Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Watch Stephen Colbert Give Great, And Completely Unironic, Advice to Teen Girls <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"><br></iframe></p> <p>Stephen Colbert's wife of two decades, Evelyn McGee-Colbert, once <a href="" target="_blank">told Oprah</a> she didn't like his TV alter-ego&mdash;someone she calls "that other guy." In this video, as he offers advice to teenage girls wearing a plaid button-down and thick-framed hipster glasses, he's definitely left the other guy behind.</p> <p>When Loretta, 14, asks why some guys are jerks, he says to confront them (they may just be trying, badly, to get her attention), but also:</p> <blockquote> <p>For this kind of thing to stop, boys have to be educated. Does our society educate boys to be misogynistic? It probably doesn't value girls and women as much as it should, and boys probably see that as a signal that they can get away with things like devaluing women.</p> </blockquote> <p>For Maria, 19, who asks how you can tell when someone likes you, he ends up defining love: when someone thinks "your happiness is more important than their happiness." And cookies. "Cookies are also a really good sign that somebody likes you."</p> <p>The video is part of the girl-positive <a href="" target="_blank">Rookie Magazine</a>'s series "Ask a Grown Man." Earlier last year, Rookie's fashionista founder, then 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, was the <a href="" target="_blank">youngest person ever</a> to appear on The Colbert Report, where she gave the self-proclaimed "pear-shaped" Colbert style suggestions and called him a "Cool Dad" (capitals hers).</p> <p>At the time, Colbert&mdash;a father of three, including 18-year-old Madeleine&mdash;wasn't thinking of dispensing sage advice for Rookie. Instead he proposed a dad-inspired magazine project in which he would veto pictures of teen girls' skin-baring outfits in a column called "You're Not Wearing That."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Sat, 02 Aug 2014 00:05:35 +0000 Lei Wang 257576 at Obama: "We Tortured Some Folks" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>On Friday, President Obama said that some of the things the United States did after 9/11 <a href="" target="_blank">were indeed acts of torture</a>. <em><a href="" target="_blank">National Journal </a></em>has the full quote:</p> <blockquote> <p>Obama also addressed post-9/11 America in remarks about the Central Intelligence Agency. "We tortured some folks," he said. "We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this."</p> </blockquote> <p>This isn't the <a href="" target="_blank">first time</a> Obama has said that the US tortured people but the usage of "folks" immediately set tongues wagging. Presumably it's because "folks" is far more humanizing than "detainees" or "enemy combatants".&nbsp; The US did torture people (real flesh-and-blood human people) after 9/11, and it's good that Obama says so&mdash;even if he was just trying to get off the topic of his <a href="" target="_blank">CIA admitting to spying on Congress</a>.</p> <p>For a long time it was incredibly controversial to call "enhanced interrogation" torture. It's a sign of progress that no one batted an eye at the "torture" bit and instead focused on the "folks" part. To their credit, even conservatives have come around to using the dreaded T word. Just kidding. Conservatives are freaking out:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I am stunned our President just said "we tortured" people from the podium. This is a PR victory for our enemies. Make it stop. Make it stop.</p> &mdash; Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) <a href="">August 1, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Typical week in the Obama Administration: conservatives labeled &lsquo;a**holes&rsquo; terrorists labeled &lsquo;folks&rsquo;</p> &mdash; Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) <a href="">August 1, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Barack Obama is an inexperienced "celebrity" community organizer/campaigner-in-chief who won't stop apologizing for America and was only elected president because of <a href="" target="_blank">The Decemberists.</a></p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Human Rights Obama Top Stories Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:58:44 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 257551 at Friday Cat Blogging - 1 August 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Domino's new favorite snoozing spot is the closet in our master bedroom. Naturally, knowing that everyone would want to be kept up to date on this development, I took a picture. Unfortunately, it turns out that cameras need a stream of photons to work properly, and the inside of a closet doesn't have many. So all I got were a bunch of black blurs. Soon enough, though, Domino saw the camera and came out. So I followed her over to the water dish, and eventually took a picture there. Even with plenty of help from Mr. Photoshop, however, it wasn't very good either. So I waited. Eventually, Domino went back into the closet and curled up, and this time I took some pictures with the flash.</p> <p>Which picture to use? I hate flash pictures. I especially hate them when they basically lie&mdash;making a dark closet look brightly lit, for example. But the other picture was pretty lousy. Decisions, decisions. In the end, I opt for lousy but honest. Let's call it "Still Life With Two Cats" just to make it seem a little more refined. Like Domino.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_08_01.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:00:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 257536 at John Brennan Needs to Leave the CIA, One Way or Another <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>What's going on with the CIA hacking into Senate computers? Here's a very brief, very telescoped timeline to get you up to speed:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>2009:</strong> The Senate Intelligence Committee begins working on an investigation of CIA torture during the Bush administration. Then CIA Director Leon Panetta secretly orders a parallel internal review.</p> <p><strong>December 2012:</strong> The Senate finishes a draft of its report and submits it to the CIA for review and declassification.</p> <p><strong>March 2013:</strong> John Brennan takes over from David Petraeus as CIA director.</p> <p><strong>June 2013:</strong> The CIA issues a blistering response to the Senate report, vigorously disputing its conclusions that the CIA routinely engaged in brutal torture of detainees.</p> <p><strong>December 2013:</strong> Sen. Mark Udall reveals the existence of the "Panetta Review"&mdash;actually a series of memos&mdash;written at the same time Senate staffers were collecting material for their report. He suggests that it "conflicts with the official C.I.A. response to the committee&rsquo;s report." In plainer English: the CIA lied about what its own review concluded.</p> <p>The CIA, apparently under the impression that Senate staffers had gotten access to the Panetta Review improperly&mdash;and had removed copies from their secure reading room at CIA headquarters&mdash;hacks into the computers used by Senate staffers. As part of their secret investigation, they read emails and do a keyword search to find out how the Senate staffers had gotten access to the memos. No one on the Senate is aware of any of this.</p> <p><strong>January 2014:</strong> The CIA presents the results of its investigation to the Senate Intelligence Committee and accuses its staffers of misconduct. They also refer the matter to the FBI for criminal investigation.</p> <p><strong>March 2014:</strong> Sen. Dianne Feinstein launches a <a href="" target="_blank">blistering attack</a> on the CIA for hacking into the Senate computers in violation of an explicit agreement that they wouldn't do so. Brennan counterattacks vigorously. "As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth," he says.</p> <p><strong>Yesterday:</strong> The CIA inspector general releases a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> admitting that Senate staffers had done nothing wrong and that five CIA staffers did indeed hack into Senate computers. In other words, Brennan was very badly mistaken in March when he loudly insisted that nothing of the sort had happened.</p> </blockquote> <p>So then: The CIA lied about the conclusions of its own internal review. The Senate found out about this. The CIA then hacked into Senate computers to find out how they had discovered the incriminating evidence. Then they lied again, denying that they had done this. David Corn lays out two possible explanations for Brennan's <a href="" target="_blank">misleading statements in March:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Either he knew that his subordinates had spied on the Senate staffers but had claimed otherwise, or he had not been told the truth by underlings and had unwittingly provided a false assertion to the public. Neither scenario reflects well upon the fellow who is supposed to be in-the-know about the CIA's activities&mdash;especially its interactions with Congress on a rather sensitive subject.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nope. Either way, he ought to resign or be fired. This is simply not excusable behavior in a public official.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Crime and Justice Foreign Policy Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:43:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 257526 at Should Pundits Apologize More Often? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Dan Drezner:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One norm I&rsquo;d really like to see emerge is pundits admitting error and apologizing when they get things wrong, and Frum did that.&nbsp; But I&rsquo;m curious what other norms, if any, should be strengthened among the pontificating class.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd dissent slightly from this. Should pundits do a better job of admitting when they get things wrong? Sure. Who can argue with that? But should they apologize? I'm not so sure. Being wrong isn't a sin, after all, especially for someone in the business of offering up opinions. I'd be happy to see a bit more self-reflection about what caused the error, but there's no need for an apology.</p> <p>Now, Drezner wrote this in the context of David Frum's allegation that a <em>New York Times</em> photo had been faked, which turned out to be untrue. This is obviously a case that calls for an apology since Frum accused someone of wrongdoing. But that's a bit different from simply being wrong in an analytic or predictive way. That kind of error, as long as it's honest, deserves some reflection, but not an apology.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:55:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 257516 at Opposition to Obamacare Suddenly Spiked in July <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest news on Obamacare from the Kaiser Family Foundation: it suddenly became a <a href="" target="_blank">lot more unpopular in July:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_unfavorable_july_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>So what happened? I can't think of any substantive news that was anything but good, so I figure it must have been the Hobby Lobby decision. Did that turn people against Obamacare because they disapproved of the decision? Or because it reminded them that Obamacare pays for contraceptives? Or what? It's a mystery, all the more so because every single demographic group showed the same spike. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all spiked negative. The rich and the poor spiked negative. The young and the old spiked negative. Ditto for men, women, whites, blacks, and Hispanics. It's a little hard to figure out why the Hobby Lobby decision would have affected everyone the same way, but I can't think of anything else that happened over the past month that could have caused this. It certainly wasn't John Boehner's lawsuit, and I very much doubt it was the Halbig decision.</p> <p>So it's a bit of a puzzler&mdash;though perhaps another chart explains it. It turns out that in conversations with family and friends, people have heard bad things about Obamacare more than good things by a margin of 27-6 percent. Likewise, they've seen more negative ads than positive by a margin of 19-7 percent. Roughly speaking, the forces opposed to Obamacare continue to be louder and more passionate than the forces that support it. I don't think that's actually changed much recently, so it probably doesn't explain the sudden spike in July's polling. But it might explain part of it.</p> <p>Or, it might just be a statistical blip. Who knows?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:16:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 257511 at Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in July <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="" target="_blank">added 209,000 new jobs in March,</a> but about 90,000 of those jobs were needed just to keep up with population growth, so net job growth clocked in at 119,000. The headline unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.2 percent.</p> <p>The jobs number is a little lower than expected, and continues to show that the recovery is weak. On the bright side, the unemployment number increased not because more people were out of work, but because more people were entering the labor force. It's basically not a negative sign. <a href="" target="_blank">As Jared Bernstein says:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is some evidence that the all-important labor force participation rate may be stabilizing. It rose a tenth last month to 62.9%, but has wiggled between 62.8% and 62.2% since last August. If the firming job market has in fact arrested the decline in this key metric of labor supply, it will be an important and favorable sign.</p> </blockquote> <p>Overall, the economy still appears to be dog paddling along. GDP growth is OK but not great; jobs growth is OK but not great; and wage growth is positive but not by very much. More and more, this is starting to look like the new normal.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_july_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 8px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:22:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 257506 at Watch Drought Take Over the Entire State of California in One GIF <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-36f40aff-8db7-54ad-b673-8f3e77369c0d">California, the producer of half of the nation's </span><a href="">fruits, veggies</a>, and <a href="">nuts</a>, is experiencing its third-worst drought on record. The dry spell is expected to cost the state billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, and farmers are digging into <a href="">groundwater supplies</a> to keep their crops alive. We've been keeping an eye on the drought with the <a href="">US Drought Monitor</a>, a USDA-sponsored program that uses data from soil moisture and stream flow, satellite imagery, and other indicators to produce weekly drought maps. Here's a GIF showing the spread of the drought, from last December 31&mdash;shortly before Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency&mdash;until July 29.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CA_DROUGHT_PUB_1_sec.gif"></div></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Food and Ag Top Stories Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Julia Lurie, AJ Vicens, and Alex Park 257461 at First Indochina War Ended 60 Years Ago [Photo] <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/HD-SN-99-02043-630.jpg"></p> <div class="caption"><strong>A wounded Vietminh prisoner is given first aid by Franco Vietnamese medicals after hot fire fight near Hung Yen, south of Hanoi, 1954. </strong>US Department of Defense</div> </div> <p>On this date in 1954 the first Indochina War officially ended. After a long war in Viet Nam, culminating in the nearly four month battle of Dien Bien Phu, the French withdrew under the the Geneva Acccords. That agreement also also divided Viet Nam along the 17th parallel under the condition that a unification election would be held two years later. When elections didn't happen as planned, the communist Viet Minh fought to reclaim the South, which eventually drew the United States deeper into the fight between the Communists and Western-backed South Vietnamese government.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/HD-SN-99-02041-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A French Foreign Legionnaire goes to war along the dry rib of a rice paddy, during a recent sweep through communist-held areas in the Red River Delta, between Haiphong and Hanoi. Behind the Legionnaire is a U.S. gifted tank, 1954. </strong>US Department of Defense</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Foreign Policy Military Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Mark Murrmann 257346 at California Projects Very Modest Obamacare Rate Hikes in 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Good news from the Golden State!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Defying an industry trend of double-digit rate hikes, California officials said the more than 1.2 million consumers in the state-run Obamacare insurance exchange <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_california_obamacare_increases_2015_small.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">can expect modest price increases of 4.2% on average next year.</p> <p>...."We have changed the trend in healthcare costs," said Peter Lee, Covered California's executive director. "This is good news for Californians."....State officials and insurers credited the strong turnout during the first six-month enrollment window that ended in April for helping to keep 2015 rates in check.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's still early days for Obamacare, and it's not yet clear if it deserves credit for keeping California's rate hikes low. It may instead be due to the recent slow growth of medical costs nationally. Nonetheless, this is a very positive sign. California is a big market, and it's one that's traditionally seen steep rate hikes in the individual insurance market. At the very least, we can certainly say that conservative predictions of catastrophically high rate increases thanks to Obamacare have turned out to be groundless. Again.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 01 Aug 2014 05:30:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 257501 at Feds Say Big Banks Are Still Too Big to Fail <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Six years after the financial crisis, the largest US banks are likely still too-big-to-fail, according to a study <a href="" target="_blank">released</a> Thursday afternoon by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That means that these massive financial institutions are still so important to the wider financial system that they can expect the government to bail them out again if they are close to collapse.</p> <p>Even though the GAO study found that this advantage banks enjoy dropped off significantly in 2013, "this is a continuing issue," Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who has introduced legislation aimed at ending bank bailouts, <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Bloomberg</em> Thursday</a>. "Too-big-to-fail is not dead and gone at all. It exists."</p> <p>During the financial crisis, the government forked out $700 billion to bail out the nation's biggest banks. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act imposed new requirements on Wall Street designed to prevent this from happening again. The law gave federal Wall Street regulators more authority to dismantle failing financial institutions, mandated that banks hold more emergency funds on hand, and required banks to submit to yearly stress tests to ensure that they can withstand another crisis.</p> <p>How effective these measures have been in ending too-big-to-fail is still an open question, and <a href="" target="_blank">subject to heated debate</a> in the halls of Congress. <a href="" target="_blank">Other</a> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> have found that even after Dodd-Frank, big banks still enjoy a huge advantage over smaller, community banks in terms of lower borrowing rates, thanks largely to the perception that they can't fail. Many investors believe the government will still bail out large, systemically important banks if they are again faced with collapse, whereas the economy can afford to lose a local bank or two. As a result, the biggest US banks benefited from a $70 billion too-big-to-fail subsidy in 2012, according to a March <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> by the International Monetary Fund.</p> <p>Sen. Vitter, as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and John McCain (D-Ariz.) have introduced legislation that attempts to truly end big bank bailouts by <a href="" target="_blank">forcing banks to hold larger emergency reserves</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">shrinking the size of massive Wall Street firms</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Corporations Economy Regulatory Affairs Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:06:12 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 257456 at John Boehner's Lawsuit Against Obama Is Perfectly Reasonable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've made this point before, but I'd like to make it again: Exactly <em>why</em> is John Boehner's lawsuit against President Obama so frivolous? I don't mean this in a strictly legal sense. It may be that the suit fails immediately for lack of standing.<sup>1</sup> Or that the merits of this particular case don't hold water. We can let the lawyers battle that out.</p> <p>Politically, though, what's wrong with asking a court to decide if a federal agency has overstepped the will of Congress in its execution of the law? The answer, of course, is: nothing. People do it all the time, hundreds of times a year. The <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_US_Capitol_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">only difference here is that a house of Congress is doing it. But why does that suddenly make it frivolous?</p> <p>It could be that you think courts should stick to their traditional practice of staying neutral in "political" disputes between branches of the government. That's fine. But it's not an argument that's gotten much air time. You might also think it sets a bad precedent. But again, I'm not hearing that. Instead, the argument seems to be that this suit is simply absurd on its face, an idiotic piece of grandstanding by the Republican Party.</p> <p>There's no question that it's a piece of grandstanding. Nor that House Republicans could be making better use of their time. And yes, it's obviously deeply politically motivated. But that doesn't mean it's frivolous. So once again: why is it that suing a federal agency over its interpretation of a law suddenly becomes ridiculous just because Congress does it?</p> <p>I'm open to good arguments on this score. Go ahead and convince me.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>I hope not, though. I understand why standing is important,<sup>2</sup> but I'm unhappy that there seem to be a fair number of colorably important cases in which it's all but impossible to find someone with standing to sue. That's just not right.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>Honest, I really do.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Obama Thu, 31 Jul 2014 23:24:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 257491 at Microsoft Loses Another Round in E-Mail Privacy Case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">The latest in the privacy wars:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A federal court in New York ruled Thursday that Microsoft must comply with a U.S. search warrant to turn over a customer&rsquo;s e-mails held in a server overseas.</p> <p>....A number of tech firms and privacy advocates have joined [Microsoft] in arguing that if the government prevails and can reach across borders, it will cause foreign individuals and businesses to flee to their non-U.S. competitors. <strong>Microsoft also argued that the United States would not be in a position to complain when foreign governments do the same and insist on access to e-mail content stored in the country.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Hmmm. How <em>would</em> we feel if, say, an Egyptian court demanded that Microsoft turn over emails stored on a server in California? Hmmm.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:08:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 257481 at Yes, the CIA Spied on the Senate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier this year, CIA Director John Brennan accused staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee of removing classified material from the CIA office where they were researching a report on the agency's use of torture during the Bush administration. This turned out to be very poor tradecraft on Brennan's part, since it implicitly revealed the fact that the CIA was spying on Senate staffers even though it wasn't supposed to. Brennan tried to mount a suitably aggressive counterattack to Senate outrage over this, <a href=";ihp=1" target="_blank">but today it all came crashing down:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency&rsquo;s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.</p> <p>....The statement represented an admission to charges by the panel&rsquo;s chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that the CIA intruded into the computers her staff used to compile the soon-to-be released report on the agency&rsquo;s use of harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons during the Bush administration.</p> <p>CIA Director John Brennan briefed Feinstein and the committee&rsquo;s vice chairman, Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, on the CIA inspector general&rsquo;s findings and apologized to them during a meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Boyd said.</p> </blockquote> <p>I find that my reaction remains one of schadenfreude. Dianne Feinstein and the rest of the Intelligence Committee seem to be mostly unconcerned with the omnipresent surveillance apparatus constructed by the US intelligence community, so it's hard to feel very sorry for them when they learn that this apparatus is also sometimes directed at Senate staffers. If this affair had persuaded a few senators that maybe our intelligence chiefs are less than totally honest about what they do, it might have done some good. But it doesn't seem to have done that. With only a few exceptions, they're outraged when the CIA spies on <em>them</em>, but that's about it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Congress Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:43:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 257451 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 31, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division participate in a training mission in Florida. <span class="meta-field photo-desc ">(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Callaway.)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:12:25 +0000 257426 at Why American Politics Is Broken In One Sentence <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Dave Weigel explains modern politics <a href="" target="_blank">in a single sentence:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Voters are aware of a border crisis, they are aware that Barack Obama is president&mdash;they blame him for nothing getting done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. Republicans can basically do anything they want and never get blamed for it. Most voters don't even know who's in control of Congress anyway. When something goes wrong, all they know is (a) something went wrong, and (b) Barack Obama is the president and he should have done something about it.</p> <p>That being the case, what incentive do Republicans have for making things go right? Pretty much none. This is, roughly speaking, a fairly new insight, and it explains most of what you need to know about American politics in the Obama era.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Obama Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:06:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 257421 at The Feds Are Demanding That Twitter Turn Over More User Info Than Ever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>US law enforcement and intelligence agencies are hitting Twitter with more information requests about its users than ever before, and in most cases the social network is handing over some data, according to a new <a href="" target="_blank">report released by the company</a> on Thursday. Twitter notes that many of the government demands, which are typically related to criminal investigations, are originating from <a href="" target="_blank">California, New York, and Virginia. </a>They're coming from federal, state, and local law enforcement and intelligence officials, a Twitter spokesman says.</p> <p>Like <a href="" target="_blank">several other tech companies</a>, Twitter releases transparency reports disclosing information about the government requests for user data it has received. According to the latest report, between January 1 and June 30, Twitter received just over 2,000 requests for information covering about 3,100 Twitter accounts from authorities in 54 countries, with about 1,250 of those requests coming from US agencies. That's a sharp increase from the previous six months, when there were about 1,400 requests, around 830 of those from the US. According to the Twitter spokesman, US authorities have placed more information requests over the last six months than the company has ever received in a similar timeframe.</p> <p>While Twitter granted zero requests to some countries that requested information recently, such as Turkey, Venezuela, and Pakistan, the social network handed over at least some information in 72 percent of the cases when US authorities requested it.</p> <p>While the social network can report a tally of law enforcement-related requests, the social network is barred by the US government from publishing the specific number of national security-related requests&mdash;such as <a href="" target="_blank">national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders</a>&mdash;it has received. Twitter <a href="" target="_blank">notes</a> that it met with the FBI and the Justice Department earlier this year to push for more transparency.</p></body></html> MoJo Tech Top Stories Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:54:49 +0000 Dana Liebelson 257396 at This Is the Lamest Defense of GMO Foods Ever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>Over on our environment blog, Chris Mooney posts an excerpt from an interview in which Neil deGrasse Tyson <a href="" target="_blank">defends GMO foods:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"Practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food," asserts Tyson. "There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There's no wild cows...You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself, is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it's not as large, it's not as sweet, it's not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It's called artificial selection."</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a very common defense of GMO foods, but I've always found it to be the weakest, least compelling argument possible. It's so weak, in fact, that I always wonder if people who make it are even operating in good faith.</p> <p>It's true that we've been breeding new and better strains of plants and animals forever. But this isn't a defense of GMO. On the contrary, it's precisely the point that GMO critics make. We have about 10,000 years of evidence that traditional breeding methods are basically safe. That's why anyone can do it and it remains virtually unregulated. We have no such guarantee with artificial methods of recombinant DNA. Both the technique itself and its possible risks are completely different, and Tyson surely knows this. If he truly believed what he said, he'd be in favor of removing all regulation of GMO foods and allowing anyone to experiment with it. Why not, after all, if it's really as safe as Gregor Mendel cross-breeding pea plants?</p> <p>As it happens, I mostly agree with Tyson's main point. Although I have issues surrounding the way GMO seeds are distributed and legally protected, the question of whether GMO foods are safe for human consumption seems reasonably well settled. The technology is new enough, and our testing is still short-term enough, that I would continue to err on the side of caution when it comes to approving GMO foods. Still, GMO breeds created under our current regulatory regime are basically safe to eat, and I think that lefty critics of GMO foods should stop cherry picking the evidence to scare people into thinking otherwise.</p> <p>(Please send all hate mail to Tom Philpott. He can select just the juiciest ones to send along to me.)</p> <p>But even with that said, we shouldn't pretend that millennia of creating enhanced and hybrid breeds tells us anything very useful about the safety of cutting-edge laboratory DNA splicing techniques. It really doesn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Food and Ag Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:47:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 257416 at Quote of the Day: Vulture Fund Suing Argentina Is Just a Lonely Defender of the Free Market <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is fellow hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb defending Paul Singer, the billionaire owner of the vulture fund that successfully forced Argentina into default because it was insisting on <a href=";_type=blogs&amp;hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSumSmallMedia&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">full payment for old Argentine bonds:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn&rsquo;t get into fights for the sake of fighting. He believes deeply in the rule of law and that free markets and free societies depend on enforcing it.</p> </blockquote> <p>You betcha. Anytime a Wall Street tycoon is supposedly fighting for deep principles, hold onto your wallet. They don't become billionaires because of their deep commitment to fair play and the unfettered operation of capital markets. However, there's also this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The big question, however, is whether Argentina will ever pay Elliott what it wants. If the firm fails to collect, that would underscore the limits of its legal strategy. There is no international bankruptcy court for sovereign debt that can help resolve the matter. Argentina may use the next few months to try to devise ways to evade the New York court. Debt market experts, however, do not see how any such schemes could avoid using global firms that would not want to fall afoul of Judge Griesa&rsquo;s ruling.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is an interesting point. Normally, Argentina would just continue to pay the holders of its "exchange" bonds and refuse to pay the vulture funds that refused to go along with the terms of its bankruptcy and restructuring a decade ago. Elliott and the other vultures would be out of luck. The problem is that Argentina's payments are funneled through a US bank, and the judge in the case has forced US banks to halt payments.</p> <p>But in all the articles I've read about this, I've never really seen an adequate explanation of why it's so impossible to avoid funneling payments through the US. I get that Argentina can no longer use an American US bank. Also, I assume, they can't use a big global bank that does business in the US. But surely there are mid-size banks that do no business in the US that could act as payment agents? If dollars were the issue, they could pay off in euros instead. I don't know what it would take legally for Argentina to switch either payment agents or the denominations of its bonds, but it doesn't <em>sound</em> impossible. And yet apparently it is. Why?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:24:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 257401 at Gaza Conflict Divides Congressional Progressives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With the war in Gaza continuing without an end in sight, congressional leaders are <a href="">rallying</a> to condemn Hamas rocket attacks and support Israel. But members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have been divided over the conflict, with some commending Israel's military for its use of precision weapons and others outraged by the conflict&rsquo;s mounting Palestinian civilian causalities.&nbsp;</p> <p>The division was clear on July 29 when caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has visited Gaza three times since 2009 and previously <a href="" style="line-height: 24px;">condemned</a>&nbsp;the Israeli blockade of Gaza, published an <a href="">op-ed</a> in the <em>Washington Post</em> that highlighted recent Palestinian civilian casualties&mdash;including four children who were "blown up on a beach"&nbsp;by an Israeli attack. He noted that most Gaza residents "aren't rocket shooters or combatants. For the past several years they have lived in dreadful isolation. The status quo for ordinary Gazans is a continuation of no jobs and no freedom." Ellison again called for an end to Israel's blockade and urged Hamas to give up its rockets: "There is no military solution to this conflict. The status quo brings only continued pain, suffering and war." &nbsp;</p> <p>Yet this is not the consensus view within the 65-member <a href="" target="_blank">Progressive Caucus</a> that Ellison co-leads. In recent weeks, other caucus members have focused on the rocket attacks launched against Israel and lent their support to its aggressive military reaction.</p> <p>Toward the start of Israel's air campaign in Gaza, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a stalwart liberal representing Manhattan's Upper West Side, issued a <a href="">statement</a> condemning Gaza's rocket attacks and calling for the public to support Israel "to take whatever measure she deems necessary to defend the population against the attempted murder by these terrorists." Nadler attended a <a href="" target="_blank">rally</a> in front of New York's city hall with other prominent New York Democrats to express support for Israel's actions in Gaza. Two days later, on July 16,&nbsp;caucus member Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) issued a <a href="">statement</a> with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) calling for solidarity with Israel.</p> <p>"Israel has gone far beyond what we have seen any other country do trying to protect the civilian population of its enemy," Nadler said. Frankel and Deutch similarly praised the Israeli military for using "pinpoint technology to minimize any collateral damage." So far more than 800 Palestinian civilians, including 232 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza <a href="" target="_blank">as of July 30</a>.</p> <p>Last week, Progressive Caucus member Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a psychiatrist by training, condemned Israel&rsquo;s attacks on hospitals. "The proximity of military targets or the suspicion of hidden weapons and militants is an invalid excuse in the targeting of a hospital or ambulance,"&nbsp;he said in a statement.</p> <p>"You should not be put in danger in a medical situation by someone alleging that there's some reason they should attack a hospital or doctor,"&nbsp;he tells <em>Mother Jones</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>On July 18, Ellison and five other representatives&mdash;all progressive caucus members&mdash;signed a <a href="" target="_blank">letter</a> to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry calling for the White House and the State Department to "redouble your efforts" to press for a cease fire in Gaza. Contrast that to 2009, when 54 House Democrats signed a <a href="" target="_blank">letter</a> drafted by Ellison and McDermott urging the president "to work for tangible improvements to the humanitarian concerns" in Gaza.&nbsp;</p> <p>As for Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who co-chairs the caucus with Ellison, he has not said much publicly about the current war in Gaza. Although he signed the 2009 letter, he did not lend his name to the July 18 call for a cease fire. His office did not respond to requests for comment.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Foreign Policy International Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:22:20 +0000 Alex Park 257166 at British Army Officially Withdrew From Northern Ireland 7 years Ago [Photos] <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After 38 years, Operation Banner&ndash;Britian's operation in Northern Ireland&ndash;officially came to an end on July 31st, 2007. It was initially sold in 1969 as a "limited operation" by British Home Secretary Jim Callaghan but wound up being the longest continuously running operation by the British military.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP890714010.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A female catholic screams at a British soldier in Belfast on August, 14, 1989. </strong>AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP05091204525-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A burnt out digger blocks a road near the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005. Protestant extremists attacked police and British troops into a third day Monday, littering streets with rubble and burned-out vehicles in an orgy of violence sparked by anger over a restricted parade. Crowds of masked men and youths confronted police backed by British troops in dozens of hard-line Protestant districts in Belfast and several other towns. Gunmen opened fire on police and soldiers in at least two parts of the capital Sunday night, but nobody was hit. </strong>Peter Morrison/AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP720201046-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A young child, resting on a man's shoulders, holds a hanging effigy of a British soldier during a march in Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland, Feb. 1972. The rally follows the deadly shooting of 13 demonstrators by British paratroopers during the civil rights march on Jan. 30, known as Bloody Sunday. </strong>Michel Laurent/AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP05080101256-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A British soldier begins work on taking down a British Army watchtower in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, Monday, Aug. 1, 2005. Security is being downgraded and spying watch posts on hills are being removed after the recent statement by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that they were giving up the armed struggle for a united Ireland. </strong>Peter Morrison/AP</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Military Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Mark Murrmann 257266 at Film Review: "15 to Life" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">15 to Life</a></p> <p>HITPLAY PRODUCTIONS</p> <p>"Are you the same person that you were at age 14?" one of Kenneth Young's lawyers asks in <em>15 to Life</em>, a documentary challenging the ethics of sentencing kids to life in prison&mdash;a routine punishment only in America. Filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza follows Young, charged with four armed robberies as a teen, as he seeks release in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court decision limiting juvenile life sentences to kids convicted of murder. She weaves interviews with Young and his family, lawyers, and crime victims together with harrowing photographs of youthful inmates to depict a justice system that only perpetuates the sort of violence it was intended to keep in check.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in the </em><a href="" target="_blank">July/August 2014 Issue</a> <em>of </em>Mother Jones.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Film and TV Human Rights Prisons Supreme Court Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Nina Liss-Schultz 252776 at Republicans About to Blow Up Emergency Border Crisis Funding <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Obama administration is&mdash;once again&mdash;being forced to go into crisis mode to keep the government functioning because Republicans refuse to do their most basic job: appropriating money to deal with emergencies. This time it's for the <a href="" target="_blank">refugee disaster on the border:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Border agencies say their existing budgets &mdash; sapped by added costs from overtime, detention and transportation for the children, more than 57,000 of whom have arrived since October &mdash; will start running dry before lawmakers get back in September.</p> <p>Administration officials warn that the price of congressional inaction will be steep, estimating the cost of caring for each immigrant youth runs between $250 and $1,000 a day.</p> <p>"Scary," Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, said about the agencies' budget outlook.</p> <p>On Wednesday, officials at the Office of Management and Budget were putting together plans to scrounge up funds. But without congressional approval, President Obama is limited to moving around money only in small amounts. That probably means the redistribution <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Immigration_Sign.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">will touch many different programs &mdash; a distressing prospect for officials in vulnerable agencies.</p> </blockquote> <p>So why is it that Republicans can't agree on even a minimal stopgap funding bill? <a href="" target="_blank">Because Ted Cruz is grandstanding again:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;The Obama White House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll,&rdquo; said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), a vocal Cruz opponent. &ldquo;We have a chance to pass a good bill, not a perfect bill. Boehner is working hard to get to 218 votes and yet there is Ted Cruz, telling us to do nothing. If he wants to come over and run for speaker, that&rsquo;s fine, but otherwise he should stay over there in the Senate.&rdquo;</p> <p>....At a conference meeting Tuesday, Boehner announced that he would pare down his initial framework after hearing numerous complaints about its size and scope....But Steve King, Gohmert and Salmon &mdash; along with Cruz and others &mdash; want House Republicans to defund Obama&rsquo;s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which has granted temporary relief for some children of illegal immigrants and is set for renewal this fall. Boehner has resisted the idea. But late Wednesday, GOP aides said that leaders were likely to allow a vote on a standalone bill that would defund DACA before voting to approve the border spending measure. If the bill to defund DACA were to pass, it wasn&rsquo;t clear exactly how House leaders would merge the two proposals and send them to the Senate.</p> </blockquote> <p>Basically, Cruz is trying to rally House conservatives to vote against Boehner's stopgap bill unless it also kills DACA, the so-called mini-DREAM executive action that halts deportations of children who have been in the country for many years. If he succeeds, then no funding bill will pass before Congress goes on vacation. That's why the Obama folks are in crisis mode. We can't just starve the kids who have come across the border, after all, and that means Obama is once again forced to be the grown-up in the room.</p> <p>Your Republican Party at work, folks. George Washington would be proud.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Immigration Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:07:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 257386 at Watch: UN Agency Spokesman Breaks Down In Tears While Talking About Gaza School Bombing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>United Nations Relief Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness has been talking to media outlets around the world about the situation in Gaza, "advocating passionately," as he <a href="" target="_blank">puts it</a>, "for Palestine refugees to enjoy all their rights to the full, including the right to a just and durable solution." Gunness' agency runs schools in Gaza that are being used as shelters by Palestinian families and have been attacked <a href="" target="_blank">six times </a>in the current conflict (the Israeli military says it has found rockets in the schools on occasion). On Wednesday he was talking to an Al Jazeera interviewer about the most recent school bombing, which <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly left 15 dead</a>. "The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied, and it's appalling," he <a href=";" target="_blank">said</a> before breaking into tears. Watch:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:07:50 +0000 AJ Vicens 257381 at LA's Crappy Old Pipes Mean More Epic Floods Are Coming <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday at around 3:30 pm, a water main burst near the campus of UCLA in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. It <a href="" target="_blank">gushed for nearly three hours</a>, sending water as high as 30 feet into the air and flooding campus&mdash;cars' wheels were submerged, the brand-new basketball court was covered in standing water, eager students brought boogie boards. As much as <a href="" target="_blank">10 million gallons are estimated to have been lost</a>, at a rate of 38,000 gallons per minute.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/07/los-angeles-bad-pipes-epic-floods"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:38:35 +0000 Sam Brodey 257361 at