Now the pope risks drawing conservative ire on climate change. In a document set to be released on Thursday—which leaked to an Italian publication and was published as an act of "sabotage against the pope," according to a Vatican official—Francis will apparently call for a strong, multi-country push to curb global warming and the "human causes that produce and accentuate it," according to the Guardian. The message will reportedly call out climate deniers, saying "the attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions."
There's a growing contingent of congressional Republicans who are Catholic, and a number of the party's leading presidential candidates (or potential candidates) are Catholic. If those candidates' past statements on climate change are any indication, they could soon find themselves at odds with the pope over the looming encyclical. Here's what they've said:
Rick Santorum: "The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality."
Jeb Bush: Bush responded directly to the pope on Tuesday, stating at a New Hampshire town hall meeting, “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope. I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor's views might be the most in line with the pope's: "I think global warming is real. I don't think that's deniable. And I do think human activity contributes to it."
Bobby Jindal: While acknowledging that human activity has had an impact on the climate, Jindal has decried Obama's environmental regulations as "reckless and based on a radical leftist ideology that will kill American jobs and increase energy prices," according to the Associated Press.
Marco Rubio: "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That's what I do not. And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy."
This article has been updated to include Bush's Tuesday remark.
Dashboard camera footage from the night police shot and killed Jerame Reid in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
When police officers shoot or kill unarmed civilians, it can take months, even years, for the incidents to be officially investigated and publicly explained. As Mother Jones recently reported, the cop who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland had yet to be interviewed by investigators, more than six months since Rice's death. The family of 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, who died after being restrained by police last November, also in Cleveland, is still waiting for answers.
The case of Jerame Reid has gotten far less attention. Reid was a passenger in a car that was pulled over on December 30, 2014, in Bridgeton, New Jersey. As recorded by the police car's dashboard camera, two officers approached the car and allegedly found a gun in the glove box. When the 36-year-old Reid tried to get out of the car with his hands apparently up and in front of his chest, the officers opened fire, and Reid died. The officers in the case—Roger Worley and Braheme Days—were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
Nearly six months later, Reid's family and his community are still waiting for answers. It's not clear exactly where the investigation stands. Last weekend, a report in the New Jersey Star-Ledger suggested the case had been passed from the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office. A spokesman for the New Jersey AG told Mother Jones that the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is still the lead agency in the investigation and declined further comment. A message sent to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office wasn't answered.
The wait has been too long, according to Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly. In an op-ed published earlier this week, Kelly lays out exactly why the wait in these cases is such a problem:
Six months may not seem like a long time if you're in the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office handling multiple cases, nor would it seem a long time if your view is one taken from the perch of the Office of the Attorney General.
But it is an eternity if you're the grieving widow and part of a grieving family wanting some sense of closure. It's also a stunningly long time if you and your family are waiting around day after day to find out your fate and what the balance of the rest of your life might look like.
Beyond that, it may well be an unacceptably long period of time for an entire community waiting to find out what exactly happened to one of its own, for better or for ill, on a cold December night a few days after Christmas, at what began as a routine traffic stop.
The time involved, just like the questions involved, is no small thing because for anyone who cares—for anyone who knows how quickly things can go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye at what was essentially a routine interaction between a police officer and a citizen—it's about knowing where the lines are drawn and maybe where they got crossed.
Mayor Kelly's letter expresses the growing impatience with the slow official responses to police killings that have long been the norm. As David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, explained to Mother Jones reporter Jaeah Lee, recent events have changed the way Americans look at these investigations. "One year ago, we probably did not take a lot of notice," he says. "It's only since Ferguson, and especially since North Charleston and Baltimore, that we are seeing cases being evaluated and moved more rapidly."
Update, Tuesday, June 9: Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty to the charges of alleged hush-money payments and bank fraud in a U.S. district court in Chicago on Tuesday, his first appearance since being indicted.
Former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted for illegally transferring funds to dodge the IRS and lying to the FBI, reports John Stanton at BuzzFeed. Read the full indictment below:
Where would you go if you wanted to smoke weed? Well you might start in Colorado or Washington, the two states where it's legal to smoke it recreationally (although that landscape is always shifting). But what if you didn't care about the law, and you just wanted to blaze based on financial considerations? Well, you'd probably still head to Colorado or Washington, according to a new map from Forbes:
Map courtesy of Forbes
Forbes used data from priceofweed.com, which gets its data by "crowdsourc(ing) the street value of marijuana from the most accurate source possible: you, the consumer." One might say stoners aren't the best source of financial data, but, then again, there isn't much stoners are more serious about than what they shell out for weed.
So good on you, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, California. And bad on you, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
In the midst of the Congressional debate about mass surveillance and a Senate filibuster of a vote on the Patriot Act, it might be easy to forget how we got here. Arguably, none of would be happening if not for Edward Snowden, the erstwhile National Security Agency contractor who rocked the world when he leaked a trove of documents exposing the US government's spying and surveillance operations.
Snowden took questions on Reddit during an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Thursday. The whole thing is worth a read, but here are some highlights:
It represents a sea change from a few years ago, when intrusive new surveillance laws were passed without any kind of meaningful opposition or debate. Whatever you think about Rand Paul or his politics, it's important to remember that when he took the floor to say "No" to any length of reauthorization of the Patriot Act, he was speaking for the majority of Americans -- more than 60% of whom want to see this kind of mass surveillance reformed or ended.
On the American public's apparent apathy about the NSA snooping revelations:
Jameel probably has a better answer, but we know from very recent, non-partisan polling that Americans (and everyone else around the world) care tremendously about mass surveillance.
The more central question, from my perspective, is "why don't lawmakers seem to care?" After all, the entire reason they are in office in our system is to represent our views. The recent Princeton Study on politicians' responsiveness to the policy preferences of different sections of society gives some indication of where things might be going wrong:
Out of all groups expressing a policy preference within society, the views of the public at large are given the very least weight, whereas those of economic elites (think bankers, lobbyists, and the people on the Board of Directors at defense contracting companies) exercise more than ten times as much influence on what laws get passed -- and what laws don't.
On why people should care:
Some might say "I don't care if they violate my privacy; I've got nothing to hide." Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they "need" a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can't give away the rights of others because they're not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.
But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they're saying. Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
A free press benefits more than just those who read the paper.
On what people should do if they want to push for reforms:
Some claim the Senate should keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act (which will be voted on in two days) because we need "more time for debate," but even in the US, the public has already decided: 60% oppose reauthorization. This unconstitutional mass surveillance program was revealed in June 2013 and has been struck down by courts twice since then. If two years and two courts aren't enough to satisfy them, what is?
A few try to say that Section 215 is legal. It's not. Help them understand.
The bottom line is we need people everywhere -- in the US, outside the US, and especially within their own communities -- to push back and challenge anybody defending these programs. More than anything, we need to ordinary people to make it clear that a vote in favor of the extension or reauthorization of mass surveillance authorities is a vote in favor of a program that is illegal, ineffective, and illiberal.
On whether kids should pursue careers in cryptography:
Yes, but good luck keeping tabs on them as teens.
"Where have you been?" "Out." "If you don't tell me, I'll just check your ph-- Oh."
On the potential of coming back to the states one day (the questioner said, "I hope so!"):
Me too. The White House has been working on that petition for a couple years, now, and the courts have finally confirmed that the 2013 revelations revealed unlawful activity on the part of the government. Maybe they'll surprise us.