Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones' San Francisco (not Frisco) office. Reach him at dgilson@motherjones.com. Follow him on Twitter or read more of his stories.

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I just learned three amazing things. Number one: Agence France-Presse is not afraid to use the word "fart" in a headline. Number two is described in the aforementioned AFP story:
 

Eco-friendly kangaroo farts could help global warming: scientists

Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

 
That's one for the wacky fixes for global warming file. And the third amazing thing? Aussies' love of 'roo meat:
 

Another group of scientists, meanwhile, has suggested Australians should farm fewer cattle and sheep and just eat more kangaroos.

The idea is controversial, but about 20 percent of health conscious Australians are believed to eat the national symbol already.

"It's low in fat, it's got high protein levels it's very clean in the sense that basically it's the ultimate free range animal," said Peter Ampt of the University of New South Wales's institute of environmental studies.

 

Mitt Romney, You're No Jack Kennedy

George Packer on why Mitt Romney's upcoming "Mormon speech" should not be compared to JFK's famous 1960 "Catholic speech":

Romney's intention is the exact opposite of Kennedy's. He's caught in a trap of his own and his party's making. Romney can't raise the shield of secularism, as Kennedy did, because he is seeking the nomination of a sectarian party that's built on a religious test. He can't stand on any principle at all, secular or religious; instead, he has to win over the Christianists, who make up a large part of the Republican base, even though he belongs to a faith that most of them consider un-Christian. His eternal truth will be: "Hey, we're not that different." He parades his large and perfect family, he reminds us of his spotless personal life, he is dismissive of the possibility of appointing a Muslim Cabinet member, all to immunize himself against the religious bigotry of the voters he's wooing. He's going to do the same thing on Thursday. So no more comparisons with Kennedy, please.

Read the rest here.

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Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) chaired an investigations subcommittee hearing on credit cards and the mysteries of how banks determine cardholders' interest rates—and raise them dramatically without warning. In particular, the hearing focused on banks' use of "universal default," by which your card's interest rate gets hiked up because you missed a payment to another creditor—not the card's issuer. Or, as the consumer-rights blog The Consumerist puts it, "the most evil and hated practice where a credit card company boosts your rates because you didn't pay a late fee owed to the library." Oh, and those new rates apply retroactively to all existing items on your bill. This is one of dozens of sneaky credit-card tricks banks spring on plastic-carrying customers. Levin called three unhappy cardholders to testify, followed by three bank executives. The Consumerist liveblogged all three hours of the fun. A couple of choice moments:

An Inside Glimpse at Gitmo Gets Leaked

Wikileaks, the wiki for whistleblowers, has been bearing fruit lately. It's posted a list of military equipment in Iraq, which we used to calculate how many pieces of government-issue body armor (446,500), grand pianos (1), paper shredders (787), and BMW 735s (1) the Pentagon has over there. The site has also released a copy of the military's official guide to handling detainees, which includes detailed descriptions of how groups of detainees have been transported by plane, providing a new glimpse inside the flights that carried many of the Guantanamo prisoners from Afghanistan and generated the now-iconic images of shackled, goggled, masked, earmuffed, and gloved new arrivals at Camp X-Ray. The schematic below shows a sample seating configuration for 30 such detainees, AKA "cargo." (To insure a more pleasant flight, guards were supposed to receive one hour of training in "Cross Cultural Communications/Verbal Judo.")

Now Wikileaks has posted a copy of the 2004 Standard Operating Procedures guide from Guantanamo's Camp Delta, a treasure trove of information about the detention center's inner workings. Among the details: Upon arrival, detainees were subject to up to 30 days in solitary as part of a "behavior management plan" designed "to enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process." Guards were prohibited from discussing "world events or history with detainees, or within earshot of detainees," including "the situation in the Middle East [and] the destruction of the Space Shuttle." Detainees who refused to eat or drink weren't on a hunger strike, they were officially on a "voluntary total fast." Wikileaks' own analysis of the document and its 2003 version suggests that new rules were added in response to abuses. For instance, the 2004 manual specifies that "Haircuts will never be used as punitive action" and prohibits guards from using pepper spray on "spitters, urinators or water throwers." And so on, for 238 pages. It's fascinating, revelatory reading, and deserves further scrutiny. Meanwhile, a Gitmo spokesman tells the Washington Post not to take the manual at its word because "things have changed dramatically" there since 2004. Until a more current manual turns up, this one will have to do.

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How Many Ron Paul Dollars to the Amero?

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Zut alors and ¡ay caramba! You can now purchase Ameros, the hypothetical currency of the North American Union, the imaginary superstate conspiracy endorsed by Ron Paul in last week's GOP debate. The creator of the Amero coins describes them as "private-issue fantasy pattern coins," which is fitting, since the idea of the unified currency and the NAU is, well, a fantasy. (Why in the world would Canada want to hitch the loonie to the floundering greenback, anyway?) This isn't the only fantasy currency connected to Paul: The Feds recently busted the private mint that had been selling a "Ron Paul Dollar" and is investigating its owner for manufacturing currency. So if you had $100 to spend on a currency from an alternate reality, would you stock up on Paul Bucks, Ameros, or Linden Dollars?

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