Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent the last year hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Another Nail in the Coffin for the Gitmo Tribunals

| Tue Oct. 9, 2007 10:46 AM EDT

More evidence has emerged that the military tribunals set up by the Pentagon to review the legal status of Guantanamo detainees are nothing more than kangaroo courts. Last week, federal public defenders in Oregon filed an affidavit describing an interview with an army reserve officer who has sat on 49 Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT). The officer, a prosecutor in his civilian life, is the second to speak out publicly against the tribunals.

According to the affidavit, in at least six cases where the CSRT unanimously found the detainee did not qualify as an enemy combatant, the military ordered a new CSRT or forced the first one to re-open the case. The findings were then reversed with no new evidence, according to the officer, whose name was withheld. Tribunal members were poorly trained, pressured by higher-ups to rule against the detainnes, and despite congressional rules requiring the military to allow detainees to present evidence in their favor, the only witnesses allowed to testify on their behalf were other Gitmo prisoners. (Surely those Uighurs were a big help!)

The lawyers filed the affidavit in the case of Adel Hassan Hamad, a Sudanese father of four who worked at a charity hospital in Pakistan, where he was captured and sent to Cuba in 2002. The military actually ruled that he could be released a few years ago, but he is still languishing in captivity. It's this kind of stuff that makes it hard to imagine that the Supreme Court, conservative as it is, will rule that the tribunals are a perfect substitute for real constitutional rights.

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Give the Nuclear Power Industry Credit for Creativity

| Mon Oct. 8, 2007 12:15 PM EDT

Nuclear energy companies, salivating over the prospect of millions of dollars in new federal subsidies, are eager to launch a construction boom of new power plants. In the past, nuclear power plant construction has been hampered by such nettlesome things as construction permits and public hearings on the construction's environmental impact. To fix that problem, Bloomberg reports, the Nuclear Energy Institute successfully lobbied federal regulators to redefine what they meant by "construction."

Now, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says such bulldozer-heavy activities as excavation, road building, and the erection of new cooling towers no longer count as construction under permitting rules. The change comes over protests from the agency's own environmental oversight official, who believes that the change will allow 90 percent of the environmental impact of new power plants to escape federal oversight.

It took the NRC 11 years to come up with new rules for drug-testing plant workers, but the new industry-friendly construction reg sailed through in a mere six months. Of course, the industry had a ringer in the regulatory agency. One of the NRC commissioners who voted for the new regs, Jeffrey Merrifield, cast his vote while looking for a new job. He now works for a company that builds nuclear power plants.

(H/T Center for Media and Democracy)

Why Online Education Will Never Replace the Classroom Experience

| Fri Oct. 5, 2007 3:05 PM EDT

The University of Phoenix, a for-profit online school, recently hired this guy as an adjunct English professor. Among other things, he allegedly ogled a student's chest while teaching in Virginia public schools, something that should be a little harder to do over the Internet...

Note to Mel: People Love Bill

| Fri Oct. 5, 2007 2:22 PM EDT

What's that old adage about how generals are always fighting the last war?

Republicans have apparently based their presidential fundraising strategy almost entirely on fanning fears of another Clinton presidency. The Washington Post reports that the Republican National Committee has been sending out fundraising appeals to supporters with a photo of Bill and Hillary stamped "4 More Years?"

Apparently chairman Mel Martinez and the RNC brain-trust missed the memo noting that thanks to Bush, the Clinton years look pretty darn good today, what with the budget surplus, peace, grownups at FEMA and all. Is it any wonder Republicans haven't been inspired by these appeals to dig deep?

Well, "Happy" May Be a Stretch

| Fri Oct. 5, 2007 2:15 PM EDT

Best quote of the day, from GOP strategist Ed Rollins on why the Republicans lag nearly $100 million behind Democrats in presidential fundraising:

"The Democrats, they're out there, they're hungry. We just got fat, dumb, and happy."
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