Blogs

Mira Nair's The Namesake Opens Tomorrow

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 1:35 PM PST

namesake.gifLooking for a good movie to see this weekend? Check out The Namesake (opening tomorrow), Mira Nair's film adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel of the same name. The film tells the story of Ashima (played by the wonderful Bollywood star Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Kahn), immigrants to New York from Calcutta, and their son Gogol (Kal Penn), named (for reasons that can't be revealed in this blog post) after the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. The unfortunate trailer makes The Namesake look like the story of a son whose Indian parents don't want him to date a white girl (I guess they thought it would help sell tickets?), but the movie tells a far more interesting immigration story.

Nair eschews a neat and tidy view of immigration and instead displays it in all its messy contradictions. This family is in many ways quaintly American—their clean suburban home, Ashima gluing sparkles onto home made Christmas cards—yet the parents cringe at the easy informality of their children, and the action shifts equally between India and the United States, creating a palpable sense of what Nair calls "living between two worlds."

Fans of Nair's other works (especially Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala) may be surprised by this film's more somber tone, but as in those other films, Nair shows a keen eye for interpersonal relationships and presents a touching portrait of familial love and the complex emotions of immigration.

For more on The Namesake, read my interview with Mira Nair here. (She gives a great interview.)

--Amaya Rivera

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Michael Jackson: No Regrets

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 1:12 PM PST

It turns out there's at least one person in the world who's as unwilling to admit mistakes as President Bush. That person is Michael Jackson. Having spent most of his time abroad since being acquitted on child molestation charges in 2005, the bizarre star appeared at a $3,500-a-head party in Tokyo on Thursday dressed in a Roberto Cavalli suit that looked strangely like pajamas (click the link for a picture). He told the AP: "I've been in the entertainment industry since I was 6 years old. As Charles Dickens says, 'It's been the best of times, the worst of times.' But I would not change my career" despite "deliberate attempts to hurt me."

Fantasy Rape or Erotic Dream?

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 12:54 PM PST

D%26G.jpg

Dolce & Gabbana pulled an ad today after women's groups in Italy and Spain alleged that the ad depicts a "fantasy rape" and thereby promotes violence against women. Dolce & Gabbana counter that the ad was meant to portray an "erotic dream" (presumably among consenting, of-age dream avatars). What do you think?

I say neither. Looks like your standard, creepy pseudo sensual D&G spread to me--too unemotional to be either violent or particularly erotic. Lesson: never make love to a model.

Slick Willie Version 2.0?

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 12:33 PM PST

If you want to know why New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's presidential campaign is having trouble getting off the ground, check out this Politico article on Richardson's "excessively personal" campaign style.

MoJoBlog on Richardson's expertise on nukes here and his all-around qualification for the country's highest office here.

Climate Change Will Affect Women More Severely Than Men

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 12:29 PM PST

Today is International Women's Day. You'd hardly know it.

Though the IUCN (World Conservation Union) has celebrated by releasing a disturbing report on global warming predicting that the physical, economic, social, and cultural impacts of global warming will jeopardize women far more then men. Just as Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami disproportionately affected women far more then men.

The report, Gender and Climate Change (available here as a PDF), concludes that women are more severely affected by climate change and natural disasters because of their social roles and because of discrimination and poverty. To make matters worse, they're also underrepresented in decision-making about climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and, most critically, discussions and decisions about adaptation and mitigation. From the report:

For example, the 20,000 people who died in France during the extreme heat wave in Europe in 2003 included significantly more elderly women than men. In natural disasters that have occurred in recent years, both in developing and in developed countries, it is primarily the poor who have suffered—and all over the world, the majority of the poor are women, who at all levels earn less than men. In developing countries, women living in poverty bear a disproportionate burden of climate change consequences. Because of women's marginalized status and dependence on local natural resources, their domestic burdens are increased, including additional work to fetch water, or to collect fuel and fodder. In some areas, climate change generates resource shortages and unreliable job markets, which lead to increased male-out migration and more women left behind with additional agricultural and households duties. Poor women's lack of access to and control over natural resources, technologies and credit mean that they have fewer resources to cope with seasonal and episodic weather and natural disasters. Consequently traditional roles are reinforced, girls' education suffers, and women's ability to diversify their livelihoods (and therefore their capacity to access income-generating jobs) is diminished.

The report notes examples from other sources, including this:

An Oxfam Report (March 2005) on the impact of the 2004 Asia Tsunami on women raised alarms about gender imbalances since the majority of those killed and among those least able to recover were women. In Aceh, for example, more than 75 percent of those who died were women, resulting in a male-female ratio of 3:1 among the survivors. As so many mothers died, there have been major consequences with respect to infant mortality, early marriage of girls, neglect of girls' education, sexual assault, trafficking in women and prostitution. These woes, however, are largely neglected in the media coverage.

And this:

In a study executed on behalf of ACTIONAID in 1993-1994 in the Himalayan region of Nepal, it became clear that environmental degradation has compounded stress within households and pressure on scarce resources. This meant that the pressure on children, particularly girl children, to do more work and at an earlier age was increasing. Girls do the hardiest work, have the least say and the fewest education options. Programmes that concentrate only on sending more girls to school were failing as the environmental and social conditions of the families deteriorated.

Ironically, women also produce less greenhouse gas emissions than men, the report concludes. Flatulence jokes aside, this includes women in the developed world.

In Europe, in both the work and leisure contexts, women travel by car less frequently and over shorter distances, use smaller, energy-saving cars and fly considerably less frequently than men.

Women are over represented as heads of low-income households and under represented in high-income groups. In this respect, income levels play a role in CO2 emissions: the higher the income, the higher the emissions from larger houses with more electrical equipment, bigger cars and so on.

Lower income people, who happen to be—you guessed it—mostly women, also have less access to energy-efficient appliances and homes because these tend to be more costly. Most frustrating of all, women perceive global warming as a more dangerous threat than men do and would do more to address it, given the tools.

Women and men perceive the cause of climate change (including CO2 emissions) differently. In Germany, more than 50 percent of women compared to only 40 percent of men, rate climate change brought about by global warming as extremely or very dangerous. Women also believed very firmly that each individual can contribute toward protecting the climate through his/her individual actions. However, policy planning does not reflect in anyway these perceptions.

By excluding women, the world loses vital input and profound knowledge—knowledge that may prove key to adapting to climate change.

Inuit women in Northern Canada have always had a deep understanding of weather conditions, as they were responsible for assessing hunting conditions and preparing the hunters accordingly. During a drought in the small islands of the Federal States of Micronesia, it was local women, knowledgeable about island hydrology as a result of land-based work, who were able to find potable water by digging a new well that reached the freshwater lens.

The report concludes:

There is a need to refocus the thinking and the debate on energy and climate change to include a human rights perspective. Integrating a rights-based approach to access to sustainable and affordable energy is an approach that will recognise and take into account women's specific needs and women's human rights. Current economic models based primarily on privatisation strategies do not include accountability in terms of meeting people's basic needs.

The UN has established a website on gender and climate change, where you can learn more, get involved.

Estonian Election Goes Digital

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 11:29 AM PST

In random, but interesting news, Estonia recently completed its national parliamentary election, and with it, the largest scale non-Simon-Cowell-related online voting experiment in history. 30,000 citizens (about 1 in 30 voters), used their national ID cards and PINs to cast their ballots on a government website. Apparently, no security breaches occurred, and voter turnout was an all time high of 61%. The BBC points out that online voting will need to flush out all security concerns before gaining mass popularity, but still...in the future, imagine casting your vote to reelect President Jenna Bush from the comfort of your moon-beer-drenched LazyBoy...ah technology.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Mother Jones Nominated for WPA Magazine Awards

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 9:11 AM PST

The Western Publications Association has announced this year's finalists for its annual Maggie Awards and Mother Jones has nabbed two. Chuck Bowden's tour de force, Exodus, which takes the reader deep inside the immigration debate in a way only Bowden, who has lived and worked on both sides of the line for decades, can, is up for Best Feature Article. And our entire September/October issue, featuring our Lie by Lie timeline, is a nominee in the Politics & Social Issues category. Winners of the 56th annual awards will be announced April 27th.

Newsweek Feeds My Huckabee Love Affair

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 8:44 AM PST

If you read the blog yesterday, you know that I'm pushing for a Hagel-Huckabee Republican ticket. I think it makes a ton of sense for the conservative base, but it also sounds awesome and has a great odd couple feel to it. But these two have a lot of work to do if they're going make my wishes come true. Huckabee's working on it; he's got an interview in Newsweek that should increase his name recognition a little bit.

Here's a tidbit that should be familiar to regular MoJoBlog readers:

Q: What do you make of candidates like Giuliani, Romney and McCain — all of whom have moved to the right on social issues?
A: The first thing is: imitation is the most serious form of flattery. Some are having a late adult moment to come to a position I've held since I've been a teenager. Voters will have to determine if they're seeing the politics of conviction or convenience.

ZING! Huckabee comes out swinging!

He's going to have to work on his global warming talking points, though. First of all, he's got to do some research. You'll see what I mean below. Second of all, he's got to respond to questions like this with a little more clarity.

Q: But do you believe there's a human role in climate change?
A: There may be. But whether there is or there isn't, it doesn't release us from the responsibility to be good stewards of the environment. It's the old boy scout rule: you leave your campsite in as good or better shape than how you found it. It's a spiritual issue. [The earth] belongs to God. I have no right to destroy it. I think we work toward alternative energy sources. [We need to make it] like the Manhattan Project or going to the moon. We need to accelerate our energy independence.

Maybe this response is about Huckabee having his cake and eating it too. He wants to appeal to the (crazy and uninformed) portion of the Republican base that still doesn't believe global warming exists and resents the growing Al Gore-led environmentalist crowd that screams bloody murder over the issue (and demands lifestyle changes from them). At the same time, he also wants to appeal to the new and growing green evangelical movement. Whatever the case may be, as the campaign goes along Huckabee's going to have to make that response a more elegant one.

There's also a moment in the interview when Huckabee won't say whether or not he supports letting women preach in Christian churches and a heartfelt plea about retaining music and art programs in schools. And a series of questions about how fat he used to be. So, uh, yeah, there's lots of work to be done on Huckabee '08. How about some vision, buddy? And how can you go through a five-page interview and not mention your life story, or anything about who you are as a person? C'mon, Huckabee! Don't let me down!

Update on U.S. Attorneys Probe: DOJ Officials May Be Subpoenaed

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 6:55 AM PST

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is heading an investigation into the recent quick and dirty cleansing of 8 -- and maybe 9 -- U.S. Attorneys, will vote today on whether to subpoena five DOJ officials if they fail to appear. Those officials include the chiefs of staff for both U.S. Attornery General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (Kyle Sampson and Mike Elston, respectively), acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, Director of the Executive Office of the United States Attorney Michael Battle (who has just resigned), and the Justice Department's White House liaison, Monica Goodling. During a marathon of hearings before the House and Senate this past Tuesday, the testimony by six of the U.S. Attorneys incriminated these officials. TPMmuckraker has a good rundown on their alleged involvement in the firings. For Mojo coverage of the senate hearing on Tuesday and further developments, click here, here and here.

NPR Does Indie Rock--but Not That Way!

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 5:57 PM PST

Usually, when National Public Radio attempts to cover indie rock, I writhe in pain and vicarious shame (Stick to the grammar games, Liane Hansen. Please!). However, tomorrow's "All Songs Considered" will happily unite two of my great loves: weekday NPR and Connor Oberst from Bright Eyes. According to Pitchfork, Oberst is hosting tomorrow's show, which means he'll be spinning tracks from Bright Eyes' upcoming album, Cassadaga, which is due out April 10, as well as some of his favorite classics.

Updatde: If you miss the radio appearance, Cassadaga is now streaming on Saddle Creek's site.