Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en California Is About to Ban Those Little Pieces of Plastic in Your Toothpaste and Face Scrub <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p dir="ltr">On Friday, the California Senate passed legislation that will ban the sale of microbeads&mdash;&acirc;&#128;&#139;those <a href="" target="_blank">colorful bits of plastic</a> that you find in face scrub, body wash, and toothpaste&mdash;in personal care products by 2020.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">Though a handful of <a href="" target="_blank">other states</a> &acirc;&#128;&#139;have already passed microbead bans, California's is by far the most stringent, as it doesn't provide exemptions for "biodegradeable"&nbsp;plastics. (No plastics have proven to break down in marine environments so far.)&nbsp;Because California makes up roughly one-eighth of the American market for personal care products, the legislation will likely change the way the products are designed throughout the United States.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">Johnson &amp; Johnson and Procter &amp; Gamble lobbied against the bill, which is expected to pass the State Assembly next week and be signed into law within the month.</span></p> <p>Environmental advocates have expressed concern over microbeads for years, as the particles are so small that they aren't caught in wastewater treatment plants and end up in waterways and oceans, where they don't biodegrade and are frequently mistaken for food by fish and other marine animals. There are an estimated 300,000 microbeads in a single tube of face wash; collectively, roughly&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">300 tons</a> of the plastic ends up in US waterways each year.</p> <p>"Toxic microbeads are accumulating in our rivers, lakes and oceans at alarmingly high levels. We can and must act now,"&nbsp;said assembly member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who authored the bill. "Continuing to use these harmful and unnecessary plastics when natural alternatives are widely available is simply irresponsible and will only result in significant cleanups costs to taxpayers who will have to foot the bill to restore our already limited water resources and ocean health."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Econundrums Health Fri, 04 Sep 2015 23:49:34 +0000 Julia Lurie 283456 at Friday Cat Blogging - 4 September 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Like Hillary Clinton,</a> we've been watching a lot of HGTV lately. This has inspired Marian to create a long list of renovation projects she'd like to do. It's inspired me to wonder if literally everyone in the world wants an open-concept floor plan these days.</p> <p>And one other thing: It's also made it clear that most interior designers on TV are dog people. How do I know? Because they seem to be very fond of rectangular sinks in bathrooms. However, as we more refined types know, this is entirely unacceptable. Ovals fit the requirements of a properly outfitted household much better.</p> <p><strong>BONUS FEATURE IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:</strong> The prefecture of Hiroshima, in the cat-crazy country of Japan, has created the first cat's-eye version of Google Street View. <a href="" target="_blank">Check it out.</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2015_09_04.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 19:06:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 283451 at The Iran Deal Highlights the Crackup of the Israel Lobby <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jonathan Chait writes that AIPAC's failure to stop the Iran deal shows that "there is no more 'Israel lobby'; there is a red Israel lobby and a blue one." <a href="" target="_blank">And that matters a lot:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As a simple matter of political mechanics, acquiring a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress meant hawks needed liberal Democrats to take their side. But they did not have arguments that could appeal to liberals &mdash; even liberals with a deep emotional connection to Israel.</p> <p>....This underscores the most important tectonic forces moving beneath the Israel lobby&rsquo;s feet. Over the last 15 years, the foreign-policy debate in Israel has moved steadily rightward....[This] has pushed the American Jewish establishment to the right of American Jewry as a whole.</p> <p>....But there is more at work than simple pigheadedness or habitual aggression. Many conservative supporters of Israel do not necessarily regard the crack-up of American Jewish opinion as a problem. In their view, diplomacy with Iran is the prelude to Israel&rsquo;s annihilation, and support for Netanyahu&rsquo;s permanent occupation is the sine qua non of genuine support for Israel. It follows that the Iran debate essentially succeeded, by smoking out the fake Israel supporters. An almost giddy Jennifer Rubin <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_netanyahu_flag.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">concludes that the deal&rsquo;s victory destroys &ldquo;the myth of bipartisan support for Israel.&rdquo; The crack-up of the Israel lobby is, for its most conservative members, not a failure at all but the fulfillment of a longtime dream.</p> </blockquote> <p>Benjamin Netanyahu no longer even tries to appeal to both liberal and conservative American Jews. As Gershom Gorenberg points out, he has all but turned his government into an overseas arm of the Republican Party, apparently in the hope that this would <a href="" target="_blank">eventually work out for the best:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Netanyahu's imagined America is one in which Mitt Romney was sure to win in 2012, as can be seen from the prime minister's behavior back then. Like the Republicans to whom he is close, he treats Obama's presidency as a historical glitch. Like many Jewish Republicans, he expects American Jews to place Israel at the top of their voting priorities, to agree with his policies, and to wake up at last to the need to vote Republican. After all, that's how the American Jews he knows best see things. To these misreadings, add his irrepressible impulse to jump into American politics.</p> <p>The consequence is that Netanyahu has done more than anyone else to identify Israel&mdash;that is, the Israel shaped by his policies&mdash;with the Republican Party. Nancy Pelosi's bitter, brilliant reproach after his speech to Congress last March was the clearest possible warning that his alliance with the GOP against Obama would free, or push, Democrats to break with him. He ignored the warning.</p> </blockquote> <p>Like nearly everything else in American politics, Israel has become a dreary partisan issue. Conservatives might be thrilled with this because they think it will hurt liberals, but the evidence suggests just the opposite: it will hurt Israel instead.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 18:54:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 283446 at Tip O' the Day: Don't Be Trapped by the Tyranny of the List <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A couple of days ago I stumbled across a story about the weekly email that NBER sends out touting its latest working papers. They recently decided to randomize the order of the papers separately for each of the 23,000 emails they send out. "This will mean that roughly the same number of message recipients will see a given paper in the first position, in the second position, and so on."</p> <p>One thing led to another, and I never wrote about this. But Neil Irwin <a href=";emc=rss" target="_blank">picks up the ball today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>No editorial judgment goes into the sequence in which the working papers appear. It is random, based on the order in which the paper was submitted and in which the N.B.E.R. approval process was completed. In other words, there is no inherent reason to think that the first paper listed is more groundbreaking, important or interesting than the third or 17th.</p> <p>But a lot more people read the first one listed. <strong>Showing up first in the email generated a 33 percent increase in the number of people who clicked on the working paper</strong> and a 29 percent increase in the number who downloaded it.</p> <p>Perhaps even more amazing, it wasn&rsquo;t just that more people pulled up the paper that appeared first. <strong>Those papers also received 27 percent more citations in later research,</strong> though that result was based on a relatively small time period. Having the luck to appear first in the email <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_arxiv_spike.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">meant that a given working paper had greater influence in subsequent economic research.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, high-IQ economists are as lazy about clicking only the first entry on a list as your average teenage Google user. And it's not just economists. The same thing is true of physicists. The inventor of arXiv, a website that publishes early copies of physics papers, <a href="" target="_blank">discovered the same thing several years ago.</a> You can see the result in the graph at the right. Physicists might be as lazy as the rest of us, but they're not dumb, and they all figured out a long time ago that being first on the list is a big deal. Since each day's announcements are made in the order they were submitted, starting at 4 pm the previous day, it means that a huge herd of physicists are all pounding their Enter keys at 4 pm in a desperate effort to be first on the next day's list.</p> <p>The moral of this story is that....economists and physicists are as lazy and irrational as everyone else? I guess. But the real moral of the story is for <em>you</em> not to be trapped by the tyranny of the list. The next time you google something, try clicking on the 8th link. In fact, do what I do and change the default number of hits to 50 per page and then try clicking the 18th link. You might be pleasantly surprised.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:40:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 283441 at In Shocker, Media Learns That Donald Trump Doesn't Know Anything <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Color me surprised. I read Hugh Hewitt's interview with Donald Trump yesterday and <a href="" target="_blank">commented on it,</a> but it didn't even occur to me to say anything about the substance of Trump's replies. I mentioned as an aside that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_hewitt_gaffe_4.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 35px;">Trump, as usual, was "comically ignorant" of pretty much everything, and thought no more about it. That's just standard Trump.</p> <p>But today's headlines are all about Trump's "struggles," "stumbles," and "gaffes." That's all totally fair, but why did it take <em>this</em> interview to suddenly wake everyone up? Trump has been responding to questions this way for the entire campaign. Ask him about China, and he says he'll send Carl Icahn over. Ask him how he'll get Mexico to pay for a wall, and he says "management." Ask him about taxes and he says he'll be great for the middle class. Ask him for his favorite Bible verse and he claims that's too personal to share.</p> <p>This has been his MO all along. His ignorance&mdash;and his shameless lack of interest in fixing it&mdash;has always been obvious. He doesn't even try to hide it. He'll hire good people. He'll delegate. He'll learn it when he needs to. He's entirely up front about not knowing squat, and it's barely even caused a ripple. Until now. Suddenly everyone is shocked to learn that Trump doesn't know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah.</p> <p>I guess it was bound to happen sometime. Perhaps the Trump show was just too entertaining to ruin with this kind of pedantry back in August. What would we all have written about without him?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:53:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 283436 at Kentucky Gay Marriage Melodrama Is Finally Over (Sort Of) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Joe Davis,</a> explaining why his wife, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples:</p> <blockquote> <p>Just because five Supreme Court judges make a ruling, it&rsquo;s not a law.</p> </blockquote> <p>Actually, yes, it is. But Joe could be excused for thinking otherwise given how many allegedly serious Republican presidential candidates seem to agree with him.</p> <p>In any case, this affair has now ended in what always seemed the most obvious way: with LGBT couples getting marriage licenses from deputies in the county clerk's office. Kim Davis still objects to this, of course, because her name is on the license (by state law). But her deputies apparently aren't as keen on twiddling their thumbs in the county jail as she is. They had to decide whether to obey Davis or obey a federal judge, and they wisely chose to obey the judge.</p> <p>In theory, this is now over. But Davis remains in jail, all the better to assure her future role as a martyr for the cause and poster child for fundraising appeals by the right-wing email outrage crowd. I imagine she'll stay there just long enough to cement her reputation, and then announce that she's resigning her office. Her moment in the sun is nearly over, but her moment on the rubber chicken circuit is just beginning.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:27:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 283426 at Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in August <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="" target="_blank">added 173,000 new jobs last month,</a> 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at 83,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate fell from 5.3 percent to 5.1 percent. Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees were up at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent.</p> <p>Roughly speaking, there was nothing interesting in the guts of the report. The unemployment rate was down both because there were more employed workers and because the size of the labor force shrank a bit. The labor force participation rate stayed steady. There were no big surprises in any particular industry.</p> <p>This has left everyone free to speculate on what this report means for the prospect of the Fed increasing interest rates later this month. On the one hand, the jobs report fell a bit below expectations. On the other hand, the unemployment rate was down nicely and wages showed a bit of life. On the third hand&mdash;well, everyone's just guessing here. Basically, this month's jobs report is ordinary enough that it probably won't have much impact at all. The Fed will consider overseas weakness, labor market slack, and all the other things that have been on their plate for a while. If they were planning to raise rates before this report came out, they probably still are.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_august_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:10:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 283421 at First Gay Couple Can Marry in County Where Clerk Went to Jail <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, William Smith and James Yates became the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license in Rowan County, Kentucky.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: William Smith and James Yates just obtained a marriage license from the Rowan County Clerk's Office. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) <a href="">September 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Video of first couple leaving the courthouse after getting their marriage license <a href="">#wsaz</a> <a href="">#ky</a> <a href="">#kimdavis</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Taylor Eaton (@WSAZTaylorEaton) <a href="">September 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Since the Supreme Court's historic decision invalidating gay marriage bans nationwide in June, county clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue licenses to gay couples citing her religious beliefs. Her continued refusal to do so <a href="" target="_blank">finally landed her in jail yesterday,</a> after a federal judge held her in contempt of law.</p> <p>US District Judge David <a href=";smtyp=cur&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Bunning offered to release</a> the defiant clerk if she promised not to prevent her deputies from processing same-sex couples. Five of the six deputies have agreed to do so. Davis' son, a deputy clerk, was the only one to refuse.</p> <p>Davis' husband, who insisted his family's opposition to same-sex marriages did not mean they "hate these people," was <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly</a> seen outside the clerk's office on Friday holding a sign, "Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah."</p> <p>Smith and Yates' license effectively ends the months-long showdown.</p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Supreme Court Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:39:35 +0000 Inae Oh 283416 at California Is Fining a Company That's Supplied Starbucks' Bottled Water—for Making the Drought Worse <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sugar Pine Spring Water, a California company that has supplied bottled water to Starbucks, was hit on Tuesday with a <a href="" target="_blank">complaint</a> and draft <a href="" target="_blank">cease-and-desist order</a> by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for alleged illegal diversion and bulk delivery of water in 2014 and 2015. It's the first enforcement action taken against a bottled-water supplier since the state declared a drought emergency in January 2014. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">As I reported this spring</a>, Starbucks' Ethos Water brand has sourced water sold in the chain's western US stores from suppliers tapping the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, areas the US Drought Monitor has declared to be in "exceptional drought" conditions. <a href="" target="_blank">Starbucks subsequently announced</a> it would be phasing out its use of California water over the next six months. <em>Mother Jones</em> asked Starbucks whether it was still using water from Sugar Pine Spring Water, but the company has not yet responded.</p> <p>Ethos Water has long been produced in a Safeway bottling plant in Merced, California, that uses Sugar Pine water for the Starbucks brand.</p> <p>The SWRCB <a href="" target="_blank">notified</a> Sugar Pine owner Scott Fahey in 2014 "that there was not sufficient water to continue diverting under his permit," and the company was again notified in April 2015. After Sugar Pine delayed making its water collection site available&nbsp;to SWRCB agents for inspection, government personnel deployed surveillance cameras on public roads around the locked site to capture images of tankers accessing the property. The cease-and-desist order says that between July 12 and August 5 of this year, 99 tanker trucks were counted accessing the water transfer station, which SWRCD staff estimated to contain about 653,400 gallons of water just in that time period.</p> <p>Sugar Pine taps into several springs joined by more than five miles of underground pipes that cross a mixture of private and state-owned land. The SWRCB complaint notes that Sugar Pine taps into water sources that drain into the Tuolumne River watershed and the Don Pedro Reservoir, sources relied on by the city of San Francisco and area farmers.</p> <p>The company has 20 days to request a hearing. If it doesn't, the state will issue a final cease-and-desist order, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 a day or referral to the attorney general. Fahey's attorney declined to comment to the Associated Press, which <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that "he anticipates a hearing before the state water board."</p> <p>California's Division of Water Rights staff is recommending a fine of $224,875 to settle the complaint.</p> <p>From our original investigation, a little more context:</p> <blockquote> <p>Ethos Water was supposed to help fix the global water crisis: Founded in 2002 in Southern California, the bottled-water company promised that for every unit it sold, it would donate a small amount of money to water charity projects in the developing world.</p> <p>The idea quickly took off. In 2005, Ethos was acquired by Starbucks. Now, for every $1.95 bottle of Ethos water it sells, Starbucks makes a 5-cent donation to the Ethos Water Fund, part of the Starbucks Foundation. "When our customers choose to buy Ethos Water, they're improving the lives of people who lack vital resources," <a href="">Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in 2008</a>.</p> <p>Some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood have lent their names to Starbucks' Ethos brand. <a href="">Matt Damon starred in an ad campaign</a>, and Starbucks partnered with a company that drives celebrities to the Oscars and filled the cars with Ethos bottles, "so Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz walked into the awards carrying Ethos Water," <a href="">as Ethos cofounder Peter Thum explained</a>. In 2011, Ethos' other cofounder, Jonathan Greenblatt, became special assistant to the president and head of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. <a href="">Obama himself lauded Greenblatt</a> last fall for his "innovative solutions to America's challenges."</p> <p>Starbucks says that its partnership with Ethos has raised more than $12.3 million for water charity projects to date.</p> <p>So far, media coverage has focused on Starbucks' goal to quench the thirst of the world's parched masses; the story behind the bottled water it sells here in the United States has been a nonissue. But now, as California's historic drought wears on, Starbucks is facing a water crisis of its own.</p> <p>The bottling plant that Starbucks uses for its Ethos customers in the western United States is located in Merced, California, which is currently ranked in the "exceptional drought" category by the <a href="">US Drought Monitor</a>. Its <a href="">residents face steep water cuts</a> in their homes, and <a href="">surface water for the region's many farms is drying up</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the full investigation <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Anna Lenzer 283391 at Here's the Conservative Playbook for Tearing Down Black Lives Matter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the wake of last Friday's <a href="" target="_blank">murder of a Harris County, Texas, police deputy</a>, Fox News pundits have <a href="" target="_blank">bent over backward</a> to find a way to connect the killing to the Black Lives Matter movement. A guest on the Fox talk show <em>The Five</em> on Monday <a href="" target="_blank">called the movement a "criminal organization,"</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">several hosts</a>, including <a href="" target="_blank">Bill O'Reilly</a>, described it as a "hate group."</p> <p>Harris County law enforcement officials have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, and suspect Shannon Miles had been <a href="" target="_blank">found mentally incompetent</a><strong> </strong>to stand trial on a felony assault charge in 2012. But that hasn't stopped Fox News from showing a <a href="" target="_blank">recent clip</a> of protesters at the Minnesota State Fair chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon," as pundits discussed the Texas killing, or from running inflammatory <a href="" target="_blank">on-screen banners</a> that read "Murder Movement" and "Black Lives Matter Taunts Cop Killings."</p> <p>But this is not a new tactic from the right. Conservatives have long attempted to discredit black social movements by casting them as criminal. In fact, the law-and-order rhetoric they've espoused since the civil rights movement was invented to do just that.</p> <p>In the 1950s, for example, Southern conservative lawmakers and law enforcement officials argued that acts of civil disobedience by black civil rights activists violated the law, and they <a href=";pg=PA59&amp;source=gbs_toc_r&amp;cad=4#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false" target="_blank">criticized support for civil rights legislation as rewarding lawbreakers</a>. Federal courts that struck down Jim Crow laws, they chided, were soft on crime.</p> <p>This rhetoric went mainstream in the late 1960s following the major civil rights victories of the decade. Richard Nixon and avowed segregationist George Wallace both ran on law-and-order platforms in the 1968 presidential election. In his speeches and <a href="" target="_blank">political ads</a>, Nixon appealed to the "non-shouters and non-demonstrators" who were "not racist" and "not guilty of the crime that plagued the land," contrasting them with protesters who had "cities up in smoke," a thinly veiled reference to the race riots of the decade. Nixon <a href=";pg=PA58&amp;lpg=PA58&amp;dq=nixon+1968+%E2%80%9Cgoing+too+far+in+weakening+the+peace+forces+against+the+criminal+forces.%E2%80%9D&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=11BAnmDQrm&amp;sig=vhqTemuuklY0Iq8YX6q6Z0wCCl4&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;sqi=2&amp;ved=0CB4Q6AEwAGoVChMIvZy2uLvbxwIVkDiICh2MMASd#v=onepage&amp;q=nixon%201968%20%E2%80%9Cgoing%20too%20far%20in%20weakening%20the%20peace%20forces%20against%20the%20criminal%20forces.%E2%80%9D&amp;f=false" target="_blank">blamed the courts</a> for "going too far in weakening the peace forces against the criminal forces." He used this coded language to appeal to racist voters at a time when overt racism was becoming less socially acceptable.</p> <p>Conservative politicians, pundits, and voters continued using this language to <a href="" target="_blank">rail against the Black Power movement</a> in the 1970s and tie organizations like the Black Panther Party to neighborhood crime and increased drug use. They <a href="" target="_blank">pointed to the ongoing race riots</a> and the increase in urban crime that accompanied the migration of black Southerners to Northern cities during that period, as evidence that the Panthers' philosophy of armed self-defense was contributing to violence and criminal activity.<strong> </strong>Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971, prior to the <a href="" target="_blank">explosion of the drug trade</a> mid-decade, in a tough-on-crime move that functioned as a crackdown on the black people and communities that were supposedly "causing" crime, and the philosophy of racial equality that had contributed to it. (And similarly coded language was <a href=";context=bjalp" target="_blank">used to justify criminal-justice policies</a> that targeted black communities and produced the nation's mass incarceration crisis in the late 1980s and 1990s.)</p> <p>Now Fox News has targeted the Black Lives Matter movement in the same way. The movement is calling for an <em>end</em> to violence, and its national voices have <a href="" target="_blank">condemned violence against the police</a> on numerous occasions.<strong> </strong>But the right insists it is to blame for murders of police officers. The number of peaceful protests dwarfs the number that have seen looting and property destruction, but conservative pundits <a href="" target="_blank">insist Black Lives Matter protesters are "thugs"</a> and that the movement's rhetoric encourages violence. Just as they sought to discredit the movement to upset the Jim Crow social order, these right-wing voices now seek to discredit the movement to upend the current system of racist policing.</p> <p>Murders of police aren't the fault of the Black Lives Matter movement. But don't expect to hear that on Fox News anytime soon.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Brandon Ellington Patterson 283261 at Protester Attacks Trump Guard's Fist With His Head; Trump to Press Charges <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_banner_trump_racist_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">At Donald Trump's ceremonial loyalty-oath signing on Thursday, a group of protesters showed up holding a big blue banner that read "Trump: Make America Racist Again." A Trump security guard took offense at this sign of insolence and ripped the banner away from them. One of the protesters then chased the guard and grabbed him, at which point the guard turned around and clocked the guy. <a href="" target="_blank">From the <em>New York Times</em>:</a> "The Trump campaign said that the security team member on Thursday was 'jumped from behind' and that the campaign would 'likely be pressing charges.'"</p> <p>The banner disappeared into Trump Tower, never to be seen again. Quite rightly, I might add. This sort of impudence from losers and lightweights will not be tolerated when Donald Trump is president. Truly he is already making America great again.</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="322" src="" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 65px;" width="500"></iframe></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 05:31:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 283411 at Sentence of the Day: Court Must Rule on Whether Court Can Rule <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From my colleague Pema Levy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Sometime in the next few months, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule on whether the legislature has the right to strip the Supreme Court of its administrative authority.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, I guess someone has to do it. You will perhaps be unsurprised to learn that this sentence refers to Kansas.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 03:10:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 283406 at Why Has Conservative Talk Radio Gone Gaga Over Donald Trump? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Roughly speaking, I think the reason Donald Trump will eventually flame out is because people will get tired of his act. This is the downside of getting lots of media attention: when you recycle the same sentence fragments over and over, people eventually figure out that you have nothing more to say. His supporters get bored. The press gets bored. The whole country gets bored. And while the endless insults might be amusing for a while, eventually even his fans will conclude that he sounds an awful lot like a fourth grader, not a president. In the end, Trump will end not with a bang, but a whimper.</p> <p>In the meantime, though, I'm a little curious about why conservative talk radio has been so consistently gaga over Trump. For example, <a href="" target="_blank">here's a little snippet <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hugh_hewitt_cnn.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">from Hugh Hewitt's show today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>HH: You know everything about building buildings. You could build the wall. I have no doubt about that....But on the front of Islamist terrorism, I&rsquo;m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?</p> <p>DT: No, you know, I&rsquo;ll tell you honestly, <strong>I think by the time we get to office, they&rsquo;ll all be changed. They&rsquo;ll be all gone.</strong> I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there&rsquo;s no reason, because number one, I&rsquo;ll find, I will hopefully find General Douglas MacArthur in the pack. <strong>I will find whoever it is that I&rsquo;ll find,</strong> and we&rsquo;ll, but they&rsquo;re all changing, Hugh.</p> <p>....HH: Now I don&rsquo;t believe in gotcha questions. And I&rsquo;m not trying to quiz you on who the worst guy in the world is.</p> <p>DT: Well, that is a gotcha question, though. I mean, you know, when you&rsquo;re asking me about who&rsquo;s running this, this this, that&rsquo;s not, that is not, <strong>I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.</strong></p> <p>....HH: Last question, I want to go back to the beginning, because I really do disagree with you on the gotcha question thing, Donald Trump. At the debate, I may bring up Nasrallah being with Hezbollah, and al-Julani being with al-Nusra, and al-Masri being with Hamas. Do you think if I ask people to talk about those three things, and the differences, that that&rsquo;s a gotcha question?</p> <p>DT: Yes, I do. I totally do. I think it&rsquo;s ridiculous....I&rsquo;ll have, <strong>I&rsquo;m a delegator. I find great people. I find absolutely great people, and I&rsquo;ll find them in our armed services, and I find absolutely great people.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Here's the thing: I don't know if obsequious is the right word to describe Hewitt's attitude, but it's close. Throughout the interview he takes considerable pains to compliment Trump on every little piece of knowledge he manages to dredge up, like a teacher complimenting a dim third-grader for remembering five times three. This is despite the fact that Trump makes it crystal clear that he's comically ignorant about practically everything that Hewitt thinks is important.</p> <p>But Hewitt is no idiot. He's a partisan warrior and a trained killer on the radio, but he's not a stupid one. He's a very smart guy.</p> <p>So why does he put up with someone like Trump? Is it just for the ratings? Does he think Trump actually might become president? Is he embarrassed by this? Or what? Inquiring minds want to know.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 04 Sep 2015 00:30:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 283401 at Maybe We'll Win the War Against HIV After All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A <a href="" target="_blank">new study</a> published Tuesday in the journal <em>Clinical Infectious Diseases </em>shows a HIV-prevention treatment may have been successful at preventing new cases of the disease.</p> <p>The regimen, which is called preexposure prophylaxix (or PrEP), involves administering antiviral medication to those at-risk for contracting HIV&mdash;stopping infections before they become permanent. This is the largest evaluation of PrEP, administered daily as a single pill called Truvada, since the Food and Drug Administration approved the drugs in 2012. Also, it's the first study done outside a clinical setting.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/iStock_000068606135_Small.jpg" style="height: 256px; width: 200px;"></div> <p>During the course of the 32-month study, researchers at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center found no new cases of infection among the 675 patients taking Truvada, most of whom were gay men considered to be at higher risk for contracting HIV.</p> <p>Critics of the drug have <a href="" target="_blank">raised concerns </a>that it will pave the way for unsafe sex&mdash;much like the accusations against early birth control users. However, health officials and gay rights advocates have <a href="" target="_blank">overwhelmingly voiced support </a>for its use, saying it may be a promising treatment for preventing the spread of HIV.</p> <p>Previous studies, conducted in a clinical setting, showed that the drug could stop 92 percent of HIV infections in those taking the pills if they are taken correctly and consistently. Truvada is currently recommended by both the <a href="" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> for at-risk groups, including drug-users, gay and bisexual men<strong> </strong>as well as anyone who has a HIV-positive partner.</p> <p>Kaiser researchers, however, <a href="" target="_blank">emphasized the treatment</a> should be used more widely, and "underscored the need for outreach to others at risk for HIV, including transgender women, heterosexual men and women, and people using injection drugs."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Fri, 04 Sep 2015 00:04:38 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 283376 at Germany Has Taken In 800,000 Refugees. Guess How Many the US Has Taken In? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Germany is set to take in <a href="" target="_blank">800,000 refugees</a>&nbsp;by the end of the year.</p> <p>America, a country that won two World Wars, went to the moon, <em>and</em> did <a href="" target="_blank">"the other things,"</a> has taken in, well, far fewer.</p> <p>Quoth <em><a href="" target="_blank">the Guardian</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>The US has admitted <a href="" target="_blank">approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees</a> since the beginning of the civil war there in 2011, mostly within the last fiscal year. Since April, the number of admitted refugees has more than doubled from <a href="" target="_blank">an estimate</a> of 700.</p> ... <p>Anna Greene, IRC&rsquo;s director of policy &amp; advocacy for US programs, said the 1,500 people the US has admitted thus far &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t even begin to scratch the surface of what is needed and what could really make a difference&rdquo;.</p> </blockquote> <p>Oxfam wants the US to up that number to 70,000 by the end of 2016.</p> <p><em>Correction: This post and its&nbsp;headline originally said that Germany planned to take in 800,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. That is incorrect. <a href="" target="_blank">It is 800,000 refugees total.&nbsp;</a></em></p></body></html> MoJo Foreign Policy Human Rights Immigration Thu, 03 Sep 2015 22:10:16 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 283386 at Rhetoric vs. Reality, Police Safety Edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the rhetoric:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Scott Walker:</a> "<strong>In the last six years under President Obama,</strong> we've seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric....[This] rhetoric has real consequences for the safety of officers who put their lives on the line for us and hampers their ability to serve the communities that need their help."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Ted Cruz:</a> "Cops across this country are feeling the assault. <strong>They're feeling the assault from the president,</strong> from the top on down....That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump:</a> "I know cities where police are afraid to even talk to people because they want to be able to retire and have their pension....And then you wonder what's wrong with our cities. <strong>We need a whole new mind-set.</strong>"</p> </blockquote> <p>And here's the reality. During the George Bush administration, police fatalities per 100 million residents averaged 58 per year (54 if you exclude 2001). During the Obama administration, that's dropped to 42.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_police_deaths.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 5px 45px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 21:45:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 283381 at Donald Trump Screws Up GOP Loyalty Pledge, Making it Extra-Meaningless <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Donald Trump pledged his fealty to the Republican Party with a <a href="" target="_blank">largely meaningless pledge</a> not to run as an independent candidate during the 2016 campaign for the White House. In doing so, it appears the billionaire presidential hopeful also affixed the wrong date to his signature:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Dear <a href="">@realDonaldTrump</a>, it's September, not August. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Benny (@bennyjohnson) <a href="">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Brilliant.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:41:02 +0000 Inae Oh 283356 at Marx and Keynes Put Economics on the Map, and They Can Take It Right Off Again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Over at PostEverything,</a> Dan Drezner wonders why economics has managed to wield such an outsized influence among the social sciences. His strongest point&mdash;or at least the one he spends the most time on&mdash;is that economists "share a strong consensus about the virtues of free markets, free trade, capital mobility and entrepreneurialism." This makes them catnip to the plutocrat class, and therefore the favored social scientists of influential people everywhere.</p> <p>Fine, <a href="" target="_blank">says Adam Ozimek,</a> but what about liberal economists? "Why is Paul Krugman famous? Robert Shiller? Joe Stiglitz? Jeff Sachs? 'To please plutocrats' is not a good theory." <a href="" target="_blank">And this:</a> "Why do liberal think tanks with liberal donors supporting liberal <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_marx_keynes.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">causes hire so many economists? To please plutocrats?"</p> <p>I think Drezner and Ozimek each make good points. Here's my amateur historical explanation that incorporates both.</p> <p>The first thing to understand is that in the 19th century, economists were no more influential than other social scientists. Folks like David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus were certainly prominent, but no more so than, say, Herbert Spencer or Max Weber. What's more, economics was a far less specialized field then. John Stuart Mill had a strong influence on economics, but was he an economist? Or a philosopher? Or a political scientist? He was all of those things.</p> <p>So what happened to make economists so singularly influential in the 20th century? I'll toss out two causes: Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.</p> <p>The fight for and against communism defined the second half of the 20th century, and Marx had always identified economics as the underpinning of his socio-historical theories. Outside of the battlefield, then, this made the most important conflict of the time fundamentally a fight over economics. In the public imagination, if not within the field itself, the fight between communism and free markets became identified as the face of economics, and this made it the most important branch of the social sciences.</p> <p>Then Keynes upped the ante. In the same spirit that Whitehead called philosophy a series of footnotes to Plato, economics in the second half of the 20th century was largely a series of footnotes to Keynes. Rightly or wrongly, he became the poster child for liberals who wanted to justify their belief in an activist government and the arch nemesis of conservatives who wanted no such thing. In the same way that communism was the biggest fight on the global stage, the fight over the size and scope of government was the biggest fight on the domestic stage. And since this was fundamentally a fight over economics, the field of economics became ground zero for domestic politics in advanced economies around the world.</p> <p>And that's why economists became so influential among both plutocrats and the lefty masses. Sure, it's partly because economists use lots of Greek letters and act like physicists, but mostly it's because that window dressing was used in service of the two most fundamental geo-socio-political conflicts of the late 20th century.</p> <p>So does that mean economics is likely to lose influence in the future? After all, free market capitalism and mixed economies are now triumphant. Compared to the 20th century, we're now arguing over relative table scraps. And, as Drezner points out, the profession of economics has hardly covered itself with glory in the opening years of the 21st century. Has their time has come and gone?</p> <p>Maybe. I mean, how should I know? Obviously there's a lot of inertia here, and economics will remain pretty important for a long time. But the biggest fights are gone and economists have an embarrassing recent track record of failure. If the rest of the social sciences want to mount an assault on the field, this would probably be a pretty good time to do it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:38:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 283361 at Kansas Republicans May Have Just Shut Down the State's Court System <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>What happens to a legal appeal when there's no court to hear it?</p> <p>That's the tricky question before Kansas Republicans today as they grapple with the results of their own law, which threatens to shutter the state court system.</p> <p>On Wednesday night, a district judge in Kansas <a href="" target="_blank">struck down</a> a 2014 law that stripped the state Supreme Court of some of its administrative powers. The ruling has set off a bizarre constitutional power struggle between the Republican-controlled legislature and the state Supreme Court. At stake is whether the Kansas court system will lose its funding and shut down.</p> <p>Last year, the Kansas legislature passed a law that took away the top court's authority to appoint chief judges to the state's 31 judicial districts&mdash;a policy change Democrats believe was retribution for an ongoing dispute over school funding between the Supreme Court and the legislature. (<em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> on the standoff this spring.) When the legislature passed a two-year budget for the court system earlier this year, it inserted a clause stipulating that if a court ever struck down the 2014 administrative powers law, funding for the entire court system would be "null and void." Last night, that's what the judge did.</p> <p>Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt <a href="" target="_blank">warned</a> that last night's decision &ldquo;could effectively and immediately shut off all funding for the judicial branch.&rdquo; That would lead to chaos. As Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney for the Kansas judge who brought the legal challenge against the administrative law, put it, &ldquo;Without funding, our state courts would close, criminal cases would not be prosecuted, civil matters would be put on hold, real estate could not be bought or sold, adoptions could not be completed."</p> <p>Both parties in the case have agreed to ask that Wednesday's ruling remain on hold until it can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so that there is a functioning court to hear the appeal. On Thursday, a judge <a href="" target="_blank">granted</a> the stay. Meanwhile, lawyers involved in the case and advocates for judicial independence are preparing a legal challenge to the clause of the judicial budget that withholds court funding. Sometime in the next few months, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule on whether the legislature has the right to strip the Supreme Court of its administrative authority, and whether it can make funding for the courts contingent on the outcome of a court case.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have never seen a law like this before,"&nbsp;Randolph Sherman, a lawyer involved in fighting the administrative law, said in a statement, referring to the self-destruct mechanism in the judicial budget. "[I]t is imperative that we stop it before it throws the state into a constitutional crisis.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>This story has been updated.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:42:03 +0000 Pema Levy 283326 at Florida Governor Refuses to Admit That His Own Investigators Have Cleared Planned Parenthood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Good news! Florida regulators have finished their investigation of Planned Parenthood and concluded that there were no problems with the group's handling of fetal tissue. But you might not know that if you read their press release about the investigation. It turns out that Florida Gov. Rick Scott <a href="" target="_blank">preferred to keep this under wraps:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Emails between the governor&rsquo;s office and AHCA, obtained by POLITICO Florida through a public records request, show the agency prepared a press release that same day noting that <strong>&ldquo;there is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><strong>Scott's office revised the release to exclude that sentence,</strong> an email sent by Scott&rsquo;s communications director, Jackie Schutz, shows. Additionally, the revised release noted the AHCA would refer physicians who worked at the clinics to the Board of Medicine for possible disciplinary action.</p> </blockquote> <p>Kinda reminds you of a half-bright middle schooler who thinks he has a genius idea, doesn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:08:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 283331 at Republicans Shot Themselves in the Foot Over Iran <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Why did Republicans <a href="" target="_blank">fail to kill the Iran nuclear deal?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Opponents of the deal may have miscalculated the degree of public interest in the debate. They hoped for the kind of outpouring of public anger that gave rise to the tea party and nearly doomed Obamacare in August 2010. <strong>But the Iran deal &ldquo;just hasn&rsquo;t had that kind of galvanizing effect&rdquo; on the public, said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), who backs the agreement.</strong></p> <p>....A Republican invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address both houses of Congress in March appears to have backfired. His harsh denunciation of the negotiations then underway, which the White House portrayed as a snub of Obama&rsquo;s foreign policy, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_iran_nuclear_deal.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">made the debate more polarizing and partisan, pushing Democrats to the president&rsquo;s side.</p> <p><strong>Another factor, said one frustrated Republican on Capitol Hill: &ldquo;Trump happened.&rdquo;</strong> The GOP leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the setback, said billionaire Donald Trump&rsquo;s attention-grabbing presidential campaign, along with scrutiny of Hillary Rodham Clinton&rsquo;s email server, overshadowed all other issues this summer, making it harder for the Republicans&rsquo; message to attract attention.</p> <p>....Democrats have felt free to back the deal in part because they heard from many in the American Jewish community who split from the more hawkish AIPAC....The dozen or so Democratic opponents in Congress come mainly from parts of New York, New Jersey and Florida with large politically conservative Jewish populations. <strong>But the opponents failed to mount a serious effort to persuade other lawmakers to buck the White House.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>First things first: don't blame this on Donald Trump. He's been scathing about the deal, and has probably drawn more attention to it than all the AIPAC-funded ads put together. As for Hillary Clinton's email woes, it would please me no end if Republicans had shot themselves in the foot by focusing the fever swamps on that and leaving no room for outrage about Iran. But I doubt it. There's always stuff going on. Nobody ever fights a political battle in a pristine environment. There was plenty of room for Iran outrage.</p> <p>As it happens, though, I think Republicans <em>did</em> shoot themselves in the foot, but in a different way. Ever since 2009, their political strategy has been relentless and one-dimensional: oppose everything President Obama supports, instantly and unanimously. They certainly followed this playbook on Iran. Republicans were slamming the deal before the text was even released, and virtually none of them even pretended to be interested in the merits of the final agreement. Instead, they formed a united, knee-jerk front against the deal practically before the ink was dry.</p> <p>This did two things. First, it made them look unserious. From the beginning, the whole point of the economic sanctions against Iran was to use them as leverage to pressure the Iranian leadership to approve a nuclear deal. But by opposing it so quickly&mdash;based on an obviously specious desire for a "better deal" that they were never willing to spell out&mdash;Republicans made it clear that they opposed any agreement that lifted the sanctions. In other words, they opposed any agreement, period.</p> <p>Second, by forming so quickly, the Republican wall of opposition turned the Iran agreement into an obviously partisan matter. Once they did that, they made it much harder for Democrats to oppose a president of their own party. A more deliberate approach almost certainly would have helped them pick up more Democratic votes.</p> <p>All that said, keep in mind that Democrats only needed 34 senators <em>or</em> 145 House members to guarantee passage. That's not a high bar for a historic deal backed by a Democratic president. In other words, it's quite possible that Republicans actually did nothing wrong. They simply never had a chance in the first place.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:06:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 283311 at Anchor Babies Exist, But Probably Not Very Many of Them <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Do "anchor babies" exist? Or are they just a pernicious myth invented by the anti-immigration right? The <em>LA Times</em> sent reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske to Rio Grande City in Texas to <a href="" target="_blank">check things out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In this county in the heart of the impoverished Rio Grande Valley, so-called anchor babies have been delivered for decades, some to women who have already settled in Texas, others to those who crossed the river expressly to give birth on U.S. soil. "About six months ago I got one who was literally still wet from the river," [Dr. Rolando] Guerrero said.</p> <p>....Just how many Mexican mothers come to give birth to the babies and the cost of caring for them are unclear. <strong>"They do come on purpose," said Thalia Munoz, chief executive of Starr County Memorial.</strong> "We have to absorb the costs....It's a persistent problem. It's a fact: They come over here for the anchor baby, they come over for the benefits."</p> <p>....The doctors said they saw fewer women coming to have babies after Texas officials ordered a surge of law enforcement and National Guard troops to the border last summer in response to an influx of Central American immigrants....<strong>But since then, "slowly, it's been going back up," Guerrero said.</strong></p> <p>....At Starr County Memorial, <strong>most of the mothers the doctors see do not cross intentionally to give birth,</strong> they said &mdash; they were already living on the U.S. side of the border with families of mixed status. "I have families where I've delivered three or four" U.S.-born babies, Guerrero said.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's unlikely that we'll ever get a firm handle on how common this phenomenon is. But if the evidence of this story is typical, we can say that (a) anchor babies certainly exist, but (b) probably not in very large numbers. That's not likely to satisfy anyone, but sometimes life is like that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:07:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 283306 at Why Do High Schools Erase All the Test Score Gains of the Past 40 Years? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>SAT scores have been dropping slowly but steadily <a href="" target="_blank">for the past decade:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. <strong>The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven&rsquo;t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say.</strong> That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Why is education reform hitting a wall in high school?&rdquo;</strong> asked Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank. &ldquo;You see this in all kinds of evidence. Kids don&rsquo;t make a whole lot of gains once they&rsquo;re in high school. It certainly should raise an alarm.&rdquo;</p> <p>It is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline in SAT scores, but educators cite a host of enduring challenges in the quest to lift high school achievement. Among them are <strong>poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills</strong> that plague many urban neighborhoods.</p> </blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_9_year_17_year_test_scores_0.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I'm delighted to see an education story that acknowledges <a href="" target="_blank">the plain evidence of test score gains,</a> even if just in an aside. The simple fact is that through middle school, standardized test scores have risen significantly over both the past decade and the past four decades. Elementary and middle school test scores have <em>not</em> been either stagnant or dropping, but based on the usual reporting of this stuff, I doubt that one person in a hundred is aware of this.</p> <p>But I'm also happy to see the flip side of this acknowledged: in general, all these gains wash away in high school. On the "gold standard" NAEP test, math scores have gone up just a few points among 17 year olds and reading scores have been flat. The usual explanation is that education reforms have initially been centered on elementary and middle schools, and scores will go up for older kids once those reforms start to become widespread in high schools.</p> <p>Maybe. But that excuse is starting to look old in the tooth. And even if high schools haven't seen a lot of reforms yet, why is it that they seem to have a <em>negative</em> effect on student performance? If math scores were up, say, ten points by the end of middle school and remained ten points up by the end of high school, that would be one thing. High schools wouldn't be adding anything, but they wouldn't be doing any harm either. But that's not the case. Kids come out of middle school better prepared today, but come out of high school no better than they did in 1971. High school is actually <em>erasing</em> gains.</p> <p>This is, needless to say, troubling. Poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills are problems at all ages, so that explains little. Nor does disaggregating scores by race, since demographic changes have been similar at all age levels. But the plain truth is that the only thing that really matters is how well prepared kids are when they finish high school. All the test score gains in the world mean nothing if they're gone by age 17. This is something we really need to figure out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:22:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 283301 at Kentucky Clerk Held in Contempt of Court for Refusing to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update (9/3/2015, 1:09 p.m. EST):</strong> A federal judge has found Kim Davis in contempt of court. She has been taken into federal custody.</em></p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Judge sends Rowan Clerk <a href="">#KimDavis</a> to jail until she agrees to comply with his order to issue marriage licenses.</p> &mdash; heraldleader (@heraldleader) <a href="">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p><em>Explaining his decision, US District Judge David Bunning told Davis, "You don&rsquo;t strike me as someone who's contentious. I simply [find that] making this contempt finding is necessary."</em></p> <p><em>"Oaths means things," he added, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Guardian</a>. Davis will be released if she agrees to comply with the judge's order to issue marriage licenses. "The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order," the judge <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">said</a>.</em></p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Judge Bunning said that he wasn't convinced fines would have compelled Rowan County clerk Kim Davis comply with order to issue licenses</p> &mdash; Ryland Barton (@RylandKY) <a href="">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Kim Davis, the <a href="" target="_blank">defiant Rowan county clerk</a> who cited "God's authority" for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, appeared in court Thursday in Kentucky. Groups both supporting and opposing Davis held dueling, boisterous rallies in front of throngs of journalists outside the courthouse. US District Judge David Bunning heard a motion from lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union Davis arguing Davis should be held in <a href="" target="_blank">contempt of court</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The appearance came amid Davis's ongoing failure to comply with the Supreme Court's landmark ruling that invalidated gay marriage bans nationwide. Since the decision in June, Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses <a href="http://" target="_blank">to both straight and same-sex couples</a>. Despite the Supreme Court denial of her emergency application requesting a delay on Monday, Davis continued to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, creating testy scenes inside and outside the clerk's office, and drawing national attention.</p> <p>The showdown in Kentucky, the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has returned to the Supreme Court since June, has become a lightening rod for gay marriage opponents who argue that Davis' religious beliefs should allow her to defy the constitutional mandate. Both legal experts and same-sex marriage supporters say she has no legal standing.</p> <p>The scene on Thursday:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Supporters of KY Clerk Kim Davis are demonstrating outside federal courthouse in Ashland for 11am contempt hearing. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) <a href="">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>"The ACLU has asked she&nbsp;be fined in an amount sufficient to compel her compliance to the court's ruling," Ria Tabacco Mar, an ACLU attorney, <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Newsweek</em>.</a> "No one wants Kim Davis to go to jail, we just want her to follow the law and do her job."</p> <p><em>This is a breaking news post, and we'll update with more information as it becomes available.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Supreme Court Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:56:33 +0000 Inae Oh 283296 at Chart of the Day: The Future of Health Care Costs Looks Surprisingly Rosy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You've seen various versions of this chart from me before, but perhaps you'd like to see it from a pair of highly-qualified researchers rather than some shorts-clad blogger? Not a problem. <a href="" target="_blank">A recent paper</a> out of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC shows that the annual increase in health care costs has been dropping steadily for more than 30 years. The green arrow shows the trendline.</p> <p>Obviously this won't go on forever. But once again, it shows that the recent slowdown in health care costs isn't just an artifact of the Great Recession. That probably helped, but the downward trend far predates the recession. Bottom line: there will still be spikes and valleys in the future, but there's every reason to think that the general trend of health care costs over the next few decades will be either zero (i.e., equal to overall inflation) or pretty close to it.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_healthcare_annual_increase_1960_2015.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 01:25:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 283291 at