Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en This Supercut of Candidates Singing "Let's Get It On" Is Why We Love Britain During Elections <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href="/skynews/videos/vb.164665060214766/1086617241352872/?type=1"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <blockquote cite="/skynews/videos/1086617241352872/"> <p>Who could get it on after #GE2015? Watch our #GeneralAffection song to find out.Full election coverage on Sky News, May 7th from 9pm.</p> Posted by <a href="">Sky News</a> on Thursday, April 30, 2015</blockquote> </div> </div> <p>British voters head to the polls tomorrow for what promises to be a very tight election. <a href="" target="_blank">Latest polling</a> suggests the two major parties, Labour and the Conservatives, are tied near the finish line. The result is likely to be what's known as a "hung parliament". Both Labour and the Conservatives will need support from smaller parties across the spectrum to form government&mdash;among them the Scottish National Party (SNP) on the left, the Liberal Democrats somewhere around the center, and UKIP, on the right. Whomever can stitch together enough seats in parliament to win a majority will ultimately form government. If no group of parties can get to the magic number of 326 seats, Britain might well be heading back to the polls again soon to sort this whole mess out.</p> <p>Even if you're unfamiliar with British politics, the <a href="" target="_blank">video above from Sky News</a> gives a nice introduction to the main players&mdash;David Cameron (the current Conservative PM), Ed Miliband (the current opposition leader, from the Labour party), and Nicola Sturgeon, from the resurgent SNP among them. All set to Marvin Gaye's classic, "Let's Get It On". Enjoy. (And happy voting, friends across the pond.)</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video International Wed, 06 May 2015 21:36:30 +0000 James West 274871 at Dear Marvel and Sony: We Love Movies for Their Kick-Ass Female Heroes, Too, You Jerks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going.&nbsp;Today we're honored to present a post from </em>Shakesville <em>founder <a href="" target="_blank">Melissa McEwan</a>.</em></p> <p>Each time WikiLeaks posts another round of emails from the Sony hack, there is a garbage trove of misogyny: <a href="">unequal pay</a>, <a href="">gendered and racist harassment</a>, <a href="">Aaron Sorkin waxing sexist</a>, <a href="">Angelina Jolie dismissed as a spoiled brat</a>. Found among the latest collection was a dispatch from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter to Sony CEO Michael Lynton on the subject of female-centered superhero films, and if it's not exactly as awful as you're already imagining, that's possibly because it's even worse. Sent under the simple subject line "Female Movies," Perlmutter writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>Michael,</p> <p>As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.</p> <p>Thanks,</p> <p>Ike</p> <p>1. Electra (Marvel) &ndash; Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad.</p> <p>2. Catwoman (WB/DC) - Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film was a disaster.</p> <p>3. Supergirl &ndash; (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.</p> <p>Best, Ike</p> </blockquote> <p>Case closed, your honor! At <em><a href="">Women and Hollywood</a></em>, Laura Berger quite rightly notes that Perlmutter's list is highly selective and narrowly defined. "It seems fair to assume," writes Berger, "that Perlmutter is referring specifically to female superhero movies. If that's the case, why is something like 'The Hunger Games' omitted from this list? The extremely lucrative franchise is led by a woman, and while Katniss isn't technically a superheroine, she's certainly marketed as one. Isn't 'The Hunger Games' a more relevant example of how female-led films fare at the box office today than, say, 'Supergirl,' which was released <i>over 30 years ago</i>?" Emphasis original.</p> <p>At <em><a href="" target="_blank">ThinkProgress</a></em>, Jessica Goldstein shows how easily one could selectively compile a list of male-centered superhero flops if one were inclined to make the incredulous assertion, based exclusively on box office returns and not on the inherent quality of the films, that male-centered superhero films don't work.</p> <p>The three films on Perlmutter's list frankly just weren't very good. Which has to do with their female heroes only insomuch as studios don't generally dedicate equivalent creative and financial resources to female-centered superhero films, because they don't want to "waste" them on films they fear won't succeed at the box office. Thus the vicious cycle continues: Many female-centered superhero films are set up to fail, and then when one fails, the blame is directed at the women at its center, rather than the misogyny at her back.</p> <p>This is a conversation that happens around every genre of "hero" film: Superhero films, action films, fantasy films, adventure films. The wildly successful male-centered flicks get rattled off as evidence of what "works," and implicit condemnation of what (allegedly) doesn't.</p> <p>Many of the wildly successful male-centered franchises have, however, a token female character&mdash;carefully segregated from other women and girls, lest they get any ideas about taking over the world, I suppose.</p> <p>And we are ever meant to understand that all of the dedicated superfans of these films watched them because of the men, always the men. What Perlmutter and his cohort don't understand, don't consider, or simply don't care about is that there are plenty of us who watched those films for the women.</p> <p>When I watched the <em>Superman</em> series, I wasn't watching those films for Christopher Reeve; I was watching them for Margot Kidder's Lois Lane, who I was certain was the coolest woman with the most amazing voice who had ever lived. When I watched the <em>Star Wars</em> trilogy, I had zero interest in Luke; I showed up for Leia. When I watched <em>Raiders of the Lost Ark</em>, I was watching it as much for Marion as I was for Indy. When I watched <em>Dragonslayer</em> (which admittedly was a commercial flop, but later became a cult classic) over and over until I could say every line, I was all about Valerian. When I watched <em>Romancing the Stone</em>, I was cheering for THE JOAN WILDER.</p> <p>There were female heroes in my favorite films, and they were the reason I watched them. I imagine there are plenty of little girls (and little boys) who watch <em>The Avengers</em> not because of the guys, but because of the one, remarkable, exceptional (in every sense of the word) female hero in their midst. That doesn't show up in the numbers&mdash;nor, apparently, in the imaginations of the men who make creative decisions based on numbers.</p> <p>The thing about many of the films I mentioned is that they're generally regarded as <i>good movies. </i>They were made with monumental investments of care and attention. And they didn't have to be male-centered, but they got that care and attention because they were.</p> <p>What would happen if a female-centered hero were given the same mighty powers? <a href="">Welp</a>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Sex and Gender Wed, 06 May 2015 21:21:04 +0000 Melissa McEwan 274866 at The World's Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit a Staggering New Milestone <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The monthly global average concentration of carbon dioxide just broke 400 parts per million for the first time since record-keeping of greenhouse gas levels began.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#CLIMATE</a> NEWS: Global <a href="">#CO2</a> concentrations surpass 400 ppm for 1st month since records began <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NOAA (@NOAA) <a href="">May 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The milestone, reached last month, was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.</p> <p>"It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally," said NOAA scientist <a href="" target="_blank">Pieter Tans in a press release</a>. "We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone."</p> <p>Crossing the 400 ppm threshold is equal parts disheartening and alarming. Less than a decade ago scientists and <a href="" target="_blank">environmental activists,</a> including Bill McKibben, launched a campaign to convince policy makers that global CO2 concentrations needed to be reduced to 350 ppm in order to avoid massive impacts from global warming. McKibben, who co-founded the group, explained the significance of that figure in a 2008 <em>Mother Jones</em> article entitled <a href="" target="_blank">"The Most Important Number on Earth"</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>And so we're now in the land of tipping points. We know that we've passed some of them&mdash;Arctic sea ice is melting, and so is the permafrost that guards those carbon stores. But the logic of Hansen's paper was clear. Above 350, we are at constant risk of crossing other, even worse, thresholds, the ones that govern the reliability of monsoons, the availability of water from alpine glaciers, the acidification of the ocean, and, perhaps most spectacularly, the very level of the seas.</p> <p>[&hellip;]</p> <p>It's not clear if a vocal world citizenry will be enough to beat inertia and vested interest. If 350 emerges as the clear bar for success or failure, then the odds of the international community taking effective action increase, though the odds are still long. Still, these are the lines it is our turn to speak. To be human in 2008 is to rise in defense of the planet we have known and the civilization it has spawned.</p> </blockquote> <p>We're now at 400.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Wed, 06 May 2015 19:17:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274846 at Our Country's Cartoonish Gun Debate Isn't Just Idiotic—It's Really Damaging <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Kevin Drum doesn't write much about guns, which is why I'm going to <a href="" target="_blank">keep on it</a> a bit here and honor him by rolling out the red carpet for a bunch of grating <a href="" target="_blank">2A trolls</a> to stampede into the comments thread.</p> <p>How exactly is that going to honor Kevin, you ask? By underscoring what his legions of intelligent readers already know: These dudes could learn a thing or three from Kevin Drum. He's open-minded and deeply curious. He asks shrewd questions and tests his own assumptions.&nbsp;He respects data. And he's a damn fine writer&mdash;clear, to the point, and not always entirely correct but who the hell cares because he's right there chatting with you as if happy hour has come early today and the drinks are already on the table. (Godspeed, Kevin&mdash;we miss you, we're stoked that you're on the road back to full-time <a href="" target="_blank">badass blogger</a>, and we'll see you again soon.)</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Unknown.gif"></div> <p>So, to the subject at hand: Late last week, I spoke with Michael Krasny on <a href="" target="_blank">KQED's Forum</a> about our deep investigation into the economic toll from gun violence, which dings America for no less than <a href="" target="_blank">$229 billion a year</a>. (Yes, that's capital-B billion, further <a href="" target="_blank">explained visually here</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">methodologically here</a>.) The project has made waves not just for that staggering sum, but because we spent months digging up the elusive data behind it, from the personal to the societal. Yet, as listeners called into the show with questions, I was quickly reminded of just how ridiculously dumb and polarizing the gun debate really is&mdash;thanks to both sides&mdash;even in the face of groundbreaking information.</p> <p>After a former US Marine came on the air and criticized the National Rifle Association for <a href="" target="_blank">lying</a>, the next caller, another gun owner, promptly denounced him for speaking against the Second Amendment and being "full of it." (Which in this arena is basically the equivalent of <a href="" target="_blank">a puppy's kiss</a>.) That was followed by a woman who wanted to know what could be done to prevent gun manufacturers from manufacturing guns, whether "we could stop it at the source."</p> <p>And that, in a nutshell, is pretty much the state of America's gun debate. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">more</a> of it&mdash;but also some vivid stories and data from those who know gun violence firsthand:</p> <center><object height="85" width="335"><param name="movie" value=""><param name="flashvars" value="file="><embed flashvars="file=" height="85" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="335"></embed></object></center> <p>Having reported on this subject intensively for <a href="" target="_blank">the last three years</a>, I'm still not totally sure whether guns kill people or people kill people, but I'm almost certain that you can be riddled to death with inanities. (See, for the umpteenth time: "<a href="" target="_blank">Knives, baseball bats</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">hands and feet</a> kill people too!!")</p> <p>But while there are offenders at both ends of the spectrum, one side is fundamentally responsible for the enduring standoff. The NRA's power tends to be regarded as legendary in politics and in the media, though it's probably <a href="" target="_blank">overstated</a>, especially <a href="" target="_blank">nowadays</a>. Still, the gun lobby has pulled off a messaging feat decades in the making&mdash;its leaders perpetually blasting away with the idea that any discussion of guns in America can be nothing other than a brutal dichotomy. You're either a defender of constitutional liberty, their premise goes, or you're an anti-freedom "gun grabber." Barack Obama's mass seizure of law-abiding citizens' firearms may have yet to materialize six-plus years in, but the NRA is taking no chances, already preparing as it is <a href="" target="_blank">for Hillary Clinton's own nefarious plans</a>.</p> <p>More than just inciting the imagination of the NRA's political base, this construct evidently has become the default setting for the national debate. Some of the blame also falls on the gun-control movement, which expends considerable energy pontificating about how the <a href="" target="_blank">NRA</a> <a href="" target="_blank">is</a> <a href="" target="_blank">evil</a>. Of course, this bleak if cartoonish disconnect hardly reflects most Americans' attitudes about firearms, <a href="" target="_blank">gun owners included</a>.</p> <p>But it has caused some very real, very serious collateral damage, according to numerous public health experts I've spoken with. The American medical community is nearly unanimous that gun violence is <a href="" target="_blank">a serious public health threat</a>, and yet, as we detailed in the aforementioned investigation, there remains precious little research on the problem, let alone funding to do more. As Mark Rosenberg, the former director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control <a href="" target="_blank">put it</a> during another recent radio conversation, the entrenched gun debate itself carries a steep price:</p> <blockquote> <p>This is really destructive to our ability to make progress. It's posed as an "either or," and this was done by strategists working for the NRA over a long period of time. They wanted people to think that either you protect the rights of all gun owners to keep their guns, or you do research on gun violence, and that the two are diametrically opposed. And they had a zero-tolerance philosophy that said, "You can't even <em>discuss</em> research on gun violence because that leads down the slippery slope of all of us losing our guns." And that's led us into the morass where we are today.</p> </blockquote> <p>One of Rosenberg's fiercest old adversaries, former Republican Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas&mdash;who in his own words "served as the NRA's point person in Congress"&mdash;now agrees with Rosenberg. After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado (which cost that community at least <a href="" target="_blank">$100 million</a>), the two published a joint op-ed in the <em>Washington Post</em>: "We were on opposite sides of the heated battle 16 years ago," they wrote, "but we are in strong agreement now that scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners. The same evidence-based approach that is saving millions of lives from motor-vehicle crashes, as well as from smoking, cancer and HIV/AIDS, can help reduce the toll of deaths and injuries from gun violence."</p> <p>Read their whole <a href="" target="_blank">July 2012 piece</a>, look at <a href="" target="_blank">the findings</a> from our new data investigation, and you'll also begin to see&mdash;another 100,000 deaths, 250,000 injuries, and one unthinkable elementary school massacre later&mdash;just how much we still don't know.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Economy Guns The Right Top Stories Wed, 06 May 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Mark Follman 274776 at Your Winter Vegetables: Brought to You by California's Very Last Drops of Water <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>California's drought-plagued Central Valley hogs the headlines, but two-thirds of your winter vegetables come from a different part of the state. Occupying a <a href="" target="_blank">land mass</a> a mere eighth the <a href="" target="_blank">size of metro Los Angeles</a>, the Imperial Valley churns out about <a href=";fulltext=yes">two-thirds</a> of the vegetables eaten by Americans during the winter. <a href=";_livestock_reports/Crop_&amp;_Livestock_Report_2013.PDF">Major crops</a> include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and, most famously, lettuce and salad mix.</p> <p>And those aren't even the region's biggest moneymakers. Nestled in the state's southeastern corner, the Imperial Valley also produces massive amounts of alfalfa, a cattle feed, and its teeming feedlots finish some 350,000 beef cows per year.</p> <p>In terms of native aquatic resources, the Imperial makes the Central Valley look like <em><a href="">Waterworld.</a></em> At least the Central Valley is bound by mountain ranges to the east that, in good years (not the last several), deliver abundant snowmelt for irrigation. The Imperial sits in the middle of the blazing-hot Sonoran Dessert, with no water-trapping mountains anywhere nearby. It receives a whopping <a href="">3 inches of precipitation per year on average</a>; even the <a href="">more arid half</a> of the Central Valley gets 15 inches.</p> <p>The sole source of water in the Imperial Valley is the Colorado River, which originates hundreds of miles northeast, in the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains. As it winds down from its source in the snow-capped peaks of northern Colorado down to Mexico, it delivers a total of 16.5 million acre-feet of water to the farmers and 40 million consumers in seven US states and northern Mexico who rely on it. (An acre-foot is the amount it takes to flood an acre of land with 12 inches of water&mdash;about 326,000 gallons.)</p> <p>Of that total, the Imperial Valley's farms gets 3.1 million acre-feet annually&mdash;more than half of California's total allotment and more than any other state draws from the river besides Colorado. It's an amount of water equivalent to more than four times what Los Angeles uses in a year, according to figures from the <a href="">Pacific Institute</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/colorado_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The Colorado Rivers waters are so in demand that they rarely reach their endpoint in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. </strong>Map: <a href="" target="_blank">Shannon</a>/Wikimedia Commons</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because it owns senior water rights based on a <a href="">1931 pact</a>, the Imperial gets its allotments during low-flow years even when other regions see reductions. Currently, the Rocky Mountain snowpack that feeds the Colorado stands at about <a href="">44 percent of its average</a> for this time of year, <a href="">triggering fears of an impending shortfall</a>&mdash;but not for the Imperial. "Nevada, southern Arizona and Mexico will be cut back before the Imperial district loses a drop," <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> recently <a href="">reported</a>. Whereas Central Valley farmers, reliant on vanishing snowmelt from the Sierras, have seen their irrigation allotments curtailed the last two years, growers in the Imperial Valley haven't lost any water (though the Imperial Valley District did agree to sell as much as 0.2 million acre-feet of water by 2021, of its 3.1 million acre-foot allotment, to fast-growing San Diego in a <a href="" target="_blank">2003 deal</a>).</p> <p>Already, decades of intensive desert farming have had severe ecological effects, epitomized by that beleaguered inland body of water known as the Salton Sea, which sits uneasily at the Imperial's northern edge. Before the big irrigation projects that made the valley bloom, what's now the Salton periodically captured flood waters from the then-mighty Colorado River. Now it's fed solely from Imperial Valley farm runoff, and as Dana Goodyear shows in a superb recent <em>New Yorker</em> <a href="" target="_blank">piece</a>, it's slowly decaying into a toxic mess&mdash;one that could "emit as much as a hundred tons of fine, caustic dust a day, leading to respiratory illness in the healthy and representing an acute hazard for people with compromised immune systems."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Colorado's flow has proven inadequate to supply the broader region's needs. In a <a href="">paper</a> last year (my account of it <a href="">here</a>), University of California-Irvine and NASA researchers found that farmers, landowners, and municipalities are supplementing their river allocations by drawing water from underground aquifers at a much faster rate than had been known. Between December 2004 and November 2013, the Colorado Basin lost almost 53 million acre-feet of underground water, an enormous fossil resource siphoned away in less than a decade.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/STS111-E-5224.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A desert in bloom: the Imperial Valley as seen from space, from a <a href="">photo</a> taken by NASA astronauts in 2002. </strong>Photo: NASA</div> </div> <p>Consider also that the Southwest's population is on pace to <a href="">expand by a third by 2030</a>&mdash;and that the river's annual average flow is expected to decrease by anywhere from 5 percent to 18 percent by 2050, compared to 20<sup>th</sup> century averages, according to the <a href="">National Climate Assessment</a>, throttled by rising temperatures and declining precipitation.</p> <p>Thus the Imperial's titanic water allotment is looking increasingly vulnerable to challenge. Just as we probably need to <a href="" target="_blank">get used to sourcing more of our summer fruits and vegetables </a>from places beyond California's Central and Salinas valleys, the Colorado River situation makes me wonder if we shouldn't rethink those bountiful supermarket produce aisles in February, as well.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories california drought Wed, 06 May 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 274756 at The Woman Behind Texas' Muhammad Cartoon Contest Compares Herself to Rosa Parks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After two gunmen opened fire at a <a href="" target="_blank">Muhammad drawing contest </a>in Texas over the weekend, the head of the group that organized the controversial event has appeared on several television programs explaining the legitimacy of the contest.&nbsp; Today, Pamela Geller's defense reached a new height of tone-deafness when she compared herself to <a href="" target="_blank">civil rights activist Rosa Parks. </a></p> <p>Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Geller how she felt about criticism from conservatives including <a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>,&nbsp;who condemned Sunday's contest as a "taunting" tactic solely used to incite Muslims. Geller dismissed Trump's comments, saying, "He sure flaps his tongue and uses free speech and wishes to silence others. What would he have said about Rosa Parks? Rosa Parks should never have gone to the front of the bus. She&rsquo;s taunting people."</p> <p>Shocked, MacCallum responded, "No, no, no. How do you make the Rosa Parks comparison?"</p> <p>Geller refused to back down, and in fact seemed to be gaining steam, pledging she would not "abridge" her freedom for the sake of "savages"&mdash;a description she has used in past <a href="" target="_blank">anti-Islam campaigns. </a></p> <p>Insulting Donald Trump, Muslims, and the memory of Rosa Parks in one brief segment does demonstrate the unusual range of Geller's ability to be downright offensive. Who needs the <a href="" target="_blank">Southern Poverty Law Center</a> when there's material like this?</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Religion Tue, 05 May 2015 19:59:07 +0000 Inae Oh 274816 at Tales From City of Hope #13: Badass Blogger Edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>My white blood count is now up to 2.4. More importantly, my ANC level is up to 2000. ANC is the front line of my immune system, and any number above 1000 means it's working adequately. So if you're sick and you sneeze on me, you are no longer likely to kill me. You'll just give me a cold.</p> <p>So I'm basically out of the woods. But not entirely. I have months of recuperation ahead, and complete success won't be confirmed until a follow-up <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_badass_blogger.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">biopsy in 60 days. And <em>then</em> I have a difficult decision about whether I should enter maintenance therapy.</p> <p>In the meantime, one of my sister's graphic arts pals whipped up the image on the right. It is titled "Kevin the Badass Blogger" and available in a limited edition to those savvy enough to copy stuff from the internet. For extra credit: can you figure out whose body I've been shopped onto?</p> <p>And speaking of images, last night I thought I'd try to improve things around here by downloading Photoshop Express to replace the crappy freeware image editing app I've been using. So I did. But apparently PE works only with a keyboard and mouse. It has no touch support. In 2015. WTF?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 05 May 2015 17:18:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 274796 at Jessica Williams Expertly Trolls Gay Marriage Opponents With Tribute to "Hate Class of 2015" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Though divided in oral arguments, in the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in favor of gay marriage in the landmark case, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Obergefell v. Hodges</em></a>. This could signal the death knell for same-sex marriage opponents, who may soon be forced to accept a new gay-friendly law of the land.</p> <p>Realizing it may be her last chance to rub elbows with the "Hate Class of 2015,"&nbsp;<em><a href="" target="_blank">The Daily Show</a></em> correspondent Jessica Williams recently met up with opponents outside the Supreme Court to bid a fond farewell&mdash;a "wrong side of history" yearbook signing and A-plus trolling included.</p> <p><strong>Watch below: </strong></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="288" src="" width="512"></iframe> <p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b><a href="">The Daily Show</a></b><br> Get More: <a href="">Daily Show Full Episodes</a>,<a href="">The Daily Show on Facebook</a>,<a href="">Daily Show Video Archive</a></p> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Supreme Court Tue, 05 May 2015 15:30:02 +0000 Inae Oh 274786 at Today Is the 151st Birthday of All-Around Feminist Badass Nellie Bly <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today would be the 151st birthday of Elizabeth Cochran&mdash;the groundbreaking journalist better known as Nellie Bly. In 1885, Bly wrote a furious letter to a Pittsburgh newspaper denouncing a column titled "What Girls Are Good For" that described the&nbsp;working woman as a <a href="" target="_blank">"monstrosity"</a> and said that women were best suited for domestic chores.</p> <p>Impressed by Bly's letter, <em>Pittsburgh Dispatch</em> editor George Madden hired her as a full-time reporter under the pen name Nellie Bly. She was a trailblazing journalist, an unwavering champion for women and the working poor, and a brilliant muckracker. One of her most famous assignments was for the the <em>New York World</em> where she posed as a mentally ill woman and exposed the horrors of a women's asylum on Blackwell's Island.</p> <p>Bly also achieved worldwide fame with her 1889 trip around the world, which was inspired by Jules Verne's novel "Around the World in Eighty Days." She completed her journey in seventy-two days. Below is the front page of the <em>New York World</em> from January 26, 1890 and the lead article was about her record-setting trip:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="376" src="/files/AP9001261479.jpg" width="477"><div class="caption">AP</div> </div> <p>To celebrate Bly's birthday today, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's has written a&nbsp;song in her honor, which is featured in a lovely Google Doodle created by artist Katy Wu.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/doodle1.png"><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/doodle2.png"><div class="caption">Google</div> </div> </div> <p>"We gotta speak up for the ones who've been told to shut up," the lyrics go. "Oh Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules cause you're our girl."</p> <p>To check out the song and animation, skip to Google's <a href="" target="_blank">homepage here.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Sex and Gender Tue, 05 May 2015 14:27:54 +0000 Inae Oh 274781 at Obamacare Is a Boon for the Working Poor, and That's Probably Good for All of Us <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going.&nbsp;Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="" target="_blank">Andrew Sprung</a>. </em></p> <p>One thing I've always appreciated about Kevin is that his commitment to economic justice is grounded in political realism. That balance was on display in his <a href="" target="_blank">postmortem</a> on the Democrats' drubbing in November:</p> <blockquote> <p>[W]hen the economy stagnates and life gets harder, people get meaner. That's just human nature. And the economy has been stagnating for the working class for well over a decade&mdash;and then practically collapsing ever since 2008.</p> <p>So who does the WWC [white working class] take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor. In particular, the undeserving poor. Liberals may hate this distinction, but it doesn't matter if we hate it. Lots of ordinary people make this distinction as a matter of simple common sense, and the WWC makes it more than any. That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. For a lot of members of the WWC, this is personal in a way it just isn't for the kind of people who read this blog.</p> <p>And who is it that's responsible for this infuriating flow of government money to the shiftless? Democrats. We fight to save food stamps. We fight for WIC. We fight for Medicaid expansion. We fight for Obamacare. We fight to move poor families into nearby housing.</p> <p>This is a big problem because these are all things that benefit the poor but barely touch the working class.</p> </blockquote> <p>As Kevin acknowledges, this is an age-old problem for Democrats. It's "unfair" in that there's overwhelming evidence that safety-net programs like food stamps, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit "have positive effects on health, educational attainment, earnings and employment years later," as Jared Bernstein recently <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a>.</p> <p>There's no denying the perception that Kevin fingers is a political force, and it's one partly grounded in reality, in that safety net programs (for the non-elderly at least) do most directly benefit those at the bottom of the income distribution.</p> <p>The Affordable Care Act is a really stark exemplar of this good policy/tough politics conundrum. For almost its <a href="" target="_blank">entire life</a> its approval ratings have been underwater, pulled down <a href="" target="_blank">in part</a> by low marks from working class Americans. Most of the Affordable Care Act 's supporters assume that the law has remained unpopular because, as Jonathan Chait <a href="" target="_blank">put</a> it, "[Republicans'] lies got halfway around the world before the truth could get its pants on." And that's largely true. But it's also true that its impact on Americans' incomes look something like this:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/groh_0.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 354px;"></div> <p>That chart is a very <a href="" target="_blank">simplified takeaway </a>from a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> by Brookings economists Henry Aaron and Gary Burtless, one that starkly illustrates whom the ACA spends money on via premium subsidies and Medicaid benefits. It's the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution.</p> <p>Recent ACA <a href="" target="_blank">enrollment data</a> bears this out. Of the 11.7 million buyers of private health plans on the ACA exchanges, over 60 percent have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The 11 million beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion all have incomes under 138 percent FPL. Taken together, those numbers mean about 80 percent of the law's direct beneficiaries have incomes below 200 percent FPL.</p> <p>Sliced another way, about half (48 percent) of private plan buyers in the 37 states using had incomes ranging from 150 to 300 percent FPL, a more or less working class range. But more than half of those were at the lower end, 150 to 200 percent FPL.</p> <p>The truth is, the ACA private plan market works best for people with incomes under 200 percent FPL. That's the cutoff point for the beefy if little-known <a href="" target="_blank">cost-sharing subsidies</a> that reduce deductibles and copays and make the coverage comparable to (or, for those under 150 percent FPL, better than) that offered by high-quality employer-sponsored policies. A recent <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> by Avalere Health showed that people with lower-incomes who qualify for such subsidies are snatching up private plans from ACA exchanges&mdash;but uninsured buyers at higher income levels haven't been nearly as enthusiastic. It would be great if more generous subsidies could make the exchange plans more attractive to those relatively better-off Americans on the upper end of the scale, but Democrats allocated what the political traffic would bear.</p> <p>So how do the ACA's offerings to the uninsured benefit the working class, white or otherwise? For starters, 200 percent of FPL, the upper end of the sweet spot for ACA benefits, is a working class income; it's just under $40,000 for a family of three, and about two-thirds of median income. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, <a href="" target="_blank">34 percent</a> of Americans have incomes below that threshold.</p> <p>But income in the U.S. is volatile. According to the economist <a href="" target="_blank">Stephen J. Rose</a>, in 2010, 7 to 8 percent of working-age U.S. adults were below the poverty line, but in the five years prior, about 18 percent spent at least one year in poverty. The same ratio may not hold for the 200 percent FPL level, but it seems fair to assume that half of U.S. households will fall below it at some point.</p> <p>Pre-ACA, health insurance status was also highly volatile. A 2008 <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> by Mathematica Policy Research found that while nearly 18 percent of non-elderly adults were uninsured as of January 2001, 35 percent had been uninsured at some point over the three years prior. Of those, 60 percent went without coverage for at least a year. Extend the volatility caused by our employer-based health insurance system over a lifetime, and a very large percentage of Americans who don't always live in poverty are likely to need an affordable fallback at some point.</p> <p>There's much more to be said (and studied) about how the ACA may benefit the working class and indeed all of us. The law will have multiple positive and negative impacts on employer-sponsored insurance, on the way care is organized and paid for, on hospital consolidation, Medicare, and so on.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to hammer Democrats over every real and perceived negative effect. (Watch out for that in 2018, when the most generous employer plans will be subject to the so-called Cadillac Tax, which could spur cuts to some workers' coverage). And it's not at all clear that Democrats will get much credit for some of the law's biggest upsides.</p> <p>In the longest view, if the ACA really is contributing to a long-term slowdown in the growth of US healthcare spending&mdash;admittedly a big 'if,' though the data is promising&mdash;it could secure the nation's fiscal future and be a boon to everyone, poor or not. As Peter Orzag kept telling us back in 2009, "healthcare reform is entitlement reform." A genuine long-term bend in the healthcare cost curve would be worth all the Bowles-Simpson-type spending cut/tax hike plans ever conceived.</p> <p>At the same time, the ACA has already cut the ranks of the uninsured by 15 million, reducing the uninsured rate among non-elderly adults from 17.6 percent to 10.1 percent, as estimated in a just-published Urban Institute <a href="" target="_blank">study</a>. In states that accepted the Medicaid expansion, it's cut the uninsured rate of the poor in half. For the middle class&mdash;very broadly defined by Urban as those in households between 138 percent and 400 percent FPL&mdash;it's raised the insured rate by 7.6 percentage points.</p> <p>That's a monumental accomplishment, and Democrats paid for it in political blood. We should honor them for that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Income Inequality Obama Tue, 05 May 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Andrew Sprung 274736 at Just When You Thought Fox News' Baltimore Coverage Couldn't Get Worse, It Made This Mistake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Monday afternoon, Fox News alarmed social media with a dramatic <a href="" target="_blank">news report </a>of a man being shot by&nbsp;police in Baltimore. It might have been news to some that Fox was breaking a story on a police shooting&mdash;rather than discrediting such an account. But the network, eager to claim a scoop, quickly promoted this story. On-the-scene reporter Mike Tobin reported the supposed shooting and his reporting was quickly tweeted to a large audience by one of Fox News' biggest stars, Greta Van Susteren:&nbsp;</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING NEWS: man shot in Baltimore by police</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">young black male shot in Baltimore by police witnessed by Fox crew</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">man shot appeared to be alive, but in bad shape after shot and moved to ambulance</p> &mdash; Greta Van Susteren (@greta) <a href="">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>"About 2:45 we saw a guy running from the cops right at the intersection of North and Pennsylvania where the epicenter of the unrest here," Tobin <a href="" target="_blank">described on a phone call</a> for a&nbsp;breaking news segment on Fox. "As he was running away, that officer drew his weapon and fired and struck the individual who was running away. He was a young black male and what we saw on the sidewalk as the crime scene unfolded over there, there was a revolver on the ground."</p> <p>Note that Toobin said "we saw" the shooting. But there was one problem. The incident did not happen. There was not a shooting for him to see.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The reports of a man being shot at North and Pennsylvania Ave are NOT true. Officers have arrested a man for a handgun at the location</p> &mdash; Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) <a href="">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">UPDATE: The reports of a shooting at North Ave/ Pennsylvania Ave are unfounded. Officers have arrested a man with a gun.</p> &mdash; Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) <a href="">May 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Moments after the story was published, Fox's&nbsp;Shepard Smith was forced to issue an&nbsp;apology for the network's sloppy work:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Of course, this is yet another cautionary tale about recklessly reporting possibly incendiary events. It's also noteworthy that it was Fox News, which typically discounts such stories, that rushed out this embarrassing and potentially dangerous report. Will there be an internal review? Shep, let us know.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Media Race and Ethnicity Baltimore Protests Mon, 04 May 2015 21:21:06 +0000 Inae Oh 274766 at Tales From City of Hope #12: I Am Bursting With White Blood Cells <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday's white blood count was 0.2. Today's is 1.1. That's super duper exponential. Go, little stem cells, go!</p> <p>Surely this deserves a bit of bonus catblogging. Of course it does.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_05_04.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 04 May 2015 16:12:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 274726 at America's Big Trade Deals and the Case of the 4 Fishy Phone Calls <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going.&nbsp;Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="" target="_blank">David Dayen</a>, a veteran blogger and currently a regular contributor to </em>Salon <em>and </em>The Fiscal Times<em>, among other publications.</em></p> <p>I was planning on commandeering Kevin's site to finally shape this place up and do some dogblogging, but management was, shall we say, unreceptive. So let's use this space to do what all great blogging is known for: pointless speculation!</p> <p>I did a story for <em><a href="">The New Republic</a></em> looking back at the 1993 <a href="">CNN debate</a> between Al Gore and Ross Perot, showing how Gore's messages on selling NAFTA mirror Barack Obama's messages on selling the Trans-Pacific Partnership today. Both men claim that their progressive trade agreements differ from the raw deals of the past; that opponents were isolationist Luddites who want to return to some unrealistic pre-globalized world; and that this new deal would create a benchmark for global trade, which some Asian power (Japan or China, depending on the era) would take control of were their plan defeated.</p> <p>But the debate itself is amazing for several reasons, not the least of which being that a sitting Vice President had to go on Larry King and take phone calls. Everyone remembers Perot saying "Can I finish" incessantly, so much so that it became a <a href="">Dana Carvey tag line</a>.&nbsp; And maybe you remember Gore pulling out a picture of Smoot and Hawley and giving it to Perot as a present ("You can put it on your wall"). But come with me through this Internet rabbit hole and look at something else.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Ross Perot gets asked four questions from the phone lines. I have no knowledge about how they were screened. But these don't sound like regular people to me; they sound like plants. You can listen yourself:</p> <p><strong>43:45</strong> The caller is from "Washington, DC." And he says, and I quote, "How can the US expect to compete on a long-term basis in an increasingly interdependent economic world, while Europe and the PacRim nations unite on their own respective trade alliance?" Who in the world talks like that? It reads like it came out of a Brookings Institution paper.</p> <p><strong>54:30</strong> A expat caller from Zagreb, Croatia (!) asks Perot for specific answers on what he would do as an alternative to NAFTA. This happens to be a question Gore asked repeatedly throughout the debate.</p> <p><strong>1:01:35</strong> This call comes from McLean, Virginia, the Washington suburb populated mostly by lobbyists. The caller coincidentally has statistics at the ready on electronic exports to Mexico ("nearly tripled" over the past five years, "worth about $6 billion), and demands that Perot agree that removing tariffs on these products will produce "high-tech, good-paying jobs" in America.</p> <p><strong>1:06:35</strong> This is perhaps the weirdest call. An American woman "who has been living in Mexico City for many years" calls in, following up on Gore's claim that the Japanese would "take over" a free trade agreement with Mexico if NAFTA is defeated. "There are thousands of Japanese here. They are waiting. They are lurking! What are you people doing? Why-" At this point she gets cut off, but Gore repeats the question and adds a line the caller never said: "Why don't you wake up?"</p> <p>This is weird. The questions not only sound way too hyper-informed and scripted, they dovetail with every talking point Gore used in the debate, from how passing NAFTA was critical to setting a benchmark for trade with the world, to how NAFTA would create jobs at home through rising exports to Mexico, to how Japan loomed to take advantage of any potential failure, to how Perot was just carping from the sidelines without his own plan.</p> <p>It's a strong accusation to suggest these questions were planted, and honestly I have no idea. However, I did find an article from 1994 in some left-wing rag called <a href=""><em>Mother Jones</em></a>, detailing a host of dirty tricks the Clinton Administration engaged in to blunt the influence of Ross Perot:</p> <blockquote> <p>Last September 2, the day Perot was to appear on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," a White House adviser got on the horn to L.A. After chatting with a "Tonight Show" writer, he faxed some questions to Leno [&hellip;]</p> <p>(Perot co-author) Pat Choate claims the administration sent people to UWS rallies to "take notes" and "heckle" Perot. He also accuses the administration of manipulating the press: "Journalists are getting anti-Perot stuff in the mail," he says. "Most of it has no return address." (Several reporters who cover Perot say they have no knowledge of this, and the White House denies both charges.) [&hellip;]</p> <p>Last April 22, Perot appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to testify on NAFTA. The White House didn't like him testifying, and it liked even less the idea of C-Span televising his appearance. So, Choate claims, a White House aide called Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who called Brian Lamb, the chairman of C-Span. Some sort of deal was struck, and Perot's testimony never graced the airwaves.</p> </blockquote> <p>Because <em>Mother Jones</em> is a responsible publication, the author added that the rumor about C-SPAN could be false, but that it showed how the Clinton White House seized on Perot's natural paranoia to undermine him in the trade debate. Throwing in suspicious-sounding questions on CNN could serve the same purpose.</p> <p>We're 22 years on from this event, and investigating the provenance of these fishy phone calls would be somewhat irrelevant. Four phone calls were not the reason NAFTA passed; there's no "NAFTA-ghazi" conspiracy theory to be had. But I nevertheless find it fascinating. Has anyone ever studied this? Does it just sound odd to my modern ears, or is there more there? When Kevin Drum ends blog posts with a series of questions, is it a clever device or does he genuinely want to ask his audience for answers?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Mon, 04 May 2015 16:00:07 +0000 David Dayen 274681 at John Oliver Perfectly Describes the "Woman-Battering Human Landfill" That Is Floyd Mayweather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>While issuing a takedown of <a href="" target="_blank">Bud Light's awful new #UpForWhatever tagline</a> last night, which included a clip of a woman calling the campaign a tad "rapey," John Oliver snuck in quite the perfect description of another awful subject, Floyd Mayweather.</p> <p>"That's true, but it would be great if you could use a slightly more serious word than 'rapey'," Oliver said. "It's somewhat diminishing&mdash;It's like saying Floyd Mayweather is a smidge assaulty. It's technically correct but it'd be more appropriate to say he's a woman-battering, human landfill. That'd be more on the money."</p> <p><strong>Watch below:</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Sports Mon, 04 May 2015 15:01:41 +0000 Inae Oh 274721 at Let John Oliver Explain How Standardized Testing Makes Kids Anxious and Vomit Under Pressure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Every year, students around the country are subjected to an insane amount of mandatory, standardized testing. So much so, the average number of tests a student completes by the time they graduate high school is a staggering 113, according to the latest <a href="" target="_blank">"Last Week Tonight."</a> As host John Oliver noted on Sunday, all the stressful bubble-filling is taking an inevitable toll&mdash;with teachers reporting their students throwing up under the pressure so often, official testing guidelines specifically outline how to deal with kids vomiting on their test booklets.</p> <p>"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit," Oliver said. "Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on '8 Mile' Road."</p> <p>Watch below as Oliver explains how our education system arrived at this extreme point:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Education Media Mon, 04 May 2015 13:31:12 +0000 Inae Oh 274711 at Re-live the Kingbees' Rockabilly Revival <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The Kingbees<br> self-titled<br> Omnivore</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Kingbees%20-%20CD.jpg" style="height: 216px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>The rise of punk and new wave back in the late '70s and early '80s was accompanied by a mini-rockabilly revival, the most notable commercial success being Brian Setzer's Stray Cats. Another eminently satisfying act was Los Angeles' Kingbees, a spunky trio fronted by Jamie James, a spirited dude seemingly possessed by the ghost of Buddy Holly. There's nothing profound on the expanded edition of this crisp 1980 debut album&mdash;just a bunch of snappy originals, including the semi-hit "My Mistake" and deft covers of Don Gibson ("Sweet Sweet Girl to Me"), Eddie Cochran ("Somethin' Else") and Buddy himself ("Not Fade Away"). But if you need a quick pick-me-up, check out "Shake-Bop" or "Ting-a-Ling." They'll put a spring in your step, guaranteed.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 04 May 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 274636 at Tales From City of Hope #11: We Have Liftoff <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday's white blood count went from just under 0.1 to just over 0.1. Let's call it 0.05 growth. Today's count is 0.2. That's growth of 0.1.</p> <p>And <em>that</em>, my friends, is exponential growth. Sure, we could use another data point or three. And some more significant digits. And if we're being picky, a coefficient or two. But screw that. To this Caltech<sup>1</sup> dropout, it looks like exponential growth has kicked in. Booyah!</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_shiner_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 10px 0px 15px 30px;">In more visually exciting news, I know you all want to see my shiner, don't you? I can feel the bloodlust all the way from my hospital bed. So here it is, you ghouls. As usual with these things, it looks a lot worse than it feels. In fact, I can barely feel it all. But it's clear evidence that, yes, the bathroom really is the most dangerous room in the house.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Did you know that the proper short form for California Institute of Technology is Caltech, not CalTech? They've been trying for decades to get the rest of the world to go along, but with sadly limited success.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 03 May 2015 17:53:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 274701 at "Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here." <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is a thing.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">.<a href="">@FloydMayweather</a> Good luck tonight Floyd.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">May 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>Here is another thing:<a href="" target="_blank"> </a></p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Floyd Mayweather is a serial batterer of women.</a></p> </blockquote> <p>Have a nice day.</p></body></html> Contributor Sat, 02 May 2015 21:25:46 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274691 at Tales From City of Hope #10: Rebound Is Here! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday my white blood count was &lt;0.1. How much less? No telling, but my doctor called it an "honorary" 0.1.</p> <p>But! Today my count is 0.1. Not much difference, you say, but it doesn't matter. It's higher than yesterday, and that means my transplanted stem cells are busily engrafting themselves and morphing into various blood products. Progress will be slow at first, but Friday was officially my bottom. Within a few days, my counts should start taking off much more rapidly. Huzzah.</p> <p>In less good news, I slipped in the bathroom last night and got a pulled neck muscle and a black eye for my trouble. All I need now is a swastika tattoo and I'll have the whole skinhead look down cold.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 02 May 2015 17:19:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 274686 at How Humans Can Keep Superintelligent Robots From Murdering Us All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today, we're honored to present a post from <a href="">Bill Gardner</a>, a health services researcher in Ottawa, Ontario, and a blogger at </em><a href="">The Incidental Economist</a><em>.</em></p> <p>This weekend, you, I, and about 100 million other people will see <em><a href="" target="_blank">Avengers: Age of Ultron</a></em>. The story is that Tony Stark builds Ultron, an artificially intelligent robot, to protect Earth. But Ultron decides that the best way to fulfill his mission is to exterminate humanity. Violence ensues.</p> <p>You will likely dismiss the premise of the story. But in a <a href="" target="_blank">book</a> I highly recommend, Oxford philosopher <a href="" target="_blank">Nick Bostrom</a> argues that sometime in the future a machine will achieve "general intelligence," that is, the ability to solve problems in virtually all domains of interest. Because one such domain is research in artificial intelligence, the machine would be able to rapidly improve itself.</p> <p>The abilities of such a machine would quickly transcend our abilities. The difference, Bostrom believes, would not be like that between Einstein and a cognitively disabled person. The difference would be like that between Einstein and a beetle. When this happens, machines can and likely would displace humans as the dominant life form. Humans may be trapped in a dystopia, if they survive at all.</p> <p>Competent people&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Elon Musk, Bill Gates</a>&mdash;take this risk seriously. <a href="" target="_blank">Stephen Hawking and physics Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek</a> worry that we are not thinking hard enough about the future of artificial intelligence.</p> <blockquote> <p>So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right? Wrong. If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, "We'll arrive in a few decades," would we just reply, "OK, call us when you get here&mdash;we'll leave the lights on"? Probably not&mdash;but this is more or less what is happening with AI&hellip;little serious research is devoted to these issues&hellip;All of us&hellip;should ask ourselves what can we do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are also competent people who dismiss these concerns. University of California-Berkeley philosopher <a href="" target="_blank">John Searle</a> argues that intelligence requires qualities that computers lack, including consciousness and motivation. This doesn't mean that we are safe from artificially intelligent machines. Perhaps in the future killer drones will hunt all humans, not just Al Qaeda. But Searle claims that if this happens, it won't be because the drones reflected on their goals and decided that they needed to kill us. It will be because human beings have programmed drones to kill us.</p> <p>Searle has made this argument for years, but has never offered a reason why it will always be impossible to engineer machines with autonomy and general intelligence. If it's not impossible, we need to look for possible paths of human evolution in which we safely benefit from the enormous potential of artificial intelligence.</p> <p>What can we do? I'm a wild optimist. In my lifetime I have seen an extraordinary expansion of human capabilities for creation and community. Perhaps there is a future in which individual and collective human intelligence can grow rapidly enough that we keep our place as free beings. Perhaps humans can acquire cognitive superpowers.</p> <p>But the greatest challenge of the future will not be the engineering of this commonwealth, but rather its governance. So we have to think big, think long-term, and live in hope. We need to cooperate as a species and steer our technological development so that we do not create machines that displace us. At the same time, we need to protect ourselves from the expanding surveillance of our current governments (such as <a href="" target="_blank">China's Great Firewall</a> or the <a href="" target="_blank">NSA</a>). I doubt we can achieve this enhanced community unless we also find a way to make sure the superpowers of enhanced cognition are available to everyone. Maybe the only alternative to dystopia will be utopia.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Tech Top Stories Sat, 02 May 2015 10:30:06 +0000 Bill Gardner 274591 at If Black People Lived As Long As White People, Election Results Would Be Very Different <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With the mortality rate for black Americans about 18 percent higher than it is for white Americans, premature black deaths have affected the results of US elections, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Oxford.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The study</a>, published in <em>Social Science &amp; Medicine </em>and highlighted on Friday by the UK-based <a href=";utm_source=NSNS&amp;utm_medium=SOC&amp;utm_campaign=twitter&amp;cmpid=SOC%7CNSNS%7C2014-GLOBAL-twitter#.VUO3Q14oh91" target="_blank"><em>New Scientist</em></a>, shows how the outcomes of elections between 1970 and 2004&mdash;including the presidential race between John Kerry and George W. Bush&mdash;might have been affected if there hadn't been such a disparity in the death rate. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.5 million black people died during that 35-year period. But if the mortality rates had been comparable, an additional 2.7 million black people would have been alive, and of those, an estimated 1 million would have cast votes in the 2004 election. Bush likely still would have won that race. But some state-level races might have turned out differently: The results would have been reversed in an estimated seven US Senate elections and 11 gubernatorial elections during the 35-year period, the researchers found, assuming that the hypothetical additional voters had cast their ballots in line with actual black voters, who tend to overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates.</p> <p>And that's before even getting to <a href="" target="_blank">incarceration</a>. Additional elections potentially would have turned out differently if voting-age black Americans who were previously convicted of felonies had been able to cast a ballot. As <em>New Scientist</em> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>Accounting for people disenfranchised by felony convictions would have likely reversed three other senate seats. In at least one state, Missouri, accounting for just excess deaths or felony disenfranchisement would not have been sufficient to reverse the senate election &ndash; but both sources of lost votes taken together would have.</p> </blockquote> <p>While everyone's attention right now is on racial injustice in the context of policing, one of the study's authors, <a href="" target="_blank">Arline Geronimus,</a> noted that most premature black deaths were linked to <a href="" target="_blank">chronic health conditions</a> that afflict black people more than white people. "If you're losing a voting population, you're losing the support for the policies that would help that population," she told <em>New Scientist</em>. "As long as there's this huge inequality in health and mortality, there's a diminished voice to speak out against the problem."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 01 May 2015 22:15:29 +0000 Samantha Michaels 274661 at Obama Administration Gives Rail Companies Three Years to Fix Their Most Explosive Oil Cars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Trains hauling crude oil have <a href="" target="_blank">continued</a> to explode across the United States and Canada this year as oil production booms in North Dakota and Alberta. <a href="" target="_blank">Nearly two dozen</a> oil trains have derailed in the past two years, many causing fiery explosions and oil spills. <a href="" target="_blank">Lawmakers</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">environmentalists</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">communities</a> in the path of these trains have ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to toughen what they see as lax safety regulations at the heart of the problem.</p> <p>Finally, some new regulations. This morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stood next to Lisa Raitt, Canada's transportation minister, to <a href="" target="_blank">announce</a> coordinated rules across both countries aimed at making the industry safer by catching up to surging crude-by-oil shipments, which increased 4,000 percent from 2008 to 2014.</p> <p>According to the <a href="" target="_blank">new rules</a>, older tank cars will have to be replaced or retrofitted with new "protective shells" and insulation to prevent puncture (and potential explosion) after derailment. New tank car construction will have to comply with these standards, too.</p> <p>Oil trains will also be required to install enhanced "electronically controlled pneumatic" [ECP] braking, which allows for more control over the train when required to stop suddenly, and they will be limited to to speeds of 50 mph, and 40 mph in urban areas. <a href="" target="_blank">Many</a> <a href="" target="_blank">recent</a> train derailments and explosions have occurred at speeds far below those, however.</p> <p>And lastly, train companies will now be required to minimize the chances of explosions and oil spills happening near towns and environmentally sensitive areas by assessing route options and rail conditions more closely. Once the routes are made, companies will need to tell local and state officials along the train's pathway.</p> <p>Transportation Secretary Foxx described the rules as, "a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer."</p> <p>But the new rules have already drawn criticism from regulation proponents and industry players alike. The American Railroad Association believes the new braking technology is unnecessary. "The DOT has no substantial evidence to support a safety justification for mandating ECP brakes, which will not prevent accidents," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR president and CEO said <a href="" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "This is an imprudent decision made without supporting data or analysis."</p> <p>But Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, who <a href="" target="_blank">introduced</a> legislation in March to toughen crude-by rail standards, said they didn't go far enough. "The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll," she <a href="" target="_blank">said</a>. "It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars."</p> <p>Indeed, rail companies will have several years to bring their fleets up to scratch. The now-infamous DOT-111 oil tankers, <a href="" target="_blank">involved</a> in nearly half of oil train explosions since 2013, must be fixed within three years. And the so-called "unjacketed" CPC-1232 cars, which are newer but don't have protective shells (and <a href="" target="_blank">have also</a> been involved in explosions) will still be in network for up to five years.</p> <p>That amount of time is too long too wait given the potential dangers, said Anthony Swift, a deputy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We can only hope the federal government revisits the broader issue of crude oil unit trains before it's too late."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Foreign Policy Infrastructure Fri, 01 May 2015 19:53:50 +0000 Luke Whelan 274651 at Friday Cat Blogging - May 1 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With Kevin concentrating on his cancer treatment, we've rounded up some big writers to keep things rolling on the blog by contributing posts in his honor. But let's be honest: nothing's bigger on the internet than cats. So in addition to appearances from <a href="" target="_blank">Hopper and Hilbert</a>, we're taking this chance to introduce you to some other cats behind the people at <em>Mother Jones</em>.</p> <p>Today, that's Olga, who lives in Oakland with Lynnea Wool, our senior staff accountant. Among many other things, Lynnea is responsible for (full disclosure) making sure I get my paycheck. So I'd better blog carefully.</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/der.jpg"></center> <p>Olga was the runt of a litter of Himalayan Persians when Lynnea adopted her one fine day seven years ago. Since then, they've had many happy moments. She just loves to have her armpits scratched:</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pitcrop.jpg"></center> <p>For a special treat, her cat-mom will put a small piece of cheese&mdash;the stinkier the better&mdash;straight on her tongue.</p> <p>This longhair needs regular trims, and I was very impressed to hear about Lynnea's method. While Olga's sleeping on her side, Lynnea will cut one half. Olga wakes up looking something like <a href="" target="_blank">Two-Face</a>, and roams around like that until Lynnea happens to catch her sleeping on her other side. Wish we had a picture of that! But you'll have to agree this one's a pretty good consolation prize:</p> <center><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/olgahat.jpg"></center></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 May 2015 19:35:05 +0000 Clint Hendler 274631 at Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 1 May 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For humans, May Day is a time to celebrate worker solidarity. For Hilbert, it's time to show how jealous he is that Hopper fits under the desk and he doesn't. As you can guess, however, he got bored quickly and headed over to the sofa for a snooze. Hopper, ever victorious, slithered out with no resistance and licked her paws in triumph.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_hilbert_2015_05_01.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 May 2015 16:00:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 274606 at Breaking: Freddie Gray's Death Is Ruled a Homicide. All 6 Officers Will Face Criminal Charges. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">All six Baltimore police officers </a>involved in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who died in police custody last month, sparking tense <a href="" target="_blank">protests</a>, will face criminal charges. The announcement was made by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby during a press conference Friday morning. The various charges include manslaughter, murder, and assault:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Here are the criminal charges against each officer in the murder of <a href="">#FreddieGray</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Shaun King (@ShaunKing) <a href="">May 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Mosby told reporters that Gray's death has been ruled a homicide and that the knife found on <a href="" target="_blank">Gray during a search</a> was "not a switchblade," as Baltimore police previously <a href="" target="_blank">alleged</a>, and its possession was therefore "lawful under Maryland law."</p> <p>Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the police van that Gray was transported in after his arrest, was charged with second-degree murder, along with manslaughter, assault, and misconduct charges. If found guilty, he could face up to 63 years in prison, according to the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Baltimore Sun</em></a>.</p> <p>"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace,'" Mosby said on Friday. "To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf." Watch the announcement below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Fri, 01 May 2015 15:46:29 +0000 Inae Oh 274641 at