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Prison Song Playlist

| Tue Jul. 29, 2008 6:22 PM EDT

johnny-cash-250.jpgIn conjunction with Slammed: The Coming Prison Meltdown, Mother Jones' investigation into the prison system, the MoJo staff compiled some of our favorite prison songs by the Bobby Fuller Four, ACDC, Sam Cooke, Thin Lizzy, Johnny Cash, and more.

We're locking up 1 in every 100 American adults—and going bankrupt in the process. Are there alternatives to a total meltdown? Our MoJo Prison Guide tells you everything you wanted to know about prison but were afraid to ask. And, a comprehensive guide to all Mother Jones articles, audio, and video on the prison system and links to resources will help you find out more.

Why not listen while you read?

Prison Song Playlist

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An Indicted (GOP) Senator, a Disgraced (GOP-run) Justice Department, a Gagged (GOP-managed) EPA--Just Another Day in D.C.

| Tue Jul. 29, 2008 3:15 PM EDT

Corruption-o-rama in Washington on Tuesday:

On the front page is news (or confirmation) that Aberto Gonzales' Justice Department was run by partisan hacks who illegally denied jobs to applicants who were not Republicans and Christian conservatives.

The Associated Press is reporting that the "Environmental Protection Agency is telling its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail." AP adds: "The EPA is currently under pressure from several congressional committees to disclose documents relating to its position on global warming and its denial of a petition by California to control greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. Last week, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied a request to appear before two Senate committees to discuss whether the agency's decisions comply with its staff's technical and legal recommendations."

And Senator Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, was indicted for making false statements on his financial disclosure forms to conceal $250,000 in goods and services he received from an oil company that sought official assistance from Stevens. The 84-year-old Stevens used to chair the powerful Senate appropriations committee.

Cronyism that undermines good government, a gag order that attempts to block the flow of information needed for oversight, and a case of (alleged) personal corruption in which a legislator exploited his office to line his own pocket--it's as if the seven-and-half years of the Bush presidency was boiled down into one news cycle. The only thing missing is a war sold on false pretenses.

Obama, DNC Reserve $20 Million to Target Hispanic Voters

| Tue Jul. 29, 2008 12:03 PM EDT

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee will announce later today a decision to commit $20 million to bringing out the Hispanic vote. According to a recent report (.pdf) from the Pew Hispanic Center, the Hispanic vote has shifted decisively in favor of the Democratic Party. Numbering about 46 million, Hispanics make up about 15 percent of the U.S. population. As a group, their influence this election cycle will be somewhat muted due to the fact that many are either not citizens or are under 18. Forecasts indicate that they will comprise only 6.5 percent of voters who turn out in November. But their influence in swing states like New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado could be the deciding factor in which candidate wins those states—all of which fell into the Bush column in 2004 by five percentage points or less. A July 24 poll taken by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that Obama enjoys a 66-23 lead over McCain among Hispanic voters.

China to Spy on Beijing Hotels During Olympics

| Tue Jul. 29, 2008 11:32 AM EDT

The Chinese government is intent on presenting its best face to the world when the Beijing Olympics open on August 8. The construction of world-class facilities and grounds and the filtering of pollution from the air bring to mind the single-minded determination of China's Five-Year Plans of old. But as Amnesty International points out in a report (.pdf) released today, China's eagerness to have the Games go off without a hitch is also showcasing the government's worst traits, particularly in the area of human rights and press freedom. As Amnesty spokesman Sam Zarifi told Voice of America:

The Chinese government has become so obsessed with projecting an image of stability and harmony that they won't allow any voice of disagreement, however reasonable or peaceful, so we see human rights activists being targeted .... Even the promise that foreign media would be allowed to report completely freely as has been the case in previous Olympics, that has not been met.

Freedom of the press will be the subject of a news conference on Capitol Hill today, where Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, will release several translated documents, showing that all hotels in the area of the Olympics have been required to install Internet surveillance software. The move, according to a press release, "is aimed at visiting guests and journalists." From one of the documents, translated from Chinese:

In order to ensure the smooth opening of Olympic [sic]... It is required that your company install and run the Security Management System for Internet Access from Public Places in addition to provide network interfaces consistent with the industrial technical standards on public security for the implementation the foregoing management and technical measures (the person who access the Internet must be registered in his or her real name)

Let the Games begin.

Perfect Storm Stores CO2 Perfectly

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 10:19 PM EDT

473px-Typhoon_Mindulle_28_jun_0445Z.jpg Hurricanes may be getting bigger and more frequent as a result of climate change. But they may also be counterbalancing their destruction by sequestering millions of tons of carbon in the deep ocean.

A new study finds that a single typhoon in Taiwan buried as much carbon as all the other rains in that country in a year.

Of the 61 million tons of sediment carried out to sea by the Choshui River during Typhoon Mindulle in 2004, some 500,000 tons consisted of particles of carbon, weathered from Taiwan's mountains.

That's 95 percent as much carbon as the river transports during normal rains in a year. It also equates to more than 400 tons of carbon per square mile washed away during the storm.

The good news is that once the carbon gets buried in the ocean it eventually becomes sedimentary rock and doesn't return to the atmosphere for hundreds of millions of years.

So, the work of tropical storms isn't enough to cancel out the warming gases we're putting into the atmosphere. But it's a pretty good response from a stressed planet.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

China Exports 33% Of CO2 Footprint

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 9:55 PM EDT

200px-D-Link_made_in_china.JPG One-third of China's carbon footprint comes from producing goods for export. That's up from an estimate of 25 percent only 10 months ago.

Now a new paper in Energy Policy say China's export emissions equaled 1.7 billion tons of CO2 in 2005. That's 6% of total global emissions. The same as Germany, France, and the UK combined.

Many of the industries producing these emissions make electronics for the rich world. Which gets sticky when you realize that international policy penalizes the producer country, not the consumer. China, understandably, thinks that's wrong, reports New Scientist:

"In some measure, it makes sense if people buy goods and become liable for the emissions generated when the goods are produced," says Benito Müller of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, UK. "They will certainly be more choosy about what they buy."

Even Chinese consumers.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

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WANTED: Nanny/(Factchecker) to Start Immmediately (Downtown Frisco)

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 8:44 PM EDT

Spotted.
On Craigslist, via Gawker, this outlandish nanny job posting which, with a tinker here and there, could double as a MoJo internship listing, sorta... Have a read, and then decide, would you rather nanny 10 Upper East Siders or factcheck the world?


We're a family of ten an office of many. My husband editors-in-chief and myself, our 5 children 12 editors, 2 dogs 6 reporters, and cat creative director. For as long as we've lived Mother Jones has been in the city we have been lucky to have the same nanny/family assistant 700 factcheckers cycle in and out of our offices. Originally starting out as my eldest son's baby nurse fresh newbies and staying with us for nearly 19 years for up to two years before moving on as hardened vets.

The Dark Knight: WSJ Says "Yay," UK Guardian Says "Nay"

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 6:00 PM EDT

mojo-photo-darkknightjoker.jpg

While commenters had a field day with my admittedly rambling post describing the troubling pro-Bush Administration subtext in Batman: The Dark Knight, there have been a few heavyweight additions to the fight over the last few days. First of all, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece on Friday called "What Bush and Batman Have in Common" which looks at things from, well, the dark side:

Brian Eno and David Byrne to Join Forces Again

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 5:27 PM EDT

mojo-photo-enobyrne.jpgSure, it's been 27 years since two of music's great pioneers put their heads together for a ground-breaking album, but hey, they've both been busy. Legendary producer Brian Eno and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne have completed work on a new album called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, and following in the footsteps of Radiohead, they'll be self-releasing it online at EverythingThatHappens.com. You'll be able to stream it free or buy the downloads starting August 18, but a preview track will be available for free on August 4.

The web site currently features a brief note from Byrne, revealing that he was the songwriter and lyricist while Eno did the music. In an interview, Eno calls the new material "electronic gospel," which could be good or bad, really, but doesn't sound much like their last album together. Their 1980 effort, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, fused quirky samples with wildly diverse rhythms, a pop-culture/electro/world-beat mish-mash that was way ahead of its time. In fact, I'm not sure we've even caught up yet: M.I.A.'s 2007 album Kala basically follows the same formula and it still seems utterly groundbreaking.

After the jump, check out "America is Waiting," the first track from Bush of Ghosts, which loops talk-radio samples over a rolling, Cabaret Voltaire-style beat.

Iraq Contracts: Inspectors General Point to Waste and Fraud

| Mon Jul. 28, 2008 3:31 PM EDT

Following on my post from last week about the Senate Appropriations Committee's outrage at the scale of waste and fraud endemic to Iraq contracts, I offer two specific examples, both disclosed today in separate official audits.

To begin with, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released an audit (.pdf) of a $900-million, cost-plus contract awarded to Parsons Delaware Inc., in March 2004 to design and build infrastructure in support of Iraq's security and justice sectors. This was to include the construction of things like prisons, fire houses, and police stations. As of May 21, 2008, the firm had spent $333 million—of which $142 million (43 percent of the total) was wasted on projects that were never completed. Now, it's easy to point the finger at Parsons. But as SIGIR makes clear, blame also rests with the U.S. government for lack of oversight. Only 10 contract officers, for example, were assigned to the Parson's contract—a project that required about five-to-six times as many. To make matters worse, the audit itself was compromised by inadequate record-keeping by federal agencies. According to the report, SIGIR "contacted a number of responsible contracting offices, but at the conclusion of our review the U.S. government has been unable to locate the files for the contract bid and award process... SIGIR also could not locate inventory records for items purchased by the contractor in support of construction activities."