Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Scott Walker Is the Winner in 2016's First Republican Campaign Cattle Call <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Rep. Steve King (R&ndash;Tea Partyville) held his big annual Republican confab in Iowa this weekend, and most of the 2016 wannabe candidates for president were there. But I know you're all busy people who don't care about the details. You<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>just want to know who won. <a href="" target="_blank">Take it away, Ed Kilgore:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The consensus winner (first announced by <em>National Review's</em> John Fund, but echoed by many others) was Scott Walker, who did exactly what he needed to do: show he could twist and shout with the best of them despite his "boring" image, <strong>and make an electability argument based on the fruits of confrontation rather than compromise.</strong> This latter dimension of his appeal should not be underestimated: at a time when MSM types and (more subtly) Jeb Bush and Chris Christie continue to suggest Republicans must become less feral to reach beyond their base, here's Walker saying he won three elections in four years in a blue state by going medieval on unions, abortionists and Big Government. So Walker's passed his first test in the challenge of proving he's not Tim Pawlenty, and that's a big deal given his excellent positioning in the field.</p> </blockquote> <p>Kilgore's "Tim Pawlenty" comment is a reference to Midwestern boringness, which has generally been seen as Walker's chief shortcoming. You can judge for yourself if you watch his 20-minute speech in Iowa, but I'd say he still has some work to do on this score. He wasn't terrible, but he never sounded to me like he really struck a connection with the crowd. He knew the words but not the tune&mdash;and even his words were a little too stilted and lifeless. Anytime you deliver an applause line and nothing happens, your words still need some work. And anytime you deliver an applause line, fail to wait for applause, then interrupt yourself to tell the crowd "you can clap for that, that's all right"&mdash;well, your delivery needs some work too.</p> <p>I'm on record saying that I think Walker is the strongest candidate in the Republican field. He's got the right views, he's got a winning record, he's got the confrontational style tea partiers love, and he doesn't come across as a kook. But yes, he needs to work on the whole charisma thing. If he gets serious about that, I still like his chances in the 2016 primaries.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:05:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 268901 at Here's How Much You Should Tip Your Delivery Guy During A Blizzard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As you may have heard, a <a href="" target="_blank">blizzard</a> is about to destroy life as we know it on the Eastern seaboard. Your children, your children's children, their children's children will all learn of this snowfall in stories. If a normal snowstorm is, as the wise men used to say, "God shedding a bit of dandruff," then what we are about to experience can only be described as, well, God shedding...a lot of dandruff? An avalanche of dandruff? One or two revelations of dandruff? We're going to be knee-deep in God's dandruff, is what I'm saying.</p> <p>If, like mine, your fridge is bare of everything but the essentials (Tabasco, old Bloody Mary mix, a few jars of pickles) then you're probably hoping to make it through this thing via one of two ancient ways: 1) <a href="" target="_blank">master-cleanse </a>or, 2) Seamless. Assuming you take the second door, the question becomes: What do you tip a delivery man during a blizzard? What is morally acceptable?</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Don't forget, NYC: if you skipped going to the store because you can just order Seamless you're a monster who's headed for the 9th circle &lt;3</p> &mdash; Matt Langer (@mattlanger) <a href="">January 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Let's first dispense with the question of whether or not it is <em>ever</em> acceptable&mdash;regardless of gratuity&mdash;to order delivery during a blizzard. Leave that to the poets and the ethicists. It doesn't matter in the real world. <a href="" target="_blank">People order delivery more during bad weather</a>. Them's the facts. You are going to order delivery in bad weather.</p> <p>During really bad weather like blizzards and apocalypses, a lot of restaurants nix their delivery offerings altogether&mdash;and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has banned all non-emergency vehicles, including delivery bikes, after <a href=";set=vb.5281959998&amp;type=2&amp;theater" target="_blank">11pm Monday night</a>. But the ones that manage to stay open&mdash;and in this case are willing to deliver on foot well into the night&mdash;reap the benefits of constrained supply. If this were Uber, it would result in surge pricing to get more restaurants delivering. But since GrubHub and its parent company Seamless don't do that&mdash;and they shouldn't unless there is some way of ensuring that the increase goes to the delivery person and isn't pocketed by the owner&mdash;we're thrown into this sort of state of moral worry. You know in your bones that the guy who brings you pizza in sub-zero weather should get more than the guy who brings you pizza when it's 68 degrees and sunny. But how much more?</p> <p>GrubHub Seamless crunched the numbers on tips during last year's polar vortex and found that residents in some <a href="" target="_blank">zip codes increased their tips by as much as 24 percent</a>, but on the whole, New Yorkers raised their normal tipping amount by a meager 5 percent. In the Midwest, however, where the temps dipped especially low, gratuities rose higher, to <a href="" target="_blank">14 percent in Chicago and 15 percent in Detroit and Minneapolis. </a>Maybe the stereotypes are true and Midwesterners really are the nicest people in the country.</p> <p>So, more. Tip more. How much should you tip a delivery man in a blizzard? More. <em>More than you usually tip.</em> Whatever you usually tip, tip better. Are you a good tipper normally? Become a great tipper. Are you an awful tipper? Become a just-bad tipper. (Also, you're a very bad person, and no one likes you very much.)</p> <p>Want a strict system? Don't trust your heart to lead you to the right amount? <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York</em></a> magazine can help. Last year they spoke to Adam Eric Greenberg, a UC San Diego Ph.D. who co-authored an <a href="" target="_blank">empirical analysis on the relationship between weather and tipping</a>. Here's what he told them:</p> <blockquote> <p>When the weather is bad, be a bit more generous by tipping 20 to 22 percent. If it's raining outside, tip 22 to 25 percent. If there's any snow accumulation, add a dollar or two on top of what you'd tip if it were raining. Having to work as a delivery guy during a blizzard is similar to getting stuck with a party of 20 as a restaurant server, so if you hear weather forecasters promising a "polar vortex, " a 30 percent tip is not outrageous.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, there you have it: <strong>30 percent.</strong> Anything under 25 percent and you go to Hell.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:45:48 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268791 at Does the Internet Really Make Dumb People Dumber? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I don't normally get to hear what Bill Gates thinks of one of my ideas, but today's the exception. <a href="" target="_blank">Because Ezra Klein asked him:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Ezra Klein:</strong> ....Kevin Drum, who writes for <em>Mother Jones</em>, has a line I've always thought was interesting, which is that the internet makes dumb people dumber, and smart people smarter. Do you worry about the possibility that the vast resources the internet gives the motivated, including online education, will give rise o a big increase in, for lack of a better <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_internet_dumb_smart.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">tterm, cognitive or knowledge inequality that leads to further rises in global inequality?</p> <p><strong>Bill Gates:</strong> Well, you always have the challenge that when you create a tool to make activity X easier, like the internet makes it easier to find out facts or to learn new things, that there are some outliers who use that thing extremely well. It's way easier to be polymathic today than it was in the past because your access to materials and your ability if you ever get stuck to find people that you can engage with is so strong.</p> <p>But to say that there's actually some negative side, that there actually will be people that are dumber, I disagree with that. I mean, I'm as upset as anyone at the wrong stuff about vaccination that's out there on the internet that actually confuses some small number of people. There's a communications challenge to get past.</p> <p>But look at IQ test capability over time. Or even take a TV show today and how complex it is &mdash; that's responding to the marketplace. You take <em>Breaking Bad</em> versus, I don't know, <em>Leave it to Beaver</em>, or <em>Combat!</em>, or <em>The Wild, Wild West</em>. You know, yeah, take <em>Combat!</em> because that was sort of pushing the edge of should kids be allowed to watch it.</p> <p>The interest and complexity really does say that, broadly, these tools have meant that market-driven people are turning out more complex things. Now, you can say, "Why hasn't that mapped to more sophistication in politics or something like that?" That's very complicated. But I don't see a counter trend where there's some group of people who are less curious or less informed because of the internet.</p> <p>I'm sure that was said when the printing press came along and people saw romance novels and thought people would stay indoors and read all the time. But I just don't see there being a big negative to the empowerment.</p> </blockquote> <p>Unsurprisingly, Gates agrees that the internet can make smart people smarter. By analogy, the printing press also made smart people smarter because it gave them cheap, easy access to far more information. Since they were capable of processing the information, they were effectively smarter than they used to be.</p> <p>It's equally unsurprisingly that he disagrees about the internet making dumb people dumber. It's a pretty anti-tech opinion, after all, and that's not the business Bill Gates is in. But I think his answer actually belies his disagreement, since he immediately acknowledges an example of precisely this phenomenon: the anti-vax movement, something that happens to be close to his heart. Unfortunately, to call this merely a "communications challenge" discounts the problem. Sure, it's a communications challenge, <em>but that's the whole point</em>. The internet is all about communication, and it does two things in this case. First, it empower the anti-vax nutballs, giving them a far more powerful medium for spreading their nonsense. On the flip side, it makes a lot more people vulnerable to bad information. If you lack the context to evaluate arguments about vaccination, the internet is much more likely to make you dumber about vaccinating your kids than any previous medium in history.</p> <p>The rest of Gates' argument doesn't really hold water either. Sure, IQ scores have been rising. But they've been rising for a long time. This long predates the internet and has nothing to do with it. As for TV shows, he picked the wrong example. It's true that <em>Breaking Bad</em> is far more sophisticated than <em>Leave it to Beaver</em>, but <em>Breaking Bad</em> was always a niche show, averaging 1-2 million viewers for nearly its entire run. Instead, you should compare <em>Leave it to Beaver</em> with, say, <em>The Big Bang Theory</em>, which gets 10-20 million viewers per episode. Is <em>Big Bang</em> the more sophisticated show? Maybe. But if so, it's not by much.</p> <p>In any case, the heart of Gates' response is this: "I don't see a counter trend where there's some group of people who are less curious or less informed because of the internet." I won't pretend that I have ironclad evidence one way or the other, but I wouldn't dismiss the problem so blithely. I'm not trying to make a broad claim that the internet is making us generally stupider or anything like that. But it's a far more powerful medium for spreading conspiracy theories and other assorted crap than anything we've had before. If you lack the background and context to evaluate information about a particular subject, you're highly likely to be misinformed if you do a simple Google search and just start reading whatever comes up first. And that describes an awful lot of people.</p> <p>Obviously this has been a problem for as long humans have been able to communicate. The anti-fluoridation nutballs did just fine with only dead-tree technology. Still, I think the internet makes this a more widespread problem, simply because it's a more widespread medium, and it's one that's especially difficult to navigate wisely. Hopefully that will change in the future, but for now it is what it is. It doesn't <em>have</em> to make dumb people dumber, but in practice, I think it very often does.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tech Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:55:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 268871 at The Pentagon Is Holding an Essay Contest to Honor Saudi Arabia's Brutal King. Here's Our Entry. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Shortly after Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, the 90-year-old king of Saudi Arabia, died <a href="" target="_blank">last Friday</a>, the Pentagon and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, <a href="" target="_blank">paid their respects</a> by inviting college students to participate in a "research and essay competition" in the late monarch's honor. No prize has been announced, but the Pentagon issued a press release about the contest listing the deceased monarch's considerable accomplishments: "the modernization of his country's military," his "lifetime" support of Saudi Arabia's alliance with the United States, his support of "scholarly research," and what Dempsey called the king's "remarkable character and courage." Although, as a woman, I wouldn't be recognized as a full human being by the king, here is my essay contest submission:</p> <p><strong>On women's rights:</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Amnesty International, December 11, 2014: Saudi Arabia</a>: Two women arrested for driving.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch, April 20, 2008:</a> Male guardianship laws forbid women from obtaining passports, marrying, studying, or traveling without the permission of a male guardian.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch, December 2, 2014:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The informal prohibition on female driving in Saudi Arabia became official state policy in 1990. During the 1990-91 Gulf War, <a href=";src=pm" target="_blank">female American soldiers were permitted to drive on military bases in Saudi</a><u> Arabia</u>, and Saudi women organized a protest demanding the right to drive in Saudi Arabia as well. Dozens of Saudi women drove the streets of Riyadh in a convoy to protest the ban, which then was just based on custom. In response, officials arrested them, suspended them from their jobs, and the Grand Mufti, the country&rsquo;s most senior religious authority, immediately declared a fatwa, or religious edict, against women driving, stating that driving would expose women to &ldquo;temptation&rdquo; and lead to &ldquo;social chaos.&rdquo; Then-Minister of Interior Prince Nayef legally banned women&rsquo;s driving by decree on the basis of the fatwa.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On migrant worker's rights:</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch, December 1, 2013</a>: Hundreds of thousands of workers were arrested and deported, some reporting prison abuses during their detentions. No standard contract for domestic workers was ever drafted. Human Rights Watch interviewed migrant workers about the arrests:</p> <blockquote> <p>One of the Ethiopians, a 30-year-old supervisor at a private company, said he heard shouts and screams from the street, and left his home near Manfouha to see what was happening. When he arrived near Bank Rajahi on the road to the Yamama neighborhood, west of Manfouha, he saw a large group of Ethiopians crying and shouting around the dead bodies of three Ethiopians, one of whom he said had been shot, and two others who had been beaten to death. He said six others appeared to be badly injured.<br><br> He said he saw Saudis whom he called&nbsp;<em>shabab</em>&nbsp;(&ldquo;young men&rdquo; in Arabic), and uniformed security forces attack the Ethiopians who had gathered. The&nbsp;<em>shabab</em>&nbsp;were using swords and machetes, while some of the uniformed officers were beating the migrants with metal police truncheons, and other officers were firing bullets into the air to disperse the crowd. He said that he narrowly escaped serious injury when a Saudi man swung a sword at his head. It missed, but hit his arm, requiring stitches to close the wound.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On peaceful protest:</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch, December 18, 2013:</a> Authorities arrested and charged many peaceful protestors for "sowing discord" and challenging the government.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Amnesty International, December 4, 2014:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>On 6 November, the authorities sentenced Mikhlif al-Shammari , a prominent human rights activist and an advocate of the rights of Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Shi&rsquo;a Muslim community, to two years in prison and 200 lashes on charges related to his peaceful activism. In a separate case, on 17 June 2013 Mikhlif al-Shammari had already been sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) to five years in prison, followed by a 10-year travel ban, on charges related to his peaceful activism. The court also banned him from writing in the press and on social media networks, and from appearing on television or radio.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch, January 10, 2015:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>King Abdullah of <a href="">Saudi Arabia</a> should overturn the lashing and prison term for a blogger imprisoned for his views and immediately grant him a pardon. Saudi authorities lashed Raif Badawi 50 times on January 9, 2015, in front of a crowded mosque in Jeddah, part of a judicial sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for setting up a liberal website and allegedly insulting religious authorities.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On torture:</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Washington Post, November 19, 2004: </a></p> <blockquote> <p>A federal prosecutor in Alexandria made a comment last year suggesting that a Falls Church man held in a Saudi Arabian prison had been tortured, according to a sworn affidavit from a defense lawyer that was recently filed in federal court in Washington.</p> <p>The alleged remark by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg occurred during a conversation with the lawyer, Salim Ali, in the federal courthouse in Alexandria, according to Ali's affidavit.</p> <p>The document was filed Oct. 12 in connection with a petition by the parents of the detained man, Ahmed Abu Ali, who are seeking his release from Saudi custody.The lawyer stated in the affidavit that he asked Kromberg about bringing Abu Ali back to the United States to face charges so as "to avoid the torture that goes on in Saudi Arabia."</p> <p>Kromberg "smirked and stated that 'He's no good for us here, he has no fingernails left,' " Salim Ali wrote in his affidavit, adding: "I did not know how to respond [to] the appalling statement he made, and we subsequently ceased our discussion about Ahmed Abu Ali."</p> </blockquote> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">In conclusion, from Human Rights Watch:</a></strong></p> <blockquote> <p>For [Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz's half-brother and successor, <a href="">Salman bin Abdulaziz]</a> to improve on Abdullah&rsquo;s legacy, he needs to reverse course and permit Saudi citizens to peacefully express themselves, reform the justice system, and speed up reforms on women&rsquo;s rights and treatment of migrant workers.</p> </blockquote></body></html> MoJo Foreign Policy Human Rights International Top Stories Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:29:45 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 268811 at ANWR Proposal Shows That Obama's Power to Set the Agenda Is Alive and Well <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest salvo in President Obama's <a href="" target="_blank">flurry of executive activity following the 2014 election:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Obama proposed designating 1.4 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as protected wilderness, drawing cheers from environmentalists but setting off a bitter new battle Sunday with the Republican-controlled Congress over oil and gas drilling in pristine areas of northern Alaska.</p> <p>The plan would permanently bar drilling and other forms of development in the 19.8-million-acre refuge&rsquo;s coastal plain, a narrow strip between the Brooks Range mountains and the Arctic Ocean where caribou give birth. The area, estimated to hold 10.3 billion barrels of oil, is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_anwr_caribou.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 15px 30px;">home to more than 200 species, including polar bears, wolverines, musk oxen and thousands of migratory birds.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now, technically this is meaningless. ANWR has been a battleground for years, as much symbolic as anything else. The amount of oil it could produce isn't really huge, but then again, the environmental damage that a pipeline would produce probably isn't that huge either.<sup>1</sup> In any case, the Interior Department already bans drilling in ANWR, and there's no way that a Republican Congress is going to pass a bill to make a drilling ban permanent. So what's the point of Obama's proposal?</p> <p>It's simple: once again he's using the agenda-setting power of the presidency. Basically, he's making ANWR something that everyone now has to take a stand on. Talking heads will fulminate on one side or the other, and Republicans will respond by introducing legislation to open up ANWR to drilling. This isn't something they were planning to spend time on, but now they probably will. Their base will demand it, as will the Republican caucus in the House and Senate. Nothing will come of it, of course, but it will eat up time that might otherwise have been spent on something else.</p> <p>And that's why Obama is doing this. It also lays down a marker and lets everyone know that Democrats are the party of natural beauty while Republicans are the party of Big Oil. It can't hurt to make that clear. Still, that's not the main goal here. The main goal is to toss some sand in the gears of Republican plans for the 115th Congress. Obama is proving once again that even with the opposition in control of Congress, he still has the power to decide what people are going to talk about.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Please address all hate mail regarding this assertion to my editors. Thanks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Obama Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:59:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 268826 at It's Time for Greece to Decide If It's Leaving the Euro <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As expected, the Syriza party won power in Sunday's election in Greece. Their platform is pretty simple: the austerity forced on Greece after the 2008 financial collapse is no longer tolerable. The Greek economy is in shambles, growth is negative, and unemployment is above 25 percent. Europe needs to forgive its loans to Greece and allow the Greek economy to grow again. <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">Here is Europe's response so far:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;The Greeks have the right to elect whoever they want; we have the right to no longer finance Greek debt,&rdquo; Hans-Peter Friedrich, a senior member of [Angela] Merkel&rsquo;s conservative bloc, told the daily newspaper <em>Bild</em> on Monday. &ldquo;The Greeks must now pay the consequences and cannot saddle German taxpayers with them.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words: Screw you. The loans need to be repaid no matter the cost. This has been the German position for some time<sup>1</sup>, and the German position is the de facto European position. So we have a standoff.</p> <p>It's unclear what will happen next. There will be negotiations, of course, but the truth is that Syriza doesn't have much leverage. They can threaten to unilaterally default and leave the eurozone, but that's about it. A few years ago, that would have meant something because everyone was afraid that if Greece defaulted, perhaps Spain and Italy and Portugal and others would follow suit. This could well have destroyed the euro. Today things are exactly the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_greece_germany.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">opposite. Nobody is really afraid that other countries would follow Greece in leaving the euro, but they <em>are</em> afraid that if they make serious concessions then other countries will want their debt forgiven too. And that's simply not on the German agenda.</p> <p>So is Syriza serious? Will they really default if they don't get what they want? Leaving the euro would be no easy task and would cause immense economic pain. The only question is whether the pain would be worth it in the long run. It might be, but it's hardly an easy call, and it would take real guts for Syriza to call Germany's bluff and leave the euro. The practical problems alone&mdash;how fast can you create new physical currency and coins to replace euros?&mdash;are nearly insurmountable. The economic problems of capital flight and being shut out of the international loan market would be colossal. Greeks would take an instant hit to their standard of living, perhaps as large as 50 percent.</p> <p>But it still might be worth it. The Greeks may calculate that in the medium term, exiting the euro and adopting a devalued currency would allow their economy to become competitive and finally start growing again. Without that, they could be looking at a decade or more of pain and stagnation.</p> <p>So there's the question: which road would leave Greece better off in 2025? Years more of stagnation followed by a slow, painful recovery? Or a huge hit now followed&mdash;maybe&mdash;by a robust recovery? It's not an easy question.</p> <p>And of course, there's also the purely emotional aspect of all this. The Germans are tired of the whining Greeks. The Greeks are tired of living under the German jackboot. It may simply be time for a divorce, consequences be damned. The next few months will be a time of high tension for Europe.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Ironically, this was the position of the allies toward German reparation debt following World War I, and we all know how that turned out. But no one is afraid of Greece starting a new world war, so no one cares about the irony.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:17:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 268816 at This Is Not a Drill: 29 Million Brace for Massive, Historic Snowstorm <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Update: Monday, January 26, 6:35 p.m. EST: </strong>This was the scene outside our office this afternoon. Yikes!</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Update: Monday, January 26, 6:00 p.m. EST: </strong>From <a href="" target="_blank">our friends at Climate Central</a>, here's a little background on the weather forces behind the storm and how they relate to man-made climate change:</p> <blockquote> <p>The low pressure area at the heart of the storm is tracking along the East Coast in a way that lets it exploit the contrast between the cold air over land and the warmth of the oceans, which are running more than 2&deg;F warmer than normal along much of the coast, said <a href="">Kevin Trenberth</a>, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The warmer ocean waters mean more moisture in the atmosphere for the storm to suck up; the cold air over the continent ensures that moisture falls as snow.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Update: Monday, January 26, 5:00 p.m. EST:</strong> New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to put a "hard stop" on the region's public transit later tonight in preparation for worse snow conditions starting in the early hours of Tuesday:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>As per <a href="">@NYGovCuomo</a>, all <a href="">@NYCTSubway</a>, <a href="">@NYCTBus</a>, <a href="">@LIRR</a> and <a href="">@MetroNorth</a> operations will be fully closed by 11pm.</p> &mdash; MTA (@MTA) <a href="">January 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>New Yorkers were piling into the subway ahead of the evening rush hour:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz-6.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Heading into the Union Square subway entrance Monday afternoon. </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p><strong>Update: Monday, January 26, 2:45 p.m. EST:</strong> Even just after a couple hours of snow dumped by the strengthening blizzard, New York City's landscape is white-washed for the first time this season:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz-1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>NYC's heroic fleet of food delivery cyclists soldiered on as snow came down in Manhattan. </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz4.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Almost as soon as it started, the snow was coming down in sheets. </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz-5.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>In Midtown, so begins the long battle to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice. </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz-3.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Stay warm, little guy! </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bliz-2.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Central Park quickly turned into a winter wonderland. </strong>Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p><strong>Update: Monday, January 26, 2:15 p.m. EST:</strong> As the blizzard begins to hit New York City, my colleague James West ventured out to capture some Brooklyn street scenes, in super-slow motion (flick the player to HD for some fun snow-falling prettiness):</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>After a few months of mild weather, today and tomorrow the East Coast is in for one hell of a snowstorm. <a href="" target="_blank">Twenty-nine million people</a> from New Jersey to Maine are under a blizzard alert. Here's the latest snow forecast for the Boston region from the National Weather Service:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Looks like <a href="">@NWSBoston</a> is all in. 28" for Boston (verbatim current fcst) would be a new all-time record. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) <a href="">January 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And New York:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Here is our latest storm total snow range forecast graphic. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) <a href="">January 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>The range shown for New York here&mdash;up to two feet dumped on the city by Wednesday&mdash;is at least down from yesterday's estimates, when, <a href="" target="_blank">as our friend Eric Holhaus at <em>Slate </em>reported</a>, meteorologists were warning that it could be the largest blizzard in the city's history. Still, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="" target="_blank">told residents</a> "to prepare for something worse than we have seen before." The worst of the worst is expected starting Monday afternoon and through Tuesday.</p> <p>Stay tuned here for more updates, as well as images from inside the storm.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Photo Essays Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:10:17 +0000 Tim McDonnell 268801 at In This Hopeful New Video, UNICEF and Electronic Artist RL Grime Tackle the Horrors of Child Marriage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Every year around the world, more than 14 million girls are wed, typically to much older men, before they turn 18. The child brides, who more often than not are forced into these marriages by their parents, find themselves socially isolated and more likely than older wives to be beaten by their husbands or in-laws. In Chad, where nearly 70 percent become child brides, girls are more likely to die in childbirth than attend secondary school.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="RL Grime" class="image" src="/files/RL%20credit%20Andi%20Ellowayrsz1.jpg" style="height: 362px; width: 250px;"><div class="caption"><strong>"Before UNICEF approached me, I was unaware of this epidemic," RL Grime told me. </strong>Andi Elloway</div> </div> <p>This new video, a collaboration between UNICEF and the electronic music producer RL Grime, tells the story of a child bride who meets a sad end&mdash;but with a twist. Featuring Grime's haunting new song "Always," the video will be used in the African Union's #ENDChildMarriageNOW campaign to highlight how children and communities suffer when girls marry too young. It "transmits a very strong message because it shows a too common reality in the life of many young girls," says UNICEF's Chad representative. "The video, at the same time, also shows an alternative story full of hope. It portrays the crucial role education can play in empowering girls and the collective change needed in the society to end child marriage."</p> <p>According to UNICEF, giving girls better access to education, offering economic incentives and support for families, and implementing legislation to restrict child marriage are all crucial to solving the problem. But the first step is simply to make people aware of it.</p> <p>RL Grime, whose real name is Henry Steinway, and whose tracks have clocked millions of listens on <a href="" target="_blank">YouTube</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">SoundCloud</a>, was happy to help. "Before UNICEF approached me, I was unaware of this epidemic of child marriage that is plaguing Chad and other places globally," he writes in an email. "So when they came to me with the opportunity I was happy to be involved and help shed light on a very real world topic."</p> <p>He picked "Always," the opening track from <em>VOID</em>, his first full-length album, because he felt it evokes both the gravity of the problem and the idea of hope. "I think it's a somber yet uplifting track," he writes. "The lyric 'I feel better when I have you near me' really meshed well with the overall theme of the video, which to me hits on this sense of community."</p> <p>The video has been officially endorsed by the First Lady of the Republic of Chad, who will present it to other leaders at the Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa later this month.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Human Rights International Music Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:10 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 268721 at The Go-Betweens, Expert Edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Go Betweens" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-01-21%20at%2012.54.26%20PM.png" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>Led by gifted singer-songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, Australia's Go-Betweens were a jangly folk-rock combo that compiled an impressive body of work from the late '70s to late '80s, broke up, and then reunited for another strong run in the early 2000s&mdash;until McLennan suffered a fatal heart attack in 2006. While comparisons to the Velvet Underground and R.E.M. are not implausible, the band was really its own unforgettable creature, suggesting a punk group trying to play nice pop songs, but not quite getting things right. Sometimes sweet, often astringent, the duo's songs never felt pat or predictable (or truly finished), creating the sensation of hearing riveting first takes of future classics.</p> <p>Compiled by Forster, <em>G Stands for Go-Betweens</em> contains four vinyl discs, including their first three albums and a compilation of early singles, and four CDs that offer a whopping 70 rarities, including an electrifying '82 live show. It's not for beginners&mdash;either of the early albums <em>Before Hollywood</em> or <em>Spring Hill Fair</em> makes a good starting point&mdash;but anyone who's already joined the cult will find this imposing package irresistible.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:09 +0000 Jon Young 268601 at Has Netanyahu Finally Gone Too Far With His Contempt for Obama? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I keep wondering if it's ever possible for Benjamin Netanyahu to go too far. He's treated President Obama with truly astonishing levels of contempt and disdain for nearly his entire tenure, and he's done it in the apparent belief that his political support in the US is so strong and so bipartisan that he'll never be held to account for it. And so far he hasn't been.</p> <p>But what about his latest stunt? The fact that John Boehner invited him to address Congress is hardly surprising. Boehner needed to poke Obama in the eye to demonstrate his conservative bona fides, and this was a perfect opportunity since he knew Netanyahu would deliver plenty of trash talk about Obama's Iran policy. But the fact that <em>Netanyahu</em> kept the invitation a secret from the administration and failed to even notify them he was planning a visit&mdash;well, that's a whole different story. As former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk put it, "Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign....Unfortunately, the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours."</p> <p>And it turns out that even two Fox News hosts agree. <a href="" target="_blank">Max Fisher relays the story:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Two prominent Fox News hosts, Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith, harshly criticized Boehner and Netanyahu on Friday for secretly arranging a Netanyahu speech to Congress that is transparently aimed at undermining President Obama, and set up without the White House's knowledge.</p> <p>...."I agree 100 percent," Wallace said when Smith read a quote from Indyk criticizing the Boehner-Netanyahu maneuver. Wallace went on:</p> <blockquote> <p>And to make you get a sense of really how, forgive me, wicked, this whole thing is, the Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Israeli Ambassador to the United States for two hours on Tuesday, Ron Dermer. The ambassador, never mentioned the fact that Netanyahu was in negotiations and finally agreed to come to Washington, not to see the president, but to go to Capitol Hill, speak to a joint session of congress and criticize the president's policy. I have to say I'm shocked.</p> </blockquote> <p>Smith said, "it seems like [Netanyahu's government] think[s] we don't pay attention and that we're just a bunch of complete morons, the United States citizens, as if we wouldn't pick up on what's happening here."</p> </blockquote> <p>Shep Smith goes off the Fox reservation all the time, so perhaps his comments aren't too much of a surprise. But although Wallace is no Sean Hannity, he's fairly reliably conservative and even he was shocked.</p> <p>So has Netanyahu finally gone over the line? So far I haven't heard much criticism from sitting US politicians, so I'd have to say not. Not yet, anyway. But it sure seems like the day is going to come. No matter how close an ally Israel is, there's only so much contempt their leaders can show for a sitting American president and his policies. Eventually the American public is going to lose patience, even the folks who aren't huge Obama fans themselves.</p> <p>It hasn't happened yet. Maybe it never will. But it sure seems as if Benjamin Netanyahu is hellbent on pushing the line until he finally rings a bell he can't unring. The only question now is whether he stays in office long enough to make that final, fatal mistake.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Foreign Policy Obama Top Stories Sun, 25 Jan 2015 23:15:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 268786 at Bill Nye Slams Bill Belichick: "What He Said Didn't Make Any Sense" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe height="354" scrolling="no" src="" style="border:none;" width="630"></iframe><br> Let me start by saying, I don't know anything about football. I'm from Los Angeles. We don't have a football team. I went to NYU where the most popular sporting event is the Spring production of <em>Damn Yankees. </em>Up until very recently I thought football was soccer but with players who didn't have feet, instead their legs ended with sort of rounded nubs&mdash;"balls," if you will&mdash;and I thought it was so awful that millions of Americans get together every Sunday&mdash;which is the Lord's day, by the way&mdash;to force disabled folk to compete in some sort of blood sport. It's not that though. It turns out it's the real life version of <a href="" target="_blank">NFL Blitz</a>, which it turns out isn't just a video game. It's based on a real thing. Anyway, what am I talking about?</p> <p>Oh yeah! #Deflategate! The Patriots! (Why are they called "the Patriots"? I get that it's about the American Revolution and Massachusetts played a key role in that but come on, we're all patriots here, FOX News. Even the Bengals fans.) I don't like the Patriots because they're from Boston and Boston is the home of the worst NBA team in the whole wide world, the Celtics, who had the audacity to beat my Los Angeles Lakers a couple of times in the 1980s. Also, the Red Sox! They're pretty awful! And Boston is a very cold city, at least in the winter. A <a href="" target="_blank">not-so-long ago history of racism</a>, Boston also has, let's not forget. And New England clam chowder is garbage compared to Manhattan clam chowder. So, I say this just to be transparent. I don't think I personally want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Maybe I do. The Seahawks don't sound great. <a href="" target="_blank">Pete Carroll is apparently a 9/11 truther</a>, which is a turnoff.</p> <p>Let's veer this ramble towards the news: #Deflategate! Bill Belichick says he didn't do it. It wasn't him. It was Mr Blue in the Library with the piano wire. Or, something. He has a scientific explanation for why the balls were tested to be <a href="" target="_blank">under-inflated</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>"We simulated a game-day situation, in terms of the preparation of the footballs, and where the footballs were at various points in time during the day or night. ... I would say that our preparation process for the footballs is what we do &mdash;I can't speak for anybody else -- and that process raises the PSI approximately one pound," Belichick said. "That process of creating a tackiness, a texture -- a right feel, whatever that feel is, whatever that feel is. It's a sensation for the quarterback. What's the right feel -- that process elevates the PSI one pound, based on what our study showed. Which was multiple balls, multiple examples in the process, as we would do for a game."</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't know what any of that really means. It reads like gibberish to me. I, like so many Republican politicians, am not a scientist. Bill Nye is though and <a href="" target="_blank">he says it's gibberish too</a>:</p> <p>"What he said didn't make any sense...Rubbing the football, I don't think, can change the pressure."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>And that's the news. Goodnight and good luck.</p> <p>P.S. One of the things I was confused about was how deflated balls would give an advantage to a football team, because presumably it would make them less aerodynamic, but as my colleague<a href="" target="_blank"> Tim McDonnell notes, it's about "grippiness."</a></p></body></html> Contributor Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:21:51 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268781 at This Washington Post Headline Is the Funniest Thing You'll Read All Weekend <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Got the winter blues? Well, turn that frown upside down! Here's a thing to make you smile.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sarah Palin says she&rsquo;s "seriously interested" in a 2016 campaign <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Washington Post (@washingtonpost) <a href="">January 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>In other pretend candidate news:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"> <p>Guys he's totally serious this time RT <a href="">@costareports</a>: Trump ends his speech: "I am seriously thinking of running for president"</p> &mdash; Josh Barro (@jbarro) <a href="">January 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>What a time to be alive.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:31:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268776 at This Is Why Under-Inflated Footballs Could Have Given Tom Brady An Advantage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>To those of us for whom the nuances of professional football tactics are a bit of a mystery, there was one question looming over New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's <a href="" target="_blank">surreal Ballghazi press conference yesterday</a> that went unanswered: What's so great, in theory, about a deflated football? Seems like, if anything, an under-inflated ball would be less aerodynamic?</p> <p>Turns out, the potential benefit is all about grippiness. From <em><a href="" target="_blank">Fox Sports</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">John Eric Goff</a>, professor of physics at Lynchburg College in Virginia and author of &ldquo;Gold Medal Physics:&nbsp;The Science of Sports,&rdquo; told that the league-mandated PSI range is ideal for playing football. &ldquo;If, however, there&rsquo;s rain or snow or something else happening, that would make the ball a bit slicker, so having a bit less pressure in the ball makes it easier to squeeze and the grip improves,&rdquo; he added.</p> </blockquote> <p>Interesting!</p></body></html> Mixed Media Science Sports Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:20:51 +0000 Tim McDonnell 268766 at Black Man Lawfully Carrying Gun Gets Pummeled by White Vigilante at Walmart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There is no shortage of debate about whether <a href="" target="_blank">allowing citizens to carry concealed guns</a> makes society safer. You may be shocked to learn that the answer could depend in part on <a href="" target="_blank">the color of a citizen's skin</a>.</p> <p>Exhibit A this week, from Florida: A surveillance video from a Walmart located near Tampa shows 62-year-old <a href="" target="_blank">Clarence Daniels</a>&nbsp;trying to enter&nbsp;the store to purchase some coffee creamer for his wife&nbsp;this past Tuesday. He barely steps through the automatic doors before he is pummeled&nbsp;by shopper&nbsp;Michael Foster, a 43-year-old white man.</p> <p>"He's got a gun!" Foster shouts, to which Daniels replies, "I have a permit!"</p> <p>According to local news reports, Foster originally spotted Daniels in the store's parking lot placing his legally owned handgun underneath his coat. In keeping with Florida's well-known <a href="" target="_blank">vigilante spirit</a>, Foster decided to take matters into his own hands by following&nbsp;Daniels&nbsp;into the Walmart. Without warning, he tackled Daniels and placed him in <a href="" target="_blank">a&nbsp;chokehold</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Police soon arrived and confirmed Daniels indeed had a permit for the handgun.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Unfortunately, he tackled a guy that was a law-abiding citizen," <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> Larry McKinnon, a police spokesperson. "We understand it's alarming for people to see other people with guns, but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders."</p> <p>Foster is now facing battery charges.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Guns Race and Ethnicity Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:40:42 +0000 Inae Oh 268746 at Melinda Gates Shames Anti-Vaxxers "Who Have Forgotten What Measles Death Looks Like" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On the heels of an increasingly widening measles outbreak at <a href="" target="_blank">Disneyland</a>&nbsp;in California, where at least 28&nbsp;of the people infected were reportedly unvaccinated,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Melinda Gates</a> is urging parents to take advantage of healthcare resources in the United States and get their children vaccinated.</p> <p>"We take vaccines so for granted in the United States," Gates explained during an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday. "Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death."</p> <p>In detailing the struggle parents in the developing world endure to have their children vaccinated, Gates said Americans have simply "forgotten what measles death looks like."&nbsp;</p> <p>Through her&nbsp;philanthropy work with husband Bill Gates, Melinda&nbsp;has long worked to help people in developing countries&nbsp;obtain basic healthcare treatment, including vaccine deliveries.&nbsp;</p> <p>"I'd say to the people of the United States: We're incredibly lucky to have that technology and we ought to take advantage of it," she added.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the United States, the highly contagious disease has reemerged in recent years&nbsp;thanks to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">anti-vaccination movement</a> and personal belief exemptions. Use of the controversial waivers is particularly prominent in California.</p> <p>The recent outbreak at Disneyland has heightened&nbsp;the debate. According to the<em> Associated Press</em>, those infected range from just <a href="" target="_blank">seven months to 70-years-old</a>, including five park employees.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. James Cherry, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California-Los Angeles,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>New York</em> <em>Times</em></a> the current outbreak is "100 percent connected" to the anti-immunization movement.</p> <p>"It wouldn't have happened otherwise&mdash;it wouldn't have gone anywhere. There are some pretty dumb people out there."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" scrollable="no" src=";autoPlay=false" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Health Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:20:55 +0000 Inae Oh 268726 at That Time Badass Feminist Queen Elizabeth II Gave Saudi Arabia's King a Lesson in Power <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is known to have a wicked sense of humor, and some mean driving skills. One day back in 1998, she deployed both spectacularly to punk Saudi Arabia's <a href="" target="_blank">late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz</a>. Back then, Abdullah was a Saudi crown prince visiting Balmoral, the vast royal estate in Scotland. The Queen had offered him a tour of the grounds&mdash;here's what happened next, <a href="" target="_blank">according to former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not&mdash;yet&mdash;allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.</p> </blockquote> <p>Royal custom discourages repeating what the Queen says in private, Cowper-Coles explained, but the anecdote was corroborated by Abdullah, and became, in the diplomat's words, "too funny not to repeat."</p> <p>Abdullah went on to <a href="" target="_blank">cultivate the image of a reformer as king</a>. One thing he didn't change, despite the Queen's badass stunt: women <a href="" target="_blank">still can't drive in Saudi Arabia</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo International Sex and Gender Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:22:04 +0000 Sam Brodey 268736 at Friday Cat Blogging - 23 January 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I wrote this morning's short post and then spent the rest of the morning napping. This is ridiculous, and I don't know what's going on. I'm a thousand percent better than I was Tuesday and Wednesday, but still dog tired. One possibility is that this is due to a change in my chemo schedule. Instead of getting all three meds on Friday, I got two of them on Friday and then the third as a standalone on Monday. The next day I was wiped out. Anyway, I <em>hope</em> that's the reason, since this was a one-time thing. I'll ask about it today, though I have little hope of getting any satisfactory answers.</p> <p>In any case, it's finally Friday, so how about some catblogging? This week features a brand new addition to the extended family of Drum cats. My friend Professor Marc sends along this photo of Ivan Davidoff, his new Siberian. His report: "Seems to like being around people, but is not a cuddle-kitty. He likes being petted, will frequently come see if I&rsquo;m still in the home office if I&rsquo;m working there, sometimes jumps onto the desk to be next to me, but is not a lap cat. Maybe that will come as he gets more comfortable. Has woken us up in the middle of the night to get affection, but is not pushy about it." He is certainly a handsome critter, no?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ivan_davidoff_2015_01_23.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:17:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 268751 at No Money Left Behind: Education Entrepreneur Cashes in on Bush Family Ties <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In this week's <em>New Yorker</em>, Alec MacGillis <a href="" target="_blank">discusses</a> Jeb Bush's approach to education reform, the realm in which Bush, as Florida's governor, had sought to make his biggest mark. In 1995, his efforts to improve the state's public schools catalyzed his political career and, later, fueled competition with his brother George, who as president rolled out the No Child Left Behind Act:</p> <blockquote> <p>Jeb Bush made it known that he thought his own approach superior, because it sought to grade schools on improvements in individual students' scores, rather than just on schools' performance in a given year. "There were lots of conversations about the work in Texas and how Florida had improved on that," [school superintendent Jim] Warford said. According to education officials, Jeb's team had little respect for Rod Paige, the former Houston schools superintendent whom George W. Bush had named Secretary of Education. "It was a little prickly in Florida," Sandy Kress, who worked on the implementation of No Child Left Behind, said. "It was 'We're going to do it our way and can do it better.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Their sibling rivalry notwithstanding, the Bush bros have common ties to one particularly controversial educational entrepreneur. Starting in the late 1990s, Randy Best, <a href="" target="_blank">whom I profiled at the end of George W. Bush's second term</a>, used his connections to the president to transform a virtually unknown for-profit education company, Voyager, into a "selling juggernaut" (in his words) that he unloaded in 2005 for $360 million.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Best-and-Co-Final.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Randy Best </strong>Steve Brodner</div> </div> <p>The key to Voyager's success was the way it it used revolving doors in Bush's Education Department to <a href="" target="_blank">game the procurement process</a>. Its dealings prompted a scathing DOE inspector general's report in 2006 and a harshly worded Senate report the following year. "Many programs, including Voyager, were probably adopted on the basis of relationships, rather than effectiveness data," G. Reid Lyon, who co-wrote the No Child Left Behind Act and later consulted for Best, told me in 2008. "I thought all this money would be great; it would get into schools. But money makes barracudas out of people. It's an amazing thing."</p> <p>The controversy surrounding Voyager didn't dissuade Best from starting another education company. Founded in 2005, Academic Partnerships persuades colleges to outsource to the firm their degree programs in subjects such as business and education, which it puts online in exchange for a hefty chunk of the profits. Nor did Voyager dissuade Jeb Bush from partnering with Best. Here's MacGillis:</p> <blockquote> <p>Best needed someone to lend credibility to the company. Florida had spent heavily on Voyager during Jeb Bush's governorship, and, in 2005, when Bush was still in office, Best spoke with him about going into the education business. By 2011, Bush had joined Academic Partnerships as an investor and an adviser, and he became the company's highest-profile champion. Best told the Washington <em>Post</em> that Bush's annual salary was sixty thousand dollars, but he did not disclose the terms of Bush's investment stake. For the first time, Bush was making money in an educational enterprise.</p> </blockquote> <p>Last month, after announcing his intent to run for president, Bush resigned from Academic Partnerships and several other business affiliations. Yet if Bush's family history is any guide, Randy Best 2.0 is just getting started.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Bush Education Jeb Bush Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:12:32 +0000 Josh Harkinson 268701 at John Boehner Faces a Revolt of the Moderates <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Having awakened from my slumber, I see that John Boehner has a whole new problem on his hands. Apparently the rump moderate wing of the Republican Party is <a href="" target="_blank">starting to feel itchy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Female lawmakers pushed the party to drop Thursday's planned vote on legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, forcing leaders to abruptly switch course and pass a different antiabortion bill.</p> <p>Last week, a surprisingly large group of 26 House Republicans refused to support an amendment that called for ending deportation deferrals of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Those dissenters came within one vote of tanking the measure aimed at so-called Dreamers.</p> </blockquote> <p>This comes from <em>LA Times</em> reporter Lisa Mascaro, who tells us these folks "bristle" at being called moderates. They prefer to be called pragmatists. Tomayto, tomahto, says me, though it's telling that "moderate" is still a dirty word in GOP land. It's also telling that all this fuss is over bills that everyone agrees are nothing more than the usual symbolic flotsam and jetsam that Republicans pass every year with no actual hope of any of them becoming law. This year, though, they're having trouble even doing that.</p> <p>Why? Is it because the bills are slightly less symbolic than in the past? There is, after all, just a bare chance that some of them could get through the Senate if sponsors line up a few Democrats to join in. They'd still get vetoed, but they'd nonetheless be a little less symbolic in the public's mind. Or is it simply the fact that as Republican ranks grow, the party's victories increasingly come in more moderate districts? As Democrats lose ground in moderate districts and become more solidly liberal, perhaps it's inevitable that Republicans will become more like the Democrats of old.</p> <p>In any case, John Boehner has his work cut out for him. He's got tea partiers on one side, moderates on the other, and a president who has been very effectively throwing sand in the gears of Republican priorities ever since November. Boehner's leadership skills, always a bit on the iffy side, are going to be sorely tested this year.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:16:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 268731 at The Oceans Are On the Verge of Mass Extinction. Here's How to Avoid It. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We land-based creatures live in the midst of a <a href="">massive extinction crisis</a>, just the <a href="">sixth one over the past half billion years</a>. What about the oceans? A much-discussed, wide-ranging recent <a href=""><em>Science</em> study</a> (paywalled) has good news: Sea critters are currently faring much better than their land counterparts, which are going extinct at a rate 36 times higher. (That number is likely exaggerated, the authors note, because scientists have done a much better job of cataloging land critters than sea critters.)</p> <p>But the report also brings horrible news: Between over-fishing and habitat destruction (think acidification, coastal development, warming, coral destruction, dead zones from fertilizer runoff, etc.), the oceans may be on the brink of their own extinction catastrophe. (<em>The New York Times' </em>Carl Zimmer has more details <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>; <em>Vox's</em> Brad Plumer has a good analysis <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.) Today's marine extinction rates look eerily similar to the "moderate" land-based ones just before the Industrial Revolution, the authors warn. "Rates of extinction on land increased dramatically after this period, and we may now be sitting at the precipice of a similar extinction transition in the oceans."</p> <p>What to do? Tackling the over-fishing problem will be no mean feat, given the expected rise of the human population to 9 billion by 2050, but it's probably doable. One place to start is smarter fish farming. Globally, about <a href="">half of seafood consumed comes from farms</a>, but much of it actually <em>harms </em>the oceans. Salmon farms, for example, rely on sucking up mass quantities of wild fish for feed&mdash;it takes at least <a href="">three pounds</a> of anchovies, sardines, menhaden, and other "forage fish" to deliver a pound of farmed salmon (not to mention the <a href="">waste problem</a> created when you confine thousands of big fish loose together).</p> <p>And Asian shrimp farms&mdash;source of nearly <a href="">90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the US</a>&mdash;have been plunked down atop what had been highly productive coastal ecosystems called mangrove forests. According to the <a href="">United Nations</a>, as much as a third of the globe's mangroves have been destroyed since 1980&mdash;and shrimp and other forms of aquaculture account for more than half that loss.</p> <p>But there are ways to improve fish farming. Filter-feeding species like oysters and <a href="">clams</a>&mdash;which get their nutrients by filtering out plankton and other stuff suspended in the water&mdash;require no feed and can <a href="">enhance coastal ecosystems</a>. And there are farming systems (both <a href="">ancient</a> and <a href="">new-fangled</a>) that combine several species and even land-based crops to generate lots of high-quality food with few <a href="">inputs and little waste</a>. Finally, my colleagues Maddie Oatman and Brent Brownell have documented a successful effort to farm top-quality trout&mdash;normally a fish-eating fish&mdash;with vegetarian feed made mainly of (non-gross) food waste. Maddie's article <a href="">here</a>; video below.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Then there's that <a href="">oft-repeated</a>, little-heeded advice to choose seafood low on the trophic scare&mdash;that is, fish and other sea critters that eat plants and plankton, not other fish. Oysters, clams, and mussels are all good examples. And instead of choosing farmed salmon, go with the little fish that gets fed to them. To that end, here are <a href="">two</a> <a href="">recipes</a> for sardines&mdash;trust me, they're delicious.</p> <p>Now, as tricky as it will be to cut back on overfishing by convincing fish farmers to mend their ways and consumers to change their habits, the even bigger challenge will be to stop trashing the place all of these critters call home. Habitat degradation, according to the <em>Science</em> authors, is the main trigger for the extinction wave we're now seeing on land, and is probably the biggest threat to cause a similar catastrophe at sea. "If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy," Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and an author of the report, <a href="">told</a> <em>The Times'</em> Zimmer. "In effect, that's what we&rsquo;re doing to the oceans." Of course, both warming and acidification are the direct result of our fossil fuel habit&mdash;the same force that's generating potentially catastrophic climate change up here on land. There's no saving the oceans without solving that problem.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Animals Food and Ag Top Stories Oceans Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Tom Philpott 268711 at Mississippi Wouldn't Allow This Teacher to Show Kids How to Use a Condom. His Simple Solution Is Brilliant. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Mississippi, where education laws require "stressing" abstinence, teachers are <a href="" target="_blank">prohibited</a> from "any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied." Nonetheless, 76 percent of Mississippi teenagers <a href="" target="_blank">report having sex</a> before the end of high school, and a third of babies in the state are born to teenage mothers. One teacher came up with a creative solution for imparting some wisdom to students about condoms&mdash;watch it below. (<a href="" target="_blank">And read our full report on draconian sex-ed laws here</a>.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Video Education Sex and Gender The Right Fri, 23 Jan 2015 01:54:28 +0000 Julia Lurie 268661 at Netflix Just Released the Trailer for Tina Fey's New Sitcom and It Looks Incredible <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe>Welcome to your new favorite thing. Finally, a glimpse of <em>Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt</em>&mdash;the latest from Tina Fey and the team behind <em>30 Rock</em>&mdash;which comes to Netflix on March 6. Reminiscent of the recent rash of reality TV shows like <em>Breaking the Faith</em> and <em>Breaking Amish</em>, the comedy series starring Ellie Kemper (<em>The Office, <em>Bridesmaids</em></em>) follows a peppy former doomsday cult victim as she tries to make a new life in New York City, having been rescued from an Indiana bunker. Hilarity ensues. Alongside Kemper, it's a joy to see former <em>30 Rock</em> stars Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess.</p> <p>The first sitcom for Fey since <em>30 Rock</em> was originally developed to air on NBC (co-written by NBC show-runner Robert Carlock), but it was bought up by Netflix <a href="" target="_blank">last November</a>. At a recent press conference for TV critics, Fey joked that the lack of network restrictions on streaming platforms was creatively liberating: "I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," she said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to NPR</a>.</p> <p>For someone who has made network TV her career, the shift to streaming is a big move for Fey. But she told critics that the basics of any television series still apply on Netflix: "People still have that communal feeling when the next season of <em>Orange is the New Black</em> goes up. And they do want to talk about it, they do want to email about it and they do want to talk about it at work. So you still have the communal feeling of, like, 'Oh we want to see this and talk about it right now.'"</p> <p>The only catch? "Its just not literally at that specific hour of the night."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Media Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:18:41 +0000 James West 268696 at Listen to Tom Brady Talk About His Deflated Balls...and ISIS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tom Brady would like you to know that he is innocent...also, <a href="" target="_blank">"this isn't ISIS."</a></p> <p>Here is a video, courtesy of our friends across the aisle at<em> National Review. </em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Also, here is a Vine of just the ISIS part.</p> <p><iframe class="vine-embed" frameborder="0" height="630" src="" width="630"></iframe><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Sports!</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:17:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 268686 at One Perfect Tweet Sums Up Why Climate Denial in Congress Is So Dangerous <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the good news: Yesterday the Senate <a href="" target="_blank">voted overwhelmingly</a> in favor of an amendment to the Keystone XL bill that says "climate change is real and not a hoax." Good work, ladies and gentlemen! Glad we got that on the record, <a href="" target="_blank">only 25 years</a> after scientists agreed on it.</p> <p>Here's the bad news: Turns out the vote was just an excuse for James Inhofe (Okla.) to say, as he has many times before: Sure, climate change is real. The climate changes all the time. But humans aren't the cause.</p> <p>His evidence for this dismissal of the mainstream scientific consensus? <a href="" target="_blank">The bible</a>.</p> <p>Oy vey.</p> <p>Now here's the really bad news: This same gentleman from Oklahoma recently became the chairman of the very Senate committee that oversees environmental policy. And two of his climate change-denying peers <a href="" target="_blank">will chair other subcommittees</a> that oversee vital climate science.</p> <p>In case it isn't self-evident why these facts are so terrible, we have our lovely readers to sum it up:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="">@MotherJones</a> How can United States possibly compete in the scientific community when we have throwbacks like this running major committees</p> &mdash; Sharon Dennis (@sddphoto) <a href="">January 22, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Thanks, <a href="" target="_blank">Sharon Dennis</a>!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:13:16 +0000 Tim McDonnell 268676 at Terrifying Video Shows Black Man "With His Hands Raised" Shot To Death By New Jersey Cop <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A newly released <a href="" target="_blank">dashcam recording</a> shows a New Jersey police officer fatally shooting a black man whose&nbsp;hands were raised in the air.</p> <p>The fatal encounter stems from a routine traffic stop on&nbsp;December 30, in which Bridgeton officers Braheme&nbsp;Days and Roger Worley pulled over a vehicle for running through a stop sign.&nbsp;</p> <p>While questioning the two men, Leroy Tutt and Jerame Reid, the video shows Days suddenly shouting to&nbsp;his partner, "We've got a gun in his glove compartment!"</p> <p>"Show me your fucking hands," Days, who appears to recognize Reid as he his heard calling him by his first name,&nbsp;warns. "<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">He's reaching for something!" &nbsp;</span></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>As the situation intensifies, Reid can be heard telling the officers, "I'm not reaching for nothing. I ain't got no reason to reach for nothing." He then tells Days, "I'm getting out and getting on the ground."</p> <p>Reid gets up and exits the car with his hands raised. Then the two officers fire at least six shots, killing Reid.</p> <p>"The video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person," Walter Hudson of the civil rights group National Awareness Alliance said Wednesday.</p> <p>According to records, Reid was in prison for 13 years for <a href="" target="_blank">shooting at a state trooper</a>&nbsp;when he was a teenager.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Tuesday, the Bridgeton&nbsp;Police Department expressed its disappointment over the <a href="" target="_blank">video's release</a> "out of respect for the family." An investigation into the fatal shooting is being conducted.&nbsp;</p> <p>The recording comes amid reports the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown will be cleared of <a href="" target="_blank">federal civil rights charges.</a>&nbsp;The August shooting&nbsp;sparked massive protests around the country with the chant, "Hands up, don't shoot" serving as a symbolic call for justice in Brown's death.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:44:44 +0000 Inae Oh 268641 at