One of the authors of a recent study that claimed that short conversations with gay people could change minds on same-sex marriage has retracted it.
Columbia University political science professor Donald Green’s retraction this week of a popular article published in the December issue of the academic journal Science follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”
According to the academic watchdog blog Retraction Watch, Green published a retraction of the paper Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.
The study received widespread coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and others when it was released in December.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green told the blog.
In an email to POLITICO, Green said he spoke with LaCour by phone on Tuesday and that he “maintained that he did not fabricate the data but told me that he could not locate the Qualtrics source files for the surveys on the Qualtrics interface or on any of his drives.”
Qualtrics was the survey platform that was purportedly used, though a company spokesman clarified to POLITICO that it did not collaborate with LaCour or anyone else on the study.
The problem came to light when researchers sought to replicate the study.  But such efforts at replication happen less often than one would hope, which raises the possibility that a lot of bad work has gone undetected. Monya Baker reported at Nature last month:
An ambitious effort to replicate 100 research findings in psychology ended last week — and the data look worrying. Results posted online on 24 April, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, suggest that key findings from only 39 of the published studies could be reproduced.
But the situation is more nuanced than the top-line numbers suggest (See graphic, 'Reliability test'). Of the 61 non-replicated studies, scientists classed 24 as producing findings at least “moderately similar” to those of the original experiments, even though they did not meet pre-established criteria, such as statistical significance, that would count as a successful replication.
 The results should convince everyone that psychology has a replicability problem, says Hal Pashler, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, and an author of one of the papers whose findings were successfully repeated.  “A lot of working scientists assume that if it’s published, it’s right,” he says. “This makes it hard to dismiss that there are still a lot of false positives in the literature.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Public Estimates of the Gay Population

Gallup reports:
The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans' 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Following Pols on Social Media

Monica Anderson writes at Pew:
Overall, 16% of registered voters follow candidates for office, political parties, or elected officials on a social networking site, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted during the lead-up to the 2014 midterm election. That is a 10 percentage point increase from the 2010 midterms, when only 6% of registered voters did so.
It’s not just the youngest voters getting in on the act. The increase is even more substantial among registered voters ages 30 to 49, more than tripling from 6% to 21% during this time period.
Voters increasingly cite breaking news as a major reason why they follow political figures on social media. Among registered voters who follow political figures on social media, 41% say that finding out political news before others is a “major reason” why they do so. In 2010, just 22% cited this as a key reason.
Some voters who connect with political figures on social media say they do so to bypass traditional journalism — 26% say that the information they get via a politician’s social networking site is more reliable than what they get from traditional news organizations. These figures are mostly unchanged since 2010.
Another 35% of registered voters who use social media to follow a political candidate say a major reason is that it makes them feel more personally connected to politician or group.