Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en NBA Player Kisses Sideline Reporter, Calls Her the Wrong Name <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Before Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers took the court Friday to play the Dallas Mavericks, Allie Clifton, a Fox News Ohio reporter, tried to interview him about his game strategy.</p> <p>After haphazardly answering one of her questions, Thompson calls her "Tina," winks at the camera, and then kisses her on the cheek before running away.</p> <p>Here's video of the incident:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Contrary to some of the sports media's reporting, kissing a reporter on air while she is working is not "<a href="">an unexpected gift</a>" or "<a href="">harmless, and nothing more than an awkward one-sided exchange</a>." It's downright uncomfortable and belittling, even if Clifton maintained utter professionalism throughout. As Kelly Dwyer at <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Yahoo Sports</em></a> put it: "This isn't cute or funny or meme-worthy&hellip;Just because you're working with someone of the opposite sex, it doesn't mean a sly innuendo, pat on the rear, or kiss on national television is in any way appropriate."</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Sports Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:56:15 +0000 Hannah Levintova 262836 at EPA: Those Bee-Killing Pesticides? They're Actually Pretty Useless <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So, there's this widely used class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, marketed by chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta, that have emerged as a <a href="" target="_blank">prime</a> <a href="" target="_blank">suspect</a> in honeybee collapse, and may also be harming <a href="" target="_blank">birds</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">water-borne critters</a>. But at least they provide benefits to farmers, right?</p> <p>Well, not soybean farmers, according to a blunt economic assessment released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency (<a href="" target="_blank">PDF</a>). Conclusion: "There are no clear or consistent economic benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybeans."</p> <p>Wait, what?</p> <p>The report goes on: "This analysis provides evidence that US soybean growers derive limited to no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments in most instances."</p> <p>Hmmm. But at least they're better for farmers than no pesticide at all?</p> <p>Nope: "Published data indicate that most usage of neonicotinoid seed treatments does not protect soybean yield any better than doing no pest control."</p> <p>Ouch.</p> <p>The EPA notes that in recent years, US farmers have been planting on average 76 million acres of soybeans each season. Of those acres, an average 31 percent are planted in seeds treated with neonics&mdash;that is, farmers buy treated seeds, which suffuse the soybean plants with the chemical as they grow. So that's about 24 million acres of neonic-treated seeds&mdash;an area equal in size to the <a href="" target="_blank">state of Indiana</a>. Why would farmers pay up for a seed treatment that doesn't do them any good, yet may be doing considerable harm to pollinators and birds? The EPA report has insights: "data from researchers and extension experts ... indicate that some growers currently have some difficulty obtaining untreated seed." The report points to one small poll that found 45 percent of respondents reported finding non-treated seeds "difficult to obtain" or "not available."</p> <p>Another reason may be marketing. Syngenta, for example, promotes its <a href=";ProdNM=CruiserMaxx%20Beans" target="_blank">"CruiserMaxx"</a> seed treatment for soybeans, which combines a <a href="" target="_blank">neonic insecticide</a> with two different fungicides. The pitch: "Promotes better emergence, faster speed to canopy, improved vigor and higher yield potential.<br> Protects against damaging chewing and sucking insect pests. ... Increases yield even under low insect pressure."</p> <p>Only one US crop is planted more abundantly than soybeans: corn, which typically <a href="" target="_blank">covers around 90 million acres</a>. According to Purdue entomologist Christian Krupke, <a href="" target="_blank">"virtually all"</a> of it is from neonic-treated seeds. That's a land mass just 10 percent smaller than <a href="" target="_blank">California</a>. You have to wonder what bang those farmers are getting for their buck. I have a query into the EPA to see whether it has plans to conduct a similar assessment for corn. Meanwhile, this March <a href="" target="_blank">2014 Center for Food Safety research report,</a> which was reviewed by Krupke and Jonathan Lundgren, a research entomologist at the US Department of Agriculture, found that the bee-killing pesticides offer at best limited benefits to corn farmers, too.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Sat, 18 Oct 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 262791 at Would Joe Biden Put His Son In Prison For Doing Coke? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So the son of our Vice President was <a href="">booted from the military for doing coke</a>. This must be an awkward situation for Joe Biden, given his role in cracking down on drug use over the last few decades. Joe Biden created the position of &ldquo;drug czar,&rdquo; a key step in the drug war. As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986, he played a major role in passing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. He was the main sponsor of the RAVE Act in 2003, meant to crack down on MDMA use, which would have held club owners liable for providing &ldquo;paraphernalia&rdquo; like glowsticks and water. He still <a href="">vocally opposes marijuana legalization</a>.</p> <p>To be clear: Hunter Biden wasn&rsquo;t caught with actual cocaine. He just failed a drug test. But what if he'd happened to be found with a little bag in his pocket? Would Joe Biden would find it fair for him to serve 87 months, which is the average federal sentence for drug possession?</p> <p>Of course, were Hunter Biden to be caught with powder cocaine, he would likely fare better than someone caught with crack. To his credit, Joe Biden himself has pushed for reducing the longstanding sentencing disparity between crack and regular cocaine, but possession of 28 grams of crack still triggers a five-year minimum sentence. It takes 500 grams of regular cocaine to trigger the same sentence. That&rsquo;s an 18-to-one difference. (African Americans make up 83 percent of <a href="">people convicted for crack</a> offenses, even though the number of white crack users is 40 percent greater than that of black users, according to a <a href="">National Institute on Drug Abuse</a> study).</p> <p>America has more prisoners than any other country&mdash;a quarter of all people behind bars in the entire world are in US prisons or jails. Nearly half of all federal prisoners are serving sentences for drugs. Many of them won't have a chance to "regret" their mistakes and move on, as Hunter Biden has said he will.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Human Rights Prisons Fri, 17 Oct 2014 22:19:41 +0000 Shane Bauer 262806 at Now Congressional Republicans Are Digging Through Scientists' Grant Proposals <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When scientists across the country need money for research projects, one place they often turn is the National Science Foundation. The NSF is <a href="" target="_blank">an independent federal agency</a> with an annual budget of about $7 billion, which it doles out to fund about a quarter of all federally supported science research.</p> <p>Of course, the agency doesn't just give money away to anyone who asks. Proposals have to survive a rigorous review process that includes close scrutiny by a panel of top scientists in the relevant field. Competition is fierce: Of the <a href="" target="_blank">49,000 proposals</a> submitted in 2013, only a fifth were ultimately funded. So as far as most scientists are concerned, an NSF grant is about the highest mark of scientific legitimacy a research project can get.</p> <p>Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) apparently disagrees. Over the last 18 months, Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched an aggressive campaign against what he sees as misguided money management at NSF that fritters funds away on frivolous research. Research on ridiculous things like, you know, climate change.</p> <p>Smith's committee is responsible for setting the NSF's budget. But in the last year, the Congressman has gone to unprecedented lengths to scrutinize the agency's scientific operations. His staffers are sifting through the archives of NSF grant proposal materials, which are normally kept strictly confidential to preserve scientific objectivity. They're looking for projects to highlight as evidence that NSF is wasting money on research that, from their view, aren't in the "national interest."</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">great recent story in <em>Science</em></a> lays out Smith's strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade&hellip;</p> <p>The peculiar exercise is part of a long-running and bitter battle that is pitting Smith and many of his panel's Republican members against [Rep. Eddie Bernice] Johnson [the committee's ranking Democrat] and the panel's Democrats, NSF's leadership, and the academic research community&hellip;</p> <p>Smith, however, argues he is simply taking seriously Congress's oversight responsibility. And he promises to stay the course: "Our efforts will continue until NSF agrees to only award grants that are in the national interest," he wrote in a 2 October e-mail to <em>Science</em>Insider.</p> </blockquote> <p>The tally of projects under scrutiny by Smith's team has now grown to 47 (a listing of them is linked to in the <em>Science</em> story above). On one hand, that's a lot. The confidentiality of the NSF review process is a long-established, sacred scientific practice that protects research from bias and makes sure only the cream rises to the top. So any cracks in that firewall, and certainly any whiff of political interference, are of great concern to the scientific community.</p> <p>On the other hand, the 47 grants represent only a tiny fraction of the NSF's total operation; together, they amount to about $26 million, or 0.37 percent of NSF's budget. Which raises the questions of why Smith would (a) throw himself into an investigation of spending that, all things considered, is barely a drop in the federal bucket and (b) pick these specific projects to focus on. A spokesperson from Smith's committee&mdash;who provided a statement on behalf of Smith's office (the same statement quoted by <em>Science </em>above)&mdash;did not respond to these questions.</p> <p>Many of the studies at issue involve social sciences (a study of caste systems in Ethiopia, for example, and one about rural sanitation in India) that fall outside the core areas of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and biology that Smith, in a <a href="" target="_blank">press release this spring</a>, singled out as "the primary drivers of our economic future."</p> <p>But some of the biggest-ticket items up for public dissection focus on climate change. They include a $3 million grant awarded in 2008 to study how federal agencies can better communicate climate science to the public and a $5.6 million award to a Columbia University team to carry out public education work on the impacts of climate change at the poles. You know, totally frivolous questions that have nothing to do with the "national interest" on things like rising sea levels, <a href="" target="_blank">epic releases of methane</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">US military engagement in the Arctic</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">new areas for offshore oil drilling</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">35,000 stranded walruses</a>. Definitely not stuff you need to worry about, or have our top scientists investigate and explain.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">letters over the past few months</a> between Smith and NSF director France C&oacute;rdova, an astrophysicist and former president of Purdue University, are a great new entry in the annals of <a href="" target="_blank">government scientists explaining Science 101 to Republican Congressmen</a>.</p> <p>"NSF's investment in meritorious research projects enables new and transformative discoveries within and among those fields and disciplines, resulting in the expansion of our scientific knowledge and understanding," she wrote to him on May 19.</p> <p>In other words, basic science shouldn't be judged by how closely it hews to a predetermined, profitable advance. The Large Hadron Collider probably isn't ever going to do much for the US economy, but that doesn't mean it's not in the "national interest" for us to understand the basic physics of the universe. Sometimes, even research on the <a href="" target="_blank">mechanics of corkscrew-shaped duck penises</a> can be a worthy investment of taxpayer dollars.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Science Top Stories Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:22:12 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262801 at The Head of the Federal Reserve Just Gave a Rousing Speech on Inequality <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, Janet Yellen presented a thorough speech outlining the inherent problems income inequality presents to the American ideology, proving once again she is committed to using her role as Federal Reserve chair to tackle widening income inequality rates.</p> <p>"The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me," Yellen told the Federal Reserve of Boston. "The past several decades have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century after more than 40 years of narrowing inequality following the Great Depression."</p> <p>&ldquo;I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation&rsquo;s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity," she added.</p> <p>The speech, titled "Perspectives on Inequality and Opportunity from the Survey of Consumer Finances," follows several notable <a href="" target="_blank">instances</a> in which Yellen has indicated she would be actively working towards reducing wealth inequality&ndash;a more pointed approach that distances her from her predecessors, former chairs <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSumSmallMediaHigh&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=0" target="_blank">Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.</a> In Friday's speech, Yellen also echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) calls to fix the burden of rising higher education costs.</p> <p>As continued evidence has shown, income inequality rates have soared over the last few decades, with the average income of the one percent rising more than 175 percent since 1980, while the bottom 90 percent hardly moved.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/incomeyellen.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Yellen's speech on Friday made no mention of any specific policy changes the Federal Reserve may take on to combat inequality rates, it did signal a significant shift in how the Federal Reserve views inequality as a serious hindrance to the country's economic health. To read Yellen's speech in its entirety, <a href="" target="_blank">click here.</a></p></body></html> MoJo Income Inequality Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:59:15 +0000 Inae Oh 262781 at Friday Cat Blogging - 17 October 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I don't know about you, but I could stand to have catblogging a little earlier than usual this week. What you see here is one of the many cat TVs now installed in our home. This is the dining room TV. There are also cat TVs in the kitchen and the study. The kitchen TV apparently has most of its good shows at night, and it's not clear what those shows are about. But they are extremely entrancing.</p> <p>The dining room TV, by contrast, is sort of our workhorse cat TV. They both love it all day long. Needless to say, this is something new for both Hopper and Hilbert, since they spent the first ten months of their lives in a shelter, where cat TV mostly just starred other cats. Who knew there were so many other channels to choose from?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2014_10_17.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:15:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 262796 at What World Leader Has Done the Most Damage to the Global Economy? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Who's worse: <a href="" target="_blank">Amity Shlaes</a> or <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpHeadline&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">Angela Merkel</a>? You have to give the nod to Merkel, of course. Unlike Shlaes, who is limited to cheering on horrifically bad ideas that would immiserate millions, Merkel has the power to actually <em>implement</em> horrifically bad ideas that immiserate millions. And she has. So Merkel it is.</p> <p>Now, if instead the question were how Merkel compares to, say, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, then it would be a tougher choice. I think Merkel would still win, though. When it comes to bullheaded insistence on terrible economic policy, she's hard to top.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:57:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 262786 at Finally, Nigeria's Kidnapped Schoolgirls Are Coming Home <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, Nigeria's government <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> it had reached a deal with Boko Haram to release the approximately <a href="" target="_blank">200 schoolgirls held captive</a> by the Islamist terror group since April.</p> <p>The agreement, announced by the country's defense minister, also involves a cease fire between Boko Haram and Nigeria's military. The government expects the terror group will not back out on the deal. "Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine," an official with Nigeria's security forces <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Reuters</em> Friday</a>. "It is worth taking seriously."</p> <p>Boko Haram militants abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from Chibok boarding school in northern Nigeria in mid-April, sparking a worldwide outcry and propelling the group onto to the international stage for the first time. Over fifty of the girls escaped early on. The rest have remained in captivity ever since.</p> <p>Boko Haram, whose name roughly means "Western education is sinful," has been terrorizing Nigeria since 2009 in an effort to return the country to the pre-colonial era of Muslim rule. Over the past half-decade, the Islamist group has killed <a href="" target="_blank">approximately 5,000 Nigerians</a> the group regards as pro-government in attacks on&nbsp;schools, churches, and mosques, as well as military checkpoints, police stations, highways, and a bus station in the capital city of Abuja.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo International Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:24:47 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 262776 at Hurricane Gonzalo Is Going to Slam Bermuda Today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The photo above was <a href="" target="_blank">taken yesterday</a> by an astronaut on the International Space Station. It shows Hurricane Gonzalo barreling across the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda.</p> <p>Gonzalo, currently a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in Bermuda this afternoon before veering back out to sea and away from the US East Coast. meteorologists <a href="" target="_blank">are warning</a> that the damage could be severe, with "a large and life-threatening storm surge [that] could exceed 10 feet and cause a major rise in water levels over coastal areas and causeways."</p> <p>Stay safe, Bermudans.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:47:50 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262766 at WHO Admits That It Failed Utterly In Its Response to Ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Guardian</em> has a fairly chilling story today about an internal report from the World Health Organization that basically concludes WHO <a href="" target="_blank">completely botched its response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The UN health agency acknowledged that, at times, even its own bureaucracy was a problem. It noted that the heads of WHO country offices in Africa are &ldquo;politically motivated appointments&rdquo; made by the WHO regional <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ebola.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, who does not answer to the agency&rsquo;s chief in Geneva, Dr Margaret Chan.</p> <p>....At a meeting of WHO&rsquo;s network of outbreak experts in June, Dr Bruce Aylward, who is normally in charge of polio eradication, alerted Chan to the serious concerns being raised about WHO&rsquo;s leadership in west Africa. He wrote an email that some of the agency&rsquo;s partners including national health agencies and charities believed the agency was &ldquo;compromising rather than aiding&rdquo; the response to Ebola and that &ldquo;none of the news about WHO&rsquo;s performance is good.&rdquo;</p> <p>Five days later, Chan received a six-page letter from the agency&rsquo;s network of experts, spelling out what they saw as severe shortcomings in WHO&rsquo;s response to the deadly virus.</p> </blockquote> <p>Click the link for more details. A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with someone about why everyone was freaking out about Ebola, and I mentioned that distrust of government experts was part of the reason. And that's hardly unreasonable. The CDC has now admitted that its response was slow and inept in many respects, and WHO was apparently just flatly incompetent. So when CDC experts tell us, for example, that stopping flights from west Africa would be counterproductive, is it any wonder that lots of people don't believe them? The truth is that I'm not sure I believe them either. After all, what have they done over the past couple of weeks to earn my trust?</p> <p>Maybe this is unfair. And I'm hardly here to defend the media's insane, panic-promoting coverage of Ebola. Still, you can't publicly screw up over and over and then act bewildered when the public no longer trusts anything you say.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:39:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 262771 at Mitch McConnell Flips-Flops on an Ebola Flight Ban—Within 24 Hours <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Many Ebola experts think that banning travel to the US from West Africa, where an outbreak of the deadly virus has killed thousands of people, would <a href="" target="_blank">do more harm than good</a>. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <a href="" target="_blank">agree</a>. But Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can't seem to settle on a position. On Tuesday and&nbsp;Wednesday, he stumped both for a ban and for letting the experts decide&mdash;a&nbsp;flip-flop within 24 hours.<a href="#correction">*</a></p> <p>In <a href="">an interview with NBC News</a>, McConnell was asked if he thought the US should ban flights from West Africa. "I'd leave that up to the CDC to determine what the techniques ought to be in trying to contain the disease," he said. He added, "I think we ought to listen to what the CDC thinks they need either in terms of financing or certainly they'll decide the procedures for travel and all the rest. I think we need to follow the advice of the experts who know how to fight scourges like this."</p> <p>Here's video of the NBC interview:</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="500" scrolling="no" src="" width="635"></iframe></p> <p>But less than 24 hours later, McConnell abruptly changed course. Asked by <a href=";utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Cn2Politics+%28cn%7C2+Pure+Politics%29">a Kentucky TV station</a> about containing Ebola, McConnell said the US needs to "do everything we can to try to contain the problem where it is." He went on, "I'm not an expert on this, but it strikes me that it would be a good idea to discontinue flights into the United States from that part of the world."</p> <p>Here's that video:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>There are currently no direct flights from the Ebola-affected countries to the US, the <em>New York Times' </em>Jonathan Weisman <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> Friday.</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction</em>: The original version of this post stated that the NBC News and Kentucky interviews occurred on the same day.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Elections Health Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:52:47 +0000 Andy Kroll 262756 at Chart of the Day: Inflation Is Down, Down, Down <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sometimes it's worth posting the same chart over and over in order to elbow it firmly into the public consciousness. So here's the inflation chart again. <a href="" target="_blank">This version comes via Matt O'Brien,</a> and it covers four of the biggest economies in the world. The message is simple: inflation is down everywhere. There are blips from month to month, but ignore them. The big picture couldn't be clearer.</p> <p>Bottom line: Nobody knows what will happen in the long term, but for now we simply shouldn't be worrying about inflation. We should be worrying about growth and unemployment. Inflation just isn't a problem.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_global_inflation_october_2014.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:33:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 262761 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 17, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines watch explosives detonate from afar in the Philippines during a training exercise.&nbsp;<span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_1_1413552659259_1489">(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolam)</span> </em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:37:53 +0000 262746 at Film Review: "The Hand That Feeds" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The Hand That Feeds</strong></p> <p>JUBILEE FILMS</p> <p>At the beginning of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Hand That Feeds</em></a>, Mahoma L&oacute;pez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, counts out the $290 he's just received for a 60-hour workweek in a deli on New York City's ritzy Upper East Side. The film feels like a familiar tale of exploitation and wage theft, until L&oacute;pez and his <a href="" target="_blank">Hot &amp; Crusty</a> coworkers stand up and fight back. In this behind-the-scenes look at the <a href="" target="_blank">ensuing labor dispute</a>, directors Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick lead us through the struggles and eventual triumph of L&oacute;pez &amp; Co. as they enlist the help of activists and, notably, a group of Occupy Wall Street-influenced twentysomethings. Despite the film's narrow focus&mdash;which leaves out some much-needed context about the treatment of immigrants in the restaurant biz&mdash;it's an inspiring tale.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Immigration Income Inequality Labor Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:50:04 +0000 Ian Gordon 261441 at Talk, Talk, Talk to Your Kids <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've long been sort of interested in the ongoing research that shows the importance of building vocabulary in children. This is famously summarized as the "30 million word gap," thanks to findings that high-income children have heard 30 million more words than low-income children by age 3. But apparently new research is modifying these findings somewhat. It turns out that <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">quality may be more important than quantity:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A study presented on Thursday at a White House conference on &ldquo;bridging the word gap&rdquo; found that among 2-year-olds from low-income families, quality interactions involving words &mdash; the use of shared symbols (&ldquo;Look, a dog!&rdquo;); rituals (&ldquo;Want a bottle after your bath?&rdquo;); and conversational fluency (&ldquo;Yes, that is a bus!&rdquo;) &mdash; were a far better predictor of language skills at age 3 than any other factor, including the quantity of words a child heard.</p> <p>....In a related finding, published in April, researchers who observed 11- and 14-month-old children in their homes found that the prevalence of one-on-one interactions and frequent use of parentese &mdash; the slow, high-pitched voice commonly used for talking to babies &mdash; were reliable predictors of language ability at age 2. The total number of words had no correlation with future ability.</p> </blockquote> <p>In practice, talking more usually leads to talking better, so there's probably a little less here than meets the eye. Still, it's interesting stuff. Regardless of parental education level, it turns out that simply interacting with your newborn more frequently and more conversationally makes a big difference. So forget the baby Mozart, all you new parents. Instead, just chatter away with your kids. It's cheaper and it works better.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Education Fri, 17 Oct 2014 05:01:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 262736 at Flooding the Zone on Ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For the record, I want to note that the top <em>five</em> stories currently featured on the <em>Washington Post</em> home page are about Ebola. If you count related pieces, it's the top nine. That is all.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wapo_ebola.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Media Fri, 17 Oct 2014 02:02:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 262731 at Watch Jon Stewart Try to Explain White Privilege to Bill O'Reilly <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last night, Bill O'Reilly went on <em>The Daily Show </em>and Jon Stewart asked him to admit that there is such a thing in the world as white privilege. What followed was a pretty entertaining shouting match!</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Watch</a>:</p> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div></body></html> Mixed Media Media Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:31:54 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 262711 at People Are Trying to Sell Cinnamon Bark as an Ebola Cure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Marion Nestle <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that several supplement manufacturers are selling vitamins that promise to prevent or treat Ebola. The claims caught the attention of the FDA, which has issued <a href="" target="_blank">warning letters</a> to three of the manufacturers: <a href="" target="_blank">Natural Solutions Foundation</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Young Living</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">DoTERRA International LLC</a>. The agency lists specific claims it finds worrisome; for example, on a Young Living consultant's website, "Ebola Virus can not live in the presence of cinnamon bark."</p> <p>Here's a screenshot from Natural Solutions Foundations' website:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-16%20at%2011.50.59%20AM_0.png"></div> <p>An <a href="" target="_blank">article</a> on the Natural Solutions site talks about "the intentional introduction of Ebola into the United States by what will appear to be ISIS terrorists." It continues, "And it will happen soon, since we know from Dr. Rima's research that Ebola can become an airborne disease in temperate climates, such as North America's coming winter." It urges readers to prepare by stocking up on supplements that contain nanoparticles of silver: "The only protection we have against this new level of tyranny is making sure we do not get sick!!! The best way to do that is to make sure that EVERYONE you can reach has Nano Silver and knows how to use it."</p> <p>Another supposed natural Ebola cure making the rounds: Vitamin C. Nestle found this gem on an alternative health information site called <a href="" target="_blank">NaturalHealth365</a>, which claims that a giant dose of vitamin C can cure Ebola (though it doesn't actually sell Vitamin C):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ebola-vitamin.gif"><div class="caption">NaturalHealth365</div> </div> <p>It's not terribly surprising that supplement manufacturers have seized on Ebola. A new Harvard School of Public Health <a href="" target="_blank">poll</a> has found that 38 percent of Americans&nbsp;(up from 25 percent <a href="" target="_blank">a few months ago</a>) "are now concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year." That's quite a market.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:57:45 +0000 Kiera Butler 262701 at Fox News Actually Just Asked This Poll Question <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Fox News is the number one cable news network in this country&mdash;by a wide margin&mdash;largely because it kills it with old people. If you are an old white person in the United States who watches cable news, you probably watch Fox. How does Fox rack up such stellar ratings among the twilight of life set? Well, it shouts about <strike>Matlock</strike> how the country ain't what it used to be. With Vaseline on the lens, it plays the nostalgia game and confirms old people's belief that the America they grew up in was actually as great as they've romanticized it to be. Everything wrong with the world today? That wasn't a problem back in the ol' days! Ebola? ISIS? Not in their day! The internet did it! The gays did it! The rock &amp; roll did it! This country used to stand for something, by howdy! What is this world coming to? Where is it going?</p> <p>Really: Where <em>is</em> this world going?</p> <p>To Hell.</p> <p>To Hell in a handbasket!</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Actual Fox News poll question: Is everything going to hell in a handbasket? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Media Matters (@mmfa) <a href="">October 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>This week, Fox <a href="" target="_blank">conducted a poll </a>of registered voters and asked if they think the world is going "to Hell in a handbasket" or whether "everything will be alright."</p> <p>Fifty-eight percent think the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. Fifty-eight percent are wrong.</p> <p>Look, aging isn't easy. It's a humbling sentence of inexorable graying punctuated by death. The way that people deal with old age is their own. No one can blame the 58 percent of registered voters who think the country is "going to Hell in a handbasket.' They're reacting from a very real place of loss and concern and guilt that they drove the economy into the ground. But, to be real, old people, chill. It's going to be fine.</p> <p>The good ol' days weren't so good. There has never been a better time to be alive in America. People live longer and better lives than at any other time in history. Today was better than yesterday, tomorrow will be better still. If I gave you a time machine and told you that you could take a one way trip anywhere in time, the only reasonable answer would be the future.</p> <p>P.S. It's worth noting that Fox clearly only worded the poll that way so that they could write the headline, "<a href="" target="_blank">As election nears, voters say things are 'going to hell in a handbasket</a>.'"</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:55:44 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 262696 at Sorry, California. Winter Isn't Going to Fix Your Drought. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/drought-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>California's crippling drought is not expected to improve over the winter, according to <a href="" target="_blank">new forecast data</a> released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.</p> <p>Nearly 60 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought&mdash;the worst category&mdash;NOAA reported. The map above shows that the northern California coast could see some improvement. But in the Central Valley, a critical source of <a href="" target="_blank">fruits, nuts, and vegetables</a> for the whole country, conditions won't be getting better any time soon. A little rain is expected, NOAA forecaster Mike Halpert said in a statement, but not enough to reverse the trend.</p> <p>"While we're predicting at least a 2 in 3 chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The report adds that El Ni&ntilde;o, which tends to brings wet weather for the West Coast, is expected to be weak this winter and thus won't provide much relief.</p> <p>California's winter is also more than 50 percent likely to be warmer than average:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="temp map" class="image" src="/files/temp-map.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>And in case you're still wondering why you should care about California's drought, try this: The state is the country's number-two pumpkin producer. And with Halloween approaching, <a href="" target="_blank">pumpkin prices have jumped 15 percent</a> because of the drought. Scary!</p></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:32:35 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262676 at Iraq Is Cutting Off Electricity From Regions Held By ISIS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a fascinating little factlet: Areas of northern Iraq controlled by ISIS have suffered "massive reductions" in electricity use. A small part of this is probably due to reduced demand thanks to the economic damage ISIS has wreaked. But Andrew Shaver says <a href="" target="_blank">that's not the primary explanation:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The observed reductions have resulted from changes in supply. Fighting between Iraqi military and Islamic State forces has resulted in some downed transmission lines, although this factor alone cannot explain the massive reductions. And there is little evidence that the Islamic State seeks to keep to the lights off in the areas it now controls.</p> <p>....<strong>A distinct possibility is that the Iraqi central government has cut off power to areas of the country under Islamic State control.</strong> Iraq&rsquo;s Kurdistan regional government has done so. Under this scenario, Baghdad may be calculating that by restricting the supply of electricity, affected Iraqis will direct blame for the lost electricity on the occupying militants. If they do, the government may benefit as local Iraqis report on the Islamic State&rsquo;s activities, passively resist the organization and so on.</p> <p>Whatever the cause of the massive reductions, <strong>the longer the lights remain out, the more accustomed citizens in heavily Shiite areas like Basrah are likely to become to their newfound electricity levels.</strong> It may be worth considering how these communities will react if and when their electricity levels are reduced to once again provide for Iraq&rsquo;s Sunni communities, some of which supported ISIS as the organization first pushed into Iraq.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't actually have anything to add to this. I just thought it was interesting and worth highlighting. Obviously it's far from the first time that a blockade of some kind has been used in war, but it's an intriguing example. I wonder if it's historically had much success?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:20:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 262691 at Rand Paul Thinks Ebola Is More Contagious Than AIDS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) reportedly put on his scientist hat this morning, telling CNN's Ashley Killough that Ebola is more easily spread than AIDS&ndash;a statement that is an irresponsible, <a href="" target="_blank">flat out lie. </a></p> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Rand Paul tells me Ebola more transmitable than AIDS. "If someone has Ebola at a cocktail party, they're contagious and you can catch it."</p> &mdash; Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) <a href="">October 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Paul's posturing is just the latest in a series of <a href="" target="_blank">Ebola-truthing tactics </a>he and other members of the GOP have been fully employing as of late. Perhaps more seriously, Paul's theory calls into question the types of feverish, vomit-spewing cocktail soirees he suggests he frequents.</p> <p>For a deeper look into the contagiousness of Ebola compared to other diseases, check out the charts below from <a href="" target="_blank">David McCandless</a>&nbsp;and <a href="" target="_blank">NPR</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/microbescope_2.png" style="height: 365px; width: 630px;"></a> <div class="caption rtecenter"><a href="" target="_blank">Information Is Beautiful </a><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>(Click to enlarge)</strong></em></a></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>My @'s are filling with lots of derp about Ebola being more contagious than HIV. Here you go. <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) <a href="">October 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> MoJo Health Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:08:10 +0000 Inae Oh 262681 at We Require Affirmative Consent For Most Things. Why Not Sex? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ezra Klein has taken a lot of heat for <a href="" target="_blank">his defense</a> of California's new "Yes Means Yes" law, which puts in place an "affirmative consent standard" on university campuses to decide whether a sexual assault has taken place. In other words, the mere lack of a clear "no" is no longer a defense against sexual assault charges. Instead, you have to make sure that your partner has given you a clear "yes."</p> <p>Klein defends himself <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> in exhausting detail. Most of it you've probably heard before, but perhaps the most interesting part is this: "More than anything, what changed my mind on Yes Means Yes was this article by Amanda Taub, and some subsequent conversations with women in my life." <a href="" target="_blank">Here's Taub:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When our society treats consent as "everything other than sustained, active, uninterrupted resistance," <strong>that misclassifies a whole range of behavior as sexually inviting.</strong> That, in turn, pressures women to avoid such behavior in order to protect themselves from assault.</p> <p>As a result, certain opportunities are left unavailable to women, while still others are subject to expensive safety precautions, such as not traveling for professional networking unless you can afford your own hotel room. <strong>It amounts, essentially, to a tax that is levied exclusively on women. And it sucks.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And here's Klein:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Every woman I spoke to talked about this tax in the same way: as utterly constant, completely unrelenting.</strong> It's so pervasive that it often goes unmentioned, like gravity. But it colors everything. What you wear. Who you have lunch with. When you can hug a friend. Whether you can invite someone back to your house. How you speak in meetings. Whether you can ask male colleagues out for a drink to talk about work. How long you can chat with someone at a party. Whether you can go on a date without having a friend who knows to be ready for a call in case things go wrong. Whether you can accept seemingly professional invitations from older men in your field. Whether you can say yes when someone wants to pick up the tab for drinks. For men, this is like ultraviolet light: it's everywhere, but we can't see it.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have some hesitations about this new law, but it's hardly the apocalypse that some of its detractors have made it out to be. It doesn't change the standard of proof required in sexual assault cases and it doesn't change the nature of the proceedings that govern these cases. These may both be problematic, as some critics think, but they're separate issues. "Yes Means Yes" changes only the standard of consent, and does so in a pretty clear and unambiguous way.</p> <p>Beyond that, keep in mind that this is just an ordinary law. If it were a ballot initiative, I'd be adamantly opposed. But it's not: if it turns out to work badly or produce unintended consequences, it can be repealed or modified. And it's not as if the current situation is some kind of utopia that should be defended at all costs. We'll know soon enough if the law's benefits are worth the costs. In the meantime, it seems like a worthwhile experiment in changing a culture that's pretty seriously broken.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Sex and Gender Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:21:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 262686 at Nepal Just Had a Deadly Freak Avalanche. Is Climate Change To Blame? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hikers on one of Nepal's most popular mountaineering routes may have had a deadly face-off with climate change this week, when a freak storm swept in and triggered an avalanche that <a href="" target="_blank">killed at least 27 people</a>.</p> <p>Rescue work is underway for dozens of hikers who are still missing. October is typically a time for clear skies in Nepal, and already some scientists are pointing a finger of blame at global warming for the unseasonable storm. From the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Toronto Star</a>: </em></p> <blockquote> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The current situation in Nepal &mdash; the incessant rain, blizzard and avalanche &mdash; appears to have been triggered by the tail of <a href="">Cyclone Hudhud</a> in neighboring India. The cyclone, reports suggest, was among the strongest storms recorded off the Indian coast.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>&ldquo;Storms in that region are getting stronger,&rdquo; said John Stone, an IPCC lead author and adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. &ldquo;It is not inconsistent with what scientists have been saying.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional agency based in Kathmandu that serves eight countries, said in a May report &mdash; just weeks after the April avalanche on Mt. Everest &mdash; that rising temperatures have shrunk Nepal&rsquo;s glaciers by almost a quarter between 1977 and 2010, with an average of 38 square kilometers vanishing annually.</p> </div> <div class="text combinedtext parbase section"> <p>The report said that besides bringing more intense and frequent floods, avalanches and landslides affecting millions of people living in remote mountain areas, such changes could also hit adventure-seeking mountaineers.</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>As if summitting a giant Himalayan peak wasn't scary enough already.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk International Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:32:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 262666 at Let Us Now Praise Placebos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Placebos are fascinating things. They shouldn't work, but they do. And it's not just pills, either. In certain cases, it turns out, fake knee surgery can relieve pain just as effectively as <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_placebo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">real knee surgery. <a href="" target="_blank">Austin Frakt writes about the placebo effect today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Given the strength and ubiquity of placebo effects, many physicians prescribe them. <strong>In fact, doing so was common practice before World War II,</strong> with supportive publications in the medical literature as late as the mid-1950s. This practice faded away after the rise of placebo-controlled trials that yielded treatments that were shown to be better than placebos, but it has resurfaced in new forms.</p> <p>Today, the widespread use of antibiotics for conditions that don&rsquo;t require them is a form of placebo prescribing, for example. <strong>Acetaminophen for back pain appears to be a placebo as well. These may help patients feel better, but only because they believe they will do so.</strong> The active ingredient adds nothing. To the extent some doctors trick patients in an effort to achieve a placebo effect, most patients don&rsquo;t seem to mind. Nevertheless, deliberately harnessing just the placebo effect by prescribing a treatment that does not have any additional direct physical effect is an ethical gray area.</p> </blockquote> <p>I didn't know that placebo prescriptions were common before World War II. Interesting! I've also lately been trying to figure out whether acetaminophen is actually doing anything for the back pain I'm suffering thanks to an injury a few months ago compounded by some more recent cat-related idiocy that aggravated it. It kinda seems like it might, but I can't really tell. But now I know. If there <em>was</em> an effect, it was a placebo effect.</p> <p>Still, I'm disappointed that the placebo effect wasn't more significant for me. Maybe this is why I've never had a lot of luck with medication in the first place. It's not that it never works, but that most of it doesn't seem to work very well. Perhaps it's because I rarely have much confidence in the stuff, so I only get half the effect. It would probably help if I were more gullible.</p> <p>The only recent exception I can think of is prednisone, which miraculously and instantly cured my breathing problems a few months ago. It only lasted a couple of days, unfortunately, though even after that my breathing was vastly improved, if not back to normal. But it did no good because, placebo or not, my doctors had no clue why it worked and were therefore unwilling to try more of it. Nor did it lead to any subsequent treatments since they had no clue what was going on and essentially decided to pretend the whole thing was just a coincidence. And people wonder why I'm skeptical of the medical profession.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:02:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 262671 at