October 11, 2012

Another PolitiFact Retraction You’ll Never See; HHS July Rule Did Weaken TANF Work Requirements

In August, in response to an ad from the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney claiming that the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services had just weakened the work requirements of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (also known as TANF, or “traditional welfare”), Molly Moorhead at the so-called fact check site PolitiFact gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” rating, the one supposedly reserved for the most scurrilous lies propagated by politicians and others. Russell Sykes, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute has just doused PolitiFact’s imaginary flames — but don’t hold your breath waiting for PoltiFact to recognize it.

Specifically, Moorhead objected to the Romney ad as follows (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Labor Dept. Unemployment Claims Data Incomplete For One ‘Large State’; AP, Reuters Still Suggest That It’s Positive

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:08 pm

UPDATE: Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that a “source, who is an analyst at the Department” has told him that “the number of California claims that were not processed totalled about 15,000-25,000,” bringing the total to 354-364K, which will probably be pretty close to 370K by the time next week’s report appears.

Today’s release of the Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment claims report showed 339,000 initial claims filed during the previous week — a sharp decline of 30,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised 369,000. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that “one large state didn’t report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease.” The Associated Press’s framing: “… spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline.” At Reuters: “one state … reported a decline in claims last week when an increase was expected.”

So you would expect caution in assessing the meaning of the report, right? Wrong — At the AP and Reuters, they apparently just can’t help themselves.

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Initial Unemployment Claims: Big Drop to 339K SA; Previous Week Revised Up (of Course) by 4K; NSA Down 25% from Last Year (UPDATE: One ‘Large State’ Missing)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:55 am

UPDATE: See this later post — California didn’t turn in 15,000 – 25,000 claims. Imagine that.

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending October 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 339,000, a decrease of 30,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 369,000. The 4-week moving average was 364,000, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 375,500.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 327,063 in the week ending October 6, an increase of 25,990 from the previous week. There were 405,906 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

The seasonal factors used were 96.4 this year and 100.9 for the comparable week last year. This year’s seasonally adjusted figure would have been about 15,000 lower if last year’s factor had been used.

So is it for real, or just another example of the Department of Labor telling how really, really bad President Obama’s debate performance was? Zero Hedge’s headline is that the “Data Massaging Continues.” I say look out for the size of next week’s inevitable upward adjustment, year-over-year changes in the state figures (which always trail by a week), and anything that might happen to the overall figure (which has been known to occur) in the report which comes out in two weeks.

UPDATE: O … M … G — in the Wall Street Journal: “There was a caveat to the upbeat report, however, as one large state didn’t report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the drop, the Labor Department noted.” How convenient — and what “quarterly figures” have to do with a weekly report is a complete mystery.

A “large state” (assuming “large” refers to population) would most likely be one of the following: California (running at about 50,000 claims per week), Florida (13K), Georgia (10K), Illinois (12K), Michigan (10K), New York (22K), North Carolina (10K), Ohio (10K), Pennsylvania (19K), or Texas (16K). Zheesh.

AP Reports Still Fixate on ‘Anti-Islam Video,’ Leave Impression That There Were Pre-Attack Protests in Benghazi

The Associated Press, after an initial acknowledgment in a Tuesday evening timeline from Bradley Klapper, has consistently failed in several subsequent reports to cite State Department officials’ unmistakable assertion that there were no protests whatsoever at the Benghazi, Libya U.S. consulate on September 11 before the lethal terrorist attack which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Instead, later reports create the impression that protests did occur.

It’s even getting carried into coverage of different events. In his story (link is to early paragraphs of original version) about the Thursday morning murder of a security official at the U.S. embassy in Yemen, the AP’s Ahmed Al Haj (identified as the reporter in the item I originally saw, since revised) betrayed the wire service’s uninterrupted obsession with “an anti-Islam video,” and wrote as if nothing learned in the past two days has any validity (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (101112)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:30 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Nobel-winning stem cell work helps curtail embryonic research

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Stockholm, Sweden:

Stockholm, Sweden, Oct 8, 2012 / 05:28 pm

Moral theologian Father Thomas Berg is praising the work of Shinya Yamanaka, the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine, for helping to “put human embryonic stem cell research largely out of business.”

Yamanaka and John B. Gurdon, researchers in cell biology, were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries about the generation of stem cells.

“Yamanaka will be remembered in history as the man who put human embryonic stem cell research largely out of business, motivated by reflection on the fact that his own daughters were once human embryos,” Fr. Berg, professor of moral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. told CNA Oct. 8.

Gurdon’s research was conducted in 1962 and showed that it is possible to reverse the specialization of cells. He removed a nucleus from a frog’s intestinal cell and placed it into a frog’s egg cell that had its nucleus taken out.

That egg cell was then able to develop into a typical tadpole, and his work was the basis for later research into cloning.

Until Gurdon’s findings, it was believed that cell development could only happen in one direction, and that a mature cell nucleus could never become immature and pluripotent. A cell is called pluripotent if it can develop into any type of cell in the body.

Building on Gordon’s work, Yamanaka published a paper in 2006 demonstrating that intact, mature cells can become immature stem cells. He inserted genes into mouse cells which reprogrammed those cells so that they became stem cells.

These reprogrammed cells are pluripotent. Yamanaka’s breakthrough opened the door to studying disease and developing diagnosis and treatments.

Since this technique can produce a stem cell from any cell, it provides an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are derived from destroyed human embryos.

“There is every potential for the morally licit use of the technique developed by Dr. Yamanaka–cell reprogramming. No part of the process need involve ethically tainted source cells,” said Fr. Berg. …

Go here for the rest of the story.