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November 18, 2017
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The Pentagon on Friday released data on sexual assault in the military from 2013 to 2016. Reports of sexual assault rose considerably during that time, from 3,604 cases in 2012 to 6,172 in 2016.

However, increased reports does not always mean increased incidents of sexual assault, as the Department of Defense estimates one-half to two-thirds of sexual assaults in the military go unreported. The DoD report argues the total number of sexual assaults actually declined from 2014 to 2016 — from about 20,300 to about 14,900 — even as reports multiplied.

This is not the first time similar data has been collected and published, but it is the first time it has been broken down by base, showing where each assault was reported. Among the bases with higher assault report counts were Norfolk, Virginia, with 270 reports in fiscal year 2016, 211 reports at a collection of bases in South Korea, and 199 at Fort Hood, Texas.

Read The Week's guide to the military's sexual assault epidemic here. Bonnie Kristian

October 30, 2017

White people in rural areas are the popular face of the opioid epidemic, but The Washington Post reports that a closer look at the numbers shows Native American communities have been hit the hardest.

Of course, there are far more white people than Native Americans in the United States, so there are also far more white people who suffer opioid addiction and overdose. However, the proportionate increase in overdose among Native American populations is much, much higher:

More than 52,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015 — a more than 200 percent increase from 16 years ago, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. The epidemic is especially centered outside cities and among Native Americans and whites. Deaths rose by 325 percent over the same period when you look only at rural areas, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. [The Washington Post]

In fact, while white people overdose from heroin specifically at a slightly higher rate than Native Americans, overdose deaths from opioid use in general are more common among Native Americans than any other ethnic group:


(The Washington Post)

The Post's Monday report cites commentary on intergenerational trauma from Pew Charitable Trusts as a piece of the explanation for this disparity. Read the Pew analysis here. Bonnie Kristian

October 16, 2017
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President Trump's campaign raised $11.6 million in the third quarter of 2017, Federal Election Commission filings published Sunday revealed. During the same period, the organization spent $1 million — one dollar of every four the campaign spent that quarter — on legal fees.

The legal expenditures primarily went to two firms, Politico reports. One is tasked with general defense of the campaign against legal challenges, like the lawsuit alleging Trump incited violence at a campaign rally in Kentucky. Another firm on the campaign payroll is representing Donald Trump Jr. in connection to the federal investigations into Russian election meddling.

To put the Trump outfit's spending in context, the Obama campaign spent $2.8 million on legal fees between the 2008 election and early 2011, which averages out to less than $300,000 per quarter. More broadly, presidential campaign legal spending has been on a steady upswing for years. In 2008, for example, then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain together spent more than double what John Kerry and George W. Bush paid in 2004. Obama's 2012 campaign was still paying off its legal debt in 2015. Bonnie Kristian

October 14, 2017
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If it feels like 2017 has had more large-scale natural disasters than most years, that's because it has. This year has seen no less than 15 natural disasters that individually cost at least $1 billion in damage in the United States, the National Centers for Environmental Information reports.

The only year to date to clock more billion-dollar disasters was 2011, which totaled 16 such disasters. With two and a half months to go, 2017 could well match or break that record.

The $1-billion-or-more category is a broad one. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey are expected to cost $70 billion, $70.5 billion, and $81.5 billion, respectively, counting economic losses. The catastrophic wildfires currently tearing through California's wine country are also predicted to cost upwards of $70 billion including economic loss. Bonnie Kristian

August 21, 2017
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How many voters could ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon take from President Trump? The question has become pertinent since Bannon's firing Friday, as it is still unclear how the once and future (err, current) Breitbart News chief will use his role in relation to the president.

Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight has done the math: By Enten's calculations, the "Bannon wing" of the Republican Party — which he defines as "Trump voters who are pro-police, against free trade, against the U.S. playing an active role (militarily and diplomatically) in the international community, strongly against illegal immigration, and in favor of more infrastructure spending" — accounts for about 15 percent of the GOP voter base. That's the proportion of Republicans who agree with Bannon on all five of those points, though there are certainly more who support only a plurality of these positions. Only 2 percent of Republicans disagree with all five.

While 15 percent is not a huge number, it's more than enough to swing an election. For comparison, Enten notes, Hispanic voters for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election accounted for just 12 percent of her vote. And in the GOP primaries, Trump won only 45 percent of Republican support, a figure that makes 15 percent look pretty crucial.

Of course, it's not as if Bannon could simply command these voters to drop Trump, but he is positioned to significantly influence their assessment of Trump's service come 2020. Bonnie Kristian

August 15, 2017
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If President Trump follows through with his threat to end ObamaCare subsidy payments, health premiums and the federal deficit would soar, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. The CBO found that halting the ObamaCare cost-sharing reduction payments, which compensate insurers for curbing out-of-pocket costs for low-income ObamaCare enrollees, would drive up the federal deficit by $194 billion over the next decade. Premiums would jump 20 percent by next year and 25 percent by 2020.

The number of uninsured Americans would increase by 1 million in 2018 as some insurers may pull out of the marketplaces, the CBO found, but by 2020, there would actually be 1 million fewer uninsured people after the markets adjusted and insurers re-entered the marketplace. Five percent of Americans would have no insurers in 2018, though that would likely be resolved by 2020.

The analysis was completed at the behest of House Democrats, who are concerned about Trump's looming threat to stop funding these payments. It's not entirely clear what Trump will do, however, as his administration has continued to make the payments despite his threats otherwise.

With 2018 looming and still no promise of continued payments, The Hill reported that insurers "could exit the marketplaces" if they don't get concrete answers soon. Becca Stanek

June 26, 2017

On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its appraisal of Senate Republicans' health-care bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The CBO estimated that were the BCRA to become law, 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 than if ObamaCare were to remain the law of the land.

As ProPublica's Charles Ornstein pointed out, that's effectively the populations of these 17 U.S. states combined:

The Senate's bill does make out slightly ahead of the bill House Republicans passed early last month, which the CBO estimated would result in 23 million more uninsured by 2026 than ObamaCare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for a vote on the BCRA this week. Read the CBO's full report here. Kimberly Alters

May 26, 2017
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The number of nonimmigrant visas issued to people in Muslim-majority countries declined steeply in April, Politico reported after analyzing data posted this week by the State Department. In nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, 20 percent fewer nonimmigrant visas were issued in April compared to the monthly average issued in 2016. These drop-offs were noted in spite of the fact that President Trump's immigration executive order, which temporarily bans travel from multiple Muslim-majority countries, is held up in court.

In the six countries — Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen — affected by Trump's second immigration executive order, the number of nonimmigrant visas plummeted 55 percent in April compared to last year's averages. In just Arab countries, nonimmigrant visas dropped almost 30 percent in April.

William Cocks, a spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, argued that visa demand "is cyclical" and "not uniform throughout the year," but three immigration experts told Politico the declines likely weren't purely coincidental. "Some people may have canceled trips," said immigration lawyer Stephen Pattison. "Some people may have traveled last year but not this year. But I think it would be naive to assume that’s what's going on in Washington isn't having an effect on consular adjudications."

The State Department did not publish the number of visa applications submitted or rejected, so Politico was unable to extrapolate whether the drops were because the U.S. government is denying more visa applicants, or because fewer people want to visit Trump's America.

Read more about the effects of Trump's travel ban in Muslim-majority countries — and worldwide — at Politico. Becca Stanek

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