FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Sat, 27 Aug 2016 12:43:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Groundhog Friday http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-9/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-9/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 21:19:22 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112992 This week, we have an all-Trump-ticket edition of Groundhog Friday, our wrap-up of debunked claims that politicians keep repeating.

As Trump noted at several points this week, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, did not have many public events. “People don’t know where she is,” Trump joked during an Aug. 24 rally in Florida.

Follow the links to our original stories for more information on each claim.

Groundhog2Trump on African-American youth unemployment, Aug. 25 interview on CNN: “You have black youth that can’t get jobs, 58 percent can’t get jobs.”

(This claim was repeated this week on multiple occasions: Aug. 23 campaign rally in Austin, Texas: “58 percent of young African Americans are not employed”; Aug. 24 rally in Tampa, Florida: “58 percent of African-American youth are not employed, 58 percent”; Aug. 24 rally in Jackson, Mississippi: “58 percent of African-American youth are not working”; and Aug. 25 rally in Manchester, New Hampshire: “58 percent of African-American youth are not working.”)

In an appeal to African-American voters, who he says have nothing to lose by voting for him, Trump continues to make misleading claims about the percentage of black youth that are “not working.” But he recently went way beyond that in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying “58 percent” of black youth “can’t get jobs.” That’s flat-out wrong. The official unemployment rate for African Americans age 16 to 24 was 20.6 percent in July, according to nonseasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, the rate was 9.9 percent for whites, 11.3 percent for Hispanics and 10 percent for Asians.

To get to 58 percent, the Trump campaign also counted millions of African Americans 16- to 24-years-old who were “not in the labor force” in 2015. The problem is that figure would include individuals, including full-time high school and college students, who are not working, not looking for work or may not even be able to work. Doing the math that way leads to a misleading picture of the labor market for black youth, and makes it wrong to say that some youth can’t get a job, when they may not be looking for one.

Using the Trump campaign’s math, 57 percent of black youth were “not working” as of July, according to BLS data. Just to compare, the figure was around 44 percent for white youth, 50 percent of Hispanic youth and 61 percent for Asian youth. Yet Trump does not mention the percentages for those racial groups.

“Trump’s Economic Speech,” Aug.9



Trump on “open borders,” Aug. 22 rally in Akron, Ohio: “Hillary Clinton’s plan amounts to total and absolute total open borders. It’s open borders.”

(Trump repeated the claim many times this week: Aug. 24 rally in Tampa, Florida: “Hillary Clinton wants to have a totally open border where people can just pour in and take your job and lots of other things happen”; Aug. 23 in Austin, Texas: “Hillary Clinton wants a totally, completely open border”; Aug. 24 in Jackson, Mississippi: “Her push for open borders will lower the wages and kill the jobs of lawful American residents”; Aug. 25 in Manchester, New Hampshire: “She supports open borders that violate the civil rights of African Americans by giving their jobs to people here unlawfully.”

Trump also pushed this idea in an ad we wrote about this week, and originally in a June speech about his Democratic opponent. The claim that Clinton is proposing “open borders” is false. She has proposed and supported, and voted for as a senator, border enforcement and security.

Clinton’s campaign website says she supports “humane, targeted immigration enforcement,” and says she would “focus enforcement resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.” She said during a Democratic debate in November, “Border security has always been a part of that [immigration] debate.” The 2013 Senate immigration bill that she has supported would have made large investments in border security, including additional border fencing, and, in fact, she voted, along with a majority of senators in 2006, for the construction of 700 miles of border fencing and enhanced surveillance technology.

“Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character,” June 22



Trump on Clinton’s refugee plan, Aug. 24 rally in Jackson, Mississippi: “Hillary Clinton also wants to push to bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term.”

Clinton didn’t say that’s how many refugees she would allow into the country as president. Instead, the number comes from a Republican-led Senate subcommittee that made assumptions about what Clinton would do.

Last year, Clinton proposed that the U.S. accept 65,000 refugees from Syria — 55,000 more than the 10,000 President Obama authorized for admission from that country for fiscal year 2016. For 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the administration would aim to admit at least 100,000 refugees from all over the world, not just Syria. The subcommittee then assumes that Clinton would admit 100,000 plus 55,000 every year that she would be in the White House for a first term.

“Trump’s Terrorism Speech,” Aug. 15



Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on unemployment rates, Aug. 22 town hall in Iowa: “In the state of Indiana, I’m proud to say that unemployment dropped from over eight percent to 4.6 percent, nearly cut it in half. Unemployment doubled when Governor [Tim] Kaine was running the state of Virginia. So that kind of stuff might come up [in a debate].”

Pence is making an apples-to-oranges comparison that ignores prevailing economic trends during the different times when he and Kaine were governors. As governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, Kaine served during the Great Recession when every state saw unemployment rates rise significantly, while in comparison, Pence took office in 2013 at a time of an economic expansion following that recession.

A more apt comparison is how well the two states did relative to the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Virginia during Kaine’s time in office went from 3.2 percent in January 2006 to 7.4 percent in January 2010. The national unemployment rate over that period went from 4.7 percent to 9.8 percent, so the state did better than the nation as a whole. Virginia’s unemployment rate was 1.5 percentage points better than the national average when Kaine took office and 2.4 percentage points better when he left.

As for Pence, the unemployment rate in Indiana was a little worse than the national average when he took office (8.4 percent in Indiana, 8.0 percent nationally) and was slightly better than the national average in July (4.6 percent in Indiana, 4.9 percent nationally).

“Kaine vs. Pence on Unemployment,” Aug. 5



Trump on small-business taxes, Aug. 24 rally in Florida: “There are over 600,000 Hispanic-owned businesses here in Florida. Hillary Clinton’s plan would smother them with new regulations, drive up their electricity bills and then raise their taxes to as much as almost 50 percent higher than they’re paying now.”

Trump previously has made the misleading claim that Clinton “would tax many small businesses by almost 50 percent.” But what he said in Tampa, Florida, is outright false, when he claimed Clinton would raise small-business taxes by “as much as almost 50 percent higher than they’re paying now.” (The emphasis is ours.)

Here are the facts: Business owners who are part of partnerships, LLCs and sole proprietorships pay taxes on profits through their individual tax returns — not at the corporate tax rate. These businesses and households earning more than $5 million a year already pay a marginal income tax rate of up to 43.4 percent; Clinton proposes an additional 4 percent tax on income above that threshold, raising the highest possible rate from 43.4 percent to 47.4 percent.

So, small-business owners earning more than $5 million a year in gross adjusted income would pay roughly 9 percent “higher than they’re paying now,” not 50 percent. And the top rate would apply to few such businesses — far fewer than the 600,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Florida. Alan Cole, an economist at the Tax Foundation, told us there are about 34,000 tax filers nationwide above the $5 million threshold set by Clinton.

“Trump’s Economic Speech,” Aug. 9  


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-9/feed/ 0
Stein Over the Top on Sea Level Rise http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/stein-over-the-top-on-sea-level-rise/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/stein-over-the-top-on-sea-level-rise/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 19:21:48 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=113074 Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein cherry-picked the findings of a disputed study when she claimed that global warming would cause sea levels to rise on average “not one yard but many yards” in as soon as 50 years. Scientific consensus says a more realistic rise is 0.33 to 1.33 yards above current levels by 2100.

Stein made her claim in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 23 during a press conference in which she discussed her Aug. 21 visit to flooded areas in Louisiana and the natural disaster’s link to climate change.

SciCHECKinsertAccording to a 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, global warming is expected to lead to more moisture in the atmosphere. This, in turn, can increase the frequency of extreme rainfall events like the one that recently took place in Louisiana.

Primarily affecting regions around Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the flood damaged tens of thousands of homes and killed 13 people, reported NPR. The Red Cross also called the flood “likely the worst natural disaster in the United States since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.”

Stein did accurately state, “Any one storm cannot be definitively pegged to climate change, but when you see so many at such extreme levels, there’s no question, according to the scientists, that this is a consequence of warmer air that holds much more water.” But then she moved on to exaggerate the extent of projected sea level rise.

Stein, Aug. 23: There are these growing warnings about sea level rise, according to James Hansen, the foremost climate scientist … he is predicting meters-worth, that is yards-worth — not one yard but many yards worth — of sea level rise as soon as 50 years from now. And that of course would be an absolutely devastating sea level rise that would essentially wipe out coastal population centers, including the likes of Manhattan, and Florida and so on, and actually all over the world, the entire country of Bangladesh.

This isn’t the first time Stein has exaggerated the extent of projected global sea level rise. But it is the first time she has cited Hansen’s work while making her claim.

Scientific Consensus on Sea Level Rise

Hansen, a climate scientist at Columbia University, and colleagues did conclude, “Continued high fossil fuel emissions this century are predicted to yield … sea level rise, reaching several meters over a timescale of 50–150 years” in a study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in March 2016.

However, reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which are both collaborations of hundreds of scientists, project a much smaller rise over a longer period than Hansen.

The 2013 IPCC report predicts an average rise of between 0.26 to 0.98 meters (1 meter = 1.09 yards) in the global sea level by 2100, with the higher end entailing a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.

The 2016 Global Change report similarly projects a 1 to 4 feet (3 feet = 1 yard) rise by 2100. However, the report also states, “In the context of risk-based analysis, some decision makers may wish to use a wider range of scenarios, from 8 inches to 6.6 feet by 2100.” Still, 6.6 feet translates to 2.2 yards, which is not “many” yards, and it also would not occur in “as soon as 50 years.”

In his paper, Hansen and colleagues argue that ice covering the North and South poles will melt at rates much faster than predicted by the IPCC and others. Instead of a linear rate, the researchers argue the rate will grow exponentially, doubling every 10, 20 or 40 years. This will lead to “multi-meter” global mean sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years, respectively, the authors conclude.

But the group also admits that, while the data they analyzed are “consistent with” a multi-meter sea level rise in around 50 years, they “cannot exclude slower responses.” This is why the researchers give a timescale of 50 to 150 years to reach several meters of sea level rise.

In an email to us, Hansen also explained, “If we stay on business-as-usual high emissions, I would say that several meters [of sea level rise] is unlikely in 50 years, though possible. In 100 years it is likely, and I can’t see how it could be avoided in 200 years.”

But back in March, Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University and a lead author on a chapter of the IPCC’s third report, told The Guardian: “I’m always hesitant to ignore the findings and warnings of James Hansen; he has proven to be so very prescient when it comes to his early prediction about global warming. That having been said, I’m unconvinced that we could see melting rates over the next few decades anywhere near his exponential predictions, and everything else is contingent upon those melting rates being reasonable.”

In 1988, Hansen, then a NASA scientist, testified before Congress on the dangers of global warming. His testimony instigated broader awareness of the issue, which has led some to call him the “father of climate change awareness.”

Steven Goodbred Jr., an environmental scientist at Vanderbilt University and expert on sea level rise in Bangladesh, agrees with Mann that Hansen’s warnings should be heeded, but also said Hansen’s latest findings are over the top. “Meters of sea level rise would require major collapse of Greenland or East Antarctic ice sheets,” Goodbred told us by email. “While improbable, the evidence that Hansen et al put forth warns us not to think impossible.”

Not as Simple as Sea Level Rise

Goodbred also told us issues in Bangladesh, which Stein mentioned specifically, can’t be boiled down to sea level rise. The Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, which flow from China and India to Bangladesh, together “deliver the largest sediment load on earth” at around 1 billion metric tons per year, he explained. “That sediment distributed across Bangladesh’s low-lying coastal region could keep pace” with the current rate of sea level rise, “perhaps with relatively limited consequences (though certainly not none).”

Along these lines, “any reduction in that supply would harm the system’s ability to respond to sea level rise,” added Goodbred. “Threats to sediment delivery (that are more probable than Hansen et al scenarios) include dam construction, water diversion, and increased irrigation/water extraction in upstream areas of India and China.” Many of these modifications to the river systems are already planned or ongoing, he said, and represent as much of a threat to Bangladesh as sea level rise does.

Mann told us the situation in Florida and Manhattan, which Stein also pointed to specifically, can’t be reduced to sea level rise either. “Even 5-6 m of sea level rise would not submerge New York City, or most of Florida,” he said.

“Due to the threat to our coastlines from the combined effect of sea level rise and potentially more potent hurricanes, we might indeed be looking at managed retreat from coastal regions like Miami and New York City on a timeframe of 50 years,” he added. “But it wouldn’t be because of inundation of these regions. It would be because the cost to insure property would become prohibitive given the greatly increased coastal risk.”

In other words, Miami and Manhattan probably won’t be completely underwater in 50 years, but it may become too expensive for many to live there due to increased property insurance costs.

Stein was on the mark when she said warmer air, which can hold more water, has the potential to bring about more extreme weather events, such as the one in Louisiana.

But her claim that global warming would cause sea levels to rise on average “not one yard but many yards” in as soon as 50 years is “an example of a greatly exaggerated version of reality that has a kernel of truth to it,” Mann told us.

Current scientific consensus puts the likely global mean sea level rise at a maximum 1.33 yards above current levels by 2100. And for Manhattan, Florida and Bangladesh in particular, issues go above and beyond sea level rise.

Editor’s Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.


]]> http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/stein-over-the-top-on-sea-level-rise/feed/ 0 Boustany’s Flawed ISIS, Oil Claims http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/boustanys-flawed-isis-oil-claims/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/boustanys-flawed-isis-oil-claims/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 16:10:33 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=113036 In a TV ad, Republican Rep. Charles Boustany falsely states that “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to declare war on ISIS,” and wrongly suggests that Obama and Clinton “banned oil exports.”

Obama, who has said “we are at war” with ISIS, has authorized more than 11,000 targeted airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since Operation Inherent Resolve began two years ago. He also asked Congress in 2015 to formally authorize military force against the terrorist group.

For her part, Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, also asked Congress last year to pass new legislation authorizing continued military action against ISIS.

And neither Obama nor Clinton had a role in imposing a decades-long ban on U.S. crude oil exports that was lifted late last year when Obama signed a compromise spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Boustany is a six-term congressman trying to stand out in a crowded race to replace Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who is retiring from the Senate in January. Boustany’s campaign began airing the ad on Aug. 23.

Declaring War on ISIS

The ad, called “Ports,” opens with Boustany saying that “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to declare war on ISIS, but they’re more than happy to wage war on Louisiana’s economy.” Here’s the problem: Obama and Clinton asked Congress to authorize military force against ISIS last year. Congress has not done so.

In February 2015, Obama sent Congress a draft AUMF, or authorization for the use of military force, against ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the administration’s preferred name for the terrorist faction.

In his letter to Congress, Obama said that he was asking for congressional approval of military force even though he believed that an existing law gave him the authority to act.

Obama, Feb. 11, 2015: The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to U.S. national security. It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.

I have directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. As part of this strategy, U.S. military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Although existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions, I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL. Consistent with this commitment, I am submitting a draft AUMF that would authorize the continued use of military force to degrade and defeat ISIL.

As Obama said, the U.S. has been conducting targeted airstrikes against ISIS territories in Iraq and Syria since 2014. As of Aug. 22, 2016, the U.S. had made 10,826 of the 14,602 total airstrikes on ISIS in those countries, according to a Defense Department report on Operation Inherent Resolve.

Then, several months after Obama asked for the input of Congress, Clinton, by then a Democratic presidential candidate, also called for a vote on military action during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Clinton, Nov. 19, 2015: Now, we should have no illusions about how difficult the mission before us really is. We have to fit a lot of pieces together, bring along a lot of partners, move on multiple fronts at once. But if we press forward on both sides of the border, in the air and on the ground, as well as diplomatically, I do believe we can crush ISIS’s enclave of terror.

And to support this campaign, Congress should swiftly pass an updated authorization to use military force. That will send a message to friend and foe alike that the United States is committed to this fight. The time for delay is over. We should get this done.

Nearly a month after Clinton gave her speech, Obama again urged Congress to act after a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, left 14 people dead and dozens more injured. In a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, Obama said:

Obama, Dec. 6, 2015: Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.

Eight months have passed since then, and Congress, which has the constitutional authority to declare war but hasn’t since 1941, has not acted on Obama’s proposal.

Some Republican critics argued that the president’s proposal placed too many restrictions on the U.S. military to be effective. The draft AUMF says it “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations,” for example. On the other hand, some Democratic critics argued that that same language was “vague” and could involve combat troops in an extended ground war.

As a result, no congressional authorization has been granted.

So, Boustany, like other members of Congress, is free to criticize Obama and Clinton’s proposed strategies to defeat ISIS. But it’s wrong to say, as he did, that Obama and Clinton “refuse to declare war on ISIS.” They have.

Oil Exports Ban Lifted

Much of the campaign ad focuses on what Boustany refers to as Obama and Clinton’s “war on Louisiana’s economy.”

“When they pushed for a new oil and gas tax, I found a way to stop it,” Boustany says to the camera. “When they banned oil exports, I led the fight to change it.”

Obama did propose a new $10.25 per barrel fee on oil companies in his budget for fiscal year 2017. The White House said the fee, which would have been phased in over five years, “raises the funding necessary to make these new investments” in transportation, “while also providing for the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure we maintain the infrastructure we have.”

The Republican-controlled House then passed a nonbinding resolution that Boustany sponsored “[e]xpressing the sense of Congress opposing the President’s proposed $10 tax on every barrel of oil.”

But it’s not true that Obama and Clinton “banned oil exports,” as Boustany’s statement in the ad suggested.

In 1973, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an embargo against the U.S. In response, Congress passed, and President Gerald Ford signed, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which directed the president to prohibit the export of most oil produced in the U.S. Only “certain crude oil exports” were allowed if “determined to be in the national interest,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

That 40-year ban was finally lifted in December 2015 when Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that was negotiated to avoid a looming government shutdown.

It’s true that prior to signing the bill, Obama and Clinton opposed a separate Republican-backed bill ending the exports ban. But “they” weren’t the ones who put the ban in place.

Boustany campaign spokesman Jack Pandol told us the congressman wasn’t talking about Obama and Clinton personally when he said that “they banned oil exports.” The ad, though, only mentions two people by name — Obama and Clinton.

Besides, even if it wasn’t Boustany’s intention, it’s not clear to those who view the ad that the use of “they” isn’t a reference to Obama and Clinton. The fact is that “they” had nothing to do with the ban on oil exports being imposed in the first place.


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/boustanys-flawed-isis-oil-claims/feed/ 0
Opposition Overreach in Nevada http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/opposition-overreach-in-nevada/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/opposition-overreach-in-nevada/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 22:55:41 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=113043 Here we go again: opposition researchers spinning sensational-sounding claims from flimsy facts. This time it’s a Democratic ad claiming GOP Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada voted “23 times” against banning terrorists from buying guns.

The fact is, there has not been a single up-or-down vote on such a ban in the House.

The ad is sponsored by the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that is spending millions to elect Democratic Senate candidates. Heck, a three-term congressman, is the Republican nominee to succeed Sen. Harry Reid, who is retiring. Heck is locked in a tight race against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the state’s former attorney general.

No Vote on Ban

None of the 23 votes cited by the ad would have banned anything, according to the PAC’s own detailed backup statement. All were procedural votes, of which 21 (in the PAC’s words) would have denied “an opportunity” to vote on a measure Democrats wanted to get to the floor if given the chance. That “no-fly, no-buy” legislation was aimed at preventing gun sales to anyone the government had placed on a list of suspected terrorists barred from commercial flights.

The PAC says other votes would have “blocked” similar proposals that Democrats attempted to offer as riders to other legislation.

As an example, one of the “blocked” measures was a motion to send back to committee a bill dealing with property rights along the Red River in Texas and Oklahoma. The motion would have instructed the committee to attach to the bill additional language that would have authorized the U.S. attorney general to block gun sales to anyone “appropriately suspected” of being a terrorist.

When the Democratic motion was ruled out of order, the sponsor appealed, a Republican moved to table (kill) the appeal, and the vote was 246 to 182 against the appeal.  Like all the other votes cited, it was nearly a straight party-line vote. In this case, two Democrats sided with 244 Republicans.

Polls show that the “no fly, no buy” legislation is politically popular, which of course is why the Senate Majority PAC is eager to advertise that Heck is opposed to it.

Civil-Rights Concerns

But the idea raises civil-rights concerns. The House measure favored by Democrats would allow the U.S. attorney general to block the sale of a firearm to anyone “appropriately suspected” of being a terrorist, without having to state the basis of that suspicion or present any evidence to a court. The measure does not define what “appropriately” is supposed to mean.

Anyone denied a weapon would have 60 days to appeal to the courts, but even then the government could provide “summaries or redacted versions of documents” to support its case if the attorney general determines that a full recital of evidence would “likely compromise national security.”

The liberal American Civil Liberties Union opposes banning a sale based on mere official suspicion. The ACLU has called the no-fly list “error-prone and unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan has made clear that he won’t allow the measure on the floor for a vote while the Republicans control the House.

And it’s fair to say Heck would probably oppose such a measure if it ever did reach the floor; a spokesman told us Heck considers the measure “flawed.”

The Senate Majority PAC ad would be correct to say that Heck is part of a GOP majority that consistently backed its leadership’s refusal to consider the proposal Democrats favor. But it’s nonsense to claim that he voted 23 times against a proposed ban that never came up for a vote at all.


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/opposition-overreach-in-nevada/feed/ 0
Trump on Clinton’s Emails http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/trump-on-clintons-emails/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/trump-on-clintons-emails/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 23:05:16 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=113017 Donald Trump distorted the facts about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails when he said in Texas that “the FBI found thousands [of emails] she never turned over, and now just recently found another 15,000 more.”

Trump is right that the FBI recovered “several thousand work-related emails” that Clinton did not turn over to the State Department, as FBI Director James Comey disclosed in July. But the FBI did not “just recently” find “another 15,000 more.”

Instead, it was recently announced that the FBI recovered a total of about 14,900 emails during its year-long investigation of Clinton, including the “several thousand work-related emails” that Comey cited in July.

Also, Trump claimed that Clinton deleted her emails to “cover up her crimes,” but Comey said the FBI found “no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails [that the FBI found] were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.”

Trump made his remarks (at the 45:34 mark) during a rally in Austin, Texas, where he talked about the “new revelations about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.”

Trump, Aug. 23: She said she turned over all of her work-related emails. But the FBI found thousands she never turned over, and now just recently found another 15,000 more. That was another lie.

The 15,000 emails weren’t “just recently found,” and they are not all work-related.

Let’s recap what happened, beginning with Comey’s announcement on July 5 that the FBI had completed its investigation of Clinton’s use of personal email for government business while secretary of state. The FBI investigation concerned whether there were any violations of federal law on the handling of classified information, and whether there had been any hacking of the email server by foreign or hostile powers.

Comey announced that day that the FBI would not recommend that criminal charges be filed against Clinton or any State Department staffers for mishandling classified information. During his announcement, Comey said that Clinton turned over about 30,000 emails to the State Department in December 2014, but that the FBI “also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014.”

Comey at the time didn’t say how many total emails the FBI had recovered or exactly how many of them were work-related. However, it was disclosed at a court hearing on Aug. 22 that the FBI had turned over about 14,900 emails to the State Department that it had uncovered during the course of its investigation. The judge, who is presiding over a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative Judicial Watch, ordered the State Department to expedite its review process and release any emails that are responsive to the group’s FOIA request.

In a statement to us, the State Department said the 14,900 emails included the “several thousand work-related emails” that Comey mentioned at his July 5 press briefing. A department official told us that the FBI turned over the documents in two batches on July 21 and Aug. 5, and not all of the emails are work-related. The State Department needs to determine how many of them are work-related, although the FBI has said that “several thousand” are work-related. It may also turn out that some of these documents were already released.

“State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act,” the State Department said in its statement.

Trump also suggested that Clinton intentionally deleted emails to “cover up her crimes.” But the FBI found no evidence of a coverup.

Comey explained how the FBI recovered the emails that Clinton did not turn over to the State Department in December 2014:

Comey, July 5: We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond. …  Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.

Comey said the FBI “found no evidence” that she deleted emails intentionally to conceal them, saying it was “not surprising” that the FBI found emails that Clinton did not turn over to the State Department:

Comey, July 5: I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account — or even a commercial account like Gmail — there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.

So, Trump is not only wrong that the FBI “just recently found another 15,000 more” emails, but he is making an unsupported claim that she deleted the emails to “cover up her crimes.”


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/trump-on-clintons-emails/feed/ 0
Twisting Clinton’s Immigration Plan http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/twisting-clintons-immigration-plan/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/twisting-clintons-immigration-plan/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:36:47 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112945 Donald Trump’s new TV ad on immigration creates a misleading comparison, saying that under Hillary Clinton, “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay” but under Trump, “terrorists and dangerous criminals” are “kept out.” In fact, Clinton has said she would deport “violent criminals, terrorists, and anyone who threatens our safety.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to our questions about the ad. However, Clinton has supported measures, including the 2013 bipartisan Senate immigration bill, that would have allowed those living in the U.S. illegally who committed fewer than three misdemeanors, not including minor traffic violations, to stay — provided they met other requirements. This could be what the ad means by criminals “get to stay.”

If so, the ad, titled “Two Americas: Immigration,” misleads the viewer by contrasting Clinton’s plan with Trump’s proposal to keep “terrorists and dangerous criminals” out. That’s no different from what Clinton has proposed on illegal immigration. There are certainly different definitions of the word “dangerous,” but Clinton has used the same language in talking about whom she would deport. And the bill she supported barred convicted felons from becoming legal residents or citizens.

The Republican presidential nominee’s ad began airing Aug. 19 on a $4.8 million ad buy over 10 days in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, the campaign has said.

The ad begins with the narrator describing immigration “in Hillary Clinton’s America: The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open.”

In contrast, the narrator gives this description of “Donald Trump’s America”: “Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe.”

We’ve written about a few of these claims before. Clinton hasn’t supported “open” borders, as the ad falsely implies. The 2013 Senate immigration bill — the most recent comprehensive immigration legislation, which Clinton has said she backed — would have made large investments in border security, including additional border fencing, and Clinton said during a Democratic debate in November, “Border security has always been a part of that [immigration] debate.” As we’ll explain later, the immigration plan on her website talks about deporting some individuals. That’s not an “open” border.

The ad also uses a deceptive image of people crowded on top of train cars when it says “our border open,” as if anyone and everyone could stream in legally. That’s not what Clinton has proposed or supported. The 2013 Senate bill would have set up a path to citizenship for those who had entered the country prior to Dec. 31, 2011.

The ad also leaves the impression that “illegal immigrants” would be “collecting Social Security benefits” under Clinton’s presidency, but that would only happen if those immigrants became citizens or had legal status. And that’s the case under current law. As we’ve explained before back in 2009 and 2006, those in the country illegally are barred from collecting Social Security. Once an immigrant gains legal status, then that person can get credit for the Social Security taxes he or she paid when working illegally.

As for whether Clinton would allow a “flood” of Syrian refugees, that’s a matter of opinion. Obama has authorized the acceptance of 10,000 Syrian refugees for fiscal year 2016, while Clinton has said the number should be as many as 65,000. For context, there are nearly 5 million Syrian refugees displaced by the country’s civil war, which began in 2011. And the U.S. is set to accept a total of 85,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2016.

Trump has said that no Syrian refugees should be admitted to the U.S., because terrorists may be among them, and Clinton has said the refugees should be admitted “only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine.”

The claim that piqued our fact-checking interest, though, was the assertion that under Clinton “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay.”

‘Criminals Stay’?

The ad includes a graphic that says “criminals stay” and a citation of “NBC News 7/9/16.” We tried internet and Lexis Nexis searches to find a relevant NBC News article on that day, but we came up empty. We asked the Trump campaign to point us to the article in question, and spokeswoman Hope Hicks told us over the phone that she would take a look at our emailed request. We have not received a response, but we will update this article if we do.

However, Clinton has talked about deporting criminals as part of her illegal immigration plan.

Clinton’s proposal says that she will send a plan to Congress that will include “a path to full and equal citizenship” within her first 100 days in office. That plan “will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.”

The plan goes on to say that she would defend Obama’s executive orders to delay deportation for so-called DREAMers and the parents of citizens and lawful residents. But she specifically talks about deporting other immigrants, saying, she would “focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.”

During a March Democratic debate, Clinton was asked about allowing immigrants to stay if they lacked a criminal record. She said: “But if you are asking about everyone who is already here, undocumented immigrants, the 11-12 million who are living here, my priorities are to deport violent criminals, terrorists, and anyone who threatens our safety.”

In a speech to the National Immigrant Integration Conference in December 2015, Clinton also talked about “prioritiz[ing] whom to deport.” She said: “Dangerous criminals? Yes. DREAMers and their families? No.”

As for Trump, he initially talked about deporting all immigrants living in the country illegally, but his stance has recently softened. At a February debate, he said that all immigrants with illegal status “will go out,” adding that some will “come back legally.” Last November, he talked about using a “deportation force” to deport all of the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

But in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on Aug. 22, Trump said that “we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones,” mentioning “gang members” and “killers,” and talked about using the existing deportation process for others. “As far as the rest, we’re going to go through the process, like they are now, perhaps with a lot more energy, and we’re going to do it only through the system of laws,” Trump said.

Trump described his deportation approach as similar to past administrations, including the current one. “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing and I just said that,” he told O’Reilly.

The candidates obviously differ on what to do about noncriminals who are illegally living in the United States: Clinton would create a path to citizenship, while Trump says he would keep existing laws and deportation processes. But as far as prioritizing whom to deport, both have said they’d focus on criminals and dangerous individuals.

What about the measures Clinton has supported in the past? The 2013 Senate immigration bill included a years-long path to citizenship, but that path would not have been available to those convicted of a felony, three misdemeanor crimes (not counting “minor traffic offenses”), a foreign crime or unlawful voting. Also, an individual would have been ineligible if there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that the person “is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity.”

That would mean that an immigrant in the country illegally who was convicted of two misdemeanors could have stayed under the bill — provided that person met other requirements including paying a $500 fine and back taxes. Becoming a citizen then required other measures, such as having a steady work history, knowing English, passing background checks and more.

The bipartisan legislation, also known as the “Gang of Eight” bill, said that it would be possible for the secretary of homeland security to waive the barring of those convicted of three misdemeanors for “humanitarian” or “public interest” reasons. Under federal immigration laws, a misdemeanor is an offense punishable by up to a year in prison.

There are similar exclusions for felons and other criminals in Obama’s executive order on deferring deportation for so-called DREAMers, those who came to the United States at a young age and are attending or have graduated from high school or have served in the U.S. military. Among the requirements to apply for a two-year deferral of deportation proceedings: “Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Such language leaves open the possibility that some convicted criminals — if their offenses were misdemeanors and fewer than three — would be allowed to stay under the types of proposals Clinton has supported. But contrasting that with a Trump plan to keep out “terrorists and dangerous criminals” is a misleading comparison. Clinton, too, has said she would deport “dangerous” and “violent” criminals, “terrorists” and “anyone who threatens our safety.”


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/twisting-clintons-immigration-plan/feed/ 0
Clinton Campaign’s ‘Kremlin’ Deception http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/clinton-campaigns-kremlin-deception/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/clinton-campaigns-kremlin-deception/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 17:35:18 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112955 Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, made the baseless insinuation that Donald Trump compromised national security by inviting a man with Russian ties to his intelligence briefing.

Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Mook said Trump was accompanied to his first intelligence briefing on Aug. 17 by “someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.” Mook claimed this “gentleman” — whom he did not name — “was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin” at RT’s 10th anniversary gala in December, and he demanded that Trump disclose “whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.”

Who is this mysterious, unnamed gentleman? The Clinton campaign told us Mook was referring to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who until two years ago was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama.

Flynn is not “on the payroll of the Russia Times.” He was merely one of many speakers at RT’s anniversary conference on Dec. 10, 2015, in Moscow. RT is a Russian government-funded TV station once known as Russia Today.

Mook made his misleading assertion about Flynn shortly after he claimed that “real questions being raised about whether Donald Trump himself is just a puppet for the Kremlin.” Host George Stephanopoulos questioned Mook about that claim — which has been part of the Clinton campaign’s attacks on Trump ever since it was reported that Russia was likely behind the successful attacks on computer servers at the Democratic National Committee and the release of DNC emails.

Stephanopoulos: You’re saying he’s a puppet for the Kremlin?

Mook: Well, real questions are being raised about that. We — again, there’s a web of financial ties to the Russians that he refuses to disclose. We’ve seen over the last few week, him parroted Vladimir Putin in his own remarks. We saw the Republican Party platform changed. She saw Donald Trump talk about leaving NATO and leaving our Eastern European allies vulnerable to a Russian attack. The gentleman he brought with him to his security briefing just last week is someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. He was sitting two seats away from Vladimir Putin at their 10th anniversary gala.

There are a lot of questions here. And we need Donald Trump to disclose all of his financial ties and whether his advisers are having meetings with the Kremlin.

Trump has praised Putin and has called for improved relations with Russia, but he has denied that he has had any financial ties with Russia beyond holding the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow in 2013. Also, Trump’s personal financial disclosure report required of all presidential candidates does not show any investments in Russia.

However, Paul Manafort, who until last week was Trump’s campaign chairman, did have business dealings with Russian-aligned leaders in Ukraine, as uncovered by the New York Times. With Manafort gone, Mook redirected the campaign’s guilt-by-association attack on Trump by questioning Flynn’s associations with the Kremlin.

Trump was joined at his first intelligence briefing on Aug. 17 at FBI headquarters in New York City by Flynn and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. As Huffington Post wrote, Flynn “was paid by a Russian state-funded television network to speak at its 10th-anniversary gala,” and Putin attended that conference. Reuters reported that Flynn “was pictured sitting at the head table with Putin” at the conference.

In an Aug. 15 article, Flynn told the Washington Post that his speaking engagement was arranged by his speaker’s bureau and that he was paid for it. He said he was introduced to Putin, but did not speak to him.

Flynn was one of many speakers at the conference. Others included former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and liberal U.S. media commentator Thom Hartmann.

Flynn sat for a one-on-one Q&A with RT correspondent Sophie Shevardnadze on the Islamic State terrorist group and the crisis in the Middle East. His conference topic coincided with the announcement that he is writing a book with Michael Ledeen on the Middle East called “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.”

The Clinton campaign provided no evidence that Flynn is “on the payroll” of RT or that he is “having meetings with the Kremlin,” as Mook alleged. It forwarded us a Politico story from May that said Flynn “makes semi-regular appearances on RT as an analyst.” Politico wrote that Flynn is “presumably” paid for those TV appearances, but the retired lieutenant general told the Post that he is not paid by RT or any other TV stations, because “I want to be able to speak freely about what I believe.”

Steve Sestanovich, a senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told us that Flynn’s appearance at the conference certainly raises a question about Flynn’s “judgment and good sense,” but it probably doesn’t make him a security risk.

Flynn served for more than three decades in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. He became the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama in July 2012. He was asked to resign after two years and quickly became one of the Obama administration’s most vocal critics on foreign policy. “I was asked to step down,” Flynn admitted in an interview with Foreign Policy. “It wasn’t necessarily the timing that I wanted, but I understand.”

Trump reportedly considered Flynn during his search for a vice presidential candidate, but ultimately picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

The Clinton campaign certainly has legitimate questions it can raise about Trump’s foreign policy positions, such as his comments that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of NATO, because it is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune.” But Mook goes too far in falsely claiming that Flynn is “on the payroll” of the government-funded Russia TV station and insinuating without evidence that the retired United States Army lieutenant general is a security risk.


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/clinton-campaigns-kremlin-deception/feed/ 0
Unpacking Pot’s Impact in Colorado http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/unpacking-pots-impact-in-colorado/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/unpacking-pots-impact-in-colorado/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 21:21:37 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112770 During a town hall meeting, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said “marijuana-related” traffic deaths, hospital visits and school suspensions in Colorado have “not significantly” increased since the state legalized the drug. That’s inaccurate. Statistics from various official sources show substantial increases.

But the limitations of the data make it impossible to know for sure how many of the documented incidents were directly caused by marijuana use. Unlike alcohol, for example, testing positive for marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean a person is under the influence of the drug at the time of the traffic accident.

SciCHECKsquare_4-e1430162915812Johnson, a former New Mexico governor who supports federal marijuana legalization, discussed the impacts of Colorado’s marijuana laws with CNN’s Anderson Cooper at a town hall meeting in New York City on Aug. 3.

In November 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana, which allowed qualifying patients or their caregivers to possess up to two ounces and grow six plants. In 2010, the state legalized medical dispensaries, and by 2012 there were 532 licensed dispensaries in the state and more than 108,000 registered patients.

In November 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana, which allows any individual over age 21 to grow up to six plants and possess one ounce of marijuana. The 2012 law also permitted marijuana retail stores (in addition to medical dispensaries), the first of which received licenses in January 2014.

Cooper asked Johnson about reports of increases in “marijuana-related” fatalities and other incidents in Colorado under the new laws.

Cooper, Aug. 3: In Colorado there were increases in marijuana-related hospital visits, apparently traffic deaths, school suspensions. … How would you deal with other sort of follow-on effects [of legalization]?

Johnson: Actually, overall, Anderson, all the statistics were pointing north. Not significantly, but all the statistics were actually north. You may be pointing at some, some aberrations within that.

Johnson was wrong – increases in these incidents were significant. Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 154 percent between 2006 and 2014; Colorado emergency room hospital visits that were “likely related” to marijuana increased by 77 percent from 2011 to 2014; and drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 40 percent from school years 2008/2009 to 2013/2014, according to a September 2015 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, a collaboration of federal, state and local drug enforcement agencies.

Quantifying the impact of the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado will be important for policymakers considering whether to legalize marijuana on a federal level. In June 2014, for example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described Colorado and Washington as “laboratories of democracy,” when it comes legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

“We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now,” Clinton said. “I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

But, as we said, the limitations of the data make assessing the benefits and costs of legalization difficult.

To unpack Colorado’s statistics, we’ll review the numbers law enforcement and others have collected, and we’ll explain the caveats attached to these findings.

‘Marijuana-Related’ Traffic Deaths

The definition of “marijuana-related” in the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Traffic Area report makes it difficult to draw conclusions from the traffic fatality data, which were drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In the introduction of its report, the Rocky Mountain HIDTA states that terms such as “marijuana-related” or “tested positive for marijuana” do “not necessarily prove that marijuana was the cause of the incident.” The section on “Impaired Driving” also states that, when it comes to traffic fatalities, “marijuana-related” entails “any time marijuana shows up in the toxicology report [of drivers]. It could be marijuana only or marijuana with other drugs and/or alcohol.”

From 2009 to 2012, the “medical marijuana commercialization years,” the average yearly marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 48 percent compared with the “early medical marijuana era” between 2006 and 2008. In the first two years after the recreational use of marijuana became legal (2013 to 2014), the average yearly marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by another 41 percent.

From 2006 to 2014 overall, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 154 percent, from 37 fatalities with drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2006 to 94 in 2014 — hardly an insignificant increase, as Johnson claimed. For comparison, there were 170 alcohol-related fatalities per year in Colorado between 2003 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA report emphasizes that the proportion of marijuana-related traffic fatalities to traffic fatalities as a whole increased as well: In 2014, marijuana-related traffic fatalities made up 19.26 percent of all traffic deaths, up from 6.92 percent in 2006.

But the increase in the proportion of marijuana-related traffic deaths could merely mean that more people are using the drug — not necessarily that more people are under the influence of marijuana when involved in fatal traffic accidents.

In fact, a January 2016 Rocky Mountain HIDTA update report, which only looked at youth and adult marijuana use, did note that 31.24 percent of college-aged adults (18 to 25) had reported using marijuana in the past month in 2013/2014, compared with 21.43 percent in 2005/2006. Likewise, 12.45 percent of adults 26-years-old and older used marijuana in the past month in 2013/2014, compared with 5.32 percent in 2005/2006.

It’s also worth noting that, according to the report, 37 percent of all drivers in 2014 who tested positive for marijuana, not just those involved in traffic fatalities, also had alcohol in their system. An additional 15 percent of all marijuana-positive drivers had other drugs in their system. And a further 15 percent of drivers had both alcohol and other drugs in their system, along with marijuana. Only 33 percent of tested drivers had only marijuana in their system.

Blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater is the legal threshold for driving while impaired in all 50 states. Blood alcohol concentration levels do correspond to a person’s intoxication level. However, marijuana and other drugs, such as cocaine and prescription pain killers, can stay in a person’s system for a few days, so the presence of the drug alone is not necessarily an indicator of intoxication.

Other states with legalized recreational marijuana also have seen similar trends in marijuana-related traffic fatalities. In May 2016, the American Automobile Association conducted an analysis of Washington’s marijuana-related fatalities and found that around twice as many “fatal-crash-involved drivers” had THC in their system in 2014 compared with previous years. Recreational marijuana became legal in Washington in November 2012.

Like the Rocky Mountain HIDTA’s 2015 report, the AAA report cautions that testing positive for THC doesn’t mean the driver was impaired or at fault for the crash. The AAA report added that many marijuana-positive drivers also had alcohol and other drugs in their system, “which in some cases likely contributed more significantly to the crash than did the THC.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also states that “the role played by marijuana in [traffic] accidents is often unclear, because it can remain detectable in body fluids for days or even weeks after intoxication and because users frequently combine it with alcohol.” Though the NIDA adds, “The risk associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol appears to be greater than that for either drug by itself.”

February 2015 “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk” study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did find “a statistically significant increase” in crash risk (1.25 times) for drivers who tested positive for THC. But after the researchers controlled for age, gender, ethnicity and alcohol concentration level, increased crash risk associated with marijuana was no longer significant. This suggests these other variables “account for much of the increased risk associated … with THC,” write the study authors.

There’s also some evidence that medical marijuana laws may contribute to decreasing traffic fatalities. One study published in The Journal of Law & Economics in 2013 reviewed traffic fatalities in the 19 states that had passed medical marijuana laws by 2010 and found that “legalization is associated with an 8–11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities” for the year after the laws took effect. The researchers from the University of Colorado, Denver and elsewhere also found that the decrease is more significant for alcohol-related fatalities at 13.2 percent.

To be clear, there is evidence that “marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time,” according to the NIDA.

There is also no doubt that marijuana intoxication alone has played a direct role in some fatal crashes. The Rocky Mountain HIDTA 2015 report, for example, cites a November 2014 case in which a teenager driving under the influence of only marijuana hit and killed a 16-year-old high school student. In addition to testing positive for marijuana, the teenager also showed visible signs of intoxication, such as having trouble walking in a straight line and smelling like the drug. Passengers in the car also said the driver had smoked marijuana in the car prior to driving.

Still, the question remains as to whether Colorado’s marijuana laws, or Washington’s for that matter, have directly led to surges in traffic fatalities overall. At this point, the data don’t conclusively prove that they have.

‘Marijuana-Related’ Hospital Visits

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA 2015 report says data on “marijuana-related” hospital visits come from “lab tests, self-admitted or some other form of validation by the physician.”

But the data are not directly obtained from lab tests or physicians. The 2015 report primarily includes numbers crunched by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which used medical codes as a means of quantifying marijuana-related emergency room visits. Medical coding translates information from hospital charts, which could include lab test results and a physician’s notes, into alphanumeric codes used for billing and insurance purposes.

In other words, the “marijuana-related” information pertaining to emergency room visits goes through at least one round of telephone before it’s translated into statistics by CDPHE and other groups. As we’ll explain, this is part of the reason why these codes don’t “necessarily prove marijuana was the cause of the emergency admission,” as the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report states.

The report breaks the data down into Colorado emergency department rates for visits that are “likely related” and “could be related” to marijuana. The former showed a 77 percent increase from 2011 to 2014; the latter a 68 percent increase.

Emergency room visits that could be related to marijuana included “any mention of marijuana” in the medical codes, and that was “not necessarily related to the underlying reason” for seeking medical care, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Emergency room visits that are likely related to marijuana included instances in which medical codes for poisoning by psychodysleptics are mentioned. They also included instances in which codes for cannabis abuse are listed first, second or third by medical coders.

The state health department argues that, among a group of about 15 to 30 codes filed for emergency room visits, the first three codes are more likely to be “clinically significant” than codes recorded further down the list.

A psychodysleptic is a drug that produces hallucinations, such as LSD and psilocybin (mushrooms). In large doses, marijuana can also induce hallucinations, according to the NIDA. This means some cases included in CDPHE statistics may have been due to other psychodysleptics, and not marijuana.

Furthermore, Andrew Monte, an emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist at the University of Colorado, Denver, told us by email that the order in which medical codes are listed is, in his experience, “arbitrary” because they are “assigned by billers, not practitioners at the bedside.”

For this reason, Monte and his colleagues chose to look at all instances of only marijuana-related medical codes in their recent study on emergency department visits related to the drug.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine in February 2016, Monte’s study found that the rate of emergency department “visits possibly related to cannabis use among out-of-state residents doubled from 85 per 10,000 visits in 2013 to 168 per 10,000 visits in 2014, which was the first year of retail marijuana sales.” But for Colorado residents, “the rate of ED visits possibly related to cannabis use did not change significantly between 2013 and 2014.”

This difference between out-of-towners and residents, Monte and his colleagues reason, “may represent a learning curve during the period when marijuana was potentially available to Colorado residents for medical use … but was largely inaccessible to out-of-state residents.”

Still, Monte told us his “study design is flawed” because “many of the included cases are not due to cannabis,” since the data comes from medical codes.

The state health department report also states that increases in emergency room visit rates in Colorado “have many potential explanations” and that without a full medical record review, it cannot “determine with certainty whether marijuana was truly a causal or contributing factor,” even in “likely related” cases. “This is a significant limitation,” the state health department report says. Monte agreed. In fact, he currently has “a group working on this but it takes months to get through these charts.”

Overall, Monte said, he has “clearly seen increased adverse effects from cannabis use,” but Colorado’s “emergency departments and hospitals are not overrun by cannabis related complaints.”

Marijuana-Related School Suspensions

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA 2015 report also says, “Drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 40 percent from school years 2008/2009 to 2013/2014. The vast majority were for marijuana violations.” This is also a significant increase, despite Johnson’s claim.

However, it isn’t clear whether the increase was due solely to marijuana, because the Colorado Department of Education collects data on drug-related suspensions and expulsions in general, not those particular to marijuana.

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA 2015 report says that the education department lumps all drug-related suspensions and expulsions together. But, it adds, department “officials reported that most drug-related suspensions/expulsions reported since the 2008/2009 academic year have been related to marijuana.”

To support this claim, the 2015 report cites a website run by Dr. Christian Thurstone, an expert in youth substance abuse at the University of Colorado, Denver. A post on Dr.Thurstone.com said that “officials with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) say the state’s schools are reporting ‘a sharp rise’ in marijuana-related troubles for students.”

But that’s not exactly what the one state education official said. Janelle Krueger, manager of the department’s Expelled and At-Risk Student Services program, told the Denver Post in November 2013, “We have seen a sharp rise in drug-related disciplinary actions which, anecdotally, from credible sources, is being attributed to the changing social norms surrounding marijuana.”

So Krueger didn’t say she was speaking specifically of marijuana-related suspensions and expulsions, but, rather, “drug-related disciplinary actions,” which could include other drugs and other less severe punishments.

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA 2015 report does provide anecdotal evidence from surveys of 95 school resource officers in Colorado: 90 percent of school officers reported an increase in marijuana-related incidents since the legalization of recreational marijuana; 9 percent saw no change, and 1 percent saw a slight decrease. The predominant marijuana violation seen by the majority of school officers was the possession of marijuana.

But there are at least two reasons why these surveys cannot conclusively show how many suspensions and expulsions are due to the legalization of marijuana. First, it’s unclear whether the marijuana-related incidents cited by school officers led to suspensions or expulsions. More important, the surveys reflect the resource officers’ impressions of the impact that marijuana laws have had on students at their schools, which aren’t quantitative and objective statistics.

In fact, some education department data suggest expulsions specifically related to marijuana have decreased between the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years.

In December 2014, Krueger and colleagues at the education department reported that, for students who participated in the state’s Expelled and At-Risk Student Services Program, “30.5% had been expelled for marijuana-related code of conduct violations” during the 2013/2014 school year, compared with 32.6 percent for 2012/2013. However, for both years, marijuana-related expulsions did make up the largest proportion of all expulsions.

But are kids using pot more often since Colorado made it legal?

The 2016 Rocky Mountain HIDTA updated report says yes, citing results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 12.56 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 said they had used marijuana in the past month in 2013/2014 in Colorado, compared with 7.6 percent in 2005/2006.

However, according to the Department of Public Health and Environment’s 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, Colorado’s high school students’ marijuana habits haven’t changed much since 2009. In 2009, 25 percent of high school students said they had used marijuana in the past month, compared with 21 percent in 2015. Likewise, in 2009, 43 percent said they had tried marijuana once in their lifetime, compared with 38 percent in 2015.

Drug-related suspensions and expulsions have increased in Colorado. School officers also say they’ve seen an increase in marijuana-related incidents. But anecdotal testimony isn’t quantitative data. As for whether or not students are using marijuana more often today compared with years prior, the research has produced conflicting data.

Johnson was wrong when he claimed “marijuana-related” traffic deaths, hospital visits and school suspensions in Colorado have “not significantly” increased. All three have. What we don’t know is whether marijuana use is the cause of the increases or, if it is, to what extent.

Editor’s Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.

http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/unpacking-pots-impact-in-colorado/feed/ 0
‘Record’ College Enrollment Rates? http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/record-college-enrollment-rates/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/record-college-enrollment-rates/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 21:21:11 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112843 President Barack Obama credited his administration for what he said are “record … college enrollment rates.” But the most recent federal data show that rates of enrollment are not a record and have not improved much compared with the year before Obama was president.

Obama made that statement on Aug. 15 at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser where he talked about progress the country has made since he became president.

Obama, Aug. 15: It’s important because we have made extraordinary progress over the last eight years on a whole range of issues. … We are seeing record graduation rates in high school — and college enrollment rates.

It’s true that the U.S. is “seeing record graduation rates in high school,” as Obama said.

“In school year 2013-14, the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for public high schools rose to an all-time high of 82 percent,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s the percentage of ninth-grade students who graduated within four years.

But the overall number of people enrolled in college declined for four straight years, from 2010 to 2014, and the latest rate of enrollment for 2015 is not a record, either.


The immediate college enrollment rate was 69.2 percent in 2015, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That’s down from a high of 70.1 percent in 2009, and only 0.6 percentage points higher than the 68.6 percent in 2008 before Obama took office.

The immediate college enrollment rate is defined as the percentage of those ages 16 to 24 who complete high school (including GED recipients) and enroll in two- or four-year colleges in the fall immediately following graduation.

The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in degree-granting colleges or universities also wasn’t a record as of 2014.

That year, 40 percent of individuals in that age group were attending a two- or four-year college. However, the percentage was higher — 42 percent — in 2011, and the 39.6 percent enrolled in 2008 was only 0.4 percentage points lower than the most recent enrollment rate.

At the fundraising event, Obama also commented on the improvement of the U.S. economy, which experts say has contributed to the decline in college enrollments.

“Historically, as the economy improves and Americans get back to work, college enrollment declines,” Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell told CNN Money in May.

So a record percentage of students are now graduating from high school on time, but the rate at which those same students are enrolling in college — even compared with 2008 — isn’t quite record-breaking, nor has it improved much.


http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/record-college-enrollment-rates/feed/ 0
Groundhog Friday http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-8/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-8/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 20:18:29 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=112651 This week’s rundown of repeated claims includes former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Jeff Sessions and President Barack Obama, in addition to the presidential candidates and one of the running mates. Follow the links to our stories on the original claims for more information.

Groundhog2Former President Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton’s emails, Aug. 12 in Las Vegas: “And the truth is that it was a mistake for her to use her personal email even though her predecessors had and her successor, John Kerry, did for a year until it was no longer legal.”

As his wife has done, Bill Clinton said “her predecessors” (plural) also used personal email for government business when they were secretaries of state. That’s false. Colin Powell was the only one to use personal email for government business. Like Clinton, Powell used a personal account “exclusively” for government business, but the State Department inspector general’s report issued in May made it clear that Clinton’s unusual email arrangement cannot be compared to previous secretaries.

The IG report said that it has been department policy since 2005 — four years before Clinton took office — that “normal day-to-day operations” be conducted on government servers. It also said that in 2007 the department adopted additional policies requiring “non-Departmental information systems” used to “process or store department information” to meet the same security controls as the department’s systems, and requiring that they be registered with the department. Clinton did not adhere to either policy. Clinton was secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013.

“By Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the Department’s guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated,” the report said. “Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”

As for Kerry, the IG report said the current secretary of state has said he “infrequently” used personal email for government business, and “primarily” uses his government email account for official business.

“Clinton Spins Immigration, Emails,” July 8, 2015

“IG Report on Clinton’s Emails,” May 27



Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump’s child care plan, Aug. 15 rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “And there’s one more part of Trump’s plan I want to mention. He’s now saying he wants to help people pay for child care by excluding those payments from taxation. Well again, guess who that will help the most? It will help rich people, who will get 30 or 40 cents on the dollar to pay for their nannies. Hardworking families who can’t afford child care in the first place will get little to no real help. That’s why his child-care plan has been panned by experts across the political spectrum left, right, and center.”

Republican presidential nominee Trump initially provided little detail about his child care plan, saying in an Aug. 8 speech: “My plan will also help reduce the cost of child care by allowing parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care spending from their taxes.” And economists did criticize the plan for providing little benefit to low-income workers, since 44 percent of workers pay no federal income tax — therefore, they wouldn’t benefit from a deduction. But Trump’s campaign later said that “low-income taxpayers [would be] able to take deduction against payroll tax.”

The campaign also said in statements to the media that the plan would give “credit to stay-at-home caregivers” and that there would be an income cutoff for eligibility. No income threshold was given.

“Clinton’s Economic Speech,” Aug. 11



Trump on neighbors not reporting bombs on the floor of San Bernardino shooters’ home, Aug. 16 Fox News town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “And San Bernardino, they saw bombs lying around the apartment. People saw it. And they wanted to be — they called it racial profiling. We didn’t want to call in because of racial profiling. In other words, a lawyer got to them and said you got a problem here, you knew this was — say racial profiling.”

Trump here adds a new twist to his baseless claim that neighbors saw bombs on the floor of the apartment owned by the San Bernardino shooters and did not report it due to concerns about racial profiling. In this telling, he says “a lawyer got to them” to say that. As we have said before, the neighbor in question only reportedly saw the couple receiving a large number of packages, and observed that they were working a lot in their garage. A friend of that neighbor said she didn’t report that because of concerns about racial profiling. There is no evidence that that neighbor, or any other, saw “bombs lying around the apartment” of the shooters.

“Trump’s Terrorism Speech,” Aug. 15

Donald Trump on Orlando Shooting,” June 21

Trump’s Press Conference,” July 27



Trump on Syrian refugees, Aug. 16 Fox News town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “We’re letting thousands and thousands of people come into our country. We have no idea who they are, where they come from. There’s no paperwork. Nobody knows what they’re doing. And they’re coming in by the thousands.”

All refugees seeking to enter the U.S. must pass a more rigorous screening than anyone else allowed into the country, and those from Syria are subjected to special measures, including iris scans and an “enhanced review” by the Department of Homeland Security.

False GOP Theme: ‘Unvetted’ Refugees,” Aug. 4



Trump on the Iraq War, Aug. 16 Fox News town hall: “Look, I said one thing right from the beginning, I wanted to get out. We should have never been there and I wanted to get out and I’ve been — I’ve been against it ever since. I mean you can look back to 2004, 2003, uh, in fact, on Neil Cavuto’s show, before the war started, I said, let’s not do it. We have other things we have to do, including fix our economy, which was a mess, OK, to put it mildly.”

It’s not true that Trump told Cavuto “let’s not do it.” Trump made a similar claim in his Aug. 15 speech on terrorism, but as we wrote Trump did not take a position on the war when talking to Cavuto.

In the Jan. 28, 2003, interview — which occurred a week before then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations to make the Bush administration’s case for war — Trump told Cavuto that President Bush needed to make a decision soon. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” Trump said. That prompted Cavuto to ask Trump if he thought that “stringing this along could ultimately hurt us.” Trump responded by reiterating that Bush “has either got to do something or not do something,” and then Trump went on to say that public opinion polls showed that the economy is a “much bigger” political problem for Bush than “the Iraq situation.”

“Donald Trump and the Iraq War,” Feb. 19

“Trump’s Terrorism Speech,” Aug. 15



Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Indiana jobs, Aug. 17 speech in Henderson, Nevada: “We’ve cut unemployment in half, and we’ve got more Hoosiers working than ever before in the 200 year history of our state.”

Pence, who is the governor of Indiana, made this claim during the Republican convention. And it’s true that there are more people employed in Indiana now than at any earlier period on record — but that’s not unusual. The total U.S. employment is also at record levels, as is the U.S. population. We looked at figures last month for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and only 18 states have failed to set a record for the number of jobs this year.

Job growth under Pence’s governorship also lags behind the national growth. Total nonfarm employment in the state has increased 5.3 percent from the time Pence first took office on Jan. 14, 2013, through July. Total U.S. employment grew even faster — by 6.8 percent — during the same period.

“Pence on Employment Record,” July 21



Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama on income, Aug. 14 interview on ABC’s “This Week”: “Wages have declined by $4,000 per median — median income has declined $4,000 since 2000.”

This is an outdated talking point, which was also recently used by Trump. Median household income was $4,000 less in 2014 than it was in 2000 — but more up-to-date figures show median household income is down $620 since 2000.

Census data is available through 2014, but Sentier Research provides more current estimates based on the monthly Current Population Survey, a statistical series from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sentier’s most recent report says median household income was $57,206 in June, slightly less than the $57,826 median figure for January 2000.

Also, paychecks — or “wages,” as Sessions first said — have been going up, especially in the last two years. The average weekly earnings for all workers in June was 3.1 percent above the figure for the same month in 2014.

“Trump’s Economic Speech,” Aug. 9



President Barack Obama on clean energy, Aug. 15 remarks at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser: “We have doubled our production of clean energy.”

Obama continues to make this inflated claim about clean energy in the United States. Monthly renewable energy production has increased by about 40 percent from January 2009 to April 2016, far from the 100 percent increase the president claimed. Wind and solar power have more than doubled since 2008 (they’ve quadrupled, even), but, together, they represent less than a third of renewable energy consumption in April.

Biomass, such as ethanol that is blended in gasoline, accounted for about half of all renewable energy production in both 2008 and 2015, and hydroelectric power is the second largest category of renewable energy consumption.

Renewable Energy ‘Doubled’?” Sept. 14, 2012



http://www.factcheck.org/2016/08/groundhog-friday-8/feed/ 0