Nov 20, 2014 1:12 pm

About 1 in 5 victims of online harassment say it happened in the comments section

About 1 in 5 victims of online harassment say it happened in a comments section.The Reuters news service recently joined other media outlets that have closed or restructured their online comments. Popular Science made headlines last year when it shut down comments. The Huffington Post ended anonymous commenting in late 2013, with its editor calling comments sections one of the “darkest places on the internet.” And the Chicago Sun-Times suspended comments in April until a new monitoring system could be developed.

A recent Pew Research Center study found that roughly one-in-five (22%) internet users that have been victims of online harassment reported that their last experience occurred in the comments section of a website. While social media sites (66%) were the most common place noted for harassment, comments sections were named more frequently than online gaming sites (16%) and discussion sites like reddit (10%).

When internet users who witnessed online harassment were asked to describe the last incident they observed, general online comments or comments sections were mentioned in 8% of responses. That equals the percentage of responses (8%) that specifically cited comments sections of news sites, blogs or articles. Websites for news organizations were often described as particularly contentious. One respondent said, “Comment sections of news articles often contain some very racist, homophobic, sexist language.” Another noted that, on news sites, “people are brutal and seem to feel way too comfortable in their anonymity.”

Although most witnesses did not describe a specific online environment, social media sites were the most named digital space with 15%. There were fewer responses about witnessing harassment on gaming sites (1%) and over email (1%).

Topics: Internet Activities, News Media Ethics and Practices, Online Communities

Nov 18, 2014 2:58 pm

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has stabilized in recent years after decades of rapid growth. But there have been shifts in the states where unauthorized immigrants live and the countries where they were born.

Millions could receive relief from deportation and work visas from an executive action that President Obama is expected to announce soon. The action would be the most significant protection from deportation offered to unauthorized immigrants since 1986, when Congress passed a law that allowed 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants to obtain a green card.

Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.

1There were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2012, a total unchanged from 2009, and currently making up 3.5% of the nation’s population. (Preliminary estimates show the population was 11.3 million in 2013.) The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

Number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico declines since 2007 peak.2Mexicans make up about half of all unauthorized immigrants (52%), though their numbers have been declining in recent years. There were 5.9 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2012, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to Pew Research Center estimates. Over the same time period, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Asia, the Caribbean, Central America and a grouping of countries in the Middle East, Africa and some other areas grew slightly (unauthorized immigrant populations from South America and Europe/Canada did not change significantly).

3Six states alone account for 60% of unauthorized immigrants—California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. But the distribution of the population is changing. From 2009 to 2012, several East Coast states were among those with population increases, whereas several Western states were among those with population decreases. There were seven states overall in which the unauthorized immigrant population increased: Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Meanwhile, there were 14 states in which the population decreased over the same time period: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Oregon. Despite a decline, Nevada has the nation’s largest share (8%) of unauthorized immigrants in its state population. Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Nov 17, 2014 12:12 pm

Where near-minimum-wage workers work, and how much they make

As Fact Tank noted earlier this month, about 20.6 million people — 30% of all hourly, non-self-employed workers 18 and older — are what we call “near-minimum-wage workers,” meaning they earn more than the current minimum wage (either the federal $7.25-an-hour minimum or a higher state minimum) but less than the $10.10 hourly rate that emerged over the past year as a consensus goal of many Democrats and labor groups.

We first explored the demographics of this group by workers’ age, sex and race. But we also wondered what jobs they held and how much they earned, so we took another run through the public-use microdata from the 2013 Current Population Survey.

restaurant workers most near minimum wageAs you might have guessed, the restaurant and food service industry is the single biggest employer of near-minimum workers. Last year, according to our analysis, that industry employed 3.75 million near-minimum workers, about 18% of the total. Many of those workers, presumably, are tipped, so their actual gross pay may be above $10.10 an hour. (Federal law, as well as wage laws in many states, allow tipped employees to be paid less as long as “tip credits” bring their pay up to at least the applicable minimum.) Read More

Topics: National Economy

Nov 17, 2014 7:00 am

The up and down seasons of political campaign work

Political Organizations, Election Cycle

As an industry, political organizations – comprising political action committees (PACs) and campaign organizations, among other political clubs – take their cues not from stock markets, but from the quadrennial election cycle. They emerge like pop-up shops ahead of Election Day, and are hastily disassembled shortly thereafter.

We were curious whether, as an industry, political organizations have been growing — in terms of wages and sheer numbers. It turns out, there’s been a steady increase in both. Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Elections and Campaigns

Nov 14, 2014 1:36 pm

Obama’s expected immigration action: How many would be affected?

UPDATE: The details of President Obama’s executive action on immigration were revealed on November 20, 2014. Read this post for to see who will be eligible for deportation relief under the new programs.

Millions of unauthorized immigrants could receive relief from deportation under an executive action that President Obama will announce as early as next week, according to news reports. The decision is expected to affect immigrants who have already been living in the country for a long period of time and is aimed at families in which some members are U.S. citizens and others are not.

Obama’s expected immigration order: How many would be affected?If it happens, it would be the most significant protection offered to unauthorized immigrants since 1986, when Congress passed a major immigration bill that allowed about 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants to obtain a green card, with many ultimately gaining U.S. citizenship. Currently, an estimated 1 million unauthorized immigrants have temporary relief from deportation through either the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or having Temporary Protected Status.

While details of the president’s new policy are not known, news reports have noted some possible actions. How would the numbers break down? Here are Pew Research Center’s estimates on how many of the nation’s estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants may be affected, based on news reports of the Obama administration’s plans:

  • One proposal mentioned is to extend deportation relief to unauthorized immigrants who are parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. The plan could offer immigration relief to either those who have lived in the country at least five years or those who have lived in the country a decade or more, news reports said. There are about 2.8 million unauthorized adults with U.S.-born children currently living with them at home who have lived in the country 10 years or more but don’t have protection from deportation, according to Pew Research Center estimates. If the executive action affects those who have lived in the country for only 5 years or more, an additional 700,000 immigrants could receive protection, for a total of 3.5 million, according to our estimates.
  • The plan may also include deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as children. Among only those under 18, there are 650,000 unauthorized immigrant children who currently don’t have protection from deportation.

Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Nov 14, 2014 10:00 am

Why has Pentecostalism grown so dramatically in Latin America?

Tens of millions of Latin Americans have left the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades and embraced Pentecostal Christianity.
(Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)

Tens of millions of Latin Americans have left the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades and embraced Pentecostal Christianity, according to a new Pew Research Center survey on religion in 18 Latin American countries and Puerto Rico. Indeed, nearly one-in-five Latin Americans now describe themselves as Protestant, and across the countries surveyed majorities of them self-identify as Pentecostal or belong to a Pentecostal denomination. Pentecostals share many beliefs with other evangelical Protestants, but they put more emphasis on the “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” such as speaking in tongues, faith healing and prophesying.

With nearly 300 million followers worldwide, including many in Africa and Latin America, Pentecostalism is now a global phenomenon. But present day Pentecostalism traces its origins to a religious revival movement that began in the early 20th century.

We asked Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, to discuss how and why Pentecostalism has grown so dramatically in Latin America in recent years. The interview has been edited for clarity and condensed.

Why have we seen this shift in Latin America in recent decades away from Roman Catholicism and toward Pentecostal Protestantism? Read More

Topics: Latin America, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Nov 14, 2014 7:00 am

More and more Americans are outside the labor force entirely. Who are they?

FT_14.11.12_laborForce_200pxAccording to the October jobs report, more than 92 million Americans — 37% of the civilian population aged 16 and over — are neither employed nor unemployed, but fall in the category of “not in the labor force.” That means they aren’t working now but haven’t looked for work recently enough to be counted as unemployed. While that’s not quite a record — figures have been a bit higher earlier this year — the share of folks not in the labor force remains near all-time highs.

Why? You might think legions of retiring Baby Boomers are to blame, or perhaps the swelling ranks of laid-off workers who’ve grown discouraged about their re-employment prospects. While both of those groups doubtless are important (though just how important is debated by labor economists), our analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests another key factor: Teens and young adults aren’t as interested in entering the work force as they used to be, a trend that predates the Great Recession. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

Nov 13, 2014 11:58 am

Obama job rating flat after midterm losses, unlike Bush, Ike, Truman

The midterm elections that handed losses to many Democrats across the country haven’t resulted in much change for President Obama’s approval rating – it has barely moved in over a year and remains at 43%.

FT_two-term-president-ratingsIn fact, the share of Americans approving of Obama has wavered between 41% and 45% in 13 consecutive Pew Research surveys dating back to September 2013.

While Obama’s recent job approval isn’t high by historical standards, his second-term numbers overall have been more stable than those of his predecessors. Although many factors contribute to a president’s approval in the public’s eye, it often declines after an election when a president’s party loses.

George W. Bush’s rating, for instance, dropped consistently after his 2004 reelection, including five points after his second midterm election in 2006 (to 32%), when Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress. Ronald Reagan, who entered the 1986 elections with a 63% approval rating, dropped 16 points by December — largely due to the damage done by the Iran-Contra affair, which came to light in November 1986. Like Obama, Reagan’s party gave up the Senate and lost seats in the House. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Barack Obama, Presidential Approval

Nov 13, 2014 9:00 am

Obama vs. the Republicans on environmental issues: How the public views them

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Newly empowered Republicans are promising to challenge President Obama’s agenda on the environment, particularly his administration’s proposed regulations to sharply cut emissions from coal-fired power plants and construction of the Keystone pipeline. Public opinion is on Obama’s side when it comes to limiting emissions, but the GOP is in sync with most Americans on Keystone.

Across nine issues tested, President Obama has a clear advantage over congressional Republicans on only one: 35% say he has the better approach on the environment, while just 20% prefer the Republican approach.Broadly speaking, Obama has an advantage over Republicans when it comes to environmental matters. The environment is the only one of nine issues tested in a post-election poll where Obama enjoys a clear edge, with Americans favoring his approach to the subject over that of the Republicans by a 35% to 20% margin. About four-in-ten (41%) see no difference between the two. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Political Issue Priorities

Nov 13, 2014 7:00 am

7 key takeaways about religion in Latin America

A new Pew Research Center survey of 18 Latin American countries and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico asked people from Mexico to Argentina about their religious affiliation, beliefs and practices. The survey also explored Latin Americans’ views on a wide variety of topics, including support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, the morality of divorce and how best to aid the poor.

Here are a few of the key findings:

1Shifting Religious Identity in Latin AmericaLatin America remains overwhelmingly Catholic, but Catholics have declined substantially as a share of the region’s overall population. As recently as 1970, Catholics comprised more than 90% of Latin America’s population, according to the World Religion Database and the Brazilian and Mexican censuses. Today, the Pew Research survey shows that 69% of Latin Americans identify as Catholic – 15 percentage points lower than the share of adults who say they were raised Catholic (84%).

2Losses for Catholics have meant gains for Protestant churches and the category of people who do not identify with any religion. Just 9% of adults in the region were raised Protestant and 4% were raised unaffiliated, but twice as many now describe themselves as Protestants (19%) or unaffiliated (8%). Most Protestants across Latin America identify as Pentecostal Christians or are members of Pentecostal denominations. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Latin America, Religious Affiliation