Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Michele Bachmann Just Posted One of the Most Hateful Obama Rants You'll Ever Read http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/04/michele-bachmann-ugly-facebook-rant <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Michele Bachmann was a member of the United States House of Representatives for 8 years. Here's a thing she just <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/michele-bachmann-obama_n_6986936.html" target="_blank">wrote on Facebook</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-01%20at%208.19.40%20PM.png"><div class="caption">Facebook</div> </div> <p>I need a drink.</p> <p><strong>Update</strong>: <em>The Washington Examiner</em>'s T. Becket Adams noted earlier today <a href="http://washingtonexaminer.com/michelle-bachmann-compares-obama-to-murderous-german-pilot-nobody-cares/article/2562385" target="_blank">that this is a day old and no one noticed</a>. Once upon a time the media would have pounced on anything Bachmann wrote this incendiary. We had Google alerts set up, damnit! Now? It took a day for the national media to stumble on to this. I mean, I guess this could be considered...progress?</p></body></html> Contributor Thu, 02 Apr 2015 00:35:53 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272966 at http://www.motherjones.com Chris Rock Is Taking a Selfie Every Time He Gets Pulled Over by the Police http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/chris-rock-selfies-police%20 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>"Stopped by the cops&nbsp;again wish me luck."</p> <p>That's the message Chris Rock paired with a selfie on Monday, capturing what is apparently the <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-rock-stopped-by-cops-photos-2015-4" target="_blank">third time </a>in just seven weeks the comedian has been pulled over by police. It's not known why police stopped Rock during these three separate incidents, but the succinct caption alone sums up what's clearly a routine event for him as a black man in America driving what we can assume is a nice car.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="https://twitter.com/chrisrock/status/582767497272803328"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/rocktweet.png" style="height: 700px; width: 500px;"></a></div> <p>Rock has long been a vocal critic of racial profiling. In a December interview with <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2014/11/chris-rock-frank-rich-in-conversation.html" target="_blank"><em>New York</em></a><em> </em>magazine, Rock talked candidly about the everyday racism he encounters with his family, despite being one of the most well-known and respected comedians in the country. "I mean, I almost cry every day," <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/12/chris-rock-daughters%20" target="_blank">he told Frank Rich.</a> "I drop my kids off and watch them in the school with all these mostly white kids, and I got to tell you, I drill them every day: Did anything happen today? Did anybody say anything? They look at me like I am crazy."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/screen%20shot%202015-04-01%20at%207.15.56%20am.png" style="height: 576px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">WhoSay</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chris%20rock.png" style="height: 311px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">WhoSay</div> </div> <p>In 2013, while filming an episode of <em>Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee</em>, Rock and Jerry Seinfeld were <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/seinfeld-chris-rock-speeding-new-jersey-video.html" target="_blank">pulled over </a>by New Jersey police for speeding. "It would be such a better episode if he pulls me to the side and beats the shit out of me," Rock jokingly tells Seinfeld. "If you weren't here, I'd be scared. Yeah, I'm famous&mdash;still black."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Film and TV Media Race and Ethnicity Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:23:30 +0000 Inae Oh 272861 at http://www.motherjones.com This Letter From a Gay Veteran's Brother Is the Most Heartbreaking Response to Indiana's Law We've Read Yet http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/heartbreaking-letter-indiana-antigay-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday morning, Indiana's largest newspaper, the <em>Indianapolis Star</em>, published a full <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/indiana-is-like-barely-a-state-anyway-amirite" target="_blank">front-page editorial</a> calling on Gov. Mike Pence to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the new bill that has incited national furor because it allows businesses to refuse service to gay people, citing their religious beliefs.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CBZFU8uVIAAlJjE-1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Tuesday's Indianapolis Star. </strong>@markalesia/Twitter</div> </div> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>By the end of the day, the paper received a heartbreaking letter from Nick Crews of Plainfield. Crews writes about walking his dogs to the local market that morning to pick up two copies of the day's <em>Star</em>, something he never does. He continues:</p> <blockquote> <p>With the papers under my arm, I walked to Plainfield's Maple Hill Cemetery, and found my brother's grave. My brother, who had been a troubled Vietnam War vet, was gay at a time when being gay was a very difficult thing to be. When he died of AIDS in 1985 in a far-off city, his refuge from his closed-minded native state, some in our family were sufficiently ashamed that his cause of death was not discussed.</p> <p>At the grave I opened the <em>Star</em>. I said, "Well, Charlie, times have changed, thank God. It turns out you were on the right side of history after all." Then I read aloud as much of the paper's editorial as tears would let me get through.</p> <p>And today I'm doing what I never thought I'd do. I'm renewing my subscription to the<em> Star</em>. I'm doing this because, if for no other reason, I believe we must all support those who stand against discrimination and for inclusiveness. I do it too as thanks to the <em>Star</em> whose courage and right-mindedness on this issue made this moment of personal closure possible for me.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read his entire letter <a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/31/deceased-brother-stars-editorial/70737358/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Media Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:57:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272826 at http://www.motherjones.com Arkansas Governor Asks For Changes to Religious Freedom Bill http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/arkansas-governor-pulls-back-support-religious-freedom-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for changes in the state's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/arkansas-rfra-indiana-lgbt-discrimination" target="_blank">controversial religious freedom bill</a> on Wednesday, amid mounting criticism from businesses, local leaders, gay rights advocates, and even members of his own family.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hutchinson said in a press conference that he would not sign the bill as presented to his desk and&nbsp;asked state lawmakers to change the bill's language to "mirror"&nbsp;the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Twenty other states, including Indiana,&nbsp;have similar <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/state-rfra-statutes.aspx" target="_blank">religious freedom legislation</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial,"&nbsp;Hutchinson <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/arkansas-indiana-religious-freedom-hutchinson-pence.html?_r=0" target="_blank">told reporters</a>. "But these are not ordinary times."</p> <p>In a press conference on Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whose state has also faced a barrage of criticism from <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-backlash-pence-religious-freedom-lgbt" target="_blank">businesses, celebrities and athletes alike</a>, <a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/31/gov-mike-pence-hold-news-conference-clarify-religious-freedom-law/70712968/" target="_blank">called on lawmakers</a> to clarify Indiana's religious freedom bill that "makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone." &nbsp;</p> <p>Though Hutchinson had once said he would approve the bill with amendments, the governor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/arkansas-religious-freedom-bill_n_6985604.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000016" target="_blank">shifted his stance</a> after <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/arkansas-gov-speaks-on-rfra#.xcWVwM8Gj" target="_blank">receiving backlash</a> from local leaders and businesses,&nbsp;including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who called on the governor to veto the bill.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Today's passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold,"&nbsp;McMillon said <a href="http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2015/03/31/walmart-statement-on-arkansas-house-bill-1228" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation."</p> <p>Hutchinson <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/arkansas-religious-freedom-bill_n_6985604.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000016" target="_blank">told reporters</a> that the controversial legislation, which critics say would allow individuals and&nbsp;businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians, hit home. His son, Seth, a labor organizer with the Texas State Employees Union, asked him to veto the legislation. "I love my dad, and we have a good, close relationship," Hutchinson's son&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/arkansas-governors-son-thurst-into-spotlight-over-religious-freedom-bill.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">told the <i>New York Times</i></a>. "But we disagree a lot on political issues. This is just another one, but a lot of families disagree politically. But we stay close."</p> <p>"The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions," Hutchinson said. "It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue."</p> <p>The Arkansas General Assembly has not yet agreed to recall and amend the bill. The governor declined to say whether he would veto the bill if it returned to his desk unchanged.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Gay Rights Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:21:41 +0000 Edwin Rios 272811 at http://www.motherjones.com For the First Time, California Is Enforcing Water Restrictions http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/breaking-first-time-california-enforcing-water-restrictions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced <a href="http://gov.ca.gov/docs/4.1.15_Executive_Order.pdf" target="_blank">mandatory water restrictions</a> for the first time in the state's history. The announcement follows a drought of more than<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank"> three years</a>, which has officials worrying that Californians may have only <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-famiglietti-drought-california-20150313-story.html" target="_blank">one year</a> of drinking water left.</p> <p>The regulations require California cities to decrease water use by 25 percent, though, crucially, only requires agricultural users to report their water use and submit drought management plans. Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of California's water usage. (For more drought background, check out our past coverage on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/almonds-nuts-crazy-stats-charts" target="_blank">agricultural</a> water use&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/california-drought-almonds-water-use" target="_blank">almonds</a> are the biggest suck&mdash;and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">municipal</a> water use.)</p> <p>From the <a href="http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=18910" target="_blank">press release</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The following is a summary of the executive order issued by the Governor today.</p> <p>Save Water</p> <p>For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville.</p> <p>To save more water now, the order will also:</p> <p>Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments;<br> Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and<br> Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.</p> <p>Increase Enforcement</p> <p>The Governor&rsquo;s order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.</p> <p>Agricultural water users &ndash; which have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off &ndash; will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state's ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today&rsquo;s order. Additionally, the Governor&rsquo;s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.</p> <p>Additional actions required by the order include:</p> <p>Taking action against water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state;<br> Updating standards for toilets and faucets and outdoor landscaping in residential communities and taking action against communities that ignore these standards; and<br> Making permanent monthly reporting of water usage, conservation and enforcement actions by local water suppliers.</p> <blockquote>&nbsp;</blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Julia Lurie 272816 at http://www.motherjones.com Once Again, We Are Unlearning the Lesson of the Great Debt Bubble http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/once-again-we-are-unlearning-lesson-great-debt-bubble <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-metric-aids-weak-credit-risks-1427861478?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories" target="_blank">Is this good news?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Millions of Americans unable to obtain credit cards, mortgages and auto loans from banks will receive a boost with the launch of a new credit score <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Credit_Score.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">aimed at consumers regarded as too risky by lenders.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's more:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The new score is largely a response to banks&rsquo; desire to boost lending volumes by increasing loan originations to borrowers who otherwise wouldn&rsquo;t qualify,</strong> many of whom tend to be charged more for loans....The new score, which isn&rsquo;t yet named, will be calculated based on consumers&rsquo; payment history with their cable, cellphone, electric and gas bills, as well as how often they change addresses and other factors.</p> <p>....The new score could help applicants who don&rsquo;t use credit often but are responsible with their monthly payments to get approved for financing....But many borrowers who don&rsquo;t have a traditional FICO score are very risky.</p> <p>....Besides increasing their pool of borrowers and loan originations, banks stand to earn more in interest revenue from riskier borrowers. Lenders charge higher interest rates and in some cases extra fees to borrowers who present a higher risk of falling behind on debt payments.</p> </blockquote> <p>Color me deeply skeptical. Helping people who are denied credit simply because they don't currently use any credit sounds great. And assessing them by their reliability in paying normal monthly bills sounds perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>But I very much doubt this is really the target of this initiative. After all, people with no previous credit history already have access to credit. They just have to start slowly, with low credit limits and so forth. This new scoring system probably won't change that.</p> <p>What it will do is give banks an excuse to extend high-cost credit to risky borrowers&mdash;exactly the same thing they did during the housing bubble. As you may recall, that didn't turn out well, and there was a simple reason: risky borrowers are risky for a reason. When banks start to get too loose with their lending standards they end up dealing with default rates much higher than they expected.</p> <p>This won't happen right away, of course. Banks will be relatively cautious at first. They always are. But just wait a few years and it will be a different story. Then the standards will be lowered just a little too far, the rocket scientists will do their thing, and we'll be headed toward yet another debt crisis.</p> <p>This is almost certainly a bad idea. We'd all like to see everyone get a chance, but there are good reasons to restrict credit to borrowers who are likely to repay. We should remember that.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Megan McArdle has a different take <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-01/living-debt-free-just-got-easier" target="_blank">here.</a> I'm skeptical, but it's worth reading.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:41:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 272801 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is the Only Funny April Fools' Prank That Has Ever Been Pulled http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/april-fools-is-the-devil <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's April Fools' Day! <em>Or is it?</em> It is. But how could you know? I'm just some schmuck stating a fact. On most days you could believe me&mdash;but on this day, April 1, according to tradition, anything stated as fact must be viewed with suspicion. Because it's April Fools', and on April Fools' otherwise normal, sane, decent, jazzy, fun, neat, and cool people lie. For no real reason, really. Rarely are the lies <em>funny</em>. Mostly they're just "haha, I tricked you into believing something that could be true but isn't. GULLIBLE IS WRITTEN IN THE SKY, DIPSHIT."</p> <p>The internet is so awful on April Fools'. It makes me want to put a knife in my head. The information superhighway is filled with hoaxes and bullshit on a normal day! On April Fools' Day, it's extra unreliable. Sometimes the "pranks" aren't even pranks. Here is the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/" target="_blank">front page of Amazon today</a>:</p> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-01%20at%2012.30.21%20PM.png"></a></p> <p>"Whoa, what happened to Amazon? This new design is crazy! It looks like it's from like olden days or something! Oh, snap! It's an April Fools' Day prank! This corporate web portal just S-E-R-V-E-D me good." Except, not really, because it says in big bright words "Amazon.com has gone retro&mdash;April Fools." It's explaining it's own awful prank. It's supposed to be what? Cute? Is that what April Fools' Day is now? An opportunity for #brands to be #cute? It's ironic because in reality April Fools' is about misleading people and #brands spend every day doing that.</p> <p>To be totally real, April Fools' essentially exists to allow boring unfunny people to let loose one day a year by lying to their friends and colleagues.</p> <p>Want an April Fools' joke? Here's an April Fools' joke:</p> <blockquote> <p>Man runs into apartment. A beautiful woman with a very sad way about her is there. He says, "honey, baby doll, light of my life, I love you!" "Leave me alone," she says. "No, honey, you don't understand. I did it." "Did what?" "I left her! I left my wife!" He shows her his left hand. There is no ring on his ring finger. She's overjoyed. She jumps into his arms, wraps her legs around him, kisses him hard and long, and they fall back onto her bed and make passionate love. Then the guy gets out of bed, puts the ring back on his finger and says, "April Fools'!"</p> </blockquote> <p>Resolved: April Fools' is evil. (And <a href="https://twitter.com/daudig/status/583126285045489665" target="_blank">OVER</a>.)</p> <p>However there was once a funny April Fools' prank. It happened once and only once and it will be told about in stories for generations to come:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/enhanced-buzz-29343-1333291880-21.jpg"><div class="caption">Greg Stekelman</div> </div> <p>In 2012, this <a href="http://imgur.com/gallery/jgJqf" target="_blank">image</a> made the <a href="http://gothamist.com/2012/04/01/bbc_successfully_trolls_april_fools.php" target="_blank">rounds</a> on the <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/apriltruth/april-fools-prank-watch-2012" target="_blank">internet</a> purporting to show how the BBC "won April Fools" with a great prank. (For some reason many news organizations prank their readers on April 1.) But it was not the case. It was actually a joke created by <a href="http://www.themanwhofellasleep.com/FAQ.htm" target="_blank">writer Greg Stekelman</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The BBC have outdone themselves with this year's April Fools joke. <a href="http://t.co/oApV9Yjx">http://t.co/oApV9Yjx</a></p> &mdash; Greg (@themanwhofell) <a href="https://twitter.com/themanwhofell/status/186393952428113921">April 1, 2012</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>As he put it in a <a href="http://gothamist.com/2012/04/01/bbc_successfully_trolls_april_fools.php#comment-483124483" target="_blank">comment</a> on this <a href="http://gothamist.com/2012/04/01/bbc_successfully_trolls_april_fools.php" target="_blank"><em>Gothamist</em> post</a>, "It seems ironic that an article about April Fools you didn't take the time to check whether the article was actually from the BBC. I thought it would be fun to do an April Fools' story that was so implausible that no one would think it was real. Oh well."</p> <p>So on April 1 let us think of Greg Stekelman, the man who told the only funny April Fools' joke ever.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:56:23 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272766 at http://www.motherjones.com More Good News: Obamacare Has Not Overwhelmed the Health Care System http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/more-good-news-obamacare-has-not-overwhelmed-health-care-system <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Obamacare has provided health insurance to millions of people who previously lacked it. And yet, doctors' offices aren't jammed, as some people feared. Sarah Kliff takes a look at why this is, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/4/1/8320051/obamacare-has-helped-14-million-people-get-coverage-so-why-aren-t" target="_blank">and I think this is the key point:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Federal data released earlier this month shows that the uninsured rate has fallen 35 percent since the coverage expansion began in 2014....In that way, the health law's insurance expansion was big. But put another way, it's also small: 14 million people gaining coverage in a country of more than 300 million residents is kind of a drop in the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup_uninsured_2014_q4.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">bucket. <strong>We're talking about 4 percent of the country going from uninsured to covered.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And it's not just that. Of that 4 percent, a lot of them were healthy people who simply didn't have much need for medical attention but were forced by the Obamacare mandate to purchase insurance anyway. So they got insurance, but since they were healthy, they still didn't go in to see their new doctors much. In reality, I suspect that the number of new patients with real medical needs probably amounted to 2-3 percent of the population. That's an extra burden on the health system, but not a huge one.</p> <p>Medicare turned out to be similar when it began in 1965. As Kliff says, "In practice, these programs are relatively small: each only insured a small chunk of the population. Even though they're remaking American health care, they're doing so in a small, slow progression. That helps explain why none of these coverage expansions have overwhelmed doctors, despite our expectations."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:20:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 272781 at http://www.motherjones.com IS Expansion Is More Illusion Than Reality http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/expansion-more-illusion-reality <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Islamic State has been getting a lot of attention lately, and not just for its grisly beheading videos coming out of Iraq and Syria. It also seems to be expanding rapidly, with offshoots taking credit for atrocities across northern Africa and the Middle East. But the <em>LA Times</em> wisely suggests today that this <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-islamic-state-affiliates-20150331-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">should all be taken with more than a pinch of salt:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Like an accelerating drumbeat, the deeds of groups purporting to be linked to Islamic State have mounted, each seemingly designed to exact a toll more cruel than the last....But many intelligence officials and academic experts are skeptical that the parade of gore <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_is_flag.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">represents a leap in the degree of command and control being exerted across the region by the group's leadership in Syria and Iraq.</p> <p>....Some evidence points instead to looser arrangements that nonetheless carry significant benefits for Islamic State and its professed offshoots....<strong>Under such informal pacts, opportunistic but relatively obscure militant groups can make themselves appear to be far more powerful players in their chosen arena of conflict, while the media-savvy Islamic State can depict itself as having dramatically widened its geographic spread,</strong> an assertion that fits neatly with the group's grandiose claim that its "caliphate" is destined to hold sway across the Muslim world, while also diverting attention from its struggle to hang on to territory seized in Iraq and Syria.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are homegrown terrorist groups all over the Middle East. Most of them have local grievances, but nonetheless find it useful to be viewed as an ally of a group like IS, which has a useful reputation for extreme brutality. Likewise, IS benefits from a public image of massive, unstoppable growth.</p> <p>But both are more illusion than reality. Neither the amount nor the target of terrorist activity has changed much over the past year. We're just seeing the publicity results of a very loose "franchise" model combined with a lot of bluster, much as we did with Al Qaeda in the past decade. There's much less here than meets the eye.</p> <p>That's not to say there aren't some dangers inherent in this model, and the <em>Times</em> does a good job of spelling them out. Generally speaking, though, IS remains in serious trouble in its home territory, and no amount of PR alliances elsewhere really changes that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:58:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 272771 at http://www.motherjones.com Indiana Pizzeria Says It Will Not Cater Gay Weddings http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/indiana-pizzeria-gay-couples <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Catering pizza to your wedding guests might sound unconventional, but <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/explore/pizza-wedding/" target="_blank">it does happen</a>. Oh, <em><a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=pizza+wedding&amp;safe=off&amp;tbm=isch&amp;tbo=u&amp;source=univ&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=QvobVaflB8meggSH-4LYCw&amp;ved=0CB4QsAQ&amp;biw=1268&amp;bih=643" target="_blank">does it happen</a></em>.</p> <p>But if you're gay and in Indiana, don't call Memories Pizzeria in Walkerton: They won't help you make your wedding memories. The owners of the family-run business say it will refuse to serve slices to gay or lesbian weddings, joining a <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/31/us/indiana-religious-freedom-discrimination-opinions/" target="_blank">chorus</a> of those who cite opposition to marriage equality in support of their state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.</p> <p>Crystal O'Connor, who runs the business, <a href="http://www.abc57.com/story/28681598/rfra-first-business-to-publicly-deny-same-sex-service" target="_blank">told local news outlet ABC57,</a> "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," because it was not reflective of their Christian values.</p> <p>In doing so, O'Connor insisted such a move would not be an act of discrimination, as many <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-backlash-pence-religious-freedom-lgbt" target="_blank">critics </a>of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have argued. "I do not think it's targeting gays," she said. "I don't think it's discrimination. It's supposed to help people that have a religious belief."</p> <p>O'Connor's father, Kevin, also appeared in ABC's report telling the reporter being gay is a choice. "Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?"</p> <p>Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana claims that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/indiana-is-like-barely-a-state-anyway-amirite" target="_blank">outrage</a> over the new law, which was passed last Thursday, is the product of "mischaracterization," and that the law's intent was simply to protect religious liberties. Yesterday, he <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/indianas-pence-looks-fix-blames-obamacare" target="_blank">acknowledged</a> the mounting criticism and said he would be seeking a "legislative fix" to the law.</p> <p>Despite the national backlash to Indiana's law, the Arkansas state legislature followed suit yesterday by passing its own <a href="http://bit.ly/1IjUkFo" target="_blank">religious freedom bill. </a></p> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://WBND.images.worldnow.com/interface/js/WNVideo.js?rnd=886171;hostDomain=www.abc57.com;playerWidth=630;playerHeight=355;isShowIcon=true;clipId=11319394;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlay"></script><p><a href="http://www.abc57.com" title="ABC57 News - See the Difference Michiana">ABC57 News - See the Difference Michiana</a></p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Gay Rights Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:23:57 +0000 Inae Oh 272756 at http://www.motherjones.com Walmart Gave Workers a Raise—But It's Not Enough to Keep Them off the Dole http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/walmart-workers-raise-not-enough-public-assistance <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A typical Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers more than $900,000 a year in public assistance doled out to its low-wage workers. This fact, published in a congressional <a href="http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/sites/democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/files/documents/WalMartReport-May2013.pdf" target="_blank">report in 2013</a>, galvanized labor protests at Walmart stores across the country last year, leading the retail giant to announce in February that it would give some 500,000 workers a raise. (Today, McDonald's announced <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-01/mcdonald-s-will-raise-worker-pay-by-more-than-10-journal-says" target="_blank">a similar increase</a>). And that's something. But according to a report <a href="http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/files/Taxpayers-and-Walmart-ATF.pdf" target="_blank">released today</a> by Americans for Tax Fairness, Walmart's pay is still far too low to wean many "associates" from federal subsidies such as food stamps and Section 8 housing.</p> <p>Under Walmart's new plan, full-time associates who've completed a six-month training program will earn at least $10 an hour next year. Many Walmart workers, however, are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/fired-retaliation-strike-walmart-black-friday" target="_blank">involuntary part-timers</a>, and nearly half of the associates turn over each year. But workers who qualify for the $10 base wage by working at least 34 hours a week, which Walmart considers "full time," would still earn only $17,680 a year&mdash;well below the cutoff for many federal assistance programs, especially if a worker has children.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/walmart-tableWEB.gif"><div class="caption">Americans for Tax Fairness</div> </div> <p>The four Walton heirs, who are collectively worth <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/walmart-walton-heirs-net-worth-cities" target="_blank">$144.7 billion</a>, are Walmart's largest stockholders and constitute the nation's wealthiest family. If they wanted to stop enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayers, they could pay their workers at least $15 an hour for a 40-hour workweek. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, this would have cost Walmart about $10.8 billion in 2014, or about half of the increase in the Waltons' net worth that year.</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Corporations Income Inequality Labor Top Stories Walmart Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:20:06 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272736 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Leftover Pasta Might Be Healthier Than Fresh http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/five-healthy-cooking-fixes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last week, lovers of rice rejoiced when the<em> Washington Post </em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/25/scientists-have-figured-out-a-simple-way-to-cook-rice-that-dramatically-cuts-the-calories/" target="_blank">reported</a> on a simple trick to improve the nutritional value of the food. According to researchers in Sri Lanka, all you have to do is add a fat (they used coconut oil) to the cooking water, cool your rice over night, and voil&agrave;!&mdash;up to to 50 percent of the calories (a cup of rice contains about 200 when cooked conventionally) are gone.</p> <p>It works by converting the white rice&mdash;which made mostly of digestible starch&mdash;into one that is indigestible, or "resistant," meaning that it's eventually excreted instead of metabolized by our bodies. The researchers found that adding fat and then allowing the rice to cool changed the composition even after the rice was reheated.</p> <p>With <a href="http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/" target="_blank">diabetes</a>, <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/obr.12229/pdf" target="_blank">metabolic syndrome</a>, and <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/" target="_blank">obesity rates</a> rising around the world, this simple tweak to a dietary staple for billions could be a major boon to public health. And it's just one example of how chemistry can be put to work in the kitchen. Here are five more ways to improve foods' nutritional content through cooking:</p> <p><strong>1. Use the heating/cooling method on other carbs too:</strong> The BBC <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29629761" target="_blank">reported</a> last year that pasta might be healthier when eaten as leftovers. Researchers from the University of Surrey found that eating cold pasta resulted in smaller spikes in glucose than eating freshly cooked pasta. These results were even more pronounced when the pasta was reheated: The study participants who had the reheated pasta instead of fresh reduced spikes in blood sugar by 50 percent. A previous <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562607" target="_blank">study</a> in 2009 also showed that freshly cooked legumes, cereals, and tubers had significantly higher levels of resistant starch after multiple cycles of heating and cooling. The resistant starch in peas, which had the most dramatic change, increased by 115 percent. Resistant starch consumption has been linked to improvements in <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17936196" target="_blank">gut functioning,</a> <a href="http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/3/559.full" target="_blank">insulin sensitivity,</a> <a href="http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Resistant-starch-dose-controls-satiety-effects-Study" target="_blank">increased satiety</a>, and even decrease in <a href="http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/8" target="_blank">fat accumulation</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Turn down the heat: </strong>Chances are you are already well aware that fried foods aren't doing good things for your health. But according to <a href="http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm374855.htm" target="_blank">the FDA</a> the downsides of frying aren't just calories and fat&mdash;the high temperature is a problem too. When certain foods are subjected to high temperatures (anything above 248 degrees Fahrenheit), one byproduct is a compound called acrylamide, a <a href="http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/acrylamide" target="_blank">possible carcinogen</a> that also has been linked to nerve damage at high levels. French fries and potato chips have high amounts of acrylamide, but the chemical is also produced in many home-cooked foods including toast, potatoes, and even coffee. To mitigate your exposure, soak potatoes in water for more than 30 minutes before cooking, don't over-brown your bread, and refrain from frying your food. Dark-roast coffee may have less acrylamide than light, an <a href="http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ChemicalContaminantsMetalsNaturalToxinsPesticides/UCM374534.pdf" target="_blank">FDA report</a> suggests.</p> <p><strong>3. Don't forgo frozen: </strong>Fruits and vegetables found in the freezer aisle can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh ones on the shelf. As my colleague Kiera Butler <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/benefit-of-frozen-foods" target="_blank">reported</a> last year, before being frozen, produce undergoes a process called blanching that stops the enzymes that would otherwise cause the vegetables to lose color, texture, and nutrients. Because this process happens soon after harvest, frozen vegetables sometimes retain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than the fresh ones that have to travel to the grocery store. Blanching might also make certain vitamins more digestible.</p> <p><strong>4. Marinade meats: </strong>Meat marinades <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-03/acs-bmc032614.php" target="_blank">do more</a> than enhance flavor and texture&mdash;they prevent the formation of <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet" target="_blank">heterocyclic amines</a> (HCAs) and <a href="http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/wastemin/minimize/factshts/pahs.pdf" target="_blank">polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons</a> (PAHs), which are dangerous chemicals created when meats are cooked at high temperatures. These compounds have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems. While there are noted benefits from marinades with lemon juice or vinegar, <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-03/acs-bmc032614.php" target="_blank">a study</a> published last year in the <em>Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry</em> found that when you marinade meat with beer, the carcinogenic potency is greatly reduced. Black beer had the best results, reducing PAHs found in pork by 53 percent.</p> <p><strong>5. Use your microwave:</strong> Yes, that's right&mdash;the microwave has been <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/microwave-cooking-and-nutrition" target="_blank">redeemed</a>. Because it cooks food quickly without exposing it to high levels of heat, the microwave can preserve nutrients when cooking vegetables. A 2003 <a href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/papers/2003/03iftturnipgreensposter.html" target="_blank">study</a> by <span>Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University </span>showed that, compared to boiling, microwaving retained more water-soluble vitamins in turnip greens, <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608003191" target="_blank">and another</a> done in 2008 by the University of&nbsp;Tsukuba in Japan found that the microwave was one of the best cooking options for preserving antioxidants in peppers. Researchers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15563214" target="_blank">also found</a> that chemicals called&nbsp;glucosinolates&mdash;which may fight cancer&mdash;actually increased after red cabbages were microwaved. The American Institute for Cancer Research also <a href="http://www.aicr.org/press/press-releases/5-steps-warning-grilling-safety.html" target="_blank">recommends</a> precooking meat in the microwave before putting it on the grill to reduce the cancer-causing HCAs and PAHs mentioned above.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 272521 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Republicans Hate Obamacare Except for the Parts They Don't http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/quote-day-republicans-hate-obamacare-except-parts-they-dont <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol/2015/mar/30/mcmorris-rodgers-says-facebook-kudos-obamacare-mostly-about-parts-bipartisan-support/" target="_blank">From Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers,</a> who asked for horror stories about Obamacare and was instead deluged with stories from people who have been helped by it:</p> <blockquote> <p>The stories are largely around pre-existing conditions and those that are getting health insurance up to age 26.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure. <em>Everyone</em> likes the idea of making sure that people with pre-existing conditions can get health insurance. Unfortunately, as Greg Sargent points out, Republicans can't just say they support Obamacare's pre-existing conditions provision <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/31/leading-gop-critic-of-obamacare-accidentally-shows-why-anti-aca-lawsuit-could-be-disaster-for-gop/" target="_blank">but oppose the rest of it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s true that Republicans tend to support provisions like the protections for preexisting conditions; after all, they are very popular. But they can&rsquo;t be tidily untangled from the law. The ACA&rsquo;s protections for preexisting conditions rely on the individual mandate, because without it, people would simply wait until they got sick to sign up for insurance, driving up premiums; instead, the mandate broadens the risk pool. And the mandate requires the subsidies, so that lower-income people who&rsquo;d face a penalty for remaining uninsured can afford to buy coverage.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is something that Republicans steadfastly refuse to admit, even though it's obvious to everyone with even a passing knowledge of how this stuff works. Sargent has more at the link about how this ties into the <em>King v. Burwell</em> lawsuit and Republican claims that they want to replace Obamacare with something better.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:19:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 272751 at http://www.motherjones.com America Ranks in the Top 5 Globally—for Putting Its Citizens to Death http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/us-ranks-top-5-executions-amnesty-international <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We're No. 5! We're No. 5!</p> <p>America once again ranks among the top five nations in the world&mdash;in executions. Sigh. That's according to a new report from Amnesty International, which also notes that more and more nations have been opting not to kill their convicts.</p> <p>Amnesty tallies at least 607 known executions in 22 countries in 2014. The good news? That's a 22 percent decline from 2013. Here at home, states dispatched 35 American citizens last year, a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/death-penalty-executions-lowest-decades" target="_blank">20-year low</a>&mdash;and four less than in 2013. But there's no accounting for China, which executes more people than all other countries combined but treats the data as a state secret. (Amnesty made its count by looking at a range of sources, including official figures, reports from civil society groups, media accounts, and information from death row convicts and their families.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="480" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/3Ta3K/3/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Amnesty also reports a drop in the number of countries that carried out executions, from 42 in 1995 to 22 last year, although many more still have the death penalty on the books. The United States is the last country in the Americas that still puts people to death, but US citizens appear to be <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/death-penalty-executions-lowest-decades" target="_blank">increasingly opposed</a> to the practice. Only seven states executed convicts in 2014, compared with nine states a year earlier. The overwhelming majority of those executions&mdash;nearly 90 percent&mdash;took place in four states: Texas, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma. (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/alcoholic-lawyer-botched-robert-wayne-holsey-death-penalty-trial" target="_blank">Georgia</a> had two, and Arizona and Ohio had one execution each.)</p> <p>Eighteen states have abolished the death penalty, but among those that have not, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming haven't put anyone to death in at least a decade, Amnesty noted. Oregon and Washington have moratoriums on executions, and federal authorities have not put anyone to death since 2003.</p> <p>The bad news is, from 2013 to 2014, the number of death <em>sentences</em> jumped nearly 30 percent globally, to at least 2,466. Amnesty points in part to Nigeria, which imposed 659 death sentences last year as military courts punished numerous soldiers for mutiny and other offenses amid armed conflict with Boko Haram militants. Egypt was also to blame for the increase, Amnesty said, as Egyptian courts handed down death sentences against 210 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in April and June.</p> <p>In all, 55 countries sentenced people to death last year. Here, according to Amnesty, are the most notable:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/BXpwj/1/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Crime and Justice Human Rights International Top Stories Capital Punishment Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:00:09 +0000 Samantha Michaels 272621 at http://www.motherjones.com Arkansas Just Passed Its Own Indiana-Style 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/arkansas-rfra-indiana-lgbt-discrimination <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Despite <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-backlash-pence-religious-freedom-lgbt" target="_blank">national outcry</a> over a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-gov-mike-pence-signs-gay-discrimination-bill" target="_blank">similar bill</a> in Indiana, the Arkansas state Legislature on Tuesday passed its own 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' which critics warn would allow business owners to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people on religious grounds.&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill now goes to Republican state&nbsp;Gov. Asa Hutchinson who<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/religious-freedom-bill-heads-to-arkansas-governors-desk-amid#.gfRWzAxrX" target="_blank"> vowed last week to sign it.</a> Attempts by state lawmakers to add a provision that would prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians were blocked, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/us/governor-mike-pence-defends-indiana-religious-freedom-restoration-act.html?module=Notification&amp;version=BreakingNews&amp;region=FixedTop&amp;action=Click&amp;contentCollection=BreakingNews&amp;contentID=31846900&amp;pgtype=Blogs&amp;gwh=768CF5DAD684F4998A9992A4D9DC275F&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=nyt_now&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">according to <em>the New York Times.</em></a></p> <p>"The Arkansas and Indiana bills are virtually identical in terms of language and intent," Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/31/arkansas-religious-freedom_n_6979166.html?utm_hp_ref=tw" target="_blank">told<em> the Huffington Post</em></a>. "They place LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and many more people at risk of discrimination."</p> <p>Like Indiana, Arkansas is already facing mounting criticism over the bill. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/walmart-lgbt-discrimination-proposal_n_6751626.html?utm_hp_ref=tw" target="_blank">Walmart</a>, which is based in Bentonville, and data-services company&nbsp;<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/03/31/3641057/arkansas-rfra-hutchinson/" target="_blank">Acxiom</a> have openly criticized the bill.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:46:31 +0000 Edwin Rios 272716 at http://www.motherjones.com Backer of Indiana Law Says "It's Impossible to Satisfy the Homosexual Lobby" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/bryan-fischer-indiana-law <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Considering it seems like everyone from <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-backlash-pence-religious-freedom-lgbt" target="_blank">Tim Cook</a> to the whole state of Connecticut is incensed by a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/indiana-gov-mike-pence-signs-gay-discrimination-bill" target="_blank">new law</a> that allows Indiana businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers based on "religious grounds," it seems crazy to think anyone is still out there actually defending it&mdash;at least openly. Alas, here's Bryan Fischer of "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/bryan-fischer-values-voter-summit" target="_blank">gay sex is terrorism"</a> notoriety and head of the American Family Association, to prove otherwise:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The pressure Big Gay has put on Indiana is proof they are not about "marriage equality" but "homosexual supremacy."</p>&mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/582943799577612288">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Indiana will soon find it is impossible to satisfy the homosexual lobby. They will immediately be back for more. And more.</p> &mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/582952611298566144">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Indiana to Christian wedding vendors: in any conflict between you and Big Gay, we're coming down on the side of Big Gay.</p> &mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href="https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/582959103762370561">March 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gov. Mike Pence may now be trying to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/31/indiana-religious-freedom_n_6977170.html" target="_blank">play down</a> criticism the law discriminates against gay people, support from people like Fischer make it difficult to make such an argument.<br> &nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Religion Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:16:12 +0000 Inae Oh 272701 at http://www.motherjones.com If Hillary Clinton Testifies About Her Emails, She Should Do It In Public http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/if-hillary-clinton-testifies-about-her-emails-she-should-do-it-public <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the latest on <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/us/politics/hillary-clinton-email-benghazi-inquiry.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton's emails:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The chairman of the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks asked Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday to appear for a private interview about her exclusive use of a personal email account when she was secretary of state.</p> <p>....Mr. Gowdy said the committee believed that &ldquo;a transcribed interview would best protect Secretary Clinton&rsquo;s privacy, the security of the information queried, and the public&rsquo;s interest in ensuring this committee has all information needed to accomplish the task set before it.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Go ahead and call me paranoid, but this sure seems like the perfect setup to allow Gowdy&mdash;or someone on his staff&mdash;to leak just a few bits and pieces of Clinton's testimony that put her in the worst possible light. Darrell Issa did this so commonly that it was practically part of the rules of the game when he was investigating Benghazi and other Republican obsessions.</p> <p>Who knows? Maybe Gowdy is a more honest guy. But since Clinton herself has offered to testify publicly, why would anyone not take her up on it? It's not as if any of this risks exposing classified information or anything.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Hillary Clinton Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:12:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 272711 at http://www.motherjones.com James O'Keefe Loses Libel Suit Over Landrieu Incident http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/03/james-okeefe-loses-libel-suit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Conservative filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe has lost another legal battle: on Monday, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1698711-wdc-media-opinion" target="_blank">a federal court in New Jersey dismissed a libel suit</a> O'Keefe filed against legal news website <em>MainJustice</em>. In August 2013, <em>MainJustice</em> published an article referring to a 2010 incident in which O'Keefe and his associates posed as telephone technicians to gain access to the offices of then&ndash;Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). O'Keefe and three others <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/us/politics/27landrieu.html?_r=0" target="_blank">ultimately pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge</a> of entering federal property under false pretenses.</p> <p>In its original article, <em>MainJustice</em> said that O'Keefe was "apparently trying to bug" Landrieu's offices. After O'Keefe complained, the website changed the sentence to read that O'Keefe and his associates "were trying to tamper with Landrieu's phones." Still, O'Keefe sued, alleging that both characterizations were defamatory because they implied he had committed a felony. <em>MainJustice </em>countered that the language wasn't defamatory because the substance of the article was true, and the site accurately described the legal proceedings triggered by the episode.</p> <p>The court didn't find O'Keefe's case convincing. Judge Claire Cecchi wrote in her opinion:</p> <blockquote> <p>Regardless of whether the article used the words "apparently trying to bug" or "trying to tamper," the few words challenged by the Plaintiff, taken in context, do not alter the fundamental gist of the paragraph&hellip; Therefore, the words "trying to tamper with," understood in the colloquial sense, convey the substantial truth of the Landrieu incident and do not alter the ultimate conclusion of the paragraph&mdash;that Plaintiff was guilty of a misdemeanor.</p> </blockquote> <p>Mary Jacoby, editor-in-chief of <em>MainJustice</em>, writes in a statement:</p> <blockquote> <p>This is an important First Amendment victory. It's a total, resounding defeat of O'Keefe's attempts to intimidate journalists into accepting his spin on the circumstances of his 2010 entry into Sen. Landrieu's offices under false pretenses.</p> </blockquote> <p>In 2013, <a href="http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/03/12019/james-o%E2%80%99keefe-pays-100k-settlement-after-deceiving-public-about-acorn-alec%E2%80%99s-help" target="_blank">O'Keefe paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit</a> filed against him by a former employee of ACORN, a nonprofit the filmmaker had targeted. In a statement to <em>Mother Jones, </em>an O'Keefe spokesman said, "While we are disappointed in the Court's decision, it is one that we respect due to the complex and difficult nature of proving defamation. That being said, we think it is important to note that this decision in no way validates any of the false statements made against Project Veritas or James O'Keefe."</p></body></html> MoJo Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:58:05 +0000 Sam Brodey 272681 at http://www.motherjones.com "The Americans" Is One Of The Best Shows On Television—And It Just Got Renewed For Another Season. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/the-americans-is-the-best-i-wish-they-were-real-americans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Do you watch <em>The Americans</em>? You should watch <em>The Americans</em>! Why don't you watch <em>The Americans</em>? Do you not watch it because it's about Soviet spies who love each other and also work together to bring down America by wearing wigs and having <em>sexxxxxxx</em>? Well, guess what? That's only sort of what it's about. It's really about a marriage. Are you married? If you're married, you'll relate to this show a lot.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>&ldquo;FX&rsquo;s &lsquo;The Americans&rsquo; Proves That True Love Is Real&rdquo; by Ben Dreyfuss</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/581105060878422018">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>You'll watch it and be like "God, my wife and I just had a very similar fight about how to raise our daughter." Just replace spying for the Soviets with whatever you do for a living. They're so cute together, <em>The Americans</em>! They love each other so much, but they're torn in different directions by competing loyalties, and they don't know what to do! Bonus: I recently found out that <em>The Americans</em> are dating in real life, which is so cute OMG.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>OMG did you know that the Americans are dating IRL? That&rsquo;s so cute. I hope they get married <a href="http://t.co/VJkzZ72aky">http://t.co/VJkzZ72aky</a></p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/580912136060289024">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>I love <em>The Americans</em>. I'm not nuts about the dumb kids, and some of the storylines are dumb, but the show is really great. The one thing I don't like about the show is that<em> The Americans</em> are not actually Americans, they're Soviets and I don't like rooting for people who are trying to bring down America. I keep hoping they're going to defect.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The Americans are so cute when they&rsquo;re in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/love?src=hash">#love</a>. I wish they would join America and stop helping the Soviets :(</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/564074043675250688">February 7, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>But I think they probably won't. They seem to like communism a lot. But at the same time they also like living in America and enjoying the fruits of capitalism. Their minds are all messed up! You can see what a complicated situation they're in. A lot of D-R-A-M-A.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I love The Americans, but I wish they weren't Russian spies :(</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/456621287918432256">April 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Anyway, it's maybe the second best show on television (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/03/good-wife-most-underrated-show-television" target="_blank">after <em>The Good Wife</em></a>).</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I would pay $30 for a ticket to a movie spinoff of The Americans where they just go on a vacation and are happy together.</p> &mdash; Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/568284913075687424">February 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The problem is, not that many people watch it. :(((.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The low ratings for The Americans make me sad &amp; angry. I don't even care about ratings, but COME ON SHEEPLE. It's the best thing out there!</p> &mdash; emilynussbaum (@emilynussbaum) <a href="https://twitter.com/emilynussbaum/status/571362654805200896">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The ratings for <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/1/28/7923027/americans-season-three-premiere" target="_blank">season 3 are in the hole</a>. A cloud of pessimism and fear has overshadowed the last few episodes; I figured it was unlikely to get renewed by FX for a fourth season. But, guess what? <a href="http://tvline.com/2015/03/31/the-americans-season-4-renewal-fx/" target="_blank">Good news! It's coming back!</a></p> <p>So start watching it please oh dear god I beg you please watch it, please! We can be best friends if you watch it.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:49:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272706 at http://www.motherjones.com Cancel Your Meetings. You Can Now Play Pac-Man On Google Maps. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/pac-man-google-maps <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just in time for April Fool's Day, Google has released a neat feature that allows users to play Pac-Man pretty much anywhere in the world right now. Simply load up <a href="https://www.google.com/maps" target="_blank">Google Maps</a> and click on the Pac-Man option patiently waiting for you at the bottom-left-hand corner of your computer screen:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pacman.png" style="height: 376px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>The feature then transforms your set location into a virtual Pac-Man universe, where the classic arcade game's dotted streets and gobbling ghosts prepare to chase your every move. Want to mix it up? Click the "Return to Google Maps" icon on the left and edit your location to any other address and voila, your newly customized Pac-Man game awaits.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pacman2.png" style="height: 349px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>Prepare for a complete time-suck of your day.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/31/google-maps-turned-your-streets-into-pac-man-today/" target="_blank">(h/t Engadget)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Interactives Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:50:04 +0000 Inae Oh 272696 at http://www.motherjones.com Look At These Crazy Wave Clouds! http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/i-am-shiva-the-destroyer-bow-down-before-me <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Look! In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a cloud that looks like neither a bird or a plane! A wave! It looks like a wave!</p> <p>High above South Carolina yesterday "<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/03/30/amazing-undulatus-asperatus-wave-clouds-seen-in-georgia-south-carolina-photos/" target="_blank">wave clouds</a>" rippled through the sky. They are bonkers!</p> <p>Look at this video:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Or1mdVg1XQU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Now look at this one:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6bxevvhWehE" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>Weather.com</em> has a <a href="http://www.weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/roll-asperatus-clouds-augusta-georgia-south-carolina" target="_blank">whole gallery of crazy shots</a>.</p> <p>What is a wave cloud? <em><a href="http://www.wired.com/2009/09/clouds/6/" target="_blank">WIRED</a></em> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>These crazy clouds that look like a row of crashing waves are known as Kelvin-Helmholz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.</p> <p>&ldquo;It could be like oil and vinegar,&rdquo; Chuang said. &ldquo;In the ocean, the top is warm and the bottom is really cold. It&rsquo;s like a thin layer of oil on a big puddle of water.&rdquo;</p> <p>When these two layers move past each other, a Kelvin-Helmholz instability is formed that is sort of like a wave. Parts of the boundary move up and parts move down. Because one layer is moving faster than the other, the shear causes the tops of the waves to move horizontally, forming what looks like an ocean wave crashing on the beach.</p> <p>&ldquo;It really is like breaking waves,&rdquo; Chuang said. &ldquo;A wave breaks when the water on top moves so much faster than the water below that it kind of piles up on itself.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The world is a weird and beautiful place.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:31:50 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272686 at http://www.motherjones.com Ditch the Keyboard, Take Notes By Hand http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/ditch-keyboard-take-notes-hand <!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_cornell_notes.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Joseph Stromberg reports on recent research suggesting that taking notes by hand is <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop" target="_blank">way better for students than taking notes on a laptop:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The two groups of students &mdash; laptop users and hand-writers &mdash; did pretty similarly on the factual questions. But the laptop users did significantly worse on the conceptual ones.</p> <p>The researchers also noticed that the laptop users took down many more words, and were more likely to take down speech from the video verbatim....As a final test, the researchers had students watch a seven-minute lecture (taking notes either on a laptop or by hand), let a week pass, then gave some of the students ten minutes to study their notes before taking a test.</p> <p>Having time to study mattered &mdash; but only for students who'd taken notes by hand. These students did significantly better on both conceptual and factual questions. But studying didn't help laptop users at all, and even made them perform slightly worse on the test.</p> <p><strong>The researchers explain this by noting previous research showing the act of note-taking can be just as important as a later study of notes in helping students learn. When done with pen and paper, that act involves active listening, trying to figure out what information is most important, and putting it down.</strong> When done on a laptop, it generally involves robotically taking in spoken words and converting them into typed text.</p> </blockquote> <p>Makes sense to me. No matter how good a typist you are, writing by hand is a more natural process that doesn't engage your entire brain&mdash;but it's also slower. You have to figure out what's being said and how to paraphrase it, and that act is part of learning. Rote note taking isn't.</p> <p>Plus of course laptops are distracting. So put 'em away. Use the Cornell system if you want a system. But either way, use pen and pad, not keyboard and mouse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Education Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:45:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 272676 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's What President Obama Just Promised the World in the Fight Against Climate Change http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/us-offer-next-global-climate-talks-obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This morning, hours ahead of a looming deadline, the United States released its formal submission to the United Nations in preparation for global climate talks that will take place in Paris later this year. Known as an "intended nationally determined contribution," the document gives a basic outline for what US negotiators will pony up for an accord that is meant to replace the aging Kyoto Protocol and establish a new framework for international collaboration in the fight against climate change.</p> <p>The US submission offered few surprises and essentially reiterated the carbon emission reduction targets that President Barack Obama first announced in a bilateral deal with China in November: 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The document then gives a rundown of Obama's climate initiatives in order to demonstrate that the US goal is attainable with policies that are already in place or are in the works. Chief among those policies is the Clean Power Plan, which sets tough new limits for carbon emissions from the electricity sector, with the aim to reduce them 30 percent by 2030.</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1698605-un-indc">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1698605-un-indc.js", { width: 630, height: 800, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1698605-un-indc" }); </script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1698605/un-indc.pdf">UN INDC (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1698605/un-indc.txt">UN INDC (Text)</a> </noscript> <p>With today's announcement, the United States joins a handful of other major polluters, including Mexico and the European Union, in formally articulating its Paris position well in advance. In a series of earlier UN meetings over the fall and winter, negotiators stressed that setting early delivery dates for these pledges was important so that countries will have time to critique each others' contributions in advance of the final summit in December. But although the deadline is today, many other key players&mdash;including China, Brazil, Russia, Japan, and India&mdash;have yet to make an announcement.</p> <p>Environmental groups' immediate reactions to the US submission were mostly positive.</p> <p>"The United States' proposal shows that it is ready to lead by example on the climate crisis," World Resources Institute analyst Jennifer Morgan said in a statement. "This is a serious and achievable commitment."</p> <p>At least one leading Republican offered an equally predictable rebuttal, <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_UNITED_STATES_CLIMATE_CHANGE?SITE=MOSTP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2015-03-31-03-25-54" target="_blank">according to the Associated Press</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p class="ap-story-p"><span class="entry-content">"Considering that two-thirds of the US federal government hasn't even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.</span></p> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:26:22 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272661 at http://www.motherjones.com Yemen "On the Verge of Total Collapse" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/yemen-verge-total-collapse <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As expected, things are <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/world/middleeast/un-warns-of-total-collapse-in-yemen-as-houthis-continue-offensive.html" target="_blank">going from bad to worse in Yemen:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The United Nations&rsquo; human rights chief, Zeid Ra&rsquo;ad al-Hussein, <strong>warned on Tuesday that Yemen was on the brink of collapse,</strong> as his office said that heavy fighting in the southern port city of Aden had left its streets lined with bodies and its hospitals full of corpses.</p> <p>....Houthi forces were reported to have forced their way into Aden&rsquo;s northeastern suburbs despite airstrikes by the Saudi Air Force and a naval blockade intended to sever the flow of weapons and other supplies to Houthi forces.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/26/world/middleeast/geography-of-chaos-in-yemen-maps.html" target="_blank"><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_yemen_houthi.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 0px 0px 20px 5px;"></a></p> <p>Well, perhaps the pan-Arab military force announced a few days ago will restore order? Unfortunately, Laura King of the <em>LA Times</em> reminds us that the last time Arabs fought together was <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-analysis-arab-military-force-20150330-story.html" target="_blank">during the 1973 war&mdash;which ended in disaster:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Now, nearly 50 years later, Arab states are joining forces again&nbsp;&mdash; this time, with the immediate aim of restoring order in chaotic Yemen, and moving as well to quell other regional conflicts.</p> <p>But analysts say the nascent military alliance, whose planned formation was announced over the weekend by Arab leaders meeting in Egypt, <strong>could usher in new regional crises and intensify existing ones, sharpening sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and complicating already tangled national conflicts.</strong></p> <p>Yemen, whose tribes have for centuries been hostile to outsiders, could prove a deadly quagmire if conventional infantries from elsewhere in the Arab world attempt to wage a ground war against a homegrown, battle-hardened guerrilla force, the Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels. And a momentary sense of unity among Arab comrades-in-arms may fade as their sometimes-conflicting agendas come to the fore.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read the whole thing. If it wasn't obvious already, King's piece makes it clear that the various Arab actors all have different goals and different agendas in Yemen. This is not likely to end well.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:54:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 272671 at http://www.motherjones.com The World's Worst Climate Villain Just Showed Us Exactly How to Stop Global Warming http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/australia-emissions-carbon-tax-chart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There was a somewhat surprising announcement this week from a country with one of the world's worst climate reputations: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's office <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/federal-government-commits-to-global-accord-on-climate-20150328-1m9mbm.html" target="_blank">declared</a> that his government is committed to signing on to the next major international climate accord, set to be hammered out in Paris later this year.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.dpmc.gov.au/pmc/publication/setting-australias-post-2020-target-greenhouse-gas-emissions-issues-paper" target="_blank">statement</a>, the PM's office said that "a strong and effective global agreement, that addresses carbon leakage and delivers environmental benefit, is in Australia&rsquo;s national interest."</p> <p>I have no idea what "carbon leakage" is. Presumably it's something similar to carbon dioxide emissions, which are the leading cause of global warming. (Update: Carbon leakage is "the term often used to describe the situation that may occur if, for reasons of costs related to climate policies, businesses were to transfer production to other countries which have laxer constraints on greenhouse gas emissions," <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/cap/leakage/index_en.htm" target="_blank">according to the European Commission.</a>) Regardless, the announcement is a welcome sign from an administration that was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/12/australia-abbott-green-climate-fund-politics-koala" target="_blank">recently ranked</a> as the "worst industrial country in the world" on climate action.</p> <p>The Paris summit is meant to elicit strong commitments to reduce carbon pollution from all of the world's leading economies, so it's a good thing Australia is willing to play ball. The country gets <a href="http://www.originenergy.com.au/4224/Energy-in-Australia" target="_blank">74 percent</a> of its power from coal (that's nearly twice coal's share of US energy generation). Australia has the second-largest carbon footprint per capita of the G20 nations (following Saudi Arabia), according to US government statistics.</p> <p>But let's not get too excited. Although Abbott hasn't yet specified exactly what kind of climate promises he'll bring to the table in Paris, there's good reason to be skeptical. Here's why: In the run-up to the talks, developed countries are keeping a close eye on each others' domestic climate policies as a guage of how serious they each are about confronting the problem. It's a process of collectively raising the bar: If major polluters like the United States show they mean business in the fight against climate change, other countries will be more inclined to follow suit. Of course, the reverse is also true&mdash;for example, the revelation that Japan is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/japan-coal-climate-finance" target="_blank">using climate-designated dollars to finance coal-fired power plants</a> weakens the whole negotiating process. That's one reason why President Barack Obama has been so proactive about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/states-virginia-obama-climate-bills" target="_blank">initiating major climate policies</a> from within the White House rather than waiting for the GOP-controlled Congress to step up.</p> <p>So, on that metric, how are Australia's climate policies shaping up? It looks like they're going straight <a href="http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/down+the+drain" target="_blank">down the gurgler.</a></p> <p>Almost a year ago, Australia made a very different kind of climate announcement: It became the world's first country to <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/australia-repeals-carbon-tax-1405560964" target="_blank"><em>repeal</em></a> a price on carbon. Back in 2012, after several years of heated political debate, Australia's parliament had voted to impose a&nbsp;fixed tax on carbon pollution for the country's several hundred worst polluters. The basic idea&mdash;as with all carbon-pricing systems, from California to the European Union&mdash;is that putting a price on carbon emissions encourages power plants, factories, and other major sources to clean up. Most environmental economists agree that a carbon price would be the fastest way to dramatically slash emissions, and that hypothesis is supported by a number of case studies from around the world&mdash;British Columbia is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/british-columbia-carbon-tax-sanity" target="_blank">a classic success story</a>. (President Obama backed a national carbon price for the US&mdash;in the form of a cap-and-trade system&mdash;in 2009, but it was quashed in the Senate.)</p> <p>In Australia, the carbon tax quickly became unpopular with most voters, who blamed it for high energy prices and the country's sluggish recovery from the 2008 global recession. Abbott rose to power in part based on his pledge to get rid of the law. In July 2014 he succeeded in repealing it.</p> <p>Now, new <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/36653a43-4e2f-4b3a-bd1d-0d676778f780/files/nggi-quarterly-update-sept-2014.pdf" target="_blank">data</a> from the Australian Department of the Environment reveal that whether or not you liked the carbon tax, it absolutely worked to slash carbon emissions. And in the first quarter without the tax, emissions jumped for the first time since prior to the global financial crisis.</p> <p>The new data quantified greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector (which accounts for about a third of total emissions, the largest single share)&nbsp;in the quarter from July to September 2014. As the chart below shows, emissions in that same quarter dropped by about 7.5 percent after the carbon tax was imposed, and jumped 4.7 percent after it was repealed:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="oz carbon emissions" class="image" src="/files/oz-carbon-emissions4.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div> <p>It's especially important to note that the jump came in the context of an overall decline in electricity consumption, as Australian climate economist Frank Jotzo explained to the <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/emissions-slide-began-to-reverse-after-the-end-of-the-carbon-price-data-show-20150330-1mat7d.html" target="_blank"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Frank Jotzo, an associate professor at the Australian National University's Crawford School, said electricity demand was falling in the economy, so any rise in emissions from the sector showed how supply was&nbsp;reverting to dirtier energy sources.</p> <p>"You had a step down in the emission intensity in power stations from the carbon price&mdash;and now you have a step back up," Professor Jotzo said.</p> <p>&hellip;[Jotzo] estimated fossil fuel power plants with 4.4 gigawatts of capacity were been taken offline during the carbon tax years. About one third of that total, or 1.5 gigawatts, had since been switched back on.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, we have here a unique case study of what happens when a country bails on climate action. The next question will what all this will mean for the negotiations in Paris.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:30:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272596 at http://www.motherjones.com