Monthly Archives: January 2015

Black teens who commit a few crimes go to jail as often as white teens who commit dozens

By Max Ehrenfreund

Boys are less likely to commit crimes but they are more likely to be placed in a correctional facility than they were three decades ago, according to a new study that shows the justice system for juvenile offenders has become much more punitive. The trends are particularly pronounced among boys from racial minorities, according to the paper by Tia Stevens Andersen of the University of South Carolina and Michigan State University’s Merry Morash.

Although there were negligible differences among the racial groups in how frequently boys committed crimes, white boys were less likely to spend time in a facility than black and Hispanic boys who said they’d committed crimes just as frequently, as shown in the chart above. A black boy who told pollsters he had committed just five crimes in the past year was as likely to have been placed in a facility as a white boy who said he’d committed 40.

More recent statistics from the Department of Justice show that the juvenile justice system has continued to treat black boys more harshly. Although the overall number of cases in juvenile court has declined sharply since 2008, blacks still account for a third of cases in juvenile court, far more than their share of the population.

Advocates for children have long protested against what they describe as a “school-to-prison pipeline,” in which strict discipline and arrests in classrooms damage children’s long-term prospects, making them less likely to succeed in life and more likely to run afoul of the law in the future. A year ago, the Obama administration urged schools to reconsider zero-tolerance policies, which Attorney General Eric Holder said “have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people, increasing their likelihood of …read more


Airbnb is about to start collecting hotel taxes in more major cities, including Washington

By Emily Badger

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

In mid-February, the short-term home rental service Airbnb will begin collecting taxes on behalf of residents in the District who treat their homes — or single rooms in them — as a makeshift alternative to hotels. With the voluntary agreement, the District joins a handful of cities where the tech company has worked out tax deals to resolve at least one of the thorny problems posed by a business model that has turned thousands of people into innkeepers in their own homes.

These agreements could mean millions in additional revenue for cities where residents using Airbnb and other web-based services like it have been unaware or baffled by their legal obligation to pay hotel taxes. For Airbnb, the promise to remit that money straight to city coffers will help legitimize a service that in many places is still not strictly legal.

In the cities where Airbnb has agreed or been required to do this, it will automatically collect the local hotel or occupancy taxes, which run from about 5 percent to 14.5 percent in the District, on every transaction. Airbnb will then pay the cities in a regular lump sum, omitting details about individual hosts or guests.

Airbnb began collecting these taxes in Portland, Ore., last July and in San Francisco in October. Between those two cities so far, the company says it has already paid about $5 million in taxes (it has not put back taxes on the table anywhere). On Feb. 1, it will also begin doing the same in San Jose and Amsterdam. Feb. 15, it will start collecting taxes in the District and Chicago. All of these cities are among the company’s largest markets.

“In many cases, these taxes were designed for hotels and folks with teams of lawyers and accountants, and the reality …read more


100 years of stock market gains and losses, visualized

By Ana Swanson

Seth Kadish, Vizual Statistix

This post comes via Know More, Wonkblog’s social media site.

Are there good and bad days to play the stock market? Unfortunately no one can predict this for the future, but we can analyze what happened in the past.

Seth Kadish, a data scientist who runs the blog Vizual Statistix, used roughly 100 years of data – from Jul. 30, 1914 to Jan. 26, 2015 – to chart the daily percentage change in closing price for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. He then binned this data together by day of the year and created the heat map below.

Seth Kadish, Vizual Statistix

The blue cells in the map signify market gains, while the orange cells indicate losses. White boxes are dates that don’t exist or fixed-date holidays when the market is closed, like Christmas and New Year’s Day. The table on the left shows the percentage of time a given day increases, while the table on the right shows the median percent change for each date.

A few trends emerge. Apr. 15, tax day, has been a particularly good day for the stock market historically, as are some dates around national holidays: Jul. 3, Dec. 24 and 26, and Jan. 2. The worst days include Apr. 7 and Feb. 29 (which only occurs every four years, and thus has less data overall).

Kadish notes that this graph is for entertainment purposes only, not for creating investment strategies — obviously the stock market’s day-to-day performance can vary significantly from the historical average.

Check out Know More’s home page, Twitter or Facebook for the best and most interesting visuals, videos and data hits from around the Web.

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