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Wonkbook: The social and economic story behind the unrest in Ferguson

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Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 46 million. That's the number of Americans who relied on food banks and pantries last year, according to a new study. That includes nearly 25 percent of military families.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: Ferguson, Mo., is emblematic of growing U.S. suburban poverty, these charts show.

Wonkbook's Top 4 Stories: (1) The turmoil behind the Ferguson protests; (2) the re-escalation of law enforcement's response; (3) hospitals grapple with change; and (4) Americans still going hungry.

1. Top story: Behind the Ferguson protests, the social and economic context, shaped by race

What happened overnight. "Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said the evening began with peaceful protests that 'took a very different turn after dark' as police deployed tear gas when protesters threw molotov cocktails and gunshots were fired at officers. Two people were injured in shootings, he said, but no officers were hurt. He said seven or eight people were arrested." DeNeen L. Brown, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Jerry Markon in The Washington Post.

Primary source: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon calls on the National Guard to help in Ferguson.

Preliminary autopsy: Brown hit six times, including twice in the head. "The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body. However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy, in addition to the one performed by local officials and this private one because, a department spokesman said, of 'the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family.'" Frances Robles and Julie Bosman in The New York Times.

Mounting racial and economic stress in areas near Ferguson. "The police shooting of Michael Brown was the spark. But the tinder fueling the anger and resentment that has exploded in Ferguson has been building for decades. The town has seen many middle-class homeowners who eagerly moved to St. Louis' northern suburbs after World War II to buy brick ranch homes with nice yards leave in later years, replaced by poorer newcomers. Good blue-collar jobs have grown scarce; the factories that once sprouted here have closed shop. Schools have struggled. And local governments — slow to evolve — often now look little like the people they represent. For the African American community, it creates a sense of lost opportunity in a place much like other aging suburbs in the Rust Belt and across the country." Tim Logan and Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times.

Economic and racial seeds sowed decades ago. "The roots of the racial unrest that has racked Ferguson, Mo., this week go back more than a century in a region that has had one foot planted in the Midwest and another in the South, historians and sociologists say. 'The St. Louis metropolitan area has been an extreme example of racial segregation for 100 years'" said Clarissa Hayward, an associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis. 'St. Louis is the beginning of the West, the nexus of the Midwest and at the border of the South.' The practices and politics of St. Louis created the problems that underlie the tension that boiled out in Ferguson this week, Hayward said." Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times.

Poverty is growing fastest in suburbs. "Protests...have drawn international attention to the St. Louis suburb’s growing underclass. Such challenges aren’t unique to Ferguson, according to a Brookings Institution report July 31 that found the poor population growing twice as fast in U.S. suburbs as in city centers. From Miami to Denver, resurgent downtowns have blossomed even as their recession-weary outskirts struggle with soaring poverty in what amounts to a paradigm shift....The number of poor people living in impoverished U.S. suburbs has more than doubled since 2000, comparing to a 50 percent rise in cities. More than half of the 46 million Americans in poverty now live in suburbs, Kneebone said." Toluse Olorunnipa and Elizabeth Campbell in Bloomberg.

Charts: Ferguson, Mo., emblematic of growing suburban poverty. Elizabeth Kneebone in Brookings Institution.

More charts: Ferguson among nation's many racially shifting suburbs. "On the whole, the increasing racial and ethnic diversity in these counties was due to a sharp rise in the Hispanic population. That’s been true across the country, of course, as the Hispanic population has grown nationally — from about 12.5% in 2000 to about 17.1% in 2012. But the Urban Suburbs didn’t just lose whites as a percentage of the whole; they lost them in real terms....That’s while the U.S. non-Hispanic white population grew by about nine million nationally. And in some places, like St. Louis County (west of the city of St. Louis), the shifts were more about growing African American populations than Hispanics." Dante Chinni in The Wall Street Journal.

How Ferguson's population has changed. "Ferguson since the 1970s has gone from being 85 percent white to about 70 percent black, thanks to waves of flight by both races from the City of St. Louis. Restrictive zoning rules, local real estate practices, housing prices, and transportation issues have concentrated many of those black migrants into older suburbs in adjoining north St. Louis County, like Ferguson. Meanwhile, whites continued to move even farther west into once-exurban St. Charles County — now Missouri’s most-affluent county, with a population nearly equal to that of the City of St. Louis. One result: a recreation of the segregated neighborhoods many former city-dwellers had sought to leave behind." James E. Ellis in Bloomberg Businessweek.

How St. Louis County's fragmentation contributed. "The map of St. Louis County, the home of Ferguson, looks like a shattered pot. It’s broken into 91 municipalities that range from small to tiny, along with clots of population in unincorporated areas....The crazy quilt that is St. Louis County government helps explain why violence broke out in Ferguson, of all the places in the country for a riot. It’s not because Ferguson is desperately poor; it’s lower-middle-income, with a healthy business district and a range of big, close-by employers....The problem, rather, is that St. Louis is locked into a pattern of inequitable development....Gordon says that because of Missouri’s tax laws and political fragmentation, 'there is a huge incentive to build the next great mall in the cornfield because you all of a sudden capture the tax revenue from it.'" Peter Coy in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Even more charts: Showing St. Louis's inequitable development.

@JeffSmithMO: Just hate to contemplate impact on #StL region residential/business location decisions going fwd. Likely to exacerbate extant inequality.

Explainer: How Obama can do more than “express concern” about violence in Ferguson, Mo. Max Ehrenfreund in The Washington Post.

@ZekeJMiller: Obama's briefing with Holder on Ferguson is scheduled for 1:15PM [Monday] (with photo spray) in Oval. Would put $ on him speaking after.

Helping kids make sense of Ferguson in demographically changing classrooms. "Part of knowing how to talk with students about killings like Brown's is a willingness on the part of educators to engage in a dialogue that might make them uncomfortable. 'It highlights one of the crises that schools are facing right now where we're seeing the changing demographics of students in the classroom, and the teaching population remains overwhelmingly white,' says Audrey Watters, a former college teacher who now writes about education. 'Many educators are unfortunately deeply uncomfortable, and perhaps even unwilling to address their white privilege, and have a hard time addressing the lived reality of their students.'" Juana Summers in NPR.

Long read: This is Ferguson — residents and business owners on their city. Mary Delach Leonard in St. Louis Public Radio.

Other legal reads:

More homicides reported in states where you can "stand your ground," report finds. Sarah Ferris in The Washington Post.

Supreme Court: Was gay marriage settled in 1972 case? Robert Barnes in The Washington Post.

GORDON-REED: U.S. has yet to overcome its tortured racial past. "For a founding father who usually took a sunny view of his nation’s prospects, it was a darkly pessimistic prophesy. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson argued that if — as he hoped — America’s black slaves were one day set free, the result would be conflict and an inevitable descent into racial war. And in the hours after Governor Jay Nixon imposed a night-time curfew on the Missouri town of Ferguson following the killing there of an unarmed teenager by a police officer earlier this month, it is indeed reasonable to wonder whether a form of war...has been waged against blacks in America from Jefferson’s time until our own." Annette Gordon-Reed in The Financial Times.

SMITH: Black town, white power. "After decades of methodically building political power, blacks in St. Louis City elected a black mayor in 1993 and black aldermen or alderwomen in nearly half the city’s wards....Well-established churches, Democratic ward organizations and other civic institutions mobilize voters in black wards. But because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations. That helps explain why majority-black Ferguson has a virtually all-white power structure....But there’s a potential solution that could help Ferguson...consolidation with surrounding municipalities, many of which face similar challenges." Jeff Smith in The New York Times.

SCHAFFNER, VAN ERVE AND LaRAJA: How Ferguson exposes the racial bias in local elections. "While Ferguson is 67 percent black, five of the six council members and the mayor are all white. Why this disparity? There are two culprits....Ferguson holds municipal elections in April of odd-numbered years. In doing so, the town is hardly unique. Approximately three-fourths of American municipalities hold their elections in odd years, a Progressive-era reform intended to shield municipal elections from the partisan politics of national contests, but one that has been shown to have a dramatic effect on reducing turnout. Ferguson also holds nonpartisan elections." Brian Schaffner, Wouter Van Erve and Ray LaRaja in The Washington Post.

HANSON: Revolutionary justice. "There is something disturbing about the demagogic efforts to rush to judgment in Ferguson, Mo. While it is understandable to deplore the militarization of the police that might accentuate rising tensions on the street, and to note that a mostly white police force might be less sensitive to a majority African-American populace, there is as yet not much evidence that the antithesis — a more relaxed approach to crowd control under the direction of a sensitive African-American law-enforcement official — has so far resulted in an end of the street violence or of the looting of stores. Too little police deterrence can be just as dangerous as too much.." Victor Davis Hanson in National Review.

BEINART: This time it's different — the conservative response to Ferguson. "In explaining Senator Rand Paul’s response to Ferguson — and the growing skepticism of tough-on-crime policies among leading Republican politicians today — commentators often cite the libertarian attitudes of younger voters and the GOP’s desperate need to change its image among African Americans and Latinos. But reaching out to these constituencies by shifting GOP policies on crime would be impossible if it produced the kind of furious backlash among conservative activists that Republican politicians have endured for trying to change their party’s policies on immigration. Why can Paul get away with it? Because of...the decline of crime." Peter Beinart in The Atlantic.

SULTAN: How the violence changes the children's futures. "From their parents, they may be hearing about how their community is treated unfairly, targeted or hated. Instead of new backpacks, they may carry a sense of devaluation, anxiety, fear with them too as they head back to school. What is the eventual impact of being exposed at a young age to violence and a feeling that the police can’t or won’t protect you? You build up a wall of mistrust. You are closed off to persons of authority. You find it hard to trust the guidance of school professionals or others who may want to help you. You see them as part of a system that killed someone who looks like you or doesn’t care about children who look like you." Aisha Sultan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Top opinion

KRUGMAN: Why we fight wars. "Once upon a time wars were fought for fun and profit; when Rome overran Asia Minor or Spain conquered Peru, it was all about the gold and silver. And that kind of thing still happens. In influential research sponsored by the World Bank, the Oxford economist Paul Collier has shown that the best predictor of civil war, which is all too common in poor countries, is the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. Whatever other reasons rebels cite for their actions seem to be mainly after-the-fact rationalizations. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles. If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war — even easy, victorious war — doesn’t pay." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

RYAN: A better way up from poverty. "Who was a taker? My mom, who is on Medicare? Me at 18 years old, using the Social Security survivor's benefits we got after my father's death to go to college? My buddy who had been unemployed and used job-training benefits to get back on his feet? The phrase gave insult where none was intended. People struggling and striving to get ahead—that's what our country is all about. On that journey, they're not 'takers'; they're trying to make something of themselves. We shouldn't disparage that. Of course, the phrase wasn't just insensitive; it was also ineffective. The problem I was trying to describe wasn't about our people; it's a philosophy of government that erodes the American Idea." Paul Ryan in The Wall Street Journal.

CHAIT: The ridiculous indictment of Gov. Rick Perry. "They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The 'crime' for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is." Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.

SAMUELSON: Global prosperity is no panacea. "One characteristic of this post-euphoric world is a pervasive contradiction. On the one hand, we are being drawn closer together by the explosion of low-cost digital technologies, cheapening transportation and expanding trade. In a word: globalization. On the other hand, we’re being pulled further apart by deep and durable ethnic, religious, historical and nationalistic schisms. The power of the former make the latter more threatening, because unwanted consequences and conflicts are more easily transmitted across borders. Think terrorism, cyber warfare, mass migrations and Ebola." Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post.

MORGENSON: In a bank settlement, don't forget bulldozers. "As has become typical in these settlements, troubled borrowers across the country will most likely receive aid in the form of reductions in what they owe on their mortgages. Money will probably also be set aside for loan counseling, an important tool for countering predatory lending. But even if this largest-ever mortgage settlement goes through as expected, it will fall short if little to no meaningful cash goes to the demolition and repurposing of abandoned homes. Such a deal would neglect thousands of residents in neighborhoods where vacant properties are still imperiling real estate values and attracting crime. That would not be unusual." Gretchen Morgenson in The New York Times.

Poker interlude: Player's unexpected reaction to winning $15 million.

2. How the law enforcement response in Ferguson has re-escalated

Context on curfews: They've been used in multiple places recently. "In recent years, authorities in Boston, New Orleans and other cities have enacted curfews as they contended with upheaval caused by hurricanes, racial tension and terrorism. Last year, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked residents of Boston, Cambridge and Watertown to shutter themselves inside as police scoured the area for Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers who carried out the Boston marathon bombings." James Queally in the Los Angeles Times.

@mattdpearce: The story of Ferguson for the past eight days has been one escalation after another.

Gov. Nixon called in the National Guard as cops blame violence by outsiders for need to use tear gas. "Just moments after Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson announced early today that new security steps were planned in Ferguson that would not include National Guard troops, Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was activating those forces....Johnson, who was put in control of security on the North County city's streets last week, blamed a small group of agitators for the night's violence that included shootings, molotov cocktails and lootings. He said he believed those who instigated the violence came to what had been a peaceful protest determined to 'provoke a response."' St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Map: A labeled map of the vicinity of the shooting and protests. Travis Hughes of SBNation.

@jmannies: For days, @GovJayNixon has come under fire for doing too much, or too little. End of 'softer tone' as National Guard beefs up HwyPatrol.

@PDPJ: #Ferguson I'm at command post cops talking about 200 Missouri National Guard troops being brought in, number not confirmed

@D_Towski: I'll say it again. Despite show of force here, not NEARLY the hardware stl county brought out last week #Ferguson

Police's release of robbery video may have helped re-fuel fire after period of calm... "If the intent of the embattled Ferguson, Mo., police department was to calm an anxious community by identifying the officer involved in the deadly shooting of an unarmed teenager, the action only raised more questions and tensions Friday. Michael Brown's family and legal representatives said they were 'outraged' that Ferguson Chief Thomas Jackson implicated the teenager as a suspect in a theft of cigars from a convenience store at the same time the long-sought identity of the shooter, Officer Darren Wilson, was disclosed." Yamiche Alcindor, Aamer Madhani and Kevin Johnson in USA Today.

Primary source: Read the police report. USA Today.

Also, police didn't heed lessons from the past. "The lessons learned by many big-city departments after episodes of urban unrest appear to have been lost on Ferguson police, said Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department, criticized for its response to the 1992 riots after a jury acquitted officers in the videotaped beating of King, a black motorist, improved relations with non-white communities under a consent decree with the Justice Department, he said. Ferguson police should have realized that a militaristic approach could backfire, Armour said." Chris Christoff, Del Quentin Wilber and James Nash in Bloomberg.

@nickpistor: Last week, politicians complained about militarization of police. Now, here comes the National Guard. #Ferguson

@christinawilkie: Remember what Watertown, MA looked like during the Boston marathon bombing manhunt? A war zone. Natl Guard mobilized there, too. #Ferguson

Background reading: Black Americans have harbored distrust for law enforcement and criminal-justice system. Elahe Izadi in The Washington Post.

Explainer: How two changes to two laws could make future Fergusons very different. Philip Bump in The Washington Post.

And who, exactly, has been in charge, anyway? "It quickly has become apparent that neither the patrol nor Gov. Jay Nixon is in control of all law-enforcement actions. That lack of control already is leading to unwanted surprises that revolve around a central question: Who is in charge? That question also applies to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who are battling over who should control a local probe into the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown. Dooley — at odds with McCulloch — has asked Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to step in or name a special prosecutor. Koster says he legally cannot." Jo Mannies in St. Louis Public Radio.

View of #Ferguson thrust protests into national media spotlight. " often derided as a platform for banalities but has become much more than that in the age of always-on information. For people in the news business, Twitter was initially viewed as one more way to promote and distribute content. But as the world has become an ever more complicated place...Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations...even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable. Police officials in Ferguson made it clear that they had no interest in accommodating news coverage." David Carr in The New York Times.

@rsarver: We’re watching the future of news coverage in it’s early form. Every person is a broadcaster. Curation & reporting more important than ever

@chrislhayes: If you walk about 100 feet from OK'ed press area you find yourself lit up by a spotlight and a squad of police on hair trigger.

More tweets: More journalists arrested in Ferguson. Kristen Hare in Poynter.

Video: Cop appears to threaten to shoot reporter if camera not turned off. (WARNING: Video contains profane language.)

Arrested journalists get released, but non-journalists get charged with crimes. "On Wednesday night, reporters from The Huffington Post and The Washington Post made national news when police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, assaulted and arrested them for not obeying orders quickly enough....But French and the two reporters weren't the only ones arrested Wednesday night — at least 13 other people were picked up as well. Unfortunately for them, they didn't have the benefit of the media spotlight. They had to spend the night in jail, pay bail and were charged with crimes. Their problems will linger for a few weeks, while they await their court dates." Amanda Terkel in The Huffington Post.

Primary source: Media organizations condemn police. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge interlude: Chris Pratt's video may be one of the best yet.

3. From Obamacare to Ebola, hospitals' latest challenges 

Key Obamacare provisions for hospitals not working — at least so far. "One provision in particular, called Hospital Value Based Purchasing, which rewards or penalizes hospitals depending on their performance — is not leading to any substantial improvements in care, a new study found. This year, under the program, Medicare gives either a 1.25 percent increase or decrease in payments to hospitals, depending on their performance measured by at least 20 metrics. But researchers led by Andrew Ryan at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, determined there was no difference in performance between hospitals performing in the program and those that were exempt from the program....Researchers cautioned that it might be too early to conclude much." Brianna Ehley in The Fiscal Times.

Long read: On the flip side, hospitals suffer without ACA Medicaid expansion. Beth Kutscher in Modern Healthcare.

Hospitals struggle in transition to digital capabilities. "No more hassles in getting medical records from your elderly father’s hospital stay transferred to the nursing home where he’ll recuperate. No more waiting to find out the result of that Pap smear; just go online and avoid playing phone tag with your doctor’s office. But a new study in the journal Health Affairs found that some of the digital health capabilities that consumers are most likely to notice or find useful are among the biggest digital challenges for hospitals. One reason: Getting patients to interact with their online medical record isn’t entirely within a hospital’s control. Hospitals now not only must care for and educate patients but also confirm that they’re using their electronic medical record." Ben Sutherly in The Columbus Dispatch.

Blood test can cost from $10 to $10,000 in Calif. hospitals. "Imagine walking into a hospital and being charged more than $10,000 for a blood test to check your cholesterol level. Imagine then going to another hospital in the same state and being charged $10 for the same test. That’s what a team led by a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco found when it looked at the prices California hospitals charge for 10 common blood tests. Researchers studied charges for a variety of tests at 160 to 180 California hospitals in 2011 and found a huge variation in prices. The median charge for a basic metabolic panel...was $214. But hospitals charged from $35 to $7,303, depending on the facility. None of the hospitals were identified." Lena H. Sun in The Washington Post.

@ddiamond: The “$10,000 blood test” story suggests hospital charges are a dire consumer threat. This study blows a hole in that.

Hospital emergency rooms are still packed, too. "More people have health insurance. But they are still crowding into emergency departments across the nation. An online study by the American College of Emergency Room Physicians found that nearly half of its members have seen a rise in visits since Jan. 1 when ACA coverage began. A resounding 86 percent of the physicians said they expect that number to continue growing....The spike in emergency room visits isn't totally surprising. Rosenau said when Massachusetts enacted its own health care reform in 2006, everyone predicted the newly insured would find a private doctor. Instead, emergency departments saw a 3 to 7 percent increase in volume." Robert Calandra in Kaiser Health News and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hospitals reconsider charity care for those who decline coverage. "As more Americans gain insurance under the federal health law, hospitals are rethinking their charity programs, with some scaling back help for those who could have signed up for coverage but didn’t. The move is prompted by concerns that offering free or discounted care to low-income uninsured patients might dissuade them from getting government-subsidized coverage." Julie Appleby in Kaiser Health News and The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, U.S. hospitals are getting ready for Ebola. "Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said such a case is inevitable in the United States, and the agency this month issued the first extensive guidelines for hospitals on how recognize and treat Ebola patients...from the safe handling of lab specimens to effective isolation of suspected Ebola patients. But one piece of advice in particular has roused opposition from worried hospital administrators. The C.D.C. says that health care workers treating Ebola patients need only wear gloves, a fluid-resistant gown, eye protection and a face mask to prevent becoming infected with the virus. That is a far cry from the head-to-toe 'moon suits' doctors, nurses and aides have been seeing on television reports about the outbreak." Catherine Saint Louis in The New York Times.

Treatment at U.S. hospital is rare chance to study Ebola. "The care that Mrs. Writebol and Dr. Brantly are receiving at Emory is expected to greatly improve their odds of recovery. And they are providing a rare opportunity to study the disease with extensive testing not available in Africa. Their doctors are hoping the scrutiny will yield information that could be used to help patients in Africa and reduce the high death rates there. 'We hope to learn a great deal from them,' said Dr. Bruce S. Ribner, who is leading the team of infectious disease specialists treating the two at Emory. 'They may be asked, when they recover, to participate in additional testing. But the focus now is to help them survive.'" Denise Grady in The New York Times.

U.S. hospitals have enough struggles diagnosing Ebola. Imagine the problems African countries will have. "Current systems of detection involve large, expensive machines that depend on water and electricity, and require skilled technicians to operate and maintain. It took so long to diagnose the man at Mount Sinai, because his blood sample had to be shipped to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has one of the few labs in America that can diagnose Ebola. Such a process is totally impractical in low-income countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia, which lack basic infrastructure. Liberia, a nation of 3.5 million, reportedly has just 50 doctors." Karen Weintraub in USA Today.

Long read: Federal government's inconsistent Ebola story. Jonathan Easley in Morning Consult.

Other health care reads:

Doctor payment site back on track after bogus data discovered. David Armstrong in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Group claims insurance discrimination in new forms. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in the Associated Press.

Blood of Ebola survivors holds potential as therapy. Simeon Bennett and Robert Langreth in Bloomberg.

CDC scientist took shortcuts handling deadly bird flu virus, investigation finds. Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis in The Washington Post.

Parent-reported cases of disability in children rise. Michelle Healy in USA Today.

Wonky animal interlude: How your cat-video addiction could be used to hack you.

4. The recession may be long over, but Americans are still going hungry

Tens of millions of Americans — and 620,000 military households — relied on food pantries last year. "Despite the economic recovery, more than 46 million Americans — or one in seven — used a food pantry last year. And a surprisingly high number of those seeking help were households with military members, according to a new survey by Feeding America, which is a network of U.S. food banks. The survey — conducted in 2013 — found that almost 620,000 of the households using Feeding America services have at least one member currently in the military. That's one quarter of all U.S. military households." Pam Fessler in NPR.

Food-stamp use shows continued 'underemployment' pain. "A key indicator of economic hardship — enrollment stamps — is higher in every state than it was five years ago, even though unemployment has dropped in every state during the same period. Economists say the official unemployment rate underestimates economic pain, since it doesn't include people who have stopped looking for work or who are barely getting by with part-time or low-paying jobs. The official U.S. unemployment rate is 6.3 percent. But an alternative federal measure that includes people who want to work but are too discouraged to keep looking, and those working part-time though they would prefer to work full-time, is 12.6 percent." Tim Henderson in Pew Stateline.

Other food-policy reads:

Long read: Food additives on the rise as FDA scrutiny wanes. Kimberly Kindy in The Washington Post.

Reaction interlude: Celebrities react to viral videos.

Wonkblog roundup

How Obama can do more than “express concern” about violence in Ferguson, Mo. Max Ehrenfreund.

Name That Data! Christopher Ingraham.

Why sprawl may be bad for your health. Emily Badger.

Think you’re better off with a lump sum over a monthly pension? Think again. Michael A. Fletcher.

Bouncy castles and bowling pins: The odd and hilarious things the Pentagon is giving to local law enforcement. Christopher Ingraham.

Florida, Alabama and Texas are among the most enthusiastic recipients of surplus military gear. Christopher Ingraham.

Et Cetera

When companies flee U.S. tax system, investors often don't reap big returns. Kevin Drawbaugh in Reuters.

Professor Obama grades U.S. colleges, finds it to be a test. Janet Lorin in Bloomberg.

Administration studies Arctic drilling requirements. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.

Perry charges add to legal woes of 2016 Republican field. John McCormick and Jonathan Allen in Bloomberg.

Patent overhaul effort stalls. Ashby Jones in The Wall Street Journal.

Robust manufacturing output buoys U.S. economic outlook. Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

The disappearing volunteer firefighter. Andrew Brown and Ian Urbina in The New York Times.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.