Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en 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 The GOP Is Trying to Give the 25 Richest Americans a $334 Billion Tax Break <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In mid April, the Republican-controlled House voted to repeal the estate tax, which, despite the GOP's&nbsp;"<a href="" target="_blank">death tax</a>" messaging, affects only the superrich: Of the nearly 2.6 million Americans who died <a href="" target="_blank">in 2013</a>, just 4,687 had estates flush enough to trigger the tax. That's because the bar to qualify for the estate tax is quite generous: The first $5.43 million of an individual's wealth is exempt from the tax, and that amount goes up to $10.86 million for married couples. After that point, the tax rate is 40 percent.</p> <p>The <a href="">Center for Effective Government</a> (CEG) calculated how much the 25 richest Americans would save if this repeal on the estate tax were to become law. The final tab: $334 billion.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CEG-Chart.jpg"><div class="caption">Center for Effective Government</div> </div> <p>That's a lot of cash! CEG calculated that $334 billion in taxes would be enough to:</p> <ol><li><strong>Cut the nation's student debt by one-third:</strong> The total could be distributed by giving $25,000 in debt relief to each of the 13 million Americans trying to pay off student loans.</li> <li><strong>Repair or replace every single deficient school AND bridge in America:</strong> Give kids more resources for a better education, and get the country's structurally deficient bridges up to snuff.</li> <li><strong>Give every new US baby a chunk of change:</strong> $1,000 at birth, and then $500 a year until their 18th birthday, making a $10,000 nest egg to put toward education, a home, or other opportunities.</li> <li><strong>Repair all leaking wastewater systems, sewage plumbing, and dams:</strong> Thus improving the health of lakes, rivers, and oceans nationwide.</li> </ol><p>Of course, it's unlikely the tax will actually get repealed. Even if the bill makes it past the Senate, President Obama has <a href="" target="_blank">promised to veto</a> it. But as the election season heats up with economic inequality at its forefront, the repercussions of the bill are likely to be more political than financial. As Robert J. Samuelson writes at the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, the GOP has "handed Democrats a priceless campaign gift: a made-for-TV (and Internet) video depicting Republicans as lackeys of the rich."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Income Inequality The Right Fri, 01 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 274406 at Here's How the Massive New Bird Flu Outbreak Could Affect You <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The US poultry and egg industries are enduring their <a href="" target="_blank">largest-ever outbreak</a> of a deadly (known as pathogenic) version of avian flu. Earlier this month, the disease careened through Minnesota's industrial-scale turkey farms, <a href="">affecting at least 3.6 million birds</a>, and is now punishing Iowa's massive egg-producing facilities, claiming <a href="">9.8 million&mdash;and counting</a>&mdash;hens. Here's what you need to know about the outbreak.</p> <p><strong>Where did this avian flu come from?</strong> So far, <a href="" target="_blank">no one is sure exactly sure</a> how the flu&mdash;which has shown no ability to infect humans&mdash;is spreading. The strain now circulating is in the US is "highly similar" to a novel variety that first appeared in South Korea in January 2014, before spreading to China and Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">paper</a> by a team led by US Geological Survey wildlife virologist Hon Ip.</p> <p><strong>How did it spread? </strong>The most likely carrier is <a href="">wild birds</a>, but it's unclear how they deliver the virus into large production facilities, where birds are kept indoors under rigorous biosecurity protocols. On Thursday, the mystery deepened when birds in an Iowa hatchery containing 19,000 chickens tested positive for the virus. "This is thought to be first time the avian influenza virus has affected a broiler breeding farm in this outbreak," Reuters <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a>. "Such breeding farms are traditionally known for having extremely tight biosecurity systems." John Clifford, the US Department of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer, recently <a href="">speculated</a> that the virus could be invading poultry confinements through wind carrying infected particles left by wild birds, taken onto the factory-farm floor by vents.</p> <p><strong>Can humans catch it? </strong>So far, no. But public health officials have been <a href="" target="_blank">warning</a>&nbsp;<a href="">for decades</a> that massive livestock confinements make an ideal breeding ground for new virus strains. In its authoritative <a href="">2009 report</a> on industrial-scale meat production, the Pew Commission warned that the "continual cycling of viruses and other animal pathogens in large herds or flocks increases opportunities for the generation of novel flu viruses through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human-to-human transmissions." It added: "agricultural workers serve as a bridging population between their communities and the animals in large confinement facilities."</p> <p><strong>Is this bird flu affecting the poultry industry's revenue? </strong>Yup. The specter of flu is already pinching Big Chicken's bottom line. China&nbsp;and&nbsp;South Korea&mdash;which imported a combined $428.5 million&nbsp;in US poultry last year&mdash;have imposed bans on US chicken, drawing the ire of USDA chief Tom Vilsack, Reuters <a href="">reports</a>.</p> <p><strong>What's the worst-case scenario?</strong> If the virus spread to the Southeast, Big Poultry will be in big trouble.&nbsp; Here's a map showing where chicken production is concentrated (from <a href="">Food and Water Watch</a>). Already, the strain has <a href="!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOK9_D2MDJ0MjDz9vT3NDDz9woIMnDxcDA2CjYEKIoEKDHAARwNC-sP1o8BKnN0dPUzMfYB6TCyMDDxdgPLmlr4GBp5mUAV4rCjIjTDIdFRUBADp5_lR/?1dmy&amp;urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Faphis_content_library%2Fsa_newsroom%2Fsa_stakeholder_announcements%2Fsa_by_date%2Fsa_2015%2Fsa_04%2Fct_hpai_ky">turned up</a> in wild birds as far south as Kentucky.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2007-BROILER%20copy.jpg"><div class="caption">Map: Food and Water Watch</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are we doing to stop the flu from spreading further? </strong>All the flu-stricken birds not killed outright by the virus are euthanized&mdash;but beyond that, the strategy seems to be: ramp up biosecurity efforts at poultry facilities and cross your fingers. Flu viruses don't thrive in the heat, so "when warm weather comes in consistently across the country I think we will stop seeing new cases," USDA chief veterinarian Clifford recently said on a <a href=";printable=true&amp;contentidonly=true">press call</a>. But USDA officials recently <a href="">told</a> Reuters it's "highly probable" that the virus will regain force when temperatures cool in the fall&mdash;and potentially be carried by wild birds to the southeast. &nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Top Stories Fri, 01 May 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 274581 at White People Could Learn a Thing or Two About Talking About Race From the Orioles' Manager <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><object height="354" width="630"><param name="movie" value=";start=122.59&amp;end=219.9&amp;cid=5818461"><embed allowfullscreen="true" height="354" src=";start=122.59&amp;end=219.9&amp;cid=5818461" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>On Wednesday, after the Baltimore Orioles <a href="" target="_blank">trounced</a> the Chicago White Sox in front of over 48,000 empty seats at Camden Yards, Orioles&rsquo; manager Buck Showalter <a href="" target="_blank">offered a blunt assessment</a> of the <a href="" target="_blank">ongoing protests</a> happening just beyond the stadium gates.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/baltimorecops2.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More coverage of the protests in Baltimore. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-274411"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge"> Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274366"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/watch-president-obama-talk-about-whats-happening-baltimore"> Obama: It's About Decades of Inequality</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274361"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/rand-paul-baltimore-riots-absentee-fathers"> Rand Paul: Blame Absentee Fathers</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274496"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/what-martin-luther-king-thought-about-urban-riots"> What MLK Really Thought About Riots</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274351"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/following-riots-baltimore-residents-unite-clean-city"> Photos: Residents Help Clean Up</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274326"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/04/baltimore-orioles-freddie-gray"> Orioles Exec: It's Inequality, Stupid</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274391"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/baltimore-teens-police"> These Teens Aren't Waiting Around for Someone Else to Fix Their City </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274386"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/04/athletes-celebrities-call-end-violence-baltimore"> Ray Lewis: "Violence Is Not the Answer"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-274331"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/bloods-and-crips-baltimore-protests"> Bloods and Crips Want "Nobody to Get Hurt"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>When a Baltimore resident asked what advice Showalter would give to young black residents in the community, the manager explains [emphasis added]:</p> <blockquote> <p>You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don't know anything about. ... I've never been black, OK? So I don't know, I can't put myself there. I've never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can't. ... It's a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, 'Well, I know what they're feeling. Why don't they do this? Why doesn't somebody do that?' You have never been black, OK, so just slow down a little bit.</p> <p>I try not to get involved in something that I don't know about, but I do know that it's something that's very passionate, something that I am, with my upbringing, that it bothers me, and it bothers everybody else. <strong>We've made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad. Now, let's get on with taking the statements we've made and create a positive. We talk to players, and I want to be a rallying force for our city. It doesn't mean necessarily playing good baseball. It just means [doing] everything we can do. There are some things I don't want to be normal [in Baltimore again]. You know what I mean? I don't. I want us to learn from some stuff that's gone on on both sides of it. I could talk about it for hours, but that's how I feel about it.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Fans watched from <a href="" target="_blank">outside the stadium gates</a> after demonstrations in response to the death of Freddie Gray forced the team to play the first game behind closed doors in Major League Baseball history. At Wednesday's press conference, outfielder Adam Jones, who related to the struggles of Baltimore's youth as a kid growing up in San Diego, <a href="" target="_blank">called </a>on the city to heal after the unrest.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Jones <a href="" target="_blank">goes on to say</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The last 72 hours have been tumultuous to say the least. We've seen good, we've seen bad, we've seen ugly...It's a city that's hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to stand up, step up and help the ones that are hurting. It's not an easy time right now for anybody. It doesn't matter what race you are. It's a tough time for the city of Baltimore. My prayers have been out for all the families, all the kids out there.</p> <p>They're hurting. The big message is: Stay strong, Baltimore. Stay safe. Continue to be the great city that I've come to know and love over the eight years I've been here. Continue to be who you are. I know there's been a lot of damage in the city. There's also been a lot of good protesting, there's been a lot of people standing up for the rights that they have in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, and I'm just trying to make sure everybody's on the same page.</p> <p>[...]</p> <p>It's not easy. This whole process is not easy. We need this game to be played, but we need this city to be healed first. That's important to me, that the city is healed. Because this is an ongoing issue. I just hope that the community of Baltimore stays strong, the children of Baltimore stay strong and gets some guidance and heed the message of the city leaders.</p> </blockquote> <p>Like team exec <a href="" target="_blank">John </a><a href="" target="_blank">Angelos</a>, Showalter, Jones and the rest of the Orioles organization get it.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Baltimore Protests Thu, 30 Apr 2015 22:14:26 +0000 Edwin Rios 274601 at Sen. Bernie Sanders Is Running for President. Here's a Sampling of His Greatest Hits <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) officially announced today that's he's running for president. The self-described socialist faces long odds in the Democratic primary, but chances are good that he'll at least force a discussion on issues dear to liberals. Here are some highlights of the best of <em>Mother Jones</em> coverage of Sanders:</p> <ul><li>Sanders visited our office earlier this month <a href="" target="_blank">to discuss</a> income inequality, trade, and his motivations for running for prez.</li> <li>"<a href="" target="_blank">Why don't we make Election Day a holiday?</a>" Sanders asks. Yes, why?</li> <li>Sanders <a href="" target="_blank">goes on Bill Moyers</a> to perfectly predict big money's domination of the 2014 elections.</li> <li>Sanders asks the NSA whether it is spying on members of Congress. <a href="" target="_blank">The NSA won't say</a>.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Sanders' list of America's top 10 tax avoiders</a>.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">The greatest hits from Filibernie</a>, Sanders' eight-and-a-half hour filibuster in protest of the 2010 extension of tax cuts for the rich.</li> <li>Sanders <a href="" target="_blank">lambastes Obama</a> for giving loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Sanders has some ideas for reforming Wall Street</a>.</li> <li>"<a href="" target="_blank">A Socialist in the Millionaire's Club</a>": a 2006 <em>Mother Jones</em> interview with Sanders, shortly after he was elected to the Senate.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">During a 1998 Congressional hearing, Sanders excoriates Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin</a> for supporting General Suharto, "a cruel, authoritarian dictator whose family is worth between $40 and $50 billion."</li> <li>And then there's this Sanders blurb from a November 1989 <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href=";pg=PA22&amp;dq=Bernie+Sanders&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=GJRCVcSkDZL9oQT8poGICw&amp;ved=0CC4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&amp;q=Bernie%20Sanders&amp;f=false" target="_blank">roundup of promising third parties</a>:</li> </ul><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Bernie%20Sanders.png"></div> <p>The Progressive Coalition obviously never went national in the way Sanders had envisioned. But in 1991, a year after he was elected to Congress, he founded something more enduring: the <a href="" target="_blank">Congressional Progressive Caucus</a>. Since then, Sanders' view of third parties has evolved: "No matter what I do," he told <em>Mother Jones</em> last month, "I will not play the role of a spoiler who ends up helping to elect a right-wing Republican."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Income Inequality Top Stories bernie sanders Thu, 30 Apr 2015 21:50:07 +0000 Josh Harkinson 274621 at This Kid Just Gave the Entire DC Press Corps a Lesson In Telling Truth to Power <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Obama may be known for his exceptional oratory skills, but from time to time, he like every other politician falls victim to doling out the standard long-winded, sleep-inducing response no one could possibly be interested in hearing. One kid has apparently had enough.</p> <p>While participating in a <a href="" target="_blank">"virtual field trip"</a> with a group of middle-school students on Thursday, the president was asked about how one should aspire to be a good writer. As Obama proceeded to launch into yet another rambling&nbsp;answer, student interviewer Osman Yaha took the reins and stepped in. Watch below for the expertly executed cut-in:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em>(h/t Washington Free Beacon)</em></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Obama Thu, 30 Apr 2015 20:14:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274571 at We're in the Process of Decimating 1 in 6 Species on Earth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Plants and animals around the world are already suffering from the negative impacts of manmade global warming&mdash;including shrinking habitats and the spread of disease. A great number are also facing the ultimate demise&mdash;outright extinction&mdash;among them the <a href="" target="_blank">iconic polar bear</a>, some fish species, <a href="" target="_blank">coral</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">trees</a>... the list goes on.</p> <p>While most of the research on this topic so far has been piecemeal, one species at a time, a new <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> out today in <em>Science</em> offers the most comprehensive view to date of the future of extinction. The outlook is pretty grim.</p> <p>The research, conducted by evolutionary biologist Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, analyzes 131 other scientific papers for clues about how climate change is affecting the overall rate of species extinction. The result is alarming: One out of every six species could face extinction if global warming continues on its current path. The picture is less dire if we manage to curb climate change, dropping to only 5.2 percent of species if warming is kept within the <a href="" target="_blank">internationally-agreed upon target</a> of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.</p> <p>The analysis makes clear that the climate change threat isn't necessarily a separate issue from things like habitat loss and disease; indeed, it's often climate change that is the driving force behind those impacts. The risk appears to be spread evenly across all types of plants and animals (i.e., trees, amphibians, mammals, etc.), but is more severe in geographic ares where there are more unique species and exposure to climate impacts.</p> <p>South America takes the lead, with up to 23 percent of its species threatened. One classic case study there is the golden toad, a native of mountaintop rain forests that was last seen in 1989. The toad was driven to extinction in part due to an epidemic of <em>chytrid</em> fungus (which is <a href="" target="_blank">wiping out amphibians worldwide</a>), and because climate change-related drought is destroying the forests they called home. Australia and New Zealand also ranked highly at risk, with up to 14 percent:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/extinction-map.jpg"><div class="caption">Urban, Science 2015</div> </div> <p>Urban's paper offers perhaps the most comprehensive scientific companion to a terrifying narrative made popular last year in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book <a href="" target="_blank">"The Sixth Extinction</a>," by Elizabeth Kolbert. The <em>New Yorker</em> journalist argued that when you look at the combined toll that pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change is taking on the planet's biodiversity, humans are driving extinction on a scale only preceded in the geologic record by cataclysmic natural disasters (like the meteor that likely brought about the demise of the dinosaurs). Never before has one species been responsible for the demise of so many others. (Check out our interview with Kolbert <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>).</p> <p>Still, Urban's study makes clear that many species that avoid extinction still face grave threats from climate change:</p> <p>"Extinction risks are likely much smaller than the total number of species influenced by climate change," Urban writes. "Even species not threatened directly by extinction could experience substantial changes in abundances, distributions, and species interactions, which in turn could affect ecosystems and their services to humans."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:10:33 +0000 Tim McDonnell 274566 at Why You Should Be Skeptical About the New Police Narrative on Freddie Gray's Death <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On a relatively quiet night in Baltimore, the <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="" target="_blank">dropped a bombshell</a>. According to a sealed court document, a witness alleged that Freddie Gray&mdash;whose April death has triggered days of protests in the city&mdash;may have been deliberately attempting to injure himself while in police custody:</p> <blockquote> <p>A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the vehicle and believed that he "was intentionally trying to injure himself," according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate's safety.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's easy to see how a sealed document like that, drafted by a police investigator, might have leaked to the press in spite of the court order, and in spite of the police department's general aura of secrecy. If Gray's injuries were self-inflicted, the police department is off the hook.</p> <p>But as WBAL's Jayne Miller noted, the new exculpatory allegation appears to be at odds with the police department's earlier narrative, as well as the timeline of events:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BPD Commissioner Anthony Batts on 4/23 told us second prisoner in police van said Freddie Gray was "mostly quiet". ..</p> &mdash; Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) <a href="">April 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">We have reported that when van stopped to pick up 2nd prisoner, sources say, Gray was unresponsive. No evidence banging head against van</p> &mdash; Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) <a href="">April 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And there's another reason to be skeptical. Information that comes out of jails is notoriously unreliable, for the simple reason that anyone in jail has a real incentive to get out; cooperating with the people who determine when they get out is an obvious way to score points. <a href="" target="_blank">This</a> report from the Pew Charitable Trust walks through the conflicts in detail. According to the Innocence Project, <a href="" target="_blank">15 percent</a> of wrongful convictions that are eventually overturned by DNA testing originally rested on information from a jailhouse informant. Two years ago in California, for instance, a federal court <a href="" target="_blank">overturned</a> the conviction of an alleged serial killer known as the "Skid Row Stabber" because the conviction rested on information from an inmate dismissed as a "habitual liar."</p> <p>Or maybe the witness in Baltimore is right&mdash;that happens too!&mdash;and what we thought we knew about the Freddie Gray case was wrong. But the department isn't doing much to quiet the skeptics. It <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> Wednesday that it will not make public the full results of its investigation into Gray's death, "because if there is a decision to charge in any event by the state's attorney's office, the integrity of that investigation has to be protected."</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Top Stories Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:49:36 +0000 Tim Murphy 274551 at Freddie Gray and the Real Lesson of Urban Policing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Washington Post</em> features a simple headline today that encompasses decades of personal tragedy and public policy disaster:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Freddie Gray&rsquo;s life a study in the sad effects of lead paint on poor blacks</strong></a></p> </blockquote> <p>When Freddie Gray was <em>22 months old</em>, he had a tested blood lead level of 37 micrograms per deciliter. This is an absolutely astronomical amount. Freddie never even had the slightest chance of growing up normally. Lead poisoning doomed him from the start to a life of heightened aggression, poor learning abilities, and weak impulse control. His life was a tragedy set in motion the day he was born.</p> <p>But even from the midst of my chemo haze, I want to make a short, sharp point about this that goes far beyond just Gray's personal tragedy. It's this: thanks both to lead paint and leaded gasoline, there were lots of teenagers like Freddie Gray in the 90s. This created a huge and genuinely scary wave of violent crime, and in response we turned many of our urban police forces into occupying armies. This may have been wrong even then, but it was hardly <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_violent_crime_six_large_cities_small.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">inexplicable. Decades of lead poisoning really had created huge numbers of scarily violent teenagers, and a massive, militaristic response may have seemed like the only way to even begin to hold the line.</p> <p>But here's the thing: <em>that era is over</em>. Individual tragedies like Freddie Gray are still too common, but overall lead poisoning has plummeted. As a result, our cities are safer <em>because our kids are fundamentally less dangerous</em>. To a large extent, they are now normal teenagers, not lead-poisoned predators.</p> <p>This is important, because even if you're a hard-ass law-and-order type, you should understand that we no longer need urban police departments to act like occupying armies. The 90s are gone, and today's teenagers are just ordinary teenagers. They still act stupid and some of them are still violent, but they can be dealt with using ordinary urban policing tactics. We don't need to constantly harass and bully them; we don't need to haul them in for every petty infraction; we don't need to beat them senseless; and we don't need to incarcerate them by the millions.</p> <p>We just don't. We live in a different, safer era, and it's time for all of us&mdash;voters, politicians, cops, parents&mdash;to get this through our collective heads. Generation Lead is over, thank God. Let's stop pretending it's always and forever 1993. Reform is way overdue.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:58:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 274561 at Here's What Economists Cheering For The Pacific Trade Deal Are Missing <!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">Matt Yglesias</a>, currently the executive editor of </em>Vox<em>.</em></p> <p>There is almost nothing in the whole wide world that economists like better than recounting David Ricardo's basic case for free trade. And this is sort of understandable. It's a really cool idea!</p> <p>If you don't believe me, check out <a href="" target="_blank">Paul Krugman's 1995 essay on the subject</a>. But for the dime store version, what Ricardo showed&mdash;and what economists have been enthusing about ever since&mdash;is that Country A benefits (in the sense of what's nowadays known as <a href="" target="_blank">Kaldor-Hicks Efficiency</a>) from opening up its domestic producers to competition from imports from Country B, even if Country B is better at producing everything.</p> <p>It's a cool result.</p> <p>But oftentimes enthusiasm for this result seems to lead Ph.D. economists into all kinds of wild irrelevancies like former Council of Economic Advisors Chair Greg Mankiw's <a href=";_r=1&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1" target="_blank">enthusiastic endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership</a>. Mankiw focuses on Adam Smith rather than Ricardo, but in both cases the point is the same&mdash;18th-century economists showed that the efficiency of an economy can be improved by opening itself up to imports from abroad.</p> <p>This is very true, but it also tells us very little about the merits of a 21st-century trade agreement.</p> <p>One huge flaw is that while classical economics has a fair amount to tell us about the wealth of nations, it doesn't say much at all about the wealth of the individual people inside the nations. A trade deal that enriches Americans who own lots of shares of stock and Central Americans who own lots of plantation land could easily pass the (low) economic bar of efficiency while still making most people worse off.</p> <p>But an even bigger problem is that many of the biggest barriers to international trade don't come conveniently labeled as barriers to international trade.</p> <p>Take the <a href="" target="_blank">Jones Act</a> here in the United States, which says that if you want to ship goods on a boat from one American port to another American port, you need to do so on boats constructed in the United States and owned by US citizens, staffed by US citizens and legal permanent residents, and crewed by US citizens and US permanent residents. Common sense says that this is protectionism for American ship owners, shipyards, and ship crews.</p> <p>But the actual text of the Jones Act says otherwise. What the 1920 law says is that a merchant marine "sufficient to carry the waterborne domestic commerce&hellip;of the United States" is "necessary for the national defense." In other words, we dare not let foreign-owned ships outcompete domestic ones as a matter of national security.</p> <p>Conversely, if you look at <a href="" target="_blank">Japan's legendarily protected domestic automobile market</a> you will find essentially nothing in the way of formal barriers to foreign trade. Tariffs on imported automobiles, for example, are currently at zero. The way it works, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the American Auto Council</a>, is that "Japan has used automotive technical regulations as a means to protect local markets by creating excessively difficult and costly regulatory and certification requirements, with little or no safety or emissions benefits."</p> <p>That these regulations are mere protectionism is overwhelming conventional wisdom in the United States. But of course, proponents of the Japanese status quo no more see it that way than do proponents of the Jones Act here at home. These are necessary regulations! This is the dilemma of the modern trade agreement.</p> <p>Smith and Ricardo never imagined a world in which governments routinely regulated large classes of products to promote consumer safety, workers' rights, environmental goals, or national security goals. But lurking behind every regulation is potentially a barrier to trade. What the US Food and Drug Administration sees as <a href="" target="_blank">public health regulation of dangerous cheese bacteria</a> looks like protectionism to French cheesemakers, and what European Union officials see as <a href="" target="_blank">public health regulation of hormone-treated beef</a> looks like protectionism to American ranchers.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Foreign Policy International Regulatory Affairs Top Stories To Kevin! Thu, 30 Apr 2015 13:00:06 +0000 Matt Yglesias 274466 at The 10 American Cities With the Dirtiest Air <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Nearly 44 percent of Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association's annual <a href="" target="_blank">"State of the Air" report</a>, published yesterday.</p> <p>The good news is that's actually an improvement over last year's report, which showed that 47 percent of the population lived in these highly polluted places. Overall, the air has been getting cleaner since Congress enacted stricter regulations in the 1970s, and the American Lung Association report, which looked at data from 2011 through 2013, showed a continuing drop in the air emissions that create the six most widespread pollutants.</p> <p>But don't pat yourself on the back just yet. Many cities experienced a record number of days with high levels of particle pollution, a mixture of solid and liquid droplets in the air that have been linked to serious health problems. Short-term particle pollution was especially bad in the West, in part due to the drought and heat, which may have increased the dust, grass fires and wildfires. Six cities&mdash;San Francisco; Phoenix; Visalia, California; Reno, Nevada.; Yakima, Washington; and Fairbanks, Alaska&mdash;recorded their highest weighted average number of unhealthy particle pollution days since the American Lung Association started covering this metric in 2004.</p> <p>Los Angeles held its rank as the metropolitan area with the worst ozone pollution, even as it saw its best three-year period since the first report 16 years ago: the city experienced a one-third reduction in its average number of unhealthy ozone days since the late 1990s.</p> <p>Meanwhile, states on the east coast showed the most headway in cleaning up their air, with major drops in year-round particle pollution. The American Lung Association attributed the improvement to a push for cleaner diesel fleets and cleaner fuels in power plants.</p> <p>"The progress is exactly what we want to see, but to see some areas having some of their worst episodes was unusual," said Janice Nolen, an air pollution expert with the association, referring to the record-breaking days of short-term particle pollution.</p> <p>Data is missing for some of the dirtiest cities in the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis, due in part to problems at data labs in Illinois and Tennessee. Similar problems in Georgia also prevented researchers from assessing changes in Atlanta, another city notorious for air pollution.</p> <p>Outdoor air pollution has been linked to about <a href="" target="_blank">3.7 million premature deaths worldwide</a>, by causing or exacerbating lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, acute lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, and strokes. And unfortunately, it seems <a href="" target="_blank">people of color and with low incomes</a> are often exposed to the dirtiest air.</p> <p>Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association ranked cities around the country in terms of their year-round particle pollution, or the annual average level of fine particles in the air. These fine particles can come from many sources, including power plants, wildfires, and vehicle emissions, and breathing them in over such long periods of time have been linked to lung damage, increased hospitalizations for asthma attacks, increased risk for lower birth weight and infant mortality, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.</p> <p><strong>Here are the 10 cities with the lowest levels of year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Prescott, Arizona</p> <p>2. Farmington, New Mexico</p> <p>3. Casper, Wyoming</p> <p>3. Cheyenne, Wyoming</p> <p>5. Flagstaff, Arizona</p> <p>6. Duluth, Minnesota-Wisconsin</p> <p>6. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida</p> <p>6. Salinas, California</p> <p>10. Anchorage, Alaska</p> <p>10. Bismarck, North Dakota</p> <p>10. Rapid City-Spearfish, South Dakota</p> <p><strong>And the cities with the most year-round particle pollution:</strong></p> <p>1. Fresno-Madera, California</p> <p>2. Bakersfield, California</p> <p>3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California<a href="#correction">*</a> </p> <p>4. Modesto-Merced, California</p> <p>5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California</p> <p>6. El Centro, California</p> <p>7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California</p> <p>8. Cincinnati; Wilmington, Kentucky; Maysville, Indiana</p> <p>9. Pittsburgh; New Castle, Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia</p> <p>10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio</p> <p>To see city rankings for short-term particle pollution and ozone pollution, check out the <a href="" target="_blank">report</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the state in which Visalia, Porterville, and Hanford are located.</em></p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Thu, 30 Apr 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Samantha Michaels 274506 at The Houston Rockets Fired Their Social Media Person for an Emoji Joke <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets played their intrastate rivals the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Late in the game, the official Houston Rockets Twitter account sent out the following:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/1230580382579942758.jpg"><div class="caption">Screenshot via <a href=";utm_source=deadspin_twitter&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">Deadspin</a></div> </div> <p>The internet being the stupid place that it is, a thousand crybabies immediately began to cry. <em>Oh pray for the emoji horse! How dare the stupid Twitter account joke about horse slaughter! Wah wah wah!</em></p> <p>The internet is a place where people cry about bullshit. If outrage is a currency&mdash;and it is&mdash;then the online market is drowning in counterfeits. People like to<strong> </strong>feign outrage&nbsp;because it allows them to demonstrate their humanity and show the world that they feel things strongly and people like to sleep with people who feel things strongly. Outrage allows people to define themselves in opposition to something, which is much easier than defining yourself on your own.</p> <p>The Rockets went on to <a href="" target="_blank">win the game (and thus the series)</a><strong> </strong>but not before the tweet was deleted. Today we learned that simply taking the tweet down and apologizing wasn't enough. <a href=";utm_source=deadspin_twitter&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">The Rockets fired the dude who tweeted it</a>,&nbsp;their social media manager Chad Shanks!</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sometimes you can go too far. I will no longer run <a href="">@HoustonRockets</a> but am grateful to the organization that let me develop an online voice.</p> &mdash; Chad Shanks (@chadjshanks) <a href="">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I did my best to make the account the best in the NBA by pushing the envelope, but pushed too far for some and for that I apologize.</p> &mdash; Chad Shanks (@chadjshanks) <a href="">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>I hope there's another organization out there in need of someone willing to take chances and create engaging social content. I hope.</p> &mdash; Chad Shanks (@chadjshanks) <a href="">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>This is such bullshit. Emoji violence lost this dude his job. EMOJI VIOLENCE. Like, who was <em>really </em>outraged<em> </em>by this? Were you? Of course you weren't. You are smart and normal and very attractive and people like you. But let's pretend you were outraged by it. Here is my question: What outraged you about it? Did you not know that horses get shot when they are lame? Of course you knew it. Everyone knows that! Here's what I know about horses:</p> <ul><li>They are beautiful.</li> <li>We don't eat them.</li> <li>For thousands of years they were second only to our legs when it came to helping humans get around.</li> <li>Now they're sort of ridden recreationally.</li> <li>Also we race them.</li> <li>They have shoes.</li> <li>They get shot when they are lame.</li> </ul><p>Is merely mentioning the reality that horses are shot when they are lame outrageous? If you are outraged by the fact that horses are shot when they are lame, be outraged about the fact that horses are shot when they are lame, not someone remarking on the fact that horses are shot when they are lame.</p> <p>In conclusion:</p> <p>The Houston Rockets are cowards.</p> <p>The Los Angeles Lakers are the best team in sports.</p></body></html> Contributor Media Sports Wed, 29 Apr 2015 23:34:47 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274536 at Tales From City of Hope #9: Day +6 Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="290" iframe="" src=";end=122" style="margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;" width="350"></iframe>My white blood count has plummeted to 0.2, my immune system is all but destroyed, and I feel terrible.</p> <p>In other words, everything is going perfectly. My white blood count will probably drop a bit more tomorrow and then plateau for a day or two. Around Saturday or so new cells will start engrafting and my counts will start to rise fairly quickly. That's the road to recovery, and so far there have been no hiccups at all.</p> <p>Until then, endless fatigue is my fate. But it will improve soon enough, I hope. In the meantime, the video clip on the right pretty much captures my current mood.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 29 Apr 2015 23:11:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 274541 at Obamacare Requires Birth Control Coverage. But Some Insurers Are Ignoring the Law. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ladies, if you've gone to the doctor in recent years expecting your contraception or ultrasounds to be free, only to be slammed with a co-pay or other charge from your insurer, it's likely your insurer is violating the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p>Thanks to Obamacare, insurance companies are now required to provide women with a host of coverage options, from free access to all FDA-approved birth control methods to preventative care to maternity care. But just because it's a legal requirement doesn't mean it's happening. According a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> released Tuesday by the National Women's Law Center, insurance plans are not providing all the benefits women won under Obamacare.</p> <p>NWLC found many plans that were not actually providing cost-free access to the full range of birth control options required under the ACA. Of the more than 100 insurance providers surveyed, NWLC discovered thirty-three insurers in 13 states are not complying with birth control coverage requirement.</p> <p>The compliance issues went well beyond birth control. The report, which surveyed plans for sale on state and federally-run insurance marketplaces in 15 states over two years, found violations "related to maternity care, birth control, breast-feeding support and supplies, genetic testing, well-woman visits, prescription drug coverage, care related to gender transition for transgender individuals, chronic pain treatment, and certain pre-existing conditions," <a href="" target="_blank">according</a> to NWLC. Due to the sheer number of violations the group found, it predicts the problem is "systemic nationwide."</p> <p>The report calls on state and federal regulators to more closely monitor the plans being sold in the individual marketplaces. The report also proposes that insurance plans be made open to public comment so that advocates can review the plans and point out any violations before regulators certify the plans.</p> <p>In another <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> released earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation reviewed 20 carriers' compliance with the ACA's birth-control mandate and also found violations. Of the 20 carriers Kaiser reviewed, only 11 provided cost-free coverage of the emergency birth control pill ella, which has a longer window of effectiveness than the standard progestin-based Plan B, <a href="" target="_blank">particularly</a> for women with a higher body mass index. Two of the carriers didn't cover ella at all.</p></body></html> MoJo Health Care Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:30:56 +0000 Pema Levy 274511 at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shuts Down Gay-Marriage Challengers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As the Supreme Court started to hear oral arguments to <em><a href="" target="_blank">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></em>&mdash;the historic case that could determine the legality of gay marriage bans&mdash;on Tuesday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered <a href="" target="_blank">quite the perfect response </a>to her same-sex-marriage opponents.</p> <p>Back in February, the 82-year-old justice expressed her optimism that the court will eventually <a href="" target="_blank">rule in favor of gay marriage</a>, citing the evolution in "people's attitudes" on the issue "has been enormous" in recent years. Although the rest of the court appeared <a href="" target="_blank">deeply divided</a> on Tuesday, judging by the fact that even <a href="" target="_blank">anti-gay activists</a> are expecting gay marriage will ultimately win, we're hoping to see Ginsburg's prediction become a reality soon.</p> <p>Below are some of the same-sex-marriage arguments and her responses to each.</p> <p><strong>Argument: </strong>The court does not have legal right to change a "millennia" of tradition.</p> <p><strong>RBG's response:</strong> "Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition. Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female. That ended as a result of this court's decision in 1982, when Louisiana's Head and Master Rule was struck down. Would that be a choice that state should be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?"</p> <p><strong>Argument: </strong>The institution of marriage is inherently linked to a couple's ability to procreate.</p> <p><strong>RBG's response:</strong> "Suppose a couple, 70-year-old couple, comes in and they want to get married? You don't have to ask them any questions. You know they are not going to have any children."</p> <p><strong>Argument: </strong>Gay marriage "impinges on the state" and takes benefits away from straight couples.</p> <p><strong>RBG's response: </strong>"How could that be, because all of the incentives, all of the benefits of marriage affords would still be available. So you're not taking away anything from heterosexual couples. They would have the very same incentive to marry, all the benefits that come with marriage that they do now."</p> <p><strong>Argument:</strong> Legal gay marriage has never been a possibility for most of history. Why now?</p> <p><strong>RBG's response: </strong>"[Same-sex couples] wouldn't be asking for this relief if the law of marriage was what it was a millennium ago. I mean, it wasn't possible. Same-sex unions would not have opted into the pattern of marriage, which was a relationship, a dominant and a subordinate relationship. Yes, it was marriage between a man and a woman, but the man decided where the couple would be domiciled; it was her obligation to follow him.</p> <p>There was a change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian when it wasn't egalitarian. And same-sex unions wouldn't&mdash;wouldn't fit into what marriage was once."</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Gay Rights Supreme Court Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:02:37 +0000 Inae Oh 274526 at Today Is The 23rd Anniversary of the Rodney King Riots. Obama Is Right, Not Much Has Changed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Speaking from the White House on Tuesday, <a href="" target="_blank">President Obama</a> told reporters that the tensions between Baltimore residents and local police were "not new, and we shouldn't pretend that it's new."</p> <p>He's right. Wednesday is the twenty-third anniversary of the riots that followed the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Today in 1992: Four LA police officers acquitted in beating of black motorist Rodney King: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) <a href="">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Worth remembering that today is the 23rd anniversary of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. The d&eacute;j&agrave; vu of history.</p> &mdash; jelani cobb (@jelani9) <a href="">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>"Why does it take a catastrophe like this in order for America to hear our cry?" one demonstrator asked an <a href="" target="_blank">MSNBC reporter on Tuesday.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Baltimore Protests Wed, 29 Apr 2015 17:20:48 +0000 Inae Oh 274491 at How the Aurora Mass Shooting Cost More Than $100 Million <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/gun-violence-cost-mininav_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-272651"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america"> What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273001"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/charts-show-cost-price-gun-violence-america"> 16 Charts That Show the Shocking Cost of Gun Violence in America</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-272956"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/survivors-of-gun-violence"> This Is What It's Like to Survive a Gunshot</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273341"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/methodology-gun-violence-data-ted-miller"> Methodology: the Data Behind Our Investigation</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273371"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/04/video-data-cost-of-gun-violence"> Watch: The Total Cost of Gun Violence&acirc;&#128;&#148;in 90 Seconds</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>"We focus on the proceedings. We focus on the death penalty. We focus on the perpetrator. But we don't focus on the people affected."</p> <p>That was how Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was among the 12 people murdered in a movie theater in July 2012, <a href="" target="_blank">described</a> the American public's perception as the trial of mass shooter James Holmes got underway on Monday in Aurora, Colorado. It's a fair point given the <a href="" target="_blank">inordinate attention</a> that such killers crave, and tend to get, <a href="" target="_blank">from the media</a>. Yet as Phillips also noted, "that ripple effect of how many people are affected by one act by one person, one animal, is incredibly large."</p> <p>She's right&mdash;not just in terms of the trauma and suffering borne by the victims (an additional 58 wounded and 12 others injured in the chaos), their families, and their communities, but also in terms of the literal cost. The price tag for what was one of the worst mass murders in US history is in fact stunningly high: well over $100 million, according to our groundbreaking investigation into <a href="" target="_blank">the costs of gun violence</a> published earlier this month.</p> <p>For a quick explanation of the data behind the large sums our country pays for this problem, watch the following <a href="" target="_blank">90-second video</a>, with more details on the Aurora tally continuing just below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src=";showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The economic impact of Aurora: For starters, long before the attorneys gave opening statements this week, legal proceedings for Holmes had already topped <a href="" target="_blank">$5.5 million</a> back in February, including expenses related to the unusually large pool of 9,000 prospective jurors called for the case. Add to that the total costs for each of the 12 victims killed: At an average of about <a href="" target="_blank">$6 million each</a>, that's another $72 million. For the 58 who survived gunshots and were hospitalized, with an average total cost for each working out to about $583,000, add another $33 million. (Costs for some of the gunshot survivors may have varied widely, of course.) And these figures don't even begin to account for what the city of Aurora, the state of Colorado, and the federal government have since spent on <a href="" target="_blank">security and prevention</a> related to the attack.</p> <p>Indeed, <a href="" target="_blank">a mass shooting</a> like the one in Aurora doesn't just have an outsize psychological impact but also a financial one. And these days, fiscal conservatives may want to note, we're <a href="" target="_blank">paying that price more often</a>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Economy Guns Top Stories Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:18:13 +0000 Mark Follman 274476 at