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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"We Made Them Suck Their Own Blood off the Floor:" Assad's Other War Crimes

| Thu Sep. 12, 2013 11:38 AM EDT
A sketch of a detainee being hung from the ceiling by his wrists and beaten, a common torture technique in Syria.

For the last month, Washington has been tying itself in knots over how to respond to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons. The Syrian people, meanwhile, are being subjected to ever-graver atrocities, most having nothing to do with poison gas. A new report from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria illuminates the increasingly brutal tactics that the country's government—and, to a lesser degree, rebels—are deploying against civilians, from electrocution and rape to enlisting medical professionals to help torture hospitalized detainees. Significantly, while the report focuses on the commission's findings from mid-May to mid-July and doesn't cover the August chemical-weapons attack near Damascus, it concludes that both sides are guilty of war crimes and also accuses pro-government forces of crimes against humanity.

Whether the international community will do anything to curb the escalating brutality is an open question, though Thursday's meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov may provide some answers. If the two sides can come together and craft an agreement to secure Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile, perhaps the international community can also find common ground on other measures to protect civilians—and hold Syria's war criminals to account.

Below is a roundup of atrocities laid out in the UN report.

George Zimmerman's De Facto Spokesman Launches a White-Power Podcast

| Tue Sep. 10, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

Frank Taaffe appearing on HLN's Dr. Drew on Call.

Yesterday, after George Zimmerman was taken into custody for allegedly threatening his estranged wife with a gun, HLN turned to a familiar source for commentary: Zimmerman's neighbor and de facto media emissary, Frank Taaffe. In an interview with HLNTV.com reporter Graham Winch, Taaffe argued that Zimmerman was distraught because his wife, Shellie, was trying to take his Rottweiler. "Now, that's pretty vindictive," Taaffe said.

Ever since Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, with a bullet to the heart, Taaffe has been his staunchest and most visible defender. As Mother Jones has reported, Taaffe also happens to be an ardent racist. And he now has a new forum to air his inflammatory views.

Following Zimmerman's July acquittal on murder charges, Taaffe appeared on two episodes of the white-separatist podcast, The White Voice, and unleashed a string of racist diatribes. At the time, he claimed that he had gone on the show in response to a routine interview request. "I was invited," he told Mother Jones. "End of story." But in mid-August Taaffe teamed up with The White Voice's cohost Joe Adams, a white-power activist who has authored racist screeds such as the Save the White People Handbook, to launch a new weekly white-power podcast called Standing Our Ground.

Fri Apr. 25, 2014 1:42 PM EDT