Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/12 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Scott Walker Says Mandatory Ultrasounds Are "Just a Cool Thing" for Women http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/scott-walker-mandatory-ultrasounds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After months of keeping a <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/05/where-is-scott-walker.html" target="_blank">low profile</a> for a man very likely running for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is back in the headlines today with quite the <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/scott-walker-ultrasounds-should-be-mandatory-theyre-cool-thing-out-there" target="_blank">outrageous quote</a>. Walker, who was speaking in defense of a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/wisconsin-governor-signs-abortion-bill-requiring-ultrasound-93762.html" target="_blank">controversial abortion bill </a>he signed into law that forces women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, said in an interview on Friday the mandatory exams are "just a cool thing" for women.</p> <blockquote> <p>I'll give you an example. I'm pro-life, I've passed pro-life legislation. We defunded Planned Parenthood, we signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they're pro-life or not, I find people all the time who'll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids' ultrasound and how excited they are, so that's a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It's just a cool thing out there.</p> </blockquote> <p>He went onto say Republicans shouldn't solely focus on abortion, but also embrace other key conservative issues. Nevertheless:</p> <blockquote> <p>It certainly is a part of who we are and we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it, and we shouldn't be afraid to push back. When you think about Hillary Clinton, and you think about some others on the left, you say, I think it's reasonable, whether you're pro-life or not to say that taxpayers dollars shouldn't be spent to support abortion or abortion-related activities. Most Americans believe in that. There are many candidates on the left who don't share that belief.</p> </blockquote> <p>Seriously, ladies. Why keep fighting for autonomous control over your bodies, when clearly mandatory ultrasounds are just so darn neat? Put down the pitchfork and embrace the red wave!</p> <p>Listen to the Walker's interview, recorded by <em><a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/" target="_blank">Right Wing Watch</a></em>, below:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="250" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207319871&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Reproductive Rights Scott Walker Sex and Gender Wed, 27 May 2015 19:23:04 +0000 Inae Oh 275956 at http://www.motherjones.com Your Snobby Wine Friends Are Full of Shit http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/cheap-wine-rules <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Find yourself in the company of an intolerable, self-annointed&nbsp;wine connoisseur? Don't bother arguing about how great the $7 bottle of supermarket merlot is. The best way to deal with the inevitable snobbery headed your way might be to show them the following video <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/20/8625785/expensive-wine-taste-cheap" target="_blank">produced by Vox</a>, which slays the belief expensive wines are more delicious.&nbsp;</p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mVKuCbjFfIY" width="630"></iframe></p> </center> <p>When 19 staffers blind-tested three different red wines from the same grape, the average ratings for the cheapest and most expensive wines were exactly the same! And while half of those tested were able to correctly identify which wine was the most expensive, they actually reported enjoying it <em>less </em>than the cheaper offerings. That's because, according to the video, more complex wines tend to challenge our plebian palates.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks Vox. Now here is <em>Mother Jones</em>' contribution to you oenophiles:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/05/how-open-wine-bottle-your-shoe" target="_blank">"How to Open a Wine Bottle With Your Shoe."</a></p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9XyvC8LyvXQ" width="630"></iframe></p> </center></body></html> Mixed Media Food and Ag Wed, 27 May 2015 18:43:54 +0000 Inae Oh 275951 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/health-update-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/so-how-did-my-experiment-turn-out" target="_blank">Last Saturday</a> I wrote a post whining about how tired and nauseous I was and how I crashed every day around 2 pm. I wrote that post a little before noon, and then....nothing. No crash. Sunday: no crash. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: no crash. And the nausea has improved dramatically. There are two possible explanations for this:</p> <ul><li>It's just a coincidence.</li> <li>Whining in public is really therapeutic and helped me feel better.</li> </ul><p>So which is it? Who knows. I suppose it was just a coincidence, but that's not a very satisfying explanation for us pattern-obsessed primates, is it? In any case, I'm still tired and I still make sure to rest frequently throughout the day. But my energy level is distinctly better than last week, and my nausea is clearly getting better. Genuine progress! Hooray!</p> <p>Unfortunately, the foul taste in my mouth is still hanging around. In theory, full recovery from the chemo side effects should take 6-7 weeks, and I'm now at week 5. Hopefully this means in another week or two I'll be feeling pretty sprightly and foulness free. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 18:39:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 275961 at http://www.motherjones.com Your City Is Probably Not Going to Be Hit By A Terrorist Attack http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/list-cities-most-risk-terrorist-attacks-probably-wont-suprise-you <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Americans are understandably<a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/american-fear-74-see-catastrophic-terrorist-attack-inside-united-states/article/2558294" target="_blank"> terrified of terror attacks</a>. But good news! These fears have nothing to do with actual data. According to a new tool released last week, n<a href="http://maplecroft.com/portfolio/new-analysis/2015/05/20/abuja-cairo-nairobi-and-islamabad-among-12-capital-cities-facing-extreme-terrorism-risks-verisk-maplecroft/" target="_blank">o US cities are among the world's 50 most at risk of terror attacks</a>.</p> <p>The index, designed by UK based Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk assessment firm, calculates the risk of terror attacks in "1,300 of the world&rsquo;s most important commercial hubs and urban centers" using historic trends. By logging and analyzing every reported attack or event per 100 square meters and calculating the frequency and severity of those&nbsp;incidents, Maplecroft's tool establishes a baseline for the past five years. Then, it compares that data with the number, frequency, and severity of attacks for the most recent year. Depending on the most recent statistics, cities move up or down on the list of cities at risk for terror attacks.</p> <p>What cities are in danger? Cities near ISIS.&nbsp;Baghdad&nbsp;is the most terror prone city, followed by five other places in Iraq&mdash;including Mosul, an ISIS stronghold in northern Iraq, and Al Ramadi, ISIS's <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/26/middleeast/iraq-ramadi-inside-the-fight/" target="_blank">most recent </a>hostile takeover. In just one year, as of February, over 1,000 residents of Baghdad lost their lives in one of the almost 400 terror attacks the city endured.</p> <p>A total of 27 of the 64 countries at "extreme risk" are located in the Middle East, and 19 are in Asia. Residents living in the capital cities of Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Tripoli face some of the strongest risks of terror attacks as well. Maplecroft <a href="http://maplecroft.com/portfolio/new-analysis/2015/05/20/abuja-cairo-nairobi-and-islamabad-among-12-capital-cities-facing-extreme-terrorism-risks-verisk-maplecroft/" target="_blank">points</a> to the risk of terror incidents in high-ranking countries like Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan as major threats to US commercial interests.</p> <p>And, recent events have triggered some cities to climb in the rankings. Prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack, Paris didn't even make the top 200 most at risk cities. But according to the current index, the French capital jumped over 100 spots, now coming in at&nbsp;97. Increasing violence purported by African militant groups, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia, have heightened the risk of terror incidents in African nations, landing 14 countries in the top 64.</p> <p>So stop freaking out about terror attacks, America.</p></body></html> MoJo Afghanistan Foreign Policy Human Rights International Top Stories National Security Wed, 27 May 2015 18:32:15 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 275941 at http://www.motherjones.com Note to Politicians: Stop Being So Self-Centered About Medical Research Funding http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/note-politicians-stop-being-so-self-centered-about-medical-research-funding <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_test_tubes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Steve Benen mentions one of my pet peeves today: politicians who want to cut spending on everything except for research on one particular disease that happens to affect them personally. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/politicians-should-learn-bigger-lessons-their-pet-causes" target="_blank">A couple of years ago,</a> for example, Sen. Mark Kirk suddenly became interested in Medicaid's approach to treating strokes after he himself suffered a stroke. The latest example is Jeb Bush, whose mother-in-law has Alzheimer's. I suppose you can guess what's coming next. <a href="http://mariashriver.com/blog/2015/05/i-emailed-jeb-bush-about-alzheimers-and-he-responded-maria-shriver-jeb-bush/" target="_blank">Here's Jeb in a letter he sent to Maria Shriver:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I have gotten lots of emails based on my comments regarding Alzheimer&rsquo;s and dementia at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. It is not the first time I have spoken about this disease. I have done so regularly.</p> <p>Here is what I believe:</p> <p><strong>We need to increase funding to find a cure.</strong> We need to reform FDA [regulations] to accelerate the approval process for drug and device approval at a much lower cost. We need to find more community based solutions for care.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-jeb-bushs-line-alzheimers-matters" target="_blank">As Benen points out,</a> Bush vetoed a bunch of bills that would have assisted Alzheimer's patients when he was governor of Florida. I guess that's changed now that he actually knows someone with the disease. However, it doesn't seem to have affected his attitude toward any other kind of medical research spending.</p> <p>I'm not even sure what to call this syndrome, but it's mighty common. It's also wildly inappropriate. If Jeb wants to personally start a charity that helps fund Alzheimer's research, that's great. But if he's running for president, he should be concerned with medical research for everyone. I mean, where's the billion dollars that <em>I'd</em> like to see invested in multiple myeloma research? Huh?</p> <p>Presidents and members of Congress represent the country, not their own families. They should get straight on the fact that if their pet disease is being underfunded, then maybe a lot of other diseases are being underfunded too. It shouldn't take a family member getting sick to get them to figure that out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 17:14:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 275946 at http://www.motherjones.com Texas Wants Its Own Fort Knox http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/texas-fort-knox-gold-new-york <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Texas independence&mdash;or paranoia&mdash;strikes again. In&nbsp;recent years, some Lone Star officials, including former Gov. Rick Perry, have flirted with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/rick-perry-secession_n_2120453.html" target="_blank">secession</a>. Last month the new Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, asked the state national guard to monitor a US military exercise that some residents fear is cover for a federal takeover of the state that will use Walmarts as staging areas. And now the state is on the verge of seizing the gold owned by the state that is stored in New York City and building a massive bunker to hoard&nbsp;this booty.</p> <p><a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/30/abbotts-letter-puts-jade-helm-national-stage/" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">Per the </a><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Senate-Let-Texas-establish-its-own-Fort-Knox-6287035.php" target="_blank"><em>Houston Chronicle</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>AUSTIN &mdash; Texas could get its own version of Fort Knox, the impenetrable depository for gold bullion, if the Legislature gets its way.</p> <p>Under House Bill 483, approved unanimously on Tuesday by the state Senate, Comptroller Glenn Hegar would be authorized to establish and administer the state's first bullion depository at a site not yet determined.</p> <p>No other state has its own state bullion depository, officials said.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">The state government has about $1 billion in gold bullion stored outside the state, mostly in the basement of the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan. The gold has been there for years&mdash;because it's so annoying to move, it's easier to keep everyone's gold in the same place, and the financial center of the world is the most obvious place. When bullion changes hands, it's mostly on paper. So</span>&nbsp;why does Texas now need to grab all its gold? Is it just because Texans don't trust New Yorkers? Is it really that simple?</p> <p><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Senate-Let-Texas-establish-its-own-Fort-Knox-6287035.php" target="_blank">Yes</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"New York will hate this," [state sen. Lois] Kolkhorst said of the bill that now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. "To me, that and the fact that it will save Texas money makes it a golden idea."</p> </blockquote> <p>The cost-cutting bit refers to the storage fees Texas has to pay to keep its gold offsite, although Texas would still have to shell out money for upkeep and security if it went the DIY route. Incidentally, Perry supported the Texas Bullion Depository when it was first proposed in 2013, <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2013/03/21/perry-some-lawmakers-want-states-gold-back-texas/" target="_blank">telling</a> Glenn Beck, "If we own it, I will suggest to you that that's not someone else&rsquo;s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not."</p> <p>But building a giant vault to house all the state's gold will be the easy part. The tough task? Safely and securely moving&nbsp;57,000 pounds of gold from Gotham to Texas. Perhaps we now know the plot for the <a href="http://www.bustle.com/articles/73979-when-will-fast-furious-8-be-released-the-story-isnt-over-for-the-crew-just" target="_blank">eighth <em>Fast and Furious</em> movie</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Economy Texas Wed, 27 May 2015 17:00:57 +0000 Tim Murphy 275936 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Find Yet Another Ingenious Way to Suppress Democratic Votes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/republicans-find-yet-another-ingenious-way-suppress-democratic-votes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The number of ways that Republicans invent to reduce the voting power of the Democratic Party is truly impressive. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/us/supreme-court-to-weigh-meaning-of-one-person-one-vote.html" target="_blank">Here's the latest:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.</p> <p><strong>A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas.</strong></p> <p>....The Supreme Court over the past nearly 25 years has turned away at least three similar challenges, and many election law experts expressed surprise that the justices agreed to hear this one. But since Chief Justice John G. Roberts has led the court, it has been active in other voting cases.</p> </blockquote> <p>Over the past few decades we've seen pack-n-crack, photo ID laws, old fashioned gerrymandering, mid-decade gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, reductions in early voting, the crippling of campaign finance law, illegal purges of voter rolls, and now this: a change in the way people are counted that would favor Republican-leaning districts.</p> <p>From a purely academic view, you really have to be impressed by the GOP's relentless creativity in finding ever more ways to trim the votes of groups who lean Democratic. They've done a great job. Sure, it's been a violent and cynical assault on our country's notions of fairness in the voting booth, but that's for eggheads to worry about. After all, it worked. Right? Maybe its made a difference of only a point or two in presidential elections and fewer than a dozen districts in congressional elections, but in a closely balanced electorate that counts for a lot.</p> <p>So: nice work, GOP. You've realized that all the woo-woo talk about democracy and the sacredness of the vote is just a bunch of blah blah blah. We all mouth the words, but no one really cares. There are just too many good shows on TV to pay attention to boring stuff like this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 15:07:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 275931 at http://www.motherjones.com Cuba Is Cautiously Hopeful and You Should Be Too http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cuba-cautiously-hopeful-and-you-should-be-too <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Friend of the blog Jay Jaroch recently spent some time in Cuba. Here's the first of three posts about what he observed while he was there.</em></p> <hr width="20%"><p>If you&rsquo;re looking for a country that has solved the problem of income inequality, look no further than Cuba, where everyone has next to nothing. And that&rsquo;s not snark. It&rsquo;s an economic reality that quickly presents itself to any Westerner who spends some time there, as I did this month.</p> <p>Soon after President Obama loosened the travel restrictions, domestic debate about Cuba&rsquo;s economic future in a post-embargo world split into two predictable camps: those who worried that America would &ldquo;ruin&rdquo; Cuba with a heavy dose of fanny-packed tourists and Panera Breads, and those who dismissed this as the &ldquo;fetishization of poverty&rdquo; and welcomed the introduction of American-style capitalism as a long overdue tonic. The reality is that these are mostly debates Americans are having about their views of America. Cubans, one quickly learns, are too economically desperate to care.</p> <p>Havana is unique and dilapidated and strangely beautiful. You almost admire it in the same way you would distressed furniture, or Keith Richard&rsquo;s face. Havana looks a bit like a hurricane hit the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1965 and no one bothered to clean it up. Zoom in and you&rsquo;ll find <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jaroch_cuba_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">men standing in front of a partially collapsed building holding menus imploring you to come to their <em>paladares</em> next to stray dogs fucking in the street next to a group of Canadian tourists in faux revolutionary berets next to a woman selling fruit from a cart that most Americans wouldn&rsquo;t eat on a dare. It&rsquo;s all here.</p> <p>Without exception, the Cubans I talked to welcomed the thawing of relations with the US, and even more so the coming influx of American tourists. One quickly learns why: because too much of their day-to-day economy is reliant on tourist dollars and euros. America is simply the biggest account they could land, and that&rsquo;s why they&rsquo;re hopeful. Also cautious, and not so much because they&rsquo;re worried about Starbucks; it's because they&rsquo;re worried their government will mismanage their chance at a better life. The sense was: Raul is finally allowing for some small, common-sense reforms that would have been impossible under Fidel. President Obama is allowing for some small, common sense reforms that will allow Cubans greater access to American dollars. Let&rsquo;s not screw this up. (More on that tomorrow.)</p> <p>Outside Havana, the economic stagnation is even more acute. In Cienfuegos, a middle school English teacher named Alex, who had never spoken to an American before, wanted to know what a teacher of his experience would make in Los Angeles. I told him around $75,000 a year. &ldquo;$75,000 American dollars,&rdquo; he replied, shaking his head. &ldquo;I earn 18 dollars a month.&rdquo; Alex was hardly unique&mdash;monthly salaries in Cuba run from about $14 to $20.</p> <p>In Trinidad, a city about five hours southeast of Havana, an older man sitting in his doorway stopped me on my way down the street. He wanted me to give the Americans a message: &ldquo;Hay mucha musica, pero nada de trabajo.&rdquo; We have lots of music, but no work.</p> <p>This jibed with what I&rsquo;d seen of Trinidad. Other than the jobs related to tourism, I couldn&rsquo;t discern any other source of employment. Pablo, my host in Trinidad, was a civil engineer by trade, but a taxi driver by necessity. On one trip through town I asked him what jobs were available to locals beyond the tourist trade. He replied that there weren&rsquo;t any. I found that hard to believe so I asked the same question of an art gallery employee. I got the same answer&mdash;there aren&rsquo;t any other jobs. The only money coming in to that part of the country came from abroad, either in the form of remittances from family members or from tourism. We were, quite literally, the only game in town.</p> <p>In some respects, both sides of the American debate can stand down. Cuba is neither ready for Pizza Hut nor gearing up for broad-based market reforms. Yes, Cuba is changing. People who had been there five or even two years before would tell me how much had already changed. But the reality is that they&rsquo;re starting, slowly, to dig out from a half century deep hole. The infrastructure is in such disarray that they couldn&rsquo;t take a large scale influx of American tourists if they wanted to. And they want to.</p> <p>No one really knows what happens next. But this much seems clear: if you want to see what Cuba was like under socialism, you can come next year. You can come in three years. Five. Ten. It will still be there.</p> <p><strong>Next: What Cubans think of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.</strong></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 13:00:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 275921 at http://www.motherjones.com Stop Romanticizing Your Grandparents' Food http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/05/romanticizing-grandparents-food <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ever been advised to "eat like your grandmother"&mdash;that is, to seek food that's prepared in ways that would be recognized a generation or two ago, untainted by the evils of industrialization? That's nonsense, writes Rachel Laudan in a <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/05/slow-food-artisanal-natural-preservatives/">rollicking essay</a> recently published in <em>Jacobin</em>.</p> <p>Her polemic is actually a reprint. It originally appeared in <em>Gastronomica </em>way back in 2001&mdash;five years before the publication of Michael Pollan's <em>The Omnivore's Dilemma,</em> at the dawn of a boom in farmers markets and other ways to "know your farmer" and "eat local." And yet it's just as bracing to read today as it was then.</p> <p>The backlash against stuff like chicken nuggets and boxed mac 'n' cheese is "based not on history but on a fairy tale," Laudan writes. Food-system reformers tend to evoke a "sunlit past" of wholesome, home-cooked meals, to which she offers a stark riposte: "It never existed."</p> <p>Thing is, implicated though I may be in Laudan's blistering critique, I largely agree with it&mdash;with a caveat.</p> <p>You wouldn't know it from grazing the virtuous bounty on display at Whole Foods, but securing good food has always been a struggle. Laudan, a historian who has <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Cuisine-Empire-Cooking-History-California/dp/0520286316">authored a book on food and empire</a>, spices her essay liberally with pungent facts about preindustrial food. "All too often," she writes, "those who worked the land got by on thin gruels and gritty flatbreads," because all the good stuff went to their feudal lords and a rising urban merchant class. French peasants "prayed that chestnuts would be sufficient to sustain them from the time when their grain ran out to the harvest still three months away," while their Italian counterparts &nbsp;"suffered skin eruptions, went mad, and in the worst cases died of pellagra brought on by a diet of maize polenta and water."</p> <p>And she notes, as <a href="http://grist.org/article/terra-madre-notes-redeeming-fast-food/">I have</a> <a href="http://grist.org/article/food-2010-11-05-in-praise-of-fast-food/">with great relish</a>, that fast food is hardly the invention of midcentury US burger kings. "Hunters tracking their prey, fishermen at sea, shepherds tending their flocks, soldiers on campaign, and farmers rushing to get in the harvest all needed food that could be eaten quickly and away from home," she writes. But the real fast-food action was found in cities, forever packed with people living in tight quarters with few cooking resources:</p> <blockquote> <p>Before the birth of Christ, Romans were picking up honey cakes and sausages in the Forum. In twelfth-century Hangchow, the Chinese downed noodles, stuffed buns, bowls of soup, and deep-fried confections. In Baghdad of the same period, the townspeople bought ready-cooked meats, salt fish, bread, and a broth of dried chick peas. In the sixteenth cen&shy;tury, when the Spanish arrived in Mexico, Mexicans had been enjoying tacos from the market for generations. In the eighteenth century, the French purchased cocoa, apple turnovers, and wine in the boulevards of Paris, while the Japanese savored tea, noodles, and stewed fish.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yum!</p> <p>In short, Laudan has delivered an evocative corrective to the culinary romanticism that pervades our farmers markets and farm-to-table culinary temples.</p> <p>Yet her "plea for culinary modernism" contains its own gaping blind spot. If Laudan's "culinary Luddites" feast on tales of an imaginary prelapsarian food past, she herself presents a gauzy and romanticized view of industrialized food.</p> <p>Starting around 1880, she notes, US and European farmers began spreading more fertilizer and using better farm machinery, sparking the agricultural revolution that's with us today: reliance on hybrid (now genetically modified) seeds, agrichemicals, monocrops. To hear her tell it, it's been nonstop progress ever since.</p> <blockquote> <p>For all, Culinary Modernism had provided what was wanted: food that was processed, preservable, industrial, novel, and fast, the food of the elite at a price everyone could afford. Where modern food became available, populations grew taller, stronger, had fewer diseases, and lived longer. Men had choices other than hard agricultural labor, women other than kneeling at the <em>metate</em> (Mexican corn grinder) five hours a day.</p> </blockquote> <p>What she misses, of course, are the downsides. She celebrates the year-round availability of fruits and vegetables, but doesn't mention the army of ruthlessly exploited workers (Mexicans in the US West, and in the South, until recently, the descendants of enslaved African Americans) required to plant, tend, and harvest it. Yes, meat, once enjoyed "only on rare occasions" by working people, is now within easy reach of most Americans, but Laudan doesn't pause to ponder what it means for the people <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/10/chain-ted-genoways-spam-hormel" target="_blank">who work for poverty wages in factory-scale slaughterhouses</a>. To speak nothing of fast-food, restaurant, and supermarket workers.</p> <p>Nor does she ponder the people cut off from industrialized food's bounty: The nearly 1 billion people, most of them in the Global South, who lack enough to eat&mdash;many of whom work on plantation-style farms that provide wealthy consumers with coffee, sugar, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables.</p> <p>She also evades the ecological question. Large Midwestern farms provide the grain that feeds our&nbsp;teeming factory meat operations. In doing so, they systemically <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/08/toledos-tapwater-troubles-raise-hard-questions-about-our-ag-system" target="_blank">foul water</a> with <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/health/atrazine/" target="_blank">agrichemicals</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/02/iowas-vaunted-farms-are-losing-topsoil-alarming-rate" target="_blank">hemorrhage topsoil</a>, essentially a fossil resource. Meat farms, meanwhile, have become overreliant on antibiotics&mdash;contributing to an antibiotic-resistance crisis that now <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/01/antibiotic-failure-will-cost-10-million-lives-annualy-2050">claims 700,000 lives worldwide</a>. California's agricultural behemoth, which churns out the bulk of US-grown fruits and vegetables and nearly all US-grown nuts, relies on oversubscribed and <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;ved=0CC8QFjAC&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.motherjones.com%2Ftom-philpott%2F2014%2F04%2Fcalifornia-drought-groundwater-drilling&amp;ei=1x1lVfewHIGhsQWh74CgBQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNH_beTj9olNijtseuyuOk1gn4xusA&amp;sig2=JwbDwZmHfAvd44PhNAmB1Q&amp;bvm=bv.93990622,d.b2w" target="_blank">rapidly depleting water resources</a>. And so on.</p> <p>Finally, there's health. Laudan is right that starvation is mostly a thing of the past in the industrialized world, but she has little to say about how <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182351?journalCode=publhealth" target="_blank">our modern diet is contributing to new forms of misery</a>: high rates of <a href="http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/33/11/2477.full" target="_blank">type 2 diabetes</a>, <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/avoid-these-foods-for-a-healthier-heart" target="_blank">heart disease</a>, and <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/uoe-uoe071513.php" target="_blank">cancer</a>.</p> <p>I share her annoyance at the historical fantasia that often passes for analysis among foodies. The key insight to be drawn from Laudan is that our species has rarely if ever experienced an equitable or sustainable way of feeding itself. But that doesn't mean we should stop trying&mdash;or that monocrops and agrichemicals bring us any closer.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 27 May 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 275861 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver's Epic Takedown of FIFA http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/06/sam-sam-we-finally-shared-a-byline <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! I smell the blood of a soccer governing body!</p> <p>FIFA, the terrible no good band of Europeans who keep forcing us to call soccer "football," saw some of its senior most officials arrested in Switzerland today on American corruption charges.</p> <p>Feel free to take a moment, look at an American flag, and get all teary eyed. (This is why the pilgrims crossed an ocean.)</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Anyway, here is John Oliver's epic takedown of FIFA from&nbsp;his show </span><em style="line-height: 2em;">John Oliver's Epic Takedowns</em><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DlJEt2KU33I?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 27 May 2015 05:14:57 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss and Sam Baldwin 253691 at http://www.motherjones.com US Authorities Just Indicted a Bunch of FIFA Officials on Corruption Charges http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/soccer-soccer-soccer-soccer-soccer-soccer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Swiss authorities just arrested officials from FIFA&nbsp;on <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/sports/soccer/fifa-officials-face-corruption-charges-in-us.html?_r=0" target="_blank">American corruption&nbsp;charges</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>As leaders of FIFA, soccer&rsquo;s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. The arrests were made at the request of the United States Justice Department, which brought charges in the Eastern District of New York, based in Brooklyn, according to law enforcement officials.</p> <p>Prosecutors planned to unseal an indictment soon against more than 10 officials, not all of whom are in Zurich, three law enforcement officials said. The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.</p> </blockquote> <p>USA! USA! Switzerland, also! USA!</p> <p>Anyway<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">, Twitter is going nuts right now with news that&nbsp;</span>America<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;finally beat the world at soccer (which is what they have to call it now by the way).</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">This tweet perfectly sums up the response to this news:</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Turns out all it takes to get Americans to care about soccer is some good old-fashioned organized crime.</p> &mdash; Scafe for Senate (@erinscafe) <a href="https://twitter.com/erinscafe/status/603414461974646784">May 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Contributor Wed, 27 May 2015 04:28:36 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275926 at http://www.motherjones.com The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Seems Like A Real Peach http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/russia-sure-seems-like-a-terrible-place <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">It's not Russia that threatens the West. Its foundations will crash down under the pressure of ISIS and gays (cont) <a href="http://t.co/BqUrojUxod">http://t.co/BqUrojUxod</a></p> &mdash; Dmitry Rogozin (@DRogozin) <a href="https://twitter.com/DRogozin/status/602757574237278208">May 25, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Contributor Wed, 27 May 2015 04:05:00 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275916 at http://www.motherjones.com OMG Look At These Adorable Baby Bears Boxing Each Other. I Want To Hug Them Forever. http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/it-would-be-such-an-adorable-blood-sport-if-we-made-baby-bears-box-for-our-amusement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Department of the Interior just <a href="https://twitter.com/Interior/status/603327823001026563" target="_blank">tweeted</a> this Vine and it is so cute that I want to die. I am dead. I am blogging from the afterlife.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="630" src="https://vine.co/v/ebAg1Piw9bh/embed/simple" width="630"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></p> <p>Goodnight and good luck.</p></body></html> Contributor Tue, 26 May 2015 22:53:31 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275906 at http://www.motherjones.com Qatar Is Treating Its World Cup Workers Like Slaves: Nepal Earthquake Edition http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/world-cup-qatar-nepal-earthquake-soccer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We're still seven years away from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but it seems like the event has been buried under bad news for a decade: everything from allegations of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar" target="_blank">bribery</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">corruption</a> to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/17/qatar-world-cup-worker-amnesty-report" target="_blank">terrible human rights violations.</a> And it doesn't look like it's getting better anytime soon.</p> <p>The latest in a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar" target="_blank">string</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">embarrassments</a>? Qatar's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/qatar-denies-nepalese-world-cup-workers-leave-after-earthquakes" target="_blank">reported refusal</a> to grant bereavement leave to the roughly 400,000 migrant workers from Nepal building stadiums for the World Cup following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/25/nepal-one-month-after-earthquake-emotional-impact-devastating" target="_blank">more than 8,000 countrymen</a>. As a result, many Nepalese workers instead must mourn from construction sites in Qatar.</p> <p>On Saturday, the <em>Guardian</em> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/qatar-denies-nepalese-world-cup-workers-leave-after-earthquakes" target="_blank">reported</a> that the Nepalese government called on FIFA and its sponsors to compel Qatar to grant a short-term leave for Nepalese migrant workers and improve conditions for the 1.5 million workers from throughout South Asia. But the Persian Gulf state rebuffed that request, Nepalese labor minister Tek Bahadur Gurung told the <em>Guardian</em>: "Those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time."</p> <p>Qatari officials challenged that claim, noting that the nation had granted temporary leave to more than 500 Nepalese workers. That's roughly 0.1 percent of the Nepalese&nbsp;migrant workers on the stadium construction project.</p> <p>The latest <em>Guardian </em>report adds to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">mounting criticism</a> from <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/05/mounting-risk-of-world-cup-built-on-abuse-as-qatar-fails-to-deliver-reforms/" target="_blank">human rights organizations</a>, <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/fifa-2022-world-cup-sponsors-visa-adidas-coca-cola-concerned-over-qatars-labor-1932365" target="_blank">corporate sponsors</a>, and foreign officials on Qatar's World Cup preparations. A 2013 <em>Guardian</em> investigation <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead" target="_blank">estimated</a><strong>&nbsp;</strong>that at least 4,000 migrant workers, who face dire <a href="http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11019010" target="_blank">working and living conditions</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/29/qatar-world-cup-stadium-workers-earn-45p-hour" target="_blank">meager pay</a>, will die before kickoff in 2022. Squalid conditions already have led to more than 1,200 worker deaths since Qatar won its 2010 bid to host the World Cup, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/qatar-nepal-workers-world-cup-2022-death-toll-doha" target="_blank">including</a> at least 157 Nepalese workers in 2014. (Nepalese workers <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/qatar-nepal-workers-world-cup-2022-death-toll-doha" target="_blank">have died at a rate</a> of one every two days.)</p> <p>Despite <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/fifa-qatar-2022-world-cup-3002734" target="_blank">calls to move</a> the event to another host country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/dec/23/sepp-blatter-qatar-2022-world-cup-too-little-too-late" target="_blank">has guaranteed</a> that the 2022 World Cup will take place as scheduled. In fact, Qatari labor minister Abudullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi said in May the nation would need more workers to complete the $220 billion stadium and infrastructure construction projects by 2022.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the&nbsp;2018 World Cup in Russia&nbsp;isn't exactly shaping up to be a model event, either: On Monday, Russian officials <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/25/world/europe/ap-soc-wcup-russian-prison-labor.html?_r=1&amp;gwh=753D7BEA0E64ED2153CEB563BD154D99&amp;gwt=pay" target="_blank">announced</a> plans to transport prisoners from camps to work at factories in an effort to drive down the World Cup's cost.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Human Rights International Sports World Cup 2022 Tue, 26 May 2015 21:39:08 +0000 Edwin Rios 275836 at http://www.motherjones.com Judges Are Just Extensions of Political Parties These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/judges-are-just-extensions-political-parties-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From a post by Dara Lind about a court ruling on <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8662523/immigration-fifth-circuit" target="_blank">President Obama's immigration plan:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The two Republican-appointed judges hearing the case sided against the administration, while the Democratic-appointed judge on the panel sided with the White House.</p> </blockquote> <p>How many times have we read sentences exactly like this? It's a wonder that anyone in the country still believes that federal judges are honest brokers these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 21:33:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 275866 at http://www.motherjones.com Bernie Sanders Has the Most Glorious 404 Error Page Ever http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/bernie-sanders-404-error-page <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Think you've landed on the wrong page of Bernie Sanders' campaign site? Fear not. In order to help guide you back<span class="message_content"> to the page you were trying to reach, </span>Sanders, who just announced his presidential bid,&nbsp;created the most terrific <a href="https://berniesanders.com/wtf" target="_blank">error page</a> of any 2016 candidate. Just take a look:</p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Dhot2OJKKZc" width="630"></iframe></p> </center> <p>Follow his directions: "Just scoot down to the bottom of the page and you'll find your way back home to where you should be!" The site is further enhanced by the perfect URL: <em>berniesanders.com/wtf</em>.</p> <p>Bravo, Bernie. <span class="message_content">The broken links may have turned into your first big win. </span></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Tue, 26 May 2015 20:38:29 +0000 Inae Oh 275851 at http://www.motherjones.com Remembering Powerhouse Photographer Mary Ellen Mark http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/05/mary-ellen-mark-photos-mother-jones <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I found out about the death of photographer <a href="http://www.maryellenmark.com/" target="_blank">Mary Ellen Mark</a> the way we learn about the passing of anyone these days&mdash;Facebook. My feed is currently flooded with condolences, remembrances, and laminations for Mark, who died yesterday at age 75.</p> <p>Mark was a powerhouse photographer, a true legend. Her early '80s project on homeless youth, <a href="http://www.maryellenmark.com/books/titles/streetwise/index001_stwise.html" target="_blank"><em>Streetwise</em></a>, remains a canon of documentary photography. In the late '80s and '90s, Mark's work graced the pages of <em>Mother Jones</em> numerous times. Art Director Kerry Tremain made great use of her, both picking up archival images and making assignments such as portraits of journalist I.F. Stone and hip-hop mogul <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2003/09/heeding-hip-hops-higher-calling" target="_blank">Russell Simmons</a>.</p> <p>Mark's work was also featured early in the <em>Mother Jones</em> Fine Prints and Portfolios program, which led to the creation of the <em>Mother Jones</em> Documentary Photo Fund. Her print was part of the New York Portfolio I, alongside other heavy hitters like Nan Goldin, Duane Michaels, Ralph Gibson, and Inge Morath. (Sorry, we no longer have any of the print portfolios.)</p> <p>No doubt there will be many eulogies and recollections of Mark and the impact she made on photography, particularly on social documentary photography, the kind of photography that's been our bread and butter here.</p> <p>Though it's a just a shallow slice of her deep legacy, here's a collection of some of Mark's work for <em>Mother Jones</em>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ifstone-sept89-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>I.F. Stone, September 1989</strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/MJ092__12680.p1-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Russell Simmons, November 2003 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-15thanniversary_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong><em>Mother Jones</em> 15th anniversary issue, 1991 </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-msnov901-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Story on <em>Ms.</em> magazine, November 1990 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-msnov902-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Story on <em>Ms.</em> magazine, November 1990</strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/novdec92-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Jessica Mitford and Maya Angelou, November 1992 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="691" src="/files/mem-cover.jpg" width="524"><div class="caption"><strong>"Hollywood's Washington" cover, January 1991 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And here's a short piece that Leica produced on Mark:</p> <center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4w2aaO9WYh4?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></center></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 26 May 2015 20:33:36 +0000 Mark Murrmann 275841 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is the Unprecedented New Law France Just Passed to Eliminate Supermarket Waste http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/france-supermarket-food-waste-ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, France's parliament unanimously approved a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-parliament-cracks-supermarket-waste-31227139" target="_blank">new law</a> prohibiting large supermarkets from throwing out unsold food,&nbsp;instead mandating stores donate any surplus groceries to charities or for animal feed use.</p> <p>The law, which aims to reduce waste in a country where people trash up to <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/france-food-waste-supermarkets-150522070410772.html" target="_blank">30 kilos of food</a> per person annually, is part of a more general energy and&nbsp; environmental bill.</p> <p>"There's an absolute urgency&mdash;charities are desperate for food," MP <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/france-to-force-big-supermarkets-to-give-away-unsold-food-to-charity" target="_blank">Yves J&eacute;go said.</a> "The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering."</p> <p>The new regulations will also ban the common practice of intentionally destroying unsold food by bleaching it&mdash;a process meant to prevent people from searching for food in dumpsters, which has lead to lawsuits after people became sick from eating spoiled food.</p> <p>Now, the local politician who sparked the law's creation is hoping other countries will adopt similar bans on supermarket waste. Arash Derambarsh, who slammed such bleaching practices as "scandalous" to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/french-supermarkets-donate-food-waste-global-law-campaign" target="_blank"><em>Guardian</em></a>, will take his campaign to a United Nations' summit discussing ways to end poverty this November.</p> <p>In the United States, <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123095923.htm" target="_blank">nearly half </a>of all food goes uneaten and sent to landfills.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Food and Ag International Tue, 26 May 2015 18:39:05 +0000 Inae Oh 275821 at http://www.motherjones.com How Many US Troops Will Be In Iraq By the Time Obama Leaves Office? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/how-many-us-troops-will-be-iraq-time-obama-leaves-office <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over the past few days I've been trying to catch up with the fall of Ramadi and what it means for the war against ISIS. But it's not easy figuring out what really happened.</p> <p>According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Ramadi was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/24/us/politics/ap-us-united-states-iraq-.html?_r=0" target="_blank">yet another debacle for the Iraqi military:</a> <strong>"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.</strong> They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ramadi_isis.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."</p> <p>The inevitable Kenneth Pollack, however, <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2015/05/22-iraq-ramadi-isis-islamic-state-washington" target="_blank">says that just isn't the case:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I think it important to start by putting the fall of Ramadi in its proper perspective. Da&rsquo;ish [ISIS] forces have been battling for Ramadi since December 2013, so while the denouement may have come somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, this is not a new front in the war and it ultimately took Da&rsquo;ish a very long time to take the city. Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) did eventually retreat from the town and abandoned at least some heavy weapons doing so, <strong>most reports indicate they fell back to defensive positions outside the town. They did not simply drop their guns and run pell-mell, as many did in June 2014.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So what does Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi think? He's certain that Carter was fed bad information. Iraqi troops, he says, are just fine: "They have the will to fight, but when they are faced with an onslaught by [the Islamic State] from nowhere . . . with armored trucks packed with explosives &mdash; <strong>the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb &mdash; it gives a very, very bad effect on our forces,&rdquo;</strong> he said.</p> <p>Contra Pollack, then, Abadi thinks ISIS did indeed come "from nowhere." Also, he wants us to know that his troops have the will to fight, but not when facing an enemy that uses actual weapons. Or something.</p> <p>Beyond this, all the usual suspects blame the whole thing on President Obama and his usual weak-kneed reluctance to support our friends overseas. Unfortunately, that matters, regardless of whether or not it's just reflexive partisan nonsense. When it's loud enough and persistent enough, it starts to congeal into conventional wisdom. And if conventional wisdom says that things aren't going well in the war against ISIS, then the pressure to <em>do something</em> ratchets up steadily&mdash;and not just from the usual suspects. The pressure also comes in more reasonable form from sympathetic critics. For example <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0524-mcmanus-isis-strategy-20150524-column.html" target="_blank">here, </a>from Doyle McManus of the <em>LA Times</em>, and <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2014/09/26-pollack-assessing-obama-administration-iraq-syria-strategy" target="_blank">here,</a> from Pollack himself.</p> <p>Zack Beauchamp thinks this friendly criticism matters a lot. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8657965/isis-pollack" target="_blank">Here he is responding to Pollack's piece:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>First, Pollack is right on certain points. For example, the US campaign to equip some Sunni fighters hasn't panned out very well....Second, critics like Pollack are going to jack up the pressure on the administration to put American troops in harm's way. Pollack wants Obama to put American forces on the front lines to more accurately call in US airstrikes. He blames the administration's insistence "that not a single American be killed in this fight" for why this hasn't happened.</p> <p>It's true that the administration has strongly resisted putting American troops in combat positions. That's because they're trying very hard to avoid slouching toward another Iraq war, with a large and growing US combat force that very well might do more harm than good. No combat troops is a red line designed to prevent that escalation.</p> <p>....The foreign policy consensus in Washington is relatively hawkish, so problems with US interventions tend to be seen as problems resulting from not using enough force or committing enough resources. The more the elite consensus shifts against Obama, the more political pressure to escalate will mount. Obama probably will resist it, but the costs of doing so are going up &mdash; as Pollack's piece demonstrates.</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I feel like I've caught up a bit on this. And it hardly matters. It's the same old stuff. On the surface, everyone agrees that this is an Iraqi fight and Iraqis need to fight it. But of course our training of Iraqi troops is woefully inadequate&mdash;something that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers that a decade wasn't long enough to train Iraqi troops back when George Bush was running things. If Obama could make it happen within a few months, he really would be a miracle worker.</p> <p>But if our training mission isn't working, the alternative is wearily obvious: more American boots on the ground&mdash;which is to say, on the front lines. And again, this comes as no surprise. Anyone who was paying attention knew that Obama's lightweight training-first strategy was likely to take years. We also knew that virtually no one in Washington has that kind of patience. Six months is the usual limit. So even among centrists and moderate hawks, pressure is going to grow to adopt a more aggressive strategy. And that means more Americans fighting on the front lines. And when that isn't enough, even more Americans.</p> <p>Can Obama resist this pressure? If anyone can, it would be him. But I'm not sure that even he can hold out for too long.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 17:10:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 275816 at http://www.motherjones.com Sen. Lindsey Graham: Iranians in Pool Halls Are All Liars http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/sen-lindsey-graham-iranians-pool-halls-are-all-liars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Lindsey Graham is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the US Senate. Here he is, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32850481" target="_blank">slipping into his Mr. Hyde role:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Senator Lindsey Graham, the first speaker Friday morning, appearing from Washington via video, spoke of losing his parents as a teenager, working in a pool hall and having to help raise his younger sister&nbsp;&mdash; and how it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_graham_jekyll_hyde_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">relates to his leadership style.</p> <p><strong>"Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room," he said. "I met a lot of liars, and I know Iranians are liars."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well, there you have it. It's not entirely clear to me how you'd become so adept at spotting liars in an open game like pool, but I guess ol' Lindsey managed it.</p> <p>In any case, this is certainly the level of nuance and understanding of world affairs that we're getting accustomed to from the Republican presidential field&mdash;and it's only May. By the time, say, September rolls around, they're going to be competing with each other the same way they did four years ago over border security. It won't be long before we start hearing about nukes, giant domes, and Iron Curtain 2.0. Should be lotsa fun.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 15:20:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 275811 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton Store Features Pantsuit T-Shirt of Your Nightmares http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/hillary-clinton-store-features-pantsuit-t-shirt-your-nightmares <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hillary Clinton's campaign <a href="https://shop.hillaryclinton.com/" target="_blank">store</a> is open for business! The online store, stocked with coffee mugs and items emblazoned with Clinton's official 2016 logo, appears to feature the usual swag expected from a political campaign. But one piece of merchandise stands out. That's the "pantsuit t-shirt," which looks like this:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="404" src="/files/pantsuit.png" width="616"></div> <p>Love seeing Clinton continue to embrace the pantsuit jokes! But for $30, will supporters put their sartorial reputations on the line by wearing what is essentially an awful <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=tuxedo+t+shirt&amp;oq=tuxedo+t+shirt&amp;aqs=chrome.0.0l6.5256j0j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;es_sm=91&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=tuxedo+t+shirt&amp;tbm=shop" target="_blank">tuxedo t-shirt?</a> As for the store's adorable <a href="https://shop.hillaryclinton.com/products/future-voter-onesie" target="_blank">"Future Voter" onesie</a>? Nailed it.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Tue, 26 May 2015 15:12:16 +0000 Inae Oh 275806 at http://www.motherjones.com The Freewheeling Fun of Jazz Guitarist Wes Montgomery's Live Concerts http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/compilation-jazz-guitar-virtuoso-wes-montgomerys-live-concerts-are-great-fun <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HldQ6-RZr5g" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Wes Montgomery<br><em>In the Beginning</em><br> Resonance</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="272" src="/files/Wes-COVER_outlined.jpeg" width="272"></div> <p>Near the end of his life, jazz guitar virtuoso Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) caught the ear of pop audiences with a series of records that were slick and sophisticated, but a little dull. This vibrant two-disc set is far more satisfying. Spanning 1949 to 1958, <em>In the Beginning</em> is dominated by live performances from Montgomery's hometown of Indianapolis, in small-group settings that often featured brothers Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano), along with underrated tenor sax player Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson. The recordings aren't perfect technically, and the playing isn't always razor-sharp, but all concerned sound like they're having a great time, especially Wes, who swings and struts with a freewheeling joy missing from his later work. Also included are five polished studio tracks produced by none other than a 22-year-old Quincy Jones, although these pale next to the spontaneous sounds of Wes Montgomery onstage, finding himself and having fun.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Music Mon, 25 May 2015 20:40:24 +0000 Jon Young 275701 at http://www.motherjones.com Holy Shit! Almonds Require a Ton of Bees http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/05/almonds-now-require-85-percent-us-beehives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Growing 80 percent of the globe's almonds in California doesn't just require <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">massive amounts of water</a>. It also takes a whole bunch of honeybees for pollination&mdash;roughly two hives' worth for every acre of almonds trees,&nbsp;around 1.7 million hives altogether.&nbsp;That's something like 85 percent of all available commercial hives in the United States, Gene Brandi, a California beekeeper who serves as vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation, recently <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/05/15/407071581/beekeepers-reported-losing-42-percent-of-honeybee-colonies-last-summer" target="_blank">told</a> NPR.</p> <p>Now, that vast army of bees&mdash;made up, all told, of <a href="http://it's%20a%20pollination-fixated%20army%20consisting%20of%20more%20than%2080%20billion%20flying,%20buzzing%20soldiers." target="_blank">more than 80 billion</a> flying, buzzing soldiers&mdash;doesn't stay put in California's almond-happy Central Valley all year. The almond bloom typically lasts for just a few weeks (or less) in February. The modern honeybee operation is an itinerant business&mdash;beekeepers move hives throughout the year, in pursuit of paid pollination gigs&mdash;from tangerines in Florida to cherries in Washington state&mdash;as well as good forage for honey.</p> <p>But California's almond bloom is the biggest gig of all&mdash;the "largest managed pollination event anywhere in the world," <em>Scientific American</em> reports. And as US honeybee populations' health has flagged in recent years&mdash;most famously epitomized by the mysterious winter die-offs that began around a decade ago, known as colony collapse disorder&mdash;the almond industry has been drawing in a larger and and larger portion of the nation's available bee hives.</p> <p>One question that arises is: Why do the nation's beekeepers uproot themselves and their winged charges to travel to California each year? The state houses about <a href="http://westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/honey-bee-shortage-alarms-california-almond-industry">500,000 beehives</a>, meaning that more then 1 million come in, from as far away as Maine. What's the incentive?</p> <p>These days, US beekeepers typically make more money from renting out their bees for pollination than they do from producing honey. "Without pollination income, we'd be out of business," Brandi told me. Income from the two sources varies year to year, but pollination income has grown over the years even as honey revenues have fallen, depressed by competition from imported honey. In 2012, for example, US beekeepers brought in <a href="http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Minnesota/Publications/Livestock_Press_Releases/2014/MN_Honey_03_14.pdf">$283 million from honey</a>, versus an estimated <a href="http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1679173/special-article-september_-pollinator-service-market-4-.pdf">$656 million</a> from pollination.</p> <p>And California's almond growers have to shell out big money to draw in their pollinators&mdash;between $165 and $200 per hive, vs $45 to $75 a hive a decade ago, according to the <em><a href="http://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article19537314.html#storylink=cpy">Fresno Bee</a></em>. That's around $309 million, if we assume as average price of $182 per hive, the midpoint of the <em>Bee</em>'s range.</p> <p>What's the impact on overall honeybee health, which has been under heavy pressure over the past decade? There are two potential downsides.</p> <p>The first is from pesticides&mdash;<a href="http://www.cdms.net/LDat/ld08S009.pdf" target="_blank">insect growth regulators</a> and <a href="http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r3902111.html" target="_blank">fungicides</a>&mdash;bees encounter in their travels around almond groves. During the 2014 California almond bloom, between 15 percent and 25 percent of beehives suffered "severe" damage, ranging from complete hive collapse to dead and deformed brood (the next generation of bees incubating in the hive), the&nbsp;Pollinator Stewardship Council <a href="http://http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/support-files/beedeathsamongthealmonds.pdf" target="_blank">estimated</a>. The die-off caused an uproar, and many beekeepers pointed a finger at pesticides&mdash;and they probably had a point, as I showed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/california-almond-farms-blamed-honeybee-die" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>This year, Brandi told me, some beekeepers reported losses, but they weren't nearly as severe or widespread as the ones in 2014. In the wake of the 2014 troubles, the Almond Board of California released a set of <a href="http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/attachments/honey_bee_best_management_practices_for_ca_almonds.pdf" target="_blank">"best management practices"</a> for protecting honeybees during the bloom that, Brandi said, may have influenced growers to avoid particularly harmful pesticide applications. Given that almond growers utterly rely on&mdash;and indeed, pay heavily for&mdash;honeybees for pollinating their crop, it seems logical that they'll avoid poisoning them when possible. There will also be tension, though, as long as almond trees are planted in geographically concentrated and vast groves. Large monocrops provide an ideal habitat for pests like fungi and insects, and thus a strong incentive to respond with chemicals. There's also the possibility that concentrating such a huge portion of the nation's bees in such a tight geographical area facilitates the spread of viruses and other pathogens.</p> <p>The second threat to bee health from pollinating California's massive almond bloom comes from long-distance travel. This one lies at the heart of the beekeeping industry's itinerant business model. Does it compromise bee health to pack hundreds of hives onto a flatbed truck for cross-country trips? The stresses go well beyond the <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/millions-of-honeybees-spill-along-i-5-everybodys-been-stung/" target="_blank">occasional</a> <a href="http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/traffic/2014/05/20/truck-carrying-bees-overturns-on-95-on-ramp/9348173/" target="_blank">truck wreck</a>. <em>Scientific American</em> explains the rigors of apiary highway travel like this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The migration&hellip;continually boomerangs honeybees between times of plenty and borderline starvation. Once a particular bloom is over, the bees have nothing to eat, because there is only that one pollen-depleted crop as far as the eye can see. When on the road, bees cannot forage or defecate. And the sugar syrup and pollen patties beekeepers offer as compensation are not nearly as nutritious as pollen and nectar from wild plants. Scientists have a good understanding of the macronutrients in pollen such as protein, fat and carbohydrate, but know very little about its many micronutrients such as vitamins, metals and minerals&mdash;so replicating pollen is difficult.</p> </blockquote> <p>A 2012 <a href="http://www.hindawi.com/journals/psyche/2012/193029/" target="_blank">paper</a>, coauthored by USDA bee researcher Jeff Pettis, found that long-distance travel may indeed have ill health effects&mdash;the researchers found that "bees experiencing transportation have trouble fully developing their food glands and this might affect their ability to nurse the next generation of workers."</p> <p>Brandi, for his part, dismisses travel as a factor in the overall decline in bee health. "Bees have been traveling back and forth across he country for years," he said&mdash;since long before the colony collapse disorder and other health troubles began to emerge a decade ago, he said. He said bee travel has actually gotten less stressful over the years as beekeepers have upgraded to smoother-riding flatbed trucks. He said other factors, including pesticides, declining biodiversity, and mites (a bee pest) are likely more important drivers of declining bee health.</p> <p>Meanwhile, California almond country's massive appetite for pollination isn't likely to dissipate anytime soon. According to the <a href="http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/201505almac.pdf" target="_blank">latest USDA numbers</a>, acreage devoted to almonds expanded by 5 percent in 2014, and growers continue laying in yet more groves this year, <em>Western Farm Press</em> <a href="http://westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/california-almonds-break-one-million-acre-plateau" target="_blank">reports</a>. Land&nbsp;devoted to almonds has grown 50 percent since 2005&mdash;and every time farmers add another acre of trees, they need access to two additional bee hives for pollination.&nbsp;</p> <p>So why don't more beekeepers simply move to California and stay put, to take advantage of the world's biggest&mdash;and growing&mdash;pollination gig? I put that question to longtime bee expert Eric Mussen of the University of California-Davis. He said the state is already home to 500,000 of the nation's 2.7 million hives. The almond bloom is great for a few weeks, but in terms of year-round foraging, "California is already at or near its carrying capacity for honeybees," he said&mdash;the areas with the best-quality forage are already well stocked with bees.So satisfying the world's ever-growing appetite for almonds will continue to require an annual armada of beehive-laden trucks.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Econundrums Food and Ag Top Stories almonds Mon, 25 May 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 275631 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart: America Is More Liberal Than Politicians Think http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/chart-day-politicians-dont-know-their-own-districts-very-well <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_conservative_attitudes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here's a fascinating tidbit of research. <a href="https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~broockma/broockman_skovron_asymmetric_misperceptions.pdf" target="_blank">A pair of grad students surveyed 2,000 state legislators</a> and asked them what they thought their constituents believed on several hot button issues. They then compared the results to actual estimates from each district derived from national surveys.</p> <p>The chart on the right is typical of what they found: Everyone&mdash;both liberal and conservative legislators&mdash;thought their districts were more conservative than they really were. For example, in districts where 60 percent of the constituents supported universal health care, liberal legislators estimated the number at about 50 percent. Conservative legislators were even further off: They estimated the number at about 35 percent.</p> <p>Why is this so? The authors don't really try to guess, though they do note that legislators don't seem to learn anything from elections. The original survey had been conducted in August, and a follow-up survey conducted after elections in November produced the same result.</p> <p>My own guess would be that conservatives and conservatism simply have a higher profile these days. Between Fox News and the rise of the tea party and (in the case of universal health care) the relentless jihad of Washington conservatives, it's only natural to think that America&mdash;as well as one's own district&mdash;is more conservative than it really is. But that's just a guess. What's yours?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts 2016 Elections Elections The Right Top Stories Sun, 24 May 2015 15:28:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 275786 at http://www.motherjones.com Michael B. Jordan Just Slammed People Who Can’t Deal With One of the Fantastic 4 Being Black—And It’s Great http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/michael-b-jordan-trolls-human-torch-can-be-black-too <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_rRoD28-WgU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>These days, when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, the superheroes that end up saving the day are normally straight, white men&mdash;at least on the big screen.&nbsp;</p> <p>While Marvel's comics have become increasingly more diverse over the years with a <a href="http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Next-Spider-Man-May-Another-White-Guy-69939.html" target="_blank">half-black, half-Hispanic Spiderman</a> and a <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2015/05/marvels-female-superhero-renaissance.html" target="_blank">female version of Thor</a>, its cinematic universe <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/women-superheroes-movies-marvel-sony-hunger-games" target="_blank">remains largely male</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/marvel-diversity-problem-avengers-shield-comics.html" target="_blank">whitewashed</a>. This is why the backlash to Michael B. Jordan being cast in the highly-anticipated reboot of&nbsp;<em>Fantastic </em><em>Four</em>is so disheartening. When the actor was originally confirmed to play Johnny Storm a.k.a the Human Torch, naysayers took to social media to complain about the black actor would be playing a traditionally white character. (When <em>TMZ</em> <a href="http://screenrant.com/fantastic-four-michael-b-jordan-human-torch-criticism/" target="_blank">asked</a> what he thought of the criticism, Jordan quipped: "They're still going to see [the movie] anyway.")</p> <p>Attention, trolls and comic book purists:&nbsp;The idea that Jordan shouldn't be Johnny Storm because he's black is misguided, because, you know, comic books are fictional and so are the movies.&nbsp;Anyone can fill these roles and&nbsp;do a great job (see Idris Elba<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZXjQee9VA4" target="_blank"> as a Norse god in&nbsp;<em>Thor</em></a>).</p> <p><a href="http://www.ew.com/article/2015/05/22/michael-b-jordan-fantastic-four-race" target="_blank">In an essay</a>&nbsp;published Friday&nbsp;in <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>, Jordan slammed&nbsp; people who are having a hard time accepting that in the new movie only three&nbsp; of the fantastic four are white.</p> <blockquote> <p>This is a family movie about four friends&mdash;two of whom are myself and Kate Mara as my adopted sister&mdash;who are brought together by a series of unfortunate events to create unity and a team. That&rsquo;s the message of the movie, if people can just allow themselves to see it.</p> <p>Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, "I&rsquo;ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I&rsquo;ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations."&nbsp;I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won&rsquo;t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that "it has to be true to the comic book."&nbsp;Or maybe we have to reach past them.</p> <p>To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends&rsquo; friends and who they&rsquo;re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It&rsquo;s okay to like it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Let's sum up Jordan's smackdown in one line: The Human Torch is whatever&nbsp;Marvel says it is. You can see how Jordan does in theaters on August 7.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Race and Ethnicity Sun, 24 May 2015 00:25:19 +0000 Edwin Rios 275781 at http://www.motherjones.com