Mixed Media

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

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Your Snobby Wine Friends Are Full of Shit

| Wed May 27, 2015 2:43 PM EDT

Find yourself in the company of an intolerable, self-annointed wine connoisseur? Don't bother arguing about how great the $7 bottle of supermarket merlot is. The best way to deal with the inevitable snobbery headed your way might be to show them the following video produced by Vox, which slays the belief expensive wines are more delicious. 

When 19 staffers blind-tested three different red wines from the same grape, the average ratings for the cheapest and most expensive wines were exactly the same! And while half of those tested were able to correctly identify which wine was the most expensive, they actually reported enjoying it less than the cheaper offerings. That's because, according to the video, more complex wines tend to challenge our plebian palates. 

Thanks Vox. Now here is Mother Jones' contribution to you oenophiles: "How to Open a Wine Bottle With Your Shoe."

Watch John Oliver's Epic Takedown of FIFA

| Wed May 27, 2015 1:14 AM EDT

Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! I smell the blood of a soccer governing body!

FIFA, the terrible no good band of Europeans who keep forcing us to call soccer "football," saw some of its senior most officials arrested in Switzerland today on American corruption charges.

Feel free to take a moment, look at an American flag, and get all teary eyed. (This is why the pilgrims crossed an ocean.)

Anyway, here is John Oliver's epic takedown of FIFA from his show John Oliver's Epic Takedowns

Qatar Is Treating Its World Cup Workers Like Slaves: Nepal Earthquake Edition

| Tue May 26, 2015 5:39 PM EDT
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

We're still seven years away from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but it seems like the event has been buried under bad news for a decade: everything from allegations of bribery and corruption to terrible human rights violations. And it doesn't look like it's getting better anytime soon.

The latest in a string of embarrassments? Qatar's reported refusal to grant bereavement leave to the roughly 400,000 migrant workers from Nepal building stadiums for the World Cup following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 8,000 countrymen. As a result, many Nepali workers instead must mourn from construction sites in Qatar.

"Those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time," Nepal's labor minister told the Guardian.

On Saturday, the Guardian reported that the Nepali government called on FIFA and its sponsors to compel Qatar to grant a short-term leave for Nepali migrant workers and improve conditions for the 1.5 million workers from throughout South Asia. But the Persian Gulf state rebuffed that request, Nepali labor minister Tek Bahadur Gurung told the Guardian: "Those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time."

Qatari officials challenged that claim, noting that the nation had granted temporary leave to more than 500 Nepali workers. That's roughly 0.1 percent of the Nepali migrant workers on the stadium construction project.

The latest Guardian report adds to the mounting criticism from human rights organizations, corporate sponsors, and foreign officials on Qatar's World Cup preparations. A 2013 Guardian investigation estimated that at least 4,000 migrant workers, who face dire working and living conditions and meager pay, will die before kickoff in 2022. Squalid conditions already have led to more than 1,200 worker deaths since Qatar won its 2010 bid to host the World Cup, including at least 157 Nepali workers in 2014. (Nepali workers have died at a rate of one every two days.)

Despite calls to move the event to another host country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has guaranteed that the 2022 World Cup will take place as scheduled. In fact, Qatari labor minister Abudullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi said in May the nation would need more workers to complete the $220 billion stadium and infrastructure construction projects by 2022.

Meanwhile, the 2018 World Cup in Russia isn't exactly shaping up to be a model event, either: On Monday, Russian officials announced plans to transport prisoners from camps to work at factories in an effort to drive down the World Cup's cost.

Remembering Powerhouse Photographer Mary Ellen Mark

| Tue May 26, 2015 4:33 PM EDT
Photographer Mary Ellen Mark in 2013.

I found out about the death of photographer Mary Ellen Mark the way we learn about the passing of anyone these days—Facebook. My feed is currently flooded with condolences, remembrances, and laminations for Mark, who died yesterday at age 75.

Mark was a powerhouse photographer, a true legend. Her early '80s project on homeless youth, Streetwise, remains a canon of documentary photography. In the late '80s and '90s, Mark's work graced the pages of Mother Jones numerous times. Art Director Kerry Tremain made great use of her, both picking up archival images and making assignments such as portraits of journalist I.F. Stone and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Mark's work was also featured early in the Mother Jones Fine Prints and Portfolios program, which led to the creation of the Mother Jones Documentary Photo Fund. Her print was part of the New York Portfolio I, alongside other heavy hitters like Nan Goldin, Duane Michaels, Ralph Gibson, and Inge Morath. (Sorry, we no longer have any of the print portfolios.)

No doubt there will be many eulogies and recollections of Mark and the impact she made on photography, particularly on social documentary photography, the kind of photography that's been our bread and butter here.

Though it's a just a shallow slice of her deep legacy, here's a collection of some of Mark's work for Mother Jones.

I.F. Stone, September 1989

 

Russell Simmons, November 2003

 

Mother Jones 15th anniversary issue, 1991
 

 

Story on Ms. magazine, November 1990

 

Story on Ms. magazine, November 1990

 

Jessica Mitford and Maya Angelou, November 1992

 

"Hollywood's Washington" cover, January 1991

 

And here's a short piece that Leica produced on Mark:

This Is the Unprecedented New Law France Just Passed to Eliminate Supermarket Waste

| Tue May 26, 2015 2:39 PM EDT

On Thursday, France's parliament unanimously approved a new law prohibiting large supermarkets from throwing out unsold food, instead mandating stores donate any surplus groceries to charities or for animal feed use.

The law, which aims to reduce waste in a country where people trash up to 30 kilos of food per person annually, is part of a more general energy and  environmental bill.

"There's an absolute urgency—charities are desperate for food," MP Yves Jégo said. "The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering."

The new regulations will also ban the common practice of intentionally destroying unsold food by bleaching it—a process meant to prevent people from searching for food in dumpsters, which has lead to lawsuits after people became sick from eating spoiled food.

Now, the local politician who sparked the law's creation is hoping other countries will adopt similar bans on supermarket waste. Arash Derambarsh, who slammed such bleaching practices as "scandalous" to the Guardian, will take his campaign to a United Nations' summit discussing ways to end poverty this November.

In the United States, nearly half of all food goes uneaten and sent to landfills.

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The Freewheeling Fun of Jazz Guitarist Wes Montgomery's Live Concerts

| Mon May 25, 2015 4:40 PM EDT

Wes Montgomery
In the Beginning
Resonance

Near the end of his life, jazz guitar virtuoso Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) caught the ear of pop audiences with a series of records that were slick and sophisticated, but a little dull. This vibrant two-disc set is far more satisfying. Spanning 1949 to 1958, In the Beginning is dominated by live performances from Montgomery's hometown of Indianapolis, in small-group settings that often featured brothers Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano), along with underrated tenor sax player Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson. The recordings aren't perfect technically, and the playing isn't always razor-sharp, but all concerned sound like they're having a great time, especially Wes, who swings and struts with a freewheeling joy missing from his later work. Also included are five polished studio tracks produced by none other than a 22-year-old Quincy Jones, although these pale next to the spontaneous sounds of Wes Montgomery onstage, finding himself and having fun.

Michael B. Jordan Just Slammed People Who Can’t Deal With One of the Fantastic 4 Being Black—And It’s Great

| Sat May 23, 2015 8:25 PM EDT

These days, when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, the superheroes that end up saving the day are normally straight, white men—at least on the big screen. 

While Marvel's comics have become increasingly more diverse over the years with a half-black, half-Hispanic Spiderman and a female version of Thor, its cinematic universe remains largely male and whitewashed. This is why the backlash to Michael B. Jordan being cast in the highly-anticipated reboot of Fantastic Fouris so disheartening. When the actor was originally confirmed to play Johnny Storm a.k.a the Human Torch, naysayers took to social media to complain about the black actor would be playing a traditionally white character. (When TMZ asked what he thought of the criticism, Jordan quipped: "They're still going to see [the movie] anyway.")

Attention, trolls and comic book purists: The idea that Jordan shouldn't be Johnny Storm because he's black is misguided, because, you know, comic books are fictional and so are the movies. Anyone can fill these roles and do a great job (see Idris Elba as a Norse god in Thor).

In an essay published Friday in Entertainment Weekly, Jordan slammed  people who are having a hard time accepting that in the new movie only three  of the fantastic four are white.

This is a family movie about four friends—two of whom are myself and Kate Mara as my adopted sister—who are brought together by a series of unfortunate events to create unity and a team. That’s the message of the movie, if people can just allow themselves to see it.

Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, "I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations." I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that "it has to be true to the comic book." Or maybe we have to reach past them.

To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.

Let's sum up Jordan's smackdown in one line: The Human Torch is whatever Marvel says it is. You can see how Jordan does in theaters on August 7. 

The President of the Boy Scouts of America Just Endorsed Dropping the Ban on Gay Leaders

| Thu May 21, 2015 2:14 PM EDT

The president of Boy Scouts of America is calling for an end to the organization's ban on gay leaders, saying the "status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained." Robert Gates, who was speaking at the group's annual summit on Thursday, said the changes would not be made at the meeting, but indicated officials should look into revisions in the future.

In Gates's remarks, the former defense secretary urged the organization to "deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it be." His address, sure to ruffle a few feathers, stopped short of supporting gay rights outright. Instead, Gates said that the policy shift was necessary to keep the organization nationally relevant.

"While our work won't be done until we see a full end to their ban on gay adults once and for all, today's announcement is a significant step in that direction," Zach Wahls, director for Equality, said in response to Thursday's announcement. "I'm proud to see Dr. Gates charting a course towards full equality in the BSA."

In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly gay scouts—gay leaders however were not included in the changes. Just yesterday, the Girls Scouts of America double downed on the group's welcoming of transgender girls.

This Story Maggie Gyllenhaal Just Told Perfectly Explains the Hollywood Sexism Complex

| Thu May 21, 2015 12:46 PM EDT

Maggie Gyllenhaal recently lost a film role because she was apparently "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man, the 37-year-old actress revealed in a new interview with The Wrap.

"There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Gyllenhall said. "I'm 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me."

While she declined to identify the project's name—because Gyllenhall is all class—she said she was eventually able to laugh off the rejection. 

"It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."

Back in January, Gyllenhaal picked up a Golden Globe award for her performance in the BBC miniseries The Honourable Woman. During her acceptance speech, she stressed the importance of Hollywood embracing the roles of real women.

"When I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I've watched this year what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not," she said onstage. "What I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That's what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary and it's what's turning me on."

Despite Gyllenhaal's optimism, it sure looks like Hollywood is hell bent on keeping ageism securely intact.