Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/09/crss/node/politics/2009/09/.http%3A/www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/08/veteran-suicides http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Combined Black Workforces of Google, Facebook, and Twitter Could Fit on a Single Jumbo Jet http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/black-workers-google-facebook-twitter-silicon-valley-diversity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We already knew that Google, Facebook, and Twitter <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/05/google-diversity-labor-gender-race-gap-workers-silicon-valley" target="_blank">employed relatively few African Americans</a>, but new details show that the gap is truly striking. All three companies have in recent weeks disclosed their full <a href="http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/" target="_blank">EEO1 reports</a>, detailed accounts of their employees' race and gender demographics that the law requires them to submit to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The reports show that out of a combined 41,000 Twitter, Facebook, and Google employees, only 508, or 1.2 percent, are black. To put this in perspective, all of those workers could fit onto a single Airbus A380. Have a look:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="225" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/NLTAD/1/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe>African Americans comprise 13 percent of the overall workforce, which means they are underrepresented at Google, Facebook, and Twitter by a factor of 10. Here's a visual comparison of the black employees&hellip;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/single-airplane.gif"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>versus all other employees:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/lots-of-airplanes.gif"></div> <p>Race and gender gaps in tech hiring have been hot-button issues as of late. Since last May, when Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up at Google's shareholder meeting, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tech-industry-diversity-jesse-jackson" target="_blank">he has won some serious diversity concessions from major tech companies</a>&mdash;but the pace of minority hiring remains slow. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/01/facebook-diversity-black-employees" target="_blank">As the <em>Guardian</em> noted yesterday</a>, Facebook hired 1,216 new people last year, and only 36 were black. Since last year, the percentage of black Google workers <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/google-diversity-statistics-barely-impoved" target="_blank">has not changed</a>.</p> <p>It should be easier to shift workplace demographics at smaller companies. Twitter, with fewer than 3,000 employees, has a huge black user base that is sometimes referred to as "<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blacktwitter" target="_blank">Black Twitter</a>." Jackson wants the company to do more to move the needle. "I am very disappointed," he told <em>the Guardian</em>. "We are becoming intolerant with these numbers. There's a big gap between their talk and their implementation."</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Race and Ethnicity Tech Top Stories Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:41 +0000 Josh Harkinson 278916 at http://www.motherjones.com America's BBQ Grills Create as Much Carbon as a Big Coal Plant http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/your-grills-smoky-truth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As your neighbors fire up their barbecues this Independence Day, the most popular day in America to grill, they won't just send the scent of tri-tip or grilled corn over the fence in your direction&mdash;they'll also send smoke. As my colleague Kiera Butler wrote about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/09/bbq-econundrum-charcoal-or-gas" target="_blank">here</a>, even the "cleanest" gas grills emit pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every hour they're used. So how many emissions can we expect from dinner barbecues on the 4th?</p> <p>Roughly eighty percent of American households own barbecues or smokers, <a href="http://www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/grilling-facts-and-figures" target="_blank">according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association</a>. Let's say all 92.5 million of them decide to grill on Saturday. A 2013 study by HPBA found that 61 percent of users opted for gas grills, 42 percent for charcoal, and 10 percent for electric (some respondents had multiple grills). If that reflected all households across the United States, and each household used <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ObVH5sYMCh8J:web.ornl.gov/ornlhome/print/press_release_print.cfm%3FReleaseNumber%3Dmr20030703-00+&amp;cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">its grill for an hour</a> on the 4th of July, then we'd get a calculation like this:</p> <p>(56.425M gas grills*5.6 pounds of CO2) + (38.85M charcoal grills*11 pounds CO2) + (9.25M electric grills*15 pounds CO2 ) = <strong>882 million pounds of CO2</strong></p> <p>That's <a href="http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html" target="_blank">roughly as many</a> emissions as burning 2145 railcars of coal, or running one coal-fired power plant for a month.</p> <p>But let's be honest&mdash;no one wants to give up summer grilling, and these emissions stats probably won't convince your neighbor to turn off the barbecue. You might instead offer up ideas on recipes with ingredients that are friendlier to the planet&mdash;like these <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/veggie-burger-recipe-vegan-gluten-free-barley-beet-mushroom-falafel" target="_blank">4 veggie burgers that don't suck</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Food and Ag Science Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:48:53 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278911 at http://www.motherjones.com My $500 Pill Revealed http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/my-500-pill-revealed <!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_revlimid.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Have you ever wondered what a $500 pill looks like? Well, here's your answer: it looks like pretty much any other pill.</p> <p>Anyway, I'm supposed to take this for 21 days, then a week off, then another 21 days, etc. This will last a few months before we know if it's working. If it does work, then I'll be taking it forever (I think). So that's $126,000 per year to keep Kevin alive. Of course, I pay only a fraction of that thanks to having excellent health insurance, and I'm sure that even Kaiser pays nowhere near that list price. Maybe half that, or a third. Still, pretty expensive!</p> <p>Luckily I'm not on Obamacare. From what I hear, my case would have gone straight to a death panel, which almost certainly would have decided that my societal worth didn't measure up to the cost of the treatment. And who could argue? I mean, blogging? Seriously?</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I forgot to mention something in my previous health update: I feel great. Not 100 percent, mind you, but pretty good. My stomach is in fine fettle (in fact, I'm overeating these days), I'm sleeping well, and my energy level has recovered almost to normal. The long-term prognosis for the multiple myeloma is obviously still uncertain, and that's an unhappy thing, but in the meantime at least I feel good for the first time in eight months!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:03:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 278951 at http://www.motherjones.com Sorry, Obama. The Founding Fathers Loved Peas http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/actually-jefferson-was-obsessed-peas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, after the <em>New York Times </em><a href="https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/616303020574441472" target="_blank">proposed</a> adding peas to guacamole (what's next, <a href="https://twitter.com/daudig/status/616353502525325317" target="_blank">mayonnaise</a>?), President Barack Obama <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/read-the-bill-president-guacamole" target="_blank">announced</a> that the proper way to make guacamole is with avocado, onions, garlic, and hot pepper. It wasn't the first time the leader of the free world had disparaged peas. In 2011, when Congress stalled on raising the debt ceiling, he announced that it was time for all parties involved to "<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-time-to-eat-our-peas-and-pass-debt-deal/" target="_blank">eat our peas</a>"&mdash;swallow the tough pill, if you will.</p> <p>But Obama's anti-pea polemic, published just days before the Fourth of July, puts him at odds with an important group of Americans&mdash;the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers loved peas.</p> <p>Thomas Jefferson's favorite vegetable, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, was the English pea. He cultivated <a href="https://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/thomas-jeffersons-favorite-vegetables" target="_blank">19 different kinds of peas</a> in the Monticello vegetable garden, including 15 kinds of English peas. Among them were Marrowfat, Hotspur, Blue Prussian, and Early Frame. (Jefferson even <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/02/thomas-jefferson-hour-clay-jenkinson" target="_blank">spoke with <em>Mother Jones</em></a> about his peas in February.) Letters to his daughter, Mary, often made <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=iOHNKGJGo94C&amp;pg=PA119&amp;dq=%22Thomas+Jefferson%22+peas&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=H4uUVdTpHcXk-QGr85XgCw&amp;ved=0CCoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">reference</a> to the status of the peas. Here he is discussing peas in a letter to George Washington:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-07-01%20at%209.02.04%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Peas. </strong><a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=4ncEAAAAYAAJ&amp;dq=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;pg=PA7#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">Observations on the writings of Thomas Jefferson</a>/Google Books</div> </div> <p>Peas weren't just sustenance for Jefferson. They were a way of life; every year he would hold a contest with his neighbor to see whose peas would sprout first. Per the Monticello <a href="http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/fun-fact-peas" target="_blank">website</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Though Jefferson's mountaintop garden, with its southern exposure to warmth and light, should have provided an advantage for the contest, it seems that the contest was almost always won by a neighbor named George Divers.</p> <p>As Jefferson's grandson recalled: "A wealthy neighbor [Divers], without children, and fond of horticulture, generally triumphed. Mr. Jefferson, on one occasion had them first, and when his family reminded him that it was his right to invite the company, he replied, 'No, say nothing about it, it will be more agreeable to our friend to think that he never fails.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Divers, that clever knave! There's even a children's book, <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=VHXAAgAAQBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=%22Thomas+jefferson%22+peas&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=EI-UVfjNKIms-QGasYDYBg&amp;ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA" target="_blank"><em>First Peas to the Table</em></a>, inspired by Jefferson's fruitless obsession with winning at peas.</p> <p>Jefferson's friends in government got in on the action too. At his prodding, George Washington attempted to plant English peas at Mount Vernon, with&nbsp; mixed results. But Washington loved peas so much that when a bunch Tories attempted to kill him, they did so by <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=-yWdztzYJF4C&amp;lpg=PA39&amp;dq=%22George%20Washington%22%20peas&amp;pg=PA39#v=onepage&amp;q=%22George%20Washington%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">poisoning</a> a dish of his favorite food&mdash;peas. Wise to the plot, a 13-year-old girl fed them to his chickens first as a precautionary measure. (Or at least, that's the legend. It's probably <a href="http://articles.mcall.com/2001-11-11/entertainment/3382677_1_assassination-attempt-skin-color-poison" target="_blank">apocryphal</a>.)</p> <p>The point is, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington loved peas. If avocados had even been around when they were president, they would have made pea guacamole. And they would have loved that, too. Pea hold these shoots to be self-evident.</p></body></html> MoJo Food and Ag Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:31:44 +0000 Tim Murphy 278921 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece vs. Germany: Behind a Veil of Morality vs. Technocracy, the Germans are Winning the War of the Narrative http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greece-vs-germany-behind-veil-technocracy-germans-are-winning-war-narrative <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just a quick note on Greece. Although I've often written at greater length on the Greek crisis, in shorter posts I often sound as If I blame the whole thing on Germany. That's shorthand, though, and fairly sloppy shorthand.</p> <p>Here's the thing: Greece bears plenty of blame in this whole debacle. They borrowed way too much when their economy was booming; they refused to modernize their infamously sloppy tax collection, especially toward the rich; they lied through their teeth about their finances for years; and governments of both right and left <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_greece_germany.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">have doggedly supported an insanely bloated public sector that would make even a Russian blush.</p> <p>On the German (i.e., Northern European) side of things, the story of blame is a little more....technocratic. Banks made bets on interest rate convergences between north and south when the euro was introduced. This paid off, and for years they happily shoveled money into Greece at great profit. Greece's economy overheated, but the ECB kept monetary policy loose because that benefited Germany twice over: first by providing Germans with a good place to invest their money and second by providing Greeks with enough money to import German goods. Eventually, this hot money flow produced inflation, but monetary policy stayed loose anyway because the German economy was kind of sluggish at the time and needed the boost. Inevitably, this produced a capital account surplus in Greece and therefore a current account deficit. When the Great Recession hit, everything went to hell. Due to the hot money flows, Greek banks had become dependent on wholesale funding, and when that suddenly dried up a banking crisis got added to the rest of the mix. It's been downhill ever since.</p> <p>Now: read those two paragraphs carefully. It's plain there's fault on both sides. But the fault of the Greek side is easy to understand and easy to put in moralistic terms. They lived high, they lied about their finances, and they coddled their government workers. It's easy to paint the Greeks as irresponsible wastrels who are just getting what they deserve.</p> <p>The German side is quite different. Be honest: did you even understand it? It's all very technocratic, almost hydraulic in nature. Investors made bets on some derivatives; centralized monetary policy was not ideal for Greece; hot money flows inevitably produced current account deficits; and when the Great Recession cratered the economy it all turned into a full-blown banking and debt crisis. This is all very recondite. Sure, maybe it was Germany's fault, but in an abstract, bureaucratic way. It's a lot harder to see bad personal behavior here.</p> <p>I'm not alone in thinking that once you dig into things, German behavior has been quite a bit worse than Greek behavior. But it's hard to make this case in a way that makes much sense emotionally. What most people see is a highly intricate and technocratic system on one side and a bunch of reckless, happy-go-lucky Greeks on the other side. So who are you going to blame?</p> <p>We humans are attracted to human stories, so the answer is the Greeks, of course. They hired the money, didn't they? The fact that they were stuck in a monetary web designed by Germans that was almost guaranteed to produce disaster&mdash;well, maybe that's true and maybe it's not, but it all sounds like a bunch of blah blah blah. What did you say an ECB refi rate was again?</p> <p>So: reckless people vs. a complex financial system that a few eggheads say was rigged. Which story do you think is going to win?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:31:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 278946 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in June (Sucks, Sucks, Sucks) http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/chart-day-net-new-jobs-june-sucks-sucks-sucks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm" target="_blank">added 223,000 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 133,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this isn't the mediocre news it looks like. It was all bad news. Essentially the entire decrease in the unemployment rate was due to 432,000 people leaving the labor force, reversing an increase of 397,000 last month. Because of this, the labor force participation ratio declined by 0.3 percentage points to 62.6 percent, the lowest number in recent history.</p> <p>Oh, and we had downward revisions of 60,000 jobs in April and May. And hourly wage growth of production and nonsupervisory workers was up by a measly 2 cents, a nominal increase of 0.1 percent. Adjusted for inflation, that's a decrease of about 0.3 percent.</p> <p>I don't know how to dress this up. The net number of new jobs was OK, if not spectacular, but the rest of the report is just dismal. The number of people actually employed dropped by 56,000, labor force participation has tanked, and real wage growth was negative. If anyone else can put lipstick on this pig, they're welcome to try. It looks pretty gruesome to me. The only good news I can take out of it is that this is only a single month's data, which jumps around quite a bit. Maybe next month will be better.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_june_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 20px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:12:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 278931 at http://www.motherjones.com Wow, That's a Yooge Crowd to See Bernie Sanders http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/bernie-sanders-crowd <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a "political revolution" at a campaign rally at <span class="st">Veterans Memorial Coliseum in </span>Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday night, and just a few people showed up:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">With Bernie Sanders about to come on in Madison, the arena is more or less full. <a href="http://t.co/TXMV7Agtfz">pic.twitter.com/TXMV7Agtfz</a></p> &mdash; Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) <a href="https://twitter.com/danmericaCNN/status/616398284349947904">July 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Another view of the crowd for <a href="https://twitter.com/BernieSanders">@BernieSanders</a>. <a href="http://t.co/e0Oyf63pzs">pic.twitter.com/e0Oyf63pzs</a></p> &mdash; Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) <a href="https://twitter.com/aseitzwald/status/616432125223530496">July 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sanders' campaign estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people, the largest rally by any candidate during the 2016 campaign. Granted, it's not even 2016 yet, but Sanders has continued to draw massive crowds everywhere he has gone (5,000 people in Denver; 300 people in an Iowa town of 240). It's not necessarily a barometer for public support&mdash;Hillary Clinton still holds a comfortable lead in national polls&mdash;but it does show that his popularity stems from something much deeper than just good name recognition.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections bernie sanders Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:29:18 +0000 Tim Murphy 278926 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Just Gave the World the Perfect Guacamole Recipe http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/read-the-bill-president-guacamole <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The internet freaked out this afternoon after the <a href="https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/616303020574441472" target="_blank"><em>NYT</em> suggested we put peas in our guacamole</a>. What is this, Soviet Russia?</p> <p>Then <em>IJR</em>'s <a href="https://twitter.com/JGreenDC/status/616311940957253632" target="_blank">Justin Green</a> tweeted at President Obummer about it and he answered!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic. <a href="https://t.co/MEEI8QHH1V">https://t.co/MEEI8QHH1V</a></p> &mdash; President Obama (@POTUS) <a href="https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/616338528138608640">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Obama is right. Peas in guacamole is disgusting.</p></body></html> MoJo Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:09:22 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 278901 at http://www.motherjones.com Finally, a Little Good News on the California Drought Front http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/finally-little-good-news-california-drought-front <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Finally, some good news on the California drought beat: Californians reduced their residential water usage in May by a whopping 29 percent compared to the same month in 2013, according to a <a href="http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2015/pr070115_may_conservation.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released today by the State Water Resources Control Board. That's the steepest drop in more than a year.</p> <p>Californians may have been inspired to reduce their water use by the mandatory, statewide municipal water cut of 25 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/breaking-first-time-california-enforcing-water-restrictions" target="_blank">announced</a> in April, though those cuts didn't go into effect until June. (Those 25 percent reductions did not apply to agriculture, which uses an estimated 80 percent of the state's water, though some <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/05/breaking-california-cutting-water-to-farms" target="_blank">farmers</a> have faced curtailments.)</p> <p>"The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought," said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus in a press release. "That said, we need all Californians to step up&mdash;and keep it up&mdash;as if we don&rsquo;t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don't."</p> <p>In May, California residents used 87.5 gallons per capita per day&mdash;three gallons per day less than the previous month. Big cities that showed the most dramatic cuts include Folsom, Fresno, and San Jose. But water use by area varies drastically, with places known for green lawns and gardens, like Coachella and Malibu, using more than 200 gallons per person per day. Outdoor water usage is estimated to account for about half of overall residential use.</p> <p>Officials are cautiously optimistic. Board spokesman George Kostyrko says Californians "did great in May and we are asking them to keep doing what they are doing and work even harder to conserve water during these critical summer months and beyond."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:47:04 +0000 Julia Lurie 278896 at http://www.motherjones.com Justice Department Investigating Whether Airlines Work Together to Keep Prices High http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/07/justice-department-airlines-high-prices <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Justice Department is looking into whether airlines are cooperating to deliberately "work at a slower pace" in order to keep airline prices high, the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fbe53033dd424612974b0c0f8c19910e/justice-department-investigating-potential-airline" target="_blank"><em>Associated Press</em></a> reports on Wednesday.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Document shows Justice Dept investigating whether airlines are colluding to keep airfares high.</p> &mdash; The Associated Press (@AP) <a href="https://twitter.com/AP/status/616303415757553664">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>A department spokesperson confirmed the investigation but declined to list which airlines were subject to the probe. The potential "unlawful coordination" orchestrated by major airlines comes amid <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/22/the-cartel-that-makes-sure-airplane-tickets-never-get-cheaper.html" target="_blank">questions</a> of why airline ticket prices have remained high despite plummeting oil prices and more fuel efficient aircrafts.</p> <p>Following news of the probe on Wednesday, all U.S. airline <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-01/u-s-airline-stocks-fall-as-antitrust-probe-report-erases-rally" target="_blank">stock prices</a> took a dive.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:58:35 +0000 Inae Oh 278876 at http://www.motherjones.com There's More to Kumbaya Than Just Getting Liberals and Conservatives to Agree http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/theres-more-kumbaya-just-getting-liberals-and-conservatives-agree <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tim Lee lists four pro-growth policy reforms that he thinks <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/7/1/8858745/boost-economic-growth-cato" target="_blank">liberals and conservatives can agree on:</a></p> <ol><li>Let developers in coastal cities build more</li> <li>Boost high-skilled immigration</li> <li>Reform copyright and patent laws</li> <li>Liberalize occupational licensing rules</li> </ol><p>In theory, I suppose these could be areas of bipartisan agreement. But without throwing too much sand in the gears just to make a nuisance of myself, we should take a look at why all four of these things are so firmly going nowhere even though liberals and conservatives allegedly hold common cause on them. Here we go:</p> <ol><li><strong>Coastal cities.</strong> The problem here is that this is a pretty low priority for both liberals and conservatives. They just don't care that much, and they certainly don't care enough to fight the nonpartisan power bloc that unfailingly&mdash;and rabidly&mdash;opposes this: current residents of coastal cities. This is mainly a local issue, not a state or federal issue, and the fastest way for any local pol in LA or San Francisco to get tossed out of office is to propose lots of new high-rise residential buildings that will (allegedly) bring tons of traffic and crime into the community, and probably drive down current property values. So the game just isn't worth the candle. Plus, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_agenda_21_conspiracy.png" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">conservatives have to watch out for the tea-party crazies who think high-rises are part of an Agenda 21 plot from the UN to make us all live like rabbits in government-controlled urban warrens. Or something.</li> <li><strong>High-skill immigration.</strong> There <em>are</em> people who oppose this&mdash;primarily high-skill citizens who don't really want lots of new competition&mdash;but that's not the big problem. Mainly this is a political football. Sure, liberals and conservatives agree on this particular part of immigration reform. But liberals don't want to <em>unilaterally</em> agree to it. They want it to be one of the bargaining chips for broader immigration reform. After all, if they preemptively agree to all the stuff conservatives already support, they have no leverage for eventually negotiating a comprehensive bill that includes some stuff conservatives don't support. So for the time being, it's being held hostage and that shows no signs of changing soon.</li> <li><strong>Copyright and patent.</strong> I dunno. For a policy that liberals and conservatives allegedly agree about, we sure haven't seen much action on it. Quite the contrary, in fact. Most Republicans and about a third of Democrats just approved fast-track status for the TPP treaty, which, among other things, enshrines American-style copyright and patent law on everyone who's part of the treaty. Once that's in place, we couldn't change our laws in any meaningful way even if we wanted to. And frankly, I've seen very little evidence that either Republicans or business-oriented Democrats really want to. They're too interested in currying favor with IP owners to bother with an issue that will win them virtually no votes from anyone on Election Day.</li> <li><strong>Occupational licensing rules.</strong> This one, finally, is a bit of a mystery to me. I agree that it's not an inherently partisan issue, but in a way, that's the problem. It's also not a hot-button issue, which means neither party is really willing to fight back against it. On the other hand, taxidermists, animal trainers, bartenders, funeral attendants, and so forth <em>are</em> willing to fight for it since it restricts entry and raises wages in their profession.</li> </ol><p>There's a common theme to all four of these issues: there are special interests who care a lot about them, but no real benefit for working politicians to reach across the aisle and fight back. In theory, they might have similar attitudes on these four items, but why bother doing anything about it? No one is jamming their phone lines about this stuff and no one is voting for or against them based on their positions. If activists want action on this kind of googoo stuff, they have to figure out a way to make the public care. Once they do that, they'll have at least a fighting chance of getting politicians to care too. Until then, don't get your hopes up.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:44:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 278881 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece Is Just a Few Days Away From Unconditional Surrender to Germany http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greece-just-few-days-away-unconditional-surrender-germany <!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/images/Blog_Greece_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Apparently the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/02/business/international/greece-bailout-tsipras.html" target="_blank">Greek prime minister is blinking:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In a letter sent on Tuesday to the creditors &mdash; the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other eurozone countries &mdash; Mr. Tsipras said Greece was &ldquo;prepared to accept&rdquo; a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention: pension cuts and tax increases. In the letter, released publicly on Wednesday, Mr. Tsipras linked Greece&rsquo;s acceptance of the terms to a new package of bailout aid that would need to be negotiated.</p> <p>The development initially raised the prospect of progress in resolving a financial crisis that has sent shudders through global markets and deeply strained European unity. President Fran&ccedil;ois Hollande of France called for talks in the hopes of getting a deal by the weekend, saying, according to Agence-France Presse: &ldquo;We need to be clear. The time for a deal is now.&rdquo;</p> <p>But other European leaders, fed up with Mr. Tsipras and in no mood for quick compromise, dashed any hopes of an immediate breakthrough.</p> <p><strong>Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany responded by repeating her position that there should be no further negotiations until Greece holds the referendum on Sunday.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, Merkel is not even willing to grant Tsipras a few meaningless face-saving concessions. Why? I think Merkel believes she now holds all the cards and has no reason to make any concessions at all, no matter how small. And I suspect she's right. In the end, the Greek public will be unwilling to back Tsipras in Sunday's referendum and will vote to accept the European deal as is. The potential catastrophe of default and leaving the euro is just too scary for most of them to contemplate.</p> <p>So Tsipras will be out and Europe will effectively have total control of Greek finances. After six months of cage rattling, the Greek revolt will be over and future governments will simply have to accept whatever pain Merkel wants to deal out. At that point, with Tsipras gone, it's actually possible she'll agree to a few concessions here and there. Policy issues aside, there's little doubt that Merkel's personal contempt for Tsipras has done a lot to cement her hard line toward Greece.</p> <p>So that's my prediction. Unless Tsipras caves completely beforehand, the referendum will be held on Sunday and Greeks will vote to stay in the euro and accept Germany's terms. It will basically be an unconditional surrender.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:24:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 278866 at http://www.motherjones.com Santorum Holding Onto Debate Stage By His Fingernails in Latest CNN Poll http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/santorum-holding-debate-stage-his-fingernails-latest-cnn-poll <!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_poll_republican_candidates_june_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Fox News will be sponsoring the first Republican debate on August 6, and they have decided to limit the stage to the top ten candidates. The lucky winners will be the ones who "place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent, recognized national polls leading up to Aug. 4."</p> <p>So how is everyone doing so far? CNN is certainly a recognized national poll, so they'll be part of the eventual winnowing. And their <a href="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/06/30/trumpbushclinton.pdf" target="_blank">most recent poll </a>shows Jeb! at the top followed by Trump, Huckabee, Carson, and Rand Paul. The bottom three candidates&mdash;Christie, Cruz, and Santorum&mdash;could easily lose a point or two just due to statistical churn, to be replaced by Jindal, Kasich, and Fiorina.</p> <p>I'm looking forward to the Trump-Christie showdown for the Annoying Loudmouth Award, and to the Carson-Cruz showdown for the Looneybin Award&mdash;though both men have been disappointingly circumspect lately, hedging their beliefs as if they really wanted to win this thing.</p> <p>But there's still a chance of Rick Perry melting down in amusing fashion. That should make the whole thing worth watching.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:03:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 278861 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Announces Plan to Open Embassies in Cuba and United States http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/obama-delivers-remarks-cuba <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba have agreed to open embassies in Washington and Havana to formally reestablish diplomatic ties after more than 54 years of broken relations.</p> <p>"This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas," Obama said.</p> <p>"We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," he added. "When something isn't working we can and will change."</p> <p>Obama said Secretary of State John Kerry will also be traveling to Havana later this summer to "proudly raise" the American flag over the new embassy.</p> <p>Wednesday's announcement, which follows last month's move by the United States to remove Cuba from a list of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/us-officially-removes-cuba-list-state-sponsors-terrorism" target="_blank">states sponsoring terrorism,</a> is another historic step in normalizing relations between the two countries. Shortly before the president's press conference, the Foreign Ministry of Havana also announced that diplomatic ties with Washington would be fully restored by <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/castro-obama-us-cuba-embassies" target="_blank">July 20.</a></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FDZpyj98TwY" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo International Obama Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:41:58 +0000 Inae Oh 278851 at http://www.motherjones.com Atlanta Fed Says Workers Finally Benefiting From Recovery http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/atlanta-fed-says-workers-finally-benefiting-recovery <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's some potentially good news. There are various way of tracking wage growth (with or without benefits, employer survey vs. worker survey, nonsupervisory vs. everyone, etc.), and the Atlanta Fed has introduced a new wage index constructed from the Current Population Survey. In theory, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_atlanta_fed_wages.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">this should provide reliable data with a large sample size and will be available monthly. The good news is that their index shows nominal wage growth increasing at a <a href="http://macroblog.typepad.com/macroblog/2015/06/new-atlanta-fed-series-shows-wage-growth-held-steady-in-may.html" target="_blank">fairly healthy 3.3 percent per year:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Wage growth by this measure was essentially unchanged from April and 1 percentage point higher than the year-ago reading. <strong>The current pace of nominal hourly wage growth is similar to that seen during the labor market recovery of 2003&ndash;04</strong> and about a percentage point below the pace experienced during 2006&ndash;07, which was the peak of the last business cycle.</p> </blockquote> <p>Other wage measures will be released later this week. With inflation still well under control, this is good news for workers, and potentially bad news for Fed watchers, who hope they won't use it as an excuse to raise rates. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:17:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 278856 at http://www.motherjones.com Jim Carrey Lashes Out at California's Mandatory Vaccine Law http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/07/jim-carrey-vaccination-california <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Jim Carrey voiced his anger over California's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/jerry-brown-signs-bill-requiring-childhood-vaccinations" target="_blank">new law</a> that officially ends personal belief exemptions for vaccinations. The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday, follows the measles outbreak in Disneyland that infected 117 people last December.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.</p> &mdash; Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCarrey/status/616049450243338240">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">They say mercury in fish is dangerous but forcing all of our children to be injected with mercury in thimerosol is no risk. Make sense?</p> &mdash; Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCarrey/status/616051925859987456">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I am not anti-vaccine. I am anti-thimerosal, anti-mercury. They have taken some of the mercury laden thimerosal out of vaccines. NOT ALL!</p> &mdash; Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCarrey/status/616073415812759553">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The CDC can't solve a problem they helped start. It's too risky to admit they have been wrong about mercury/thimerasol. They are corrupt.</p> &mdash; Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimCarrey/status/616076731254902784">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>This is hardly the first time the actor has spoken out against vaccinations. Carrey, who dated anti-vaccination activist Jenny McCarthy, has long pushed the belief there is a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=4987758" target="_blank">link</a> between vaccinations and autism.</p> <p>"The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. "While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Health Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:17:47 +0000 Inae Oh 278841 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's How Africa Can Fix Hunger Without "Help" From Monsanto http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/06/africa-indigenous-vegetables-superfood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Imagine if Monsanto announced the debut of a genetically engineered superfood&mdash;a vegetable rich in protein and essential vitamins and minerals, perfectly adapted to Africa's soils and changing climate.</p> <p>There'd be howls of protest, no doubt, from anti-GMO activists. But also great adulation&mdash;possibly a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/business/monsanto-executive-is-among-world-food-prize-winners.html?_r=0">World Food Prize</a>&mdash;along with stern lectures about how anti-science romanticism must not impede heroic corporate efforts to "feed the world."</p> <p>Thing is, such superfoods exist in Africa. They exist thanks not to the genius and beneficence of a foreign company, but rather through millennia of interactions between Africa's farmers and its landscape. And while their popularity waned in recent decades as urbanization has swept through the continent, they're gaining renewed interest from food-security experts and urban dwellers alike, reports a <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/the-rise-of-africa-s-super-vegetables-1.17712">new article</a> by Rachel Cernansky in <em>Nature</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Cernansky focuses on the work of <a href="http://www.researchgate.net/publication/235323508_AFRICAN_INDIGENOUS_VEGETABLES_IN_KENYA_Strategic_Repositioning_in_the_Horticultural_Sector">Mary Abukutsa-Onyango</a>, a horticulturalist at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya, who has since the 1990s been a kind of Johnny Appleseed for reviving appetites for indigenous vegetables in Africa. Here's Cernansky:</p> <blockquote> <p>Most of the indigenous vegetables being studied in East Africa are leafy greens, almost all deep green in colour and often fairly bitter. Kenyans especially love African nightshade and amaranth leaves (<em>Amaranthus</em>&nbsp;sp.). Spider plant (<em>Cleome gynandra</em>), one of Abukutsa's favourites for its sour taste, grows wild in East Africa as well as South Asia. Jute mallow has a texture that people love or hate. It turns slimy when cooked &mdash; much like okra. &hellip; [M]oringa (<em>Moringa oleifera</em>) is not only one of the most healthful of the indigenous vegetables &mdash; both nutritionally and medicinally &mdash; but it is also common in many countries around the world.</p> </blockquote> <p>In a 2010 <a href="http://www.researchgate.net/publication/235323508_AFRICAN_INDIGENOUS_VEGETABLES_IN_KENYA_Strategic_Repositioning_in_the_Horticultural_Sector">paper</a>, Abukutsa-Onyango demonstrated the nutritional punch packed by these foodstuffs. This chart, pulled from the paper, shows how African vegetables like the leaves of amaranth, pumpkin, and cowpea (black-eyed pea) plants outshine rival western greens that have been introduced into African agriculture over the past century.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/africa%20chart.jpg"><div class="caption">From: " African Indigenous Vegetables in Kenya: Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector."</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then there's the leaves of the moringa tree, native to Africa and parts of Asia, which, according to the anti-hunger nonprofit <a href="https://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/nutritional-information" target="_blank">Trees for Life International</a>, deliver three times more vitamin A than carrots, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, and twice the protein of cow's milk, per 100 grams.</p> <p>Unlike "exotic" (i.e., non-native to Africa) vegetables like kale and cabbage, these crops are adapted to Africa's soils and growing conditions. "Most of the traditional varieties are ready for harvest much faster than non-native crops, so they could be promising options if the rainy seasons become more erratic&mdash;one of the predicted outcomes of global warming," Cernansky writes.</p> <p>As a result of these advantages, indigenous vegetables are gaining traction throughout East Africa. Traditional markets, supermarkets, and restaurant menus in Nairobi feature them heavily, Cernansky reports. As a result, "Kenyan farmers increased the area planted with such greens by 25 percent between 2011 and 2013." They're also gaining ground in <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201411032807.html" target="_blank">Western Africa</a>.</p> <p>Of course, spiderplant and cowpea leaves are a long way from solving Africa's nutritional problems. As of 2013, indigenous vegetables accounted for just 6 percent of Kenya's total vegetable market, reports <a href="http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/farming/feature/local-vegetables-r-d.html" target="_blank"><em>SciDevNet</em></a>. Despite growing demand, SciDevNet found, production is constrained by the same factors that haunt African food security broadly: poor infrastructure (roads, rail, etc.) for bringing fresh food from farm to market, along with a dearth of investment in research and development.</p> <p>There are no simple answers, no silver bullets, to the problem of ensuring a robust food supply on a warming planet with a growing population. But it's important to remember that the best, cheapest solutions aren't necessarily the ones that emerge from patent-seeking laboratories.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Tom Philpott 278786 at http://www.motherjones.com Jeb Bush Made Millions But Gave Little to Charity http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/how-much-money-jeb-bush-gave-charity-tax-returns <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jeb Bush released <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/jeb-bush-tax-returns" target="_blank">33 years of tax returns</a> on Tuesday evening. So how much did he give to charity over the years?</p> <p>Not that much. Between 2003 and 2013, Bush gave 1.5 percent of his income to charity, according to the lists of charitable deductions in the tax returns. That's about half the national average of 3 percent, according to <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&amp;cpid=519#.VZMahaaGN_8" target="_blank">Charity Navigator</a>.</p> <p>In a letter posted on his website, Bush says he has given $739,000 to charity between 2007 and 2014, which indicates that he increased his annual rate of giving substantially last year. (His 2014 tax return will be released in the fall, according to his campaign.) "Since I left the&nbsp;governor's&nbsp;office I have tried to give back&mdash;and even though all of us strive to do more&mdash;I'm proud of what Columba and I have contributed," he wrote.</p> <p>Bush's charitable donations as a percentage of his income is substantially less than the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-gifts-to-charity-just-1-percent/2012/02/14/gIQAXuMDER_blog.html" target="_blank">13.8 percent</a> given by Mitt Romney in the year before he launched his last presidential campaign. Bill and Hillary Clinton gave away about $10 million in the years leading up to the 2008 election, with <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/04/05/ST2008040502593.html" target="_blank">much of that money</a> going to the family's foundation. That was about 10 percent of their income. The Obamas <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/04/11/tax-returns-reveal-exactly-how-much-obama-and-biden-give-to-charity-how-do-you-stack-up/" target="_blank">gave</a> 15 percent of their income to charity in 2014. (The Bidens' charitable giving was far lower: 2 percent.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="450" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/KDf5s/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Top Stories Jeb Bush Tue, 30 Jun 2015 23:45:34 +0000 Tim Murphy 278806 at http://www.motherjones.com Jeb Bush's Finances Could Spell Trouble For Him in the GOP Primaries http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/jeb-bushs-finances-could-spell-trouble-him-gop-primaries <!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/politics/jeb-bushs-33-years-of-tax-returns-expected-to-show-increased-wealth/2015/06/30/af8ad598-1f3d-11e5-84d5-eb37ee8eaa61_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">Jeb Bush is in big trouble:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Since leaving the Florida governor&rsquo;s office in 2007, Jeb Bush has made about $29 million, a considerable increase in his personal wealth since reentering the private sector....The documents show he paid an effective tax rate of more than 36 percent each year since leaving the governor&rsquo;s office, according to his campaign.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's it? $5 million per year? And he was lame enough with his finances to hand over 36 percent to Uncle Sugar? What the hell kind of business-oriented Republican does he think he is? You could make that much working for a bunch of do-gooder charity operations like some starry-eyed Democrat.</p> <p>Jeb better have a good explanation for this. Otherwise he might not make it out of the primaries.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:55:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 278801 at http://www.motherjones.com The Guy Who Made the ISIS-Dildo Flag Just Told Off CNN http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/06/isis-dildo-flag-pride-cnn <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Anyone near the internet last Saturday was treated to one of most glorious cable news gaffes in recent memory. CNN thought it had a stunner of a scoop: Gay pride was being infiltrated by Islamist terror!</p> <p>CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux crossed from the US studios<strong> </strong>to international assignment editor Lucy Pawle in London, who claimed to have spotted an ISIS banner amongst the rainbow-adorned floats at London's annual LGBT pride parade. A glorious exclusive! "I seem to be the only person to have spotted this," Pawle claimed. The segment was given the full, breaking-news treatment: Peter Bergen, the network's national security analyst, was even called in for his sober assessment.</p> <p>The only problem? The banner Pawle spotted was a satirical flag adorned not with ISIS's logo in Arabic, but with butt-plugs and dildos.</p> <p>Now the flag's creator has spoken publicly for the first time <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/30/isis-dildo-flag-london-pride-cnn?CMP=share_btn_tw" target="_blank">in a&nbsp;<em>Guardian</em> op-ed</a><em> </em>that is sure to make CNN execs, Pawle, and Malveaux squirm with humiliation. Why did Paul Coombs&mdash;a <a href="https://twitter.com/paulcoombsart" target="_blank">self-described</a> "collagist" and "multi-media dildo obsessive"&mdash;make the flag? "Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present," he writes in something of an artistic mission statement. "It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key."</p> <p>"The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for," he continues. "If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there."</p> <p>Coombs also writes, "CNN correspondent Lucy Pawle described my flag as a 'very bad mimicry' but the only bad mimicry I could see was CNN's impression of a reputable news organization. What does this say about every other report that they broadcast? And why have they not mentioned it since?"</p> <p>Boom. Great questions, Coombs. Indeed, the&nbsp;original report <a href="http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/06/27/isis-flag-gay-pride-parade-london.cnn" target="_blank">has been taken down from CNN's website</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Media Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:42:58 +0000 James West 278791 at http://www.motherjones.com The NSA Just Got Six More Months of Unlimited Snooping in Your Phone Data http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/nsa-just-got-six-more-months-unlimited-snooping-your-phone-data <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Almost as soon as Congress passed the USA Freedom Act earlier this month, which ended the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone records under the Patriot Act, the government moved to keep that program around for as long as it could. Administration lawyers went before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees government surveillance requests, and argued that because the new law gives the NSA six months to shut down the program, the NSA should be able to keep vacuuming up this metadata until then&mdash;even though the Patriot Act had briefly expired, ending the legal authorization for such bulk collection.</p> <p>Today we learned <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/court-revives-defunct-nsa-mass-surveillance-program-20150630" target="_blank">the government won that argument</a>: the <em>National Journal</em> obtained a ruling from the FISA court saying this bulk collection can continue for the next six months.</p> <p>"Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized," wrote Judge Michael Mosman in the ruling. "For this reason, the Court approves the application."</p> <p>The good news for privacy advocates is that there was, for the first time, actually an argument at the FISA court on the issue. I wrote earlier this month about how the USA Freedom Act is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/usa-freedom-act-fisa-court-transparency" target="_blank">meant to open up the&nbsp;court</a>, and one of the ways it does so is by giving federal judges who sit on the FISA court the option of bringing in what's called an "amicus panel," a group of outside experts who can advise the court on privacy concerns. That panel hasn't yet been appointed, but Mosman allowed former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to join the proceedings and argue against restarting bulk collection. Cuccinelli and FreedomWorks, the tea party-aligned conservative group, <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/ken-cuccinelli-asks-court-to-block-obama-admin-from-reviving-nsa-spying-program-20150608" target="_blank">already tried to block the program</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>But judges can also decline to use an amicus panel or a stand-in. Dennis Saylor IV, another federal district judge who sits on the FISA court, chose this path in a case two weeks ago because he considered his pro-government ruling one in which "no reasonable jurist would reach a different decision."</p> <p>That, civil liberties advocates say, is exactly why the amicus panel is needed. "His decision does not even acknowledge the existence of any other interpretation of the law," Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, notes in an email. "That&rsquo;s simply bad judging.&hellip;Congress may need to consider whether to make amicus participation mandatory rather than leave it to the court&rsquo;s discretion."</p> <p>A footnote in Saylor's decision revealed another potential basis for the FISA court to reject the privacy panel: money. "There may be other circumstances, as well, where appointment of an amicus curiae is not appropriate," Saylor wrote. "For example, such an appointment would in most instances result in some degree of additional expense and delay."</p> <p>Saylor didn't rule on whether time and cost are sufficient grounds not to appoint an amicus. But as Steve Vladeck of American University's Washington College of Law points out<em>, </em>"Judge Saylor tries hard to say he&rsquo;s not saying that, but he is surely suggesting it. That makes no sense to me, since there&rsquo;s no other context in which courts pay for amici." The footnote still leaves open the prospect that the FISA court could choose not to appoint outside experts simply because finding them could be a pain in the ass.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties NSA Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:34:47 +0000 Max J. Rosenthal 277891 at http://www.motherjones.com Did Republicans Ever Think They Really Had a Chance of Winning King v. Burwell? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/did-republicans-ever-think-they-really-had-chance-winning-king-v-burwell <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today, Harold Pollack wins the award for....um, something. Best geek-obsessive amateur polling and chartmaking of 2015? Whatever, it's really impressive. Man, I wish I had done this.</p> <p>So here's what he did: Last week, before the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision was announced, Pollack asked an "elite group of health policy and legal experts" to give their predictions. Who would win? The plaintiffs or the government? He got replies from <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_laptop.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">over 40 people, about three-quarters of them Democrats. With the obvious caveat that this is a nonrandom, nonscientific sample etc. etc., <a href="http://www.samefacts.com/2015/06/domestic-politics/expert-predictions-of-the-outcome-in-king-vs-burwell/" target="_blank">here's what he found:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Although Democrats and Republicans had wildly different views of who should win, <strong>the distribution of predicted probabilities of a plaintiff victory was surprisingly similar between the two groups.</strong> Amazingly, Cato&rsquo;s Michael Cannon and I offered identical prior predictions&mdash;20% probability of plaintiff victory.</p> <p>Among Democrats, the median predicted probability of plaintiff victory was 40%. Among Republicans, the median was 37.5%.</p> </blockquote> <p>Pollack has a different takeaway from some of this than I do, and you should read his post for more. But I have a different point to make. Before the decision was handed down, I noticed that <em>in public</em> an awful lot of experts seemed to be assuming a plaintiff victory. Conservatives were adamant that they had a slam-dunk winning case. Liberals, for their part, increasingly seemed to be in tacit agreement thanks to their pessimism about the cynicism of the Roberts court. At a guess, if you were a visitor from Mars perusing blogs and op-ed columns, you'd assume that most people thought the plaintiffs were going to win.</p> <p>And yet, behind the scenes that wasn't the case. In private, even Republicans thought victory for the plaintiffs was unlikely.</p> <p>So here's what we have in this case. In public, Republicans were sticking with confident assertions that the case was a winner on plain textual grounds. Democrats, in public, were becoming more and more resigned to a conservative victory.</p> <p>And what does the public take away from all this? All we can do is guess, but I'd say most of them figured the plaintiffs had the better case. After all, both sides seemed to think so. This makes it pretty easy to generate a serious sense of outrage when, in the end, the plaintiffs lost after all.</p> <p>The lesson conservatives taught us here is simple: Never let them see you sweat. Insist to the bitter end that you obviously have the better case. That's good politics. For one thing, it might actually give you a better chance of winning. And even if it doesn't, it makes it easier to maintain public outrage when you lose. In this case, conservatives did a pretty good job of wringing every possible advantage they could out of <em>King v. Burwell</em>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:08:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 278766 at http://www.motherjones.com Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Landmark Bill Requiring Childhood Vaccinations http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/jerry-brown-signs-bill-requiring-childhood-vaccinations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Amid heavy pushback from anti-vaccine groups, California Governor Jerry Brown signed <a href="http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB277" target="_blank">legislation today</a> officially putting an end to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/measles-outbreak-personal-belief-exemptions" target="_blank">personal belief exemptions</a> that let parents opt out of vaccinating their kids for reasons of philosophy or conscience. California is now just one of just three states that does not allow nonmedical exemptions.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/screen_shot_2015-01-27_at_11.49.32_am_4.png" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More stories on vaccines and outbreaks: </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-250161"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/04/how-many-kids-die-vaccine-preventable-diseases"> Vaccines Work. These 8 Charts Prove It. </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-243531"> <li><a href="/kevin-drum/2014/01/map-day-high-cost-vaccine-hysteria"> Map: The High Cost of Vaccine Hysteria</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-244996"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/02/vaccine-exemptions-states-pertussis-map"> How Many People Aren&acirc;&#128;&#153;t Vaccinating Their Kids in Your State?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252986"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/05/measles-us-new-high"> Measles Cases in the US Are at a 20-Year High. Thanks, Anti-Vaxxers.</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-259976"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/09/nova-vaccine-special-whooping-cough"> This PBS Special Makes the Most Powerful Argument for Vaccines Yet</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-267816"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/measles-outbreak-disneyland-anti-vaxxers"> Mickey Mouse Still Stricken With Measles, Thanks to the Anti-Vaxxers </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-235641"> <li><a href="/environment/2013/10/vaccine-denial-conspiracy-theories-gmos-climate"> If You Distrust Vaccines, You're More Likely to Think NASA Faked the Moon Landings</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The bill, introduced in February by Sen. Sen. Richard Pan (a pediatrician), came in response to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/measles-outbreak-disneyland-anti-vaxxers" target="_blank">Disneyland outbreak</a>, which infected more than 100 people across the US and Mexico at the beginning of this year. Measles, a preventable but dangerous disease, has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/05/measles-us-new-high" target="_blank">been on the rise in recent years</a> due in large part to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/measles-outbreak-personal-belief-exemptions" target="_blank">increase in people claiming the exemption.</a> Many of those infected were too young, or medically unable to get the vaccine. Public health officials <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/measles-outbreak-personal-belief-exemptions" target="_blank">expressed concerns</a> that measles could become endemic again&mdash;putting everyone at risk&mdash;if vaccination coverage continued to fall.</p> <p>The new law should close those vaccination gaps by requiring that all children enrolled in school be up to date on shots against 10 childhood diseases, unless a doctor determines they are medically unable to receive vaccines. Parents who decide against these mandatory vaccines would be forced to homeschool.</p> <p>Vaccines <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/how-many-kids-die-vaccine-preventable-diseases" target="_blank">are extremely effective</a> at preventing illness and are championed across all health agencies, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the World Health Organization. Still, there's still a large contingent of anti-vaxxers, and the legislation was hotly contested. <em>The</em> <em>LA Times</em> <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ln-california-legislature-expected-to-pass-tough-vaccination-law-20150628-story.html" target="_blank">reports</a> that Sen. Pan has received death threats and his foes have even filed for his recall.</p> <p>Gov. Brown acknowledged how divisive the issue has become, but stressed how important vaccination is to keeping people healthy: "The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases. While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."</p> <p>Here's his full statement:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-2126887-ciw6scqvaaac67c">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/2126887-ciw6scqvaaac67c.js", { width: 630, height: 450, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-2126887-ciw6scqvaaac67c" }); </script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2126887/ciw6scqvaaac67c.pdf">CIw6scQVAAAc67C (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2126887/ciw6scqvaaac67c.txt">CIw6scQVAAAc67C (Text)</a> </noscript></body></html> MoJo Health Regulatory Affairs Science Top Stories vaccines Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:50:02 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 278711 at http://www.motherjones.com Managers of America, Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose Except Straight Time for 60 Hours of Work a Week http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/managers-usa-unite-you-have-nothing-lose-except-straight-time-60-hours-work-week <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you're paid 12 bucks an hour, you're not making much. But hey&mdash;at least you're eligible for overtime. Hooray! Federal law dictates that you be paid time-and-a-half for working more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.</p> <p>But wait. You work at McDonald's and you're a "supervisor." Under the current opaque and complicated rules adopted a decade ago by the Bush administration, that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_manager.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">means you're management. No overtime for you. Sorry.</p> <p>That wage amounts to about $23,000 per year, and if that seems a little stingy for a manager, you're right. Way back in 1975, the Ford administration set the wage level to qualify as management at $6.25/hour, and if you adjust for inflation that amounts to about $28/hour today, or $56,000 per year. For most of us, that's intuitively a little closer to the wage we think a real manager makes.</p> <p>Well, good news. Today, after years of arguing and rulemaking, the Obama administration raised the wage level at which the "management exemption" comes into play. It's a little less than the inflation-adjusted figure from the Ford administration, but it's close. The new level is $970 per week, or about $50,000 per year. Anyone paid less than that, even if they have supervisory duties, qualifies for overtime pay. What's more, future increases are pegged to the level of inflation, so the rules will keep up with reality even when Republicans are in office.</p> <p>Naturally, the folks who benefit from the old rules are threatening havoc. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/labor-proposal-would-make-millions-more-eligible-for-ot/2015/06/29/917a768a-1ec0-11e5-a135-935065bc30d0_story.html?wpisrc=nl_daily202&amp;wpmm=1" target="_blank">Check this out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The National Retail Federation, a business group, says <strong>its members would probably respond by converting many salaried workers to hourly status, which could cost them benefits such as paid vacation.</strong> Other salaried workers would have their hours cut and wouldn&rsquo;t receive higher pay. Businesses might hire additional workers to avoid paying overtime or extend the hours they give part-timers. Yet supporters of extending overtime coverage say they would welcome those changes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Charming. Of course, we've heard this before in other contexts&mdash;remember all those millions of workers who were supposedly going to be cut from 30 hours a week to 29 to avoid giving them health insurance under Obamacare?&mdash;and most companies aren't likely to follow through on this threat. But it's the thought that counts. And surely there will be a few who decide that screwing their managers is good business, and I expect we'll hear about every last one of them.</p> <p>Don't listen. In this case, anecdotes are just propaganda tools. In a year or so the Department of Labor will provide us all with comprehensive statistics on what happened, and then we'll know. Until then, just enjoy the good news.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:21:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 278746 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/health-update-update <!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.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/health-update" target="_blank">As you may recall,</a> the key thing my doctor&mdash;and I&mdash;would like to see on the multiple myeloma front is a big drop in my M protein level, a marker for cancerous plasma cells. Today we got the latest results, and it's up to 0.9. Since the first round of chemotherapy had already gotten it down to 1.0, what this means is that the entire second round of chemotherapy at City of Hope was basically useless. I didn't respond to it at all.</p> <p>We went ahead with the biopsy today anyway, for reasons that are a little vague to me. Apparently it will give us some indication of <em>where</em> the cancerous cells are, but the results won't have any impact on my treatment plan. In a couple of days I'll start on a low daily dose of Revlimid, in hopes that it will get my M protein level down to zero. If it doesn't, then we'll try a higher dose.</p> <p>Revlimid is a highly controlled substance because it's in the same family as thalidomide and can cause serious birth defects. You cannot just pick it up at your local pharmacy. First, you have to fill out a lengthy form, and the medication is then mailed from a central location, presumably in a plain brown wrapper or something. As near as I could tell, pretty much every question on the form was some variation of me promising not to even think about getting anyone pregnant while I'm taking it. As you can imagine, this is not really an issue, so the form turned out not to be too much of a chore after all. It was just OK, OK, OK, OK, etc. I promise.</p> <p>So that's it for now. Not exactly cheery news, but the buildup of cancerous cells in my bone marrow is not actually that heavy (about 5 percent or so), which means there's a decent chance the Revlimid will be enough to keep it under control. We'll know in a couple of months or so.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Jun 2015 03:49:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 278726 at http://www.motherjones.com