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Top 5: Stoner Metal

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 7:26 PM EDT

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My good old Honda motorcycle is pretty reliable, if a bit beaten-up-looking, but it does need its regular tune-ups almost as much as its owner needs his sit-ups. When I dropped it off at the shop yesterday, the guys there had a classic album from Monster Magnet on the stereo, a band who, along with Kyuss and Sleep, basically invented stoner metal, a sludgy genre inspired by both '60s psychedelia and '70s hard rock. I haven't been anywhere near weed in, like, 15 years (I know Jonathan Stein doesn't believe me, but it's true!) and yet I still love the music's combination of rumbling weight and melodic complexity; here's five classic tracks to zone out to from the genre's mid-'90s heyday. They're enjoyable even if you're not on the, er, Pineapple Express.

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Tape of Beatles Chuckling Sells for $23,000

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 3:56 PM EDT

mojo-photo-beatlesbw.jpgA recently discovered reel-to-reel tape of The Beatles "chatting and laughing" during a recording session has sold for $23,446 in an online auction. Okay, it's also got pieces of songs, including "I'll Follow the Sun," and "I Feel Fine," but still. The man who found the tape wished to remain anonymous, revealing only that he had found the tape in his father's attic in northern England. Two lessons here: 1) Record everything you do, whether it's just chatting with your friends or having a snack, then distribute the tapes to friends and relatives with storage, and 2) Go up to your parents' attic right now and look for treasure.

Indie Pop Playlist: Loquat and Thao Nguyen

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 2:45 PM EDT

loquat-250.jpgOn my earphones this week are two bands I just recently got turned onto: Loquat and Thao Nguyen. Both are sweet with a touch of melancholy, and both remind me just a bit of previous decades.

Hear tracks after the jump:

Fact Checking John Tierney

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 2:31 PM EDT
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In June 1996, the New York Times Magazine ran a story by John Tierney titled "Recycling is Garbage." In the now-infamous piece, Tierney argued that recycling was environmentally unnecessary, fiscally burdensome, and ideologically laughable. "Recycling," he concluded, "may be the most wasteful activity in modern America." Having provided comfort to millions of non-recyclers—particularly New Yorkers—. Tierney has since migrated to the paper's Science Times section, where he writes a regular column, "Findings." Despite the whiff of empiricism, the column is often a platform for his libertarian-tinged environmental skepticism.

Last week, Tierney struck again with a column listing "10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List." The article displayed the typical Tierney M.O.: Take an environmental or health issue and dismiss it with a less-than-thorough glance at the research.

Future President Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 2:30 PM EDT

Paris Hilton, never one to pass up an opportunity to display money or pander for attention, has produced a video response to Sen. McCain's attack ad comparing Sen. Obama with Hilton.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

The helpful wonks over at The New Republic actually fact-checked Hilton's energy spiel (slow news week, guys?), so check that out if you want. Ok, so maybe she won't be our next Secretary of Energy—and she's not that funny, either.

But, unlike the two senators actually running for the most important job in the free world, she demonstrates a working knowledge of satire and the ability to make a simple joke without offending the entire English-speaking world. With both candidates gaffing their way through the summer, Republicans protesting in dark, empty rooms, and Democrats plotting secret back-room strategies that get immediately leaked, Paris Hilton may actually be the political MVP of these first few days of August.

And that is the state of American politics today. How long until Rasmussen starts tracking her in the polls?

—Max Fisher

Hamdan Guilty on One Count

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 1:52 PM EDT

Salim Hamdan, he who will always be detained, was found guilty of one charge today, providing material support for terrorism. Considering Hamdan never denied he was Osama bin Laden's driver, it's stunning that it took the United States government seven years to get this verdict. Here's an interesting point from Ken Gude, Associate Director of the International Rights and Responsibility Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund:

The worst aspect of this whole episode is that the Bush administration has completely devalued the concept of a war criminal. War crimes should be reserved for the most serious offenses and war crimes trials are extraordinary. Charles Taylor is a war criminal. Radovan Karazdic is a war criminal. Salim Hamdan is a chauffer. He is clearly guilty of the crime of material support for terrorism. But now he has been elevated to the status of warrior, legitimizing al Qaeda terrorists' belief that they are waging a holy war against the United States and our allies.
We waited seven years to convict a low-level al Qaeda figure of a crime he never denied.

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Ivins Accused FBI of Stalking; Investigation Details Forthcoming, Says FBI

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 10:25 AM EDT

In the absence of specific evidence linking Bruce Ivins to the anthrax attacks, there is gathering speculation that the FBI's case against him might not be as strong as first thought. To be sure, the circumstantial case is there, but Steven Hatfill will tell you: circumstantial evidence doesn't always lead in the right direction. According to NPR, the Department of Justice could be preparing to put doubts to rest by releasing the details of its case against Ivins, perhaps as early as today.

In the meantime, reports are emerging that before his suicide Ivins had accused the FBI of stalking him and his family. This included, Ivins claimed, offering his son $2.5 million to give evidence against Ivins and attempting to turn his hospitalized daughter against him. From the Associated Press:

Ivins complained privately that FBI agents had offered his son, Andy, the money plus "the sports car of his choice" late last year if he would turn over evidence implicating his father in the 2001 anthrax attacks, according to a former U.S. scientist who described himself as a friend of Ivins.
Ivins also said the FBI confronted Ivins' daughter, Amanda, with photos of victims of the anthrax attacks and told her, "This is what your father did," according to the scientist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The scientist said Ivins was angered by the FBI's alleged actions, which he said included following Ivins' family on shopping trips.
The FBI declined to describe its investigative techniques of Ivins.

UPDATE: The Justice Department has released a file of court documents related to the investigation. Read them for yourself.

With Tire Gauge Nonsense, GOP Fights the "Silver Buckshot"

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 10:14 AM EDT

That's Grist's very astute explanation of why the GOP is hammering Barack Obama over his recommendation that people properly inflate their tires to save gas. Check it out.

Military: Hamdan Is an Enemy Combatant and Will Be Detained if Acquitted by Jury

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 9:33 AM EDT

It's stuff like this that ensures we have no credibility abroad. And really makes you angry.

After a number of ill-fated attempts stopped by the courts, the Bush Administration has finally closed its case against Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver. He is being tried by a jury of six uniformed military officers who are set to deliver a verdict at any minute, following a two week trial at Guantanamo Bay. But the government doesn't have a great track record on prosecuting terrorism cases. What happens if Hamdan is found not guilty?

He'll be locked up indefinitely anyway. We just keep proving our fiercest critics abroad correct, over and over. Here's Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell:

MORRELL: Even if he were acquitted of the charges that are before him, he would still be considered an enemy combatant and therefore would continue to be subject to continued detention. Of course, that said, he would also have the opportunity to go before the administrative review board and they could determine whether he is a suitable candidate for release or transfer.
But in the near term, at least, we would consider him an enemy combatant and still a danger and would likely still be detained for some period of time thereafter.

The process for trying Guantanamo detainees has gone through so many iterations, you almost got the sense that the Bush Administration was really trying to find something that worked. Nope. Shame on you for giving that bunch the benefit of the doubt. "We would consider him an enemy combatant and still a danger" — that's the only standard someone has to meet to be locked up by the United States of America.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Compromising the Mission

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 9:22 AM EDT

In recognition of the importance of specialized language skills, the Army is considering offering a retention bonus of as much as $150,000 to Arabic-speaking soldiers. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Army has around 600 soldiers who speak key languages like Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Pashtu, and Farsi, and it wants more.

Truth be told, it could have 10 percent more right off the bat, if it weren't for Don't Ask, Don't Tell. As Think Progress notes, "A GAO report found that between 1998 and 2003, more than 60 linguists specializing in Arabic or Farsi were expelled from the military for being gay."