James West

James West

Senior Producer, Mother Jones/Climate Desk

James West is senior producer for Mother Jones and its reporting project Climate Desk. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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Netflix Just Released the Trailer for Tina Fey's New Sitcom and It Looks Incredible

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 7:18 PM EST

Welcome to your new favorite thing. Finally, a glimpse of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—the latest from Tina Fey and the team behind 30 Rock—which comes to Netflix on March 6. Reminiscent of the recent rash of reality TV shows like Breaking the Faith and Breaking Amish, the comedy series starring Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) follows a peppy former doomsday cult victim as she tries to make a new life in New York City, having been rescued from an Indiana bunker. Hilarity ensues. Alongside Kemper, it's a joy to see former 30 Rock stars Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess.

The first sitcom for Fey since 30 Rock was originally developed to air on NBC (co-written by NBC show-runner Robert Carlock), but it was bought up by Netflix last November. At a recent press conference for TV critics, Fey joked that the lack of network restrictions on streaming platforms was creatively liberating: "I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," she said, according to NPR.

For someone who has made network TV her career, the shift to streaming is a big move for Fey. But she told critics that the basics of any television series still apply on Netflix: "People still have that communal feeling when the next season of Orange is the New Black goes up. And they do want to talk about it, they do want to email about it and they do want to talk about it at work. So you still have the communal feeling of, like, 'Oh we want to see this and talk about it right now.'"

The only catch? "Its just not literally at that specific hour of the night."

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Please, Please Stop Making Mittens for Koalas

| Mon Jan. 12, 2015 3:46 PM EST

After record-breaking fires hit the Adelaide suburbs in South Australia last week, an emergency call went out on social media, which was then quickly picked up by the international news media: Injured koalas need cotton mittens to protect their burned paws! Since then, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, thousands of pairs of mittens have poured into Australia from all around the world. "We're now getting offers from as far afield as Russia, Kazakhstan, China, the UK and the US," said Josey Sharrad from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which put out the request. "It's truly phenomenal."

The wildfires destroyed 27 homes and charred nearly 50 square miles. Koalas are especially vulnerable because they live in trees, which are the very fuel for the fires, and koalas just aren't very fast.

The IFAW put out this call to action on January 9, 2015:

The group even published a pattern to help avid sewers around the world:

But perhaps don't dig out that old sewing machine just yet. There's dissent in the wildlife community about the best way to help the koalas, and their burned paws.

The Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organization (AMWRRO), a rescue and rehabilitation group based in South Australia, says the mittens are unnecessary and may even hinder the koalas' recovery. AMWRRO is the organization that first published the photo of now-famous "Jeremy," whose four paws were being treated for "second-degree partial thickness burns":

 

AMWRRO has now put out a warning on its Facebook page: "Please note AMWRRO does not require mittens as they impede the animals ability to hold leaf and branches verses that of specific bandaging techniques as shown in previous images."

In any case, the great mitten campaign is over. IFAW now says they have more than satisfied the need for koala mittens, and now the group's attention has turned to other injured wildlife. "This began as a small regional effort, and in Australia we are now moving to work with local people to create cozy pouches for other wildlife like possums, kangaroos and wallabies that are also at risk from bushfires," the IFAW said in a statement.

In short, both groups now agree: Stop sewing koala mittens. Please, stop.

P.S. I know you want to know. Jeremy is doing a lot better now:

And here he is, back to eating leaves!

 
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