America's income inequality problem, in one depressing chart
Democrats have made income inequality a prominent issue of late, and there's a good reason why: Wealth distribution in the U.S. is far less equitable than it is in just about any other developed country.
Using data from the OECD's latest Society at a Glance report, the following chart compares countries based on their Gini coefficients. In short, the Gini coefficient is a number between 0 (representing perfect income equality) and 1 (total inequality, with one person holding a nation's entire wealth.)
"The United States continues to have higher levels of inequality than most OECD countries," the report says, "driven by rising gains by the wealthiest 1 percent and greater poverty among the poorest Americans." Keep that in mind the next time someone claims all this income inequality talk smacks of class warfare, socialism, or Nazi Germany.
Restoration work reveals seat numbers at Rome's Colosseum
The ancient Romans may not have had the ease of StubHub, but a new discovery has revealed that even the Colosseum had organized seat numbers.
The Colosseum is currently undergoing a $33 million restoration to repair the damage it's endured over the last 2,000 years. During the restoration work, curators discovered traces of red paint numbers on the entrance gate arches.
— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) January 23, 2015
The numbers are "similar to today's stadium seating systems," according to Discovery News. Researchers believe the Romans used red paint so the numbers would be visible from a distance. The seating plan regulated the Colosseum's 76 public entrances and four levels of seating.
"The 50,000 spectators had a ticket that said which numbered gate arch they were supposed to enter," monument director Rossella Rea explained to Discovery News. "Inside the arena, there were other numbers to help people access their seats, which were assigned according to social class."
A majority of Americans think God rewards pious athletes
Most Americans are inclined to have literal faith in a Hail Mary pass, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
In the poll, 53 percent of Americans (and 56 percent of sports fans) said they believed God "rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success." More specifically, about one-quarter said they think God plays a direct role in determining which team wins a given sporting event.
Yasiel Puig (pictured below) would seem to agree. —Jon Terbush
Malaysia Airlines website hacked by ISIS supporters
Malaysia Airlines confirmed Monday that its website had been "compromised," but it said that no customer data was at risk.
On Sunday night, the website displayed the message "ISIS will prevail" and a fake "404" page reading "Plane not Found." Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last March, has yet to be found.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 26, 2015
Other "404" messages on the site featured a lizard wearing a tophat and a monocle. The "Lizard Squad" hacker group, which refers to itself as the "Cyber Caliphate," has taken responsibility for the attack on Malaysia Airlines' website. The Lizard Squad Twitter account accused Malaysia Airlines of "lying," saying that customer data had indeed been compromised.
Malaysia Airlines released a statement on its Facebook page asserting that "user data remains secured."
French court forbids parents from naming daughter 'Nutella'
A French court has ruled that a couple's decision to name their child "Nutella" was "contrary to the child's interest." The court also ruled the same for another child who had been named "Strawberry."
The Valenciennes court renamed the child formerly known as "Nutella," giving her the name "Ella" when her parents failed to show up at a court date in November. The baby was born in September, according to French newspaper La Voix Du Nord.
The court noted that "Nutella" is "the trade name of a spread," and naming a child "Nutella" would "only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts."
Kurdish forces now control 90 percent of Kobani, activists say
Islamic State militants have been almost completely pushed out of the strategically and symbolically important Syrian border city of Kobani, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have fought their way into Kobani's Maqtalah neighborhood, and now control at least 90 percent of the city, the monitoring group said Monday. The long battle for Kobani has pitted ISIS against the YPG and Iraqi Kurds, plus other Syrian rebel groups and U.S.-led airstrikes.
Turkey blocks Facebook pages that 'insult' the Prophet Muhammad
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reports that an Ankara court has ordered authorities to censor Facebook pages that "insult" the Prophet Muhammad.
If the pages aren't blocked, the court threatened to block all Facebook access, according to The Associated Press.
The news is the latest in Turkey's internet censorship. The ban comes just days after a separate court voted to block Turkey's access to Charlie Hebdo's latest cover, which satirizes the Prophet Muhammad.
Airlines cancel 3,400 flights due to East Coast mega-blizzard
The Northeastern U.S. should prepare itself for a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard" through Tuesday, the National Weather Service says. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was no less dramatic in his warnings: "I want everyone to understand that we are facing — most likely — one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city," he said. "Don't underestimate this storm." Among those heeding the warnings: Airlines.
As of Monday morning, airlines have canceled more than 1,800 flights on Monday and another 1,600 on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com. United, for example, has scratched all flights on Tuesday at the New York City area's three main airports plus Logan in Boston and Philadelphia International Airport. The National Weather Service is forecasting up to 3 feet of snow in New York and points north, plus winds as strong as 75 miles per hour. Watch de Blasio ask all you New Yorkers to stay safe. —Peter Weber
Secret Service finds 'device' on White House grounds
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was unable to say early Monday what the unidentified "device" was that the Secret Service found somewhere on the White House grounds, nor where it was found, but he did say that "early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat right now to anybody at the White House." The New York Times suggests that maybe the object was a drone.
Earnest spoke from New Delhi, India, where he's traveling with President Obama and the first lady, and he referred all further questions to the Secret Service. Obama daughters Sasha and Malia stayed behind in Washington. You can watch Earnest not provide much information below. —Peter Weber
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega crowned Miss Universe
On Sunday night, Miss Colombia Paulina Vega beat out 87 other contestants in Miami to win the Miss Universe crown. Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, was first runner-up. Vega, 22, is a business student who's pretty new to beauty pageants and says she wants to own her own business, because "it gives me independence." She takes over from last year's Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler from neighboring Venezuela. Her yearlong reign will include a luxury apartment in New York, a new wardrobe, a salary, and a scholarship to the New York Film Academy. Below, you can watch the moment Vega learns she won. —Peter Weber
Watch Donald Trump explain why Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush can't win in 2016
Several viable 2016 Republican presidential candidates spoke over the weekend at Iowa Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit. So did Donald Trump.
As he has for the past two presidential elections, Trump suggested that he might run next year. "I'm the one person who can make this country great again, that's all I know," he told reporters after his speech. "If I run for president, and if I win, I would totally succeed in creating jobs, defeating ISIS, and stopping the Islamic terrorists, reducing the budget deficit, securing our southern border, stopping nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere."
As amusing as that is, Trump really hit his stride during the speech, when he explained to the gathered Republicans why the two presumptive GOP establishment frontrunners, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney (neither of whom attended), can't win. Watch Trump's relatively astute punditry below. —Peter Weber