Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Here's What Democrats and Republicans Are Afraid Of <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Wonkblog regales us this morning</a> with the chart on the right, which summarizes a recent <a href="" target="_blank">Chapman University survey</a> about what we're afraid of. Basically, it suggests that Democrats are more afraid of things than Republicans. This goes against the conventional wisdom a bit, and it especially goes against the conventional wisdom in the "strangers" category. Supposedly, liberals are <em>more open</em> to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_chapman_survey_democrat_fear.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 28px 0px 15px 30px;">strangers and outsiders than conservatives, but this survey suggests the opposite.</p> <p>So that's interesting. But what's probably more interesting is the cause of all this fear. Here's what the researchers say are the prime causes of fear:</p> <ul><li>Low education</li> <li>Talk TV</li> <li>True Crime TV</li> </ul><p>These all make sense. People with low levels of education tend to be poor and to live in poor areas. I don't know why they're so afraid of clowns, but it makes perfect sense that they'd have relatively high levels of economic anxiety as well as fears for their personal safety. As for talk TV, that makes sense too. "It is a simple, straight-line effect," the researchers says. "The more one watches talk TV, the more fearful one tends to be."</p> <p>So turn off the doofus TV, OK? And tell your friends and family to turn it off too. It's making our lives worse.</p> <p>And for the record, the rest of survey suggests that Democrats tend to be afraid of crime, pollution, and man-made disasters. Republicans tend to be afraid of today&rsquo;s youth, the government, and immigrants.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:33:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 263606 at "Wild-Caught," Eh? 30 Percent of Shrimp Labels Are False <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Shrimp is America's favorite seafood&mdash;<a href="">we eat more of it than any other kind, by a wide margin</a>. And the tasty crustacean still (more or less) thrives near our ample shores&mdash;from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf to the Carolinas. That's why it's deeply weird that 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from often-fetid farms in Southeast Asia, which tend to <a href="">snuff out productive mangrove ecosystems</a> and have a <a href="">sketchy </a><a href="">labor record</a>. But it gets worse. Even when we do try to choose wild-caught US shrimp, we're often fooled. That's the message of a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> by the ocean-conservation group Oceana.</p> <p>The researchers sampled 143 shrimp products from 111 grocery stores and restaurants in Portland, Ore., New York City, Washington D.C., and along the Gulf of Mexico, and subjected them to DNA testing. Result: 30 percent of them were misrepresented on labels.</p> <p>They found the most deception in New York City, where 43 percent of the samples from supermarkets and restaurants proved to be misleadingly labeled. Of those, more than half were "farmed whiteleg shrimp disguised as wild-caught shrimp." Oof. D.C. shrimp eaters have also have cause for doubt about what's being served them: Supermarkets there showed better than in ones in New York, but nearly half of shrimp samples from D.C. restaurants turned up mislabeled.</p> <p>Even in the Gulf, still the site of a robust shrimp fishery despite the <a href="">occasional cataclysmic oil spill</a> and <a href="">vast annual dead zones</a> from agricultural runoff, the researchers found that "over one-third of the products labeled as 'Gulf' shrimp were farmed." On the other hand, "nearly two-thirds of the samples simply labeled as 'shrimp' were actually wild-caught Gulf shrimp," the report states, "possibly a missed marketing opportunity for promoting domestically caught seafood."</p> <p>Only Portlandia emerged virtually unscathed from Oceana's scrutiny: Just one sample in 20 turned out to be mislabeled&mdash;a dish presented as &ldquo;wild Pacific shrimp&rdquo; turned out to be farmed.</p> <p>Beyond rank mislabeling, the report also reveals that consumers indulge their shrimp habit from within a generalized information void. "The majority of restaurant menus surveyed did not provide the diner with any information on the type of shrimp, whether it was farmed/wild or its origin," Oceana found. As for supermarkets, "30 percent of the shrimp products surveyed in grocery stores lacked information on country-of-origin, 29 percent lacked farmed/wild information and one in five did not provide either.</p> <p>This overriding lack of transparency does more than lull us into accepting an inferior product. As Paul Greenberg argues in his brilliant 2014 book <em>American Catch,</em> it also makes our coastal areas&mdash;home to 40 percent of the US population&mdash;vulnerable to climate change.</p> <p>That's because treating treasures like the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery as an afterthought allows us to disregard the ecosystems that make them possible: the region's wetlands, which are vanishing at the rate of <a href="">one football field-sized chunk per hour,</a> <a href=";emc=rss&amp;_r=1&amp;">largely under pressure from the oil industry</a>. These coastal landscapes don't just provide nurseries for shrimp and other seafood; they also provide critical buffers against the increasingly violent storms and rising sea levels promised (and already being triggered) by a changing climate. Greenberg argues that a revival of interest in US-caught shrimp could rally support for wetland restoration, "conjoining of the interests of seafood and the interests of humans."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:44:45 +0000 Tom Philpott 263561 at Meet Another GOP Candidate Who's Pretending He's Pro-Choice <!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>Over the past few weeks, a number of Republican candidates have run deceptive advertisements or used sneaky language to paper over their hardline views on reproductive rights. Pols who've done this include <a href="" target="_blank">Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker</a>, Senate hopeful Scott Brown in New Hampshire, and Colorado <a href="" target="_blank">gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez</a>. Now you can add another name to the list of pro-life GOPers who are suddenly talking about choice: Oregon's Dennis Richardson.</p> <p>Richardson, a Republican state representative running for governor, <a href="" target="_blank">cut an ad</a> (watch it above) featuring a self-described "pro-choice Democrat" named Michelle Horgan. Speaking directly into the camera, Horgan says: "I trust Dennis. He'll uphold Oregon's laws to protect my right to choose, and he'll work hard for Oregon families."</p> <p>The language in Richardson's ad&mdash;"He'll uphold Oregon's laws to protect my right to choose"&mdash;hews closely to the rhetoric used by <a href="">Walker</a>, <a href="">Brown</a>, and <a href="">Beauprez</a>. All of those Republicans have previously sought to restrict women's reproductive rights (Walker supports eliminating <em>all</em> abortions). But during this election season, they have each tried to strike a moderate tone on the issue.</p> <p>Richardson's ad is particularly brazen given his <a href="" target="_blank">long record</a> of opposing abortion rights. He wrote <a href="" target="_blank">a letter to the </a><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Oregonian</em></a><em> </em>in 1990 saying that "a woman relinquishes her unfettered right to control her own body when her actions cause the conception of a baby." As a state legislator, he <a href="" target="_blank">sponsored</a>&nbsp;legislation to give&nbsp;unborn fetuses the rights of humans&nbsp;and <a href="" target="_blank">to require</a>&nbsp;parental notification for abortions. In 2007, he <a href="" target="_blank">voted against</a> mandating that hospitals offer emergency contraception to women who have been sexually assaulted.</p> <p>What's more, Richardson has the <a href="">endorsement</a> and full-throated support of Oregon Right to Life, the state's main anti-abortion rights group. Oregon Right to Life's PAC has donated $80,000 to Richardson's campaign. (Right to Life's $50,000 check in September remains the fourth-largest cash contribution of Richardson's entire campaign.) In an email blast to its list, the group touted Richardson as "an excellent gubernatorial candidate" who, if elected, would offer the "opportunity to reclaim political ground and hopefully start changing the way Oregon politics treat the abortion issue. We might actually be able to end our 'reign' as the only state in America lacking a single restriction on abortion."</p> <p>No mistaking that message: In Richardson, the pro-life community sees an opportunity to finally start curbing abortion access in the state of Oregon. But you probably won't see that message in Richardson's campaign ads any time soon.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Health Care Reproductive Rights Top Stories Campaign Trail 2014 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:37:41 +0000 Andy Kroll 263506 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 30, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The USS George HW Bush travels through the Gulf of Aden after supporting strike operations in Iraq and Syria. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_1_1414679081622_1596">(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:28:55 +0000 263596 at Let a White Man Walking Around NYC Show You Just How Glorious Life Can Be <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Think women are the only ones subjected to <a href="" target="_blank">relentless, demeaning catcalling</a>? You're wrong. The young white men in this world have it equally tough. After all, with so many unsolicited job offers, free Chipotle, and genuinely well-intentioned high-fives being forced onto men, how could anyone even suggest the notion of privilege these days? See what we mean below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <div style="text-align:left;font-size:x-small;margin-top:0;width:640px;"><a href="" title="'from FOD News">10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man </a> - watch more <a href="" title="on Funny or Die">funny videos</a><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src=";;send=false&amp;layout=button_count&amp;width=150&amp;show_faces=false&amp;action=like&amp;height=21" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:90px; height:21px; vertical-align:middle;"></iframe></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>(h/t Funny or Die)</em></a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:03:15 +0000 Inae Oh 263591 at Book Review: Faster, Higher, Stronger <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fasterhigherstronger_250x300_1.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Faster, Higher, Stronger</strong></p> <p>By Mark McClusky</p> <p>HUDSON STREET PRESS</p> <p>Speed-skating super-suits, motion-tracking cameras, the 10,000-hour rule&mdash;it's all covered in Mark McClusky's engrossing look into how athletes use science to avoid injury, train smarter, and shatter rec&shy;ords. McClusky, the editor of <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a> and a former <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sports Illustrated </em></a>reporter, digs into vaguely familiar terms like <a href="" target="_blank">VO2 max</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">oxygen deficit</a> to suss out what separates champs from near-misses while introducing a roster of entertaining characters: a Soviet hammer-throw guru, a Wall Street analyst turned cycling star, and even a British physiologist pursuing hyperfitness back in the 1920s. The book has useful lessons for weekend warriors, but ultimately, McClusky writes, "the greatest athletes are born, and then made."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Sports Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:30:04 +0000 Ian Gordon 261416 at These Maps of California's Water Shortage Are Terrifying <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Just how bad is California's water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state's ongoing and epochal drought:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-28%20at%204.36.15%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption">Images by J. T. Reager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, from "The global groundwater crisis," <em>Nature Climate Change, </em>Novemeber 2014, by James S. Famiglietti</div> </div> <p>The maps come from a <a href="" target="_blank">new paper</a> in <em>Nature Climate Change</em> by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. "California&rsquo;s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011," he writes. That's "more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually &mdash; over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley."</p> <p>Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe's aquifers, and his summarized his research in his new paper.</p> <p>More than two billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to "surface water," the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it's also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.</p> <p>The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: "Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned."</p> <p>The Central Valley boasts some of the globe's fastest-depleting aquifers&mdash;but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe's largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, "underlie the world's great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-28%20at%204.45.32%20PM_0.png"></div> <p>The black line represents the Ogallala aquifer&mdash;a magnificent water resource <a href="" target="_blank">now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains</a>. Note that it has quietly dropped as much as the Central Valley's aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in P<a href="" target="_blank">unjab, India's breadbasket and the main site </a>of that <a href="" target="_blank">irrigation-intensive agricultural "miracle" known as the Green Revolution</a>, which industrialized the region's farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China's key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the <a href="" target="_blank">water table there has been dropping steadily for years</a>.</p> <p>All of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we're siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, "groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades." As for regulation, it's minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there's a "veritable groundwater 'free for all': property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater."</p> <p>And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What's left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, "inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers," Famiglietti writes&mdash;a situation already playing out in California's Central Valley, where some<a href="" target="_blank"> low-income residents have seen their wells go dry</a>. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees&mdash;the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.</p> <p>All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth&mdash;so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti's piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: essentially, let's carefully measure the globe's groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, "further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Food and Ag Top Stories Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 263461 at Most Latinos Don't Hold Obama's Immigration Delay Against Him <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This is just raw data, and I suppose you can take in two ways, but here's what <a href="" target="_blank">a new Pew poll</a> says about supposed Latino outrage over President Obama's decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the election. Basically, the whole thing was overblown. It turns out that only about 9 percent of Latinos are angry about the delay. David Lauter summarizes <a href="" target="_blank">the rest of the survey:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Pew survey showed that Latino support for Democrats has receded on a couple of key measures, including party identification and a question about which party better represents their interests. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_latino_executive_action.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">But the decline was modest, <strong>noticeable mostly by contrast with very high levels of support achieved in 2012,</strong> when Obama won reelection.</p> <p>....Asked which party &ldquo;has more concern for Latinos,&rdquo; half named the Democrats and 10% said Republicans, with just over one-third saying they saw no difference. On that question, too, the Democrats&rsquo; standing has dropped from a high point reached during Obama&rsquo;s reelection, <strong>but only to the level that prevailed during most of his first term.</strong> The Republican standing has not changed significantly.</p> </blockquote> <p>Roughly speaking, Latino support for Democrats has dropped a bit from the sky-high levels of the 2012 campaign, when Republicans featured a presidential candidate who pandered to his tea-party base by refusing to support immigration reform and chattering instead about "self-deportation." But Latino support has only dropped to about the same levels it had before then. In other words, not much has changed.</p> <p>Obama made a mistake when he hinted that he might take immigration action before the election. That was politically inept, and sure enough, it sparked a revolt among Democratic Senate candidates running in red states. When Obama was forced to backtrack, it was a temporary embarrassment&mdash;but that's all it was. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that most Latinos understand politics just as well as everyone else, and don't really hold Obama's actions against him. They know perfectly well why Obama did what he did, and they know perfectly well that Obama will probably keep his promise after the election.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Obama Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:28:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 263586 at Film Review: Life Itself <!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>Life Itself</strong></p> <p>KARTEMQUIN FILMS</p> <p>There's a scene early in <em>Life Itself</em> when a hospitalized Roger Ebert, missing his lower jaw after multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer, needs his throat suctioned. The camera holds steady as Ebert winces through the procedure, but then an email box pops up on the screen. "great stuff!!!!!" types Ebert, no longer able to speak. "I'm happy we got a great thing that nobody ever sees: suction." Director Steve James (<em>Hoop Dreams</em>, <em>The Interrupters</em>) blends an intimate end-of-life story with Ebert's wide-ranging biography: precocious college newspaper editor, recovering drunk, screenwriter of the schlocky <em>Beyond the Valley of the Dolls</em>, friend and critic of Hollywood's biggest names. But for all of Ebert's exploits, it's the private moments James captures, like his increasingly brief email responses as cancer slowly wins out, that endure.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:31:53 +0000 Ian Gordon 259076 at Book Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/wonderwoman_250x300.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Secret History of Wonder Woman</strong></p> <p>By Jill Lepore</p> <p>Alfred A. Knopf</p> <p>If <a href="" target="_blank">Wonder Woman</a>'s status as a feminist icon was ever in question, Jill Lepore's deeply researched tribute puts that to rest. Lepore, a <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New Yorker</em> staffer</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Harvard historian</a>, delivers a trove of private documents belonging to the character's creator, William Moulton Marston. Her discoveries shed light not just on Marston's notable life&mdash;Harvard scholar, failed lawyer, co-inventor of the polygraph&mdash;but on the rich history of women's rights and how it plays out in his colorful panels.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sex and Gender Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:24:38 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 261446 at Attack Ad Accuses Democratic Governor of Wanting to Set a Mass Murderer Free <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A man's life literally hangs in the balance in this year's governor's race in Colorado. As I <a href="" target="_blank">explained</a> earlier this month, Republican candidate Bob Beauprez has singled out a death row inmate by name and promised to ensure that he will be killed. "When I'm governor, Nathan Dunlap will be executed," Beauprez has said.</p> <p>Dunlap was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for murdering four of his Chuck E. Cheese coworkers. But when his execution date neared last year, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a stay, though he refrained from offering permanent reprieve. Hickenlooper backed capital punishment in his 2010 campaign, but has since <a href="" target="_blank">become an opponent</a>, citing studies demonstrating the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, the cost of executions, and evidence showing it is inconsistently applied. The governor has also expressed qualms about Dunlap's mental illness and regrets jurors expressed about the case after sentencing.</p> <p>The Republican Governors Association has joined Beauprez's cause in criticizing Hickenlooper for keeping Dunlap alive. The RGA recruited the father of one of Dunlap's victims to star in an ad and call Hickenlooper a "coward" who should be voted out of office. "There's not a day that goes by, I don't think about her,"&nbsp;Dennis O&rsquo;Connor says, looking right at the camera. "You thought you got your day in court and your justice, and I feel most of us were robbed of that."</p> <p>Here's the ad, which the RGA has <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly</a> backed with $2 million worth of airtime:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Hickenlooper's campaign <a href="" target="_blank">has called foul</a>, saying the ad should <a href="" target="_blank">be pulled</a> for airing false information. At one point the ad suggests that Hickenlooper might "set him free." While Hickenlooper has said he would consider making the temporary reprieve permanent if he loses the race, that would just keep Dunlap off death row and reduce his sentence to life in prison. Hickenlooper isn't about to set Dunlap free to roam the streets of Denver.</p> <p><em>The Denver Post</em>, which is cited as the source for the RGA's disputed claim, <a href="" target="_blank">published an editorial</a> on Tuesday calling the ad's claims "preposterous" and misleading. As the editorial board wrote, "The article in question says no such thing about the possible release of Dunlap, no doubt because freedom for Dunlap is unthinkable."</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Prisons death penalty Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:11:42 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 263541 at After Supreme Court Decision, Patent Trolls Getting Cold Feet? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few months ago, in <em>Alice v. CLS Bank</em>, the Supreme Court struck a modest blow against patent trolls. The court ruled that merely programming a computer to carry out a well-known process isn't enough to qualify for a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_patent_troll.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">patent. There has to be more to it.</p> <p>So how has that affected the patent troll business? Joff Wild reports on a new analysis of <a href="" target="_blank">third-quarter patent litigation activity:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>According to the research, which covers the third quarter of this year (June to September), <strong>there was a 23% drop in the number of suits filed compared to the second quarter,</strong> and a 27% year-on-year reduction.</p> <p>The findings come just weeks after data released by Lex Machina showed that there had been a 40% fall in patent suits in September 2014 as compared to the same month in the previous year....The data shows that [the decline] can be almost completely explained by a drop-off in NPE suits in the high-tech sector. Litigation initiated by operating companies fell by just 19 quarter on quarter, <strong>but actions launched by NPEs dropped by 301, from 885 in Q2 to 554&nbsp;&mdash; a fall of 35%.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>An NPE is a "non-practicing entity"&mdash;that is, a company that doesn't actually make use of a patent in a product of its own, but has merely purchased it for the purpose of strong-arming payments out of other users. In other words, a patent troll. So what these numbers show is that generic patent litigation fell a bit in Q3, but that patent troll litigation fell by a lot.</p> <p>It's too early to jump to conclusions about this, but it seems reasonable that this decline is at least partly related to <em>Alice</em>. This is good news, though <a href="" target="_blank">Alex Tabarrok sensibly warns</a> that before long there will probably be an uptick in patent suits as people learn the new system. So hold off on the cheering.</p> <p>Still, we'll take good news where we can get it, and this is a step in the right direction. It will be even better if <em>Alice</em> is a sign that the Supreme Court plans to rein in the federal circuit court that handles patents, which in recent years seems to have been <a href="" target="_blank">far more friendly</a> toward software patents than the Supreme Court ever intended. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Supreme Court Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:13:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 263536 at In NSA Bills, the Devil Is in the Details <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Patrick Leahy says that his USA FREEDOM bill will stop the NSA's bulk collection of phone data. H.L. Pohlman says <a href="" target="_blank">it's not quite that easy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) issued in January 2014, the Obama administration defined &ldquo;bulk collection&rdquo; as the acquisition &ldquo;of large quantities of signals intelligence data which . . . is acquired without the use of discriminants (e.g., specific identifiers, selection terms, etc.).&rdquo; <strong>Thus, as long as the government uses a &ldquo;discriminant,&rdquo; a selection term, no matter how broad that term might be, the government is not engaged in a &ldquo;bulk collection&rdquo; program.</strong></p> <p>....The USA FREEDOM Act does not guarantee, then, that the government&rsquo;s database of telephone metadata will be smaller than it is now. It all depends on the generality of the selection terms that the government will use to obtain metadata from the telephone companies. And we don&rsquo;t know what those terms will be.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a longstanding issue that's been brought up by lots of people lots of times. It's not some minor subtlety. If the government decides to look for "all calls from the 213 area code," that's not necessarily bulk collection even though it would amass millions of records. It would be up to a judge to decide.</p> <p>If and when we get close to Congress actually considering bills to rein in the NSA&mdash;about which I'm only modestly optimistic in the first place&mdash;this is going to be a key thing to keep an eye on. As the ACLU and the EFF and others keep reminding us, reining in the NSA isn't a simple matter of "ending" their bulk collection program. The devil is truly in the details, and tiny changes in wording can literally mean the difference between something that works and something that's useless. Or maybe even worse than useless. As Pohlman points out, if you choose the right words, the NSA could end up having a freer hand than they do today. This is something to pay close attention to.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:35:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 263526 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 29, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines and sailors board a flight out of Afghanistan as all personnel withdraw from the region. <span class="meta-field photo-desc ">(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. John Jackson)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:57:53 +0000 263511 at Benjamin Netanyahu, "Chickenshit" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jeffrey Goldberg has an, um, unique new perspective on the steadily deteriorating relationship between President Obama and <a href="" target="_blank">Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and &ldquo;Aspergery.&rdquo;....<strong>But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a &ldquo;chickenshit.&rdquo;</strong> I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn&rsquo;t have a full understanding.</p> <p>....&ldquo;The good thing about Netanyahu is that he&rsquo;s scared to launch wars,&rdquo; the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. &ldquo;The bad thing about him is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Netanyahu.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">that he won&rsquo;t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.&rdquo;</p> <p>....I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. <strong>This official agreed that Netanyahu is a &ldquo;chickenshit&rdquo; on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he&rsquo;s also a &ldquo;coward&rdquo; on the issue of Iran&rsquo;s nuclear threat.</strong> The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran&rsquo;s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal.</p> <p>....Another manifestation of his chicken-shittedness, in the view of Obama administration officials, is his near-pathological desire for career-preservation. Netanyahu&rsquo;s government has in recent days gone out of its way to a) let the world know that it will quicken the pace of apartment-building in disputed areas of East Jerusalem; and b) let everyone know of its contempt for the Obama administration and its understanding of the Middle East.</p> </blockquote> <p>Netanyahu has always been a petty, small-minded pol, endlessly maneuvering to hold together his fragile and equally small-minded band of parochial coalition partners. As one of Goldberg's sources puts it, "The only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He's not Rabin, he's not Sharon, he's certainly no Begin. He's got no guts."</p> <p>Goldberg believes that the American-Israeli relationship is finally at a crossroads, largely driven by the personal loathing Obama and Netanyahu have for each other. We've heard this before, of course, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, Netanyahu's open contempt for Obama, along with his obvious unwillingness to show even a pretense of interest in a peace process, might really be taking things to a breaking point. The whole thing is worth a read.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:10:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 263501 at An Unmanned NASA Rocket Just Exploded After Liftoff <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>NASA's Antares rocket was supposed to resupply the International Space Station but it exploded shortly after liftoff tonight.The rocket was unmanned, thank God.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>BREAKING: NASA's unmanned Antares rocket blows up on liftoff <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) <a href="">October 28, 2014</a></blockquote> <p>Here's video from the live stream:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The rocket was owned by Orbital Sciences but was contracted by NASA to stock the space station. The company told the <em><a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">Associated Press</a></em> that no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:39:32 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 263481 at Why Do Republicans Hate the Beatles? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Over at the Facebook Data Science blog,</a> Winter Mason shows us how personal likes and dislikes line up with political ideology. Democrats like Maya Angelou, <em>The Color Purple</em>, and <em>The Colbert Report</em>. Republicans like Ben Carson, <em>Atlas Shrugged</em>, and <em>Duck Dynasty</em>. It's all good fun, though I'm a little mystified about why the Empire State Building is such a Democratic-leaning tourist destination. Maybe Republicans just dislike anything related to New York City.</p> <p>But it's music that I want some help on. I get that country tends to be right-leaning and Springsteen is left-leaning. But what's up with the Beatles being so distinctively associated with liberals? It's no secret that I know squat about music, so help me out here. No snark. I thought the Beatles had long since ascended into a sort of free-floating state of pop elder statehood where they were beloved of all baby boomers equally&mdash;and pretty much everyone else too. What do I not know that accounts for continuing Republican antipathy toward the moptops?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_music_ideology.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Music Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:17:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 263476 at The Craziest Things Republican Candidates Have Said About Climate Change In One Video <!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><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a> <em>and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Can the GOP's 2014 candidates give a straight answer on climate change? It appears not.</p> <p>Many Republican candidates have offered roundabout answers to climate change questions. Some have said the climate isn't changing at all, while others have disputed research showing that human activity is driving those changes. Then there's Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), who said during a debate this year that he's confident our climate isn't changing because he has "Googled this issue."</p> <p>Lee Fang of <a href="" target="_hplink">The Republic Report</a> put together a mash-up of Republican candidates' greatest hits on climate change this year.</p> <p><em><strong>Watch it above.</strong></em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Elections Tue, 28 Oct 2014 20:52:38 +0000 Amber Ferguson 263456 at Watch a New York Woman Get Catcalled 108 Times in Less Than One Day <!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>In hopes to demonstrate the absolute awfulness that is catcalling, <a href="" target="_blank">one woman</a> recently took to the streets of Manhattan with a hidden camera to show just how humiliating, and downright horrifying, it can be to be just that&ndash;a woman.</p> <p>"Hey beautiful."</p> <p>"Smile."</p> <p>"God bless you mami."</p> <p>"Someone's acknowledging you for being beautiful. <strong>You should say thank you more.</strong>"</p> <p>These are just some of the 108 disgusting remarks that were directed towards Shoshana Roberts of the group <a href="" target="_blank">Hollaback!</a>, a nonprofit working towards shedding light on street harassment, as she silently walked about in no less than a T-shirt and jeans.</p> <p>One man even attempts to grab her attention by walking alongside her for four straight minutes.</p> <p>The powerful recording calls out catcalling for exactly what it is: pervasive, overwhelmingly tolerated, and constant. Someone please show this to <a href="" target="_blank">Doree Lewak</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Sex and Gender Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:47:44 +0000 Inae Oh 263436 at Which World Series Team Has the Less Obnoxious Owner, Giants or Royals? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Game 6 of baseball's World Series is tonight in Kansas City, and the stakes are high: The San Francisco Giants could clinch their third championship in five years with a win, while the hometown Royals need a win to stay alive. Don't have a rooting interest, or looking for another reason to tune in? Check out <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones</em>' report from last year</a> on the political and business dealings of Major League Baseball's owners. If you like Karl Rove, you may want to pull for the Giants&mdash;but if rationalizing child labor is more your taste, go Royals!</p> <p>Here's the dish on the Giants' Charles B. Johnson:</p> <blockquote> <p>Johnson, a mutual-funds baron and the&nbsp;211th-richest person&nbsp;in the world according to&nbsp;Forbes,&nbsp;spent some $200,000&nbsp;to try to defeat California's Proposition 30, the sales and income tax increase that included elements of the state's millionaire's tax initiative. (Prop. 30 passed in November.) Other political expenditures: $50,000 for Prop. 32, which would have kept unions and corporations from using automatic payroll deductions to bankroll political activity, and $200,000 for&nbsp;Karl Rove's American Crossroads.</p> </blockquote> <p>And the Royals' David Glass:</p> <blockquote> <p>In 1992, when he was still president and CEO of Walmart, Glass was confronted by NBC's Dateline with evidence of child labor at a T-shirt factory in Bangladesh. His response: "You and I might, perhaps, define children differently." As Glass explained, looks can be deceiving&mdash;Asians are short. Then he ended the interview. Meanwhile, as the Royals' owner he's pocketed profits without making any discernible investment in the on-field product. He also once revoked press credentials of reporters who asked critical questions.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Corporations Money in Politics Sports Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:12:19 +0000 Sam Brodey 263431 at Elizabeth Warren Challenges Chris Christie for the Science Behind His Ebola Quarantine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is demanding Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) <a href="" target="_blank">reveal the science</a> behind his controversial decision to place all health care workers returning back from Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone to be placed under a mandatory quarantine. Spoiler alert: the science does <a href="" target="_blank">not exist.</a></p> <p>"He should bring out his scientists who are advising him on that, because we know that we want to be led by science," Warren said Tuesday during an appearance on CBS's <em>This Morning. </em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s going to keep people safe,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;Science, not politics."</p> <p>Warren, who was promoting her book <em>A Fighting Chance</em>, was responding to a question about Christie's earlier comments in which he defended the mandatory quarantine against claims the policy is draconian.</p> <p>"I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s draconian,&rdquo; <a href="" target="_blank">Christie</a> said on the <em>Today</em> show. "The members of the American public believe it is common sense, and we are not moving an inch. Our policy hasn&rsquo;t changed and our policy will not change."</p> <p>Warren's criticism joins a widening chorus of politicians&ndash;both on the right and left&ndash;and health officials who have slammed Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) for placing involuntary quarantines in their respective states over the weekend after the first Ebola outbreak in New York City surfaced last Thursday.</p> <p>Both governors have been accused of playing politics at the expense of basic human rights&ndash;Christie hoping to recall the image of an <a href="" target="_blank">unapologetic, bipartisan</a> leader in times of crisis (a la Sandy); Cuomo hoping to exert any level of control.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>On Monday, in light of the newly implemented quarantines, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention unveiled a new set of federal guidelines for local governments to adopt.</p> <p>United Nations Secretary General <a href="" target="_blank">Ban Ki-moon</a> also released a statement praising medical officials as "exceptional people." Alluding to Christie and Cuomo's policies, Ban admonished against "restrictions that are not based on science."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>(h/t Mediate) </em></a></p></body></html> MoJo Video Health Ebola Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:46:44 +0000 Inae Oh 263411 at Quote of the Day: Bush Would Have Punched Putin in the Nose <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Here is John Boehner,</a> the leader of the House of Representatives and third in line for the presidency:</p> <blockquote> <p>When you look at this chaos that&rsquo;s going on, does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_boehner_eyes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds.</p> </blockquote> <p>Look, I get it: I'm a partisan, and right now I'm blogging through a slight bit of a morphine haze. But WTF? Have our political leaders always talked like this? This is just ridiculously juvenile.</p> <p>And while we're on the subject, I note that Boehner also said this: "I talk to world leaders every week. They want America to lead. They&rsquo;re begging America to lead. Because when America leads and America&rsquo;s strong, the world is a safer place." Ten bucks says Boehner is basically lying, unless by "world leaders" he means Paul Ryan and the odd backbencher in London he happens to have played golf with a couple of years ago. As anyone with a pulse knows, world leaders simply have different priorities than we do. It's the Europeans who are resisting stronger action against Putin. It's the Turks who aren't too interested in saving Kobani. It's the Saudis who want us to devote all our attention to their longtime Shiite enemies. It's Angela Merkel who's single-mindedly intent on destroying the European economy. If John Boehner thinks all these folks are eagerly waiting for America to whip them into line, he's even more delusional than I thought.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:22:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 263421 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 28 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>A US Army soldier plunges into the water in his parachute during a combat water survival test.<span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_1_1414518107174_1470"> (US Army photo by Capt. Thomas Cieslak) </span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:50:14 +0000 263416 at Question of the Day: Does Obama Plan to Flood America With Ebola Patients? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Fox anchor Megyn Kelly</a> to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:</p> <blockquote> <p>So do you believe that the administration is planning on bringing Ebola patients from overseas here to America?</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, that's an actual question, and I probably don't have to tell you what Goodlatte's answer is. The only thing missing is whether Goodlatte also believes Obama is planning to naturalize these folks by executive order so they can vote in Tuesday's election.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media The Right Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:20:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 263401 at Republicans Coming on Strong in Election Homestretch <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_abc_poll_generic_congressional_2014.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">It's now seven days until Election Day, and unfortunately things are trending pretty badly for us liberal types. <a href="" target="_blank">The ABC/Washington Post poll</a> on the right shows that Democrats and Republicans are pretty much all planning to vote for their own party next week, which leaves the election in the hands of independents. That turns out to be grim news. We can argue all day long about whether independents are "really" independent, but at this point it doesn't matter. They represent about a third of the electorate, and at the moment they favor Republican candidates by nearly 20 percentage points.</p> <p>There doesn't seem to be any specific issue driving this. People are just generally unhappy. A huge majority think America is on the wrong track; Obama's approval rating remains mired only slightly above 40 percent; and far more people blame Democrats than Republicans for the rising dysfunction of the federal government.</p> <p>That last point is especially galling for Democrats, but it's a win for Republicans and yet another sign of change in the way Washington is likely to work in the future. Republicans have discovered that a sufficiently united party can obstruct everything and anything but largely escape blame for the resulting gridlock. This lesson has not been lost on Democrats, and it bodes ill for the future regardless of who wins our next few elections. There's just no reward for getting things done these days, and this probably means that less and less will get done. That's Political Economy 101 for you.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Top Stories Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:52:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 263386 at