Monika Bauerlein


Since taking the helm at Mother Jones in 2006, Monika and editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery have won two National Magazine Awards, launched a nine-person Washington bureau, relaunched the website, given birth, and forgotten what it’s like to sleep.

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Monika Bauerlein is CEO of Mother Jones. Previously, she served as co-editor with Clara Jeffery, who is now editor-in-chief. Together, they spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, the addition of a 12-person Washington Bureau, and an overhaul of the organization’s digital strategy that grew's traffic more than tenfold. She has also worked as Mother Jones' investigative editor, focusing on long-form projects marrying in-depth reportage, document sleuthing, and narrative appeal, and as an alternative-weekly editor, a correspondent for US and European publications in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations, an AP stringer, corporate trainer, translator, sausage slinger and fishing-line packager. She lives in Oakland.

EPA: An Unknown Risk is an Acceptable Risk

| Thu Aug. 3, 2006 3:32 AM EDT

So there are about 82,000 industrial chemicals in use today. For 2,800 of those, industry has submitted--voluntarily, mind you--data on potential dangers to human health to the EPA. The remaining 79,200 are... a disaster waiting to happen? Something we really ought to look into more? Let's go now to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (chair: James "Global Warming is a Hoax" Imhofe) hearing on the Toxic Substances Control Act, covered by almost no one except the LA Times' invaluable Marla Cone, for a live update:

When asked by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) if all 82,000 chemicals on the market were safe, [EPA Assistant Administrator James B. Gulliford] said, "Their risks to human health and the environment are acceptable."

Any questions?

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EPA Insider: Agency a "Private Industry Licensing Program"

| Wed Aug. 2, 2006 3:11 AM EDT

"Unions representing thousands of staff scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency say the agency is bending to political pressure and ignoring sound science in allowing a group of toxic chemicals to be used in agricultural pesticides," reports the Times. The story is based on a "newly disclosed letter" from the unions that was "given to the The New York Times on Tuesday by environmental advocacy organizations."

Minor point: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility posted a press release on the selfsame letter, which was sent May 24, more than two months ago. But we all know that things don't really exist until they are "given to the Times," and quibbles aside, the story is awfully good. The chemicals in question, carbamates and organophosphates, (as we reported six years ago) are known, to the EPA and everyone else, to be bad news. So why, you ask, are they still legal?

"It's how the game is played," said an E.P.A. specialist involved in the pesticide program who spoke on the condition of anonymity because, he said, critics within the agency often lose choice assignments.

"You go to a meeting, and word comes down that this is an important chemical, this is one we've got to save," he said. "It's all informal, of course. But it suggests that industry interests are governing the decisions of E.P.A. management. The pesticide program functions as a governmental cover for what is effectively a private industry licensing program."

Bush Advisor: Oil Future "Looking So Ugly Nobody Wants to Face It"

| Wed Aug. 2, 2006 12:23 AM EDT

Do yourself a favor and read the Chicago Tribune's fantastic series tracing the oil that goes into your tank backward across the globe--to Africa, where more and more of it comes from (causing an affluent superpower to "rattle its half-empty oil can at the world's poorest continent"), to the Middle East, to places you may not have thought of. Along the way, Pulitzer winner Paul Salopek discovers that kicking oil habit is no longer just a matter of virtue, or environmental responsibility, or even finite resources (as Paul Roberts showed in his Mother Jones piece on "peak oil") but of getting out of the way of the inevitable collapse:

(The) globe-spanning energy network... today is so fragile, so beholden to hostile powers and so clearly unsustainable, that our car-centered lifestyle seems more at risk than ever.

"I truly think we're at one of those turning points where the future's looking so ugly nobody wants to face it," said Matthew Simmons, an energy investment banker in Houston who has advised the Bush administration on oil policy. "We're not talking some temporary Arab embargo anymore. We're not talking your father's energy crisis."

Army: If They Screw up, Promote 'em?

| Wed Jul. 26, 2006 2:42 AM EDT

There is so much that is depressing, and so much that feels like you already kind of knew it but have never seen it laid out in such horrific detail, about Fiasco, the new book by the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks, now being serialized in the paper. One of those things is the pattern whereby grunts do bad things--always have, always will; that's a given if you're going to send hundreds of thousands of people into a creepy, scary, unknown environment--but it's the command structure that signals whether those things are to be tolerated, winked-and-nodded, or avoided at all costs. That is why it's a problem when, as Emily Bazelon documented in Mother Jones, torture was exported from Bagram to Abu Ghraib; or when you have an Army batallion commander who, even after he's been outed for helping his guys cover up a straight-out murder, can get away with saying that

"If I were to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing, and I've thought about this long and hard. I was taught in the Army to win, and I was trying to win all the way."

Talk to women about embryos? What, is he crazy?

| Thu Jul. 20, 2006 1:59 PM EDT

The Seattle Times' Alicia Mundy reports that Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wa.) changed his vote on stem cells after having a "heart-to-heart" talk with women ("potential mothers") on his staff.

The meeting with Reichert's female staffers was emotional, according to Reichert and one participant. "There were teary eyes, including mine," Reichert said, adding that, to his surprise, "It was unanimous, really, among the women." They all favored expanding the research.

Now, cynics among you might note that Reichert, a one-termer in a swing district who has been targeted for defeat in what has been called "the only seriously competitive House race in the Northwest," also wouldn't mind getting reelected in November. But that would be so cynical.

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