Americans are good at a lot of things – business, football, eating, and making muscle cars, to name a few.
Want to know something thing we’re not good at? Science. For all of our money and international prowess, America is ranked just 17th in the world in science education. Not good.
In 2010, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called America’s mediocre educational rankings “an absolute wake-up call for America.”
“The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth,” Duncan said. “We have to get more serious about investing in education.”
Well, here we are four years later and still not doing much better. The National Science Foundation just released the results of their latest scientific survey, and the findings are embarrassing. Let’s take a look at what some of our fellow countrymen and women think about science.
One in four Americans doesn’t realize the earth revolves around the sun. Let that sink in. It’s been over 400 years since Copernicus proved that all planets revolve around the sun, yet over a quarter of people in the richest nation on earth don’t know it.
21% of respondents answered that the sun revolves around the earth, while 7% were humble enough to admit they didn’t know the answer.
Next up: light.
Despite the best efforts of Queen, Chris Brown, and your science teacher, nearly one in four Americans doesn’t know that light travels faster than sound. It is a basic fact that nothing in the known universe travels faster than the speed of light. Einstein told us this over 100 years ago.
Here are two more head-shaking findings.
63% of respondents thought antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
43% said that electrons – tiny, negatively charged particles inside of atoms – were bigger than atoms. 37% were unsure which particles were bigger, and just 20% answered the question correctly.
The survey asked participants nine basic scientific questions. The average score was a 6.5 out of 9 – good for a 72%. America was three points away from getting a D on a test of things we should have learned in 5th grade.
A new study found that there has been 44 school shootings in America since the Dec. 15, 2012 Newtown tragedy. The United States has more school shootings than the rest of the world combined -- and the numbers aren't even close. While America has had 44 shootings since December 2012, the rest of the world has had just 15 school shootings in the last 13 years. Think about that for a second.
Of the 44 shootings, 28 occurred in K-12 schools, and 16 took place in colleges and universities. The shootings resulted in 28 deaths and 37 injuries. At least one person died in 49 percent of the incidents.
16 of the shootings – almost a third of the total – occurred following a confrontation between students. The shooters were often armed or had guns in their cars ahead of time and grabbed the firearms following the confrontations.
In incidents at K-12 schools, 75 percent of the shooters used a gun owned by a parent or family member at their homes. 17 and 18 year olds were responsible for the majority of the K-12 school shootings. The youngest shooter discovered in the study was just five years old. The child hsd brought a loaded gun to school, and it went off in his backpack.
If you average the numbers out, there has been a school shooting in America every 10 days since the Newtown tragedy.
The three states with the most shootings all are located in the southeastern United States. Florida tops the list with six shootings, while Tennessee and North Carolina follow with four each.
A number of legislators have commented on the study since its release this week. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy made the point that gun safety measures and Second Amendment protections are not incompatible with one another.
"The numbers are clear: we are not doing enough to keep our children safe at school," McCarthy said. "We don't have to choose between protecting the Second Amendment and installing some sensible safety measures that keep guns out of the wrong hands."
Here is a map showing where the shootings took place across the country:
Heated debate has broken out on social media after Fort Collins High School in Colorado nixed a student council idea to make one of the days in Spirit Week “Merica Day.”
Student council members reportedly approached school officials to ask that Monday, the start of Spirit Week, be called “Merica Day” and allow students to celebrate what it means to be an American. Schools officials shot down the idea, saying that the term “Merica” has a generally derogatory connotation.
Still, despite the understandable explanation, many believe that the school’s decision is wrong.
“It doesn’t smell right to say it was because it was slang,” said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. “That’s not an inclusive issue. If they wanted to address the slang issue they could have. So I’m doubtful of that version of events.”
Still, student Patrick Case says it really does come down to the issue of the word choice, not an infringement on constitutional rights, as many on social media claim.
“We decided that it was really rude of them, because ‘Merica’ is a slang for a bad version of us,” said Case. “We wanted to show that we’re ‘America’ not ‘Merica’. They were just trying to take a derogatory term and make it correct.”
Schools officials suggested that the student council call the day “My Country Monday” but it has now been renamed, “America Monday.”
The American Bible Society just released a map ranking 100 major American cities according to their “Bible-mindedness."
How did the organization determine what it meant to be “Bible-Minded,” you ask? The rankings were produced by combining the residents of a city’s regular reading of the Bible (time spent reading the Bible over the last seven days) and their beliefs in the accuracy of the text.
The map confirms long-held assumptions that the south and Midwest regions of the United States are hold the greatest percentage of Christian residents. The map also found an inverse relationship between city size and Bible-Minded rank. Smaller cities tend to be more Bible-minded while larger cities tend to be less.
Here the top 10 most Bible-minded cities:
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.
- Springfield, Mo.
- Shreveport, La.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C.
- Little Rock, Ark.
- Jackson, Miss.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
And the bottom 10 least Bible-minded cities:
- Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.
- Albany, N.Y.
- San Francisco
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
- Burlington, Vt.
- Portland, Maine
Here’s the map:
Florida Rep. Trey Radel, who took a leave of absence to enter a drug rehab facility, preferred Columbian cocaine to American, according to an interview with the Associated Press.
In the interview, former producer of Daybreak Mike Adams recalled how he often discussed drugs with Radel. At the time, Radel was an anchor on the conservative talk show and had not entered politics. In one conversation Radel and Adams discussed the quality of cocaine in Columbia, where Radel often vacationed.
"I would mention, 'How was the stuff?'" Adams reported. "And [Radel] would say, 'Oh my God, it was phenomenal. Nothing like you get here.'"
Adams also struggled with a drug addiction.
Radel admitted last week to purchasing cocaine from an undercover D.C. officer. The congressman promised to take a leave of absence and entered a Florida rehab facility.
“It is my hope, through this process, I will come out a better man,” Radel wrote in a statement. “I will work hard to gain back the trust and support of my constituents.”
Radel will also pay a $250 fine and agreed to a year of probation.
While Radel has attempted to reform his image, many of his colleagues are still disappointed in the freshman congressman and hope to see the end of his career. Local Florida Republican party chair Terry Miller noted that he is disgusted with the congressman’s behavior.
Televangelist and Potential Texas Senate Candidate David Barton Believes Global Warming Is A Result Of Sinning Americans
Blaming the world’s problems on sinners is typically an act done by extremist evangelists like the Westboro Baptist Church or religious, attention-seeking media personalities, not politicians. Claiming that climate change is occurring because American citizens are having abortions, for instance, is not typically something constituents would like a Congressman to believe, especially when facing votes about environmental issues. That’s exactly, however, what David Barton has said he believes, according to Salon.
Speaking with televangelist Kenneth Copeland on his television program Believer’s Voice Of Victory, Copeland claimed that America’s support of abortion rights “opened the door to the curse” from God that led to national disasters such as floods and tornadoes, which citizens wrongly refer to as global warming.
Copeland, of course, is also a televangelist and religious author, so his statements were not that far from the norm. According to several news publications including Mother Jones, however, Copeland is considering a run for U.S. Senate. Although he has yet to admit his interest in running for the position, Copeland does have a history of associating with and influencing right-wing politicians such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
At the urging of fellow right-wing media personalities such as Glen Beck, Copeland may challenge the incumbent Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn. On a recent show, Beck discussed the future Senate race, saying, “Senator David Barton. You should quiver in your boots and hide, John.”
If Barton were elected, conversations about bills relating to environmental issues would quickly become interesting. Barton stated that “we opened a door that lost God’s protection over our environment and that’s our choice," not necessarily the rational thinking required by members of the legislative branch of the United States of America.
Barton also “believes America should be governed by Biblical law,” Mother Jones reports.
This weekend Pastor John Hagee, of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, began his heartwarming series, "The God America Has Forgotten," by predicting America would "experience a hellish nightmare."
According to RightWingWatch.org, Pastor Hagee was preaching against America's abortion, gay marriage and supposed anti-Christian bias (video below).
"If we reject God, then God will reject America," preached Pastor Hagee. "I assure you God is not in heaven draped in the American flag. God is the God of all people. He is the God of all nations. And the Bible says, 'all nations that forget God are turned into Hell.'"
"I assure you that if America continues to reject the way of God, God will lift the hedge of protection from this nation and we're going to experience a hellish nightmare unlike anything we've ever known before," warned Pastor Hagee. "Wake up, America! Let us return to the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
"When you kick God out of your life, out of your family, out of your marriage, out of your church, out of your nation, God says, 'Fine, I'll just back up and let you experience the living hell that comes when I'm not there,'" claimed Pastor Hagee.
The pastor made news back in August when he appeared to support a local gay rights ordinance, but later changed his mind.
The San Antonio Express-News reported, "Hagee said he changed course the next day, after meeting with Bernal and reviewing the changes with his attorney and the Justice Foundation, a conservative legal defense firm."
Conservative columnist George Will compared Obamacare to segregation and the Fugitive Slave Act in an interview with NPR on Wednesday, noting that just because it’s a law doesn’t mean that it should continue to be one.
Will also criticized what he called the “untidy, utterly Democratic” process of changing laws.
When NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Will what he thought about President Obama’s argument that Republicans are short-circuiting the system, rather than appealing the law, Will replied that Republicans are doing no such thing.
"How does this short-circuit the system?" Will said. "I hear Democrats say, 'The Affordable Care Act is the law,' as though we're supposed to genuflect at that sunburst of insight and move on.”
Will added that the Fugitive Slave Act had once been law, but that lots of things are the law until the American people decide to change them.
While he appears to support Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare, Will noted that using the debt ceiling as leverage is “not novel”, and that it is unlikely to work.
“A tactic is supposed to have at least an articulable path to victory and success,” he said, “and I don't see it."
Will is not that first conservative to compare Obamacare to slavery. In early August, Rep. Bill O’Brien compared the act to the Fugitive Slave Act, noting that it is destructive to individual liberties.
Lawyers for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked a federal judge to ease his prison restrictions, arguing that he was isolated and prevented from communicating with his legal team and family.
His lawyers argued that there was no reason to order special administrative measures for Tsarnaev, considering there is no evidence that he is any longer a threat.
They have also noted that their limited access to Tsarnaev prevents them from building a case against the death penalty.
“He is confined to his cell except for legal visits and very limited access to a small outdoor enclosure, on weekdays, weather permitting,” the motion filed by Tsarnaev’s lawyers read.
Additionally, his lawyers have argued that the restrictions are “punitive” and violate the due process guarantee clause in the Constitution.
They further argued that the effects of long term isolation are negative, and that the United Nations defines the practice as torture.
Federal prosecutors said that Tsarnaev was allegedly inspired to commit the bombings by terrorist groups and hoped to inspire others, noting that his intentions had not changed and he still posed a threat.
The 20-year-old currently faces 30 charges related to the April 15 bombing, including several terrorism charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
A new essay entitled “The Promise: The Families of Sandy Hook and the Long Road to Gun Safety” by Matt Bennett of the Brookings Institute takes a hard look at the numbers surrounding guns in America.
One of the most interesting statistics is just how many guns there are in America.
“At the conservative estimate of 270 million guns, Americans have stockpiled almost half of the privately owned firearms in the world,” Bennett writes. That averages out to about 88 guns for every 100 American citizens. The next closest country is Yemen, which has 55 guns per 100 citizens.
Bennett goes on to write that the three of the most common ages of people who commit gun crimes are 18, 19 and 20, despite the fact that regulations prevent distributors from selling guns to people under the age of 21.
Most people can agree that America has a problem with gun violence, but not everyone can get behind the tactics of the Sandy Hook parents. The group continues its fight for stricter gun control regulations even though their flagship background check bill was defeated in Congress.
Bennett blasts gun-rights activists, writing, “though a distinct minority, [pro-gun ‘Constitutionalists’] have come to control the terms of the gun debate, exercising a power that vastly exceeds their numbers. Their principle mechanism for wielding this power is, of course, the NRA.” He adds that the group has used “political bullying” to achieve its goals.
Bennett notes that the time of the NRA controlling the gun debate may be drawing to an end. The background check bill might have failed, but “for the first time in the modern history of the debate, a gun safety vote has had a negative impact on the approval rating of Senators voting 'no' [even in red and purple states like Alaska, Arizona and New Hampshire] and a positive impact on red-state senators voting 'yes' [Louisiana and North Carolina].”
What are your thoughts on Bennett’s essay? Do you think that the Sandy Hook parents are taking a step in the right direction? Or should America strive to upgrade 88 guns for every 100 American citizens to 100 guns for every American citizen?