MoJo Author Feeds: Hannah Levintova | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/116976 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The GOP Is Trying to Give the 25 Richest Americans a $334 Billion Tax Break http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/gop-estate-tax-repeal-334-billion-tax-break <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In mid April, the Republican-controlled House voted to repeal the estate tax, which, despite the GOP's&nbsp;"<a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-28/death-tax-deception-and-other-cognitive-errors" target="_blank">death tax</a>" messaging, affects only the superrich: Of the nearly 2.6 million Americans who died <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-estate-tax-folly/2015/04/26/9ef6ebca-eaba-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html" target="_blank">in 2013</a>, just 4,687 had estates flush enough to trigger the tax. That's because the bar to qualify for the estate tax is quite generous: The first $5.43 million of an individual's wealth is exempt from the tax, and that amount goes up to $10.86 million for married couples. After that point, the tax rate is 40 percent.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/house-gives-334-billion-tax-break-25-richest-americans">Center for Effective Government</a> (CEG) calculated how much the 25 richest Americans would save if this repeal on the estate tax were to become law. The final tab: $334 billion.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CEG-Chart.jpg"><div class="caption">Center for Effective Government</div> </div> <p>That's a lot of cash! CEG calculated that $334 billion in taxes would be enough to:</p> <ol><li><strong>Cut the nation's student debt by one-third:</strong> The total could be distributed by giving $25,000 in debt relief to each of the 13 million Americans trying to pay off student loans.</li> <li><strong>Repair or replace every single deficient school AND bridge in America:</strong> Give kids more resources for a better education, and get the country's structurally deficient bridges up to snuff.</li> <li><strong>Give every new US baby a chunk of change:</strong> $1,000 at birth, and then $500 a year until their 18th birthday, making a $10,000 nest egg to put toward education, a home, or other opportunities.</li> <li><strong>Repair all leaking wastewater systems, sewage plumbing, and dams:</strong> Thus improving the health of lakes, rivers, and oceans nationwide.</li> </ol><p>Of course, it's unlikely the tax will actually get repealed. Even if the bill makes it past the Senate, President Obama has <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-passes-bill-to-repeal-estate-tax-1429205647" target="_blank">promised to veto</a> it. But as the election season heats up with economic inequality at its forefront, the repercussions of the bill are likely to be more political than financial. As Robert J. Samuelson writes at the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-estate-tax-folly/2015/04/26/9ef6ebca-eaba-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, the GOP has "handed Democrats a priceless campaign gift: a made-for-TV (and Internet) video depicting Republicans as lackeys of the rich."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Income Inequality The Right Fri, 01 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 274406 at http://www.motherjones.com These Photos Show What Life Is Like for Girls in Juvenile Detention http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/04/richard-ross-photos-girls-justice-juvenile-prisons <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/GirlsInJustice-630.jpg"></div> <p>The number of kids entering the juvenile justice system has declined steadily in recent years, yet girls continue to represent an <a href="http://jjie.org/op-ed-step-1-stop-seeing-abused-girls-as-bad-girls/">ever-growing share</a> of those arrested, detained, and committed to custody. In his latest collection of photographs, <a href="http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com/shop/girls-in-justice" target="_blank"><em>Girls in Justice</em></a>, Richard Ross&mdash;who has spent the past eight years documenting incarcerated kids&mdash;explores the lives of young women in custody<em>.</em> His haunting photos, taken across 250 different detention facilities, illuminate the difficult circumstances (absent caregivers, poverty, physical abuse, sexual violence, etc.) that drive girls into the system and in many cases keep them there.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/140-400px_1.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption"><strong>BN, age 15 </strong></div> </div> <p>"We confine and often demonize a group of kids who have been abused and violated by the very people who should be protecting and loving them," writes Ross, who also won a 2012 National Magazine Award for a <a href="http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com/shop/juvenile-in-justice" target="_blank">photo collection</a> on juvenile justice, in the preface. "These girls in detention and commitment facilities are further abused by an organized system that can't recognize or respond to their history and their needs&hellip;Is this the only solution we can offer?"</p> <p>In the book, for privacy reasons, the girls are identified only by their initials, and their faces are obscured. BN, the 15-year old at right, told Ross how she was forced into prostitution as a child&mdash;by her mom: "My mom's 32, a crack and meth addict," she explained. "I think I was in the fourth grade. Once you're in the game, it's hard to get out of it. And I like the money now. I had gonorrhea when I was 12. Nobody wanted to help me. I don't know what they are going to do with me. I would be a mother to my brother and sister. I would do things like pay all the house bills."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/117-400px_0.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption"><strong>SG, age 17 </strong></div> </div> <p>BN also said she was a runaway&mdash;sort of: "I really didn't run away, but my mom kicked me out of the house."</p> <p>Most of the girls Ross interviewed reported that their first arrest was either for running away or for larceny theft, which lines up with the statistics: Girls account for <a href="http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/highlights/18_02_Highlights_08.pdf" target="_blank">about 60 percent</a> of arrests for running away from home.</p> <p>Seventeen-year-old SG told Ross that she ended up in detention after being on house arrest; she left the house to go to church. "I was a meth baby," she said, noting that she's used meth too, but had been clean for a year. SG said her father beat her when she was little&mdash;he left the family when she was six. He later went to prison for child abuse and drug charges. When she was seven, SG said, she was abused by an adult that worked with kids at a local Boys and Girls Club. She waited six years to tell the police: "I don't think they did anything."</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/BW-18-400px_0.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption"><strong>BW, age 18 </strong></div> </div> <p>Eighteen-year-old BW told Ross that her mother used to burn her with cigarettes when she and her siblings were young, and would hit them with extension cords if they got in trouble at school. She also recounted being sexually abused by her stepfather. "My aunt came in and said, 'Did you touch my babies? Did you touch them?' And he said, 'I didn't touch them goddamn kids.' Then he comes in with a gun. He got the gun to her head like, 'Don't you snitch on me, don't you tell the police.' So we're thinking 'My auntie is gonna lose her life right in front of our eyes.'"</p> <p>These sorts of experiences are common among girls in juvenile facilities: According to the author of a 2009 Department of Justice-funded <a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/228620.pdf" target="_blank">study</a> of 100 South Carolina girls in detention, 35 of the girls had witnessed a murder, 44 had been sexually abused by an adult, 50 had been abused physically by a caregiver, 54 had a caregiver who served time, and 69 reported having "consensual" sex with an adult.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>In the book, Ross points out that involvement in the system can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress for girls. The militarized climate of detention facilities is one contributing factor.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/59-400px_5.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"></div> <p>A lot of detention facilities have "a very paramilitary framework," he notes in an email. "Hands behind your back, eyes down, arms length." The guards typically come from a military or law-enforcement background. "They treat the kids as little adults, small soldiers. The long hallway and locked doors are typical: 8x10 cells, concrete bed, mattress too flat, bed too hard, pillow too flat, blanket too thin...Their shoes are parked outside the door, indicating 'There is a body inside the cell,' to quote the guard."</p> <p>One young girl, 15-year-old KN, showed Ross her tattoos. At the time he photographed her, she had been in detention for two months. She said she'd been put in placement&mdash;a less restrictive detention option&mdash;after being charged with battery and assault of a girl at school, but she kept going AWOL and finally ended up in a lockup situation.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/24-25-630px_1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>KN, age 15 </strong></div> </div> <p>After her four month stint in detention, she would most likely be sent back to placement. "But mostly, I want to go home," she told Ross. "I have a girlfriend here. And on the outs. My parents are real Catholic. They say God doesn't like you being with girls, but they're glad that I do because that way I won't get pregnant...God thinks I can do better with my life and He knows I will do better."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/65-A-400px_0.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Name unknown, age 11 </strong></div> </div> <p>"Who tattoos this across their fingers? Where can this lifetime commitment to purge and reject love come from?" Ross asks his readers. "'Fuck Love' is the response to a familial trust shattered. A wish to announce that she rejects those that have rejected her."</p> <p>One of the facilities that Ross visited is Maryvale, a Los Angeles residential treatment center for girls ages 8 to 17. It used to be an orphanage. One of the girls Ross photographed there was only 11. He doesn't know her name and was not allowed to interview her. "Some of them are too fragile," he writes. "They come from abusive homes and the results are the fragile world between dependency and detention." In this facility, the girls are in rooms with real bedspreads and lots of stuffed animals. Ross asked the director why there were so many stuffed animals, even for the older girls. "The response was, 'These kids have never had a real childhood, so we try and allow it at every age.'"</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/63-400px.jpg" style="height: 525px; width: 350px;"><div class="caption"><strong>RT, age 16 </strong></div> </div> <p>Black, Native American, and Latina girls are all detained at <a href="http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/88_fig3.jpg" target="_blank">higher rates</a> than white girls. And the racial disparities in detention have an impact even after the girls leave. Ross cites a study from the <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/06/10/peds.2013-3966.abstract" target="_blank">American Academy of Pediatrics</a> that shows that detention radically increases the likelihood of early mortality for Latinas. The study found that girls who have been in detention are five times more likely than the general population to die within 16 years of their detention. And for Latinas, the risk is nearly twice as high.</p> <p>RT, a 16-year-old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, told Ross that she was working at a packing plant when Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided the place. She was one of many minors working there, she said. "They deported most of the people, but kept some of us to go to court against the owners...All of us were from the same village in Guatemala. We live in houses that the company owns. I think they let me stay because of my baby."</p></body></html> Media Photo Essays Books Prisons Thu, 30 Apr 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 274206 at http://www.motherjones.com Who Subsidizes Restaurant Workers' Pitiful Wages? You Do http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/how-many-billions-do-americans-spend-subsidize-food-industrys-low-wages <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For Americans who like to eat out occasionally, the full-service restaurant industry is full of relatively affordable options&mdash;think Olive Garden, Applebees, or Chili's. But these spots aren't exactly a bargain once a hefty hidden cost is factored in: The amount of taxpayer assistance that goes to workers earning little pay.</p> <p>Food service workers have more than twice the poverty rate of the overall workforce, and thus more often seek out public benefits. A <a href="http://rocunited.org/wp2015b/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/REPORT_Public-Cost-of-Low-Wages-in-Full-Service-Restaurant-Industry.pdf" target="_blank">new report</a> published last week by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), a restaurant workers' advocacy and assistance group, calculated the tab and found that from 2009 to 2013, regular Americans subsidized the industry's low wages with nearly $9.5 billion in tax money each year. That number includes spending from roughly 10 different assistance programs, including Medicaid, food stamps, and low-income housing programs like Section 8.</p> <p>Here's the breakdown per program:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-17%20at%201.23.14%20PM.png" style="height: 429px; width: 550px;"><div class="caption">Restaurant Opportunities Centers United</div> </div> <p>The amounts were calculated by combining Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics figures on the programs' cost and enrollments with the number of Americans working in full-service restaurants.</p> <p>ROC also found that employees at the five largest full-service restaurant companies alone cost taxpayers about $1.4 billion per year. According to the report, these five companies employ more than half a million of the sector's more than 4 million workers.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/lcuKd/3/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Here's another striking statistic: If you add up these five companies' profits, CEO pay, distributed dividends, and stock buy-backs, the total comes to a bit more than $1.48 billion&mdash;almost exactly what taxpayers spend on these five companies' workers, $1.42 billion.</p> <p>ROC's report notes another key point: <a href="http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/files/3.19.15-ATF-Polling-Questions-on-Tax-Fairness-Issues-Final.pdf" target="_blank">Polling</a> shows that most Americans want a tax system that requires Corporate America to pull its weight. If customers start realizing that their meal costs a lot more than the check says, they just might lose their appetite.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts Food and Ag Labor Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:45:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 273866 at http://www.motherjones.com This Letter From a Gay Veteran's Brother Is the Most Heartbreaking Response to Indiana's Law We've Read Yet http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/heartbreaking-letter-indiana-antigay-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday morning, Indiana's largest newspaper, the <em>Indianapolis Star</em>, published a full <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/indiana-is-like-barely-a-state-anyway-amirite" target="_blank">front-page editorial</a> calling on Gov. Mike Pence to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the new bill that has incited national furor because it allows businesses to refuse service to gay people, citing their religious beliefs.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CBZFU8uVIAAlJjE-1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Tuesday's Indianapolis Star. </strong>@markalesia/Twitter</div> </div> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>By the end of the day, the paper received a heartbreaking letter from Nick Crews of Plainfield. Crews writes about walking his dogs to the local market that morning to pick up two copies of the day's <em>Star</em>, something he never does. He continues:</p> <blockquote> <p>With the papers under my arm, I walked to Plainfield's Maple Hill Cemetery, and found my brother's grave. My brother, who had been a troubled Vietnam War vet, was gay at a time when being gay was a very difficult thing to be. When he died of AIDS in 1985 in a far-off city, his refuge from his closed-minded native state, some in our family were sufficiently ashamed that his cause of death was not discussed.</p> <p>At the grave I opened the <em>Star</em>. I said, "Well, Charlie, times have changed, thank God. It turns out you were on the right side of history after all." Then I read aloud as much of the paper's editorial as tears would let me get through.</p> <p>And today I'm doing what I never thought I'd do. I'm renewing my subscription to the<em> Star</em>. I'm doing this because, if for no other reason, I believe we must all support those who stand against discrimination and for inclusiveness. I do it too as thanks to the <em>Star</em> whose courage and right-mindedness on this issue made this moment of personal closure possible for me.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read his entire letter <a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/31/deceased-brother-stars-editorial/70737358/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Media Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:57:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272826 at http://www.motherjones.com Ellen Pao Loses Her Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Silicon Valley VC Firm Kleiner Perkins http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/ellen-pao-verdict <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This is a breaking news story. We'll be updating this post regularly.</em></p> <p>Ellen Pao's $16 million lawsuit against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, has captivated Silicon Valley for the past month. Pao, now the interim CEO of Reddit, sued her former employer on charges of gender discrimination and retaliation. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-17/the-trial-that-makes-silicon-valley-shudder">Many</a> <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Ellen-Pao-like-Anita-Hill-changing-the-dialogue-6149161.php">have called</a> the trial Silicon Valley's version of the Anita Hill hearings, in part because it offers a rare glimpse into the challenges faced by women at the Valley's elite companies, where cases of this rank usually settle rather than go public. At 2 PM pacific today, the jury returned a verdict, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html?emc=edit_na_20150327&amp;nlid=28193795&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">voting no on all four counts</a> of alleged gender discrimination and retaliation by Kleiner Perkins.</p> <p>But the official verdict barely lasted a half hour, thanks to an error in basic math: The judge asked each juror to list their individual verdict for the court. This revealed that on the fourth count&mdash;which alleges that Pao's termination was retaliation for raising concerns about gender discrimination and filing her lawsuit&mdash;4 of the 12 jurors, two men and two women, voted yes. The judge ruled that 8-4 was an insufficient majority&mdash;a consensus among nine jurors is needed&mdash;and asked the jurors to return to the deliberation room for further discussion. That means that there hasn't yet been an official verdict. We'll keep updating this post as news unfolds.</p> <p><strong>Update, Friday, 7:45 p.m. EDT:</strong> After the first jury miscount, an official verdict is in and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins has prevailed on all counts. The jury returned to the courtroom after several hours of additional deliberations to deliver the verdict. Juror 3, one of the four original "yes" votes on the retaliation count, flipped his vote. With a consensus of nine jurors or more on all counts, the case is over. Ellen Pao gave a brief statement to the press, thanking her family and friends for their support throughout the trial. "I have told my story and thousands of people have heard me," <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/27/ellen-paos-statement-on-losing-the-kleiner-perkins-case-the-battle-was-worth-it/" target="_blank">she said</a>. "If I've helped level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it."</p></body></html> Politics Sex and Gender Tech Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:16:17 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272531 at http://www.motherjones.com Robot-Building 6-Year-Old Girls Talking Tech With Obama Is the Best Thing You'll See All Week http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/obama-robot-building-brainstorming-6-year-old-girls-white-house <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rUlPHehHQQg" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>On Monday, President Obama made his annual rounds at the White House Science Fair. The event is a breeding ground for adorable interactions with kid-nerds (See 2012's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBLaUIbHmgQ" target="_blank">marshmallow-shooting air cannon</a>), but <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/supergirls-conquer-obama-white-house-science-fair-n328661" target="_blank">his chat</a> yesterday with five cape-wearing Girl Scouts from Oklahoma was especially magical.</p> <p>The 6-year-olds from Tulsa's Girl Scout Troup 411 were <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/supergirls-second-tulsa-girl-scout-troop-visits-white-house-for/article_6692dd4d-0ed6-569c-b6e5-d29e7950844e.html" target="_blank">the youngest</a> inventors selected to present at this year's fair. <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/supergirls-second-tulsa-girl-scout-troop-visits-white-house-for/article_6692dd4d-0ed6-569c-b6e5-d29e7950844e.html" target="_blank">Inspired by</a> conversations with a librarian and one of the girls' grandmas, they built a mechanical Lego contraption that can turn pages, to help patients with mobility issues read books.</p> <p>The group of first graders and kindergartners explain to Obama that the device is a "prototype" that they came up with in a "brainstorming session." One of the girls asks Obama if he's ever had his own brainstorming session.</p> <p>"I have had a couple brainstorming sessions," replies an amused Obama. "But I didn't come up with anything this good!"</p> <p>Another girls asks what he came up with:</p> <p>"I mean, I came up with things like, you know, health care. It turned out ok, but it started off with some prototypes," the president says.</p> <p>And then they all go in for a group hug. GOLD.</p> <p>Suzanne Dodson, the coach of the Lego team and the mom of one of the scouts, told <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/supergirls-second-tulsa-girl-scout-troop-visits-white-house-for/article_6692dd4d-0ed6-569c-b6e5-d29e7950844e.html" target="_blank"><em>Tulsa World</em></a> that she's glad the girls are getting such positive attention for their project: "It really is a problem with girls, when they get to middle school, they lose confidence in their own ability to succeed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)" she said. "Having this experience at young age really gives them a confidence boost."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tech Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:56:46 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272341 at http://www.motherjones.com Why a German Court Just Ordered A Vaccine Skeptic to Pay $100K http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/german-vaccine-measles-challenge <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Four years ago, <a href="http://www.klein-klein-aktion.de/impfstoffe-aluminium/" target="_blank">vaccine-skeptical</a> German biologist Stefan Lanka <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31864218" target="_blank">posed a challenge</a> on <a href="http://www.psiram.com/media/lanka-100000.pdf" target="_blank">his website</a>: Prove to him that measles is, in fact, a virus. To the first person who could do that, he promised a whopping 100 thousand Euros (about $106,000).</p> <p>Despite loads of long-standing medical evidence proving the existence of the measles virus, Lanka&nbsp;believes that measles is a psychosomatic disease that results from trauma. "People become ill after traumatic separations," <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31864218" target="_blank">he told</a> a German newspaper.</p> <p>German doctor David Barden took him up on the challenge. Barden gathered six separate studies showing that measles is indeed a virus. Lanka dismissed his findings.</p> <p>But today, a district court in southern Germany found that Barden's evidence provides sufficient proof to have satisfied Lanka's challenge. Which means Lanka now has to cough up the promised cash.</p> <p>This issue has taken on new urgency due to a measles epidemic in Berlin that began in October. Health officials announced last Friday that <a href="http://www.dw.de/berlin-measles-epidemic-reaches-new-high/a-18301149" target="_blank">111 new cases</a> had been reported in the previous week, bringing the total number to 724. The majority of those affected are unvaccinated; <a href="http://www.dw.de/toddler-dies-of-measles-in-germany-as-outbreak-fears-grow/a-18274687" target="_blank">last month</a> an 18-month-old died of the disease.</p> <p>Lanka said he <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/03/13/german-court-orders-vaccination-cynic-to-pay-for-virus-proof" target="_blank">plans to appeal</a> the court's decision. &nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Health Science Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:39:32 +0000 Hannah Levintova 271816 at http://www.motherjones.com This Fake App Just Summed Up Everything That's Wrong With Silicon Valley http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/fake-app-silicon-valley-well-deserved-sell-your-privilege <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WoK4_dQbfuU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In Silicon Valley, a group of mostly white, mostly male twentysomethings have built a multibillion-dollar empire of sharing apps: shared housing (AirBnB), shared cars (Uber), shared dog-sitting (DogVacay)&hellip;you get the idea. But the so-called "sharing economy" <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/11/02/the_sharing_economy_has_a_race_problem/">doesn't</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/12/algorithms-race-discrimination-uber-lyft-airbnb-peer">actually</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/05/homeless-steps-airbnb-san-francisco">share</a> equally with everyone. One fake app wants to change that.</p> <p><a href="http://welldeserved.me/" target="_blank">WellDeserved</a> is an app that helps you "monetize" your privilege&mdash;be it racial, gender-based, or socioeconomic&mdash;by sharing it (temporarily, of course) with other people. The fictional app was the winning entry at last month's <a href="http://www.comedyhackday.org/sf-2015">Comedy Hack Day</a> in San Francisco, where creative agency <a href="http://www.cultivatedwit.com/" target="_blank">Cultivated Wit</a> challenged contestants to come up with a comedic app idea and pitch it to judges, all in 48 hours.</p> <p>The app's promo video will make you laugh and cry: A Google employee sells his free Google lunch to a guest for $10, a dude charges a black man $5 to hail a cab on his behalf, and another guy walks a woman home so she won't get catcalled, asking himself, "Why don't I walk with them, spare them the harassment, and charge 'em like five bucks?"</p> <p>The creators' (fake) plan for making the (fake) app work is summed up perfectly: "Our business plan is that VCs will just give us money. Because this is San Francisco, and we have an idea."</p> <p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Tech Thu, 12 Mar 2015 22:08:02 +0000 Hannah Levintova 271776 at http://www.motherjones.com Goodnight Measles: Bedtime Stories for Your Unvaccinated Child http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/02/anti-vaccine-childrens-books-measles <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As of February 6, the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> has counted 121 reported measles cases this year in 17 states and Washington DC. Of those, 103 (85 percent) are linked to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/measles-outbreak-disneyland-anti-vaxxers" target="_blank">outbreak</a> that began at Disneyland in December. And the cause of this resurgence of a disease that until recently was considered licked in the United States? All evidence points to parents refusing to vaccinate their children.</p> <p>At least some of those parents, though, are happy to inoculate their children with anti-vaccine sentiment. There's a whole ouevre of anti-vax fiction for kids, and some of it takes a pretty, well, <em>creative</em> approach&mdash;zombies! shape-shifting aliens!&mdash;to advancing ideas about the danger of vaccination. Some of the books include claims about links between vaccines and autism that have been repeatedly and conclusively proven false by science.</p> <p>Here are a handful of examples, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 syringes (5 being the most explicitly anti-science):</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/melanie-measles." style="height: 258px; width: 200px;"></div> <p><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Melanies-Marvelous-Measles-Stephanie-Messenger/dp/1466938897">Melanie's Marvelous Measles (2012):</a> </strong></p> <p><strong>Summary</strong>: A little girl named Tina learns that her best friend Melanie is out of school with the measles. Melanie is vaccinated, but Tina's parents decided not to vaccinate her after her little brother "was very sick" from his shots. Tina's mother assures her daughter that measles make the body stronger, and they go to Melanie's house so Tina can get the measles, too. Another (vaccinated) classmate ends up catching measles from Melanie, who eventually recovers, but Tina doesn't contract the disease, because "she eats lots of fresh, raw food, and also because she plays in the sunshine daily and drinks plenty of water."</p> <p><strong>Excerpt:</strong> "Tina heard Jared tell Travis, the boy beside him, that he wouldn't get the measles because he had been vaccinated. Travis said that he wasn't vaccinated, but didn't mind, until Jared then told him angrily, 'Well, you're going to die if you don't get vaccinated.' Travis thought about this for a minute and said to Jared, 'Well I know that isn't true because I haven't had any vaccinations and I am still alive.' Jared didn't know what to say to that!"</p> <p><strong>Rating: </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5syringes2.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Vaccination-Zombie-Novel-Triology-Book-ebook/dp/B00F8O4AS6">Vaccination: A Zombie Novel</a> (2014): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/vaccination_tomasso_resized_1-200x300_0.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 200px;"></div> <p><strong>Summary: </strong>The federal government mass-produces a swine flu vaccine that turns recipients into zombies. A 911 dispatcher who has foregone the vaccine must find a way to save himself and his two kids. Escaping to Mexico might be their only chance.</p> <p><strong>Excerpt: </strong>"They're not dead though. They look it. But they're not. Their bodies will continue to decay, but they'll keep going, keep coming after you, keep eating until they just can't do it anymore. They get all dumb, and forget how to do things, but not how to eat. They remember that. And how to run. My God, they're fast. So, so fast."</p> <p>"Who forgets things?</p> <p>"Who?" he laughed. "All of them. Everyone who got the vaccination."</p> <p>"What vaccination?" I asked.</p> <p>"For the flu. Aren't you listening to me?"</p> <p><strong>Rating</strong>:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/4syringes.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/VV-Cover-High-res-April-2013-right-side-620x867_0.jpg" style="height: 280px; width: 200px;"></div> <p><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Vicious-Vaccine-Galactic-Academy-Science/dp/0985000872">The Vicious Case of the Viral Vaccine (2013):</a></strong> Mae, the daughter of a research nurse, believes the new Universal Flu Vaccine is safe, but her classmate Clinton isn't so sure. As protests against the vaccine heat up, Selectra Volt, Dudette from the Future&mdash;a time-traveler&mdash;sends them on a mission to go back in time and see how vaccines were developed. On their journey, they visit the likes of Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk, creator of the polio vaccine. They must return to the present in time to uncover a plot against the new flu vaccine.</p> <p><strong>Excerpt</strong>: "That vaccine could make people really sick," Clinton burst out.</p> <p>Mae clutched her current events report and looked out at the class. "It won't. My mother worked on this vaccine. and it's safe. Only crazy people think it isn't."</p> <p><strong>Rating:</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/1-syringe_0.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/07/vaccines__its_t.html">The Vaccine Aliens</a> (2005): </strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/VaccineAliensGallup_0.jpg" style="height: 260px; width: 200px;"></div> <p><strong>Summary: </strong>A son develops autism after getting the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine. The father then discovers that in addition to causing autism, the MMR vaccine is part of a plot by shape-shifting aliens to destroy the human race.</p> <p><strong>Extra:</strong> Author Raymond Gallup is the president of the Autism Autoimmunity Project. In 2002, he wrote a letter on the anti-vax site <a href="http://www.vaccinationnews.org/DailyNews/May2002/GallupTimeLetter.htm">VaccinationNews</a> responding to a <em>Time</em> magazine story headlined "The Secrets of Autism." In the letter, he alludes to some of the sinister themes of his book, claiming that "the medical community and government health officials avoid the vaccine/autism link of the MMR vaccine."&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Rating:</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5syringes2_0.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/No-Vaccines-Kathleen-Dunkelberger-CLNC/dp/145209179X/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1423426614&amp;sr=1-13&amp;keywords=vaccine">No Vaccines for Me!</a> (2010):</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Cover-No-Vaccines-For-Me_small_0.jpg" style="height: 261px; width: 200px;"></div> <p><strong>Summary:</strong> This "interactive family book" is written by Kathleen Dunkelberger, a registered nurse. It's a collection of illustrated stories that go through the history of vaccines, their ingredients, potential dangers and side effects (including autism), government connections to the pharmaceutical industry, and more.</p> <p><strong>Excerpt:</strong> "Babies and kids don't always need shots.&nbsp;Many doctors and nurses know this now, but there are still some who will try to give these shots to all people of all ages. They sometimes try to give them to children in school. These shots are called vaccinations (vax-sin-nay-shuns). Vaccinations can be given as a shot, a liquid to take in your mouth, or as a spray mist up your nose."</p> <p><strong>Rating</strong>:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5syringes2_1.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div></body></html> Media Books Science Top Stories vaccines Fri, 13 Feb 2015 11:45:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 270211 at http://www.motherjones.com This Scrap Metal Law Is Being Used to Disarm Pennsylvania's Gun Laws http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/pennsylvania-preemption-local-gun-laws <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the past month, towns across Pennsylvania have been scrambling to scrap their gun laws. <a href="http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7549599-74/ordinance-gun-clairton#axzz3QcP3EOcP">Clairton</a>, <a href="http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-gun-law-repeal-20150204-story.html">Allentown</a>, and <a href="http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7383916-74/mifflin-west-borough#axzz3QcP3EOcP">West Mifflin</a> have rescinded rules banning guns in city parks or requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons. Other localities, like <a href="http://readingeagle.com/news/article/reading-city-council-votes-to-repeal-its-local-gun-laws">Reading</a> and <a href="http://www.wjactv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/college-township-threatened-law-suit-gun-ordinance-4650.shtml">College township</a>, have announced plans to imminently repeal all laws regulating firearms.</p> <p>Some of the city councilmembers and officials behind the repeals are doing so grudgingly. "It's not something I ever intended to do," one Munhall councilman <a href="http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7439267-74/council-gun-ordinance#axzz3MpKKGmO2">told the <em>Pittsburgh Tribune-Review</em></a> after the town decided to undo a local gun law. Homestead's mayor <a href="http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7359907-74/council-gun-homestead#axzz3QcP3EOcP">called</a> the entire thing "absolutely ridiculous." "We're basically being forced to repeal these laws at gunpoint," Doylestown's council president wrote on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152909851421967&amp;set=a.67491546966.93791.609881966&amp;type=1&amp;permPage=1">his Facebook page</a>. "Every local gun law must go!"</p> <p>The statewide shakeup is the result of a law that morphed from a sleepy anti-theft bill into a blatant attempt to roll back gun control across the Keystone State. In January 2013, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced <a href="http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/bill_history.cfm?syear=2013&amp;sind=0&amp;body=H&amp;type=B&amp;bn=80">House Bill 80</a>, a bipartisan measure to create penalties for stealing scrap metals. It passed the state House handily and headed to the state Senate. But last October, the bill took a detour: With Republican Gov. Tom Corbett facing a tight reelection race, GOP lawmakers tacked a stalled four-year-old gun bill onto HB 80 in the final hours of the legislative session. The bill passed <a href="http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2013&amp;sess_ind=0&amp;rc_body=S&amp;rc_nbr=810">by a wide margin</a>. A few days later, Corbett signed the bill before a <a href="http://jurist.org/paperchase/Petition_for_Review__Leach_v_Commonwealth.pdf#page=4">room of</a> <a href="http://www.unifiedsportsmenpa.org/">gun lobbyists</a> and activists at a sportsmen's club. Nobody mentioned scrap metals. "By signing this, we are helping protect the rights of hunters and other sportsmen and sportswomen," <a href="https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=729952053719054&amp;id=398840163496913">said Corbett</a>.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/02/pennsylvania-preemption-local-gun-laws"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Guns Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:00:09 +0000 Hannah Levintova 269721 at http://www.motherjones.com