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.

Get my RSS |

"They Were Brave. And They Are Dead." Best Friend of Paris Cartoonists Honors Fallen Comrades.

| Thu Jan. 8, 2015 1:22 PM EST
Mourners hold signs depicting victims' eyes during a rally in support of Charlie Hebdo, in Union Square in New York.

Our friend and Mother Jones alum Sydney Brownstone has published an extraordinary interview today over at The Stranger: A Q&A with a French editor who gave refuge to Charlie Hebdo staff members after the weekly's offices were fire-bombed in 2011, and who counted the murdered cartoonists amongst his best friends. Nicolas Demorand is the former editor-in-chief of the leftist French newspaper Libération, which was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Brownstone reached him at the end of a truly harrowing day in Paris—after protests swept into the streets.

The interview is well worth your time. Amidst overwhelming grief, Demorand eloquently—and with great dignity—discusses the issues emanating from yesterday's attack: suburban disadvantage in France, American missteps post-9/11, the threat of hard-line right-wing parties scoring points using tragedy, and the meaning of secularism in France today. But this bit instantly made my hairs stand on end, as it would anyone who works in journalism:

You know, I cried all day long. I never cry. You know, we're journalists. We know about shit, about sadness, about horror, about misery, about terror, about all that shit. We know about that. I cried all day long, you know. They killed the best guys. They killed the best guys. It's horrible. It's really horrible.

Read the whole interview at The Stranger.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Fox News Gives Paris Massacre the Benghazi Treatment

| Wed Jan. 7, 2015 6:34 PM EST

On Wednesday afternoon, Fox News's Gretchen Carlson focused on portraying the Obama administration as weak-kneed and out of touch in its response to the massacre in Paris. After interviewing pundit Ari Fleischer, who served as a principal spokesman for President George W. Bush's global war on terror, Carlson went with a familiar script:

"It is what it is. It, meaning terrorism. Terrorism is what it is," Carlson said. "So why does the administration continue to have such a problem telling the American people and the rest of the world just that? Is that a disservice to all of us? In some way giving us a false sense of security? That since our own leaders don't see any of these attacks as terrorism right away, neither should we?"

The problem is, her premise was plain false. Earlier in the day, Secretary of State John Kerry described the attacks as an "act of terror" in direct, forceful terms. "The murderers dared proclaim, 'Charlie Hebdo is dead.' But make no mistake: They are wrong," Kerry said. "The freedom of expression that it represented is not able to be killed by this kind of act of terror."

Also prior to Carlson's commentary, a statement from President Obama was equally clear on this point:

I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America's oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.

We've seen this script before, of course, when Fox News, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and other conservatives obsessively criticized the Obama White House over the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. The argument was that the president didn't call the Benghazi attack "terrorism" quickly enough (before quickly morphing into a conspiracy theory about a massive cover-up of some sort). That was despite the fact that Obama had used the phrase "act of terror" three times in the initial aftermath to describe the attack on the consulate.

In Wednesday's segment Carlson also went on to insinuate that Obama's policy of releasing prisoners from Guantánamo Bay may lead to a Paris-like attack in the US: "Keep in mind this administration is more concerned about executive actions for manufacturing and even climate control today, and releasing Gitmo detainees," she said. "We now know many of those detainees go back to join the jihad. So at this crucial moment, after a horrific attack on one of our allies, will politics continue to trump the reality... In the last few months we've seen terrorism hit Australia, Canada, and now France. Will the United States once again be next?"

It's Official: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record

| Mon Jan. 5, 2015 6:31 PM EST

Update, January 16, 10:50 am, ET: NASA and NOAA announced on Friday that 2014 was indeed the warmest year on record. As NASA explained in a press release, "Since 1880, Earth's average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet's atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades."

For more on the new findings, watch the video from NASA above.

 

Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

For many Americans, 2014 will be remembered for its multiple blasts of Arctic air and bitter winters. And this week, another bout of freezing temperatures is marching east across the country, in the first major thermometer plunge of the season.

But as cold as you may have been last year, it's now official that 2014 was actually the hottest year globally since record-keeping began. So confirmed the Japan Meteorological Agency in preliminary data released Monday.

The Japanese government agency monitors and records the long-term change of the global average surface temperatures and found that 2014 was far warmer than previous years. How much warmer? 2014 exceeded the 1981-2010 temperature average by 0.27 degrees Celsius (or 0.49 degrees Fahrenheit). There was unusually warm weather all around the world, from a record-breaking heat wave in Australia to the hottest European summer in 500 years.

The data shows that four out of the five hottest years on record have occurred in the last decade: In second place is 1998, then 2010 and 2013 tied for third, and 2005 in fifth place. The new numbers reveal that the world has been warming at an average rate of 0.7 degrees Celsius (or 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit) per century since records began.

Two US government agencies, NOAA and NASA, are expected to confirm the results of the Japanese observations in the coming weeks.

Mon Jan. 12, 2015 3:46 PM EST
Fri May. 9, 2014 7:07 PM EDT
Tue Jan. 7, 2014 3:51 PM EST
Tue Nov. 19, 2013 3:11 PM EST
Tue Nov. 12, 2013 1:44 AM EST
Tue Jun. 25, 2013 11:56 AM EDT
Fri Jun. 21, 2013 3:47 PM EDT
Fri Jun. 7, 2013 6:56 AM EDT