Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Democrats Should Pass the Doc Fix Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A bill to permanently reform the ridiculous annual charade over the Medicare "doc fix" <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">passed the House today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The House overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the Medicare system on Thursday, in the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since the Republicans regained a majority in 2011.</p> <p>The measure, which would establish a new formula for paying doctors and end a problem that has bedeviled the nation&rsquo;s health care system for more than a decade, has already been blessed by President Obama, and awaits a vote in the Senate. The bill would also increase premiums for some higher income beneficiaries and extend a popular health insurance program for children.</p> </blockquote> <p>But of course there's a problem:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Senate Democrats have been resistant to provisions in the bill that preserve restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion services</strong> and extend a children&rsquo;s health program for only two years, but they are expected to eventually work with Senate Republicans to pass the measure.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is similar to the problem with the bipartisan human trafficking bill, which Senate Democrats filibustered last week because of a provision that none of its funds could be used to pay for abortions.</p> <p>I suppose this will get me a lot of flack for being a sellout, but I think Dems should approve both bills. Yes, the abortion provisions are annoying, and go slightly beyond similar language that's been in appropriations bills for decades. But <em>slightly</em> is the operative word here. Like it or not, Republicans long ago won the battle over using federal funds for abortions. Minor affirmations of this policy simply don't amount to much aside from giving Republicans some red meat for their base.</p> <p>This is mostly symbolic, not substantive. Let's pass the bills.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Reproductive Rights Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:07:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 272461 at This Lawmaker Publicly Discussed Her Rape and Abortion. And Some Dude Laughed. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>While speaking out against a proposed bill in Ohio that aims to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) revealed on Wednesday she had been raped during her time in the military and chose to have an abortion.</p> <p>"You don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice," <a href="" target="_blank">Fedor said before the state senate.</a> "What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long."</p> <p>Her testimony comes just weeks after an <a href="" target="_blank">Arizona lawmaker</a> shared details about her own abortion, which she had after being sexually assaulted by a male relative when she was a young girl. In a later editorial for <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Cosmopolitan</em></a>, Rep. Victoria Steele said that while she was glad to have spoken out and share her story during the legislative debate, she resented the fact that "women have to tell their deepest, darkest traumas in public" in order for lawmakers to grasp how dangerous such anti-abortion bills were to women and their health.</p> <p>In Fedor's case, not only did she feel she had to share her trauma with her colleagues, at one point she was forced to pause and address the fact a man appeared to be laughing at her while she spoke.</p> <p>"I see people laughing and I don't appreciate that," she said. "And it happens to be a man who is laughing. But this is serious business right now and I'm speaking for all the women in the state of Ohio who didn't get the opportunity to be in front of that committee and make this statement."</p> <p>Ohio's House Bill 69 eventually <a href="" target="_blank">passed </a>with a 55-40 vote. The legislation now goes to the senate, and if passed, will make it a fifth-degree felony and result in up to $2,500 and possible jail time for doctors who perform the abortions.</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,47,0" height='354""' id="flashObj" width="630"><param name="movie" value=";isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=4134552171001&amp;playerID=1148472331001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAABCveqeEk~,BRLBX-1yBlngZ35whr_dStkPV5pOiI5Q&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value=""><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=4134552171001&amp;playerID=1148472331001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAABCveqeEk~,BRLBX-1yBlngZ35whr_dStkPV5pOiI5Q&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height='354""' name="flashObj" pluginspage="" seamlesstabbing="false" src=";isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object></body></html> MoJo Video Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:42:45 +0000 Inae Oh 272451 at More Welfare = More Entrepreneurs? Maybe! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Walter Frick writes in the <em>Atlantic</em> about recent research which suggests that a strong social safety net increases entrepreneurship. For example, one researcher found that expansion of the food stamp <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_safety_net.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">program led to a <a href="" target="_blank">higher chance that eligible households would start new businesses:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Interestingly, most of these new entrepreneurs didn&rsquo;t actually enroll in the food stamp program. It seems that expanding the availability of food stamps increased business formation by making it less risky for entrepreneurs to strike out on their own. Simply knowing that they could fall back on food stamps if their venture failed was enough to make them more likely to take risks.</p> </blockquote> <p>The same is true of other programs. For example, the Children&rsquo;s Health Insurance Program:</p> <blockquote> <p>By comparing the rate of entrepreneurship of those who just barely qualified for CHIP to those whose incomes just barely exceeded the cutoff, he was able to estimate the program&rsquo;s impact on new business creation. <strong>The rate of incorporated business ownership for those eligible households just below the cutoff was 31 percent greater than for similarly situated families that could not rely on CHIP to care for their children if they needed it.</strong></p> <p>The same is true of recent immigrants to the United States. Contrary to claims by the right that welfare keeps immigrants from living up to their historic role as entrepreneurs, CHIP eligibility increased those households&rsquo; chances of owning an incorporated business by 28 percent.</p> <p><strong>The mechanism in each case is the same: publicly funded insurance lowers the risk of starting a business, since entrepreneurs needn&rsquo;t fear financial ruin.</strong> (This same logic explains why more forgiving bankruptcy laws are associated with more entrepreneurship.)</p> </blockquote> <p>Personally, I'd tentatively file this under the category of news that's a little too good to be true. After all, I'm a liberal. I <em>want</em> to believe this! And I haven't noticed that European rates of entrepreneurship are especially great, despite the fact that their safety net is much stronger than ours.</p> <p>Still, what's true in America might be different from what's true in Europe. Different cultures etc. So it's worth reading the whole piece, which is generally pretty nuanced in its claims. At the very least, though, it certainly suggests that a strong safety net doesn't <em>hurt</em> entrepreneurship.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:09:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 272446 at Wondering What Happens in the Cockpit of a Crashing Plane? Read This Story. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>An international airliner falls out of the sky, seemingly for no reason. A cryptic recording from the cockpit voice recorder. The crash of Germanwings flight 9525 on Tuesday has, at least in the early going, left investigators with a lot of puzzling questions. It's also drawn obvious parallels to an earlier incident&mdash;the 1999 crash of EgyptAir 990 off the coast of Massachusetts.</p> <p>That crash, which killed 217 people, was ultimately chalked up to "<span class="st">manipulation of the airplane controls,</span>" according to the National Transporation Safety Board. But that euphemism left a lot unsaid. In <a href="" target="_blank">a masterful piece in the <em>Atlantic</em> in 2001</a>, reporter William Langewiesche sought to piece together the mystery of what actually happened:</p> <blockquote> <p>I remember first hearing about the accident early in the morning after the airplane went down. It was October 31, 1999, Halloween morning. I was in my office when a fellow pilot, a former flying companion, phoned with the news: It was EgyptAir Flight 990, a giant twin-engine Boeing 767 on the way from New York to Cairo, with 217 people aboard. It had taken off from Kennedy Airport in the middle of the night, climbed to 33,000 feet, and flown normally for half an hour before mysteriously plummeting into the Atlantic Ocean sixty miles south of Nantucket. Rumor had it that the crew had said nothing to air-traffic control, that the flight had simply dropped off the New York radar screens. Soon afterward an outbound Air France flight had swung over the area, and had reported no fires in sight&mdash;only a dim and empty ocean far below. It was remotely possible that Flight 990 was still in the air somewhere, diverting toward a safe landing. But sometime around daybreak a Merchant Marine training ship spotted debris floating on the waves&mdash;aluminum scraps, cushions and clothing, some human remains. The midshipmen on board gagged from the stench of jet fuel&mdash;a planeload of unburned kerosene rising from shattered tanks on the ocean floor, about 250 feet below. By the time rescue ships and helicopters arrived, it was obvious that there would be no survivors. I remember reacting to the news with regret for the dead, followed by a thought for the complexity of the investigation that now lay ahead. This accident had the markings of a tough case. The problem was not so much the scale of the carnage&mdash;a terrible consequence of the 767's size&mdash;but, rather, the still-sketchy profile of the upset that preceded it, this bewildering fall out of the sky on a calm night, without explanation, during an utterly uncritical phase of the flight.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the entire piece <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo International Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:52:52 +0000 Tim Murphy 272441 at Eventually, Two Billionaires Will Duke It Out For President Every Four Years <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_money_elections.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">This is from yesterday, but I really can't pass it up. Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger write in the <em>Washington Post</em> that presidential candidates are no longer much interested in "bundlers" who can raise a paltry million dollars or so for their campaigns. Terry Neese, a successful bundler for George W. Bush, <a href="" target="_blank">is their poster child:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This year, no potential White House contender has called &mdash; not even Bush&rsquo;s brother, Jeb. As of early Wednesday, the only contacts she had received were e-mails from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.</p> <p>&ldquo;They are only going to people who are multi-multimillionaires and billionaires and raising big money first,&rdquo; said Neese, who founded a successful employment agency. &ldquo;Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, &lsquo;You know, we just don&rsquo;t count anymore.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p> <p>....In the words of one veteran GOP fundraiser, traditional bundlers have been sent down to the &ldquo;minor leagues,&rdquo; while mega-donors are &ldquo;the major league players.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The old-school fundraisers have been temporarily displaced in the early money chase because of the rise of super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations.</strong> This year, White House hopefuls are rushing to raise money for the groups before they declare their candidacies and have to keep their distance.</p> </blockquote> <p>So does this matter? Does it matter whether candidates get contributions from a thousand millionaires vs. a hundred billionaires? Are their political views really very different?</p> <p>In a way, I suppose not. Rich is rich. One difference, though, might be in the way specific industries get treated. If you take a ton of money from Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers, you're more likely to oppose internet gambling and specific energy-related regulations than you might be if you were simply taking money from a whole bunch of different gambling and energy millionaires.</p> <p>On a broader note, though, it has the potential to alienate the electorate even more. Things are bad enough already, but when it becomes clear that presidential candidates are practically being bought and sold by a literal handful of the ultra-rich, how hard is to remain uncynical about politics? Pretty hard.</p> <p>In the end, maybe this doesn't matter so much. Big money is big money, and most people are already convinced that big money controls things in Washington DC. Still, as bad as things are, they can always get worse. Eventually, perhaps each successful candidate will be fully funded by a single billionaire willing to take a flyer with pocket money to see if they can get their guy elected. This is not a healthy world we're building.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Money in Politics Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:20:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 272426 at Middle East War Suddenly Getting a Lot More Warlike <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm a little behind on the news right now, but it sure looks like things are getting a whole lot hotter in the Middle East. Here are a few headlines:</p> <blockquote> <p>Saudi Jets Strike Yemen in Bid to Halt Houthis</p> <p>Tikrit airstrikes draw U.S. into battle between militants and Iraqi forces</p> <p>Obama Says He Will Delay Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan</p> <p>Iran-backed rebels loot Yemen files about U.S. spy operations</p> <p>U.S. Role in Middle East Revamped Amid Chaos</p> </blockquote> <p>That last headline comes from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, and seems to sum things up pretty well. <a href="" target="_blank">The story includes this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[Kenneth] Pollack, the former CIA analyst, said the military campaign in Yemen is unlikely to have a positive effect on the country&rsquo;s fractured dynamics.</p> <p>&ldquo;The idea that this is going to produce some kind of a peaceful settlement is ridiculous,&rdquo; Mr. Pollack said. &ldquo;The more likely outcome is it just prolongs the stalemate.&rdquo; <strong>The Persian Gulf countries could consider the use of ground troops to make progress,</strong> which should be a concern for the U.S., he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>What could go wrong?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:17:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 272416 at The Real Reason to Worry About GMOs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In a recent column, the<em> New York Times</em>' Mark Bittman makes an important point about the controversy around genetically modified foods. "[T]o date&nbsp;<a href="">there's little credible evidence</a>&nbsp;that any food grown with genetic engineering techniques is dangerous to human health," he writes. Yet the way the technology has been used&mdash;mainly, to engineer crops that can withstand herbicides&mdash;is deeply problematic, he argues.</p> <p>Here's why I think Bittman's point is crucial. The below chart, from the&nbsp;pro-biotech International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, gives a snapshot of what types of GMO crops farmers were planting as of 2012. In more <a href="" target="_blank">recent reports</a>, the ISAAA doesn't break out its data in the same way, but it's a fair assumption that things are roughly similar three years later, given that no GMO blockbusters have entered the market since.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/clive-james-biotech-acres.jpg"><div class="caption">Chart: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications,</div> </div> <p>If you add up all the herbicide-tolerant crops on the list, you find that about 69 percent of global GM acres are planted with crops engineered to withstand herbicides. But that's an undercount, because the GM products listed as "stacked traits" are engineered to repel insects (the Bt trait) <em>and</em> to withstand herbicides. Adding those acres in, the grand total comes to something like 84 percent of global biotech acres devoted to crops that can flourish when doused with weed killers&mdash;chemicals that are sold by the very same companies that sell the GMO seeds.</p> <p>As Bittman points out, almost all of the herbicide-tolerant crops on the market to date have been engineered to resist a single herbicide, glyphosate. And weeds have evolved to resist that herbicide, forcing farmers to apply heavier doses and or added older, more toxic chemicals to the mix.</p> <p>Rather than reconsider the wisdom of committing tens of millions of acres to crops developed to resist a single herbicide, the industry plans to double down: Monsanto and rival Dow will both be <a href="">marketing crops next year</a> engineered to withstand both glyphosate <em>and</em> more-toxic herbicides&mdash;even though scientists like Penn State University's David Mortensen are <a href="">convinced</a> that the new products are "likely to increase the severity of resistant weeds" and "facilitate a significant increase in herbicide use."</p> <p>Meanwhile, unhappily, the World Health Organization has recently decreed glyphosate, sold by Monsanto under the Roundup brand name, a "probable carcinogen"&mdash;a designation Monsanto is <a href="">vigorously trying to get rescinded</a>.</p> <p>So, given that 20 years after GM crops first appeared on farm fields, something like four-fifths of global biotech acres are still devoted to herbicide-tolerant crops, Bittman's unease about how the technology has been deployed seems warranted. It's true that genetically altered <a href="" target="_blank">apples</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">potatoes</a> that don't brown as rapidly when they're sliced will soon hit the market. They may prove to be a benign development. But it's doubtful that they'll spread over enough acres to rival herbicide-tolerant crops anytime soon. And humanity has thrived for millennia despite the scourge of fast-browning apples and potatoes. The same isn't true for ever-increasing deluges of toxic herbicides.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Science Top Stories Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Tom Philpott 272396 at "Everything Could Be Taken Away From Me": Watch This Woman Bravely Fight an Anti-Transgender Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As Florida lawmakers continue to consider a bill aiming to make it a criminal act for <a href="" target="_blank">transgender people</a> to use the bathroom of their choice, we'd like to direct your attention to Cindy Sullivan, who spoke out against the bill in incredibly brave and <a href="" target="_blank">emotional testimony</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>"I see this bill as effecting not just my business but my partner's business," Sullivan said. "If I go to use the restroom, everybody in that restroom has the ability to sue me and my family, affect my child, affect my reputation. Everything could be taken away from me."</p> <p>"You could put me in jail for being me!"</p> <p>As her tears well, Sullivan repeatedly looks behind her shoulder, as the bill's sponsor, state representative Frank Artiles watches on.</p> <p>House Bill 583 has already been approved by <a href="" target="_blank">two subcommittees</a> and is expected to be reviewed by the house judiciary committee later this week. In Kentucky and Texas, lawmakers are attempting to pass similar anti-transgender legislation. All three states have the support and financial backing of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential conservative group.</p> <p>Sullivan, who began her testimony noting she too was a Republican, slammed the bill as "government intrusion at its worst."</p> <p>"I'm a throw-away piece of trash, in this country of freedom, and liberty, and respect."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Civil Liberties Gay Rights Sex and Gender Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:37:48 +0000 Inae Oh 272391 at Ted Cruz Expected to Headline Event With a Man Who Compared Muslims to Nazis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who announced his candidacy for President on Monday via Twitter, is expected to speak <a href="" target="_blank">at</a> the Young America's Foundation's "New England Freedom Conference" in Nashua, New Hampshire on Friday.</p> <p>Also on the lineup is Robert Spencer, the co-founder of Stop Islamization of America and director of the Jihad Watch blog. He is notorious for his attacks on Islam. "It's absurd" to think that "Islam is a religion of peace that's been hijacked by &hellip; extremists," he <a href="">said</a> at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. He has <a href="">compared Muslims to Nazis</a> and <a href="">demanded</a> that Muslims take a loyalty test before being appointed to public office in America. He has told reporters that Islam is <a href="">here to take over America</a>, and that President Barack Obama is <a href="">secretly</a> a Muslim. His book opens with the rallying cry of the Crusades, "God wills it!" and he calls for a second crusade <a href="">against Islam</a>.</p> <p>The conference, to be hosted at the Radisson in southeast New Hampshire, <a href="">bills itself</a> as a conservative gathering on "why big government policies are a big problem" and "ways to effectively push back against leftist, big government threats to your freedoms." It's hosted by the Young America's Foundation, which has previously been linked to extremists. Young Americans for Freedom, which merged with the Young America's Foundation in 2011, hosted an event <a href=";c=Zu7GojTVYR9YouYv6xSy5D6xOxmBbnT0F36MDp72l4whWxV-Zuq8ng==&amp;ch=XOHfV-PSFGpE46WmBTPruvS-IhCvyTJlGonEawVFCbJFqboDIPTOow==">in 2007</a> in which Nick Griffin&mdash; who was the chairman of the British National Party, a white supremacist group, and a Holocaust denier&mdash;spoke. Two board members of Young America's Foundation, Ron Robinson and James B. Taylor, <a href="">also ran</a> a political action committee that donated thousands of dollars to a white nationalist organization, the Charles Martel Society.</p> <p>The Council on American Islamic Relations criticized Cruz for agreeing to speak at a conference that is providing a platform to Spencer. "If Senator Cruz believes that he can campaign for president while sharing center stage with a professional hate monger like Robert Spencer, I seriously doubt his ability to win the US minority vote or unite the country as president," said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw.</p> <p>"Senator Cruz has been invited to speak to Young America's Foundation," says Rick Tyler, a spokesperson for Cruz's campaign. "He intends to keep that commitment."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Religion The Right Top Stories Ted Cruz Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:36:13 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 272366 at Should Your State Be Able to Ignore the Nation's Most Important Pollution Law? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a bold solution for any state that doesn't like President Barack Obama's flagship plan to slash carbon emissions: <a href="" target="_blank">Just ignore it</a>. The new rule, issued under the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce the nation's carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030. It would require every state to devise a plan to cut the carbon intensity (pollution per unit of energy) of its power sector. By simply ignoring the mandate, McConnell reasoned, states could delay taking steps like shuttering or retrofitting coal-fired power plants until the rules get killed by the Supreme Court (even though the chances of that happening are pretty remote).</p> <p>Last week, McConnell <a href="" target="_blank">justified</a> his unusual suggestion that state regulators deliberately ignore federal law by arguing that the rules themselves are illegal. And yesterday, he took his campaign to a new level by introducing&mdash;on behalf of GOP co-sponsors Rob Portman (Ohio), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah)&mdash;an <a href="" target="_blank">amendment</a> to the Senate's massive budget bill. It would allow any state to opt out of the rule if that state's governor or legislature decides that complying would raise electric bills, would impact electricity reliability, or would result in any one of a litany of other hypothetical problems. The amendment could get a vote later this week.</p> <p>Meanwhile, over in the House, Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have introduced a <a href="" target="_blank">bill</a> along essentially the same lines, which is set to to be debated by the Energy and Power Subcommittee, which Whitfield chairs, next month.</p> <p>Republicans are pitching these proposals as necessary steps to protect Americans from the power-hungry, climate-crazed Obama administration. But if passed, they might do more to protect the interests of coal companies. In fact, the Portman amendment introduced by McConnell explicitly allows states to opt out if the rules would "impair investments in existing electric generating capacity"&mdash;in other words, if they require the early retirement of any power plants. The apparent justification is that in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency, states will have to quickly implement sweeping changes to their power system that could leave residents with expensive, unreliable power.</p> <p>In reality, many energy economists (not to mention <a href="" target="_blank">utility companies</a> themselves) have found that the range of options states have to comply with the EPA&mdash;such as mandating better energy efficiency and building more renewable energy&mdash;are <a href="" target="_blank">more than enough to keep the lights on and bills stable</a>, while simultaneously burning less coal. (Meanwhile, regardless of any new EPA rules, coal is already on a precipitous and probably irreversible decline thanks largely to the recent glut of cheap natural gas.)&nbsp;</p> <p>Both bills also work on the assumption that the rules grossly overstep the EPA's authority by extending beyond coal-fired smokestacks to the whole power system. That question is likely to be at the heart of the <a href="" target="_blank">inevitable court battles</a> over the rule. But as leading environmental lawyer Richard Revesz testified to a House committee this month, wide-reaching plans like this have been <a href="" target="_blank">successfully implemented</a> under the Clean Air Act for other pollutants like sulfur and mercury throughout the legislation's 40-year history.&nbsp;</p> <p>In any case, giving states the option to opt out of federal air quality rules essentially undermines the entire premise of the Clean Air Act, probably the most powerful piece of environmental legislation ever passed. As Natural Resources Defense Council policy chief David Doniger <a href=";utm_medium=tweet&amp;utm_campaign=socialmedia" target="_blank">put it yesterday</a>: "These bills would force us back to the dark days half a century ago when powerful polluters had a free hand to poison our air, because states were unwilling or unable to protect their citizens."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:20:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272356 at Neil DeGrasse Tyson Blasts Florida's Alleged Ban on Discussing Climate Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Neil DeGrasse Tyson has now weighed in on Florida's alleged <a href="" target="_blank">ban on using the words</a> "climate change" and "global warming" in government communications. The astrophysicist-turned-TV-star&nbsp;told a Sarasota, Fla., crowd on Monday that he was astonished by the report, adding he thought "as a nation we were better than this."</p> <p>"Now we have a time where people are cherry picking science,"&nbsp;Tyson <a href=";tc=pg" target="_blank">said</a>, according to the <em>Herald Tribune of Sarasota</em>. "The science is not political. That's like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week."</p> <p>Earlier this month, the&nbsp;Florida Center for Investigative Reporting published an&nbsp;<a href="" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">explosive story alleging</a> that Scott's administration had instituted an unwritten policy&nbsp;forbidding government employees from using "climate change," "global warming," and "sea level rise" in official communications.&nbsp;The governor has since denied the report, but several environmental groups have called for&nbsp;<a href="" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">a probe</a> into the alleged ban.</p> <p>In his remarks Monday, Tyson said that while it may be easy to shame politicians for their climate change denial<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">, it's ultimately the voters who are responsible.</span></p> <p>"Debating facts takes time away from the conversation," <a href="" target="_blank">Tyson said</a>, according to the <em>Bradenton Herald</em>. "We should be talking about what we are going to do about this. I don't blame the politicians for a damn thing because we vote for the politician. I blame the electorate."</p> <p>This isn't the first time Tyson has scolded voters for electing science-denying politicians. In a January interview with the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Boston Globe</a>, </em>he said he used to get "bent out of shape" about elected officials like <a href="" target="_blank">snowball-wielding</a> Senator James Inhofe publicly claiming climate change is a hoax. But his views have since evolved.</p> <p>"The real challenge to the educator is not beating politicians over the head, or lobbying them, or writing letters," he said. "It's improving the educational system that shapes the people who elect such representatives in the first place."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Climate Change Climate Desk Science Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:38:04 +0000 Inae Oh 272351 at The People Who Pick Your Organic Strawberries Have Had It With Rat-Infested Camps <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When most of us think of Mexican food, we visualize tacos, burritos, and chiles rellenos. But we should probably add cucumbers, squash, melons, and berries to the list&mdash;more or less the whole supermarket produce aisle, in fact. The United States imports more than a <a href="">quarter of the fresh fruit and nearly a third of the vegetables</a> we consume. And a huge portion of that foreign-grown bounty&mdash;<a href="">69 percent of vegetables and 37 percent of fruit</a>&mdash;comes from our neighbor to the south.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, as I've <a href="">shown before</a>, labor conditions on Mexico's large export-oriented farms tend to be dismal: subpar housing, inadequate sanitation, poverty wages, and often, labor arrangements that approach slavery. But this week, workers in Baja California, a major ag-producing state just south of California, are standing up. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>:</a> "Thousands of laborers in the San Quint&iacute;n Valley 200 miles south of San Diego went on strike&nbsp;Tuesday, leaving the fields and greenhouses full of produce that is now on the verge of rotting."</p> <p>In addition to the work stoppage, striking workers shut down 55 miles of the Trans-Peninsular Highway, a key thoroughfare for moving goods from Baja California to points north, the Mexico City newspaper <em>La Jornada</em> (in Spanish) <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> after the strike started on March 17.</p> <p>The blockade has been lifted, at least temporarily. But the "road remains hard to traverse as rogue groups stop and, at times, attack truck drivers," the<em> LA Times</em> reports. And the strike itself continues. The uprising is starting to affect US supply chains. An executive for the organic-produce titan Del Cabo Produce, which grows vegetables south of the San Quint&iacute;n Valley but needs to traverse it to reach its US customers, told the<em> Times</em> that the clash is "creating a lot of logistical problems&hellip;We're having to cut orders." And "Costco reported that organic strawberries are in short supply because about 80% of the production this time of year comes from Baja California," the <em>Times</em> added. The US trade publication <em>Produce News</em> <a href="" target="_blank">downplayed</a> the strike's impact, calling it "minor."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the strike's organizers plan to launch a campaign to get US consumers to boycott products grown in the region, mainly tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries, inspired by the successful '70s-era actions of the California-based United Farm Workers, headed by Cesar Chavez, <em>La Jornada </em><a href="">reported</a> Tuesday.<strong> </strong>And current UFW president Arturo Rodriguez has issued a <a href=";b_code=org_pre&amp;b_no=16318&amp;page=1&amp;field=&amp;key=&amp;n=133">statement of solidarity</a> with the San Quint&iacute;n strikers.</p> <p>Such cross-border organizing is critical, because the people who work on Mexico's export-focused farms tend to be from the same places as the people who work on the vast California and Florida operations that supply the bulk of our domestically grown produce: the largely indigenous states of southern Mexico. And the final market for the crops they tend and harvest is also the same: US supermarkets and restaurants.</p> <p>In a stunning <a href="" target="_blank">four-part series</a> last year, <em>LA Times</em> reporter Richard Marosi documented the harsh conditions that prevail on the Mexican farms that churn out our food. He found:</p> <blockquote> <ul><li>Many farm laborers are essentially trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps, often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply.</li> <li>Some camp bosses illegally withhold wages to prevent workers from leaving during peak harvest periods.</li> <li>Laborers often go deep in debt paying inflated prices for necessities at company stores. Some are reduced to scavenging for food when their credit is cut off. It's common for laborers to head home penniless at the end of a harvest.</li> <li>Those who seek to escape their debts and miserable living conditions have to contend with guards, barbed-wire fences, and sometimes threats of violence from camp supervisors.</li> <li>Major US companies have done little to enforce social responsibility guidelines that call for basic worker protections such as clean housing and fair pay practices.</li> </ul></blockquote> <p>As for their counterparts to the north, migrant-reliant US farms tend to treat workers harshly as well, as the excellent 2014 documentary <em>Food Chains</em> demonstrates. The trailer, below, is a good crash course on what it's like to be at the bottom of the US food system. In honor of National Farm Worker Awareness Week, the producers are <a href="">making it available for $0.99</a> on iTunes. And <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>'s an interview with the film's director, Sanjay Rawal, by <em>Mother Jones</em>' Maddie Oatman.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag International Labor Top Stories Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 272336 at Robot-Building 6-Year-Old Girls Talking Tech With Obama Is the Best Thing You'll See All Week <!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>On Monday, President Obama made his annual rounds at the White House Science Fair. The event is a breeding ground for adorable interactions with kid-nerds (See 2012's <a href="" target="_blank">marshmallow-shooting air cannon</a>), but <a href="" target="_blank">his chat</a> yesterday with five cape-wearing Girl Scouts from Oklahoma was especially magical.</p> <p>The 6-year-olds from Tulsa's Girl Scout Troup 411 were <a href="" target="_blank">the youngest</a> inventors selected to present at this year's fair. <a href="" target="_blank">Inspired by</a> conversations with a librarian and one of the girls' grandmas, they built a mechanical Lego contraption that can turn pages, to help patients with mobility issues read books.</p> <p>The group of first graders and kindergartners explain to Obama that the device is a "prototype" that they came up with in a "brainstorming session." One of the girls asks Obama if he's ever had his own brainstorming session.</p> <p>"I have had a couple brainstorming sessions," replies an amused Obama. "But I didn't come up with anything this good!"</p> <p>Another girls asks what he came up with:</p> <p>"I mean, I came up with things like, you know, health care. It turned out ok, but it started off with some prototypes," the president says.</p> <p>And then they all go in for a group hug. GOLD.</p> <p>Suzanne Dodson, the coach of the Lego team and the mom of one of the scouts, told <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Tulsa World</em></a> that she's glad the girls are getting such positive attention for their project: "It really is a problem with girls, when they get to middle school, they lose confidence in their own ability to succeed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)" she said. "Having this experience at young age really gives them a confidence boost."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tech Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:56:46 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272341 at Housekeeping Note <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'll be busy with various tests and doctor appointments all day Wednesday, so no blogging. I should be back on Thursday, health permitting.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:27:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 272331 at Everything Changed on 9/11, Starting With Ted Cruz's Musical Taste <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,47,0" height="270" id="flashObj" width="480"><param name="movie" value=";isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=4131746112001&amp;;playerID=58264559001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAASoY90~,_gW1ZHvKG_0UvBsh7aZU7MXZe77OcsGq&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value=""><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=4131746112001&amp;;playerID=58264559001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAASoY90~,_gW1ZHvKG_0UvBsh7aZU7MXZe77OcsGq&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="270" name="flashObj" pluginspage="" seamlesstabbing="false" src=";isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480"></embed></object> <p>During a segment of <a href="" target="_blank">CBS's <em>This Morning</em> show</a>, Senator Ted Cruz attempted to explain how the attacks on September 11&nbsp;moved him to shun the soulless genre of rock music and pick up country:</p> <blockquote> <p>You know, music is interesting. I grew up listening to classic rock and I&rsquo;ll tell you sort of an odd story. My music tastes changed on 9/11. And it&rsquo;s a very strange&mdash;I actually, intellectually, find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn&rsquo;t like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me and I have to say, it&mdash;just as a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that says, &ldquo;These are my people.&rdquo; And so ever since 2001 I listen to country music, but I&rsquo;m an odd country music fan because I didn&rsquo;t listen to it prior to 2001.</p> </blockquote> <p>September 11, the day the music died for our only declared presidential candidate and now the phoniest dude you'll run into at a country concert. This is going to be a wildly entertaining road to 2016.</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">(h/t Slate</a></em>)</p></body></html> MoJo Video 2016 Elections Music Ted Cruz Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:26:54 +0000 Inae Oh 272291 at Has Israel Given Up On Democrats? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Israel is doing its best to spy on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West. No surprise there. But the Obama administration believes they've <a href="" target="_blank">taken things too far:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu&rsquo;s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said....The espionage didn&rsquo;t upset the White House as much as <strong>Israel&rsquo;s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran&rsquo;s nuclear program,</strong> current and former officials said.</p> <p>....&ldquo;People feel personally sold out,&rdquo; a senior administration official said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The upshot of all this is that support for Israel is rapidly becoming a partisan issue. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re wondering whether something serious has shifted here, the answer is yes,&rdquo; a senior U.S. official said. &ldquo;These things leave scars.&rdquo; This is not likely to be good for Israel in the long term.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:46:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 272266 at Study: Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Probably Causes Cancer [UPDATED] <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>UPDATE: </strong>Monsanto is trying furiously to discredit the World Health Organization's assessment that glyphosate is a probable&nbsp;carcinogen. The company is pushing the WHO to retract the assessment, Reuters <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>. And in an email, a Monsanto public relations person wrote that "[W]e are reaching out to the World Health Organization (WHO) to understand how, despite the wealth of existing science on glyphosate, the IARC [International Agency for Research on Cancer] panel could make a classification that disagrees with scientific and regulatory reviews."</em></p> <p>Monsanto has <a href="" target="_blank">assured</a> the public over and over that its flagship Roundup herbicide doesn't cause cancer. But that soon change be . In a <a href="">stunning assessment</a> (free registration required) published in <em>The Lancet,</em> a working group of scientists convened by the World Health Organization reviewed the recent research on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup and the globe's most widely used weed-killing chemical, and found it "<a href="">probably carcinogenic to humans</a>."</p> <p>The authors cited three studies that suggest occupational glyphosate exposure (e.g., for farm workers) causes "increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides." They also point to both animal and human studies suggesting that the chemical, both in isolation and in the mix used in the fields by farmers, "induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro"; and another one finding "increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage" in residents of several farm communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.</p> <p>Monsanto first rolled out glyphosate herbicides in 1974, and by the mid-1990s began rolling out corn, soy, and cotton seeds genetically altered to resist it. Last year, herbicide-tolerant crops accounted for <a href="">94 percent of soybeans and 89 percent of corn</a>, two crops that cover more than half of US farmland. The rise of so-called Roundup Ready crops has led to a spike in glyphosate use, a 2012 <a href="">paper</a> by Washington State University researcher Charles Benbrook showed.</p> <p>Benbrook told me the WHO's assessment is "the most surprising thing I've heard in 30 years" of studying agriculture. Though a critic of the agrichemical industry, Benbrook has long seen glyphosate as a "relatively benign" herbicide. The WHO report challenges that widely held view, he said. "I had thought WHO might find it to be a 'possible' carcinogen," Benbrook said. "'Probable,' I did not expect."</p> <p>He added that the report delivered no specific conclusions about the dosage glyphosate requires to trigger cancer. But given that US Geological Survey researchers have found it in <a href="">detectable levels</a> in air, rain, and <a href="">streams</a> in heavy-usage regions, that it's <a href="">widely used in parks</a>, that it has also been found in <a href="">food residues</a> (though the US Department of Agriculture <a href="">does not regularly test for it</a>), the Environmental Protection Agency will likely come under heavy pressure to demand new research on it. Most US research on glyphosate, Benbrook added, has focused on the chemical in isolation. But in the real world, glyphosate is mixed with other chemicals, called surfactants and <a href="" target="_blank">adjuvants</a>, that enhance their weed-slaying power. Importantly, some of the research used in the WHO assessment came from outside the US and looked at real-world herbicide formulations.</p> <p>Monsanto shares closed nearly 2 percent lower Monday as investors digested the news. It's not heard to see why they're squeamish. The agribusiness giant is most known for its high-tech seeds, but its old-line herbicide business remains quite the cash cow, as its <a href="">2014 annual report</a> shows. That year, the division reaped about a third of the company's $15.8 billion in total sales. Indeed, Monsanto's herbicide sales grew at a robust 13 percent in 2014 clip, vs. an anemic 4 percent for its other division, seeds and genomics.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Monsanto Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 272256 at Our Meat Obsession May Kill Us. But Not How You Think. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The world is using more antibiotics than ever before&mdash;and showing no signs of stopping. A new <a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a> published in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Science </em>predicts that worldwide consumption of the drugs will grow 67 percent by 2030. Over the same period of time, in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the authors expect that antibiotic use will double.</p> <p>The reason for the dramatic increase in antibiotic use, say the authors, mostly has to do with the planet's ever-increasing appetite for meat. Since the 1970s, meat producers have been dosing livestock with regular, low doses of antibiotics. For reasons not entirely understood, this regimen helps animals grow bigger. In the United States, <a href="" target="_blank">80 percent</a> of all antibiotics already go to livestock, and the practice is becoming the norm the world over. This map shows the current global antibiotic consumption in livestock (in milligrams per 10 square kilometer pixels):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map-best.gif"><div class="caption">Map courtesy of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science</div> </div> <p>As the middle class in the developing world grows, demand for meat&mdash;and use of the antibiotics to grow that meat cheaply and quickly&mdash;is expected to rise as well.</p> <p>To get a sense of how quickly our global appetite for meat is growing, take a look at China. There, livestock producers are buying record amounts of corn and soy to feed a growing number of animals:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/usChinaExports5_projections_0.png"></div> <div class="caption">Jaeah Lee</div> </div> <p>As antibiotic use skyrockets, experts expect that germs will evolve to resist them. That's scary, considering that some of the same drugs we use on livestock are also our best defense against <a href="" target="_blank">infections in humans</a>. And suberbugs, several recent studies have shown, can and do <a href="" target="_blank">jump</a> from animals to people. In fact, another recent study predicted that antibiotic resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050.&nbsp;</p> <p>There's also evidence that antibiotics might soon stop working the way that meat producers want them to: A recent <a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a> concluded that the drugs are no longer making pigs bigger.</p> <p>The good news: Despite <a href="" target="_blank">loose federal regulations</a> around antibiotic use on farms, American consumers are beginning to <a href="" target="_blank">favor</a> meat grown without drugs. And manufacturers are taking notice: Earlier this month, McDonald's <a href="" target="_blank">pledged</a> to serve only chicken raised without antibiotics, and <a href="" target="_blank">Costco</a> quickly followed suit.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Top Stories Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Kiera Butler 272246 at Police: There Is "No Evidence" of Gang Rape Detailed in Rolling Stone's UVA Story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In a news conference on Monday, the Charlottesville Police Department announced it would suspend an investigation into the University of Virginia rape allegations first detailed in an explosive <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Rolling Stone</em> article</a> published last November. The police said they found <a href="" target="_blank">"no evidence" </a>supporting the claims of the student <em>Rolling Stone </em>identified as Jackie.</p> <p>"I can't prove that something didn't happen, and there may come a point in time in which this survivor, or this complaining party or someone else, may come forward with some information that might help us move this investigation further," <a href="" target="_blank">Police Chief Tim Longo told reporters</a>. He also stressed the inquiry was not permanently closed.</p> <p>According to Longo, Jackie did not cooperate with police officials, who conducted nearly 70 interviews, including speaking with Jackie's friends and members of UVA's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Jackie alleged her 2012 rape occurred in Phi Kappa Psi's fraternity house.</p> <p>The results of the investigation follow a turbulent four months for the magazine, after news outlets such as <em>Slate</em> and the <em>Washington Post </em>unearthed major errors compromising <em>Rolling Stone</em>'s story.<em> </em>The magazine acknowledged the discrepancies, saying it had "misplaced its trust" in Jackie.</p> <p>The story, however, fueled a <a href="" target="_blank">national conversation</a> over campus sexual assault. An independent investigation led by Columbia University's School of Journalism is expected to be released in the <a href="" target="_blank">coming weeks.</a></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Media Sex and Gender Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:01:27 +0000 Inae Oh 272241 at Television Is a Vast Disease-Laden Wasteland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Jason Millman writes:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Maybe you've noticed that prescription drug ads are everywhere these days &mdash; more so than usual. You wouldn't be wrong.</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh yes, I've noticed. It's one reason I watch less TV than I might otherwise&mdash;especially shows that are pitched to, um, mature demographics. I feel like I'm simply bombarded with ads about terrible diseases <em>and</em> all the terrible side effects that the advertised drugs might cause. Maybe I'm just having a harder time tuning out this stuff than usual, but I find it immensely depressing to be surrounded by reminders of disease every time I turn on the TV. Anyone else feel the same way?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Health Care Mon, 23 Mar 2015 18:57:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 272226 at Beware the Hype of New Medical Studies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_TV_Commercial.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Julia Belluz thinks the democratization of medical research <a href="" target="_blank">may have gone too far:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I often wonder whether there is any value in reporting very early research. Journals now publish their findings, and the public seizes on them, but this wasn't always the case: journals were meant for peer-to-peer discussion, not mass consumption.</p> <p>Working in the current system, we reporters feed on press releases from journals and it's difficult to resist the siren call of flashy findings. We are incentivized to find novel things to write about, just as scientists and research institutions need to attract attention to their work. Patients, of course, want better medicines, better procedures &mdash; and hope.</p> <p><strong>But this cycle is hurting us, and it's obscuring the truths research has to offer.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The truth, Belluz says, is that virtually all initial studies of promising new therapies fail to pan out. Only 6 percent of new journal articles each year are well-designed and relevant enough to inform patient care. Of these, only a fraction end up in a product that successfully makes it to market.</p> <p>Dr. Oz may be the face of bad medical advice, but the fact is that it's all around us. We're all desperate for cures&mdash;I'd certainly like to see one for multiple myeloma&mdash;but most of them just don't go anywhere. Belluz has more about the siren call of new miracle cures <a href="" target="_blank">at the link.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:58:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 272206 at The Boston Globe Really, Really Wants Elizabeth Warren to Run for President <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Sunday, the editorial board of the <em>Boston Globe</em> published a <a href=";wpmm=1" target="_blank">four-part argument</a> urging Senator Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. The editorial, which touted Warren's commitment to reducing income inequality, warned Democrats that allowing "Clinton [to] coast to the presidential nomination without real opposition" would be a big mistake.</p> <p>"Unlike Clinton, or any of the prospective Republican candidates, Warren has made closing the economic gaps in America her main political priority, in a career that has included standing up for homeowners facing illegal foreclosures and calling for more bankruptcy protections," the <em>Globe</em>'s editorial board argued. "If she runs, it&rsquo;ll ensure that those issues take their rightful place at the center of the national political debate."</p> <p>The paper went onto argue that even on issues, such as strengthening financial regulations, on which Clinton and Warren agree, it was difficult to imagine&nbsp;a "President Clinton enforcing the Dodd-Frank legislation with as much vigor as a President Warren" at a time when income inequality remains a high priority for many Americans.</p> <p>Although Warren has repeatedly said she is not interested in running for president, Sunday's editorial comes at somewhat of a vulnerable moment for Clinton, who's still dealing with the controversy surrounding her exclusive use of a personal email account while serving as secretary of state. Although the controversy doesn't appear to have damaged Clinton's popularity with top <a href="" target="_blank">Democratic donors</a>, it has further underscored the serious lack of viable challengers to her nomination.</p> <p>"Fairly or not, many Americans already view Clinton skeptically, and waltzing to the nomination may actually hurt her in the November election against the Republican nominee," the <em>Globe </em>argued.</p> <p>If Warren were to remain uninterested in a run, the editorial board said she should continue her efforts to reduce income inequality and "help recruit candidates" to advance her signature cause.</p> <p>To read the editorial in its entirety, visit the <a href=";wpmm=1" target="_blank"><em>Boston Globe. </em></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Income Inequality Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:47:53 +0000 Inae Oh 272201 at Ted Cruz's First Campaign Stop: the Birthplace of the "Clinton Body Count" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) <a href="" target="_blank">launched his presidential campaign</a> on Monday at Virginia's Liberty University, a private Christian college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Liberty has become a mandatory stop for aspiring Republican candidates&mdash;and it's not just for the campus museum exhibit of the<a href="" target="_blank"> taxidermied bear that Falwell's father once wrestled</a>. Liberty is perhaps the premier academic institution of the religious right, and Cruz's choice of venue sends a clear message that he's trying to position himself in 2016 Republican field as a social conservative crusader&mdash;and that he's counting on evangelicals for support.</p> <p>But Liberty University and its controversial founder have additional significance to the 2016 presidential race. During the 1990s, the anti-gay pastor did more than anyone to popularize the so-called "<a href="" target="_blank">Clinton Body Count</a>"&mdash;the notion that Bill and Hillary Clinton had been responsible for dozens of murders during and after their time in Arkansas. This conspiracy theory was the centerpiece of a 1994 film called the <em>Clinton Chronicles</em>, which Falwell helped distribute to hundreds of thousands of conservatives across the country.</p> <p>Despite Falwell's best efforts, though, President Bill Clinton won his 1996 re-election campaign, and the episode helped reinforce the pastor's reputation as a bigoted crank. Republican candidates will find it hard to avoid Falwell's institution as the 2016 campaign heats up. We'll see if they've learned from his mistakes, too, when it comes to taking on the Clinton political machine.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Ted Cruz Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:29:49 +0000 Tim Murphy 272181 at Three Cheers For the California Miracle! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Oh dear. Here's some bad news for Ted Cruz on his very first day as an <a href="" target="_blank">official presidential candidate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For years, business lobbyists complained about what they derided as "job killer" laws that drive employers out of California. Rival state governors, notably former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, made highly publicized visits to the Golden State in hopes of poaching jobs.</p> <p>But new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tell a different story. Total jobs created in the 12 months ending Jan. 31 show California leading other states. <strong>California gained 498,000 new jobs, almost 30% more than the Lone Star State's total of 392,900 for the same period.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Them's the breaks. There's no more "Texas Miracle" for either Cruz or Rick Perry. We're in the middle of a California Miracle right now.</p> <p>So how is Sodom on the Pacific pulling this off? Actually, that's pretty easy to answer. California was hit hard by the housing bubble, <a href="" target="_blank">while Texas wasn't.</a> So California's economy took a big hit during the recession and the slow recovery, while Texas did pretty well&mdash;aided and abetted by a rise in oil prices.</p> <p>Now everything has turned around. California is rebounding strongly from the housing crisis while Texas is suffering from the global collapse in oil prices. There is, frankly, nothing very miraculous about either story. It's just the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_texas_unemployment_march_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">business cycle at work in a fairly normal and predictable way.</p> <p>In fact, you may recall that there was never much of a Texas Miracle in the first place. <a href="" target="_blank">It was mostly just PR bluster,</a> as the chart on the right shows. The thick green line shows the unemployment rate in Texas compared to its neighboring states, and Texas is right smack in the middle&mdash;and it always has been. It's better than half a dozen nearby states and worse than another half dozen. It is, sad to say, entirely average. That's not something Texans are likely to take kindly to, but numbers don't lie.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Economy Ted Cruz Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:21:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 272196 at Ted Cruz Throws His Hat In General Direction of Presidential Ring <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The big news sweeping my Twitter feed last night was Ted Cruz's rather sudden decision to announce that he's running for president. Usually there's a warmup period of some kind (an "exploratory committee," etc.) but apparently Cruz decided to dispense with all that and simply throw his hat in the ring posthaste. The motivation for his sudden haste is a little mysterious at this point.</p> <p>The other thing sweeping my Twitter feed was the fact that the URL <a href="" target="_blank"></a> leads to the site on the right. Patrick Caldwell explains this and much more in his brisk overview of potential candidates and their <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ted_cruz_com.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">unfortunate lack of attention to the <a href="" target="_blank">basics of internet campaigning:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Unfortunately for the Texas Republican, long before he ran for Senate in 2012, had been nabbed by an Arizona attorney who shares his name. Based on a search of the Wayback Machine, an internet archive, the Arizona Cruz's website dates back to at least early 2008, when it was a normal, if slightly Geocities-tinged, business website. "Putting All Your Real Estate Needs In 'CRUZ CONTROL,'" the attorney's tagline said at the time. But sometime within the past year he ditched his law site to instead mock the would-be-president. On a simple black background, in large font, the website screamed: "COMING SOON, Presidential Candidate, I Luv CHRISTIE!!!!!" Attorney Cruz wouldn't say anything to Mother Jones over email except to acknowledge that he has owned the domain for several years. But he deleted the section about loving Christie shortly thereafter. Given the initial message, though, it seems unlikely that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ted_cruz_org.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the Arizona attorney will be easily persuaded to relinquish control of the domain to the senator.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's bad luck, no? Still, at least Cruz has control of <a href="" target="_blank"></a> It was obviously thrown together pretty quickly, though at least it's got the basics. But why the slapdash approach? <a href="" target="_blank">According to the <em>New York Times</em> this morning,</a> Cruz was afraid of being upstaged: "By becoming the first candidate to declare himself officially in the race, Republicans briefed on his strategy said, Mr. Cruz hopes to reclaim the affection and attention of those on the party&rsquo;s right wing who have begun eyeing other contenders, particularly Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin."</p> <p>Cruz's official announcement, inevitably, will be done at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's shrine to the Christian Right. I think we can expect many, many more speeches and announcements from Republican wannabes there. But Cruz will be the first! Take that, Bobby Jindal!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Ted Cruz Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:37:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 272191 at