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Gun Deaths by County

This interactive map shows the average number of gun deaths (including suicides, homicides, and accidents) per 100,000 residents, for the years 2004 through 2010, broken down by county:

Data is from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total number of gun deaths in the US numbered 33,636 in 2013.

There are some interesting patterns here. Urban areas generally have fewer gun deaths than rural areas. Except that the border with Mexico, especially in Texas, California (and southern Florida) – prime areas for illegal immigrants and drug smuggling – ironically have very low rates of gun deaths.

Worst areas are the deep south, mountain states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, western Colorado) and the border between Oregon and Northern California (the “State of Jefferson“). Best areas are the rest of California, Washington State (except for the Olympic Penninsula), northern plains states, and the most of the northeast.

You can zoom in to see how your county does.


Late Night Political Humor

“Pope Francis wrapped up his trip to the U.S., and while he was in Philadelphia, the Pope visited a prison. He said he couldn’t believe how dirty and overcrowded it was, then his assistant said, ‘This is just the Amtrak station, we haven’t gotten to the prison yet.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“People went absolutely gaga for the Pope. In Philadelphia yesterday Pope Francis met with a family that had driven 13,000 miles from Argentina just to see him. It was an awkward moment when the Pope said, ‘I guess no one told you guys, I’ll be in Argentina next week.'” – Conan O’Brien

“After almost a week of very intense waving at people, Pope Francis is back home in Rome. It was nice to see Americans get excited about someone who wasn’t a Kardashian or a rat with a slice of pizza.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama is in town for the U.N. General Assembly. And tomorrow, he plans to meet with the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Or as Obama will call him, ‘Uh … hey, chief!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Russian President Vladimir Putin also addressed the U.N. General Assembly today. Unfortunately he addressed them as ‘My future Russians.'” – Seth Meyers

“Hillary Clinton went on ‘Meet the Press’ yesterday, and I saw that Chuck Todd actually showed her a video of all the times she’s flip-flopped on issues. At first Hillary said she felt bad about it, but now she says she feels OK about it.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is by far the favorite to win the Democratic nomination even though her presidential campaign has had more than its share of bumps in the road, from the Benghazi controversy to her private email server to the persistent allegation that she’s less charismatic than a 70-year-old socialist who doesn’t own a phone.” – Stephen Colbert

“According to The Washington Post, when Clinton ran for president in 2008, she was 5’5′ according to a height report from the Clinton campaign. But now, news sources say Hillary Clinton is 5’7′ tall. Hillary Clinton has added two inches. This couldn’t be one of those classic cases where a woman hits her 60s and suddenly gets taller.” – Stephen Colbert

“This sensation over Hillary’s elevation might be the thing that finally takes her down, or up. We don’t know at this point.” – Stephen Colbert

“Hillary says she opposes Keystone XL, but maybe she’s holding out for XXL.” – Stephen Colbert

“If Hillary continues to grow, think how big she’ll be when she finally reaches the Oval Office. We won’t have to worry about Iran because mega-Hillary can swat missiles out of the sky!” – Stephen Colbert

“Donald Trump is still going strong. We all thought that was going to last a couple of weeks and we’d all have a good chuckle, but it continues. On ’60 Minutes’ last night, Donald Trump called for a tax hike on wealthy Americans. As a result, Donald Trump said he can no longer support Donald Trump.” – Conan O’Brien

“A new poll by The Wall Street Journal has found that Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson are running virtually neck and neck. While Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz are running without necks.” – Seth Meyers

“Jeb Bush said last week that Democrats often win the black vote because they tell people ‘we’ll take care of you with free stuff.’ Whereas Democrats actually win the black vote because Republicans keep saying stuff like that.” – Seth Meyers

“Today, NASA announced that it has finally discovered water on Mars. When they heard, Americans were like, ‘Eh, tell us when they discover beer.'” – Jimmy Fallon


The Birth of a Reversal

One additional ironic note to the GOP fight to destroy Planned Parenthood. Did you know that originally, the Republicans were the strongest supporters of Planned Parenthood?

Historically, the Catholic Church were the major opponents of birth control. In fact, in 1921 a Catholic Archbishop sent the police to raid a public meeting of the American Birth Control League because it was “indecent”. Birth control was illegal until 1965, when the Supreme Court ruled laws against it were unconstitutional. Once legalized, President Lyndon B. Johnson backed a federal birth control program but was afraid of the Democratic party’s Catholic base, so he didn’t push it.

Believe it or not, Congressman George H. W. Bush (who eventually became our president) led the fight in Congress to establish federal funding for birth control (and thus, funding for Planned Parenthood), earning him the nickname “Rubbers”. His father, Prescott Bush, had been an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Richard Nixon was another strong supporter of federally funded family planning, and along with Bush, secured the passage of the “Family Planning Services and Population Research Act”. That is where “Title X” funding for family planning comes from, which is still a major source of funding.

That’s right. It was the Republicans who fought for funding of Planned Parenthood.

Sometimes I feel badly because it appears that I am partisan against the Republicans, but I’m really against only the current Republicans, who seem to fight only for greed and corruption, and seem to be held hostage by their radical right. How could anyone believe in the propaganda they now spew out? I would love to see the GOP regain their grandeur, and I would support them.

But meanwhile, here’s a funny button:


Late Night Political Humor

“Yesterday as Pope Francis rode down Fifth Avenue, Donald Trump actually stepped out of Trump Tower with his son, Donald Jr., and got booed by the crowd. Then Trump was like, ‘I guess they really don’t like you Donald, Jr.!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“This morning, Pope Francis addressed the U.N. General Assembly, and rode around inside the U.N. building in a golf cart. People will never forget what the Pope said as he passed them: ‘WHEEE!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“House Speaker John Boehner announced that he is resigning from Congress. When he heard Congress lost Boehner, John McCain said, ‘Oh I got a little blue pill for that.’ ‘No, BOEHNER. We lost House Speaker Boehner!’ It’s pronounced Bay-ner.” – Jimmy Fallon


Kill the TPP

That the Trans Pacific Partnership was negotiated in total secrecy should be enough to give one pause, but now, a single chapter was leaked by Wikileaks. This is the chapter on Intellectual Property Rights, which controls copyrights, the internet, medicines, and biological patents.

In almost every way, this chapter alone would be a complete disaster. It gives new monopoly rights to big pharmaceutical firms that will compromise access to vital medicines. This is insane, coming right on the heels of the huge scandal involving Martin Shkreli and Daraprim.

In addition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization I have known and trusted for a long time, has gone over the provisions as they affect the internet, and in their words this one chapter of the treaty “confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn’t survive to the end of the negotiations.”

“If you look for provisions in the TPP that actually afford new benefits to users, rather than to large, rights-holding corporations, you will look in vain.” It is entirely tilted toward copyright holders, with no binding protections for users or the public domain. The treaty extends the already stupidly long copyright terms once again, to life plus 70 years, which will make life even more difficult for libraries, archives, journalists, and ordinary users like you.

Also onerous are provisions that criminalize tinkering with digital rights management software, even if no copyright infringement occurs. Once again, Hollywood asserts that you don’t actually own anything you have purchased, and they can control it for almost forever (or at least far longer than you will ever live). And this applies even to orphan works that are no longer published, even if the actual rightsholder cannot be found.

The TPP also allows your personal computer to be seized and even destroyed, just because it was (even accidentally) used to share a copyrighted file online. And if the file sharing is done on a “commercial scale” (whatever that is), you could go to jail, even if you were not doing it for financial gain. Or if someone sends you a copy of a movie that is still playing in theaters, you could face criminal penalties even if you never even knew about it or watched it.

Even without seeing the rest of the TPP, this chapter alone is enough reason to scrap this treaty, which is actually a travesty of corporate control over your entertainment, information, health, and life. It further criminalizes behavior that used to be considered fair use.


Late Night Political Humor

“I saw that Pope Francis held his first-ever prayer here in New York City earlier this evening. I guess it was halfway through his first New York City cab ride. ‘Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners…'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Pope Francis is in America. Can you feel it? There is a certain electricity in the air and the nation’s 70 million Catholics have the kind of excitement that we usually don’t have unless we’re asking forgiveness for it afterwards.” – Stephen Colbert

“Yesterday at one of the Pope’s appearances, you probably saw the footage, a 5-year-old Mexican-American girl broke through security. Luckily, she was tackled by 16 Republican presidential candidates.” – Conan O’Brien

“While he was in Washington, the Pope gave a major speech to Congress, and asked them to accept immigrants as their own children. Then congressmen were like, ‘Eh, we’ve already got enough children our wives don’t know about.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“After Pope Francis became the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress today, he went to meet with a group of homeless people. That’s right, he spoke to some people who spend all their time begging for money, and then he met with the homeless.” – Seth Meyers

“Our entire show is dedicated to Pope Francis’ historic visit to the U.S. It’s an hour long, so it might be the shortest Catholic service you’ll ever sit through.” –Stephen Colbert

“And in a speech yesterday, Pope Francis urged American bishops to ‘flee the temptation of narcissism.’ Then bishops were like, ‘Oooh! He’s talking about us!’ – Jimmy Fallon

“The president of China is going to be at the White House. I just hope the president of China likes leftover Pope food.” – Conan O’Brien

“Of course Donald Trump did weigh in on the Pope. He said he likes the Pope very much but he doesn’t agree with him on climate change or immigration. He said he doesn’t believe in climate change or gravity. He doesn’t believe in either of those things.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Today Donald Trump said he doesn’t believe in climate change. He said if there’s a hole in the ozone layer, just comb some ozone from another part over it.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump was scheduled to appear on Fox News’ ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ tonight, but Fox canceled him after his recent comments criticizing the network. So if you want to hear about Donald Trump, you’ll just have to try CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, Bravo, Facebook, Twitter, or going outside.” – Seth Meyers

“Donald Trump announced yesterday that he will no longer be appearing on Fox News because he believes they treat him unfairly. Then President Obama was like, ‘You. Are. ADORABLE! Really? Wow.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“There’s going to be a total lunar eclipse and a super moon on Sunday, both of them at once. That has not happened since 1982, it won’t happen again until 2033 — which happens be the year when Snooki is expected to be seeking the Republican nomination for president.” – Jimmy Kimmel


Clint Eastwood Introduces the New GOP Speaker of the House

David Roberts
credit to David Roberts @drvox

It could be worse.


How Long?

It has been weeks since Martin Shkreli promised to lower the price of Daraprim, but apparently that might have been a lie just to stop the outrage.

How long does it take to lower the price of a drug (especially when there are people whose lives depend on it)? Well, the NY Times article that revealed that Shkreli had raised the price of Daraprim by 50 times — a 30 day supply of the drug still costs over $27,000 — revealed a similar price hike on by another company on cycloserine, a tuberculosis drug. The price of that drug was lowered the next day.

Meanwhile, Shkreli’s company has had time to hire four lobbyists. I guess that was more important.


Late Night Political Humor

“The big story right now is Pope Francis visiting the U.S., and I saw that yesterday, the Pope’s plane couldn’t land right away because he arrived earlier than planned. That’s right, the Pope’s flight was early. So I guess he really CAN perform miracles!” – Jimmy Fallon

“New York City plans to deploy an extra 6,000 police officers to help guard Pope Francis during his visit. It’ll be the most protection a Catholic has ever used.” – Seth Meyers

“The Pope is at the White House today, the band played the Vatican’s national anthem. The Vatican has a national anthem, isn’t that crazy? Apparently it’s Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pope Francis is here. He got in yesterday. He didn’t do anything last night, they want him to rest for his hectic schedule the next few days. He did get some rest — much of it during his welcoming ceremony on the south lawn of the White House. That’s one thing about being Pope — nobody knows when you’re sleeping or when you’re praying.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“President Obama this morning gave Pope Francis a sculpture of an ascending dove made with pieces of the Statue of Liberty and wood taken from the White House lawn, as well as a key to the house of the first American-born saint. The Pope then said, ‘Oh, I didn’t get you anything’ and quietly put a $40 Starbucks gift card back in his pocket.” – Seth Meyers

“The Pope addressed about 11,000 people at the welcoming event. He spoke about climate change. He said it’s a problem that ‘can no longer be left to a future generation.’ Global warming is a very important issue for the Pope because as you know he has to wear a floor-length, long-sleeved gown to work every day and it’s hot.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“On Saturday, the Pope will attend an event hosted by Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg said, ‘I’m wicked pumped to meet the [bleep] Pope. Somebody get the Pope a shot.'” – Conan O’Brien

“The Dalai Lama raised some eyebrows during a recent interview when he said that if a future Dalai Lama is female, she would have to be very attractive, otherwise there’s ‘not much use’. Man, I knew the Dalai Lama believed in reincarnation, but I never realized he’d come back as Donald Trump.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Chris Christie has reportedly ordered the commander of the state National Guard to lose weight. That is how you put the hippo in hypocrite.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Chris Christie recently ordered the leader of the New Jersey National Guard to lose weight within the next 90 days. And if he doesn’t, Christie will eat him.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Christie had a secret lap band surgery two years ago. Apparently the surgery was even a secret to his stomach. He had a band put around his stomach. And that band by the way? Bon Jovi.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“A new study has found that 8 percent of Americans sleep naked. Unfortunately, the study was conducted on the F train.” – Seth Meyers


Foot in Mouth Disease

Stephen Colbert on the tendency for politicians to say things that are completely meaningless. The last minute is amazing:

He’s especially harsh on Kevin McCarthy, showing a couple of video clips where the words coming out of his mouth are gibberish. This is from The Late Show Wednesday night, and Thursday McCarthy dropped out of the race to be the Speaker of the House. Coincidence?


Lying with Charts

Just over a week ago Congress held a hearing on Planned Parenthood to build the case for defunding them based on a series of “sting videos” produced by a pro-life group. Republican Jason Chaffetz showed the following chart, which seems to be making the point that Planned Parenthood is increasingly providing abortions while decreasing other services:

Americans United for Life

But this chart is extremely misleading and dishonest in several ways. First, if you look carefully at the actual numbers, you can see that the chart was drawn all wrong. For example, if you look at the numbers for 2013, you might notice that they drew 327,000 above 935,573. That is not how you are supposed to draw a chart!

Here’s what their chart should look like:

Vox 1

But the chart is also misleading in a second, more insidious way – they cherry picked data. For example, back in 2006 Planned Parenthood also provided 3 million treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, and that number went up to just under 4.5 million in 2013. But they left that data off the chart.

Also left off the chart is the fact that contraceptive services (which social conservatives also hate) provided by Planned Parenthood declined modestly from just under 4 million in 2006 to 3.6 million in 2013. Which means that contraceptive services declined in number around ten times more than abortions went up.

This is what the chart should really look like, showing abortion services almost down in the noise:

Vox 2

if Congress defunded Planned Parenthood and thus made contraceptive services more expensive and more difficult to obtain, would the number of abortions go up even more? It is hard to know, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that permanently defunding Planned Parenthood would actually cost the government $130 million over the next 10 years. The $520 million saved by not funding Planned Parenthood would be more than offset by increased costs of $650 million from Medicaid. The CBO:

projects that defunding Planned Parenthood would actually end up increasing government spending, because it would result in more unplanned births as women lost access to services such as contraception. Medicaid would have to pay for some of those births, and some of the children themselves would then end up qualifying for Medicaid and other government programs.

So we either get more unwanted births or more abortions. Both would be bad news.

UPDATE: PolitiFact reviewed Jason Chaffetz’s chart. They went back to the real data and drew even better charts, using almost yearly data:


Here’s a simplified version of this chart, corresponding directly to Chaffetz’s chart. Abortions actually peaked in 2009 and are now going down, not up as Chaffetz strongly implies:


PolitiFact also points out that the reason cancer screenings are decreasing is most likely due to the fact that the guideline for getting a Pap Smear (the screening test for cervical cancer) changed from every year to once every 3 to 5 years. And yet this, the most declining test, is the statistic they picked to compare to abortions.

The best part of the PolitiFact review are the quotes from experts on visual communication:

“That graphic is a damn lie. Regardless of whatever people think of this issue, this distortion is ethically wrong.”


“The graph is absolutely misleading, and intentionally so.” For example, the “propagandized design choices” in the arrowheads used by Chaffetz, which imply a trend that simply does not exist.

PolitiFact gave Chaffetz a “Pants on Fire”.


Late Night Political Humor

“Pope Francis arrived in Washington, D.C., today. I saw that President Obama actually picked him up at the airport. When asked how the Pope will get back to the airport, Obama was like, ‘Uber? I don’t know. It’s not my problem.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Pope Francis’ plane touched down in Washington at 4 pm. I knew the moment he was here because I felt a disturbance in the guilt. What is that? Catholic, you are. That’s what Yoda says.” – Conan O’Brien

“That’s right, President Obama picked up Pope Francis at the airport. Because what better way to alleviate the traffic the Pope is about to cause than sending out a presidential motorcade?” – Jimmy Fallon

“The Pope is a very humble man. He doesn’t believe in extravagance. He’s not a fan of commercialism or consumerism. With that said, this is how we welcome him here in the United States — with Pope Francis bobble heads, with Pope Francis dolls, T-shirts that say ‘Pope Is Dope.'” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The Pope arrived in the U.S. today. I think that’s exciting. The Pope flew into Washington this afternoon on Lifelong Virgin Air.” – Conan O’Brien

“Pope Francis will fly on American Airlines while traveling between Washington, New York and Philadelphia, and not, as I had assumed, Virgin.” – Seth Meyers

“This is a historic day for the United States of America. Pope Francis visited our country for the first time ever today. The Pope is here until Saturday. He’s visiting Washington, D.C., New York, and Pennsylvania. Not even going to bother coming to L.A. He said it’s a lost cause, no point.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The trip to Washington, D.C., has actually been very educational for the Pope. You know, because he’s only ever read about purgatory.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I love this Pope, but I wonder about this tweet he posted last week where he wrote, ‘I ask you to join me in praying for my trip to Cuba and United States. I need your prayers.’ Should we be offended by that? Maybe I’m being paranoid.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“I saw that top congressional leaders sent a statement to the House and Senate with guidelines for Pope Francis’ visit, including a request to not shake his hand. Apparently, they’re worried that if politicians touch the Pope they’ll burst into flames.” – Jimmy Fallon

“In addition to the ‘no shaking hands’, Congress was given a lot of rules about the Pope’s visit. First, there’s ‘Don’t fake-sneeze just to get an easy blessing out of the Pope.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential race last night. And in related news, a tree fell in a forest.” – Seth Meyers

“The last polls before Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential race found the Wisconsin governor was polling at one half of 1 percent. Bobby Jindal said, ‘What’s your secret?'” – Seth Meyers

“Dr. Ben Carson defended his comments about Muslims being unfit for the presidency, and posted on Facebook that he believes Sharia law is the central tenet of Islam. While most people on Facebook believe ‘Sharia Law’ is a show about a black lady judge.” – Seth Meyers

“A company in Japan has released a robot that’s able to simulate some emotion. Either that or Hillary Clinton just made a surprise visit to Japan.” – Conan O’Brien


America’s First African President?

More evidence that America is becoming a third-world country, from Trevor Howard on The Daily Show:


Late Night Political Humor

“The Pope is coming to the United States and visiting New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, but not Los Angeles. The Pope said, ‘Let’s be honest. I probably won’t make it out of Philly.'” – Conan O’Brien

“The Pope is coming to America tomorrow. When the Pope’s plane lands in the United States, President Obama is going to be there to greet him. President Obama is going to be the guy at arrivals holding a sign that says ‘Pope’.” – Conan O’Brien

“The Pope’s going to be at the White House. As Trump put it, Obama is letting another Hispanic guy in.” – Conan O’Brien

“I read that certain data that measures how often a candidate’s name is mentioned showed that Donald Trump is actually fading from the media spotlight. You can tell Trump’s status has faded, because today, he was named a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’.” – Jimmy Fallon

“In politics, an expert is saying that Donald Trump’s handwriting reveals he is prone to anger and fear. After hearing about it, Trump was furious and then he got scared.” – Conan O’Brien

“Republican candidate Jeb Bush is struggling to get traction against Donald Trump. Trump is even dominating in Jeb’s home state of Florida, where the former governor is behind by 15 points. That makes sense that Florida likes Trump — they’re used to life-size cartoon characters with giant heads.” – Stephen Colbert

“Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has become the second GOP presidential hopeful to drop out of the 2016 race. He says he looks forward to his new job as the picture in the dictionary next to the word ‘duh’.” – Seth Meyers

“Scott Walker, the presidential candidate who is famous for riding a Harley, is dropping out of the race. Walker made the decision when he realized that all of his supporters could fit on his Harley.” – Conan O’Brien

“Tonight, I’ll be tangling with Texas senator Ted Cruz. He is the third presidential candidate I’ve had on the show. I want to interview all of them, but I only have 200 shows a year.” – Stephen Colbert

“Republican candidate and neurosurgeon Dr. Carson is quoted as saying a Muslim should not be elected president. He apologized for the mistake and said, ‘Hey, I’m no brain surgeon.'” – Conan O’Brien

“We have Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on the show tonight! First she’s gonna talk about the campaign, then she’s gonna help me fix the paper jam in our printer.” – Jimmy Fallon

“All the presidential candidates are trying to woo millennials. I’m not sure college kids can identify with 22 people desperately fighting for one job. No surprise, the leader in the race to attract them on social media is Hillary Clinton. After all, a Clinton in the White House is the ultimate #ThrowbackThursday.” – Stephen Colbert

“Hillary has already released a millennial-friendly plan to handle student loan debt, saying no student should have to take out a loan to pay for tuition if attending a four-year public college. Amen. Paying off my student loan debt is the only reason I took this CBS gig. Twelve more years.” – Stephen Colbert

“Political experts say it is increasingly likely that the federal government will be forced to shut down on October 1 due to the dispute over Planned Parenthood funding. That’s right — ironically if lawmakers don’t fund Planned Parenthood, there is no Plan B.” – Seth Meyers



[this story is from The Onion, but it hardly seems satirical.]

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

ROSEBURG, OR—In the hours following a violent rampage in southwestern Oregon in which a lone attacker killed nine individuals and seriously injured seven others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Thursday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Ohio resident Lindsay Bennett, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past six years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”