Hannah Levintova

Hannah Levintova

Reporter/Associate Editor

Hannah Levintova reports and edits in Mother Jones' DC bureau. Previously she worked at NPR and the Washington Monthly. A proud New Englander, she enjoys tea, good books, and cold weather.

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Fiorina Super-PAC Makes Its Own Abortion Video

| Thu Sep. 24, 2015 5:00 AM EDT
Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina at the GOP primary debate on September 16

During the latest GOP primary debate on September 16, Carly Fiorina described a video that shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." Many news reports have pointed out that no such video seems to exist—it's not among the heavily edited Center for Medical Progress videos released this summer, nor is it anywhere else.

On September 19, the super-PAC backing Fiorina's candidacy, Carly for America, posted a video to its YouTube page that appears to be a home-brewed version of the previously nonexistent video. The clip is called "Character of Our Nation," a quote from Fiorina's statements during the debate, when she said defunding Planned Parenthood "is about the character of our nation."*

In an email sent out yesterday, Planned Parenthood pointed out that the video appears to be a heavily edited selection of five separate audio and video clips, spliced together "to try to concoct the video that she claimed existed" during the debate. Several of the clips, Planned Parenthood said, come from the doctored Center for Medical Progress sting videos released this summer that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false.

One of the clips comes from the Grantham Collection, an anti-abortion archive that has been discredited by pro-choice advocates, in part for making false allegations about the content of benign photos. For instance, the group claimed that a photo of basic medical tongs is an image of the tool used to pull apart the limbs of an aborted fetus.

Planned Parenthood wrote a letter to the Fiorina campaign yesterday, asking it to take down the composite video.

In response to a request for comment on the veracity of the video, Fiorina campaign spokeswomen Sarah Isgur Flores wrote in an email, "Carly is a cancer survivor and doesn't need to be lectured on women's health by anyone. Over their long and factually incorrect letter, Planned Parenthood doesn't and can't deny they butchering babies and selling their organs [sic]. This is about the character of our nation."

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the group that posted the video.

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Republicans Hate Planned Parenthood but Want to Put One of Its Backers on the $10 Bill

| Thu Sep. 17, 2015 4:05 PM EDT
Rosa Parks arrives at court to be arraigned for the racial bus boycott in 1956.

At the end of last night's GOP debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates which woman they would choose to put on the $10 bill. Several of the 11 candidates on stage named their daughters or wives. Mike Huckabee awkwardly poked fun at his wife's spending habits in nominating her. "That way," he said, "she could spend her own money with her face!"

But Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump went for gravitas. All three picked Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader whose refusal to give up her seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, to be the first woman pictured on US paper currency. "An everyday American that changed the course of history," said Rubio. "She was a principled pioneer that helped change this country," noted Cruz, clarifying that he would put her on the $20 bill, in order to keep Founding Father Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

The candidates are right that Parks was a "principled pioneer," but her advocacy went beyond racial justice. Later in life, Parks was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood, and she even served on its board.

That's an inconvenient fact for the GOP candidates who have been eager to demonize Planned Parenthood. Throughout the debate, all of them repeatedly touted their pro-life records and vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Cruz is currently leading the charge against Planned Parenthood in the Senate, threatening to shut down the government over a spending bill that includes federal funding for the women's health organization.

Cruz elaborated on that ongoing funding battle at the debate, honing in on the doctored sting videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false. "Absolutely we shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise," Cruz said of Planned Parenthood. "And I'll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, 'We'll give in because Obama threatens a veto.' We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles."

The Moment When Carly Fiorina Completely Owned Donald Trump

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 9:45 PM EDT

In one of the GOP primary debate's most memorable moments, Carly Fiorina put Donald Trump in his place for his comments, in a recent Rolling Stone article, criticizing her looks as he argued why she could never be president. "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" Trump told the magazine. "Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!"

The debate exchange came after Trump doubled down on his criticism of Jeb Bush for remarking last month that "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health programs."

"I think it will haunt him," Trump said during the debate. "I think it's a terrible. I think it's going to haunt him absolutely. He came back later and he said he misspoke. There was no question because I heard when he said the statement. I was watching and he said the statement."

When moderator Jake Tapper then asked Carly Fiorina for her thoughts about Trump's recent remarks, she turned the tables on The Donald. "You know, it's interesting to me," Fiorina said. "Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly in what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said."

The typically bombastic Trump responded sheepishly: "I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful woman."

More Americans Have Been Shot to Death in the Last 25 Years Than Have Died in Every War

| Tue Sep. 15, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

On Monday, yet another deadly shooting—this time at Mississippi's Delta State University—made national news. At least one person was killed, and as of Monday night, the suspect had not been apprehended.

This chart, pulled from an unrelated Center for American Progress report published on Monday, provides timely context on the prevalence of gun deaths in the United States. The chart tallies gun accidents, suicides, and murders, and shows that the number of gun deaths in the United States since 1989 exceeds the number of American combat fatalities in 239 years of US history—from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Note: The military total pictured in the chart below represents only the number of American military killed in battle. The absolute total of US military killed in wartime since 1776 is higher, at more than 1.1 million, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs.)

Here's how the numbers shake out:

Center for American Progress

The report does not just focus on gun violence, but looks at the positions of the current group of Republican presidential hopefuls on a number of conservative mainstay issues, such as immigration, climate science, and taxes. Titled "Right of Reagan," the report uses former President Ronald Reagan, considered by many to be a model of conservatism, as a benchmark for measuring the extremism of many of the candidates. It notes that while Reagan opposed the National Rifle Association on several issues, including background checks and an assault weapons ban, many of the top GOP contenders have been highly rated by the NRA for their unwavering opposition to gun control.

Most GOP candidates oppose closing loopholes in the background check system—loopholes that "enable criminals to evade the system and purchase guns online, at gun shows, in parking lots, and just about anywhere else," write the report's authors. Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner, said this summer that he opposes expanding background checks, though in his 2000 book he wrote that he supported an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods for gun purchases. Siding with the NRA is a common strategy among the candidates, the report notes: The powerful gun lobby group is one "that many Republicans dare not cross."

This post has been updated.

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