MoJo Author Feeds: Ian Gordon | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en The NFL's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With the Super Bowl days away, the sports world's hot-take artists have spent the past week toggling between the <a href="" target="_blank">intrigue</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">idiocy</a> of Deflategate to the <a href="" target="_blank">press conference reticence</a> of Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch. In some ways, it has been the perfect ending to a dreadful year for the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.</p> <p>Famous for his <a href="" target="_blank">"protect the shield"</a> mantra and disciplinarian ways, Goodell has seen his reputation get battered throughout the <a href="" target="_blank">controversy-filled 12 months</a> since Super Bowl XLVIII. So, as Ballghazi rages on and the big game approaches, here's a look back at the recent firestorms and missteps that made 2014 such a rotten year for the league and its commish:</p> <p><strong>Ray Rice: </strong>It was bad enough when the league initially suspended Rice, then the Baltimore Ravens' star running back, for a <a href="" target="_blank">paltry two games</a><strong> </strong>after his February arrest for assaulting his then-fianc&eacute;e (now wife) at an Atlantic City casino. It got worse when the Ravens further <a href="" target="_blank">bungled</a> the situation. But when TMZ released security camera footage in September that actually showed Ray Rice punching Janay Rice, the league had to suspend him indefinitely&mdash;even as Goodell maintained that he had never before seen the video. (<a href="" target="_blank">Numerous</a> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> have made those claims seem <a href="" target="_blank">laughable</a>.) The NFL <a href="" target="_blank">toughened</a> its domestic-abuse policies, sure, and will <a href="" target="_blank">air an ad</a> during the Super Bowl to raise awareness. But the damage from the league's initial inaction already has been done. As Tracy Treu, the wife of former Oakland Raiders center Adam Treu, <a href="" target="_blank">told me back in September</a>, "When you're with an NFL team, the message to you is clear: Don't fuck anything up for your partner, and don't fuck anything up for the team."</p> <p><strong>Adrian Peterson: </strong>Just days after the explosive Rice video was released, the Minnesota Vikings' All-Pro running back was accused of hitting his four-year-old son <a href="" target="_blank">with a switch</a> and was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child. For a short time it looked like Peterson would be <a href="" target="_blank">back on the field</a> after missing just a week of work, but the Vikings quickly <a href="" target="_blank">reversed course</a>, and the NFL <a href="" target="_blank">ultimately suspended him</a> for the remainder of the season.</p> <p><strong>Greg Hardy/Jonathan Dwyer:</strong> Lost a bit in the Rice and Peterson headlines were the domestic-assault charges against Hardy, a Carolina Panthers defensive end, and Dwyer, an Arizona Cardinals running back. Hardy's then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, <a href="" target="_blank">testified in July</a> that Hardy had dragged her around his apartment, threw her on a futon covered in rifles, and then put his hands on her throat. "I was so scared I wanted to die," she testified. Hardy was convicted; <a href="" target="_blank">his appeal</a> is set for February. (He took a paid <a href="" target="_blank">leave of absence</a> in September, in part to avoid a possible suspension.) Dwyer allegedly <a href="" target="_blank">head-butted</a> his wife and broke her nose in July. She reportedly went to police after seeing the Peterson news in September and fearing for her child's safety. Dwyer was put on the reserve/non-football-injury list and pleaded <a href="" target="_blank">not guilty</a> to charges on Monday.</p> <p><strong>Concussions:</strong> The league's ongoing concussion scandal may have peaked in 2013 with the airing of the <em>Frontline </em>documentary <a href="" target="_blank"><em>League of Denial</em></a>, but the issue of player safety&mdash;indeed, the long-term viability of the game&mdash;isn't going away anytime soon. In July, a federal judge preliminarily <a href="" target="_blank">approved a settlement</a> between the league and<strong> </strong>former players over concussion-related claims. Since then, more than 200 players have <a href="" target="_blank">opted out</a> of the settlement, objecting to the restrictions embedded in the deal. As <em>ESPN the Magazine</em>'s Peter Keating <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a>, "Fewer than 3,600 athletes, or about 17 percent of all retired players, will end up with some kind of illness that the settlement will compensate, according to forecasts by both sides in the case." (The settlement is still awaiting final approval.) Next up: the Christmas release of Will Smith's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Concussion</em></a>, a feature film based on a GQ profile of <a href="" target="_blank">neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu</a>, one of the first physicians to fight the NFL on brain trauma.</p> <p><strong>Dan Snyder and the Washington [Redacted]: </strong>We've already covered many of the <a href="" target="_blank">dumb things</a> Snyder has said in recent months. Even after <a href="" target="_blank">50 US senators</a> called on the Washington owner to change his team's name, the team still managed to start something called the <a href="" target="_blank">Original Americans Foundation</a> and continue to be <a href="" target="_blank">completely tone deaf</a> on social media. The Native American-led <a href="" target="_blank">protests</a> against the name will continue into <a href="" target="_blank">this weekend</a> in Arizona.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/snyder630_0.jpg"><div class="caption">Snyder: Nick Wass/AP; dunce cap: Stockbyte/Thinkstock. Illustration by Dave Gilson.</div> </div> <p><strong>Cheerleading lawsuits:</strong> If you haven't read my colleague Julia Lurie's <a href="" target="_blank">roundup</a> of the many lawsuits brought by current and former cheerleaders against NFL teams, go do that now. Here's an excerpt, about how different teams determine whether their cheerleaders are fit enough to perform:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="" target="_blank">Jills allege</a> being subjected to a weekly "jiggle test," which consisted of doing jumping jacks while their stomachs, arms, legs, hips, and butts were scrutinized. (The Jills manual also instructs, "Never eat in uniform unless arrangements have been made in advance. Just say 'Thanks so much for offering but no thank you'&hellip;NEVER say, 'Oh, we're not allowed to eat!'") Ben-Gals are required to weigh in twice a week, and if they come in more than three pounds over their "goal weight," they face penalties: extra conditioning after practice, benchings, probation, or dismissal from the team.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Aaron Hernandez trial: </strong>Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end who was arrested a year and a half ago for the shooting death of friend Odin Lloyd, is back in the news now that the jury has been selected and his murder case is <a href="" target="_blank">set to start Thursday</a> in Connecticut. Hernandez also has been charged with two more murder counts for a July 2012 double-murder in Massachusetts.</p> <p><strong>Anti-gay front offices: </strong>Linebacker Michael Sam <a href="" target="_blank">came out</a> as gay before the NFL Draft last February. No one knew for sure how it would play out&mdash;or what effect it would have on Sam's draft status&mdash;but a <em>Sports Illustrated </em>story that anonymously quoted general managers and front-office types around the league <a href="" target="_blank">wasn't exactly welcoming</a>. "I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet," said one personnel assistant. "In the coming decade or two, it's going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it's still a man's-man game." Sam <a href="" target="_blank">was drafted</a> in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams but was cut just before the season began. (After latching on with the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad for a spell, he's once again a free agent, albeit an <a href="" target="_blank">engaged one</a>.)</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/NFL-nondiscrimination-map_0_0.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Jim Irsay: </strong>The Indianapolis Colts' billionaire owner was charged with <a href="" target="_blank">driving while intoxicated</a> in October; he later admitted to having hydrocodone, oxycodone, and Xanax in his system. (Police said they found "numerous prescription medication bottles containing pills," as well as $29,000 in cash, in Irsay's car.) The NFL <a href="" target="_blank">suspended</a> the <a href="" target="_blank">outspoken</a> 55-year-old for six games and fined him $500,000.</p> <p><strong>Goodell's salary: </strong>As of 2012, according to tax forms, the Commish was making <a href="" target="_blank">$44.2 million a year</a>. (Yes, the NFL is still a <a href="" target="_blank">nonprofit</a>.)</p> <p><strong>Not so super:</strong> While Super Bowl XLIX could break the <a href="" target="_blank">TV ratings</a> record, Mina Kimes reports in the latest <a href="" target="_blank"><em>ESPN the Magazine</em></a> that the mayor of Glendale, Arizona&mdash;this year's host site&mdash;told her, "I totally believe we will lose money on this."</p> <p><strong>Jameis Winston on the horizon: </strong>If all of this weren't enough, this spring's NFL Draft will surely be all about Winston, the presumptive No. 1 pick and Heisman Award winner who was accused (but never <a href="" target="_blank">charged</a>) of rape as a Florida State freshman in 2012. Winston was recently <a href="" target="_blank">cleared</a> of violating FSU's code of conduct, though a 2013 <em>New York Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> alleged that "there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university," after the allegations were made. The story isn't going away anytime soon: Last week, Winston's accuser <a href="" target="_blank">went public</a> in <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Hunting Ground</em></a>, a documentary on campus sexual assault that debuted Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.</p></body></html> Media Sports Top Stories Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:17 +0000 Ian Gordon 269231 at Guess Who's Getting Rich(er) off the College Football Playoff? (Hint: It's Not the Players) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The first-ever College Football Playoff, culminating in tonight's national championship game between Oregon and Ohio State, has been years in the making: Fans, coaches, and players had long complained about the lack of a tournament, &agrave; la college basketball's March Madness, to determine a national champ. The four-team tourney has proved a smashing success: The semifinal games on New Year's Day each brought ESPN more than <a href="" target="_blank">28 million viewers</a>, breaking the cable TV ratings record set in 2011 by the title game between Oregon and Auburn. Thanks to NCAA rules, though, the players will make bupkis. So who <em>is</em> cashing in, then? Here's a partial breakdown.</p> <p><strong>ESPN: </strong>In 2012, the sports network inked a <a href="" target="_blank">12-year</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">$7.3 billion</a> deal for the rights to air seven postseason college games&mdash;the four big bowl games plus two national semifinals and the championship game. That's a ton of money, even when you consider that media buyers told <em>Advertising Age</em> that 30-second spots during this year's title game are selling for <a href="" target="_blank">$1 million</a> a pop. But even if ESPN barely covers its expenses, securing the long-term rights to the playoffs has further cemented its dominance as the go-to channel for sports fans. And that, in the end, should prove immensely <a href="" target="_blank">profitable</a>.</p> <p><strong>The NCAA: </strong>College sports' governing body loves to prattle on about <a href="" target="_blank">amateurism</a> while pulling in nearly $1.4 billion annually in TV royalties for the football playoffs ($608 million) and <a href="" target="_blank">March Madness</a> ($771 million). Still, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's embattled president, made <a href="" target="_blank">$1.7 million</a> in total compensation in 2012, <a href="" target="_blank">46 percent more</a> than his predecessor, Myles Brand, earned in his last full year as prez.</p> <p><strong>Nike: </strong>There have been plenty of swooshes on your screen this playoff season: All four playoff semifinalists&mdash;Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Oregon&mdash;wear Nike gear due to <a href="" target="_blank">$15 million</a> in contracts for the 2014-15 academic year. (Nike founder Phil Knight is a well-known <a href="" target="_blank">Oregon alumnus and superbooster.</a>) Related: Have you picked up your special-edition Oregon <a href="" target="_blank">title game jersey</a> yet? How about your custom CFP <a href="" target="_blank">Zoom Hypercross TRs</a>?</p> <p><strong>The Big 5 Conferences:</strong> The biggest recipients of the TV largesse will be the so-called Big 5 conferences&mdash;the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, and the Southeastern&mdash;which will each receive $50 million a year, according to the CFP's <a href="" target="_blank">revenue distribution plan</a>. The ACC, Big 10, Pac-12, and SEC also all got a $6 million bonus because their teams made the semifinals, plus millions more for travel expenses. (As you might imagine, these conferences already have <a href="" target="_blank">hefty TV deals</a> that are distributed among the schools.)</p> <p><strong>Coaches Mark Helfrich and Urban Meyer: </strong>Meyer&mdash;who won national titles at Florida in 2006 and 2008 and is earning nearly <a href="" target="_blank">$4.5 million</a> in base compensation this season at Ohio State&mdash;will take home $250,000 just for <a href="" target="_blank">making it to the championship game</a>. OSU athletic director Gene Smith told <em>USA Today</em> in December that those numbers are right on the mark: "He's the CEO of a large corporation. We're fortunate we have him at Ohio State." Helfrich, the second-year Oregon coach, will pocket $2 million in salary this year (the lowest among semifinalist head coaches), plus <a href="" target="_blank">$250,000 more</a> should the Ducks win Monday night. (His assistant coaches already have snatched an additional <a href="" target="_blank">six months' worth of base salary</a> this postseason, and could earn even more.)</p> <p><strong>Gene Smith: </strong>The Ohio State athletic director came under fire last year when it was reported that he earned a <a href="" target="_blank">bonus of more than $18,000</a> after a wrestler won an individual national title in March. He's on track to make another two weeks' worth of base pay, roughly <a href="" target="_blank">$36,000</a>, if the Buckeyes bring home the trophy Monday night.</p> <p>On Tuesday, the CFP announced that the NCAA would let it help cover the expenses of parents who wanted to come watch their kids play in the title game, allotting up to <a href="" target="_blank">$1,250 per parent/guardian</a> (maximum: two) for travel, meals, and accommodations. So that's nice. But what of the kids whose hard work makes this all possible? Don't they deserve something?</p> <p>As it turns out, the NCAA allows players up to $550 each in goods from gift suites set up by individual bowl games. According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>SportsBusiness Daily</em></a>, the Rose Bowl (the Florida State-Oregon semifinal) handed out Fossil watches, Oakley Works backpacks, and New Era 59Fifty caps, while the Sugar Bowl (the Alabama-Ohio State semifinal) also gave away Fossil watches and New Era hats. It's not the custom-made <a href="" target="_blank">Fathead wall decals</a> handed out by the <a href="" target="_blank">Quick Lane Bowl</a>, but hey, these kids are amateurs.</p></body></html> Media Corporations Sports Top Stories Mon, 12 Jan 2015 10:45:05 +0000 Ian Gordon 267966 at Inside Obama's Family Deportation Mill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This past summer, the "border kids"&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors</a> from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras detained after crossing into the United States&mdash;became the country's latest immigration crisis. Aid groups mobilized, <a href="" target="_blank">Congress held hearings</a>, and pleas for compassion resounded at the highest levels of government. "These are our kids," Vice President Joe Biden told a group of lawyers <a href="" target="_blank">in August</a>, urging them to offer the children free legal representation.</p> <p>But the Obama administration hasn't extended that caring attitude to another huge group of Central American migrant kids&mdash;those traveling with a parent or guardian, usually their mother. In fiscal 2014, according to <a href="" target="_blank">data</a> from US Customs and Border Protection, these so-called family unit apprehensions nearly quadrupled. By comparison, the increase in kids arriving at the border alone&mdash;the surge that put Capitol Hill in a crisis mode&mdash;was a relatively modest 77 percent.</p> <p><br><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In perhaps the biggest policy reversal since the surge began, the federal government has rebuilt the controversial family detention system it gutted only a few years ago, in no small part to send a message to would-be immigrants&mdash;even though 98 percent of those at one Texas detention facility were asylum seekers who claimed that they feared returning to their home countries, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a recent report</a> by the Women's Refugee Commission and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. "I certainly would've never expected it from this administration," said the WRC's Michelle Bran&eacute;, who coauthored the report. "Why they went for this draconian detention, I just don't get it."</p> <p>In 2009, the feds stopped detaining women and children at the <a href="" target="_blank">notorious</a> <a href="" target="_blank">T. Don Hutto facility</a> near Austin, Texas, following Bush-era allegations of stark conditions and sexual abuse. Family detention seemed to be on the outs. Then, in July, the White House put forward a $3.7 billion <a href="" target="_blank">emergency appropriations request</a> that included $879 million for about 6,300 new family detention beds. While the request never made it through Congress, the Department of Homeland Security still managed to open a temporary family facility in Artesia, New Mexico, and a second one in Karnes City, Texas. (Nearly 500 women and children have been deported since these facilities opened their doors to family-unit detainees.)</p> <p>The Artesia facility is set to <a href="" target="_blank">close</a> this month, just in time for DHS to open yet another family detention center in Dilley, Texas. Built to house <a href="" target="_blank">2,400 migrants</a>, the South Texas Family Residential Center will be the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility ever. Like Hutto, it will be run by the private prison firm <a href="" target="_blank">Corrections Corporation of America</a>.</p> <p>Anti-detention advocates argue that locking up families is not only expensive&mdash;ICE spends <a href="" target="_blank">$161 a day</a> to detain the typical immigrant, but <a href="" target="_blank">$266 a day</a> per family-unit detainee&mdash;but also traumatic and unnecessary. For the past several years, said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Michael Tan, women with children who passed the so-called <a href="" target="_blank">credible fear of persecution screening</a>, which comes before an asylum hearing, were allowed to live in the community while they went through the immigration process. "The agency understood that if you were a bona fide asylum seeker we didn't need to lock you up," Tan said. Besides, <a href="" target="_blank">alternatives to detention</a> can be <a href="" target="_blank">nearly as effective</a> in getting people to their immigration hearings, at a <a href="" target="_blank">fraction of the cost</a>.</p> <p>"Detention puts a whole lot of pressure on extremely vulnerable people to give up their cases," Tan said. "The immigration authorities know that one way to facilitate removal is to keep people locked up."</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256341"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/are-kids-showing-border-really-refugees"> Are the Kids Showing Up at the Border Really Refugees?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256331"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/child-migrant-ellis-island-history"> Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See <em>MoJo</em>'s <a href="">full coverage</a> of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>But this past summer, the government instituted what the ACLU, in a just-filed <a href="" target="_blank">class action lawsuit</a>, describes as a blanket no-release policy that keeps women and children under lock and key&mdash;even though they've passed credible-fear screenings and have every incentive to show up for an asylum hearing. Worse still, attorneys who've been to Artesia and Karnes City have been complaining for months about what they've seen at the two facilities. Artesia, for example, is a remote oil town in southeastern New Mexico, halfway between Carlsbad and Roswell on US 285. Because it is so isolated, legal services there have been limited to a rotating cast of attorneys organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association who are working pro bono for a week at a time. In August, several groups filed a complaint alleging a <a href="" target="_blank">violation of due process rights</a> at the facility.</p> <p>At a House Homeland Security Committee <a href="" target="_blank">hearing</a> this month, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged some of the criticisms, saying he wanted "to make sure we have adequate ability for effective attorney-client communications" moving forward. He continued: "I believe that added detention capability on the southern border, and some disagree with me, is essential to border security." On Monday, at the Dilley facility's <a href="" target="_blank">inauguration</a>, Johnson was more blunt: "It'll now be more likely that you'll be detained and sent back."</p> <p>I recently spoke with a woman I'll call Jessica Ramos, who landed at Artesia after fleeing Honduras with her two-year-old son, Nicol&aacute;s (also a pseudonym). She left as soon as she could after her gang-affiliated boyfriend put a gun to her boy's head and then, moments later, stuck the barrel in her mouth. The preceding months had been marked by increasing violence, including twice-daily sexual assaults, and Ramos was sure she'd end up dead if she didn't get far away fast. "The law doesn't do anything there&mdash;what options do we have?" she told me in Spanish. "To run away with our kids."</p> <p>So, on July 2, Ramos and Nicol&aacute;s left Olancho, which is located along Honduras' eastern border with Nicaragua and is one of the most violent regions in the world's most violent country. Her sister helped wrangle a smuggler to lead them through Guatemala and Mexico. On July 17, they entered South Texas by crossing the Rio Grande, and were quickly apprehended. A few days later, they were shipped to the recently opened Artesia facility.</p> <p>According to Bran&eacute;'s report, some of the problems that led to Hutto's closing are cropping up again. More than half of the 1,050 minors booked into family detention this year were six or younger, the report notes. At the Karnes City facility, which is now <a href="" target="_blank">facing a complaint</a> alleging sexual abuse, extortion, and harassment by guards, women reportedly had to carry their infant children incessantly&mdash;no crawling was allowed. Many children were depressed and lost weight. Jesse Lloyd, an attorney who has spent time at Artesia, told me that one three-year-old stopped eating solid food because he couldn't process the institutional fare. ICE officials wouldn't let seven-year-old Nayely Berm&uacute;dez Beltr&aacute;n leave the Karnes City detention center to see a doctor, despite a malignant brain tumor that required immediate treatment. (She and her mother, Sara Beltr&aacute;n Rodr&iacute;guez, were <a href="" target="_blank">eventually released</a>, after the local media caught wind of it.)</p> <p>Additionally, Artesia offered scant child care, which meant that children were in tow while their mothers met with immigration attorneys and asylum officers and shared traumatic stories of violence and sexual assault. (Some mothers censored their stories to protect the kids, the report noted, in effect hurting their cases.) Attorneys complained that the new facilities didn't have telephone rooms, and instead relied on guards to carry around cellphones the detainees could ask to use&mdash;Bran&eacute; points out that such a setup could enable guards to coerce and sexually harass women and girls.</p> <p>When Ramos arrived at Artesia, she said, the staff went out of their way to antagonize her, telling her that there was no chance she'd get asylum. Detainees were compelled to make the foamy bathroom hand soap double as shampoo. The food was "horrible." Nicol&aacute;s lost nearly a third of his weight, dropping from 55 pounds to 39. Ramos shed 20 pounds herself, and even started losing some hair. She mostly kept to herself, she told me, making friends with just one other detainee, a woman from El Salvador. She was wary about befriending other Hondurans, on the off chance her ex might find out where she was.</p> <p>Nicol&aacute;s didn't understand why they were locked up, and he grew increasingly withdrawn as the weeks turned into months; at one point, outside in the detention center's yard, he saw a bus drove by. "Mommy," he said, "let's go on that bus. I don't want to be here." Ramos grew desperate. She knew she couldn't go back to Honduras. When a Denver-based attorney named Elanie Cintron walked into a roomful of Artesia detainees one day and asked if any of them needed legal representation, Ramos shot her hand up.</p> <p>With Cintron's help, it wasn't long before Ramos was granted an asylum hearing. Following hours of testimony, the judge gave a 45-minute explanation of her ruling, all in English. Ramos had attended with another lawyer, since Cintron was back in Colorado at the time. She kept tapping the attorney's hand, searching for clues as to how the judge would decide. Finally, the judge stopped talking. The lawyer turned to her: "Congratulations, Jessica!"</p> <p>Ramos broke down crying. Her legal team was able to get her and her son released immediately&mdash;some women have had to wait up to 30 days&mdash;and Nicol&aacute;s requested a pizza and chicken dinner to celebrate. Several days later, the two were on a plane to New York City. They settled with Ramos' sister in Brooklyn.</p> <p>"The government came into this with a very clear assumption and goal," Bran&eacute; said. "The assumption was these families didn't have protection needs, and the goal was to get them out quickly. I think that that's being proven wrong." Still, Obama's recent immigration <a href="" target="_blank">executive action</a> doesn't protect new arrivals, and it remains to be seen whether the shift to the new Dilley facility, located just 70 miles from San Antonio, will mean that more women and children will get legal aid and eventually be released.</p> <p>"All the women in there," Ramos told me, "have a case."</p> <p><em>This article has been updated.</em></p></body></html> Politics Charts Civil Liberties Immigration Top Stories Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:15:06 +0000 Ian Gordon 264851 at This Is What Cuba Really Looks Like These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If you know anyone who's been to Cuba in the last decade or two, you've likely seen the photos from their visit: some lovingly restored colonial manors, sometimes right alongside a crumbling facade; the bookshelves lined up around Havana's Plaza de Armas; and image after image of 1950s Buicks, Fords, and Chevrolets. All too often, Cuba is visually portrayed as nothing more than a tropical time machine, a place where the people and their lives aren't nearly as interesting as the relics surrounding them.</p> <p>Photographer Greg Kahn went to Cuba last year and documented the recent expansion of private businesses under Ra&uacute;l Castro, a shift that has brought, Kahn writes, "a hesitant, wary embrace of new expression." Sure, his collection includes the occasional photo of state iconography&mdash;for example, that famous Che Guevara sculpture in Plaza de la Revoluci&oacute;n&mdash;but many of the images are of everyday people working, playing, and, in a way, making sense of a rapidly changing environment. In other words, they're a window into a culture that might soon become <a href="" target="_blank">increasingly familiar to Americans</a> in the coming years.</p> <p><em>All photos by <a href="" target="_blank">Greg Kahn/Grain Images</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/017_2012_1111_GK_CUBA017.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A couple kisses along the Malec&oacute;n, a famous avenue along the water in Havana. With new regulations passing, allowing some forms of capitalism, many Cubans are wondering if this is the beginning of moving from isolation to globalization. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0429_GK_CUBA3658.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Yodany Rivero Marcial, a member of the group Onda Expansiva, records his part for a new track at a home in Alamar. Reggaeton, a style of music with Caribbean roots, has become wildly popular in Cuba, even though the Cuban government has cracked down on reggaeton artists, saying the lyrics are too vulgar and offensive.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0428_GK_CUBA3245.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>More than half of the Cuban population is Catholic, and while Castro restricted religion shortly after he seized power in 1959, the government has since backed off and generally allow the freedom to practice religions that obey the laws of the country.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/005_2013_0423_GK_CUBA005.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Children play in the streets of Havana. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0423_GK_CUBA1866.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Pigs are butchered in the morning at a local street market in Vedado, a suburb of Havana.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/043_2013_0430_GK_CUBA043.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>After spending the morning harvesting sugar cane, Yulien D&iacute;az Hern&aacute;ndez tries to get his old television to work to show cartoons to his son and daughter. D&iacute;az Hern&aacute;ndez said sugar cane workers are the first link in the chain of production, but the last to get paid. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/046_2013_0501_GK_CUBA046.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>While many in Cuba live in poverty, there is a class of wealthy Cubans who have found success in owning private restaurants. This one, in Havana, is located on the 11th floor of an apartment complex and doubles as living quarters for the two men who own it. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/037_2013_0429_GK_CUBA037.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farmworkers pick up harvested sugarcane on a private farm in Caimito. The group, who work almost every day, only gets paid when the cane sells, so sometimes they can go weeks of work without being paid. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/032_2013_0430_GK_CUBA032.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>In a nearly empty apartment in Regla, a neighborhood of Havana, Juli Roby el Emperador, right, is joined by his entourage and friends to start creating new music for an upcoming US tour. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0424_GK_CUBA2024.jpg"><div class="caption"> <p><strong>Dozens of flags titled the "Mount of Flags" in "Anti-Imperialism Park"</strong> <strong>sits directly outside the US Interest Section in Cuba.</strong></p> </div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1110_GK_Cuba231.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A mechanic works on bicycles in his shop in Old Havana. With a shortage of parts for many everyday items, Cubans have learned to reuse scraps to patch everything from cars to ovens.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0423_GK_CUBA1700.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An oil refinery, a sign of old industry, sends black smoke into the sky while residents wait at a bus stop along the Malec&oacute;n in Havana. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1109_GK_Cuba117_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Cars travel around the famous Revolutionary Square in Havana.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/016_2013_0423_GK_CUBA016.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The Malec&oacute;n is a popular spot for Cubans and tourists alike. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1111_GK_Cuba32.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A tiled Cuban flag in a rundown building sits empty besides a sculpture of Jos&eacute; Mart&iacute;.</strong></div> </div></body></html> Politics Photo Essays Foreign Policy Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:45:06 +0000 — Photos by Greg Kahn; Text by Ian Gordon 266891 at The Fierce Life and Too-Soon Death of My Unlikely Cuban Friends <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><span class="section-lead">When Luis Enrique passed</span> in early September, just a couple of months after first learning he was HIV-positive, Carlos took his remains to Cuba's best funeral parlor, the one where they bring the government officials. He had seven of the nicest wreaths made, and he dressed Luis Enrique, his longtime partner, in his best clothes. Their Italian friend Maurizio had once given them some French cologne, and Carlos made sure to spritz it throughout the coffin. He then rode with Luis Enrique by the church before ending up at the cemetery, where another friend gave a stirring eulogy. Carlos dabbed some more cologne in the tomb and headed home.</p> <p>He told me all of this in an email, two weeks later. He was wiped out. "Don't stop writing me," he said, "since the emails make me feel like I'm surrounded by people I care about."</p> <p>As it turns out, Carlos was HIV-positive too.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">We first met Carlos</span> and Luis Enrique at the doorstep of their apartment during a blackout, deep inside a tumbledown building off a dilapidated thoroughfare in Central Havana. Large chips of paint had fallen from the facade, and the dark, humid stairwell reeked of fresh dog shit. It wasn't exactly where my wife and I had envisioned staying at the start of our two-week Cuban vacation.</p> <p>It was 2005. We were living in Venezuela at the time, and after reading an article online about a Cuban tax on exchanging US dollars, I was convinced that we should bring bolivares instead. Ch&aacute;vez and Castro were <em>panas</em>, right? Perhaps, but upon arriving at Jos&eacute; Mart&iacute; International Airport we learned the limits of that friendship: There was virtually nowhere to exchange Venezuelan currency on the entire island.</p> <p>A cabbie brought us into the city after we'd explained our situation. He assured us that the two men now in front of us were good people, that their unregistered <em>casa particular</em> was the most affordable place to stay. Brooke and I shared a glance&mdash;as if to say, <em>We've stayed in dodgier-seeming places before, right?</em>&mdash;and steeled ourselves for the introduction. Carlos, whose threadbare tank top hung low off his slight frame, asked us where we were from. Brooke smiled. "The United States." Walking to his tiny kitchen to prepare coffee, Carlos stopped short. He turned around and folded his arms across his chest. While Luis Enrique, the graying one, whispered <em>Estados Unidos</em> behind me, Carlos took a step back, as if he were trying to get a better look at the two of us. They'd never met Americans before.</p> <p>After a pause, Carlos snapped back to life. He let out a big smile, unfurled his arms, and pointed above the doorway to the dining room. There, a mid-'80s Madonna poster looked down on us, her hair short-cropped, her bejeweled bra exposed. "Imagine that, Luisito," said Carlos, still grinning. "Americans!"</p> <p>The lights were out, they told us, to save electricity for the Canadian and European tourists who would crowd Old Havana's colonial plazas and Varadero's white-sand beaches that summer. We sat in the dimming apartment, sharing stories. When they found out we'd lived in New York, they pumped us full of questions about everything from the state of the World Trade Center site to the length of a subway car. After the lights popped back on Carlos shared his music collection&mdash;a hodgepodge of Madonna, Michael Jackson and, strangely, Barry Manilow&mdash;while Luis Enrique prepared a dinner of rice and beans.</p> <p>While we ate they told us that they each earned roughly $10 a month as a bookkeeper (Carlos) and grocer (Luis Enrique). They had met years ago, after Luis Enrique arrived from the central countryside; it was his idea to rent out a bedroom in Carlos' place to make a little extra money. We were their third guests halfway through 2005. Because they didn't have a license from the government, which cost about $150 monthly, they were a strictly word-of-mouth operation.</p> <p>After several hours of conversation, we felt comfortable enough to tell them that we only had enough cash for a day, and that we would be searching for a place to change our bolivares the next morning. When Luis Enrique got the gist of what we were saying&mdash;that these young Americans didn't bring the world's most recognizable currency along with them&mdash;he shook his head and cringed. "You messed up," he said.</p> <p>We were in some kind of trouble. Because of the embargo, we couldn't use our credit cards to get a cash advance or buy new tickets home. Since we didn't want to risk possible State Department fines, going to the proto-US Embassy known as the Interests Section was out. By trying to save a couple hundred bucks on the dollar tax, we'd ended up having to try to survive on about $20 for two whole weeks.</p> <p>Carlos must have noticed the stress on my face. He walked past the refrigerator, a 1940s Westinghouse beauty, and over to a couple of buckets. "Don't worry," he said, opening the lids. "We have rice. We have beans. We have eggs. Forget the money. <em>Est&aacute;n en su casa</em>."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/brookecarlos630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Carlos and Brooke dancing in the living room, 2005 </strong></div> </div> <p><br><span class="section-lead">The next two weeks</span> were a whirlwind. Within a few days, we figured out the money situation, thanks to Western Union and our incredulous but accommodating families. Because we were having such a good time with Carlos and Luis Enrique, we scrapped our plans to try to travel across the entire island and stayed closer to Havana to spend more time with them, off the tourist circuit. So instead of checking out cigars in Pinar del R&iacute;o, for example, we ended up a party at Carlos' workplace, a meatpacking plant, where folks drank Bucanero by the crate and a British grad student named Camillia sang Dido karaoke to an entranced crowd.</p> <p>We passed hours around their dining room table, drinking nips of rum and talking about practically everything. (Things we didn't discuss: the contours and complications of their relationship, and Cuba's historical persecution of gay men.) Both Carlos and Luis Enrique were around 40 and never had known life without Fidel. They told us they admired his character and strength, and that they both were repulsed by the idea that some day, a Miami-bred Cuban American might try to take the apartment away, claiming it was his family's 50 years ago. That said, they loved what little American culture they could access and considered Cubans and <em>los yumas</em> to be brothers separated by a messy divorce.</p> <p>Some of that came from their families. When Carlos was 16, his parents applied for the Interests Section lottery, which each year grants some 2,000 visas to Cubans. Somehow, Carlos parents hit the jackpot. There was only one problem: He didn't want to go. He believed deeply in the revolution and just couldn't see himself leaving. So, despite waiting years to leave, his parents died in Cuba. On the surface, Carlos always played by the rules, always did what the state expected. But here he was, the proprietor of an unregistered casa particular, paying off the neighborhood snitch from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution with mayonnaise and chocolate ("Cuban business") and guarding an armoire full of deodorant, toothpaste, and aftershave given to him by guests during the past several years.</p> <p>If Carlos was nervous and overly excitable, Luis Enrique was guarded, depressed. A week into our stay he told us that he had planned to leave for the United States during a paid-for trip to visit friends in Bogot&aacute;. His nephew in Naples, Florida, had fronted $6,000 and set it up: Luis Enrique was to go to Caracas, where we would get a fake Venezuelan passport, and fly to Mexico City, after which he would make his way to the Texas border. His nephew would meet him there, and upon crossing he would qualify for asylum. Two months into the stay in Bogot&aacute;, he crossed into western Venezuela and made his way to the capital. He was terribly nervous at the airport, and when he got to immigration he handed over the passport. The agent looked at it, then at him. "Sir, you and I both know this is fake." Luis Enrique tried his best Venezuelan accent. "Sir, you should just turn around and walk away." He did.</p> <p>Looking back, Luis Enrique wondered if he should've stayed in South America, as his nephew had wanted. He had sold everything he owned, and he moved in with Carlos, he said, to avoid his empty apartment. When he told us the story, he seemed resigned to the fact that he'd be in Cuba until Castro's death, maybe longer. "I'm scared," he told us. "Who knows what the United States will do? I think there will be a lot of people who will try to humiliate us Cubans. I'm not looking forward to that."</p> <p><br><span class="section-lead">Carlos' emails often started</span> by lamenting the fact that he hadn't heard from us in months. "HAVE OUR AMERICANITOS FORGOTTEN US?" But when he wrote to tell us that Luis Enrique was sick, he was sober and to the point: "I haven't been able to write because the news here is pretty sad." He'd later send photos from the hospital, with an exhausted-looking Luis Enrique underneath a purple-and-green blanket, Carlos standing by his side, in scrubs.<strong> </strong></p> <p>Last week, I wrote to Carlos to see how he was holding up, a couple of months after Luis Enrique's death and a couple of months after he'd started his own HIV treatment. I didn't think much of it when I didn't hear back right away, given his condition and the generally unreliable internet connection on the island. And then, early Wednesday morning, I got this response:</p> <blockquote> <p>Subject: MESSAGE</p> <p>HELLO, CARLITOS DIED OF HIV TOO AFTER LUISITO. THIS A FRIEND OF THEIRS, LA MULATA WHO LIVES AROUND THE CORNER WHO RENTS TO FOREIGNERS. THIS IS MY EMAIL ADDRESS NOW. IF YOU EVER COME TO CUBA AND NEED A ROOM&hellip;</p> </blockquote> <p>No warning, no slow decline, no goodbye. He was gone too, just like that&mdash;and just before the Obama administration made history by <a href="" target="_blank">reestablishing diplomatic relations</a> between the United States and Cuba.</p> <p>I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about Carlitos and Luisito these past few months, flipping through photos and replaying those two weeks over and again in my mind, and I keep coming back to the last night Brooke and I spent with them. It was a Saturday, and we arrived back at the apartment from a stroll along the Malec&oacute;n at midnight, mid-blackout. Central Havana was dark&mdash;even the normally bright Capitolio was unlit&mdash;but inside Carlos' building his neighbors milled around, tense. The illegal-cable guy was on the roof.</p> <p>They had been waiting for weeks, although no one knew what to expect. There allegedly were two American channels available for $10 per month. Carlos wanted to watch American music videos. Luis Enrique wanted Hollywood movies. The taxi dispatcher next door wanted Major League Baseball, while his wife, whom everyone called China, wanted Mexican soaps. The wannabe rocker upstairs said he didn't care, but he was getting cable anyway. Everybody was.</p> <p>The outage didn't last long. Gustavo, the cable guy, went to work when the oscillating fans puttered on, barking orders to the roof through a walkie-talkie. He almost looked like a professional. His silver Motorola cell phone hung from a belt clip off olive Abercrombie cargo shorts, covered at the belt by a ribbed white tank top, and in the new light I could see he was covered in sweat. Carlitos paced in front of his red wicker-and-vinyl couch, long ago warped by the humidity, and asked Gustavo several times if he could help. Brooke laughed and told Carlitos to relax, and Luisito stood with China outside, waiting for the first program to come across the screen.</p> <p>The whole process took no more than 20 minutes. Soon Gustavo gave the word, and his partner clicked into the movie. We stared at the television, dying to see what the first <em>yanqui</em> transmission in the building's revolutionary history would be. I hoped for something classic, maybe even artistic. Instead, we got the Wayans brothers spoof <em>Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood</em>. Brooke shook her head and sighed. The Cubans were transfixed.</p> <p>The clock read 1:45 a.m., and it looked like they would be up all night watching whatever beamed though the screen. When I woke up and padded across the cool marble into the living room early that morning, Luis Enrique was sitting in very same spot on the couch, watching <em>Bob the Builder </em>in Spanish. He hadn't slept much, but he grinned at me from beneath Madonna's pouty lips. "You know, Carlos is the most communist person in the building," he said, leaning in, "and even <em>he</em> has cable now."</p></body></html> Politics Longreads International Top Stories Cuba Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:15:05 +0000 Ian Gordon 266896 at 3 Ways Obama's Immigration Executive Action Changes Everything (and One Way It Doesn't) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The details of President Barack Obama's much-rumored, much-debated executive action on immigration have been leaked to the press, and the broad outline, according to <a href="" target="_blank">Fox News</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a>, includes deportation relief for upward of 5 million people.</p> <p>Republicans are already <a href="" target="_blank">lining up to block</a> the White House's plans, and Obama's successor could go ahead and reverse course in 2017, anyway. Still, here are three reported provisions that could have a dramatic impact on the lives of the United States' 11 million undocumented immigrants:</p> <p><strong>1. Expansion of DACA, the program for DREAMers:</strong> Back in 2012, a Department of Homeland Security directive known as <a href="" target="_blank">Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals</a> (DACA) extended deportation relief to those young immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and went on to graduate from high school or serve in the US military. As <em>Vox</em>'s Dara Lind <a href="" target="_blank">has reported</a>, the program has been a success for the roughly 600,000 immigrants who received deferred action by June 2014, although just as many are eligible but haven't yet applied. According to the Fox News report, Obama's executive action would move the cutoff arrival date from June 2007 to January 1, 2010, and remove the age limit (31 as of June '12); a new <a href="" target="_blank">Migration Policy Institute </a>(MPI) report details how changes to the initial plan could make hundreds of thousands of immigrants DACA-eligible:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ExecAct-Table1-PNG.PNG"><div class="caption">Migration Policy Institute, 2014</div> </div> <p><strong>2. Relief for the undocumented parents of US citizen children:</strong> According to the <em>Times</em>, a key part of the executive action "will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away," a move that would legalize anywhere from 2.5-3.3 million people. The <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Huffington Post</em></a><em> </em>reported in June that more than 72,000 parents of US-born children were deported in fiscal year 2013 alone; of those, nearly 11,000 had no criminal convictions. (One 2013 report <a href="" target="_blank">estimated</a> that 4.5 million US-born kids have at least one undocumented parent.)</p> <p><strong>3. Elimination of mandatory fingerprinting program:</strong> Under Secure Communities, or <a href="" target="_blank">S-Comm</a>, immigrants booked into local jails have their fingerprints run through a Homeland Security database to check their legal status. (If they're unauthorized, they can be held by local authorities until the feds come pick them up.) The program, which began under President George W. Bush and was greatly expanded under Obama, <a href="" target="_blank">has long come under fire</a> for quickly pushing people toward detention and potential deportation, as well as for contributing to racial profiling and even the detention of thousands of US citizens. According to one 2013 report, S-Comm led to the deportation of more than 300,000 immigrants from fiscal years 2009 to 2013.</p> <p>There are other reported parts to Obama's plan, including hundreds of thousands of new tech visas and even pay raises for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Still, given <a href="" target="_blank">this year's border crisis</a>, it's notable that the president's plan seems to make little to no mention of the folks who provoked it: the unaccompanied children and so-called "family units" (often mothers traveling with small kids) who came in huge numbers from Central America and claimed, in many cases, to be fleeing violence of some sort.</p> <p>The administration has been particularly adamant about <a href="" target="_blank">fast-tracking the deportation</a> of those family unit apprehensions, whose numbers jumped from 14,855 in fiscal 2013 to 68,445 in fiscal 2014, a <a href="" target="_blank">361 percent increase</a>. Meanwhile, ICE has renewed the controversial practice of <a href="" target="_blank">family detention</a> (a <a href="" target="_blank">complaint</a> has already been filed regarding sexual abuse in the new Karnes City, Texas, facility) and will soon open the largest immigration detention facility in the country, a 2,400-bed family center in Dilley, Texas&mdash;just as Obama starts rolling out what many immigration hardliners will no doubt attack as an unconstitutional amnesty.</p> <p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Immigration Obama Top Stories Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:19:59 +0000 Ian Gordon 264746 at Book Review: Faster, Higher, Stronger <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fasterhigherstronger_250x300_1.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Faster, Higher, Stronger</strong></p> <p>By Mark McClusky</p> <p>HUDSON STREET PRESS</p> <p>Speed-skating super-suits, motion-tracking cameras, the 10,000-hour rule&mdash;it's all covered in Mark McClusky's engrossing look into how athletes use science to avoid injury, train smarter, and shatter rec&shy;ords. McClusky, the editor of <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a> and a former <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sports Illustrated </em></a>reporter, digs into vaguely familiar terms like <a href="" target="_blank">VO2 max</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">oxygen deficit</a> to suss out what separates champs from near-misses while introducing a roster of entertaining characters: a Soviet hammer-throw guru, a Wall Street analyst turned cycling star, and even a British physiologist pursuing hyperfitness back in the 1920s. The book has useful lessons for weekend warriors, but ultimately, McClusky writes, "the greatest athletes are born, and then made."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Sports Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:30:04 +0000 Ian Gordon 261416 at Film Review: Life Itself <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Life Itself</strong></p> <p>KARTEMQUIN FILMS</p> <p>There's a scene early in <em>Life Itself</em> when a hospitalized Roger Ebert, missing his lower jaw after multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer, needs his throat suctioned. The camera holds steady as Ebert winces through the procedure, but then an email box pops up on the screen. "great stuff!!!!!" types Ebert, no longer able to speak. "I'm happy we got a great thing that nobody ever sees: suction." Director Steve James (<em>Hoop Dreams</em>, <em>The Interrupters</em>) blends an intimate end-of-life story with Ebert's wide-ranging biography: precocious college newspaper editor, recovering drunk, screenwriter of the schlocky <em>Beyond the Valley of the Dolls</em>, friend and critic of Hollywood's biggest names. But for all of Ebert's exploits, it's the private moments James captures, like his increasingly brief email responses as cancer slowly wins out, that endure.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="" target="_blank">September/October issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:31:53 +0000 Ian Gordon 259076 at The Mother Jones Guide to Evil NBA Owners <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="mobile-css-hide" style="width: 328px;float:right;"><script language="javascript"> <!-- if (typeof mobile_ad_RNS === 'undefined') { ad_code('righttophp', 170); } //--> </script><p class="post-continues post-continued-from-above"><a href="/about/advertising/contact-form"><em>Advertise on</em></a></p> </div> <p>Six months ago, the NBA rid itself of its worst owner, <a href="" target="_blank">perpetual sleazebag</a> Donald Sterling. Everyone praised the <a href="" target="_blank">swift, harsh punishment</a> meted out by commissioner Adam Silver for Sterling's <a href="" target="_blank">racist tirade</a>&mdash;well, almost everyone. Shortly after the league announced the lifetime ban of the Clippers owner, Dallas Mavericks owner and <em>Shark Tank </em>celeb Mark Cuban called the league's move <a href="" target="_blank">"a very, very slippery slope."</a></p> <p>Cuban got on board the next day, <a href="" target="_blank">even tweeting</a> that he agreed 100 percent with Silver's decision. But what was he so worried about? Well, the league's 30 owners might not have Sterling-like baggage, but there's plenty of embarrassing biographical material to mine&mdash;offensive emails, family feuds, sketchy business deals, and more&mdash;just like we here at <em>Mother Jones</em> did for their counterparts in <a href="" target="_blank">baseball</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">football</a>. So, with an eye on political contributions and general scumbaggery, here's how the NBA's most powerful men (and woman) stack up:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="NBA owners matrix" class="image" src=""></div> <nav id="teams"><ul><li><a href="#Atlanta">Atlanta</a></li> <li><a href="#Boston">Boston</a></li> <li><a href="#Brooklyn">Brooklyn</a></li> <li><a href="#Charlotte">Charlotte</a></li> <li><a href="#Chicago">Chicago</a></li> <li><a href="#Cleveland">Cleveland</a></li> <li><a href="#Dallas">Dallas</a></li> <li><a href="#Denver">Denver</a></li> <li><a href="#Detroit">Detroit</a></li> <li><a href="#GoldenState">Golden State</a></li> <li><a href="#Houston">Houston</a></li> <li><a href="#Indiana">Indiana</a></li> <li><a href="#LAClippers">LA Clippers</a></li> <li><a href="#LALakers">LA Lakers</a></li> <li><a href="#Memphis">Memphis</a></li> <li><a href="#Miami">Miami</a></li> <li><a href="#Milwaukee">Milwaukee</a></li> <li><a href="#Minnesota">Minnesota</a></li> <li><a href="#NewOrleans">New Orleans</a></li> <li><a href="#NewYork">New York</a></li> <li><a href="#OklahomaCity">Oklahoma City</a></li> <li><a href="#Orlando">Orlando</a></li> <li><a href="#Philadelphia">Philadelphia</a></li> <li><a href="#Phoenix">Phoenix</a></li> <li><a href="#Portland">Portland</a></li> <li><a href="#Sacramento">Sacramento</a></li> <li><a href="#SanAntonio">San Antonio</a></li> <li><a href="#Toronto">Toronto</a></li> <li><a href="#Utah">Utah</a></li> <li><a href="#Washington">Washington</a></li> </ul></nav><p><strong>EASTERN CONFERENCE</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Atlanta-Hawks-Logo-Vector-Image.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Atlanta"></a></p> <p><strong>Atlanta Hawks:</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Bruce Levenson,</strong> reportedly worth $500 million, likely won't be the Hawks owner for long, not after the <a href="">email</a> he self-reported to the league following the Sterling debacle. The offending missive included observations like "My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base" and "i want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that's our season tixs demo," and "I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black." (Notably, a league higher-up told one reporter that Levenson <a href="" target="_blank">didn't actually self-report</a> the email, and others have suggested that he might have used it as an ownership <a href="" target="_blank">exit strategy</a>.)</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CelticsLogos-Web.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Boston"></a></p> <p><strong>Boston Celtics:</strong> <strong>Wycliffe "Wyc" Grousbeck</strong>&mdash;son of H. Irving Grousbeck, the cofounder of Continental Cablevision, which sold for $5.3 billion in 1996&mdash;was a Princeton rower before becoming a venture capitalist and eventually buying the Celtics with his dad in 2002. In his spare time, Grousbeck <a href="" target="_blank">moonlights as a drummer</a> (he once played with former Celtic Walter McCarty). His brother, a singer-songwriter who goes by Peter Walker, told the <em>Boston Globe</em> in 2004 that "Wyc's pretty much a straight-up rock dude."</p> <p>Private equity investor <strong>Stephen Pagliuca</strong> is managing director at Mitt Romney's old haunt, Bain Capital. But Pagliuca's politics lean left: He's a big Democratic donor, and in 2009 he ran for the party's nomination to replace Ted Kennedy. He <a href="" target="_blank">came in last</a> of four candidates.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/brooklyn-nets-logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Brooklyn"></a></p> <p><strong>Brooklyn Nets:</strong> The famously tech averse Russian oligarch <strong>Mikhail Prokhorov</strong> (who reportedly doesn't use a cellphone or computer in his office) bought the Nets for $200 million in 2010 and helped oversee their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. He's one of the tabloids' favorite back-page curiosities, and why not? In 2007, he famously brought eight Russian models with him to the French Alps to help entertain the dozens of business associates he was partying with. French authorities <a href="" target="_blank">temporarily detained him</a>, fearing that he was encouraging prostitution. Prokhorov's response: The French elite were just jealous because they were way behind when it came to fashion, life, and sex drive. (He later told <a href="" target="_blank"><em>60 Minutes</em></a> that he hadn't yet found a woman who cooked well enough to marry.) He's also really into jet skiing:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/charlotte-hornets-logo-11.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Charlotte"></a></p> <p><strong>Charlotte Hornets:</strong> Six NBA titles. Five league MVP awards. Countless pairs of <a href="">ripped jeans</a>. <strong>Michael Jordan</strong> has stumbled often since his days as the league's premier player, gumming it up as an executive, sneaker mogul, and even <a href="">Hall of Fame inductee</a>. Legendary for his competitive nature&mdash;and penchant for attacking teammates he saw as weak links&mdash;His Airness can't seem to help himself when it comes to being the official arbiter of all-time NBA greatness. Mix in a decade as management, and you get plenty of "Back in my day&hellip;" moments, like when he recently <a href="" target="_blank">called out</a> superstars LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki for suggesting that the league scale back its 82-game schedule: "Are they ready to give up money to play fewer games? That's the question, because you can't make the same amount of money playing fewer games.''</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/oldChicago_Bulls.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Chicago"></a></p> <p><strong>Chicago Bulls:</strong> <strong>Jerry Reinsdorf</strong>, who also owns baseball's White Sox, has always been more of a baseball man. That's where he's focused much of his energy over the years, becoming one of the players union's biggest adversaries and a pioneer of publicly funded stadiums. When he threatened to move the Sox to Florida in the early 1990s, he got a sweetheart deal from Illinois&mdash;or, as one confidant told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times </em>in 1993, "Not only are there ticket subsidies from the state, but if a light goes out in the bathroom, the state pays for the bulb and the installation. If we sent him to the Middle East to deal with the Arabs, they wouldn't have any oil left. He's that good."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/new-cavaliers-primary-logojpg-ecde4d110d8b58e4.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Cleveland"></a></p> <p><strong>Cleveland Cavaliers:</strong> Not only is <strong>Dan Gilbert</strong> the nation's most notorious user of <a href="">Comic Sans</a>, he's also the billionaire owner of the country's second-largest mortgage lender, Quicken Loans. And while Quicken has cultivated a squeaky-clean image over the years&mdash;note its annual place on those <a href="" target="_blank">best-places-to-work lists</a>, as well as its goofy emphasis on <a href="" target="_blank">Gilbert's "isms"</a>&mdash;it did face its share of <a href="">post-crisis lawsuits</a>. Now that LeBron is back in Cleveland, Gilbert has just one rebuilding project to focus on: his commitment to <a href="" target="_blank">turn around his hometown of Detroit</a>, where he has bought and updated some 60 downtown properties at a reported cost of $1.3 billion, and moved 12,000 of his own employees there. (Some even have taken to calling downtown Detroit "Gilbertville.") It's a risk, but then again, Gilbert bankrolled roughly half of a <a href="">$47 million campaign</a> to bring gambling to Ohio via a 2009 ballot initiative. The initiative passed, and Gilbert's Horseshoe Casino opened in downtown Cleveland in 2012.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/300px-Detroit_Pistons_logo.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Detroit"></a></p> <p><strong>Detroit Pistons:</strong> <strong>Tom Gores</strong>, 50, is a Beverly Hills tech buyout king and owner of Platinum Equity, which has bought out everything from steel manufacturers to the <em>San Diego Union-Tribune</em> (though it lost out on a bid for the <em>Boston Globe </em>back in 2009). Gores was born in Israel and moved to the Detroit area as a child; he worked at his brother Alec's software company and private equity firm before leaving to start Platinum. The brothers' relationship cooled when it was revealed that Tom, who is married with three kids, had a <a href="" target="_blank">sexual relationship</a> with Lisa Gores, Alec's wife. (Alec had Los Angeles private detective Anthony Pellicano follow Lisa and Tom, and the scoop came out in Pellicano's 2008 trial for illegal wiretapping.) For photos of Gores' <a href="" target="_blank">squinching</a> game, check out the gallery at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Indiana_Pacers_1990.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Indiana"></a></p> <p><strong>Indiana Pacers:</strong> <strong>Herbert Simon</strong> and his nephew David run one of the world's largest real estate investment funds, the Simon Property Group. He has eight kids and is on marriage No. 3, to former Miss Thailand Bui Simon. He started SPG with his brother, Melvin, David's father. When Melvin died, his widow, Bren, <a href="" target="_blank">feuded</a> with her stepchildren, calling David "a terrorist" and stepdaughter Debbie "Debbie bin Laden." Herbert and Bui fought off <a href="" target="_blank">three successive lawsuits</a> from former domestic employees&mdash;all brought by the same attorney.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Miami_Heat_logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Miami"></a></p> <p><strong>Miami Heat:</strong> In a 2005 <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em> profile</a> of Heat owner <strong>Micky Arison</strong>, team president and then-coach Pat Riley raved about him: "He's about as down to earth as you're going to get for a billionaire&hellip;He doesn't need, nor does he pursue, the spotlight." Arison took over Carnival Cruises from father Fred and presided over its rise&mdash;as well as its recent <a href="" target="_blank">Poop Cruise-era fall</a>. (He stepped down as CEO last year.) Still, Arison seems to take setbacks in stride, given his <a href="" target="_blank">gracious response</a> to LeBron James' departure for Cleveland this past offseason and his general outlook on the business world (as told to the <em>Post</em>): "In any given year, out of 30 NBA teams, there is only one winner. In business, we can all be winners."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Milwaukee_Bucks.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Milwaukee"></a></p> <p><strong>Milwaukee Bucks:</strong> The most memorable thing hedge fund exec <strong>Wesley Edens</strong>&mdash;whom <em>Vanity Fair </em><a href="">described</a> as a "cerebral, intense, very private wunderkind"&mdash;has done as one of the Bucks' new owners is send <a href="" target="_blank">his 18-year-old daughter</a>, Mallory, to the NBA Draft Lottery this past May to represent the Bucks. (The team snagged the second pick.)</p> <p>Meanwhile, fellow hedge fund exec and Clinton confidant <strong>Marc Lasry</strong> was up for consideration for the French ambassadorship&mdash;only to pull out just before stories emerged about his taste for <a href="" target="_blank">high-stakes poker</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/1000px-New-York-Knicks-Logo_%281995%29.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="NewYork"></a></p> <p><strong>New York Knicks:</strong> Where to start with tabloid staple and Cablevision CEO <strong>James Dolan</strong>? With the <a href="">sexual-harassment scandal</a> involving former coach Isiah Thomas and team executive Anucha Browne Sanders? Or perhaps the lawsuit this past March from a shareholder alleging <a href="">"grossly excessive" executive pay</a> after Cablevision's board approved $80 million in bonuses for Dolan and his father, chairman Charles Dolan? Then there's the endless kookiness surrounding the <a href="">team's media policy</a>, which requires a member of the PR office to be present for all interviews with Knicks players and coaches&mdash;and then to send transcripts up the chain of command, even to Dolan? Oh, and Dolan also fronts a band called <a href="">JD &amp; the Straight Shot</a>. He wrote a song called "Under That Hood" (<em>It's all good/Under my hood/So misunderstood</em>) about Trayvon Martin.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Orlando_magic_logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Orlando"></a></p> <p><strong>Orlando Magic:</strong> From Andy Kroll's <a href="" target="_blank">expansive profile</a> on <strong>Richard DeVos</strong> and his political family:</p> <blockquote> <p>He fit the part of GOP rainmaker-in-chief, wearing a diamond pinkie ring and Gucci loafers, driving a Rolls-Royce and frequently commuting to his nearby office by helicopter. He once docked Amway's $5 million yacht on the Potomac River in Washington to hold court with Michigan's congressional delegation, RNC staffers, and personnel from 12 embassies representing countries where Amway did business. DeVos was also a strident voice within the party: In an era when Republicans still courted labor, he urged the GOP to ignore union members. "If they want to be represented by somebody else," he once said, "good for them." At a party meeting in 1982, he called the recession that was spiking inflation and unemployment "beneficial" and "a cleansing tonic" for society.</p> </blockquote> <p>DeVos recently was the subject of an <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Orlando Sentinel</em> column</a> headlined, "Is Magic's Rich DeVos Next NBA Owner to Become a Target?" (The story, which came out after the Sterling fiasco, was about DeVos' anti-gay views.)</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Philadelphia_76ers_Logo.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Philadelphia"></a></p> <p><strong>Philadelphia 76ers:</strong> Buyout-firm maven <strong>Joshua Harris </strong>made his billions in private equity, cofounding Apollo Global Management, which made <a href="">headlines in 2011</a> when it was revealed that it had paid a former California Public Employees' Retirement System board member tens of millions of dollars to score billions in investments from the pension fund. (Apollo wasn't accused of wrongdoing.) Harris, who also owns the New Jersey Devils, reportedly is on the verge of buying the English Premier League's <a href="" target="_blank">Crystal Palace</a>. Meanwhile, the rebuilding-focused Sixers continue to suck; in April, following the team's 19-63 season, Harris called the year <a href="" target="_blank">"a huge success."</a></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Toronto_Raptors.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Toronto"></a></p> <p><strong>Toronto Raptors:</strong> There are many fun things about the NBA's only foreign franchise, including its <a href="">throwback dino uniforms</a>, its <a href="">F-bomb-dropping general manager</a>, and one of the smartest and most raucous fanbases in the NBA. (And, occasionally, <a href="">Drake</a>.) Owner <strong>Larry Tanenbaum,</strong> however, is boring as sin.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Washington_Wizards_Logo.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Washington"></a></p> <p><strong>Washington Wizards:</strong> For a glimpse of <strong>Ted Leonsis </strong>at his peak, this 1995 <a href=""><em>New York Times Magazine</em> profile</a> is chock full of great stuff: As a bachelor, Leonsis would occasionally bring an Elvis bust with him when dining out with friends; later, as an AOL exec, he came around to the fact that the company was more Norman Rockwell than MTV: "Face it, when you go to a cocktail party and America Online diskettes are being used as coasters, you know you've become mainstream." These days, Leonsis is DC sports royalty as owner of the Wizards, the WNBA's Mystics, and the NHL's Capitals&mdash;he once got into a <a href="">physical altercation</a> with a heckling fan, who accused Leonsis of grabbing his neck and throwing him to the ground after a Caps game.</p> <p><br><strong>WESTERN CONFERENCE</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Dallas_Mavericks_logo.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Dallas"></a></p> <p><strong>Dallas Mavericks: </strong>What is there left to say about <strong>Mark Cuban</strong>? The guy speaks for himself: This year alone, the self-made billionaire and self-identified Randian <a href="">has defended Donald Sterling</a>, waded into the <a href="">Trayvon Martin controversy</a>, and <a href="">predicted</a> the NFL would collapse within 10 years. Over the years, <a href="">he's been fined</a> nearly $2 million by the league, tried to draft Michael Bloomberg to run for president, and <a href="">commissioned a mural</a> about his life. He's come out of an <a href="">insider-trading trial </a>unscathed and actually built a pretty decent basketball team. Literally and figuratively, he's the <a href="">biggest shark in the tank.</a></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/DENVER_NUGGETS_LOGO_817_ver1.1_640_480.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Denver"></a></p> <p><strong>Denver Nuggets</strong><strong>: Stan Kroenke</strong>&mdash;a.k.a. <a href="">"Silent Stan"</a> for his reluctance to talk to the media&mdash;collects sports franchises like trophies. Besides the Nuggets, the multibillionaire owns the Colorado Avalanche, the St. Louis Rams, a MLS franchise, a lacrosse team, and has a majority share of the UK soccer club Arsenal. He's made good money in real estate, but buying a bunch of teams is easier when you're married to Ann Walton, of the Bentonville Waltons. Kroenke served on Walmart's Board of Directors in the 1990s and has benefited from Walton ties for decades: The <em>Denver Post </em>reports that his retail ventures (often anchored by the megastore) <a href="">have landed hundreds of millions</a> in tax breaks.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/golden_state_warriors-1.gif"></div> <p><a name="GoldenState"></a></p> <p><strong>Golden State Warriors:</strong><strong> Peter </strong><strong>Guber's</strong> r&eacute;sum&eacute; sounds more appropriate for a Lakers owner. He's a longtime showbiz exec and producer of big-time hits like <em>Rain Man </em>and <em>The Color Purple</em>. Since the '90s, he has run Mandalay Entertainment, which has produced art-house gems like <em>I Know What You Did Last Summer</em> and <em>I Still Know What You Did Last Summer</em>. Guber is a fairly loyal Democrat, but <a href="">he's also said on record</a> that President Obama has disappointed Hollywood, and he has sometimes donated to Republicans, such as the late former Sen. Ted Stevens. The Warriors have thrived under Guber's tenure, but he may not have mastered email yet: He recently replied-all to the entire organization, <a href="">writing that he had to learn "hoodish"</a> in addition to the languages of the Warriors' international players. (He claims that he meant to write Yiddish.)</p> <p><strong>Joe Lacob</strong> is the more hands-on, day-to-day owner of the Warriors. He's a partner at the elite Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, which is <a href=";_r=0">the subject </a>of a nasty, ongoing sexual-harassment lawsuit. Ellen Pao, a former partner, is suing the company for wrongful termination after she reported sexual harassment to senior management.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/rockets.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Houston"></a></p> <p><strong>Houston Rockets:</strong> A billionaire New York financier, <strong>Leslie Alexander</strong> fits the stereotype of a fat-cat owner: <a href="">He's got a $42 million penthouse</a> in Manhattan and <a href="">launched a Hamptons wine club</a> with a $50,000 entry fee. He ran First Marblehead, a for-profit student loan company that tanked during the 2008 financial meltdown&mdash;but not before <a href="">cashing out nearly $300 million in stock</a>. His love of green extends beyond taking people's money, though&mdash;he's also an outspoken animal rights activist who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to PETA and affiliated groups. He also <a href="">reportedly donated</a> to a militant animal rights group whose <a href="">US leaders were convicted of terrorism charges</a> in 2006.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Los_Angeles_Clippers_Logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="LAClippers"></a></p> <p><strong>Los Angeles Clippers:</strong><strong> Steve Ballmer</strong> is the newest (and with a net worth of $22.5 billion, richest) addition to the owners' club. He forked over $2 billion in pocket change this year to rescue the Clippers from Donald Sterling. He's fresh off a 14-year tenure as Microsoft's CEO, abruptly quitting after years of internal and external criticism of his leadership. To be fair, he did preside over a very rough patch for the company&mdash;losing billions, getting beat by Apple, and overseeing the flop of <a href="">the Zune</a>. <a href="">Forbes even called him</a> the "worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company&hellip;without a doubt." The <a href="">famously exuberant</a> BasketBallmer is now looking to rebound with the resurgent Clips&mdash;but <a href="">not before banning Apple products</a> from the locker room.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/los-angeles-lakers-logo-wallpaper.jpg"></div> <p><a name="LALakers"></a></p> <p><strong>Los Angeles Lakers: </strong>Technically, the six children of Jerry Buss&mdash;the longtime Lakers owner who died last year&mdash;own a majority share of the team, but day-to-day owner <strong>Jeanie Buss</strong> <a href="">has the final say.</a> (Brother Jim focuses on basketball operations.) That unofficially makes her the league's sole female owner. Despite her short tenure, she's been criticized for the <a href="">crazy deal</a> she offered Kobe Bryant and her engagement to Lakers legend (and Knicks president) Phil Jackson. Earlier this year, Jackson was being considered for a job with the Lakers, but <a href="">Jim was against hiring him</a>, leading to even more Buss family strife.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Memphis_Grizzlies.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Memphis"></a></p> <p><strong>Memphis Grizzlies: </strong>At 36, <strong>Robert J. Pera</strong> is the youngest NBA owner, and one of the world's youngest billionaires. The Silicon Valley native founded Ubiquiti, an internet technology company that <a href="">wants to kill off Cisco</a> in the quest to wifi-ify America's offices and cities. A former high school player, the 6-foot-3 Pera tweeted that he could easily take Mark Cuban in a 1-on-1, and even <a href="">challenged Michael Jordan to a $1 million game.</a> (Jordan <a href="">called it "comical."</a>)</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Minnesota_Timberwolves_logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Minnesota"></a></p> <p><strong>Minnesota Timberwolves</strong><strong>: Glen Taylor</strong> has that <a href="">classic life story</a>: grew up on a farm, pulled himself by the bootstraps, and made himself into a multibillionaire by cobbling together a business empire based on printing and electronics. Big surprise, then, that he's a staunch Republican: He was a Minnesota state senator from 1981 to 1990 and has given more than $700,000 to Republicans, particularly fellow Minnesotans like Rep. Michelle Bachmann. (He also just bought the left-leaning <em>Minneapolis Star-Tribune </em>for $100 million, and <a href="">suggested he'd make it more conservative.</a>) Politics aside, Minnesotans have been critical of Taylor's <a href="">track record as owner</a>: <a href="">He feuded with star big man Kevin Love</a> and lost him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, suffer the league's longest playoff drought.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/New_Orleans_Pelicans_Logo.jpg"></div> <p><a name="NewOrleans"></a></p> <p><strong>New Orleans Pelicans: Tom Benson's </strong>two-pronged moneymaking strategy consists of selling cars and taking taxpayers' money. Louisiana's richest man, he owns dealerships all over the state and in Texas too, in addition to New Orleans' Fox affiliate and the New Orleans Saints. Thanks to a complex deal he negotiated on the Superdome (yup, he also owns that), Benson is <a href="">set to rake in nearly $400 million</a> in state subsidies on the taxpayers' dime. He initially <a href="">wanted to move the team</a>&mdash;especially after Hurricane Katrina&mdash;but it seems he's settled for this deal. Benson was honored with a statue outside the Superdome for his trouble; Louisiana has cut health care and education funding to save money.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/250px-Oklahoma_City_Thunder.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="OklahomaCity"></a></p> <p><strong>Oklahoma City Thunder: </strong>Oklahoma hedge fund baron<strong> Clayton Bennett</strong> is easily the most hated man in the Pacific Northwest: He's responsible for moving the beloved Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. In 2006, Bennett bought the team from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and essentially promised to keep the team in Seattle. Almost immediately, he and his co-owners <a href="">conspired to move the team</a>, while assuring Sonics fans they'd stay. Minority owner and Bennett buddy Aubrey McClendon even went on the record in 2007, saying that they'd never intended to keep the team in Seattle. (McClendon, who founded the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, is a <a href="">leading proponent of fracking</a>, <a href="">opponent of gay rights</a>, and&mdash;as if all that weren't enough&mdash;a <a href="">former Swift Boater</a>.) In spring 2008, Bennett and McClendon got their wish: The Sonics were officially defunct, and replaced by the Oklahoma City Thunder. <a href="">Seattle was devastated.</a></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/4370_phoenix_suns-primary-2014.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Phoenix"></a></p> <p><strong>Phoenix Suns: </strong>It's tough to find an owner as loathed by his team's fans as <strong>Robert Sarver.</strong> The 53-year-old Tucson native made his money running and selling a series of community banks, <a href="">writing more than $1 billion in loans</a> to Arizona businesses and homeowners during and after the financial crisis. He bought the Suns in 2004, and since then has presided over a <a href="">steady exodus</a> of talent&mdash;both on and off the court. Phoenix fans, who <a href="">argue that he's insanely cheap</a>, are hyperbolic about his tenure, arguing that he's run the team into the ground for his own profit. ESPN's Bill Simmons once said Sarver <a href="">"destroyed basketball"</a> in Phoenix.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Portland_Trail_Blazers.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Portland"></a></p> <p><strong>Portland Trail Blazers: </strong><strong>Paul Allen</strong> does a lot of things: The Microsoft cofounder is an investor, philanthropist, film producer, art collector, blues musician, and yachting enthusiast. In his spare time, he tends to his sports franchises: the Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks, and soccer's Seattle Sounders. He's worth more than $16 billion and has pledged to give at least half of that away (e.g., his $100 million gift <a href="" target="_blank">to fight Ebola</a>). He's given generously to political causes, including <a href="">$1 million to back a charter-school bill</a> with his old pal Bill Gates and more than $500,000 to committees and candidates&mdash;65 percent of it to Democrats.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Sacramento_Kings.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Sacramento"></a></p> <p><strong>Sacramento Kings: </strong><strong>Vivek Ranadiv&eacute;</strong>, an Indian-born billionaire&mdash;and the <a href="">first and only</a> Asian American NBA owner&mdash;could be the Most Interesting Man in Silicon Valley. He attended MIT, supposedly as a <a href="">penniless exchange student</a>, and went on to engineer software that digitized stock trading for Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs. His <a href="">Twitter feed</a> is a steady stream of chill: hanging out with Shaq, hobnobbing with world leaders, and fawning over his wannabe pop-star daughter, <a href="">whom he coached</a> to a girls' basketball championship. In addition to trying to turn around the long-struggling Kings, Ranadiv&eacute; also has the <a href="">modest goal</a> of revolutionizing data, and has huddled with the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi&mdash;<a href="">no friend to Muslims</a>&mdash;on <a href="">bringing basketball to India.</a></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/SASpursjpg.jpg"></div> <p><a name="SanAntonio"></a></p> <p><strong>San Antonio Spurs:</strong><strong> Peter Holt</strong> is American tractor royalty: His great-grandfather built the first one a century ago, and his family's company, Holt Cat, is the biggest Caterpillar dealer in the country. His small-market team has won five NBA titles&mdash;all without paying a luxury tax&mdash;making Holt one of the more admired owners in the league. He counts Rick Perry in his fan club: The Texas guv has received more than $500,000 in campaign contributions from Holt since 2000, and <a href="">returned the favor</a> with a state appointment (Parks and Wildlife Commission) and some generous, multimillion-dollar tax breaks for Holt's businesses.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Utah_Jazz_logo%2C_%282010_%27new_look%27%29.svg_.jpg"></div> <p><a name="Utah"></a></p> <p><strong>Utah Jazz:</strong><strong> Greg Miller</strong> inherited the Jazz from his dad, Larry, along with an expansive business empire that includes real estate, retail, and car dealerships. He seems an affable guy&mdash;although not even he was immune to <a href="">feuding with Karl Malone</a>&mdash;with a <a href="">Twitter feed</a> that showcases his globetrotting off-road expeditions. (He was even on <em>Undercover Boss</em>!) Miller is also a devout Mormon who <a href="">credits "divine intervention"</a> for the success of his franchise and businesses. During the 2012 election cycle, the Miller family companies <a href=";name=Larry%2BMiller&amp;state=UT&amp;zip=&amp;employ=&amp;cand=&amp;soft=&amp;cycle=All">gave nearly $1 million</a> to the Mitt Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future after a <a href="">brief flirtation</a> with former Utah governor and Mormon cool-dad Jon Huntsman.</p></body></html> Politics Charts Full Width Corporations Money in Politics Sports Top Stories Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:15:05 +0000 Ian Gordon and Sam Brodey 263426 at Film Review: "The Hand That Feeds" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The Hand That Feeds</strong></p> <p>JUBILEE FILMS</p> <p>At the beginning of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Hand That Feeds</em></a>, Mahoma L&oacute;pez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, records a coworker counting out the $290 he's just received for a 60-hour workweek in a deli on New York City's ritzy Upper East Side. The film feels like a familiar tale of exploitation and wage theft, until L&oacute;pez and his <a href="" target="_blank">Hot &amp; Crusty</a> coworkers stand up and fight back. In this behind-the-scenes look at the <a href="" target="_blank">ensuing labor dispute</a>, directors Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick lead us through the struggles and eventual triumph of L&oacute;pez &amp; Co. as they enlist the help of activists and, notably, a group of Occupy Wall Street-influenced twentysomethings. Despite the film's narrow focus&mdash;which leaves out some much-needed context about the treatment of immigrants in the restaurant biz&mdash;it's an inspiring tale.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><em>Correction: The original version of this review, which appeared in our November/December issue, misidentified the person counting out money at the start of the film.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Immigration Income Inequality Labor Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:50:04 +0000 Ian Gordon 261441 at