MoJo Author Feeds: Tasneem Raja | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en SeaWorld Says It Has to Keep Orcas in Captivity to Save Them <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>SeaWorld Entertainment has had a rough year in the wake of <em>Blackfish</em>, the explosive 2013 documentary about its killer whales, most notably Tilikum, a 12,500-pound male who has fatally attacked two trainers. The film sparked protests at SeaWorld's three marine parks and attendance has been steadily dropping. Kids have petitioned to <a href="" target="_blank">cancel field trips</a>, musicians like <a href="" target="_blank">Willie Nelson</a> have nixed concerts, and brands like Taco Bell and <a href="" target="_blank">Southwest Airlines</a> have cut ties with the company. Lawmakers in California, home to the flagship SeaWorld San Diego, even <a href="" target="_blank">proposed banning</a> orca captivity in the state. The company's stock price has been sinking; in August, it fell <a href="" target="_blank">nearly a third</a> in one day.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/12/seaworld-killer-whale-orca-science-blackfish"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Animals Science Top Stories Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Tasneem Raja 261371 at Here Are the Places Ferguson Protesters Have Shut Down <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="450px" src=",zoompan.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoidGFzbmVlbXJhamEiLCJhIjoieEJzd2pxbyJ9.aKTjgJ4z1z7YH6DfB2gQog" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Since a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson early last week, thousands have taken to the streets around the country to protest, with some using tactics aimed to disrupt: They've marched onto freeways in traffic, chained themselves across<b>&nbsp;</b>commuter train cars, and staged <a href="#mall">"die-ins"</a>&nbsp;in malls&nbsp;on the busiest shopping day of the year.</p> <p>In downtown Dallas, Interstate 35 was <a href="" target="_blank">shut down</a> in both directions for two hours last Tuesday night, after&nbsp;protesters carrying signs that said "Black Lives Matter" climbed in front of traffic. In the St. Louis region, <a href="" target="_blank">three malls</a> experienced significant disruptions on Black Friday, with one closing three hours early. And in Oakland, a handful of young activists <a href="" target="_blank">chained themselves</a> in a line across the West Oakland BART station, intending to keep the station closed for four and a half hours, the amount of time Michael Brown's body <a href="" target="_blank">laid in the street</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP167449180759_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A protester refuses to move in front of the police on Interstate 44 in downtown St. Louis on Tuesday, November 25. Protesters occupied the flyover lanes in both directions for about a half hour until police made several arrests, including this man, and forced the protesters to leave. </strong>J.B. Forbes/AP/<em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em><br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP195677962164.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Protesters block all lanes of Interstate 75/85 northbound near the state capitol building in Atlanta one day after the grand jury decision. </strong>David Tulis/AP<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" id="mall" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Ferguson protest at Chesterfield Mall, Missouri" class="image" src="/files/AP8064608189.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Protesters stage a "die in" inside Chesterfield Mall, on Friday, November 28, in Chesterfield, Missouri. </strong>Jeff Roberson/AP<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP597967523607.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Protesters block Interstate 580 in Oakland, California, on Monday, November 24. </strong>Noah Berger/AP<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP445793277668.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A demonstrator is arrested on Tuesday, November 25, after a large group of protesters attempted to march onto Interstate 93 in Boston. </strong> Christopher Evans/AP/<em>Boston Herald</em></div> </div> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Chanting at <a href="">#BARTlockdown</a> <a href="">#blacklivesmatter</a> <a href="">#blackoutblackfriday</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) <a href="">November 28, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Ferguson protesters back at Dallas police HQ after blocking I-35E; 7 arrested <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) <a href="">November 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Politics Maps Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Ferguson Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:30:05 +0000 Tasneem Raja 265776 at This "Jeopardy!" Champ and Proud Geek Gives Swirlies to Gamergaters in His Spare Time <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p dir="ltr">Like Disney and the WWF, the game show <em>Jeopardy!</em> has its villains&mdash;or at least one, in the form of Arthur Chu, the 30-year-old Cleveland native who took home nearly $300,000 after winning an 11-game streak and seemingly pissing off half of America. How? His sins ranged from "<a href="" target="_blank">pounding the bejesus out of his buzzer</a>" to skipping wildly around the board in search of Daily Doubles, setting&nbsp;longtime viewers' heads <a href="" target="_blank">on fire</a>. The "<em>Jeopardy!</em> bad boy" has continued courting controversy since his February appearance with a number of provocative essays on <a href="" target="_blank">race</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">gender</a> issues. He's recently had a lot to say about <a href="" target="_blank">Gamergate</a>, a fierce debate going on in the world of video games over issues of diversity and harassment of women. I talked to Chu right before his <em>Jeopardy!</em> return in <a href="" target="_blank">this week's</a> Tournament of Champions.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="line-height: 2em;"><span><strong>Mother Jones: </strong>So how does one study for Jeopardy?</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>Arthur Chu: </strong>A lot of flashcards. There's a whole online community where people archive clues from the past. Since I talked about using that, I think they've started writing the show to make it harder.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">People say <em>Jeopardy!</em> is getting "dumbed down" because there are more pop culture questions. I think it's the opposite. There's only so many classic operas you can study. For pop culture, you have to actually watch the shows. There's one every week! It's much harder.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>What's your buzzer strategy?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>The thing about being a lifelong gamer is that my eye-to-hand reaction time is faster than average. I actually went on a website that tests your reaction time and verified this to my satisfaction.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">I knew Ken Jennings loved to buzz in and then start to try to figure out the answer after buzzing. Ken's very smart, but that's a little too dangerous for me. <em>Jeopardy!</em> is won partially by keeping your mouth shut when you aren't sure, so you don't lose points by getting something wrong.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">Really, when you practice watching the show, you should practice reading ahead of Alex's talking so that by the instant he's done talking, you've digested the question and decided whether you know it or not.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>The times you've played, were there any categories you just dreaded, and prayed they wouldn't come up?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>Sports was a huge handicap for me in my original run. And what's worse, it's </span>known that it was a huge handicap for me because everyone reported on that <a href="" target="_blank">famous Daily Double where I bet $5</a> and blew off the clue. So I felt like I had to shore that up, and studied a ton of sports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>Switching topics to another kind of gaming, the Gamergate&nbsp;debate is <a href="" target="_blank">clearly on some level&nbsp;a backlash</a> to demands for better diversity in video games. But a lot of gamers say the lack of female lead characters in games&mdash;or brown characters, queer characters, and so on&mdash;simply isn't a problem that needs fixing.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>You hear a lot of this. "Why are you dragging real-life politics into cyberspace? I go to gaming to get away from real-life issues." For a lot of geeks, gaming is all about stripping who you are completely and entering this imaginary space, this world that's made for you, where winning and losing have nothing to do with real life. They try to argue that representation in games has not been an issue because </span>nobody is really themselves in a game; it's all just avatars. They're not seeing the many ways in which that's not true.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">This is a conversation that we've needed to have for a long time. And now it's being dragged into the open.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>So why are we having this conversation now?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>From the beginning, the internet has been dominated by white men. So if you wanted to be a part of the internet and you weren't a white man, you had to adapt yourself to their world. It became normal for women on the internet to adopt gender-neutral or male screen names. If you're not white, you didn't talk about your background. It became normal to subsume yourself into a generalized American identity.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">We've sort of reached a tipping point where people are tired of that. People are saying, "Look, I'm gay"&mdash;for instance&mdash;"and being gay is important to me and I'm going to talk about it and I'm not going to just sit here and pretend that the many little ways you take a crap on my identity don't matter."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>I've noticed that the vast majority of people supporting Gamergate online are using anonymous avatars, while a lot of the people they're piling on to are writing under their real names.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>It's part of the whole idea that the internet is just "for lulz," that the internet's not real. Look at 4chan culture, which is the ultimate version of shedding your IRL [in real life] identity&mdash;you don't even keep a consistent screen name from thread to thread. That's very important to them, this belief in the possibility that what I do online is completely separate from who I really am.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>Do you have any empathy with the young men who are the bulk of this movement, who, whether they realize it or not, are pretty clearly grappling with some gnarly issues of identity and change?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>Oh yeah, I do. I think I've tried to be open about the fact that I've changed a lot. As an early adopter of the internet, I've changed as the internet has changed, and I regret a lot of the things that I used to believe or used to do.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>Like what?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>For example, in college I was known as Mister Reasonable Neutrality, always trying to find the middle, to be "rational." And now that's almost a clich&eacute;&mdash;that annoying guy on the internet who insists on playing devil's advocate, on having a "rational debate," insisting that emotions are always wrong or biased.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">It took me a while to realize that it doesn't help anyone to have these rational debates. A rational debate is never going to lead to an objectively rational conclusion. It's never going to pull people out of where they are.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>I feel like anyone who's spent any time on Reddit has met That Guy.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>The joke when I was a teenager was, "Someday you'll all be working for me." Being a nerd meant being good with computers, book knowledge, and data, and being bad with people. So the idea was that if you got really good at working with things and manipulating objects, you'd reach a point in life where you wouldn't need people to like you. You'd win purely by merit. There's nowhere on Earth where this is actually true, but there's people who believe that.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">That's why so much of nerd culture involves these power fantasies full of magic&mdash;literally reshaping the world through thinking about it&mdash;and superheroes with super abilities. It's also why a lot of the people in geeky subcultures gravitate towards libertarianism. There's a strong ideological belief in wiping out "politics," because politics means having to interact with people, and negotiating with people who have different interests.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">MJ: </span></strong><span>So you know a bit about being on the receiving end of a lot of online hate. Most of us will never experience anything like this. What was it like?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9"><strong>AC: </strong>I'm glad it happened the way it did. I became a C-list celeb for being controversial. I'm the guy everybody hates. I'm the villain. I thought, I can embrace that.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-aaef4509-9c2f-ce0a-084f-4f6aad7f7be9">Every time I write an article, it's like, I've already been the "most hated man in America" for this really dumb thing. How could it get any worse if it were for something I actually believe? I've got the money already from being on this stupid game show. The limelight is an unexpected bonus. If I use the limelight to make people like me for a fake image of me, abandon these things I was so passionate about back when it was just me writing to a bunch of my friends on Facebook, then what kind of a person am I?</span></p></body></html> Media Interview Film and TV Media Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Tech Top Stories Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Tasneem Raja 264386 at Here's What Sir Patrick Stewart Wore on Election Day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If you're American and want to do right by Patrick Stewart today, you should know that the captain really wants you to get out and vote. Make it so.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" lang="en"> <p>Your country needs YOU (to vote) <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) <a href="">November 4, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Mixed Media Congress Elections Media Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:11:21 +0000 Tasneem Raja 263956 at The Koch 130 <!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></div> <p>In 1958, Fred Koch, the founder of the Midwestern oil and cattle ranching empire that would become Koch Industries, became a charter member of the John Birch Society, the fiercely anti-communist organization whose members believed Soviet influence was infecting all aspects of American society. The Birchers attempted to place their weight on "the political scales&hellip;as fast and as far" as they could, but their movement was quickly sidelined to the ideological fringe. Two of Fred's four sons, Charles and David, have carried forward the conservative torch, and they have succeeded where their father and his allies failed. Their father's company, meanwhile, has grown into a multibillion-dollar conglomerate that is the second-largest private corporation in the country.</p> <p>Though the Koch surname has become synonymous with political spending, the family's philanthropy has flowed to a wide range of causes. A significant portion has gone to think tanks and policy institutes that advance the brothers' free-market beliefs. And Charles Koch has lavished millions on universities to bolster their study and teaching of this school of economics. But Koch contributions have also established cancer research centers, funded ballets and preserved cultural institutions, and provided grants and scholarships to students.</p> <p>This project, an effort to track the breadth of the Kochs' philanthropic influence, builds on several years of reporting (which culminated in Dan Schulman's book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sons of Wichita</em></a>, and our cover story "<a href="" target="_blank">Koch vs. Koch</a>"), news stories, as well as data from tax filings and the organizations' websites. (See more about our methodology below.) What follows is by no means exhaustive. It's the first round of a project that we'll continue to expand and update; please leave suggestions and tips in the comments.</p> <div id="graphic">&nbsp;</div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script><script> var pymParent = new pym.Parent('graphic', '', {}); pymParent.onMessage('scroll', function(data) { var start = $('#graphic').offset().top; var offset = parseFloat(data) - 200; $('html,body').animate({ 'scrollTop': (start + offset) }, 800); }) </script></body></html> Politics Full Width Interactives Dark Money Money in Politics Investigations Top Stories Koch Brothers Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:58:27 +0000 Julia Lurie, Daniel Schulman, and Tasneem Raja 263206 at Stop Asking Why the Women Accusing Jian Ghomeshi Didn't Go to the Cops <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the past two weeks, <a href=";utm_source=jezebel_twitter&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">nine women</a> have come forward with stories about getting beat up by Jian Ghomeshi. Now, thousands of people are asking what on earth took them so long.</p> <p>The confused disbelief seems genuine to me. Why&nbsp;on earth didn't they rush to the nearest police station? Or call 911? If he hurt them, didn't they want to stop him from attacking more women?&nbsp;</p> <p>Plenty of people have already done a great job of explaining why. They've posted the <a href="" target="_blank">depressing stats</a> on rape convictions, explained how the justice system often <a href="" target="_blank">retraumatizes</a> victims of sexual crimes, patiently detailed the <a href="" target="_blank">horrible abuse</a> Ghomeshi's past accuser&nbsp;had to bear.</p> <p>But after hearing all these reasons and more, a lot of people still won't let Ghomeshi's accusers off the hook. And as frustrating as this is, I think it's because to varying degrees, people need&nbsp;to believe that the world makes sense. It just doesn&rsquo;t make sense that this beloved, artsy, liberal, talented public radio star with the Flock of Seagulls haircut and the cool jeans allegedly has a weird thing going on involving a teddy bear and punching women in the face till their ears ring and forcing his cock into their mouths until they <a href="" target="_blank">nearly vomit</a>.</p> <p>Just like it doesn't make sense that the beloved fatherly comedian who reminds you of sweaters and pudding pops has been accused <a href="" target="_blank">over and over</a> of drugging women and sexually assaulting&nbsp;them. Or that the beloved all-American champion football coach is a serial child molester. And so on, and so on.</p> <p>It's depressing, it's confusing, it's awkward, and it's like, life is <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">already&nbsp;</span>complicated enough.</p> <p>Ergo the wishful thinking that if these nine women had just dialed three numbers long ago, this confusing ugliness, if true,&nbsp;would have been neatly trapped in a box where it could never hurt anybody else ever again.&nbsp;</p> <p>But the inescapable reality is that they didn&rsquo;t make the call. So do we chalk it up to&nbsp;these nine women being a bunch of lazy, dumb, overly paranoid, weak, sisterhood-betraying fools?&nbsp;</p> <p>It's either that, or we have to run through a bunch of not-fun mental exercises.&nbsp;We have to face the possibility that in this world, the only one we've got, a woman who says she was attacked by a powerful man can't necessarily expect justice and protection if she goes running to the law. That if she tells, her home address and telephone number will probably be splashed across the Internet where demented ragey misogynists will use them to terrorize her. That she's not crazy to worry her relationships with her parents, her partners, her friends and colleagues will be forever altered if they hear about it, because lots of people just aren&rsquo;t emotionally equipped to deal with a loved one going through something like this.</p> <p>"So why didn't I do anything?"&nbsp;says Reva Seth, the latest woman to <a href="" target="_blank">come forward</a> with a story about being attacked by Ghomeshi. "This is the part that I think is so important to understand if we are ever going to change the context in which rape culture and violence against women is perpetuated. I didn't do anything because it didn't seem like there was anything to do...And even if I had wanted to do something, as a lawyer, I'm well aware that the scenario was just a "he said/she said" situation. I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful."</p> <p>So either these nine women are all irresponsible dummies&mdash;doesn't sound like it&mdash;or they did what tons of people in their shoes would do. They didn't tell, because&nbsp;telling&nbsp;can be more painful than not telling. This is depressing, confusing, and awkward, but it's also what happened.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Sex and Gender Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:01:37 +0000 Tasneem Raja 263721 at William Gibson: The Future Will View Us "As a Joke" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Gibson_630.jpg"><div class="caption">Photoillustration: Mario Wagner; Photograph: Michael O'Shea</div> </div> <p>For evidence that the sci-fi future is encroaching on the present, look no further than William Gibson's latest book, <em>The Peripheral</em>, which opens a mere decade or so from now and includes a cameo for cronuts, those croissant-doughnut hybrids invented last year by a New York City chef. When Gibson's debut, <em>Neuromancer</em>, exploded onto the sci-fi scene way back in 1984, his vision of "cyberspace" felt dizzyingly distant. (Gibson, now 66, had coined the term in a short story a couple of years earlier.)</p> <p>Now <em>Neuromancer </em>just seems prescient: a corporate dystopia whose denizens, increasingly engrossed with their technological distractions, live on opposite sides of a cavernous divide between the tech haves and have-nots, their lives circumscribed by conglomerates with insatiable appetites for data. The new book, meanwhile, stars a bunch of downtrodden trailer park residents who get caught up in the deadly games of some time-warping elites from 70 years hence. For this week's episode of the <em>Inquiring Minds </em>podcast, I reached Gibson at home in suburban Vancouver&mdash;he has dual citizenship&mdash;to talk about everything from vintage feminist sci-fi to his speed date with Google Glass.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Here's a condensed version of the interview:</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> What made you decide to set <em>The Peripheral</em> in an era so close to our own?</p> <p><strong>William Gibson:</strong> I had written three novels in the mid-to-late '80s, and they were all set&mdash;although the books never say&mdash;around 2035. Then I wrote three books in the '90s, which were set in the just-about-now, so they've become alternate history, in a way: Nothing they depict actually happened in 2014 although the real 2014 does <em>feel</em> kind of like those books. I decided that for the actual 21st century, I would write books set basically in the moment: There's a near future, maybe 10 or 15 years from now, that's pretty recognizable, but shabbier and less fortunate than ours. And then there's something in the 22nd century. So I've got a dual narrative.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gibsoncover.jpg"></div> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: I'm curious about how a cronut, of all things, made it in there.</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: I've never actually seen one, but last year there were lots of internet stories about people in Manhattan standing in lines around the block to get one of these fabulous hybrid 21st century pastries. So to have it turn up in this near future in a very undistinguished small town somewhere, in the equivalent of Tim Hortons, to me indicates that the trendy hipster cronut has found its way into the mainstream and became this sort of boring, Starbucks pastry that everyone takes for granted.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Likewise some very powerful communications technology.</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: One of the most difficult things, initially, about writing the book was how to depict the level of telephony that people of my 22nd century take for granted. I want the reader to be kind of, "Oh, wow!" But I don't want to the <em>characters</em> to notice it, so they can't ever overtly describe how they're making the call.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: In an interview 20 years ago, in the early days of mass access to the internet, you said you suspected we were seeing a phenomenon as significant as the birth of cities. Do you still feel that way?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: Yeah, I do! Something really changed between then and now in the geography of existence, in the way in which we can have these startlingly intimate and nonhierarchical, unfiltered experiences of things at a distance. Following disturbances like Ferguson on Twitter would have been fantastically weird in 1994.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: You were also optimistic that we would manage to keep the internet free from corporate control. Are you disappointed by recent developments?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: Well, it kind of makes me raise an eyebrow at the naiv&eacute;t&eacute; of my younger self. Now, when I look at the NSA and what it's evidentially been up to, I can't see any way that <em>wouldn't</em> have happened. At the same time, I can't see any way that it wouldn't have been leaked to the public. This stuff is all kind of two-edged that way.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Have you tried Google Glass?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: For about 20 seconds [<em>laughs</em>] at an event at the New York Public Library last year. Which helped a lot, actually, because I hadn't been able to grasp it. And then I had lunch with one of the beta testers, and he had happily incorporated it into his life. But he described a couple of quite alarming episodes of public hostility. Total strangers came up to him and gave him a really hard time. Although that's just the prototype: When a technology like that goes to market, you can buy a pair of your grandfather's horn-rimmed spectacles that will do all that and no one will ever know. In <em>The Peripheral</em>, there are people who take it absolutely for granted that everybody they meet has all of that technology embedded in their body&mdash;and it's running all the time.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Yeah, your characters are kind of walking smartphones.</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: The internalization of computing is something that has been taken for granted in futurism for a long time, and I just never wanted to go through the considerable amount of trouble to realize it in fiction. But when I did, I eventually forgot about it, which is interesting too.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: There's a lot of talk in the book about what people are doing to the planet and the climate. What's your take on the notion that sci-fi exists, in part, to scare us into taking action while we still can?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: As long as its <em>one of </em>the things it does, I'm okay with that. But it does other things as well. For instance, I follow a lot about how we came to automatically think of the inhabitants of the past as having been rubes. One of the things I loved about the series <em>Deadwood</em> was that sense of just how deadly clever people in the 19th century probably really were. If those guys got out of the time machine now in downtown Los Angeles, they wouldn't be hopeless hicks. They'd be very dangerous characters, simply because they were. And the people in my 22nd century initially assume that anyone they're dealing with back in 2025 or whenever is just kind of a hick.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Speaking of which, I read somewhere that you resisted the internet for a long time, only to finally embrace it because of eBay.</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: The World Wide Web, actually. For years, I had been resisting friends who were telling me to get email, but only because, prior to the web, there was a learning curve involved. I said, "When dogs and children can do it, I'll be there." And with the web, dogs and children can do it, and I was instantly there. EBay, in its early incarnation, was the first thing that I found that would get me back on it on a daily basis.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: You collect things?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: I try not to, actually. I would go on exploratory campaigns and accumulate things in one category. But I have a horror of keeping them. I just want to see a bunch of them, and then give them away or sell them.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Why a horror?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: Collections give me the willies! I love the idea of a private museum, but there's something about having to complete a collection. It just gets to me like a fingernail on a blackboard. I don't want to be the person who has to get the last two Lincoln head pennies in the folder. There's something terribly sad about it. And then when you get them, what do you do?</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: In geek culture, everyone is talking about how badly women are portrayed, but your books have always had strong female characters.</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: I usually wind up with a male lead and a female lead, but not necessarily in the Hollywood style. They'll interact; it may not be romantically. I think what happened, in the '70s I was sort of looking for a viable art form. I looked at science fiction, and I was really disappointed with most of it compared to the science fiction that had wowed me as a kid in the '60s. It felt kind of like Nashville country, like I had grown up on Texas swing and now I'm getting this awful synthetic.</p> <p>But the one area that worked for me was the feminist science fiction of the '70s: Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Alice Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree. Everyone should read Octavia Butler&mdash;you get not only great feminist science fiction, but great black American science fiction. They're all very strong voices, and kind of unlikely voices, considering the extent to which science fiction had traditionally been a very male modality. Mary Shelley may well have invented science fiction. I think she did! [<em>Laughs.</em>] But after that it seemed to be a boys' game, and boys were assumed to be the demographic.</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Sci-fi movie fans swear that without <em>Neuromancer</em>, there would have been no <em>Matrix</em>, no <em>Tron</em>, no <em>Ghost in the Shell</em>. Why haven't we ever seen a <em>Neuromancer</em> movie?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: Well, I'm open to the possibility. I suppose I'm also open to the possibility that <em>Neuromancer</em> will be one of those books that turns out to have been filmed piecemeal by dozens of different filmmakers over a period of 30 years. [<em>Laughs.</em>]</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: Are there any particular scenes from the book that you'd love to see onscreen?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: When I think of any scene from <em>Neuromancer</em> in terms of how it might be made into a movie, I mainly feel anxiety: What would it look like? Or what if they misunderstood, as seems almost invariably the case, one's intention? But there are other things I would be curious about. Like how, in the early 21st century, does one depict something like the cyberspace of <em>Neuromancer</em>?</p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: If you could time-travel, which era would you most want to visit?</p> <p><strong>WG</strong>: If could have any information from our future, I would want to know not what they're doing but what they think about us. Because what we think about Victorians is nothing like what the Victorians thought about themselves. It would be a nightmare for them. Everything they thought they were, we think is a joke. And everything that we think was cool about them, they weren't even aware of. I'm sure that the future will view us in exactly that way.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p name="b990"><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Inquiring Minds</a><em> is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas. This week's episode was guest-hosted by&nbsp;Tasneem Raja. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to </em>Inquiring Minds <em>via </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>iTunes</em></a><em> or</em> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>RSS</em></a><em>. We are also available </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>on Stitcher</em></a><em>. You can follow the show on Twitter at </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>@inquiringshow</em></a><em> and </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>like us on Facebook</em></a><em>. </em>Inquiring Minds <em>was also singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" on iTunes&mdash;you can learn more </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p></body></html> Media Interview Podcasts Books Climate Desk Tech Top Stories Inquiring Minds Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:45:05 +0000 Tasneem Raja 262621 at Women Harassed Out of Their Homes. Mass Shooting Threats. How #Gamergate Morphed Into a Monster. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Video game critic and feminist author Anita Sarkeesian canceled a speaking engagement at Utah State University on Tuesday after <a href="" target="_blank">an email from an unknown source</a> promised "the deadliest school shooting in American history" and threatened that Sarkeesian would "die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU." Sarkeesian is the creator of an <a href="" target="_blank">online video series</a> that critiques mainstream video games for misogyny; she has long been the target of violent threats from online trolls. Despite that Sarkeesian had every reason to be concerned about the specter of <a href="" target="_blank">vicious misogyny mixed with guns</a>, USU officials <a href="" target="blank">said</a> that under state law concealed weapons could not be barred from the event. She blasted the university late Wednesday for how it handled the situation:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>USU acted irresponsibly. They did not even inform me of the threat. I learned about it via news stories on Twitter after I landed in Utah.</p> &mdash; Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) <a href="">October 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sarkeesian <a href="" target="_blank">noted recently</a> that she has been "subjected to the worst harassment I've ever faced" as part of a convoluted conflict known as #Gamergate, which has been <a href="" target="blank">roiling</a> the gaming industry since August. Playing out primarily on social media, #Gamergate centers around several women who work in the industry and have criticized its dominant macho culture and frequent&nbsp;sexualization of women. Their critique has met with intense harassment and bullying. The FBI is currently investigating the threats against Sarkeesian and others, according to <em><a href="" target="blank">Vice</a></em>.</p> <p class="subhed" target="blank">On one level, #Gamergate is an internal squabble between ideologically opposed factions within the gaming world. But now, disturbing developments such as Sarkeesian's canceled appearance reflect how the controversy has blown up beyond the familiar trappings of online nastiness and spilled into real life&mdash;with serious consequences. At least two women involved in #Gamergate have said that they had to flee their homes, fearing for their safety. Kyle Wagner at <em>Deadspin</em> <a href="" target="blank">suggests</a> that #Gamergate may be no less than "the future of grievance politics as they will be carried out by people who grew up online."</p> <p><strong>So what is #Gamergate and how did this all start?</strong><br> #Gamergate is essentially an escalating fight about the direction of gaming culture. It pits a group of feminists and their supporters&mdash;who advocate for expanding beyond the testosterone-fueled games that dominate the industry&mdash;against a vocal faction that is openly hostile toward their views. The conflict first blew up in August after a programmer named <a href="" target="_blank">Eron Gonji</a> wrote a revenge post about his breakup with developer Zoe Quinn, the creator of <a href="" target="blank">Depression Quest</a>, a critically acclaimed game whose purpose is to illustrate the challenges of coping with depression.</p> <p>The post implied Quinn had a romantic relationship with a writer for <em>Kotaku</em>, the gaming site run by Gawker Media, supposedly to receive favorable coverage of Depression Quest. In fact, <em>Kotaku</em> never reviewed the game, but nasty attacks against Quinn&mdash;<a href="" target="blank">including</a> the circulation of nude photos, death threats, and rape threats&mdash;quickly flooded sites like Reddit and 4chan. Sarkeesian experienced similar threats just a few days later, after publishing a new video in her series on women and gaming. Brianna Wu, a developer behind <a href="" target="_blank">a game</a> with all female lead characters, has <a href="" target="blank">written</a> about harassment of women in the industry; she received a series of graphic death threats last week after&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">sharing a meme</a> making fun of #Gamergate. She said she had to flee her home as a result.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="gamergate" class="image" src="/files/gamergate.png"><br> &nbsp;</div> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Wu posted a fierce <a href="" target="_blank">counterattack</a> on Thursday morning:</p> <p class="ng-scope">"Ordinarily, I develop videogames with female characters that aren't girlfriends, bimbos and sidekicks," she wrote. "I am a software engineer, a popular public speaker and an expert in the Unreal engine. Today, I'm being targeted by a delusional mob." That's the tame part: "<span class="ng-scope" itemscope="" itemtype="">They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I'm sick of seeing them abuse my friends."</span></p> <p><strong>Who is responsible for all this nastiness?</strong><br> It's hard to say: Most of the viciousness comes from anonymous trolls. However, a couple of particular players have helped inflame the situation:</p> <p>Adam Baldwin, perhaps best known for portraying paranoid mercenary Jayne Cobb in <em>Firefly</em> and for voicing strident political views on social media, chimed in:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Patterns of Failure: <a href="">#GunGrabbers</a> exploit dead children to advance their political agenda. Anti- <a href="">#GamerGate</a>&rsquo;rs exploit anon-troll threats.</p> &mdash; Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) <a href="">October 12, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Hi <a href="">@BoingBoing</a>: What hard evidence do U have <a href="">@Spacekatgal</a> was &ldquo;targeted [by <a href="">#Gamergate</a>] with credible threats after speaking out on sexism&rdquo;?</p> &mdash; Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) <a href="">October 12, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>This is actor <a href="">@AdamBaldwin</a> and the standards he holds himself to. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) <a href="">October 14, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Milo Yiannopoulos, associate editor at <em></em>, also helped fuel the haters with a <a href="" target="blank">blog post </a>in which he declared "an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers, are terrorising the entire community."</p> <p><strong>What's the deal with those strange hashtags and other terms?</strong><br> Here's a quick primer:</p> <p><strong>8chan:</strong> A site that allows anyone to anonymously create their own message board. Threads related to #Gamergate originally sprung up on 4chan, but were banned for breaking the site's policy on distributing personal information. At that point, the conversation largely <a href="" target="_blank">moved</a> to 8chan.</p> <p><strong>"Social justice warrior" (or SJW):</strong> A derisive term used by many in the #Gamergate crowd to describe its feminist and otherwise inclusion-minded critics. It's largely synonymous with "PC police."</p> <p><strong><a href="" target="blank">#NotYourShield</a>: </strong>A Twitter hashtag used to point out that not all #Gamergate supporters are white and/or male. It's been used by women and people of color sympathetic to the cause to counter claims that the movement is inherently misogynistic or comprised solely of gaming's status quo. Some claim that many "sock puppets," or fake accounts, have been created to make the tag appear more popular than it is; there is no way to confirm or deny this.</p> <p><strong><a href=";src=tyah" target="blank">#StopGamerGate2014</a>: </strong>A Twitter hashtag that has <a href=";q2=%23gamergate&amp;via=Topsy" target="blank">garnered</a> around 75,000 tweets since it first appeared late Tuesday night (#Gamergate has been getting around 100,000 tweets a day). It's essentially&nbsp;a form of counterprotest.</p> <p><strong>So what is this really all about?</strong><br> #Gamergaters, as they're called, say their target isn't women but instead what they deem to be corrupt journalism. They claim the fact that a game developer like Quinn once had a romantic relationship with a writer at&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>&nbsp;is evidence that media coverage of games can be bought and sold with sexual favors. But the writer in question never reviewed Quinn's game, and nor did anyone else at&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>.&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">looked into</a>&nbsp;the accusations and said it found no evidence of a conflict of interest.</p> <p>#Gamergaters argue more broadly that journalists are <a href="" target="blank">too cozy</a>&nbsp;with game developers&mdash;they fund their projects, date them, and are sometimes roommates or friends with them&mdash;which makes it impossible, they say, for gamers to trust reviews from gaming news sites. <em>Polygon</em>,&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>, and the <em>Verge</em> have come under attack along these lines. (You can read about their ethics policies&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">her</a><a href="" target="blank">e, here</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">here</a>.) Other #Gamergaters take issue with a growing pool&nbsp;of gaming writers and editors interested in issues of&nbsp;diversity, inclusion, sexism, and violence in video games. "Headlines are becoming less about gaming and more about&nbsp;mysoginy&nbsp;[sic], feminism, and are reduced to click-grabbing disappointments," <a href="" target="blank">laments</a>&nbsp;one manifesto.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there is an email listserv called&nbsp;GamingJournoPros&nbsp;that some industry writers use to discuss trends and new releases; its recent "<a href="" target="blank">discovery</a>" by <em></em> has prompted additional outrage among #Gamergaters, despite that there are multitudes of such listservs in journalism. (Read more from its moderator&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">here</a>.) On the other hand, popular gaming critic Leigh Alexander has <a href="" target="_blank">compiled</a> a list of more substantive ethics issues in the trade. For instance, "One of the US's most long-running and successful print game publications is owned by one of the world's best-known game retailers, and few of the magazine's consumers seem aware of what, if any impact that relationship might have."</p> <p>And if you're still wondering whether #Gamergate is about journalism ethics, read <a href="" target="_blank">this piece</a> from Amanda Marcotte, who calls total bullshit. (Well, "horseshit," to be precise.)</p> <p><strong>How are tech and social media companies reacting?</strong><br> Intel was pulled into #Gamergate early this month when it bowed to pressure from an email blizzard <a href="" target="blank">by yanking it ads from <em>Gamasutra</em></a>, one of several sites that have published essays critical of rampant sexism in gamer culture. Subsequently criticized for that move, the company <a href="" target="blank">apologized two days later</a> but hasn't reinstated the ads.</p> <p>Though #Gamergate first <a href="" target="_blank">caught fire on 4chan</a>, it exploded on more mainstream social media outlets such as Reddit and Twitter, which have been criticized for providing a platform for its worst elements. On Saturday, for example, developer Brianna Wu left her home after a Twitter user <a href="" target="blank">sent her a string of threats</a> including a pledge to choke her to death with her husband's penis. Though Twitter has suspended those accounts, critics argue<a href="" target="blank"> it could do much more</a> by, say, actively detecting hostile behavior, limiting fake accounts, and making it easier to block users. Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler referred <em>Mother Jones</em> to the company's user rules <a href="" target="blank">banning targeted abuse</a>. He declined to say how many accounts have been suspended in relation to #Gamergate or if any have been referred to law enforcement.</p> <p>On Reddit, <a href="" target="blank">a group devoted to #Gamergate</a> has more than 11,000 subscribers. Many of the comments in these threads <a href="" target="blank">are misogynistic</a>, and Zoe Quinn <a href="" target="blank">has produced logs</a> of Reddit chatrooms that show gamers planning to hack her personal accounts. Even so, Reddit's moderators haven't shut down its main #Gamergate page. (In contrast, a #Gamergate forum on Github <a href="" target="blank">has been disabled</a> by the site's staff.) "We received a number of contacts related to this issue," Reddit spokeswoman Victoria Taylor wrote in response to questions from <em>Mother Jones</em>. "Anything that we found or that was reported to us that broke our <a href="" target="_blank">rules</a> was removed and the user banned." But it seems that the fallout from #Gamergate hasn't prompted much concern or soul searching at Reddit: "We do not plan on changing any site policies due to the occurrence of this event."</p> <p><strong>How have leaders in the gaming industry responded?</strong><br> Pushback on the nastiness from the world of gaming journalism has included comments from Stephen Totilo, the editor in chief of <em>Kotaku</em> (and #Gamergate's<a href="" target="blank"> journalistic enemy No. 1</a>), who <a href="" target="blank">published a piece</a> criticizing the movement and its tactics:</p> <p>"All of us at <em>Kotaku</em> condemn the sort of harassment that's being carried out against critics, developers, journalists, and other members of the gaming community. If you're someone who harasses people online, you're not a part of the community we want to foster at <em>Kotaku</em>, and you're actively hurting people and driving important voices away from the video game scene. Enough."</p> <p>Chris Plante at <em>Polygon</em>, the Vox Media-owned video game site and frequent #Gamergate punching bag, <a href="" target="blank">scolded</a>:</p> <p>"This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It's time to grow up."</p> <p>And <a href="" target="blank">Keith Stuart, games editor of the <em>Guardian</em>,</a> wrote:</p> <p>"I have found a lot of the actions of self-confessed hardcore gamers horrendous, upsetting and unjustifiable over the past two weeks&hellip;I don't have a problem with the term 'gamer'&hellip;I have a problem with gamers who deny that this industry needs to improve its representation&mdash;in terms of race, gender and sexuality."</p> <p>On Wednesday, the Entertainment Software Association, gaming's largest industry group, issued a short statement:</p> <p>"Threats of violence and harassment are wrong&hellip;They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community&mdash;or our society&mdash;for personal attacks and threats."</p> <p>And developer Andreas Zecher wrote a widely circulated <a href="" target="blank">"open letter to the gaming community"</a> posted to Medium:</p> <p>"We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened&hellip;If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in."</p> <p>The letter was signed by hundreds in the gaming community, including people from big-time studios like Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Nintendo.</p> <p>From the indie community, developer Phil Fish has led the charge to defend Quinn and others:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fish_0.jpg"></div></body></html> Media Media Sex and Gender Tech Top Stories Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:15:05 +0000 — By the Mother Jones news team 262626 at Stop Everything And Let This 11-Year-Old Boy Give You Hope For the Future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Last month, in the midst of nightly protests over the killing of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, an 11-year-old boy named Marquis Govan&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">approached</a> the podium at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council, pulled the mic&nbsp;down to his height, and calmly delivered an incredibly well-informed, thoughtful, and stirring set of remarks.</p> <p>"The people of Ferguson, I believe, don't need tear gas thrown at them," he said. "I believe they need jobs. I believe the people of Ferguson, they don't need to be hit with batons. What they need is people to be investing in their businesses." He wasn't reading from notes, and the clearly stunned adults in the room gave him a round of applause when he finished.</p> <p>If all this sounds surprising from a sixth-grader, Govan, a politics junkie who lives with his great-grandmother in St. Louis, drops more adult-sized portions of knowledge in this&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> with CBS Sunday Morning. Don't miss it.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:58:44 +0000 Tasneem Raja 260806 at Thanks to Obamacare, Way Fewer Women Have To Pay Extra For Birth Control <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There's some good&nbsp;news for women who would rather not pay an arm and a leg to keep from getting pregnant.</p> <p>The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health costs, has been <a href="" target="_blank">periodically surveying</a> a group of 1,800 privately insured women ages 18-39 about how much they pay out of pocket for various kinds of birth control. The first survey was in the fall of 2012, just before the Affordable Care Act&nbsp;required insurance plans to stop applying co-pays or deductibles to&nbsp;most contraceptives. At the time, only 15 percent of the women said they didn't have to pay anything over and beyond their monthly premiums. By the spring of 2014, that percentage had more than quadrupled.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="375" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>It's not just women who benefit. Given that contraception is <a href="" target="_blank">far cheaper</a>&nbsp;than the cost of unintended pregnancies, there are also plenty of savings for employers and insurers. So why do roughly one out of three women with private insurance still have to pay extra for the Pill, say, when the ACA supposedly forbids it? According to Judy Waxman, vice president of health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center, many women are still on plans established before March 2010 that were "<a href="" target="_blank">grandfathered</a>" into the law, meaning they don't have to comply with the new rules. If an insurer wants to change a plan significantly, however, it'll lose the exemption. About a quarter of health plans still have the grandfather status, Waxman says, but they're disappearing fast.</p> <p>Then, of course, there's the <a href="" target="_blank">Hobby Lobby contingent</a>: employers who say their religious objections to birth control should excuse them from covering some, if not all, forms of it. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, <a href="" target="_blank">90 religious challenges</a> are now pending in the federal courts, and judges have allowed many employers to withhold coverage of contraceptives until their cases are&nbsp;resolved. (The ACA already exempts churches, religious colleges, and certain other institutions from its mandate.)</p> <p>There are a handful of insurers still charging extra for birth control in violation of the law, says Adam Sonfield, a public policy analyst at&nbsp;Guttmacher and an author of the study. Either they don't understand the rules, haven't yet updated their billing procedures, or are breaking the law deliberately. "The way insurance is regulated is pretty diffuse," he says. "We know there are still insurers out there inappropriately interpreting the rules."</p> <p>The National Women's Law Center has&nbsp;a <a href="" target="_blank">step-by-step guide</a> on its website for women who think they're being charged when they shouldn't be. It's unclear, Waxman says, how many women have convinced their insurers to fix the problems, but the center is applying pressure and working with insurers and state officials when they catch wind of a conflict.</p> <p>Overall, Sonfield and Waxman see the Guttmacher numbers as a big win. And given how <a href="" target="_blank">surprisingly expensive</a> it can be just to cover the out-of-pocket costs, the report makes the recent GOP <a href="" target="_blank">push</a> for over-the-counter contraceptives&mdash;leaving women to pay the full price&mdash;even less attractive. "This analysis shows that the contraceptive coverage guarantee under the ACA is working as intended," Sonfield <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a>. Adds Waxman: "It's a great improvement."</p></body></html> Politics Charts Regulatory Affairs Religion Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Top Stories Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:38:03 +0000 Tasneem Raja 260601 at