Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/01/n http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Ringling Bros. Announces It's Finally Ending Elephant Acts http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/ringling-bros-finally-end-use-elephants-circus <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum &amp; Bailey said it will <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/df575148221544f4adaf3bea2adbb635/apnewsbreak-ringling-bros-eliminating-elephant-acts" target="_blank">end the use of elephant acts by 2018</a>&mdash;a move that follows decades of mounting criticism and public concern over the show's abusive treatment of the animals. Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, cited a "mood shift" experienced by circus-goers who have grown "uncomfortable with us touring with elephants" for the decision.</p> <p>President Kenneth Feld also said local legislation barring certain circus practices, such as the use of bullhooks, made it increasingly difficult for the company to continue including elephants in its performances. "This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers," he said in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/05/ringling-bros-elephants_n_6807340.html" target="_blank">statement. </a></p> <p>In 2011, <em>Mother Jones</em> published an explosive, yearlong <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse" target="_blank">investigation</a> looking into Ringling's treatment of elephants, including the regular employment of electric shocks and whippings to control them:</p> <blockquote> <p>Several of the beatings targeted Nicole, a twentysomething elephant named after Kenneth Feld's eldest daughter. Sweet-natured but clumsy, Nicole would frequently miss her cues to climb atop a tub and place her feet on the elephant next to her, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/262320-james-stechcon.html" target="_blank">Stechcon said in his videotaped statement</a>. "I always rooted for her, 'Come on, Nicole, <em>get up</em>,'" he said. "But we left the show, brought the animals back to their area, and&hellip;we took the headpieces off, and as I was hanging them up, I heard the most horrible noise, just whack, whack, whack. I mean, really hard. It's hard to describe the noise. Like a baseball bat or something striking something not&mdash;not soft, and not hard&hellip;I turned around to look, and this guy was hitting her so fast and so hard [with the ankus], and sometimes he would take both hands and just really knock her, and he was just doing that. And I was, like, I couldn't believe it."</p> </blockquote> <p>The investigation also exposed that Feld Entertainment had spent millions of dollars on PR campaigns to hide such abuse from the public and fend off lawsuits:</p> <blockquote> <p>It was part of a multimillion-dollar spy operation run out of Feld headquarters to thwart and besmirch animal rights groups and others on the company's enemies list, according to <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/08/30/circus/print.html" target="_blank">a stunning <em>Salon</em> piece by Jeff Stein</a>. Feld had even hired Clair George&mdash;the CIA's head of covert operations under President Reagan until his conviction for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal. (George, who died in August, received a pardon from President George H.W. Bush.)</p> </blockquote> <p>Thursday's announcement to phase out the elephants, which have been a staple for the Ringling brand for more than a century, has been met with praise from animal rights activists. Feld Entertainment said the elephants will be transitioned to the company's elephant <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/df575148221544f4adaf3bea2adbb635/apnewsbreak-ringling-bros-eliminating-elephant-acts" target="_blank">conservation center in Florida. </a></p> <p>For more, read our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse?page=2" target="_blank">in-depth investigation</a> here.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:29:38 +0000 Inae Oh 271421 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Note http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/health-note <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I suppose the lack of content makes it obvious, but today has been a very bad day. I haven't been able to sleep more than a few hours for the past few days, despite plenty of sleep meds. I'm completely exhausted, and not just because of the lack of sleep. That's just making things worse. I can walk about 50 feet before I need to rest. My big accomplishment of the day was to turn on the TV around noon.</p> <p>I assume this is all just part of the chemo withdrawal symptoms, but I don't really know. Tomorrow I have an appointment with an oncology nurse, so perhaps I'll learn more then.</p> <p>If there's a silver lining to this, I suppose it's the possibility that this is the bottom of the post-chemo symptoms, and now I'll start getting better. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 05 Mar 2015 01:32:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 271401 at http://www.motherjones.com Mitch McConnell Is Now Telling States To Ignore Obama's Climate Rules http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/mitch-mcconnell-climate-rules-obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's no secret that Republicans leaders hate President Barack Obama's flagship climate initiative, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. So far, the main opposition has been at the state level. The new rules require every state to submit a plan for cleaning up its power sector, and a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/states-virginia-obama-climate-bills" target="_blank">host of bills have cropped up</a>&mdash;primarily in coal-dependent Southern states&mdash;to screw with those plans. These bills tend to be backed by GOP state lawmakers, the coal industry, and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.</p> <p>The thrust of much of this legislation is to effectively stonewall the Environmental Protection Agency and hope that the rules get killed by the Supreme Court. It's a long shot, given the Court's long history of siding with the EPA. And the longer states delay in coming up with their own plan, the more likely they'll be to have one forced on them by the feds.</p> <p>But in a column for Kentucky's <a href="http://www.kentucky.com/2015/03/03/3725288_states-should-reject-obama-mandate.html" target="_blank"><em>Lexington Herald-Leader</em></a> yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw his weight behind this obstructionist strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>This proposed regulation would have a negligible effect on global climate but a profoundly negative impact on countless American families already struggling&hellip;</p> <p>Don't be complicit in the administration's attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan&mdash;which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits&mdash;when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won't be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.</p> <p>Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We're devising strategies now to do just that.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's plenty to take issue with in McConnell's analysis. For starters, the EPA rules are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/will-obamas-climate-plan-cause-blackouts" target="_blank">unlikely to cause any problems</a> with blackouts or sky-high electric bills, as the senator implies. But I'm sure it'll make good ammunition for state lawmakers and fossil fuel interests as battles over this thing play out this year.</p> <blockquote> <div style="width: 1px; height: 1px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font: 10pt sans-serif; text-align: left; text-transform: none; overflow: hidden;"><br> Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/03/03/3725288_states-should-reject-obama-mandate.html#storylink=cpy</div> <div style="width: 1px; height: 1px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font: 10pt sans-serif; text-align: left; text-transform: none; overflow: hidden;"><br> Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/03/03/3725288_states-should-reject-obama-mandate.html#storylink=cpy</div> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Obama Infrastructure Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:55:29 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271376 at http://www.motherjones.com Instead of Tackling Its Rape Problem, India Just Banned a Documentary About It http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/india-bans-tv-stations-gang-rape <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Citing fears its broadcast would lead to "public outcry," an Indian court issued an order yesterday <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20150304-india-bans-broadcast-gang-rapist-documentary/?aef_campaign_date=2015-03-04&amp;aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">blocking</a> the country's media from airing a documentary centering on the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman that occurred on a New Delhi bus.</p> <p>The BBC documentary, titled <em>India's Daughter</em>, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/world/asia/delhi-gang-rape-mukesh-singh.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">features an interview</a> with one of the six men accused of the crime, in which he repeatedly blames the victim for fighting back while she was raped. Mukesh Singh spoke to&nbsp;British filmmaker Leslee Udwin from prison, where Udwin says he appeared like <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/world/asia/delhi-gang-rape-mukesh-singh.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">"a robot" </a>during the 16 hours the interview was conducted.</p> <p>"You can't clap with one hand," Singh says in the film. "It takes two hands. A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good."</p> <p>Rajan Bhagat, a spokesperson for the New Delhi police, <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20150304-india-bans-broadcast-gang-rapist-documentary/?aef_campaign_date=2015-03-04&amp;aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">told AFP</a> that police officials were concerned the "very objectionable interview" could incite violence.</p> <p>"We have only seen the promotional parts of the film. Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder," Bhagat <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20150304-india-bans-broadcast-gang-rapist-documentary/?aef_campaign_date=2015-03-04&amp;aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">said. </a></p> <p>The brutal 2012 incident shocked the international community and prompted mass demonstrations in India. Over weeks of protests, advocates called for reform and increased protections for women in a country where sexual assault is perceived as a source of shame and often leads to <a href="http://world.time.com/2013/01/18/the-real-shame-indias-patriarchy-roars-back-after-delhi-gang-rape/" target="_blank">more restrictions</a> for women.</p> <p>But the controversy over <em>India's Daughter</em> demonstrates the country remains divided over the issue of sexual assault and how to move forward. India's parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/04/indias-daughter-director-appeals-to-narendra-modi-over-broadcast-ban" target="_blank">slammed</a> the documentary as an "international conspiracy to defame India." In its Tuesday order, the court echoed these concerns and said the film violated Indian law preventing "intent to cause alarm in the public."</p> <p>Udwin has asked the Indian prime minister to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/04/indias-daughter-director-appeals-to-narendra-modi-over-broadcast-ban" target="_blank">lift</a> the ban. The film premieres on <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05534p0" target="_blank">BBC</a> Wednesday evening.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV International Sex and Gender Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:44:49 +0000 Inae Oh 271336 at http://www.motherjones.com Tea Party Darling Ben Carson Says Prisoners Prove That Homosexuality Is A Choice http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/ben-carson-prison-proves-homosexuality-choice <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ben Carson, the prospective 2016 presidential hopeful beloved by <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/01/ben-carson-rode-freight-trains" target="_blank">Tea Partiers</a>, told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that he believes homosexuality is "absolutely" a choice&mdash;because "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay."&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">The former neurosurgeon </span><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/04/politics/ben-carson-prisons-gay-choice/" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">went on</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, "So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."</span></p> <p>Carson, who has previously compared homosexuality to <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/01/ben_carson_compares_homosexuality_to_muder/" target="_blank">murder </a>and bestiality, also said that states should decide the legality of gay marriage, not the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/ruth-bader-ginsburg-believes-americans-are-ready-accept-scotus-gay-marriage-ruling" target="_blank">Supreme Court</a>. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PwVSQ5kGXMA" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video 2016 Elections Gay Rights Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:45:14 +0000 Inae Oh 271341 at http://www.motherjones.com What Did Monsanto Show Bill Nye to Make Him Fall "in Love" With GMOs? http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/03/what-did-monsanto-show-bill-nye-make-him-stop-worrying-and-love-gmos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Bill Nye, the bow-tied erstwhile kids' TV host, onetime <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJEqQWgbNV8">dancer with the stars</a>, and tireless champion of evolution and climate science, was never a virulent or wild-eyed critic of genetically modified crops. Back in 2005, he did a pretty <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKm2Ch3-Myg">nuanced episode</a> of his TV show on it, the takeaway of which was hardly fire-breathing denunciation: "Let's farm responsibly, let's require labels on our foods, and let's carefully test these foods case by case."</p> <p>In his book <em>Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, </em>published just last November, Nye reiterated these points. His concern about GMOs centered mainly on unintended consequences of growing them over large expanses&mdash;he cited the example of crops engineered to resist herbicides, which have <a href="http://www.mlmp.org/results/findings/pleasants_and_oberhauser_2012_milkweed_loss_in_ag_fields.pdf">been linked pretty decisively</a> to the decline of monarch butterflies, which rely on abundant milkweeds, which in turn have been largely wiped out in the Midwest by GMO-enabled herbicide use. Nye praised certain GMOs, such as corn engineered to repel certain insects, but concluded that "if you're asking me, we should stop introducing genes from one species into another," because "we just can't know what will happen to other species in that modified species' ecosystem."</p> <p>Now, Nye's doubts have evidently fallen away like milkweeds under a fine mist of herbicide. In a February interview filmed backstage on Bill Maher's HBO show (starting about 3:40 in the below video), Nye volunteered that he was working on a revision of the GMO section of <em>Undeniable</em>. He gave no details, just that he "went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there." As a result, he added with a grin, "I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you're in love, you want to tell the world!"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/81FAqQ1qSiQ?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Monsanto's longtime chief technology officer, Robb Fraley, responded to the interview with an approving tweet featuring a photo of Nye at company HQ:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Thanks <a href="https://twitter.com/BillNye">@BillNye</a> for visit &amp; advancing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/science?src=hash">#science</a> understanding. Look forward to more discussion! <a href="http://t.co/bEJihL54Ha">http://t.co/bEJihL54Ha</a> <a href="http://t.co/ke6ZTuku3W">pic.twitter.com/ke6ZTuku3W</a></p> &mdash; Robb Fraley (@RobbFraley) <a href="https://twitter.com/RobbFraley/status/571354543356686336">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>It will be interesting to hear what wonders within Monsanto's R&amp;D labs turned Nye from a nuanced GMO skeptic to a proud champion.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:13 +0000 Tom Philpott 271321 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama: Netanyahu's Speech Fails to Offer "Viable Alternatives" on Iran http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/obama-netanyahu-speech-no-viable-alternatives-iran <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama weighed in on Benjamin Netanyahu's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/netanyahu-speech-congress-obama-iran-israel" target="_blank">controversial address</a> to Congress on Tuesday, saying the Israeli prime minister's remarks did not provide any <a href="https://twitter.com/AP/status/572830765463044098" target="_blank">"viable alternatives"</a> to preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.</p> <p>The Associated Press <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_ISRAEL?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">reported</a> that after reading a transcript of the speech, Obama noted that Netanyahu used essentially the same language as when the United States brokered an interim deal with Iran, a deal the president said Iran followed through on by scaling back its nuclear program. White House officials also slammed the address:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sr. administration official: "Literally, not one new idea; not one single concrete alternative; all rhetoric, no action."</p> &mdash; Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) <a href="https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/572803683878084608">March 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu characterized the negotiations&mdash;which would ease sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country's nuclear program&mdash;as a "bad deal" that would inevitably strengthen Iran's nuclear capabilities, rather than stopping them.</p> <p>"I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal," Netanyahu <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/3/3/8140729/netanyahu-speech-iran-congress" target="_blank">said.</a> "This regime has been in power for 36 years and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would whet their appetite&mdash;would only whet Iran's appetite for more."</p> <p>In January, House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress without consulting the White House&mdash;a move that received widespread condemnation from <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/02/kagan-netanyahu-speech-blunder" target="_blank">Republicans</a> and Democrats as a clear attempt to undermine the president's authority. As many as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/02/elizabeth-warren-al-franken-netanyahu_n_6788136.html" target="_blank">60 Democrats</a> boycotted Tuesday's speech.</p></body></html> MoJo International Obama Top Stories Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:27:49 +0000 Inae Oh 271281 at http://www.motherjones.com DOJ Finds Pervasive Racial Bias at Ferguson Police Department http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/justice-department-ferguson-police <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Department of Justice has concluded that the Ferguson Police Department&nbsp;engaged&nbsp;in racially biased practices, including disproportionately arresting African-Americans during routine traffic stops. The findings are the result of an investigation launched back in September, which found that systematic biased behavior, including "racist jokes about blacks" on police email accounts, have&nbsp;resulted in fractured race relations in the Missouri community and a deep mistrust of&nbsp;police officials. From the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/us/justice-department-finds-pattern-of-police-bias-and-excessive-force-in-ferguson.html?_r=0" target="_blank"><em>Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In compiling the report, federal investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and analyzed race data compiled for every police stop. They concluded that, over the past two years, African-Americans made up about two-thirds of the city&rsquo;s population but accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.</p> </blockquote> <p>The full report is expected to be released on Wednesday.</p> <p>The findings are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/01/no-civil-rights-charges-michael-brown-shooting-report" target="_blank">separate</a> from an FBI investigation focused on Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old&nbsp;Michael Brown&nbsp;last August. According to previous reports, the Justice Department is planning to clear Wilson of<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/us/justice-department-ferguson-civil-rights-darren-wilson.html" target="_blank"> civil rights charges</a>.</p> <p>Brown's shooting&nbsp;death&nbsp;and a Ferguson&nbsp;grand jury's decision not&nbsp;to indict Wilson sparked a national debate on police brutality and racist police practices.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Race and Ethnicity Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:10:08 +0000 Inae Oh 271206 at http://www.motherjones.com Tea Party Loses Big in Today's Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/tea-party-loses-big-todays-vote-clean-dhs-funding-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It looks like the conventional wisdom <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/03/house-to-vote-on-new-bill-to-fully-fund-homeland-security/?hpid=z1" target="_blank">was correct:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The House will vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure will not target President Obama's executive actions on immigration, giving Democrats what they have long demanded and potentially enraging conservatives bent on fighting the president on immigration.</p> <p>&hellip;The decision marks a big win for Democrats, who have long demanded that Congress pass a "clean" bill to fund DHS free of any immigration riders. For weeks, Boehner and his top deputies have refused to take up such a bill, as conservatives have demanded using the DHS debate to take on Obama's directives, which include action to prevent the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.</p> </blockquote> <p>I thought the most likely course was a brief DHS shutdown (a week or two) just to save face, followed by a pretty clean funding bill. But I was too pessimistic. Apparently the House leadership wasn't willing to take the PR hit that would inevitably involve.</p> <p>I wonder if Republicans could have gotten a better deal if the tea party faction had been less bullheaded? Last week's debacle, where they torpedoed even a three-week funding extension, surely demonstrated to Boehner that he had no choice but to ignore the tea partiers entirely. They simply were never going to support anything except a full repeal of Obama's immigration actions, and that was never a remotely realistic option. The subsequent one-week extension passed only thanks to Democratic votes, and that made it clear that working with Democrats was Boehner's only real choice. And that in turn meant a clean funding bill.</p> <p>But what if the tea partiers had signaled some willingness to compromise? Could they have passed a bill that repealed some small part of Obama's program&mdash;and that could have passed the Senate? Maybe. Instead they got nothing. I guess maybe they'd rather stick to their guns than accomplish something small but useful. That sends a signal to their base, but unfortunately for them, it also sends a signal to Boehner. And increasingly, that signal is that he has no choice but to stop paying attention to their demands. There's nothing in it for Boehner, is there?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Immigration Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:00:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 271286 at http://www.motherjones.com Summers: Yes, the Robots Are Coming to Take Our Jobs http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/summers-yes-robots-are-coming-take-our-jobs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jim Tankersley called up Larry Summers to ask him to clarify his views on whether automation is hurting middle-class job <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_larry_summers.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">prospects. Despite reports that he no longer supports this view, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/03/robots-are-hurting-middle-class-workers-and-education-wont-solve-the-problem-larry-summers-says/" target="_blank">apparently he does:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Tankersley:</strong> How do you think about the effects of technology and automation on workers today, particularly those in the middle class?</p> <p><strong>Summers:</strong> No one should speak with certainty about these matters, because there are challenges in the statistics, and there are conflicts in the data. But it seems to me that there is a wave of what certainly appears to be labor-substitutive innovation. And that probably, we are only in the early innings of such a wave.</p> </blockquote> <p>I think this is precisely right. I suspect that:</p> <ul><li>Automation began having an effect on jobs around the year 2000.</li> <li>The effect is very small so far.</li> <li>So small, in fact, that it probably can't be measured reliably. There's too much noise from other sources.</li> <li>And I might be wrong about this.</li> </ul><p>In any case, this is at least the right argument to be having. There's been a sort of straw-man argument making the rounds recently that automation has had a big impact on jobs since 2010 and is responsible for the weak recovery from the Great Recession. I suppose there are some people who believe this, but I really don't think it's the consensus view of people (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/05/robots-artificial-intelligence-jobs-automation" target="_blank">like me</a>) who believe that automation is a small problem today that's going to grow in the future. My guess is that when economists look back a couple of decades from now, they're going to to date the automation revolution from about the year 2000&mdash;but that since its effects are exponential, we barely noticed it for the first decade. We'll notice it more this decade; a lot more in the 2020s; and by the 2030s it will be inarguably the biggest economic challenge we face.</p> <p>Summers also gets it right on the value of education. He believes it's important, but he doesn't think it will do anything to address skyrocketing income inequality:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is not likely, in my view, that any feasible program of improving education will have a large impact on inequality in any relevant horizon.</p> <p>First, almost two-thirds of the labor force in 2030 is already out of school today. Second, most of the inequality we observe is within education group&nbsp;&mdash; within high school graduates or within college graduates, rather than between high school graduates and college graduates. Third, inequality within college graduates is actually somewhat greater than inequality within high school graduates. <strong>Fourth, changing patterns of education is unlikely to have much to do with a rising share of the top 1 percent, which is probably the most important inequality phenomenon.</strong> So I am all for improving education. But to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion.</p> </blockquote> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/05/robots-artificial-intelligence-jobs-automation" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" height="251" src="/files/robots_a_630_0.jpg" width="265"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>Also read Kevin's #longread all about this stuff: </strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/05/robots-artificial-intelligence-jobs-automation" target="_blank"><strong>Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us? </strong></a></div> </div> <p>This is the key fact. Rising inequality is almost all due to the immense rise in the incomes of the top 1 percent. But no one argues that the top 1 percent are better educated than, say, the top 10 percent. As Summers says, if we improve our educational outcomes, that will have a broad positive effect on the economy. But it very plainly won't have any effect on the dynamics that have shoveled so much of our economic gains to the very wealthy.</p> <p>The rest is worth a read (it's a fairly short interview). Summers isn't saying anything that lots of other people haven't said before, but he's an influential guy. The fact that he's saying it too means this is well on its way to becoming conventional wisdom.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Education Tech Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:58:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 271266 at http://www.motherjones.com Netanyahu and Obama Agree: Global Warming Is a Huge Threat http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/netanyahu-obama-climate-change-terrorism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress on Iran's nuclear ambitions, at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The speech has caused a <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/3/2/8130977/netanyahu-speech-explained" target="_blank">considerable flap</a>, with Democrats criticizing it as an unprecedented affront to President Barack Obama.</p> <p>But while the president and Netanyahu might have vastly different visions for how to deal with the threat posed by Iran, they do seem to agree on one thing: the threat posed by climate change. Over the past few months Obama has repeatedly emphasized the dangers associated with global warming. In his State of the Union address in January, he said that "no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations" than climate change. And in a recent national security document, Obama called climate change an "urgent and growing threat." Despite GOP protestations to the contrary, Obama's concerns are legitimate: New research released yesterday, for example, found that man-made climate change was a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/climate-change-syria-obama-cpac" target="_blank">key factor in the Syrian civil war</a>.</p> <p>It seems Bibi had the same thought as early as 2010, when his cabinet approved a wide-reaching plan to reduce Israel's carbon footprint. At the time, the prime minister said that "the threat of climate change is no less menacing than the security threats that we face." From <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Enviro-Tech/Cabinet-okays-NIS-22b-to-reduce-greenhouse-gases" target="_blank">the</a><em><a href="http://www.jpost.com/Enviro-Tech/Cabinet-okays-NIS-22b-to-reduce-greenhouse-gases" target="_blank"> Jerusalem Post</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>At the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009, Israel pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent from a "business as usual" scenario by 2020.</p> <p>"The recent dry months, including the driest November in the history of the state, are a warning light to us all that the threat of climate change is no less menacing than the security threats that we face. I intend to act determinedly in this field. In a country that suffers from a severe water shortage, this is an existential struggle," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.</p> </blockquote> <p>Israel doesn't face the kind of political resistance from climate change deniers that is all too common in the United States, said Gidon Bromberg, Israel director of EcoPeace Middle East. But the country is struggling to meet its carbon emission and renewable energy targets because government spending is so heavily concentrated on defense, he said.</p> <p>"They've given the issue a great deal of lip service," he said, "but in practice none of these [targets] have been met."</p> <p>Still, Israel has been at the forefront of developing seawater desalination technology to confront drought. The country has the <a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/534996/megascale-desalination/" target="_blank">biggest desal plant in the world</a>, and last year Netanyahu <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/06/3369351/california-israel-water-desalination-security/" target="_blank">signed a deal</a> with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to share research and technology for dealing with water scarcity.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk International Obama Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:15:32 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271241 at http://www.motherjones.com There's Really No Plan B on Iran, Is There? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/theres-really-no-plan-b-iran-there <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday was one of my bad days, but one consequence of that was that I zoned out in front of the TV for long stretches. That allowed me to hear an endless procession of talking heads spend time talking about what we should do about Iran.</p> <p>The striking thing was not that there was lots of criticism from conservatives about President Obama's negotiating strategy. The striking thing was the complete lack of any real alternative from these folks. I listened to interviewer after interviewer ask various people what they'd do instead, and the answers were all the weakest of weak tea. A few mentioned tighter sanctions, but without much conviction since (a) sanctions are already pretty tight and (b) even the hawks seem to understand that mere sanctions are unlikely to stop Iran's nuclear program anyway. Beyond that there was nothing.</p> <p>That is, with the refreshing (?) exception of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who sounded a bit like Jack Nicholson in <em>A Few Good Men</em> after being badgered a bit by Wolf Blitzer. <em>Military action? You're damn right I want to see military action.</em> Or words to that effect, anyway. But of course, this sentiment was behind the scenes everywhere, even if most of the hawkish talking heads didn't quite say it so forthrightly. I noticed that even President Obama, in his interview with Reuters, specifically mentioned "military action," rather than the usual euphemism of "all cards are on the table."</p> <p>In my vague, laymanish way, this sure makes me wonder just how seriously military action really is on the table. I mean, I realize there are no really great options here, but a major war against Iran sure seems like a helluva bad idea&mdash;so bad that even the hawks ought to be thinking twice about this. That's especially true since I've heard no one who thinks it would permanently disable Iran's nuclear program anyway. It would just cause them to redouble their efforts and to do a better job of hiding it.</p> <p>I'm not saying anything new here. It only struck me a little harder than usual after watching so many interviews about Iran in the space of just a few hours (and I wasn't even watching Fox at all). There's really no Plan B here, and even the hawks are mostly reluctant to explicitly say that we should just up and launch a massive air assault on Iran. It's a weird, almost ghostly controversy we're having.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:08:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 271246 at http://www.motherjones.com Why the Duke Basketball Sexual-Assault Story Won't Go Away Quickly http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/duke-sexual-assault-sulaimon-coach-k <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Duke University student newspaper <a href="http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2015/03/02/rasheed-sulaimon-center-sexual-assault-allegations-prior-dismissal#.VPSsnkb-C6A" target="_blank">reported today</a> that a player recently dismissed from the school's powerhouse men's basketball team had been twice accused of sexual assault. Moreover, it found that athletic department officials, including Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, knew about the allegations as early as last March but failed to act for months.<a href="#update">*</a></p> <p>According to the <em>Chronicle</em>, two different women claimed that junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon had sexually assaulted them during the 2013-14 school year. In October 2013, a woman told classmates at a retreat that Sulaimon had assaulted her; at the same retreat in February 2014, another woman made a similar claim. The <em>Chronicle </em>reported that the team psychologist was made aware of the allegations in March 2014, and that several key members of the athletic department&mdash;including Krzyzewski, several assistant coaches, and athletic director Kevin White&mdash;found out shortly thereafter.</p> <p>At a press conference, Krzyzewski <a href="http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/12408702/duke-blue-devils-mike-krzyzewski-refuse-comment-rasheed-sulaimon-sexual-assault-allegations" target="_blank">declined to comment</a> on the <em>Chronicle</em> article. But here are three reasons why this particular story won't be going away anytime soon:</p> <ul><li><strong>Slow response:</strong> Neither woman filed a complaint with the university or went to the local police in part due to "the fear of backlash from the Duke fan base," according to the <em>Chronicle. </em>Nonetheless, the allegations reportedly were brought to the coaching staff shortly after the second incident was disclosed. According to the <em>Chronicle</em>, most Duke employees are required to report sexual assault; under <a href="http://knowyourix.org/title-ix/title-ix-the-basics/" target="_blank">Title IX</a>, the university must investigate any such allegations. "Nothing happened after months and months of talking about [the sexual assault allegations]," an anonymous source told the newspaper. "The University administration knew."</li> <li><strong>It's Duke, and Coach K: </strong>It has been nearly nine years since the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/opinion/22pubed.html?_r=" target="_blank">Duke lacrosse rape case</a>, which fell apart after months of intense scrutiny and media attention. Given the prominence of Krzyzewski and his program&mdash;he has the most wins of any Division I men's coach in history, and the Blue Devils are ranked No. 3 in the country&mdash;this story could gain a lot more traction as March Madness nears.&nbsp;Sulaimon was the first player Krzyzewski has <a href="http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/29/4515245_sulaimon-dismissed-from-duke-basketball.html?rh=1" target="_blank">dismissed</a> in his 35 years at Duke; here's how the coach described the decision in a January 29 press release: "Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program. It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner. After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program."</li> <li><strong>It's yet another sexual-assault accusation against a college athlete: </strong>The Sulaimon story comes just days after a former Louisville University basketball player was charged with <a href="http://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/college/louisville/2015/02/26/louisville-basketball-chris-jones-arrest-warrant/24044629/" target="_blank">rape and sodomy</a>. On January 27, two former Vanderbilt University football players were <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/sec/2015/01/27/vanderbilt-players-verdict-guilty-rape-vandenburg-batey/22430567/" target="_blank">convicted</a> on multiple counts of sexual battery and aggravated rape, a case dissected in a <a href="http://www.si.com/college-football/2015/02/09/vanderbilt-rape-case-brandon-vandenburg-cory-batey" target="_blank"><em>Sports Illustrated</em></a> feature last month. And in another highly publicized recent case, Jameis Winston, Florida State University's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, was accused but never charged of raping a fellow student. (The school recently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/sports/ncaafootball/jameis-winston-is-cleared-in-florida-state-hearing.html" target="_blank">cleared</a> Winston of violating its code of conduct.)</li> </ul><p id="update"><strong>UPDATE, March 4, 2014: </strong>In a <a href="http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-basketball/story/2015-03-03/duke-ad-says-basketball-office-handled-sulaimon-allegations-ncaa-basketball-acc-sexual-assault?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">statement</a> released yesterday to the <em>Sporting News</em>, Duke athletic director Kevin White had this to say about how Krzyzewski and the athletic department handled the Sulaimon situation:</p> <blockquote> <p>Any allegation of student misconduct that is brought to the attention of our staff and coaches is immediately referred to the Office of Student Conduct in Student Affairs, which has responsibility for upholding the Duke code of conduct. &nbsp;The athletics department does not investigate or adjudicate matters of student conduct, and cooperates completely in the process&hellip;</p> <p>These investigations are conducted thoroughly, in a timely manner, and with great care to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all students involved.&nbsp;Those procedures have been, and continue to be, followed by Coach Mike Krzyzewski and all members of the men's basketball program. Coach Krzyzewski and his staff understand and have fulfilled their responsibilities to the university, its students and the community.</p> </blockquote> <p>For more on Duke's legal footing with regard to how much information it needs to share with the media, read Michael McCann's <a href="http://www.si.com/college-basketball/2015/03/04/duke-rasheed-sulaimon-allegations-coach-k" target="_blank">latest</a> at <em>Sports Illustrated</em>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Top Stories Mon, 02 Mar 2015 21:32:53 +0000 Ian Gordon 271201 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver Turn America's Doomed Infrastructure Into a Summer Blockbuster http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/watch-john-oliver-turn-americas-doomed-infrastructure-summer-blockbuster <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>America's infrastructure system&mdash;from its dams, bridges, roads, airports, etc.&mdash;is deteriorating and in need of a serious renovation. It's an issue most people agree on, and as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpzvaqypav8" target="_blank">John Oliver noted last night,</a> even has the attention of a "total idiot" like Donald Trump.&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Despite all this, the country remains pretty uninterested in doing anything about it.</span></p> <p>"The lack of political urgency in tackling this problem is insane," Oliver explained. "And you cannot tell me that you are not interested in this, because every summer, people flock to see our infrastructure threatened by terrorists and aliens."</p> <p>In hopes to cure America's blissful apathy to our crumbling infrastructure, <em>Last Week Tonight</em> took a cue from our movie-going habits by producing a gripping,&nbsp;<em>Armageddon</em>-like summer blockbuster to get people freaked out enough and finally start working on this major problem. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Wpzvaqypav8" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:24:14 +0000 Inae Oh 271191 at http://www.motherjones.com Tikrit is an Early Test of Iraq vs. ISIS http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/tikrit-early-test-iraq-vs-isis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tikrit_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/world/middleeast/iraq-tikrit-isis.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Well, here we go:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Iraqi military, alongside thousands of Shiite militia fighters, began a large-scale offensive on Monday to retake the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State....<strong>Monday&rsquo;s attack, which officials said involved more than 30,000 fighters supported by Iraqi helicopters and jets,</strong> was the boldest effort yet to recapture Tikrit and, Iraqi officials said, the largest Iraqi offensive anywhere in the country since the Islamic State took control of Mosul, Iraq&rsquo;s second-largest city, in June. It was unclear if airstrikes from the American-led coalition, which has been bombing Islamic State positions in Iraq since August, were involved in the early stages of the offensive on Monday.</p> <p><strong>From a military perspective, capturing Tikrit is seen as an important precursor to an operation to retake Mosul,</strong> which lies farther north. Success in Tikrit could push up the timetable for a Mosul campaign, while failure would most likely mean more delays.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a test of whether the American training of Iraqi troops has made much difference. If it has, this latest attempt to take Tikrit might succeed. If not, it will probably fail like all the other attempts.</p> <p>It's worth noting that 30,000 troops to take Tikrit is about the equivalent of 200,000 troops to take a city the size of Mosul. So even if the Iraqi offensive is successful, it's still not clear what it means going forward. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:09:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 271196 at http://www.motherjones.com O Glory! Pops Staples Was Magnificent—and Rockin' http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/02/pops-staples-monumental-legacy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xUpSMPlBXf0?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The Staple Singers<br><em>Freedom Highway Complete &ndash; Recorded Live at Chicago's New Nazareth Church</em><br> Legacy<br><br> Pops Staples<br><em>Don't Lose This</em><br> dBpm/Anti-</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-02-26%20at%202.24.11%20PM.png" style="height: 300px; width: 300px;"></div> <p>What a monumental legacy Roebuck "Pops" Staples left behind! From the mid-1950s on, his family group, the Staple Singers, was a premier gospel act. In the '70s, they scored a number of uplifting R&amp;B hits, including "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Up until his death in 2000, Pops Staples continued making compelling, moving music.</p> <p><em>Freedom Highway Complete</em>, recorded in April 1965, captures Pops and his kids, Mavis, Yvonne and Pervis, at the height of their testifying powers, electrifying a churchgoing audience the month after Dr. King's history-changing marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. From the exuberant title track to the foot-stomping "Samson and Delilah," it's a thrilling concert, thanks to the interplay of the Staples' robust voices, Pops' shimmering, pithy guitar licks, and spirit-lifting rhythms. It's magnificent&mdash;and rockin'!</p> <p><em>Don't Lose This </em>collects 10 songs that Pops recorded in 1999 but never finished. Last year, daughter Mavis took the incomplete recordings to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who worked on her more recent solo albums, and together they turned the tracks into a proper album, adding voices and instrumentation. (If Tweedy took the liberty of mimicking Pops' distinctive guitar in places, he did a great job.) Mavis' rousing voice is prominent, but it's still her dad's show. His tender yet forceful singing on "Somebody Was Watching Me" and on Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" is sure to inspire. The album is a fitting memorial to this endearing genius.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Jon Young 271036 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Secret Scheming Places of Tea Party Congressmen Revealed! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/quote-day-secret-scheming-places-tea-party-congressmen-revealed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-congress-gop-20150301-story.html" target="_blank">From Republican Rep. Devin Nunes,</a> on the tactics of tea partiers who are holding up the DHS funding bill over their increasingly pointless insistence that it include a provision repealing President Obama's immigration program:</p> <blockquote> <p>While conservative leaders are trying to move the ball up the field, these other members sit in <strong>exotic places like basements of Mexican restaurants and upper levels of House office buildings,</strong> seemingly unaware that they can't advance conservatism by playing fantasy football with their voting cards.</p> </blockquote> <p>Um, OK. Not exactly <em>House of Cards</em>, but OK.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Sun, 01 Mar 2015 18:43:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 271176 at http://www.motherjones.com Scott Walker Is Making Shit Up, Just Like His Hero Ronald Reagan http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/02/scott-walker-just-ronald-reagan-they-both-made-shit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/02/28/scott-walker-calls-reagans-bust-of-air-traffic-controller-strike-most-significant-foreign-policy-decision/?tid=hpModule_ba0d4c2a-86a2-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394" target="_blank">This morning</a>, once again trying to show that fighting against Wisconsin labor unions is pretty much the same as fighting ISIS or communism, Scott Walker repeated his contention that Ronald Reagan's early move to fire striking air traffic controllers was more than <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_reagan_patco.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">just an attack on organized labor. It was also a critical foreign policy decision. Here's what he <a href="http://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2015/01/walker-firing-air-traffic-controllers" target="_blank">originally said last month on <em>Morning Joe</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One of the most powerful foreign policy decisions that I think was made in our lifetime was one that Ronald Reagan made early in his presidency when he fired the air traffic controllers....What it did, it showed our allies around the world that we were serious and more importantly that this man to our adversaries was serious.</p> <p><strong>Years later, documents released from the Soviet Union showed that that exactly was the case.</strong> The Soviet Union started treating [Reagan] more seriously once he did something like that. Ideas have to have consequences. And I think [President Barack Obama] has failed mainly because he's made threats and hasn't followed through on them.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2015/jan/28/scott-walker/scott-walker-records-show-soviets-treated-ronald-r/" target="_blank">PolitiFact decided to check up on this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Five experts told us they had never heard of such documents. Several were incredulous at the notion.</p> <p>[Joseph] McCartin...."I am not aware of any such documents. If they did exist, I would love to see them."....Svetlana Savranskaya...."There is absolutely no evidence of this."....James Graham Wilson....Not aware of any Soviet documents showing Moscow&rsquo;s internal response to the controller firings....Reagan's own ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock, told us: "It's utter nonsense. There is no evidence of that whatever."</p> </blockquote> <p>PolitiFact's conclusion: "For a statement that is false and ridiculous, our rating is Pants on Fire." But Walker shouldn't feel too bad. After all, Reagan was also famous for making up facts and evidence that didn't exist, so Walker is just taking after his hero. What's more, Reagan's fantasies never hurt him much. Maybe they won't hurt Walker either.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections International Labor Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:06:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 271166 at http://www.motherjones.com Kagan: Netanyahu Speech Is a Blunder http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/02/kagan-netanyahu-speech-blunder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Even the ever-hawkish Robert Kagan thinks Republicans blew it by inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/at-what-price-netanyahu/2015/02/27/96f9efae-be81-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html?hpid=z2" target="_blank">address a joint session of Congress:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Looking back on it from years hence, will the spectacle of an Israeli prime minister coming to Washington to do battle with an American president wear well or poorly?</p> <p>....Is anyone thinking about the future? From now on, whenever the opposition party happens to control Congress &mdash; a common enough occurrence &mdash; it may call in a foreign leader to speak to a joint meeting of Congress against a president and his policies. Think of how this might have played out in the past. A Democratic-controlled Congress in the 1980s might, for instance, have called the Nobel Prize-winning Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to denounce President Ronald Reagan&rsquo;s policies in Central America. A Democratic-controlled Congress in 2003 might have called French President Jacques Chirac to oppose President George W. Bush&rsquo;s impending war in Iraq.</p> <p>Does that sound implausible? Yes, it was implausible &mdash; until now.</p> </blockquote> <p>But President Obama has been poking sticks in Republican eyes ever since November, and Republicans desperately needed to poke back to maintain credibility with their base. Since passing useful legislation was apparently not in the cards, this was all they could come up with. What a debacle.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress International Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:09:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 271161 at http://www.motherjones.com What's French for Chicken Nugget? The Truth About School Lunches Around the World http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/02/school-lunch-around-the-world-photos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>By now you've probably seen the <a href="http://http://sweetgreen.tumblr.com/post/103458679563/school-lunches-around-the-world" target="_blank">viral slideshow</a> called "School Lunches Around the World," in which a heavily processed American school lunch is contrasted against an array of fresh, healthy-looking victuals from Italy, France, Greece, etc. It's a compelling argument against the <a href="http://foodsystems.msu.edu/uploads/files/cost-of-school-lunch.pdf" target="_blank">puny resources</a> spent on school lunch in the United States, where, once labor and overhead are accounted for, schools get less than a dollar per daily lunch to spend on ingredients.</p> <p>But as the great school-food blogger Bettina Elias Siegel <a href="http://www.thelunchtray.com/why-im-fed-up-with-those-photos-of-school-lunches-around-the-world/" target="_blank">points out</a>, those sumptuous photos don't depict actual meals being served in actual schools&mdash;but, rather, staged shots that oversimplify a complex topic. As it turns out, <a href="http://sweetgreen.com/our-story/" target="_blank">Sweetgreen</a>, a chain of health-food eateries <a href="http://sweetgreen.com/locations/" target="_blank">located mainly on the East Coast</a>, produced the photos, but didn't make that clear on its Tumblr.</p> <p>In case you haven't seen them, here's a sampling:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/USslide_405630_5063818_free.jpg"><div class="caption">Photo: Sweetgreen<br> &nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/slide_405630_5063802_free.jpg"><div class="caption">Photo: Sweetgreen<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/italyslide_405630_5063808_free.jpg"><div class="caption">Photo: Sweetgreen<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> </div> <p>So we see images of appetizing lunch from countries around the world contrasted against a relatively grim platter of pale chicken nuggets, potatoes, and peas from here in the good ol' USA. Siegel writes that many of her readers sent her a link to the gallery, "understandably but mistakenly" under the impression that the images depicted real-deal lunches, not a corporate photo shoot. The UK's<em> Daily Mail</em> even took them at face value, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2958640/Photos-school-lunches-served-world-reveal-just-meager-America-s-meals-compared-cash-strapped-nations.html" target="_blank">blaring</a> in a headline that "Photos reveal just how meager US students' meals are compared to even the most cash-strapped of nations."</p> <p>Siegel, though, had questions:</p> <blockquote> <p>Sweetgreen says it based is photos on "some typical school meals around the world," but it doesn't tell us how it obtained the information underlying the photos. Were the meals modeled on public school menus? Private school menus? Are the meals depicted typical of what's served in a given country, or did Sweetgreen cherry-pick the most appealing items? And on what basis were the elements chosen for America's school meal?</p> </blockquote> <p>Most egregiously, the Greece photo portrays a robust lunch featuring chicken over whole grains with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, a salad, and fresh citrus. Siegel provides a reality check: Debt-plagued Greece doesn't have the resources to provide much of anything to eat for its school kids. She points to a 2013 <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/world/europe/more-children-in-greece-start-to-go-hungry.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em> piece</a> reporting that Greek schools "do not offer subsidized cafeteria lunches. Students bring their own food or buy items from a canteen. The cost has become insurmountable for some families with little or no income." Meanwhile, Siegel points out, even with dire funding for US lunches, more than 20 million economically distressed US kids had access to free or cut-rate lunches in 2013.</p> <p>She adds that some US school districts do magical things with their minuscule budgets. Besides, even in France, where schools typically have twice as much to spend on ingredients per meal, lunches in some cases can look pretty, well, American.</p> <p>Here's Sweetgreen's version of the French lunch:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/slide_405630_5063804_free.jpg"><div class="caption">Photo: Sweetgreen</div> </div> <p>And here's one of an French lunch Siegel found on the <em><a href="http://whatsforschoollunch.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">What's for School Lunch?</a></em> blog, where "real people around the world submit their actual photos of school meals." There's no reason to assume all French lunches consist of chicken nuggets and well, <em>French</em> fries&mdash;but there's no reason to believe that Sweetgreen's idealized version is representative, either.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/French_nuggets.png"><div class="caption">Photo: <em>What&rsquo;s for School Lunch?</em></div> </div> <p>After Siegel's posting, Sweetgreen added an appendage to its Tumblr page:</p> <blockquote> <p>Note: These images are not intended to be exact representations of school lunches, but instead, are meant to portray different types of foods found in cafeterias around the world. To create this series, we evaluated government standards for school lunch programs, and compared this data to photos that real students had taken of their meals and shared online.</p> </blockquote> <p>Sweetgreen's photo essay was designed to support an <a href="http://sweetgreen.tumblr.com/post/102874549598/an-apple-a-day-campaign" target="_blank">effort</a> to raise funds for <a href="https://foodcorps.org/about" target="_blank">Food Corps</a>, a "nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy" through cooking and gardening classes. It's an impressive bit of corporate marketing on behalf of a good cause&mdash;but not an accurate depiction of school lunch.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Education Food and Ag Top Stories Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Tom Philpott 271146 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama: "I Loved Spock" http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/02/president-obama-i-loved-spock <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Obama released a <a href="https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/571411444454961152" target="_blank">statement</a>&nbsp;Friday on the death of&nbsp;Leonard Nimoy. The actor, best known for his role as Spock on <em>Star Trek</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/02/rip-leonard-nimoy" target="_blank">died</a> at the age of 83 earlier today.</p> <blockquote> <p>Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek&rsquo;s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity&rsquo;s future.</p> <p>I loved Spock.</p> <p>In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for &ldquo;Live long and prosper.&rdquo; And after 83 years on this planet&ndash;&ndash;and on his visits to many others&ndash;&ndash;it&rsquo;s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.</p> </blockquote> <p>Upon meeting for the first time, Nimoy said the president greeted him with the iconic <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/a-mind-meld-qa-with-leonard-nimoy/" target="_blank">Vulcan salute</a>.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" scrollable="no" src="http://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4529613" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In the past, Obama has been criticized for being too <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/10/24/7053903/josh-green-obama-crisis" target="_blank">"Spock-like"</a> or methodical in his proceedings, to which the president once playfully responded, "Is that a crack on my ears?"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kk0JTQa5OVY" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Nimoy's death has sparked an outpouring of eulogies from fans, fellow actors, and politicans alike. Earlier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Spock is gone - and so is our last chance for a Vulcan mind meld with a great son of Boston. Sad day. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LLAP?src=hash">#LLAP</a></p> &mdash; Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) <a href="https://twitter.com/elizabethforma/status/571389010112860160">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> </center> <p>RIP.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Obama Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:45:12 +0000 Inae Oh 271151 at http://www.motherjones.com Hero Mom Has the Perfect Response to Son Begging to Join ISIS http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/teen-tries-join-isis-hero-mom-has-other-plans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Everyone of us can relate to having once been a stupid&nbsp;teenager, irrationally whining to our parents about needing to hang out with <em>that</em> group, wear&nbsp;<em>this</em> outfit, etc.</p> <p>Such is the case of 19-year-old <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/nyregion/isis-plot-brooklyn-men.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">Akhror Saidakhmetov</a> of Brooklyn who had a burning desire to join club ISIS, like all the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/24/europe/turkey-uk-missing-girls/index.html" target="_blank">cool kids</a>&nbsp;seem to be doing these days. But despite having all the gear to prove he was ready to commit to the band, Saidakhmetov's dreams were ultimately crushed by a very adolescent roadblock&mdash;his mom. From the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/nyregion/isis-plot-brooklyn-men.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=1" target="_blank"><em>Times:</em></a></p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">Mr. Juraboev and Mr. Saidakhmetov bought tickets, planning to travel to Turkey and then sneak into Syria, court papers say, and as the date of their departure neared, they seemed eager.</p> <p class="rteindent1">But Mr. Saidakhmetov still needed his passport, and on Feb. 19 he called his mother. In a conversation recorded by federal agents, he asked for it. She asked him where he was going. He said to join the Islamic State.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>"If a person has a chance to join the Islamic State and does not go there, on Judgment Day he will be asked why, and it is a sin to live in the land of infidels," he told her, court documents say.</strong></p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>She hung up the phone.</strong> It is unclear if he managed to get his passport back. But the government&rsquo;s informer helped Mr. Saidakhmetov secure travel documents. In the days before he left, he told the informer that he felt that his soul was already on its way to paradise.</p> </blockquote> <p>Trust us, young Saidakhmetov, you'll thank your mom one day. We already do.</p></body></html> MoJo Religion Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:48:41 +0000 Inae Oh 271136 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 27 February 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/02/friday-cat-blogging-27-february-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>My biopsy is scheduled for this morning, so once again you get early cat blogging. Hopper got center stage last week, so this week it's Hilbert's turn.</p> <p>Speaking of Hopper, though, a few days ago she demonstrated the wonders of the internet to me. That wasn't her intent, of course. Her intent was to chew through the charging cord of one of my landline phone extensions. This effectively turned the phone into a paperweight&mdash;and not even a very good one. But then I looked on the back of the charger and there was a model number etched into the plastic. So I typed it into Google. Despite the fact that this phone is more than a decade old, I was able to order two used replacements for $4 each within five minutes. Truly we live in a miraculous age.</p> <p>But I still wish Hopper would stop chewing on every dangling cord in the house. Steps need to be taken, but I'm not quite sure yet what they'll be.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_02_27.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:15:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 271081 at http://www.motherjones.com This Correction Is Supremely Unfortunate. I Can't Stop Cringing. http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/02/leonard-nimoy-star-wars-star-trek-star-search-star-man-a-star-is-born-starz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Courtesy of <em>New York Times</em> staff editor Michael Roston, this is an unfortunate push alert error:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Oof <a href="http://t.co/Jszb1JeNrB">pic.twitter.com/Jszb1JeNrB</a></p> &mdash; Michael Roston (@michaelroston) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaelroston/status/571367872959631360">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>I feel genuinely awful for whoever is responsible for this. Everyone of us has made that mistake, but this will haunt them.</p> <p>In the interest of solidarity, here's a <em>Star Wars</em> mistake I once made when I worked for <em>CNET</em>:</p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/401086_10100840630052439_343090739_n.jpg"></p> <p>Stay strong, anonymous ABC7 push alert writer. You'll come back from this.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE</strong>: The&nbsp;ABC7&nbsp;digital editor responsible seems like a mensch.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss">@bendreyfuss</a> Haunted seems a bit much, no? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MyBad?src=hash">#MyBad</a> <a href="http://t.co/64nPfSGeel">http://t.co/64nPfSGeel</a></p> &mdash; Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) <a href="https://twitter.com/ABC7NY/status/571387253265530880">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Contributor Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:25:35 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 271131 at http://www.motherjones.com Sean Hannity Said Some Something Really Creepy at CPAC Today http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/sean-hannity-cpac-x-ray-vision <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y0IgD92GRYo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this morning, Fox&nbsp;News' Sean Hannity had some downright creepy things to say about the "young, good-looking crowd:"</p> <blockquote> <p>I can look out in the crowd, I kinda have Fox X-ray vision, and I can see that some of you women, you don't even know it yet, but you're pregnant. It's not your fault. It's not his fault.</p> </blockquote> <p>The joke&mdash;if that's what it was&mdash;bombed, drawing nervous laughter and groans from the crowd. The Twitter reaction was swift&nbsp;and perplexed:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Hannity has xray vision can tell that some of the women in here are pregnant? IDK it was supposed to be a joke? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPAC2015?src=hash">#CPAC2015</a></p> &mdash; Nathalie Baptiste (@nhbaptiste) <a href="https://twitter.com/nhbaptiste/status/571345614337937410">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Hannity joke at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPAC?src=hash">#CPAC</a> lands w a thud: "I have Fox xray vision &amp; I can see that some of you women are pregnant, though you don't know it yet"</p> &mdash; Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) <a href="https://twitter.com/AliceOllstein/status/571345397173649408">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Really subtle <a href="https://twitter.com/seanhannity">@seanhannity</a>: if I was stupid, like a liberal, .... Also, "I can see it some of you women are pregnant you don't know it yet"</p> &mdash; Adam B. Lerner (@AdamBLerner) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamBLerner/status/571345387887452160">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Other CPAC attendees were apparently unfazed by Hannity's claim that he could seen into women's uteruses.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/seanhannity">@seanhannity</a> What a wonderful speech you gave before CPAC today! Wish to Heaven you'd consider running for the GOP Presidential nomination.</p> &mdash; Paula Duvall (@PaulaDuvall2) <a href="https://twitter.com/PaulaDuvall2/status/571350308724408321">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Media The Right Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:20:19 +0000 Sam Brodey 271121 at http://www.motherjones.com