Political MoJo

New York Daily News Compares the NRA to Jihadists

| Wed Nov. 18, 2015 11:01 AM EST

In three words, the front page of Wednesday's New York Daily News launched one of the boldest attacks on the National Rifle Association in recent memory.

The tabloid's cover denounced "NRA's Sick Jihad," in characteristically huge typeface. The story inside accused the gun rights group of tacitly abetting the arming of terrorists by blocking a proposed bill that would make it more difficult for terror suspects to buy guns in the United States. The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, formally known as H.R. 1076, was introduced in February, and includes a ban on the "sale or distribution of firearms or explosives to any individual whom the Attorney General has determined to be engaged in terrorist activities."

The earliest version of the legislation was originally introduced under President George W. Bush in 2007, but it has yet to be signed into law. According to the Daily News, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI's Terrorist Watchlist have been able to purchase weapons in the United States in the last 11 years.

The story begins, "The NRA—and their gun-loving Republican cohorts—are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

These Senators Want To Break the NRA’s Stranglehold on Gun Violence Research

| Wed Nov. 18, 2015 10:00 AM EST

For years, Congress has blocked funding for research into the impacts of guns on public health. On Wednesday morning, twenty Senate Democrats demanded a necessary first step to upset that status quo, by asking the Government Accountability Office to audit what health programs exist to make guns safer.

"With more than 300 million guns in American homes, we write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study to assess the efficacy of public health and safety programs designed to impact gun safety, including the storage and security of guns in households throughout our country," they wrote in a letter to Gene Dorado, Comptroller General of the United States.

The senators note that other federal public health campaigns, such as those to reduce drunk driving and smoking, have been hugely effective. But for nearly 20 years, Congress has pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to steer clear of firearms violence research. "I'm sorry, but a gun is not a disease," said former House Speaker John Boehner this summer, after the House Appropriations Committee voted to block funding on gun research to the CDC.

"Prevention of gun deaths and injuries should be an essential component of the federal government's commitment to public heath and safety along with other efforts such as background checks on gun purchases and closing other gun loopholes," the senators wrote.

A Mother Jones investigation, inspired by the lack of research on the matter, found that gun violence costs Americans a whopping $229 billion each year. In 2013, Mother Jones found that at least 194 children were shot to death in the year following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  A Washington Post investigation earlier this year found that Americans are getting shot by toddlers on a weekly basis.

The senators' request was lauded by gun control advocacy groups. "The American people have had enough of gun violence and this is an important step," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Read the full letter below:

 

Watch part of our investigation into the costs of gun violence here:

 

This post has been updated to include more gun crime statistics.

Two Dead and Seven Arrested in Raid Targeting Paris Attacks "Mastermind"

| Wed Nov. 18, 2015 8:42 AM EST
Police forces prepare in St. Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, Wednesday.

Update, 8:30 a.m. EST: Paris's chief prosecutor announced on Thursday that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-born terrorist believed to be responsible for Friday's attacks in Paris, was killed in the St. Denis raid.

Update, 12:56 p.m. EST:  Big questions remain concerning the identities of those killed and arrested in the early morning raid carried out in Saint-Denis. The Washington Post reports Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected "mastermind" behind last Friday's attacks on Paris, had been killed. However, France's chief prosecutor said in a press conference that the identity of those killed and arrested could still not verified.

Previously:

Two terror suspects, including one female suicide bomber who detonated herself using an explosive vest, were killed in an early morning raid in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday. Seven people were also arrested in the seven-hour standoff.

The raid was targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-born terror suspect believed to be the "mastermind" behind the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. Authorities have yet to determine the identities of the terror suspects arrested and killed in Wednesday's raid.

According to some reports, the woman who blew herself up may have been Abaaoud's cousin.

A heavy police presence remains in the city. The Guardian reports that residents have been told to stay inside and roads have been blocked off.

Speaking to mayors around the country on Wednesday morning, French President Francois Hollande pointed to the violent raid as a sign the country was at "war with ISIS." He also reaffirmed France's commitment to taking in 30,000 refugees, despite fears that terrorists may try to enter Europe with the flow of migrants. 

Here's What the Latest Investigation of Planned Parenthood Just Revealed

| Wed Nov. 18, 2015 6:00 AM EST

Government investigations of Planned Parenthood in response to a series of deceptive videos produced by anti-abortion activists continue to lead to nothing.

On Monday, a 48-page report released by Washington state's Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that his team's investigation into allegations about Planned Parenthood profiting from sales of fetal tissue "found no indication that procedures performed by Planned Parenthood are anything other than performance of a legally authorized medical procedure."

After undercover videos filmed by David Daleiden and his anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, went viral, legislators across the country called for probes of Planned Parenthood operations. So far, none of these investigations has turned up any wrongdoing.

They have, however, had a chilling effect on important research into cures for diseases including diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's, as Mother Jones reported last month. That Planned Parenthood was cleared of any misconduct in Washington is particularly notable because Washington is one of only two states that allow patients to donate tissue to scientific research. (California is the other.)

Despite the lack of evidence from these state investigations, Republicans in the US Senate continue their attempts to defund Planned Parenthood; they are currently working to pass a fast-track "reconciliation" package that aims to dismantle key components of Obamacare and rescind Planned Parenthood funding.

Bobby Jindal Drops Out of the Presidential Race

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 6:23 PM EST

RIP Jindal 2016:

"It has been a great honor for me to run for president of the United States," Bobby Jindal told Fox News host Bret Baier in an interview on Tuesday night. "This is not my time. I've come to the realization that this is not my time."

Even in his dropping out speech the Louisiana governor couldn't help but call Obama a "community organizer."

Watch:

The Latest on Paris Attacks and the Campaign Against ISIS

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 12:39 PM EST

On Tuesday, Russian officials confirmed for the first time that a homemade explosive was found on the downed Metrojet airliner that crashed in Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board.

Shortly after the confirmation, Russia announced the country was stepping up air strikes in Syria, hoping to work directly with France in the fight against ISIS.

"We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them," President Vladimir Putin said in a meeting with Russian security authorities.

Russia's FSB security service also announced a $50 million reward for anyone who could provide intelligence leading to the arrests of the terrorists responsible for the attack.

The announcement comes amid the ongoing international manhunt for suspects connected to the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. Authorities are said to be specifically targeting Belgian-born, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, the suspected eighth terrorist behind Friday's siege.

On Monday, authorities conducted 128 overnight raids throughout France, searching for people involved with the attacks. Several arrests in Germany have already been made, but officials say they were not "closely"connected" to Friday's attacks.

On Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made an official request to the European Union for assistance in the fight against ISIS. The Associated Press reports French President Francois Hollande will meet with President Obama in Washington and President Putin in Moscow next week to discuss the international effort. 

Advertise on MotherJones.com

State Department Says Governors Can't Stop Refugees From Entering Their States

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 12:37 PM EST

On Monday, as more than a dozen mostly Republican governors pledged to block Syrian refugees from being resettled in their states, the State Department was mum about the legal ramifications, offering only a cautious statement that its lawyers were looking into it. By Tuesday, apparently, that review had been completed.

"This is a federal program carried out under the authority of federal law and refugees arriving in the United States are protected by the Constitution and federal law," a senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call, when asked about the governors' statements. Simply put, once a refugee has come to the United States, "he or she is also free to move anywhere in the country," just like anyone else. And there's nothing Bobby Jindal or Chris Christie can do about it.

But, the official was quick to point out, the government also wasn't interested in resettling refugees unilaterally. Although state and local governments have only a consultative role in the process, "this is a program that is very much dependent on the support of local communities" to make the adjustment to a new life work—picking a new arrival up at the airport, furnishing a new house, finding gainful employment, and providing access to health care. And in that respect, the governors' strongest bargaining chip might be their open hostility. "We don't want to send refugees anywhere where they would not be welcomed."

Mike Huckabee Wants Syrian Refugees to Be Placed in Homes of "Limousine Liberals"

| Mon Nov. 16, 2015 3:07 PM EST

In the wake of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was quick to blame President Obama's handling of ISIS and the current migrant crisis swelling Europe. On Saturday, he topped his usual blend of hateful xenophobia by suggesting Syrian refugees be placed in the neighborhoods of "limousine liberals" such as Hillary Clinton.

"How come they never end up in the neighborhood where the limousine liberal lives?" Huckabee said in a radio interview. "Behind gated communities and with armed security around. Mrs. Clinton, you have suggested we take in 65,00 refugees. How many can we bring to your neighborhood in Chappaqua?"

The former Arkansas governor continued by connecting two seemingly disparate events and belittling the protests that erupted at the University of Missouri last week over allegations of racism on campus.

"Heck, we may take them to the University of Missouri," Huckabee continued. "A lot of the students are so stressed out from feeling unsafe because somebody said a word they didn’t like that they are not using their dorm rooms anymore. Maybe we can put them there."

Since the deadly attacks on Friday, Republican politicians have been vowing to slam the door on the Obama administration's plan to accept refugees fleeing from violence in Syria and the Middle East. Concerns over the screening process have been heightened after a Syrian passport was located near the body of one of the Paris attackers.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey on Monday, President Obama hit back at Republicans' growing refusal to take in refugees, calling their rejections a "betrayal of our values."

Watch Thousands of Parisians Respond to the Terrorist Attacks in the Best Way Possible

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 7:50 PM EST

As Paris' "night of terror" unfolded, thousands of soccer fans were ordered to evacuate the Stade de France, where France was playing Germany—and near where at least one explosion had erupted.

A video posted to Facebook shows these soccer fans joining in unison to sing the French national anthem. Some could be seen waving the French flag, as the exiting crowd cheered in defiance of the tragic attacks still taking place throughout the city.

 

Dans un tunnel de sortie du Stade de France, sortie dans le calme.... Et la Marseillaise. #fier

Posted by Karl Olive on Friday, November 13, 2015

(h/t Mashable)

"An Attack on of all of Humanity": President Obama Delivers Statement After Paris Erupts in Violence

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 5:58 PM EST

President Barack Obama delivered remarks on the deadly series of shootings and bombings that erupted in Paris on Friday evening.

"This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share," Obama said.

He indicated he has not yet reached out to French President Francois Hollande, as the French capital remains under attack.

For continuing coverage of the deadly shootings, head to our live blog here.