Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2011/08/liberals-have-been-played-chumps%22 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en "I Pay Taxes Out My Ass But They Still Harrass Me": 11 Amazing Songs About Police Brutality http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/ferguson-police-brutality-playlist-12-songs-j-cole <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last Friday, just days after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, 29-year-old North Carolina rapper J. Cole uploaded the stirring tribute "<a href="https://soundcloud.com/dreamvillerecords/j-cole-be-free/s-3J4jW" target="_blank">Be Free</a>" to his SoundCloud, dedicating it to "every young black man murdered in America." The song promptly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/arts/music/j-coles-be-free-spreads-around-the-world-in-hours.html" target="_blank">went viral</a>.</p> <p>Protests against the shooting, and police brutality more broadly, already had been gaining steam as the police launched a highly <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/images-ferguson-tear-gas-police" target="_blank">militarized crackdown</a>, and Cole's timely reaction<span class="char" data-decimal="8212" data-entity="&amp;#8212;" data-id="46410" title="Em Dash">&mdash;in visceral, heartfelt form&mdash;struck a chord among people who know what it's like to be profiled or harassed by law enforcement.</span> As Cole writes in a <a href="http://www.dreamvillain.net/free/" target="_blank">blog post</a> introducing the track, "That coulda been me, easily. That could have been my best friend."</p> <p>Cole is hardly the only one speaking out: Artists as <a href="https://outlook.motherjones.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=Gq3FYbTwg0uo8ewfAXUikbJnPT77jtEIAPatdHR6sKzddoRq-H6tCcET050jZwyGDiRe9YsKHnQ.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.billboard.com%2farticles%2fcolumns%2fthe-juice%2f6221643%2fferguson-michael-brown-frank-ocean-j-cole" target="_blank"> far and wide</a> as Frank Ocean, Big Boi, Moby, John Legend, and Young Jeezy have taken to Twitter and the airwaves in recent days to express their dissent, and Cole is <span class="char" data-decimal="8212" data-entity="&amp;#8212;" data-id="46410" title="Em Dash">part of a long tradition of musicians who have done so in song. </span>Here are 11 great tracks on the topic of police brutality in America:</p> <p><strong>1. "The Beast," by The Fugees: </strong>"Warn the town, the beast is loose," the Fugees sing over police sirens in this 1996 classic. Lauryn Hill, Pras Michel, and Wyclef Jean spit old-school rhymes from gritty "ghetto Gotham," where "I pay taxes out my ass but they still harrass me."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VQt17DhRTsg?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>2. "Oxford Town," by Bob </strong><strong>Dylan</strong>: Dylan wrote this tune in 1962 in response to a <a href="http://singout.org/broadside/" target="_blank">magazine solicitation</a> for songs about the admission of James Meredith into the University of Mississippi, its first black student. Covered here by Richie Havens, it makes terse observations about a racist police force that don't seem too far off today: "Guns and clubs followed him down / All because his face was brown / Better get away from Oxford Town."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tAVPJH7IQxc?list=PLFYTc9C8uBI2__lvfIGGvqF0YCV45oAhu" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>3. "Sound of Da Police," by KRS-ONE</strong>: "Whoop, whoop! That's the sound of the police!" goes the memorable hook off KRS-One's 1993 debut solo album, <em>Return of the Boom Bap</em>. "After 400 years, I've got no choices," he raps, noting the continuity between slavery and racist policing. "The overseer rode around the plantation," he raps, while "the officer is off patrolling all the nation."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1VRZq3J0uz4?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>4. "Made You Die," by Dead Prez, Yasiin Bey, and mikeflo: </strong>Dead Prez's stic.man, consistently one of hip-hop's sharpest social commentators, opens this Trayvon Martin tribute with his characteristic community-mindedness: "Now let's put it all in perspective / Before the outrage burns out misdirected / What can we do so our community's protected?" The three other MCs join in to flow on what Bey calls a "young black world in a struggle for a survival."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/WcmUAG210oM?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>5. "Stand Your Ground," by Pharoahe Monch: </strong>Here Monch repurposes the name of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/nra-alec-stand-your-ground" target="_blank">the Florida law</a> used to justify George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin into a slogan for community organizers rallying in the killing's aftermath. "Get involved, get involved, get involved," the Queens rapper urges over roaring guitar riffs, soliciting support for the <a href="http://trayvonmartinfoundation.org/" target="_blank">Martin family foundation</a> in its effort to repeal the statutes.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/CTDrFlmtR5w?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>6. "American Skin (41 Shots)," by Bruce Springsteen: </strong>"41 shots," goes the chorus to Springsteen's 2000 tribute to 23-year-old Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo, shot at that many times by four NYPD officers who killed him outside his Bronx apartment in February 1999. "Well, is it a gun? Is it a knife? / Is it a wallet? This is your life," he sings, referencing the cops' purported rationale for the barrage, which began when Diallo reached for his wallet. Backed by the E Street Band, Springsteen mournfully reminds us that "You can get killed just for living in your American skin."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/aQMqWAiWPMs" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>7. "Remove Ya," by Ratking: </strong>In this dance-y, grime-influenced track, the young rap experimentalists reflect on their daily experiences with cops in today's New York. The song is a upbeat call for community against adversity, featuring rapper Wiki playing off the well-circulated <em>Nation </em>recording of an NYPD officer's stopping and frisking a guy ("<a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/170413/stopped-and-frisked-being-fking-mutt-video" target="_blank">for being a fucking mutt</a>"): "I'm a mutt, you a mutt, yeah, we some mutts." His companion Hak chimes in with memories of being arbitrarily stopped by an officer: "Hear the 'whoop whoop whoop whoop, stop don't move' / 'Hands on the hood, you gave me that look, wearing your hood.'"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ltHrNYhzoQA" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>8. "Amerika," by Lil Wayne:</strong> Lil Wayne is a rapper far better known for punch lines than political analysis, but he leaves the puns behind (mostly) in this somber single from last summer. In the video, riot police stand glaring in front of a flag whose stars "are never shining." Wayne's "Amerika" is a blighted landscape of foreclosed homes and teargas for which he modifies the patriotic anthem: "My country 'tis of thee / Sweet land of kill 'em all and let 'em die."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_Nb4EHY_2bI" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>9. "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)," by The Rolling Stones:</strong> "You're a heartbreaker / With your .44," Mick Jagger sings of the New York police in this symphonic 1973 double-ballad from the album <em>Goats Head Soup</em>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/sqUiWpGGCmI?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>11. "Don't Die," by Killer Mike:</strong> Killer Mike has long protested the corrosive effects of racist policing on black communities in his <a href="http://www.barber-schools.org/blog/killer-mikes-barber-shop-in-atlanta-ga-graffiti-swag" target="_blank">native Atlanta</a>, where his own father was a cop. In this song off his 2012 release <em>R.A.P. Music</em>, Mike works through the nuances of that personal history, acknowledging that while police are often honest, working-class individuals, their institutional role can be insidious. "'Fuck tha police' is still all I gotta say," he concludes, paying homage to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7-TTWgiYL4" target="_blank">NWA hit</a> from the dawn of gangsta rap.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ze1_vkSyPDY?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><br><strong>12. "Killing in the Name," by Rage Against the Machine:</strong> The 1992 single from Rage Against the Machine's debut album skips the storytelling to urge all-out revolution against the racist police. "Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses," they rant, concluding their song with the chanted refrain: "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bWXazVhlyxQ?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Human Rights Music Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Prashanth Kamalakanthan 258601 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch: Livestream from Ferguson: August 19 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/watch-livestream-ferguson-august-19 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The live stream <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24e6RfL_jbg" target="_blank">feed via Vice News</a> and Tim Pool was largely mellow for most of the night, Aug. 19, until about 11: 50 p.m. CDT, when a thrown bottle led to police moving in. Pool has taken his feed down for now, but may bring it back up if things heat up again.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/24e6RfL_jbg" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>12:04 p.m. CDT:</strong> <a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/staff/ryan-devereaux/" target="_blank">Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept</a> tweeted a picture of peacemakers trying to calm down a potentially violent moment:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Community members link hands to separate police from the crowd <a href="http://t.co/CxOoM9GSxo">pic.twitter.com/CxOoM9GSxo</a></p> &mdash; Ryan Devereaux (@rdevro) <a href="https://twitter.com/rdevro/statuses/501957897971302400">August 20, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>12:15 p.m. CDT:</strong>Wesley Lowery tweets a picture of police forming a line against the press:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>These officers are facing the media pen. The media pen <a href="http://t.co/PokR22pyRG">pic.twitter.com/PokR22pyRG</a></p> &mdash; Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) <a href="https://twitter.com/WesleyLowery/statuses/501960750722588673">August 20, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>12:30 p.m. CDT:</strong>Adam Serwer with some protesters being pushed back by police:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Crowd still chanting hands up don't shoot while being pushed back <a href="http://t.co/UBVeeNT43M">pic.twitter.com/UBVeeNT43M</a></p>&mdash; AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSerwer/statuses/501964575852728320">August 20, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> MoJo Wed, 20 Aug 2014 05:21:57 +0000 AJ Vicens 258731 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Like the War in Iraq? Blame Congress. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/dont-war-iraq-blame-congress <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_isis_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">President Obama has no plans to ask Congress for authority under the War Powers Act to take military action in Iraq. But he's hardly the only one to blame here. An even bigger problem is that Congress <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/us/politics/in-washington-little-appetite-for-a-vote-on-iraq.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=a-lede-package-region&amp;region=lede-package&amp;WT.nav=lede-package&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">doesn't really want him to ask in the first place:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;This is not about an imperial presidency, it&rsquo;s about a Congress that&rsquo;s reluctant to cast tough votes on U.S. military action,&rdquo; said [Senator Tim] Kaine....&ldquo;We should not be putting American men and women&rsquo;s lives at risk if we are not willing to do the political work to reach a consensus that it&rsquo;s necessary,&rdquo; Mr. Kaine said in an interview.</p> <p>....Senior administration officials note that congressional leaders, who met with Mr. Obama about Iraq in June, have explicitly told them Mr. Obama need not come to Congress to authorize military action.</p> <p>Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader whose weekly conference calls with Democrats during the congressional break have been dominated by discussions of Iraq, said that Mr. Obama had wide latitude to act without Congress and suggested that Republicans eager to criticize the president would not be as eager to vote.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll see where the Republicans will be who have been calling for this, that and the other thing, if they had to vote on Iraq,&rdquo; Ms. Pelosi said in San Francisco last week....Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the senior Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, who helped draft the resolution to authorize strikes against Syria, has not called for a similar measure for the current operation in Iraq. He said he wanted administration officials to testify at a hearing when Congress returned about their strategy for the airstrikes and what authorities they intended to use in executing them.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's an election year, after all, and this would be politically difficult for everyone. Democrats probably aren't excited about re-engaging in Iraq, but they'd be reluctant to oppose a president of their own party. Republicans would love to oppose Obama, but if they did they wouldn't be able to complain any more about what a wuss he is. Better for everyone to let sleeping dogs lie. That way they can kibitz from the sidelines and then, when it's all over, pretend that they supported a better policy all along.</p> <p>It's cowardly, but that's politics. In any case, it's certainly hard to blame Obama for overreach when the branch of Congress that passed the War Powers Act in the first place has all but begged him to ignore it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama Wed, 20 Aug 2014 01:21:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 258726 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is Rick Perry's Mugshot http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/rick-perrys-mugshot <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Rick Perry was booked today on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/rick-perry-texas-grand-jury-investigation-public-integrity" target="_blank">abuse of power charges</a>&nbsp;that look <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/rick-perry-indictment-highlights-hack-gap-once-again" target="_blank">pretty flimsy.</a></p> <p>Say what you will about his awful retrograde conservative politics, but Rick Perry is a handsome devil.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BREAKING?src=hash">#BREAKING</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GovernorPerry">@GovernorPerry</a> booking photo just released <a href="http://t.co/EQmoHi2lm3">http://t.co/EQmoHi2lm3</a> <a href="http://t.co/QSI2E0vKLy">pic.twitter.com/QSI2E0vKLy</a></p> &mdash; NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) <a href="https://twitter.com/NBCDFW/statuses/501860292402614273">August 19, 2014</a></blockquote></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:02:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 258711 at http://www.motherjones.com Mo'ne Davis Is the First Little Leaguer to Make the Cover of Sports Illustrated http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/mone-davis-first-little-leaguer-cover-sports-illustrated-women <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Thirteen-year-old pitching sensation Mo'ne Davis just became the <a href="http://www.si.com/more-sports/2014/08/19/mone-davis-little-league-world-series-sports-illustrated-cover" target="_blank">first Little Leaguer ever</a> on the cover of <em>Sports Illustrated.</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Remember Her Name! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LLWS2014?src=hash">#LLWS2014</a> sensation&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Monedavis11">@Monedavis11</a>&nbsp;is on this week's national cover <a href="http://t.co/LAwVgubpCS">http://t.co/LAwVgubpCS</a> <a href="http://t.co/sENsPMF7ew">pic.twitter.com/sENsPMF7ew</a></p> &mdash; Sports Illustrated (@SInow) <a href="https://twitter.com/SInow/statuses/501767732124475392">August 19, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Davis, who pitches for South Philadelphia's Taney Dragons, received national attention last week when she threw a two-hit shutout and struck out eight in the Dragons' Little League World Series opening victory over Nashville, Tennessee. On Sunday she became the sixth girl to get a hit in the LLWS, a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/mone-davis-hit-philly-rallies/story?id=25016905" target="_blank">first-inning RBI single</a> that helped Philadelphia to a 7-6 win over Pearland, Texas.</p> <p>And the 5-foot-4 right-hander's fastball, <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/how-fast-mone-davis-fast" target="_blank">clocked at 71 mph</a>, is roughly equivalent to a 93 mph pitch thrown on a big-league-size field.</p> <center><iframe class="vine-embed" frameborder="0" height="320" src="https://vine.co/v/MYLEETpjWvM/embed/simple" width="320"></iframe><script async src="//platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>But Davis' <em>Sports Illustrated</em> appearance isn't just unusual for her age: It's also damn-near impossible for a female to make the magazine's cover. Discounting the women dressed only in leis and inner tubes for the annual swimsuit edition, about 95 percent of <em>SI </em>covers feature men. An <a href="http://irs.sagepub.com/content/48/2/196.abstract" target="_blank">analysis</a> of <a href="http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/swimsuit-issue-aside-sports-illustrated-cover-is-a-female-free-zone-57406/" target="_blank">716 covers</a> from 2000 to 2011 found:</p> <ul><li>35 (4.9 percent) featured a woman;</li> <li>18 (2.5 percent) featured a woman as the primary image;</li> <li>11 (1.5 percent) featured a woman of color.</li> </ul><p>And this trend doesn't appear to have reversed since 2011: A quick glance at <em>SI</em>'s <a href="http://www.si.com/more-sports/photos/2014/06/18/si-covers-2014#1" target="_blank">2014 cover gallery</a> shows that just five female athletes have graced the cover prior to Davis this year.</p> <p>Davis <a href="http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11369482" target="_blank">told ESPN</a> she plans to play basketball at UConn and eventually in the WNBA. When a <a href="http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/08/13/fox-host-doesnt-think-little-league-baseball-is/200409" target="_blank">Fox News anchor</a> asked why she doesn't play a "more female friendly sport," like soccer, last week, she seemed surprised. "Well, I play soccer actually, but I don't consider it as my favorite sport&hellip;But soccer is fun."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="video-embed" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="http://mediamatters.org/embed/200409" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>As Albert Chen writes in the <em>Sports Illustrated </em>story, "She's a lot of things to a lot of different people, all of them good things: a totem for inner-city baseball, a role model for your 10-year-old niece, a role model for your 10-year-old nephew. Most of all, she's a laid-back kid just having a really good time." NBA superstar Kevin Durant was just one of <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2014/8/15/6007925/mone-davis-becomes-first-girl-to-throw-little-league-world-series" target="_blank">a number of pro athletes</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/KDTrey5/status/500384860716793856" target="_blank">tweet their support</a>: "This youngster is striking everyone out and she is a girl. I love it."</p> <p>Davis <a href="http://articles.philly.com/2014-08-12/sports/52692471_1_newark-williamsport-jack-rice" target="_blank">told the <em>Philadelphia Inquirer</em></a> that "the attention should not just be on one girl; more girls should join boys' teams so it is a tradition and it won't be so special." She is expected to take the mound again Wednesday, when Philadelphia faces off against Las Vegas.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="baseball fan" class="image" src="/files/mone-davis-fan-630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A young fan shows her support of Mo'ne Davis after the team's 4-0 win over Nashville in the LLWS. </strong>Sean Simmers/AP</div> </div></body></html> Mixed Media Sex and Gender Sports Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:20:41 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 258686 at http://www.motherjones.com Amnesty International's Latest Hot Spot? Ferguson. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/amnesty-international-ferguson-turkey-protests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Amnesty International is best known for monitoring human rights conditions in places like Afghanistan and China&mdash;while active in the United States, it rarely makes headlines here. That's why the sight of yellow-clad Amnesty activists walking the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, is attracting so much attention: It marks the first time an Amnesty delegation has been dispatched to monitor a human rights crisis unfolding on American soil.</p> <p>Margaret Huang, deputy executive director of campaigns and programs for Amnesty USA, was in Ferguson earlier this week for what she called a "support mission" and says that Amnesty came at the request of the community. Huang and her colleagues did field trainings to educate protesters on their rights and how to respond to police. "The goal was not necessarily to produce a report, which is what Amnesty has typically done, but just to make sure things have been examined from a human rights angle and for people to understand international legal obligations," Huang says. She says the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive; the police, however, haven't been as welcoming. On <a href="http://blog.amnestyusa.org/us/tense-night-in-ferguson-update-from-the-amnesty-team/" target="_blank">Monday night</a>, police forced Amnesty observers out of the protest area at gunpoint.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Jesus Christ. Amnesty getting ordered out of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ferguson?src=hash">#Ferguson</a> by police. (Photo via <a href="https://twitter.com/sdkstl">@sdkstl</a>) <a href="http://t.co/7UvP1LlXc5">pic.twitter.com/7UvP1LlXc5</a></p> &mdash; Gabe Ort&iacute;z (@TUSK81) <a href="https://twitter.com/TUSK81/statuses/501603963880628224">August 19, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Amnesty began reporting on human rights in the United States in 1998, and it has since become just as vocal about conditions here as it is elsewhere. The <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/usa/report-2013" target="_blank">organization's 2013 report</a> on the US is a laundry list of alleged human rights transgressions, including solitary confinement, detention of prisoners in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, drone strikes, and police brutality. This tweet about the situation in Ferguson sums up the organization's angle:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>US can't tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won't clean up its own human rights record</p> &mdash; AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) <a href="https://twitter.com/amnesty/statuses/501600372847575040">August 19, 2014</a><br> &nbsp;</blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>While the nature of Amnesty's mission in Ferguson is unprecedented in the United States, it's not the first time delegations have been on the ground in times of crisis. After Hurricane Katrina hit, teams went to New Orleans to interview residents, with the purpose of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/amnesty-international-hurricane-katrina-human-rights_n_531349.html" target="_blank">producing a report</a> detailing how government was failing in its recovery efforts. Amnesty also helped organize protests and raise awareness leading up to <a href="http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/cases/usa-troy-davis" target="_blank">Troy Davis' execution in 2011</a>.</p> <p>To find the closest parallel to what Amnesty is doing in Missouri, though, you have to look abroad. Huang says that Amnesty's work during Turkey's <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013%E2%80%9314_protests_in_Turkey" target="_blank">massive anti-government protests</a> in 2013 most resembles the Ferguson mission. In Istanbul, activists gave medical assistance to injured protesters and observed the violent clashes involving protesters, police, and sometimes members of the press. They ultimately produced <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR44/022/2013/en/0ba8c4cc-b059-4b88-9c52-8fbd652c6766/eur440222013en.pdf" target="_blank">a huge report</a> detailing the numerous human rights abuses carried out by Turkish police. Their concerns then&mdash;police brutality, harassment and detainment of the press&mdash;were also articulated in a <a href="http://blog.amnestyusa.org/us/amnesty-international-stands-with-ferguson-because-all-lives-matter/" target="_blank">statement about Ferguson.</a></p> <p>What's happening in Ferguson and what happened across Turkey last year aren't the same, of course. But the similarities between the two situations&mdash;and the fact that Amnesty is in Ferguson in the first place&mdash;are, for many, making what's unfolding now even more troubling. Huang didn't say how long the delegation plans to stay in Ferguson, calling the situation "very fluid," but Amnesty USA's executive director, Steven Hawkins, is there now.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Human Rights Race and Ethnicity Ferguson Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:06:44 +0000 Sam Brodey 258626 at http://www.motherjones.com The Man Who Ran Contra Propaganda for Reagan Is Guatemala’s New DC Lobbyist http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/guatemala-lobbyist-otto-reich-reagan-contras-propaganda <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In late July, with <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">child migrants</a> still surging across the US-Mexico border, President Obama met with <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/central-american-leaders-convening-white-house" target="_blank">Central American leaders</a> to discuss a response to the crisis. Not satisfied with Obama's plans, Guatemalan president Otto P&eacute;rez Molina took his agenda to the media, writing a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/03/child-migrants-to-us-guatamalan-president-on-human-rights-action-on-traffickers" target="_blank"><em>Guardian</em> op-ed</a> criticizing the United States for the lasting legacy of both the Cold War and the drug war in his country.</p> <p>Around the same time, Guatemala hired a lobbyist to help push its interests in Washington, DC. Given P&eacute;rez Molina's sharp criticism of the United States' history in the region, his choice&mdash;former Reagan official and <a href="http://www.odwyerpr.com/story/public/2900/2014-08-08/guatemala-taps-reich-for-new-narrative.html" target="_blank">noted Cold War propagandist Otto Reich</a>&mdash;was a shocker.</p> <p>If you've forgotten about the Reich, check out <a href="http://prospect.org/article/our-man-little-havana" target="_blank">this 2001 profile</a> from <em>The American Prospect</em>, this 2002 <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2002/10/14/castros-shadow" target="_blank"><em>New Yorker </em></a>piece, or his National Security Archive <a href="http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB40/" target="_blank">page</a>. Highlights of his Latin American misadventures include:</p> <ul><li>Running the Reagan-era Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (OPD), which, as historian Greg Grandin wrote in <em>Empire's Workshop</em>, "was officially charged with implementing a 'new, nontraditional' approach to 'defining the terms of the public discussion on Central American policy.'" What it actually did was work to ensure US support of the Nicaraguan Contras in their offensive against the Sandinistas.</li> <li>Overseeing OPD's <a href="http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB40/00940.pdf" target="_blank">"white propaganda" program,</a> which placed pro-Contra op-eds in the mainstream media without acknowledging their links to the Reagan administration.</li> <li>Confronting and intimidating those journalists Reich believed were sympathetic with the Sandinistas or the Salvadoran rebels. This included a memorable trip to the NPR office in DC&mdash;Reich referred to NPR as "Moscow on the Potomac"&mdash;during which he alerted reporters that OPD was listening to and transcribing their Central American reporting.</li> <li>Helping write the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/09/world/in-filling-latin-post-bush-may-reignite-feuds.html" target="_blank">Helms-Burton Act</a> (which tightened the Cuban embargo) as well as lobbying for Bacardi to eliminate Cuban trademark rights so the rum maker could pilfer Cuba's official Havana Club brand. (Reich is Cuban American and staunchly anti-Castro.)</li> </ul><p>Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but hiring someone with Reich's history in the region is probably not the best way to, as the lobbying disclosure form puts it, "develop a strategy to move forward on the change of narrative from Guatemala to Washington, DC, allowing representatives in the North American political parties that are willing to abandon the reference to Guatemala of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the last century, and are eager to talk about the present and future of Guatemala of the 21st century." (The rest of the form is embedded below.)</p> <p>Nor is it the best way for fellow cold warrior P&eacute;rez Molina to avoid references to his role as a military leader during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Guatemalans, many of them indigenous Mayans, with assistance <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/daily/march99/guatemala11.htm" target="_blank">from the United States.</a> But then again, trying to make sense of the country's politics can be futile. "Just as you think you understand," University of California-Santa Cruz prof Susanne Jonas <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/04/04/a-murder-foretold" target="_blank">once wrote</a>, Guatemala will "show you that you understand nothing at all."</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1276861-otto-reich-lobbying-disclosure">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1276861-otto-reich-lobbying-disclosure.js", { width: 630, height: 450, sidebar: false, text: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1276861-otto-reich-lobbying-disclosure" }); </script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1276861/otto-reich-lobbying-disclosure.pdf">Otto Reich Lobbying Disclosure (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1276861/otto-reich-lobbying-disclosure.txt">Otto Reich Lobbying Disclosure (Text)</a> </noscript> <p>(h/t CEPR's <a href="http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/cold-warrior-criticizes-cold-war-and-drug-war-hires-cold-warrior-to-promote-drug-war" target="_blank"><em>The Americas Blog</em></a>)</p></body></html> MoJo Human Rights International Money in Politics Top Stories Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:45:58 +0000 Ian Gordon 258616 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Believe the Crocodile Tears Over High Corporate Tax Rates http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/dont-believe-crocodile-tears-over-high-corporate-tax-rates <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The US corporate tax code is inefficient, distortive, and staggeringly complex. Almost no one defends it on those grounds. But US multinational corporations, who have recently been engaged in a wave of tax inversions, have a different complaint: our tax rates are just flatly too high. They make American corporations uncompetitive compared to their foreign peers, and that's why they're being forced to relocate their headquarters to other countries with lower tax rates.</p> <p>Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and a former chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, says this is nonsense. Firms that are entirely (or almost entirely) domestic do indeed pay high corporate taxes. But multinationals don't. Thanks to the "feast of tax planning opportunities laid out before them on the groaning board of corporate tax expenditures," they mostly pay effective tax rates that aren't much different from French or German companies. They are, in fact, perfectly competitive.</p> <p>So why the <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=2476453" target="_blank">recent binge of tax inversions?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The short answer is that the current mania for inversions is driven by <strong>U.S. firms&rsquo; increasingly desperate need to do something with their $1 trillion in offshore cash,</strong> and by a desire to reduce U.S. domestic tax burdens on U.S. domestic operating earnings.</p> <p>The year 2004 is a good place to start, because that year&rsquo;s corporate offshore cash tax amnesty (section 965) had a perfectly predictable knock-on effect, which was to convince corporate America that the one-time never to be repeated tax amnesty would inevitably be followed by additional tax amnesties, if only multinationals would opportune their legislators enough. <strong>The 2004 law thus created a massive incentive to accumulate as much permanently reinvested earnings in the form of cash as possible.</strong></p> <p>....The convergence of these two phenomena led to an explosion in stateless income strategies and in the total stockpile of U.S. multinationals&rsquo; permanently reinvested earnings. <strong>But U.S. multinationals are now hoist by their own petard. The best of the stateless income planners are now drowning in low-taxed overseas cash</strong>....It is less than a secret that firms in this position really have no intention at all of &ldquo;permanently&rdquo; reinvesting the cash overseas, but instead are counting the days until the money can be used to goose share prices through stock buy backs and dividends.</p> <p>....The obvious solution from the perspective of the multinationals would have been a second, and then a third and fourth, one-time only repatriation holiday, but there are still hard feelings in Congress surrounding the differences between the representations made to legislators relating to how the cash from the first holiday would be used, and what in fact happened.</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed. Back in 2004, multinational corporations swore that if Congress granted them a tax amnesty to repatriate their foreign income into the United States, it would unleash a tsunami of new investment. Needless to say, that never happened. Corporate investment had never been credit-constrained in the first place. Instead, all that lovely cash was used mostly to goose stock prices via buy-backs and increased dividends. It's no wonder that Congress is unwilling to repeat that fiasco.</p> <p>Kleinbard's paper is an interesting one, with a couple of fascinating case studies demolishing the self-serving ways that corporate CEOs try to blame the tax code for things that have nothing to do with it. <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/tax-burden-in-u-s-not-as-heavy-as-it-looks-study-finds/" target="_blank">Andrew Ross Sorkin has more here.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Corporations Economy Regulatory Affairs Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:46:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 258651 at http://www.motherjones.com Rick Perry Indictment Highlights the Hack Gap Once Again http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/rick-perry-indictment-highlights-hack-gap-once-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Simon Maloy finds five pundits arguing that last week's indictment of Rick Perry was <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/08/19/the_rights_bombshell_deceit_why_the_lefts_defense_of_perry_reveals_so_much/" target="_blank">flimsy and obviously politically motivated:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Who are these five pundits downplaying the case against Texas&rsquo; Republican governor? In order: <em>New York</em> magazine&rsquo;s Jonathan Chait, MSNBC host Ari Melber, political scientist and <em>American Prospect</em> contributor Scott Lemieux, the Center for American Progress&rsquo; Ian Millhiser, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mind_gap.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and the <em>New Republic&rsquo;s</em> Alec MacGillis. Five guys who work/write for big-name liberal publications or organizations. <strong>This, friends, is the Hack Gap in action.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Ah yes, the hack gap. Where would we be without it? For the most part, it doesn't show up on the policy side, where liberals and conservatives both feature a range of thinkers who bicker internally over lots of things. It mostly shows up on the process side. Is the legal reasoning on subject X sound? Is it appropriate to attack candidate Y in a particular way? Is program Z working well or poorly? How unanimously should we pretend that a mediocre speech/poll/debate performance is really a world-historical victory for our guy?</p> <p>Both sides have hacks who are willing to take their party's side on these things no matter how ridiculous their arguments are. But Republicans sure have a lot more of them. We've seen this most recently with Obamacare. Obviously liberals have been more positive in their assessments of how it's doing, but they've also been perfectly willing to acknowledge its problems, ranging from the website rollout debacle to the problems of narrow networks to the reality of rate shock for at least some buyers. Conservatives, conversely, have been all but unanimous in their insistence that every single aspect of the program is a flat-out failure. Even as Obamacare's initial problems were fixed and it became clear that, in fact, the program was working reasonably well, conservatives never changed their tune. They barely even acknowledged the good news, and when they did it was only to set up lengthy explanations of why it could be safely ignored. To this day, virtually no conservative pundits have made any concessions to reality. Obamacare is a failure on every possible front, and that's that.</p> <p>Liberals just don't have quite this level of hackish discipline. Even on a subject as near and dear to the Democratic heart as Social Security, you could find some liberals who supported a version of privatization back when George Bush was hawking the idea in 2005. It's pretty hard to imagine any conservatives doing the opposite.</p> <p>Is this changing? Are liberals starting to close the gap? Possibly. The liberal narrative on events in Ferguson has stayed pretty firm even as bits and pieces of contradictory evidence have surfaced along the way. The fact that Michael Brown had robbed a convenience store; that he wasn't running away when he was shot; and that a lighter policing touch didn't stop the looting and violence&mdash;none of those things have changed the liberal storyline much. And maybe they shouldn't, since they don't really affect the deeper issues. A cop still pumped six rounds into an unarmed teenager; the militarized response to the subsequent protests remains disgraceful; and the obvious fear of Ferguson's black community toward its white police force is palpable. Maybe it's best to keep the focus there, where it belongs.</p> <p>Still, a bit of honest acknowledgment that the story has taken a few confusing turns wouldn't hurt. Just as having a few liberal voices defending Rick Perry doesn't hurt. Keep it honest, folks.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> And what do <em>I</em> think of the Perry indictment? I'm not sure. When I first saw the headlines on Friday I was shocked, but then I read the stories and realized this was all about something Perry had done very publicly. That seemed like a bit of a yawner, and it was getting late, so I just skipped commenting on it. By Monday, it hardly seemed worth rehashing, especially since I didn't have a very good sense of the law involved.</p> <p>So....I still don't know. The special prosecutor who brought the indictment seems like a fairly straight shooter, so there might be something there. Overall, though, I guess it mostly seems like a pretty political use of prosecutorial power.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice The Right Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:02:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 258646 at http://www.motherjones.com It Looks Like Obamacare Is Here to Stay http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/it-looks-obamacare-here-stay <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Republicans may say that Obamacare is still the white-hot issue it's always been, and among their tea party base that might still be true. But if money talks, it turns out that Republicans no longer really believe Obamacare is a winning issue anywhere else. Bloomberg ran the numbers in a few battleground Senate races and discovered that <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-19/obamacare-losing-punch-as-campaign-weapon-in-ad-battles.html" target="_blank">GOP candidates are starting to turn to other issues:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party&rsquo;s favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch.</p> <p>The shift&nbsp;&mdash; also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana&nbsp;&mdash; shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed.</p> <p>....In April, anti-Obamacare advertising dwarfed all other spots in North Carolina. It accounted for 3,061, or 54 percent, of the 5,704 top five issue ads in North Carolina, according to Kantar Media&rsquo;s Campaign Media Analysis Group. By July, the numbers had reversed, with anti-Obamacare ads accounting for 971, or 27 percent, of the top issue ads, and the budget, government spending, jobs and unemployment accounting for 2,608, or 72 percent, of such ads, CMAG data show.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/08/19/morning-plum-obamacare-disappearing-as-major-issue/" target="_blank">As Greg Sargent points out,</a> this doesn't mean Democrats are any more likely to hold the Senate this year. But it does suggest that as time goes by and Obamacare appears to be working fairly well without causing the collapse of the Republic, even the GOP faithful are starting to accept it. More and more, it looks like Obamacare is here to stay.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:46:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 258641 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 19, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/were-still-war-photo-day-august-19-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>A US Marine shouts out to his crew during a training mission in the Atlantic. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1408457607381_1424">(US Marine Corps photo taken by Lance Cpl. Alex W. Mitchel</span>)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:21:01 +0000 258636 at http://www.motherjones.com Happy 75th Ginger Baker! British Drummer Carried Beat for Cream http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/happy-75th-ginger-baker-british-drummer-carried-beat-cream <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you've ever jammed to "Sunshine of Your Love" or "White Room" by Cream, spent time with the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Faith_%28Blind_Faith_album%29" target="_blank">Blind Faith album</a>, got down to <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2sCoefzhmk" target="_blank">Levitation</a></em> by Hawkwind or listened to Public Image Limited's classic <a href="http://www.pilofficial.com/disco.html" target="_blank"><em>Album</em></a>, then tip your hat to Mr. Ginger Baker, who turns 75 on August 19th, 2014.</p> <p>To celebrate, Here are a few killer photos of Baker playing with Cream on the <a href="http://www.beeldengeluidwiki.nl/index.php/Gallery:_Fanclub" target="_blank">Dutch television show Fanclub</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FTA001009845_008_con_0.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FTA001009841_011_con.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FTA001009845_005_con.png"></div> <p class="inline-credit rtecenter">F. van Geelen/Fanclub/<a href="http://www.beeldengeluidwiki.nl/index.php/Gallery:_Fanclub" target="_blank">Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision</a></p> <p>And a more recent photo of Mr. Baker:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ginger-20081103_ptf_e66_327.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Peter Edward 'Ginger'' Baker is an English drummer, best known for his work with Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with New World music and the use of African influences and other diverse collaborations such as his work with the rock band Hawkwind. </strong>David Levene/eyevine/ZUMA Press</div> </div> <p>Oh, and Bill Clinton and Tipper Gore also share a birthday today. Whatta party!</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Mark Murrmann 258581 at http://www.motherjones.com How Much It Costs to Raise a Kid, in 4 Charts http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/08/child-born-2013-will-cost-quarter-million-raise <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about a quarter of a million dollars in child-rearing expenses over the next 18 years, according to a <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/2013CRCPressRelease.pdf" target="_blank">new report from the USDA</a>.</p> <p>Costs such as housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care, and education will amount to an expected $304,340 ($245,340 in 2013 dollars) for middle-income families, a 1.8 percent increase from last year's report. For each income bracket, costs will increase as the child ages:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/r91K8/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Although households with incomes in the lowest third will spend less than half as much on child-related costs as higher income families, their spending will amount to a far greater percent of total income.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="314" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/vllTh/6/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="300"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="314" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/0tg1o/5/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="300"></iframe></p> <p>Housing is the highest child-rearing expenditure, amounting to 30 percent of expenses for middle-income, husband-wife families with two children. Raising a child is costliest in the urban Northeast and least expensive in rural areas.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/USDAInfoGraphic-630_0.jpg"><div class="caption">USDA</div> </div> <p>The report notes that child-rearing costs have grown 24 percent since 1960, when a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars). The USDA has also released an <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/tools/CRC_Calculator/default.aspx" target="_blank">interactive calculator</a> to help families estimate child-rearing costs based on type of household, number of children, location, and income.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Economy Income Inequality Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 258586 at http://www.motherjones.com The Government May Soon Send This Reporter to Jail. Here Are the Embarrassing Secrets He Exposed. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/james-risen-operation-merlin-jail-cia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Obama administration has fought a years-long court battle to force longtime <em>New York Times</em> national security correspondent James Risen to reveal the source for a story in his 2006 book <a href="http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780743270663-5" target="_blank"><em>State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration</em></a>. Risen may soon serve&nbsp;jail time for refusing to out his source. The fight has drawn attention to Obama's less-than-stellar track record on press freedom&mdash;in a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-wheres-the-justice-at-justice.html" target="_blank">recent interview</a>, Risen called the president "the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation." But lost in the ruckus are the details of&nbsp;what Risen revealed. Here's what has the government so upset.</p> <p>In <em>State of War</em>, Risen revealed a secret CIA operation,&nbsp;code-named&nbsp;Merlin, that was intended to undermine&nbsp;the Iranian nuclear program. The plan&mdash;originally approved by president Bill Clinton, but later embraced by George W. Bush&mdash;was to pass flawed plans for a trigger system for a nuclear weapon to Iran in the hopes of derailing the country's nuclear program. "It was one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world," Risen wrote in <em>State of War</em>, "providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia from the rogue countries like Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short."</p> <p>The flaws in the trigger system were supposed to be so well hidden that the blueprints would lead Iranian scientists down the wrong path for years. But Merlin's frontman, a Russian nuclear scientist and defector then on the CIA's payroll, spotted the flaws almost immediately. On the day of the handoff in Vienna in winter 2000, the Russian, not wanting to burn a bridge with the Iranians, included an apologetic note with his delivery, explaining that the design had some problems. Shortly after receiving the plans, one member of the Iranian mission changed his travel plans and flew back to Tehran, presumably with the blueprints&mdash;and the note&mdash;in hand. Merlin did not wreck the Iranian nuclear program&mdash;in fact, Risen wrote, the operation could have accelerated it.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/228603-jim-risen-affidavit.html" target="_blank">sworn affidavit</a> filed in 2011, and in a recently rejected appeal to the US Supreme Court, Risen has argued that his reporting served the public good. Published at a time when military action in Iran seemed possible, <em>State of Fear</em> revealed how much of the effort to gather information on Iran's nuclear capability was not just shoddy but dangerous&mdash;even, in the case of Operation Merlin, helping Iran get closer to building a nuclear weapon.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bush administration did not see it that way. In 2008, Bush's Justice Department subpoenaed Risen, demanding that he reveal his source&mdash;or face jail time for contempt of court. After taking office in 2009, the Obama administration&nbsp;renewed the Bush-era subpoena&nbsp;and continued&nbsp;to try to identify and prosecute Risen's source. Justice Department staff believe they know who the source was&mdash;an ex-CIA operations officer named Jeffrey Sterling, who was previously an on-the-record source for Risen&mdash;but they want Risen to confirm their hunch and fill in a few details. In <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/96754-subpoena-of-james-risen.html" target="_blank">legal filings</a>, Justice Department lawyers have called Risen a witness to "serious crimes that implicate the national security of the United States" and argued that "there are few scenarios where the United States' interests in securing information is more profound and compelling than in a criminal prosecution like this one." &nbsp;</p> <p>If Risen is called to court to testify but fails to show up or refuses to talk, he's likely to become the first reporter since <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/politics/07leak.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Judith Miller in 2005</a> to be sentenced to jail time for refusing to divulge a source.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Top Stories Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:00:04 +0000 Alex Park 258556 at http://www.motherjones.com Senator Jim Jeffords Died Today. Watch the Moving Speech He Gave Defecting From the GOP. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/rip-jim-jeffords-one-of-the-marbles-the-gop-lost <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Former Senator James Jeffords, who represented Vermont in Washington for 32 years, <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/18/former-vermont-sen-james-jeffords-dies/qbGtu8xRxxTwjb20wXlPeM/story.html" target="_blank">died Monday</a> at the age of 80. He made history when, five months after George W. Bush was inaugurated with a deadlocked Senate in 2001, he left the GOP to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, thereby handing Dems control of the upper chamber. He did it because "more and more" he found he could not "support the president's agenda." The GOP was no longer the party he grew up in. "Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me and for me to deal with them."</p> <p>This was before the tea party, before Guantanamo, before Abu Ghraib, before so much of what we now think of when we think of Republican extremism.</p> <p>Here is the <a href="http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2014/08/18/leaving-republican-party-jeffords-speech/14239833/" target="_blank">speech</a> he gave announcing his defection, on May 24, 2001. It's a reminder that the GOP didn't just up and start losing its marbles after Obama's election. It had been dropping them one by one for years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <object align="middle" classid="clsid:d27cdb6eae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,0,0" height="500" id="cspan-video-player" width="630"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="true"><param name="movie" value="http://static.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.1405958893.swf?pid=164445-1"><param name="quality" value="high"><param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="flashvars" value="system=http://www.c-span.org/common/services/flashXml.php?programid=141340&amp;style=full&amp;version=2014-01-23"><embed align="middle" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" bgcolor="#ffffff" flashvars="system=http://www.c-span.org/common/services/flashXml.php?programid=141340&amp;style=full&amp;version=2014-01-23" height="500" name="cspan-video-player" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" quality="high" src="http://static.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.1405958893.swf?pid=164445-1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:55:22 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 258561 at http://www.motherjones.com It’s Like Yelp For Cops: Teens Make App To Rate Police http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/these-teens-made-app-fight-police-brutality <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Three teens in Georgia just made a mobile app they hope will help prevent the next police shooting of an unarmed young person.</p> <p>It's called <a href="http://pinetartinc.com/?p=44" target="_blank">Five-O</a>, after <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=five-o" target="_blank">the slang term for police</a>, and it's the brainchild of siblings Ima, 16, Asha, 15, and Caleb Christian, 14, who live in a suburb of Atlanta. Here's how it works: After interacting with a cop, users open the app and fill out a Yelp-like form on which they can grade the officer's courtesy from A to F, check a box if they were verbally or physically abused, and add details about the incident. They can view ratings on other cops and&nbsp;police departments across the country, participate in community forums, and check out a Q&amp;A titled "Know Your Rights."</p> <p>Ima Christian says their parents encouraged them to think about how they could respond productively to incidents like Brown's death. "One of the things they really stress is that we focus on finding solutions," she told&nbsp;<em>Mother Jones</em>. "We really hope that Five-O will be able to give every citizen a voice when interacting with the police."</p> <p>But the Christians say&nbsp;Five-O isn't just for outing bad cops; they hope it will help also highlight good policing.&nbsp;"We want people to be able to document if the police are very courteous or if they save your cat or something," Ima says.</p> <p>"You&rsquo;re never too young to learn, and you're never too young to make a difference," Caleb told <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/fiveo-app-built-by-teenagers-to-document-police-abuse-2014-8?utm_source=slate&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_term=partner" target="_blank">Business Insider</a>. A similar app made in London to track "stop and search" incidents <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases/liberty-honours-inspirational-human-rights-leaders-annual-awards-ceremony" target="_blank">earned a human rights award</a> in 2012.</p> <p>The siblings have been honing their coding skills since elementary school by participating in the MIT programs <a href="http://k12videos.mit.edu/" target="_blank">+K12</a>, <a href="http://scratch.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Scratch</a>, and <a href="http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/" target="_blank">App Inventor</a>, and they've also taken programming classes at Georgia Tech and Emory, all with encouragement from their parents. They've started their own app development company, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006377103253" target="_blank">Pine Tart, Inc</a>., and they're currently working on two other projects: <a href="http://pinetartinc.com/?p=1" target="_blank">Froshly</a>, which will help incoming college freshmen meet their classmates, and <a href="http://pinetartinc.com/?p=37" target="_blank">Coily</a>, which will review hair-care products for black women.</p> <blockquote align="center" class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>while brogrammers make hook up apps/pizza delivery drones, kids from marginalized communities use tech for real needs <a href="http://t.co/dsQal4iFOa">http://t.co/dsQal4iFOa</a></p> &mdash; joanne mcneil (@jomc) <a href="https://twitter.com/jomc/statuses/500315683029536769">August 15, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Here's a preview of Five-O:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wH-Veei0jQM" width="620"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Mon, 18 Aug 2014 23:01:26 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 258571 at http://www.motherjones.com Pope Francis Backs Military Force Against Extremists in Iraq, Calls for UN Involvement http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/pope-francis-endorses-force-stop-islamic-militants-iraq <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Obama's recent <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/iraq-us-citizens-evacuate" target="_blank">decision</a> to use force against Islamic extremists in Iraq has drawn some unexpected support. The AP reported <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/pope-oks-protecting-iraq-minorities-wants-un-ok" target="_blank">Monday</a> that Pope Francis told reporters in response to questions about the US military intervention that "in these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor."</p> <p>But Francis stopped short of endorsing specific military actions. "I underscore the verb 'stop,'" he added, according to the AP. "I'm not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.' And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated." And he made clear that he wanted the international community&mdash;not just the United States&mdash;to decide how to combat the violence in Iraq:</p> <blockquote> <p>"One nation alone cannot judge how you stop this, how you stop an unjust aggressor," he said, apparently referring to the United States. "After World War II, the idea of the United Nations came about: It's there that you must discuss 'Is there an unjust aggression? It seems so. How should we stop it?' Just this. Nothing more."</p> </blockquote> <p>Two weeks ago, Obama <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/iraq-us-citizens-evacuate" target="_blank">ordered air strikes</a> against the Islamic State&mdash;a terrorist group that now controls parts of Iraq, Syria and <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/8/4/5968181/lebanon-isis-town-arsal" target="_blank">Lebanon</a>&mdash;which at the time was threatening to seize control of of Irbil, the Kurdish capital. The group has waged a violent campaign against Iraqi religious minorities, stranding tens of thousands of members of the Yazidi sect in the mountains near Irbil without food or water. On <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/07/world/meast/iraq-isis-christian-city/" target="_blank">August 8</a>, the Islamic State seized the city of Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian city, forcing thousands of Christians to flee, convert, pay a fine, or be murdered "by the sword," according to CNN. Many Iraqi Christians are <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/07/world/meast/iraq-isis-christian-city/" target="_blank">Chaldeans</a>, a branch of Catholicism.</p> <p>The Vatican's support for the US intervention, which includes strikes by drones and piloted US fighter jets as well as humanitarian aid for the Yazidis, seems to be somewhat unusual. Just <a href="http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/2013/09/prayers-protests-military-action-in-syria/#1" target="_blank">last September</a>, Francis held a massive vigil urging the United States to refrain from engaging militarily in the conflict in Syria <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/syria" target="_blank">following massive chemical weapons attacks</a>, which killed more than 1,300 people. Francis described war <a href="http://www.news.va/en/news/francis-war-is-always-a-defeat-for-humanity" target="_blank">in 2013</a> as a "defeat for humanity," echoing the words of Pope John Paul II. In 2003, the Vatican condemned the US invasion of Iraq <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/2003/03/12/vatican-strongly-opposes-iraq-war/">as a</a> "crime against peace."</p> <p>But, <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/pope-oks-protecting-iraq-minorities-wants-un-ok" target="_blank">as the AP points out</a>, "The Vatican has been increasingly showing support for military intervention in Iraq, given that Christians are being directly targeted because of their faith."</p> <p><em>This article has been revised.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Foreign Policy International Iraq Military Religion Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:06:36 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 258596 at http://www.motherjones.com What Do We Know So Far From Mike Brown's Autopsies? http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/mike-brown-autopsy-baden-doj-explained <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Normally, it takes weeks to get the results of an autopsy. But today, St. Louis County medical examiner Mary Case <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/18/county-investigation-michael-brown-was-shot-from-the-front-had-marijuana-in-his-system/" target="_blank">announced</a> that Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-michael-brown-ferguson-black-men" target="_blank">killed by a policeman</a> last weekend in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/10-insane-numbers-ferguson-killing" target="_blank">Ferguson</a>, Missouri, was shot in the head and chest multiple times. Here's the information we know about Michael Brown's death, and a little background on why autopsies usually take so much longer.</p> <p><strong>What have the autopsies found so far?</strong><br> Three separate autopsies are in various stages of completion. The <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/18/county-investigation-michael-brown-was-shot-from-the-front-had-marijuana-in-his-system/" target="_blank">St. Louis County</a> medical examiner's office announced on Monday that Brown was killed by multiple bullets to the chest and head. The office has not yet released information about the number or location of the bullets or their toxicology report. According to a confidential source reporting to the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/18/county-investigation-michael-brown-was-shot-from-the-front-had-marijuana-in-his-system/" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, Brown's toxicology test found that he tested positive for marijuana.</p> <p>The preliminary results of an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=lede-package&amp;WT.nav=lede-package" target="_blank">independent autopsy</a> arranged by the Brown family and performed on Sunday by former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden found that Brown was shot six times: four times in his right arm, and twice in the head. One of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull, indicating that his head was tilted forward when the bullet struck him and caused a fatal injury. According to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/us/missouri-teenager-and-officer-scuffled-before-shooting-chief-says.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Benjamin Crump</a>, the attorney representing the Browns, the family wanted "an autopsy done by somebody who is objective and who does not have a relationship with the Ferguson police."</p> <p>US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Sunday that the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html" target="_blank">Justice Department</a> would conduct a third autopsy, because of "the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family." A department representative said the autopsy would take place "as soon as possible."</p> <p><strong>Why does it usually take so long to get autopsy results?</strong><br> An autopsy itself usually doesn't take too long, but often, medical examiners will wait to release the results until toxicology tests, which analyze the presence of drugs, are also complete. Toxicology tests usually take several weeks, in part due to the chemistry involved and in part because there's often a backlog of tests. Coupling the release of the toxicology and autopsy results is standard practice because it gives a more complete picture of what may have happened during the shooting, says Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist and the author of <em>Working Stiff: The Making of a Medical Examine</em>r. Determining whether or not a person was under the influence of drugs "may help interpret a person's behavior and reaction time," she says.</p> <p><strong>What do toxicology tests entail?</strong><br> A basic screening often involves using <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immunoassay" target="_blank">immunoassays</a> to test blood and urine (from inside the body) for drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, and opiates. If a test comes back positive, then a lab will run more complex tests, like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometry" target="_blank">mass spectrometry</a>, to determine the exact concentration of the drug. Melinek says that "negative results come back faster," and "the more drugs found in a person's system, the longer it takes because each has to be verified and quantitated." If Brown only tested positive for marijuana, the tests would only take a few days.</p> <p><strong>Was Brown's case slowed down by an autopsy backlog?</strong><br> Autopsy backlogs do exist&mdash;last year in Massachusetts, for example, there were <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/06/16/grieving-families-face-insurance-financial-problems-from-delays-state-death-certificates/CdqKPttNPvoDncewrajliN/story.html" target="_blank">nearly 1,000 unfinished death certificates</a> due to lack of qualified pathologists and state funding for toxicology testing. According to Suzanne McCune, a representative of the St. Louis County medical examiner's office, Brown's case was expedited through the system, as often happens for cases involving officers.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Science Top Stories Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:26:09 +0000 Julia Lurie 258521 at http://www.motherjones.com Medicare Advantage Might Not Be a Boondoggle Anymore http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/medicare-advantage-might-not-be-boondoggle-anymore <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've written periodically in this space about the problems with Medicare Advantage. In a nutshell, it costs a lot more but provides very little in the way of additional services. It's really not much of a poster child for the benefits of program choice.</p> <p>But wait! Apparently a big part of the problem with MA was the fact that people were allowed to switch in and out of their plans on a monthly basis. If they got sick, they could quickly switch into MA if that was a better deal for them. This obviously raised the cost of MA as sick people switched in to avoid the copays and other limitations of traditional Medicare.</p> <p>However, that changed in the mid-2000s, when beneficiaries were required to choose a plan and stick with it for a full year. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/upshot/medicare-advantage-is-more-expensive-but-it-may-be-worth-it.html?abt=0002&amp;abg=0" target="_blank">Austin Frakt provides the details of a new study:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>By 2006-2007, health differences between beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage and those in traditional Medicare had narrowed....Also, in contrast to studies in the 1990s, more recent work finds that Medicare Advantage is superior to traditional Medicare on a variety of quality measures. For example, according to a paper in <em>Health Affairs</em> by John Ayanian and colleagues, women enrolled in a Medicare Advantage H.M.O. are more likely to receive mammography screenings; those with diabetes are more likely to receive blood sugar testing and retinal exams; and those with diabetes or cardiovascular disease are more likely to receive cholesterol testing.</p> <p>That <em>Health Affairs</em> paper also found that H.M.O. enrollees are more likely to receive flu and pneumonia vaccinations and about as likely to rate their personal doctor and specialists highly.</p> </blockquote> <p>So now things are a little murkier. MA still costs more than traditional Medicare, but only by 5-6 percent. And recent evidence suggests that MA beneficiaries might be getting enough additional benefit to justify that much extra money. It's still not clear that MA is worthwhile, but it appears now to be at least worth further study.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 18 Aug 2014 18:20:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 258591 at http://www.motherjones.com Most Songs are Three Minutes Long Because That's How Most of Us Like Them http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/most-songs-are-three-minutes-long-because-thats-how-most-us-them <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rock_around_clock.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Kelsey McKinney asks today why popular songs are almost all 3-5 minutes long. The historical basis for this is obvious: 45 rpm singles hold about three minutes of music, so modern pop music was born in an era when technology limited songs to about three minutes or so. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/8/18/6003271/why-are-songs-3-minutes-long" target="_blank">But what about more recently?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It makes sense to assume that since the basis of the three-minute song was the 78 and then 45 rpm single, then songs would become longer as technology evolved....But the length of songs had its biggest jump, according to this data, between the '60s and '80s, and very little has changed from the '90s to 2008, a time period when the technology of music changed drastically.</p> <p>"What drives what is heard on the radio is an artist's desire to have their music hit the mainstream, and a record label's desire to profit from that," Steve Jones, vice president at the Canadian radio firm Newcap, told NPR....Jones is right. <strong>The length of a song on an album doesn't matter for anyone except for the artist and fans,</strong> but a song that hopes to make money and be played on the radio simply has to be a certain length. Either that, or radio stations will edit the song down to the standard, making it three to four minutes, just like the 45.</p> </blockquote> <p>But this begs the question. <em>Why</em> do radio stations insist on three minutes? They don't run ads after literally every song, so it's not because advertisers demand it. The obvious answer is that this is, in fact, what most fans want.</p> <p>The core explanation, I think, is that most popular music simply doesn't have the complexity to sustain itself beyond a few minutes. Both the lyrics and the melodies tend to be fairly simple, and after a few minutes they've exhausted their potential. Compare this to classical music and you see it more clearly. Most classical music is considerably more complex than your average pop song, but even so a single movement of a sonata or a symphony usually clocks in at no more than ten minutes or so. Opera arias&mdash;which developed in a pre-technological age and with much more patient audiences&mdash;are closer in length to modern pop songs, typically lasting 3-7 minutes.</p> <p>Obviously there are exceptions to this. There are plenty of examples of longish pop songs, just as there are examples of classical pieces longer than ten minutes. But generally speaking, you need a fair amount of complexity to sustain these lengths, and that's not what most people want. They want simple and hummable, and that means not too long.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Music Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:10:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 258566 at http://www.motherjones.com White Juries Are Not Kind to Black Defendants http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/white-juries-are-not-kind-black-defendants <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Alex Tabarrok passes along the results of a new study about the racial composition of <a href="http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/08/the-impact-of-jury-race-in-criminal-trials.html" target="_blank">jury pools and the resulting juries:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What the authors discover is that all white juries are 16% more likely to convict black defendants than white defendants <strong>but the presence of just a single black person in the <em>jury pool</em> equalizes conviction rates by race.</strong> The effect is large and remarkably it occurs even when the black person is not picked for the jury. The latter may not seem possible but the authors develop an elegant model of voir dire that shows how using up a veto on a black member of the pool shifts the characteristics of remaining pool members from which the lawyers must pick; that is, a diverse&nbsp;jury&nbsp;pool can make for a more &ldquo;ideologically&rdquo; balanced jury even when the jury is not racially balanced.</p> </blockquote> <p>There is, of course, no de jure discrimination at work here. The law treats every defendant and every jury member the same. But that still doesn't mean everyone is treated the same. Far from it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:57:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 258546 at http://www.motherjones.com The St. Louis Area Has a Long History of Shameful Racial Violence http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/riot-east-st-louis-ferguson-history-race <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ESL-riot.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A mob blocks a street car during the East St. Louis Riot of July 1917 </strong>University of Massachusetts-Amherst Libraries</div> </div> <p>The shooting of Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent riots, protests, and police crackdown have highlighted the area's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/13/opinion/racial-history-behind-the-ferguson-protests.html" target="_blank">long history</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/10-insane-numbers-ferguson-killing" target="_blank">racial strife</a>. One chapter from that history, a century-old summer riot just fourteen miles away from Ferguson, in East St. Louis, Illinois, shows how black Americans were subjected to racial violence from the moment they arrived in the region.</p> <p>In 1917, East St. Louis was crowded with factories. Jobs were abundant. But as World War I halted the flow of immigration from Eastern Europe, factory recruiters started looking toward the American South for black workers. Thousands came, and as competition for jobs increased, a labor issue became a racial one.</p> <p>East St. Louis' angry white workers found sympathy from the leaders of the local Democratic party, who feared that the influx of black, mostly Republican voters threatened their electoral dominance. In one particularly <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/voter-id-laws-racism" target="_blank">striking</a> parallel to today's political landscape, local newspapers warned of voter fraud, alleging that black voters were moving between northern cities to swing local elections as part of a far-reaching conspiracy called "colonization," according to the documentary series <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lZPGL1u0XI" target="_blank"><em>Living in St. Louis</em></a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/East-st-louis-massacre-cartoon.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A cartoon from the time of the riot, lambasting then-president Woodrow Wilson for making the world "safe for democracy" while ignoring the plight of East St. Louis. </strong>Wikipedia</div> </div> <p>That May, a local aluminum plant brought in black workers to replace striking white ones. Soon, crowds of whites gathered downtown, at first protesting the migration, then beating blacks and destroying property. On July 1, a group of white men drove through a black neighborhood, firing a gun out their car window. (The perpetrators were never caught.) A few hours later, another car drove through the neighborhood. Black residents fired at it, killing two police officers.</p> <p>On July 2, as news of the killings got out, white residents went tearing through black neighborhoods, beating and killing blacks and burning some 300 houses as National Guard troops either failed to respond or fled the scene. The official toll counted 39 black and eight white people dead, but others speculated that more than a hundred people died in what is still <a href="http://www.stl250.org/crash-course-dry-weary-years.aspx" target="_blank">considered</a> one of the worst incidents of racial violence in twentieth-century America. Afraid for their lives, more than six thousand blacks <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/peopleevents/e_estlouis.html" target="_blank">left</a> the city after the riot.</p> <p>That the United States was then fighting in Europe to defend democracy while failing to protect its own citizens was not lost on Marcus Garvey, soon to become one of the most famous civil rights leaders of his time: "This is no time for fine words, but a time to lift one's voice against the savagery of a people who claim to be the dispensers of democracy," he said to cheers at a <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/filmmore/ps_riots.html" target="_blank">speech</a> in Harlem on July 8. "I do not know what special meaning the people who slaughtered the Negroes of East St. Louis have for democracy... but I do know that it has no meaning for me."</p> <p><em>Top image credit: <a href="http://www.stl250.org/crash-course-dry-weary-years.aspx" target="_blank">STL250</a></em></p></body></html> MoJo Labor Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:45:05 +0000 Alex Park 258416 at http://www.motherjones.com How the Defense Industry Convinced Congress to Militarize Local Cops http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/how-defense-industry-made-room-militarized-police-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Ferguson, Missouri, police department's display of armored cars, officers in riot gear, and assault rifles over the past week shocked Americans who didn't realize how much military equipment is now available to local police departments. But since the 1990's, more than 8,000 federal, state, tribal, and local police agencies across the country have armed themselves with the military's excess gear, free of charge. The inventory includes everything from office furniture and first aid kits to aircraft, armored cars, rifles and bayonets, <a href="http://www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/LESO/Pages/1033ProgramFAQs.aspx" target="_blank">according to</a> the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Defense office that manages the transactions under an initiative called Program 1033.</p> <p>In June, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced an amendment to de-fund aspects of the program. Grayson's bill would have exempted certain military equipment, including planes and armored cars, from Program 1033. That effort failed; just 62 members of the House of Representatives voted for the measure, with 355 voting no. Maybe the outcome shouldn't have been a surprise: According to a <a href="http://maplight.org/content/73514?utm_source=Data%3ADefense%20Industry-Backed%20Lawmakers%20Voted%20to%20Continue%20Police%20Militarization&amp;utm_campaign=Defense%20Industry_Militiarization%20of%20Police%20&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">new analysis</a> of campaign finance data, the politicians who voted against Grayson's bill received, on average, 73 percent more campaign donations from defense industry sources from 2011 through 2013 than their peers who voted for it.&nbsp;</p> <p>The analysis&mdash;conducted by the Berkeley-based research group MapLight using data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics&mdash;also found that of 59 representatives who received more than $100,000 from the defense industry from 2011 through 2013, all but four voted against the amendment.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/BKohI/4/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>Correction: The original version of this story said that three representatives who received more than $100,000 from the defense industry voted against the amendment. Four representatives in this category voted against it. </em></p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Military Money in Politics Top Stories Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Alex Park 258476 at http://www.motherjones.com Devo's "The Men Who Make the Music" is Hilarious and Unsettling http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/devo-men-who-make-music-hilarious-and-unsettling <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Devo<br><em>The Men Who Make the Music</em> plus <em>Butch </em>Devo and the Sundance Gig<br> MVD Visual</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Devo" class="image" src="/files/rsz_mvd6055d.jpg" style="height: 245px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>Best known, perhaps, for the giddy 1980 smash, "Whip It," Devo was much more than the disposable New Wave novelty act that hit implied, as this enticing DVD proves. Mixing high concepts and low humor, the Ohio-bred band specialized in raucous punk-electronica drenched in pessimism and misanthropy, and delivered the goods with an irresistible, wild-eyed spirit, attracting support from the likes of David Bowie and Neil Young. <em>The Men Who Make the Music</em> draws primarily from Devo's groundbreaking '70s work, with raucous live footage and the still-amazing (if extremely low-budget) videos that preceded their major-label deal. Nearly four decades on, the clips for "Jocko Homo" and their savage deconstruction of the Stones' "(I Can&rsquo;t Get No) Satisfaction" are both hilarious and unsettling, while testifying to the band's keen visual sense and absurdist flair. Capturing a live show at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, <em>Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig</em> doesn't break any new ground, but it's still entertaining.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jgvEA3Qcdnw" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Media Music Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:00:04 +0000 Jon Young 258326 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Is What Robert De Niro Had To Say About Being Nervous His First Time On Camera http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/robert-de-niro-bervous-first-time-on-camera-playboy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/robert_de_niro_Trois_chambres_Manhattan-1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Robert De Niro's first appearance on screen, in the 1965 French film "Three Rooms in Manhattan." </strong>Les Productions Montaigne</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p><em>Robert De Niro was born August 17, 1943. To celebrate his birthday, here is the two-time Oscar winner&mdash;who has appeared in nearly 100 films&mdash;telling </em><a href="http://translatedby.com/you/robert-de-niro-playboy-interview-january-1989/original/" target="_blank">Playboy</a><em> about his first time on camera. </em></p> <blockquote> <p>PLAYBOY: Do you remember your first experience before the cameras?</p> <p>ROBERT DE NIRO: There was some little thing I did that I don't know whatever happened to. Some walk-on for <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0179492/" target="_blank">an independent film</a>: I walked in and ordered a drink at a bar.</p> <p>I remember a bunch of other young actors hanging around, moaning and bitching, all made up, with pieces of tissue in their collars; it was the kind of thing you always hear about actors&mdash;where they're just silly or vain, complaining back and forth, walking around primping, not wanting to get the make-up on their shirts.</p> <p>PLAYBOY: So you didn't exactly feel as if you had found a home.</p> <p>ROBERT DE NIRO: No, I didn't want to be around those people at all. I just walked in and walked out. I was nervous, though, just to say the line "Gimme a drink." It makes me think of that joke: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" You know that joke?</p> <p>PLAYBOY: No.</p> <p>ROBERT DE NIRO: I'm surprised you never heard it; it's a famous actor's joke.</p> <p>This guy hasn't acted in about 15 years, because he always forgets his lines, so finally he has to give it up. He's working in a gas station and gets a phone call from someone saying that they want him for a Shakespearean play&mdash;all he has to do is say, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" He says, "Well, God, I don't know." The director says, "Look, it'll be OK. You'll get paid and everything." So he says, "OK, I'll do it." The play has five acts and he has to go on in the third act and say, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" That's all he has to do. So he rehearses it when he's in his apartment: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" Every variation, every possible emphasis. They're into rehearsal, and he's got it written on his mirror: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" And so on. Finally, comes opening night, first act, no problem. Second act, things go fine. Audience applauds. Stage manager says, "You have five minutes for the third act." He tells him to get backstage. His time comes, he runs out, muttering to himself, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" And as he runs out, he hears a big brrrooooom!! Turns around and says, "What the fuck was that?"</p> </blockquote> <p>Robert De Niro is great.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Sun, 17 Aug 2014 20:16:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 258536 at http://www.motherjones.com