Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/03/dismal-outlook-financial-reform/mojo/2010/photoessays/2010/02/congo-photo-essay-gold-mining-diamonds http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Just When You Thought Fox News' Baltimore Coverage Couldn't Get Worse, It Made This Mistake http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/fox-news-just-royally-messed-their-baltimore-coverage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday afternoon, Fox News alarmed social media with a dramatic <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fox-news-witnesses-baltimore-shooting" target="_blank">news report </a>of a man being shot by&nbsp;police in Baltimore. It might have been news to some that Fox was breaking a story on a police shooting&mdash;rather than discrediting such an account. But the network, eager to claim a scoop, quickly promoted this story. On-the-scene reporter Mike Tobin reported the supposed shooting and his reporting was quickly tweeted to a large audience by one of Fox News' biggest stars, Greta Van Susteren:&nbsp;</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING NEWS: man shot in Baltimore by police</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="https://twitter.com/greta/status/595299982472785920">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">young black male shot in Baltimore by police witnessed by Fox crew</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="https://twitter.com/greta/status/595300065104760835">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">man shot appeared to be alive, but in bad shape after shot and moved to ambulance</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="https://twitter.com/greta/status/595300144792342528">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>"About 2:45 we saw a guy running from the cops right at the intersection of North and Pennsylvania where the epicenter of the unrest here," Tobin <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/4215812989001/gun-incident-during-arrest-in-baltimore/?#sp=show-clips" target="_blank">described on a phone call</a> for a&nbsp;breaking news segment on Fox. "As he was running away, that officer drew his weapon and fired and struck the individual who was running away. He was a young black male and what we saw on the sidewalk as the crime scene unfolded over there, there was a revolver on the ground."</p> <p>Note that Toobin said "we saw" the shooting. But there was one problem. The incident did not happen. There was not a shooting for him to see.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The reports of a man being shot at North and Pennsylvania Ave are NOT true. Officers have arrested a man for a handgun at the location</p> &mdash; Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) <a href="https://twitter.com/BaltimorePolice/status/595307668555898880">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">UPDATE: The reports of a shooting at North Ave/ Pennsylvania Ave are unfounded. Officers have arrested a man with a gun.</p> &mdash; Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) <a href="https://twitter.com/BaltimorePolice/status/595309073085702144">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Moments after the story was published, Fox's&nbsp;Shepard Smith was forced to issue an&nbsp;apology for the network's sloppy work:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4ne4KTcwjKQ" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Of course, this is yet another cautionary tale about recklessly reporting possibly incendiary events. It's also noteworthy that it was Fox News, which typically discounts such stories, that rushed out this embarrassing and potentially dangerous report. Will there be an internal review? Shep, let us know.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Media Race and Ethnicity Mon, 04 May 2015 21:21:06 +0000 Inae Oh 274766 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #12: I Am Bursting With White Blood Cells http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/tales-city-hope-12-i-am-bursting-white-blood-cells <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday's white blood count was 0.2. Today's is 1.1. That's super duper exponential. Go, little stem cells, go!</p> <p>Surely this deserves a bit of bonus catblogging. Of course it does.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_05_04.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 04 May 2015 16:12:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 274726 at http://www.motherjones.com America's Big Trade Deals and the Case of the 4 Fishy Phone Calls http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/al-gore-nafta-obama-trans-pacific-partnership <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going.&nbsp;Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="http://daviddayen.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">David Dayen</a>, a veteran blogger and currently a regular contributor to </em>Salon <em>and </em>The Fiscal Times<em>, among other publications.</em></p> <p>I was planning on commandeering Kevin's site to finally shape this place up and do some dogblogging, but management was, shall we say, unreceptive. So let's use this space to do what all great blogging is known for: pointless speculation!</p> <p>I did a story for <em><a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121670/obamas-tpp-arguments-mimic-gores-nafta-defense">The New Republic</a></em> looking back at the 1993 <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XEziSYRqhU">CNN debate</a> between Al Gore and Ross Perot, showing how Gore's messages on selling NAFTA mirror Barack Obama's messages on selling the Trans-Pacific Partnership today. Both men claim that their progressive trade agreements differ from the raw deals of the past; that opponents were isolationist Luddites who want to return to some unrealistic pre-globalized world; and that this new deal would create a benchmark for global trade, which some Asian power (Japan or China, depending on the era) would take control of were their plan defeated.</p> <p>But the debate itself is amazing for several reasons, not the least of which being that a sitting Vice President had to go on Larry King and take phone calls. Everyone remembers Perot saying "Can I finish" incessantly, so much so that it became a <a href="http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/united-we-stand-america/n10497">Dana Carvey tag line</a>.&nbsp; And maybe you remember Gore pulling out a picture of Smoot and Hawley and giving it to Perot as a present ("You can put it on your wall"). But come with me through this Internet rabbit hole and look at something else.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5XEziSYRqhU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Ross Perot gets asked four questions from the phone lines. I have no knowledge about how they were screened. But these don't sound like regular people to me; they sound like plants. You can listen yourself:</p> <p><strong>43:45</strong> The caller is from "Washington, DC." And he says, and I quote, "How can the US expect to compete on a long-term basis in an increasingly interdependent economic world, while Europe and the PacRim nations unite on their own respective trade alliance?" Who in the world talks like that? It reads like it came out of a Brookings Institution paper.</p> <p><strong>54:30</strong> A expat caller from Zagreb, Croatia (!) asks Perot for specific answers on what he would do as an alternative to NAFTA. This happens to be a question Gore asked repeatedly throughout the debate.</p> <p><strong>1:01:35</strong> This call comes from McLean, Virginia, the Washington suburb populated mostly by lobbyists. The caller coincidentally has statistics at the ready on electronic exports to Mexico ("nearly tripled" over the past five years, "worth about $6 billion), and demands that Perot agree that removing tariffs on these products will produce "high-tech, good-paying jobs" in America.</p> <p><strong>1:06:35</strong> This is perhaps the weirdest call. An American woman "who has been living in Mexico City for many years" calls in, following up on Gore's claim that the Japanese would "take over" a free trade agreement with Mexico if NAFTA is defeated. "There are thousands of Japanese here. They are waiting. They are lurking! What are you people doing? Why-" At this point she gets cut off, but Gore repeats the question and adds a line the caller never said: "Why don't you wake up?"</p> <p>This is weird. The questions not only sound way too hyper-informed and scripted, they dovetail with every talking point Gore used in the debate, from how passing NAFTA was critical to setting a benchmark for trade with the world, to how NAFTA would create jobs at home through rising exports to Mexico, to how Japan loomed to take advantage of any potential failure, to how Perot was just carping from the sidelines without his own plan.</p> <p>It's a strong accusation to suggest these questions were planted, and honestly I have no idea. However, I did find an article from 1994 in some left-wing rag called <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1994/01/clinton-plan-control-perot"><em>Mother Jones</em></a>, detailing a host of dirty tricks the Clinton Administration engaged in to blunt the influence of Ross Perot:</p> <blockquote> <p>Last September 2, the day Perot was to appear on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," a White House adviser got on the horn to L.A. After chatting with a "Tonight Show" writer, he faxed some questions to Leno [&hellip;]</p> <p>(Perot co-author) Pat Choate claims the administration sent people to UWS rallies to "take notes" and "heckle" Perot. He also accuses the administration of manipulating the press: "Journalists are getting anti-Perot stuff in the mail," he says. "Most of it has no return address." (Several reporters who cover Perot say they have no knowledge of this, and the White House denies both charges.) [&hellip;]</p> <p>Last April 22, Perot appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to testify on NAFTA. The White House didn't like him testifying, and it liked even less the idea of C-Span televising his appearance. So, Choate claims, a White House aide called Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who called Brian Lamb, the chairman of C-Span. Some sort of deal was struck, and Perot's testimony never graced the airwaves.</p> </blockquote> <p>Because <em>Mother Jones</em> is a responsible publication, the author added that the rumor about C-SPAN could be false, but that it showed how the Clinton White House seized on Perot's natural paranoia to undermine him in the trade debate. Throwing in suspicious-sounding questions on CNN could serve the same purpose.</p> <p>We're 22 years on from this event, and investigating the provenance of these fishy phone calls would be somewhat irrelevant. Four phone calls were not the reason NAFTA passed; there's no "NAFTA-ghazi" conspiracy theory to be had. But I nevertheless find it fascinating. Has anyone ever studied this? Does it just sound odd to my modern ears, or is there more there? When Kevin Drum ends blog posts with a series of questions, is it a clever device or does he genuinely want to ask his audience for answers?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Mon, 04 May 2015 16:00:07 +0000 David Dayen 274681 at http://www.motherjones.com John Oliver Perfectly Describes the "Woman-Battering Human Landfill" That Is Floyd Mayweather http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/john-oliver-floyd-mayweather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>While issuing a takedown of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/bud-light-no-up-for-whatever" target="_blank">Bud Light's awful new #UpForWhatever tagline</a> last night, which included a clip of a woman calling the campaign a tad "rapey," John Oliver snuck in quite the perfect description of another awful subject, Floyd Mayweather.</p> <p>"That's true, but it would be great if you could use a slightly more serious word than 'rapey'," Oliver said. "It's somewhat diminishing&mdash;It's like saying Floyd Mayweather is a smidge assaulty. It's technically correct but it'd be more appropriate to say he's a woman-battering, human landfill. That'd be more on the money."</p> <p><strong>Watch below:</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mxyGGKWGV70" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Sports Mon, 04 May 2015 15:01:41 +0000 Inae Oh 274721 at http://www.motherjones.com Let John Oliver Explain How Standardized Testing Makes Kids Anxious and Vomit Under Pressure http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/john-oliver-standardized-testing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Every year, students around the country are subjected to an insane amount of mandatory, standardized testing. So much so, the average number of tests a student completes by the time they graduate high school is a staggering 113, according to the latest <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k" target="_blank">"Last Week Tonight."</a> As host John Oliver noted on Sunday, all the stressful bubble-filling is taking an inevitable toll&mdash;with teachers reporting their students throwing up under the pressure so often, official testing guidelines specifically outline how to deal with kids vomiting on their test booklets.</p> <p>"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit," Oliver said. "Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on '8 Mile' Road."</p> <p>Watch below as Oliver explains how our education system arrived at this extreme point:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J6lyURyVz7k" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Education Media Mon, 04 May 2015 13:31:12 +0000 Inae Oh 274711 at http://www.motherjones.com Re-live the Kingbees' Rockabilly Revival http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/omnivore-kingbees-rockabilly-jamie-james-rexpanded-edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TkKFNDs9OVY?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The Kingbees<br> self-titled<br> Omnivore</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Kingbees%20-%20CD.jpg" style="height: 216px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>The rise of punk and new wave back in the late '70s and early '80s was accompanied by a mini-rockabilly revival, the most notable commercial success being Brian Setzer's Stray Cats. Another eminently satisfying act was Los Angeles' Kingbees, a spunky trio fronted by Jamie James, a spirited dude seemingly possessed by the ghost of Buddy Holly. There's nothing profound on the expanded edition of this crisp 1980 debut album&mdash;just a bunch of snappy originals, including the semi-hit "My Mistake" and deft covers of Don Gibson ("Sweet Sweet Girl to Me"), Eddie Cochran ("Somethin' Else") and Buddy himself ("Not Fade Away"). But if you need a quick pick-me-up, check out "Shake-Bop" or "Ting-a-Ling." They'll put a spring in your step, guaranteed.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 04 May 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 274636 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #11: We Have Liftoff http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/tales-city-hope-11-we-have-liftoff <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday's white blood count went from just under 0.1 to just over 0.1. Let's call it 0.05 growth. Today's count is 0.2. That's growth of 0.1.</p> <p>And <em>that</em>, my friends, is exponential growth. Sure, we could use another data point or three. And some more significant digits. And if we're being picky, a coefficient or two. But screw that. To this Caltech<sup>1</sup> dropout, it looks like exponential growth has kicked in. Booyah!</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_shiner_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 10px 0px 15px 30px;">In more visually exciting news, I know you all want to see my shiner, don't you? I can feel the bloodlust all the way from my hospital bed. So here it is, you ghouls. As usual with these things, it looks a lot worse than it feels. In fact, I can barely feel it all. But it's clear evidence that, yes, the bathroom really is the most dangerous room in the house.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Did you know that the proper short form for California Institute of Technology is Caltech, not CalTech? They've been trying for decades to get the rest of the world to go along, but with sadly limited success.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 03 May 2015 17:53:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 274701 at http://www.motherjones.com "Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here." http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/floyd-mayweather-donald-trump-deserve-each-other <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is a thing.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">.<a href="https://twitter.com/FloydMayweather">@FloydMayweather</a> Good luck tonight Floyd.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/594610767107751936">May 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>Here is another thing:<a href="http://deadspin.com/the-trouble-with-floyd-mayweather-1605217498" target="_blank"> </a></p> <blockquote> <p><a href="http://deadspin.com/the-trouble-with-floyd-mayweather-1605217498" target="_blank">Floyd Mayweather is a serial batterer of women.</a></p> </blockquote> <p>Have a nice day.</p></body></html> Contributor Sat, 02 May 2015 21:25:46 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274691 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #10: Rebound Is Here! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/tales-city-hope-10-rebound-here <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday my white blood count was &lt;0.1. How much less? No telling, but my doctor called it an "honorary" 0.1.</p> <p>But! Today my count is 0.1. Not much difference, you say, but it doesn't matter. It's higher than yesterday, and that means my transplanted stem cells are busily engrafting themselves and morphing into various blood products. Progress will be slow at first, but Friday was officially my bottom. Within a few days, my counts should start taking off much more rapidly. Huzzah.</p> <p>In less good news, I slipped in the bathroom last night and got a pulled neck muscle and a black eye for my trouble. All I need now is a swastika tattoo and I'll have the whole skinhead look down cold.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 02 May 2015 17:19:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 274686 at http://www.motherjones.com How Humans Can Keep Superintelligent Robots From Murdering Us All http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/avengers-ultron-artificial-intelligence-dystopia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today, we're honored to present a post from <a href="http://twitter.com/Bill_Gardner">Bill Gardner</a>, a health services researcher in Ottawa, Ontario, and a blogger at </em><a href="http://theincidentaleconomist.com">The Incidental Economist</a><em>.</em></p> <p>This weekend, you, I, and about 100 million other people will see <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2395427/" target="_blank">Avengers: Age of Ultron</a></em>. The story is that Tony Stark builds Ultron, an artificially intelligent robot, to protect Earth. But Ultron decides that the best way to fulfill his mission is to exterminate humanity. Violence ensues.</p> <p>You will likely dismiss the premise of the story. But in a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Superintelligence-Dangers-Strategies-Nick-Bostrom/dp/0199678111/" target="_blank">book</a> I highly recommend, Oxford philosopher <a href="http://www.nickbostrom.com/" target="_blank">Nick Bostrom</a> argues that sometime in the future a machine will achieve "general intelligence," that is, the ability to solve problems in virtually all domains of interest. Because one such domain is research in artificial intelligence, the machine would be able to rapidly improve itself.</p> <p>The abilities of such a machine would quickly transcend our abilities. The difference, Bostrom believes, would not be like that between Einstein and a cognitively disabled person. The difference would be like that between Einstein and a beetle. When this happens, machines can and likely would displace humans as the dominant life form. Humans may be trapped in a dystopia, if they survive at all.</p> <p>Competent people&mdash;<a href="http://qz.com/335768/bill-gates-joins-elon-musk-and-stephen-hawking-in-saying-artificial-intelligence-is-scary/" target="_blank">Elon Musk, Bill Gates</a>&mdash;take this risk seriously. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-hawking/artificial-intelligence_b_5174265.html" target="_blank">Stephen Hawking and physics Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek</a> worry that we are not thinking hard enough about the future of artificial intelligence.</p> <blockquote> <p>So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right? Wrong. If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, "We'll arrive in a few decades," would we just reply, "OK, call us when you get here&mdash;we'll leave the lights on"? Probably not&mdash;but this is more or less what is happening with AI&hellip;little serious research is devoted to these issues&hellip;All of us&hellip;should ask ourselves what can we do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are also competent people who dismiss these concerns. University of California-Berkeley philosopher <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/oct/09/what-your-computer-cant-know/" target="_blank">John Searle</a> argues that intelligence requires qualities that computers lack, including consciousness and motivation. This doesn't mean that we are safe from artificially intelligent machines. Perhaps in the future killer drones will hunt all humans, not just Al Qaeda. But Searle claims that if this happens, it won't be because the drones reflected on their goals and decided that they needed to kill us. It will be because human beings have programmed drones to kill us.</p> <p>Searle has made this argument for years, but has never offered a reason why it will always be impossible to engineer machines with autonomy and general intelligence. If it's not impossible, we need to look for possible paths of human evolution in which we safely benefit from the enormous potential of artificial intelligence.</p> <p>What can we do? I'm a wild optimist. In my lifetime I have seen an extraordinary expansion of human capabilities for creation and community. Perhaps there is a future in which individual and collective human intelligence can grow rapidly enough that we keep our place as free beings. Perhaps humans can acquire cognitive superpowers.</p> <p>But the greatest challenge of the future will not be the engineering of this commonwealth, but rather its governance. So we have to think big, think long-term, and live in hope. We need to cooperate as a species and steer our technological development so that we do not create machines that displace us. At the same time, we need to protect ourselves from the expanding surveillance of our current governments (such as <a href="http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/5.06/china_pr.html" target="_blank">China's Great Firewall</a> or the <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/15/2876528/wired-nsa-building-massive-surveillance-codebreaking-facility" target="_blank">NSA</a>). I doubt we can achieve this enhanced community unless we also find a way to make sure the superpowers of enhanced cognition are available to everyone. Maybe the only alternative to dystopia will be utopia.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Tech Top Stories Sat, 02 May 2015 10:30:06 +0000 Bill Gardner 274591 at http://www.motherjones.com If Black People Lived As Long As White People, Election Results Would Be Very Different http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/black-deaths-american-election-results <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>With the mortality rate for black Americans about 18 percent higher than it is for white Americans, premature black deaths have affected the results of US elections, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Oxford.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953615002439" target="_blank">The study</a>, published in <em>Social Science &amp; Medicine </em>and highlighted on Friday by the UK-based <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27456-black-lives-matter-premature-deaths-skew-us-election-results.html?full=true&amp;utm_source=NSNS&amp;utm_medium=SOC&amp;utm_campaign=twitter&amp;cmpid=SOC%7CNSNS%7C2014-GLOBAL-twitter#.VUO3Q14oh91" target="_blank"><em>New Scientist</em></a>, shows how the outcomes of elections between 1970 and 2004&mdash;including the presidential race between John Kerry and George W. Bush&mdash;might have been affected if there hadn't been such a disparity in the death rate. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.5 million black people died during that 35-year period. But if the mortality rates had been comparable, an additional 2.7 million black people would have been alive, and of those, an estimated 1 million would have cast votes in the 2004 election. Bush likely still would have won that race. But some state-level races might have turned out differently: The results would have been reversed in an estimated seven US Senate elections and 11 gubernatorial elections during the 35-year period, the researchers found, assuming that the hypothetical additional voters had cast their ballots in line with actual black voters, who tend to overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates.</p> <p>And that's before even getting to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/30/us/politics/baltimore-forces-presidential-hopefuls-to-confront-a-jarring-crisis.html" target="_blank">incarceration</a>. Additional elections potentially would have turned out differently if voting-age black Americans who were previously convicted of felonies had been able to cast a ballot. As <em>New Scientist</em> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>Accounting for people disenfranchised by felony convictions would have likely reversed three other senate seats. In at least one state, Missouri, accounting for just excess deaths or felony disenfranchisement would not have been sufficient to reverse the senate election &ndash; but both sources of lost votes taken together would have.</p> </blockquote> <p>While everyone's attention right now is on racial injustice in the context of policing, one of the study's authors, <a href="http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/people/profile/35" target="_blank">Arline Geronimus,</a> noted that most premature black deaths were linked to <a href="http://www.ns.umich.edu/new/releases/22858-premature-deaths-of-black-americans-alter-politics-health-care" target="_blank">chronic health conditions</a> that afflict black people more than white people. "If you're losing a voting population, you're losing the support for the policies that would help that population," she told <em>New Scientist</em>. "As long as there's this huge inequality in health and mortality, there's a diminished voice to speak out against the problem."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 01 May 2015 22:15:29 +0000 Samantha Michaels 274661 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Administration Gives Rail Companies Three Years to Fix Their Most Explosive Oil Cars http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/transportation-department-releases-new-rules-oil-trains <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Trains hauling crude oil have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/choo-choo-boom-boom" target="_blank">continued</a> to explode across the United States and Canada this year as oil production booms in North Dakota and Alberta. <a href="http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/15/derailments/index.html" target="_blank">Nearly two dozen</a> oil trains have derailed in the past two years, many causing fiery explosions and oil spills. <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/237013-dems-intensify-fight-for-oil-train-regulations" target="_blank">Lawmakers</a>, <a href="http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/oil-train-derailments" target="_blank">environmentalists</a>, and <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/24/-bomb-trains-carryhighlyexplosivecrudeoilthroughneighborhoods.html" target="_blank">communities</a> in the path of these trains have ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to toughen what they see as lax safety regulations at the heart of the problem.</p> <p>Finally, some new regulations. This morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stood next to Lisa Raitt, Canada's transportation minister, to <a href="http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/final-rule-on-safe-rail-transport-of-flammable-liquids" target="_blank">announce</a> coordinated rules across both countries aimed at making the industry safer by catching up to surging crude-by-oil shipments, which increased 4,000 percent from 2008 to 2014.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.dot.gov/mission/safety/rail-rule-summary" target="_blank">new rules</a>, older tank cars will have to be replaced or retrofitted with new "protective shells" and insulation to prevent puncture (and potential explosion) after derailment. New tank car construction will have to comply with these standards, too.</p> <p>Oil trains will also be required to install enhanced "electronically controlled pneumatic" [ECP] braking, which allows for more control over the train when required to stop suddenly, and they will be limited to to speeds of 50 mph, and 40 mph in urban areas. <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/west-virginia-oil-train-that-derailed-was-traveling-under-speed-limit-1424379645" target="_blank">Many</a> <a href="http://qctimes.com/news/local/galena-train-derailment-recovery-nearly-complete/article_cfb80f04-c63f-11e4-906c-8fc85743afa0.html" target="_blank">recent</a> train derailments and explosions have occurred at speeds far below those, however.</p> <p>And lastly, train companies will now be required to minimize the chances of explosions and oil spills happening near towns and environmentally sensitive areas by assessing route options and rail conditions more closely. Once the routes are made, companies will need to tell local and state officials along the train's pathway.</p> <p>Transportation Secretary Foxx described the rules as, "a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer."</p> <p>But the new rules have already drawn criticism from regulation proponents and industry players alike. The American Railroad Association believes the new braking technology is unnecessary. "The DOT has no substantial evidence to support a safety justification for mandating ECP brakes, which will not prevent accidents," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR president and CEO said <a href="https://www.aar.org/newsandevents/Press-Releases/Pages/New-US-Rules-Governing-Flammable-Liquids-Moved-by-Rail-Enact-Misguided-Braking-Requirement-That-Threatens-Rail-Capacity.aspx" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "This is an imprudent decision made without supporting data or analysis."</p> <p>But Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/26/exploding-oil-train-legislation_n_6951284.html" target="_blank">introduced</a> legislation in March to toughen crude-by rail standards, said they didn't go far enough. "The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll," she <a href="http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=e42ff0d8-1d22-4193-927b-01a0bd61479d" target="_blank">said</a>. "It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars."</p> <p>Indeed, rail companies will have several years to bring their fleets up to scratch. The now-infamous DOT-111 oil tankers, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/oil-tank-trains-bakken-crude-accidents" target="_blank">involved</a> in nearly half of oil train explosions since 2013, must be fixed within three years. And the so-called "unjacketed" CPC-1232 cars, which are newer but don't have protective shells (and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/choo-choo-boom-boom" target="_blank">have also</a> been involved in explosions) will still be in network for up to five years.</p> <p>That amount of time is too long too wait given the potential dangers, said Anthony Swift, a deputy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We can only hope the federal government revisits the broader issue of crude oil unit trains before it's too late."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Foreign Policy Infrastructure Fri, 01 May 2015 19:53:50 +0000 Luke Whelan 274651 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - May 1 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/friday-cat-blogging-may-1-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>With Kevin concentrating on his cancer treatment, we've rounded up some big writers to keep things rolling on the blog by contributing posts in his honor. But let's be honest: nothing's bigger on the internet than cats. So in addition to appearances from <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/bonus-friday-cat-bloggging-1-may-2014" target="_blank">Hopper and Hilbert</a>, we're taking this chance to introduce you to some other cats behind the people at <em>Mother Jones</em>.</p> <p>Today, that's Olga, who lives in Oakland with Lynnea Wool, our senior staff accountant. Among many other things, Lynnea is responsible for (full disclosure) making sure I get my paycheck. So I'd better blog carefully.</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/der.jpg"></center> <p>Olga was the runt of a litter of Himalayan Persians when Lynnea adopted her one fine day seven years ago. Since then, they've had many happy moments. She just loves to have her armpits scratched:</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pitcrop.jpg"></center> <p>For a special treat, her cat-mom will put a small piece of cheese&mdash;the stinkier the better&mdash;straight on her tongue.</p> <p>This longhair needs regular trims, and I was very impressed to hear about Lynnea's method. While Olga's sleeping on her side, Lynnea will cut one half. Olga wakes up looking something like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Face" target="_blank">Two-Face</a>, and roams around like that until Lynnea happens to catch her sleeping on her other side. Wish we had a picture of that! But you'll have to agree this one's a pretty good consolation prize:</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/olgahat.jpg"></center></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 May 2015 19:35:05 +0000 Clint Hendler 274631 at http://www.motherjones.com Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 1 May 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/bonus-friday-cat-bloggging-1-may-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For humans, May Day is a time to celebrate worker solidarity. For Hilbert, it's time to show how jealous he is that Hopper fits under the desk and he doesn't. As you can guess, however, he got bored quickly and headed over to the sofa for a snooze. Hopper, ever victorious, slithered out with no resistance and licked her paws in triumph.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_hilbert_2015_05_01.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 May 2015 16:00:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 274606 at http://www.motherjones.com Breaking: Freddie Gray's Death Is Ruled a Homicide. All 6 Officers Will Face Criminal Charges. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/baltimore-freddie-gray-charges-homicide <!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://bigstory.ap.org/article/14eb12d9b62b48c0b20d410283822aa7/latest-police-custody-death-all-6-officers-charged" target="_blank">All six Baltimore police officers </a>involved in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who died in police custody last month, sparking tense <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/protesters-new-york-city-baltimore-freddie-gray" target="_blank">protests</a>, will face criminal charges. The announcement was made by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby during a press conference Friday morning. The various charges include manslaughter, murder, and assault:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Here are the criminal charges against each officer in the murder of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreddieGray?src=hash">#FreddieGray</a> <a href="http://t.co/L8xBeT7edk">pic.twitter.com/L8xBeT7edk</a></p> &mdash; Shaun King (@ShaunKing) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/594155539455672321">May 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Mosby told reporters that Gray's death has been ruled a homicide and that the knife found on <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2015/05/01/baltimore-to-file-charges-in-gray-case.html" target="_blank">Gray during a search</a> was "not a switchblade," as Baltimore police previously <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/baltimore-protest-police-report" target="_blank">alleged</a>, and its possession was therefore "lawful under Maryland law."</p> <p>Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the police van that Gray was transported in after his arrest, was charged with second-degree murder, along with manslaughter, assault, and misconduct charges. If found guilty, he could face up to 63 years in prison, according to the <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-freddie-gray-mosby-presser-0502-20150501-story.html#page=1" target="_blank"><em>Baltimore Sun</em></a>.</p> <p>"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace,'" Mosby said on Friday. "To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf." Watch the announcement below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gmMoH7Vy_CM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Fri, 01 May 2015 15:46:29 +0000 Inae Oh 274641 at http://www.motherjones.com The GOP Is Trying to Give the 25 Richest Americans a $334 Billion Tax Break http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/gop-estate-tax-repeal-334-billion-tax-break <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In mid April, the Republican-controlled House voted to repeal the estate tax, which, despite the GOP's&nbsp;"<a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-28/death-tax-deception-and-other-cognitive-errors" target="_blank">death tax</a>" messaging, affects only the superrich: Of the nearly 2.6 million Americans who died <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-estate-tax-folly/2015/04/26/9ef6ebca-eaba-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html" target="_blank">in 2013</a>, just 4,687 had estates flush enough to trigger the tax. That's because the bar to qualify for the estate tax is quite generous: The first $5.43 million of an individual's wealth is exempt from the tax, and that amount goes up to $10.86 million for married couples. After that point, the tax rate is 40 percent.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/house-gives-334-billion-tax-break-25-richest-americans">Center for Effective Government</a> (CEG) calculated how much the 25 richest Americans would save if this repeal on the estate tax were to become law. The final tab: $334 billion.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CEG-Chart.jpg"><div class="caption">Center for Effective Government</div> </div> <p>That's a lot of cash! CEG calculated that $334 billion in taxes would be enough to:</p> <ol><li><strong>Cut the nation's student debt by one-third:</strong> The total could be distributed by giving $25,000 in debt relief to each of the 13 million Americans trying to pay off student loans.</li> <li><strong>Repair or replace every single deficient school AND bridge in America:</strong> Give kids more resources for a better education, and get the country's structurally deficient bridges up to snuff.</li> <li><strong>Give every new US baby a chunk of change:</strong> $1,000 at birth, and then $500 a year until their 18th birthday, making a $10,000 nest egg to put toward education, a home, or other opportunities.</li> <li><strong>Repair all leaking wastewater systems, sewage plumbing, and dams:</strong> Thus improving the health of lakes, rivers, and oceans nationwide.</li> </ol><p>Of course, it's unlikely the tax will actually get repealed. Even if the bill makes it past the Senate, President Obama has <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-passes-bill-to-repeal-estate-tax-1429205647" target="_blank">promised to veto</a> it. But as the election season heats up with economic inequality at its forefront, the repercussions of the bill are likely to be more political than financial. As Robert J. Samuelson writes at the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-estate-tax-folly/2015/04/26/9ef6ebca-eaba-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, the GOP has "handed Democrats a priceless campaign gift: a made-for-TV (and Internet) video depicting Republicans as lackeys of the rich."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Income Inequality The Right Fri, 01 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 274406 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's How the Massive New Bird Flu Outbreak Could Affect You http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/04/avian-flu-bites-us-poultry-industry <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The US poultry and egg industries are enduring their <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/files/avian-influenza-united-states-qa_copy.pdf" target="_blank">largest-ever outbreak</a> of a deadly (known as pathogenic) version of avian flu. Earlier this month, the disease careened through Minnesota's industrial-scale turkey farms, <a href="http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/301747741.html">affecting at least 3.6 million birds</a>, and is now punishing Iowa's massive egg-producing facilities, claiming <a href="http://www.kcci.com/news/bird-flu-just-confirmed-at-5-iowa-chicken-farms/32647534">9.8 million&mdash;and counting</a>&mdash;hens. Here's what you need to know about the outbreak.</p> <p><strong>Where did this avian flu come from?</strong> So far, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/13/us-health-birdflu-tracking-idUSKBN0M92FN20150313" target="_blank">no one is sure exactly sure</a> how the flu&mdash;which has shown no ability to infect humans&mdash;is spreading. The strain now circulating is in the US is "highly similar" to a novel variety that first appeared in South Korea in January 2014, before spreading to China and Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, according to a <a href="http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/5/14-2020_article" target="_blank">paper</a> by a team led by US Geological Survey wildlife virologist Hon Ip.</p> <p><strong>How did it spread? </strong>The most likely carrier is <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/explanation-wild-birds-role-avian-flu-outbreak-30617743">wild birds</a>, but it's unclear how they deliver the virus into large production facilities, where birds are kept indoors under rigorous biosecurity protocols. On Thursday, the mystery deepened when birds in an Iowa hatchery containing 19,000 chickens tested positive for the virus. "This is thought to be first time the avian influenza virus has affected a broiler breeding farm in this outbreak," Reuters <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/30/us-health-birdflu-usa-idUSKBN0NL22P20150430" target="_blank">reported</a>. "Such breeding farms are traditionally known for having extremely tight biosecurity systems." John Clifford, the US Department of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer, recently <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/explanation-wild-birds-role-avian-flu-outbreak-30617743">speculated</a> that the virus could be invading poultry confinements through wind carrying infected particles left by wild birds, taken onto the factory-farm floor by vents.</p> <p><strong>Can humans catch it? </strong>So far, no. But public health officials have been <a href="https://grist.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/2003_science_swineflu.pdf" target="_blank">warning</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/117-a394/">for decades</a> that massive livestock confinements make an ideal breeding ground for new virus strains. In its authoritative <a href="http://www.livablefutureblog.com/pdf/Putting_Meat_on_Table_FULL.pdf">2009 report</a> on industrial-scale meat production, the Pew Commission warned that the "continual cycling of viruses and other animal pathogens in large herds or flocks increases opportunities for the generation of novel flu viruses through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human-to-human transmissions." It added: "agricultural workers serve as a bridging population between their communities and the animals in large confinement facilities."</p> <p><strong>Is this bird flu affecting the poultry industry's revenue? </strong>Yup. The specter of flu is already pinching Big Chicken's bottom line. China&nbsp;and&nbsp;South Korea&mdash;which imported a combined $428.5 million&nbsp;in US poultry last year&mdash;have imposed bans on US chicken, drawing the ire of USDA chief Tom Vilsack, Reuters <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/27/us-health-birdflu-china-idUSKBN0NI1YS20150427">reports</a>.</p> <p><strong>What's the worst-case scenario?</strong> If the virus spread to the Southeast, Big Poultry will be in big trouble.&nbsp; Here's a map showing where chicken production is concentrated (from <a href="http://www.factoryfarmmap.org/">Food and Water Watch</a>). Already, the strain has <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/home/!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOK9_D2MDJ0MjDz9vT3NDDz9woIMnDxcDA2CjYEKIoEKDHAARwNC-sP1o8BKnN0dPUzMfYB6TCyMDDxdgPLmlr4GBp5mUAV4rCjIjTDIdFRUBADp5_lR/?1dmy&amp;urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Faphis_content_library%2Fsa_newsroom%2Fsa_stakeholder_announcements%2Fsa_by_date%2Fsa_2015%2Fsa_04%2Fct_hpai_ky">turned up</a> in wild birds as far south as Kentucky.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2007-BROILER%20copy.jpg"><div class="caption">Map: Food and Water Watch</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are we doing to stop the flu from spreading further? </strong>All the flu-stricken birds not killed outright by the virus are euthanized&mdash;but beyond that, the strategy seems to be: ramp up biosecurity efforts at poultry facilities and cross your fingers. Flu viruses don't thrive in the heat, so "when warm weather comes in consistently across the country I think we will stop seeing new cases," USDA chief veterinarian Clifford recently said on a <a href="http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdamediafb?contentid=2015/04/0113.xml&amp;printable=true&amp;contentidonly=true">press call</a>. But USDA officials recently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/business/us-officials-expect-bird-flu-to-return-in-the-fall.html?_r=0">told</a> Reuters it's "highly probable" that the virus will regain force when temperatures cool in the fall&mdash;and potentially be carried by wild birds to the southeast. &nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Top Stories Fri, 01 May 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 274581 at http://www.motherjones.com White People Could Learn a Thing or Two About Talking About Race From the Orioles' Manager http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/orioles-manager-buck-showalter-baltimore-protests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><object height="354" width="630"><param name="movie" value="http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=qN5-WSbLHaM&amp;start=122.59&amp;end=219.9&amp;cid=5818461"><embed allowfullscreen="true" height="354" src="http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=qN5-WSbLHaM&amp;start=122.59&amp;end=219.9&amp;cid=5818461" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>On Wednesday, after the Baltimore Orioles <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bal-baltimore-orioles-score-six-in-first-roll-to-82-win-over-chicago-white-sox-at-empty-camden-yards-20150429-story.html" target="_blank">trounced</a> the Chicago White Sox in front of over 48,000 empty seats at Camden Yards, Orioles&rsquo; manager Buck Showalter <a href="http://m.orioles.mlb.com/news/article/121325992/orioles-manager-buck-showalter-shares-thoughts-on-baltimore-unrest" target="_blank">offered a blunt assessment</a> of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge" target="_blank">ongoing protests</a> happening just beyond the stadium gates.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/baltimorecops2.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More coverage of the protests in Baltimore. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-274411"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge"> Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274366"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/watch-president-obama-talk-about-whats-happening-baltimore"> Obama: It's About Decades of Inequality</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274361"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/rand-paul-baltimore-riots-absentee-fathers"> Rand Paul: Blame Absentee Fathers</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274496"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/what-martin-luther-king-thought-about-urban-riots"> What MLK Really Thought About Riots</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274351"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/following-riots-baltimore-residents-unite-clean-city"> Photos: Residents Help Clean Up</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274326"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/04/baltimore-orioles-freddie-gray"> Orioles Exec: It's Inequality, Stupid</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274391"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/baltimore-teens-police"> These Teens Aren't Waiting Around for Someone Else to Fix Their City </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274386"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/04/athletes-celebrities-call-end-violence-baltimore"> Ray Lewis: "Violence Is Not the Answer"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274331"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/bloods-and-crips-baltimore-protests"> Bloods and Crips Want "Nobody to Get Hurt"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>When a Baltimore resident asked what advice Showalter would give to young black residents in the community, the manager explains [emphasis added]:</p> <blockquote> <p>You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don't know anything about. ... I've never been black, OK? So I don't know, I can't put myself there. I've never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can't. ... It's a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, 'Well, I know what they're feeling. Why don't they do this? Why doesn't somebody do that?' You have never been black, OK, so just slow down a little bit.</p> <p>I try not to get involved in something that I don't know about, but I do know that it's something that's very passionate, something that I am, with my upbringing, that it bothers me, and it bothers everybody else. <strong>We've made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad. Now, let's get on with taking the statements we've made and create a positive. We talk to players, and I want to be a rallying force for our city. It doesn't mean necessarily playing good baseball. It just means [doing] everything we can do. There are some things I don't want to be normal [in Baltimore again]. You know what I mean? I don't. I want us to learn from some stuff that's gone on on both sides of it. I could talk about it for hours, but that's how I feel about it.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Fans watched from <a href="http://deadspin.com/the-empty-orioles-game-was-fine-but-it-couldve-used-mo-1701026408" target="_blank">outside the stadium gates</a> after demonstrations in response to the death of Freddie Gray forced the team to play the first game behind closed doors in Major League Baseball history. At Wednesday's press conference, outfielder Adam Jones, who related to the struggles of Baltimore's youth as a kid growing up in San Diego, <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bs-sp-orioles-adam-jones-0430-20150429-story.html" target="_blank">called </a>on the city to heal after the unrest.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PkUD16L0G9c" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Jones <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkUD16L0G9c" target="_blank">goes on to say</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The last 72 hours have been tumultuous to say the least. We've seen good, we've seen bad, we've seen ugly...It's a city that's hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to stand up, step up and help the ones that are hurting. It's not an easy time right now for anybody. It doesn't matter what race you are. It's a tough time for the city of Baltimore. My prayers have been out for all the families, all the kids out there.</p> <p>They're hurting. The big message is: Stay strong, Baltimore. Stay safe. Continue to be the great city that I've come to know and love over the eight years I've been here. Continue to be who you are. I know there's been a lot of damage in the city. There's also been a lot of good protesting, there's been a lot of people standing up for the rights that they have in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, and I'm just trying to make sure everybody's on the same page.</p> <p>[...]</p> <p>It's not easy. This whole process is not easy. We need this game to be played, but we need this city to be healed first. That's important to me, that the city is healed. Because this is an ongoing issue. I just hope that the community of Baltimore stays strong, the children of Baltimore stay strong and gets some guidance and heed the message of the city leaders.</p> </blockquote> <p>Like team exec <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/baltimore-orioles-freddie-gray" target="_blank">John </a><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/baltimore-orioles-freddie-gray" target="_blank">Angelos</a>, Showalter, Jones and the rest of the Orioles organization get it.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Baltimore Protests Thu, 30 Apr 2015 22:14:26 +0000 Edwin Rios 274601 at http://www.motherjones.com Sen. Bernie Sanders Is Running for President. Here's a Sampling of His Greatest Hits http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/sen-bernie-sanders-running-president-greatest-hits <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) officially announced today that's he's running for president. The self-described socialist faces long odds in the Democratic primary, but chances are good that he'll at least force a discussion on issues dear to liberals. Here are some highlights of the best of <em>Mother Jones</em> coverage of Sanders:</p> <ul><li>Sanders visited our office earlier this month <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/bernie-sanders-inequality-president-interview" target="_blank">to discuss</a> income inequality, trade, and his motivations for running for prez.</li> <li>"<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/election-day-national-holiday-sanders" target="_blank">Why don't we make Election Day a holiday?</a>" Sanders asks. Yes, why?</li> <li>Sanders <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/bernie-sanders-big-money-election-spending" target="_blank">goes on Bill Moyers</a> to perfectly predict big money's domination of the 2014 elections.</li> <li>Sanders asks the NSA whether it is spying on members of Congress. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/nsa-spying-congress-bernie-sanders" target="_blank">The NSA won't say</a>.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/03/bernie-sanders-top-10-tax-avoiders" target="_blank">Sanders' list of America's top 10 tax avoiders</a>.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/bernie-sanders-filibuster" target="_blank">The greatest hits from Filibernie</a>, Sanders' eight-and-a-half hour filibuster in protest of the 2010 extension of tax cuts for the rich.</li> <li>Sanders <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/02/sanders-drop-nukes-go-solar" target="_blank">lambastes Obama</a> for giving loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/09/sen-bernie-sanders-i-vt-proposals-wall-street-video" target="_blank">Sanders has some ideas for reforming Wall Street</a>.</li> <li>"<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/socialist-millionaires-club-interview-bernie-sanders" target="_blank">A Socialist in the Millionaire's Club</a>": a 2006 <em>Mother Jones</em> interview with Sanders, shortly after he was elected to the Senate.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/02/bernie-versus-bob" target="_blank">During a 1998 Congressional hearing, Sanders excoriates Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin</a> for supporting General Suharto, "a cruel, authoritarian dictator whose family is worth between $40 and $50 billion."</li> <li>And then there's this Sanders blurb from a November 1989 <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=N-cDAAAAMBAJ&amp;pg=PA22&amp;dq=Bernie+Sanders&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=GJRCVcSkDZL9oQT8poGICw&amp;ved=0CC4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&amp;q=Bernie%20Sanders&amp;f=false" target="_blank">roundup of promising third parties</a>:</li> </ul><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Bernie%20Sanders.png"></div> <p>The Progressive Coalition obviously never went national in the way Sanders had envisioned. But in 1991, a year after he was elected to Congress, he founded something more enduring: the <a href="http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/" target="_blank">Congressional Progressive Caucus</a>. Since then, Sanders' view of third parties has evolved: "No matter what I do," he told <em>Mother Jones</em> last month, "I will not play the role of a spoiler who ends up helping to elect a right-wing Republican."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Income Inequality Top Stories bernie sanders Thu, 30 Apr 2015 21:50:07 +0000 Josh Harkinson 274621 at http://www.motherjones.com This Kid Just Gave the Entire DC Press Corps a Lesson In Telling Truth to Power http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/kid-interviewer-obama- <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Obama may be known for his exceptional oratory skills, but from time to time, he like every other politician falls victim to doling out the standard long-winded, sleep-inducing response no one could possibly be interested in hearing. One kid has apparently had enough.</p> <p>While participating in a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/president-obamaparticipates-virtual-field-trip-students-around-country" target="_blank">"virtual field trip"</a> with a group of middle-school students on Thursday, the president was asked about how one should aspire to be a good writer. As Obama proceeded to launch into yet another rambling&nbsp;answer, student interviewer Osman Yaha took the reins and stepped in. Watch below for the expertly executed cut-in:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N0fJ1mPrKy8" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fJ1mPrKy8" target="_blank"><em>(h/t Washington Free Beacon)</em></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Obama Thu, 30 Apr 2015 20:14:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274571 at http://www.motherjones.com We're in the Process of Decimating 1 in 6 Species on Earth http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/1-6-species-could-be-killed-climate-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Plants and animals around the world are already suffering from the negative impacts of manmade global warming&mdash;including shrinking habitats and the spread of disease. A great number are also facing the ultimate demise&mdash;outright extinction&mdash;among them the <a href="http://nautil.us/issue/14/mutation/a-strange-new-gene-pool-of-animals-is-brewing-in-the-arctic" target="_blank">iconic polar bear</a>, some fish species, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/cayman-islands-coral-reefs-dead" target="_blank">coral</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/bark-pine-beetles-climate-change-diana-six" target="_blank">trees</a>... the list goes on.</p> <p>While most of the research on this topic so far has been piecemeal, one species at a time, a new <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.aaa4984" target="_blank">study</a> out today in <em>Science</em> offers the most comprehensive view to date of the future of extinction. The outlook is pretty grim.</p> <p>The research, conducted by evolutionary biologist Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, analyzes 131 other scientific papers for clues about how climate change is affecting the overall rate of species extinction. The result is alarming: One out of every six species could face extinction if global warming continues on its current path. The picture is less dire if we manage to curb climate change, dropping to only 5.2 percent of species if warming is kept within the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/02/un-climate-change-pessimism" target="_blank">internationally-agreed upon target</a> of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.</p> <p>The analysis makes clear that the climate change threat isn't necessarily a separate issue from things like habitat loss and disease; indeed, it's often climate change that is the driving force behind those impacts. The risk appears to be spread evenly across all types of plants and animals (i.e., trees, amphibians, mammals, etc.), but is more severe in geographic ares where there are more unique species and exposure to climate impacts.</p> <p>South America takes the lead, with up to 23 percent of its species threatened. One classic case study there is the golden toad, a native of mountaintop rain forests that was last seen in 1989. The toad was driven to extinction in part due to an epidemic of <em>chytrid</em> fungus (which is <a href="http://www.amphibianark.org/the-crisis/chytrid-fungus/" target="_blank">wiping out amphibians worldwide</a>), and because climate change-related drought is destroying the forests they called home. Australia and New Zealand also ranked highly at risk, with up to 14 percent:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/extinction-map.jpg"><div class="caption">Urban, Science 2015</div> </div> <p>Urban's paper offers perhaps the most comprehensive scientific companion to a terrifying narrative made popular last year in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kolbert-pulitzer-prize-osnos-gonnerman-finalists" target="_blank">"The Sixth Extinction</a>," by Elizabeth Kolbert. The <em>New Yorker</em> journalist argued that when you look at the combined toll that pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change is taking on the planet's biodiversity, humans are driving extinction on a scale only preceded in the geologic record by cataclysmic natural disasters (like the meteor that likely brought about the demise of the dinosaurs). Never before has one species been responsible for the demise of so many others. (Check out our interview with Kolbert <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/interview-elizabeth-kolbert-new-yorker-sixth-extinction" target="_blank">here</a>).</p> <p>Still, Urban's study makes clear that many species that avoid extinction still face grave threats from climate change:</p> <p>"Extinction risks are likely much smaller than the total number of species influenced by climate change," Urban writes. "Even species not threatened directly by extinction could experience substantial changes in abundances, distributions, and species interactions, which in turn could affect ecosystems and their services to humans."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:10:33 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274566 at http://www.motherjones.com Why You Should Be Skeptical About the New Police Narrative on Freddie Gray's Death http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/washington-post-freddie-gray-jailhouse-informant <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On a relatively quiet night in Baltimore, the <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/prisoner-in-van-said-freddie-gray-was-banging-against-the-walls-during-ride/2015/04/29/56d7da10-eec6-11e4-8666-a1d756d0218e_story.html" target="_blank">dropped a bombshell</a>. According to a sealed court document, a witness alleged that Freddie Gray&mdash;whose April death has triggered days of protests in the city&mdash;may have been deliberately attempting to injure himself while in police custody:</p> <blockquote> <p>A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the vehicle and believed that he "was intentionally trying to injure himself," according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate's safety.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's easy to see how a sealed document like that, drafted by a police investigator, might have leaked to the press in spite of the court order, and in spite of the police department's general aura of secrecy. If Gray's injuries were self-inflicted, the police department is off the hook.</p> <p>But as WBAL's Jayne Miller noted, the new exculpatory allegation appears to be at odds with the police department's earlier narrative, as well as the timeline of events:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BPD Commissioner Anthony Batts on 4/23 told us second prisoner in police van said Freddie Gray was "mostly quiet". ..</p> &mdash; Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) <a href="https://twitter.com/jemillerwbal/status/593614899340824576">April 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">We have reported that when van stopped to pick up 2nd prisoner, sources say, Gray was unresponsive. No evidence banging head against van</p> &mdash; Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) <a href="https://twitter.com/jemillerwbal/status/593616066091286529">April 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And there's another reason to be skeptical. Information that comes out of jails is notoriously unreliable, for the simple reason that anyone in jail has a real incentive to get out; cooperating with the people who determine when they get out is an obvious way to score points. <a href="http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/reports/death_penalty_reform/Jailhouse20snitch20testimony20policy20briefpdf.pdf" target="_blank">This</a> report from the Pew Charitable Trust walks through the conflicts in detail. According to the Innocence Project, <a href="http://www.innocenceproject.org/causes-wrongful-conviction/informants" target="_blank">15 percent</a> of wrongful convictions that are eventually overturned by DNA testing originally rested on information from a jailhouse informant. Two years ago in California, for instance, a federal court <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/10/local/la-me-skidrow-stabber-20120110" target="_blank">overturned</a> the conviction of an alleged serial killer known as the "Skid Row Stabber" because the conviction rested on information from an inmate dismissed as a "habitual liar."</p> <p>Or maybe the witness in Baltimore is right&mdash;that happens too!&mdash;and what we thought we knew about the Freddie Gray case was wrong. But the department isn't doing much to quiet the skeptics. It <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/results-freddie-gray-investigation-public-baltimore/" target="_blank">announced</a> Wednesday that it will not make public the full results of its investigation into Gray's death, "because if there is a decision to charge in any event by the state's attorney's office, the integrity of that investigation has to be protected."</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Top Stories Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:49:36 +0000 Tim Murphy 274551 at http://www.motherjones.com Freddie Gray and the Real Lesson of Urban Policing http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/freddie-gray-and-real-lesson-urban-policing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Washington Post</em> features a simple headline today that encompasses decades of personal tragedy and public policy disaster:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/freddie-grays-life-a-study-in-the-sad-effects-of-lead-paint-on-poor-blacks/2015/04/29/0be898e6-eea8-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank"><strong>Freddie Gray&rsquo;s life a study in the sad effects of lead paint on poor blacks</strong></a></p> </blockquote> <p>When Freddie Gray was <em>22 months old</em>, he had a tested blood lead level of 37 micrograms per deciliter. This is an absolutely astronomical amount. Freddie never even had the slightest chance of growing up normally. Lead poisoning doomed him from the start to a life of heightened aggression, poor learning abilities, and weak impulse control. His life was a tragedy set in motion the day he was born.</p> <p>But even from the midst of my chemo haze, I want to make a short, sharp point about this that goes far beyond just Gray's personal tragedy. It's this: thanks both to lead paint and leaded gasoline, there were lots of teenagers like Freddie Gray in the 90s. This created a huge and genuinely scary wave of violent crime, and in response we turned many of our urban police forces into occupying armies. This may have been wrong even then, but it was hardly <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_violent_crime_six_large_cities_small.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">inexplicable. Decades of lead poisoning really had created huge numbers of scarily violent teenagers, and a massive, militaristic response may have seemed like the only way to even begin to hold the line.</p> <p>But here's the thing: <em>that era is over</em>. Individual tragedies like Freddie Gray are still too common, but overall lead poisoning has plummeted. As a result, our cities are safer <em>because our kids are fundamentally less dangerous</em>. To a large extent, they are now normal teenagers, not lead-poisoned predators.</p> <p>This is important, because even if you're a hard-ass law-and-order type, you should understand that we no longer need urban police departments to act like occupying armies. The 90s are gone, and today's teenagers are just ordinary teenagers. They still act stupid and some of them are still violent, but they can be dealt with using ordinary urban policing tactics. We don't need to constantly harass and bully them; we don't need to haul them in for every petty infraction; we don't need to beat them senseless; and we don't need to incarcerate them by the millions.</p> <p>We just don't. We live in a different, safer era, and it's time for all of us&mdash;voters, politicians, cops, parents&mdash;to get this through our collective heads. Generation Lead is over, thank God. Let's stop pretending it's always and forever 1993. Reform is way overdue.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:58:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 274561 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's What Economists Cheering For The Pacific Trade Deal Are Missing http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/matt-yglesias-trade-barriers-trans-pacific-partnership <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going.&nbsp;Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="https://twitter.com/mattyglesias" target="_blank">Matt Yglesias</a>, currently the executive editor of </em>Vox<em>.</em></p> <p>There is almost nothing in the whole wide world that economists like better than recounting David Ricardo's basic case for free trade. And this is sort of understandable. It's a really cool idea!</p> <p>If you don't believe me, check out <a href="http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/ricardo.htm" target="_blank">Paul Krugman's 1995 essay on the subject</a>. But for the dime store version, what Ricardo showed&mdash;and what economists have been enthusing about ever since&mdash;is that Country A benefits (in the sense of what's nowadays known as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaldor%E2%80%93Hicks_efficiency" target="_blank">Kaldor-Hicks Efficiency</a>) from opening up its domestic producers to competition from imports from Country B, even if Country B is better at producing everything.</p> <p>It's a cool result.</p> <p>But oftentimes enthusiasm for this result seems to lead Ph.D. economists into all kinds of wild irrelevancies like former Council of Economic Advisors Chair Greg Mankiw's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/upshot/economists-actually-agree-on-this-point-the-wisdom-of-free-trade.html?smid=pl-share&amp;_r=1&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1" target="_blank">enthusiastic endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership</a>. Mankiw focuses on Adam Smith rather than Ricardo, but in both cases the point is the same&mdash;18th-century economists showed that the efficiency of an economy can be improved by opening itself up to imports from abroad.</p> <p>This is very true, but it also tells us very little about the merits of a 21st-century trade agreement.</p> <p>One huge flaw is that while classical economics has a fair amount to tell us about the wealth of nations, it doesn't say much at all about the wealth of the individual people inside the nations. A trade deal that enriches Americans who own lots of shares of stock and Central Americans who own lots of plantation land could easily pass the (low) economic bar of efficiency while still making most people worse off.</p> <p>But an even bigger problem is that many of the biggest barriers to international trade don't come conveniently labeled as barriers to international trade.</p> <p>Take the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_Marine_Act_of_1920" target="_blank">Jones Act</a> here in the United States, which says that if you want to ship goods on a boat from one American port to another American port, you need to do so on boats constructed in the United States and owned by US citizens, staffed by US citizens and legal permanent residents, and crewed by US citizens and US permanent residents. Common sense says that this is protectionism for American ship owners, shipyards, and ship crews.</p> <p>But the actual text of the Jones Act says otherwise. What the 1920 law says is that a merchant marine "sufficient to carry the waterborne domestic commerce&hellip;of the United States" is "necessary for the national defense." In other words, we dare not let foreign-owned ships outcompete domestic ones as a matter of national security.</p> <p>Conversely, if you look at <a href="http://www.uaw.org/articles/uaw-statement-japan%E2%80%99s-inclusion-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp" target="_blank">Japan's legendarily protected domestic automobile market</a> you will find essentially nothing in the way of formal barriers to foreign trade. Tariffs on imported automobiles, for example, are currently at zero. The way it works, <a href="http://americanautocouncil.org/sites/default/files/Japans%2BProtected%2BAuto%2BMarket.pdf" target="_blank">according to the American Auto Council</a>, is that "Japan has used automotive technical regulations as a means to protect local markets by creating excessively difficult and costly regulatory and certification requirements, with little or no safety or emissions benefits."</p> <p>That these regulations are mere protectionism is overwhelming conventional wisdom in the United States. But of course, proponents of the Japanese status quo no more see it that way than do proponents of the Jones Act here at home. These are necessary regulations! This is the dilemma of the modern trade agreement.</p> <p>Smith and Ricardo never imagined a world in which governments routinely regulated large classes of products to promote consumer safety, workers' rights, environmental goals, or national security goals. But lurking behind every regulation is potentially a barrier to trade. What the US Food and Drug Administration sees as <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/05/politics/fda-cheese-rules/" target="_blank">public health regulation of dangerous cheese bacteria</a> looks like protectionism to French cheesemakers, and what European Union officials see as <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20120314IPR40752/html/Win-win-ending-to-the-hormone-beef-trade-war" target="_blank">public health regulation of hormone-treated beef</a> looks like protectionism to American ranchers.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Foreign Policy International Regulatory Affairs Top Stories To Kevin! Thu, 30 Apr 2015 13:00:06 +0000 Matt Yglesias 274466 at http://www.motherjones.com The 10 American Cities With the Dirtiest Air http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/state-air <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nearly 44 percent of Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association's annual <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/" target="_blank">"State of the Air" report</a>, published yesterday.</p> <p>The good news is that's actually an improvement over last year's report, which showed that 47 percent of the population lived in these highly polluted places. Overall, the air has been getting cleaner since Congress enacted stricter regulations in the 1970s, and the American Lung Association report, which looked at data from 2011 through 2013, showed a continuing drop in the air emissions that create the six most widespread pollutants.</p> <p>But don't pat yourself on the back just yet. Many cities experienced a record number of days with high levels of particle pollution, a mixture of solid and liquid droplets in the air that have been linked to serious health problems. Short-term particle pollution was especially bad in the West, in part due to the drought and heat, which may have increased the dust, grass fires and wildfires. Six cities&mdash;San Francisco; Phoenix; Visalia, California; Reno, Nevada.; Yakima, Washington; and Fairbanks, Alaska&mdash;recorded their highest weighted average number of unhealthy particle pollution days since the American Lung Association started covering this metric in 2004.</p> <p>Los Angeles held its rank as the metropolitan area with the worst ozone pollution, even as it saw its best three-year period since the first report 16 years ago: the city experienced a one-third reduction in its average number of unhealthy ozone days since the late 1990s.</p> <p>Meanwhile, states on the east coast showed the most headway in cleaning up their air, with major drops in year-round particle pollution. The American Lung Association attributed the improvement to a push for cleaner diesel fleets and cleaner fuels in power plants.</p> <p>"The progress is exactly what we want to see, but to see some areas having some of their worst episodes was unusual," said Janice Nolen, an air pollution expert with the association, referring to the record-breaking days of short-term particle pollution.</p> <p>Data is missing for some of the dirtiest cities in the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis, due in part to problems at data labs in Illinois and Tennessee. Similar problems in Georgia also prevented researchers from assessing changes in Atlanta, another city notorious for air pollution.</p> <p>Outdoor air pollution has been linked to about <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/" target="_blank">3.7 million premature deaths worldwide</a>, by causing or exacerbating lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, acute lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, and strokes. And unfortunately, it seems <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/air-pollution-racial-disparities" target="_blank">people of color and with low incomes</a> are often exposed to the dirtiest air.</p> <p>Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association ranked cities around the country in terms of their year-round particle pollution, or the annual average level of fine particles in the air. These fine particles can come from many sources, including power plants, wildfires, and vehicle emissions, and breathing them in over such long periods of time have been linked to lung damage, increased hospitalizations for asthma attacks, increased risk for lower birth weight and infant mortality, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.</p> <p><strong>Here are the 10 cities with the lowest levels of year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Prescott, Arizona</p> <p>2. Farmington, New Mexico</p> <p>3. Casper, Wyoming</p> <p>3. Cheyenne, Wyoming</p> <p>5. Flagstaff, Arizona</p> <p>6. Duluth, Minnesota-Wisconsin</p> <p>6. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida</p> <p>6. Salinas, California</p> <p>10. Anchorage, Alaska</p> <p>10. Bismarck, North Dakota</p> <p>10. Rapid City-Spearfish, South Dakota</p> <p><strong>And the cities with the most year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Fresno-Madera, California</p> <p>2. Bakersfield, California</p> <p>3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California<a href="#correction">*</a> </p> <p>4. Modesto-Merced, California</p> <p>5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California</p> <p>6. El Centro, California</p> <p>7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California</p> <p>8. Cincinnati; Wilmington, Kentucky; Maysville, Indiana</p> <p>9. Pittsburgh; New Castle, Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia</p> <p>10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio</p> <p>To see city rankings for short-term particle pollution and ozone pollution, check out the <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/" target="_blank">report</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the state in which Visalia, Porterville, and Hanford are located.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Thu, 30 Apr 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Samantha Michaels 274506 at http://www.motherjones.com