Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Stop Everything And Let This 11-Year-Old Boy Give You Hope For the Future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Last month, in the midst of nightly protests over the killing of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, an 11-year-old boy named Marquis Govan&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">approached</a> the podium at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council, pulled the mic&nbsp;down to his height, and calmly delivered an incredibly well-informed, thoughtful, and stirring set of remarks.</p> <p>"The people of Ferguson, I believe, don't need tear gas thrown at them," he said. "I believe they need jobs. I believe the people of Ferguson, they don't need to be hit with batons. What they need is people to be investing in their businesses." He wasn't reading from notes, and the clearly stunned adults in the room gave him a round of applause when he finished.</p> <p>If all this sounds surprising from a sixth-grader, Govan, a politics junkie who lives with his great-grandmother in St. Louis, drops more adult-sized portions of knowledge in this&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> with CBS Sunday Morning. Don't miss it.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:58:44 +0000 Tasneem Raja 260806 at Emma Watson Explains Why Feminism Has Nothing to Do With "Man-Hating" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at the United Nations headquarters this past weekend, actress Emma Watson delivered a moving speech on the importance of gender equality, explaining why feminism is a crucial issue for everyone, not just the ladies.</p> <p>"The more I've spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating," Watson said. "If there's one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women have equal rights and opportunities."</p> <p>The 24-year-old Watson, who was appointed a <a href="" target="_blank">U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador six months ago</a>, was speaking on behalf of the "HeForShe" campaign, which urges both men and boys to join the fight for women's rights.</p> <p>In the deeply personal speech, Watson revealed she began questioning gender-based assumptions early on in her life, most notably after she began being sexualized by the media at the age of 14 and watching girlfriends quit sports because they didn't want to appear "bulky."</p> <p>Watch the inspiring speech above.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Sex and Gender Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:41:13 +0000 Inae Oh 260801 at Carbon Emissions Are Higher Than Ever, and Rising <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday was a good day for the climate movement, as over 300,000 people&mdash;according to the event's organizers&mdash;descended on Manhattan for the biggest climate change march in history. The record-breaking turnout was a powerful sign that climate change is gaining traction in mainstream consciousness.</p> <p>But even as the marchers were marching, new science was released that underscores how just how little time the world has left to break its addiction to fossil fuels. Global carbon emissions are the highest they've ever been, and are on the rise, according to a <a href="http://" target="_blank">new climate study</a> published in <em>Nature Geoscience </em>over the weekend.</p> <p>The study totaled global carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production&mdash;which together account for over 90 percent of total emissions&mdash;and found that they rose 2.3 percent in 2013 to their highest level ever recorded, approximately 36.1 metric gigatons.</p> <p>Emissions have been on the rise for decades, setting a new record almost every year. The rate of emissions growth has increased since the 1990s&mdash;when it was 1 percent per year&mdash;to the last decade, when the average annual growth rate has been around 3 percent. The rate of growth in 2013 was actually slower than in 2012, the study found, reflecting energy efficiency improvements in the US and Europe that have reduced the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP. But that obscures increasing rates of growth in emissions from China and India. Globally, greenhouse gas emissions are still on pace to trigger what scientists say could be a catastrophic amount of warming, said Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter, the study's lead author.</p> <p>"China will be twice as much in 10 years," Friedlingstein said. "We need to change the trend. There's a need to reduce emissions in every country."</p> <p>Which brings us to the really unsettling part of this report&mdash;its attempt to pin down exactly how long we have to make that happen. Climate scientists often talk about a carbon "budget," which is the total cumulative emissions that will lead to a specified level of global warming. To have a better-than-even chance to stay within a 3.6&nbsp;degree&nbsp;Fahrenheit increase over 1990s temperatures, the international standard for a reasonably safe level of warming, our global carbon budget is 3,200 gigatons. Since the Industrial Revolution, we've used up about two-thirds of that. On our current path, the study finds, we'll use up the rest in just the next 30 years.</p> <p>In other words, if the emissions trend isn't reversed before 2045, we would have to drop immediately to zero carbon emissions on the first day of 2046. Since an instantaneous gearshift like that is obviously impossible, there's a need to bring emissions under control in the short term. That way we can stretch the "budget" for many more years and not face a choice between catastrophic climate change or a plunge into the Dark Ages.</p> <p>We'll get an updated sense of how serious world leaders are about that goal at tomorrow's <a href="" target="_blank">United Nations climate summit</a>, which is meant as a curtain-raiser for major international climate negotiations next year in Paris.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Science Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:34:11 +0000 Tim McDonnell 260736 at Listen to Some of Liberia's Top Artists Sing about Ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Since it started in March, West Africa's Ebola outbreak has spread to five countries in the region. But its toll on the Liberian people&mdash;who account for more than <a href=",%202014.pdf" target="_blank">half</a> of the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">5,700</a> cases&mdash;has been especially devastating. To instill a sense of unity amid the crisis, several Liberian organizations brought together some of the country's top artists to make a song about the crisis. The result, called "Save Liberia," debuted last week. You can listen to it below:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>"It's like '<a href="" target="_blank">We Are the World</a>' for Liberia," says Lawrence Yealue, Liberia's country director for Accountability Lab, an anti-corruption NGO that helped organize the project. "We Are the World" was a 1985 collaboration between more than 40 artists&mdash;from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan&mdash;to raise money for famine relief in the Horn of Africa. This song, Yeaule says, will help spread a message about Ebola's seriousness to "every village and town" in Liberia.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Health International Music Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:03:39 +0000 Alex Park 260741 at Who's Going to Pay For the Latest Iraq War? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bomb.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Andrew Sullivan wonders why fiscal conservatives aren't asking some searching questions about the <a href="" target="_blank">cost of the ISIS campaign:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The ISIS campaign is utterly amorphous and open-ended at this point&nbsp;&mdash; exactly the kind of potentially crippling government program Republicans usually want to slash. It could last more than three years (and that&rsquo;s what they&rsquo;re saying at the outset); the cost is estimated by some to be around $15 billion a year, but no one really knows. The last phase of the same war cost, when all was said and done, something close to $1.5 trillion &ndash; and our current travails prove that this was one government program that clearly failed to achieve its core original objectives, and vastly exceeded its original projected costs.</p> <p>If this were a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure project for the homeland, we&rsquo;d be having hearing after hearing on how ineffective and crony-ridden it is; there would be government reports on its cost-benefit balance; there would be calls to end it tout court. But a massive government program that can be seen as a form of welfare dependency for the actual countries&nbsp;&mdash; Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Kurdistan&nbsp;&mdash; facing the crisis gets almost no scrutiny at all.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. The only problem with Sullivan's post is the headline: "Does The GOP Really Give A Shit About The Debt?" Surely that's not a serious question? Of course they don't. They care about cutting taxes on the rich and cutting spending on the poor. The deficit is a convenient cudgel for advancing that agenda, but as Sullivan says, "it is hard to resist the conclusion, after the last few weeks, that it&rsquo;s all a self-serving charade."</p> <p>Indeed it is. And not just after the last few weeks. After all, if they did care, they'd be demanding that we raise taxes to fund the cost of our latest military adventure. Right?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Iraq Military Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:00:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 260751 at It's Time For Kansas to Rejoin the Real World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Republican governor of Kansas has pauperized his state in order to fund tax cuts for the rich, while the Republican Secretary of State is <a href="" target="_blank">busily trying to game the midterm ballot</a> to ensure the reelection of the current Republican senior senator. I'd think this was a parody from the <em>Onion</em> if I didn't know it was for real. I sure hope the good folks of Kansas finally manage to come to their senses this November.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:27:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 260746 at Everyone Please Calm Down About the White House Jumper <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In response to the fence-jumper who got inside the White House before being apprehended, the Secret Service is considering the possibility of creating a larger "buffer zone" <a href="" target="_blank">around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One proposal is to keep people off the sidewalks around the White House fence and create several yards of additional barrier around the compound&rsquo;s perimeter. Another is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_white_house_tourist.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to screen visitors as far as a block away from the entrance gates.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Petula Dvorak is outraged:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Now the Secret Service &mdash; which hasn&rsquo;t exactly covered itself in glory the past few years &mdash; wants us to pay for its mistake, to once again intrude on more public space and make suspects out of millions of visitors, residents and office workers who come near the White House every day. To further encroach on the country&rsquo;s most important values: our openness and our freedom.</p> <p>The security gurus think they might want to keep people off the sidewalks around the nation&rsquo;s most famous residence. Or maybe screen tourists a block away from the White House. They want to Anschluss even more public space to expand The Perimeter around 1600 Pennsylvania, amping up the feeling of hostility, fear and paranoia that already pervades the heart of our nation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Dvorak speaks for me, and I hope she speaks for plenty of others too. This crap has just got to stop. We simply can't continue this endless series of insane overreactions every time something bad happens. Sometimes an incident is just an incident. In this case, the Secret Service needs to examine its procedures and probably tighten up a thing or two. That's it.</p> <p>This is a case where no-drama Obama really needs to step in. For God's sake, let's dial down the drama on this whole affair. It's nowhere near as big a deal as it's being played up to be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:19:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 260731 at Obamacare Isn't Perfect, But That's No Reason to Give Up On It <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">A few days ago</a> I noted that health insurance companies were starting to price certain drugs at higher rates. Not just certain brands of drugs, but entire classes of drugs. This is being done in an apparent attempt to discourage patients with certain conditions from applying for insurance. Better to have some other insurance company pick up the cost of their expensive illness.</p> <p>The reason this is happening is that Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from turning away customers with pre-existing conditions. So instead they need to find cleverer ways of making sure they're someone else's problem. <a href="" target="_blank">David Henderson comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I predict that none of this will cause Kevin Drum to reconsider his pre-existing view that pricing for pre-existing conditions should be illegal.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite right. When it comes to Obamacare, there are two kinds of people. Henderson is the first kind. Whenever they hear about a problem, their invariable response is that this proves Obamacare is a hopeless mess and needs to be abandoned.</p> <p>I'm the second kind. When I hear about a problem, my response is that we need to try to fix it. This is because I believe everyone should have access to decent health care at a reasonable price, and one way or another, we need to figure out how to provide it. We don't give up just because it's hard.</p> <p>For what it's worth, this particular problem is not something that's taken any of us by surprise. Capitalism has a well-known capacity for motivating people to find clever ways to make money, and Obamacare supporters were all keenly aware that insurance companies would try to game the rules to maximize their profits. It was one of those things that required constant vigilance. Unfortunately, that never happened because it turned out that Republicans in Congress are so uncompromisingly opposed to Obamacare that they've prevented problems of any kind from being addressed, apparently in the hope that someday these problems will grow serious enough that the public will turn against the whole thing.</p> <p>I guess you can decide for yourself if you consider that a praiseworthy response to a law you don't like. I consider it loathsome myself. As for my pre-existing view about pre-existing conditions, that's easily explained. I supported Obamacare as a good first step, but if I had my way the whole edifice would get torn down and replaced with a sensible national health care plan of the kind used by virtually every other civilized country on the planet. This is because health care of the kind that civilized people desire simply isn't a good that can be efficiently provided by the free market, for reasons that are fairly obvious to anyone familiar with the literature. Nor is this just an academic point. Half a century of experience shows us that national health care works better on nearly every measure than our Rube Goldberg system. It's not perfect, because nothing ever is. But it would be a big step forward.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:57:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 260726 at The Great "Out-0f-Network" Scam Is Eating Patients Alive. And It's Supposed To. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over the weekend, Elizabeth Rosenthal gave us the <a href="" target="_blank">latest installment in her series of rage-inducing stories about the American health care system.</a> Like all the others in the series, it was all but ignored by the rest of the world. I guess everyone was too busy panicking over the White House fence jumper or figuring out ways to one-up each other in their withering scorn for Roger Goodell.</p> <p>Or, like me, they've just given up even hoping that anyone will ever do anything about it. Saturday's installment was about a medical practice that infuriates me more than almost any other: the routine practice of creating artificial and insanely high "list prices" for procedures that bear no relation to reality and exist for only one reason: to occasionally take advantage of the people who are most vulnerable to abusive pricing. That includes the uninsured, who can least afford it, and those who are already on the gurney going into surgery, who are barely in any condition to fight back.</p> <p>Rosenthal's latest piece is about the increasingly common practice of calling in "assistants" during surgical procedures who aren't covered by the patient's insurance and are therefore not subject to rates negotiated with the insurance company. This allows them to charge as much as they feel like, and then to harass patients with bill collectors forever unless they pay up. Here's a graphic that accompanied the article:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_out_of_network_charges.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p> <p>The stomach-turning part of this is that it's so obvious what's going on. Clearly, the muscle and skin graft in the first example can be done for about $2,000, which produces a decent income for the doctor. So what's the reason for list price topping $150,000? There isn't one. It's solely so doctors can scam the occasional patient and make a fast buck. As long as it's not a Medicare or Medicaid procedure, and it's out-of-network, there are no rules. So why not?</p> <p>Are these assistants pals of the primary surgeon who get called in occasionally as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge buck-raking favor for a friend? Does it happen more randomly than that? Who knows. But there's a limit to what patients can do. They're in prep for surgery, there are tubes in their arms, and they get handed a bunch of papers to sign. Who knows what they say? Are they going to check? Are they going to read all the fine print? No and no, even if they're aware that this kind of stuff can happen. Which most patients aren't. A few weeks later they get the bill and their jaw drops to the floor. It's the same thing that happens to uninsured patients who don't have the benefit of insurer-negotiated rates when they land in the ER.</p> <p>And there's virtually no way to negotiate anyway. Have you ever tried to mark up a consent form? Have you ever tried to get a hospital to agree to an out-of-pocket max before an operation? Are you laughing hard enough yet? Insurance companies can do this, but ordinary schlubs like you and me can't.</p> <p>This is a scam, plain and simple. So why does it continue? Let's allow James J. Donelon, the Republican insurance commissioner of Louisiana, to explain:</p> <blockquote> <p>This has gotten really bad, and it&rsquo;s wrong. But when you try to address it as a policy maker, you run into a hornet&rsquo;s nest of financial interests.</p> </blockquote> <p>And there you have it. It's a great racket that allows doctors to extort loads of money from those in the most pain and with the least ability to fight back. None of them want the gravy train to end, and that's your "financial interests" right there. It's shameless and venal and there's no excuse for it. And that's America's health care system.</p> <p>In good conscience, I'm not even sure I can recommend that you read the whole piece. It will probably send your blood pressure skyrocketing and possibly send you to the ER, where you'll be pauperized by the very practice the article is about. You have been warned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:36:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 260721 at Watch John Oliver Explain Just How Mind-Bogglingly Ridiculous Beauty Pageants Are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Beauty pageants are a pretty insane and demeaning thing for us to still be doing as a society in 2014. I mean, yes, <em>Miss Congeniality </em>was an OK film, but the sequel was awful. Also, the whole thing&mdash;beauty pageants, not the <em>Miss Congeniality</em> franchise&mdash;sort of stinks of sexism and mores best left to rot in the '50s.</p> <p>Here's John Oliver taking the Miss America pageant (and its somehow more mockable competitor Miss USA) to task.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Also read: "<a href="" target="_blank">Are Disney Princesses Evil?</a>"</strong></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:57:06 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260716 at This Afghan Policewoman Died Fighting the Taliban. Now Right-Wingers Are Desecrating Her Photo. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Malalai Kakar was a police officer in Afghanistan. She was also a mother of six, a feminist, and a fearsome threat to the Taliban, who gunned her down in 2008. You would know some of Kakar's story if you'd come across Lana &Scaron;lezic's <a href="" target="_blank">captivating photography </a>of <a href="" target="_blank">women in Afghanistan</a> in <em>Mother Jones </em>and other publications. But the right-wing Britain First party recently co-opted a photo of Kakar&mdash;taken in 2005 just before she headed out on a raid to free a kidnap victim&mdash;using it as propaganda in the online "ban the burka" campaign. Its August 30 Facebook post using the image has been shared more than 44,000 times. The photo didn't make headlines though until Friday, when Australian senator Jacqui Lambie of the <a href="" target="_blank">Palmer United Party</a> (created in 2013 by mining magnate Clive Palmer) shared the photo <a href="" target="_blank">on her Facebook page</a>, prompting news outlets to ask &Scaron;lezic whether she was aware how her photograph was being used.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/64-WUA-SLEZL-036.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>&Scaron;lezic's original image as it appeared in the <a href="" target="_blank">July/August 2007 issue</a> of <em>Mother Jones</em></strong><br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p>&Scaron;lezic was appalled. "The way her image has been misused for inflammatory purposes has left me, well, somewhat speechless," she says. She immediately contacted both Britain First and Lambie asking them to remove the photo, but neither has complied.&nbsp;Lambie told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a> that she "absolutely stands by it" and won't take the photo off her page. On Saturday she posted a "Letter to the Editor" on Facebook calling &Scaron;lezic's <a href="" target="_blank">response</a> a "<a href="" target="_blank">gross over-reaction</a>," adding that "<span class="userContent" data-ft='{"tn":"K"}'><span class="text_exposed_show">Malalai Kakar would have been the first to agree with my call to ban the burka."</span></span></p> <p>&Scaron;lezic told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Independent</em></a>, "It's a complete misrepresentation of the truth. It insults everything she stood for, it insults her and her family and suggests a story that is opposite of the truth. It is also an infringement of intellectual property." She has filed a <a href="" target="_blank">copyright complaint</a> with Facebook.</p> <p>&Scaron;lezic spent two years in Afghanistan documenting the plight of women and girls, and her <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones</em> photo essay including Kakar's image</a> was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2008.</p> <blockquote> <p>During my two years in Afghanistan, I spent time with Malalai and her family on several trips to Kandahar. I spent time with her in her office while she consoled and helped women who were victims of domestic violence, rape, and forced marriage. I went out on a kidnapping raid with her, witnessed her apprehending a kidnapper and freeing the young teenage girl from his home. She really was a heroine for me, the light at the end of a very dark two year tunnel. Because of her, I believed there was hope for Afghan women and girls. When she was assassinated by the Taliban in September 2008 in front of her home and child, that hope, that light was extinguished.</p> </blockquote> <p>&Scaron;lezic adds a plea to the public:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm asking you to lend your voice, your thoughts, your tweets and whatever else you can to send a message back to these people who without consent, without thought, without pause posted such a vulgar misappropriation of Malalai and everything she stood for. She was an extraordinary human being who fought for the rights of Afghan women and girls. Her memory should be respected.</p> </blockquote> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Malalai Kakar" class="image" src="/files/malalaicounseling630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Lt. Colonel Malalai Kakar (left) counseling a woman in her office </strong>Lana &Scaron;lezic</div> </div></body></html> MoJo Afghanistan Top Stories Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Elizabeth Gettelman 260686 at Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier Delivers a Captivating New Solo Album <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Laetitia Sadier<br><em>Something Shines</em><br> Drag City</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-09-12%20at%202.45.00%20PM.png"></div> <p>Best known as the singer for the long-running British-French band Stereolab&mdash;now on an indefinite hiatus&mdash;Laetitia Sadier has always been able to address pointedly political and deeply personal concerns with equal eloquence. The debut of Sadier's side project, Monade, was titled <em>Socialisme ou Barbarie</em>, while her first solo outing, <em>The Trip</em>, was her attempt to come to grips with her sister's suicide. On this captivating third solo album, she continues to range far and wide, mixing acoustic sounds with the retro-futurism that made Stereolab's electro-pop so inviting. Whether asking tersely, "Do the rich need the poor to be rich?" on "Oscuridad," or accentuating the positive on the soaring, Beach Boys-inspired "Life Is Winning," her serene, lovely voice is a remarkable oasis of calm that's sure to make you feel better about things to come.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 260191 at Roger Goodell's Life Just Got a Whole Lot Worse This Weekend <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There's been a mountain of talk about the Ray Rice domestic violence case, but the evidence about exactly what happened and when it happened has remained stubbornly fuzzy. That changed this weekend. <a href="" target="_blank">ESPN's blockbuster piece,</a> like all stories of this nature, relies a lot on unnamed sources and therefore still isn't quite rock solid. Unnamed sources can have their own agendas, after all. But on the surface, anyway, it seems pretty damn close to rock solid. And it looks very, very bad for Roger Goodell, the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFL. Read it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sports Sun, 21 Sep 2014 19:40:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 260706 at How Can The Atlantic Give Us 5,000 Words on Prison Life Without Interviewing Prisoners? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As someone who writes about prisons, and who two spent years behind bars, I devour nearly everything written about it, especially the long-form stuff. So I was excited when I saw that <em>The Atlantic&rsquo;s </em>latest issue had a major story called &ldquo;<a href="">How Gangs Took Over Prison</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Then I read it. Anyone who has ever survived anything traumatic&mdash;domestic abuse, rape, torture, war&mdash;knows the particular jolt that happens in the body when someone makes light of that thing that you once thought could destroy you. I am a former prisoner&mdash;I was held captive in Iran from 2009-2011&mdash;and a survivor of solitary confinement. In my experience as a reporter who writes about prisons, it is surprisingly rare that I come across people outside of the prison system who justify long-term solitary confinement. Even within the world of prison administrators many are against it. The last two times I&rsquo;ve attended the American Correctional Association conferences, there have been large, well attended symposiums on the need to curb the use of isolation.</p> <p>Graeme Wood, the writer of the <em>Atlantic </em>story, gives a different impression of the practice. He visits Pelican Bay State prison, which probably has more people in solitary confinement for longer periods than any other prison in the world. He goes to the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, where people are kept in solitary confinement or, as he gently puts it, are &ldquo;living without cellmates.&rdquo; When he enters, he says it&rsquo;s &ldquo;like walking into a sacred space&rdquo; where the silence is &ldquo;sepulchral.&rdquo; The hallways &ldquo;radiate&rdquo; and the prisoners are celled in the &ldquo;branches of (a) snowflake.&rdquo; Beautiful.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s difficult to understand why Wood does not find it worth mentioning that the cells in those snowflakes are each 7x11 feet and windowless. Men literally spend decades in those cells, alone. I&rsquo;ve been to Pelican Bay, and <a href="">wrote a story about it</a> in 2012. I met a man there who hadn&rsquo;t seen a tree in 12 years. Wood tells us categorically that everyone there is a hard-core gang member. This is what the California Department of Corrections consistently claims, but if Wood did a little digging, he would find that number of the prisoners locked away in the SHU are jailhouse lawyers. There are people like Dietrich Pennington who has been in the SHU for six years because, in his cell, he had a <a href="">cup with a dragon on it</a>, a <a href="">newspaper article</a> written by another prisoner, and a <a href="">notebook</a> filled with references to black history, which a gang investigator counted as evidence of gang ideology. People get locked away in the SHU based on all kinds of <a href="">flimsy evidence</a> that doesn&rsquo;t involve violence. I won&rsquo;t say it&rsquo;s a breeze to get ahold of the documentation of this stuff, but it&rsquo;s not anything a seasoned reporter like Wood couldn&rsquo;t handle.</p> <p>Keep in mind that the UN considers solitary confinement for anything more than 15 days to be torture or cruel and inhumane treatment. University of California-Santa Cruz psychology professor Craig Haney did a review of psychological literature and found that there hasn't been a single study of involuntary solitary confinement that didn't show negative psychiatric symptoms after 10 days. He found that a full 41 percent of SHU inmates reported hallucinations. The corrections department&rsquo;s own data shows that, from 2007 to 2010, inmates in isolation killed themselves at eight times the rate of the general prison population.</p> <p>Wood, on the other hand, makes the experience of living in one of those cells sound transcendental. It is as if everyone is &ldquo;on one of those interstellar journeys that span multiple human lifetimes.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to know where that impression came from because, in his story on prison gangs, Wood doesn&rsquo;t interview prisoners. Well, that&rsquo;s not completely true. He does go to the doors of several inmates&rsquo; cells&mdash;with prison staff&mdash;to ask them about prison gangs, then tells us breathlessly that almost no one would talk to him. Wood travels to England to interview a scholar on prison gangs, but there is no indication that he attempted to conduct a single serious interview with a prisoner. Not that California makes this easy&mdash;since 1996, the state has given prison authorities full control over which inmates journalists can interview in person. But still, you can write to anyone. Nearly every one of the dozens of people I&rsquo;ve written in the SHU have eagerly written back.</p> <p>Wood tells us that no prisoner can talk about gangs because doing so would mean death. Yet there are plenty who do. I&rsquo;ve had inmates break down gang culture to me in letters, and I didn&rsquo;t even ask them to. There are whole wards in prisons for gang dropouts, many of which are eager to talk about the life they left behind. There are former prisoners like <a href="">Andre Norman</a> who used to be in gangs and now make their living by exposing gang culture. These people are primary sources that could have given Wood intimate details and a nuanced understanding. They&rsquo;d also tell him about what it&rsquo;s like to live in a place like Pelican Bay, though chances are he wouldn&rsquo;t find anyone who would describe living in the SHU as &ldquo;interstellar.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s remarkable that a publication as reputable as <em>The Atlantic</em> would run such a thinly sourced story. Its 5,000 words are based almost entirely on four sources: an academic, the spokesperson of Pelican Bay, the warden, and the gang investigator. Wood prints their claims straight away. At the beginning of the story, for example, Wood is standing with the prison&rsquo;s spokesperson, Lt. Chris Acosta, and together they are looking out onto the yard, observing prisoners and their behavior. Then he quotes Acosta saying, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s like 30 knives out there right now. Hidden up their rectums.&rdquo;</p> <p>Well hold on a second. How did Acosta know that? Did Wood verify this? How did his editor let that one slide?</p> <p>Claims like this make what could be an interesting story hard to trust, and the piece is full of them&mdash;the size of the bar of soap on an inmate&rsquo;s sink indicates what kind of phone he shoved up his ass; requests for halal food are a way to &ldquo;create work for the staff&rdquo; rather than a sign of religious conviction. Since when does this pass as acceptable journalism? Prison reporting is tricky, sure. When I reported on Pelican Bay, I had to take pains to verify every claim a prisoner made through extensive <a href="">documentation</a> or verification by prison officials. No good journalist would print a claim made by an inmate about a guard, for example, without carefully corroborating it. Many prisoners have an agenda. But so do guards and wardens. Prison officials have a long record of trying to stymy public inquiry. I was recently <a href="">booted from a prison convention</a>&mdash;for which I was registered&mdash;for my reporting. When you have two sets of people, like inmates and prison administrators, who each have interests in misrepresenting each other, you make every effort to verify their claims about each other. Those are the ground rules of journalism.</p> <p>One last thing. Jokes about things in prisoners&rsquo; asses are not funny. In a presentation for Wood, a gang investigator likens gang leaders to 1980s Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca. As an aside to us readers, Wood quips, &ldquo;I have found it impossible to look at a picture of Iacocca without imagining him stuffing his cheeks and rectum with razor blades.&rdquo; It sickens me that I am meant to laugh at this.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Media Prisons Sun, 21 Sep 2014 17:34:03 +0000 Shane Bauer 260701 at Friday Cat Blogging - 19 September 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_squirrel_2014_09_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;">We have a very busy squirrel in our backyard. He is tireless in his quest to find pine cones and bury them in our garden. In fact, every time Marian goes out to do some gardening, she routinely digs up half a dozen pine cones. They're everywhere. But squirrels are squirrely little critters, and it's hard to catch them in the act. Yesterday, however, our local squirrel was zipping across our fence with a pine cone in its mouth, and stopped just long enough for me to acquire hard photographic evidence of his hardworking ways. If I were a squirrel, I'd spend my autumns just keeping an eye on this guy so that I could pilfer his treasure during winter.</p> <p>In other news, certain of my family members were annoyed with my choice of catblogging photo last week. They wanted the picture of Mozart snoozing on my mother's car with his face reflected in the paint job. Well, patience is a virtue, and this week that's the picture you get. As for next week, who knows? Perhaps by then we'll no longer have a need for guest cats.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mozart_2014_09_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 65px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 260641 at Quote of the Day: Nathan Deal Is Tired of Barack Obama's Treachery <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>From Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, apparently upset that his tax-fighting economic policies aren't yet producing a <a href="" target="_blank">paradise on earth:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s ironic that in a year in which Republican governors are leading some of the states that are making the most progress, that they almost, without exception, are classified as having a bump in their unemployment rates. Whereas states that are under Democrat governors&rsquo; control, they are all showing that their unemployment rate has dropped. And I don&rsquo;t know how you account for that. <strong>Maybe there is some influence here that we don&rsquo;t know about.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Maybe! It might be that the Obama administration is cooking the books to make Republicans looks bad. Or maybe Democrats in Georgia are deliberately refusing work in order to spike the unemployment numbers. Or&mdash;and this is my suspicion&mdash;maybe computers have finally acquired human-level intelligence and they don't like Nathan Deal! If I were a computer, I sure wouldn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum The Right Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:26:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 260631 at When I Was 5, I, Um -- What Were We Just Talking About? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_shrug.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I remember approximately diddly-squat<sup>1</sup> about my childhood. But why? Melissa Dahl <a href="" target="_blank">explains the latest research to me today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The way parents tend to talk to their sons is different from the way they talk to their daughters. Mothers tend to introduce more snippets of new information in conversations with their young daughters than they do with their young sons, research has shown. And moms tend to ask more questions about girls&rsquo; emotions; <strong>with boys, on the other hand, they spend more time talking about what they should do with those feelings.</strong></p> <p>This is at least partially a product of parents acting on gender expectations they may not even realize they have, and the results are potentially long-lasting, explained Azriel Grysman, a psychologist at Hamilton College who studies gender differences and memory. &ldquo;The message that girls are getting is that talking about your feelings is part of describing an event,&rdquo; Grysman said....&ldquo;And it&rsquo;s quite possible, over time, that those tendencies will help women establish more connections in their brains of different pieces of an event, which will lead to better memory long-term.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>So I can blame my crappy memory on my mother? Cool.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This is a technical term used by neurologists and memory researchers.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:06:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 260626 at Guy Buys First New iPhone, Immediately Drops It On National TV <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's new iPhone day! All around the globe thousands of hungry ducks are lining up to be one of the first few to get their hands on Cupertino's fresh new phones. In Perth, "a boy called Jack" got the very first one. Naturally, he was swarmed by media, which led to this:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Thankfully, <a href="" target="_blank">the iPhone was not hurt</a>.</p> <p><em>Mother Jones </em>Senior Australian <a href="" target="_blank">James West </a>was not immediately available for comment.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tech Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:22:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260621 at Republicans Really, Really Want to Send Ground Troops Into Iraq <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I missed this <a href="" target="_blank">NYT/CBS poll</a> when it came out a couple of days ago, but a friend pointed it out to me this morning. I don't think much comment is necessary. It's pretty easy to see how the fight against ISIS is going to turn into a massive game of Munich-mongering and appeasement-baiting in short order. Yikes.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_poll_ground_troops_isis.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 6px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama The Right Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:44:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 260616 at Obama Signs Order to Take Away Your Antibiotics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Here's the latest from the White House:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Obama administration on Thursday announced measures to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, outlining a national strategy that includes incentives for the development of new drugs, tighter stewardship of existing ones, and improvements in tracking the use of antibiotics and the microbes that are resistant to them.</p> <p>....John P. Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told reporters that the new strategy &mdash; <strong>established by an executive order that President Obama signed on Thursday</strong> &mdash; was intended to jolt the federal government into action to combat a health crisis that many experts say it has been slow to recognize.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess we can all see where this is going, right? It'll start with Alex Jones, maybe, and then Glenn Beck will catch the infection. Drudge will get it next, then Limbaugh, and finally the entire crew of Fox News will come down with it. The tyrant Obama is taking our amoxicillin away from us! Think of the children and their earaches!</p> <p>Sadly, there's no treatment for this airborne virus. We just have to let it burn itself out. Maybe someday scientists will find a cure for <em>vox bardus</em>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Obama Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:30:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 260611 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 19, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines board the USS Germantown, an amphibious dock landing ship in the Philippine Sea. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:42:30 +0000 260606 at Book Review: The Marshmallow Test <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="the marshmallow test" class="image" src="/files/marshmallow-test-250.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Marshmallow Test</strong></p> <p>By Walter Mischel</p> <p>LITTLE, BROWN</p> <p>Much ado has been made of the titular psych test, in which kids able to wait 20 minutes to earn two marshmallows instead of settling for one right away were shown, decades later, to rate better on everything from educational level to their risk of becoming a drug addict. In this book, Walter Mischel, who designed the original experiment, dispels the notion that the ability to delay gratification is a have-or-not-have trait. The patient kids, he writes, used strategies anyone can learn. ("I think, therefore I can <em>change</em> what I am.") And if you're just not motivated, don't fret. After all, Mischel notes, what fun is life without a little indulgence?</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="" target="_blank">September/October issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:35:05 +0000 Lei Wang 258996 at Declassified Documents Reveal the CIA's Sense of Humor (and Literary Aspirations) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Within <a href="" target="_blank">a trove of freshly declassified articles</a> from <em>Studies in Intelligence</em>, the CIA's in-house journal, we found a number of humor pieces based on the agency's internal employee evaluations. Here is one such piece in its entirety, from the Spring 1984 issue. The author's name was, naturally, redacted.</p> <p><span class="section-lead"><strong>****</strong></span></p> <p><span class="section-lead"><strong>PAR-Faits (AND OTHER Faits)</strong></span></p> <p>What follow are quotations from Performance Appraisal Reports that Mr. [redacted] compiled over the years, and for which he composed introductory comments. The quotations are rendered faithfully, with typographical and other errors intact, for they contribute to the fun. The subjects, supervisors, and reviewing officials mentioned and quoted in this compilation are to remain forever, and mercifully, anonymous.</p> <p><strong>The Golden Rule-Redux:</strong> "I believe that the readers of this PAR, as well as the previous one written by the Rating Officer, should know that the Rating Officer and I have had and continue to have many strong personal and professional differences of opinion. He believes, for example, that I have reached my level of competency, and I believe that he has exceeded his."</p> <p><strong>Mastering the surprise ending: </strong>"It should be recognized that by employing the proper technique, very comfortable shoes can be made from a sow's ear but making [redacted] silk purse requires an entirely different raw material."</p> <p><strong>Making no bones about it-in the vernacular:</strong> "Subject is also responsible for all Headquarters support of a complex covert action operation aimed at maintaining the political stability of a regime headed up by a weirdo who goes around saying things like 'dat get me shame'."</p> <p><strong>When faint praise is called for: </strong>"Operationally, Subject was not loafing."</p> <p><strong>For one who skates well on thin ice: </strong>"Subject is quick to spot thin stuff and do something about it&mdash;particularly when it comes to good operational tradecraft."</p> <p><strong>For one who can bench press human dynamics while reciting from Rabindranath Tagore: </strong>"His ability in oral expression and human dynamics was strongly demonstrated... "</p> <p><strong>Growth Potential: </strong>"As the period drew to a close, Subjects apparatus had begun taking shape... "</p> <p><strong>Being hugely successful: </strong>"He largely recruited a high level source."</p> <p><strong>What to do to protect colleagues from being hit by large and fast moving desks: </strong>"Mr. [redacted] continued to be the Elmer's glue of the large and fast-moving [redacted] Desk.</p> <p><strong>Almost flawless&mdash;so to speak: </strong>"His English is flawless, if not close to it."</p> <p><strong>When in doubt clutter things up; its good for cover: </strong>"He characteristically complicates simple things."</p> <p><strong>The smiling, freely offered thumb in the eye:</strong> "One thing not noted previously is his calm and pleasant demeanor which tends gratuitously to mask his toughness as a case officer."</p> <p><strong>The clairvoyant case officer:</strong> "...His operational reporting is often on time, often ahead of time."</p> <p><strong>Then there's this little QP drummer:</strong> "He marches to the beat of his own drummer."</p> <p><strong>Although not a hot-head:</strong> "This officer has a warm mind."</p> <p><strong>His eyes are clear but his prose is measured and smoke-watered:</strong> "With the perspective of twenty months of overview of his long march, rather than with the smoke-watered eyes of those who peer too closely into his campfire, I conclude that his pace has been measured."</p> <p><strong>Big jokes from little mischiefs grow?</strong> "...his personal eagerness tends sometimes to lead him into small mischiefs."</p> <p><strong>Although an off-quay visionary he can trumpet, and drum, and stomp his foot all at the same time:</strong> "He has been like a one-man band trying to cover the waterfront on a far frontier."</p> <p><strong>The Good Humor Man endures:</strong> "He has endured rapid personnel changes with good humor."</p> <p><strong>The hyperactive dog of a case officer: </strong>"...He is a man of constant motion&mdash;some of it unnecessary...he bloodhounds even the longest odds and opportunities."</p> <p><strong>Although some may wonder:</strong> "All said and done, Mr. S. is human."</p> <p><strong>When tippling leads to being Freud, and the naked truth must be revealed:</strong> "At the right psychological moment he unfrocked himself in [redacted] cafe."</p> <p><strong>The crawl-on-your-belly-and-hiss approach:</strong> "...a target of opportunity whom he approached in his own inimical style."</p> <p><strong>Dignity in catastrophe:</strong> "Subject handles flaps with aplomb."</p> <p><strong>Standing tall in the Lilliput of Liaison:</strong> "Due to his height this man should probably be directed along liaison lines or staff work."</p> <p><strong>The runaway case officer:</strong> "He is not only a self-starter but a self-goer&mdash;at times tending to go too fast."</p> <p><strong>Unless one speaks quietly and carries a big stick:</strong> "The operational carrot is easily lost sight of and is difficult to catch."</p> <p><strong>The Case of the Abandoned Suitcase:</strong> "He began to pursue ops leads as soon as his suitcase hit the ground."</p> <p><strong>The cape-and-dagger jock:</strong> "He involves himself athletically in Base and local activities."</p> <p><strong>The strong tryer:</strong> "I would rate his effort to do the job as strong."</p> <p><strong>When finishing working hard on his syntax...</strong> "He at least secured his own housing on which he has been working hard to fix up."</p> <p><strong>The monosyllabic hot dog:</strong> "His performance has been-WOW"</p> <p><strong>The musty Middle East:</strong> "This officer has been associated long enough with Arab affairs. He now needs fresh air."</p> <p><strong>After making good strides in the wrong direction...</strong> "He has made good strides in the right direction."</p> <p><strong>The gritty performer:</strong> "This officers performance has been outsanding."</p> <p><strong>The forward leaning, vine swinging Case officer:</strong> "Mr. K. moved in sure-handed fashion."</p> <p><strong>The Compleat hard target Case officer:</strong> "He is a hard-nosed supervisor and a hard-headed officer."</p> <p><strong>Besieged, bothered and bewildered:</strong> "He has reached a standoff with the bureaucracy around him."</p> <p><strong>The operational arsonist:</strong> "Subject has kept the target fires burning."</p> <p><strong>When aptitude isn't apt:</strong> "His apptitude for spelling is poor."</p> <p><strong>When he's not plodding he Lies down, humps his back and makes himself small:</strong> "He is steady and defendable."</p> <p><strong>Because his compass came in his air freight...</strong> "It took the officer less than one week after his arrival here to get his bearings.</p> <p><strong>Just give him a tune-up, but don't touch the cheerful plugs:</strong> "He tries hard in a situation that has him more stymied than most of us, and he plugs along cheerfully."</p> <p><strong>The lean and meaningness officer:</strong> "He has brought new energy and meaningness to the program."</p> <p><strong>While shunning the unusual infinitude of every day chores...</strong> "He handles the usual infinitude of occasional case officer tasks."</p> <p><strong>To be some kind of mixed up butterfly...</strong> "He needs to get the operational chrysallis out of the political coccoon it is in."</p> <p><strong>He trembles at dullness, but&mdash;</strong> "He confidently attends all sorts of events of interest."</p> <p><strong>The wary grunter:</strong> "He gives a negative first impression, primarily because he is inarticulate."</p> <p><strong>When the anatomy of an Advance Work Plan is necessarily obscure:</strong> "Mr. S. has had supervisory responsibility for parts of two I.A.'s..."</p> <p><strong>Not risking over confidence:</strong> "He can look back at this job as 'pretty well done'."</p> <p><strong>The little engine with the retarded spark:</strong> "During the reviewing period this officer has made good use of the limited intelligence resources available to him."</p> <p><strong>Somewhere down there is gold; it just doesn't pan out:</strong> "Subject probably has much good in him. Somehow, though, it has not come through."</p> <p><strong>The tribal wit:</strong> " ... he is a happy headhunter."</p> <p><strong>In addition to avoiding prickly confrontations...</strong> "Subject is not one to sit on his laurels."</p> <p><strong>Migratory fixation:</strong> "I am looking forward to the next reviewing period when the birds will come home to roost." (next FR) "They have, and they have settled on the highest branches."</p> <p><strong>Seen through a glass darkly:</strong> "Insofar as I am able to comprehend it, I have no quarrel with the substance of the rating officer's comments."</p> <p><em>Click <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> to view the original document&mdash;and "<a href="" target="_blank">More PAR Bloopers</a>," courtesy of your favorite spy agency. </em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:13 +0000 Michael Mechanic 260591 at 10 Fascinating Articles From the CIA's Secret Employee Magazine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In 2007, Jeffrey Scudder, a veteran information technology specialist at the Central Intelligence Agency, came across the archives of the agency's in-house magazine, <em>Studies in Intelligence</em>. The catch: They were classified. So Scudder filed a Freedom of Information Act request. And then things got messy. "I submitted a FOIA and it basically destroyed my entire career," he told the <em>Washington Post</em>.</p> <p>As a profile of Scudder in the <em>Post</em> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>He was confronted by supervisors and accused of mishandling classified information while assembling his FOIA request. His house was raided by the FBI and his family's computers seized. Stripped of his job and his security clearance, Scudder said he agreed to retire last year after being told that if he refused, he risked losing much of his pension.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now, in response to a <a href="" target="_blank">lawsuit filed by Scudder</a>, the CIA has declassified and released some of the hundreds of journal articles he's requested. Nearly 250 of them have been posted <a href="" target="_blank">on the CIA's website</a>. Published over four decades, they offer a fascinating peek at the history of US intelligence as well as the <a href="" target="_blank">corporate culture</a> of "the Company."</p> <p>Here are 10 that grabbed our attention:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong><a href="" target="_blank">"How We Are Perceived"</a>:</strong> "It came as a shock to learn that there seem still to be large numbers of well read and presumably intelligent US citizens who perceive that we are assassins, blackmailers, exploiters of sex and illicit drugs as well as the creators of our own foreign policy separate and distinct from that of the Department of State," a clandestine service member wrote in this essay from the winter of 1986. "How can it be that perceptions differ so radically from reality?"</p> <p>Answer: Leaks to the press "together with some of our acknowledged missteps" had fed a trail of Soviet propaganda, which misinformed the American public. Even the State Department and military intelligence harbored "misperceptions" about the work of the CIA, the author continued, listing a half-page of apparent myths&mdash;which has not yet been declassified. "We have the option of keeping mum and allowing the misperceptions to grow, or of tackling them head-on. We have only ourselves to blame if we do nothing to set the record straight."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. <a href="" target="_blank">"11 September 2001: With the President"</a>:</strong><strong> </strong>President George W. Bush's CIA briefer, Michael J. Morrell, recalls the events of 9/11, which he witnessed as part of the executive entourage:</p> <blockquote> <p>The president asked me who was responsible for the attacks. I said "Sir, I haven't seen any intelligence that would point to responsibility, so what I'm going to say is simply my personal view." The president told me he understood. I said two terrorist states were capable of conducting such a complex operation [REDACTED] I pointed out [REDACTED]; that neither had much to gain and both had plenty to lose from attacking the United States. Rather, I said the culprit was almost certainly a nonstate actor, adding that I had no doubt that the trail would lead to the doorstep of Bin Laden and al-Qa'ida.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. <a href="" target="_blank">"Leo Theremin&mdash;CIA Nemesis"</a>:</strong> Best known as the inventor of the <a href="" target="_blank">eponymous instrument</a> used to make UFO noises in B-movies, inventor Leo Theremin was also a Soviet spy. The "Russian Thomas Edison" survived the gulag to become a KGB researcher whose "very existence was a state secret." His biggest coup: Placing an ingenious bug inside a wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States that was given to the American ambassador in Moscow in 1945. The hidden microphone was not found until 1960.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="studies in intelligence" class="image" src="/files/studies-intelligence630px.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Not available on newstands: The CIA's <em>Studies in Intelligence </em></strong>CIA</div> </div> <p><strong>4. <a href="" target="_blank">"An Interview With NSA Director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Haydem"</a>: </strong>In this prescient Q&amp;A from the pre-9/11 and pre-Snowden era, the then-NSA director and future CIA director spoke about his agency's reputation for excessive secrecy:</p> <blockquote> <p>Everything's secret. I mean, I got an e-mail saying, "Merry Christmas." It carried a Top Secret NSA classification marking. The easy option is to classify everything. This is an Agency that for most of its existence was well served by not having a public image. When the nation felt its existence was threatened, it was willing to cut agencies like NSA quite a bit of slack. But as that threat perception decreases, there is a natural tendency to say, "Now, tell me again what those guys do?" And, therefore, the absence of a public image seems to be less useful today than it was 25 years ago. I don't think we can survive without a public image.</p> </blockquote> <p>Asked about cooperation between intelligence agencies, Hayden's answer foreshadowed the intelligence failures behind 9/11 and the coming hunt for Osama bin Laden:</p> <blockquote> <p>Without getting too much into some really sensitive stuff, let's think about conducting operations against a major international terrorist leader&hellip;Think about two agencies, for illustrative purposes, 35 miles apart, trying to marry the data to get the son of a gun. And each of them saying, "I'll give you my finished reporting, but not my tickets." You cannot tell me that's the correct approach in the first year of the 21st century. We're like two foreign potentates, negotiating a transfer of prisoners, and we're both wrapping ourselves around our own tradecraft.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. <a href="" target="_blank">"Interview with Erna Flegel"</a>:</strong> In 1981, future CIA chief Richard Helms spoke with a nurse who was stationed in Adolf Hitler's <a href="" target="_blank">Berlin bunker</a> as Nazi Germany collapsed in 1945. About her former employer, whom she was a "fanatical admirer," Flegel gushed, "When Hitler was in the room, he filled it entirely with his personality&mdash;you saw only him, aside from him nothing else existed. The fascinating thing about him was his eyes; up to the end, it was impossible to turn away from his eyes."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/guatemala_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A redacted passage in an article about assassination planning in Guatemala. </strong>CIA</div> </div> <p><strong>6.</strong> <strong><a href="" target="_blank">"CIA and the Guatemala Assassination Proposals, 1952-1954"</a>:</strong> As this heavily-redacted article explains, later reviews of CIA activities in Guatemala in the 1950s turned up documents that had not been disclosed during earlier investigations into CIA assassination plots. What was in those rediscovered files? For example, while it was plotting the overthrow of "Communist" Jacobo Arbenz:</p> <blockquote> <p>Discussions of assassination reached a high level within the Agency. Among those involved were [REDACTED] was present at least one meeting where the subject of assassination came up. DCI Allen Dulles and his special assistant, Richard Bissell, probably were also aware in general terms that assassination was under discussion. Beyond planning, some actual preparations were made. Some assassins were selected, training began, and tentative "hit lists" were drawn up.</p> </blockquote> <p>"Yet," the article asserted, "no covert action plan involving assassinations of Guatemalans was ever approved or implemented."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>7.</strong> <strong><a href="" target="_blank">"Interrogation of an Alleged CIA Agent"</a>:</strong> This 1983 paper opens with the transcript of the questioning of a suspected American operative by a particularly indefatigable interrogator known as A.I.:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>A.l.: </strong>Do you work for the American Central Intelligence Agency, Joe?<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>Hell, no.<br><strong>A.l.: </strong>Why do you persist in lying to me?<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>I am not lying. You have no right to treat me like this.<br><strong>A.l.: </strong>Of course not.<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>Since you agree with me, may I go?<br><strong>A.l.: </strong>So you are not lying ... interesting.<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>May I go now?<br><strong>A.l.: </strong>Who are your superiors at the CIA?<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>I don't know what you are talking about.<br><strong>A.l.: </strong>You had better think about that statement before I make a record of it.<br><strong>Hardesty: </strong>Go to hell.<br><strong>A.l.:</strong> Why so hostile?</p> </blockquote> <p>A.I. is short for Artificial Intelligence. The exchange actually took place between a human and a computer, indicating the agency's early interest in the kind of sophisticated computer learning that's since become <a href="" target="_blank">increasingly commonplace</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>8. <a href="" target="_blank">"Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story [REDACTED]"</a>:</strong> This undated release, apparently from the late '90s, takes on the PR disaster spawned by <em>San Jose Mercury-News</em> reporter Gary Webb, who had accused the CIA of <a href="" target="_blank">importing drugs</a> into the United States in the '80s. Webb's claims were "alarming," and the agency was particularly stung by the allegation that it had worked to destroy the black community with illegal drugs. Fortunately, the <em>Studies in Intelligence</em> article explains, "a ground base of already productive relations with journalists" helped "prevent this story from becoming an unmitigated disaster." Hostile reporters attacked Webb's work and he eventually became a persona non grata in the newspaper world.</p> <p>Ultimately, claims the article, part of the problem with the response to Webb's stories was a "societal shortcoming": "The CIA-drug story says a lot more about American society&hellip;that [<em>sic</em>] it does about either CIA or the media. We live in somewhat coarse and emotional times&mdash;when large numbers of Americans do not adhere to the same standards of logic, evidence, or even civil discourse as those practiced by members of the CIA community." In 1998, the agency partly vindicated Webb's reporting by <a href="" target="_blank">admitting</a> that it had had business relationships with major drug dealers. Jeremy Renner stars as the late Webb in a new movie, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Kill the Messenger</em></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>9.</strong> <strong><a href="" target="_blank">"The Evolution of US Government Restrictions on Using and Exporting Encryption Technologies"</a>: </strong>During the Clinton administration, the government was powerless to stop the development of open-source encryption tools. This <em>Studies in Intelligence</em> article details the many failed official attempts to control the development and proliferation of encryption tools. In the face of opposition from researchers, the business community, and its own experts, the government eventually eased restrictions on the technology. But, as the author noted, spooks yearned for the golden age of electronic eavesdropping: "The US Government, and NSA in particular, would like to return to the Cold War era of complete government control over strong cryptography and skillful manipulation of the research and corporate communities."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>10. <a href="" target="_blank">Par-Faits (And Other Faits)</a></strong>: In 1984, a Mr. [REDACTED] compiled quotations from Performance Appraisal Reports (PARs) over the years along with introductory quips. The subjects and supervisors quoted are also, mercifully, anonymous.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Almost flawless&mdash;so to speak:</strong> "His English is flawless, if not close to it."<br><strong>The clairvoyant case officer:</strong> " ... His operational reporting is often on time, often ahead of time."<br><strong>His eyes are clear but his prose is measured and smoke-watered:</strong> "With the perspective of twenty months of overview of his long march, rather than with the smoke-watered eyes of those who peer too closely into his campfire, I conclude that his pace has been measured."<br><strong>The hyperactive dog of a case officer:</strong> "&hellip;He is a man of constant motion&mdash;some of it unnecessary&hellip;he bloodhounds even the longest odds and opportunities."<br><strong>Although some may wonder:</strong> "All said and done, Mr. S. is human."</p> </blockquote></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Foreign Policy Top Stories historical memory Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:13 +0000 Dave Gilson, Michael Mechanic, Alex Park, and AJ Vicens 260596 at "NO." Scotland Will Not Leave the United Kingdom <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>David Cameron has been spared his worst fear: Being the Tory who lost England's hat. <em>The</em> <em>Guardian</em> <a href="" target="_blank">has called</a> the independence referendum and it appears that voters have declined to strike out on their own. Scotland will not leave the United Kingdom.</p> <p>"No" was the slight favorite heading into yesterday's vote, but that doesn't mean England isn't breathing a sigh of relief. A few months ago this result would have come as no surprise, but as the polls tightened over the last few weeks, storm clouds set in over Westminster, and the narrative seemed to suggest independence was in the wind. If momentum was in fact on the "Yes" side, it ran out of time.</p> <p>The referendum was the result of decades of work on the part of Scottish nationalists. And though they lost, it's hard to say that traditional Unionists really won. There will be <a href="" target="_blank">further devolution</a>. Scotland will have more autonomy than at any time since joining the Union. Indeed, if Labour wins the next election, greater devolution could be coming to Wales and Northern England as well, <a href="" target="_blank">according to Ed Milibrand</a>. None of that would&nbsp;be happening had the SNP not made this race so close.</p> <p>Most everyone outside of Scotland is happy about this because it saves them a lot of messiness, especially in Brussels and DC. As my Welsh godmother said in reference to her Edinburgh-born husband, "I'm glad I'm not suddenly married to a foreigner."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo International Top Stories Fri, 19 Sep 2014 04:32:30 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260566 at