Jaeah Lee

Jaeah Lee

Associate Interactive Producer

When Jaeah isn't coding, researching, or writing for Mother Jones, she's usually reading about foreign policy, climate change, or new dinner recipes. A lover of mass transit, she can pretty much navigate the New York City subway blindfolded.

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Prior to joining Mother Jones, Jaeah worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, focusing on China. Her writings have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Global Post, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and Movements.org.

Which Major Corporations Are Backing a Climate-Denier Think Tank?

| Sat Feb. 18, 2012 6:00 AM EST

Over at ThinkProgress Green, Josh Israel and Brad Johnson expose 19 major corporations backing the Heartland Institute, the think tank whose internal documents were leaked this week, laying bare its plans to teach students that climate change is a hoax and other anti-climate efforts. As my colleague Kate Sheppard reported on Thursday, the documents—posted here and here—prompted a backlash from Heartland, which deemed at least one of the documents fake and some tampered with. Interestingly, Heartland president Joseph Bast then used the incident to write to donors, first to apologize—the leaked emails identified some private donors, to whom Heartland promises anonymity "because nobody wants the risk of nutty environmentalists or Occupy Wall Street goons harassing them"—and then to ask for more money ("Now more than ever, I need you to stand by us in our time of need").

Heartland's fundraising tactics (PDF) seem to have worked well in the past, given the group's impressive suite of corporate donations in 2010 and 2011. Here's a selection of the full list* of Heartland's corporate backers, via ThinkProgress:

Altria Client Services Inc.: $90,000

Amgen, USA: $25,000

Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.: $5,000

AT&T: $100,000

BB&T: $16,105

Comcast Corporation: $35,000

General Motors Foundation: $30,000

GlaxoSmithKline: $50,000

Microsoft Corporation: $59,908

Nucor Corporation: $502,000

PepsiCo, Inc.: $5,000

Pfizer: $130,000

Reynolds American Inc.: $110,000

Time Warner Cable: $20,000

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the list above was the full list. The sentence has since been fixed.

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EPA to Cruise and Cargo Ships: No More Dumping on California's Coasts

| Thu Feb. 9, 2012 3:13 PM EST

Great news, Golden State: Federal regulators have ruled that, starting next month, no more sewage shall be dumped on your coasts. Or at least not without consequence. Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency designated California's 1,624-mile coastline (stretching from Mexico to Oregon) a federal no-discharge zone, banning large vessels like cruise (PDF) and cargo ships from unloading sewage and other types of pollution into the state's coastal waters. (Of course, oil leaks and spills and their aftereffects will continue to be a problem.)

"California's coastal waters will no longer serve as a sewage pond for big ships," said state EPA Secretary Matthew Rodriguez in an agency press release. "For too long, pollution from these vessels has endangered our marine environment, jeopardized public health, and threatened the coastal communities that rely on recreation and tourism dollars." The EPA estimates that the no-discharge zone will prohibit more than 22 million of the 25 million gallons of treated sewage dumped by vessels in California waters each year. A small boater flushing untreated sewage into the water produces as much bacterial pollution as that of treated sewage produced by 10,000 people, according to a 2003 study by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The marine conservation group Oceana estimates (PDF) that an average cruise ship generates 30,000 gallons of human waste every day. Untreated sewage, chemical, and oil runoff from marine vessels can contaminate water with toxins, coliform bacteria (the family of bacteria that includes E. coli), and invasive species, all of which can disrupt marine ecosystems.

The new sewage ban, which creates the nation's largest no-discharge zone to date, will apply to some 2,000 cargo ships that traverse the state's ports each year. It could also effect the nearly 77 percent of Californians who live on or near the coast, as well as marine and other wildlife. The state coastline is home to four national marine sanctuaries, portions of six national parks and recreation areas, and more than 200 other marine reserves and protected areas, according to the EPA.

A Zagat-Style Guide for Ethical Diners

| Mon Dec. 5, 2011 5:30 AM EST

jeffreysclark/Flickrjeffreysclark/FlickrDiners, foodies, and hungry folk across America: There's a new, handy guide to restaurants for you to peruse. Except, this isn't your typical set of reviews. The Restaurant Opportunities Center United's report from last week scores 186 US eateries based on wages (for both tipped and non-tipped jobs), paid sick days, and opportunities for advancement. After surveying the 150 highest revenue-grossing restaurants in the US as well as 4,300 workers, the ROC found a rather sobering picture of the labor and sanitation practices in the industry, which the group says employs more than 10 million people and is one of of the largest and fastest-growing in the country:

  • The median wage for restaurant workers is $8.90, just under the poverty line for a family of three. More than half of all restaurant workers earn less than the federal poverty line.
  • 90 percent of the 4,300 workers surveyed report not getting paid sick leave. Two-thirds of respondents reported cooking, preparing, and serving food while sick.
  • Women, immigrants, and people of color hold lower paying positions in the industry. ROC found that on average workers of color make $4 less than white workers. Nearly three-quarters of workers surveyed said they did not receive regular promotions.

While it might not shock you that the neighborhood Chuck E. Cheese's is underpaying the busboy, in the report you'll find four-star steakhouses and foodie meccas like Nobu also among the guilty. And Starbucks, which touts "competitive pay," health insurance, bonuses, and even domestic-partner benefits on its career page, scored rather poorly by ROC's measure.

Since these aren't the sorts of reviews you'll find in go-to sources like Zagat or on Yelp! we've compiled our own abbreviated guide for you, pairing the things you normally look for when searching for a place to eat next to their reported labor practices. Sift away.

Full-screen version

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