Jaeah Lee

Associate Interactive Producer

Jaeah reports, writes, codes, and charts at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, GuardianWiredChristian Science MonitorGlobal PostHuffington PostTalking Points Memo, and Grist. She is a 2013-14 Middlebury fellow in environmental journalism. Her work has been named a finalist in the Data Journalism Awards. In a former life, she researched and wrote about China at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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BP to Oil Spill Victims: Get Off My Stoop!

| Fri Apr. 15, 2011 2:50 PM EDT

Almost one year since creating the worst oil spill in US history, BP is holding steadfastly to its response strategy: Duck and hope for the best. At its annual shareholder meeting in London yesterday, five Gulf residents who flew in to tell investors about their loss of livelihood were denied entry. A few tried to sneak in, among them 62-year-old Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation fisherwoman from Seadrift, Texas, who covered herself in oil to make a statement. Police arrested her for "breaching the peace," the Associated Press reports. Others who made it in were dragged out by security guards. NBC's Nightly News has more on this:

Is there any other way for a major corporation to deal with these kinds of situations but ignore protestors and feign optimism? BP's chief executive Bob Dudley doesn't seem to think so, based on what he told shareholders on Thursday:

BP remains a great company with a great history and I believe a great future...Not every company gets such an opportunity and we don't intend to squander it.

Except, er, you kind of already did squander it. For all its promises to compensate victims, many have not yet been paid out. Journalists have been barred consistently from accessing the coastal areas affected by the spill. 

And why wouldn't BP ignore its victims, when few in Washington seem to care that much? Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard told us earlier this week about certain GOP Congressmen who are trying to expand off-shore drilling. And as Mac McClelland reported, Kenneth Feinberg, whom the president appointed to oversee victim compensation issues in the Gulf, was entirely unmoved by victims complaints at a recent town hall meeting in Louisiana. All of which is why the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression named the company and the Obama administration the worst First Amendment violators of 2011.

Meanwhile, some BP shareholders are increasingly frustrated about the way things are going. Investors accounting for 60 percent of shares voted yesterday against re-electing William Castell as the head of its safety committee, while about 7 percent voted against re-electing Carl-Henric Svanberg as BP chairman. Around 11 percent voted against the company's remuneration report, which awarded bonuses to Iain Conn, who oversees BP's refining activities, and Chief Financial Officer Byron Grote. BP might continue to ignore its oil spill victims, but good luck dodging your investors.

The #18DaysInEgypt Media Revolution

| Fri Apr. 15, 2011 2:01 AM EDT
Feb. 11, 2011, CAIRO—As doctors and nurses march peacefully on one side of Al Qasr Al Aini Street, onlookers shoot video from their mobile phones. Even early in the demonstrations, protesters had cameras ripped from their hands and smashed on the ground, and journalists had their equipment confiscated. So the revolution was captured from their mobile phones.

Earlier this year, as the world watched tens of thousands of protesters pour into the streets of Egypt, Jigar Mehta noticed something: Many of the people in the crowds were also holding cameras. "Holy crap, people have probably been recording something over the last few days," he told himself. Mehta, a former New York Times video journalist, saw an untapped wealth of raw footage from the protests. He wanted to collect them and turn them into something bigger.

Mehta hashtagged his project #18DaysInEgypt, and sent out a call to action on Twitter, Facebook, and various email listserves. He asked people in Egypt to tag their videos and photos from the protests, and to catalog and reflect on their experiences. "All the footage is important to someone," he told me later. "What I want to know is why they chose to film at that moment."

When I first interviewed him back in February, Mehta didn't know what the end product of his crowd-sourcing media experiment would look like, but he thought it would help pioneer a new kind of storytelling. I caught up with Mehta again last week in San Francisco, where he's a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. What he showed me looked like a marriage between YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google Maps, culminating into an interactive, curated learning experience.

Take, for example, footage like this:

5 Ways to Sip a Cocktail and Save the World

| Thu Apr. 14, 2011 1:50 PM EDT

Getting tipsy might not be the first idea that comes to mind when figuring how to help out poor farmers in Bolivia. But it is a pretty good one, say the fair-trade wine and spirits folks I met over the weekend. At the San Francisco Green Festival last Saturday, Fair Trade Spirits's Danny Ronen and wine importer Michael Hutchinson unveiled a few brands of alcohol that prove a fine Merlot can also be socially conscious. Since we've already told you how to minimize your carbon footprint at the wet bar, why not improve your social impact too? Try out a few of these recipes at your next party* and tell us what you think.

Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA.Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA.A Caïpirowska that creates jobs: Consider it a lazy mojito, made from fair-trade quinoa vodka (yes, quinoa) that is cultivated by more than 1,200 small-scale producers in the Bolivian Altiplano and gathered in the Anapqui cooperative, the country's main association of farming producers. Thanks in part to the new craze for quinoa in the US, fair-trade quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) production has generated an additional 2,675 jobs in the Bolivian highlands, and increased profits have gone to support the coop's new vehicles purchases and agricultural training programs. It tastes better than potato-based vodka, too.

  • 5 centilitres fair-trade quinoa vodka
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 spoons of fair-trade sugar

Cut the 1/2 lime in 4 pieces and crush in a mortar with the sugar. Top with crushed ice and add the vodka. Shake well and serve with two short straws. (Recipe from Fair Trade Spirits.)

Ivo Posthumus/Flickr.Ivo Posthumus/Flickr.A White Russian that puts kids through school and combats cancer: The liqueur in this drink, otherwise known as the "Jackie Caucasian," is made from coffee grown by small-scale farmers in Huatusco, Mexico, and sugar harvested by independent cane growers in Malawi. Profits from the coffee have funded some $21,000 in scholarships and helped build a cancer screening clinic in Huatusco, and sugar sales have helped install 10 safe drinking water wells in Malawan villages. The Dude would be proud.

  • 2 ounces fair-trade quinoa vodka
  • 1 ounce fair-trade cafe liqueur

Pour over rocks in a rocks glass. Top with organic half-and-half. (Recipe from Fair Trade Spirits.)

The EPA's Moment of Truth

| Wed Apr. 6, 2011 4:24 PM EDT

Tension is running high in both chambers of Congress. "It's a sad day," said Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) on the House floor, where Congressional representatives are sparring over the future role of the Environmental Protection Agency. As we've reported previously, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kent.) introduced H.R. 910 as an effort to reverse the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Now, all is coming to a head.

The main thrust of the bill is that Congress, not the EPA, should have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but the debate is heating up as Republicans and Democrats clash over larger implications of bill, including accepting the science behind climate change, the effects on health, and local economies. In their last line of defense, some House Democrats are pushing back by introducing a dozen amendments that would "clarify" the H.R. and retain some of the EPA's powers, some of which failed to pass by a voice vote. Dems are motioning to send them into a roll-call vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate just rejected Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Kent.) amendment to a small business bill mirroring H.R. 910, by a narrow 10 votes. The Senate is now proceeding with three similar small business bills.

Watch the action live on C-SPAN (for the House) and C-SPAN2 (for the Senate).

[Update: The Senate has rejected all four motions. Read more on this at Nature.]

 

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