Mojo - April 2007

SC House Hell-Bent on Violating Women's Rights to Promote Fetus'

| Fri Apr. 13, 2007 1:22 PM EDT

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Update in the controversy surrounding a new South Carolina abortion bill: The state senate has removed the provision that would force a woman to view her ultrasound before going through with an abortion.

The state's only female senator, Linda Short (D-Chester), says the revised bill will likely pass the Senate. Some members of the House are gearing up for a fight despite being warned by the Attorney General that making a woman look at something she doesn't want to is against the law. Read more about the drama here.

—Nicole McClelland

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FDA Sued For Politicizing Women's Health

| Fri Apr. 13, 2007 12:08 PM EDT

The famed Family Research Council ("defending family, faith and freedom") is accusing the FDA of "politicizing women's health." Because before Plan B came around a woman's body was her own business? Right. The scoop, over at TBM.

Hunger Strike Begins for Stanford Students

| Fri Apr. 13, 2007 12:05 PM EDT

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, students at Stanford University are holding a hunger strike until their administration agrees to pay all university workers a living wage. The students will be filing regular dispatches of their progress, with photography, for Mother Jones.

Check out their first report, and learn more about why they are fasting, at this page. Check that link in the coming days for more on the students' fight.

Imus Loses His Bully Pulpit

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 5:48 PM EDT

CBS dropped Don Imus' morning shock-jock radio program, Imus in the Morning. Read more on The Riff.

The Most Boring YouTube Video Ever

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 5:39 PM EDT

Wow. I've seen YouTube videos that are ridiculous, provocative, nonsensical, funny and utterly meaningless, but Mitt Romney's latest entry definitely earns the least-interesting award.

His snooze-fest video is part of YouTube's "You Choose '08" initiative that lets candidates showcase their campaigns through videos.

Actually, it's nice to get a glimpse of a 2008 presidential candidate speaking candidly, alone, without annoying banners, campaign posters, megaphones or loud crowds, so props to YouTube's News and Politics site.

If YouTube videos are too literal for you, try investigating virtual communities like Second Life, where Barack Obama has set up shop and posted a national webcast of his "living room conversation" with supporters.

The argument here is that campaigning with web tools like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Second Life open up the door for a new sense of "intimacy" with candidates, but I'm not so sure I'm buying it. Romney's video put me to sleep. Obama's virtual self doesn't even look anything like him. At this point I'm not really feeling more connected to candidates through web campaigns, I'm feeling bored.

--Gary Moskowitz

Rove and Co. Broke Federal Law With Email Scam

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 3:59 PM EDT

Our friends at CREW are back in the news. They've put out a report saying "the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has lost over FIVE MILLION emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005." The White House was apparently given a plan to recover those emails, but has chosen to do nothing. I'm going to go ahead and guess that the plan to uncover those emails will never be undertaken unless done so with the power of a federal subpoena, because those emails were meant to be lost.

But guess what? Turns out, this is all illegal! Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post asked a White House spokesman to read aloud the White House's policy on email retention, and this is what he said:

"Federal law requires the preservation of electronic communications sent or received by White House staff... The official EOP e-mail system is designed to automatically comply with records management requirements."

Federal law? Holy cow! Deleting your emails is a federal offense, and the official email system is designed so emails will never be "accidentally" deleted. These guys are totally on the hook, right? Wait, there's more?

"Personnel working on behalf of the EOP [Executive Office of the President] are expected to only use government-provided e-mail services for all official communication."

So using email addresses belonging to the RNC and laptops and Blackberries on loan from the same is a violation of policy?

Bring in Patrick Fitzgerald now! Everyone is going to prison!

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Stanford Students Hold Hunger Strike for a Living Wage

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 3:54 PM EDT

If you are a regular reader of Mother Jones you know that we love activism from the college kids. We've done thirteen annual campus activism roundups, the most recent of which can be found here.

Well, we're in for a doozy. Four Stanford students are beginning a hunger strike tonight in an effort to win a living wage for Stanford's workers.

This is well-tread ground. Living wages for kitchen staff, maintenance workers, groundskeepers, and construction workers is often a contentious issue on college campuses, with students and workers fighting for a livable wage and administrators resisting, then frequently adopting more economically just policies in fits and starts.

That's certainly the case at Stanford. In the winter and spring of 2003, workers and students rallied for a living wage and President John L. Hennessy appeared to cave by agreeing to a living wage with certain restrictions. In time it became clear that those restrictions excluded enough Stanford workers to render the policy meaningless, and in May 2003 students fasted for a week until Hennessy agreed to appoint a commission to examine the issue.

In June 2004, the commission recommended striking down five of Hennessy's seven restrictions and said, "If Stanford University operates a "living wage" policy, it should not attach so many conditions to its applicability that it has the effect of excusing many Contracted workers from that policy. A "living wage" policy that appends a string of conditions creates inequities among similar workers and risks giving the unfortunate impression that Stanford's employment policies do not really mean what they are proclaimed to be." Hennessy agreed to consider and possibly adopt the commission's recommendations.

Almost three years later nothing has happened and student activists say they are back at "square one." Thus, another fast. Their demand: "That the living wage be expanded to apply to all campus workers regardless of the dollar value of employee contract; duration of employment; amount of hours worked per week; union membership status; and worksite location." You can learn more about the group holding the hunger strike, and its demands, at this website.

The students can thank Stanford for wireless internet at least, and while they are occupying a public space on Stanford's campus and refusing to imbibe, they will be filing regular dispatches for Mother Jones. Think of it as activism in action. Check the Mother Jones homepage over the next few days for regular updates.

About Your Commute...

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 3:30 PM EDT

If it makes you unhappy and it's destroying the planet, isn't it time to stop? Learn more on The Blue Marble.

Bomb Kills 2 Iraqi Lawmakers

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 2:32 PM EDT

The lawmakers were having their midday meal in a restaurant in the Green Zone after concluding the day's parliamentary session. Both were Sunni. According to the U.S. military, 8 people died in the attack and 23 were injured.

A separate attack blew up a 70-year-old bridge across the Tigris River as commuters were driving across. At least 10 people died.

Again, I say the surge is not working.

Hear from the Soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan Tonight

| Thu Apr. 12, 2007 1:13 PM EDT

We've covered the perspective of the everyday soldier a fair amount here at Mother Jones. Our 2004 feature "Breaking Ranks" told the story of GIs who refused to fight in Iraq -- and were bravely speaking out when the majority of the country was still in favor of the war. The story came out well before such dissent from soldiers was common, or commonly reported. At that time we also listed the veterans groups that were rallying against the war; the organizations on that list have since grown and gained strength.

And we stayed on the story. We covered military families speaking out against the war, we photographed the rehabilitation of soldiers who came back wounded, and covered the films and books that gave the folks at home the perspective of those in battle.

Anthony Swofford has been a big part of that. The Gulf War veteran and author wrote the text of our photo essay "Coming Home: Seven Families Lay Their Fallen Soldiers to Rest" and we interviewed him when his book Jarhead was made into a feature film.

Swofford's at it again. In "Voices From The Front: Iraq and Afghanistan," Swofford will be moderating a discussion with soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan and the filmmakers, photographers, and journalists who have worked on those wars. The writing and photography of former soldiers is the focus of the evening. (Examples below.)

The event is tonight at 7 pm at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City. You'll find it at 126 Crosby Street, one block east of Broadway between Houston and Prince. Check it out if you can.

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