Blogs

Man Arrested for Fatal Shootings of Three Muslim Students Near University of North Carolina

| Wed Feb. 11, 2015 10:27 AM EST
Chapel Hill police officers investigate the scene of three murders near Summerwalk Circle in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Update, February 11, 2015, 11:24 a.m.: In a statement, police say the shootings may have stemmed from a parking dispute. "Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking. Hicks is cooperating with investigators," a police spokesman said Wednesday.

A 46-year-old man was arrested for the fatal shootings of three Muslim students inside an apartment complex near the University of North Carolina on Tuesday. 

Police say Craig Hicks was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. The victims are Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The sisters were reportedly enrolled at North Carolina State University; Barakat was a student at Chapel Hill's school of dentistry.

 

Spencer turned himself into police Tuesday night "without incident," according to Chatham County Sgt. Kevin Carey. While officials are still investigating a motive behind the murders, news of the students' deaths quickly sparked alarm over concerns of racial bias. The hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter was also created.

 

On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged police to investigate the murders as a possible hate crime. An official statement from the council specifically addressed Spencer's Facebook account, in which he allegedly called himself an "anti-theist" and spoke out against "radical Christians and radical Muslims."

"Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in the statement.

"Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the local community."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the alleged shooter's name. This has since been corrected.

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Watch an Emotional Jon Stewart Announce He's Leaving "The Daily Show"

| Wed Feb. 11, 2015 8:49 AM EST

During Tuesday's recording of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart revealed to a rather shocked audience that after 16 years he would be exiting the show sometime later this year. Word of his notice quickly leaked on social media, which resulted in an official statement confirming the news from Comedy Central.

The episode aired in the evening and it was nothing short of the ever-earnest, personal message Stewart consistently provided for his viewers every night. His farewell sums up exactly why we'll miss him so much. Watch the announcement below:

Personal Health Update

| Wed Feb. 11, 2015 12:46 AM EST

I got back my final lab results today. We were mainly looking for two things. First, the volume of the antibody that corresponds to the particular type of blood plasma cell that had become cancerous. In my case, that's the IgG antibody, and over the course of the chemotherapy its volume has fallen from 6200 to 1580. This puts it—barely!—within the normal range. Second, the level of a protein marker that tells us what percentage of my plasma cells are healthy vs. cancerous. This has gone down from 4.2 to 1.18. Ideally I think it would be closer to zero than that, but it's still a pretty good number.

Bottom line: the first stage of my chemotherapy has been successful and is now over. Hooray! The side effects are going to linger for a while, but hopefully not for more than a month or so. At that point, I'll be ready for stage 2, which is an autologous stem cell transplant—that is, a procedure in which they draw out stem cells from my blood and then transplant them back into my body later. You can google the gory details if you really want them.

That will all happen in about a month or so, and will probably put me out of commission for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I get several weeks of recovery time along with a whole bunch of pre-op workups. Should be loads of fun.

But the important thing is that stage 1 is over and I'm basically in remission. I'm now crossing my fingers and hoping that stage 2 is equally successful.

Elizabeth Warren Just Explained in One Tweet Why We'll Miss Jon Stewart So Much

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 8:34 PM EST

The senior senator from Massachusetts puts it better than most:

Hear, hear.

One Perfect Tweet Demonstrates How Utterly Ridiculous the World Is

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 8:13 PM EST

Brian Williams is being suspended without pay from NBC for 6 months. ThinkProgress' Ian Millhiser summed it up perfectly:

This Was Jon Stewart's Best Moment

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 7:13 PM EST

Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show later this year. Here is the time he went on Crossfire and destroyed, well, Crossfire.

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Jon Stewart Is Leaving "The Daily Show"

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 6:55 PM EST

Update: Here is Jon Stewart's announcement:

Original post below

Jon Stewart reportedly surprised Daily Show audience members tonight by announcing his retirement from the comedy show he has hosted for more than 15 years. The announcement hasn't been made official but many of those in attendance have taken to social media to share the news.

Tonight's episode airs at 11pm ET on Comedy Central.

Update: Comedy Central just amde it official with the following statement. "Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year."

This is a developing story. We'll update when more news becomes available.

Here's What Boston's Record-Setting Snowfall Looks Like

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 4:43 PM EST

In the past two weeks, Boston has been hit by three separate snowstorms that have dumped a combined total of more than 70 inches of snow on the city. The storms have shattered Boston's previous record—set back in 1978—for most snowfall in a 30-day period.

The historic snowfall has virtually paralyzed the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the oldest transit system in the country, forcing the agency to declare a state of emergency. Roof collapses have been reported throughout the area and the city's public school system has been closed for eight days, as of Tuesday.

The relentless snowfall is showing no signs letting up either, with another storm forecasted for the area this Thursday.

Steven Senne/AP
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/AP

While city plows have been working round-the-clock to clear the snow—more than 130,000 combine hours according to the Department of Public Works—the city is still struggling with what to do with the excess. On Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh indicated that the snow might be dumped into Boston's harbor, a move that some experts warned could have environmental consequences.

Growing Income Inequality Was What Made the Great Recession so Great

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 3:57 PM EST

A couple of years ago a new narrative emerged about the role that income inequality may have played in the boom/bust cycle that ended in the Great Recession. In a nutshell, it goes like this:

  • Middle class incomes stagnated during the aughts.
  • Income gains went mostly to the rich, who got ever richer.
  • To sustain its accustomed lifestyle, the middle class began borrowing more. The rich eagerly provided them with loans, since there were limited opportunities to invest the huge pool of money flowing their way.
  • This worked fine, until it didn't. Eventually the middle class couldn't borrow any more, and the music stopped. The result was an epic crash driven by high household debt levels.

This view is strongly associated with Raghuram Rajan (in his book Fault Lines) and others. But a few days ago Bas Bakker and Joshua Felman wrote a piece suggesting that there's more to the story. The rich, they say, did more than just provide money that fueled a middle-class consumption boom and bust. The rich participated actively themselves. That is, the rise and fall of the consumption of the rich had as big an effect as that of the middle class—maybe even bigger.

The chart on the right shows the authors' estimate of consumption patterns by income class. As you can see, from around 2003 to the present, it was fairly flat for the bottom 90 percent. But for the well off, consumption rose substantially from 2003-06, dropped conspicuously between 2006-09 and then began increasing again at a quick pace:

The model suggests something truly striking. The top decile explains the bulk of overall consumption growth. Between 2003 and 2013, about 71% of the increase in consumption came from the rich. Much of the slowdown in consumption between 2006 and 2009 was the result of a drop in consumption of the rich. The rich also played a key role in the subsequent recovery.

Their conclusion:

Our results suggest that the standard narrative of the Great Recession may need to be adjusted. Housing played a role, but so did financial assets, which actually accounted for the bulk of the loss in wealth. The middle class played a role, but so did the rich. In fact, the rich now account for such a large share of the economy, and their wealth has become so large and volatile, that wealth effects on their consumption have started to have a significant impact on the macroeconomy. Indeed, the rich may have accounted for the bulk of the swings in aggregate consumption during the boom-bust.

In some ways, this shouldn't come as a surprise. If the bulk of income gains are going to the rich, it stands to reason that their consumption will vary substantially as those incomes go up and down. Middle-class consumption still plays a big role here, and the loss of housing wealth after 2006 still explains a great deal of why the Great Recession was so deep and so long.

But if Bakker and Felman are right, it's far from the whole story. Consumption patterns of the rich are even more volatile than those of the middle class, and when they're getting most of the income gains, then overall consumption patterns become more volatile too. If more income had been flowing to the middle class during the aughts, there would have been less borrowing and a more even pattern of consumption. The boom would have been more moderate and the bust would have been less catastrophic. Growing income inequality made the economy ever more fragile and ever more unstable, and we all suffered as a result.

Listen to the Powerful, Firsthand Stories of Mexican Women Fighting Against Sexual Harassment

| Tue Feb. 10, 2015 1:03 PM EST

In the fall of 2012, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh launched "Stop Telling Women to Smile," a project featuring posters with the faces of real women exposed to street harassment, oftentimes in the form of catcalling, paired with powerful quotes underneath. For Fazlalizadeh, the pieces served as a visual tool to directly address both harassers and women who experience harassment in their very own neighborhoods.

This past September, Fazlalizadeh brought "Stop Telling Women to Smile" to Mexico City, where women are subjected to a level of street harassment both pervasive and constant. Its own public transit system has been deemed one of the most dangerous for women in the world, a distinction that has given way to the use of single-sex buses and female-only subway cars in order to combat the city's notorious harassment issues.

The new interactive, which debuted Monday on Fusion, tells the stories of 72 women, packaged with videos, locations, and a timeline outlining Fazlalizadeh's time in Mexico City. The abroad iteration is titled "All the Time. Every Day" and features women of all ages–local politicians, students, and mothers included–and narratives detailing instances of verbal harassment and physical touching in public.

"I know that you would do it for free, but I will pay you to suck me off," Adriana, one of the women included in the interactive, recounts being told by a man once.

"When I walk, I see men seeing me," Ana, another women, describes. "That gets me really nervous. If you say something, you're the bad one."

It's this sense of powerlessness that "All the Time. Every day" seeks to highlight, providing women a platform to address public abuse too often ignored by their larger community. Check out the project in its entirety at Fusion.