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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Charles Bowden on NPR

| Wed Aug. 5, 2009 6:20 PM EDT

Charles Bowden and I recently went on the Kathleen Dunn Show on Wisconsin Public Radio to discuss Mother Jones' Drug War special report, the decriminalization of marijuana, and the case of Emilio Gutiérrez Soto. Once you've listend to Charles Bowden's John Wayne-like voice, go back and re-read "We Bring Fear." It'll sound different.

Listen here. (Note, you may need to install Realplayer or VLC.)

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Corn on Hardball: What Role Did Karl Rove Play in the Attorney Firings?

| Fri Jul. 31, 2009 7:30 PM EDT

David Corn and Michael Isikoff joined Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball this evening to discuss the new evidence about Karl Rove's role in the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Can You Get Sued for Tweeting About Mold?

| Wed Jul. 29, 2009 2:44 PM EDT

The latest from my neck of the woods has Chicago realty group Horizon suing a former tenant $50,000 in damages over a tweet. On May 12, Amanda Bonnen tweeted the following:Realty TweetSeemingly innocuous right? It's the kind of content that a stream-of-consciousness oriented medium might be expected to produce. And hey, it could be a worse.

Apparently it can't be. Horizon released a statement yesterday that contained the following sentence:

As you can imagine, allegations of mold are taken very seriously by our organization.

And earlier in the week Jeff Michael, whose family owns the company, told the Chicago Sun-Times the Horizon Realty Group was "a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization." It doesn't matter that Bonnen had only 20 followers at the time of her tweet or that her account has since been deleted. (See the Google cached version here.)

This story reminds me of a lawsuit that came up in a recent Mother Jones investigation. In the July/August issue of Mother Jones, Adam Matthews writes about the evils of big property owners Stellar Management. When former residents of Stellar's San Francisco Parkmerced complex anonymously complained about the facilities and management on ApartmentRatings.com, Stellar subpoened the website for the identities of the commenters. Good thing they didn't check out Yelp!, where, coincidentally, many of the complaints focus on the apparently prohibitive mold situation.

Now obviously the only reason Amanda Bonnen's story has garnered so much attention is because Twitter was involved. Look past the Twitter craze, however, and there is something at stake about the way we live now. For young professionals and students, the internet is increasingly the beginning, middle, and end of the apartment search. Horizon Group Realty acknowledges as much with the online lease application and rent pay apps featured on their website. As with so many other things, the internet has shone a bright ray of information into a formerly dark corner. In this case, it found mold. Whether or not Bonnen ends up forking over the 50k, are you going to be more careful about what you tweet? I didn't think so...

The Onion Sells Itself to China, and a New Comedic Genre Is Born

| Thu Jul. 23, 2009 12:26 PM EDT

As you may have heard, The Onion has been sold to the Chinese. Not really, of course, but you could be fooled by their site this week. It's a much-needed comedic shot in the arm after the recent sad news that their California print editions are shutting down.

The funniest bit isn't actually any of the China-related content on the Onion homepage, but the website they set up for their fake Chinese parent company, Yuwanmei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp. From the "Company History":

Founded in 1998 without incident or legal complication, what is now a glorious 300,000-square-foot processing center began as a humble 230,000-square-foot warehouse.

Clicking through the Yuwanmei website I can't help but think that we're witnessing the birth of a new—and potentially game-changing—comedic genre: the fake website. While fraud and deception are nothing new to the internet, and fake websites have been sometimes innovative promotional tools for movies and TV, the culture is still barely scratching the surface. Besides the Chinese Onion, the best example I've come across is an extensive spoof website featuring the comedian Charlie Murphy as Leroy Smith, the man who motivated Michael Jordan. Nike is apparently behind this project, which explains the bells and whistles, like the Leroy Smith video game. The ease with which this stuff can go viral (Leroy's website comes fully equipped with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and iPhone apps) has to have entertainment execs salivating.

Look for Hollywood to follow the lead of the website for the new Apatow flick, "Funny People", which features long fake trailers for the fake movies its protagonists star in.

Have a favorite fake website? Leave your links in the comments. But first, watch a video of Charlie Murphy (yes, Eddie's brother) as Leroy Smith, the man who motivated Michael Jordan, after the break.

Update: The Onion has taken it even farther than I had realized. Check out the Yu Wan-Mei Corp. Twitter feed (h/t to commenter Yu Wan Mei).

How the ICE Kept This Man Locked Up for 7 Months

| Mon Jul. 13, 2009 12:35 PM EDT

To those of you that have not already read "We Bring Fear," Chuck Bowden's amazing piece on the plight of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, well, get on it. For everyone else,  I thought I'd share with you how Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a ridiculous legal argument to keep Emilio behind bars and separated from his son for seven months.

Mother Jones obtained a copy of one of the rejection letters sent to Emilio and his lawyer, Carlos Spector, after they requested Emilio's parole. (See annotated version below). In it, Robert Jolicoeur, Field Office Director at the El Paso center where Emilio was detained, claims that Emilio failed to meet 4 of the 5 criteria required for asylum applicants to receive parole. But the grounds are bogus, as you'll notice—and this is an example of what Carlos Spector referred to as the "Guantanimization of the refugee process." (It's a dirty little secret that during the Bush years asylum applicants from Mexico were held indefinitely to discourage them from pursuing their asylum claims.) The nonprofit Human Rights First released a great report on refugee Guantanimization in April: "U.S. Detention of Asylum Seeks: Seeking Protection, Finding Prison."

See Emilio's actual rejection letter and read a debunking of each provision after the break.

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