As of July 2, there were 100 Republicans officially running for president, but technically Christie wasn't one of them. That's because he has not yet filed the all-important Statement of Candidacy form that must be submitted to the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of becoming a candidate. The other 100 Republicans have. Candidates or their committees must file the form once they receive contributions or spend more than $5,000 on their campaigns. Most of these people haven't reached that threshold, but have still filed the form to register as an official candidate.
So far, 448 people from all over the country have filed the form to run for president in next year's election. That's up from 417 in 2012 and 369 in 2008.
So who the are these people who want to be president? A brief overview:
The plurality are independent (118). Republicans are a close second at 100, and 74 Democrats are in the race. The rest belong to a smattering of other parties. There are 33 candidates who declare "None" or "No Party Affiliation," 11 Libertarians, and three Green Party candidates.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest states have the most candidates. California leads the way with 59, followed by Florida (42), Texas (41), New York (32), and Pennsylvania (18). The only state without a candidate? Alaska. (That could change).
A few cities are home to more than one candidate. Nine people are running in Washington, D.C., which leads the pack. Eight hopefuls come from Houston, seven from Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, Las Vegas and Miami all have five. In all, more than 340 cities have someone running to be president in 2016.
Take a look at the map above to see who is running in your state, or search the table at the bottom.
One set of coordinates provided to SIGAR by USAID led to this random spot. The SIGAR caption read: "Blurred figure 1 - no structure half mile."
The US government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on heath care facilities in Afghanistan as part of its efforts to rebuild the war-torn country. The problem is that two government agencies involved with the project can't seem to agree on whether they know where the facilities are located—or even whether they're all in Afghanistan.
Under the US Agency for International Development's Partnership Contracts for Health program, the US government helps support basic health care needs for people across Afghanistan. As of March 2015, it had spent more than $210 million on the program, spread across 641 individual facilities.
But the location data USAID gave to a federal inspector general doesn't seem to line up with actual facilities. John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), who leads the group charged with making sure Afghanistan reconstruction resources are used appropriately and lawfully, told USAID in a June 25 letter that the location data are incorrect—sometimes wildly so—for nearly 80 percent of the 641 health care facilities the agency is helping to support. Using geospatial data from the Army Geospatial Center, SIGAR tried to verify location data for the list of facilities that USAID provided.
"Thirteen coordinates were not located in Afghanistan," Sopko wrote, noting that six were in Pakistan, six were in Tajikistan, "and one was located in the Mediterranean Sea." There were also 13 cases where USAID reported two distinct facilities at the same location, more than 150 coordinates that didn't clearly identify a specific building, and 90 cases where a location wasn't provided, Sopko wrote. "To provide meaningful oversight of these facilities, both USAID and [the Afghan government] need to know where they are," he added.
USAID says the data SIGAR used for its analysis is Afghan government data rather than USAID data, that USAID data is accurate, and that the agency knows how to find these clinics and monitor them, thank you very much.
"Local staff, third-party monitors, Afghan Government officials, and the benefiting community do not use GPS to navigate, let alone to find a health facility, because they are familiar with the area or from the community benefiting from the project," Larry Sampler, an assistant to the administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs for USAID, said in a statement provided to Mother Jones. Sampler said USAID has put in place a "rigorous" monitoring system to oversee these clinics.
A USAID spokesperson further said the agency has its own set of data, distinct from Afghan government data, and that it is working with the Afghan government to bolster its record-keeping, a process that has already improved the Afghan data in the time since SIGAR requested information in the first place.
In response, a SIGAR spokesperson told Mother Jones that the information was originally requested in the course of an ongoing investigation into the Partnership Contracts for Health program, and that SIGAR went forward with the information provided by USAID. When asked why USAID didn't just give SIGAR the correct data if it had it, a USAID spokesperson said, "The separate USAID data came from third party site visits that took place after May of 2014. I believe that SIGAR's initial request for the data was informal in nature. SIGAR did not express concerns about the data with us prior to this inquiry letter."
The point might seem trivial, but the geospatial data within geotagged photos, along with site visits, are used by USAID to verify that inspections actually take place. In a country where civilian travel is incredibly difficult, geotagged photos with precise location data are one of the best ways to ensure work is getting done and money is being spent correctly. In order to inspect these costly facilities, it's helpful to agree on where to find them.
The Confederate flag is hardly the only symbol of the South's racist history that has yet to go away. Indeed, public schools nationwide still bear the names of long-dead champions of a white-supremacist state.
The good news is that several of those schools have reconsidered their loaded names. Last year, the Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Florida, became Westside High School. Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. And Aycock Hall at Duke University, named for former North Carolina Gov. Charles Aycock, an avowed white supremacist, became East Residence Hall. This move prompted East Carolina University eight months later to rename its own Aycock Hall as Heritage Hall. Last May, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill changed Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall to shed its association with Klan leader William Saunders.
Last week, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who formerly served as San Antonio's mayor, posted a message on his personal Facebook page calling on that city's North East Independent School District to rename Robert E. Lee High School. "There are other, more appropriate individuals to honor and spotlight as role models for our young people," Castro wrote.
But scores of American schools still bear the monikers of Confederate brass. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we put together a map of some of those schools below. It includes more than 60 schools—mostly in the South, not surprisingly—and there are undoubtedly others, between private schools and public schools, that have changed names recently in the opposite direction. And then there are the schools located on streets named for Confederate figures, such as the ironically named Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School on Mosby Street in Richmond, Virginia. John Singleton Mosby, a.k.a. "the Gray Ghost," was a Confederate colonel who reportedly wrote to a colleague, "I've always understood that we went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about.…I've never heard of any other cause than slavery.
Jeb Bush's campaign released 33 years of his tax returns on Tuesday. According to his campaign, he has paid an effective tax rate of 36 percent over that period. His taxes also show a significant jump in his net worth in recent years. Since leaving office as Florida's governor in 2007, Bush has made nearly $30 million.
"[S]adly, the Court's hubris and thirst for power have reached unprecedented levels. And that calls for meaningful action, lest Congress be guilty of acquiescing to this assault on the rule of law," Cruz wrote in the National Reviewafter the court's Friday ruling on same-sex marriage. "And if Congress will not act, passing the constitutional amendments needed to correct this lawlessness, then the movement from the people for an Article V Convention of the States—to propose the amendments directly—will grow stronger and stronger."
Cruz's plan calls for the justices to face retention elections beginning with the second national election after their appointment, and every eight years after that. "Those justices deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the American people as a whole and by majorities of the electorates in at least half of the 50 states will be removed from office and disqualified from future service on the Court," Cruz wrote.
In defending his plan, Cruz wrote that 20 states already have judicial retention elections. What he didn't mention was that many of those states have taken steps to compensate for a major problem that tends to arise when judges' jobs get politicized. Of the 39 states that have some form of judicial elections (whether retention or otherwise), 30 have bans on judges personally soliciting donors for money to avoid conflicts of interest. Those bans were recently upheld by the Supreme Court itself, which ruled in April in Williams-Yulee v. the Florida Barthat states can legally prohibit judicial candidates from directly soliciting money. Why?
"Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's 5-4 majority opinion in Yulee.
And there's a good reason for Roberts' reluctance to lump judges in with other politicians. In writing about the Yulee decision in April, Mother Jones reported:
A major problem with all of this money is that more and more of it is independent and unaccountable spending, some of which comes from people who appear before the very judges they're donating to. Even when judges don't actively fundraise, outside groups pour funds into attack ads, putting money at the center of what was once a fairly sleepy and restrained electoral process. And that's just on the state level. Imagine the national campaigns to retain (or unseat) Antonin Scalia or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"If the justices themselves couldn't raise the money, who would step forward to [run] campaign contributions?" asks Liz Seaton, the campaign deputy executive director of judicial watchdog group Justice at Stake. "Why? And to what end?"
Seaton says political attacks on the Supreme Court after controversial decisions aren't new, and that the Founding Fathers gave federal judges lifetime tenure to protect them from exactly the kind of political pressure Cruz is hoping to apply.
"What kind of political campaigning and spending would there be if such a system would be put in place?" Seaton asks. "It's just hard to imagine just how much that would blow the system out of the water."