Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Quote of the Day: Republicans Hate Obamacare Except for the Parts They Don't <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers,</a> who asked for horror stories about Obamacare and was instead deluged with stories from people who have been helped by it:</p> <blockquote> <p>The stories are largely around pre-existing conditions and those that are getting health insurance up to age 26.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure. <em>Everyone</em> likes the idea of making sure that people with pre-existing conditions can get health insurance. Unfortunately, as Greg Sargent points out, Republicans can't just say they support Obamacare's pre-existing conditions provision <a href="" target="_blank">but oppose the rest of it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s true that Republicans tend to support provisions like the protections for preexisting conditions; after all, they are very popular. But they can&rsquo;t be tidily untangled from the law. The ACA&rsquo;s protections for preexisting conditions rely on the individual mandate, because without it, people would simply wait until they got sick to sign up for insurance, driving up premiums; instead, the mandate broadens the risk pool. And the mandate requires the subsidies, so that lower-income people who&rsquo;d face a penalty for remaining uninsured can afford to buy coverage.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is something that Republicans steadfastly refuse to admit, even though it's obvious to everyone with even a passing knowledge of how this stuff works. Sargent has more at the link about how this ties into the <em>King v. Burwell</em> lawsuit and Republican claims that they want to replace Obamacare with something better.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:19:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 272751 at America Ranks in the Top 5 Globally—for Putting Its Citizens to Death <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We're No. 5! We're No. 5!</p> <p>America once again ranks among the top five nations in the world&mdash;in executions. Sigh. That's according to a new report from Amnesty International, which also notes that more and more nations have been opting not to kill their convicts.</p> <p>Amnesty tallies at least 607 known executions in 22 countries in 2014. The good news? That's a 22 percent decline from 2013. Here at home, states dispatched 35 American citizens last year, a <a href="" target="_blank">20-year low</a>&mdash;and four less than in 2013. But there's no accounting for China, which executes more people than all other countries combined but treats the data as a state secret. (Amnesty made its count by looking at a range of sources, including official figures, reports from civil society groups, media accounts, and information from death row convicts and their families.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="480" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Amnesty also reports a drop in the number of countries that carried out executions, from 42 in 1995 to 22 last year, although many more still have the death penalty on the books. The United States is the last country in the Americas that still puts people to death, but US citizens appear to be <a href="" target="_blank">increasingly opposed</a> to the practice. Only seven states executed convicts in 2014, compared with nine states a year earlier. The overwhelming majority of those executions&mdash;nearly 90 percent&mdash;took place in four states: Texas, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma. (<a href="" target="_blank">Georgia</a> had two, and Arizona and Ohio had one execution each.)</p> <p>Eighteen states have abolished the death penalty, but among those that have not, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming haven't put anyone to death in at least a decade, Amnesty noted. Oregon and Washington have moratoriums on executions, and federal authorities have not put anyone to death since 2003.</p> <p>The bad news is, from 2013 to 2014, the number of death <em>sentences</em> jumped nearly 30 percent globally, to at least 2,466. Amnesty points in part to Nigeria, which imposed 659 death sentences last year as military courts punished numerous soldiers for mutiny and other offenses amid armed conflict with Boko Haram militants. Egypt was also to blame for the increase, Amnesty said, as Egyptian courts handed down death sentences against 210 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in April and June.</p> <p>In all, 55 countries sentenced people to death last year. Here, according to Amnesty, are the most notable:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Crime and Justice Human Rights International Top Stories Capital Punishment Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:00:09 +0000 Samantha Michaels 272621 at Arkansas Just Passed Its Own Indiana-Style 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Despite <a href="" target="_blank">national outcry</a> over a <a href="" target="_blank">similar bill</a> in Indiana, the Arkansas state Legislature on Tuesday passed its own 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' which critics warn would allow business owners to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people on religious grounds.&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill now goes to Republican state&nbsp;Gov. Asa Hutchinson who<a href="" target="_blank"> vowed last week to sign it.</a> Attempts by state lawmakers to add a provision that would prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians were blocked, <a href=";version=BreakingNews&amp;region=FixedTop&amp;action=Click&amp;contentCollection=BreakingNews&amp;contentID=31846900&amp;pgtype=Blogs&amp;gwh=768CF5DAD684F4998A9992A4D9DC275F&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=nyt_now&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">according to <em>the New York Times.</em></a></p> <p>"The Arkansas and Indiana bills are virtually identical in terms of language and intent," Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow <a href="" target="_blank">told<em> the Huffington Post</em></a>. "They place LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and many more people at risk of discrimination."</p> <p>Like Indiana, Arkansas is already facing mounting criticism over the bill. <a href="" target="_blank">Walmart</a>, which is based in Bentonville, and data-services company&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Acxiom</a> have openly criticized the bill.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:46:31 +0000 Edwin Rios 272716 at Backer of Indiana Law Says "It's Impossible to Satisfy the Homosexual Lobby" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Considering it seems like everyone from <a href="" target="_blank">Tim Cook</a> to the whole state of Connecticut is incensed by a <a href="" target="_blank">new law</a> that allows Indiana businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers based on "religious grounds," it seems crazy to think anyone is still out there actually defending it&mdash;at least openly. Alas, here's Bryan Fischer of "<a href="" target="_blank">gay sex is terrorism"</a> notoriety and head of the American Family Association, to prove otherwise:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The pressure Big Gay has put on Indiana is proof they are not about "marriage equality" but "homosexual supremacy."</p>&mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Indiana will soon find it is impossible to satisfy the homosexual lobby. They will immediately be back for more. And more.</p> &mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Indiana to Christian wedding vendors: in any conflict between you and Big Gay, we're coming down on the side of Big Gay.</p> &mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gov. Mike Pence may now be trying to <a href="" target="_blank">play down</a> criticism the law discriminates against gay people, support from people like Fischer make it difficult to make such an argument.<br> &nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Religion Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:16:12 +0000 Inae Oh 272701 at If Hillary Clinton Testifies About Her Emails, She Should Do It In Public <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest on <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton's emails:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The chairman of the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks asked Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday to appear for a private interview about her exclusive use of a personal email account when she was secretary of state.</p> <p>....Mr. Gowdy said the committee believed that &ldquo;a transcribed interview would best protect Secretary Clinton&rsquo;s privacy, the security of the information queried, and the public&rsquo;s interest in ensuring this committee has all information needed to accomplish the task set before it.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Go ahead and call me paranoid, but this sure seems like the perfect setup to allow Gowdy&mdash;or someone on his staff&mdash;to leak just a few bits and pieces of Clinton's testimony that put her in the worst possible light. Darrell Issa did this so commonly that it was practically part of the rules of the game when he was investigating Benghazi and other Republican obsessions.</p> <p>Who knows? Maybe Gowdy is a more honest guy. But since Clinton herself has offered to testify publicly, why would anyone not take her up on it? It's not as if any of this risks exposing classified information or anything.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Hillary Clinton Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:12:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 272711 at James O'Keefe Loses Libel Suit Over Landrieu Incident <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Conservative filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe has lost another legal battle: on Monday, <a href="" target="_blank">a federal court in New Jersey dismissed a libel suit</a> O'Keefe filed against legal news website <em>MainJustice</em>. In August 2013, <em>MainJustice</em> published an article referring to a 2010 incident in which O'Keefe and his associates posed as telephone technicians to gain access to the offices of then&ndash;Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). O'Keefe and three others <a href="" target="_blank">ultimately pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge</a> of entering federal property under false pretenses.</p> <p>In its original article, <em>MainJustice</em> said that O'Keefe was "apparently trying to bug" Landrieu's offices. After O'Keefe complained, the website changed the sentence to read that O'Keefe and his associates "were trying to tamper with Landrieu's phones." Still, O'Keefe sued, alleging that both characterizations were defamatory because they implied he had committed a felony. <em>MainJustice </em>countered that the language wasn't defamatory because the substance of the article was true, and the site accurately described the legal proceedings triggered by the episode.</p> <p>The court didn't find O'Keefe's case convincing. Judge Claire Cecchi wrote in her opinion:</p> <blockquote> <p>Regardless of whether the article used the words "apparently trying to bug" or "trying to tamper," the few words challenged by the Plaintiff, taken in context, do not alter the fundamental gist of the paragraph&hellip; Therefore, the words "trying to tamper with," understood in the colloquial sense, convey the substantial truth of the Landrieu incident and do not alter the ultimate conclusion of the paragraph&mdash;that Plaintiff was guilty of a misdemeanor.</p> </blockquote> <p>Mary Jacoby, editor-in-chief of <em>MainJustice</em>, writes in a statement:</p> <blockquote> <p>This is an important First Amendment victory. It's a total, resounding defeat of O'Keefe's attempts to intimidate journalists into accepting his spin on the circumstances of his 2010 entry into Sen. Landrieu's offices under false pretenses.</p> </blockquote> <p>In 2013, <a href="" target="_blank">O'Keefe paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit</a> filed against him by a former employee of ACORN, a nonprofit the filmmaker had targeted. In a statement to <em>Mother Jones, </em>an O'Keefe spokesman said, "While we are disappointed in the Court's decision, it is one that we respect due to the complex and difficult nature of proving defamation. That being said, we think it is important to note that this decision in no way validates any of the false statements made against Project Veritas or James O'Keefe."</p></body></html> MoJo Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:58:05 +0000 Sam Brodey 272681 at "The Americans" Is One Of The Best Shows On Television—And It Just Got Renewed For Another Season. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Do you watch <em>The Americans</em>? You should watch <em>The Americans</em>! Why don't you watch <em>The Americans</em>? Do you not watch it because it's about Soviet spies who love each other and also work together to bring down America by wearing wigs and having <em>sexxxxxxx</em>? Well, guess what? That's only sort of what it's about. It's really about a marriage. Are you married? If you're married, you'll relate to this show a lot.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>&ldquo;FX&rsquo;s &lsquo;The Americans&rsquo; Proves That True Love Is Real&rdquo; by Ben Dreyfuss</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>You'll watch it and be like "God, my wife and I just had a very similar fight about how to raise our daughter." Just replace spying for the Soviets with whatever you do for a living. They're so cute together, <em>The Americans</em>! They love each other so much, but they're torn in different directions by competing loyalties, and they don't know what to do! Bonus: I recently found out that <em>The Americans</em> are dating in real life, which is so cute OMG.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>OMG did you know that the Americans are dating IRL? That&rsquo;s so cute. I hope they get married <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>I love <em>The Americans</em>. I'm not nuts about the dumb kids, and some of the storylines are dumb, but the show is really great. The one thing I don't like about the show is that<em> The Americans</em> are not actually Americans, they're Soviets and I don't like rooting for people who are trying to bring down America. I keep hoping they're going to defect.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The Americans are so cute when they&rsquo;re in <a href="">#love</a>. I wish they would join America and stop helping the Soviets :(</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="">February 7, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>But I think they probably won't. They seem to like communism a lot. But at the same time they also like living in America and enjoying the fruits of capitalism. Their minds are all messed up! You can see what a complicated situation they're in. A lot of D-R-A-M-A.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I love The Americans, but I wish they weren't Russian spies :(</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="">April 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Anyway, it's maybe the second best show on television (<a href="" target="_blank">after <em>The Good Wife</em></a>).</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I would pay $30 for a ticket to a movie spinoff of The Americans where they just go on a vacation and are happy together.</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="">February 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The problem is, not that many people watch it. :(((.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The low ratings for The Americans make me sad &amp; angry. I don't even care about ratings, but COME ON SHEEPLE. It's the best thing out there!</p> &mdash; emilynussbaum (@emilynussbaum) <a href="">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The ratings for <a href="" target="_blank">season 3 are in the hole</a>. A cloud of pessimism and fear has overshadowed the last few episodes; I figured it was unlikely to get renewed by FX for a fourth season. But, guess what? <a href="" target="_blank">Good news! It's coming back!</a></p> <p>So start watching it please oh dear god I beg you please watch it, please! We can be best friends if you watch it.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:49:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272706 at Cancel Your Meetings. You Can Now Play Pac-Man On Google Maps. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Just in time for April Fool's Day, Google has released a neat feature that allows users to play Pac-Man pretty much anywhere in the world right now. Simply load up <a href="" target="_blank">Google Maps</a> and click on the Pac-Man option patiently waiting for you at the bottom-left-hand corner of your computer screen:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pacman.png" style="height: 376px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>The feature then transforms your set location into a virtual Pac-Man universe, where the classic arcade game's dotted streets and gobbling ghosts prepare to chase your every move. Want to mix it up? Click the "Return to Google Maps" icon on the left and edit your location to any other address and voila, your newly customized Pac-Man game awaits.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pacman2.png" style="height: 349px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>Prepare for a complete time-suck of your day.</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">(h/t Engadget)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Interactives Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:50:04 +0000 Inae Oh 272696 at Look At These Crazy Wave Clouds! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Look! In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a cloud that looks like neither a bird or a plane! A wave! It looks like a wave!</p> <p>High above South Carolina yesterday "<a href="" target="_blank">wave clouds</a>" rippled through the sky. They are bonkers!</p> <p>Look at this video:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Now look at this one:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em></em> has a <a href="" target="_blank">whole gallery of crazy shots</a>.</p> <p>What is a wave cloud? <em><a href="" target="_blank">WIRED</a></em> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>These crazy clouds that look like a row of crashing waves are known as Kelvin-Helmholz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.</p> <p>&ldquo;It could be like oil and vinegar,&rdquo; Chuang said. &ldquo;In the ocean, the top is warm and the bottom is really cold. It&rsquo;s like a thin layer of oil on a big puddle of water.&rdquo;</p> <p>When these two layers move past each other, a Kelvin-Helmholz instability is formed that is sort of like a wave. Parts of the boundary move up and parts move down. Because one layer is moving faster than the other, the shear causes the tops of the waves to move horizontally, forming what looks like an ocean wave crashing on the beach.</p> <p>&ldquo;It really is like breaking waves,&rdquo; Chuang said. &ldquo;A wave breaks when the water on top moves so much faster than the water below that it kind of piles up on itself.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The world is a weird and beautiful place.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:31:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272686 at Ditch the Keyboard, Take Notes By Hand <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cornell_notes.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Joseph Stromberg reports on recent research suggesting that taking notes by hand is <a href="" target="_blank">way better for students than taking notes on a laptop:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The two groups of students &mdash; laptop users and hand-writers &mdash; did pretty similarly on the factual questions. But the laptop users did significantly worse on the conceptual ones.</p> <p>The researchers also noticed that the laptop users took down many more words, and were more likely to take down speech from the video verbatim....As a final test, the researchers had students watch a seven-minute lecture (taking notes either on a laptop or by hand), let a week pass, then gave some of the students ten minutes to study their notes before taking a test.</p> <p>Having time to study mattered &mdash; but only for students who'd taken notes by hand. These students did significantly better on both conceptual and factual questions. But studying didn't help laptop users at all, and even made them perform slightly worse on the test.</p> <p><strong>The researchers explain this by noting previous research showing the act of note-taking can be just as important as a later study of notes in helping students learn. When done with pen and paper, that act involves active listening, trying to figure out what information is most important, and putting it down.</strong> When done on a laptop, it generally involves robotically taking in spoken words and converting them into typed text.</p> </blockquote> <p>Makes sense to me. No matter how good a typist you are, writing by hand is a more natural process that doesn't engage your entire brain. You have to figure out what's being said and how to paraphrase it, and that act is part of learning. Rote note taking isn't.</p> <p>Plus of course laptops are distracting. So put 'em away. Use the Cornell system if you want a system. But either way, use pen and pad, not keyboard and mouse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Education Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:45:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 272676 at Here's What President Obama Just Promised the World in the Fight Against Climate Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This morning, hours ahead of a looming deadline, the United States released its formal submission to the United Nations in preparation for global climate talks that will take place in Paris later this year. Known as an "intended nationally determined contribution," the document gives a basic outline for what US negotiators will pony up for an accord that is meant to replace the aging Kyoto Protocol and establish a new framework for international collaboration in the fight against climate change.</p> <p>The US submission offered few surprises and essentially reiterated the carbon emission reduction targets that President Barack Obama first announced in a bilateral deal with China in November: 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The document then gives a rundown of Obama's climate initiatives in order to demonstrate that the US goal is attainable with policies that are already in place or are in the works. Chief among those policies is the Clean Power Plan, which sets tough new limits for carbon emissions from the electricity sector, with the aim to reduce them 30 percent by 2030.</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1698605-un-indc">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 800, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1698605-un-indc" }); </script><noscript> <a href="">UN INDC (PDF)</a> <br><a href="">UN INDC (Text)</a> </noscript> <p>With today's announcement, the United States joins a handful of other major polluters, including Mexico and the European Union, in formally articulating its Paris position well in advance. In a series of earlier UN meetings over the fall and winter, negotiators stressed that setting early delivery dates for these pledges was important so that countries will have time to critique each others' contributions in advance of the final summit in December. But although the deadline is today, many other key players&mdash;including China, Brazil, Russia, Japan, and India&mdash;have yet to make an announcement.</p> <p>Environmental groups' immediate reactions to the US submission were mostly positive.</p> <p>"The United States' proposal shows that it is ready to lead by example on the climate crisis," World Resources Institute analyst Jennifer Morgan said in a statement. "This is a serious and achievable commitment."</p> <p>At least one leading Republican offered an equally predictable rebuttal, <a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2015-03-31-03-25-54" target="_blank">according to the Associated Press</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p class="ap-story-p"><span class="entry-content">"Considering that two-thirds of the US federal government hasn't even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.</span></p> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:26:22 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272661 at Yemen "On the Verge of Total Collapse" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As expected, things are <a href="" target="_blank">going from bad to worse in Yemen:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The United Nations&rsquo; human rights chief, Zeid Ra&rsquo;ad al-Hussein, <strong>warned on Tuesday that Yemen was on the brink of collapse,</strong> as his office said that heavy fighting in the southern port city of Aden had left its streets lined with bodies and its hospitals full of corpses.</p> <p>....Houthi forces were reported to have forced their way into Aden&rsquo;s northeastern suburbs despite airstrikes by the Saudi Air Force and a naval blockade intended to sever the flow of weapons and other supplies to Houthi forces.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_yemen_houthi.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 0px 0px 20px 5px;"></a></p> <p>Well, perhaps the pan-Arab military force announced a few days ago will restore order? Unfortunately, Laura King of the <em>LA Times</em> reminds us that the last time Arabs fought together was <a href="" target="_blank">during the 1973 war&mdash;which ended in disaster:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Now, nearly 50 years later, Arab states are joining forces again&nbsp;&mdash; this time, with the immediate aim of restoring order in chaotic Yemen, and moving as well to quell other regional conflicts.</p> <p>But analysts say the nascent military alliance, whose planned formation was announced over the weekend by Arab leaders meeting in Egypt, <strong>could usher in new regional crises and intensify existing ones, sharpening sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and complicating already tangled national conflicts.</strong></p> <p>Yemen, whose tribes have for centuries been hostile to outsiders, could prove a deadly quagmire if conventional infantries from elsewhere in the Arab world attempt to wage a ground war against a homegrown, battle-hardened guerrilla force, the Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels. And a momentary sense of unity among Arab comrades-in-arms may fade as their sometimes-conflicting agendas come to the fore.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the whole thing. If it wasn't obvious already, King's piece makes it clear that the various Arab actors all have different goals and different agendas in Yemen. This is not likely to end well.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:54:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 272671 at The World's Worst Climate Villain Just Showed Us Exactly How to Stop Global Warming <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There was a somewhat surprising announcement this week from a country with one of the world's worst climate reputations: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's office <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> that his government is committed to signing on to the next major international climate accord, set to be hammered out in Paris later this year.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a>, the PM's office said that "a strong and effective global agreement, that addresses carbon leakage and delivers environmental benefit, is in Australia&rsquo;s national interest."</p> <p>I have no idea what "carbon leakage" is. Presumably it's something similar to carbon dioxide emissions, which are the leading cause of global warming. (Update: Carbon leakage is "the term often used to describe the situation that may occur if, for reasons of costs related to climate policies, businesses were to transfer production to other countries which have laxer constraints on greenhouse gas emissions," <a href="" target="_blank">according to the European Commission.</a>) Regardless, the announcement is a welcome sign from an administration that was <a href="" target="_blank">recently ranked</a> as the "worst industrial country in the world" on climate action.</p> <p>The Paris summit is meant to elicit strong commitments to reduce carbon pollution from all of the world's leading economies, so it's a good thing Australia is willing to play ball. The country gets <a href="" target="_blank">74 percent</a> of its power from coal (that's nearly twice coal's share of US energy generation). Australia has the second-largest carbon footprint per capita of the G20 nations (following Saudi Arabia), according to US government statistics.</p> <p>But let's not get too excited. Although Abbott hasn't yet specified exactly what kind of climate promises he'll bring to the table in Paris, there's good reason to be skeptical. Here's why: In the run-up to the talks, developed countries are keeping a close eye on each others' domestic climate policies as a guage of how serious they each are about confronting the problem. It's a process of collectively raising the bar: If major polluters like the United States show they mean business in the fight against climate change, other countries will be more inclined to follow suit. Of course, the reverse is also true&mdash;for example, the revelation that Japan is <a href="" target="_blank">using climate-designated dollars to finance coal-fired power plants</a> weakens the whole negotiating process. That's one reason why President Barack Obama has been so proactive about <a href="" target="_blank">initiating major climate policies</a> from within the White House rather than waiting for the GOP-controlled Congress to step up.</p> <p>So, on that metric, how are Australia's climate policies shaping up? It looks like they're going straight <a href="" target="_blank">down the gurgler.</a></p> <p>Almost a year ago, Australia made a very different kind of climate announcement: It became the world's first country to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>repeal</em></a> a price on carbon. Back in 2012, after several years of heated political debate, Australia's parliament had voted to impose a&nbsp;fixed tax on carbon pollution for the country's several hundred worst polluters. The basic idea&mdash;as with all carbon-pricing systems, from California to the European Union&mdash;is that putting a price on carbon emissions encourages power plants, factories, and other major sources to clean up. Most environmental economists agree that a carbon price would be the fastest way to dramatically slash emissions, and that hypothesis is supported by a number of case studies from around the world&mdash;British Columbia is <a href="" target="_blank">a classic success story</a>. (President Obama backed a national carbon price for the US&mdash;in the form of a cap-and-trade system&mdash;in 2009, but it was quashed in the Senate.)</p> <p>In Australia, the carbon tax quickly became unpopular with most voters, who blamed it for high energy prices and the country's sluggish recovery from the 2008 global recession. Abbott rose to power in part based on his pledge to get rid of the law. In July 2014 he succeeded in repealing it.</p> <p>Now, new <a href="" target="_blank">data</a> from the Australian Department of the Environment reveal that whether or not you liked the carbon tax, it absolutely worked to slash carbon emissions. And in the first quarter without the tax, emissions jumped for the first time since prior to the global financial crisis.</p> <p>The new data quantified greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector (which accounts for about a third of total emissions, the largest single share)&nbsp;in the quarter from July to September 2014. As the chart below shows, emissions in that same quarter dropped by about 7.5 percent after the carbon tax was imposed, and jumped 4.7 percent after it was repealed:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="oz carbon emissions" class="image" src="/files/oz-carbon-emissions4.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p>It's especially important to note that the jump came in the context of an overall decline in electricity consumption, as Australian climate economist Frank Jotzo explained to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Frank Jotzo, an associate professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School, said electricity demand was falling in the economy, so any rise in emissions from the sector showed how supply was&nbsp;reverting to dirtier energy sources.</p> <p>"You had a step down in the emission intensity in power stations from the carbon price&mdash;and now you have a step back up," Professor Jotzo said.</p> <p>&hellip;[Jotzo] estimated fossil fuel power plants with 4.4 gigawatts of capacity were been taken offline during the carbon tax years. About one third of that total, or 1.5 gigawatts, had since been switched back on.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, we have here a unique case study of what happens when a country bails on climate action. The next question will what all this will mean for the negotiations in Paris.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:30:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272596 at Scientists Can Predict Your City's Obesity Rate by Analyzing Its Sewage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If someone were to ask you what distinguishes skinny cities from fat ones, you might think of the prevalence of fast-food joints, the average length of automobile commutes, or the relative abundance of parks and jogging trails. But there's also another, more underground factor: their sewage.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More MoJo coverage of bacteria and health: </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-222731"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/04/gut-microbiome-bacteria-weight-loss"> Are Happy Gut Bacteria Key to Weight Loss?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222726"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/04/bacteria-in-human-body"> This Is Your Body on Microbes</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222696"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/04/should-you-take-probiotics-supplement"> Should You Take a Probiotic?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-199521"> <li><a href="/environment/2012/10/what-is-fecal-transplant-difficile-bacteria"> Poop Therapy: More Than You Probably Wanted to Know About Fecal Transplants</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-197496"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/12/can-antibiotics-make-you-fat"> Can Antibiotics Make You Fat?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-215356"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/02/can-antibiotics-cure-hunger"> Antibiotics As Key to Curing Starvation </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-222906"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/04/sinus-infections-antibiotics-resistance"> Why You Shouldn't Take Antibiotics for a Sinus Infection</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>Researchers with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee collected raw sewage samples from the intakes of municipal wastewater treatment plants in 71 cities around the country. Their results, <a href="" target="_blank">published last month</a> in <em>mBio</em>, the American Society for Microbiology's open-access journal, showed that the microbial content of that sewage predicted each city's relative obesity with 81 to 89 percent accuracy.</p> <p>The finding actually isn't all that surprising, says lead author Ryan Newton, a visiting professor at UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences. Other studies <a href="" target="_blank">have shown</a> that bacterial imbalances in your intestines can lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes. Newton's study, however, is the first to demonstrate that those microbial differences also play out across entire populations, even after our poop gets flushed, mixed together, and sent through miles of pipes.</p> <p>The UWM study was enabled by computing advances that have allowed scientists to rapidly sequence microbial populations and look for patterns in the results. Other researchers are using similar techniques to look for correlations between gut bacteria and a wide range of health conditions.</p> <p>Newton isn't the only scientist who sees sewage as a promising place for data dives. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's<a href="" target="_blank"> Underworlds</a> project, which began in January, <a href="" target="_blank">will study sewage</a> for the presence of viruses such as influenza and polio; bacterial pathogens that cause cholera typhoid fever, and other diseases; and biochemical molecules ranging from antibiotics to illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Scientists hope the resulting data could help predict epidemics and track other public health trends within particular neighborhoods.&nbsp;</p> <p>As scientists gain a better understanding of the interplay between microbes and human health, they may eventually be able to look at municipal sewage to figure out which communities would be the best to target with public health campaigns designed to, say, get people to eat less sugar or more vegetables.</p> <p>And just as important, sequencing sewage could eliminate the thorny problem of doing public health surveys. Unlike people, your poop can't lie about what you had to eat.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Science Top Stories microbiome Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:10:06 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272641 at The Largest Newspaper in Indiana Just Made One Hell of a Statement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This is the front page of tomorrow's <em>Indianapolis Star: </em></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CBZFU8uVIAAlJjE.jpg"><div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank">@markalesia</a>/Twitter</div> </div> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><a href="" target="_blank">Hell, yeah.</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We are at a critical moment in Indiana's history.</p> <p>And much is at stake.</p> <p>Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.</p> <p>All of this is at risk because of a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that no matter its original intent already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future.</p> <p>The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.</p> <p>Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Go read the whole thing.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:06:56 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272656 at A Bunch of Idiots Took Selfies in Front of the East Village Fire in NYC—and Fox News Blamed Obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Back in February, President Obama recorded a short video of himself using a <a href="" target="_blank">selfie stick</a>&mdash;the elongated recording tool some critics warn is enabling a generation of <a href="" target="_blank">self-absorbed</a> millennials&mdash;with the obvious intention to promote Obamacare with a side of fun. The clip, recorded for<a href="" target="_blank"> Buzzfeed</a>, instantly went viral and was largely well-received with a chuckle.</p> <p>But according to one Fox News host today, Obama and his selfie stick-wielding video are to blame for encouraging ill advised photos such as the ones of New York City tourists snapping selfies in front of a large building fire.</p> <p>Up in arms over the East Village selfies, <a href="" target="_blank">"Outnumbered" host Harris Faulkner explained on Monday:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When the president does it, you've got a whole new generation now. I&rsquo;m not just picking on the older adults and protecting the little kids.</p> <p>But you&rsquo;ve got a bar that&rsquo;s moving now. That gold standard isn&rsquo;t what it used to be. You&rsquo;ve got on a weekend, we&rsquo;re talking Islamic state, we&rsquo;re talking all sorts of things, and you&rsquo;ve got a president with a selfie stick that&rsquo;s as tall as I am taking pictures of himself, 'Can&rsquo;t get my hand in the cookie jar!'</p> </blockquote> <p>The Obama bashing aside, Faulkner and her co-hosts join a chorus of haters who fundamentally <a href="" target="_blank">misunderstand</a> what it is for millennials to take selfies. While photos such as the ones taken over the weekend probably aren't the best idea, the outrage over selfies is ultimately misplaced. And considering Faulkner clearly enjoys a bit of <a href="" target="_blank">selfie-taking herself</a>, this is particularly annoying.</p> <p>As we've argued before, anyone worried a mere selfie is destroying our youth should really just chill and take a moment to <a href="" target="_blank">consider Rembrandt. </a></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">(h/t Raw Story)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Obama Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:30:40 +0000 Inae Oh 272631 at Yes, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker Are Different Kinds of Conservatives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_walker.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Jeb Bush may project a warmer, fuzzier, less hardnosed conservatism than Scott Walker, but is there really much difference between them? <a href="" target="_blank">Greg Sargent isn't so sure:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;ll be watching: How will this basic underlying difference, if it is real, manifest itself in actual policy terms? On immigration...both support eventual legalization only after the border is secured. Will their very real tonal difference show up in real policy differences?</p> <p>On inequality, Walker may employ harsher rhetoric about the safety net than Bush does, but the evidence suggests that both are animated by the underlying worldview that one of the primary problems in American life is that we have too much government-engineered downward redistribution of wealth....Will Walker and Bush differentiate themselves from one another in economic policy terms in the least?</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore agrees:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The important thing is not assuming Bush and Walker represent anything new or different from each other just because they offer <em>different theories of electability and different ways of talking to swing and base voters.</em> Much of what has characterized all the recent intra-party "fights" within the GOP has reflected arguments over strategy and tactics rather than ideology and goals. I'd say there is a rebuttable presumption that will continue into the 2016 presidential contest.</p> </blockquote> <p>You'd think that the way to get a grip on this question would be to look at the 2000 election. Jeb's brother, George W. Bush, ran as a "compassionate conservative," and during the campaign he even made good on that. Remember his criticism of a Republican proposal regarding the EITC: "I don't think they ought to be balancing their budget on the backs of the poor"? Compassionate!</p> <p>So how did that work out? Well, that's the funny thing: it's hard to say. Liberals tend to see Bush as a hardline conservative, but that's mainly because of the Iraq War and Karl Rove's hardball electoral tactics, which drove us crazy. Conservatives, by contrast, don't believe he was really all that conservative at all. And I think they have a point. In fact, I made that case myself way back in 2006 <a href="" target="_blank">in a review of Bruce Bartlett's <em>Imposter</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Bush may be a Republican&mdash;boy howdy, is he a Republican&mdash;but he's not the fire-breathing ideologue of liberal legend.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Don't believe it? Consider Bartlett's review of Bush's major domestic legislative accomplishments. He teamed up with Ted Kennedy to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, which increased education spending by over $20 billion and legislated a massive new federal intrusion into local schools. He co-opted Joe Lieberman's proposal to create a gigantic new federal bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. He has mostly abandoned free trade in favor of a hodgepodge of interest-group-pleasing tariffs. And after initially opposing it, Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill with almost pathetic eagerness in the wake of the Enron debacle, putting in place a phonebook-sized stack of new business regulations.</p> <p>Want more? He signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, a b&ecirc;te noir of conservatives for years. His Medicare prescription-drug bill was the biggest new entitlement program since the Great Society. He initially put a hold on a wide range of last-minute executive orders from the Clinton administration, but after a few months of "study" allowed nearly all of them to stand. And he has increased domestic discretionary spending at a higher rate than any president since LBJ.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obviously there's more to Bush's record than this&mdash;tax cuts, judicial appointments, the Iraq War, etc.&mdash;and he certainly counts as a conservative when you look at his entire tenure in office. The question is whether there's a difference between his brand of conservatism and, say, Scott Walker's or Ted Cruz's. I'd say there is, and that there's probably also a difference between Jeb Bush's brand of conservatism and the harder-line folks represented by Walker, Cruz, Santorum, and others. Tonal shifts and tactical choices often turn into real differences in who gets appointed to various cabinet positions and which priorities a new president will set. Jeb Bush is obviously no liberal. But would he govern differently than Scott Walker? My guess is that he would.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Jeb Bush Scott Walker The Right Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:13:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 272601 at I Have a Pseudo-Flu <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When I was told that my daily injections of Neupogen would give me "flu-like symptoms," I wondered what that meant. Well, last night it meant that I felt a lot like I had the flu. I felt crappy indeed.</p> <p>But there's some good news! "We <em>want</em> you to feel bad," my doctor told me last week a little apologetically. That means the drug is working. (That is, it's producing white blood cells and my body is reacting as if there were some kind of virus that had triggered this production.) So I guess it's working. Hooray!</p> <p>I feel a little better this morning, but then, I usually feel a little better in the mornings. So we'll see how things go. It's just one thrill ride after another these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:44:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 272591 at Sorry Mike, Indiana Is Neither Kind Nor Welcoming to Gays Anymore <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>George Stephanopoulos tried really hard on Sunday to get Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to clarify the intent of his state's shiny new religious freedom bill. <a href="" target="_blank">It didn't go well:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Stephanopoulos:</em> I'm just bringing up a question from one of your supporters talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist. Against <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pence_this_week.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">any kind of punishment. Is that true or not?</p> <p><em>Pence:</em> George, look....You've been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. <strong>There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.</strong> Yet, because we stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we suffer under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it's completely baseless.</p> <p>....<em>Stephanopoulos:</em> So when you say tolerance is a two-way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service, or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that's legal in the state of Indiana? That's a simple yes or no question.</p> <p><em>Pence:</em> George, the question here is, is if there is a government action or law that a individual believes impinges on their freedom of religion, they have the opportunity to go to court....<strong>This is not about disputes between individuals. It's about government overreach.</strong> And I'm proud that Indiana stepped forward. And I'm working hard to clarify this.</p> </blockquote> <p>But it turns out this isn't quite true. Indiana's RFRA really is different from most others. <a href="" target="_blank">Garrett Epps explains:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA&mdash;and most state RFRAs&mdash;do not. <strong>First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to &ldquo;the free exercise of religion.&rdquo;</strong>....What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has &ldquo;free exercise&rdquo; rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year&rsquo;s decision in <em>Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores</em>, in which the Court&rsquo;s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees&rsquo; statutory right to contraceptive coverage.</p> <p><strong>Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business&rsquo;s &ldquo;free exercise&rdquo; right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government.</strong> Why does this matter? Well, there&rsquo;s a lot of evidence that the new wave of &ldquo;religious freedom&rdquo; legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple&rsquo;s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in &ldquo;public accommodations&rdquo; on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico&rsquo;s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply &ldquo;because the government is not a party.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.</strong> Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hoosiers may indeed be the kindest and most welcoming folks in the country, but that cuts no ice in court. In court, any business can claim that it's being discriminated against if it's forced to sell its services to a gay couple, and thanks to specific language in the Indiana statute, no court can throw out the claim on the grounds that a business is a public accommodation.</p> <p>That's different from other RFRAs, and it's neither especially kind nor welcoming. Indiana has taken anti-gay hostility to a new and higher level, and Pence and his legislature deserve all the flack they're getting for it. They should be ashamed of themselves.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you're thinking of running for president, I guess it's a great entry in the base-pandering, more-conservative-than-thou sweepstakes. So at least Pence now has that going for him.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Civil Liberties Gay Rights Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:05:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 272586 at Trevor Noah to Replace Jon Stewart as "Daily Show" Host <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Trevor Noah, who first debuted on "The Daily Show" as a correspondent in December, is to replace Jon Stewart as the show's new host. "You don&rsquo;t believe it for the first few hours,&rdquo; Noah told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York Times </em></a>ahead of Monday's official announcement from Dubai. "You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you&rsquo;re in a place where you can&rsquo;t really get alcohol."</p> <p>The 31-year-old comedian from South Africa has only appeared on the show three times. In February, Stewart broke the news he would be exiting from the Comedy Central show after more than <a href="" target="_blank">15 years on air.</a> The network confirmed the news in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> below:</p> <blockquote> <p>Trevor Noah has been selected to become the next host of the Emmy&reg; and Peabody&reg; Award-winning The Daily Show.</p> <p>Noah joined The Daily Show in 2014 as a contributor. He made his U.S. television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late night show. Noah has hosted numerous television shows including his own late night talk show in his native country, Tonight with Trevor Noah.</p> <p>He was featured on the October 2014 cover of GQ South Africa and has been profiled in Rolling Stone, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal, and by CNN and NPR&rsquo;s Talk of the Nation, among others. He continues to tour all over the world and has performed in front of sold out crowds at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Watch Noah's first appearance on "The Daily Show." </strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Media Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:51:58 +0000 Inae Oh 272576 at Laura Marling Just Keeps Getting Better <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Laura Marling<br><em>Short Movie</em><br> Ribbon Music</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-03-27%20at%2010.58.37%20AM.png" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>With her clear, forthright voice and ringing acoustic guitar (not to mention enormous songwriting smarts), Britain's Laura Marling has always been a bit intimidating, and this stunning fifth album may be her strongest work yet. <em>Short Movie</em> is an extended meditation on the endless tug of war between the fear of loneliness and the desire to be free from the affections and expectations of others. "Is it still okay that I don't know how to be alone?" she asks in "False Hope," while "I Feel Your Love" finds her declaring, "You must let me go before I get old / I need to find someone who really wants to be mine," throwing cold water on romantic clich&eacute;s with her usual blunt vigor. In "Don't Let Me Bring You Down," she exclaims, "Did you think I was fucking around?" Another cut, "Howl," finds her parting from a lover in far gentler fashion. <em>Short Movie</em> varies its textures with occasional drums and electric guitar, as well as lovely dashes of cello, but Marling's restless, relentlessly honest songs remain the main attraction. Despite superficial similarities to the young Joni Mitchell, she's her own amazing creation, and just keeps getting better.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Jon Young 272491 at The US Has No Clean Battle Lines in the Middle East <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From The Corner:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The United States is sending mixed signals to its allies in the Middle East by simultaneously giving support to the Saudi-led Sunni coalition fighting in Yemen and negotiating with Shiite Iran on its nuclear program, according to NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.</p> <p>Engel pinpoints an apparent contradiction: <strong>Even as the U.S. is assisting Saudi Arabia and other nations in &ldquo;confronting the Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen&rdquo; by providing intelligence and other support, it continues to negotiate with Tehran on its nuclear program, and to collaborate with Iranian forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.</strong></p> <p>As a result, Engel says, &ldquo;the Saudis, and the larger Sunni Muslim world, doesn&rsquo;t [sic] feel the U.S. can really be trusted.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Gee, no kidding. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni ally of the US that hates Iran. Iraq is a Shiite ally who's cozy with Iran. The US itself is hostile toward Iran, but shares a common enemy in ISIS. Syria is a total mess with no clear good guys. And, yes, a good nuclear deal with Iran would be a bonus for the safety of the entire region.</p> <p>That's it. That's the way the world is. The United States is not allied solely with Shiite or Sunni regimes and hasn't been since at least 9/11. It's confusing. It's messy. And maybe President Obama hasn't handled it as skillfully as he could have. But who could have done any better? There just aren't any clean battle lines here, and the sooner everyone faces up to that, the better off we'll be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:11:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 272556 at Peculiar Eyesight Question <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'll be asking my optometrist about this shortly, but just for fun I thought I'd throw it out to the hive mind to see if anyone knows what's going on.</p> <p>Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that my distance vision is a little fuzzy. Time for new glasses, you say, and you're probably right. But here's the odd thing. I keep all my old glasses, and last night I tried them all on just to see if an <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_red_blue_led_clocks.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">older prescription worked better than my current glasses. What I discovered was a little strange.</p> <p>Right under my TV I happen to have two LED clocks. One uses red LEDs and the other uses blue LEDs. With my current glasses, the blue LEDs are sharp and the red LEDs are fuzzy. But when I put on glasses that are a few years old, it changes. The red LEDs are sharp and the blue LEDs are fuzzy. The difference is quite noticeable, not a subtle thing at all.</p> <p>Anyone know what this is all about?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:14:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 272551 at Should We Welcome Saudi Arabia to the Fight in the Middle East? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I have occasionally griped in this space about the fact that putative Middle East allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan basically view the American military as a sort of mercenary force to fight their own tribal battles. Sure, they provide us with basing rights, and sometimes money, but they want us to do all the fighting, and they complain bitterly about American naivet&eacute; when we don't fight every war they think we should fight.</p> <p>Recently this has changed a bit, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan launching independent air attacks against various neighbors, and Saudi Arabia even making noises about launching ground attacks in Yemen. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? <a href="" target="_blank">Josh Marshall makes some useful points:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It is always dangerous when power and accountability are unchained from each other. In recent decades, we've had a system in which our clients look to us for protection, ask for military action of various sorts&nbsp;&mdash; but <em>privately</em>. <strong>And then we act, but always in the process whipping up anti-American sentiment, mixed with extremist religious enthusiasms, which our allies often, paradoxically, stoke or accommodate to secure their own holds on power.</strong> This is, to put it mildly, an unstable and politically toxic state of affairs. This does not even get into the costs to the US in blood and treasure.</p> <p>There are pluses to the old or existing system. We control everything. Wars don't start until we start them. But the downsides are obvious, as well. <strong>And nowhere has this been more clear than with the Saudis. The Saudis sell us oil; and they buy our weapons. We start wars to protect them, the reaction to which curdles in the confines of their domestic repression and breaks out in terrorist attacks against us.</strong> I don't mean to suggest that we are purely victims here. We're not. But it's a pernicious arrangement.</p> <p>This is why I think we should be heartened to see the Saudis acting on their own account, taking action on their own account for which they must create domestic support and stand behind internationally.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's more, and Marshall is hardly unaware of the risks in widespread military action among countries that barely even count as coherent states. "Still, the old system bred irresponsibility on many levels, including a lack of responsibility and accountability from the existing governments in the region. For all the dangers and unpredictabilities involved with having the Saudis or in other cases the Egyptians stand up and take actions which they believe are critical to their security on their own account is better for everyone involved."</p> <p>Some food for thought this weekend.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:01:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 272546 at BREAKING: Italian Court Reaches Verdict In Amanda Knox Case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>AFP</em> has the <a href=";_ylt=AwrBEiG90hVV9BUAPL3QtDMD" target="_blank">breaking news</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Italy's top court on Friday cleared Amanda Knox of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an eight-year legal drama.</p> <p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1427493755398_1081">Judges at the Court of Cassation also cleared Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after ten hours of deliberations in Rome.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Contributor Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:06:48 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272536 at