Michael Mechanic

Michael Mechanic

Senior Editor

Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning features editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, two kids, four chickens, striped cat, and way too many musical instruments to master.

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Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning feature editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He set out to be a scientist, and as an undergrad spent a year in an organic chemistry lab at UC-Berkeley, where he was a biochemistry major, trying to synthesize natural poisons found in the skin of certain tropical frogs. He later earned a masters degree in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University and a second masters in journalism from UC-Berkeley. In 2009, he was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for public service, as one of five writers in MoJo's "Torture Hits Home" package. The father of two mostly charming kids and an only occasionally charming striped cat named Phelps, Michael lives in Oakland, California, where, after years of classical piano and raucous punk-rock drumming (and putting out more than a dozen CDs on his former DIY label, Bad Monkey Records), he has retired to old-time and traditional music, guitar finger-picking, and more recently fiddle and mandolin. He has four chickens—Lucia, Podge, Cat, and Weed Whacker—but what he really covets is a hedgehog.

Susan G. Komen Causes Cancer (and Other Pro-Life Myths)

| Thu Jan. 20, 2011 8:02 AM EST

To get a sense for the conspiratorial hogwash circulating among pro-lifers, look no further than sites like StopAbortionBreastCancer.org, which claims that the Susan G. Komen Foundation—a nonprofit that raises more than $300 million a year to battle breast cancer—is actually helping cause the disease by supporting abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

Here's the reasoning: A mother's breasts mature after delivery, making them more resistant to cancer. Abortion halts this maturation process, leaving her breasts susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of the estrogen that pregnant women produce in quantity. "Pink Money organizations" like Komen are "denying the truth about the fatal link between abortion and breast cancer in order to comply with international abortion agendas," the site claims.

The Komen-bashing is spearheaded by pro-life outfits like the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer and the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute whose brochures call elective abortion "the single most avoidable risk factor" for cancer. The institute's Angela Lanfranchi, a New Jersey surgeon, claims that "29 out of 38 worldwide epidemiological studies show an increased risk of breast cancer of approximately 30% among women who have had an abortion." Pro-life TV show Facing Life Head-On (which won a regional Emmy in 2010) dedicated a segment last year to "Komen's Dark Side." "Is it really 'morally permissible' to cause breast cancer in one room if screening for it in the next?" opines pro-life blogger Jill Stanek.

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Today Baby Doc, Tomorrow Toto Constant?

| Mon Jan. 17, 2011 2:46 PM EST

With Haiti in the midst of fresh political turmoil, Mac McClelland's on-the-ground scoop about the return of dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to quake-ravaged Haiti (accompanied by Mark Murrmann's great photos) was a creepy reminder of something that manipulative Haitian thug leader Emmanuel "Toto" Constant told MoJo contributor Bernice Yeung back in 2008.

Then in jail awaiting trial for real-estate fraud in the United States—he fled Haiti in 1994 when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to power, landing in Queens, New York—Constant revealed that he still had political aspirations. "I can even be the president, the prime minister," he told Yeung. "It's strange to be locked up in prison upstate and talk about being president of Haiti, right? It's strange.... Strange meaning it's happened before. That people have come from jail to become leaders of their country."

WATCH: 10 Music Videos for Martin Luther King Jr.'s B-Day

| Mon Jan. 17, 2011 7:30 AM EST

Happy Birthday, Dr. King...

1. U2, "Pride (In The Name of Love)

2. And John Legend's version of the U2 song…

3. Public Enemy, "By The Time I Get To Arizona"

4. Nina Simone, "Why (The King of Love is Dead)"

5. Ben Harper, "Like a King"

6. Queen, "One Vision"

7. UB40 "King"

8. Eddie Velez, "Let Freedom Ring"

9. Common and will.i.am. "I Have a Dream"

10. Patty Griffin, "Up To The Mountain"

And can't forget this old favorite... Pete Seeger, "We Shall Overcome"

Boots Riley Is Sorry to Bother You

| Mon Jan. 3, 2011 7:47 AM EST

It's been a few years since we last checked in with Raymond "Boots" Riley, front man of the Coup—a funk and hip-hop group known for its humor, intelligence, and in-your-face agitprop. Steeped in radical street politics, the Oakland, California-based group has been shaking things up for two decades with albums like Kill My Landlord, Genocide & Juice, Steal This Album, and Party Music—which gained notoriety for songs like "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO," but revealed a softer Riley in cuts like "Wear Clean Drawers," a heartfelt facts-of-street-life for his baby daughter. The band's 2006 Epitaph album, Pick a Bigger Weapon, which made Rolling Stone's Top 50 albums of that year, includes the track "BabyLet'sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy." Nowadays, besides raising three kids and working on new Coup material for an indie film, Riley is collaborating with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello in a newer group called the Street Sweeper Social Club. For a Mixed Media special in our November/December issue, I asked him about his recent projects, favorite tunes, and the joys of fatherhood.

Mother Jones: You're working on your first new album since 2006, right? Give us a taste for where it's headed, thematically.

Boots Riley: Actually, I put out an album in 2009 and an EP in August 2010 with Street Sweeper Social Club. The next album by The Coup will be the soundtrack to a movie that I've written, and in which I play the lead. It's a dark comedy with magical realism inspired by my days as a telemarketer. It's called Sorry To Bother You.

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