FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
March 28, 2014

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some bracing news about autism in America: According to its most recent data, 1 in 68 American 8-year-olds have some sort of autism spectrum disorder, a 30 percent rise from just two years earlier. When you look at just 8-year-old boys, that number rises to 1 in 42. In 2000, when the CDC started recording autism prevalence, an estimated 1 in 150 children were autistic. The new numbers, from 2010, are extrapolated from data from 11 states.

Nobody can say for sure why autism numbers are rising so fast — and this report doesn't even try — but the biggest factors probably have little to do with an increase in autism and more to do with earlier and better diagnosis, plus a shift in what we mean by autism. There's no common criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders, which is one reason parts of New Jersey reported 1 in 45 kids with ASD and parts of Alabama recorded 1 in 175.

The biggest rise in autism diagnoses was among kids with average or above-average IQs — generally understood to be milder forms of the disorder. "Twenty years ago we thought of autism with intellectual disability," Johns Hopkins neurologist Dr. Gary Goldstein tells CNN. "We never looked at children who had normal intelligence." Here's a breakdown of the new data, from the CDC. --Peter Weber

9:47 a.m. ET
Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Parker Media)

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced Tuesday that he will support Hillary Clinton in the state's upcoming primary on June 7. Though Brown admitted in an open letter to Democrats and independents that he is "deeply impressed with how well Bernie Sanders has done," he wrote that he thinks the "only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump" is to vote for Clinton.

Brown's endorsement comes in spite his rocky history with the Clintons, dating back to his 1992 presidential run against Bill Clinton. While he once slammed the Clintons for "corruption," in his open letter Tuesday, Brown commended Hillary Clinton for having "convincingly made the case she knows how to get things done" and having "the tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda."

"The stakes couldn't be higher," Brown wrote of the upcoming general election. "Our country faces an existential threat from climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. A new cold war is on the horizon. This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other." Becca Stanek

9:01 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

If Americans don't pick Donald Trump as the nation's 45th president, they'd better have their life jackets handy, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson warned on Fox & Friends Monday. Unless Republicans rally around their presumptive nominee, Carson said, the country is headed straight off of a 167-foot-high waterfall. "America, right now, is like a cruise ship that is about to go off of Niagara Falls with tremendous carnage and death," Carson said. "What you have to do first is recognize the problem, stop the ship, turn it around, and then move in the other direction."

Anyone considering a third-party run, Carson warned, needs to give it up and back Trump. "A quarter of a century ago, another Clinton was running for the White House and it was the entrance of a third-party candidate, Ross Perot, that made it possible for him to win," Carson said. "Now, wouldn't it be ironic if the same thing happened this time? Wouldn't we be smart to learn from things that have happened in the past?"

Watch Carson's full warning, below. Becca Stanek

8:33 a.m. ET

Three Texas road signs were hacked during weekend construction to inform Tuesday morning commuters that "work is canceled — go back home" and "Donald Trump is a shape-shifting lizard." The third sign said more simply, "Bernie for President," NBC reports.

The signs were turned off by TxDOT shortly before 6 a.m., but not before word got out:

Stay woke. Jeva Lange

8:19 a.m. ET
ANDREW CABALLERO/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is pretty keen on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. So much so that North Korean state media DPRK Today published an editorial recently singing the presumptive GOP nominee's praises. Trump, DPRK Today says, is a "wise politician" and a "far-sighted candidate." "There are many positive aspects to Trump's 'inflammatory policies,'" Han Yong-mook, a Chinese North Korean scholar, wrote in the editorial. "Trump said he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North, isn't this fortunate from North Korea's perspective?"

The editorial also welcomed Trump's request to hold direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea," the editorial said.

While this isn't necessarily Pyongyang talking, The Guardian reports that experts contend the editorial is still likely reflective of the regime's take on Trump. "[Trump]'s the Dennis Rodman of American politics — quirky, flamboyant, risk-taking," John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus, said. "At the moment he's also an outsider. But Pyongyang is hoping that either he'll be elected [and follow through on his pledges] or that his pronouncements will change the political game in the U.S. and influence how the Democratic Party and mainstream Republicans view Korean issues." Becca Stanek

8:07 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Global Slavery Index reported their annual findings on Tuesday, putting the total number of enslaved people around the world at an estimated 45.8 million, up from an estimated 35.8 million in 2014. Fifty-eight percent of those living in slavery are in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Uzbekistan, the report found. Proportionally, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar have the highest populations of people in modern slavery, with one in every 20 people in North Korea being a slave.

"In North Korea, there is pervasive evidence that government-sanctioned forced labor occurs in an extensive system of prison labor camps while North Korean women are subjected to forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation in China and other neighboring states. In Uzbekistan, the government continues to subject its citizens to forced labor in the annual cotton harvest," the report said.

The United States and Canada have among the lowest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by proportion to their population, along with the Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, and Denmark. However, instances of slavery were found in all 167 countries included in the index, which was informed by 42,000 interviews by Gallup in 53 languages and across 25 countries.

"We need to make it clear we're not going to tolerate slavery and when there is slavery in a regime we should not trade with them," the foundation's founder, Andrew Forrest, told CNBC. "This is not AIDS or malaria. We have caused slavery and because it's a human condition we can fix it." Jeva Lange

8:01 a.m. ET
iStock

Previous economic research has suggested that a family's economic advantages (or disadvantages) usually dissipate within a few generations. New research by Italian economists Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Moretti begs to differ. The Bank of Italy economists used a unique tool, a 1427 census of Florence, to compare the wealth and occupation of Florentine families 600 years ago to those same families in 2011. "The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago," Barone and Moretti explain in an essay on their findings at the Center for Economic Policy Research's Vox site.

If you're looking to see how the Medici family has fared, you're out of luck — the researchers replaced family last names with letters to maintain confidentiality. But Barone and Moretti did find "evidence of dynasties in certain (elite) professions," they write, noting that there's a higher probability a Florentine today will be a lawyers, banker (like the Medici family), medical doctor, pharmacist, or goldsmith if he or she has the last name of a family that was intensely involved in the same profession in Renaissance Florence. They also report finding "some evidence of the existence of a glass floor that protects the descendants of the upper class from falling down the economic ladder."

Barone and Moretti say they can't universalize their findings, noting in their working paper, "Intergenerational mobility in the very long run: Florence 1427-2011," that "Florence in the 15th century was already an advanced and complex society, characterized by a significant level of inequality and by a rich variety of professions and occupational stratification." But Quartz's Aamna Mohdin says that the new findings are "further evidence on how the rich remain rich," including research in England that a family's socioeconomic status can persist for more than 800 years. You can read more about Florence's lack of economic mobility, including Barone and Moretti's methodology and caveats, at Vox or in their research paper. Peter Weber

7:38 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by just two points nationally, a new NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday reveals. Clinton leads the presumptive Republican nominee just 47 percent to 45 percent — a narrow edge just barely outside the poll's 1.2-point margin of error. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) boasts a 12-point lead over Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup, 52 percent to 40 percent.

The poll surveyed 12,969 registered voters online between May 23 and May 29. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads