Mixed Media

Tracy Morgan Gives Emotional First Interview Since Fatal Car Crash

| Mon Jun. 1, 2015 3:33 PM EDT

On Monday, Tracy Morgan sat down with Matt Lauer for his first interview since the devastating six-car accident that left him in critical condition and killed one of his friends, James McNair, nearly one year ago.

"I can't believe I'm here," Morgan said "Just seeing the tragedy that happened—it just touches me."

When speaking about the loss of McNair, Morgan started to cry. "He was a loving man and he was a warm man. He was a good man. It’s just hard for me to see that he's gone. That's it." 

The accident involved a truck driven by a Walmart employee and set off a long legal battle that was settled just last month.

"Bones heal, but the loss of my friend will never heal," Morgan said. "I'm happy that Walmart stepped up to the plate. They took full responsibility."

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Here Is Caitlyn Jenner's Stunning Vanity Fair Cover

| Mon Jun. 1, 2015 12:41 PM EDT

Caitlyn Jenner, the woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" fame, made her public debut on the cover of Vanity Fair on Monday. The beautiful portrait was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz:

 

 

During a sit-down interview with Diane Sawyer back in April, the former Olympian opened up about her transition into becoming a woman. "My whole life has been getting me ready for this," Jenner said. 

"Caitlyn doesn't have any secrets. As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I'm free," she said in an exclusive new video for the magazine. 

The cover hits newsstands on June 9.

 

Watch John Oliver Issue a Scathing Takedown of FIFA's "Swiss Demon" President

| Mon Jun. 1, 2015 9:36 AM EDT

One very prominent name was missing among the several high-ranking FIFA officials indicted on corruption and bribery charges last week. That person, of course, was FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who as John Oliver described on the latest "Last Week Tonight," has "left a trail of devastation" under his watch as the organization's president.

"No decision Blatter has overseen is more questionable than the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar, because not only will the conditions be terrible to play in, but the number of migrant workers that have died in Qatar since the cup was announced has been staggering," Oliver said.

Despite the new charges and Blatter's scandal-ridden reputation, he was actually reelected as president for a fifth term on Friday.

"To truly kill a snake, you must cut off its head, or in this case its asshole," Oliver explained. Without Blatter's indictment, the host says no truly significant reforms can be made for the world's favorite sport.

Watch Oliver make a plea to both U.S. officials and FIFA's long list of powerful sponsors to remove Blatter as president, once and for all:

UPDATE: Tuesday, June 2, 2015: Blatter has resigned. Oliver has sent the "one perfect tweet" of this news cycle.

Country-Folk Artist Eilen Jewell Sings About Love and Dusty Roads

| Mon Jun. 1, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Eilen Jewell
Sundown Over Ghost Town
Signature Sounds

 

A cabaret artist masquerading as a country-folk performer, Idaho's Eilen Jewell sings with an unhurried elegance that evokes late-night intimacies and dusty roads with equal skill. (A Billie Holiday tribute album wouldn't be inappropriate.) Though her fifth album consists entirely of original songs, Sundown Over Ghost Town feels like a welcome return to a set of classics you've known forever, gently touching on desire, loneliness, and the longing for home. Paced by guitarist Jerry Miller and steel guitarist Jake Hoffman, Jewell's underrated band gracefully mixes breezy rockers and luminous ballads without straining for effect. Perfect for fans of Madeleine Peyroux.

Literally the Only Good FIFA News You’ll Hear This Week

| Fri May 29, 2015 4:18 PM EDT
Alex Morgan, right, hugs her teammates during a Women's World Cup qualifier.

Electronic Arts, the gaming company that makes the popular FIFA video game franchise, is bringing women to the virtual pitch, adding 12 women's national teams to FIFA 16 this September.  

From the Wall Street Journal:

EA announced Thursday that a dozen women's international soccer teams will be included in the coming FIFA 16 game scheduled for release in September. EA didn't say in its announcement why it took so long to mend the gender gap or whether the petition played a role. In an email, EA said it had been considering adding women for years and that it had made the necessary advancements to more accurately represent how the characters run and sprint, for example. The game's motion capturing tracked four members of the U.S. Women's National Team: Sydney Leroux, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe.

EA's decision came three years after an online petition called for inclusion—and right before this year's Women's World Cup starts next week in Canada. (It also came a day before Sepp Blatter won his fifth term as FIFA president, with the governing body embroiled in the ongoing corruption crisis.)

Last fall, a group of women's soccer stars, including US forward Abby Wambach, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit claim against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the organization's decision to play this year's World Cup games on artificial turf, even though the men's games are played on grass. The group later withdrew the suit. And in an interview with Time, star US forward Alex Morgan, who will be featured in the new game, said that Blatter didn't recognize her at the 2012 FIFA Player of the Year event—even though she'd just been named one of the three best women's players in the world.

This Girl's Yearbook Quote Has the Most Amazing Feminist Message

| Fri May 29, 2015 9:14 AM EDT

Before leaving high school, Caitlyn Cannon, a 17-year-old who just graduated from Oak Hills High School in California, gifted her senior class with an amazing yearbook quote that nails feminism and sticks up for LGBT rights—all in just one line:

Her powerful message has since gone viral. Cannon, who describes herself as both "feminist" and "really gay" on Twitter, told the Huffington Post, "I was tired of seeing the same old quotes from popular books and movies and authors, and I wanted to call attention to a problem that women face. I've never really been ashamed to say that I am gay, so the LGBT aspect was simply who I am."

The future is looking so bright.

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Watch Sepp Blatter Lash Out Against FIFA's Critics in 2013

| Thu May 28, 2015 9:54 PM EDT

In October 2013, at the Oxford Union, FIFA president Sepp Blatter took aim at critics who viewed soccer's international governing body as "a faceless machine printing money at the expense of the beautiful game." (He also mocked Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for how much he spends on his hair.) Blatter told the crowd:

There are those who will tell you that football is just a heartless, money-spinning game or just a pointless kick about on the grass. There are those who will tell you that FIFA is just a conspiracy, a scam, accountable to nobody and too powerful for anyone to resist. There are those who will tell you of the supposed sordid secrets that lie deep in our Bond villain headquarters in the hills above Zurich, where we apparently plot to exploit the unfortunate and the weak. They would have you believe that I sit in my office with a sinister grin, gently stroking the chin of an expensive, white Persian cat as my terrible sidekicks scour the earth to force countries to host the World Cup and to hand over all of their money. You might laugh. It is strange how fantasy so easily becomes confused with fact. And it feels almost absurd to have to say this. But that is not who we are. Not FIFA. Not me.

(You can watch the whole speech below—It's very long! He talks very slowly!—but the key bits are in the video up top.) 

These words resonate now, as Blatter sets his sights on a fifth term at the head of the organization amid pressure and criticism following a series of corruption-related charges on senior FIFA officials that have roiled the sport.

But remember that "Bond villain headquarters in the hills above Zurich" Blatter was talking about? Well, Swiss photographer Luca Zanier snapped a photo of FIFA executive committee's boardroom in Zurich, and it looks villain-esque. John Oliver even likened it to the war room in Dr. Strangelove.

 

Here is Blatter's full speech, courtesy of the Oxford Union:

The Artist Behind the "Hope" Poster Is Mad At Obama

| Thu May 28, 2015 4:07 PM EDT

Shepard Fairey's hopes are dashed.

Fairey, the artist who created the iconic "Hope" poster during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, says in a new interview that he is disappointed by Obama's performance as president.

While discussing his new web series "Rebel Music" with Esquire, Fairey was asked if Obama had lived up to the poster's expectations. He answered, "Not even close." Fairey explained: 

Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he's compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he'd support]. I've met Obama a few times, and I think Obama's a quality human being, but I think that he finds himself in a position where your actions are largely dictated by things out of your control.

Don't expect him to look to copyrighted Associated Press photos to create an image for Hillary, either. A jaded Fairey says that while he agrees with her on most issues, the "campaign finance structure makes [him] very angry."   

And with this, the street artist may have provided the Republicans with the perfect tagline come 2016: Democrats, a hope deferred!

Jon Stewart Blasts 24 Years of FIFA Corruption that "Started a Jennifer Lawrence Ago"

| Thu May 28, 2015 9:34 AM EDT

"For years, and I say this with all due respect, American soccer fans have stood by while the media obsesses over other sports crimes and scandals," Jon Stewart said on "The Daily Show" Wednesday. "Well now finally, soccer is getting its perp walk."

Stewart was, of course, addressing this week's stunning FIFA indictments that have sent shockwaves within the international sports community over allegations of routine corruption and kickbacks by FIFA's top officials.

"FIFA is so bad they got arrested by the SWISS, a country whose official policy on Nazi gold was 'We'll allow it,'" he explained.

But such allegations are far from new. Stewart went on to question why investigators took 24 years—or as he put it into perspective a, "Jennifer Lawrence ago"—to finally crack down on officials.

As for big banks long dogged by corruption allegations, Stewart says we may have to wait another 24 years for the Justice Department to start doing something—anything!—to punish shady bankers.

Watch below:

 

This Chart Shows the Staggering Human Cost of Staging a World Cup in Qatar

| Wed May 27, 2015 7:17 PM EDT

On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice dropped the hammer on FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, indicting nine senior FIFA officials and five sports marketing execs on charges of corruption, wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

Allegations of bribery have long plagued FIFA, especially since its controversial decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup. But much worse is the plight of South Asian migrant workers brought in to build the stadium infrastructure there: Since 2010, more than 1,200 migrant workers have died in Qatar under hazardous working conditions, and a 2013 Guardian investigation found that at least 4,000 total are projected to die before the 2022 World Cup even starts. And as we reported yesterday, Nepali workers weren't even allowed to return home after the country's recent devastating earthquake.

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post put that toll in perspective in a striking infographic. He compared the number of workers who died in the run-up to several Olympics and World Cups with the number of those who have died in Qatar so far. It's horrifying:

Christopher Ingraham/Washington Post