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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Here Are the 10 Best Songs for Scotland's Historic Vote for Independence

| Thu Sep. 18, 2014 11:24 AM EDT

Scotland is heading to the polls right now to decide on whether or not to become an independent country. A "Yes" vote would be the biggest constitutional change for the United Kingdom in over three centuries, splintering a long-held relationship that has seen the good times and the bad, and weathered plenty of mutual disagreements up until now. And like any pending break-up, we find that music helps soothe or heighten the experience, and connects us to the universal themes of love and loss. So, Scottish chums, whatever side you're on, here's a playlist for you, on this almighty day-of-days.

1. Queen: I Want to Break Free

Obviously. One for the "Yes" camp. (Worth it in my opinion just for Freddy with a mustache in drag vacuuming the carpet.) "I want to break free from your lies/You're so self-satisfied I don't need you/I've got to break free!" Sing it Freddy. Sing it Scotland.

2. Natalie Imbruglia: Torn

If Scotland votes "Yes" and leaves the union bereft and sobbing, this Aussie songtress might be blaring from a few stereos across the Isles tomorrow: "Nothing's fine, I'm torn." Sing it England! Sing it Wales!

3. ​​Björk: Declare Independence

This is a song that famously landed the Icelandic singer in hot water with the Chinese authorities after a 2008 concert in Shanghai in which she called for Tibetan independence. Brave. She faced a ban from future performances on the mainland after that. It's easy to see why China's famously censorial authorities were not impressed: "Start your own currency!/Make your own stamp/Protect your language/Declare independence/Don't let them do that to you!"

4. Oasis: Don’t Look Back In Anger

No matter what happens, some good advice for both sides. "My soul slides away, but don't look back in anger."

5. Alicia Keys: Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart

Here's one for an emotional Prime Minister David Cameron, potentially presiding over a messy, painful divorce. "I'm going to find a way to make it without you/Tonight, I'm going to find a way to make it, without you." Ouch. Let it out.

6. ​Thelma Houston: Don't Leave Me This Way

That beat speaks for itself.

7. Beyonce: Irreplaceable

"Don't ever get to thinking you're irreplaceable," sings Queen Bey. This is the anthem for pretending everything will be fine post-breakup, that it's not a big deal, that you can find another, just as easily, and that it wasn't that good anyway, so don't go thinking you meant anything to me... Get lost.

(I love you, come back).

8. Boyz II Men: End of the Road

"Although we've come to the end of the road/Still I can't let you go/It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you."

9. Mariah Carey: We Belong Together

Who could miss this song in any breakup playlist? It's worth watching to the part of the video where Mariah is losing her shit in the apartment, writhing in the short tunic-shirt thing, near the end of this narratively nonsensical clip.

10. Alice Deejay: Better Off Alone

Mm. And lastly, any break-up is incomplete without some sweet late-90s Top 40.

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BP Was Just Found Grossly Negligent in the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster. Read the Full Ruling.

| Thu Sep. 4, 2014 10:49 AM EDT

In a blunt ruling handed down on Thursday, a federal judge in New Orleans found that the biggest oil spill in US history, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, was caused by BP's "willful misconduct" and "gross negligence."

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf over the next several months. According to Bloomberg, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit include "the federal government, five Gulf of Mexico states, banks, restaurants, fishermen and a host of others."

The case also includes two other companies that were involved in aspects of the design and function of the Deepwater Horizon—Transocean and Halliburton—though the bulk of the blame was reserved for BP.

"BP's conduct was reckless," wrote District Judge Carl Barbier, in a 153-page ruling. "Transocean's conduct was negligent. Halliburton's conduct was negligent."

The judge ruled that BP was responsible for 67 percent of the blowout, explosion and subsequent oil spill, while Transocean was at fault for 30 percent, and Halliburton for the remaining 3 percent.

According to Bloomberg, BP could face fines of as much as $18 billion.

Here's the full ruling.

 
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