Mixed Media

Bluesman Gary Clark Jr. Is the Guitar Hero for Our Time

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

Gary Clark Jr.
Live
Warner Bros.

Gary Clark Jr Live

A guitar hero for the modern era, Gary Clark Jr. plays bluesy rock with a blistering urgency that makes the hoariest conventions feel brand new. For all his flashy expertise, the muscular solos and buzzing riffs never feel gratuitous, while Clark's terse, tough singing nicely complements his fretwork. This 15-track, 97-minute feast is the perfect showcase for his brilliance, mixing versions of standards like "Three O’Clock Blues" (popularized by B.B. King) and "Catfish Blues" (also covered by Jimi Hendrix) with pungent originals, from sleek boogie ("Travis County") to tender soul ("Please Come Home"), with lots of fireworks in between. While it's tempting to view him as the next coming of Hendrix, especially in light of his take on Jimi's "Third Stone from the Sun," Clark is closer in spirit to Stevie Ray Vaughan: less an exotic, godlike genius than a gifted guardian of tradition who never fails to thrill.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Here Is A Video Of Sarah Palin Petting An Alligator

| Sun Sep. 28, 2014 12:52 PM EDT

Sarah Palin went down to Louisiana Saturday to help raise money for Republican US Senate candidate Rob Maness. Maness—who is challenging incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu—and Palin served alligator dishes to around 100 attendees, according to local CBS affiliate WWL.

Here is a video of Palin petting an alligator.

At press time it was not clear if the alligator she was petting was also the alligator she later served as a meal. We're guessing it wasn't.

 

If It Weren’t For the Dashcam, Would This White Cop Be Punished for Shooting An Unarmed Black Man?

| Thu Sep. 25, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

A white South Carolina state trooper is facing up to 20 years in prison after shooting an unarmed black man who was attempting to grab his driver's license during a simple seatbelt check.

The disturbing incident occurred on September 4 and was caught on video thanks to a dashcam attached to officer Sean Groubert's vehicle.

In the graphic video, Groubert is seen approaching Levar Jones at a local gas station, where he asks Jones to retrieve his driver's license.

Jones reaches into the car and Groubert suddenly opens fire, shooting him not once, but four times, as Jones puts his hands in the air and falls to the pavement.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

"I was doing what you told me to do," Jones can be heard saying. "I was getting my license!'

Jones survived with wounds to the hip. Groubert was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault.

The latest shooting, which follows mounting evidence police officers shoot black people at a higher rate than white people, comes as police departments around the country face increased pressure to outfit officers with recording technology such as dashcams and bodycams.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 60 percent of local police departments use dashcams. This latest incident will surely add to those calls for accountability. As Josh Marshall at TPM asks, "Would Groubert have lost his badge and be facing charges had there not been a dashcam video revealing the reality of what happened?" A justified question, considering law enforcement officials are rarely sentenced or convicted in such shootings. 

For a more detailed look into racially motivated shootings by police, click here.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on What It Means For Him to Be a Proud, Male Feminist

| Wed Sep. 24, 2014 2:34 PM EDT

Joseph Gordon-Levitt produced a thoughtful video exploring what it means for him to identify as a feminist and the nuances surrounding the label.

"To me it just means that your gender doesn't have to define who you are," Gordon-Levitt explains. "That you can be whatever you want to be, whoever you want to be, regardless of your gender.”

Acknowledging feminism's complexities, the actor goes onto dispel notions positioning feminism as somehow "anti-men" and that the movement might even be old-fashioned.

"The facts are pretty contrary to this, if you actually look at the evidence of salaries vs. salaries for men," he sayd. "There's still a definite disparity."

Earlier this year, Gordon-Levitt first revealed he was a proud feminist on the Ellen Degeneres Show, explaining his mother's influence on his views of women and gender equality.

"It's worth paying attention to the roles that are sort of dictated to us and realize that we don't have to fit into those roles -- we can be anybody we want," he told Degeneres.

Just another reminder to Pharell, boys and girls can both be feminists, too.

Watch Jon Stewart Explain Science to the Climate Deniers in Congress

| Wed Sep. 24, 2014 12:49 PM EDT

This story originally appeared in Slate and is republished here as part of our Climate Desk collaboration.

If you ever catch me in a moment of weakness about the weapons-grade dumbosity of global warming denial on the Republican side of the US House of Representatives, it might look a lot like what Jon Stewart did on The Daily Show on the Sept. 22, 2014, show:

It’s become a cliché that majority members of the House Science Committee know nothing at all about actual science (or they do, but choose to ignore it for ideological reasons)—but here on display for all to see is just how ridiculous the reality of it is. What you just saw are long, long debunked denial points being brought up like they are revealed wisdom, along with “gotcha”-style barbs that are transparently, bone-headedly wrong.

And isn’t presidential science adviser John Holdren a freaking ninja in those clips? He easily and smoothly shuts down the salvos of scientific ignorance tossed out by the committee members. For his part, I’m very glad Stewart pointed out the glaring hypocrisy of people like Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Indiana, who accuses climatologists of faking the science for money, when Bucshon himself is funded quite well by fossil fuel interests.

Holy oiliness. It’s loathsome enough that Bucshon would choose to simply ignore the agreement of the vast majority of climatologists who know the Earth is warming and that it’s our fault … but to do so while happily taking the Koch brothers' money is really galling.

If I seem upset about this, it’s because I am. It’s like we’re in some sort of alternate reality, a Hollywood spoof of what government is like. But it’s real, and these buffoons are holding up any real chance we have of making any progress about one of the (if not the single) largest problem we as a species face.

There’s an election coming up, folks. Vote. I know there’s essentially no chance that the GOP won’t lose the majority in the House, but it’s important to get out there and vote, and to get others to as well. If we don’t, then we’re just handing over our future to these people who have their minds firmly closed to reality.

NYPD Officer Allegedly Caught on Video Throwing Pregnant Woman to the Ground

| Wed Sep. 24, 2014 11:01 AM EDT

Yet another video has surfaced capturing what appears to be a violent arrest conducted by an officer of the New York Police Department.

In the video caught by a bystander over the weekend, a visibly pregnant Sandra Amezquita and her husband, Ronel Lemos, say they were attempting to intervene while officers arrested Amezquita's son, seen sitting on the ground.

 
 

The arresting officer suddenly slams Amezquita to the ground, right before he forcefully shoves another woman out of the way.

"What we saw in that gruesome video is a woman who's trying to protect her son, who is being stopped and frisked by police, and she herself became a victim, slammed onto the floor," said Dennis Flores, from local blog El Grito de Sunset Park, the site that first posted the video.

"The first thing I thought was they killed by baby and they're going to kill my wife," Lemos said.

Amezquita says she suffered vaginal bleeding and bruises to her stomach. She was given a summons for disorderly conduct; Lemos was arrested for hitting an officer.

The disturbing incident comes just less than a week after another officer, from the same Brooklyn precinct, was suspended after being caught on video kicking a street vendor in the head.

 
 

The NYPD is reportedly investigating the latest video.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Emma Watson Explains Why Feminism Has Nothing to Do With "Man-Hating"

| Mon Sep. 22, 2014 4:41 PM EDT

 

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters this past weekend, actress Emma Watson delivered a moving speech on the importance of gender equality, explaining why feminism is a crucial issue for everyone, not just the ladies.

"The more I've spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating," Watson said. "If there's one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women have equal rights and opportunities."

The 24-year-old Watson, who was appointed a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador six months ago, was speaking on behalf of the "HeForShe" campaign, which urges both men and boys to join the fight for women's rights.

In the deeply personal speech, Watson revealed she began questioning gender-based assumptions early on in her life, most notably after she began being sexualized by the media at the age of 14 and watching girlfriends quit sports because they didn't want to appear "bulky."

Watch the inspiring speech above.

 

Listen to Some of Liberia's Top Artists Sing about Ebola

| Mon Sep. 22, 2014 1:03 PM EDT

Since it started in March, West Africa's Ebola outbreak has spread to five countries in the region. But its toll on the Liberian people—who account for more than half of the 5,700 cases—has been especially devastating. To instill a sense of unity amid the crisis, several Liberian organizations brought together some of the country's top artists to make a song about the crisis. The result, called "Save Liberia," debuted last week. You can listen to it below:

"It's like 'We Are the World' for Liberia," says Lawrence Yealue, Liberia's country director for Accountability Lab, an anti-corruption NGO that helped organize the project. "We Are the World" was a 1985 collaboration between more than 40 artists—from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan—to raise money for famine relief in the Horn of Africa. This song, Yeaule says, will help spread a message about Ebola's seriousness to "every village and town" in Liberia.

Watch John Oliver Explain Just How Mind-Bogglingly Ridiculous Beauty Pageants Are

| Mon Sep. 22, 2014 8:57 AM EDT

Beauty pageants are a pretty insane and demeaning thing for us to still be doing as a society in 2014. I mean, yes, Miss Congeniality was an OK film, but the sequel was awful. Also, the whole thing—beauty pageants, not the Miss Congeniality franchise—sort of stinks of sexism and mores best left to rot in the '50s.

Here's John Oliver taking the Miss America pageant (and its somehow more mockable competitor Miss USA) to task.

Also read: "Are Disney Princesses Evil?"

Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier Delivers a Captivating New Solo Album

| Mon Sep. 22, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

Laetitia Sadier
Something Shines
Drag City

 

Best known as the singer for the long-running British-French band Stereolab—now on an indefinite hiatus—Laetitia Sadier has always been able to address pointedly political and deeply personal concerns with equal eloquence. The debut of Sadier's side project, Monade, was titled Socialisme ou Barbarie, while her first solo outing, The Trip, was her attempt to come to grips with her sister's suicide. On this captivating third solo album, she continues to range far and wide, mixing acoustic sounds with the retro-futurism that made Stereolab's electro-pop so inviting. Whether asking tersely, "Do the rich need the poor to be rich?" on "Oscuridad," or accentuating the positive on the soaring, Beach Boys-inspired "Life Is Winning," her serene, lovely voice is a remarkable oasis of calm that's sure to make you feel better about things to come.