Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/%E2%80%9Dhttp%3A/washingtonindependent.com/58689/epa-puts-brakes-on-surface-mining-in-appalachia%E2%80%9D http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Largest Newspaper In Indiana Just Made One Hell Of A Statement http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/indiana-is-like-barely-a-state-anyway-amirite <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is the front page of tomorrow <em>Indianapolis Star:</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>It's this important. Tuesday's front page. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rfra?src=hash">#rfra</a> <a href="http://t.co/gVPf82J2iu">pic.twitter.com/gVPf82J2iu</a></p> &mdash; Mark Alesia (@markalesia) <a href="https://twitter.com/markalesia/status/582729433607376896">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/2015/03/30/editorial-gov-pence-fix-religious-freedom-law-now/70698802/" target="_blank">Hell yeah.</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We are at a critical moment in Indiana's history.</p> <p>And much is at stake.</p> <p>Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.</p> <p>All of this is at risk because of a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that no matter its original intent already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future.</p> <p>The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.</p> <p>Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/2015/03/30/editorial-gov-pence-fix-religious-freedom-law-now/70698802/" target="_blank">Go read the whole thing.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:06:56 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272656 at http://www.motherjones.com A Bunch of Idiots Took Selfies in Front of the East Village Fire in NYC—and Fox News Blamed Obama http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/fox-news-host-blames-obama-destroying-gold-standard-society-selfie-stick <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Back in February, President Obama recorded a short video of himself using a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/obama-selfie-stick-buzzfeed" target="_blank">selfie stick</a>&mdash;the elongated recording tool some critics warn is enabling a generation of <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/13/cue-conservative-media-outrage-over-obamas-self/202531" target="_blank">self-absorbed</a> millennials&mdash;with the obvious intention to promote Obamacare with a side of fun. The clip, recorded for<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewgauthier/the-president-uses-a-selfie-stick#.kidJjqDG0" target="_blank"> Buzzfeed</a>, instantly went viral and was largely well-received with a chuckle.</p> <p>But according to one Fox News host today, Obama and his selfie stick-wielding video are to blame for encouraging ill advised photos such as the ones of New York City tourists snapping selfies in front of a large building fire.</p> <p>Up in arms over the East Village selfies, <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/thanks-obama-fox-host-blames-president-for-teen-taking-inappropriate-selfie-at-auschwitz/" target="_blank">"Outnumbered" host Harris Faulkner explained on Monday:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When the president does it, you've got a whole new generation now. I&rsquo;m not just picking on the older adults and protecting the little kids.</p> <p>But you&rsquo;ve got a bar that&rsquo;s moving now. That gold standard isn&rsquo;t what it used to be. You&rsquo;ve got on a weekend, we&rsquo;re talking Islamic state, we&rsquo;re talking all sorts of things, and you&rsquo;ve got a president with a selfie stick that&rsquo;s as tall as I am taking pictures of himself, 'Can&rsquo;t get my hand in the cookie jar!'</p> </blockquote> <p>The Obama bashing aside, Faulkner and her co-hosts join a chorus of haters who fundamentally <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/07/22/the-other-side-of-the-infamous-auschwitz-selfie/" target="_blank">misunderstand</a> what it is for millennials to take selfies. While photos such as the ones taken over the weekend probably aren't the best idea, the outrage over selfies is ultimately misplaced. And considering Faulkner clearly enjoys a bit of <a href="https://instagram.com/p/ynJC-2HlRk/?taken-by=harrisfaulkner" target="_blank">selfie-taking herself</a>, this is particularly annoying.</p> <p>As we've argued before, anyone worried a mere selfie is destroying our youth should really just chill and take a moment to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/on-this-day-rembrandt-selfie" target="_blank">consider Rembrandt. </a></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3XwJnOM27fc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/thanks-obama-fox-host-blames-president-for-teen-taking-inappropriate-selfie-at-auschwitz/" target="_blank">(h/t Raw Story)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Obama Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:30:40 +0000 Inae Oh 272631 at http://www.motherjones.com Yes, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker Are Different Kinds of Conservatives http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/yes-jeb-bush-and-scott-walker-are-different-kinds-conservatives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_walker.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Jeb Bush may project a warmer, fuzzier, less hardnosed conservatism than Scott Walker, but is there really much difference between them? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/30/morning-plum-scott-walker-versus-jeb-bush-for-soul-of-the-gop/" target="_blank">Greg Sargent isn't so sure:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;ll be watching: How will this basic underlying difference, if it is real, manifest itself in actual policy terms? On immigration...both support eventual legalization only after the border is secured. Will their very real tonal difference show up in real policy differences?</p> <p>On inequality, Walker may employ harsher rhetoric about the safety net than Bush does, but the evidence suggests that both are animated by the underlying worldview that one of the primary problems in American life is that we have too much government-engineered downward redistribution of wealth....Will Walker and Bush differentiate themselves from one another in economic policy terms in the least?</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_03/bush_versus_walker_mainly_a_ch054855.php" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore agrees:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The important thing is not assuming Bush and Walker represent anything new or different from each other just because they offer <em>different theories of electability and different ways of talking to swing and base voters.</em> Much of what has characterized all the recent intra-party "fights" within the GOP has reflected arguments over strategy and tactics rather than ideology and goals. I'd say there is a rebuttable presumption that will continue into the 2016 presidential contest.</p> </blockquote> <p>You'd think that the way to get a grip on this question would be to look at the 2000 election. Jeb's brother, George W. Bush, ran as a "compassionate conservative," and during the campaign he even made good on that. Remember his criticism of a Republican proposal regarding the EITC: "I don't think they ought to be balancing their budget on the backs of the poor"? Compassionate!</p> <p>So how did that work out? Well, that's the funny thing: it's hard to say. Liberals tend to see Bush as a hardline conservative, but that's mainly because of the Iraq War and Karl Rove's hardball electoral tactics, which drove us crazy. Conservatives, by contrast, don't believe he was really all that conservative at all. And I think they have a point. In fact, I made that case myself way back in 2006 <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0603.drum.html" target="_blank">in a review of Bruce Bartlett's <em>Imposter</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Bush may be a Republican&mdash;boy howdy, is he a Republican&mdash;but he's not the fire-breathing ideologue of liberal legend.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Don't believe it? Consider Bartlett's review of Bush's major domestic legislative accomplishments. He teamed up with Ted Kennedy to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, which increased education spending by over $20 billion and legislated a massive new federal intrusion into local schools. He co-opted Joe Lieberman's proposal to create a gigantic new federal bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. He has mostly abandoned free trade in favor of a hodgepodge of interest-group-pleasing tariffs. And after initially opposing it, Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill with almost pathetic eagerness in the wake of the Enron debacle, putting in place a phonebook-sized stack of new business regulations.</p> <p>Want more? He signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, a b&ecirc;te noir of conservatives for years. His Medicare prescription-drug bill was the biggest new entitlement program since the Great Society. He initially put a hold on a wide range of last-minute executive orders from the Clinton administration, but after a few months of "study" allowed nearly all of them to stand. And he has increased domestic discretionary spending at a higher rate than any president since LBJ.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obviously there's more to Bush's record than this&mdash;tax cuts, judicial appointments, the Iraq War, etc.&mdash;and he certainly counts as a conservative when you look at his entire tenure in office. The question is whether there's a difference between his brand of conservatism and, say, Scott Walker's or Ted Cruz's. I'd say there is, and that there's probably also a difference between Jeb Bush's brand of conservatism and the harder-line folks represented by Walker, Cruz, Santorum, and others. Tonal shifts and tactical choices often turn into real differences in who gets appointed to various cabinet positions and which priorities a new president will set. Jeb Bush is obviously no liberal. But would he govern differently than Scott Walker? My guess is that he would.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Jeb Bush Scott Walker The Right Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:13:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 272601 at http://www.motherjones.com I Have a Pseudo-Flu http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/i-have-pseudo-flu <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When I was told that my daily injections of Neupogen would give me "flu-like symptoms," I wondered what that meant. Well, last night it meant that I felt a lot like I had the flu. I felt crappy indeed.</p> <p>But there's some good news! "We <em>want</em> you to feel bad," my doctor told me last week a little apologetically. That means the drug is working. (That is, it's producing white blood cells and my body is reacting as if there were some kind of virus that had triggered this production.) So I guess it's working. Hooray!</p> <p>I feel a little better this morning, but then, I usually feel a little better in the mornings. So we'll see how things go. It's just one thrill ride after another these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:44:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 272591 at http://www.motherjones.com Sorry Mike, Indiana Is Neither Kind Nor Welcoming to Gays Anymore http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/sorry-mike-indiana-neither-kind-nor-welcoming-gays-anymore <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>George Stephanopoulos tried really hard on Sunday to get Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to clarify the intent of his state's shiny new religious freedom bill. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/gov-mike-pence-religious-freedom-law-29987447" target="_blank">It didn't go well:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Stephanopoulos:</em> I'm just bringing up a question from one of your supporters talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist. Against <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pence_this_week.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">any kind of punishment. Is that true or not?</p> <p><em>Pence:</em> George, look....You've been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. <strong>There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.</strong> Yet, because we stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we suffer under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it's completely baseless.</p> <p>....<em>Stephanopoulos:</em> So when you say tolerance is a two-way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service, or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that's legal in the state of Indiana? That's a simple yes or no question.</p> <p><em>Pence:</em> George, the question here is, is if there is a government action or law that a individual believes impinges on their freedom of religion, they have the opportunity to go to court....<strong>This is not about disputes between individuals. It's about government overreach.</strong> And I'm proud that Indiana stepped forward. And I'm working hard to clarify this.</p> </blockquote> <p>But it turns out this isn't quite true. Indiana's RFRA really is different from most others. <a href="http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/?utm_source=SFTwitter" target="_blank">Garrett Epps explains:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA&mdash;and most state RFRAs&mdash;do not. <strong>First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to &ldquo;the free exercise of religion.&rdquo;</strong>....What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has &ldquo;free exercise&rdquo; rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year&rsquo;s decision in <em>Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores</em>, in which the Court&rsquo;s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees&rsquo; statutory right to contraceptive coverage.</p> <p><strong>Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business&rsquo;s &ldquo;free exercise&rdquo; right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government.</strong> Why does this matter? Well, there&rsquo;s a lot of evidence that the new wave of &ldquo;religious freedom&rdquo; legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple&rsquo;s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in &ldquo;public accommodations&rdquo; on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico&rsquo;s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply &ldquo;because the government is not a party.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.</strong> Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hoosiers may indeed be the kindest and most welcoming folks in the country, but that cuts no ice in court. In court, any business can claim that it's being discriminated against if it's forced to sell its services to a gay couple, and thanks to specific language in the Indiana statute, no court can throw out the claim on the grounds that a business is a public accommodation.</p> <p>That's different from other RFRAs, and it's neither especially kind nor welcoming. Indiana has taken anti-gay hostility to a new and higher level, and Pence and his legislature deserve all the flack they're getting for it. They should be ashamed of themselves.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you're thinking of running for president, I guess it's a great entry in the base-pandering, more-conservative-than-thou sweepstakes. So at least Pence now has that going for him.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Civil Liberties Gay Rights Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:05:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 272586 at http://www.motherjones.com Trevor Noah to Replace Jon Stewart as "Daily Show" Host http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/trevor-noah-replace-jon-stewart-daily-show-host <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Trevor Noah, who first debuted on "The Daily Show" as a correspondent in December, is to replace Jon Stewart as the show's new host. "You don&rsquo;t believe it for the first few hours,&rdquo; Noah told the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/arts/television/trevor-noah-to-succeed-jon-stewart-on-the-daily-show.html" target="_blank"><em>New York Times </em></a>ahead of Monday's official announcement from Dubai. "You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you&rsquo;re in a place where you can&rsquo;t really get alcohol."</p> <p>The 31-year-old comedian from South Africa has only appeared on the show three times. In February, Stewart broke the news he would be exiting from the Comedy Central show after more than <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/02/report-jon-stewart-leaving-daily-show" target="_blank">15 years on air.</a> The network confirmed the news in a <a href="http://thedailyshow.cc.com/trevor-noah?xrs=synd_twitter_033015_tds_45" target="_blank">statement</a> below:</p> <blockquote> <p>Trevor Noah has been selected to become the next host of the Emmy&reg; and Peabody&reg; Award-winning The Daily Show.</p> <p>Noah joined The Daily Show in 2014 as a contributor. He made his U.S. television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late night show. Noah has hosted numerous television shows including his own late night talk show in his native country, Tonight with Trevor Noah.</p> <p>He was featured on the October 2014 cover of GQ South Africa and has been profiled in Rolling Stone, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal, and by CNN and NPR&rsquo;s Talk of the Nation, among others. He continues to tour all over the world and has performed in front of sold out crowds at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Watch Noah's first appearance on "The Daily Show." </strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AHO1a1kvZGo" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Media Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:51:58 +0000 Inae Oh 272576 at http://www.motherjones.com Laura Marling Just Keeps Getting Better http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/singer-laura-marling-short-movie <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/DdCdT_dcmUI?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Laura Marling<br><em>Short Movie</em><br> Ribbon Music</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-27%20at%2010.58.37%20AM.png" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>With her clear, forthright voice and ringing acoustic guitar (not to mention enormous songwriting smarts), Britain's Laura Marling has always been a bit intimidating, and this stunning fifth album may be her strongest work yet. <em>Short Movie</em> is an extended meditation on the endless tug of war between the fear of loneliness and the desire to be free from the affections and expectations of others. "Is it still okay that I don't know how to be alone?" she asks in "False Hope," while "I Feel Your Love" finds her declaring, "You must let me go before I get old / I need to find someone who really wants to be mine," throwing cold water on romantic clich&eacute;s with her usual blunt vigor. In "Don't Let Me Bring You Down," she exclaims, "Did you think I was fucking around?" Another cut, "Howl," finds her parting from a lover in far gentler fashion. <em>Short Movie</em> varies its textures with occasional drums and electric guitar, as well as lovely dashes of cello, but Marling's restless, relentlessly honest songs remain the main attraction. Despite superficial similarities to the young Joni Mitchell, she's her own amazing creation, and just keeps getting better.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Jon Young 272491 at http://www.motherjones.com The US Has No Clean Battle Lines in the Middle East http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/us-has-no-clean-battle-lines-middle-east <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/416115/top-nbc-foreign-correspondent-us-strategy-middle-east-leaving-region-confused-andrew" target="_blank">From The Corner:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The United States is sending mixed signals to its allies in the Middle East by simultaneously giving support to the Saudi-led Sunni coalition fighting in Yemen and negotiating with Shiite Iran on its nuclear program, according to NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.</p> <p>Engel pinpoints an apparent contradiction: <strong>Even as the U.S. is assisting Saudi Arabia and other nations in &ldquo;confronting the Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen&rdquo; by providing intelligence and other support, it continues to negotiate with Tehran on its nuclear program, and to collaborate with Iranian forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.</strong></p> <p>As a result, Engel says, &ldquo;the Saudis, and the larger Sunni Muslim world, doesn&rsquo;t [sic] feel the U.S. can really be trusted.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Gee, no kidding. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni ally of the US that hates Iran. Iraq is a Shiite ally who's cozy with Iran. The US itself is hostile toward Iran, but shares a common enemy in ISIS. Syria is a total mess with no clear good guys. And, yes, a good nuclear deal with Iran would be a bonus for the safety of the entire region.</p> <p>That's it. That's the way the world is. The United States is not allied solely with Shiite or Sunni regimes and hasn't been since at least 9/11. It's confusing. It's messy. And maybe President Obama hasn't handled it as skillfully as he could have. But who could have done any better? There just aren't any clean battle lines here, and the sooner everyone faces up to that, the better off we'll be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:11:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 272556 at http://www.motherjones.com Peculiar Eyesight Question http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/peculiar-eyesight-question <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'll be asking my optometrist about this shortly, but just for fun I thought I'd throw it out to the hive mind to see if anyone knows what's going on.</p> <p>Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that my distance vision is a little fuzzy. Time for new glasses, you say, and you're probably right. But here's the odd thing. I keep all my old glasses, and last night I tried them all on just to see if an <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_red_blue_led_clocks.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">older prescription worked better than my current glasses. What I discovered was a little strange.</p> <p>Right under my TV I happen to have two LED clocks. One uses red LEDs and the other uses blue LEDs. With my current glasses, the blue LEDs are sharp and the red LEDs are fuzzy. But when I put on glasses that are a few years old, it changes. The red LEDs are sharp and the blue LEDs are fuzzy. The difference is quite noticeable, not a subtle thing at all.</p> <p>Anyone know what this is all about?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:14:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 272551 at http://www.motherjones.com Should We Welcome Saudi Arabia to the Fight in the Middle East? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/should-we-welcome-saudi-arabia-fight-middle-east <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I have occasionally griped in this space about the fact that putative Middle East allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan basically view the American military as a sort of mercenary force to fight their own tribal battles. Sure, they provide us with basing rights, and sometimes money, but they want us to do all the fighting, and they complain bitterly about American naivet&eacute; when we don't fight every war they think we should fight.</p> <p>Recently this has changed a bit, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan launching independent air attacks against various neighbors, and Saudi Arabia even making noises about launching ground attacks in Yemen. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/be-happy-they-are-acting" target="_blank">Josh Marshall makes some useful points:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It is always dangerous when power and accountability are unchained from each other. In recent decades, we've had a system in which our clients look to us for protection, ask for military action of various sorts&nbsp;&mdash; but <em>privately</em>. <strong>And then we act, but always in the process whipping up anti-American sentiment, mixed with extremist religious enthusiasms, which our allies often, paradoxically, stoke or accommodate to secure their own holds on power.</strong> This is, to put it mildly, an unstable and politically toxic state of affairs. This does not even get into the costs to the US in blood and treasure.</p> <p>There are pluses to the old or existing system. We control everything. Wars don't start until we start them. But the downsides are obvious, as well. <strong>And nowhere has this been more clear than with the Saudis. The Saudis sell us oil; and they buy our weapons. We start wars to protect them, the reaction to which curdles in the confines of their domestic repression and breaks out in terrorist attacks against us.</strong> I don't mean to suggest that we are purely victims here. We're not. But it's a pernicious arrangement.</p> <p>This is why I think we should be heartened to see the Saudis acting on their own account, taking action on their own account for which they must create domestic support and stand behind internationally.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's more, and Marshall is hardly unaware of the risks in widespread military action among countries that barely even count as coherent states. "Still, the old system bred irresponsibility on many levels, including a lack of responsibility and accountability from the existing governments in the region. For all the dangers and unpredictabilities involved with having the Saudis or in other cases the Egyptians stand up and take actions which they believe are critical to their security on their own account is better for everyone involved."</p> <p>Some food for thought this weekend.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:01:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 272546 at http://www.motherjones.com BREAKING: Italian Court Reaches Verdict In Amanda Knox Case http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/03/breaking-italian-court-reaches-verdict-amanda-knox-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>AFP</em> has the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/italy-clears-knox-sollecito-kercher-murder-215508840.html;_ylt=AwrBEiG90hVV9BUAPL3QtDMD" target="_blank">breaking news</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Italy's top court on Friday cleared Amanda Knox of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an eight-year legal drama.</p> <p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1427493755398_1081">Judges at the Court of Cassation also cleared Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after ten hours of deliberations in Rome.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Contributor Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:06:48 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272536 at http://www.motherjones.com Koalas Are Cute and Cuddly. This Video Proves They Are Also Fearsome Warriors. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/you-didnt-know-koalas-were-fierce <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7wDhDc17trQ" width="630"></iframe></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/koala-mini-nav_1.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);"> Weekends are always better when they start with koalas. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-270971"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/02/koala-car-jack"> This Koala Is So Cute You'll Want It To Get Away With Stealing This Kid's Car</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-272511"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/03/you-didnt-know-koalas-were-fierce"> Koalas Are Cute and Cuddly. This Video Proves They Are Also Fearsome Warriors. </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-269381"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/jeremy-koala-australia-bushfire-returned-wild"> We Have Some Good News For You About the Koala That Was Burned in the Fire</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268041"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/wildfires-koala-paws-burn-australia-mittens"> Please, Please Stop Making Mittens for Koalas</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264866"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2014/11/here-photo-president-obama-holding-koala"> Here Is a Photo of President Obama Holding a Koala</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-243481"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/01/heat-wave-photos-australian-open"> PHOTOS: Koalas, Tennis Players Grapple with Australian Heat Wave</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>Oh, Australia. Even when you're just taking the dog out for a walk, you might walk straight into a CRAZY KOALA WRASSLIN' MATCH.</p> <p>This fight raises fresh questions about the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nbc-news/white-house-supports-secret-service-chief-amid-controversy-414442563562" target="_blank">Secret Service's competency</a>: Why would they let the president <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/here-photo-president-obama-holding-koala" target="_blank">get so close</a> to one of these dangerous beasts!?&nbsp;</p> <p>Happy Friday.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Animals Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:15:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272511 at http://www.motherjones.com Illegal Pot Farms Are Literally Sucking California Salmon Streams Dry http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/marijuana-farming-drought-salmon-california <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water-map-web_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Outlet Creek watershed in Northern California's Mendocino County. </strong>Scott Bauer</div> </div> <p>Northern California pot farmers are using up all of the water that normally supports key populations of the region's federally protected salmon and steelhead trout.</p> <p>That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study, <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120016" target="_blank">published last week in the journal PLOS One</a>, that examined four California watersheds where salmon and trout are known to spawn. In the three watersheds with intensive pot cultivation, illegal marijuana farms literally sucked up all of the water during the streams' summer low-flow period, leaving nothing to support the fish.</p> <p>Author Scott Bauer, a biologist with the state department of fish and wildlife, estimated the size and location of outdoor and greenhouse pot farms by looking at Google Earth images and accompanying drug enforcement officers on raids. He did not include "indoor" grows&mdash;marijuana grown under lamps in buildings.</p> <p>After visiting 32 marijuana greenhouses in eight locations and averaging the results, Bauer extrapolated his findings to all greenhouses in the study area&mdash;virtually nothing else is grown in greenhouses in this part of the country. The sites contained marijuana plants at a density of about one per square meter, with each plant (taking waste and other factors into account) using about six gallons of water a day. Overall, he calculated, pot operations within the study yielded 112,000 plants, and consumed 673,000 gallons of water every day.</p> <p>And that is water the area's fish badly need. The Coho salmon population is listed as threatened under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts, and is designated as a key population to maintain or improve as part of the state's recovery plan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bauer collected his data last year, at a time when California's drought had already become its worst in more than 1,200 years. When I spoke to him at the time, he told me that pot farming had surpassed logging and development to become <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">the single biggest threat to the area's salmon</a>. Now that that the drought is expected to extend into a fourth year, the same streams could run dry again this summer, and remain so for an even longer period of time.</p> <p>Overall, the outdoor and greenhouse grows consume more than <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change" target="_blank">60 million gallons of water a day</a> during the growing season&mdash;50 percent more than is used by all the residents of San Francisco.</p> <p>"Clearly, water demands for the existing level of marijuana cultivation in many Northern California watersheds are unsustainable and are likely contributing to the decline of sensitive aquatic species in the region," Bauer's study concludes. "Given the specter of climate change"&mdash;and the attendant rise of megadroughts&mdash;"the current scale of marijuana cultivation in Northern California could be catastrophic for aquatic species."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Marijuana Top Stories drought Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:06:30 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272476 at http://www.motherjones.com Forget Elizabeth Warren. Another Female Senator Has a Shot to Fill the Senate's New Power Vacuum. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/patty-murray-harry-reid-senate-majority-leader <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update (3/30/15)</strong>&mdash;So much for that. On Monday, Murray <a href="http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/patty-murray-backs-schumer-for-leader/" target="_blank">endorsed</a> Schumer, who now appears to have a clear path to Reid's job.</em></p> <p>In the nanoseconds after Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/harry-reid-announces-his-retirement" target="_blank">announced</a> Friday morning that he will give up his leadership post and retire in 2016, liberal groups raced to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/27/morning-plum-liberal-groups-float-elizabeth-warren-for-dem-senate-leader/" target="_blank">promote</a> their go-to solution for almost any political problem: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Much like the movement to draft Warren for president, the idea of putting her in charge of the Democratic caucus was more dream than reality. Warren's office has already <a href="http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/harry-reid-successors-murray-schumer-durbin/" target="_blank">said</a> she won't run, and as <em>Vox</em>'s Dylan Matthews <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/3/27/8300441/elizabeth-warren-senate-leader" target="_blank">explains</a>, putting Warren in charge of the Democratic caucus would prevent her from holding her colleagues accountable when they stray too far from progressive ideals.</p> <p>Instead, Reid's likely replacement is New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who already has endorsements from Reid and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/27/durbin-endorses-chuck-schumer-for-senate-leader-easing-path-for-new-yorker-to-succeed-reid/" target="_blank">Dick Durbin</a>, the outgoing minority leader's No. 2. But lefties have long been wary of Schumer, who, thanks to his home base in New York City, is far more sympathetic to Wall Street than the rest of his caucus. And lost in the Warren hype is another female senator: Washington's Patty Murray.</p> <p>As caucus secretary, Murray is the fourth-ranking member of Senate Democratic leadership, behind Reid, Durbin, and Schumer. If she decides to take on Schumer for Reid's job, Murray could be the first woman to serve as a party leader in the US Senate. Murray's office didn't respond to a request for comment on whether she'd run for the job and, besides a general <a href="http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ID=2e8573fe-0cf2-419d-b777-7c8102319171" target="_blank">statement</a> praising Reid, was notably quiet on Friday.</p> <p>In 2013, I cowrote a <a href="http://prospect.org/article/patty-murray-19-takes" target="_blank">profile of Murray for <em>The American Prospect</em></a> looking at her role in leading Democrats' negotiations with Republicans on the budget, and explained how she's a pragmatic progressive who will push for the most liberal policies she can pass while still being willing to forge compromise with the centrists in her party:</p> <blockquote> <p>There's something peculiarly undefined about Murray's ideology. She's a liberal, a West Coast liberal to be precise: strong on social issues, the environment, workers' rights, and the government's role in society. She hews closely to the Democratic talking points of the day. But it's hard to discern a coherent vision or theory behind her views. She is as far left as you can go without alienating the centrists in the party. More than anything, she's a pragmatist. Success trumps belief in the "right" things. At the same time, Murray doesn't venerate moderation for its own sake&mdash;she's no Rahm Emanuel. "She's a strong progressive," says a former Budget Committee staff member, "but she won't tilt at windmills, she won't force a vote on something she knows she's not going to win."</p> </blockquote> <p>Murray certainly has the r&eacute;sum&eacute; to compete for the job. She led the Democrats' campaign arm in 2012, when the party picked up two Senate seats, defying pundits' predictions. She <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/budget-deal-is-not-compromise-murray-ryan" target="_blank">forged a budget agreement</a> with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in 2013 that averted across-the-board budget cuts. Murray is generally press-shy&mdash;she flies home across the country each weekend instead of doing the Sunday show circuit&mdash;which would leave room for other Senate stars, including Warren, to be the party's public face while Murray controls the behind-the-scenes negotiations. But as that budget committee staffer told me in 2013, Murray isn't known for picking fights she can't win. If she runs against Schumer, it'll be because she thinks she has a real shot at Reid's post.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Top Stories Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:58:21 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 272506 at http://www.motherjones.com Japan Wants You to Believe That These Coal Plants Will Help the Environment http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/japan-coal-climate-finance <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Japan is at it again. Back in <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/oopsie-1-billion-un-funds-fight-climate-change-built-coal-power-plants-instead-288497" target="_blank">December</a>, the country got caught trying to pass off $1 billion worth of investments in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia as "climate finance"&mdash;that is, funding to fight climate change. Coal plants, of course, are the world's single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.</p> <p>Today, the <a href="http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/03/26/japan-uses-climate-cash-for-coal-plants-in-india-bangladesh/" target="_blank">Associated Press discovered over half a billion more</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.</p> <p>Tokyo argues that the projects are climate-friendly because the plants use technology that burns coal more efficiently, reducing their carbon emissions compared to older coal plants. Also, Japanese officials stress that developing countries need coal power to grow their economies and expand access to electricity.</p> </blockquote> <p>Putting aside Japan's assumption that developing countries need coal-fired power plants (a view still under much <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-much-coal-can-poor-countires-burn/" target="_blank">debate</a> by energy-focused development economists), the real issue here is that there isn't an official, internationally recognized definition of "climate finance." In broad strokes, it refers to money a country is spending to address the problem of climate change, through measures to either mitigate it (i.e., emit less carbon dioxide from power plants, vehicles, etc.) or adapt to it (building sea walls or developing drought-tolerant seeds, for example). But there remains little transparency or oversight for what exactly a country can count toward that end.</p> <p>The reason that matters is because climate finance figures are a vital chip in international climate negotiations. At a UN climate meeting in Peru late last year, Japan announced that it had put $16 billion into climate finance since 2013. Likewise, President Barack Obama last year pledged <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/11/obama-green-climate-fund-un" target="_blank">$3 billion</a> toward the UN's Green Climate Fund, plus several billion more for climate-related initiatives in his proposed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/obama-budget-billions-green-climate-fund" target="_blank">budget</a>. Other countries have made similar <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/10/un-green-climate-fund-us" target="_blank">promises</a>.</p> <p>Each of these commitments is seen as a quantitative reflection of how seriously a country takes climate change and how far they're willing to go to address it, and there's always pressure to up the ante. And these promises from rich countries are especially important because in many cases the countries most affected by climate change impacts are developing ones that are the least equipped to do anything about it&mdash;and least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming in the first place. But the whole endeavor starts to look pretty hollow and meaningless if it turns out that "climate finance" actually refers to something as environmentally dubious as a coal plant.</p> <p>These numbers will take on increasing significance in the run-up to the major climate summit in Paris in December, which is meant to produce a wide-reaching, meaningful international climate accord. So now more than ever, maximum transparency is vital. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:26:20 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272496 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 27 March 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/friday-cat-blogging-27-march-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today I get to spend six hours in a chair getting Cytoxan pumped into my body. So this is it. No more tests or consults. This is the first actual step in the second stage of my chemotherapy. Following this infusion, I will spend a week injecting myself with a drug that (a) stimulates white blood cell production and (b) will apparently make me feel like I have the flu. Next, I spend a week in LA sitting in a chair several hours a day while they extract stem cells from my body. Then a week of rest and then the stem cell transplant itself, which will put me out of commission for a minimum of three weeks.</p> <p>So no blogging today. Next week is iffy. Probably nothing much the week after that either. Then maybe some blogging during my rest week. And then I'll go offline probably completely for a month or so. It all depends on just how quickly I recover from the transplant. We'll see.</p> <p>In the meantime, here are Hopper and Hilbert, hale and hearty as ever. Have a nice weekend, everyone.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_03_27.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:00:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 272456 at http://www.motherjones.com Harry Reid Announces His Retirement http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/harry-reid-announces-his-retirement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Update, 12:26 p.m.:</strong> Shortly after announcing his retirement, Reid <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/27/harry-reid-endorses-chuck-schumer-to-succeed-him-as-senate-minority-leader/" target="_blank">endorsed</a> Sen. Chuck&nbsp;Schumer (D-N.Y.) to replace him. "I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,&rdquo; he told the <em>Washington Post</em> in an interview at his DC residence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Senate Minority&nbsp;Leader Harry Reid <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/us/politics/senator-harry-reid-retire.html?smid=tw-bna" target="_blank">announced on Friday </a>he will not be seeking reelection when his term comes to an end next year. He announced his retirement in a YouTube video:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>My life&rsquo;s work has been to make Nevada and our nation better. Thank you for giving me that wonderful opportunity. <a href="https://t.co/dwy2rDWYhO">https://t.co/dwy2rDWYhO</a></p> &mdash; Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) <a href="https://twitter.com/SenatorReid/status/581422891285245952">March 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The decision to retire, the 75-year-old senator from Nevada said, "has absolutely nothing to do" with the injury he sustained back in January from an exercising accident or his new role as minority leader following the Democrats' loss during the midterm elections. In an interview with the <em>New York Times</em> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/us/politics/senator-harry-reid-retire.html?smid=tw-bna" target="_blank">he explained</a>, "I want to be able to go out at the top of my game. I don&rsquo;t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter."</p> <p>In the video, Reid continues with a message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "Don't be too elated. I'm going to be here for 22 more months, and you know what I'm going to be doing? The same thing I've done since I first came to the Senate. We have to make sure the Democrats take control of the Senate again."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Congress Elections Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:21:47 +0000 Inae Oh 272486 at http://www.motherjones.com Democrats Should Pass the Doc Fix Bill http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/democrats-should-pass-doc-fix-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A bill to permanently reform the ridiculous annual charade over the Medicare "doc fix" <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/us/house-passes-bill-changing-medicare-fee-formula-and-extending-childrens-insurance.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">passed the House today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The House overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the Medicare system on Thursday, in the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since the Republicans regained a majority in 2011.</p> <p>The measure, which would establish a new formula for paying doctors and end a problem that has bedeviled the nation&rsquo;s health care system for more than a decade, has already been blessed by President Obama, and awaits a vote in the Senate. The bill would also increase premiums for some higher income beneficiaries and extend a popular health insurance program for children.</p> </blockquote> <p>But of course there's a problem:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Senate Democrats have been resistant to provisions in the bill that preserve restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion services</strong> and extend a children&rsquo;s health program for only two years, but they are expected to eventually work with Senate Republicans to pass the measure.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is similar to the problem with the bipartisan human trafficking bill, which Senate Democrats filibustered last week because of a provision that none of its funds could be used to pay for abortions.</p> <p>I suppose this will get me a lot of flack for being a sellout, but I think Dems should approve both bills. Yes, the abortion provisions are annoying, and go slightly beyond similar language that's been in appropriations bills for decades. But <em>slightly</em> is the operative word here. Like it or not, Republicans long ago won the battle over using federal funds for abortions. Minor affirmations of this policy simply don't amount to much aside from giving Republicans some red meat for their base.</p> <p>This is mostly symbolic, not substantive. Let's pass the bills.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Reproductive Rights Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:07:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 272461 at http://www.motherjones.com This Lawmaker Publicly Discussed Her Rape and Abortion. And Some Dude Laughed. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/ohio-abortion-heartbeat-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>While speaking out against a proposed bill in Ohio that aims to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) revealed on Wednesday she had been raped during her time in the military and chose to have an abortion.</p> <p>"You don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice," <a href="http://www.toledoblade.com/State/2015/03/25/Ohio-House-votes-across-party-lines-for-heartbeat-abortion-bill.html" target="_blank">Fedor said before the state senate.</a> "What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long."</p> <p>Her testimony comes just weeks after an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/arizona-lawmaker-abortion-molested" target="_blank">Arizona lawmaker</a> shared details about her own abortion, which she had after being sexually assaulted by a male relative when she was a young girl. In a later editorial for <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/interviews/a37718/victoria-steele-sexual-assault-arizona/" target="_blank"><em>Cosmopolitan</em></a>, Rep. Victoria Steele said that while she was glad to have spoken out and share her story during the legislative debate, she resented the fact that "women have to tell their deepest, darkest traumas in public" in order for lawmakers to grasp how dangerous such anti-abortion bills were to women and their health.</p> <p>In Fedor's case, not only did she feel she had to share her trauma with her colleagues, at one point she was forced to pause and address the fact a man appeared to be laughing at her while she spoke.</p> <p>"I see people laughing and I don't appreciate that," she said. "And it happens to be a man who is laughing. But this is serious business right now and I'm speaking for all the women in the state of Ohio who didn't get the opportunity to be in front of that committee and make this statement."</p> <p>Ohio's House Bill 69 eventually <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2015/03/ohio_house_approves_heartbeat.html" target="_blank">passed </a>with a 55-40 vote. The legislation now goes to the senate, and if passed, will make it a fifth-degree felony and result in up to $2,500 and possible jail time for doctors who perform the abortions.</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0" height='354""' id="flashObj" width="630"><param name="movie" value="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=4134552171001&amp;playerID=1148472331001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAABCveqeEk~,BRLBX-1yBlngZ35whr_dStkPV5pOiI5Q&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value="http://admin.brightcove.com"><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=4134552171001&amp;playerID=1148472331001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAABCveqeEk~,BRLBX-1yBlngZ35whr_dStkPV5pOiI5Q&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height='354""' name="flashObj" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" seamlesstabbing="false" src="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object></body></html> MoJo Video Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:42:45 +0000 Inae Oh 272451 at http://www.motherjones.com More Welfare = More Entrepreneurs? Maybe! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/more-welfare-more-entrepreneurs-maybe <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Walter Frick writes in the <em>Atlantic</em> about recent research which suggests that a strong social safety net increases entrepreneurship. For example, one researcher found that expansion of the food stamp <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_safety_net.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">program led to a <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/welfare-makes-america-more-entrepreneurial/388598/" target="_blank">higher chance that eligible households would start new businesses:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Interestingly, most of these new entrepreneurs didn&rsquo;t actually enroll in the food stamp program. It seems that expanding the availability of food stamps increased business formation by making it less risky for entrepreneurs to strike out on their own. Simply knowing that they could fall back on food stamps if their venture failed was enough to make them more likely to take risks.</p> </blockquote> <p>The same is true of other programs. For example, the Children&rsquo;s Health Insurance Program:</p> <blockquote> <p>By comparing the rate of entrepreneurship of those who just barely qualified for CHIP to those whose incomes just barely exceeded the cutoff, he was able to estimate the program&rsquo;s impact on new business creation. <strong>The rate of incorporated business ownership for those eligible households just below the cutoff was 31 percent greater than for similarly situated families that could not rely on CHIP to care for their children if they needed it.</strong></p> <p>The same is true of recent immigrants to the United States. Contrary to claims by the right that welfare keeps immigrants from living up to their historic role as entrepreneurs, CHIP eligibility increased those households&rsquo; chances of owning an incorporated business by 28 percent.</p> <p><strong>The mechanism in each case is the same: publicly funded insurance lowers the risk of starting a business, since entrepreneurs needn&rsquo;t fear financial ruin.</strong> (This same logic explains why more forgiving bankruptcy laws are associated with more entrepreneurship.)</p> </blockquote> <p>Personally, I'd tentatively file this under the category of news that's a little too good to be true. After all, I'm a liberal. I <em>want</em> to believe this! And I haven't noticed that European rates of entrepreneurship are especially great, despite the fact that their safety net is much stronger than ours.</p> <p>Still, what's true in America might be different from what's true in Europe. Different cultures etc. So it's worth reading the whole piece, which is generally pretty nuanced in its claims. At the very least, though, it certainly suggests that a strong safety net doesn't <em>hurt</em> entrepreneurship.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:09:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 272446 at http://www.motherjones.com Wondering What Happens in the Cockpit of a Crashing Plane? Read This Story. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/wondering-what-happens-cockpit-plane-crash-read-story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>An international airliner falls out of the sky, seemingly for no reason. A cryptic recording from the cockpit voice recorder. The crash of Germanwings flight 9525 on Tuesday has, at least in the early going, left investigators with a lot of puzzling questions. It's also drawn obvious parallels to an earlier incident&mdash;the 1999 crash of EgyptAir 990 off the coast of Massachusetts.</p> <p>That crash, which killed 217 people, was ultimately chalked up to "<span class="st">manipulation of the airplane controls,</span>" according to the National Transporation Safety Board. But that euphemism left a lot unsaid. In <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/11/the-crash-of-egyptair-990/302332/" target="_blank">a masterful piece in the <em>Atlantic</em> in 2001</a>, reporter William Langewiesche sought to piece together the mystery of what actually happened:</p> <blockquote> <p>I remember first hearing about the accident early in the morning after the airplane went down. It was October 31, 1999, Halloween morning. I was in my office when a fellow pilot, a former flying companion, phoned with the news: It was EgyptAir Flight 990, a giant twin-engine Boeing 767 on the way from New York to Cairo, with 217 people aboard. It had taken off from Kennedy Airport in the middle of the night, climbed to 33,000 feet, and flown normally for half an hour before mysteriously plummeting into the Atlantic Ocean sixty miles south of Nantucket. Rumor had it that the crew had said nothing to air-traffic control, that the flight had simply dropped off the New York radar screens. Soon afterward an outbound Air France flight had swung over the area, and had reported no fires in sight&mdash;only a dim and empty ocean far below. It was remotely possible that Flight 990 was still in the air somewhere, diverting toward a safe landing. But sometime around daybreak a Merchant Marine training ship spotted debris floating on the waves&mdash;aluminum scraps, cushions and clothing, some human remains. The midshipmen on board gagged from the stench of jet fuel&mdash;a planeload of unburned kerosene rising from shattered tanks on the ocean floor, about 250 feet below. By the time rescue ships and helicopters arrived, it was obvious that there would be no survivors. I remember reacting to the news with regret for the dead, followed by a thought for the complexity of the investigation that now lay ahead. This accident had the markings of a tough case. The problem was not so much the scale of the carnage&mdash;a terrible consequence of the 767's size&mdash;but, rather, the still-sketchy profile of the upset that preceded it, this bewildering fall out of the sky on a calm night, without explanation, during an utterly uncritical phase of the flight.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the entire piece <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/11/the-crash-of-egyptair-990/302332/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo International Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:52:52 +0000 Tim Murphy 272441 at http://www.motherjones.com Eventually, Two Billionaires Will Duke It Out For President Every Four Years http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/eventually-two-billionaires-will-duke-it-out-president-every-four-years <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_money_elections.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">This is from yesterday, but I really can't pass it up. Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger write in the <em>Washington Post</em> that presidential candidates are no longer much interested in "bundlers" who can raise a paltry million dollars or so for their campaigns. Terry Neese, a successful bundler for George W. Bush, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-2016-campaign-the-lament-of-the-not-quite-rich-enough/2015/03/24/f0a38b18-cdb4-11e4-8a46-b1dc9be5a8ff_story.html" target="_blank">is their poster child:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This year, no potential White House contender has called &mdash; not even Bush&rsquo;s brother, Jeb. As of early Wednesday, the only contacts she had received were e-mails from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.</p> <p>&ldquo;They are only going to people who are multi-multimillionaires and billionaires and raising big money first,&rdquo; said Neese, who founded a successful employment agency. &ldquo;Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, &lsquo;You know, we just don&rsquo;t count anymore.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p> <p>....In the words of one veteran GOP fundraiser, traditional bundlers have been sent down to the &ldquo;minor leagues,&rdquo; while mega-donors are &ldquo;the major league players.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The old-school fundraisers have been temporarily displaced in the early money chase because of the rise of super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations.</strong> This year, White House hopefuls are rushing to raise money for the groups before they declare their candidacies and have to keep their distance.</p> </blockquote> <p>So does this matter? Does it matter whether candidates get contributions from a thousand millionaires vs. a hundred billionaires? Are their political views really very different?</p> <p>In a way, I suppose not. Rich is rich. One difference, though, might be in the way specific industries get treated. If you take a ton of money from Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers, you're more likely to oppose internet gambling and specific energy-related regulations than you might be if you were simply taking money from a whole bunch of different gambling and energy millionaires.</p> <p>On a broader note, though, it has the potential to alienate the electorate even more. Things are bad enough already, but when it becomes clear that presidential candidates are practically being bought and sold by a literal handful of the ultra-rich, how hard is to remain uncynical about politics? Pretty hard.</p> <p>In the end, maybe this doesn't matter so much. Big money is big money, and most people are already convinced that big money controls things in Washington DC. Still, as bad as things are, they can always get worse. Eventually, perhaps each successful candidate will be fully funded by a single billionaire willing to take a flyer with pocket money to see if they can get their guy elected. This is not a healthy world we're building.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Money in Politics Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:20:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 272426 at http://www.motherjones.com Middle East War Suddenly Getting a Lot More Warlike http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/middle-east-war-suddenly-getting-lot-more-warlike <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm a little behind on the news right now, but it sure looks like things are getting a whole lot hotter in the Middle East. Here are a few headlines:</p> <blockquote> <p>Saudi Jets Strike Yemen in Bid to Halt Houthis</p> <p>Tikrit airstrikes draw U.S. into battle between militants and Iraqi forces</p> <p>Obama Says He Will Delay Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan</p> <p>Iran-backed rebels loot Yemen files about U.S. spy operations</p> <p>U.S. Role in Middle East Revamped Amid Chaos</p> </blockquote> <p>That last headline comes from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, and seems to sum things up pretty well. <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/03/26/u-s-role-in-middle-east-revamped-as-chaos-engulfs-yemen/" target="_blank">The story includes this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[Kenneth] Pollack, the former CIA analyst, said the military campaign in Yemen is unlikely to have a positive effect on the country&rsquo;s fractured dynamics.</p> <p>&ldquo;The idea that this is going to produce some kind of a peaceful settlement is ridiculous,&rdquo; Mr. Pollack said. &ldquo;The more likely outcome is it just prolongs the stalemate.&rdquo; <strong>The Persian Gulf countries could consider the use of ground troops to make progress,</strong> which should be a concern for the U.S., he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>What could go wrong?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:17:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 272416 at http://www.motherjones.com The Real Reason to Worry About GMOs http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/03/bittman-right-its-not-gmos-its-how-theyre-used <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a recent column, the<em> New York Times</em>' Mark Bittman makes an important point about the controversy around genetically modified foods. "[T]o date&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-genetically-modified-food/">there's little credible evidence</a>&nbsp;that any food grown with genetic engineering techniques is dangerous to human health," he writes. Yet the way the technology has been used&mdash;mainly, to engineer crops that can withstand herbicides&mdash;is deeply problematic, he argues.</p> <p>Here's why I think Bittman's point is crucial. The below chart, from the&nbsp;pro-biotech International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, gives a snapshot of what types of GMO crops farmers were planting as of 2012. In more <a href="http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/16/" target="_blank">recent reports</a>, the ISAAA doesn't break out its data in the same way, but it's a fair assumption that things are roughly similar three years later, given that no GMO blockbusters have entered the market since.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/clive-james-biotech-acres.jpg"><div class="caption">Chart: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications,</div> </div> <p>If you add up all the herbicide-tolerant crops on the list, you find that about 69 percent of global GM acres are planted with crops engineered to withstand herbicides. But that's an undercount, because the GM products listed as "stacked traits" are engineered to repel insects (the Bt trait) <em>and</em> to withstand herbicides. Adding those acres in, the grand total comes to something like 84 percent of global biotech acres devoted to crops that can flourish when doused with weed killers&mdash;chemicals that are sold by the very same companies that sell the GMO seeds.</p> <p>As Bittman points out, almost all of the herbicide-tolerant crops on the market to date have been engineered to resist a single herbicide, glyphosate. And weeds have evolved to resist that herbicide, forcing farmers to apply heavier doses and or added older, more toxic chemicals to the mix.</p> <p>Rather than reconsider the wisdom of committing tens of millions of acres to crops developed to resist a single herbicide, the industry plans to double down: Monsanto and rival Dow will both be <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-02/dow-losing-to-monsanto-in-battle-over-modified-soybeans">marketing crops next year</a> engineered to withstand both glyphosate <em>and</em> more-toxic herbicides&mdash;even though scientists like Penn State University's David Mortensen are <a href="http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1525/bio.2012.62.1.12">convinced</a> that the new products are "likely to increase the severity of resistant weeds" and "facilitate a significant increase in herbicide use."</p> <p>Meanwhile, unhappily, the World Health Organization has recently decreed glyphosate, sold by Monsanto under the Roundup brand name, a "probable carcinogen"&mdash;a designation Monsanto is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/03/monsanto-herbicide-cause-cancer">vigorously trying to get rescinded</a>.</p> <p>So, given that 20 years after GM crops first appeared on farm fields, something like four-fifths of global biotech acres are still devoted to herbicide-tolerant crops, Bittman's unease about how the technology has been deployed seems warranted. It's true that genetically altered <a href="http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/usda_has_approved_ge_non-browning_apples._is_the_public_ready_for_them/" target="_blank">apples</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/11/simplot-innate-new-gmo-potato-mcdonalds" target="_blank">potatoes</a> that don't brown as rapidly when they're sliced will soon hit the market. They may prove to be a benign development. But it's doubtful that they'll spread over enough acres to rival herbicide-tolerant crops anytime soon. And humanity has thrived for millennia despite the scourge of fast-browning apples and potatoes. The same isn't true for ever-increasing deluges of toxic herbicides.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Science Top Stories Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Tom Philpott 272396 at http://www.motherjones.com "Everything Could Be Taken Away From Me": Watch This Woman Bravely Fight an Anti-Transgender Bill http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/florida-transgender-bathroom-cindy-sullivan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As Florida lawmakers continue to consider a bill aiming to make it a criminal act for <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/transgender-bathroom-discrimination-bills" target="_blank">transgender people</a> to use the bathroom of their choice, we'd like to direct your attention to Cindy Sullivan, who spoke out against the bill in incredibly brave and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/national/transgender-woman-makes-tearful-testimony-in-fla/2015/03/06/bb2f14f8-c42b-11e4-a188-8e4971d37a8d_video.html%20James%20West%20%5B3:41%20PM%5D" target="_blank">emotional testimony</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>"I see this bill as effecting not just my business but my partner's business," Sullivan said. "If I go to use the restroom, everybody in that restroom has the ability to sue me and my family, affect my child, affect my reputation. Everything could be taken away from me."</p> <p>"You could put me in jail for being me!"</p> <p>As her tears well, Sullivan repeatedly looks behind her shoulder, as the bill's sponsor, state representative Frank Artiles watches on.</p> <p>House Bill 583 has already been approved by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/24/papers-to-pee-texas-kentucky-and-florida-consider-anti-transgender-bills" target="_blank">two subcommittees</a> and is expected to be reviewed by the house judiciary committee later this week. In Kentucky and Texas, lawmakers are attempting to pass similar anti-transgender legislation. All three states have the support and financial backing of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential conservative group.</p> <p>Sullivan, who began her testimony noting she too was a Republican, slammed the bill as "government intrusion at its worst."</p> <p>"I'm a throw-away piece of trash, in this country of freedom, and liberty, and respect."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/c/embed/bb2f14f8-c42b-11e4-a188-8e4971d37a8d" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Civil Liberties Gay Rights Sex and Gender Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:37:48 +0000 Inae Oh 272391 at http://www.motherjones.com