Mariah Blake

Mariah Blake

Senior Reporter

Mariah Blake is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. She has also written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. E-mail her at mblake [at] motherjones [dot] com or follow her on Twitter.

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A Bizarre and Telling Book Excerpt From 60 Minutes' Bogus Benghazi Source

| Mon Nov. 11, 2013 8:23 PM EST

60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan apologized on Sunday for her discredited October 27 report based on a bogus "eyewitness" account of the attacks on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The mea culpa followed revelations that Logan's main source, security consultant Dylan Davies—who claimed that he had scaled the compound's 12-foot wall and battled terrorists—wasn't on the scene at all, according to an account he gave the FBI. He'd also told his then-employer, the British security contractor Blue Mountain, that he had never reached the compound. Nonetheless, he somehow persuaded Logan and CBS News to accept his alternate version of heroics.

As it turns out, Davies also recounted his supposed interactions with the FBI in his recent book, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There, which he coauthored under the pen name Morgan Jones and published with Threshold Editions, an imprint of the CBS-owned company Simon & Schuster. The tome hit shelves two days after the 60 Minutes segment ran, though the publisher dropped it on Friday and urged retailers to yank the title from their inventories.

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Oklahoma's Ban on Abortion Drugs Is Permanently Blocked, Following a New Supreme Court Ruling

| Mon Nov. 4, 2013 1:42 PM EST

The US Supreme Court has decided not to weigh in on the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law limiting access to abortion drugs.

The court had tentatively agreed to hear a challenge to the 2011 statute, which bars doctors from prescribing abortion pills, except as outlined on the FDA label. Before proceeding, however, it asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to clarify the breadth of the law. Last Tuesday, the state court ruled that the bill effectively bans all abortion drugs, including those used to treat life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, and found that it was unconstitutional.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court responded by dismissing the case as "improvidently granted," meaning that a 2012 ruling from a lower court, which struck the law down, will stand. For more on the case, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, see Mother Jones's recent in-depth story.

Oklahoma is not the only place that's clamping down on abortion drugs. Here's an overview of other states that have restricted access:

 

A state-by-state LOOK AT abortion drug restrictions

Hover over a state to see a breakdown of restrictions in place there. Source: Guttmacher Institute.  

Is Controversial Christian Historian David Barton Mulling a Senate Bid?

| Mon Nov. 4, 2013 12:17 PM EST

Update (11/6/2013): David Barton announced Wednesday that he won't run for Congress, despite prodding from tea part activists. "I am deeply honored and humbled by the heartfelt efforts of thousands of people encouraging me to run for the U.S. Senate," he wrote in a statement. "But as important as one seat in the U. S. Senate is, we also have generations of citizens that need to know our constitutional principles and rich heritage. Such education will result in the election of many more constitutionally-minded common-sense patriots in coming years....I will continue to work side-by-side with you in the trenches to educate the nation, while also recruiting, training, and electing a new generation of conservative leaders."

In one of the starkest signs yet of the tea party's take-no-prisoners war on the Republican establishment, conservative activists are pressing controversial historian David Barton to challenge the Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn (R-Texas). Glenn Beck touted Barton's would-be candidacy and taunted Cornryn on his show last Thursday, saying, "You should quiver in your boots and hide, John."

 

 

One of Barton's closest advisors, Rick Green, recently told the National Review Online that more than 1,000 Republican and tea party leaders had asked the historian to enter the race. Green added that Barton would seriously consider running "if the people of Texas speak loud enough," and urged backers to show their support by liking the new "Draft David Barton for Senate" Facebook page. JoAnn Fleming, the executive director of Grassroots America We The People, a Texas tea party group, also weighed in, telling NRO that tea party activists were planning a conference call with Barton in the next week to discuss his possible candidacy. "We need a Constitutional conservative in that seat," she said. "We believe that Senator Cornyn has become part of the establishment and we don't believe that his priorities reflect the priorities of the people of Texas any longer."

Michele Bachmann Quietly Returns Campaign Cash From Notorious Ponzi Schemer

| Mon Oct. 28, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has quietly returned campaign contributions from an ex-con who lured investors for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in US history—and on whose behalf the tea party lawmaker sought a presidential pardon. According to campaign finance reports, last quarter Bachmann's campaign committee paid $14,000 to a bankruptcy trustee for Frank Vennes, a former North Dakota pawnshop owner who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for aiding and abetting fraud.

Vennes has a long history of run-ins with the law. In 1986, federal agents investigating a drug ring in Bismarck came to suspect he was laundering drug money. Posing as Chicago businessmen, investigators began giving Vennes large sums of cash to smuggle out of the country. In one case, according to court documents, Vennes hand-delivered $100,000 to Geneva, where his associates either lost or stole it.

The following year, Vennes was convicted of money laundering—along with cocaine distribution and illegal firearm sales—and sentenced to five years in Minnesota's Sandstone penitentiary. He later sued the federal government for more than $10 million, claiming the federal agents had forced him to peddle drugs and guns to recoup the missing $100,000 and threatened to kill and "dismember" his children if he refused. (Vennes lost; the case was thrown out on appeal.)

Fri Apr. 25, 2014 1:42 PM EDT