MoJo Author Feeds: Mariah Blake | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Mad Men: Inside the Men's Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="KTKTKT" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_A-630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Warren Farrell </strong>Photograph by Winni Wintermeyer</div> </div> <p><span class="section-lead">On a balmy afternoon</span> last June, dozens of demonstrators carrying "Stop the Violence" and "Rape is Rape" placards <a href="" target="_blank">descended on the Hilton DoubleTree</a> in downtown Detroit. They had come to protest the first-ever national gathering of the men's rights movement, which aims to battle discrimination against men but has drawn criticism for stirring up hatred of women. Two weeks earlier, a sexually frustrated 22-year-old named Elliot Rodger had gone on a suicidal rampage in Santa Barbara, California, killing 6 people and injuring 13. He had left behind a chilling <a href="" target="_blank">137-page manifesto</a> suffused with a bitter misogyny and language commonly found in men's rights forums. "The girls don't flock to the gentlemen. They flock to the alpha male," Rodger wrote. "Who's the alpha male now, bitches?" His attack ignited a firestorm online, spurring women to share their experiences of misogyny via the hashtag #YesAllWomen, and bringing major media attention to the men's rights movement.</p> <p>With irate phone calls and <a href="" target="_blank">even death threats</a> pouring into the hotel in the run-up to the conference, its organizer, <a href="" target="_blank">A Voice for Men</a>, was forced to move the event to a local Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. The group <a href="" target="_blank">warned ticket holders</a> by email that "ideological opponents" were likely to show up, and that they would be "looking for anything they can to hurt us with."</p> <p>When conference goers arrived several weeks later, they were greeted by a cadre of burly security guards. A computer glitch at the check-in desk sent the line snaking into the parking lot, where some men lounged listlessly on the hot asphalt. Finally, about an hour and a half after the first workshop had been scheduled to begin, the doors swung open. The crowd clattered up the stairs to a dimly lit room with scuffed mint-colored walls and a water-stained ceiling. There, amid rows of folding chairs, stood Warren Farrell.</p> <p>A soft-spoken septuagenarian with a silver beard and delicate hands, Farrell explained with a smile why he'd asked the security team to stand down: "I said it didn't look like there were any killers out there." There was a burst of laughter. After a while, he asked everyone to stand up. "Put anything you have in your hands down and just give that person in front of you a nice shoulder rub," he said. Tension faded from the men's faces. Over the next several hours, Farrell doled out hugs, regaled them with stories about his days as a feminist icon, and waxed lyrical about fatherhood and male sacrifice. He also invited the men to share their personal pain. Some wept as they spoke.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/men-only-hotel200.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Welcome to the Manosphere: A guide to terms of the men's rights movement</a> </strong></div> </div> <p>Farrell is widely considered to be the father of the men's rights movement. In a series of books published since the 1980s, he has made the case that the primary victims of gender-based discrimination are men&mdash;casualties of a society that relies on their sacrifices while ignoring their suffering. He blames this phenomenon for a litany of woes, from the plight of blue-collar workers to the state of veterans' health care and rising suicide rates among young men. Many of today's men's rights activists view Farrell's 1993 book,<em> <a href="" target="_blank">The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex</a></em>, as their touchstone, and <a href="" target="_blank">the online forums where they congregate</a> are steeped in Farrell's ideas.</p> <p>For some, the "manosphere" offers a place to air real grievances about issues such as bias in family courts or sexual abuse suffered by men. But it also has spawned a network of activists and sites that take Farrell's ideology in a disturbing direction. Men's rights forums on sites like 4chan and Reddit are awash in misogyny and anti-feminist vitriol. Participants argue that false allegations of rape and domestic abuse are rampant, or that shelters for battered women are a financial scam. Others rail against women for being independent or sexually promiscuous.</p> <p>These ideas have given rise to aggressive tactics and rhetoric. The <a href="" target="_blank">National Coalition for Men</a>&mdash;whose board of advisers includes Farrell&mdash;has fought to cut off state funding for domestic-violence programs if men aren't included. A Voice for Men's founder, Paul Elam, who is a friend and prot&eacute;g&eacute; of Farrell's, has justified violence against women and written that some of them "walk through life with the equivalent of a I'M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH&mdash;PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads." Other activists have published names of women they consider enemies and have praised online stalkers, such as the "Gamergate" mobs who bombard feminist critics with rape and death threats.</p> <p>Farrell told me that these tactics make him uncomfortable, but he argues that all movements have&mdash;and need&mdash;their extreme factions. "I've been through the movements," he said. "I've seen how Martin Luther King alone was dismissed. It took Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver to say things that were pretty ridiculous in some ways, but that brought the attention that led to Martin Luther King being seen as the nice, centered, balanced person." He also cited the <a href="" target="_blank">SCUM Manifesto</a> written by 1960s feminist Valerie Solanas, who shot Andy Warhol. "SCUM means 'Society for Cutting Up Men,'" he noted. (Read Farrell's post-publication response to this story <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>We were sitting poolside at Farrell's home, a wood-shingled bungalow overlooking San Francisco Bay in the hills of tony Marin County. As his personal assistant served us a m&eacute;lange of roasted vegetables sprinkled with pine nuts, Farrell, who has a warm and thoughtful air, mused about his walks in the woods with John Gray, author of the best-selling book <em>Men Are From Mars</em>, <em>Women Are From Venus</em>. He and Gray recently landed a contract for a sequel called<em> Beyond Mars and Venus</em>, which will lay out Farrell's evolving utopian view of gender relations. "We're all interested in beyond Mars and Venus," he explained. "That's the search for the unique self."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">Farrell traces</span> his interest in gender issues to his childhood. His mother had given up a scholarship to Cornell to find a husband, but being a housewife made her miserable. "I had seen her move in and out of depression," Farrell later <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a>. "Into depression when she was not working, out of depression when she was working." His mother took medication to ward off the gloom, but it made her dizzy and prone to stumbling. She died at age 48 after falling in the garage one day and hitting her head. Farrell was still reeling from the loss when he moved to New York in the late 1960s to pursue a doctorate in political science and encountered the fledgling women's movement. He shifted his research focus to feminism and joined the board of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter, which made him a hot commodity. "Feminists were constantly asking, 'How can we clone you?'" he recalled. "At parties, women would plop me down in front of their husbands with instructions to 'tell him what you told me.'"</p> <p>NOW tapped Farrell to organize a nationwide network of men's consciousness groups, including one that he told me was attended by John Lennon. In these sessions, and in his popular 1974 book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Liberated Man</em></a>, Farrell argued that women were not the only ones hindered by sexism: Gender roles hurt men too, by forcing them to shoulder the financial burden of supporting families and stifle their emotions. Soon Farrell was burning up the talk show circuit and mingling with the likes of Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters. <em>People</em> ran <a href="" target="_blank">a glowing four-page spread</a> with photos of Farrell cooking breakfast in his Upper West Side apartment and tossing a football in a park with his then-wife, Ursula, a Harvard-educated mathematician and rising IBM executive. The <em>Financial Times</em> named Farrell one of its 100 "top thought leaders," while other papers hailed him as "the Gloria Steinem of Men's Liberation."</p> <p>Farrell's calling card during this era was role-reversal workshops. In <a href="" target="_blank">one session at a Tony Robbins seminar</a> in Hawaii, he made the 100-plus men in attendance gather on the stage for a beauty pageant. Contestants pumped their biceps and swiveled their hips while Farrell led the women in chants of "Shirts off! Shirts off!" and "Slut! Slut! Slut!" Those who attracted the loudest catcalls were named finalists and ordered to turn around and show off their butts, while the rejects huddled, shirtless and humiliated, on the floor. Farrell then organized the women into rows based on their earning prowess and blasted the ones in the back as "losers." While men generally were game for these exercises, Farrell said, he was disappointed to find that women often decamped during the second half of the program.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="TKTK" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_C-300.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell crowning the winner of a "male beauty pageant" as Alan Alda looks on </strong>Toronto Public Library/Getty</div> </div> <p>The cultural tumult of the 1970s was also shaking up family dynamics and turning divorce into a political issue. NOW came out in favor of awarding child custody to the primary caregiver, in most cases the mother. Farrell, who was by then teaching at Rutgers University, came to believe that feminists were more interested in power than in equality&mdash;a view that resonated with a growing number of men. Women's entrance into the workforce, combined with a stagnant economy, was making it harder for men to be sole breadwinners, and many divorced fathers found themselves cut off from their children. The men's liberation movement began to fracture, as Farrell and others grew disillusioned with feminism.</p> <p>Farrell shifted his intellectual focus again and began work on a book about incest, including case studies. One involved a New York writer who regularly had sex with his 17-year-old daughter and occasional three-way trysts involving his daughter's friend. In <a href="" target="_blank">a 1977 interview with <em>Penthouse</em></a>, Farrell explained that some saw incest as "part of the family's open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection." The magazine also quoted him as saying that "genitally caressing" children was "part of a caring, loving expression" that helped them develop healthy sexuality.</p> <p>Farrell maintains that he said "generally caressing" and that the magazine conflated his ideas with those of his subjects. "The question is, how does a man or a woman justify having incestuous relations?" he told me. "I was reporting how people justified it. In most cases the article made that clear, but in some cases what the people I interviewed had said got mixed up with what I said."</p> <p>But Farrell chose not to fight the misperception. "That taught me how the research could be misused by anyone looking for a reason to advocate incest," he says. Instead, he abandoned the book project.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Warren Farrell" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_B-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell cooking dinner for his then-wife, Ursula, in 1972 </strong>Graham Bezant/<em>Toronto Star</em></div> </div> <p>The following year, he and his wife, who was the primary breadwinner, divorced. Farrell says he still remembers the conversation that led to their split: He asked her who she would marry if he were to die&mdash;somebody like him or the type of man she worked with? "She said, 'I feel I'd have a lot more in common with another IBM executive,'" he recalls. "And I took a big, deep breath."</p> <p>A few years later Ursula did marry a fellow IBM executive, while Farrell, who would not remarry for two decades, came out swinging against feminism. By 1988 he had collected his evolving views into his book <em>Why Men Are the Way They Are</em>, depicting a world where women&mdash;particularly female executives&mdash;wield vast influence. Even those women who are less successful have "enormous sexual leverage over men" and "can use the power to get external rewards," he wrote. Men, on the other hand, have been reduced to "success objects," judged solely by their status and earning potential.</p> <p>After the book's debut, Gloria Steinem quit returning his phone calls. Actor Alan Alda stopped asking him to tennis. But once again Farrell's ideas lit up the talk show circuit. During an appearance on the <em>Oprah Winfrey Show</em>, he blasted women who expected men to pick up the tab on dates. When a female guest tried to protest, Farrell pulled a fat wad of cash from his pocket and shoved it in her face. "When you say a guy can't afford you, what you're asking the guy to do is take the money out and say, 'How much, honey?'...We have to ask, is there any difference between Abby and a prostitute?" The book rocketed up the bestseller list. Farrell, whose file drawers were bursting with grateful letters, outfitted his cream-colored Maserati with "Y MEN R" vanity plates.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="gamergate" class="image" src="/files/gamergate200_0.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Women Harassed Out of Their Homes. Mass Shooting Threats. How #Gamergate Morphed Into a Monster. </strong></a></div> </div> <p>In 1993, Farrell published his full-throated manifesto, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Myth of Male Power</em>: <em>Why Men Are the Disposable Sex</em></a>. The book tackled a number of pressing issues affecting men. It also took some bizarre turns: At one point Farrell pondered whether the American male was the new "nigger." ("When slaves gave up their seats for whites, we called it subservience; when men give up their seats for women, we call it politeness.") He took a sledgehammer to bedrock feminist ideals, claiming that women have themselves to blame for unequal pay, that domestic violence is a two-way street, and that government programs to benefit women only exacerbate inequality.</p> <p>Farrell also argued that female sexual power was eclipsing any societal advantages that men might have. "The powerful woman doesn't feel<em> </em>the<em> </em>effect of her secretary's miniskirt power<em>, </em>cleavage power and flirtation power," he wrote. "Men do." And thanks to feminism, he argued, when women felt ill-treated they could now more easily pursue sexual-harassment or date rape charges&mdash;a notion that carries strong currency among today's men's rights activists. "No one has taught men to sue women for sexual trauma for saying 'yes,' then 'no,' then 'yes,'" Farrell opined. "Men were left with less than one option. They were still expected to initiate, but now, if they did it badly, they could go to jail."</p> <p><em>The Myth of Male Power</em> struck a chord among a new generation of would-be activists for whom "male disposability" became a rallying cry. "It's their bible," says <a href="" target="_blank">Michael Kimmel</a>, a sociologist who studies gender issues at New York's Stony Brook University. "It's really the foundational text."</p> <p>Marc Angelucci, a Los Angeles attorney, first read the book<em> </em>as a law student in the 1990s. "It's not an exaggeration to say it transformed my life," he told me when we met at the men's rights conference in Detroit. Like many in the movement, he likens this sudden paradigm shift to the pivotal scene in the dystopian sci-fi film <em>The Matrix</em>, when the hero swallows a red pill and wakes up thrashing and naked with a tangle of wires and plugs bored into his skin. The world he's inhabited, the hero realizes, is merely an illusion designed to keep him docile and enslaved. (This is also a key trope for Pickup Artists, a subculture focused on manipulating women into sex. PUAs, who congregate along with men's rights activists in the subreddit <a href="" target="_blank">/r/TheRedPill</a>, were a fixation of Elliot Rodger's.)</p> <p>In the late 1990s, Angelucci joined the National Coalition for Men; he later founded the Los Angeles chapter and began filing lawsuits to force battered women's shelters to take men in too, alleging they were discriminatory. (One case ended in a <a href="" target="_blank">ruling</a> requiring state-funded shelters to do so.) Angelucci has also fought to <a href="" target="_blank">make the draft compulsory for women</a>, and he has worked to <a href="" target="_blank">water down the Violence Against Women Act</a>.</p> <p>Farrell, who serves on the advisory board of Angelucci's group and strongly supports these efforts, says the goal is "to create equality" and force discussion of issues such as domestic violence against men.</p> <p>As Angelucci did battle in the courts, the dot-com era was taking hold, and men's rights activists scattered around the country were coalescing into an online movement. The manosphere was littered not only with anti-feminist diatribes but also with racism, homophobia, and far-right conspiracy theories. One early site, Fathers Manifesto, interspersed excerpts of Farrell's writing with calls to exile blacks from America and claims that Catholic priests were sexually abusing children as part of a plot to spread AIDS.</p> <p>Farrell, a self-proclaimed technophobe, rarely ventured online, but he continued to write books and seek publicity for his cause. In 2003, he ran for governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger on a fathers' rights platform, garnering around 600 votes. Later, Farrell approached the Obama administration with a proposal for a White House Council for Men and Boys and signed on luminaries like former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but the plan did not come to fruition.</p> <p>It wasn't until recent controversies drew attention to the men's rights movement that Farrell began to feel his ideas were having a real impact. During <a href="" target="_blank">an interview on NPR's <em>All Things Considered </em></a>in September, Farrell suggested that men's rights activists were tackling the very problems that may prompt young men to go on shooting rampages. "We're all in jeopardy," he said, "if we don't pay attention to the cries of pain and isolation and alienation that are happening among our sons."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">During Farrell's private </span>workshop in Detroit, he focused on male sacrifice. "What I'm going to ask you to do is just close your eyes with me for a moment. I'm going to ask you to find a time in your father's life when your father had what you would say is a glint in his eye." As the men bowed their heads, he told a story about a man who went home after one of his workshops and spoke to his father. "He said, 'Dad, I realized that I had thought a lot about me but not a lot about you. I didn't ask you about what your sacrifices were and what really made you happy.' And his dad's response was to cry for the first time that he had ever seen his father cry."</p> <p>When the men lifted their heads, their faces were flush with emotion. Farrell went around the room asking them to share their stories. Tom, a portly, gray-haired man with Coke-bottle glasses, described how his father, a textile worker, had struggled for 20 years before stumbling into a college teaching job and finding a modicum of fulfillment. "I didn't really realize how much of a glint in his eye it was until he passed away," Tom said. "Unfortunately, he didn't stick around very much to enjoy it."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/karenstraughanfinal200.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Meet the Women of the Men's Rights Movement </strong></a></div> </div> <p>Next up was Brian, a lanky, bearded 30-year-old barge hand who'd driven up from Tennessee for the event. After his parents' divorce, he only saw his father&mdash;a power line technician who was a workaholic&mdash;once or twice a year. "The joy in him was buried so deep that it took me a minute to get clarity on where the glint came from," Brian explained as he broke down crying. "It came from me&mdash;when he'd see me step off the plane." As Brian spoke, Farrell wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Some of the other men wiped away tears or buried their heads in their hands.</p> <p>Later Matt, a clean-cut young man in a polo shirt and khaki shorts, recalled how his father spent decades working a job he hated at the IRS. Only last December, after his father passed away, did Matt realize that his father had harbored a secret passion for writing. "Basically he drank himself to death. And when my siblings and I were cleaning out his apartment we found a lot of empty liquor bottles, but also a lot of unpublished poetry and scripts," he said, looking down. "Also, I found his application to the federal government, which was from 1971&mdash;about the same month my older brother was conceived. So things sort of fell into place for me."</p> <p>Farrell had repeatedly asked me to serve as a stand-in for women&mdash;I was the only one present&mdash;and at the end of the exercise he called me to the front of the room and asked me to interview some of the men so that they could practice discussing their concerns. First up was Jim, a slender, amiable ex-professor with freckles and curly red hair. When I asked how he became interested in men's rights, he faced the group and flashed a sly smile. "Well, my ex-wife had a lot to do with that," he said. "She had me arrested for the crime of domestic violence. I went to trial because I was innocent, and I spent six months in a box with other angry men. I lost my job and my career."</p> <p>"Make good eye contact," Farrell prodded. "Connect from the heart, so you can keep track of where you're connecting with her and where you're disconnecting." Jim spun around, looked at me intently, and further explained that the episode had sparked his interest in "general biases against men in society."</p> <p>The next morning, 100 or so men were scattered around the VFW's main hall, a vast, fluorescent-lit room with a wood-paneled bar and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. A group from Farrell's workshop ushered me over to where they were sitting. Jim, the redhead, smiled and patted me on the back, as if to say, "Welcome to the club."</p> <p>At the podium, Farrell was introducing Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men. Farrell explained how he'd initially heard that the site was a hub for "angry" activists, but later discovered it was a thoughtful group of people wrestling with the same issues he cared about. He added that one of the main differences between him and his prot&eacute;g&eacute; was that Elam was "secure enough internally to allow the space for the anger." He then embraced Elam, who went on to give a speech about the plight of blue-collar men.</p> <p>A gruff man with a thick charcoal beard and glasses perched on the end of his nose, Elam says he long sensed that working men had gotten a raw deal but that he couldn't put a finger on the problem until he cracked open <em>The Myth of Male Power</em> in the early 1990s and had his red-pill moment. "The next thing you know, I was two days without sleep reading it," he told me during an interview last fall. "It turned my world upside down."</p> <p>Elam, who had been working as a drug and alcohol counselor, became convinced that his field was rife with anti-male bias. "We began to identify and treat masculinity as the disease and the cure for it was misandry&mdash;the hatred of men and boys," he would later write. "Men's groups devolved into sessions of shame, clinically applied and charged for by the hour." Elam began raising unsettling questions, such as why women checking into the clinic were routinely asked whether they'd been battered while men were asked whether they'd hit their wives. His colleagues' reaction was "incredibly hostile," he told me, which only stoked his rage. Eventually, he waded into the manosphere. While he was put off by the bigotry and conspiracy mongering, he believed the internet could help rally scattered men's rights activists into a formidable movement. In 2009, Elam, who was now working as a truck driver, launched A Voice for Men from a laptop in the cab of his 18-wheeler. "I aimed to attract the kind of people who could make a movement," he said, "women, people of color, gay men&mdash;anybody regardless of demographic, as long as they were aware of and concerned by issues of men."</p> <p>A Voice for Men has succeeded in bringing some women into the fold, among them Karen Straughan, a brash fortysomething waitress turned YouTube sensation. Her most popular video, "<a href="" target="_blank">Feminism and the Disposable Male</a>," which rehashes the central theme of <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>, has racked up more than a million views. A Voice for Men also works with Janet Bloomfield, a driving force behind the viral social-media campaign <a href="" target="_blank">Women Against Feminism</a>, which features photos of women holding signs with anti-feminist slogans.</p> <p>Elam pairs his big-tent approach with brazen, in-your-face rhetoric. When video surfaced last September of NFL star Ray Rice punching out his fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator, Elam argued that Rice was justified because she had lunged at him (though he suggested Rice shouldn't have hit her so hard). Elam has also <a href="" target="_blank">dubbed October "Bash a Violent Bitch Month"</a> and declared that men who are physically attacked by women should "beat the living shit out of them."</p> <p>"I don't mean subdue them, or deliver an open-handed pop on the face to get them to settle down," <a href="" target="_blank">he wrote on his website</a>. "I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won't fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles. And then make them clean up the mess."</p> <p>Elam says the post was a satirical retort to the feminist blog <em>Jezebel</em>, which had made light of women hitting their boyfriends. He also maintains that A Voice for Men deploys over-the-top language and tactics because it's the only way to overcome public indifference and draw attention to the urgent problems facing men. "I don't know a social movement that has made any progress without anger," he told me. "We all saw what happened with Warren Farrell. He spent 40 years engaging in very reasoned, polite discourse about men and boys, and society basically said, 'So what?'" (Read Elam's post-publication response to this story <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>But such rhetoric could lead to violence, warns Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. "When you have a movement pumping out nasty propaganda, it invariably finds fertile ground in the mind of someone like Elliot Rodger or the man behind the 1989 Montreal massacre," she says, referring to 25-year-old <a href="" target="_blank">Marc L&eacute;pine</a>, a misogynist who shot 14 women to death at a university.</p> <p>Beirich cited a third example: mass murderer Anders Breivik, who carried out attacks on a government building and summer camp in Norway in 2011, killing 77 children and adults. Breivik wrote a <a href="" target="_blank">manifesto</a> that seized on men's rights ideology&mdash;he declared that fathers had become "disposable," that women use their "erotic capital" to "manipulate" men, and that the media turns men into a "touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda."<em> </em>Men's rights activist Peter Andrew Nolan, who runs a site called Crimes Against Fathers, praised Breivik, suggesting he was "a hero." (Some men's rights activists, including Elam, disavow Nolan as a dangerous radical.)</p> <p>The same year, a distraught father named Thomas Ball, who had been denied visitation with his daughters, walked up to a courthouse in New Hampshire and laid his driver's license and car keys on the steps. He then doused himself with gasoline and pulled out a lighter. Following Ball's death, A Voice for Men published his manifesto, which called on aggrieved men to "start burning down police stations and courthouses" and warned there would be "some casualties in this war." The group insisted it wasn't encouraging bloodshed by publishing the document, which has since been taken down. "I regard violence as a bad outcome to be avoided," then editor in chief<a href="#correction">*</a> John Hembling <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a> on the group's website. "But it's coming."</p> <p>Soon after, A Voice for Men launched a site called <a href="" target="_blank"></a>; modeled after sex offender registries, it purported to track female murderers and rapists, as well as women who scheme against men. The site's motto: "Fuck Their Shit Up."</p> <p>"Mary Jane Rottencrotch wants to say that her husband beat her just for the sake of gaining leverage in a divorce," Elam <a href="" target="_blank">complained on his online radio show</a>. The solution, he said, was to give the husband a place to publish her personal information, "even the route she takes to work, if she bothers to have a job." Elam added that there would no longer be "any place to hide on the internet anymore" for "lying bitches."</p> <p>Publicizing personal information to make someone a target of harassment (a.k.a. "doxing") is a common practice among men's rights activists. In late 2013, someone posted photos of Rachel Cassidy, a 20-year-old college student in Ohio, on the anonymous online forum 4chan, alleging she had lodged false rape accusations. Nolan, who has made it his mission to "name and shame" women who wrongly accuse men, dug up every bit of information he could find about Cassidy and <a href="" target="_blank">posted it to Crimes Against Fathers</a>. Police and university officials <a href="" target="_blank">were explicit</a> that Cassidy had nothing to do with the rape charges in question. Nevertheless, she was inundated with hateful messages and death threats, forcing her to delete all her social-media accounts and quit attending classes.</p> <p>The venomous tactics deployed by some men's rights activists have helped fuel a backlash against Warren Farrell. One cool evening in November 2012, Farrell arrived at the University of Toronto to deliver a speech on the "boy crisis." A throng of angry students was massing near the auditorium entrance. Campus police hustled Farrell in through a rear door, but backstage he could hear demonstrators chanting, "Fuck Warren Farrell! No hate speech on campus!" Soon protesters in black hoodies were barricading the entrance and heckling ticket holders: "Fucking rape apologist! Incest-supporting, women-hating, fucking scum!"</p> <p>A Voice for Men posted <a href="" target="_blank">footage of the protests</a>, edited to play up images of angry feminists taunting police as they cleared the scene. The video went viral and helped make Elam's site a leading outlet for the movement. A Voice for Men later started posting video from other feminist demonstrations and publishing the names and photos of some of the protesters on</p> <p>A few months after the Toronto incident, Elam, who hadn't known Farrell previously, met Farrell at his Marin County home. "I had been just walking around with a great big man crush for 20 years, and suddenly there he was," Elam said. He began publishing Farrell's writings on his site, and Farrell started cohosting a monthly online chat with Elam. Soon, a new generation of activists was clamoring to read <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>. In early 2014, Farrell published a new edition; the cover featured a woman's bare derriere, a paean to women's Delilah-like sexual power.</p> <p>"I felt that it was a tasteful message that had not been communicated effectively to women about how powerless men feel around the beautiful woman's body," Farrell told me. Cupping a hand over his crotch, he added, "Our upper brains stop working and the lower brain starts working."</p> <p>Following Elliot Rodger's murder rampage last May, Farrell and the men's rights movement drew attention like never before. There is no evidence that Rodger (or other killers) had any ties to Farrell, Elam, or men's rights organizations. But commentators highlighted Rodger's focus on <a href="" target="_blank">the Pickup Artist scene</a> and his ideas about women and their sexual dominion over men. "They think like beasts," he wrote.</p> <p>Conservatives rushed in to defend the men's movement: Helen Smith, who blogs for the website PJ Media, <a href="" target="_blank">argued</a> that "feminists and their supporters who block funding and education going to boys' and men's issues" may have been to blame for Rodger's attack. After the protesters showed up at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit, Fox News suggested their goal was "muzzling" men. "Feminists are up in arms, calling a men's conference a hate group even though it included all races and sexes," <a href="" target="_blank">said morning show host Steve Doocy</a>, pointing to the diverse community Elam had built. "So who are the ones being intolerant?" An <a href="" target="_blank">opinion piece on <em>cnn</em><em>.com</em></a> by Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer who has spoken up for Rush Limbaugh, violent video games, and the pornography industry, suggested that A Voice for Men had endured protests and threats simply because it had the "audacity to question certain issues from a man's perspective."</p> <p>Missing from that coverage were the group's fierce tactics, which have continued unabated. In October, with vicious misogyny raging online around the Gamergate controversy, feminist pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian <a href="" target="_blank">canceled a talk at Utah State University</a> after administrators received an email threatening "the deadliest school shooting in American history." A Voice for Men responded with <a href="" target="_blank">an essay</a> asserting that the email's author was in fact a feminist posing as a men's rights activist, and insinuating that Sarkeesian stood to profit from the episode.</p> <p>The same month, A Voice for Men <a href="" target="_blank">set up a copycat website</a> that appeared intended to divert traffic and donations from the White Ribbon Campaign, a violence prevention group founded in response to the 1989 mass shooting in Montreal. In addition to claiming that its namesake was a scam, Elam's fake White Ribbon site argued that "corrupt" academics have conspired to cover up the epidemic of violence against men, and that women's shelters are "hotbeds of gender hatred." When critics called him out for the deceptive site, Elam wrote a scathing retort. "Go right straight to Hell, you gang of bigoted, lying scumbags," it read. "That is, if Hell will even have you pieces of shit."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">On day three </span>of the Detroit conference, Elam was speaking from the podium in the main VFW hall. "One of the things that we've missed in this culture, especially over the last 50 or 60 years, is mentoring," he said. "But I also think that we adapt, especially as men, and that we can receive mentoring from their words, which I've received for many years now from Dr. Farrell."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="TKTKT" class="image" src="/files/MENSRIGHTS_D-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farrell posing in 1987 with Gloria Steinem.</strong> <a href=",_1987.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia</a></div> </div> <p>Farrell, who had joined him on the stage, wiped away a tear and gave Elam a hug. "Paul, that was really beautiful," Farrell said, touching his hand to his heart. He described how his father, after reading the first draft of <em>The Myth of Male Power</em>, had asked him if he was prepared to wait a whole generation for his book to be acknowledged. "Like my dad said, 21 years later, that's finally happening. It's happening here. It's happening now. It's happening with us. It's happening, in part, because of Paul Elam." Farrell then asked everyone who had contributed to Elam's site, or "gone the distance" to attend the conference, to stand and give themselves a round of applause.</p> <p>Two nights before, I'd met some of the men from Farrell's workshop at an Irish pub. They were huddled around a long table on the patio. Jim, the redhead, hugged me and offered me his stool, and Peter, a sweet sixtysomething man with bifocals and a broom-handle mustache, came over to tell me that the workshop had inspired him to be more supportive of his son, who had a child out of wedlock. "I want to tell him how proud I am of him for being a good father," he said as his eyes welled with tears.</p> <p>Later in the evening, a man named Kevin sidled up and grabbed my hand. His breath smelled of alcohol and he was twitching and swaying within inches of my face. He told me a rambling story about a woman he dated who had put another man in prison on false rape charges. He claimed to have landed in jail for a week himself over phony abuse allegations. "Magically, your soon-to-be ex-wife finds an attorney," he said, "and it's basically all lies from then on." With a note of triumph, he added that he left his job as a program manager for Microsoft around his 2008 divorce to avoid paying taxes to a "corrupt government" he believes coddles women at men's expense.</p> <p>When I got up to leave, Kevin handed me a business card for "John Galt Industries" (a reference to the anti-government hero of Ayn Rand's novel <em>Atlas Shrugge</em><em>d</em><em>)</em>. As I tucked it in my pocket and headed for the door, he trailed me so closely that I could feel his breath on my neck. "I'm not stalking you," he said. "I'm not stalking you."</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: The original version of this story in the January/February 2015 issue of the magazine misstated Hembling's job title.</em></p></body></html> Politics Longreads Media Sex and Gender Top Stories Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:46 +0000 Mariah Blake 265836 at This Law Made It a Lot More Dangerous to Take Ecstasy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Dede Goldsmith was asleep in a Kentucky hotel room at 2:30 one morning in August 2013&nbsp;when her phone rang. "I'm so sorry,"&nbsp;said the woman on the other end. "Shelley's in an ambulance on her way to the hospital." The previous night, Goldsmith's 19-year-old daughter had attended an electronic-music event in Washington, DC, and taken the drug molly (also known as ecstasy or MDMA). Now she was lying unconscious on a gurney, her heart and liver failing.</p> <p>During the harrowing nine-hour drive to the nation's capital, Goldsmith was so distraught that she had to keep pulling over to vomit. "My stomach was torn to pieces,"&nbsp;she says. "You just know in your heart when your child is in desperate shape." Her intuition turned out to be on target. By that evening, Shelley was dead.</p> <p>The toxicology report suggested that Shelley, a University of Virginia sophomore, died of heatstroke. Molly users are prone to this condition because the drug interferes with the body's ability to regulate temperature. Yet the electronic-music venues where the drug abounds rarely offer amenities like free water or cool-down rooms that could help keep partygoers from overheating.</p> <p>"What the hell, why are these places not protecting their patrons?" Goldsmith remembers thinking.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/01/joe-biden-raves-mdma-death"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Congress Health Top Stories Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:30:05 +0000 Mariah Blake 267826 at "Rectal Feeding," Threats to Children, and More: 16 Awful Abuses From the CIA Torture Report <!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-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/cia225_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <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);"> More coverage of the CIA torture report. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-266201"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/cia-torture-report-abuses-rectal-feeding"> "Rectal Feeding," Threats to Children, and More: 16 Awful Abuses From the CIA Torture Report</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266251"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/senate-torture-report-bin-laden-zero-dark-thirty"> No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266166"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/timeline-history-senate-torture-report"> How the CIA Spent the Last 6 Years Fighting the Release of the Torture Report</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266126"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/12/cia-torture-report-released%20"> Read the Full Torture Report Here</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266281"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/dick-cheney-cia-torture-report"> 5 Telling Dick Cheney Appearances in the CIA Torture Report</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-15661"> <li><a href="/politics/2008/03/am-i-torturer"> Am I a Torturer?</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>On Tuesday morning, the Senate <a href="" target="_blank">intelligence committee</a> released an executive summary of its years-long investigation into the CIA's detention and interrogation program. President George W. Bush authorized the so-called "enhanced interrogation" program after the 9/11 attacks. The United States government this week has warned personnel in facilities abroad, including US embassies, to be ready in case protests erupt in response.</p> <p>The full report includes over 6,000 pages and 35,000 footnotes. You can <a href="" target="_blank">read the executive summary here</a>. Here are some of the lowlights:</p> <p>1. The CIA used previously unreported tactics, including "rectal feeding" of detainees (p. 100, footnote 584):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="rectal feeding" class="image" src="/files/rectal-feeding-torture-report.png"></div> <p><br> 2. CIA officers threatened the children of detainees (p. 4):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="cia threatened children" class="image" src="/files/ciareportchildren.png"></div> <p><br> 3. Over 20 percent of CIA detainees were "wrongfully held." One was an "intellectually challenged" man who was held so the CIA could get leverage over his family (p. 12):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="wrongfully held detainees" class="image" src="/files/wrongfully-held-detainees.png"></div> <p><br> 4. One detainee, Abu Hudhaifa, was subjected to "ice water baths" and "66 hours of standing sleep deprivation" before being released because the CIA realized it probably had the wrong man (p. 16, footnote 32):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="abu hudhaifa sleep deprivation" class="image" src="/files/cia-abu-hudhaifa-pg-16-footnote.png"></div> <p><br> 5. The CIA, contrary to what it told Congress, began torturing detainees before even determining whether they would cooperate (p. 104):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="torture before questioning" class="image" src="/files/torture-before-questioning.png"></div> <p><br> 6. CIA officers began torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "a few minutes" after beginning to question him (p. 108):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="ksm tortured within minutes" class="image" src="/files/ksm-tortured-within-minutes.png"></div> <p><br> 7. The CIA planned to detain KSM incommunicado for the rest of his life, without charge or trial (p. 9):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="incommunicado forever" class="image" src="/files/cia-incommunicado-pg-9-final.png"></div> <p><br> 8. During waterboarding sessions, KSM made up a story that Al Qaeda was trying to recruit African-American Muslims&hellip;in Montana (p. 118):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="montana muslims" class="image" src="/files/montana-muslims.png"></div></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/12/cia-torture-report-abuses-rectal-feeding"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Bush Civil Liberties Foreign Policy Human Rights International Iraq Military Prisons Top Stories Tue, 09 Dec 2014 18:10:39 +0000 Nick Baumann, Jenna McLaughlin, Patrick Caldwell, and Mariah Blake 266201 at That Takeout Coffee Cup May Be Messing With Your Hormones <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Most people know that some plastics additives, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may be harmful to their health. But an <a href="" target="_blank">upcoming study</a> in the journal <em>Environmental Health </em>finds that entire classes of plastics&mdash;including the type commonly referred to as styrofoam and a type used in many baby products&mdash;may wreak havoc on your hormones regardless of what additives are in them.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/plastics-mininav.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-244486"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe"> The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-244511"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/03/regulatory-capture-bpa-plastic-estrogen-endocrine-disruptor-feds"> How Industry and the Feds Suppressed Evidence That Plastics Wreak Havoc on Our Hormones </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-149231"> <li><a href="/environment/2011/11/tyrone-hayes-atrazine-syngenta-feud-frog-endangered"> The Frog of War: One Biologist's Crusade Against Atrazine</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-72096"> <li><a href="/environment/2010/09/plastic-bpa-in-cans"> Waiter, There's BPA in My Soup</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-237681"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/10/endocrine-disruptors-household-items"> Which 9 Household Items Will Make Your Hormones Go Haywire?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-217396"> <li><a href="/tom-philpott/2013/03/study-eating-fresh-local-and-organic-wont-protect-you-nasty-chemicals"> Buying Local and Organic? You're Still Eating Plastic Chemicals</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The study's authors tested 14 different BPA-free plastic resins, the raw materials used to make plastic products, and found that four of them released chemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen. That's not surprising. As <em>Mother Jones</em> reported <a href="">earlier this year</a>, many BPA-free plastic goods&mdash;from baby bottles and sippy cups to food-storage containers&mdash;leach potentially harmful estrogenlike chemicals. But until now, it wasn't clear what role the resins played. The new study suggests that sometimes the resins themselves are part of the problem, though additives such as dyes and antioxidants can make it worse.</p> <p>In the case of polystyrene, the resin used in styrofoam and similar products, the authors tested 11 samples and consistently found estrogen seepage after exposure to intense steam or ultraviolet rays.</p> <p>Styrofoam is a registered trademark of Dow. The company stresses that its product is used for crafts and building insulation rather than food and beverage containers. ("There isn't a coffee cup, cooler, or packaging material in the world made from actual Styrofoam," according to <a href="" target="_blank">Dow's website.</a>) But generic polystyrene foam, which most people call styrofoam anyway, is ubiquitous in the food services industry, where its found in everything from meat trays to takeout containers. Polystyrene resin&mdash;which the Environmental Protection Agency has labeled a suspected carcinogen&mdash;is also used to make hard plastic items, including utensils and toothbrushes.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/11/tritan-bpa-free-plastic-styrofoam-estrogen"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Food Health Science Top Stories Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:30:05 +0000 Mariah Blake 265111 at Last Night's Other Big Winner: Minimum Wage Increases <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Election Day 2014 has been disastrous for Democrats, but on one top priority&mdash;hiking the minimum wage&mdash;the party made major gains, even in red-state America. Ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage passed with broad bipartisan support in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, where the measure polled better than any major statewide candidate from either party.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/11/minimum-wage-election-2014"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Elections Labor Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:36:07 +0000 Mariah Blake 264091 at Watch "Duck Dynasty" Stars Rally the Christian Right for Tomorrow's Election <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Last week, we <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> on a coalition of influential conservative Christian organizations that are drumming up outrage over the <em>Hobby Lobby</em> case and other recent culture war skirmishes. The goal of this campaign&mdash;which involves closed-door briefings for pastors and rallies simulcast to mega-churches around the country&mdash;is to mobilize Christian voters by persuading them that their religious liberties are at stake in tomorrow's election.</p> <p>On Sunday, the coalition held another simulcast <a href="" target="_blank">rally</a>, at Grace Community Church in Houston. And this time Phil Robertson, the <em>Duck Dynasty </em>star who was briefly suspended last year after going on an <a href="" target="_blank">anti-gay tirade</a>, was among the speakers. (Watch the video above.)</p> <p>The bearded patriarch strode onto the stage Sunday clutching a dog-eared Bible and told the cheering crowd America was founded as a Christian nation. "America, America, it cannot be said too strongly or too often that this great nation was not founded by religionists but by Christians," he declared. "Not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ." (Robertson attributed the quote to Patrick Henry; its origins are <a href="" target="_blank">disputed</a>). He then read a passage from Philippians about a Christian who was imprisoned for voicing his beliefs, and asserted that the same thing could happen in the United States. Robertson also likened the treatment of Christians today to the persecution Jesus faced: "They hated the son of God without reason, and now they hate us."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/11/duck-dynasty-election-evangelicals"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Video Elections Religion The Right Top Stories Campaign Trail 2014 Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:55:51 +0000 Mariah Blake 263781 at How the Christian Right Is Using Hobby Lobby and "Duck Dynasty" to Take Back America <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Pundits may be <a href="">declaring</a> <a href="" target="_blank">the</a> <a href="" target="_blank">culture</a> <a href="" target="_blank">wars over</a>, but conservative Christians are donning their battle gear and rushing back to the front lines. In recent months, a coalition of conservative evangelical organizations has been pursuing an aggressive voter mobilization campaign that involves a combination of high-tech tools, briefings for pastors, and rallies simulcast to mega-churches around the country.</p> <p>The goal of these gatherings is to drum up outrage over recent political skirmishes, including the Hobby Lobby lawsuit, and to persuade believers that their religious freedoms are under attack by ungodly forces. During one recent event, which was shown in churches across the nation, speakers likened the situation of US churchgoers to Christians beheaded by ISIS in Syria. "We see the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and lies," said David Benham, whose planned HGTV reality show was canceled after his fiercely anti-gay remarks came to light. "What's happening with swords over in the Middle East is happening with silence over here in America."</p> <p>The campaign dates back to March, when United in Purpose, a nonprofit funded by wealthy evangelical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, convened a <a href="" target="_blank">Voter Mobilization Strategy Summit</a> near Dallas. At the event, churches and conservative Christian political organizations forged a strategy to mobilize voters for the 2014 midterms. United in Purpose, a behind-the-scenes technology and communications group with <a href="" target="_blank">deep </a><a href="" target="_blank">dominionist</a><a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;ties</a>, also shared a variety of tools including videos and voter mobilization apps. (One app&nbsp;allows pastors to compare their membership rosters with voter rolls, so they can better guide their flock to the polls.) The Family Research Council and Texas-based Vision America, which played a key role in the summit, then began hosting policy briefings for pastors and staging lavishly produced voter mobilization events that were broadcast live to&nbsp;churches and groups across the country.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/10/evangelical-hobby-lobby-duck-dynasty-election"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Elections Religion The Right Top Stories Campaign Trail 2014 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:30:09 +0000 Mariah Blake 263651 at Why Are These Hedge Fund Kingpins Dumping Millions Into the Midterms? <!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/simons630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Hedge fund pioneer James Simons during a 2007 interview </strong>Mark Lennihan/AP</div> </div> <p>As Democrats and Republicans battle for control of the Senate, hedge funds are <a href="">dumping millions of dollars into congressional campaigns</a>. Most of these companies are lining up behind one party or the other. But the second-biggest spender, Long Island-based Renaissance Technologies, is playing both sides of the aisle. As of early September, the firm's CEO, Robert Mercer, had given $3.1 million to Republican candidates and super-PACs. Its founder and chairman, James Simons&mdash;a brilliant former National Security Agency code breaker&mdash;had donated $3.2 million to their Democratic counterparts.</p> <p>Neither man has spoken publicly about his motives, but the donations coincide with at least two federal investigations into Renaissance's business dealings. In July, Renaissance executives were <a href="">hauled before a Senate subcommittee</a> and grilled about the company's use of complex financial instruments to dodge billions of dollars in taxes and skirt federal leverage limits, which protect the financial markets from swings and crashes. As Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) put it during the hearing, "excessive leverage" can "bring down not just a reckless borrower, but the financial institution that lent it money, and that failure can ripple through the entire financial system."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/10/hedge-fund-taxes-superpacs-election-renaissance"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Corporations Elections Money in Politics Top Stories Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:45:05 +0000 Mariah Blake 262096 at Texas' New Public School Textbooks Promote Climate Change Denial and Downplay Segregation <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p style="clear:none;">The <a href="" target="_blank">battle over Texas&nbsp;textbooks</a> is raging once again. On Tuesday, hundreds of citizens turned out for the first public hearing on the controversial social-science materials now under review as part of the state's contentious once-in-a-decade textbook adoption process. During the all-day proceedings, activists and historians pointed out numerous factual errors and complained that the books promoted tea party ideology while mocking affirmative action and downplaying the science linking human activity to climate change. "They are full of biases that are either outside the established mainstream scholarship, or just plain wrong," Jacqueline&nbsp;Jones, who chairs the history department at the University of Texas-Austin, said from the podium. "It can lead to a great deal of confusion in the reader."</p> <p style="clear:none;">Other speakers raised concerns about the treatment of religion, especially the tendency of some books to play up the role of Christianity in our nation's founding. <a href=";action=search&amp;channel=news%2Ftexas&amp;search=1&amp;inlineLink=1&amp;query=%22Kathleen+Wellman%22">Kathleen Wellman</a>, a professor of history <a href=";action=search&amp;channel=news%2Ftexas&amp;search=1&amp;inlineLink=1&amp;query=%22Southern+Methodist+University%22">Southern Methodist University</a>, noted with dismay that a popular civics text was filled with references to Moses and claimed that the biblical prophet had inspired American democracy. If the draft texts are adopted as is, she argued, Texas children could grow up "believing that Moses was the first American." Conservatives, meanwhile, complained that the books gave too much space to liberal figures such as Hillary Clinton.</p> <p style="clear:none;">It's a high-stakes debate. Because Texas has one of the nation's largest public school systems and some of the most rigid textbook requirements, publishers have traditionally tailored textbooks they sell nationwide to the Lone Star market.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/09/texas-textbooks-promote-climate-change-denial-downplay-segregation"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Climate Change Climate Desk Education Religion Science Top Stories Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:48:46 +0000 Mariah Blake 260421 at News Organizations Battle Pennsylvania Over Secret Source of Its Execution Drugs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and four news organizations filed an emergency <a href="" target="_blank">legal motion on</a> Thursday, demanding that Pennsylvania reveal the source of its execution drugs.</p> <p>Later this month, the state is scheduled to put 57-year-old Hubert Michael to death for raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1993. While the execution has been stayed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU&nbsp;fears the hold could be lifted at any time, opening the way for the first execution in Pennsylvania in more than 15 years.</p> <p>Since 2011, when the European Union banned the export of drugs for use in executions, Pennsylvania and other death penalty states have been forced to rely on untested drug combinations and loosely regulated compounding pharmacies, and most have become secretive about the sources and contents of their lethal injection drugs. Death row inmates around the country have sued to block their executions on the grounds that withholding this information is unconstitutional. Untested or poorly prepared drug cocktails could, they argue, create a level of suffering that violates the Eight Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. So far, they've met with little success. Clayton Lockett, who lost his bid to force the state of Oklahoma to reveal the source and purity of the drugs used to put him to death, writhed and moaned in apparent agony after being injected <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;" target="_blank">with a secretly acquired drug combinations</a> in April.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/09/news-organizations-sue-pennsylvania-execution-drugs"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice death Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:59:08 +0000 Mariah Blake 260071 at