Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2014/05/PLACEIMPMACROHERE http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en 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. 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>. But you can still watch it right here:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7rLKguRJzHM" width="630"></iframe></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 Bree Newsome Explains Why She Tore Down the Confederate Flag in South Carolina http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/bree-newsome-explains-why-she-tore-down-confederate-flag <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday afternoon, Bree Newsome, the woman who scaled the flagpole at the South Carolina statehouse on Saturday and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/watch-badass-woman-scale-statehouse-flagpole-take-down-confederate-flag" target="_blank">took down the Confederate flag</a>, made her first public comments since her arrest, which were published on the progressive website <a href="http://bluenationreview.com/exclusive-bree-newsome-speaks-for-the-first-time-after-courageous-act-of-civil-disobedience" target="_blank"><em>Blue Nation Review</em></a>. She detailed her recent history of activism and described her motivation:</p> <blockquote> <p>The night of the Charleston Massacre, I had a crisis of faith. The people who gathered for Bible study in Emmanuel AME Church that night&mdash;Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson and Rev. Clementa Pinckney (rest in peace)&mdash;were only doing what Christians are called to do when anyone knocks on the door of the church: invite them into fellowship and worship.</p> <p>The day after the massacre I was asked what the next step was and I said I didn&rsquo;t know. We&rsquo;ve been here before and here we are again: black people slain simply for being black; an attack on the black church as a place of spiritual refuge and community organization.<br> I refuse to be ruled by fear. How can America be free and be ruled by fear? How can anyone be?</p> <p>So, earlier this week I gathered with a small group of concerned citizens, both black and white, who represented various walks of life, spiritual beliefs, gender identities and sexual orientations. Like millions of others in America and around the world, including South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and President Barack Obama, we felt (and still feel) that the confederate battle flag in South Carolina, hung in 1962 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, must come down. (Of course, we are not the first to demand the flag&rsquo;s removal. Civil rights groups in South Carolina and nationwide have been calling for the flag&rsquo;s removal since the moment it was raised, and I acknowledge their efforts in working to remove the flag over the years via the legislative process.)</p> <p>We discussed it and decided to remove the flag immediately, both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power people have when we work together.</p> </blockquote> <p>Explaining why she worked together with fellow activist James Ian Tyson, she continued:</p> <blockquote> <p>Achieving this would require many roles, including someone who must volunteer to scale the pole and remove the flag. It was decided that this role should go to a black woman and that a white man should be the one to help her over the fence as a sign that our alliance transcended both racial and gender divides. We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read Newsome's whole statement <a href="http://bluenationreview.com/exclusive-bree-newsome-speaks-for-the-first-time-after-courageous-act-of-civil-disobedience" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Media Race and Ethnicity Charleston church shooting Mon, 29 Jun 2015 22:29:03 +0000 By Mother Jones news team 278721 at http://www.motherjones.com The Supreme Court Just Stopped Texas From Closing Almost All Of Its Abortion Clinics http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/supreme-court-texas-abortion-clinics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Supreme Court on Monday <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/062915zr_6j37.pdf" target="_blank">halted</a> key portions of Texas's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/federal-court-texas-law-will-close-majority-abortion-clinics" target="_blank">anti-abortion law</a> from going into effect that would have shutdown all but nine abortion clinics in the state. The stay will remain in place while abortion rights advocates prepare to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/supreme-court-abortion-texas-election" target="_blank">take their case</a> seeking to overturn portions of the Texas law to the Supreme Court.</p> <p>The court's four most conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, dissented from the order, indicating they would have let the clinics close.</p> <p>From the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/us/supreme-court-allows-texas-abortion-clinics-to-remain-open.html?smid=nytnow-share&amp;smprod=nytnow&amp;_r=0" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. One requires all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for &ldquo;ambulatory surgical centers,&rdquo; including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.</p> <p>Other parts of the law took effect in 2013, causing about half of the state&rsquo;s 41 abortion clinics to close.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the order:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-2120406-the-supreme-court-just-stopped-texas-from">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/2120406-the-supreme-court-just-stopped-texas-from.js", { width: 630, height: 420, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-2120406-the-supreme-court-just-stopped-texas-from" }); </script></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Supreme Court Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:13:48 +0000 Pema Levy 278716 at http://www.motherjones.com NBC Finally Dumps Donald Trump http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/06/nbc-finally-dumps-donald-trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday, NBC released a statement announcing it was severing its business ties with Donald Trump following his recent remarks stating Mexican immigrants were "rapists" who carry drugs into the United States.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NBC announces it's ending its business relationship with <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</a> . <a href="http://t.co/rVHlnHSBfK">pic.twitter.com/rVHlnHSBfK</a></p> &mdash; Meredith Blake (@MeredithBlake) <a href="https://twitter.com/MeredithBlake/status/615582065652838404">June 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The network will no longer be airing the real estate mogul's Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Trump, who earlier this month descended from an escalator and announced he was making a bid for <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/06/its-good-to-laugh" target="_blank">the White House,</a> stepped down as host from the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/28/politics/donald-trump-the-apprentice-presidential-campaign/" target="_blank">reality show</a> in order to run for president.</p> <p>Just last week, the Spanish-language television network Univision also announced it was cutting ties with Trump due to the<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/06/univision-donald-trump-mexicans-rapists" target="_blank"> "insulting remarks."</a> Since then, Trump has threatened to sue the company. On Friday, he even publicly posted a Univision reporter's personal <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/26/media/donald-trump-univision-doral-golf-courses/" target="_blank">phone number</a> in retaliation to the network's announcement.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Media Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:32:25 +0000 Inae Oh 278691 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/health-update-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is probably it for blogging today. It's biopsy day for me, and unfortunately this is up in LA, so it's going to wipe out most of the day. The good news is that this is the last of the tests for now, and in a week or two we'll know for sure how well I responded to the second-round chemo up at City of Hope. Whether <em>that</em> turns out to be good news or bad is the million-dollar question.</p> <p>In the meantime, I'm feeling pretty good. I bought myself a Surface 3 yesterday as part of my tablet collection hobby. It's my fourth in four years. I now have an iPad, an Android tab, and two Windows tabs. Since I don't spend a lot of money on anything else, I figure it's actually a fairly harmless and cheap hobby.</p> <p>Seems to be OK so far with a few odd quirks. But I've not yet been able to answer my key question: how well does Firefox work? Their servers appear to have been down for maintenance since last night, so I'm unable to sync the new tablet. Until then, it's basically a brick since Firefox is about half of what I do with it. Maybe the Mozilla folks will have their servers back up and running by the time I get home.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:30:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 278641 at http://www.motherjones.com Court Rules EPA Must Consider Cost in Regulation of Power Plants http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/court-rules-epa-must-consider-cost-regulation-power-plants <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In today's EPA case, the question at hand was whether EPA has to consider both costs and benefits when it makes the decision to regulate power plants. EPA says it has to consider only benefits during the initial decision, and can consider costs later when it writes the actual regulations themselves.</p> <p>The conservative majority on the Supreme Court disagreed. Although the Clean Air Act generally requires EPA to regulate sources that&nbsp; &ldquo;presen[t] a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_power_plant_smokestack.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">threat of adverse effects to human health or the environment," the requirements for regulating power plants are different. EPA can only regulate power plants if it finds regulation "appropriate and necessary."</p> <p>So what does that mean? "There are undoubtedly settings in which the phrase 'appropriate and necessary' does not encompass cost," the majority opinion says, "But this is not one of them." <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-46_10n2.pdf" target="_blank">Then this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>EPA points out that other parts of the Clean Air Act expressly mention cost, while [the power plant clause] does not. But this observation shows only that&nbsp;[the power plant clause's] broad reference to appropriateness encompasses <em>multiple </em>relevant factors (which include but are not limited to cost); other provisions&rsquo; specific references to cost encompass just cost. <strong>It is unreasonable to infer that, by expressly making cost relevant to other decisions, the Act implicitly makes cost irrelevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants</strong>....Other parts of the Clean Air Act also expressly mention environmental effects, while [the power plant clause] does not. Yet that did not stop EPA from deeming environmental effects relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants.</p> </blockquote> <p>As it happens, this is not entirely clear. The origin of the phrase "the exception proves the rule" applies to this. If I say that parking is not allowed on 4th Avenue on weekdays, this implicitly means that parking <em>is</em> allowed on weekends. The fact that I made a specific rule and deliberately failed to include certain cases in that rule, means that the rule doesn't apply to the excepted cases.</p> <p>In this case, cost is specifically mentioned elsewhere in the Clean Air Act, but not here. So power plants appear to be an exception to the general rule that cost has to be considered from the very start. This means that the question is whether "appropriate and necessary" encompasses cost, or whether Congress would have specifically mentioned cost if it wanted it considered.</p> <p>The conservative majority decided cost was inherently part of that phrase. The liberal dissenters disagreed. The conservatives won.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:51:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 278676 at http://www.motherjones.com John Oliver: Quit Asking Transgender People About Their Genitals http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/06/john-oliver-transgender-rights <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Friday's historic Supreme Court ruling invalidating gay marriage bans across the country was a major step for equal rights in America. But when it comes to equal rights and protection for the transgender community, the country still has a long way to go.</p> <p>"For all the strides transgender people have made lately, let's not get too complacent about how far we've come because they still face a host of obstacles," John Oliver reminded on Sunday's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmoAX9f6MOc" target="_blank"><em>Last Week Tonight</em>.</a> "Even when the news media are trying to be supportive they can make dumb mistakes.</p> <p>It's true&mdash;just listen to how the media discusses the "wrong genitalia" and continues to ask invasive questions about a trans person's body.</p> <p>"It is no more okay to ask transgender people about their sex organs than it would be to ask Jimmy Carter whether or not he's circumcised," Oliver said. "Which by the way he is&mdash;smooth like a boiled carrot."</p> <p>Of course, the challenges facing the transgender community go much farther than how issues are discussed. As Oliver noted on Sunday, it's the practical, everyday changes such as simply allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, many parts of the country are still fighting against.</p> <p>"This is a civil rights issue. If you're not willing to support transgender people for their sake, at least do it for your own. Because we've been through this before; we know how this thing ends. If you take the anti-civil rights side and deny people something they're entitled to, history is not going to be kind to you."</p> <p><strong>Watch below: </strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hmoAX9f6MOc" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Media Sex and Gender Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:08:02 +0000 Inae Oh 278626 at http://www.motherjones.com Supreme Court Justice Calls Death Penalty Drug "Equiva­lent of Being Burned at the Stake" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/sotomayor-death-penalty-burned-at-stake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday, the Supreme Court <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/supreme-court-approves-controversial-lethal-injection-drug" target="_blank">upheld</a> the use of the drug midazolam for lethal injections in a 5&ndash;4 decision that pitted the five conservative justices against the four liberal ones. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote her own dissent, argued that the use of the drug, which prolongs the execution process and sometimes doesn't work at all, was in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment." Then she went a step further, comparing the drug to a more notorious form of punishment&mdash;the burning of heretics at the stake:</p> <blockquote> <p>[T]he Court today turns aside petitioners&rsquo; plea that they at least be allowed a stay of execution while they seek to prove midazolam&rsquo;s inadequacy. The Court achieves this result in two ways: first, by deferring to the District Court&rsquo;s decision to credit the scientifically unsup&shy;ported and implausible testimony of a single expert wit&shy;ness; and second, by faulting petitioners for failing to satisfy the wholly novel requirement of proving the avail&shy;ability of an alternative means for their own executions. On both counts the Court errs. As a result, it leaves peti&shy;tioners exposed to what may well be the chemical equiva&shy;lent of being burned at the stake.</p> </blockquote> <p>Later in her dissent, Sotomayor added a few more comparisons for good measure. "Under the Court's new rule, it would not matter whether the State intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake."</p> <p>Justice Stephen Breyer, in a separate dissent, went a step further, arguing that the death penalty itself might be unconstitutional.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Supreme Court Top Stories Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:45:31 +0000 Tim Murphy 278651 at http://www.motherjones.com The Supreme Court Just Struck Down Obama Regulations on Power Plants. Read the Opinion Here. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/supreme-court-epa-regulations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against EPA&nbsp;regulations to limit mercury emissions and other pollutants at power plants. Read the opinion in its entirety below:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-2115351-scotus-epa-decision">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/2115351-scotus-epa-decision.js", { width: 630, height: 420, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-2115351-scotus-epa-decision" }); </script></body></html> MoJo Climate Change Climate Desk Supreme Court Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:45:00 +0000 Inae Oh 278631 at http://www.motherjones.com This Will Probably Not Be a Very Fun Week http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/will-probably-not-be-very-fun-week <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This week's news to watch for:</p> <ul><li>Greek talks have broken down and they might be about to leave the euro, causing chaos.</li> <li>Negotiations with the Iranians have hit a pretty rough patch. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_china_stock_market_plunge_june_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">There may be no nuclear deal after all.</li> <li>Puerto Rico has effectively declared bankruptcy.</li> <li>China's stock markets, which have been falling already, are off a cliff today. "China&rsquo;s main stock index entered bear-market territory Monday," says the <em>Wall Street Journal,</em> "as a surprise interest-rate cut over the weekend failed to lift the market amid concerns over investors&rsquo; debt levels, while uncertainty about Greece shook sentiment elsewhere in the region."</li> <li>And in non-financial bad news, the Supreme Court has a couple of important cases coming up this week. The smart money suggests that the liberal run of good luck in the high court may be over. Fasten your seat belts.</li> </ul><p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> It's already happening. The Court has just upheld lethal injection procedures for executing death-row inmates and has struck down EPA rules on toxic emissions. On the brighter side, they ruled that independent commissions can draw district lines. So liberals are 1-2 so far this week.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:41:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 278661 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece Now Has to Decide Whether to Leave the Euro http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/greece-now-has-decide-whether-leave-euro-its-noit-no-brainer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today's news is all about Greece. To make a long story short, the Greeks last week presented the Europeans with an austerity proposal that was pretty much what they had been asking for. But it turned out that "pretty much" wasn't good enough. The Europeans wanted <em>exactly</em> what they had been asking for and sent the Greeks packing. Talks broke down completely, and the Greek prime minister has called for a referendum later this week. The question: whether to accept the humiliating European terms and stay in the euro, or to reject the terms and exit the euro. <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/grisis/" target="_blank">Paul Krugman offers his opinion:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I would vote no, for two reasons. First, much as the prospect of euro exit frightens everyone&mdash;me included&mdash;the troika is now effectively demanding that the policy regime of the past five years be continued indefinitely. Where is the hope in that? Maybe, just maybe, the willingness to leave will inspire a rethink, although probably not. <strong>But even so, devaluation couldn&rsquo;t create that much more chaos than already exists, and would pave the way for eventual recovery, just as it has in many other times and places. </strong>Greece is not that different.</p> <p>Second, the political implications of a yes vote would be deeply troubling. The troika clearly did a reverse Corleone&mdash;they made Tsipras an offer he can&rsquo;t accept, and presumably did this knowingly. So the ultimatum was, in effect, a move to replace the Greek government. And even if you don&rsquo;t like Syriza, that has to be disturbing for anyone who believes in European ideals.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's worth unpacking this a bit, and doing it in the simplest possible way. If Greeks vote no on the European proposal, it's basically a vote to abandon the euro and recreate a new version of their old currency. Call it the New Drachma. They would then devalue the ND, making Greek exports more competitive in the international market. That would mean more tourists, more olive exports, and more fish exports. At least, that's what it would mean in the long term.</p> <p>In the short term it would mean chaos. Banks would close, and capital controls would be put in place until the new currency could be put in circulation. Imports would skyrocket in price, and this would effectively mean pay cuts for everyone. Savings would be lost, and pensions would be effectively slashed.</p> <p>In other words, Greece would almost certainly suffer <em>more</em> short-term austerity by leaving the euro than by staying within in it. The payoff, hopefully, would be control of their own currency, which would allow them to rebalance their economy in the long run and begin a true economic recovery. In the meantime, however, I'd be skeptical of Krugman's belief that leaving the euro would cause a bit of chaos, but not much more than Greece is already suffering. <a href="http://equitablegrowth.org/2015/06/28/must-read-barry-eichengreen-path-grexit-tragedy-paved-political-incompetence/" target="_blank">Here's Barry Eichengreen:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Nearly a decade ago, I analyzed scenarios for a country leaving the eurozone.&hellip;The costs, I concluded, would be severe and heavily front-loaded.&hellip;a bank run&hellip;shutter[ing] the financial system.&hellip;losing access to not just their savings but also imported petrol, medicines and foodstuffs.&hellip;Not only would any subsequent benefits, by comparison, be delayed, but they would be disappointingly small.&hellip;Any improvement in export competitiveness due to depreciation of the newly reintroduced national currency would prove ephemeral.&hellip;Greece&rsquo;s.&hellip;leading export, refined petroleum, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_greece_germany.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">is priced in dollars and relies on imported oil.&hellip;Agricultural exports.&hellip;will take several harvests to ramp up. And attracting more tourists won&rsquo;t be easy against a drumbeat of political unrest.</p> </blockquote> <p>A lot of people think it's a no-brainer for Greece to leave the euro at this point. This is why it's not. Make no mistake: it will cause a <em>lot</em> of pain. Greek incomes will effectively be slashed, and it will take years to recover on the backs of improved exports. It's quite possible that this is the only good long-term solution for Greece, which has been treated badly by its European creditors&mdash;for which you should mostly read "German creditors"&mdash; but it is no easy decision. There will be a lot of suffering for a lot of years if Greece goes down this road.</p> <p>This is why the Greek prime minister has called for a referendum on the European proposal. If Greeks vote no, they're accepting his proposal to exit the euro and accepting the inevitable austerity that will follow. That allows him to keep governing. If they vote yes, he will accept the European proposal and presumably step down from government. The people will have spoken, and effectively they will be saying that they were bluffing all along, and now that their bluff has been called they're willing to fold.</p> <p>For Europe, the problem is different. If Greece leaves the euro, it probably won't affect them very much. The Greek economy is simply too small to matter, and most Greek debt is now held in public hands. However, the political implication are potentially huge: It means the currency union is not forever and ever, as promised. If the pain of using a currency whose value is basically dictated by the needs of Germany becomes too severe, countries will leave. Perhaps later they will be let back in. Instead of a currency union, it will become more of a currency board, with countries coming in and out as they need to. This will be especially true if observers like Krugman are right, and the short-term pain of Greece leaving is mild and long-term recovery is strong. That would send a strong lesson to any future country stuck in the web of German monetary policy and finding itself in a deep and long economic depression.</p> <p>Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Foreign Policy International Top Stories Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:01:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 278636 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Badass Woman Scale Statehouse Flagpole, Take Down Confederate Flag http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/watch-badass-woman-scale-statehouse-flagpole-take-down-confederate-flag <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A woman named Bree Newsome just scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina state capitol and took down the Confederate flag. She was then arrested. Badass. Too bad state workers promptly put it back up.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gr-mt1P94cQ?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Race and Ethnicity Charleston church shooting Sat, 27 Jun 2015 16:18:36 +0000 Mother Jones 278616 at http://www.motherjones.com The Threatened Atlantic Puffins Are Nesting And It's Adorable http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/06/threatened-atlantic-puffins-are-nesting-and-its-adorable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Atlantic puffins are back...for now. After spending much of the year on the open sea, the photogenic birds have made their annual trip to the North Atlantic shores of Maine, Newfoundland, and the United Kingdom to breed.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/gulf-maine-puffin-climate-change"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/maine_630x354_1.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/gulf-maine-puffin-climate-change" target="_blank"><strong>Click here to read our feature on Atlantic Puffins </strong></a></div> </div> <p>But <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/gulf-maine-puffin-climate-change" target="_blank">as Rowan Jacobsen reported in a <em>Mother Jones </em>feature last summer</a>, rising ocean temperatures have taken a huge toll on these seabirds. Cold-water thriving zooplankton, critical to the Gulf of Maine's food web, have reached their lowest numbers ever, forcing the fish that puffins feed to their young to go elsewhere for food. Without a reliable source of food, in 2013, only 10 percent of puffin pairs in burrows tracked by researchers successfully fledged chicks (normally that rate is 77 percent).</p> <p>This isn't the first time puffins in Maine have faced an existential threat. After <a href="https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/atlantic-puffin" target="_blank">300 years of hunting and over harvesting eggs</a>, Atlantic puffin colonies in Maine nearly disappeared. Fortunately, a successful Audubon Society initiative in the 1970s brought them back to nesting islands off the coast of Maine; by 2013, 1,000 pairs were laying eggs there.</p> <p>During the past couple of years, cold water has returned to the gulf of Maine, which is great news for the puffins. In 2014, they <a href="http://projectpuffin.audubon.org/maine-puffins-rebound" target="_blank">saw a rebound:</a> 75 percent of chicks survived. This year they are back again and as cute as ever. You can watch them below on the Audubon's puffin live cam until August when they leave again for the ocean:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GqxWzuLDWlU" width="630"><br></iframe></p> <p>If that's not enough, below are some more photos and video of Atlantic puffins:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_82914316.jpg" style="height: 598px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-82914316/stock-photo-pretty-puffin-pig.html?src=dt_last_search-4">Randy Rimland</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GgYlglwXiqk" width="630"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_113519149.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-113519149/stock-photo-a-puffin-on-a-cliff-norway.html?src=LFB7T9xzdMYItDIPXS_74g-1-19">Helen Kattai</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_84243166.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-84243166/stock-photo-atlantic-puffin-or-common-puffin-fratercula-arctica-in-flight-on-mykines-faroe-islands.html?src=pp-photo-84240019-LFB7T9xzdMYItDIPXS_74g-4&amp;ws=1">Eric Isselee</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shutterstock_103764713_0.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-103764713/stock-photo-puffin-colony-farne-island-uk.html?src=LFB7T9xzdMYItDIPXS_74g-1-93">gabrisigno</a>/Shutterstock</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Top Stories Sat, 27 Jun 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Luke Whelan 278566 at http://www.motherjones.com Congress Doesn't Think Agricultural Sustainability Has Anything to Do With Your Health http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/06/congress-doesnt-think-agriculture-has-anything-do-your-health <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Every five years, the US government revisits its Dietary Guidelines&mdash;suggestions for how Americans should eat. The guidelines won't legally require you to, say, eat an apple a day, but they do affect things like agricultural subsidies and public school lunches, so they're fairly influential.</p> <p>When the committee tasked with making scientific recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines released <a href="http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf" target="_blank">its report</a> this year, it ruffled some feathers. For the first time it included concerns about the environmental issues linked to certain dietary patterns and agricultural practices&mdash;for example, how <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/02/salt-sugar-chicken-what-look-upcoming-dietary-guidelines-report" target="_blank">eating less meat</a> and more plant-based foods is "more health promoting and is associated with a lesser environmental impact." Or that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/tom-vilsack-2015-dietary-guidelines-sustainability-environment" target="_blank">assuring food security</a> might rely on creating agricultural practices that "reduce environmental impacts and conserve resources."</p> <p>Some lobbyists and politicians, especially those who pad their pockets with cash from Big Food and Big Ag, weren't too happy about these suggestions. As <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/tom-vilsack-2015-dietary-guidelines-sustainability-environment" target="_blank">I've written in the past</a>, the suggestion that plant-based diets might be healthier for people and the planet messes with the meat industry's bottom line, so why would they back it? In <a href="http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/readComments.aspx" target="_blank">letters</a> sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack over the past few months, industry groups have tried to argue that sustainability issues do not fall within the scope of the Dietary Guidelines. <a href="http://www.beefusa.org/CMDocs/BeefUSA/2015_Dietary_Guidelines_NCBA_Comments.pdf" target="_blank">One letter</a> from the National Cattleman's Beef Association argued that the advisory committee "clearly does not have the background or expertise to evaluate the complex relationship between food production and the dietary needs of a growing American and international population."</p> <p>The House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, which <a href="http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/riders-dga-campaign-analysis-report.pdf" target="_blank">accepted at least $1.4 million</a> from the food industry in 2013 and 2014, apparently caved to these complaints. It recently stuck a rider in its <a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-114hr-sc-ap-fy2016-agriculture-subcommitteedraft.pdf" target="_blank">2016 Agricultural Appropriations bill</a> that would A) explicitly prohibit the upcoming Dietary Guidelines from mentioning anything other than diet and nutrient intake, and B) force the guidelines to only rely on scientific evidence that has been rated "Grade 1: Strong" by the Department of Agriculture. <em>Politico</em> reported on Thursday that a <a href="http://www.politico.com/morningagriculture/0615/morningagriculture18894.html?ml=ae_l" target="_blank">similar Senate agriculture appropriations rider</a> would force any advice in the Dietary Guidelines to be "solely nutritional and dietary in nature."</p> <p>In an unprecedented move, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has shot back with <a href="http://www.foodpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/dgac_appropriations_bill_response_6_2015.pdf" target="_blank">a letter of its own</a>. Health and food systems <em>should</em> be more closely related in the government's eyes, the committee argued. "Future food insecurity is predictable without attention to the safety, quality, cost, and sustainability of the food supply," the letter stated, adding that "the US health and public health systems are burdened with preventable health problems." In other words, to narrow the reach of the Dietary Guidelines is to ignore the connection between things like exercise and obesity, for instance, or agricultural pesticide use and disease. To read more of the DGAC's arguments, see the full <a href="http://www.foodpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/dgac_appropriations_bill_response_6_2015.pdf" target="_blank">letter here</a>.</p> <p>Expect the finalized Dietary Guidelines late this year. In the meantime, it looks like the DGAC isn't giving up the battle for a more holistic national framework for how people eat. They certainly have <em>Food Politics</em> author Marion Nestle on their side; as she <a href="http://www.foodpolitics.com/2015/06/lets-stop-congress-from-interfering-with-the-dietary-guidelines-please/" target="_blank">summarizes</a> on her blog:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Members of the DGAC] were asked to review and consider the science of diet and health and did so. They reported what they believe the science says. Some segments of the food industry didn't like the science so they are using the political system to fight back. That some members of Congress would go along with this is shameful.</p> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Fri, 26 Jun 2015 22:15:12 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278581 at http://www.motherjones.com This Cartoon Is Going to Become Iconic http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/06/the-gays-won-the-civil-war <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SPLCenter/photos/a.439820219699.236067.170591064699/10153455501654700/?type=1&amp;permPage=1" target="_blank">Southern Poverty Law Center</a> posted this cartoon to its Facebook page. The credit reads CagleCartoons.com but I can't actually find it on there. I'll update with proper credit when I figure it out. Safe to say, this is amazing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/SPLCenter/posts/10153455501654700:0" data-width="500"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/SPLCenter/posts/10153455501654700:0"> <p>There it is.</p> Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SPLCenter">Southern Poverty Law Center</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/SPLCenter/posts/10153455501654700:0">Friday, June 26, 2015</a></blockquote> </div> </div></body></html> Contributor Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:15:44 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 278591 at http://www.motherjones.com