Greta Thunberg at Davos: 3 straw-man arguments from Twitter & YouTube comments

The 17-year-old climate activist gets a lot of criticism online. Which of those critiques hold water?

CBS News
  • On Tuesday, Thunberg gave a speech at an event in Davos, Switzerland.
  • She mainly spoke about the failure of world leaders to act on climate change.
  • Also speaking at Davos was President Donald Trump, who didn't mention Thunberg by name, but dismissed the "prophets of doom" who are calling for increased climate change policies.
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VPNs are a must for private browsing in 2020. Here are huge deals on 5 of them

With a virtual private network, you're accessing a separate server for your internet use, making it virtually impossible for hackers or malicious outsiders to track your online activities and hack your accounts.

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  • In the U.S., only 5% of web users are protected with a VPN service.
  • These five deals provide protection and unrestricted web usage at top speeds.
  • All five VPN services are currently discounted as much as 97% off.
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    Wuhan coronavirus confirmed to be transmissible between humans

    The new strain of coronavirus that has spread across Asia is causing concern ahead of China's Lunar New Year.

    Chinese children wear protective masks as they wait to board trains at Beijing Railway station on January 21, 2020. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China on Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human.

    (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
    • A new strain of the coronavirus — similar to SARS — is spreading across China and to nearby countries, including the U.S..
    • Although it's relatively early on, the virus appears to be fairly infectious and capable of human-to-human transmission, a serious concern given the many travelers expected to visit China for the upcoming Lunar New Year.
    • The World Health Organization intends to convene an emergency committee in the near future to determine whether the outbreak should be considered a public health emergency of international concern.
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    The philosophy of protest: Thoreau, King, and Civil Disobedience

    The protesters on the street aren't just taking up space, they carry on a well thought out tradition.

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    • Nonviolent protests designed to effect change are a common occurrence around the world, especially today.
    • While they may seem to be a sign of sour grapes or contrarianism, there is a serious philosophical backing to them.
    • Thinkers from Thoreau to Gandhi and King have made the case for civil disobedience as a legitimate route to change.
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    Mathematical model shows how the Nazis could have won WWII's Battle of Britain

    With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.

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    Politics & Current Affairs
    • The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
    • Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
    • A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
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    The key to lower suicide rates? Higher minimum wages

    As little as an extra dollar could mean a significant decrease in suicide rates.

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    Politics & Current Affairs
    • A new study found that a dollar increase in minimum wage correlated to nearly a six percent reduction in suicide rates among adults aged 18 to 64 with a high school degree or less education.
    • Increasing the minimum wage was found to be most effective in the reduction of suicides when unemployment levels were the highest.
    • According to the researchers' predictions, raising the minimum wage by just one dollar during the 2008 economic collapse could have prevented over 13,000 suicides.

    Over the last few years, suicide rates have been on an alarming rise in the United States. An analysis by the Center for Disease Control found that American suicide rates have gone up by 33 percent since 1999, the highest rate recorded in the country since 1942.

    Mental health is a complex topic, and suicide cause and prevention can't be chalked up to any one thing or solution. But, according to a recent study, one answer to preventing at least some of these suicides might be a simple little public policy adjustment: Raising the minimum wage.

    The link between financial stress and suicide

    Topical Press Agency / Stringer

    There are, of course, a multitude of variables that can foster the extreme anxiety and depression that might lead a person to consider ending his or her life. A number of studies in the past indicated that financial stressors — such as mounting debt, the loss of a job, or unemployment — are a big contributor when it comes to the factors that play the most significant roles in suicide. The likelihood of suicide increases among financially distressed people as things like debt become harder to manage.

    Because suicide and depression more often affect people who have lower incomes and levels of education, it means that this demographic is also likely to be working at or close to the minimum wage. It seems obvious that researchers would be interested in looking at the correlations between suicide and minimum wage.

    New research on suicide and minimum wage

    Recently, a team of researchers from Emory University took an in-depth look at the relationship between minimum wage laws and suicide rates. They found that the two do correlate, but only during times of high unemployment and among those with a high school level education, or less.

    When it comes to minimum wage, state and federal governments both set standards. The federal government sets a bottom "safety net" for minimum wage. State governments can't dip below that, but they can exceed it. The minimum wage rules of individual states are easy to track and, conveniently, a few states changed their minimum wage during the time period of the study providing a usefully before-and-after comparison for the researchers. Collecting the rest of the data was relatively simple. States provide their unemployment rates, share of GDP, and various other forms of public assistance. Additionally, the National Vital Statistics System provided researchers with a trove of death information, including the cause of death as well the individual's educational background.

    Researchers used a "differences in differences" analysis to determine how minimum wage laws were linked to suicide rates. This is a statistical technique used to measure data from two groups, a "treatment" group and a "control" group, at at least two different time periods. One time period being before the "treatment" (in this case, higher minimum wage) and the other being after. In this study, the researchers used individuals with a college-level education as the control group as they are statistically less likely to work a minimum wage job or commit suicide. So, that group's response to changes in the minimum wage laws was compared to that of individuals with a maximum of a high school education. This data was then tracked monthly.

    Findings: Higher minimum wage meant lower suicide rates

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia

    The effect of a one U.S. dollar increase in the minimum wage ranged from a 3.4 percent decrease to a 5.9 percent decrease in the suicide rate among adults aged 18 to 64 with a high school degree or less education. The researchers estimated a six percent reduction in suicide for every dollar increase in minimum wage among that population.

    Researchers also observed that increasing the minimum wage was most effective in the reduction of suicides when unemployment levels were the highest. Specifically, a higher minimum wage had maximum impact on reducing suicide when the unemployment rate was over seven percent and minimum wages were at least $1.75 over the national minimum. According to the researcher's predictions, during the 2008 economic collapse raising the minimum wage by just one dollar could have prevented over 13,000 suicides!

    Of course, poverty is not the root cause of all suicides, and mental health issues go deeper than one single economic factor. But the study underlines how reducing economic burdens during times when financial stresses are higher can reduce some of the anxiety and depression that leads to suicide risk. Ultimately, this study shows that beyond being good economic policy, raising the minimum wage can save lives by improving the quality of life for America's working class.

    Now the question is, will legislators do it?

    What do people around the world think about climate change?

    Global warming appears to be front of mind for people worldwide.

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    Politics & Current Affairs

    Climate change is reversible – that's the view of 80% of Chinese people, according to a report from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

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