Mixed Media

This Woman Just Shattered One of Pro Sports’ Most Enduring Glass Ceilings

| Tue Aug. 5, 2014 5:23 PM EDT
Becky Hammon, the newest member of the Spurs' coaching staff

The San Antonio Spurs confirmed today what was already clear: The NBA is, by far, the most progressive Big Four sports league when it comes to gender equity. The team announced the hiring of Becky Hammon, a six-time All-Star with the WNBA's San Antonio Stars, as an assistant coach. When the season tips off this fall, she'll be the first woman on the coaching bench in NBA history.

Women have held other (and less formal) jobs on NBA staffs before, but Hammon, 37, will become the first full-time female coach. It makes sense that the Spurs are at the forefront, given the recently crowned NBA champs' history of innovative, progressive leadership. (They lead the league in international players, for example.) And it further boosts a newsworthy summer for women in the NBA: In addition to Hammon's hiring, the basketball players' union named lawyer Michele Roberts as its executive director.

Notably, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) named the NBA the leading sports league for gender diversity in its annual report, adding that while women aren't as represented as they could be, the league still handily beat MLB and the NFL. Forty percent of the NBA's league office is staffed by women, helping it earn a B+ grade from TIDES. (The MLB and NFL got C+ and C grades, respectively.)

So why is basketball so far ahead of the other leagues? Slate's Amanda Hess suggests that it could be because, unlike football and baseball, women actually play basketball—and they're good at it. From the NCAA to the WNBA (which the NBA created in 1996) to the Olympics, we're used to seeing women like Hammon excel on the court. On the other hand, female engagement in the NFL stops at the sidelines, where cheerleaders are routinely degraded by team organizations.

Hess also argues that part of the NBA's commitment to gender equity stems from the view of former commissioner David Stern, who was instrumental in shaping the league into the powerhouse it is today. Stern is a noted liberal, for one, but also a shrewd businessman; he figured that making women essential to the league would boost the its bottom line. To an extent, it did: Stern argued that the WNBA initiatives helped to expand the NBA's female audience, even though it still lags behind the NFL's.

Today's decision from the Spurs, however, seems to disregard any business calculus. The best candidate for the job was hired, and she's a woman.

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33 Years Ago: Reagan Goes Union-Busting, Fires 11,000 Striking Air Traffic Controllers

| Tue Aug. 5, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
A group of uniformed men, who acknowledged they were military air traffic controllers, stand at the door which leads to the tower of Washington’s National Airport, as a guard rises to let them in. The Reagan administration claims its firings of striking air traffic controllers have broken the strike, partly due to the work of military controllers. Jeff Taylor/AP
 

Just days after members of the Professional Air Traffic Controls Organization (PATCO) went on strike, President Ronald Reagan declared the strike illegal under the Taft-Hartley act. Reagan ordered the 13,000 striking air traffic controllers to return to work within 48 hours. On August 5, 1981 Reagan fired over 11,000 workers who refused to return to work. PATCO, who supported Reagan in the 1980 election, was decertified as a union and the fired workers were banned from holding federal jobs ever again. It took the FAA close to ten years to return staffing to its normal level. Some former air traffic employees were eventually rehired. Military air traffic controllers also worked as replacements until new controllers could be trained. In 1993 Bill Clinton lifted the civil service ban on former strikers.

President Reagan with US Attorney General William French Smith making a statement to the press regarding the air traffic controllers strike from the Rose Garden. White House Photo/Ronald Reagan Library

 

3 New Summer Songs Picked By Critic Jon Young

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

1. "Is What It Is"

From She Keeps Bees' Eight Houses

FUTURE GODS

Liner notes: Smokey and languid, Jessica Larrabee croons defiantly, "Be not completely consumed/Do not surrender," on this hazy ballad, with kindred spirit Sharon Van Etten singing backup.

Behind the music: Larrabee fronted the Philadelphia band the English System before teaming with drummer Andy LaPlant to form the Brooklyn-based duo.

Check it out if you like: Moody chanteuses (Cat Power, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey).
 

2. "Pressure"

From My Brightest Diamond's This Is My Hand

ASTHMATIC KITTY

Liner notes: The fourth MBD album gets off to a rousing start with this joyful brew of marching-band rhythms, xylophone, brass, and Shara Worden's big, operatic voice.

Behind the music: An alumna of Sufjan Stevens' band, Worden's résumé includes collaborations with David Byrne, Matthew Barney, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Decemberists.

Check it out if you like: Brainy art-poppers, meaning St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, or Joanna Newsom.
 

3. "To Turn You On"

From Robyn Hitchcock's The Man Upstairs

YEP ROC

Liner notes: Hitchcock gives Bryan Ferry's morose love song a charming, irony-free makeover, setting his surprisingly tender vocal to a delicate chamber-folk arrangement.

Behind the music: The former Soft Boys leader teamed with producer Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention, Anna and Kate McGarrigle) for this vibrant mix of originals and covers (Doors, Psychedelic Furs).

Check it out if you like: Vital vets like Richard Thompson and Marshall Crenshaw.

70 Years Ago Today: Anne Frank Was Captured by the Nazis

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Anne Frank, 1941 Anne Frank Fonds Basel/DPA/ZUMA Press

On this day in 1944, German policed discovered the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family in the secret annex of the building where Otto Frank (Anne's father) worked. Following the arrest of the Franks and two other families that were in hiding, Miep Gies collected papers and photo albums left scattered around the living quarters, including Anne's diary. Gies saved them, hoping to return them to Anne after the war.

Anne Frank's diary of her time in hiding was published 1947 and has been made into a play and a film publicizing the plight of millions. Uppa/Photoshot/UPPA/ZUMA Press

 

Watch Stephen Colbert Give Great, And Completely Unironic, Advice to Teen Girls

| Fri Aug. 1, 2014 8:05 PM EDT

Stephen Colbert's wife of two decades, Evelyn McGee-Colbert, once told Oprah she didn't like his TV alter-ego—someone she calls "that other guy." In this video, as he offers advice to teenage girls wearing a plaid button-down and thick-framed hipster glasses, he's definitely left the other guy behind.

When Loretta, 14, asks why some guys are jerks, he says to confront them (they may just be trying, badly, to get her attention), but also:

For this kind of thing to stop, boys have to be educated. Does our society educate boys to be misogynistic? It probably doesn't value girls and women as much as it should, and boys probably see that as a signal that they can get away with things like devaluing women.

For Maria, 19, who asks how you can tell when someone likes you, he ends up defining love: when someone thinks "your happiness is more important than their happiness." And cookies. "Cookies are also a really good sign that somebody likes you."

The video is part of the girl-positive Rookie Magazine's series "Ask a Grown Man." Earlier last year, Rookie's fashionista founder, then 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, was the youngest person ever to appear on The Colbert Report, where she gave the self-proclaimed "pear-shaped" Colbert style suggestions and called him a "Cool Dad" (capitals hers).

At the time, Colbert—a father of three, including 18-year-old Madeleine—wasn't thinking of dispensing sage advice for Rookie. Instead he proposed a dad-inspired magazine project in which he would veto pictures of teen girls' skin-baring outfits in a column called "You're Not Wearing That."

First Indochina War Ended 60 Years Ago [Photo]

| Fri Aug. 1, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

A wounded Vietminh prisoner is given first aid by Franco Vietnamese medicals after hot fire fight near Hung Yen, south of Hanoi, 1954. US Department of Defense

On this date in 1954 the first Indochina War officially ended. After a long war in Viet Nam, culminating in the nearly four month battle of Dien Bien Phu, the French withdrew under the the Geneva Acccords. That agreement also also divided Viet Nam along the 17th parallel under the condition that a unification election would be held two years later. When elections didn't happen as planned, the communist Viet Minh fought to reclaim the South, which eventually drew the United States deeper into the fight between the Communists and Western-backed South Vietnamese government.

A French Foreign Legionnaire goes to war along the dry rib of a rice paddy, during a recent sweep through communist-held areas in the Red River Delta, between Haiphong and Hanoi. Behind the Legionnaire is a U.S. gifted tank, 1954. US Department of Defense

 

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British Army Officially Withdrew From Northern Ireland 7 years Ago [Photos]

| Thu Jul. 31, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

After 38 years, Operation Banner–Britian's operation in Northern Ireland–officially came to an end on July 31st, 2007. It was initially sold in 1969 as a "limited operation" by British Home Secretary Jim Callaghan but wound up being the longest continuously running operation by the British military.

A female catholic screams at a British soldier in Belfast on August, 14, 1989. AP
 
A burnt out digger blocks a road near the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005. Protestant extremists attacked police and British troops into a third day Monday, littering streets with rubble and burned-out vehicles in an orgy of violence sparked by anger over a restricted parade. Crowds of masked men and youths confronted police backed by British troops in dozens of hard-line Protestant districts in Belfast and several other towns. Gunmen opened fire on police and soldiers in at least two parts of the capital Sunday night, but nobody was hit. Peter Morrison/AP
 
A young child, resting on a man's shoulders, holds a hanging effigy of a British soldier during a march in Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland, Feb. 1972. The rally follows the deadly shooting of 13 demonstrators by British paratroopers during the civil rights march on Jan. 30, known as Bloody Sunday. Michel Laurent/AP
 
A British soldier begins work on taking down a British Army watchtower in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, Monday, Aug. 1, 2005. Security is being downgraded and spying watch posts on hills are being removed after the recent statement by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that they were giving up the armed struggle for a united Ireland. Peter Morrison/AP

 

Film Review: "15 to Life"

| Thu Jul. 31, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

15 to Life

HITPLAY PRODUCTIONS

"Are you the same person that you were at age 14?" one of Kenneth Young's lawyers asks in 15 to Life, a documentary challenging the ethics of sentencing kids to life in prison—a routine punishment only in America. Filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza follows Young, charged with four armed robberies as a teen, as he seeks release in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court decision limiting juvenile life sentences to kids convicted of murder. She weaves interviews with Young and his family, lawyers, and crime victims together with harrowing photographs of youthful inmates to depict a justice system that only perpetuates the sort of violence it was intended to keep in check.

This review originally appeared in the July/August 2014 Issue of Mother Jones.

Jimmy Hoffa Went Missing 39 Years Ago Today [Photo]

| Wed Jul. 30, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Teamsters Union President James R. Hoffa, left, stands with Anthony Provenzano, right, and fellow union members during Hoffa's visit to New Jersey. AP
 

On this date in 1975, Jimmy Hoffa was last seen around 2:45 p.m. outside a Detroit area restaurant. His unlocked car was found at the restaurant, but there were no other signs of his whereabouts. Hoffa's disappearance sparked numerous theories as to what might have happened to him, and where he might be buried. In 1982, on the seventh anniversary of his disappearance, Hoffa was legally declared dead.
 

Jimmy Hoffa poses for a photo on July 24, 1975, just six days before his disappearance.  Tony Spina/MCT/ZUMA Press

 

"Confused Cats Against Feminism" Is the Purrfect Response to "Women Against Feminism"

| Tue Jul. 29, 2014 6:26 PM EDT
A confused cat against feminism.

The Tumblr Women Against Feminism has inspired scores of think pieces decrying its misuse of the term "feminist." Yet when David Futrelle saw the collection of photos of women holding handwritten signs like "I don't need feminism because I am not a victim," it reminded him of his cats.

"It just seems like cats never know what's going on," Futrelle says. "If anyone would get really confused about feminism and announce their opposition to it, it would be cats. They have the right combination of myopicness and solipsism."

So last Thursday, Futrelle posed his felines next to Women Against Feminism-style signs, snapped a picture, and launched his own Tumblr: Confused Cats Against Feminism. The cats, he said, were reluctant participants. "They did not want to cooperate at all when I started coming at them with this little sign that I'd drawn on with a very smelly Sharpie."

Almost immediately, readers began sending Futrelle photos of their own cats. Now the Tumblr has 11,000 followers, and as of Tuesday morning, Futrelle was sorting through hundred of submissions.

Cats against equal pay

The Chicago resident thinks his project taps a deep vein of exasperation among feminists that goes beyond the outrage over Women Against Feminism. "A lot of women and feminists are frustrated at trying to respond to arguments that are disingenuous or just weird and silly," he says. "Part of what's fun about the blog is to say, Look, we're just gonna respond with cats."

The most successful posts, he says, "manage to tap into cat logic" or "capture the cats' desire to be pampered and protected, which is the complaint that some people have about the Women Against Feminism blog." His favorite submission so far is a cat sprawling on its back, exposing a patch of fur the size and color of a chocolate chip cookie on its stomach. "I DON'T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE...COOKIE BELLY," the text reads.

Futrelle says the joke wouldn't be as funny if it were Confused Dogs Against Feminism, because cats tend to be culturally coded as female. Also, "Dogs aren't as self-absorbed as cats. If you tried to do it with a dog I think the only thing you could go with is they're too stupid."

Another confused cat
"I don't need feminism because I like it when a man opens the door for me to enter a room. And then leave it again. And enter. And leave. And… enter. No wait, leave, definitely leave. Wait, I mean enter…" confusedcatsagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

This isn't Futrelle's first attempt to push back against antifeminist rhetoric. On his other blog, We Hunted the Mammoth, he's been chronicling the foibles of the men's rights movement for four years. Over time he's shifted from seeing the movement as merely misguided to realizing that it's driven by misogyny, he says. He hopes his blogging will encourage other people to respond to antifeminist overtures with humor.

"Men's rights activists have a quote that's supposedly from Gandhi that they like to recite constantly: 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,'" Futrelle says. "As they see it, they've gotten to the point where people are fighting them. I'd like to knock them back to the point where people are laughing at them."