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Some Surprising New Findings on GIs, PTSD, and Crime

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 6:43 PM EDT

A while back, I waxed all sympathetic about GIs getting what I assumed was all too needed special consideration for post-discharge, surely PTSD-based offenses. Now comes a Sacramento Bee year-long study of GI's, 'shell shock', and crime. As usual, it's far from a simple situation.

Read their findings here, here, here, and here.

Turns out that some of these supposedly-traumatized-by-war defendants had a 'war or jail' option, with serious charges hanging over their heads, and appear to have taken their criminal dispositions to war with them. Some of these folks had colorful rap sheets long before they ever donned combat boots. Of course, as Kathy Griffin would say: allegedly.

Surely, the programs I praised earlier are taking such factors into consideration in deciding how to deal with these vet offenders, but damn this makes things murky.

Kudos to prison shrink and columnist John Schwade for the hat tip.

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Interview: "Garfield Minus Garfield" Creator Dan Walsh

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 5:50 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gmgstrip.jpgAs we entered the second half of 2008, I thought I'd take a look at Riff page view statistics for the year, just to see what online Mother Jones readers have been clicking on around this fun little blog. And what, dear Riffers, do you think was the number one post of the first six months of 2008? A post mocking George W.'s misinterpretation of a painting? A cynical look at coverage of the Iowa primaries? Abstinence pants? No, no and no. Our most-viewed post was my meditation on the subtext of late-capitalist anxiety in the comic "remix" Garfield Minus Garfield. Riff readers are stoned!

It turns out I was onto something: in the months since the piece's appearance on the Riff, "G-G" has been covered in The New York Times, Time Magazine, and The Washington Post; the latter tracked down original Garfield creator Jim Davis, who called the work "an inspired thing to do." So, who's behind this now-phenomenally-popular bit of inspired photoshoppery? Meet 32-year-old Irishman Dan Walsh, who turns out to be a really nice guy. He answered a few questions via e-mail about the strip.

New Music From Around the Blogs: Pierre de Reeder, Villa Diamante, The Game, Sam Sparro

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 5:21 PM EDT

mojo-photo-blogmusic0725.jpg

Hey, do you like the New Pornographers, but have you always felt like there were just too many people involved? Well now you can get cozy with bassist Pierre de Reeder, who has a new album of acoustic tracks out August 12. He's kind of like a Canadian Jose Gonzalez. RCRD LBL has an mp3 of "The Long Conversation," which they say is helping them "chill and forget our aching hangover." You too?

I went out to local club Mezzanine to catch some of the hot new Argentinian DJs of Club Zizek fame last night, and that shuffly cumbia rhythm is still shimmying around my brain. If you're intrigued but put off by confusing foreign-language lyrics, check out a mashup over at the Muy Bastard blog by Zizek DJ Villa Diamante, combining young rapper Lil Mama with a minor-key cumbia backing track.

After the jump: a rapper gets existential, and a soul singer gets remixed to shreds

GI Jane Hell: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 5:06 PM EDT

Here's why women are taking the brunt of the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

From womensenews:

Today, more than 12,000 service members have lost their jobs because of the so-called don't ask, don't tell law. A disproportionate number of those discharges are women, according to statistics gathered by the Washington-based Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network from the government under the Freedom of Information Act...

The problem for women has worsened in recent years... In fiscal 2006, women made up 17 percent of the Army but 35 percent of discharges under the "don't ask" law. One year later, women were 15 percent of Army members, yet discharges of women increased to 45 percent of the total.

Bad as this is, it turns out that lots of these women are fingered by men whose advances they spurned.

Cartoon: We're Number One!

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 4:24 PM EDT

Number one in lock ups, that is.

Video: When Your Mother Is Deported

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 4:20 PM EDT

In a Texan business park named Export Plaza, the Corrections Corporation of America operates a complex of concrete buildings where illegal immigrants are locked up until they agree to leave the country.

"When you first get there, they tell you you're nobody," says Sergia Santibanez, who spent 18 months inside CCA's Houston Processing Center while she fought to remain in the United States with her children.

Watch her daughter, Luisanna, speak about her mother's detention here:

—Stokely Baksh and Renee Feltz

For more on the business of detention, don't miss MoJo reporter Stephanie Mencimer's article, Why Texas Still Holds 'Em. For more multimedia coverage of this issue by investigative reporters Renee Feltz and Stokely Baksh, go to www.businessofdetention.com.

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More Cell-Phone Wariness From Docs

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

cellphone150.jpgThe Baltimore Sun reports that another group of doctors has voiced its concerns about cell phones. They're the latest to do so; last year, a different group published the Bioinitiative Report, a roundup of some of the studies that suggest a link between cell-phone radiation and brain cancer.

This new group includes some bigwigs—most notably Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Herberman told the Sun, "Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later."

This, in a nutshell, is the precautionary principle, which is an important piece of this whole debate—but it's not really anything we haven't heard before. And we probably won't hear anything new until more science is in. Unfortunately, this could take quite a while. So the question remains: Should we follow Herberman's advice and use our mobiles sparingly till we know more?

Full disclosure: After researching "This is Your Brain on Cell Phones," I bought a headset. Just in case.

No Good Veep Choices for McCain?

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 3:00 PM EDT

This was first posted at CQPolitics.com....

On Friday morning, on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, guest-host Susan Page made me--really, really, really made me--and the two other commentators (PR man/syndicated columnist Tony Blankley and Politico's Jeanne Cummings) predict John McCain's running-mate pick. None of us were eager to prognosticate. But Page insisted.

Earlier in the day, I had pondered the conventional-wisdom short-list of McCain's choices: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Bush budget director Rob Portman, and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. At least three of these contenders should be nowhere near McCain's calculations:

* Ridge: He favors abortion rights. That could help McCain with independent voters, when the inevitable McCain-wants-to-criminalize-abortion ads start flooding the airwaves in the fall. But does McCain want to be at war with the base of his party from now until election day? (One problem for McCain is that he cannot win without the party's base, and he may not be able to win by catering to it. What a paradox!)

* Portman: As the economy slides further into a ravine--and Bush's approval ratings remain in the gutter--does McCain want by his side the man who was in charge of Bush's budget? Portman does hail from the must-win state of Ohio, and he's considered an affable and effective campaigner. But McCain would find it harder to distance himself from Bush's economic policies with one of Bush's key economic appointees on the ticket.

* Jindal: As I noted earlier, if McCain opts for this 37-year-old overachiever, he will make exorcism a campaign issue, for Jindal will have to explain his 1994 account of an exorcism in which he participated--and prove his account was true. Also, Jindal's record in Louisiana has been not-so-stellar recently. Senator, once more, can you explain whether you believe that Satanic demons can take possession of an individual and that people like your running-mate can perform amateur exorcisms to drive these spirits away?

So that leaves Pawlenty and Romney. Pawlenty comes from a swing state, but he has no standing on the national stage. "Pawlenty of nothing," one conservative pundit quipped to me recently. As for Romney, he does okay (not great) with the GOP base (the part of which that does not consider Mormonism to be an anti-Christian cult), and he can talk about his business experience at a time when the economy is ailing. One key question is, is McCain still pissed off at Romney over his attacks on McCain during the primary campaign? McCain does have anger issues. (See here for a recent example.)

When pressed for an answer by Page, I went with Romney, noting I was probably wrong. Blankley chose Ridge. And Cummings picked Portman, adding that voters would not necessarily identify him with Bush. But we all stipulated that we had no clue. As for me, I doubt that the veep pick will make much of a difference for McCain's campaign. He (and Barack Obama, too) ought to keep in mind the cardinal rule: first, do no harm. Yet that short-list is full of potential dangers.

When Blacks Get Their American Dream 'Burb On

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 2:40 PM EDT

The WSJ reports that, for the first time, 'black' cities like DC and Atlanta are losing their historic black populations to the suburbs. News, certainly. But why they gotta turn it into a big ol' drama?

The only difference between this and white flight is that blacks are running toward something (supposed peace and tranquility) and not away from something (coloreds). We'd a done it sooner but for the economic discrimination that kept us from affording to join those stupid commuters with their 'bowling alone' anomie. And, oh, y'all killing us for trying.

Now, we get our American Dream 'burb on—and we media types can't just report already dramatic news. It's gotta be a race war.

Here's the WSJ's sub hed:

For the First Time in Decades, Cities' Black Populations Lose Ground, Stirring Clashes Over Class, Culture and Even Ice Cream.

Heavens! Formerly black churches are courting newly gentrifying whites rather than, oh, I dunno, closing. White candidates have a shot at winning 'black' mayoralties and municipalities are flinging up jazz spots all over town, knowing that Negroes can't resist a hot sax anymore than Paris Hilton can resist a camera. Race war!

Why can't news about blacks just be that—news about blacks? White folks: Everything ain't about y'all all the time.

Why Talula Does the Hula No More

| Fri Jul. 25, 2008 5:32 AM EDT

Apparently, people who live in New Zealand, and get pregnant, are crazy. From CNN:

A New Zealand judge has made a 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so that her name can be changed from Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, the country's national news agency reported Thursday.

Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt listed a series of unusual names that New Zealand parents had given their children, and said he was concerned that such strange monikers would create hurdles for them as they grew up.

Among the names Murfitt cited: twins named Benson and Hedges, after a brand of cigarettes; Violence; and Number 16 Bus Shelter.

Maybe there are a lot of wannabee rock stars down there.