MoJo Author Feeds: Adam Serwer | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en BioShock Infinite: An American History Lesson Where You Get to Blow Shit Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ken Levine has schooled millions of Americans on the flaws in Ayn Rand's fantasies, but he's no political pundit. The 46-year-old cofounder of Quincy, Massachusetts, studio Irrational Games made his mark as the visionary behind a series of astute video games whose Tarantinoesque violence masks subtler points. BioShock, released in 2007, imagines a corporate magnate named Andrew Ryan going Galt and building his own objectivist paradise under the ocean; his self-interested society has collapsed and descended into a Hobbesian horror that the player must escape. The game was a massive success, selling more than 5 million copies and defying the stereotype of gamers as intellectual zombies.</p> <p>In late March, Irrational released BioShock Infinite, a new title set on the World's Fair-inspired sky city of Columbia, circa 1912. Here, the ruling Founders&mdash;white nativist worshippers of America's Founding Fathers who seek to preserve the city as a neo-Confederate paradise&mdash;clash with populist extremists called the Vox Populi who claim to represent the downtrodden. As haunted cavalry veteran Booker DeWitt, players blast their way through an extended meditation on American exceptionalism and a critique of our idealized past in their quest to rescue a mysterious character named Elizabeth. (The only thing missing is a college syllabus.) I spoke with Levine about growing up nerd, mining history for narrative, and the media's paternalistic view of his industry. But first, to get a taste, watch this short commercial for the game:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Mother Jones: </strong>Nerds seem kind of cool these days. Does "nerd Siberia," as you describe the emotional state of geek isolation, still exist?</p> <p><strong>Ken Levine: </strong>There is this thing going on now, which is really baffling to me: A lot of guys are challenging women who claim to be nerds as to the veracity of their nerd cred. Man, when I was young, if there was any woman who wanted to be anywhere near us, we would be thrilled! I think people should count their blessings.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/media/2013/05/irrational-games-bioshock-infinite-creator-ken-levine-interview"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Interview Media Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 10 May 2013 10:00:08 +0000 Adam Serwer 222601 at Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European Immigrants <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jason Richwine, the coauthor of the conservative Heritage Foundation's <a href="" target="_blank">controversial study</a> on the supposed $6.3 trillion cost of comprehensive immigration reform, has received much attention and criticism for his 2009 Harvard dissertation that <a href="" target="_blank">argued there was "a genetic component" to racial disparities in IQ</a>. But this dissertation wasn't the first time Richwine had expressed such views publicly. In 2008, he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that "major" ethnic or racial differences in intelligence between the Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants who flocked to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and the immigrants coming to the US today justified severely restricting immigration.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Richwine's remarks</a>, which he made as a resident fellow at AEI, did not receive much public notice at the time, but they go beyond the arguments presented in his 2009 dissertation. In that dissertation,&nbsp;"IQ and Immigration Policy," which was <a href="" target="_blank">first reported by Dylan Matthews of the <em>Washington Post</em></a>, Richwine argued for restricting immigration based on IQ differences, which he believes are partially the result of genetic differences between ethnic groups. In the dissertation's acknowledgements, Richwine wrote that "no one was more influential" than AEI scholar Charles Murray, coauthor of the <a href="" target="_blank">much-criticized book <em>The Bell Curve</em></a>, which argued that racial disparities in IQ are partially the result of genetic differences between races. After the <em>Post</em> broke the story about the dissertation, the Heritage Foundation <a href="" target="_blank">distanced itself</a> from Richwine's immigration reform study.</p> <p>At the 2008 talk, Richwine said, "I do not believe that race is insurmountable, certainly not, but it definitely is a larger barrier today than it was for immigrants in the past simply because they are not from Europe." The 2008 AEI panel focused on a book by immigration reform opponent Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors strict limits on all immigration. Krikorian's book, <em>The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal</em>, began with Krikorian stating that the difference between modern immigration and immigration at the turn of the century "is not the characteristics of the newcomers but the characteristics of our society."</p> <p>Richwine firmly disagreed with part of Krikorian's assessment. The "major difference," he said, was the race of the immigrants: "There are real differences between groups." He contended that today's nonwhite immigrants are dumber. "Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ," he said. "Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real differences, and they're not going to go away tomorrow, and for that reason we have to address them in our immigration discussions and our debates."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/05/heritage-immigration-scholar-race-differences-iq-jason-richwine"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Immigration Race and Ethnicity Science The Right Top Stories Wed, 08 May 2013 23:50:12 +0000 Adam Serwer 224366 at The Downton Abbey Exception and 4 Other Stupid Immigration Amendments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Defying expectations, Congress is poised to take a serious shot at immigration reform. A bipartisan group of eight Senators has agreed on a bill. One of the GOP's brightest young stars, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has linked his political future to passage of the bill, and so far managed to <a href="" target="_blank">wade through a flood of harsh criticism from the right</a>. When the Heritage Foundation, the most influential think-tank in the conservative movement, released a dubious study Monday alleging immigration reform would cost trillions of dollars,<a href="" target="_blank"> it was attacked by not only liberals but also conservatives who are supporting the immigration effort</a>.</p> <p>The Senate Judiciary Committee will be taking its first crack at the bill Thursday. Republicans opposed to reform have now turned to a time honored tradition of oppositional behavior in the Senate: Offering a whole bunch of amendments to slow down the process and. If they're lucky, they'll be able to slip in a poison pill amendment&mdash;a change so noxious that it makes the entire bill harder to pass.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">How many amendments</a>? Well, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is currently leading the pack with seventy-seven. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has proposed 49, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is bringing up the rear with 24.</p> <p>Here are some of the worst and most random amendments proposed:</p> <p><strong>Eliminating the path to citizenship</strong></p> <p>The centerpiece of immigration reform is a long, arduous path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) doesn't want that to happen. So he <a href="" target="_blank">proposed an amendment</a> that would make all undocumented immigrants in the US ineligible for the path to citizenship outlined in the bill. If passed, this is the sort of poison pill that would effectively kill the reform bill.</p> <p><strong>Beef with South Korea </strong></p> <p>Grassley has had <a href="" target="_blank">long-running beef with South Korea</a> since it placed tough restrictions on imports from the United States over <a href="" target="_blank">worries about mad cow disease in 2003</a>. Grassley's stampede of amendments includes <a href="" target="_blank">one that would prevent South Koreans</a> from obtaining visas designed to steer foreign investors to the US until the East Asian country "fully removes age-based import restrictions on beef from the United States." Though South Korean restrictions on US beef had once ground imports to a halt, most of the restrictions have been lifted as the result of a free trade agreement. (The GOP <a href="" target="_blank">is in hock</a> to the US beef industry).</p> <p><strong>But who can I underpay to cut my grass or drive my limo?</strong></p> <p>It's apparently really hard to find good (cheap) help these days, so Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) <a href="" target="_blank">has a modest proposal</a>: Let's allow unauthorized immigrants to work&mdash;but only if they're doing low-paid domestic service jobs. Lee's amendment would exempt "services performed by cooks, waiters, butlers, housekeepers, governessess, maids, valets, baby sitters, janitors, laundresses, furnacemen, care-takers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use" from "prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens."&nbsp; Next: An amendment that would allow employers to feed said domestic workers stale cake.</p> <p><strong>No welfare for terrorists</strong></p> <p>You may have heard that story about how that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who are suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon, r<a href="" target="_blank">eceived public assistance</a>. Sessions is graciously placating the conservatives for whom allegedly blowing up a crowd of innocent people wasn't enough of an outrage by <a href="" target="_blank">proposing an amendment that would deny "terrorist aliens" welfare benefits</a>. Some of you might be asking, "But didn't the Tsarnaevs receive public assistance before anyone knew they were terrorists?" Stop asking questions! Why do you love the terrorists so much?</p> <p><strong>Another welfare amendment (really!)</strong></p> <p>The immigration bill does not allow undocumented immigrants seeking legal status to receive welfare benefits. But that's not good enough for Sessions, who <a href="" target="_blank">has proposed an amendment</a> that would deny the path to citizenship to those deemed "likely" to receive "means-tested public benefits" at "any point in the future." If this sounds subjective and impossible to enforce, you're forgetting about <a href="" target="_blank">the Department of Homeland Security's</a> psychics.</p> <p>All told there are now more than 300 proposed amendments to the bill, most of them from Republicans. (Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has also proposed 24.) Many have been filed with the sole purpose of gumming up the works and making it harder to pass an immigration bill.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Immigration Wed, 08 May 2013 14:42:45 +0000 Adam Serwer 224281 at Sexual Assaults in Military Keep Rising—And Nearly 90 Percent Never Report It <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The number of servicemembers who reported being sexually assaulted rose consistently over the past four years, according to an internal Pentagon report released Tuesday, despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to address the problem. But because only a fraction of servicemembers ever report assaults to their superiors, the Pentagon also conducts an anonymous survey to estimate the true scope of the problem, and those reveal a much larger number: For 2012, for example, the report estimates that the real number servicemembers experiencing "unwanted sexual contact" is closer to 26,000, which means about 90 percent of servicemembers assaulted kept quiet about it. (The DoD data only provide estimates for 2006, 2010, and 2012.)</p> <p><script type="text/javascript" src="//"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"title":"","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"logScale":false,"maxValue":null}],"title":"Servicemembers Assaulted, 2004-2012","booleanRole":"certainty","animation":{"duration":500},"pointSize":7,"legend":"bottom","lineWidth":0,"hAxis":{"title":"2004-2012","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"gridlines":{"count":"9"},"maxValue":null},"tooltip":{},"width":623,"height":345},"state":{},"view":{},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"ScatterChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p> <p>This problem has persisted for years&mdash;in 2008 then Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) wrote that women in the military were <a href=",0,5094340.story" target="_blank">more likely to be raped by fellow servicemembers than killed by enemy fire</a>. The news comes two days after the Air Force official charged with preventing sexual assault, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski,<a href="" target="_blank"> was himself charged with sexual battery</a>. The administration's nominee for vice commander of the Air Force Space Command <a href="" target="_blank">is being held up in the Senate following revelations</a> that she promoted an officer convicted of sexual assault.</p> <p>The Pentagon report states that "[c]losing the gaps between prevalence and reporting will remain a key factor in determining success of our efforts." As you can see, so far they haven't made a tremendous amount of progress. <a href="" target="_blank">Tuesday Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced</a> a new set of measures to improve the military's handling of sexual assault, saying that "we know we've got big problems. We know that. And we've addressed that, and we'll continue to address it."</p> <p><em>Note: This chart is based on one presented in the secretary of defense's sexual assault prevention and response memo released by the Pentagon yesterday.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 08 May 2013 14:19:31 +0000 Adam Serwer 224261 at Gitmo Detainee Explains Why He's on Hunger Strike <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Obaydullah, a detainee at Gitmo who was first captured in Afghanistan in 2002, filed a declaration in federal court in March that was unsealed and <a href="" target="_blank">posted by the national security blog <em>Lawfare</em> on Friday</a>. The declaration goes into striking detail about the circumstances that Obaydullah (who goes by one name) says provoked the hunger strike at the detention camp, which began in February and now involves 100 out of the 166 remaining detainees, according to the Pentagon's count.</p> <p>"In response to the dehumanizing searches, the confiscation of our personal items, and the desecration of the holy Quran, I and the men at Camp 6 and some at Camp 5, waged a hunger strike on Feburary 6 2013," the declaration reads. "But our strike continues because conditions have gotten worse, not better, and there is no hope that we will ever leave here."</p> <p>The declaration corroborates the <a href="" target="_blank">descriptions of Gitmo defense attorneys</a> who have said that although the hunger strike began as a response to what the detainees saw as desecration of their holy books, it has now grown into a protest of the Obama administration's policy of indefinite detention. According to Obaydullah, conditions had improved until the February "shake down" that he says provoked the strike. In response, Obaydullah says, the guards began to interrupt detainees' prayers and moved detainees to more restrictive conditions. Access to recreational facilities was limited and, according to Obaydullah, camp authorities deliberately began to lower the temperature in Camp 6 to the point of "freezing." "All of these actions showed me and the other prisoners that camp authorities were treating us the way we were treated in the years under President Bush," Obaydullah writes.</p> <p>In his declaration, Obaydullah hints at what the detainees <a href="" target="_blank">would require to end the three-month protest</a>. "We plan to remain on strike until we are treated with dignity, the guards stop trying to enforce old rules, our prayer and religion are respected, and our Qurans are handled with the care and sanctity required."</p> <p>Obaydullah has been challenging his detention for years with little success. Although he maintains he was never a fighter for Al Qaeda or the Taliban, <a href="" target="_blank">a federal judge concluded</a> in 2010 that the evidence against him "unmistakably supports the conclusion that it is more likely than not that petitioner Obaydullah was in fact a member of an al Qaeda bomb cell committed to the destruction of U.S. and Allied forces," and was therefore <a href="" target="_blank">lawfully detainable</a>.</p> <p>"I am losing all hope because I have been imprisoned at Guantanamo for almost 11 years now and I still do not know my fate," Obaydullah concludes.</p> <p>Here's the full declaration:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-695970-obaidullah-declaration">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 620, height: 800, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-695970-obaidullah-declaration" }); </script><noscript> <a href="">Obaidullah Declaration (PDF)</a> <br><a href="">Obaidullah Declaration (Text)</a> </noscript></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Sat, 04 May 2013 14:00:31 +0000 Adam Serwer 223991 at Clarence Thomas Suggests "Elites" Like Obama Because He's What "They Expect From a Black Person" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he always figured there'd be a black president, but that it would have to be someone "the elites" and "the media" approve of&mdash;an oblique shot at President Barack Obama.</p> <p>"[T]he thing I always knew is that it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites and the media because anybody that they didn&rsquo;t agree with, they would take apart," Thomas said during a panel about <a href="" target="_blank">his life and career</a> at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in early April. "You pick your person. Any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart."</p> <p>The implication of Thomas' remarks is that President Obama was only elected because he fits with the "prescribed things that they expect from a black person." Thomas' statements were&nbsp;were also <a href="" target="_blank">aired on C-SPAN</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">picked up by Fox Nation</a>.</p> <p>It is unusual for sitting Supreme Court Justices to make public criticisms of sitting presidents. "Clarence Thomas seems more interested in becoming a Fox commentator than preserving the integrity of the Court," says Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California School of Law. "Justices should not take pot shots at the president. It's beneath the dignity of the court."</p> <p>Thomas' perspective may stem in part from the difficult 1991 Supreme Court confirmation battle he faced after being <a href="" target="_blank">accused of sexual harassment by former colleague Anita Hill</a>. Indeed, they <a href="" target="_blank">mirror remarks he made at the time</a>, when he said that <a href=";images=images/modeng&amp;data=/lv6/workspace/yitna&amp;tag=public&amp;part=24" target="_blank">the confirmation process had become</a> "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the US Senate rather than hung from a tree." A narrow majority of the Senate <a href="" target="_blank">ultimately voted to confirm Thomas' appointment</a>. Reporters Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson later published a book <a href=";src=pm" target="_blank">providing compelling evidence that Hill had in fact told the truth</a>.</p> <p>President Barack Obama was twice elected by a majority of the American electorate. Indeed, while there is some wisdom in Thomas' remarks about race and social expectations, it's virtually inevitable that any presidential candidate will seek to earn the approval of elites, both financial and in the media itself. Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, serve for life and are by design insulated from popular sentiment.</p> <p>"There's a great irony in that Thomas has his position because he was approved by elites in the Senate," says Winkler, "while Obama owes his position to the voters."</p> <p>Here's the video:</p> <p><object align="middle" classid="clsid:d27cdb6eae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase=",0,0,0" height="500" id="cspan-video-player" width="410"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="true"><param name="movie" value=""><param name="quality" value="high"><param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="flashvars" value="system=;style=full"><embed align="middle" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" bgcolor="#ffffff" flashvars="system=;style=full" height="500" name="cspan-video-player" pluginspage="" quality="high" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="410"></embed></object></p></body></html> MoJo Obama Supreme Court Fri, 03 May 2013 16:54:55 +0000 Adam Serwer 223961 at Don't Use Jason Collins As an Excuse to Blame Homophobia on Black People <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jason Collins <a href=";eref=sihp#all" target="_blank">began his coming out essay</a> in <em>Sports Illustrated</em> with the words, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."</p> <p>There's a reason Collins chose to mention he was black and gay&mdash;as though those two things were in as much tension as being the first openly gay male athlete active in one of America's favorite sports&mdash;but it deserves a more thoughtful examination than the one offered <a href="" target="_blank">by Charles P. Pierce in <em>Grantland</em></a>. Pierce, feigning a familiarity with the history of the civil rights movement and the black church belied by the weakness of the evidence he's able to provide, writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>His explanation for his decision to come out is rich with the historical "dual identity" forced on black Americans under Jim Crow, and the similar dynamic within which he lived as a gay man. Homophobia in the black community&mdash;indeed, even among the leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960s&mdash;was some of the most virulent and stubborn of all, and there are still some who resent the <a href="" target="_blank">equation of the gay rights movement with their struggle</a>. In his announcement in <em>Sports Illustrated</em>, then, Collins gave every indication that he's fully aware of the historic and cultural dimensions of his decision, and of the sacrifices made elsewhere so that he would be free to make it now.</p> </blockquote> <p>Look, man: It's called "double consciousness," not "dual identity," and it's an intellectual concept applicable to black existence in America prior to Jim Crow and after its demise. "Dual identity" is what Batman has. And Pierce's <a href="" target="_blank">mangling of W.E.B. DuBois</a> is the least of the problems with this paragraph.</p> <p>There was certainly <a href="" target="_blank">homophobia in the civil rights movement</a>&mdash;but in the 1950s and '60s, American society was homophobic, and Pierce offers no evidence that the civil rights movement was more homophobic than any other American institution during that period. Given that one of the architects of the civil rights movement's nonviolent strategy was Bayard Rustin, it was arguably less homophobic than much of society at the time. With a few <a href="" target="_blank">notable exceptions</a>, surviving leaders of the movement&mdash;from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to Rev. James Lawson to Jesse Jackson to Julian Bond&mdash;are all in favor of gay and lesbian rights.</p> <p>There's also little evidence for the proposition that black homophobia is "the most virulent and stubborn of all." Black folks, who were disenfranchised for centuries, didn't put any of those old anti-sodomy laws on the books. The legal architecture of discrimination based on sexual orientation is one of the few things in America that dates back to colonial times that wasn't built by black people.</p> <p>Rather than black homophobia, "stubborn" better <a href="" target="_blank">describes black resistance to conservative appeals based on homophobia</a>, or <a href="" target="_blank">the determination of black voters in 2012</a> who defied a nationwide voter suppression campaign to elect a black president who has himself endorsed the right of same-sex couples to marry. "Virulent and stubborn" doesn't really explain the sharp reversal in public opinion on gay rights happening not just in t<a href="" target="_blank">he black community but also everywhere else</a>, a reversal so dramatic that the state with the <a href="" target="_blank">fourth-largest black population in the country became one of the first to adopt marriage equality by a popular vote</a>. In some polls, black voters lag behind other groups in approving of same-sex marriage, but the trend is clear, and black Americans' loyalty to a party that supports marriage equality makes it clear that however broad the remaining opposition is, it isn't very deep.</p> <p>Worst of all, the only evidence Pierce offers for the idea that "the leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960s" were the "most virulent and stubborn" homophobes of all (a description <a href="" target="_blank">that doesn't even fit Marion Barry</a>) is a link to an article <a href="" target="_blank">about Rev. William Owens</a>, a Tennessee pastor bankrolled by the National Organization for Marriage as part of their (failed) racial-wedge strategy in 2012 who claims he was a leader of the Nashville sit-in movement.</p> <p>Well he used to, anyway. Last year, <a href="" target="_blank">I reached out to three actual surviving leaders of the Nashville sit-in movement</a>, Lewis, Lawson, and Vivian. Not one of them had ever heard of Owens, and Lawson and Vivian were astonished that anyone who might have been part of that movement at that time would be fighting gay rights now. In the last NOM press release I saw, <a href="">Owens had demoted himself from "leader" to "participant."</a> If you're going to slander some of the greatest people America has ever been lucky enough to call her own, you need more examples than one guy history can't even characterize as a backbencher.</p> <p>Other than that, sure, he's a perfect example of how homophobia in the civil rights movement was the most "stubborn and virulent" of all. <a href="" target="_blank">Cool history, bro</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Race and Ethnicity Sports Top Stories Wed, 01 May 2013 21:54:27 +0000 Adam Serwer 223691 at Feds Arrest 3 New Suspects in Connection With Boston Bombings <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> <style>p.mininav-header-text {background-color: #000000 !important}</style><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings</span> </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-222916"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/fbi-boston-tamerlan-tsarnaev-sting-operations"> How the FBI in Boston May Have Pursued the Wrong "Terrorist"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222851"> <li><a href="/mojo/2013/04/federal-charges-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-boston-marathon-bombings"> READ: Here Are the Federal Charges Against Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222846"> <li><a href="/mojo/2013/04/eleven-most-mystifying-things-tsarnaev-brothers-did"> The 11 Most Mystifying Things the Tsarnaev Brothers Did</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-223006"> <li><a href="/mojo/2013/04/tsarnaev-brothers-guns-boston-marathon-bombing"> What We Know About the Tsarnaev Brothers' Guns</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222686"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-boston-bombing-tweets"> What These Tweets Tell Us About Dzhokhar Tsarnaev</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222656"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-photos-wrestling-team-boston-bombing-suspect-classmates"> Stunned Reactions From Former Classmates of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222651"> <li><a href="/mojo/2013/04/boston-bombing-suspect-posted-video-al-qaeda-prophecy-youtube"> Did Boston Bombing Suspect Post Al Qaeda Prophecy on YouTube?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222441"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/04/boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-photos-video"> Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Charged With Using WMD</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>Federal authorities have arrested three additional suspects in connection with the <a href="" target="_blank">Boston marathon bombings</a>, according to the Boston Police Department. A <a href="" target="_blank">newly released criminal complaint says</a> that the suspects are college students and friends of <a href="" target="_blank">Dzhokhar Tsarnaev</a>, who faces <a href="" target="_blank">charges</a> of planting a bomb at the marathon that killed three people and injured more than 200.</p> <p>Two of the three students&mdash;Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov&mdash;are Kazakh nationals who are in&nbsp;the United States on student visas. The third suspect, Robel Phillipos, is an American citizen who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p> <p>In a 15-page complaint filed in federal court, federal authorities allege that Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov intentionally obstructed justice by removing evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts&ndash;Dartmouth three days after the April 15 attack. Phillipos is accused of making false statements to federal law enforcement officials.</p> <p>The two Kazakh men have denied wrongdoing, a lawyer for one of them told the Associated Press. The government has initiated removal procedures against the two men based on immigrations violations, the complaint says. The suspects' immigration status could lend the FBI additional leverage in negotiations with the suspects. "One of the reasons for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was so that all of federal law enforcement could leverage all of the laws of the federal government," says David Gomez, a former FBI counterterrorism official. "It does give the FBI a lot of leverage as long as DHS plays along. They haven't always wanted to play nice when they held the cards. But I don't think cooperation by either the suspects or DHS will be a problem in this case."</p> <p>Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, are suspected of carrying out the dual bombings near the marathon finish line. Days later, the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer before Tamerlan was killed during&nbsp;a confrontation with police. Dzhokhar was later captured by police and taken into custody.</p> <p>Authorities released their complaint against Kadyrbayev, Tazhayako, and Phillipos on Wednesday afternoon. The document details the three students' actions in the wake of the Boston bombings. Here's how it supposedly went down:</p> <p>On April 18, Kadyrbayev was driving home when Phillipos called him and told him to turn on the TV when he got back to his apartment in New Bedford, an hour outside of Boston. Hours earlier, FBI officials <a href="" target="_blank">had released photos</a> of the two men they believed had carried out the bombing. When he saw the photos, Kadyrbayev thought one of the suspects looked like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Kadyrbayev&nbsp;texted Tsarnaev&nbsp;and told his friend that he looked like one of the suspects. Tsarnaev responded, "lol," followed by "you better not text me" and "come to my room and take whatever you want."</p> <p>Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and Phillipos decided to go to Tsarnaev's campus dorm room. Tsarnaev's roommate let them in.&nbsp;The three students watched a movie in Tsarnaev's room for a while, the complaint says, and then Kadyrbayev noticed a backpack filled with fireworks with the gunpowder emptied out. (The complaint also says that Tazhayakov received a text from Tsarnaev shortly before arriving&nbsp;at his dorm room, saying, "I'm about to leave if you need something in my room take it.") When Kadyrbayev saw the backpack in the dorm room, he knew Tsarnaev was involved in the bombing. Before they left the dorm room, Kadyrbayev grabbed Tsarnaev's backpack and laptop and took the items out of the room. Kadyrbayev did so to "help his friend [Tsarnaev] avoid trouble," according to the criminal complaint.</p> <p>The three suspects returned to Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov's apartment in New Bedford. They watched some more news and grew more convinced that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers. Then <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">Kadyrbayev</span> put his backpack and the fireworks into a black trash bag and threw it into a nearby dumpster. Tazhayakov and Phillipos didn't physically do throw out Tsarnaev's belongings,&nbsp;but all three students knew about it, the complaint says.</p> <p>After Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's arrest, the FBI eventually tracked his backpack to a landfill in New Bedford. Inside they found fireworks, a jar of vaseline, and a "UMass&ndash;Dartmouth homework assignment sheet." FBI officials have also recovered BBs, a "large pyrotechnic," and the black jacket and white hat Tsarnaev was believed to have worn on the day of the bombing.</p> <p>In the complaint, Phillipos is not accused of removing evidence. He confessed to lying to FBI agents during one of his four interviews with authorities, according to the complaint.</p> <p>Police officials say there is currently no threat to the public.</p> <p><em>This post is being continuously updated.</em></p> <p>Read the criminal complaint:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-695293-diaskadyrbayev">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 640, height: 500, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-695293-diaskadyrbayev" }); </script></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Top Stories Wed, 01 May 2013 16:16:31 +0000 Andy Kroll and Adam Serwer 223716 at How Michael Bloomberg Is Like Kanye West <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>New York City has become the nation's leader in stop-and-frisk, the growing practice of stopping mostly young, mostly minority Americans on the street and searching them without a warrant or probable cause. The city is <a href="" target="_blank">currently attempting to defend the controversial policy</a> against a lawsuit that alleges that the New York Police Department is violating New Yorkers' constitutional rights by stopping and searching people without adequate justification. At a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a new tack in defending stop-and-frisk, which disproportionately affects people of color: He implied critics of the policy are racist.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">As <em>New York</em>'s Dan Amira writes</a>, Bloomberg's comments echoed rapper Kanye West's claim, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that George W. Bush didn't care about black people. That was a black person accusing a white president of not caring about black people. This is a white mayor telling black people they don't care about black people. (Call it a double-reverse Kanye).</p> <p>Here's the relevant excerpt, flagged by Amira, in which Bloomberg not only attacks the <em>New York Times</em> but also the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is litigating the stop and frisk case:</p> <blockquote> <p>Last week Bronx resident Alphonza Bryant was shot and killed while standing with friends near his home. He was 17. Like most murder victims in our city, he was a minority&hellip;Alphonza was a person&mdash;he had a loving mother, family, friends. It does not appear that he was even the intended target of the shooters. <strong>He was just a victim of too many guns on our streets. But after his murder there was no outrage from the Center for Constitutional Rights or the NYCLU. There was not even a mention of his murder in our paper of record, the <em>New York Times</em>.</strong> "All the news that's fit to print" did not include the murder of 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant. <strong>Do you think that if a white, 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, the <em>Times</em> would have ignored it? Me neither. I believe that the life of every 17-year-old and every child and every adult is precious.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There are 11 plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk case currently on trial in federal district court, none of whom is white. According to Bloomberg, if minorities don't want to their freedom of movement restricted because of their skin color, it's just because they're racist&hellip;against themselves. A&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em> spokeswoman <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Politico</em> that <em>Bloomberg</em>'s criticism of the paper was "absurd."</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Here's who is actually affected by stop and frisk</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/stop-frisk-outcomes-race-02_0.jpg"></div> <p>And here's how many weapons the practice takes off the streets compared to the number of people who are stopped:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/stop-frisk-outcomes-race-01.png"></p> </div> <p>As the judge presiding over the stop-and-frisk case, <a href="" target="_blank">Shira Scheindlin,</a> has said, the case is not about whether or not stop-and-frisk is effective. It's about whether the policy violates New Yorkers' constitutional rights. A policy can be "effective" and still be illegal because it doesn't recognize those rights. Surely Bloomberg can understand that.</p> <p>Check out <a href="" target="_blank">the rest of our stop-and-frisk charts here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Supreme Court Top Stories Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:20:04 +0000 Adam Serwer 223611 at Can Obama Stop the Uprising at Gitmo? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The revolt at Gitmo is growing.</p> <p>A hunger strike at the detention center has now swelled to what <a href="" target="_blank">may be the largest act of civil disobedience</a> in the camp's history, with at least 100 of the camp's 166 detainees refusing to eat. Beginning in February after detainees claimed guards were searching their holy books, the protest has since broadened into <a href="" target="_blank">what observers have called an "act of despair" over being held indefinitely without trial</a>. "The fact that so many detainees have now been held at Guantanamo for over a decade and their belief that there is still no end in sight for them is a reason there is a growing problem of more and more detainees on a hunger strike," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, wrote in <a href="" target="_blank">a letter to National Security Director Tom Donilon last Thursday</a>.</p> <p>President Barack Obama's administration maintains it is doing everything it can to close the facility. But in her letter, Feinstein called on the administration to renew its efforts to transfer the 86 Gitmo detainees who have been cleared for release. Could Obama quell the uprising by resuming transfers out of the camp?</p> <p>Without a resumption of transfers, the detainees who remain in Gitmo&mdash;even those who the George W. Bush and Obama administrations agreed are no longer threats&mdash;are likely to die there. More detainees have died in detention than been successfully tried in military commissions, and no detainees have been transferred from the camp since September 2012. Daniel Fried, the special envoy whose job it was to persuade countries to take Gitmo detainees, <a href="" target="_blank">was reassigned in January</a>. Many of the remaining detainees are Yemeni. Given the ongoing turmoil in their home country and the presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Obama administration sees sending them back as a security risk&mdash;and has yet to lift a <a href="" target="_blank">self-imposed ban on transfers</a> to Yemen it adopted three years ago.</p> <p>"I think resuming transfers would be tremendous and give the men hope," Pardiss Kebriaei, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights <a href="" target="_blank">who has two clients detained at Gitmo</a>, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. "I don't know if it would end the strike, but it would help lift the absolute despair that gave rise to the strike and led at least two men to attempt suicide in recent weeks. But another false start toward closure would be equally if not more devastating. A trickle of transfers that ultimately grinds to a halt won't be enough."</p> <p>Congress <a href="" target="_blank">has done everything it can short of making transfers illegal</a> to prevent the administration from sending Gitmo detainees elsewhere. Current law states that the secretary of defense has to certify that, among other requirements, the detainee being transferred won't ever pose a threat in the future, which is ultimately not something the administration can control. Although the rate of former Gitmo detainees who later join terrorist groups is relatively low&mdash;and <a href="" target="_blank">lower than it was during the Bush administration</a>&mdash;any failure would be politically toxic, and the certification process ensures that the Obama administration would bear full responsibility. "The restrictions have made it extraordinarily difficult, and that the process is fraught with legal hurdles," said a defense official. "Some of the things that we are asked to do simply cannot be verified."</p> <p>But "extraordinarily difficult" isn't the same as impossible, says Daphne Eviatar, an attorney with Human Rights First. Politically, "the no-risk option is always to leave even innocent people behind bars indefinitely. But as Obama acknowledged when he first took office, that&rsquo;s not an acceptable solution for the United States, and it will undermine our national security in the long run," Eviatar says. Resuming transfers "would give detainees hope that there is a way out of Guantanamo, other than death."</p> <p>By resuming transfers, the Obama administration might be able to end the strike. But doing so would entail taking on a significant amount of political risk&mdash;and, the administration believes, national-security risk as well.</p> <p>"The secretary of defense could just boldly issue the required certifications, bulling past the question of whether they were truly met," says Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law who served on the Obama administration's task force on detention policy. "With or without a certification requirement, of course, these days all releases carry political risk since a former detainee committing a terrorist act would almost certainly be blamed on the administration anyway."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the hunger strike continues to grow. The actual number of detainees on strike may be even higher than 100, because the military only counts detainees who have missed nine meals in a row. <a href="" target="_blank">Just two weeks ago, only 52 detainees were on strike</a>. Twenty-one detainees are now being force-fed&mdash;something the American Medical Association <a href="" target="_blank">says violates medical ethics</a>&mdash;and the Pentagon announced Monday that around 40 medical personnel had been sent to cope with the effects of the strike.&nbsp;Kebriaei's clients have told her several detainees were "skeletal" and "near death."</p> <p>She spoke to them more than two weeks ago.</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Congress Human Rights Obama Top Stories Tue, 30 Apr 2013 15:09:11 +0000 Adam Serwer 223306 at