Blogs

Why CNN Wouldn't Cut Away From White House Shindig To Cover Huge Freddie Gray Protest

| Sun Apr. 26, 2015 11:06 AM EDT

As politicians, celebrities, and journalists gathered for the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner last night in D.C., just miles away in Baltimore, Maryland, a big crowd marched to protest the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. By Saturday evening, 12 people were reported arrested as some in the largely peaceful crowd threw rocks and smashed windows, and the jumbotron at the Baltimore Orioles game warned fans to stay inside.

But you wouldn't have known any of that from CNN, which chose to stick with live coverage of every second of the White House dinner. "The most powerful man in the world is going to tell some jokes," contributor Errol Louis explained, with scenes of the gala in the background. If you wanted to know what was going on with the rallies, you could "find a live feed" somewhere, he said—just not, evidently, on America's 24-hour news network.

"We sort of make our best choices, and we'll catch up," Louis said. "They'll find out all of what happened in the streets of Baltimore by this time tomorrow." 

Advertise on MotherJones.com

This Was Pretty Good/Sad/Awful

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 11:05 PM EDT

I haven't liked Cecily Strong's speech tonight very much but this was pretty good/sad/awful.

 

Here is Obama's White House Correspondents' Dinner Speech

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 10:55 PM EDT

Obummer's speech starts at 3:08.

What did you think?

One Tweet Shows How Far We As Americans Still Have To Go

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 8:33 PM EDT

Tonight is the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's a really dumb event where journalists play grab ass with the subjects they cover. I think it's a venial sin at worse, because every industry has its stupid, embarrassing events, but even I, an apologist for it, found myself nodding along when I read this tweet.

He's talking about the WHCD at the Washington Hilton in DC and the protests against the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. But in all seriousness, this tweet is evergreen. Terribly, awfully, intensely depressingly evergreen. This is America in 2015.

I'm going to watch the WHCD if I can, write some jokes, embed it in a blog post, etc...But the truth is: It doesn't matter. What matters is what's going on down the road. What matters is what's going on down so many roads.

 

Tales From City of Hope #7: Weekend Update

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 12:54 PM EDT

Since my actual stem cell transplant happened on Thursday, that counts as Day Zero. Today is Day +2. It turns out that part of the prep for the transplant was an IV injection of both Benadryl and Ativan, so I was pretty conked out the entire day. Friday was about the same. Strong stuff, but today I seem to be more alert. For now, anyway.

My white cell count continues to drop, which is paradoxically a good thing. Basically, my immune system will drop nearly to zero, probably around Monday or Tuesday, and then begin rebounding. Assuming nothing goes wrong, the main effect will be lots of fatigue and poor appetite. So let's hope nothing goes wrong, shall we?

In the meantime, while I wait for a guest post from President Obama, my mother has promised to deliver me a traditional chocolate birthday cake of my childhood on Sunday. We shall christen it the Day +3 cake since we're not even within shouting distance of my birthday at the moment.

Otherwise, today is busy! Marian is here, doing some laundry while I'm being hydrated for four hours. Later my sister is coming, and our friend Eileen a little after that. Should be quite the party.

This Stat Will Make Deforestation Hit Home

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 4:33 PM EDT
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Okay, so deforestation is sad, and it's Arbor Day so we should be extra sad about it. But there are so many things to be sad about, right? Well maybe this stat, from a study that came out last month, will make the loss of the world's forests sink in for you:

More than 70 percent of the worlds's forests are within 1 kilometer of a forest edge. Thus, most forests are well within the range where human activities, altered microclimate and nonforest species may influence and degrade forest ecosystems.

That's right, we've arrived at the point where the majority of the forest in the world is just a short walk from the stuff humans have built. If you need that in graph form, here you go:

Science Advances

According to the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, the largest remaining contiguous forests are in the Amazon and the Congo River Basin. The study also synthesized past forest fragmentation research and found that breaking up habitats to this degree has reduced biodiversity by as much as 75 percent in some areas.

Happy Arbor Day…

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Say What You Will About Almonds, but They Are Wildly Popular

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 2:39 PM EDT
An almond orchard in California.

California's thirsty almond orchards have been generating an impressive amount of debate as the state's drought drags on. But that won't likely stop their expansion. The title of a new report from the Dutch agribusiness-banking giant Rabobank explains why: "California Almonds: Maybe Money Does Grow on Trees."

The report is "exclusive for business clients of Rabobank," but an accompanying blog post offers some good tidbits. "Drought conditions and the stronger US dollar have increased the price of almonds for all buyers," it states. On the US East Coast, wholesale prices for premium almonds have risen 20 percent since last year. "In Europe, the almond is becoming increasingly popular, not only as a nutritious snack but especially as a go-to ingredient for manufacturers," it continues. There, wholesale prices are up 50 percent since last year, while "buyers in India and Hong Kong are paying 25 percent and 20 percent more, respectively."

Those higher prices will evidently more than compensate California farmers for higher watering costs, and inspire them to expand acreage. Rabobank expects California almond production to rise by 2 percent to 3.5 percent per year over the next decade, accoring to Sacramento Bee's Dale Kasler, who got a look at the Rabobank study.

That's impressive growth. If almond output expands by 3 percent per year over the next ten years, then—using this trusty formula—production will grow a whopping 34 percent between now and 2025. That's a lot of growth for a state that already churns out 80 percent of the world's almonds. This scenario doesn't imply a 34 percent expansion in almond acreage—some of the almond trees that will contribute to that growth in output have already been planted and will be coming into production over the next few years (it takes almonds about four years to begin producing after they're planted). But it does imply a robust expansion. Kasler quotes the study:

Higher prices and good profits for California almond growers will continue to encourage more planting of almond orchards.... Nurseries report very little slowing in orders of new trees.

 

Friday Cat Blogging - April 24 2015

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 2:35 PM EDT

While Kevin is undergoing treatment, we've invited lots of exciting guest writers to stop by in his honor. But there's no reason the hospitality can't extend to another species, is there?

This week's Mother Jones affiliated cat is Max, who joined reporter Patrick Caldwell last summer as the fifth (and only feline) resident of his Washington, DC row house. Here's a shot of Max exploring the dark corners of his realm.

 

So amazed to discover the underground territory

A photo posted by Patrick Caldwell (@patcaldwell) on

 

Max's background is almost as shrouded and mysterious as that crawl space. How old is he? No one knows. How many people have cared for him before Pat and his roommates? No one's quite sure about that either.

As the story goes, Max has been bequeathed from shared home to shared home like a well-loved futon as his keepers have, one after the other, moved out of the beltway. And while that might make him sound like a very mobile cat, Pat reports he's quite sedentary in most respects. His favorite form of play—swatting at things just above his head—can and usually is performed while reclining on his back. This Thanksgiving, he gave the humans a brief scare by slipping away while they were out celebrating. But true to his nature, when they came home Max seemed to have whiled away the hours just a few yards from the window they'd mistakenly left open.

Unlike Hilbert and Hopper, Max can't count on Southern California's sun to keep him warm, so over the winter his roommates cleverly rigged up a cat bed right above a radiator. Ready for a nap?

 

 

I feel ya buddy

A photo posted by Patrick Caldwell (@patcaldwell) on

 

With the roommate most responsible for Max heading to Kansas City for medical school come fall, this peripatetic puss's future is a bit unsettled. Will he stay with his current community, or will he head west? If he stays, what if the new roommate is allergic, or—as hard as this may be to imagine—not a cat person? Yes, there may be yet another loving home in his future.

Whatever happens, there's no doubt Max will land on his feet. Cats always do.

Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 24 April 2015

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EDT

In the top photo, Hopper is scrooched under Karen's display case just to show she can do it. But something has caught her attention. It turned out to be Hilbert, who was innocently walking down the stairs and got pounced on a few seconds after this picture was taken. And with that the evening festivities were on.

The next day Hilbert found something more relaxing to do. He discovered the kitchen window and curled up to watch the local parrot population. What could be more entertaining?

Native American Actors Walk Off Set of New Adam Sandler Movie Over Racist Jokes

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 10:37 AM EDT

About a dozen Native American actors quit the set of a new Adam Sandler film, produced by Netflix, to protest the script's portrayal of Apache culture and what the actors claim are racist jokes about native women and elders.

According to a report by Indian Country, the actors of "The Ridiculous Six," a spoof of the classic western flick "The Magnificent Seven," complained to producers about the offensive stereotypes, which include the naming of female characters as Beaver's Breath and No Bra. One scene also has a native woman "squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe."

Allison Young, a Navajo Nation tribal member and student, said the actors talked to the producers and told them what they found offensive. "They just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave,'"she said. "I didn't want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way."

Loren Anthony, another tribal member and actor, told Indian Country that while he initially had reservations about appearing in the film, producers had assured him the jokes would not be racist. But from the very beginning, he said, things "started getting weird" and what were supposed to be jokes were simply offensive.

Netflix defends the film as a supposed satire. "The movie has 'ridiculous' in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous," the company said in a statement. "It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of—but in on—the joke."

"The Ridiculous Six" follows a string of flops for Sandler, whose recent films include the 2012 movie "Jack and Jill," which succeeded in winning every single category at the Razzies that year. His latest production stars Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Will Forte, and Vanilla Ice. A preview of what that looks like below:

 

Awesome time with all my fellow Native's - Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Choctaw. Cherokee.

A photo posted by Vanilla Ice ✅ (@vanillaiceofficial) on

 

"Nothing has changed," Young says. "We are still just Hollywood Indians."