TIME Disease

Concerns of U.S. Mosquito-Borne Disease Outbreak Heightened

Health officials are concerned it's just a matter of time before the illness spreads within the U.S.

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Cases of Chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne disease, have now been reported in Tennessee and North Carolina, leading to increased concerns of a potential outbreak in the U.S.

As we reported earlier this month:

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

 

TIME Employment

10 States With the Fastest Growing Economies

Oil Boom Shifts The Landscape Of Rural North Dakota
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The United States economy grew 1.9% in 2013, down from the 2.8% growth rate in 2012, as growth in the world’s largest economy remained inconsistent. The largest contributors to the national economy were nondurable goods manufacturing, real estate and leasing, as well as agriculture and related industries.

While the U.S. economy grew less than 2%, the output of a number of states grew well in excess of 3% last year. North Dakota continued its torrid growth pace, leading the nation with a state GDP growth rate of nearly 10%. This year, Wyoming and West Virginia were the second- and third-fastest growing states, respectively, rebounding from slow growth in 2012. Based on data released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), these are the 10 states with the highest real GDP growth rates for 2013.

There were considerable differences in what drove national growth and what drove output in the fastest growing states, according to Cliff Woodruff, an economist at the BEA. “For the nation, it was nondurable goods manufacturing and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting [that] were the top two contributors to national growth,” Woodruff said.

On the other hand, in “five of the top states, [growth] was primarily a result of mining,” which includes oil, natural gas and coal production. Among these was Wyoming, the nation’s second-fastest growing state, where mining accounted for 6.1 percentage points of the state’s 7.6% growth rate.

MORE: The States With the Strongest and Weakest Unions

All of the top four states for GDP growth were among the top four nationwide in terms of the mining sector’s share of growth. Additionally, three other top states were among the top 10 for GDP growth contributions from the mining sector.

Outside of those states that benefited from mining activity, a few of the nation’s fastest growing states did follow the national trend, deriving a significant share of their growth from agriculture. Among these were Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, where agriculture and related industries added at least one percentage point to growth. These states were all among the top five nationwide for the contribution of agriculture to the states’ growth rate.

Outside the mining and agriculture sectors, however, these states often shared little in common. For example, nondurable goods manufacturing contributed 1.2 percentage points to Texas’ 3.7% GDP growth, a larger contribution than in most states. However, the sector contributed far less in most other fast growing states.

Similarly, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Texas were all among the top states for construction’s relative contribution to output growth. However, construction output was a large drag on growth in both Wyoming and West Virginia, lowering GDP growth by 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.

One common trait among a number of the fastest growing states, however, was a resilient government sector. According to Woodruff, “government was the largest detractor — if you will — from growth in most states.” While the government sector directly pulled down GDP nationwide, and served as a drag on output in all but 11 states, this was not the case in the fastest growing states. In fact, six of the top 10 growing states did not experience a drop in output from the government sector.

MORE: 10 Companies Paying Americans the Least

Strong GDP growth was also reflected in state job markets. The unemployment rate in all of the 10 fastest growing states was below the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. Each of the four states with the lowest annual average unemployment rates was among the 10 fastest growing states in 2013. This includes North Dakota, the nation’s fastest growing state, where the unemployment rate was just 2.9% in 2013. South Dakota and Nebraska, also among the fastest growing states, had unemployment rates below 4% last year.

Since having more people means more spending on goods and services, population growth often coincides with GDP growth. In fact, while the U.S. population rose just 0.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the population growth in most of the states with the fastest growing economies was well above that. Five of the six states with the fastest population growth rates were also among the top 10 for GDP growth.

Based on figures published by the BEA, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the fastest growing economies. The BEA’s state growth figures and the industries’ contributions to growth are measured by real gross domestic product, which accounts for the effects of inflation on growth. GDP figures published by the BEA for 2013 are preliminary and subject to annual revision. Real GDP figures for past years have already been revised. Population figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau and reflect estimated growth between the July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. We also used median household income from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year’s unemployment rates are annual averages and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home price data are from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Information from the Energy Information Administration was also utilized.

These are the 10 states with the fastest growing economies.

1. North Dakota

> GDP growth: 9.7%
> 2013 GDP: $56.3 billion (5th lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 3.1% (the highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 2.9% (the lowest)

North Dakota has been the fastest growing state in the nation every year since 2010. In fact, the state’s GDP grew by 9.7% last year after it already grew by a stratospheric 20% in 2012 alone. The state’s oil boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — in the Bakken shale formation, has been responsible for much of this growth. Last year, mining directly contributed 3.6 percentage points to the state’s growth rate. Other growing industries, such as real estate and construction, have also contributed to the state’s growth. State residents have benefited from this growth. The state’s unemployment rate as of last year was just 2.9%, the lowest in the nation, while home prices were up nearly 28% over the past five years, also better than any other state.

2. Wyoming
> GDP growth: 7.6%
> 2013 GDP: $45.4 billion (2nd lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0% (11th highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 4.6% (6th lowest)

Wyoming’s economy grew by 7.6% in 2013, just one year after its economy experienced the worst contraction in the nation. The fact that growth rates in Wyoming may be somewhat volatile should not come as a surprise. The state was the nation’s least populous last year, with slightly less than 583,000 residents.. Additionally, the state is highly dependent on the fortunes of the mining sector. Last year, 37% of Wyoming’s total output came from mining, the most of any state. The state’s budget is also highly dependent on taxes from resource extraction. Mining alone accounted for 6.2 percentage points of the state’s 7.6% growth in 2013. Wyoming leads the U.S. in coal production, and all eight of the nation’s largest mines are in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, according to the EIA. Wyoming is also among the largest states for natural gas production.

3. West Virginia
> GDP growth: 5.1%
> 2013 GDP: $74.0 billion (12th lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1% (the lowest)
> 2013 unemployment: 6.5% (18th lowest)

After shrinking by 1.4% in 2012, West Virginia’s economy grew by 5.1% last year, more than all but two other states. While West Virginia is well-known as one of the nation’s largest coal miners, the state is also a burgeoning source of natural gas. According to a report by the Bureau of Business & Economic Research at West Virginia University, the state’s coal production is expected to decline in the coming years, while natural gas production has risen dramatically and is expected to continue to grow. However, outside the mining sector, the state had little in the way of growth. Last year’s 5.1% rise in GDP was driven largely by the mining sector, which added 5.5 percentage points to GDP growth, meaning, on balance, the state actually contracted outside the sector. By one measure, West Virginia is among the poorest states in the nation. The median household income in the state was just $40,196 in 2012, lower than in all but two other states.

To see the rest of the list, click here.

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TIME States

Alaska to Put Free Pregnancy Tests in Bar Restrooms

The program will help combat the state's high rate of fetal alcohol syndrome

The University of Alaska is leading a state-funded program to put free pregnancy tests in the bathrooms of 20 bars and restaurants across the state starting this December.

The two-year, $400,000 program is designed to combat Alaska’s rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, which is the highest of any state in the country, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Women of child-bearing age in Alaska are 20 percent more likely to binge drink in comparison to the national average.

“This is not a strategy for the chronic alcoholic who is drinking regardless of whatever message they see,” said Jody Allen Crowe, who founded a Minnesota organization that leads a similar program and is helping with the project. “This is really focused on the 50 percent of unexpected pregnancies, to find out they are pregnant as early as possible.”

Republican Senator Pete Kelly, who has said before that birth control is for women who “who don’t want to act responsibly,” first proposed the program.

[Anchorage Daily News]

TIME republicans

Here’s a Video Mashup of Rick Perry Talking About Gays

The Texas governor’s comparison of homosexuality with alcoholism was far from his first controversial comment about gays. Not even close.

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The outgoing Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, drew a “murmur of disbelief” Wednesday when at an event in San Francisco he compared homosexuality to alcoholism, but those were far from his first controversial statements about gays.

In fact, he has been comparing homosexuality to alcoholism for years, including in his 2008 book, On My Honor. “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink,” the former presidential candidate wrote. “And even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”

Perry’s most famous anti-gay volley was probably the 2011 campaign ad for his last presidential run that denounced the fact that “gays can serve openly in the military.” He also has compared his opposition to gays belonging to the Boy Scouts with former Texas Governor Sam Houston brave stance against slavery. He has also called the Obama administration’s use of American foreign aid to promote human rights for gays and lesbians abroad a “silly idea.”

“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop,” Perry said in a statement.

In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry condemned the “oligarchs in robes” of the Supreme Court for the 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws in America, which had long been used to target gay couples.

Not all Perry’s statements about homosexuality have been anti-gay. Perry has said that gay marriage is ultimately a state’s rights issue and that it was “fine with [him]” for New York to allow gays to marry, though he later walked back that position. At a Dallas Baptist church last year he suggested a more accepting approach to other “lifestyles”—he never actually said “gay” though many afterward interpreted the sermon as an implicit pivot away from anti-gay rhetoric.

“We cannot condemn certain lifestyles while turning a blind eye to sins that in God’s eye are just as grievous,” he said. “We must love all, welcome all and be a model of Christ to all. “

TIME Congress

Congressman Breaks Down on House Floor After Oregon School Shooting

Amid a moment of silence on the floor

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When the Oregon congressional delegation took to the House floor on Tuesday to ask for a moment of silence in the wake of a deadly school shooting, Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer was overwhelmed with emotion.

“[The] Troutdale High School is a terrific institution in my district,” Blumenauer said, before showing a gift students there had recently given him during a visit. When Blumenauer held up the wooden bowtie decorated with a bicycle on the House floor, he began to fight back tears.

Police say a teenage gunman killed one student and injured a teacher before turning the gun on himself at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., on Tuesday. All five members of Congress from Oregon, Democrats Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, and Republican Greg Walden, stood with Blumenauer as he laid out the details of Tuesday’s tragic events.

“I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that the House observe a moment of silent in support for the victims, their families, and the community,” Blumenauer said through tears.

TIME health

Louisiana Bill Would Require Women to Stay on Life Support if Pregnant

The bill would require doctors to keep women on life support regardless of family's wishes

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon decide on a bill that could require hospitals to keep pregnant women on life support, regardless of her family’s wishes.

The bill, which passed the Louisiana State House of Representatives last week, specifies that if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, she must be kept on life support.

State lawmakers say the law would protect healthy fetuses from meeting an untimely demise as a result of the mother’s condition. Abortion rights groups oppose the legislation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

A state Senate version of the bill allowed family members to request that expectant mothers be taken off of life support, Huffington Post said, but the provision was scrapped in committee. Jindal is expected to sign the bill into law.

A similar law faced scrutiny in Texas earlier this year, when a 14-week pregnant woman was kept on life support for weeks after her husband found her unconscious. A judge later ruled the family’s request to remove her from life support must be granted.

TIME

This Is The Most Stressed-Out State In America

Florida commute
Traffic on the I-4 Interstate Highway in Florida. According to a study by Real Estate blog Movoto, Florida ranks as the most stressful state in America. Getty Images

Beaches, sunshine and citrus fruit apparently don't bring peace of mind to the residents of this state

Updated July 10, 5pm

What stresses you out? A long commute? Check. Being unemployed? Check. Working long hours? Check. Living in Florida? Double check.

Florida wins the unhappy distinction of being the most stressed-out state in the country, according to a study by a real estate blog. Movoto used statistics from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey on the percentage of people without health insurance, housing expenses and hours worked per week in order to measure stress across the country.

Florida’s combination of high unemployment (11.3% between 2008 and 2012) and its high rate of people without health insurance during that time (25.8%) made it the most stressed-out state in the country, according to the site’s methodology.

After Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, California and Nevada were the most stressed-out. Long commutes stress out Georgians, high population density is getting on New Jerseyans’ nerves, Californians pay too much for housing, and Nevadans have unemployment rates and low insurance rates.

We live in a stressed-out nation, but North Dakotans were the least stressed in the lower 48, according to the criteria.

[Movoto]

This story was updated to clarify the origin of the statistics used by Movoto to calculate stress

TIME States

Colorado’s New Pot Banking Law Won’t Solve Cash Problems

Over 400 Marijuana Stores Ordered To Close As City Regulates Industry
Tim Blakeley, manager of Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary, shows marijuana plant buds on May 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

A new law signed by the governor offers a symbolic fix to a serious problem

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday designed to create the world’s first state-level banking system for legal cannabis companies, which have complained that their lack of access to basic banking services creates difficult and dangerous risks.

But the financial industry quickly cast doubt on whether the legislation will address issues faced by marijuana businesses in the state, where recreational pot became legal this year. Asked what it would accomplish, Colorado Bankers Association CEO Don Childears said: “Basically, absolutely nothing.”

“We don’t think it can be effective, and it can never get off the ground,” he said.

The bill allows legal marijuana shops to create a makeshift financial network that would help them gain access to credit and merchant services. A lack of access to banking has been the single biggest problem for Colorado’s recreational weed merchants, which have been legally operating in the state since Jan. 1. Forced to operate million-dollar businesses in cash, marijuana companies run the risk of robbery and face myriad logistical difficulties.

The problem with the bill is that it does nothing to change the reality that blocked pot shops from banks in the first place. Marijuana, which is classified as a Schedule I drug, remains illegal under federal law. As a result, financial institutions are wary of taking on cannabis companies as clients, even in states where some form of the drug is legal.

The legislation signed Friday allows pot businesses to petition the Federal Reserve for clearance. But even industry advocates acknowledge that the chances of obtaining a green light are slim. “It’s probably not going to work, but we’re trying,” said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

The point of the effort is simply to demonstrate that. The industry believes that the banking conundrum can only be solved in Washington—either by Congressional action, or by rescheduling marijuana as more and more states adopt permissive laws. The law signed Friday is an effort to show federal authorities whom Colorado officials have been petitioning for a solution that the state has done everything it can to resolve the issue.

“I don’t see anything coming out of it; it’s more symbolic than anything,” said Elan Nelson, who works in business development for Medicine Man, a legal retail shop in north Denver. “I think this starts the conversation. And if, for some reason, it works—great. We need this desperately.”

TIME States

Blue States Barack Obama Won in 2012 Have More Rich Than Red States

The states with most poor residents tend to vote red, and those with the richest vote blue.

States that voted for Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election have, on average, a higher percentage of households that make $150,000 per year, and a lower percentage of households that make $25,000 or less per year, than the red states that supported Republican Mitt Romney, according to U.S. Census data collected by research engine FindTheBest. Morethan150k

Note, the U.S. Census defines household as people who occupy a single housing unit.

The data shows that the percentage of households in blue states that make over $150,000 per year—11%—is slightly above the national average of 9.4%.

Blue states also account for all but one of the top 17 states by percentage of households in the highest income bracket, with Alaska (12.8%) being the only red state to make the list. Red states, on the other hand, fall slightly below the national average, at 6.9%, and account for all but one (Maine, 5.6%) of the bottom 12 states by percentage of households making at least $150,000 per year.

So which states have the most (and least) households making $150,000?

The highest earner is D.C.—a blue district, not a state—where 20 percent of households make over $150,000 per year. One secret to D.C.’s high income might be its high concentration of well-educated individuals, where 53% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree, well above the national average of 28%.

Ranking in spot two is New Jersey, where 18% of households make over $150,000 per year. Once you factor in the cost of living however, those high incomes don’t sound quite as lofty. 68% of homeowners—compared to the national average of 32%—spend more than $2,000 in homeowner costs per month.

At the bottom of the list is West Virginia, where only 3.9% of households are in the highest bracket. It’s also dead last for well-being out of all 50 states, according to the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index.

Scroll over any state in the map below to find the percentage of households in the $150,000 or higher income bracket.

FindTheBest also crunched the numbers for percentage of households making below $25,000 per year. lessthan25k

States that voted blue ranked better than red states for percentage of households making $25,000 or less per year (21.6% vs. 25.9%); putting blue states 1.7 percentage points below the national average of 23.3%, and red states 2.6 percentage points above it.

Additionally, whereas the highest earning states were almost completely blue, the lowest earning states are almost completely red—New Mexico (with 28.3% making $25,000 or less) being the only blue state among the 14 lowest earners.

As for the poorest states?

West Virginia comes close to ranking the most poorly again, with 32% of households making less than $25,000, but Mississippi (also ranking poorly on the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, in 48th place) outpaces it, at 34%.

To see the percentage for every state, scroll over the map below.

TIME States

Dengue Fever Infections in Florida Make Health Experts Wary of Mosquito-Borne Outbreak

Deadly disease on the rise in the Sunshine State

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After 42 Floridians came down with dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, state officials advised citizens on Wednesday to take steps to protect themselves against bug bites.

The Florida Department of Health announced 24 confirmed cases of dengue fever as of last week, and 18 confirmed cases of chikungunya, both viruses that do not have vaccines to prevent them and have not typically been found in North America, the CDC says.

All Floridians infected had traveled to the Caribbean or South America, and officials believe they may have contracted the diseases there, but epidemiologists worry that Florida mosquitos may be spreading the illnesses, which could lead to a potential outbreak, Reuters reports.

Dengue is a potentially fatal disease and both can cause long-term problems.

“The threat is greater than I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Walter Tabachnick, director of the Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory in Vero Beach. “Sooner or later, our mosquitoes will pick it up and transmit it to us. That is the imminent threat,” he said.

[Reuters]

 

 

 

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