Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/05/admin/categories.php/login.php http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Book Review: Beijing Bastard http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/book-review-beijing-bastard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/beijingbastard_250x300_0.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Beijing Bastard</strong></p> <p>By Val Wang</p> <p>GOTHAM BOOKS</p> <p>In her drifter memoir of leaving home in order to find it, Chinese American author <a href="http://www.valwang.com/" target="_blank">Val Wang</a> struggles between head and heart as she tries to make a living&mdash;and a life&mdash;in Beijing, burdened by the expectations of her forebears yet buoyed by the spirit of youth. In the process, she shows us a China full of contradictions: at once glamorous and grungy, ancient and modern, ambitious and loafing.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books China Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:30:08 +0000 Lei Wang 261411 at http://www.motherjones.com Silly String Is Illegal Hereā€”But Only on Halloween http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/silly-string-hollywood-halloween-ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Halloween is finally here! It's time to celebrate macabre mischief, ghouls and gluttony, and of course, tricks and treats. But there's one scary alliterated substance you should steer clear of&mdash;especially if you are in Hollywood. On the streets of Tinseltown, getting caught with Silly String is considered a <a href="http://laist.com/2008/10/30/use_silly_string_in_hollywood_get_a.php" target="_blank">serious offense</a>&mdash;but only on Halloween.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/64238_10152586259158141_652358509800269198_n%20%281%29_0.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Signs have been posted across Hollywood </strong>Photo taken by Gil Riego</div> </div> <p>Generically called "<a href="http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/silly-string.htm" target="_blank">aerosol string</a>," Silly String is basically brightly colored plastic propelled from an aerosol can. Like confetti but for terrible people, its primary purpose is to annoy or to instantly reveal who the most obnoxious person at a party is. Both sticky and slimy, it is hard to clean up, <a href="http://www.jogtheweb.com/run/5SMpQKr1pOj6/fun-and-games" target="_blank">is bad for the environment</a>, and&mdash;surprise!&mdash;can be <a href="https://www.childrensdmc.org/upload/docs/silly_string.pdf" target="_blank">dangerous if you eat it</a>.</p> <p>As awful as Silly String is most days, it is apparently more awful on Halloween. That's why, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/31/national/31string.html?_r=0" target="_blank">in 2004</a>, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge sponsored an ordinance to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/31/national/31string.html?_r=0" target="_blank">outlaw the stuff</a> for one night only. City officials were sick of cleaning it up, and dealing with the brawls they said were provoked by Silly String sprayings. More than 100,000 people flock to Hollywood to celebrate Halloween and the Silly String remediation costs were <a href="http://www.lapdonline.org/october_2004/news_view/20641" target="_blank">said</a> to exceed $200,000.</p> <p>So, starting at midnight last night and extending until noon tomorrow, should you happen to cross the threshold into the LAPD's <a href="https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/ca/LosAngeles/Municipal/chapter05.pdf" target="_blank">Hollywood Division's jurisdiction</a>, you better not be packing any String.</p> <p>Specifically:</p> <blockquote> <p>No Person, as defined in Municipal Code Section 11.01(a), shall possess, use, sell or distribute Silly String at, within or upon any public or private property that is either within public view or accessible to the public, including, but not limited to, public or private streets, sidewalks, parking lots, commercial or residential buildings, places of business, or parks within the Hollywood Division during Halloween.</p> </blockquote> <p>The ordinance comes with a pretty heavy set of un-silly sanctions. Just carrying a can of Silly String could get you charged with a misdemeanor, slapped with a $1,000 fine, and jailed for as long as 6 months. That's a stiffer penalty than you'll get for misdemeanor <a href="http://www.losangelesmedicalmarijuanalawyer.com/Drug-Crimes/Marijuana-Penalties.aspx" target="_blank">pot possession</a> ($100 fine), <a href="http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=200920100AB1675" target="_blank">breaking into a zoo enclosure</a> ($250 fine), <a href="http://www.shouselaw.com/cycling-biking-under-influence.html" target="_blank">bicycling</a> or <a href="http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fgc&amp;group=02001-03000&amp;file=3000-3012" target="_blank">hunting while drunk</a> ($250 and $500, respectively). It's more on par with <a href="http://www.shouselaw.com/petty-theft.html" target="_blank">petty theft</a>, and more severe mayhem like <a href="http://www.shouselaw.com/drunk-in-public.html" target="_blank">being disorderly while drunk</a> or <a href="http://www.shouselaw.com/furnishing-alcohol-minor.html" target="_blank">getting minors drunk</a>.</p> <p>So while you are free to spray away in most places today (litter ordinances permitting), why not do everyone a favor and take a hint from Hollywood? Just keep it in the can.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:20 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 263581 at http://www.motherjones.com PATRIOT Act Warrants Used More For Drugs Than For Terrorism http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/patriot-act-warrants-used-more-drugs-terrorism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The PATRIOT Act gave federal agents expanded powers to issue search warrants without informing the targets of the warrant beforehand. Why? Because terrorism investigations were special: they'd fall apart if terrorists received warning that they were being investigated. So with terrorism suddenly a far bigger priority after 9/11, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sneak_peek_warrants.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">national security required that authority for these "sneak-and-peek" warrants be broadened.</p> <p>A few days ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation <a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/peekaboo-i-see-you-government-uses-authority-meant-terrorism-other-uses" target="_blank">tallied up the known figures for sneak-and-peek warrants:</a></p> <ul><li>2001-03: 47</li> <li>2010: 3,970</li> <li>2011: 6,775</li> <li>2012: 10,183</li> <li>2013: 11,129</li> </ul><p>That's quite an increase. So did terrorism investigations skyrocket over the past decade? Not so much. It turns out that hardly any of these warrants were used in terrorism cases. Instead, they were virtually all used in narcotics cases&mdash;as the chart on the right shows. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/10/29/surprise-controversial-patriot-act-power-now-overwhelmingly-used-in-drug-investigations/?hpid=z4" target="_blank">Radley Balko draws the right lessons from this:</a></p> <ul><li>Assume that any power you grant to the federal government to fight terrorism will inevitably be used in other contexts.</li> <li>Assume that the primary &ldquo;other context&rdquo; will be to fight the war on drugs.</li> <li>When critics point out the ways a new law might be abused, supporters of the law often accuse those critics of being cynical &mdash; they say we should have more faith in the judgment and propriety of public officials. Always assume that when a law grants new powers to the government, that law will be interpreted in the vaguest, most expansive, most pro-government manner imaginable. If that doesn&rsquo;t happen, good. But why take the risk? Why leave open the possibility? Better to write laws narrowly, restrictively and with explicit safeguards against abuse.</li> </ul><p>There's no reason laws like this can't be drawn properly in the first place. Sure, some terrorism cases involve narcotics, but that's a poor excuse. If terrorism is genuinely involved, law enforcement officers have plenty of opportunity to convince a judge of that. A properly-constructed statute won't get in their way.</p> <p>This goes for the NSA as well as the FBI, by the way. If they need broadened surveillance powers to fight terrorism&mdash;and perhaps they do&mdash;a narrowly-drawn statute won't hurt them. If they object to this, every one of us should wonder why.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:13:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 263676 at http://www.motherjones.com CNN Is Now Just Like the National Enquirer http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/cnn-now-just-national-inquirer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Earlier today I was idly flipping channels on the TV and came upon a CNN chyron informing me breathlessly that Chuck Hagel had just "blasted" President Obama's Syria policy. Unfortunately, I came in at the end of the segment, so I didn't get to find out just what kind of blasting Hagel had done. But it certainly sounded ominous.</p> <p>I just now remembered this, and figured I should take a look at the news to see what had happened. But that wasn't so easy. Every front page I checked had bupkis about Hagel. Finally I went to the source: CNN. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/30/politics/hagel-starr-syria-memo-white-house/index.html" target="_blank">Here's what they say:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Earlier this month, while on an trip to Latin America to discuss climate change, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sat down and wrote a highly private, and very blunt memo to National Security Advisor Susan Rice about U.S. policy toward Syria.</p> <p>It was a detailed analysis, crafted directly by Hagel "expressing concern about overall Syria strategy," a senior U.S. official tells CNN. The official directly familiar with the contents declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.</p> <p>....The focus of the memo was <strong>"we need to have a sharper view of what to do about the Assad regime,"</strong> the official said. The official refused to provide additional details, but did not disagree with the notion that Hagel feels the U.S. is risking its gains in the war against ISIS if adjustments are not made.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's it? Hagel wrote an internal memo suggesting that we should have a "sharper view" of what to do about Assad? And some sympathetic White House official kinda sorta agreed that Hagel felt we might be in trouble if "adjustments" aren't made?</p> <p>I swear, watching cable news is like reading the <em>National Enquirer</em> these days: big, blasting headlines that turn out, when you read the story, to mean absolutely nothing. That's ten minutes of my life that I'll never get back. Thanks, CNN.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Media Fri, 31 Oct 2014 01:52:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 263671 at http://www.motherjones.com GDP Increases at Not-Bad 3.5 Percent Rate in 3rd Quarter http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/gdp-increases-not-bad-35-rate-third-quarter <!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_gdp_2014_q3.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today's economic news is fairly good. GDP in the third quarter <a href="http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm" target="_blank">grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate,</a> which means that the slowdown at the beginning of the year really does look like it was just a blip. Aside from that one quarter, economic growth has been pretty robust for over a year now.</p> <p>At the same time, inflation continues to be very low, which you can take as either good news (if you're an inflation hawk) or bad news (if you think the economy could use a couple of years of higher inflation).</p> <p>We could still use some higher growth after five years of weakness, but at least we're providing a bit of a counterbalance to Europe, which appears to be going off a cliff at the moment. Count your blessings.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:29:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 263641 at http://www.motherjones.com Will Snow Ruin Your Halloween? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/10/will-snow-ruin-your-halloween <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow forecasr" class="image" src="/files/snow-forecast-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The snow forecast from today through the weekend. This data represents a worst-case scenario; there's a 95 percent change there will be less snow than this. </strong>National Weather Service</div> </div> <p>Happy Halloween! Hope you have a good costume lined up that isn't this horrible <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/stupidest-halloween-thing-ever" target="_blank">"sexy Ebola nurse"</a> one. Anyway, this year the weather seems pretty determined to mess with your trick-or-treating plans: We've already seen <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/pumpkin-prices_n_5996726.html" target="_blank">pumpkin prices spike</a> thanks to the ongoing drought in California. And now it seems that a snowstorm is headed for the Midwest and East Coast. But fear not: It's unlikely that the goblins and witches in NYC, DC, and other eastern cities will get hit too hard tomorrow night.</p> <p>The map above is the <a href="http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/pwpf/wwd_percentiles.php?ftype=percentiles&amp;fpd=72&amp;ptype=snow" target="_blank">most recent snow accumulation forecast</a> from the National Weather Service, a prediction of how many inches of snow are expected to fall between today and Sunday. It looks worse than it probably will be; this is the 95th-percentile estimate, meaning snowfall is 95 percent likely to be less severe than what is shown here. AccuWeather <a href="http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/east-faces-cold-halloween-stor/36303863" target="_blank">has a good map</a> showing the trajectory of snowfall over the weekend, as it moves from the Appalachians on Friday up to Maine by Sunday. And the Weather Channel has a useful daily breakdown <a href="http://www.weather.com/sports-rec/below-zero/halloween-weekend-snow-first-flakes-northeast-great-lakes-20141027" target="_blank">here</a>. The upshot is that Midwesterners should plan to bundle up, and Mainers could have snow by the end of the weekend, but East Coasters don't need to worry too much about snow-proofing their Halloween costumes.</p> <p>That said, even without snow it could still be cold and blustery, as our friend Eric Holthaus at <em>Slate </em><a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/10/29/halloween_snowstorm_looks_increasingly_likely_for_the_eastern_u_s.html" target="_blank">points out</a>. The <a href="http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/goeseastconuswv.html" target="_blank">NASA satellite imagery</a> below depicts the Nor'easter currently straddling the eastern seaboard, which the latest NOAA forecast says will bring "much colder weather" and possibly some showers by Saturday. So whatever <a href="http://www.bustle.com/articles/41999-13-sexy-halloween-costumes-so-ridiculous-its-confusing-including-sexy-carrots-hamburgers-elephants-and-more" target="_blank">ridiculous "sexy" costume</a> you decide to wear tomorrow, probably pack a sweater.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow halloween" class="image" src="/files/snow-halloween.gif"><div class="caption">NASA</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:11:24 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263621 at http://www.motherjones.com Chris Christie Needs to Rehearse His Lines Better http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/chris-christie-needs-rehearse-his-lines-better <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Paul Waldman comments on Chris Christie's <a href="http://prospect.org/article/christie-2016-vote-me-or-ill-punch-you-right-your-stupid-face" target="_blank">latest outburst against a heckler:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>My favorite part is how Christie keeps calling him "buddy" (reminded me of this). Now try to imagine what would happen if Barack Obama shouted "Sit down and shut up!" at a citizen. Or almost any other prominent politician, for that matter; commentators would immediately start questioning his mental health. But even though it's been a while, shouting at people was how Chris Christie became a national figure talked about as a potential presidential candidate in the first place....If you stand<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/CaqK7w9SzT0" style="margin: 26px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>up at a town meeting and ask him an impertinent question about something like the state budget, he'll shout you down (to the cheers of his supporters).</p> <p>Here are a few ways to explain this pattern of behavior:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>This is a calculated way of showing that he's a Tough Guy, which Christie knows Republicans love</li> <li>This is just who Christie is, and if nobody was around he'd still be picking fights with people</li> <li>Both 1 and 2</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>I lean toward number 3. It isn't just play-acting, because Christie obviously gets sincerely pissed off when he's challenged by people he thinks are beneath him. At the same time, he's a smart enough politician to know that the cameras are on, and there's some benefit to reinforcing the persona he has created.</p> </blockquote> <p>I admit that this is mostly just curiosity on my part, since Christie's act long ago got nearly as stale as Sarah Palin's. But take a look at the video. Unlike Waldman, I vote for No. 1. To me, Christie appears entirely under control. I don't doubt that there's some real annoyance there (even a Vulcan would get annoyed at your average heckler), but overall Christie's response gives the impression of being practically scripted. There are even a couple of instances where Christie seems like he forgot his lines and hurriedly tosses them in before heckler guy goes away and ruins his chance to get off his best zingers.</p> <p>So vote in comments. Is it real anger, or has it just become a well-rehearsed schtick by now? In this case, at least, I vote for schtick.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:44:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 263616 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Anita Sarkeesian Explain Gamergate's "Attacks on Women" and Convince Colbert He's a Feminist http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/anita-sarkeesian-colbert <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/embed/mgid:arc:video:colbertnation.com:0cae72d8-cc8c-48eb-a21d-0f322090facb" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p>Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist critic at the center of the Gamergate controversy, appeared on <em>T<a href="http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/wr7hqq/gamergate---anita-sarkeesian" target="_blank">he Colbert Report</a></em> last night to explain the sexual harassment issues rampant in the gaming world and why women aren't going to just accept a "separate but equal" community.</p> <p>"Women are perceived as threatening because we are asking for games to be more inclusive," Sarkeesian said. "We are asking for games to acknowledge that we exist and that we love games."</p> <p>But as recent disturbing events have shown, many gamers are not pleased with Sarkeesian's work and have been launching extremely violent messages against her and her supporters via social media. Earlier this month, Sarkeesian was forced to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/10/gamergate-explained" target="_blank">cancel a speaking engagement</a> after an anonymous email threatened to stage the "deadliest mass shooting in American history" if she spoke.</p> <p>Speaking to Colbert on Wednesday, she went on to reject the defense that&nbsp;Gamergate is actually about ethics in video game journalism.</p> <p>"That is sort of a compelling way to reframe the fact that this is actually an attack on women," she said."Ethics in journalism is not what's happening in any way. It's actually men going after women in really hostile, aggressive ways. That's what Gamergate is about. it's about terrorizing women for being involved in this industry."</p> <p>For more a deeper dive into the Gamergate controversy, check out our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/10/gamergate-explained" target="_blank">excellent explainer.</a></p> <p><em><strong>Correction:</strong> A previous version of this story erroneously quoted Sarkeesian in the headline. This has since been corrected.&nbsp; </em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Sex and Gender gamergate Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:35:46 +0000 Inae Oh 263601 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's What Democrats and Republicans Are Afraid Of http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/heres-what-democrats-and-republicans-are-afraid <!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/2014/10/30/clowns-are-twice-as-scary-to-democrats-as-they-are-to-republicans/" target="_blank">Wonkblog regales us this morning</a> with the chart on the right, which summarizes a recent <a href="http://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2014/10/21/fear-factors-why-are-people-afraid/" target="_blank">Chapman University survey</a> about what we're afraid of. Basically, it suggests that Democrats are more afraid of things than Republicans. This goes against the conventional wisdom a bit, and it especially goes against the conventional wisdom in the "strangers" category. Supposedly, liberals are <em>more open</em> to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_chapman_survey_democrat_fear.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 28px 0px 15px 30px;">strangers and outsiders than conservatives, but this survey suggests the opposite.</p> <p>So that's interesting. But what's probably more interesting is the cause of all this fear. Here's what the researchers say are the prime causes of fear:</p> <ul><li>Low education</li> <li>Talk TV</li> <li>True Crime TV</li> </ul><p>These all make sense. People with low levels of education tend to be poor and to live in poor areas. I don't know why they're so afraid of clowns, but it makes perfect sense that they'd have relatively high levels of economic anxiety as well as fears for their personal safety. As for talk TV, that makes sense too. "It is a simple, straight-line effect," the researchers says. "The more one watches talk TV, the more fearful one tends to be."</p> <p>So turn off the doofus TV, OK? And tell your friends and family to turn it off too. It's making our lives worse.</p> <p>And for the record, the rest of the survey suggests that Democrats tend to be afraid of crime, pollution, and man-made disasters. Republicans tend to be afraid of today&rsquo;s youth, the government, and immigrants.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:33:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 263606 at http://www.motherjones.com "Wild-Caught," Eh? 30 Percent of Shrimp Labels Are False http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/10/are-you-sure-shrimp-wild-caught <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Shrimp is America's favorite seafood&mdash;<a href="http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/homepage_stories/09_13_12_top_seafood_consumed.html">we eat more of it than any other kind, by a wide margin</a>. And the tasty crustacean still (more or less) thrives near our ample shores&mdash;from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf to the Carolinas. That's why it's deeply weird that 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from often-fetid farms in Southeast Asia, which tend to <a href="http://phys.org/news/2012-02-tiny-shrimp-giant-carbon-footprint.html">snuff out productive mangrove ecosystems</a> and have a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/06/did-slave-process-shrimp-your-scampi">sketchy </a><a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/17/walmarts-human-trafficking-problem">labor record</a>. But it gets worse. Even when we do try to choose wild-caught US shrimp, we're often fooled. That's the message of a <a href="http://www.oceana.org/shrimpfraud" target="_blank">new report</a> by the ocean-conservation group Oceana.</p> <p>The researchers sampled 143 shrimp products from 111 grocery stores and restaurants in Portland, Ore., New York City, Washington D.C., and along the Gulf of Mexico, and subjected them to DNA testing. Result: 30 percent of them were misrepresented on labels.</p> <p>They found the most deception in New York City, where 43 percent of the samples from supermarkets and restaurants proved to be misleadingly labeled. Of those, more than half were "farmed whiteleg shrimp disguised as wild-caught shrimp." Oof. D.C. shrimp eaters have also have cause for doubt about what's being served them: Supermarkets there showed better than in ones in New York, but nearly half of shrimp samples from D.C. restaurants turned up mislabeled.</p> <p>Even in the Gulf, still the site of a robust shrimp fishery despite the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/shrimp-eyeless-gulf">occasional cataclysmic oil spill</a> and <a href="http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/10/21/corn-belt-pollution-louisiana-shrimp-and-oysters-pay-the-price/">vast annual dead zones</a> from agricultural runoff, the researchers found that "over one-third of the products labeled as 'Gulf' shrimp were farmed." On the other hand, "nearly two-thirds of the samples simply labeled as 'shrimp' were actually wild-caught Gulf shrimp," the report states, "possibly a missed marketing opportunity for promoting domestically caught seafood."</p> <p>Only Portlandia emerged virtually unscathed from Oceana's scrutiny: Just one sample in 20 turned out to be mislabeled&mdash;a dish presented as &ldquo;wild Pacific shrimp&rdquo; turned out to be farmed.</p> <p>Beyond rank mislabeling, the report also reveals that consumers indulge their shrimp habit from within a generalized information void. "The majority of restaurant menus surveyed did not provide the diner with any information on the type of shrimp, whether it was farmed/wild or its origin," Oceana found. As for supermarkets, "30 percent of the shrimp products surveyed in grocery stores lacked information on country-of-origin, 29 percent lacked farmed/wild information and one in five did not provide either.</p> <p>This overriding lack of transparency does more than lull us into accepting an inferior product. As Paul Greenberg argues in his brilliant 2014 book <em>American Catch,</em> it also makes our coastal areas&mdash;home to 40 percent of the US population&mdash;vulnerable to climate change.</p> <p>That's because treating treasures like the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery as an afterthought allows us to disregard the ecosystems that make them possible: the region's wetlands, which are vanishing at the rate of <a href="http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3164/">one football field-sized chunk per hour,</a> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/us/louisiana-agency-to-sue-energy-companies-for-wetland-damage.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;_r=1&amp;">largely under pressure from the oil industry</a>. These coastal landscapes don't just provide nurseries for shrimp and other seafood; they also provide critical buffers against the increasingly violent storms and rising sea levels promised (and already being triggered) by a changing climate. Greenberg argues that a revival of interest in US-caught shrimp could rally support for wetland restoration, "conjoining of the interests of seafood and the interests of humans."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:44:45 +0000 Tom Philpott 263561 at http://www.motherjones.com Meet Another GOP Candidate Who's Pretending He's Pro-Choice http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/oregon-governor-richardson-abortion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XioMqqN9upQ?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Over the past few weeks, a number of Republican candidates have run deceptive advertisements or used sneaky language to paper over their hardline views on reproductive rights. Pols who've done this include <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/scott-walker-wisconsin-governor-ban-abortion-rape-incest" target="_blank">Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker</a>, Senate hopeful Scott Brown in New Hampshire, and Colorado <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/beauprez-abortion-choice-colorado-governor" target="_blank">gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez</a>. Now you can add another name to the list of pro-life GOPers who are suddenly talking about choice: Oregon's Dennis Richardson.</p> <p>Richardson, a Republican state representative running for governor, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XioMqqN9upQ" target="_blank">cut an ad</a> (watch it above) featuring a self-described "pro-choice Democrat" named Michelle Horgan. Speaking directly into the camera, Horgan says: "I trust Dennis. He'll uphold Oregon's laws to protect my right to choose, and he'll work hard for Oregon families."</p> <p>The language in Richardson's ad&mdash;"He'll uphold Oregon's laws to protect my right to choose"&mdash;hews closely to the rhetoric used by <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/scott-walker-wisconsin-governor-ban-abortion-rape-incest">Walker</a>, <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/08/scott-brown-defends-pro-choice-record-responding-jeanne-shaheen-attack/BarZghZjJ9Se1qffEg87pI/story.html">Brown</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/beauprez-abortion-choice-colorado-governor">Beauprez</a>. All of those Republicans have previously sought to restrict women's reproductive rights (Walker supports eliminating <em>all</em> abortions). But during this election season, they have each tried to strike a moderate tone on the issue.</p> <p>Richardson's ad is particularly brazen given his <a href="http://flashalert.net/news.html?id=3856" target="_blank">long record</a> of opposing abortion rights. He wrote <a href="http://ppao.typepad.com/Dennis%20Richardson%201990%20Letter.pdf" target="_blank">a letter to the </a><a href="http://ppao.typepad.com/Dennis%20Richardson%201990%20Letter.pdf" target="_blank"><em>Oregonian</em></a><em> </em>in 1990 saying that "a woman relinquishes her unfettered right to control her own body when her actions cause the conception of a baby." As a state legislator, he <a href="https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Reports/2005SummaryOfLegislation.pdf" target="_blank">sponsored</a>&nbsp;legislation to give&nbsp;unborn fetuses the rights of humans&nbsp;and <a href="https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Reports/2005SummaryOfLegislation.pdf" target="_blank">to require</a>&nbsp;parental notification for abortions. In 2007, he <a href="https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2007R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2700/Enrolled" target="_blank">voted against</a> mandating that hospitals offer emergency contraception to women who have been sexually assaulted.</p> <p>What's more, Richardson has the <a href="http://ortlpac.org/pro-life-candidate-list.html">endorsement</a> and full-throated support of Oregon Right to Life, the state's main anti-abortion-rights group. Oregon Right to Life's PAC has donated $80,000 to Richardson's campaign. (Right to Life's $50,000 check in September remains the fourth-largest cash contribution of Richardson's entire campaign.) In an email blast to its list, the group touted Richardson as "an excellent gubernatorial candidate" who, if elected, would offer the "opportunity to reclaim political ground and hopefully start changing the way Oregon politics treat the abortion issue. We might actually be able to end our 'reign' as the only state in America lacking a single restriction on abortion."</p> <p>No mistaking that message: In Richardson, the pro-life community sees an opportunity to finally start curbing abortion access in the state of Oregon. But you probably won't see that message in Richardson's campaign ads any time soon.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Health Care Reproductive Rights Top Stories Campaign Trail 2014 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:37:41 +0000 Andy Kroll 263506 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 30, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/were-still-war-photo-day-october-30-2014 <!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>The USS George HW Bush travels through the Gulf of Aden after supporting strike operations in Iraq and Syria. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_1_1414679081622_1596">(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:28:55 +0000 263596 at http://www.motherjones.com Let a White Man Walking Around NYC Show You Just How Glorious Life Can Be http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/white-man-walking-around-nyc <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Think women are the only ones subjected to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/watch-new-york-woman-get-catcalled-108-times-less-one-day" target="_blank">relentless, demeaning catcalling</a>? You're wrong. The young white men in this world have it equally tough. After all, with so many unsolicited job offers, free Chipotle, and genuinely well-intentioned high-fives being forced onto men, how could anyone even suggest the notion of privilege these days? See what we mean below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://www.funnyordie.com/embed/8aeb78deb2" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <div style="text-align:left;font-size:x-small;margin-top:0;width:640px;"><a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/8aeb78deb2/10-hours-of-walking-in-nyc-as-a-man" title="'from FOD News">10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man </a> - watch more <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/" title="on Funny or Die">funny videos</a><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=138711277798&amp;href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.funnyordie.com%2Fvideos%2F8aeb78deb2%2F10-hours-of-walking-in-nyc-as-a-man&amp;send=false&amp;layout=button_count&amp;width=150&amp;show_faces=false&amp;action=like&amp;height=21" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:90px; height:21px; vertical-align:middle;"></iframe></div> <p><a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/articles/ebf5e34fc8/10-hours-of-walking-in-nyc-as-a-man" target="_blank"><em>(h/t Funny or Die)</em></a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:03:15 +0000 Inae Oh 263591 at http://www.motherjones.com Book Review: Faster, Higher, Stronger http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/book-review-faster-higher-stronger <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fasterhigherstronger_250x300_1.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Faster, Higher, Stronger</strong></p> <p>By Mark McClusky</p> <p>HUDSON STREET PRESS</p> <p>Speed-skating super-suits, motion-tracking cameras, the 10,000-hour rule&mdash;it's all covered in Mark McClusky's engrossing look into how athletes use science to avoid injury, train smarter, and shatter rec&shy;ords. McClusky, the editor of <a href="http://www.wired.com/" target="_blank"><em>Wired.com</em></a> and a former <a href="http://www.wired.com/" target="_blank"><em>Sports Illustrated </em></a>reporter, digs into vaguely familiar terms like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VO2_max" target="_blank">VO2 max</a> and the <a href="http://www.ohio.edu/people/schwiria/bios446/EPOC%20O2%20deficit%20Summary.pdf" target="_blank">oxygen deficit</a> to suss out what separates champs from near-misses while introducing a roster of entertaining characters: a Soviet hammer-throw guru, a Wall Street analyst turned cycling star, and even a British physiologist pursuing hyperfitness back in the 1920s. The book has useful lessons for weekend warriors, but ultimately, McClusky writes, "the greatest athletes are born, and then made."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Sports Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:30:04 +0000 Ian Gordon 261416 at http://www.motherjones.com These Maps of California's Water Shortage Are Terrifying http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/10/caliifornia-groundwater-withdrawal-china-india-middle-east <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just how bad is California's water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state's ongoing and epochal drought:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-28%20at%204.36.15%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption">Images by J.T. Reager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, from "The Global Groundwater Crisis," <em>Nature Climate Change, </em>November 2014, by James S. Famiglietti</div> </div> <p>The maps come from a <a href="http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n11/full/nclimate2425.html" target="_blank">new paper</a> in <em>Nature Climate Change</em> by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. "California's Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011," he writes. That's "more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually&mdash;over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley."</p> <p>Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe's aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.</p> <p>More than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it's also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.</p> <p>The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: "Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned."</p> <p>The Central Valley boasts some of the globe's fastest-depleting aquifers&mdash;but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe's largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, "underlie the world's great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-28%20at%204.45.32%20PM_0.png"></div> <p>The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer&mdash;a magnificent water resource <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/09/corn-and-beef-sucking-high-plains-dry" target="_blank">now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains</a>. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley's aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/population/la-fg-population-matters-india-water-20120726-m-html-htmlstory.html" target="_blank">Punjab, India's breadbasket and the main site </a>of that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/08/green-revolution-cullather" target="_blank">irrigation-intensive agricultural "miracle" known as the Green Revolution</a>, which industrialized the region's farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China's key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the <a href="http://grist.org/article/table/" target="_blank">water table there has been dropping steadily for years</a>.</p> <p>All of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we're siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, "groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades." As for regulation, it's minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there's a "veritable groundwater 'free for all': property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater."</p> <p>And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What's left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, "inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers," Famiglietti writes&mdash;a situation already playing out in California's Central Valley, where some<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/23/us-usa-drought-widerimage-idUSKCN0IC1ZJ20141023" target="_blank"> low-income residents have seen their wells go dry</a>. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees&mdash;the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.</p> <p>All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth&mdash;so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti's piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: Essentially, let's carefully measure the globe's groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, "further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Food and Ag Top Stories Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 263461 at http://www.motherjones.com Most Latinos Don't Hold Obama's Immigration Delay Against Him http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/most-latinos-dont-hold-obamas-immigration-delay-against-him <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is just raw data, and I suppose you can take it two ways, but here's what <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/2014/10/29/latino-support-for-democrats-falls-but-democratic-advantage-remains/" target="_blank">a new Pew poll</a> says about supposed Latino outrage over President Obama's decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the election. Basically, the whole thing was overblown. It turns out that only about 9 percent of Latinos are angry about the delay. David Lauter summarizes <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-latino-poll-20141029-story.html" target="_blank">the rest of the survey:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Pew survey showed that Latino support for Democrats has receded on a couple of key measures, including party identification and a question about which party better represents their interests. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_latino_executive_action.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">But the decline was modest, <strong>noticeable mostly by contrast with very high levels of support achieved in 2012,</strong> when Obama won reelection.</p> <p>....Asked which party &ldquo;has more concern for Latinos,&rdquo; half named the Democrats and 10% said Republicans, with just over one-third saying they saw no difference. On that question, too, the Democrats&rsquo; standing has dropped from a high point reached during Obama&rsquo;s reelection, <strong>but only to the level that prevailed during most of his first term.</strong> The Republican standing has not changed significantly.</p> </blockquote> <p>Roughly speaking, Latino support for Democrats has dropped a bit from the sky-high levels of the 2012 campaign, when Republicans featured a presidential candidate who pandered to his tea-party base by refusing to support immigration reform and chattering instead about "self-deportation." But Latino support has only dropped to about the same levels it had before then. In other words, not much has changed.</p> <p>Obama made a mistake when he hinted that he might take immigration action before the election. That was politically inept, and sure enough, it sparked a revolt among Democratic Senate candidates running in red states. When Obama was forced to backtrack, it was a temporary embarrassment&mdash;but that's all it was. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that most Latinos understand politics just as well as everyone else, and don't really hold Obama's actions against him. They know perfectly well why Obama did what he did, and they know perfectly well that Obama will probably keep his promise after the election.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Obama Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:28:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 263586 at http://www.motherjones.com Film Review: Life Itself http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/film-review-life-itself-roger-ebert <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/z4SgwBRq-fU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Life Itself</strong></p> <p>KARTEMQUIN FILMS</p> <p>There's a scene early in <em>Life Itself</em> when a hospitalized Roger Ebert, missing his lower jaw after multiple surgeries for thyroid cancer, needs his throat suctioned. The camera holds steady as Ebert winces through the procedure, but then an email box pops up on the screen. "great stuff!!!!!" types Ebert, no longer able to speak. "I'm happy we got a great thing that nobody ever sees: suction." Director Steve James (<em>Hoop Dreams</em>, <em>The Interrupters</em>) blends an intimate end-of-life story with Ebert's wide-ranging biography: precocious college newspaper editor, recovering drunk, screenwriter of the schlocky <em>Beyond the Valley of the Dolls</em>, friend and critic of Hollywood's biggest names. But for all of Ebert's exploits, it's the private moments James captures, like his increasingly brief email responses as cancer slowly wins out, that endure.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:31:53 +0000 Ian Gordon 259076 at http://www.motherjones.com Book Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/book-review-secret-history-wonder-woman <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/wonderwoman_250x300.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Secret History of Wonder Woman</strong></p> <p>By Jill Lepore</p> <p>Alfred A. Knopf</p> <p>If <a href="http://www.dccomics.com/characters/wonder-woman" target="_blank">Wonder Woman</a>'s status as a feminist icon was ever in question, Jill Lepore's deeply researched tribute puts that to rest. Lepore, a <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/jill-lepore" target="_blank"><em>New Yorker</em> staffer</a> and <a href="http://scholar.harvard.edu/jlepore/home" target="_blank">Harvard historian</a>, delivers a trove of private documents belonging to the character's creator, William Moulton Marston. Her discoveries shed light not just on Marston's notable life&mdash;Harvard scholar, failed lawyer, co-inventor of the polygraph&mdash;but on the rich history of women's rights and how it plays out in his colorful panels.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sex and Gender Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:24:38 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 261446 at http://www.motherjones.com Attack Ad Accuses Democratic Governor of Wanting to Set a Mass Murderer Free http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/colorado-death-penalty-bob-beauprez-nathan-dunlap-rga-attack-ad <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A man's life literally hangs in the balance in this year's governor's race in Colorado. As I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/colorado-death-penalty-john-hickenlooper-nathan-dunlap-beauprez" target="_blank">explained</a> earlier this month, Republican candidate Bob Beauprez has singled out a death row inmate by name and promised to ensure that he will be killed. "When I'm governor, Nathan Dunlap will be executed," Beauprez has said.</p> <p>Dunlap was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for murdering four of his Chuck E. Cheese coworkers. But when his execution date neared last year, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a stay, though he refrained from offering permanent reprieve. Hickenlooper backed capital punishment in his 2010 campaign, but has since <a href="http://kdvr.com/2014/08/18/in-interview-hickenlooper-offers-new-anti-death-penalty-stance-light-support-for-keystone/" target="_blank">become an opponent</a>, citing studies demonstrating the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, the cost of executions, and evidence showing it is inconsistently applied. The governor has also expressed qualms about Dunlap's mental illness and regrets jurors expressed about the case after sentencing.</p> <p>The Republican Governors Association has joined Beauprez's cause in criticizing Hickenlooper for keeping Dunlap alive. The RGA recruited the father of one of Dunlap's victims to star in an ad and call Hickenlooper a "coward" who should be voted out of office. "There's not a day that goes by, I don't think about her,"&nbsp;Dennis O&rsquo;Connor says, looking right at the camera. "You thought you got your day in court and your justice, and I feel most of us were robbed of that."</p> <p>Here's the ad, which the RGA has <a href="http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2014/10/26/death-row-nathan-dunlap-john-hickenlooper-colorado-governor/114650/" target="_blank">reportedly</a> backed with $2 million worth of airtime:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/0Ez2rdtpluI" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Hickenlooper's campaign <a href="http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2014/10/27/hickenlooper-death-penalty-nathan-dunlap-rga/114699/" target="_blank">has called foul</a>, saying the ad should <a href="http://kdvr.com/2014/10/27/back-on-tv-in-colorado-rga-attacks-hickenlooper-with-tough-dunlap-ad/" target="_blank">be pulled</a> for airing false information. At one point the ad suggests that Hickenlooper might "set him free." While Hickenlooper has said he would consider making the temporary reprieve permanent if he loses the race, that would just keep Dunlap off death row and reduce his sentence to life in prison. Hickenlooper isn't about to set Dunlap free to roam the streets of Denver.</p> <p><em>The Denver Post</em>, which is cited as the source for the RGA's disputed claim, <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_26817226/dunlap-full-clemency-ad-abandons-reality" target="_blank">published an editorial</a> on Tuesday calling the ad's claims "preposterous" and misleading. As the editorial board wrote, "The article in question says no such thing about the possible release of Dunlap, no doubt because freedom for Dunlap is unthinkable."</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Prisons death penalty Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:11:42 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 263541 at http://www.motherjones.com After Supreme Court Decision, Patent Trolls Getting Cold Feet? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/after-supreme-court-decision-patent-trolls-getting-cold-feet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A few months ago, in <em>Alice v. CLS Bank</em>, the Supreme Court struck a modest blow against patent trolls. The court ruled that merely programming a computer to carry out a well-known process isn't enough to qualify for a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_patent_troll.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">patent. There has to be more to it.</p> <p>So how has that affected the patent troll business? Joff Wild reports on a new analysis of <a href="http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=2ed9b209-0487-45a9-950f-c73db181dab3" target="_blank">third-quarter patent litigation activity:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>According to the research, which covers the third quarter of this year (June to September), <strong>there was a 23% drop in the number of suits filed compared to the second quarter,</strong> and a 27% year-on-year reduction.</p> <p>The findings come just weeks after data released by Lex Machina showed that there had been a 40% fall in patent suits in September 2014 as compared to the same month in the previous year....The data shows that [the decline] can be almost completely explained by a drop-off in NPE suits in the high-tech sector. Litigation initiated by operating companies fell by just 19 quarter on quarter, <strong>but actions launched by NPEs dropped by 301, from 885 in Q2 to 554&nbsp;&mdash; a fall of 35%.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>An NPE is a "non-practicing entity"&mdash;that is, a company that doesn't actually make use of a patent in a product of its own, but has merely purchased it for the purpose of strong-arming payments out of other users. In other words, a patent troll. So what these numbers show is that generic patent litigation fell a bit in Q3, but that patent troll litigation fell by a lot.</p> <p>It's too early to jump to conclusions about this, but it seems reasonable that this decline is at least partly related to <em>Alice</em>. This is good news, though <a href="http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/10/some-goods-news-on-patents.html" target="_blank">Alex Tabarrok sensibly warns</a> that before long there will probably be an uptick in patent suits as people learn the new system. So hold off on the cheering.</p> <p>Still, we'll take good news where we can get it, and this is a step in the right direction. It will be even better if <em>Alice</em> is a sign that the Supreme Court plans to rein in the federal circuit court that handles patents, which in recent years seems to have been <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/5/27/5753866/the-real-problem-with-the-federal-circuit" target="_blank">far more friendly</a> toward software patents than the Supreme Court ever intended. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Supreme Court Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:13:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 263536 at http://www.motherjones.com In NSA Bills, the Devil Is in the Details http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/nsa-bills-devil-details <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Patrick Leahy says that his USA FREEDOM bill will stop the NSA's bulk collection of phone data. H.L. Pohlman says <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/29/ending-bulk-data-collection-nice-idea-wrong-bill/" target="_blank">it's not quite that easy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) issued in January 2014, the Obama administration defined &ldquo;bulk collection&rdquo; as the acquisition &ldquo;of large quantities of signals intelligence data which . . . is acquired without the use of discriminants (e.g., specific identifiers, selection terms, etc.).&rdquo; <strong>Thus, as long as the government uses a &ldquo;discriminant,&rdquo; a selection term, no matter how broad that term might be, the government is not engaged in a &ldquo;bulk collection&rdquo; program.</strong></p> <p>....The USA FREEDOM Act does not guarantee, then, that the government&rsquo;s database of telephone metadata will be smaller than it is now. It all depends on the generality of the selection terms that the government will use to obtain metadata from the telephone companies. And we don&rsquo;t know what those terms will be.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a longstanding issue that's been brought up by lots of people lots of times. It's not some minor subtlety. If the government decides to look for "all calls from the 213 area code," that's not necessarily bulk collection even though it would amass millions of records. It would be up to a judge to decide.</p> <p>If and when we get close to Congress actually considering bills to rein in the NSA&mdash;about which I'm only modestly optimistic in the first place&mdash;this is going to be a key thing to keep an eye on. As the ACLU and the EFF and others keep reminding us, reining in the NSA isn't a simple matter of "ending" their bulk collection program. The devil is truly in the details, and tiny changes in wording can literally mean the difference between something that works and something that's useless. Or maybe even worse than useless. As Pohlman points out, if you choose the right words, the NSA could end up having a freer hand than they do today. This is something to pay close attention to.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:35:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 263526 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 29, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/were-still-war-photo-day-october-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 and sailors board a flight out of Afghanistan as all personnel withdraw from the region. <span class="meta-field photo-desc ">(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. John Jackson)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:57:53 +0000 263511 at http://www.motherjones.com Benjamin Netanyahu, "Chickenshit" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/benjamin-netanyahu-chickenshit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jeffrey Goldberg has an, um, unique new perspective on the steadily deteriorating relationship between President Obama and <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-crisis-in-us-israel-relations-is-officially-here/382031/?single_page=true" target="_blank">Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and &ldquo;Aspergery.&rdquo;....<strong>But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a &ldquo;chickenshit.&rdquo;</strong> I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn&rsquo;t have a full understanding.</p> <p>....&ldquo;The good thing about Netanyahu is that he&rsquo;s scared to launch wars,&rdquo; the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. &ldquo;The bad thing about him is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Netanyahu.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">that he won&rsquo;t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.&rdquo;</p> <p>....I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. <strong>This official agreed that Netanyahu is a &ldquo;chickenshit&rdquo; on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he&rsquo;s also a &ldquo;coward&rdquo; on the issue of Iran&rsquo;s nuclear threat.</strong> The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran&rsquo;s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal.</p> <p>....Another manifestation of his chicken-shittedness, in the view of Obama administration officials, is his near-pathological desire for career-preservation. Netanyahu&rsquo;s government has in recent days gone out of its way to a) let the world know that it will quicken the pace of apartment-building in disputed areas of East Jerusalem; and b) let everyone know of its contempt for the Obama administration and its understanding of the Middle East.</p> </blockquote> <p>Netanyahu has always been a petty, small-minded pol, endlessly maneuvering to hold together his fragile and equally small-minded band of parochial coalition partners. As one of Goldberg's sources puts it, "The only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He's not Rabin, he's not Sharon, he's certainly no Begin. He's got no guts."</p> <p>Goldberg believes that the American-Israeli relationship is finally at a crossroads, largely driven by the personal loathing Obama and Netanyahu have for each other. We've heard this before, of course, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, Netanyahu's open contempt for Obama, along with his obvious unwillingness to show even a pretense of interest in a peace process, might really be taking things to a breaking point. The whole thing is worth a read.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:10:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 263501 at http://www.motherjones.com An Unmanned NASA Rocket Just Exploded After Liftoff http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/nasa-antares-rocket-explode-video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>NASA's Antares rocket was supposed to resupply the International Space Station but it exploded shortly after liftoff tonight.The rocket was unmanned, thank God.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>BREAKING: NASA's unmanned Antares rocket blows up on liftoff <a href="http://t.co/ONwkblwDnB">pic.twitter.com/ONwkblwDnB</a></p> &mdash; NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/NBCNightlyNews/status/527224575546114048">October 28, 2014</a></blockquote> <p>Here's video from the live stream:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jHMmMgdcOSU?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The rocket was owned by Orbital Sciences but was contracted by NASA to stock the space station. The company told the <em><a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SCI_SPACE_STATION?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">Associated Press</a></em> that no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:39:32 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 263481 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Do Republicans Hate the Beatles? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/why-do-republicans-hate-beatles <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-data-science/politics-and-culture-on-facebook-in-the-2014-midterm-elections/10152598396348859" target="_blank">Over at the Facebook Data Science blog,</a> Winter Mason shows us how personal likes and dislikes line up with political ideology. Democrats like Maya Angelou, <em>The Color Purple</em>, and <em>The Colbert Report</em>. Republicans like Ben Carson, <em>Atlas Shrugged</em>, and <em>Duck Dynasty</em>. It's all good fun, though I'm a little mystified about why the Empire State Building is such a Democratic-leaning tourist destination. Maybe Republicans just dislike anything related to New York City.</p> <p>But it's music that I want some help on. I get that country tends to be right-leaning and Springsteen is left-leaning. But what's up with the Beatles being so distinctively associated with liberals? It's no secret that I know squat about music, so help me out here. No snark. I thought the Beatles had long since ascended into a sort of free-floating state of pop elder statehood where they were beloved of all baby boomers equally&mdash;and pretty much everyone else too. What do I not know that accounts for continuing Republican antipathy toward the moptops?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_music_ideology.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Music Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:17:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 263476 at http://www.motherjones.com