Sam Baldwin

Sam Baldwin

Online Editor

Sam Baldwin is the Online Editor at Mother Jones. Before joining MoJo, Sam worked on the finance team for the 2008 Obama campaign. A proud Chicagoan, Sam loves flat-water canoeing, home-brewed beer, and consistently winning his fantasy football league. He is a graduate of Pomona College and lives in Oakland.

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Mexican Mayor Latest Drug War Casualty

| Fri Oct. 9, 2009 1:26 PM EDT

The mayor of the Mexican border town of Palomas, Estanislao Garcia, was kidnapped yesterday morning and then found dead yesterday afternoon. Whether it was the drug cartels or the Mexican army that tortured and shot Garcia, he has become a statistic in the Mexican drug war. So far in 2009 6.8 people have been murdered each day in the drug siege. And the 2nd-year mayor has now become one of the 14,000 people killed since Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006. 

Mother Jones contributing writer Charles Bowden visited Palomas while reporting the story of Mexican reporter-on-the-run Emilio Gutiérrez Soto. Bowden describes the town in our summer issue:

In Palomas, a town that like Ascensión falls within the gravitational pull of the sprawling border city of Ciudad Juárez, the entire police force recently resigned, forcing the police chief to seek shelter in the United States. The town is dying. Few people cross from America to shop because of the violence. There is a gray cast to the children begging in the streets that suggests malnutrition. Work has fled—the people-smuggling business has moved because of US pressure in the sector and so the town is studded with half-built or abandoned cheap lodgings for migrants heading north. Also there is an array of narcomansions whose occupants have moved on. And there are eyes everywhere. I walk down the dirt streets tailed by pickups with very darkly tinted windows. The biggest restaurant in town for tourists closes every day at 6 p.m.—get home before dark.

To follow developments in the Mexican drug war, the Juárez region, and the ongoing plight of Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, join the Frontera Google Group maintained by NMSU librarian and border expert Molly Molloy. I will also be posting updates on Emilio's trial here as the preliminary proceedings get underway later this month.

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Video: 20,000 Detergent Bottles Under the Sea

| Thu Sep. 24, 2009 5:27 PM EDT

After a month spent studying the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," a vortex of waste twice the size of Texas in the North Pacific Ocean where there's a 36-to-1 ratio of plastic to plankton, the scientists behind Project Kaisei offered tours of their vessel and talked with Mother Jones' Sam Baldwin, Andy Kroll, and Taylor Wiles about finding lawn chairs and laundry baskets floating a thousand miles at sea. Environmental experts also weighed in on how all that junk got out in the Pacific, its impact on marine life, and why "benign by design" is a phrase to know. Watch the video below.

MoJo extra: Check out a slideshow of plastic items that Project Kaisei brought back.

Dewey Defeats Truman: SF Chronicle's Bay Bridge Edition

| Tue Sep. 8, 2009 1:19 PM EDT

Here in the Bay Area, we take our earthquake retrofitting seriously: Hence the Labor Day weekend closing of the Bay Bridge for a crucial step in the ongoing replacement of the eastern span, and the announcement last night that all 260,000 cars that use the bridge on a typical day would have to find other ways to commute this morning due to a newly discovered crack in a steel link. Given the new crack, I was expecting to have to forsake my usual cushy carpool ride from Berkeley to the Mother Jones office in downtown San Francisco for a long, crowded, and expensive train ride today, but when I woke up this morning I checked the news on the computer and, just like that, the bridge workers had beaten the odds and the bridge was operational. All it took was 70 hours of continuous work.

Too bad the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle couldn't keep up with the news. Millions of people in the Bay Area woke up this morning wondering about the Bay Bridge and the area's largest daily, with a daily circulation of 312,408, got it wrong.

Ironically, I saw this in the newspaper box while waiting in the carpool line for a ride over the Bay Bridge. Ouch.

Benefit for Emilio Gutiérrez Soto

| Fri Aug. 21, 2009 9:11 PM EDT

Remember Emilio Gutiérrez Soto? He is the Mexican journalist Charles Bowden profiled in "We Bring Fear," the feature story in our July/August drug war issue. The short version is that Emilio was forced to flee the Mexican Army and seek asylum in the U.S., where he was separated from his son and detained by the ICE for 7 months. He literally escaped from the Army by sneaking out the back of a grocery store and hiding out on a friend's farm for 2 days before booking it to the border.

Needless to say, Emilio was unable to bring very much with him and lost nearly all of his possessions. After he was released from the El Paso Processing Center he joined his son in Las Cruces at the home of some kind friends. While he waits for his much-delayed asylum trial he has been unable to sell his home in northern Chihuahua, where the housing market has totally collapsed. To make matters worse he has still not been granted a work permit to legally make money here. This is a talented journalist, a regional bureau chief of the biggest newspaper in Juarez, and he can't even work a menial job to pay for basic necessities like school supplies for his son. He is caught in a limbo between the violence of Mexico and the bureaucratic inhumanity of the U.S.

Molly Molloy, who played a huge part in reporting and translating "We Bring Fear," and other good folks in the Las Cruces community are throwing a fundraising benefit for Emilio tonight. Please think about joining their efforts and sending a check to help alleviate the suffering while Emilio waits for his trial. If you believe in supporting journalism then there is no better way than supporting a journalist in his time of need.

SUGGESTED DONATION: $25

If you cannot attend, but would like to make a donation, please send in care of:
Molly Molloy
New Mexico State University Library
Box 30006 Dept 3475, NMSU
Las Cruces, NM 88003

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