Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en This Washington Post Headline Is the Funniest Thing You'll Read All Weekend <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Got the winter blues? Well, turn that frown upside down! Here's a thing to make you smile.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sarah Palin says she&rsquo;s "seriously interested" in a 2016 campaign <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Washington Post (@washingtonpost) <a href="">January 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>In other pretend candidate news:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"> <p>Guys he's totally serious this time RT <a href="">@costareports</a>: Trump ends his speech: "I am seriously thinking of running for president"</p> &mdash; Josh Barro (@jbarro) <a href="">January 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>What a time to be alive.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:31:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268776 at This Is Why Under-Inflated Footballs Could Have Given Tom Brady An Advantage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>To those of us for whom the nuances of professional football tactics are a bit of a mystery, there was one question looming over New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's <a href="" target="_blank">surreal Ballghazi press conference yesterday</a> that went unanswered: What's so great, in theory, about a deflated football? Seems like, if anything, an under-inflated ball would be less aerodynamic?</p> <p>Turns out, the potential benefit is all about grippiness. From <em><a href="" target="_blank">Fox Sports</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">John Eric Goff</a>, professor of physics at Lynchburg College in Virginia and author of &ldquo;Gold Medal Physics:&nbsp;The Science of Sports,&rdquo; told that the league-mandated PSI range is ideal for playing football. &ldquo;If, however, there&rsquo;s rain or snow or something else happening, that would make the ball a bit slicker, so having a bit less pressure in the ball makes it easier to squeeze and the grip improves,&rdquo; he added.</p> </blockquote> <p>Interesting!</p></body></html> Mixed Media Science Sports Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:20:51 +0000 Tim McDonnell 268766 at Black Man Lawfully Carrying Gun Gets Pummeled by White Vigilante at Walmart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There is no shortage of debate about whether <a href="" target="_blank">allowing citizens to carry concealed guns</a> makes society safer. You may be shocked to learn that the answer could depend in part on <a href="" target="_blank">the color of a citizen's skin</a>.</p> <p>Exhibit A this week, from Florida: A surveillance video from a Walmart located near Tampa shows 62-year-old <a href="" target="_blank">Clarence Daniels</a>&nbsp;trying to enter&nbsp;the store to purchase some coffee creamer for his wife&nbsp;this past Tuesday. He barely steps through the automatic doors before he is pummeled&nbsp;by shopper&nbsp;Michael Foster, a 43-year-old white man.</p> <p>"He's got a gun!" Foster shouts, to which Daniels replies, "I have a permit!"</p> <p>According to local news reports, Foster originally spotted Daniels in the store's parking lot placing his legally owned handgun underneath his coat. In keeping with Florida's well-known <a href="" target="_blank">vigilante spirit</a>, Foster decided to take matters into his own hands by following&nbsp;Daniels&nbsp;into the Walmart. Without warning, he tackled Daniels and placed him in <a href="" target="_blank">a&nbsp;chokehold</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Police soon arrived and confirmed Daniels indeed had a permit for the handgun.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Unfortunately, he tackled a guy that was a law-abiding citizen," <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> Larry McKinnon, a police spokesperson. "We understand it's alarming for people to see other people with guns, but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders."</p> <p>Foster is now facing battery charges.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Guns Race and Ethnicity Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:40:42 +0000 Inae Oh 268746 at Melinda Gates Shames Anti-Vaxxers "Who Have Forgotten What Measles Death Looks Like" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On the heels of an increasingly widening measles outbreak at <a href="" target="_blank">Disneyland</a>&nbsp;in California, where at least 28&nbsp;of the people infected were reportedly unvaccinated,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Melinda Gates</a> is urging parents to take advantage of healthcare resources in the United States and get their children vaccinated.</p> <p>"We take vaccines so for granted in the United States," Gates explained during an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday. "Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death."</p> <p>In detailing the struggle parents in the developing world endure to have their children vaccinated, Gates said Americans have simply "forgotten what measles death looks like."&nbsp;</p> <p>Through her&nbsp;philanthropy work with husband Bill Gates, Melinda&nbsp;has long worked to help people in developing countries&nbsp;obtain basic healthcare treatment, including vaccine deliveries.&nbsp;</p> <p>"I'd say to the people of the United States: We're incredibly lucky to have that technology and we ought to take advantage of it," she added.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the United States, the highly contagious disease has reemerged in recent years&nbsp;thanks to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">anti-vaccination movement</a> and personal belief exemptions. Use of the controversial waivers is particularly prominent in California.</p> <p>The recent outbreak at Disneyland has heightened&nbsp;the debate. According to the<em> Associated Press</em>, those infected range from just <a href="" target="_blank">seven months to 70-years-old</a>, including five park employees.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. James Cherry, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California-Los Angeles,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>New York</em> <em>Times</em></a> the current outbreak is "100 percent connected" to the anti-immunization movement.</p> <p>"It wouldn't have happened otherwise&mdash;it wouldn't have gone anywhere. There are some pretty dumb people out there."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" scrollable="no" src=";autoPlay=false" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Health Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:20:55 +0000 Inae Oh 268726 at That Time Badass Feminist Queen Elizabeth II Gave Saudi Arabia's King a Lesson in Power <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is known to have a wicked sense of humor, and some mean driving skills. One day back in 1998, she deployed both spectacularly to punk Saudi Arabia's <a href="" target="_blank">late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz</a>. Back then, Abdullah was a Saudi crown prince visiting Balmoral, the vast royal estate in Scotland. The Queen had offered him a tour of the grounds&mdash;here's what happened next, <a href="" target="_blank">according to former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not&mdash;yet&mdash;allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.</p> </blockquote> <p>Royal custom discourages repeating what the Queen says in private, Cowper-Coles explained, but the anecdote was corroborated by Abdullah, and became, in the diplomat's words, "too funny not to repeat."</p> <p>Abdullah went on to <a href="" target="_blank">cultivate the image of a reformer as king</a>. One thing he didn't change, despite the Queen's badass stunt: women <a href="" target="_blank">still can't drive in Saudi Arabia</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo International Sex and Gender Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:22:04 +0000 Sam Brodey 268736 at Friday Cat Blogging - 23 January 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I wrote this morning's short post and then spent the rest of the morning napping. This is ridiculous, and I don't know what's going on. I'm a thousand percent better than I was Tuesday and Wednesday, but still dog tired. One possibility is that this is due to a change in my chemo schedule. Instead of getting all three meds on Friday, I got two of them on Friday and then the third as a standalone on Monday. The next day I was wiped out. Anyway, I <em>hope</em> that's the reason, since this was a one-time thing. I'll ask about it today, though I have little hope of getting any satisfactory answers.</p> <p>In any case, it's finally Friday, so how about some catblogging? This week features a brand new addition to the extended family of Drum cats. My friend Professor Marc sends along this photo of Ivan Davidoff, his new Siberian. His report: "Seems to like being around people, but is not a cuddle-kitty. He likes being petted, will frequently come see if I&rsquo;m still in the home office if I&rsquo;m working there, sometimes jumps onto the desk to be next to me, but is not a lap cat. Maybe that will come as he gets more comfortable. Has woken us up in the middle of the night to get affection, but is not pushy about it." He is certainly a handsome critter, no?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ivan_davidoff_2015_01_23.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:17:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 268751 at No Money Left Behind: Education Entrepreneur Cashes in on Bush Family Ties <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In this week's <em>New Yorker</em>, Alec MacGillis <a href="" target="_blank">discusses</a> Jeb Bush's approach to education reform, the realm in which Bush, as Florida's governor, had sought to make his biggest mark. In 1995, his efforts to improve the state's public schools catalyzed his political career and, later, fueled competition with his brother George, who as president rolled out the No Child Left Behind Act:</p> <blockquote> <p>Jeb Bush made it known that he thought his own approach superior, because it sought to grade schools on improvements in individual students' scores, rather than just on schools' performance in a given year. "There were lots of conversations about the work in Texas and how Florida had improved on that," [school superintendent Jim] Warford said. According to education officials, Jeb's team had little respect for Rod Paige, the former Houston schools superintendent whom George W. Bush had named Secretary of Education. "It was a little prickly in Florida," Sandy Kress, who worked on the implementation of No Child Left Behind, said. "It was 'We're going to do it our way and can do it better.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Their sibling rivalry notwithstanding, the Bush bros have common ties to one particularly controversial educational entrepreneur. Starting in the late 1990s, Randy Best, <a href="" target="_blank">whom I profiled at the end of George W. Bush's second term</a>, used his connections to the president to transform a virtually unknown for-profit education company, Voyager, into a "selling juggernaut" (in his words) that he unloaded in 2005 for $360 million.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Best-and-Co-Final.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Randy Best </strong>Steve Brodner</div> </div> <p>The key to Voyager's success was the way it it used revolving doors in Bush's Education Department to <a href="" target="_blank">game the procurement process</a>. Its dealings prompted a scathing DOE inspector general's report in 2006 and a harshly worded Senate report the following year. "Many programs, including Voyager, were probably adopted on the basis of relationships, rather than effectiveness data," G. Reid Lyon, who co-wrote the No Child Left Behind Act and later consulted for Best, told me in 2008. "I thought all this money would be great; it would get into schools. But money makes barracudas out of people. It's an amazing thing."</p> <p>The controversy surrounding Voyager didn't dissuade Best from starting another education company. Founded in 2005, Academic Partnerships persuades colleges to outsource to the firm their degree programs in subjects such as business and education, which it puts online in exchange for a hefty chunk of the profits. Nor did Voyager dissuade Jeb Bush from partnering with Best. Here's MacGillis:</p> <blockquote> <p>Best needed someone to lend credibility to the company. Florida had spent heavily on Voyager during Jeb Bush's governorship, and, in 2005, when Bush was still in office, Best spoke with him about going into the education business. By 2011, Bush had joined Academic Partnerships as an investor and an adviser, and he became the company's highest-profile champion. Best told the Washington <em>Post</em> that Bush's annual salary was sixty thousand dollars, but he did not disclose the terms of Bush's investment stake. For the first time, Bush was making money in an educational enterprise.</p> </blockquote> <p>Last month, after announcing his intent to run for president, Bush resigned from Academic Partnerships and several other business affiliations. Yet if Bush's family history is any guide, Randy Best 2.0 is just getting started.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Bush Education Jeb Bush Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:12:32 +0000 Josh Harkinson 268701 at John Boehner Faces a Revolt of the Moderates <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Having awakened from my slumber, I see that John Boehner has a whole new problem on his hands. Apparently the rump moderate wing of the Republican Party is <a href="" target="_blank">starting to feel itchy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Female lawmakers pushed the party to drop Thursday's planned vote on legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, forcing leaders to abruptly switch course and pass a different antiabortion bill.</p> <p>Last week, a surprisingly large group of 26 House Republicans refused to support an amendment that called for ending deportation deferrals of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Those dissenters came within one vote of tanking the measure aimed at so-called Dreamers.</p> </blockquote> <p>This comes from <em>LA Times</em> reporter Lisa Mascaro, who tells us these folks "bristle" at being called moderates. They prefer to be called pragmatists. Tomayto, tomahto, says me, though it's telling that "moderate" is still a dirty word in GOP land. It's also telling that all this fuss is over bills that everyone agrees are nothing more than the usual symbolic flotsam and jetsam that Republicans pass every year with no actual hope of any of them becoming law. This year, though, they're having trouble even doing that.</p> <p>Why? Is it because the bills are slightly less symbolic than in the past? There is, after all, just a bare chance that some of them could get through the Senate if sponsors line up a few Democrats to join in. They'd still get vetoed, but they'd nonetheless be a little less symbolic in the public's mind. Or is it simply the fact that as Republican ranks grow, the party's victories increasingly come in more moderate districts? As Democrats lose ground in moderate districts and become more solidly liberal, perhaps it's inevitable that Republicans will become more like the Democrats of old.</p> <p>In any case, John Boehner has his work cut out for him. He's got tea partiers on one side, moderates on the other, and a president who has been very effectively throwing sand in the gears of Republican priorities ever since November. Boehner's leadership skills, always a bit on the iffy side, are going to be sorely tested this year.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:16:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 268731 at The Oceans Are On the Verge of Mass Extinction. Here's How to Avoid It. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We land-based creatures live in the midst of a <a href="">massive extinction crisis</a>, just the <a href="">sixth one over the past half billion years</a>. What about the oceans? A much-discussed, wide-ranging recent <a href=""><em>Science</em> study</a> (paywalled) has good news: Sea critters are currently faring much better than their land counterparts, which are going extinct at a rate 36 times higher. (That number is likely exaggerated, the authors note, because scientists have done a much better job of cataloging land critters than sea critters.)</p> <p>But the report also brings horrible news: Between over-fishing and habitat destruction (think acidification, coastal development, warming, coral destruction, dead zones from fertilizer runoff, etc.), the oceans may be on the brink of their own extinction catastrophe. (<em>The New York Times' </em>Carl Zimmer has more details <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>; <em>Vox's</em> Brad Plumer has a good analysis <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.) Today's marine extinction rates look eerily similar to the "moderate" land-based ones just before the Industrial Revolution, the authors warn. "Rates of extinction on land increased dramatically after this period, and we may now be sitting at the precipice of a similar extinction transition in the oceans."</p> <p>What to do? Tackling the over-fishing problem will be no mean feat, given the expected rise of the human population to 9 billion by 2050, but it's probably doable. One place to start is smarter fish farming. Globally, about <a href="">half of seafood consumed comes from farms</a>, but much of it actually <em>harms </em>the oceans. Salmon farms, for example, rely on sucking up mass quantities of wild fish for feed&mdash;it takes at least <a href="">three pounds</a> of anchovies, sardines, menhaden, and other "forage fish" to deliver a pound of farmed salmon (not to mention the <a href="">waste problem</a> created when you confine thousands of big fish loose together).</p> <p>And Asian shrimp farms&mdash;source of nearly <a href="">90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the US</a>&mdash;have been plunked down atop what had been highly productive coastal ecosystems called mangrove forests. According to the <a href="">United Nations</a>, as much as a third of the globe's mangroves have been destroyed since 1980&mdash;and shrimp and other forms of aquaculture account for more than half that loss.</p> <p>But there are ways to improve fish farming. Filter-feeding species like oysters and <a href="">clams</a>&mdash;which get their nutrients by filtering out plankton and other stuff suspended in the water&mdash;require no feed and can <a href="">enhance coastal ecosystems</a>. And there are farming systems (both <a href="">ancient</a> and <a href="">new-fangled</a>) that combine several species and even land-based crops to generate lots of high-quality food with few <a href="">inputs and little waste</a>. Finally, my colleagues Maddie Oatman and Brent Brownell have documented a successful effort to farm top-quality trout&mdash;normally a fish-eating fish&mdash;with vegetarian feed made mainly of (non-gross) food waste. Maddie's article <a href="">here</a>; video below.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Then there's that <a href="">oft-repeated</a>, little-heeded advice to choose seafood low on the trophic scare&mdash;that is, fish and other sea critters that eat plants and plankton, not other fish. Oysters, clams, and mussels are all good examples. And instead of choosing farmed salmon, go with the little fish that gets fed to them. To that end, here are <a href="">two</a> <a href="">recipes</a> for sardines&mdash;trust me, they're delicious.</p> <p>Now, as tricky as it will be to cut back on overfishing by convincing fish farmers to mend their ways and consumers to change their habits, the even bigger challenge will be to stop trashing the place all of these critters call home. Habitat degradation, according to the <em>Science</em> authors, is the main trigger for the extinction wave we're now seeing on land, and is probably the biggest threat to cause a similar catastrophe at sea. "If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy," Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and an author of the report, <a href="">told</a> <em>The Times'</em> Zimmer. "In effect, that's what we&rsquo;re doing to the oceans." Of course, both warming and acidification are the direct result of our fossil fuel habit&mdash;the same force that's generating potentially catastrophic climate change up here on land. There's no saving the oceans without solving that problem.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Animals Food and Ag Top Stories Oceans Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Tom Philpott 268711 at Mississippi Wouldn't Allow This Teacher to Show Kids How to Use a Condom. His Simple Solution Is Brilliant. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Mississippi, where education laws require "stressing" abstinence, teachers are <a href="" target="_blank">prohibited</a> from "any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied." Nonetheless, 76 percent of Mississippi teenagers <a href="" target="_blank">report having sex</a> before the end of high school, and a third of babies in the state are born to teenage mothers. One teacher came up with a creative solution for imparting some wisdom to students about condoms&mdash;watch it below. (<a href="" target="_blank">And read our full report on draconian sex-ed laws here</a>.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Video Education Sex and Gender The Right Fri, 23 Jan 2015 01:54:28 +0000 Julia Lurie 268661 at Netflix Just Released the Trailer for Tina Fey's New Sitcom and It Looks Incredible <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe>Welcome to your new favorite thing. Finally, a glimpse of <em>Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt</em>&mdash;the latest from Tina Fey and the team behind <em>30 Rock</em>&mdash;which comes to Netflix on March 6. Reminiscent of the recent rash of reality TV shows like <em>Breaking the Faith</em> and <em>Breaking Amish</em>, the comedy series starring Ellie Kemper (<em>The Office, <em>Bridesmaids</em></em>) follows a peppy former doomsday cult victim as she tries to make a new life in New York City, having been rescued from an Indiana bunker. Hilarity ensues. Alongside Kemper, it's a joy to see former <em>30 Rock</em> stars Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess.</p> <p>The first sitcom for Fey since <em>30 Rock</em> was originally developed to air on NBC (co-written by NBC show-runner Robert Carlock), but it was bought up by Netflix <a href="" target="_blank">last November</a>. At a recent press conference for TV critics, Fey joked that the lack of network restrictions on streaming platforms was creatively liberating: "I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," she said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to NPR</a>.</p> <p>For someone who has made network TV her career, the shift to streaming is a big move for Fey. But she told critics that the basics of any television series still apply on Netflix: "People still have that communal feeling when the next season of <em>Orange is the New Black</em> goes up. And they do want to talk about it, they do want to email about it and they do want to talk about it at work. So you still have the communal feeling of, like, 'Oh we want to see this and talk about it right now.'"</p> <p>The only catch? "Its just not literally at that specific hour of the night."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Media Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:18:41 +0000 James West 268696 at Listen to Tom Brady Talk About His Deflated Balls...and ISIS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tom Brady would like you to know that he is innocent...also, <a href="" target="_blank">"this isn't ISIS."</a></p> <p>Here is a video, courtesy of our friends across the aisle at<em> National Review. </em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Also, here is a Vine of just the ISIS part.</p> <p><iframe class="vine-embed" frameborder="0" height="630" src="" width="630"></iframe><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Sports!</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:17:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268686 at One Perfect Tweet Sums Up Why Climate Denial in Congress Is So Dangerous <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the good news: Yesterday the Senate <a href="" target="_blank">voted overwhelmingly</a> in favor of an amendment to the Keystone XL bill that says "climate change is real and not a hoax." Good work, ladies and gentlemen! Glad we got that on the record, <a href="" target="_blank">only 25 years</a> after scientists agreed on it.</p> <p>Here's the bad news: Turns out the vote was just an excuse for James Inhofe (Okla.) to say, as he has many times before: Sure, climate change is real. The climate changes all the time. But humans aren't the cause.</p> <p>His evidence for this dismissal of the mainstream scientific consensus? <a href="" target="_blank">The bible</a>.</p> <p>Oy vey.</p> <p>Now here's the really bad news: This same gentleman from Oklahoma recently became the chairman of the very Senate committee that oversees environmental policy. And two of his climate change-denying peers <a href="" target="_blank">will chair other subcommittees</a> that oversee vital climate science.</p> <p>In case it isn't self-evident why these facts are so terrible, we have our lovely readers to sum it up:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="">@MotherJones</a> How can United States possibly compete in the scientific community when we have throwbacks like this running major committees</p> &mdash; Sharon Dennis (@sddphoto) <a href="">January 22, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Thanks, <a href="" target="_blank">Sharon Dennis</a>!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:13:16 +0000 Tim McDonnell 268676 at Terrifying Video Shows Black Man "With His Hands Raised" Shot To Death By New Jersey Cop <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A newly released <a href="" target="_blank">dashcam recording</a> shows a New Jersey police officer fatally shooting a black man whose&nbsp;hands were raised in the air.</p> <p>The fatal encounter stems from a routine traffic stop on&nbsp;December 30, in which Bridgeton officers Braheme&nbsp;Days and Roger Worley pulled over a vehicle for running through a stop sign.&nbsp;</p> <p>While questioning the two men, Leroy Tutt and Jerame Reid, the video shows Days suddenly shouting to&nbsp;his partner, "We've got a gun in his glove compartment!"</p> <p>"Show me your fucking hands," Days, who appears to recognize Reid as he his heard calling him by his first name,&nbsp;warns. "<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">He's reaching for something!" &nbsp;</span></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>As the situation intensifies, Reid can be heard telling the officers, "I'm not reaching for nothing. I ain't got no reason to reach for nothing." He then tells Days, "I'm getting out and getting on the ground."</p> <p>Reid gets up and exits the car with his hands raised. Then the two officers fire at least six shots, killing Reid.</p> <p>"The video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person," Walter Hudson of the civil rights group National Awareness Alliance said Wednesday.</p> <p>According to records, Reid was in prison for 13 years for <a href="" target="_blank">shooting at a state trooper</a>&nbsp;when he was a teenager.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Tuesday, the Bridgeton&nbsp;Police Department expressed its disappointment over the <a href="" target="_blank">video's release</a> "out of respect for the family." An investigation into the fatal shooting is being conducted.&nbsp;</p> <p>The recording comes amid reports the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown will be cleared of <a href="" target="_blank">federal civil rights charges.</a>&nbsp;The August shooting&nbsp;sparked massive protests around the country with the chant, "Hands up, don't shoot" serving as a symbolic call for justice in Brown's death.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:44:44 +0000 Inae Oh 268641 at Yet More Housekeeping <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I have returned to the land of the living. The last 36 hours have been pretty hellish, but the good news is that I think I know what happened, and it's not likely to happen again. I hope.</p> <p>That said, I'm still pretty tired. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:36:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 268646 at Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? The Answer May Lie in Your Twitter Stream <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Of the many illnesses that plague Americans, heart disease is the deadliest&mdash;and one of the toughest to predict. Epidemiologists have long used surveys and clinical data to tease out genetic factors from lifestyle risks such as diet, smoking, and stress, with little success. But a new study shows that there might be a better tool to assess heart disease: Twitter.</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> published in the peer-reviewed journal <em>Psychological Science</em> analyzed tweets and health data from 1,300 counties across the United States. The researchers found that negative tweets&mdash;those expressing fatigue, hostility, and stress&mdash;were associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease (the medical term for clogged arteries) in the counties where the writers of those tweets lived. High volumes of tweets expressing optimism, excitement, ambition, and activity, meanwhile, correlated with lower than average rates of heart disease.</p> <p>Here are some word clouds with examples of language that predicted higher and lower levels of disease:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/small%20topics%20-%20redone%20copy_0.png"><div class="caption">Psychological Science</div> </div> <p>What's more, the researchers found that the language used in tweets correlates much more closely with heart disease rates than traditional predictive factors such as your income and education level, your weight, and even whether you are a smoker:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bar-plot-600.gif"><div class="caption">Psychological Science</div> </div> <p>Lead author Johannes Eichstaedt, a psychological scientist at University of Pennsylvania, described Twitter as "the perfect tool for figuring out something like heart disease." Researchers have long suspected connections between emotional states and heart disease risk. And while it's not surprising that people with high levels of stress and anger would be at higher risk than their mellower, happier peers, researchers have traditionally relied on surveys to evaluate people's psychological well being. The problem is that survey-based studies can take years, and people aren't always honest about their feelings. Which makes Twitter a researcher's treasure trove. "Twitter is where people talk about themselves, where they express their emotions candidly," Eichstaedt says.</p> <p>Here's a map showing coronary heart disease deaths by county, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/cdc%20map%20600.jpg"><div class="caption">Psychological Science, CDC</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/key.jpg"></div> <p>Now compare it with this map, which predicts rates of heart disease based on tweet language:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/twitter-map-600.gif"><div class="caption">Psychological Science, Twitter</div> </div> <p>Another bonus of using Twitter as an epidemiological tool: It's much easier and cheaper than going door to door or calling people to conduct surveys. "If I wanted to repeat this analysis I could do it in an afternoon," says Eichstaedt. "With surveys, that would take a year."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Maps Health Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Kiera Butler 268586 at Watch Molly Redden on the GOP Women Protesting the 20-Week Abortion Ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>Mother Jones </em>reporter Molly Redden appeared on MSNBC's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Last Word </em></a>Wednesday night to discuss why Republican women are revolting against the 20-week abortion ban.</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="500" scrolling="no" src="" width="635"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights The Right Thu, 22 Jan 2015 05:12:57 +0000 268636 at Federal Prosecutors Set to Clear Ferguson Cop Who Shot Michael Brown <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Department of Justice is reportedly preparing&nbsp;to <a href="" target="_blank">clear Darren Wilson</a>, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown last August, of civil rights charges. According to the <em>New York Times,</em> which&nbsp;broke the news Wednesday afternoon, federal prosecutors are in the process of finalizing a legal memo recommending no charges be made against Wilson. The <em>Times </em>notes, however, a final decision has yet to be officially announced.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">A broader </span><span style="line-height: 24px;">federal i<font face="Verdana, Arial, sans-serif">nvestigation into possible <a href="" target="_blank">civil rights violations</a> by the Ferguson Police Department continues.&nbsp;</font></span></p> <p>The report follows November's decision by a grand jury <a href="" target="_blank">declining to indict</a> the officer in Brown's death. Brown&nbsp;was 18-years-old and unarmed at the time of the shooting. From the <em>Times</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Three law enforcement officials discussed the details of the federal investigation on condition of anonymity because the report was incomplete and Mr. Holder and his top civil rights prosecutor, Vanita Gupta, had not formally made a decision. Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.</p> <p>Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Brown's family, said he did not want to comment on the investigation until the Justice Department made an official announcement. "We've heard speculation on cases before that didn't turn out to be true," Mr. Crump said. "It's too much to put the family through to respond to every rumor." Mr. Crump said that at the end of last year that the Justice Department had told him that it was still investigating.</p> <p>The lawyer for Mr. Wilson did not return calls for comment.</p> </blockquote> <p>The shooting prompted <a href="" target="_blank">massive demonstrations</a> across the country with protestors demanding charges be brought against Wilson.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This is a developing story.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:49:08 +0000 Inae Oh 268606 at Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thinks Citizens United Is the Supreme Court's Worst Ruling <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared at <a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p> <p>In an interview with the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New Republic</em></a>, 81-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the current Court's worst ruling &mdash; and the one she would most like to overrule&mdash;was <em>Citizens United</em>.</p> <p>That decision is the one responsible, in large part, for making <a href="" target="_blank">this midterm election a record breaker</a> in terms of outside spending. And that's before the really heavy spending comes into play, in the weeks leading up to Election Day.</p> <p>The 2010 <em>Citizens United v. FEC</em> decision struck down the limits on how much money corporations and unions can spend in federal elections. Ginsburg, who dissented in the case, explains here why <em>Citizens United</em> is top of her list and tackles the two runners-up.</p> <blockquote> <p>I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that's number one on my list. Number two would be the part of the health care decision that concerns the commerce clause. Since 1937, the Court has allowed Congress a very free hand in enacting social and economic legislation. I thought that the attempt of the Court to intrude on Congress's domain in that area had stopped by the end of the 1930s. Of course health care involves commerce. Perhaps number three would be <em>Shelby County</em>, involving essentially the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. That act had a voluminous legislative history. The bill extending the Voting Rights Act was passed overwhelmingly by both houses, Republicans and Democrats, everyone was on board. The Court's interference with that decision of the political branches seemed to me out of order. The Court should have respected the legislative judgment. Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does. And the same was true of <em>Citizens United</em>. I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.</p> </blockquote> <p>In her wide-ranging interview, she goes on to discuss her concerns for <a href="" target="_blank">women's reproductive rights</a>, why she's not going to step down, despite some calls from the left for her to do so, her <a href="" target="_blank">scathing dissent</a> on the <em><a href="" target="_blank"> Hobby Lobby</a></em> ruling and life as "Notorious R.B.G."</p> <p>Read the full interview at <em><a href="" target="_blank">The New Republic.</a></em></p></body></html> MoJo Dark Money Money in Politics Supreme Court Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:45:34 +0000 268561 at Housekeeping Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>No blogging today. Sorry. Lots of stuff going on with my body right now. But I should recover eventually.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:43:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 268566 at Dinesh D'Souza Says Obama Hasn't Lived the "African American Experience" Because He Grew Up in Hawaii <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Barack Obama is an African American man. He is black and he was born in&nbsp;Hawaii.&nbsp;He is the president of the United States.</p> <p>Despite all this, conservative author and convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza tried to convince Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Monday that the president has <a href="" target="_blank">not lived the "African American experience"</a> for reasons that&nbsp;first included the president not having "descended from slaves on either side of his family."&nbsp;</p> <p>When asked for clarification, considering Obama indeed has "black skin and grew up in America as a black man," as a rather shocked Kelly correctly noted, D'Souza answered, "Well he grew up in Hawaii."</p> <p>"That's America!" Kelly reminded him.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unable to put the breaks on his thought process, D'Souza trailed on with mentions of the president's past trips to Indonesia and Kenya as further proof he has not lived the true African American experience.</p> <p>"Oh come on Dinesh! That does not deprive him of the African American experience."</p> <p>This all follows a series of bizarre tweets from D'Souza, in which he <a href="" target="_blank">compared himself </a>to Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama to J. Edgar Hoover.&nbsp;</p> <p>Monday's&nbsp;segment concluded with our momentary hero, Megyn Kelly, asking D'Souza how his time holed up in&nbsp;a community confinement center after being convicted of campaign finance fraud&nbsp;was going.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Obama Race and Ethnicity Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:23:19 +0000 Inae Oh 268466 at Why Are the Feds Abusing Research Animals? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The ace <em>New York Times </em>food/agriculture reporter Michael Moss has an <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=photo-spot-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=1&amp;assetType=nyt_now">excellent long piece</a> on the <a href="" title="Meat Animal Research Center website.">US Meat Animal Research Center</a>, a US Department of Agriculture-run institution that, Moss writes, has "one overarching mission: helping producers of beef, pork and lamb turn a higher profit." As a result of its laser focus on that task, Moss shows, the center has routinely subjected animals to cruel conditions since its inception in 1964, unchecked by the <a href="" title="Animal Welfare Act information.">Animal Welfare Act</a>, which exempts farm animals used in research. The article is littered with images of calves born mangled, newborn lambs abandoned to die in the cold overnight, and piglets crushed by their mothers&mdash;all the routine result of federally funded experiments.</p> <p>What strikes me is the cold, industrial vision of livestock farming embodied by the research center: animals as inert commodities to be manufactured as cheaply as possible, like microchips or screws. Physiology becomes a production process to be hacked for the convenience of producers. Cows only give birth to one calf at a time? Inefficient and unacceptable! Moss draws out the grotesque tale of a project designed to change that, spearheaded by the center's founding director, Keith E. Gregory. Back in 1981, Moss reports, Gregory published a paper comparing the cow's modest reproductive powers with those of the prolific catfish, which churns out "more than 1,000 times its weight in offspring."</p> <p>Thus launched a long effort to make cows more catfishlike: Engineer them (using conventional breeding techniques) to birth twins, not one-offs. And it succeeded&mdash;sort of. By 2000, Moss reports, cows in the experiment were birthing twins 55 percent of the time vs. the normal rate of 3 percent. But&hellip;</p> <blockquote> <p>Some 95 percent of the females born with male siblings had deformed vaginas. Many of the twins died during birth as their eight legs became tangled. Even calves born singly had trouble getting out: The mothers had been bred with such large wombs, to accommodate twins, that the calf could not get enough traction. And the breeding increasingly yielded triplets, with 12 legs to get tangled.</p> </blockquote> <p>As a result, he writes, "16.5 percent of twins and triplets were dying, a rate more than four times that of single calves."</p> <p>Still, the center thought it had handed the beef industry a great gift&mdash;at a beef conference, center officials "acknowledged the high death rates, yet argued that the math still worked in ranchers' favor," because, "the combined weight of surviving twin cows was nearly 50 percent more, on average, than for conventional cows."</p> <p>Ironically, the idea of cows tweaked to birth twin calves creeped out Big Beef, an industry <a href="" target="_blank">not normally known for turning squeamish</a> in pursuit of profit. The idea never caught on among cattle ranchers, and the program petered out in 2013. "The surviving cows were sold, though the center is still trying with little success to sell the bulls' semen," Moss writes. Your tax dollars at work! The piece teases out <a href="" target="_blank">similarly vexed efforts</a> to jack up pigs' birth output. One initiative that did succeed, according to Moss, was a program to breed pigs to be much leaner&mdash;creating <a href="" target="_blank">flavor-challenged pork </a>and sows that are "so low in fat that one in five females cannot reproduce," Moss writes.</p> <p>Now, a lot of people will read Moss' expos&eacute; and conclude that the US Meat Animal Research Center must be defunded and closed. But publicly financed ag research is vital to maintaining a resilient, plentiful food supply in era of <a href="" target="_blank">climate chaos</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">ecological crisis in farm country</a>. Federal ag research funding has been <a href="" target="_blank">flat</a> in recent years, and a rising tide of agribusiness cash has played an <a href="" target="_blank">increasingly dominant role</a> in setting the research agenda, <a href="" target="_blank">especially in the meat field</a>.</p> <p>But there's no reason that federal livestock research should exist purely to boost the profits of the big meat packers, which rely on highly specialized farms called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that stuff thousands animals tightly together. It has been well established that diversified farms, ones that produce meat as well as crops, are <a href="" target="_blank">more ecologically sound</a> (PDF) than specialized ones.</p> <p>But now that diversified farms have largely been<a href="" target="_blank"> driven out of business</a> over the past several decades, few farmers (or the bankers they rely on for financing) are willing to take the risk of, say, periodically rotating beef cows into fields now dominated by corn and soybeans, even though such a system would likely <a href="" target="_blank">sequester carbon and rebuild depleted soil</a>. And that's where the&nbsp;US Meat Animal Research Center could come in. Instead of spending years and untold resources trying to turn cows into catfishesque baby-making machines, they could do on-the-ground research to figure out best practices for diversified livestock ag. Don't slaughter federal livestock research; nurture it so that it grows into something that benefits the public&mdash;while also respecting animal welfare.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Tom Philpott 268511 at If You Watch "The Good Wife," This Tweet Is Going To Blow Your Mind <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>The Good Wife</em> is the best show in the world. It's on hiatus until March 1 and I was really upset about it but at least this happened tonight:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Michelle Obama is on her Alicia Florrick tonight &mdash; and I am here for it. (cc: <a href="">@emilynussbaum</a>, <a href="">@SPBVIP</a>): <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; S. Alexander Smith (@SAlexanderPhD) <a href="">January 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>Thank you, <a href="" target="_blank">S. Alexander Smith.</a> I want to be your best friend.</p> <p>(<em>via <a href="" target="_blank">James West</a></em><a href="" target="_blank">)</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Obama Michelle Obama Wed, 21 Jan 2015 03:01:58 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268531 at Watch the Video of President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Right Here <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">early news</a> was that President Obama is going to announce a small tax increase that will mostly affect the very wealthy. Kevin Drum thinks this <a href="" target="_blank">sort of thing will play well</a> and Obama's approval rating surge is likely to continue. Meanwhile, after <a href="" target="_blank">we pointed out some of the problems</a> with the Spanish-language version of the GOP's rebuttal to the State of the Union being a literal translation of Iowa Senator and English-only advocate Joni Ernst's planned remarks, the <a href="" target="_blank">party is now saying</a> that Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) will give his own, unique Spanish speech. So that happened. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">everything you should probably know</a> about Joni Ernst.</p> <p>And, on cue, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is already <a href="" target="_blank">making an ass</a> of himself.</p> <p>Stick around after the speech for David Corn's wrap-up article. They're usually really good.</p> <p>You can find the full text of the speech <a href=";;utm_medium=social" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Income Inequality Obama Top Stories Wed, 21 Jan 2015 01:36:24 +0000 Sam Baldwin 268526 at This Is an Early Contender for the Worst #SOTU Tweet of the Night <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If you are one of those people who enjoys watching congressmen and women make fools of themselves&mdash;and you are&mdash;then things like the State of the Union are precious delicacies to be savored. The stately class dolls themselves in hashtags and tweets their "smart takes" and insightful "jokes" out into the world so they can inevitably get pulled over by the information superhighway police for being despicable, stupid, and possibly racist.</p> <p>The SOTU isn't for a few more hours but we've already got an early contender for the night's worst tweet from a sitting member of Congress. Quoth Rep. Steve King (R-Pleasantville):</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="">#Obama</a> perverts "prosecutorial discretion" by inviting a deportable to sit in place of honor at <a href="">#SOTU</a> w/1st Lady. I should sit with Alito.</p> &mdash; Steve King (@SteveKingIA) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>"A deportable"!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Wed, 21 Jan 2015 00:43:18 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268516 at