Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Josh Duggar Resigns From Family Research Council Amid Molestation Allegations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Josh Duggar <a href="" target="_blank">resigned</a> as head of the Family Research Council's lobbying arm amid allegations from a sealed police report <a href="" target="_blank">obtained by <em>In Touch Weekly</em></a> that he sexually molested multiple underage girls when he was a teenager.</p> <p>Duggar, the eldest son of the reality TV family on TLC's <em>19 and Counting</em>, expressed regret for his actions <a href="" target="_blank">in a statement on the Duggar family's Facebook page</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.</p> </blockquote> <p>Josh's parents Jim Bob and and Michelle Duggar <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly knew</a> about the alleged sexual misconduct, which began in 2002, for more than a year before reporting it to the authorities. After the Springdale Police Department received an anonymous tip in 2006, they investigated, but Duggar was never charged with anything. You can read the partially redacted police report <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Duggars <a href="" target="_blank">emerged</a> as political players for the social conservative right in 2007, when Jim Bob, a one-time state representative, endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for president. After the 2012 election, when the family backed Rick Santorum, Josh Duggar <a href="" target="_blank">catapulted</a> into conservative circles in Washington as the executive director of FRC Action.</p> <p>The family <a href="" target="_blank">remains</a> an influential force among social conservatives due to its <a href="" target="_blank">pro-life views and strong Christian faith</a>. In December, Michelle Duggar <a href="" target="_blank">pushed</a> for the repeal of a measure in Arkansas that would have prevented housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.</p> <p>In May, Jim Bob and Michelle endorsed Huckabee, <a href="" target="_blank">calling him "a man of faith."</a> As of Thursday night, Jim Bob's endorsement is still on Huckabee's presidential campaign site. <em>Mother Jones</em> has reached out to the Huckabee camp for comment.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Jim%20Bob%20Duggar%20Endorsement%20Huckabee.png"><div class="caption"></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections The Right mike huckabee Fri, 22 May 2015 02:56:49 +0000 Edwin Rios 275706 at Could LA's $15 Minimum Wage Sweep the Nation? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, Los Angeles became the third major West Coast city to pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance. Though the law won't fully go into effect until 2020, it's a huge deal. LA is larger than San Francisco and Seattle, the two other $15-an-hour cities, combined. It also has a much larger contingent of low-wage workers. The ordinance will give a raise to an estimated 750,000 Angelenos, or about 46 percent of the city's workforce.</p> <p>LA's wage hike points to the potential for a major minimum wage boost to sweep the country. Although experts <a href="" target="_blank">disagree</a> <a href="" target="_blank">about</a> the LA measure's impact on growth and employment, the City Council passed it by a 14-to-1 margin. The $15 wage polls well in LA <a href="" target="_blank">and nationally</a>, despite a dearth of national politicians pushing for such a large increase. If organizers play their cards right, this suggests a $15 wage could gain traction in other cities.</p> <p>So how did it happen? The original proposal, after all, was a more modest one. The measure's backers attribute their success to a combination of grassroots and national organizing. The umbrella group leading the push, the Raise the Wage Coalition, includes more than 260 local organizations from labor, business, entertainment, and the civil rights movement. It marshaled <a href="" target="_blank">economic studies</a> to justify a $15 wage and delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures in favor. But it also benefited from what organizers call "air support"&mdash;the national campaign to pressure Walmart and McDonald's into implementing a $15-an-hour base wage.</p> <p>"It created a narrative that made it really hard for council members to simply look past the realities of what hard-working people are experiencing," says Rusty Hicks, executive secretary treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor. "The facts and campaign brought to bear in LA were in many ways only a next step in the move to address income inequality."</p> <p>The organizers are already eyeing other SoCal cities. "It is not our intention to just stop in LA," says Laphonza Butler, president of the Service Employees International Union in California and co-organizer, with Hicks, of Raise the Wage Coalition. "We need to raise the wage all across the region."</p> <p>The group's next most likely contenders are Pasadena and West Hollywood.</p></body></html> MoJo Corporations Labor Top Stories minimum wage Thu, 21 May 2015 20:46:40 +0000 Josh Harkinson 275681 at New York City Is Not the Bohemia You May Think It Is <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href=";pg=RA1-PA262&amp;lpg=RA1-PA262&amp;dq=On+a+cold+winter%27s+night+in+January+1917,&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=f1WfYYFGdR&amp;sig=QeslCdMtGH9-8ycRTLKKgP8m4rc&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=uiFeVafSHfD8sASEtYMQ&amp;ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=On%20a%20cold%20winter%27s%20night%20in%20January%201917%2C&amp;f=false" target="_blank">Greenwich Village, 1917</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>On a cold winter's night in January 1917, [socialist artists] mounted to the top of Washington Arch and strung up some balloons. [Gertrude Drick] then read aloud the document she and <a href="" target="_blank">Ellis</a> had prepared, declaring the secession of Greenwich Village from the America of big business and small minds. They called on President Wilson to extend protection to their domain as one of the small nations, the "Free and Independent Republic of Washington Square."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/copy-of-doi-greenwich-republic.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"Declaration of Independence of the Greenwich Republic" </strong> John Sloan Manuscript Collection, Delaware Art Museum.</div> </div> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Greenwich Village, 2015:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Capital One Opening Coffee-Shop-Meets-Bank Concept on Union Square</a></p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Our savvy NYC &amp; SF Caf&eacute; Associates demo&rsquo;d mbl check deposits to on-the-go Savers. No paper cuts, no writer&rsquo;s cramp. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Capital One 360 (@CapitalOne360) <a href="">May 28, 2013</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Contributor Ben's Thoughts Thu, 21 May 2015 18:50:08 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275676 at The President of the Boy Scouts of America Just Endorsed Dropping the Ban on Gay Leaders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The president of Boy Scouts of America is <a href="" target="_blank">calling for an end</a> to the organization's ban on gay leaders, saying the "status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained." Robert Gates, who was speaking at the group's annual summit on Thursday, said the changes would not be made at the meeting, but indicated officials should look into revisions in the future.</p> <p>In Gates's remarks, the former defense secretary&nbsp;<a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">urged the organization</a> to "deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it be." His address, sure to <a href="" target="_blank">ruffle a few feathers</a>, stopped short of supporting gay rights outright. Instead, Gates said that the policy shift was necessary to keep the organization nationally relevant.</p> <p>"While our work won't be done until we see a full end to their ban on gay adults once and for all, today's announcement is a significant step in that direction," Zach Wahls, director for Equality, said in response to Thursday's announcement. "I'm proud to see Dr. Gates charting a course towards full equality in the BSA."</p> <p>In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly <a href="" target="_blank">gay scout</a>s&mdash;gay leaders however were not included in the changes. Just yesterday, the Girls Scouts of America double downed on the group's welcoming of <a href="" target="_blank">transgender girls.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Thu, 21 May 2015 18:14:35 +0000 Inae Oh 275671 at Republicans Hate Obamacare Even If They Like Their Own Obamacare Plans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">A new Kaiser poll</a> gives us an in-depth look at what people think about health insurance plans purchased through an Obamacare exchange. Some of the results are unsurprising: people like plans with low deductibles; most say it was easy to shop for a plan; and most were pretty satisfied with the plans they purchased. But unless I'm badly misreading something, there's one result that's pretty gobsmacking. First off, here's a chart showing basic satisfaction levels with Obamacare plans:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_satisfaction_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>That's pretty good. Positive responses increased a bit from 72 percent to 74 percent. That compares very favorably with satisfaction levels toward employer plans. But now take a look at this chart that breaks down Obamacare favorability attitudes by party:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_party_breakdown_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>This is crazy. This isn't a general survey of all Americans. It's a survey specifically of people who don't have group coverage. Most of them (probably more than two-thirds) have actually purchased Obamacare plans and therefore have personal experience with them, but favorability is nonetheless still driven mostly by party ID. You can buy an ACA plan on the marketplace, get a subsidy, and be happy with your plan&mdash;but if you're a Republican you <em>still</em> overwhelmingly hate Obamacare by 74-25 percent.</p> <p>Folks, that is hardcore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 21 May 2015 17:17:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 275666 at This Story Maggie Gyllenhaal Just Told Perfectly Explains the Hollywood Sexism Complex <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Maggie Gyllenhaal recently lost a film role because she was apparently "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man, the 37-year-old actress revealed in a new interview with <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wrap.</em></a></p> <p>"There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,&rdquo; Gyllenhall said. "I'm 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me."</p> <p>While she declined to identify the project's name&mdash;because Gyllenhall is all class&mdash;she said she was eventually able to laugh off the rejection.&nbsp;</p> <p>"It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."</p> <p>Back in January, Gyllenhaal picked up a Golden Globe award for her performance in the BBC miniseries <em>The Honourable Woman</em>. During her acceptance speech, she stressed the importance of Hollywood <a href="" target="_blank">embracing the roles of real women.</a></p> <p>"When I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I've watched this year what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not," she said onstage. "What I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That's what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary and it's what's turning me on."</p> <p>Despite Gyllenhaal's optimism, it sure looks like Hollywood is hell bent on keeping ageism securely intact.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Media Sex and Gender Thu, 21 May 2015 16:46:14 +0000 Inae Oh 275651 at CNN Plans to Feature Peanut Gallery Debate as Warmup for Main Event <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>CNN will be hosting the second Republican debate, and they've come up with a....unique way of dealing with the fact that there are just too damn many candidates. To handle the crowd, <a href="" target="_blank">they're going to have two separate debates:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"The first 10 candidates&nbsp;&mdash; ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10 who satisfy the criteria requirements ... will be invited to participate in 'Segment B' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate," the network states in its candidate criteria. "Candidates who satisfy the criteria and achieve an average of at least 1 percent in three national polls, but are not ranked in the top 10 of polling order will <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cnn_debate_stage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">be invited to participate in 'Segment A' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate."</p> </blockquote> <p>Did you get that? All the yokels&mdash;Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, etc.&mdash;will go on first. They'll be sort of the warm-up act. Then they'll get shuffled off the stage and the big guns will have prime time all to themselves. This is pretty humiliating for the also-rans, but presumably if they play by the rules they'll have a chance to move up, just like in English Premier League soccer. Perhaps Rick Perry will stumble and get relegated to the minor leagues for the next debate, while Jindal will knock everyone's socks off and get promoted to the show. I don't know if I'd quite call this "fun," but it would certainly make for some interesting office pools.</p> <p>The first debate, which is hosted by Fox, will feature none of this nonsense. The top ten candidates will be invited to the debate, and that's that. If you're outside the top ten, you can watch the debate on your big-screen TV at home. Or, if Fox is feeling generous, perhaps the sad sacks polling at the 1% level will be allowed to while away their time in the spin room, where they can try to buttonhole reporters and explain why they really should have been up on the stage. Maybe the saddest story will win a prize.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 15:29:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275656 at Job-Seeker Hillary Clinton Posts Resume on LinkedIn <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Have you heard the news? Hillary Clinton is on the hunt for a new gig.</p> <p>And in an effort to attract prospective employers, the former secretary of state just joined <a href="" target="_blank">LinkedIn with her very own profile</a>. She even dressed up her page with an article on how to "jump-start small business."&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/clintonlinkedin.png"></div> <p>Enjoy the imminent deluge of spammy messages, Hillary!&nbsp;Everyone deserves a distraction from <a href=";referrer=" target="_blank">"sensitive but unclassified"</a> emails.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Tech Thu, 21 May 2015 14:38:28 +0000 Inae Oh 275641 at By About 2020, We'll Probably Finally Know Whether a $15 Minimum Wage Is a Good Idea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So my near neighbor of Los Angeles is poised to raise the minimum wage to $15. How should we think of that?</p> <p>Personally, I'm thrilled. Not because I think it's a slam-dunk good idea, but because along with Seattle and San Francisco it will give us a great set of natural experiments to figure out what happens when you raise the minimum wage a lot. We can argue all we want; we can extrapolate from other countries; and we can create complex Greek-letter models to predict the effects&mdash;but we can't <em>know</em> until someone actually does it.</p> <p>So what do I think will happen? Several things:</p> <p>In the tradeable sector, such as clothing piece work and agriculture, the results are very likely to be devastating. Luckily, LA doesn't have much agriculture left, but it <em>does</em> have a lot of apparel manufacture. That could evaporate completely (worst case) or <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_los_angeles_15_minimum_wage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">perhaps migrate just across the borders into Ventura, San Bernardino, and other nearby counties. Heavier manufacturing will likely be unaffected since most workers already make more than $15.</p> <p>In the food sector, people still need to eat, and they need to eat in Los Angeles. So there will probably be little damage there from outside competition. However, the higher minimum wage will almost certainly increase the incentive for fast food places to try to automate further and cut back on jobs. How many jobs this will affect is entirely speculative at this point.</p> <p>Other service industries, including everything from nail salons to education to health care will probably not be affected much. They pretty much have to stay in place in order to serve their local clientele, so they'll just raise wages and pass the higher prices on to customers.</p> <p>Likewise, retail, real estate, the arts, and professional services probably won't be affected too much. Retail has no place to go (though they might be able to automate some jobs away) while the others mostly pay more than $15 already. The hotel industry, by contrast, could easily become less competitive for convention business and end up shedding jobs.</p> <p>On the bright side, of course, a large number of low-income workers will see their wages rise. On the less bright side, <a href="" target="_blank">the experience of Puerto Rico</a> suggests that (a) employment losses could be as high as 9 percent, and (b) lots of low-wage workers will flee to other places.</p> <p>So if I had to guess, I'd say that Los Angeles will see (a) less poverty for low-wage workers who keep their jobs, and (b) higher prices for middle-class consumers, who will end up paying for the minimum wage hike. Since the poor spend more than the middle-class, this could be a net stimulus for the LA economy. On the downside, we're also pretty likely to see significant job losses. In other words, I agree with Adam Ozimek that we should not treat this as terra incognita <a href="" target="_blank">just because it's never been done before:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s true that the farther we go out of the historical sample, the more uncertain we are about the magnitude of the impact. But I think minimum wage advocates are taking the wrong message from this. After all, a $100 minimum wage would also be out of sample and subject to the same &ldquo;we have no clue&rdquo; and &ldquo;can&rsquo;t be on solid ground&rdquo; statements from Dube and Neumark. But this uncertainty is all in the direction of more job losses. <strong>When you enter unprecedented minimum wage hike territory your uncertainty goes up, but so undeniably does your risk of job losses.</strong> The idea that a minimum wage hike being of an unprecedented magnitude creates neutral uncertainty is like someone drinking more beer than they ever have just being uncertain about what it will do to their driving ability.</p> </blockquote> <p>So we'll see. My own guess is that $15 is too high. I would have supported something in the $10-12 range for a city as large and basically prosperous as Los Angeles. But $15? There's just too much uncertainty in a number that big, and the uncertainty almost all points in the direction of significant job losses.</p> <p>But I could be wrong! We now have three cities that are jumping into the deep end of the minimum wage debate, and that will eventually tell us more than all the speculation in the world combined. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 14:23:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 275646 at School Lunches Just Got Way Better in These Six Cities (and It's Not the Food) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>School lunches may <a href="" target="_blank">be healthier</a> than when you were a kid, but the wasteful and polluting materials that cafeterias serve them on have actually gotten worse. In an effort to save on labor and equipment costs, many schools <a href="" target="_blank">switched</a> from washable trays to disposable foam ones over the past couple of decades. But this trend is now beginning to change.</p> <p>The school districts of six major cities&mdash;New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Orlando&mdash; <a href="" target="_blank">announced today</a> that they will stop using polystyrene foam trays, and begin serving lunch on compostable plates.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Urban School Food Alliance</a>, which counts the country's largest school districts among its members, coordinated the change after developing an affordable compostable plate made from recycled newspaper that costs just a penny more than its foam counterpart.</p> <p>"Shifting from polystyrene trays to compostable plates will allow these cities to dramatically slash waste sent to landfills, reduce plastics pollution in our communities and oceans, and create valuable compost that can be re-used on our farms," said Mark Izeman, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which partners with the Alliance.</p> <p>This shift to compostable plates by more than <a href="" target="_blank">4,000</a> schools will <a href="" target="_blank">save</a> an estimated 225 million petroleum-based plastic trays from going into landfill each year.</p> <p>What's next? The Alliance hopes to introduce compostable cutlery by next school year.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FINAL.CompostablePlateGraphic.NRDC_.Alliance.5.20.15.jpg" style="height: 473px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Education Food and Ag Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:12 +0000 Luke Whelan 275606 at This New Study Shows Sexual Assault on College Campuses Has Reached "Epidemic" Levels <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A new study published online by the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Journal of Adolescent Health</em></a> suggests college sexual assault may be far more prevalent than previously believed. The study, titled "Incapacitated and Forcible Rape of College Women: Prevalence Across the First Year," which focused on first-year female students at one New York college, attempted to measure how frequently rape or attempted rape occurred by having female students fill out surveys throughout their freshman year.</p> <p>Of the 483 women who completed the questionnaires,&nbsp;18.6 percent reported instances of attempted rape. Incidences of rape were significantly higher when alcohol or drugs were involved.</p> <p>"Sexual violence on campus has reached epidemic levels," the study's authors wrote. "During their first year in college, one in seven women will have experienced incapacitated assault or rape and nearly one in 10 will have experienced forcible assault or rape. Interventions to reduce sexual violence on campus are urgently needed."</p> <p>Past studies have posted similar rates. One study reported <a href="" target="_blank">one in five women suffering from some form of sexual violence during their college careers.&nbsp;</a> What is striking about these new findings is that they indicate high levels of such sexual assault in just a single year and early on in a woman's college experience.</p> <p>As Jesse Singal at the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Science of Us</em></a> blog notes, scientifically measuring the frequency of sexual violence is a complex and difficult task: What one person considers to be sexual assault someone else might not.&nbsp; In addition, this latest study only focused on one campus&mdash;making it impossible to generalize on a national scale.</p> <p>But as recent events have shown, sexual violence on college campuses is a persistent problem. For decades, conservatives have resisted calls for campuses to better protect women by dismissing the issue. With the fallout over <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Rolling Stone</em>'s botched campus rape</a> investigation only fueling detractors, it's especially important for studies like the one published by the <em>Journal of Adolescent Health</em> to provide solid data to legitimize the problem so that potential assaults might be avoided.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Education Sex and Gender Wed, 20 May 2015 20:19:37 +0000 Inae Oh 275591 at Rand Paul's Latest Fundraiser Now Underway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I see from the intertubes that Sen. Rand Paul has <a href="" target="_blank">begun another talking filibuster.</a> This time it's to protest <em>any</em> legislation that extends the NSA's ability to access metadata from phone calls, even if the data is held by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rand_paul_filibuster_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the phone companies and available only by court order. Paul's filibuster will annoy a lot of people, but in the end I think I agree, for once, <a href="" target="_blank">with John McCain:</a> "He'll get his headline and then we'll move on."</p> <p>That's pretty much the lay of the land. Paul will chew up some floor time, which might end up eating into Memorial Day weekend for the Senate, but since virtually no one agrees with his position, it's simply not going to accomplish anything. I'm even a little skeptical about the headlines. Frankly, once you've done the Jimmy Stewart bit once, its entertainment value starts to plummet.</p> <p>On the other hand, Paul seems to be mostly treating this as another great fundraising opportunity, and it might very well be. But that's probably all it will be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 19:17:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 275601 at The Science of Why New York's Bagels Taste So Damn Good <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>MANHATTAN&mdash;New York City has the best bagels in America. This is a truth handed down from generation to generation. Why are the bagels here better than the bagels in Boston, Boise, Birmingham, or even cities that begin with letters other than B? Legend has it that it has something to do with the water that's piped down here from upstate. That's never really felt right. I'm not a water scientist but it just seems like some nonsense that sounds like it could be true so what the hell, sure, it's true! Doctor Oz probably credits NY bagels to the water.</p> <p>So, anyway, some cats from the A<a href="" target="_blank">merican Chemical Society</a> got together and ran some tests and spoke to some chefs and concluded that indeed it's not the magical properties of the Empire State's water supply that makes NYC bagels unique, but rather the unique competence of NYC bakers. Yes, the softness of the water plays a role but not an integral one. The baking method used in New York is just better than the baking method bakers in other cities use&mdash;but there is no reason why those bakers couldn't start using the NYC method (with some slight modifications), or so <a href="" target="_blank">sayeth the video</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Is this video accurate? I have no idea. I am not a professor of baked goods. I<a href="" target="_blank">t sounds maybe reasonable to me. </a>It sort of makes sense, right? Because, yeah, New York has the best bagels but I've certainly had good bagels other places. But those bagels are normally the exception to the bagel culture of the area. I've definitely had one or two okay bagels in LA. Maybe those bakers are using the NY method? I don't know. What do you think?</p></body></html> Contributor Ben's Thoughts Wed, 20 May 2015 19:11:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275596 at Eight Good Lessons About Health Care — Plus a Ninth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over at Vox today, Sarah Kliff and Julia Belluz have a list of <a href="" target="_blank">eight things they now do differently</a> after reporting on health care for a combined decade between them. It's a great list, and unless I missed something I think I agree with every word on it. Even item #3, which has been, um, a bit of a challenge for me over the past six months.</p> <p>Of course, as with all collections of advice, even good ones, this one has an underlying ninth item: <em>don't be an idiot</em>. Sometimes guidelines need to be broken. But they're still good to keep in mind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 17:20:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 275581 at This Is What Osama bin Laden Liked to Read <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Today, the Director of National Intelligence released a bunch of the documents</a> US forces recovered from Osama bin Laden's compound during the&nbsp; raid in Abbottabad. The inventory of the declassified materials provides a glimpse into what were OBL's reading habits. Were there novels of Nick Hornby and Ian McEwan? Maybe a dog-eared copy of Donna Tartt's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Secret History</em></a>? Or a marked up first edition of Julia Phillip's infamous Hollywood tell-all <a href="" target="_blank"><em>You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again</em></a>?</p> <p>No, you will be unsurprised to learn, there were not.</p> <p>SPOILER ALERT: Bin Laden liked to read things about al-Qaeda. Things with such sexy sundry titles as &ldquo;Prospects for al-Qaeda&rdquo; and "Al-Qaeda and the Internet: The Dangers of &lsquo;Cyberplanning&rsquo;."</p> <p>Two fun ones though: <em>Popular Science</em>'s "Best Innovations of the Year" and an article in <em>TIME</em> about AOL's troubles, both of which sort of seem like the reading materials one might find in the waiting room to hell.</p> <p>In the section titled "Documents probably used by other compound residents" we find some of the bin Laden children's periodicals: art stuff, Guinness Book of World Records, video game instruction manuals, a sports nutrition guide, and a suicide prevention manual entitled "Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny.</p> <p>Pretty bleak!</p> <p>Here's the full list of "media articles" from Bin Laden's bookshelf, courtesy of the <a href="" target="_blank">Office of the Director of National Intelligence</a>. You should probably commit the names of some of them to memory so you'll have something interesting to talk about at parties.</p> <blockquote> <p>Business Week (19 Feb 2007 issue)</p> <p>Doctrine: Journal of General Military Review, Issue 3</p> <p>Foreign Policy in Focus, &ldquo;Prospects for al-Qaeda&rdquo; (24 Jan 2003)</p> <p>Foreign Policy (Jan-Feb 2008)</p> <p>Foreign Policy (March-Apr 2008)</p> <p>Foreign Policy (May-June 2008)</p> <p>Foreign Policy (Nov-Dec 2008)</p> <p>Foreign Policy (Sept-Oct 2008)</p> <p>Heft, &ldquo;The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Determination of Illegal Combatants,&rdquo; Issue 4 (2002)</p> <p>&ldquo;The Impact of the War in Iraq on Islamist Groups and the Culture of Global Jihad,&rdquo; by Reuven Paz, Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (2004)</p> <p>International News, &ldquo;Governments&rsquo; Successful Measures against Terrorism&rdquo; (21 Aug 2009)</p> <p>Journal of International Security Affairs, &ldquo;Future Terrorism, Mutant Jihads&rdquo; by Walid Phares</p> <p>Los Angeles Times, &ldquo;Is al-Qaeda Just Bush&rsquo;s Boogeyman? (11 Jan 2005)</p> <p>Middle East Policy, &ldquo;Terrorist Recruitment and Radicalization in Saudi Arabia&rdquo; (Winter 2006)</p> <p>Military Review, &ldquo;Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations&rdquo; (Nov-Dec 2005)</p> <p>Newsweek, part of an article on an attack within Israel</p> <p>Newsweek, part of an article on President Bush&rsquo;s business practices prior to his terms as President</p> <p>Newsweek, part of an article on hawks and doves on Iraq within the Bush Administration</p> <p>Newsweek, quotes column (unknown issue, but apparently from the years of the Bush Administration)</p> <p>Osprey corporate advertisement featuring U.S. military troops rappelling from a helicopter</p> <p>Parameters, &ldquo;Al-Qaeda and the Internet: The Dangers of &lsquo;Cyberplanning&rsquo;,&rdquo; Timothy L. Thomas (Spring 2003)</p> <p>Parameters, &ldquo;The Origins of al-Qaeda&rsquo;s Ideology and Implications for U.S. Strategy,&rdquo; by Christopher Henzel (Spring 2005)</p> <p>Popular Science, &ldquo;Best Innovations of the Year Issue&rdquo; (Dec 2010)</p> <p>&ldquo;Pushing the Prize Up , A Few Notes on Al-Qaeda&rsquo;s Reward Structure and the Choice of Casualties,&rdquo; by Raul Caruso and Andrea Locatelli</p> <p>&ldquo;Studi Politico-Strategici: An Introduction to Unconventional Warfare,&rdquo; by Joseph Gagliano</p> <p>Time, part of an article on a dive of America Online&rsquo;s stock</p> <p>Tulsa World article on criminal charges against David Coleman Headley</p> <p>U.S. News and World Report (fragment, issue unknown)</p> <p>Washington Quarterly, &ldquo;Counterterrorism after al-Qaeda&rdquo; by Paul Pillar (Summer 2004)</p> <p>Washington Quarterly, &ldquo;The Post-Madrid Face of al-Qaeda,&rdquo; by Rohan Gunaratna (Summer 2004)</p> <p>Washingtonian Magazine profile of John Esposito (Jan 2005)</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">"Documents probably used by other compound residents":</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Art Education: The Journal of National Art Education Association, &ldquo;Islamic Art as an Educational Tool about the Teaching of Islam&rdquo; by Fayeq S. Oweiss (March 2002)</p> <p>Arabic Calligraphy Workshop by Fayeq S. Oweiss</p> <p>Published Work Sample from Fayeq S. Oweiss (2004)</p> <p>Resume for Fayeq S. Oweiss, Ph.D. (2006)</p> <p>Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide</p> <p>Game Spot Videogame Guide</p> <p>Grappler&rsquo;s Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry</p> <p>Guinness Book of World Records Children&rsquo;s Edition 2008 (scans of several pages from)</p> <p>Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny (suicide prevention guide)</p> <p>Silkscreening Instructions</p> </blockquote></body></html> Contributor Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275561 at Here's What Osama bin Laden Wrote About Climate Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Wednesday morning, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a trove of newly declassified documents discovered during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Among the many letters, videos, and audio recordings <a href="" target="_blank">is</a> an undated document apparently written by bin Laden discussing the "massive consequences" of climate change, a phenomenon he describes as having more victims than wars.</p> <p>The newly released document is <a href="" target="_blank">very similar </a>in content and language to a recording released in 2010, in which the Al Qaeda leader expounded on climate change and criticized the international community's lackluster relief efforts in response to flooding in Pakistan. The speech, about 11 minutes in length, was accompanied by a video compilation that included images of natural disasters and Bin Laden.</p> <p>In the document, Bin Laden calls attention to the fate of Pakistani children, who, he says, had been "left in the open, without a suitable living environment, including good drinking water, which has exposed them to dehydration, dangerous diseases and higher death rates." He also laments that "countries are annually spending 100 thousand million euros on their armies" while failing to address the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.</p> <p>This was not the only time Bin Laden spoke about climate change. In a <a href="" target="_blank">different letter</a> between Bin Laden and senior Al Qaeda leaders&mdash;also seized during the 2011 raid and written about by <em>Foreign Affairs</em> in March&mdash;Bin Laden remarked on a study about climate change and asked his associates to send it <em>Al Jazeera. </em>In 2010, <em>Al Jazeera</em> <a href="" target="_blank">obtained</a> an audio recording of Bin Laden criticizing the "industrial states," the United States among them, for contributing to climate change.</p> <p>Read the full text of the undated letter below:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div id="DV-viewer-2084350-letter-implications-of-climate-change" class="DV-container"></div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 354, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-2084350-letter-implications-of-climate-change" }); </script><noscript> <a href="">Letter Implications of Climate Change (PDF)</a> <br><a href="">Letter Implications of Climate Change (Text)</a> </noscript></body></html> MoJo Climate Change Climate Desk Foreign Policy International Iraq Osama Bin Laden Wed, 20 May 2015 16:59:14 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 275571 at Big Banks Plead Guilty to Collusion, But Fines are Pocket Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Five of the planet's biggest banks have finally been forced to plead guilty to <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">collusion charges in the foreign exchange market:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Justice Department forced four of the banks &mdash; Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland &mdash; to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks&rsquo; profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot....Underscoring the collusive nature of their contact, which often occurred in online chat rooms, <strong>one group of traders called themselves &ldquo;the cartel,&rdquo;</strong> an invitation-only club where stakes were so high that a newcomer was warned, &ldquo;Mess this up and sleep with one eye open.&rdquo; To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency and then unload it at a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_banks_foreign_exchange_collusion_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks agreed to, as New York State&rsquo;s financial regulator put it, <strong>&ldquo;stay out of each other&rsquo;s way.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....The guilty pleas, which the banks are expected to enter in federal court later on Wednesday, represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty.</p> <p>....As part of the criminal deal with the Justice Department, a fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark rate that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.</p> </blockquote> <p>The total fine is about $5 billion, and it's about damn time this happened. Unfortunately, I assume that a billion dollars each is basically pocket change that's already been fully reserved on their balance sheets. Needless to say, not a single dime of this will hit the actual people running the banks, who couldn't possibly be expected to know that any of this stuff was going on. They were too busy drinking their lunches and remodeling their corner offices to know what a few rogue traders on the 23rd floor were doing. The <em>Times</em> confirms that life will go on as usual:</p> <blockquote> <p>For the banks, though, <strong>life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems.</strong> Although they could be technically barred by American regulators from managing mutual funds or corporate pension plans or perform certain other securities activities, the banks have obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to conduct business as usual. In fact, the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's good to be king.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 15:43:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 275566 at Michelle Obama Can Kick Your Ass <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Feeling pleased with your morning run or cardio&nbsp;stroll? Well here's a reminder that Michelle Obama, who was already likely to be crushing you in most&nbsp;parts of your life, rules&nbsp;when it comes to the&nbsp;exercise game. &nbsp;</p> <p>In a new video posted to her <a href="" target="_blank">@FLOTUS account</a>, the first lady responded to the president's <a href="" target="_blank">#GimmeFive challenge</a> by showing off her fierce workout skills&mdash;boxing, lifting, and&nbsp;jumping rope.&nbsp;</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hey, <a href="">@POTUS</a>! This is how you <a href="">#GimmeFive</a>, FLOTUS-style&hellip; <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; The First Lady (@FLOTUS) <a href="">May 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>So thanks for<a href="" target="_blank"> the assist Lebron</a>, but this glimpse into Obama's workout proves once again the first lady can hold court all on her own.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 20 May 2015 15:32:19 +0000 Inae Oh 275551 at The Truth About How Obama Has Handled the Pacific Trade Deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="" target="_blank">Daniel Drezner</a>.</em></p> <p>One of the enduring memes of the Obama administration has been the notion that the president is a lousy politician. One of the things that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had in common is that they knew how to schmooze. Obama, on the other hand, <a href="" target="_blank">does not have any close friendships on the international stage</a>, nor is he particularly tight with <a href="" target="_blank">Republican</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">Democrat</a> members of Congress. Indeed, this has been a sufficiently common lament for someone to write "<a href="" target="_blank">A Brief History of President Obama Not Having Any Friends</a>" last year.</p> <p>So let's stipulate that the president is a cold fish. What remains contested is whether this matters in terms of getting things done. There are DC insiders who argue that personal relationships and one-on-one politicking really do matter. These are the <a href="" target="_blank">pundits</a> who tend to <a href="" target="_blank">bemoan presidential passivity</a> and write "<a href="" target="_blank">Why won't Obama lead</a>?" ledes and ask why Barack Obama doesn't drink more whiskey with Mitch McConnell or play more golf with John Boehner. And then there are <a href="" target="_blank">structuralists</a> who argue that what really matters are the separation of powers written into the Constitution and the <a href="" target="_blank">incentive of opposition parties</a> to, you know, <a href="" target="_blank">oppose the president's policies</a>.</p> <p>Last week's machinations over trade promotion authority (TPA) regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will not definitively settle this debate, but they did offer a few data points that suggest the relative merits of each side of this debate.</p> <p>First, Senate Majority Leader <a href="" target="_blank">Mitch McConnell gave a delightfully blunt interview</a> to the <em>New York Times</em>' John Harwood. On TPA/TPP, McConnell and most of the Senate Republicans are working with Obama, which puts him in strange territory. To explain this to Harwood, McConnell flatly debunked the notion that Obama would have accomplished more in the GOP-controlled Congress if only he'd been more sociable with Republican members of Congress:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the caricature of how Washington works, Mr. McConnell and other congressional Republicans were supposed to bond with Mr. Obama at a so-called bourbon summit meeting, as though a soothing, generous pour would bring them together.</p> <p>It has never happened&mdash;which, as far as Mr. McConnell is concerned, counts for exactly zero.</p> <p>"It's all good stuff for you all to write, but it has no effect on policy," Mr. McConnell said. He dismissed "press talk" that social outreach could bridge the deep ideological and partisan divisions of 21st-century American politics.</p> <p><strong>"It wouldn't make any difference," </strong>he concluded. <strong>"Look, it's a business." </strong>(emphasis added)</p> </blockquote> <p>And that sound you just heard was the combined egos of the "why can't Obama lead" crowd visibly deflating.</p> <p>McConnell's <a href="" target="_blank">Hyman Roth-like</a> answer would seem to validate the structuralist position of the president's ability to get legislation passed&mdash;at least when it comes to dealing with the opposition party.</p> <p>When it comes to dealing with his own party, however, I'm not sure that the structuralists can claim victory. One could argue that Democrats are just as constrained on trade as Republicans because of their base's public opinion, but <a href="" target="_blank">I don't think it's really that simple</a>.</p> <p>There were a lot of things going on in last Tuesday's initial failure of TPA to pass the Senate, including genuine policy differences between Obama and elements of the progressive movement. But <a href=";channelName=politicsNews" target="_blank">as Reuters noted</a>, at least part of it was Obama's alienation of Senate Democrats:</p> <blockquote> <p>As for Obama, he may have hurt his chances with Democrats by minimizing concerns about trade's impact on labor, the environment and regulations, and his explicit criticism of the anti-trade stance of leading liberal Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.</p> <p>"The president was disrespectful to her," Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters. "When he said that a number of us, not just Senator Warren, don't know what we're talking about...he shouldn't have." Brown opposes the fast-track bill.</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, there has been <a href="" target="_blank">a lot of Democrat grumbling</a> about <a href=";smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Obama's</a> <a href=";soc_trk=tw" target="_blank">rhetorical</a> jabs at Warren and other anti-TPP Democrats, to the point where <a href=";rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDoQFjAE&amp;;ei=i2JZVfTYCpLkgwT_9YGYDQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGHJIzoNuYA3oLVmYoZ7tMpKjZLDA&amp;sig2=NIXZkks69q34kJJOQZsVcg&amp;bvm=bv.93564037,d.eXY" target="_blank">Sherrod Brown accused Obama of sexism</a>.</p> <p>Of course, twenty-four hours later, a deal had been struck for a vote on TPA in the Senate. <a href="" target="_blank">If Edward Isaac-Dovere and Burgess Everett's <em>Politico</em> recap</a> is accurate, then Presidential Leadership (TM) played a pivotal role in the process:</p> <blockquote> <p>The White House named names. And not 24 hours later, President Barack Obama and his aides had a deal to get fast-track back on track...</p> <p>Obama aides strategically put out word to reporters of the meeting, even before senators had arrived at the White House. Shortly after the meeting ended, they released the list: the seven Democrats who'd voted for fast-track in committee, plus Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). A few hours before, every Senate Democrat except Tom Carper of Delaware had publicly rebuked his trade effort. Now the White House put on the spot the other nine who had either publicly or privately indicated they would support the underlying fast-track and Trade Adjustment Assistance package, but who voted against opening debate.</p> <p>In other words, the president had more than enough votes just in the room to get the trade bill moving. According to senators who were there, the president took his time, spending 90 minutes to explain why they needed to get their act together.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now this <em>does </em>sound like some Old Time-y Presidential leadership, and so maybe, when it comes to managing his own party, there is something to the "Why can't Obama lead?" meme.</p> <p>But not a lot. My colleague <a href="" target="_blank">Greg Sargent's take</a> suggests that last Tuesday's vote was more about Reid/McConnell dynamics than anything to do with Obama. And even the close of <em>Politico</em>'s story:</p> <blockquote> <p>Then again, some Senate Democrats said this all would have been resolved even without Obama&mdash;though maybe not in time for the House to take up the bill in June, keeping it on track to help Obama seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 12 Pacific Rim countries.</p> <p>"This was going to end up there anyway," Nelson said. "But I would say the meeting with the president accelerated the discussion."</p> </blockquote> <p>So, to sum up: Most of the time, the structuralists are mostly right when it comes to presidents exercising leadership in pushing legislation through Congress. But they're not completely right. On the margins, when dealing with one's own party, maybe presidential leadership matters just a wee bit.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Corporations Foreign Policy International Labor Top Stories Wed, 20 May 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Daniel Drezner 275526 at Bird Flu Is Slamming Factory Farms But Sparing Backyard Flocks. Why? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Midwest's ongoing avian flu crisis is wreaking havoc on the region's large-scale egg and turkey farms. Last week alone, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed that the virus had turned up in more than 20 additional facilities in the region, condemning 4 million birds to euthanasia. Altogether, the H5N2 virus&mdash;"highly pathogenic" to birds, so far non-threatening to humans&mdash;has affected 168 sites and a jaw-dropping 36 million birds, the great bulk of them in Iowa and surrounding states. It's the largest avian flu outbreak in US history&mdash;and it has already wiped out&nbsp;40 percent of the egg-laying flock h Iowa, the number-one egg-producing state in the US, according to <a href="http://Iowa,%20where%20one%20in%20every%20five%20eggs%20consumed%20in%20the%20country%20is%20laid,%20has%20been%20the%20hardest%20hit:%20More%20than%2040%20percent%20of%20its%20egg-laying%20hens%20are%20dead%20or%20dying." target="_blank"><em>The New York Times</em></a>.</p> <p>But it's largely <a href="">leaving backyard flocks unscathed</a>. Why?</p> <p>According to Hon S. Ip, a virologist at the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center, it's a genuine mystery. Backyard flocks typically roam outdoors, in ready contact with wild birds, which are thought to be the origin of the virus. Their commercial counterparts live in tight confinement under strict "<a href="">biosecurity" protocols</a>: birds are shielded from contact with the outdoors; workers change into special boots and coveralls&mdash;or even shower&mdash;before entering facilities, etc.</p> <p>Ip said that wild birds could be spreading the virus in one of two ways: directly, by bringing chickens and turkeys into contact with infected feces; or indirectly, through wind-borne particles that, say, blow through vents in a confined facility. "If that's how it's spreading, you'd expect backyard flocks to be widely affected too, but they don't seem to be," he told me. Moreover, it has continued to spread in Iowa, even after the egg industry had ample time to ramp up biosecurity. All of this suggests something else, besides wild birds, might be the cause, Ip added.</p> <p>But what? He has no idea, he said. And nor, apparently, does anyone else. In a recent <a href="" target="_blank">news item </a>[paywalled], the journal <em>Science</em> declared the outbreak "enigmatic." "All the old dogma about high-path influenza transmission has just gone out the window," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy here at the University of Minnesota, told the journal. "We're in totally uncharted territory."</p> <p>Meanwhile, in an <a href="" target="_blank">interview with Iowa Public Radio</a>, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack speculated that the virus could be entering farms through biosecurity breaches. "We've had circumstances recently where folks have been using pond water, for example, to feed and to water their birds. Well, that's a problem because the pond water could be contaminated," Vilsack said in the interview. "We've had situations where folks are supposed to shower before they go into the facility, but the shower doesn't work, so they go in anyway."</p> <p>I've seen no reports detailing current conditions on egg farms in Iowa, but it's worth noting that in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration found troubling biosecurity lapses within some of the state's largest egg facilities, after they had been forced to recall 550 million eggs due to potential salmonella contamination. The FDA inspectors' <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> detailed a variety of problems, including several involving contact between egg-laying hens and wild birds.</p> <p>While experts scramble to figure out how the disease is spreading, the egg and turkey industries are dealing with one particular immediate consequence: how to safely dispose of millions of potentially flu-ridden bird carcasses. As the <em>Des Moines Register</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>, the process is not going smoothly:</p> <blockquote> <p>Landfills in South Dakota, Nebraska and northwest Iowa, where poultry producers have been the hardest hit, have turned away the dead birds, fearful of the risk of contamination. The problem is so severe that on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stepped in to urge landfills to accept some of the millions of birds killed or destroyed by the H5N2 virus, saying delays could [exacerbate] odors and flies, problems neighbors have already complained about in some parts of the state.</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to these difficulties, the USDA has "dedicated 266 employees, including 85 in Iowa, and contracted more than 1,000 personnel to work around the clock across the 20 states affected by the outbreak," Vilsack wrote in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a>. In addition, the agency has allotted $130 million "in indemnity payments to help poultry producers who have lost flocks get back on their feet," Vilsack added.</p> <p>That relatively modest measure of taxpayer support for the poultry industry may just be the beginning. The USGS's Ip said the rate of new infections is "showing signs of slowing down" as warm weather sets in. Flu viruses are "less stable" at higher temperatures, he said, which is why flu tends to be much worse in winter than in summer. But as <a href="" target="_blank">Reuters</a> reported recently, the USDA warns that it's "highly probable" the strain will return when the weather cools this fall. If it does, and it spreads to the eastern and southern poultry belts&mdash;where the great bulk of the chicken we eat is produced&mdash;taxpayers could be in for a real hit.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Wed, 20 May 2015 10:00:16 +0000 Tom Philpott 275531 at The 85-Year-Old Nun Who Went to Prison for Embarrassing the Feds Is Finally Free <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sister Megan Rice, the 85-year-old activist nun who two years ago humiliated government officials by <a href="" target="_blank">penetrating and vandalizing</a> a supposedly ultra-high-security uranium storage facility, has finally been released from prison. A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the 2013 sabotage convictions of Rice and two fellow anti-nuclear activists, Michael Walli, 66, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59, ruling that that their actions&mdash;breaking into Tennessee's Y-12 National Security Complex and spreading blood on a uranium storage bunker&mdash;did not harm national security.</p> <p>Rice's case has become the subject of intense media scrutiny, including <a href="" target="_blank">a recent <em>New Yorker</em> profile</a> by Eric Schlosser, whose latest <a href="" target="_blank">book</a> exposed gaping flaws in America's nuclear weapons program. The activists now await re-sentencing on a lesser charge of damaging federal property. The punishment is expected to be less than the two years they've already spent in federal prison.</p> <p>Speaking with Rice over the phone this afternoon, I asked her how it feels to be free. "Not that much different, because none of us is free," she said, "and it looks like we are going to go on being un-free for as long as there is a nuclear weapon waiting."</p> <p>Asked <a href="" target="_blank">on <em>Democracy Now</em></a> this morning about her experience in federal prison, Rice gave a response worthy of Sister Jane Ingalls, a character from the Netflix prison drama <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, who was clearly inspired by Rice. "They are the ones who are the wisest in this country," she said of her fellow inmates. "They know what is really happening. They are the fallout of nuclear weapons production."</p> <p>Skip to the 33-minute mark to watch the interview:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="355" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Military Nuclear Weapons Tue, 19 May 2015 20:17:24 +0000 Josh Harkinson 275516 at Are You a True Political Junkie? A Wee Test. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm often amazed at the incredible memories that true political junkies have for trivial stuff that happened well over a decade ago. I was just reading a Kevin Williamson item over at The Corner, and he was noting that (a) some police organizations are apparently referring to President Obama's new restrictions on transfer of military equipment as a "ban," and (b) that lefties were attacking this as fear-mongering, since it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_stem_cells.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">wasn't a ban, just a restriction on how the federal government plans to spend its own money.</p> <p>Where's he going with this, I wondered. <a href="" target="_blank">I didn't have to wait long to find out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Well....</p> <p>Am I the only one who remembers the so-called federal ban on stem-cell research enacted by the Bush administration? That was a ban that was not, in fact, a ban at all, or even a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but a restriction on federal funding for research using newly created lines of embryonic stem cells. When the [Fraternal Order of Police] complains that police departments cannot use federal funds the way they did before, the Left insists that the word &ldquo;ban&rdquo; is inappropriate, that the complaints amount to &ldquo;fear-mongering.&rdquo; But <em>Mother Jones</em> wrote of a &ldquo;Stem Cell Research Ban&rdquo; under Bush, CBS News reported &ldquo;Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; Wired wrote of a &ldquo;Bush stem cell ban,&rdquo; <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> wrote of &ldquo;Bush&rsquo;s Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; etc.</p> <p>A funding restriction is not a ban; it isn&rsquo;t now&mdash;but it wasn&rsquo;t then, either. It is too much to expect even a modicum of consistency from our feckless, lollygagging media, which is mainly composed of people who were too thick for law school and too lazy to sell real estate, and certainly not from the intellectually dishonest Democratic operatives within the media (Hello, Mr. Stephanopoulos!). But we should always keep that dishonesty in mind.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess I take a much more easygoing attitude toward this stuff, especially when we're talking about headlines. Heds are almost never entirely accurate thanks to space constraints, and using the word <em>ban</em> instead of <em>ban on federal funding of new stem cell lines</em> seems pretty much inevitable. As long as the hed is reasonably close to reality and a more accurate explanation is put in the first paragraph or two, I can't get too excited.</p> <p>And if it was something that happened back in 2001? I'd be racking my brains to remember what happened and whether I should still give a damn. I guess that's what marks me as not really a true political junkie. I don't hold grudges against the press quite long enough.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 18:49:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 275496 at Columbia Student Defiantly Carries Mattress to Graduation to Protest Sexual Assault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who protested her alleged sexual assault by <a href="" target="_blank">carrying a mattress every day</a> to campus last year, graduated today. The mattress, the defining symbol of her assault and senior arts thesis titled <em>Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)</em>, was also present at Tuesday's ceremony, despite the school administration urging students not to bring large items that could potentially "create discomfort to others."</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Columbia tells grads not to bring to Class Day or commencement "large objects which could interfere with the proceedings" - ie., mattresses.</p> &mdash; Kate Taylor (@katetaylornyt) <a href="">May 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Sulkowicz was seen hauling her mattress to the ceremony with the help of friends and fellow graduating students. According to <em>Columbia Spectator</em> editor Teo Armus, when Sulkowicz went on stage to collect her diploma, she pointedly did not shake university president Lee Bollinger's hand.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">.<a href="">@Sejal_Singh_</a>, <a href="">@ZoeRidolfiStarr</a> &amp; 2 others helped Emma Sulkowicz carry her mattress across stage at <a href="">#ccclassday2015</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Teo Armus (@teoarmus) <a href="">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Emma Sulkowicz did not shake hands with President Lee Bollinger when she went on stage at <a href="">#ccclassday2015</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Teo Armus (@teoarmus) <a href="">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></center> <p>In September, Sulkowicz became a national figure and an unofficial spokesperson for sexual assault activists after she went public with her rape. She vowed to <a href="" target="_blank">carry the mattress</a> to class for as long as the student who she says assaulted her was not prosecuted or expelled. In April, her alleged rapist, <a href="" target="_blank">Paul Nungesser</a>, filed a lawsuit against the university claiming administrators exhibited bias and failed to protect him from the accusations. He says their alleged failure "destroyed" his college experience and reputation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nungesser also graduated and was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">present</a> at Tuesday's ceremony.</p> <center>&nbsp;</center></body></html> Mixed Media Education Sex and Gender Tue, 19 May 2015 18:20:01 +0000 Inae Oh 275481 at Finally! It's Tax Fantasyland Season Again! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>One of the more entertaining aspects of the 2012 presidential race was keeping track of the ever-expanding array of fanciful tax plans from Republicans. Even after Herman Cain announced his absurd 9-9-9 plan, other plans that would cut taxes even more kept coming down the pike. No candidate was willing to give up the mantle of biggest tax cutter.</p> <p>But that wasn't the truly entertaining part. The entertainment came from the fact that the candidates were all willing to describe in almost loving detail what they'd cut: capital gains vs. regular income; different tax brackets; precise rates that millionaires would have to pay; and so forth. But when anyone asked which tax deductions and tax credits <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_death_to_taxes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they'd kill in order to make their plans revenue neutral, they'd blush like schoolchildren and insist that only Congress could make that call. So brave!</p> <p>Josh Barro reports today that even with only a few candidates yet in the race, Republicans are already <a href=";emc=rss&amp;_r=0&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1" target="_blank">tying themselves in knots over taxes:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are a few ways the 2016 Republican candidates can avoid the Romney middle-class tax trap. They can break with party tradition and abandon the position that there should be significant tax-rate cuts for top earners. They can forthrightly defend the idea that people with low and middle incomes should pay more. They can abandon the promise of revenue neutrality &mdash; so a tax cut for the rich does not need to be offset by tax increases elsewhere. They can be as vague as possible.</p> </blockquote> <p>So far, apparently, the scorecard looks like this:</p> <ul><li>Carson, Cruz and Paul are calling for flat taxes but are taking the classic position that they'll talk about ways to stay revenue neutral the future. Like maybe the 14th of never.</li> <li>Christie has a slightly modified version of the classic. He won't talk about how he'll stay revenue neutral either, but he's also claiming that he might just let the deficit take some of the hit, which would mean fewer hot-button deductions to eliminate that could wreck his candidacy.</li> <li>Rubio, the boy genius of the Everglades, goes even further, taking what I'll call the Sam Brownback position: screw the deficit, he says. He's just going to lower taxes and leave it at that. After that we're in God's hands.</li> <li>Finally, Jeb Bush has taken the most unusual position of all: he's not even talking about taxes. He's generally in favor of lowering taxes, but that's as much as he's willing to say.</li> </ul><p>That's only six candidates, and there are many more to come&mdash;and we can expect plenty of tax fantasyland from all of them, I think. I mean, can you imagine what Lindsey Graham or Carly Fiorina are going to come up with? The mind reels. With the exception of the poor shmoes at the Tax Policy Center, who have to pretend to take this stuff seriously while they trudge through their analysis of each and every farfetched plan, it should be plenty of fun for the rest of us. Which candidate will come up with the most ridiculous, most pandering plan of all? Your guess is as good as mine.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 15:29:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 275476 at Taylor Swift: "Misogyny Is Ingrained in People From the Time They Are Born" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>According to this year's "Hot 100" list, an annual inventory in which <em>Maxim</em>'s editors meticulously rank famous women by level of attractiveness, Taylor Swift is 2015's reigning <a href="" target="_blank">queen of female hotness</a>. Rather than use the title to gloat about her declared hotness, Swift used the magazine's cover to call out the double standards women face everyday and the importance of feminism in her life today: From <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Maxim</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Honestly, I didn't have an accurate definition of feminism when I was younger. I didn't quite see all the ways that feminism is vital to growing up in the world we live in. I think that when I used to say, "Oh, feminism's not really on my radar," it was because when I was just seen as a kid, I wasn't as threatening. I didn't see myself being held back until I was a woman. Or the double standards in headlines, the double standards in the way stories are told, the double standards in the way things are perceived.</p> </blockquote> <p>Swift's interview is especially noteworthy considering in <a href="" target="_blank">2012</a>, she shied away from the label to the <em>Daily Beast</em>, telling the news site she didn't view matters as a "guys versus girls" situation. This was also during a time in which the media unfairly portrayed Swift as something of a pathetic boy chaser&mdash;a female singer who used her <a href="" target="_blank">lyrics to lament</a> about the latest boy who got away.</p> <p>Since then, she has shattered that image with very real, thoughtful insight into an industry built on sexist frameworks:</p> <blockquote> <p>A man writing about his feelings from a vulnerable place is brave; a woman writing about her feelings from a vulnerable place is oversharing or whining. Misogyny is ingrained in people from the time they are born. So to me, feminism is probably the most important movement that you could embrace, because it's just basically another word for equality.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is what young girls need today. Now, we leave you with her badass new video, "Bad Blood."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Music Sex and Gender Tue, 19 May 2015 13:36:06 +0000 Inae Oh 275466 at