Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2011/09/tea-partiers-light-rail-national-security-riskTea http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Russia Is Going After McDonald’s. (Can We Give Them Jack in the Box?) http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/russia-goes-after-mcdonalds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Russia's health inspection agency is <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-29/mcdonald-s-says-russian-regulator-is-inspecting-100-restaurants.html" target="_blank">scrutinizing</a> more than 100 McDonald's locations and has forced the company to temporarily close multiple others in the country. The agency says McDonalds outlets are getting inspected because some have violated sanitary regulations&mdash; but others see retaliation for US sanctions on Russia.</p> <p>"This is a prominent symbol of the U.S. It has a lot of restaurants and therefore is a meaningful target," Yulia Bushueva, managing director for Arbat Capital, an investment advisory company, told <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-29/mcdonald-s-says-russian-regulator-is-inspecting-100-restaurants.html" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>. "I don't recall McDonald's having consumer-safety problems of such a scale in over more than two decades of presence in Russia."</p> <p>McDonald's was the first fast food chain to enter Russia, and it holds some symbolic importance in the country. The first location opened in Pushkin Square in Moscow in January 1990 to one utterly massive line (see video below). This was shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall but nearly two years before the <a href="http://www.coldwar.org/articles/90s/fall_of_the_soviet_union.asp" target="_blank">dissolution</a> of the Soviet Union when Western brands of any stripe were a rare sight in Russia. At the time, the site of the Golden Arches in the center of Moscow <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/opinion/masha-gessen-russia-goes-to-war-with-mcdonalds-soviet-style.html?gwh=F583005AE5AF419158FE73EC5D821EE4&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=opinion" target="_blank">signaled</a> the arrival of a new era of prosperity and integration with the world economy.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/amx-JHhtsHw?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Today, there are more than 400 McDonald's outlets in the country. Many are <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/21/us-mcdonalds-russia-franchises-idUSBRE91K0OB20130221" target="_blank">owned locally</a>. The company employs more than 37,000 people in Russia and sources 85 percent of its products from Russian suppliers, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/22/world/europe/mcdonalds-a-fast-food-symbol-of-america-falls-in-moscow.html" target="_blank">according</a> to its website.</p> <p>But as Russia and the West began facing off over Ukraine this spring, McDonald's has fallen victim to their power struggle. In April, McDonald's announced it would close it's three company-owned locations in Crimea "due to operational reasons beyond our control," according to their statement to <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2014/04/04/moscow-politician-calls-for-all-400-mcdonalds-outlets-in-russia-to-be-shut-down-after-fast-food-giants-pulls-out-of-crimea/" target="_blank">Reuters</a>.</p> <p>That decision was praised by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a prominent legislator and Putin supporter, who suggested the chain should leave Russia as well. "It would be good if they closed here too, if they disappeared for good," he <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2014/04/04/moscow-politician-calls-for-all-400-mcdonalds-outlets-in-russia-to-be-shut-down-after-fast-food-giants-pulls-out-of-crimea/" target="_blank">said</a> in Russian media. "Pepsi-Cola would be next." Zhirinovsky also proposed instructing members of his Liberal Democratic party to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/04/mcdonalds-russia_n_5093512.html" target="_blank">picket</a> outside McDonald's until they closed.</p> <p>Since August 20, McDonald's has temporarily closed 12 locations throughout Russia, including four in Krasnodar, near the black sea, and the iconic first-ever location in Moscow. Burger King, Subway, and KFC&mdash; which have all seen <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/business/global/russia-becomes-a-magnet-for-american-fast-food-chains.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">big expansions</a> in Russia in recent years&mdash; have remained unscathed.</p></body></html> MoJo Corporations Food and Ag International Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:28:52 +0000 Alex Park 259406 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 29 August 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/friday-cat-blogging-29-august-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's the return of quilt blogging! Sort of. In any case, there's a quilt in the background because that happens to be where Domino was posing this week. I think she's auditioning to be the model for a new pair of sculptures outside the New York Public Library.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_08_29.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:51:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 259426 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: When Women Fail, They Pay a Bigger Price Than Men http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/chart-day-when-women-fail-they-pay-bigger-price-men <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The chart below is not part of a study that examines a statistically random set of data. It's quite informal, and probably suffers from some inherent sampling biases. Nonetheless, it's pretty astonishing:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_men_women_performance_reviews.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 45px;"></p> <p>Here's the background: Kieran Snyder asked men and women working in the tech industry to share their performance reviews with her. Virtually all of them were high performers who got generally strong reviews. <a href="http://fortune.com/2014/08/26/performance-review-gender-bias/" target="_blank">But it wasn't all positive:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the 177 reviews where people receive critical feedback, men and women receive different kinds. The critical feedback men receive is heavily geared towards suggestions for additional skills to develop....The women&rsquo;s reviews include another, sharper element that is absent from the men&rsquo;s:</p> <p><em>&ldquo;You can come across as abrasive sometimes. I know you don&rsquo;t mean to, but you need to pay attention to your tone.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>[Etc.]</p> <p>This kind of negative personality criticism&mdash;watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!&mdash;<strong>shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/equals/2014/08/29/how-letting-women-fail-can-help-them-succeed/" target="_blank">This comes via Shane Ferro,</a> who concludes that there's probably good reason for women to be more cautious than men in their professional lives. It's easy to tell women they shouldn't be afraid to fail. "But we as a society (men and women), need to stop judging women so harshly for their flaws. For them to be equally good, it has to be okay that they are equally bad sometimes."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sex and Gender Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:19:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 259421 at http://www.motherjones.com Has Vladimir Putin Painted Himself Into a Corner? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/has-vladimir-putin-painted-himself-corner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Max Fisher writes today that Vladimir Putin probably never wanted to invade Ukraine. So why did he? It all started when he was elected to a third term as president <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/8/29/6082769/one-chart-why-putin-invading-ukraine" target="_blank">amid continuing economic stagnation:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Putin expected another boisterously positive reception, but that's not what he happened. Instead, he got protests in major cities, opposition candidates, and, even according to the highly suspicious official tally, only 63 percent of the vote.</p> <p>Putin panicked. He saw his legitimacy slipping and feared a popular revolt. So he changed strategies. Rather than basing his political legitimacy on economic growth, he would base it on reviving Russian nationalism: imperial nostalgia, anti-Western paranoia, and conservative Orthodox Christianity.</p> <p>....Then the Ukraine crisis began....In March 2014, Putin indulged his own rhetoric about saving Ukraine's ethnic Russians &mdash; and seized an opportunity to reclaim a former Soviet strategic port &mdash; when he launched a stealth invasion of Crimea....This is when the crisis began to slip beyond Putin's control....The nationalistic rhetoric inside Russia was cranked up to a fever pitch. Putin's propaganda had built a parallel universe for Russians, in which the stakes in eastern Ukraine were dire not just for Russia but for the world....But the violence in eastern Ukraine was spinning out of control, with Ukrainian military forces looking like they were on the verge of overrunning the rebels.</p> <p>In a rational world, Putin would have cut his losses and withdrawn support for the rebels. But, thanks to months of propagandistic state media, Russians do not live in a rational world. They live in a world where surrendering in eastern Ukraine would mean surrendering to American-backed Ukrainian Nazis, and they believe everything that Putin has told them about being the only person capable of defeating these forces of darkness. To withdraw would be to admit that it was all a lie and to sacrifice the nationalism that is now his only source of real legitimacy. So Putin did the only thing he could to do to keep up the fiction upon which his political survival hinges: he invaded Ukraine outright.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this basically correct? It's more or less the way I view events in Russia, so it appeals to me. But I don't know enough about Russia to have a lot of confidence that this is really the best explanation for Putin's actions.</p> <p>It's also not clear&mdash;to me, anyway&mdash;that Putin is truly stuck in a situation he never wanted. I agree that this interpretation makes sense. Eastern Ukraine just flatly doesn't seem worth the price he would have to pay for it. But that's easy to say from seven thousand miles away. I wonder if this is really the way Putin sees things?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:14:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259401 at http://www.motherjones.com There Are No Lessons of History http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/there-are-no-lessons-history <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Adam Gopnik argues that knowing history won't really help you understand the lessons of history. There are just too many of them, and you can always cherry pick whichever lesson supports the thing you <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_past_future.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">wanted to do in the first place. Rather, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/help-know-history?src=mp" target="_blank">it should teach us humility:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out.</p> <p>....<strong>The real sin that the absence of a historical sense encourages is presentism, in the sense of exaggerating our present problems out of all proportion to those that have previously existed.</strong> It lies in believing that things are much worse than they have ever been&mdash;and, thus, than they really are&mdash;or are uniquely threatening rather than familiarly difficult. Every episode becomes an epidemic, every image is turned into a permanent injury, and each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling&mdash;even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse.</p> </blockquote> <p>Unfortunately, I doubt that Gopnik is right. Outside of academia, I haven't noticed that a knowledge of history is correlated in any way with a calmer perspective on our current problems.</p> <p>Take President Obama. He's a smart guy. He knows history, and he has an instinctively level-headed attitude toward life in the first place. What's more, he very famously won office partly on the strength of his skepticism toward military intervention and his opposition to "dumb wars."</p> <p>So what happened after he took office? He almost immediately approved a surge in Afghanistan. Then another surge. That didn't work out especially well, and by 2011, when Libya was going up in flames, Obama was obviously reluctant to get involved. But he did anyway. And that turned into a complete clusterfuck. But even <em>that</em> wasn't quite enough. Two years later he almost got talked into intervening in Syria before turning aside at the last minute. And that brings us to the present day and the threat of ISIS.</p> <p>As near as I can tell, Obama is now, finally, genuinely, skeptical about military intervention. That's why he's been so reluctant to approve wider air strikes against ISIS even though there's hardly a more deserving target of a bombing campaign anywhere in the world. He understands in his gut that it's not likely to work, and that it <em>definitely</em> won't work without an Iraqi government that can competently provide the ground troops to do the bulk of the fighting. Right now that doesn't exist, so Obama is refusing to be drawn into an unwinnable quagmire. He finally understands.</p> <p>But this isn't because of his knowledge of history. It's because of Afghanistan. And Libya. And Syria. It took three consecutive slaps in the face to finally convince his gut of what his brain probably believed all along.</p> <p>In the end, I think this is why I sympathize with Obama's foreign policy choices even though I've been at least moderately opposed to all his interventions. I'd like to think that I would have made different decisions if I'd been in his place, but the truth is I probably wouldn't have. The institutional and political pressures in favor of military action are just too strong. More than likely, I would have caved in too until I eventually learned better from bitter experience.</p> <p>Is Gopnik's brand of historical fatalism any better than historical blindness? It's hard to say. But it probably doesn't matter. When it comes time to actually do things, we learn from experience, not the past.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Obama Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:37:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 259391 at http://www.motherjones.com The NFL Finally Fixed Its Weak Domestic-Violence Penalties http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/nfl-domestic-violence-penalties-rice <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The National Football League has drastically toughened its punishments for domestic violence after weeks of uproar over its weak response to the case of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice received a two-game suspension after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/ravens/2014/07/24/ray-rice-suspension-baltimore-janay-palmer/12783281/" target="_blank">allegedly assaulting his fianc&eacute;e</a>, while players who tested positive for marijuana&mdash;some in states where weed is legal&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/ray-rice-suspension-marijuana" target="_blank">were handed four-game and even season-long suspensions</a>.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2014/08/28/roger-goodells-letter-to-nfl-owners-on-new-domestic-violence-policy/14746759/" target="_blank">letter to NFL owners</a> Thursday, commissioner Robert Goodell wrote that the league had fallen short in "a recent incident of domestic violence" and announced that a first-time domestic-violence offender would now receive a six-game suspension. Repeat offenders, he wrote, would face indefinite bans, with the possibility to apply for reinstatement after a year.</p> <p>To be clear, there's no epidemic of domestic violence among NFL players; this graph from <em>FiveThirtyEight</em> shows that NFL players are generally less likely to be arrested than the rest of 25-to-29-year-old American men*:</p> <p class="rtecenter">&iuml;&raquo;&iquest;&iuml;&raquo;&iquest;&iuml;&raquo;&iquest;&iuml;&raquo;&iquest; <img alt="morris-datalab-nfl-vaw-1" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-48442" height="489" src="http://espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/morris-datalab-nfl-vaw-12.png?w=610&amp;h=489" width="610"></p> <p>Rather, this smells a lot like a PR-related move from the league, which has seen its reputation suffer in the wake of Rice's light penalty. After all, it's not like the NFL jumped to punish any of the following four players, all of whom were involved in domestic incidents during Goodell's tenure as commissioner:</p> <ul><li><strong>AJ Jefferson: </strong>In February, Jefferson <a href="http://www.twincities.com/vikings/ci_24614228/j-jefferson-former-viking-charged-strangling-girlfriend" target="_blank">allegedly strangled his girlfriend</a> and was arrested and charged with assault. The Minnesota Vikings released him hours later, but <a href="http://www.fieldgulls.com/nfl-draft/2014/5/3/5678150/aj-jefferson-seahawks-sparq-player-profile" target="_blank">he was picked</a> up by the Seattle Seahawks this spring.</li> <li><strong>Chad Johnson: </strong>In 2012, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/nfler-chad-johnson-charged-domestic-battery-alleged-assault-wife-evelyn-lozada-article-1.1157926" target="_blank">Johnson was arrested</a> for head-butting his wife and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. He pleaded no contest, was sentenced to probation and was <a href="http://newsone.com/2584238/evelyn-lozada-headbutt-photos/" target="_blank">cut by the Miami Dolphins.</a></li> <li><strong>Brandon Marshall: </strong>The Chicago Bears' star wide receiver has one of the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-14/sports/chi-brandon-marshalls-rap-sheet-20120314_1_brandon-marshall-rasheedah-watley-press-charges" target="_blank">lengthier rap sheets</a> in the league. Since 2004, he has been arrested five times, twice on domestic-violence charges, and has been involved in 10 disputes&mdash;many involving violence against women&mdash;in which no charges were filed. Marshall was suspended one game in 2009 over charges he'd abused his girlfriend in 2008 (he was acquitted); in 2007, he was arrested after preventing his girlfriend's taxi from leaving his home, completed anger management, and did not receive punishment from the NFL.</li> <li><strong>Quinn Ojinnaka: </strong>The former Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman <a href="http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2010/06/03/quinn-ojinnaka-suspended-for-a-game-for-facebook-fracas/?cp=2" target="_blank">was suspended for one game</a> in 2010 after a dispute in which he threw his wife down a flight of stairs and out of their home. (The dispute is said to have begun over Ojinnaka contacting a woman via Facebook.)</li> </ul><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Ultimately, the NFL is deeply invested in maintaining a clean, family-friendly image, and Goodell is clearly responding to claims that the league takes smoking pot more seriously than it does violence against women. While it's good that future domestic-violence offenders will receive more appropriate punishment, the timing of his letter&mdash;just a day after a <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/news/experts-want-see-nfl-act-074730915--nfl.html" target="_blank">vocal outcry about Rice's punishment</a>&mdash;makes it seem like the move of an embarrassed league looking to crack down on players who embarrass it.</p> <p>Goodell is burnishing his reputation as an authoritarian who's concerned with appearances, rather than a commissioner who leverages the league's reach and resources to actually address issues like domestic violence.</p> <p><em>*Note: As commenter Bumpasaurus pointed out, the data from the </em>FiveThirtyEight <em>chart is "adjusted for poverty status." NFL players are wealthy, and compared to other, wealthy individuals in the same age group, "the domestic violence arrest rate is downright extraordinary."</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Sex and Gender Sports Top Stories Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:12:24 +0000 Sam Brodey 259361 at http://www.motherjones.com BREAKING: Economy Continues to Stagnate http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/breaking-economy-continues-stagnate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If, despite my warnings, you allowed yesterday's upward GDP revision to kindle a tiny spark of excitement about the economy, today's news should bring you <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-consumer-spending-declines-0-1-in-july-1409315651?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection" target="_blank">right back down to earth:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Household spending fell in July, a sign that cautious consumers could hold back economic growth in the second half of the year....Personal income, reflecting income from wages, investment, and government aid, rose 0.2% in July&mdash;the smallest monthly increase of the year....Meanwhile, the report showed a key measure of inflation&mdash;the personal consumption expenditures price index&mdash;rose 1.6% in July from a year earlier. <strong>That matched the prior month's annual gain, and is below the Federal Reserve's 2% long-run target for the 27th straight month.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Spending is down, which is no surprise since personal income is pretty much flat. This suggests that perhaps we could tolerate a wee bit higher inflation as a way of getting the economy moving, but of course we can't do that. Sure, inflation has been below its target for 27 months, but you never know. The 28th month might be different! And even the prospect of a single month of moderate inflation runs the risk of turning us into Zimbabwe.</p> <p>So instead we just sit and stagnate.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:32:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 259386 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 29, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/were-still-war-photo-day-august-29-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines exit the well deck of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class RJ Stratchko)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:08:40 +0000 259381 at http://www.motherjones.com Will Democrats Keep Control of the Senate This Year? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/will-democrats-keep-control-senate-year <!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_senate_forecast_pec_28_august_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium thinks that Democrats currently have a 72 percent chance of retaining control of the Senate this year. Most other forecasting outfits think Republicans have a 60-70 percent chance of winning control. <a href="http://election.princeton.edu/2014/08/28/senate-democrats-are-outperforming-expectations/" target="_blank">Why the difference?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In most cases, added assumptions (i.e. special sauce) have led the media organizations to different win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; which I currently believe are wrong....The major media organizations (NYT, WaPo, 538)...all use prior conditions like incumbency, candidate experience, funding, and the generic Congressional ballot to influence their win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; and opinion polls.</p> <p>....Longtime readers of PEC will not be surprised to know that I think the media organizations are making a mistake. It is nearly Labor Day. By now, we have tons of polling data. Even the stalest poll is a more direct measurement of opinion than an indirect fundamentals-based measure. I demonstrated this point in 2012, when I used polls only to forecast the Presidency and all close Senate races. That year I made no errors in Senate seats, including Montana (Jon Tester) and North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), which FiveThirtyEight got wrong.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd sure <em>like</em> to believe this. PEC is my go-to political polling site, after all. But it sure doesn't <em>feel</em> like Democrats are in the driver's seat right now, does it? All of my political instincts scream that Wang's forecast is wrong.</p> <p>That's probably because I'm a pessimist by nature. But you either believe in poll aggregation or you don't. I do, and PEC has performed well in every election for the past decade. So just as I wouldn't "deskew" bad poll results I didn't like, I guess I won't try to second-guess good poll results that don't seem quite right. If Wang thinks Democrats are currently favored to keep control of the Senate, then so do I.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Fri, 29 Aug 2014 04:09:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 259376 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet." http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/quote-day-we-dont-have-strategy-yet <!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_obama_tan_suit_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcriptpresident-obamas-aug-28-remarks-on-ukraine-and-syria/2014/08/28/416f1336-2eec-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">From President Obama,</a> asked if he needs congressional approval to go into Syria:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's not going to go over well, is it? Three years after the Syrian civil war started and (at least) half a year after ISIS became a serious threat in Iraq, you'd think the president might be willing to essay a few broad thoughts about how we should respond.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. I think I understand what Obama is doing here. He's basically trying to avoid saying that we <em>do</em> have a strategy, and the strategy is to do the absolute minimum possible in service of a few very limited objectives. And generally speaking, I happen to agree that this is probably the least worst option available to us. Still, there's no question that it's not very inspiring. You'd think the brain trust in the White House would have given a little more thought to how this could be presented in a tolerably coherent and decisive way.</p> <p>In the meantime, "We don't have a strategy yet" is about to become the latest 24/7 cable news loop. Sigh.</p> <p>Oh, and the tan suit too. It's quite the topic of conversation in the Twittersphere.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Military Obama Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:31:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259366 at http://www.motherjones.com This is What a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Looks Like http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/what-russian-invasion-ukraine-looks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It has become quite hard for Vladimir Putin to deny that Russia's activities in Eastern Europe aren't benign. On Thursday, Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/28/ukraine-accuses-russia-invading-south-east-help-rebels" target="_blank">announced</a> that "Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine." And at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman&nbsp;Jen Psaki called Russia's activities "an incursion and a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty."</p> <p>The most striking evidence comes&nbsp;from <a href="http://aco.nato.int/new-satellite-imagery-exposes-russian-combat-troops-inside-ukraine.aspx" target="_blank">NATO, which has released</a> satellite photos&nbsp;of what it calls "concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image1.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, the image above&nbsp;depicts a&nbsp;Russian convoy carrying artillery in Krasnodon, an area of Ukraine currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists, on August 21.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image2.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This shows artillery setting up in firing positions in Krasnodon. "This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers," a NATO press release notes.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image3.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This image shows side-by-side photos of Rostov-on-Don, about 31 miles from the Ukrainian border, taken two months apart. The photo on the left, taken on June 19, shows the area mostly empty. The photo on the right shows the same area on August 20&nbsp;occupied with tanks and other armored vehicles, cargo trucks, and tents. These units "are capable of attacking with little warning, and could potentially overwhelm and push-back Ukrainian units," according to NATO.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image4.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, this image shows Russian six artillery pieces, probably 6-inch howitzers, positioned&nbsp;six miles south of the Ukrainian border. The guns are pointed toward Ukraine.</p></body></html> MoJo International Military Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:56:15 +0000 Alex Park 259351 at http://www.motherjones.com 5 Terrifying Facts From the Leaked UN Climate Report http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/08/un-ipcc-climate-change-synthesis-report <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>How many synonyms for "grim" can I pack into one article? I had to consult the thesaurus:&nbsp;ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.</p> <p>This week,&nbsp;a big report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked before publication, and it confirmed, yet again, the grim&mdash;dire, frightful&mdash;reality the we face if we don't slash our global greenhouse gas emissions, and slash them&nbsp;fast.</p> <p>This "Synthesis Report," to be released in November following a&nbsp;UN conference in Copenhagen, is still subject to revision. It is intended to summarize three previous UN climate publications and to "provide an integrated view" to the world's governments of the risks they face from runaway carbon pollution, along with&nbsp;possible policy&nbsp;solutions.</p> <p>As expected, the document contains <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/ipcc-climate-change-impact-adaptation" target="_blank">a lot of what had already been reported</a> after the three underpinning reports were released <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/climate-change-ipcc-live-blog" target="_blank">at global summits</a> over the past year. It's a long list of problems: sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, crippling heat waves and multidecade droughts, torrential downpours, widespread food shortages, species extinction, pest outbreaks, economic damage, and exacerbated civil conflicts and poverty.</p> <p>But in general, the 127-page leaked report provides starker language than the previous three, framing the crisis as a series of "irreversible" ecological and economic catastrophes that will occur if swift action is not taken.</p> <p>Here are five particularly grim&mdash;depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant&mdash;takeaways from the report.</p> <p><strong>1. Our efforts to combat climate change have been grossly inadequate.</strong><br> The report says that anthropogenic (man-made)&nbsp;greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase from 1970 to 2010, at a pace that ramped up especially quickly between&nbsp;2000 and 2010. That's despite some regional action that has sought to limit emissions, including carbon-pricing&nbsp;schemes in Europe. We haven't done enough, the United Nations says, and we're already seeing the effects of inaction.&nbsp;"Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history," the report says. "The climate changes that have already occurred have had widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems."</p> <p><strong>2. Keeping global warming below the <a href="https://unfccc.int/meetings/copenhagen_dec_2009/items/5262.php" target="_blank">internationally agreed upon</a> 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (above preindustrial levels) is going to be <em>very</em> hard.</strong><br> To keep warming below this limit, our emissions need to be slashed dramatically. But at current rates, we'll pump enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to sail past that critical level within the next 20 to 30 years, according to the report. We need to emit&nbsp;<i>half</i>&nbsp;as much greenhouse gas for the remainder of this century as we've already emitted over the past 250 years. Put simply, that's going to be difficult&mdash;especially when you consider the fact that global emissions are growing, not declining,&nbsp;every year. The report says that to keep temperature increases to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, deep emissions cuts of between 40 and 70 percent are needed between 2010 and 2050, with emissions "falling towards zero or below" by 2100.</p> <p><strong>3. We'll probably see nearly ice-free summers&nbsp;in the Arctic Ocean before mid-century.</strong><br> The report says that in every warming scenario it the scientists considered, we should expect to see year-round reductions in Arctic sea ice. By 2050, that will likely result in strings of years in which there is the near absence of sea ice in the summer, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/staggering-decline-sea-ice-frontline-climate-change" target="_blank">following a well-established trend</a>. And then there's Greenland, where glaciers have been retreating since the 1960s&mdash;increasingly so after 1993&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/inquiring-minds-richard-alley-antarctica-greenland-sandy" target="_blank">because of man-made global warming</a>. The report says we may already be facing a situation in which Greenland's ice sheet will vanish over the next millennium, contributing up to 23 feet of sea level rise.</p> <p><strong>4. Dangerous sea level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world's coastlines by the end of the century.</strong><br> The report finds that by 2100, the devastating effects of&nbsp;sea level rise&mdash;including flooding, infrastructure damage, and coastal erosion&mdash;will impact the vast majority of the world's coastlines. That's not good:&nbsp;Half the world's population lives within 37 miles&nbsp;of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast, <a href="http://www.unep.org/urban_environment/issues/coastal_zones.asp" target="_blank">according to the United Nations</a>. The sea has already risen significantly:&nbsp;From 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.62 feet.</p> <p><strong>5. Even if we act now, there's a real&nbsp;risk of "abrupt and irreversible" changes. </strong><br> The carbon released by burning fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere and the seas for centuries to come, the report says, even if we completely stop emitting CO<sub>2</sub> as soon as possible. That means it's virtually certain that global mean sea level rise will continue for many centuries beyond 2100. Without strategies to reduce emissions, the world will see&nbsp;7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming above preindustrial temperatures by the end of the century, condemning us to "substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, [and]&nbsp;consequential constraints on common human activities."</p> <p>What's more, the report indicates that without action, the effects of climate change could be irreversible: "Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."</p> <p>Grim, indeed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Infrastructure Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:08:21 +0000 James West 259321 at http://www.motherjones.com In the Restaurant Biz, It Pays To Be a Man http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/restaurant-biz-it-pays-be-man <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/28/chart-the-troubling-gender-pay-gap-in-the-american-restaurant-industry/" target="_blank">Via Wonkblog,</a> here's a chart showing the pay gap between men and women in the restaurant industry. It comes from a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/restaurant-workers/" target="_blank">recently released EPI report,</a> and as you can see, not only are men better paid in virtually every category, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_restaurant_pay.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">but the premium goes up for the highest paying jobs. Bussers and cashiers are paid nearly the same regardless of gender. But when you move up to cooks, bartenders, and managers, the premium ranges from 10-20 percent.</p> <p>This data isn't conclusive. There are other reasons besides gender for pay gaps, and the EPI report lists several of them. Whites make more than blacks. High school grads make more than dropouts. Older workers make more than younger ones. You'd need to control for all this and more to get a more accurate picture of the gender gap.</p> <p>But in a way, that misses the point. There are lots of reasons for the gender gap in pay. Some is just plain discrimination. Some is because women take off more time to raise children. Some is because women are encouraged to take different kinds of jobs. But all of these are symptoms of the same thing. In a myriad of ways, women still don't get a fair shake.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Sex and Gender Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:22:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 259336 at http://www.motherjones.com Ex-George Washington University President Responds to Controversy Over His Sexual Assault Remarks http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/sexual-assault-george-washington-trachtenberg-university <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A former university president came under fire this week for the advice he gave on how to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Tuesday, George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Trachtenberg appeared on NPR's <a href="http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-08-26/role-fraternities-and-sororities-today" target="_blank"><em>Diane Rehm Show</em></a> and said, "Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave." Critics pounced. <a href="http://jezebel.com/ex-gwu-president-knows-why-rapes-happen-drunk-chicks-1627542602" target="_blank"><em>Jezebel</em></a> slammed his comments as "jaw-droppingly stupid," and the website noted, "<span>If this is the attitude freely and blithely expressed by a former University President, it's no wonder that <a href="http://jezebel.com/76-colleges-now-being-investigated-for-mishandling-rape-1621646792">more than 75 schools</a> are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for botching sexual assault investigations</span>."</p> <p>The following day, Trachtenberg told the school newspaper, <em><a href="http://blogs.gwhatchet.com/newsroom/2014/08/27/former-university-president-stephen-joel-trachtenberg-takes-heat-for-sexual-assault-remarks/" target="_blank">The <em>GW</em> Hatchet</a>,</em> that his remarks had been taken "out of context," but he reiterated his main point: <em>"</em>What I'm saying is you want to have somebody you care about like your daughter, granddaughter or girlfriend to understand her limits because she will be less likely to be unable to fight off somebody who is attacking her."</p> <p>On Thursday, <em>Mother Jones</em> asked Trachtenberg to comment on the ongoing controversy, and he replied with a written statement. Regarding <em>Jezebel</em>, he said:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Jezebel</em> has a world view that informs their prose. They are an advocate for an important cause and they take every opportunity to make their case. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they may get a little overheated. It's hard to resist an apparent opportunity when you believe you are on the side of the angels.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to other questions&mdash;including why he chose to use the word "misbehave" to describe sexual assault&mdash;Trachtenberg said:</p> <blockquote> <p>I chose that word because I was thinking and speaking quickly under time constraints on a radio show. Under different circumstances I might have used another perhaps stronger word. I am an educator. I believe in the power of education. I think that education about drinking and its effects on an individual can help protect that person from vulnerability. Knowledge makes one stronger. I also believe that having skills gives one power. If you know how to defend yourself you have strength that can be helpful in the event things turn physical. These two ideas are not meant to solve all problems. They are not blame shifters. They are what they are. Better to know things then not. No silver bullets here. We need to educate men too. Date rape is largely the responsibility of young men and alcohol and opportunity. We can address these issues as a community. Men and women and institutions together. Victims should do their best but they are victims and not to blame. My recommendation is to change the culture of the campus so that men and women protect and nurture each other as a family would. It will take work but it can be done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this an apology? You be the judge.</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:12:54 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259326 at http://www.motherjones.com Mitch McConnell Doesn't Get to Decide if Republicans Will Threaten Another Government Shutdown http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/mitch-mcconnell-doesnt-get-decide-if-republicans-will-threaten-another-government <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Are congressional Republicans threatening once again to shut down the government this year unless they get their way on a bunch of pet demands? Over at TNR, <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119241/marco-rubio-mitch-mcconnell-arent-threatening-government-shutdown" target="_blank">Danny Vinik doesn't think so:</a> "There is no excuse for the news media to inflate the quotes of Republican politicians to make it seem that they are threatening to shut down the government again," he says. <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119247/republican-government-shutdown-over-immigration-real-threat" target="_blank">But Brian Beutler thinks Vinik is being too literal.</a> It's true that no one is explicitly using the word <em>shutdown</em>, but no one ever does. Still, he says, "the threat is clear."</p> <p>I'm with Beutler, but not because of any particular parsing of recent Republican threats. It's because of this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The truth is practically irrelevant to the question of whether [recent saber rattling] presages a government shutdown fight. Just as it doesn&rsquo;t really matter whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell actually has a government shutdown in mind when he promises to strong-arm Obama next year, or whether he intends to cave.</p> <p>In either case he&rsquo;s threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That's a government shutdown fight. <strong>And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining. They can&rsquo;t control the plot.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. It's just not clear that McConnell has any real leverage over Ted Cruz or that John Boehner has any leverage over Michele Bachmann. Once they implicitly endorse the rider game, they cede control to the wingnuts. And the wingnuts <em>want</em> to shut down the government. Fasten your seatbelts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:15:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 259331 at http://www.motherjones.com Stock Buybacks Are a Symptom, Not a Disease http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/stock-buybacks-are-symptom-not-disease <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Paul Roberts writes in the <em>LA Times</em> today about <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-roberts-corporate-responsibility-20140828-story.html" target="_blank">stock buybacks:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Here's a depressing statistic: Last year, U.S. companies spent a whopping $598 billion &mdash; not to develop new technologies, open new markets or to hire new workers but to buy up their own shares. By removing shares from circulation, companies made remaining shares pricier, thus creating the impression of a healthier business without the risks of actual business activity.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree: that statistic <em>is</em> depressing. In fact, back in the days of my foolish youth, when I dabbled a bit in stock picking, one of my rules was never to invest in a company that had done a share buyback. I figured it was a sign of tired management. If they couldn't think of anything better to do with their money than that, what kind of future did they have? Moving on:</p> <blockquote> <p>Share buybacks aren't illegal, and, to be fair, they make sense when companies truly don't have something better to reinvest their profits in. <strong>But U.S. companies do have something better: They could be reinvesting in the U.S. economy in ways that spur growth and generate jobs.</strong> The fact that they're not explains a lot about the weakness of the job market and the sliding prospects of the American middle class.</p> <p>....Without a more socially engaged corporate culture, the U.S. economy will continue to lose the capacity to generate long-term prosperity, compete globally or solve complicated economic challenges, such as climate change. We need to restore a broader sense of the corporation as a social citizen &mdash; no less focused on profit but far more cognizant <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_austerity_state_local_federal_spending_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">of the fact that, in an interconnected economic world, there is no such thing as narrow self-interest.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree with some of what Roberts says about American corporations increasingly being obsessed with short-term stock gains rather than long-term growth. It's also true that stock buybacks are partly driven by CEO pay packages that are pegged to share price. Those have been standard complaints for decades. But it's misleading to suggest that US companies could be spurring the economy if only they'd invest more of their profits in growth. That gets it backwards. Companies will invest if they think they'll get a good return on that investment, and that decision depends on the likely trajectory of the macroeconomy. If it looks like economic growth will be strong, they'll invest more money in new plants and better equipment. If not, they won't.</p> <p>The macroeconomy doesn't depend on either companies or individuals acting altruistically. You can't pass a law banning stock buybacks and expect that companies will invest in plant expansion and worker training instead. They'll only do it if those investments look likely to pay off. Conversely, forcing them to make investments that will lose money does nothing for the economy except light lots of money on fire.</p> <p>You want companies to invest in the future? The first step is supporting economic policies that will grow the economy. If we were willing to do that, corporate investment would follow. If we don't, all the laws in the world won't keep the tide from coming in.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:42:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 259316 at http://www.motherjones.com Economy Doing Ever So Slightly Better Than We Thought http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/economy-doing-ever-so-slightly-better-we-thought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The economy is doing ever so <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/gdp-expanded-at-4-2-rate-in-second-quarter-1409229416?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection" target="_blank">slightly better than we thought:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The agency had previously estimated the second quarter's growth rate at 4%, relying on incomplete data for international trade, inventories and other sectors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nobody should mistake this for anything meaningful. Obviously it's better for GDP to be revised up than down, but this particular change is so small that it's not really noticeable. GDP growth for the first half of the year now clocks in at about 2.1 percent instead of 1.9 percent, but that's pretty anemic either way.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:58:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 259311 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Feel Bad for Tall People on Planes. They Probably Make More Money Than You. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/tall-people-make-more-money-short-people <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Amid the raging, only-in-August debate over whether it is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/upshot/dont-want-me-to-recline-my-airline-seat-you-can-pay-me.html?rref=upshot&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=0" target="_blank">ever okay</a> <a href="http://gawker.com/dont-want-me-to-spit-on-you-when-you-recline-your-airli-1627457239" target="_blank">to recline</a> <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/cwnevius/2014/08/26/the-tyranny-of-reclining-your-airplane-seat/" target="_blank">your airplane seat</a>, a good dose of schadenfreude has been directed at the vertically advantaged, as summed up by this tweet from one of my own bosses:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Tall people: the pain you feel when someone reclines their airline seat is a small taste of your lifelong privilege: <a href="http://t.co/up4wZ5Caql">http://t.co/up4wZ5Caql</a></p> &mdash; Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) <a href="https://twitter.com/ClaraJeffery/statuses/504661352485765120">August 27, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It's true: Being of above average height, particularly if you're a man, does come with significant perks beyond having <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/tall/comments/1c5qfz/hows_the_weather_up_there/" target="_blank">your own weather patterns</a>. As a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15161403" target="_blank">2004 paper</a> on the economic advantages of height explains, researchers have found that taller people are seen as more persuasive, more attractive, and more likely to become leaders: "Indeed, on the latter point, not since 1896 have U.S. citizens elected a President whose height was below average; William McKinley at 5 ft 7 in. (1.7 m) was ridiculed in the press as a 'little boy'." That paper calculated that a 6-foot-tall person can expect to earn $166,000 more over a 30-year career than someone who is 5-foot-5. In another <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w10522" target="_blank">2004 article</a>, researchers concluded that "a sizable fraction of the population" might consider taking Human Growth Hormone as teenagers to ensure bigger paychecks as adults. (They estimate that teens see a 1.9 to 2.6 percent increase in future earnings for every additional inch of height.)</p> <p>That tall dudes get an extra leg up in the job market is borne out by data from the Centers for Disease Control's <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/">Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System</a>, a survey of more than 500,000 Americans' health and demographics.</p> <p>The average American adult male is <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/body-measurements.htm" target="_blank">5-foot-9</a>. According to a <a href="http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/s_broker/WEATSQL.exe/weat/freq_Year.hsql" target="_blank">crosstabulation</a> of the CDC's 2011 data, men of slightly below-average height are at an income disadvantage: Around 28 percent of men between 5'5" and 5'8" earn $35,000 or less, compared with 19 percent of men between 5'9" and 6'0". And at the other end of the scale, 56 percent of men between 5'5" and 5'8" earn $50,000 or more, compared with 66 percent of men between 5'9" and 6'0".</p> <p>And the really tall guys tower over everyone else: Just 5 percent of them earn less than $20,000, and nearly 69 percent earn $50,000 or more. And the really short guys have it rough: 35 percent earn less than $20,000 while 23 percent earn $50,000 or more.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/axHMz/8/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The height-income gap for women isn't quite so stark&mdash;or predictable. The average height for women is <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/body-measurements.htm" target="_blank">5-foot-4</a>. Around 31 percent of women between 5'1" and 5'4" earn $35,000 or less, compared with around 26 percent of women between 5'5" and 5'8". And 53 percent of women between 5'1" and 5'4" earn $50,000 or more, compared with 58 percent of women between 5'5" and 6'8".</p> <p>Yet unlike men, women beyond a certain height pay a penalty. Women between 5'5" and 5'8" are more likely to earn more than $50,000 than women over six feet. And, surprisingly, women over six feet are more likely to earn less than $20,000 than women of average height. However, women under 5'1" are far more likely to earn less than $35,000 than taller women. But compared to their male counterparts, they do better&mdash;they're more likely than the very shortest men to earn more than $75,000.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/t7wZn/4/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>What does any of this have to do with modern air travel? Nothing. Just don't be a jerk.</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Economy Income Inequality Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Dave Gilson 259246 at http://www.motherjones.com Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio Films, Ranked http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2014/08/martin-scorsese-leonardo-dicaprio-films-ranked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>1. <em>The Aviator</em></p> <p>2. <em>The Departed</em></p> <p>3. <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em></p> <p>4. <em>Gangs of New York</em></p> <p>5. <em>Shutter Island</em></p></body></html> Contributor Film and TV Thu, 28 Aug 2014 05:03:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 259301 at http://www.motherjones.com Have We Reached Peak Kevin? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/have-we-reached-peak-kevin <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the <em>Guardian</em> today, Paula Cocozza writes about her effort to hunt down the origin of the phrase "peak X." She turned to linguist Mark Liberman, who runs the Language Log <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_matterhorn.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">blog, but he says <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/27/have-we-reached-peak-peak-rise-ubiquitous-phrase" target="_blank">it's a hard idiom to track:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is some good news, though. Liberman remembers the first time he noticed the phrase. It was in 2008, when the US writer John Cole blogged that "we may have hit and passed Peak Wingnut", a derogatory term for rightwingers.</p> <p>Cole's post is nearly six years old, but can he recall what inspired the phrase? "I came up with 'peak wingnut' because I was shocked," Cole says. "The Republicans seemed to get crazier and crazier. The source of it is [US blogger] Kevin Drum. At the <em>Washington Monthly</em>, one of the things he was always talking about was peak oil."</p> <p>This comes as news to Drum, who now writes for the web magazine <em>Mother Jones</em>. He was not the only person writing about peak oil, of course, but he was the one Cole read. "I'm very proud of that," he says. "I had no idea that I had been so influential."</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I have three items for my future obituary: creator of Friday catblogging, popularizer of the lead-crime theory, and just possibly the kinda sorta inspiration for the Peak X meme. Not bad!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:28:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 259256 at http://www.motherjones.com "The Troll Slayer": Don't Miss This Fascinating Profile of Mary Beard http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/troll-slayer-dont-miss-amazing-profile-mary-beard <!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 partial list of things for which the British&nbsp;historian <a href="http://timesonline.typepad.com/" target="_blank">Mary Beard</a> has gained reverence and notoriety:</p> <ul><li>Positing that Pompeiians had <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=6pio0ecjN9kC&amp;pg=PA9&amp;lpg=PA9&amp;dq=pompeii+bad+breath&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=dc8LaYIsE5&amp;sig=do6J7fMjzLQNpngHl1eXdzNqknU&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=HzP-U5-CKceIjAKLhYGgDg&amp;ved=0CDMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=pompeii%20bad%20breath&amp;f=false" target="_blank">bad breath</a>, based on tartar levels on their fossilized teeth.</li> <li>Theorizing that Romans <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/9223531/laughter-in-ancient-rome-by-mary-beard-review/" target="_blank">didn't smile</a>, since Latin lacks words for anything resembling one.</li> <li>Being the world's foremost scholar on how Romans pooped.</li> <li>Going on television without wearing makeup or dying her gray hair.</li> <li>Retweeting a message she got from a 20-year-old calling her a "filthy old slut."</li> <li>On 9/11: suggesting that on some level, the United States&nbsp;"<a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n19/nine-eleven-writers/11-september" target="_blank">had it coming</a>."</li> <li><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/08/gender.uk" target="_blank">Disclosing that she was raped</a> when she was 20 in an essay on rape in ancient Rome.</li> </ul><p>You can read all about it in Rebecca Mead's <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/01/troll-slayer" target="_blank">excellent new <em>New Yorker</em> profile</a> on the endlessly fascinating&nbsp;Cambridge don. It opens on a lecture that Beard gave earlier this year at the British Museum, titled&nbsp;"Oh Do Shut Up, Dear!," on the long literary history of men keeping women quiet, from the <em>Odyssey</em>'s&nbsp;Penelope ordered upstairs to her weaving by her son&mdash;"Speech will be the business of men," he says&mdash;to the death threats, rape threats, and general nastiness that Beard and other outspoken women get online.&nbsp;("I'm going to cut off your head and rape it," read one of her tweet mentions.)&nbsp;For her part,&nbsp;Beard does not subscribe to the "don't feed the trolls" school of thought when it comes to dealing with online assailants. She engages, both publicly and privately, often with&nbsp;surprising results:</p> <blockquote> <p>She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation&hellip;After a "Question Time"&nbsp;viewer wrote to her that she was "evil,"&nbsp;further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn't understand the bureaucracy. "It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,"&nbsp;she says. "Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, 'Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Fun stuff. And when you're done with Mead's piece, check out Beard's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Ancient-Rome-Tickling-Classical/dp/0520277163" target="_blank">latest book</a>, <em>Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:40:15 +0000 Tasneem Raja 259241 at http://www.motherjones.com New Discovery Cuts Brainwashing Time in Half http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/scientists-make-momentous-advance-brainwashing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The frontiers of science <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/scientists-experiment-with-reworking-memory-in-mice-1409158818?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories" target="_blank">continue to expand:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In experiments on mice, scientists rewired the circuits of the brain and <strong>changed the animals' bad memories into good ones.</strong> The rewriting of the memory wasn't done with drugs but by using light to control the activity of brain cells. While science is a long way from achieving a similar feat in people, it adds to a body of research that is starting to uncover the physiological basis of memory.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, I know what you're wondering. And the answer is yes:</p> <blockquote> <p>The researchers said they were able to do the opposite as well&mdash;<strong>change a pleasurable memory in mice into one associated with fear.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So I guess that wraps up both <em>Brave New World</em> and <em>1984</em> all in one nice, neat package. What could go wrong?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:43:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 259236 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Let's Just Drop a Few Bombs and See What Happens http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/quote-day-lets-just-drop-few-bombs-and-see-what-happens <!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.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/bill-kristol-bomb-isis_n_5721582.html?&amp;ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000021" target="_blank">From Bill Kristol,</a> during an appearance on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's show, bringing his megawatt analytic powers to bear on the problem of ISIS in Iraq:</p> <blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Bill_Kristol.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">What&rsquo;s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.</p> </blockquote> <p>You can't make this stuff up. We liberals often accuse folks like Kristol of mindlessly advocating military action all the time, no matter what. But we're exaggerating, aren't we? Nobody literally wants to unleash an air campaign just to see what happens. Nobody just casually ignores the possible drawbacks. That's ridiculous! Why do we insist on juvenile caricatures like this?</p> <p>I don't know. Why do we?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:45:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 259231 at http://www.motherjones.com White Privilege? What White Privilege? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/white-privilege-what-white-privilege <!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 from the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-charles-belk-beverly-hills-police-apologzie-20140826-story.html" target="_blank">annals of criminal justice in America:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Beverly Hills police officials said Tuesday that it was "extremely unfortunate" that officers handcuffed and detained an African American film producer who was in the city to attend a pre-Emmy party.</p> <p>Producer Charles Belk "matched the clothing and physical characteristics" of a suspected bank robber when he was pulled over by officers on Friday evening....&ldquo;Hey, I was &lsquo;tall,&rsquo; &lsquo;bald,&rsquo; a &lsquo;male&rsquo; and &lsquo;black,&rsquo; so I fit the description.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Come on, Charles! Buck up. Mistakes can happen. I'm sure the Beverly Hills PD would have treated a white guy who fit the description of a bank robber exactly the same way. In fact, I'll bet this happens <a href="http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/8/27/6074253/bill-oreilly-white-privilege" target="_blank">all the time to Bill O'Reilly.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:54:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 259226 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: The Federal Deficit Is In Pretty Good Shape These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/chart-day-federal-deficit-pretty-good-shape-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You already know this&mdash;don't you?&mdash;but just to refresh your memories, here's the <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45653" target="_blank">latest projection</a> of the federal deficit from the Congressional Budget Office. As you can see, <em>for the entire next decade</em> CBO figures that the deficit will be running at a very manageable 3 percent of GDP, right in line with historical averages. Be sure to show this to all your friends who are consumed with deficit hysteria. There's really not much reason to panic about this.</p> <p>Now, CBO's forecast doesn't take into account future booms or busts in the economy, since they can't predict those. And as the chart makes crystal clear, <em>that's</em> what causes big changes in the deficit. It's the economy, stupid, not runaway spending. When times are good, the deficit shrinks. When times are bad, it gets worse. If you really want to avoid big deficits in the future, stop obsessing about cutting spending on the poor, and instead spend some time obsessing about economic policies that will help grow the economy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_deficit_august_2014.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 5px 3px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:51:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 259221 at http://www.motherjones.com