Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Food Irradiation: Great Technology, Lousy Name. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/food-irradiation-great-technology-lousy-name <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Roberto Ferdman interviews Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, about why the public's aversion to GMO foods has stayed strong even as the scientific consensus has become nearly unanimous that GMO foods are safe. Toward the end, though, he finally get to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/06/why-people-are-so-scared-of-gmos-according-to-someone-who-has-studied-the-fear-since-the-start/" target="_blank">my hot button food issue:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Can you think of other forms of technology that have overcome consumer fears?</em></p> <p>A perfect example is pasteurization in milk. At [first] it was very strange to people, and no one knew what to think about it. But today it&rsquo;s widely accepted and viewed as improving the safety of milk.</p> <p>Another one is microwaves. Everyone has them in their home today, but back in the 1970s it was close to zero. It took a bit for them to catch on, for people to warm up to them.</p> <p><strong>But then there are things like food irradiation that are <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_food_irradiation.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">perfectly safe but people seem to be permanently skeptical of.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Food irradiation! Dammit, Lusk is right: despite the fact that it includes the word "radiation," food irradiation is completely harmless. It's also really effective at killing the pathogens that cause all those periodic outbreaks of food poisoning you hear so much about. Irradiate your hamburger and you can safely cook it medium rare if you want. Irradiate your lettuce and worries about <em>e. coli</em> are a thing of the past. I wish someone made a cheap, personal food irradiation machine. I'd irradiate everything I ate. Unfortunately, irradiation machines tend to be the size of a dump truck and cost several million dollars, so that's not in the cards.</p> <p>Maybe the Japanese should get on this. They're pretty good at miniaturizing things; they're pretty good at selling consumer tech; and they've got a huge domestic market of people who are gadget and technology crazy and probably aren't afraid of irradiated food. Although I could be wrong about that, what with Hiroshima in their past and Fukushima in their present.</p> <p>Anyway, food irradiation. It's cheap on an industrial scale, totally safe, and makes your food safer. What's not to like?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:00:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 279046 at http://www.motherjones.com California Should Allow Physician-Aided Suicide http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/california-should-allow-physician-aided-suicide <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Greece has pressed the self-destruct button, and no one knows what will happen next. Here in California, we are debating whether to <em>create</em> a self-destruct button, and no one knows what will happen next.</p> <p>(Did you like that segue? Huh? Did you?)</p> <p>In California's case, the self-destruct button comes in the form of SB 128, and it is both <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-cap-assisted-suicide-20150706-column.html" target="_blank">more personal and more literal than Greece's:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The measure, which would allow terminally ill people to end their lives with a doctor's help,</strong> passed the Senate last month on essentially a party-line vote, 23-15 &mdash; Democrats for, Republicans against.</p> <p>Because the bill whips up emotion about morality based on religious beliefs and raises questions concerning medical ethics, it makes many legislators uncomfortable politically and personally.</p> <p>The proposal is slated for its first Assembly hearing Tuesday in the Health Committee. But sponsors say it's short two to five votes. Ten are needed to clear the 19-member panel.</p> <p><strong>A handful of Southern California Democrats, mostly Latinos under pressure from the Catholic Church, are withholding support.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Great. Yet another reason for me to be revolted by the Catholic Church. If they believe that suicide is a sin, that's great. They should forbid suicide among Catholics. But I'm not Catholic, and it's no sin for me. So go mind your own business, folks, and represent the will of all Californians, who overwhelmingly support bringing our state into the 21st century. There is no excuse for forcing terminal patients to endure excruciating pain for months if they don't want to. It's time to put the Dark Ages behind us.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:06:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 279041 at http://www.motherjones.com Guitarist and Songwriter Richard Thompson's 'Still' Got It http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/richard-thompsons-new-jeff-tweedy-produced-album-will-please-longtime-fans-and-new-come <!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/o-b2ACVhSzU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Richard Thompson<br><em>Still</em><br> Fantasy</strong></p> <p>Richard Thompson's latest album closes on an uncharacteristically sweet note with "Guitar Heroes," a jaunty, nearly eight-minute ode to the players who initially inspired him, namely, Chuck Berry, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, James Burton, and The Shadows' Hank Marvin. This nostalgic salute is the only hint of advancing age on the typically stellar <em>Still</em>. While the production credit for Wilco's Jeff Tweedy might bring Thompson to the attention of some new listeners, he's really just doing the same thing he's done so well for more than four decades. Longtime fans know that means spiky rockers ("All Buttoned Up") and melancholy original ballads that sound like traditional English folk songs ("She Never Could Resist a Winding Road"), infused with rueful humor and marked by stirring vocals and virtuoso guitar, especially those scorching electric solos that make your jaw drop. Still, indeed: The talented Mr. Thompson has rarely been better.</p></body></html> MoJo Music Mon, 06 Jul 2015 10:00:16 +0000 Jon Young 278886 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece's Big Fat No http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greeces-big-fat-no <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It appears that the Greek referendum is headed toward a landslide No vote. With about half of the votes counted as I write this, the No vote is very strongly in the lead and Greece's interior ministry has released an official projection <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_greece_oxi.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 15px 30px;">showing the No side winning 61 percent of the vote.</p> <p>There are a couple of takeaways from this. First, I obviously don't know squat about the Greek temperament. Let's see now. What exactly is it that I said a few days ago? Oh yes, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greece-just-few-days-away-unconditional-surrender-germany" target="_blank">here it is:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the end, the Greek public will be unwilling to back Tsipras in Sunday's referendum and will vote to accept the European deal as is. The potential catastrophe of default and leaving the euro is just too scary for most of them to contemplate....So that's my prediction. Unless Tsipras caves completely beforehand, the referendum will be held on Sunday and Greeks will vote to stay in the euro and accept Germany's terms. It will basically be an unconditional surrender.</p> </blockquote> <p>In technical terms, that was totally fucking wrong. Instead of caving in, the Greeks told Europe to take a hike. They refused to accept the austerity plan put in front of them and instead voted to support prime minister Alexis Tsipris's effort to demand better terms. In general, that means they want Europe to (a) offer debt relief, (b) permit the Greek government to pass a higher budget supported by higher taxes; and (c) go a little easier on pension cuts.</p> <p>The second takeaway is....oh forget it. Why listen to me anymore after this predictive debacle? Anyway, I don't think anyone even knows what's next now. Tsipris obviously has a vote of confidence and will stay in power. Angela Merkel and the rest of the Troika will have to decide whether to make a few concessions or simply refuse and let Greece twist in the wind. I honestly have no idea what they'll choose. And the ECB will have to decide whether to keep Greece's banks on life support for a while longer.</p> <p>Stay tuned. It's going to be a fascinating few weeks for those of us who don't actually live in Greece and have to personally face the possibility of economic catastrophe.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:56:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 279036 at http://www.motherjones.com Happy Independence Day! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/happy-independence-day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jeez, what am I doing, blogging about serious stuff today? Well, that's it. I'm going to go clean the grill or watch a parade or do something else that's date appropriate. Have a happy 4th, everyone!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_flags.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:15:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 279031 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare Rates May Be Going Up Significantly in 2016 -- Or Maybe Not http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/obamacare-rates-may-be-going-significantly-2016-or-maybe-not <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> reports that insurers are asking for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/04/us/health-insurance-companies-seek-big-rate-increases-for-2016.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">significant rate increases for 2016:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans &mdash; market leaders in many states &mdash; are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota....The rate requests, from some of the more popular health plans, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_laptop.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">suggest that insurance markets are still adjusting to shock waves set off by the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p><strong>It is far from certain how many of the rate increases will hold up on review, or how much they might change.</strong> But already the proposals, buttressed with reams of actuarial data, are fueling fierce debate about the effectiveness of the health law.</p> <p>....Insurers with decades of experience and brand-new plans underestimated claims costs. <strong>&ldquo;Our enrollees generated 24 percent more claims than we thought they would when we set our 2014 rates,&rdquo;</strong> said Nathan T. Johns, the chief financial officer of Arches Health Plan, which covers about one-fourth of the people who bought insurance through the federal exchange in Utah. As a result, the company said, it collected premiums of $39.7 million and had claims of $56.3 million in 2014. It has requested rate increases averaging 45 percent for 2016.</p> <p><strong>The rate requests are the first to reflect a full year of experience with the new insurance exchanges and federal standards that require insurers to accept all applicants.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I'd continue to counsel caution until we get further into the process. Big rate increase requests have been the opening bids from insurance companies for years, and they usually get knocked down to something much more reasonable by the time the regulatory process is finished. It's also the case that if lots of young people have been paying the tax penalty instead of getting insured, that might change as the penalty goes up. It was $95 in 2014, went up to $325 this year, and goes up to $695 in 2016. At some point, more and more of these folks are going to decide that they really ought to get something for their money instead of just paying a penalty to the IRS, and that will help broaden the insurance pool.</p> <p>Still, the bottom line here is that credible evidence is growing that we might see biggish rate increases in 2016. They won't be the monster increases that Fox News will be hyping endlessly, but they might be bigger than us liberal types expected. We'll know in a few months.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:10:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 279026 at http://www.motherjones.com On Independence Day, Pentagon Shows Off Some Real Fireworks http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/independence-day-pentagon-shows-some-real-fireworks <!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_bunker_buster_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">From W.J. Hennigan on the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-pentagon-iran-20150704-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">front page of this morning's <em>LA Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As diplomats rush to reach an agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. military is stockpiling conventional bombs so powerful that strategists say they could cripple Tehran's most heavily fortified nuclear complexes, including one deep underground....U.S. officials say the huge bombs, which have never been used in combat, are a crucial element in the White House deterrent strategy and contingency planning should diplomacy go awry and Iran seek to develop a nuclear bomb.</p> <p>....U.S. officials have publicized the new bomb partly to rattle the Iranians. Some Pentagon officials warned not to underestimate U.S. military capabilities even if the bunker-busters can't eliminate Iran's nuclear program. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested at the same Pentagon news conference Thursday that airstrikes might be ordered multiple times if Iran tries to build a bomb.</p> </blockquote> <p>The usual questions present themselves. (1) This is obviously a piece spoon fed to the press. Why now? (2) Who is it targeted at? Iran, or our allies? Or Israel? (3) Is it credible? Does anyone truly believe that Obama will bomb Iran if talks fail? (4) Credible or not, does this kind of saber rattling do more harm than good? Discuss.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 04 Jul 2015 16:20:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 279021 at http://www.motherjones.com China Halts IPOs in Peculiar Attempt to Prop Up Stock Market http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/china-halts-ipos-peculiar-attempt-prop-stock-market <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The latest from China, where the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-setting-up-fund-to-stabilize-stock-market-1435991611" target="_blank">stock market continues to plummet:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>China has decided to suspend new stock sales and establish a market-stabilization fund aimed at fighting off the worst equities selloff in years, as concerns grow among China&rsquo;s leadership that the stock-market malaise could be spreading to the other parts of the world&rsquo;s second-largest economy.</p> <p>...Previous steps including an interest-rate cut by the central bank have failed to impress investors, many of whom have been forced to unwind their leveraged bets as stocks continue to drop.</p> <p><strong>Chief among the decisions made is to halt new initial public offerings</strong> in a bid to preserve liquidity in an increasingly volatile market, the people said. Officials also discussed the setup of a market-stabilization fund.</p> </blockquote> <p>Another odd move that I don't entirely understand. Do IPOs reduce market liquidity in any significant way? Put another way: Am I missing something here, or is this just another panicky move by the Chinese authorities that's unlikely to make things better?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 04 Jul 2015 16:05:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 279016 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 3 July 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/friday-cat-blogging-3-july-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today you get a very special episode of Friday Catblogging. It's a movie! I made it with my shiny new Surface 3, and although it's not the <em>greatest</em> catblogging movie ever made, it does prove the old adage: any camera you have is better than any camera you don't. So sit back and enjoy Hopper using her passive-aggressive defensive skills to keep Hilbert at bay. Our show takes place atop the fireplace mantel, everyone's favorite new place these days.</p> <p>Have a great 4th, everyone. See you next week.</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ClQbE87PyAo" style="margin: 20px 20px 15px 40px;" width="550"></iframe></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:36:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 279011 at http://www.motherjones.com Greek Media Really, Really Wants Yes Vote On Euro-Bailout http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greek-media-really-really-wants-yes-vote-euro-bailout <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Henry Chu of the <em>LA Times</em> reports on how the Greek media is presenting <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-greece-media-20150703-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">Sunday's upcoming vote on the bailout:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Strong emotions are in abundant supply. But impartial reporting is not.</p> <p>Along with Skai TV, nearly all the mainstream press and television stations in Greece have skewed their coverage or are openly in favor of the "yes" campaign, throwing in doubt just how fair Sunday's election will <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tsipras_oxi.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">be. The snap referendum has already come under criticism for being called with too little notice by the left-wing Greek government &mdash; which is urging a "no" vote &mdash; to allow for proper campaigning and educating of voters.</p> <p>....In a widely circulated examination of how the six biggest TV networks treated the rival referendum rallies Monday and Tuesday, freelance journalist Markos Petropoulos found that <strong>the pro-government "no" demonstration got about 81/2 minutes of coverage, whereas the "yes" protest received more than five times that much.</strong></p> <p>In another newscast, one network devoted 18 minutes to warnings and statements from European leaders about the breakdown of bailout negotiations with Athens and the surprise referendum announcement that had precipitated it. The Greek government's position got two minutes.</p> <p><strong>The bias toward the "yes" side reflects the fact that many of Greece's biggest news outlets are owned by corporate titans and other "oligarchs" whose business interests would be directly threatened by a "no" victory and the potential abandonment of the euro in favor of the drachma,</strong> [Nikolas] Leontopoulos said.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose it's no surprise that Greece's corporate class is deeply unthrilled by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's leftist government, and would be happy to see him humiliated and tossed out of office. I assume that they also prefer the devil they know&mdash;grinding European-imposed austerity for years&mdash;to the devil they don't&mdash;exiting the euro amid chaos and eventually rebuilding their economy with a devalued drachma. After all, they'll stay rich either way, and sticking with their fellow European moguls probably seems the better bet by far.</p> <p>Less than 48 hours to go now.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:58:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 279006 at http://www.motherjones.com Bobby Jindal Really, Really, Really Hates Gay Marriage http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/bobby-jindal-really-really-really-hates-gay-marriage <!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_jindal_flag.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2015/07/02/bobby-jindal-trying-delay-marriage-louisiana-yet-again" target="_blank">From <em>The Advocate</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>After three courts told him he had to, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal will finally allow his administration to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples today.</p> <p>....Jindal's administration argued it's possible the Supreme Court's ruling didn't apply to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Louisiana had been defending its statewide ban....On Wednesday, the circuit court actually went through the motion of confirming the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over it.</p> <p>....But Jindal's administration jumped on that as reason to delay even further. The Fifth Circuit technically sent the case back to the lower, district court where its earlier ruling in favor of the state had to be corrected. The <em>New Orleans Times-Picayune</em> reported that Jindal's spokesman said no same-sex couple would be recognized until the district court formally reversed itself. And so it did that today."</p> </blockquote> <p>I've seen several people wondering why Jindal wasted time with this, since he knew perfectly well what the outcome would be. The answer is obvious: He's trying to position himself as the most tea-partyish, most anti-Obama, most combative conservative in the Republican field. So this is basically brand marketing. Republican voters now know that <em>no one</em> will stand up for traditional values as strongly as Bobby Jindal. Message sent and received.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:05:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 279001 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Just Came Out Hard Against the Washington Football Team’s Racist Name http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/obama-just-came-out-hard-against-washington-football-team%E2%80%99s-racist-name <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In an irony that will surely be lost on team owner Dan Snyder, the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/ditching-redskins-nfl-dan-snyder-slate" target="_blank">Washington Redskins</a> are being kicked off their land.</p> <p>From the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2015/07/01/obama-administration-rebuffs-d-c-s-efforts-to-bring-back-the-redskins/" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.</p> <p>Jewell&nbsp;oversees both national park land and America's trust and treaty relationships with Native American tribes.</p> <p>Her decision not to extend the District's lease of the RFK land badly hinders Bowser's bid to return the Redskins to D.C.&mdash;and boosts efforts to lure the team across the Potomac to Northern Virginia.</p> </blockquote> <p>Jewell, who has been an <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/09/us-interior-secretary-surprised-redskins-team-name-not-changed/" target="_blank">outspoken critic</a> of the team's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/timeline-history-offensive-sports-mascots-redskins-snyder" target="_blank">controversial</a> name, added that adjusting the federal lease on the property, which doesn't expire for another 22 years, is "not likely to be a priority for the administration." The team's owner Dan Snyder, who <a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9259866/daniel-snyder-says-washington-redskins-never-change-team-name" target="_blank">has vowed</a> to never change the team's name, has <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24683402/daniel-snyder-redskins-have-started-process-of-planning-new-stadium" target="_blank">long been interested</a> in building a new stadium in the DC area.</p> <p>There's actually a great precedent for this. As <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/11/nazis-desegregating-washington-nfl-football-team" target="_blank">we explained in 2013</a>,</p> <blockquote>The showdown began in 1961, when John F. Kennedy's interior secretary, Stewart Udall, who'd committed to ending segregation anywhere in his sphere of influence, declared his intent to break pro football's last color bar...The call for integration was met with opposition, most notably from the team's owner, George Preston Marshall, a laundromat magnate turned NFL bigwig who had held firm for years. Udall had one advantage over Marshall: The team's new home field, DC Stadium (later renamed RFK Memorial), was federal property. With Kennedy's approval, Udall gave Marshall a choice: He could let black players on his team, or take his all-white squad to someone else's gridiron."</blockquote> <p>Don't worry, Washington fans: There's always <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tug-of-war-for-new-redskins-stadium-is-complicated-by-name-debate/2015/04/11/015364de-d4b2-11e4-a62f-ee745911a4ff_story.html" target="_blank">Virginia</a> (or stay in Maryland).</p></body></html> MoJo Race and Ethnicity Sports Thu, 02 Jul 2015 23:06:58 +0000 Edwin Rios 278991 at http://www.motherjones.com China Adopts an Unusual Approach to Fighting a Stock Market Crash http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/china-adopts-unusual-approach-fighting-stock-market-crash <!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_shanghai_stock_market.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hum de hum hum. Greece is in trouble. Puerto Rico too. <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/asian-shares-rise-on-hopes-for-greece-1435800229" target="_blank">And don't forget China:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Chinese shares plunged Thursday, even as Beijing grasps for solutions to stem the selling, including relaxing rules on the use of borrowed funds to invest in stocks....The Shanghai Composite closed down 3.5% while the smaller Shenzhen market was down 5.6%. The ChiNext board, composed of small-cap stocks, sank 4%. <strong>Even after losing nearly a quarter of its value from a mid-June high, China&rsquo;s main stock market has almost doubled in value over the past year.</strong></p> <p>....In a rare move late Wednesday, <strong>Chinese regulators set in motion draft proposals to ease restrictions on margin lending earlier than scheduled</strong>....Regulators&rsquo; sudden shift in attitude about margin trading comes after vocal warnings about its risks in recent months. In April, regulators took various steps to rein in the practice, which had allowed investors to borrow several times their investment money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Inscrutable, those Chinese. Their stock market is crashing so they're promoting an <em>increase</em> in margin trading. That's sort of like lighting a tree on fire when it gets dark outside and all your flashlights are dead. It'll work. For a while. But it's really not considered best practice.</p> <p>Then again, maybe there's something I don't understand here. All I know is that panicky measures to halt a panic don't usually work. And the Chinese stock market still has a long way to fall. I sure hope they figure something out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:38:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 278966 at http://www.motherjones.com The Combined Black Workforces of Google, Facebook, and Twitter Could Fit on a Single Jumbo Jet http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/black-workers-google-facebook-twitter-silicon-valley-diversity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We already knew that Google, Facebook, and Twitter <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/05/google-diversity-labor-gender-race-gap-workers-silicon-valley" target="_blank">employed relatively few African Americans</a>, but new details show that the gap is truly striking. All three companies have disclosed their full <a href="http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/" target="_blank">EEO1 reports</a>, detailed accounts of their employees' race and gender demographics that the law requires them to submit to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The reports show that out of a combined 41,000 Twitter, Facebook, and Google employees, only 758, or 1.8 percent, are black. To put this in perspective, all of those workers could fit onto <a href="http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/the-biggest/the-10-biggest-passenger-airplanes/" target="_blank">a single Airbus A380</a>. Have a look:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="225" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/NLTAD/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>African Americans comprise 13 percent of the overall workforce, which means they are underrepresented at Google, Facebook, and Twitter by a factor of 7. Here's a visual comparison of the black employees&hellip;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/single-airplane.gif"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>versus all other employees:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/lots-of-airplanes2.gif"></div> <p>Race and gender gaps in tech hiring have been hot-button issues as of late. Since last May, when Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up at Google's shareholder meeting, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tech-industry-diversity-jesse-jackson" target="_blank">he has won some serious diversity concessions from major tech companies</a>&mdash;but the pace of minority hiring remains slow. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/01/facebook-diversity-black-employees" target="_blank">As the <em>Guardian</em> noted yesterday</a>, Facebook hired 1,216 new people last year, and only 36 were black. Since last year, the percentage of black Google workers <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/google-diversity-statistics-barely-impoved" target="_blank">has not changed</a>.</p> <p>It should be easier to shift workplace demographics at smaller companies. Twitter, with fewer than 3,000 employees in 2014, has a huge black user base that is sometimes referred to as "<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blacktwitter" target="_blank">Black Twitter</a>." Jackson wants the company to do more to move the needle. "I am very disappointed," he told <em>the Guardian</em>. "We are becoming intolerant with these numbers. There's a big gap between their talk and their implementation."</p> <p><em>Airplane image: <a href="https://thenounproject.com/search/?q=jumbo-jet&amp;i=15251" target="_blank">Anthony Lui/Noun Project</a></em></p> <p><em>Correction: An early version of this story misstated the number of black employees at Google and incorrectly suggested that Twitter had released its 2015 EEO1 report. Mother Jones regrets the errors.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Race and Ethnicity Tech Top Stories Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:41 +0000 Josh Harkinson 278916 at http://www.motherjones.com America's BBQ Grills Create as Much Carbon as a Big Coal Plant http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/your-grills-smoky-truth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As your neighbors fire up their barbecues this Independence Day, the most popular day in America to grill, they won't just send the scent of tri-tip or grilled corn over the fence in your direction&mdash;they'll also send smoke. As my colleague Kiera Butler wrote about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/09/bbq-econundrum-charcoal-or-gas" target="_blank">here</a>, even the "cleanest" gas grills emit pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every hour they're used. So how many emissions can we expect from dinner barbecues on the 4th?</p> <p>Roughly eighty percent of American households own barbecues or smokers, <a href="http://www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/grilling-facts-and-figures" target="_blank">according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association</a>. Let's say all 92.5 million of them decide to grill on Saturday. A 2013 study by HPBA found that 61 percent of users opted for gas grills, 42 percent for charcoal, and 10 percent for electric (some respondents had multiple grills). If that reflected all households across the United States, and each household used <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ObVH5sYMCh8J:web.ornl.gov/ornlhome/print/press_release_print.cfm%3FReleaseNumber%3Dmr20030703-00+&amp;cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">its grill for an hour</a> on the 4th of July, then we'd get a calculation like this:</p> <p>(56.425M gas grills*5.6 pounds of CO2) + (38.85M charcoal grills*11 pounds CO2) + (9.25M electric grills*15 pounds CO2 ) = <strong>882 million pounds of CO2</strong></p> <p>That's <a href="http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html" target="_blank">roughly as many</a> emissions as burning 2145 railcars of coal, or running one coal-fired power plant for a month.</p> <p>But let's be honest&mdash;no one wants to give up summer grilling, and these emissions stats probably won't convince your neighbor to turn off the barbecue. You might instead offer up ideas on recipes with ingredients that are friendlier to the planet&mdash;like these <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/veggie-burger-recipe-vegan-gluten-free-barley-beet-mushroom-falafel" target="_blank">4 veggie burgers that don't suck</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Food and Ag Science Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:48:53 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278911 at http://www.motherjones.com My $500 Pill Revealed http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/my-500-pill-revealed <!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_revlimid.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Have you ever wondered what a $500 pill looks like? Well, here's your answer: it looks like pretty much any other pill.</p> <p>Anyway, I'm supposed to take this for 21 days, then a week off, then another 21 days, etc. This will last a few months before we know if it's working. If it does work, then I'll be taking it forever (I think). So that's $126,000 per year to keep Kevin alive. Of course, I pay only a fraction of that thanks to having excellent health insurance, and I'm sure that even Kaiser pays nowhere near that list price. Maybe half that, or a third. Still, pretty expensive!</p> <p>Luckily I'm not on Obamacare. From what I hear, my case would have gone straight to a death panel, which almost certainly would have decided that my societal worth didn't measure up to the cost of the treatment. And who could argue? I mean, blogging? Seriously?</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I forgot to mention something in my previous health update: I feel great. Not 100 percent, mind you, but pretty good. My stomach is in fine fettle (in fact, I'm overeating these days), I'm sleeping well, and my energy level has recovered almost to normal. The long-term prognosis for the multiple myeloma is obviously still uncertain, and that's an unhappy thing, but in the meantime at least I feel good for the first time in eight months!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:03:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 278951 at http://www.motherjones.com Sorry, Obama. The Founding Fathers Loved Peas http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/actually-jefferson-was-obsessed-peas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, after the <em>New York Times </em><a href="https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/616303020574441472" target="_blank">proposed</a> adding peas to guacamole (what's next, <a href="https://twitter.com/daudig/status/616353502525325317" target="_blank">mayonnaise</a>?), President Barack Obama <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/read-the-bill-president-guacamole" target="_blank">announced</a> that the proper way to make guacamole is with avocado, onions, garlic, and hot pepper. It wasn't the first time the leader of the free world had disparaged peas. In 2011, when Congress stalled on raising the debt ceiling, he announced that it was time for all parties involved to "<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-time-to-eat-our-peas-and-pass-debt-deal/" target="_blank">eat our peas</a>"&mdash;swallow the tough pill, if you will.</p> <p>But Obama's anti-pea polemic, published just days before the Fourth of July, puts him at odds with an important group of Americans&mdash;the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers loved peas.</p> <p>Thomas Jefferson's favorite vegetable, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, was the English pea. He cultivated <a href="https://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/thomas-jeffersons-favorite-vegetables" target="_blank">19 different kinds of peas</a> in the Monticello vegetable garden, including 15 kinds of English peas. Among them were Marrowfat, Hotspur, Blue Prussian, and Early Frame. (Jefferson even <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/02/thomas-jefferson-hour-clay-jenkinson" target="_blank">spoke with <em>Mother Jones</em></a> about his peas in February.) Letters to his daughter, Mary, often made <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=iOHNKGJGo94C&amp;pg=PA119&amp;dq=%22Thomas+Jefferson%22+peas&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=H4uUVdTpHcXk-QGr85XgCw&amp;ved=0CCoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">reference</a> to the status of the peas. Here he is discussing peas in a letter to George Washington:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-07-01%20at%209.02.04%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Peas. </strong><a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=4ncEAAAAYAAJ&amp;dq=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;pg=PA7#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Thomas%20Jefferson%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">Observations on the writings of Thomas Jefferson</a>/Google Books</div> </div> <p>Peas weren't just sustenance for Jefferson. They were a way of life; every year he would hold a contest with his neighbor to see whose peas would sprout first. Per the Monticello <a href="http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/fun-fact-peas" target="_blank">website</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Though Jefferson's mountaintop garden, with its southern exposure to warmth and light, should have provided an advantage for the contest, it seems that the contest was almost always won by a neighbor named George Divers.</p> <p>As Jefferson's grandson recalled: "A wealthy neighbor [Divers], without children, and fond of horticulture, generally triumphed. Mr. Jefferson, on one occasion had them first, and when his family reminded him that it was his right to invite the company, he replied, 'No, say nothing about it, it will be more agreeable to our friend to think that he never fails.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Divers, that clever knave! There's even a children's book, <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=VHXAAgAAQBAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=%22Thomas+jefferson%22+peas&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=EI-UVfjNKIms-QGasYDYBg&amp;ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA" target="_blank"><em>First Peas to the Table</em></a>, inspired by Jefferson's fruitless obsession with winning at peas.</p> <p>Jefferson's friends in government got in on the action too. At his prodding, George Washington attempted to plant English peas at Mount Vernon, with&nbsp; mixed results. But Washington loved peas so much that when a bunch Tories attempted to kill him, they did so by <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=-yWdztzYJF4C&amp;lpg=PA39&amp;dq=%22George%20Washington%22%20peas&amp;pg=PA39#v=onepage&amp;q=%22George%20Washington%22%20peas&amp;f=false" target="_blank">poisoning</a> a dish of his favorite food&mdash;peas. Wise to the plot, a 13-year-old girl fed them to his chickens first as a precautionary measure. (Or at least, that's the legend. It's probably <a href="http://articles.mcall.com/2001-11-11/entertainment/3382677_1_assassination-attempt-skin-color-poison" target="_blank">apocryphal</a>.)</p> <p>The point is, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington loved peas. If avocados had even been around when they were president, they would have made pea guacamole. And they would have loved that, too. Pea hold these shoots to be self-evident.</p></body></html> MoJo Food and Ag Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:31:44 +0000 Tim Murphy 278921 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece vs. Germany: Behind a Veil of Morality vs. Technocracy, the Germans are Winning the War of the Narrative http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greece-vs-germany-behind-veil-technocracy-germans-are-winning-war-narrative <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just a quick note on Greece. Although I've periodically written at considerable length on the Greek crisis, in shorter posts I often sound as if I blame the whole thing on Germany. That's shorthand, though, and fairly sloppy shorthand.</p> <p>Here's the thing: Greece bears plenty of blame in this whole debacle. They borrowed way too much when their economy was booming; they refused to modernize their infamously porous tax collection, especially toward the rich; they lied through their teeth about their finances for years; and governments of both right and left <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_greece_germany.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">have doggedly supported an insanely bloated public sector that would make even a Russian blush.</p> <p>On the German (i.e., Northern European) side of things, the story of blame is a little more....technocratic. Banks made bets on interest rate convergences between north and south when the euro was introduced. This paid off, and for years they happily shoveled money into Greece at great profit. Greece's economy overheated, but the ECB kept monetary policy loose because that benefited Germany twice over: first by providing Germans with a good place to invest their money and second by providing Greeks with enough money to import German goods. Eventually, this hot money flow produced inflation, but monetary policy stayed loose anyway because the German economy was kind of sluggish at the time and needed the boost. Inevitably, this produced a capital account surplus in Greece and therefore a current account deficit. When the Great Recession hit, everything went to hell. Due to the hot money flows, Greek banks had become dependent on wholesale funding, and when that suddenly dried up a banking crisis got added to the rest of the mix. It's been downhill ever since.</p> <p>Now: read those two paragraphs carefully. It's plain there's fault on both sides. But the fault of the Greek side is easy to understand and easy to put in moralistic terms. They lived high, they lied about their finances, and they coddled their government workers. It's easy to paint the Greeks as irresponsible wastrels who are just getting what they deserve.</p> <p>The German side is quite different. Be honest: did you even understand it? It's all very technocratic, almost hydraulic in nature. Investors made bets on some derivatives; centralized monetary policy was not ideal for Greece; hot money flows inevitably produced current account deficits; and when the Great Recession cratered the economy it all turned into a full-blown banking and debt crisis. This is all very recondite. Sure, maybe it was Germany's fault, but in an abstract, bureaucratic way. It's a lot harder to see bad personal behavior here.</p> <p>I'm not alone in thinking that once you dig into things, German behavior has been quite a bit worse than Greek behavior. But it's hard to make this case in a way that makes much sense emotionally. What most people see is a highly intricate and technocratic system on one side and a bunch of reckless, happy-go-lucky Greeks on the other side. So who are you going to blame?</p> <p>We humans are attracted to human stories, so the answer is the Greeks, of course. They hired the money, didn't they? The fact that they were stuck in a monetary web designed by Germans that was almost guaranteed to produce disaster&mdash;well, maybe that's true and maybe it's not, but it all sounds like a bunch of blah blah blah. What did you say an ECB refi rate was again?</p> <p>So: reckless people vs. a complex financial system that a few eggheads say was rigged. Which story do you think is going to win?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:31:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 278946 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in June (Sucks, Sucks, Sucks) http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/chart-day-net-new-jobs-june-sucks-sucks-sucks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm" target="_blank">added 223,000 new jobs last month,</a> 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at 133,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this isn't the mediocre news it looks like. It was all bad news. Essentially the entire decrease in the unemployment rate was due to 432,000 people leaving the labor force, reversing an increase of 397,000 last month. Because of this, the labor force participation ratio declined by 0.3 percentage points to 62.6 percent, the lowest number in recent history.</p> <p>Oh, and we had downward revisions of 60,000 jobs in April and May. And hourly wage growth of production and nonsupervisory workers was up by a measly 2 cents, a nominal increase of 0.1 percent. Adjusted for inflation, that's a decrease of about 0.3 percent.</p> <p>I don't know how to dress this up. The net number of new jobs was OK, if not spectacular, but the rest of the report is just dismal. The number of people actually employed dropped by 56,000, labor force participation has tanked, and real wage growth was negative. If anyone else can put lipstick on this pig, they're welcome to try. It looks pretty gruesome to me. The only good news I can take out of it is that this is only a single month's data, which jumps around quite a bit. Maybe next month will be better.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_june_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 20px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:12:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 278931 at http://www.motherjones.com Wow, That's a Yooge Crowd to See Bernie Sanders http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/bernie-sanders-crowd <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a "political revolution" at a campaign rally at <span class="st">Veterans Memorial Coliseum in </span>Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday night, and just a few people showed up:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">With Bernie Sanders about to come on in Madison, the arena is more or less full. <a href="http://t.co/TXMV7Agtfz">pic.twitter.com/TXMV7Agtfz</a></p> &mdash; Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) <a href="https://twitter.com/danmericaCNN/status/616398284349947904">July 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Another view of the crowd for <a href="https://twitter.com/BernieSanders">@BernieSanders</a>. <a href="http://t.co/e0Oyf63pzs">pic.twitter.com/e0Oyf63pzs</a></p> &mdash; Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) <a href="https://twitter.com/aseitzwald/status/616432125223530496">July 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sanders' campaign estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people, the largest rally by any candidate during the 2016 campaign. Granted, it's not even 2016 yet, but Sanders has continued to draw massive crowds everywhere he has gone (5,000 people in Denver; 300 people in an Iowa town of 240). It's not necessarily a barometer for public support&mdash;Hillary Clinton still holds a comfortable lead in national polls&mdash;but it does show that his popularity stems from something much deeper than just good name recognition.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections bernie sanders Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:29:18 +0000 Tim Murphy 278926 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Just Gave the World the Perfect Guacamole Recipe http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/read-the-bill-president-guacamole <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The internet freaked out this afternoon after the <a href="https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/616303020574441472" target="_blank"><em>NYT</em> suggested we put peas in our guacamole</a>. What is this, Soviet Russia?</p> <p>Then <em>IJR</em>'s <a href="https://twitter.com/JGreenDC/status/616311940957253632" target="_blank">Justin Green</a> tweeted at President Obummer about it and he answered!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic. <a href="https://t.co/MEEI8QHH1V">https://t.co/MEEI8QHH1V</a></p> &mdash; President Obama (@POTUS) <a href="https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/616338528138608640">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Obama is right. Peas in guacamole is disgusting.</p></body></html> MoJo Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:09:22 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 278901 at http://www.motherjones.com Finally, a Little Good News on the California Drought Front http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/finally-little-good-news-california-drought-front <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Finally, some good news on the California drought beat: Californians reduced their residential water usage in May by a whopping 29 percent compared to the same month in 2013, according to a <a href="http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2015/pr070115_may_conservation.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released today by the State Water Resources Control Board. That's the steepest drop in more than a year.</p> <p>Californians may have been inspired to reduce their water use by the mandatory, statewide municipal water cut of 25 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/breaking-first-time-california-enforcing-water-restrictions" target="_blank">announced</a> in April, though those cuts didn't go into effect until June. (Those 25 percent reductions did not apply to agriculture, which uses an estimated 80 percent of the state's water, though some <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/05/breaking-california-cutting-water-to-farms" target="_blank">farmers</a> have faced curtailments.)</p> <p>"The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought," said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus in a press release. "That said, we need all Californians to step up&mdash;and keep it up&mdash;as if we don&rsquo;t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don't."</p> <p>In May, California residents used 87.5 gallons per capita per day&mdash;three gallons per day less than the previous month. Big cities that showed the most dramatic cuts include Folsom, Fresno, and San Jose. But water use by area varies drastically, with places known for green lawns and gardens, like Coachella and Malibu, using more than 200 gallons per person per day. Outdoor water usage is estimated to account for about half of overall residential use.</p> <p>Officials are cautiously optimistic. Board spokesman George Kostyrko says Californians "did great in May and we are asking them to keep doing what they are doing and work even harder to conserve water during these critical summer months and beyond."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:47:04 +0000 Julia Lurie 278896 at http://www.motherjones.com Justice Department Investigating Whether Airlines Work Together to Keep Prices High http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/07/justice-department-airlines-high-prices <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Justice Department is looking into whether airlines are cooperating to deliberately "work at a slower pace" in order to keep airline prices high, the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fbe53033dd424612974b0c0f8c19910e/justice-department-investigating-potential-airline" target="_blank"><em>Associated Press</em></a> reports on Wednesday.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Document shows Justice Dept investigating whether airlines are colluding to keep airfares high.</p> &mdash; The Associated Press (@AP) <a href="https://twitter.com/AP/status/616303415757553664">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>A department spokesperson confirmed the investigation but declined to list which airlines were subject to the probe. The potential "unlawful coordination" orchestrated by major airlines comes amid <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/22/the-cartel-that-makes-sure-airplane-tickets-never-get-cheaper.html" target="_blank">questions</a> of why airline ticket prices have remained high despite plummeting oil prices and more fuel efficient aircrafts.</p> <p>Following news of the probe on Wednesday, all U.S. airline <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-01/u-s-airline-stocks-fall-as-antitrust-probe-report-erases-rally" target="_blank">stock prices</a> took a dive.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:58:35 +0000 Inae Oh 278876 at http://www.motherjones.com There's More to Kumbaya Than Just Getting Liberals and Conservatives to Agree http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/theres-more-kumbaya-just-getting-liberals-and-conservatives-agree <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tim Lee lists four pro-growth policy reforms that he thinks <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/7/1/8858745/boost-economic-growth-cato" target="_blank">liberals and conservatives can agree on:</a></p> <ol><li>Let developers in coastal cities build more</li> <li>Boost high-skilled immigration</li> <li>Reform copyright and patent laws</li> <li>Liberalize occupational licensing rules</li> </ol><p>In theory, I suppose these could be areas of bipartisan agreement. But without throwing too much sand in the gears just to make a nuisance of myself, we should take a look at why all four of these things are so firmly going nowhere even though liberals and conservatives allegedly hold common cause on them. Here we go:</p> <ol><li><strong>Coastal cities.</strong> The problem here is that this is a pretty low priority for both liberals and conservatives. They just don't care that much, and they certainly don't care enough to fight the nonpartisan power bloc that unfailingly&mdash;and rabidly&mdash;opposes this: current residents of coastal cities. This is mainly a local issue, not a state or federal issue, and the fastest way for any local pol in LA or San Francisco to get tossed out of office is to propose lots of new high-rise residential buildings that will (allegedly) bring tons of traffic and crime into the community, and probably drive down current property values. So the game just isn't worth the candle. Plus, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_agenda_21_conspiracy.png" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">conservatives have to watch out for the tea-party crazies who think high-rises are part of an Agenda 21 plot from the UN to make us all live like rabbits in government-controlled urban warrens. Or something.</li> <li><strong>High-skill immigration.</strong> There <em>are</em> people who oppose this&mdash;primarily high-skill citizens who don't really want lots of new competition&mdash;but that's not the big problem. Mainly this is a political football. Sure, liberals and conservatives agree on this particular part of immigration reform. But liberals don't want to <em>unilaterally</em> agree to it. They want it to be one of the bargaining chips for broader immigration reform. After all, if they preemptively agree to all the stuff conservatives already support, they have no leverage for eventually negotiating a comprehensive bill that includes some stuff conservatives don't support. So for the time being, it's being held hostage and that shows no signs of changing soon.</li> <li><strong>Copyright and patent.</strong> I dunno. For a policy that liberals and conservatives allegedly agree about, we sure haven't seen much action on it. Quite the contrary, in fact. Most Republicans and about a third of Democrats just approved fast-track status for the TPP treaty, which, among other things, enshrines American-style copyright and patent law on everyone who's part of the treaty. Once that's in place, we couldn't change our laws in any meaningful way even if we wanted to. And frankly, I've seen very little evidence that either Republicans or business-oriented Democrats really want to. They're too interested in currying favor with IP owners to bother with an issue that will win them virtually no votes from anyone on Election Day.</li> <li><strong>Occupational licensing rules.</strong> This one, finally, is a bit of a mystery to me. I agree that it's not an inherently partisan issue, but in a way, that's the problem. It's also not a hot-button issue, which means neither party is really willing to fight back against it. On the other hand, taxidermists, animal trainers, bartenders, funeral attendants, and so forth <em>are</em> willing to fight for it since it restricts entry and raises wages in their profession.</li> </ol><p>There's a common theme to all four of these issues: there are special interests who care a lot about them, but no real benefit for working politicians to reach across the aisle and fight back. In theory, they might have similar attitudes on these four items, but why bother doing anything about it? No one is jamming their phone lines about this stuff and no one is voting for or against them based on their positions. If activists want action on this kind of googoo stuff, they have to figure out a way to make the public care. Once they do that, they'll have at least a fighting chance of getting politicians to care too. Until then, don't get your hopes up.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:44:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 278881 at http://www.motherjones.com Greece Is Just a Few Days Away From Unconditional Surrender to Germany http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/greece-just-few-days-away-unconditional-surrender-germany <!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/images/Blog_Greece_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Apparently the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/02/business/international/greece-bailout-tsipras.html" target="_blank">Greek prime minister is blinking:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In a letter sent on Tuesday to the creditors &mdash; the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other eurozone countries &mdash; Mr. Tsipras said Greece was &ldquo;prepared to accept&rdquo; a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention: pension cuts and tax increases. In the letter, released publicly on Wednesday, Mr. Tsipras linked Greece&rsquo;s acceptance of the terms to a new package of bailout aid that would need to be negotiated.</p> <p>The development initially raised the prospect of progress in resolving a financial crisis that has sent shudders through global markets and deeply strained European unity. President Fran&ccedil;ois Hollande of France called for talks in the hopes of getting a deal by the weekend, saying, according to Agence-France Presse: &ldquo;We need to be clear. The time for a deal is now.&rdquo;</p> <p>But other European leaders, fed up with Mr. Tsipras and in no mood for quick compromise, dashed any hopes of an immediate breakthrough.</p> <p><strong>Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany responded by repeating her position that there should be no further negotiations until Greece holds the referendum on Sunday.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, Merkel is not even willing to grant Tsipras a few meaningless face-saving concessions. Why? I think Merkel believes she now holds all the cards and has no reason to make any concessions at all, no matter how small. And I suspect she's right. In the end, the Greek public will be unwilling to back Tsipras in Sunday's referendum and will vote to accept the European deal as is. The potential catastrophe of default and leaving the euro is just too scary for most of them to contemplate.</p> <p>So Tsipras will be out and Europe will effectively have total control of Greek finances. After six months of cage rattling, the Greek revolt will be over and future governments will simply have to accept whatever pain Merkel wants to deal out. At that point, with Tsipras gone, it's actually possible she'll agree to a few concessions here and there. Policy issues aside, there's little doubt that Merkel's personal contempt for Tsipras has done a lot to cement her hard line toward Greece.</p> <p>So that's my prediction. Unless Tsipras caves completely beforehand, the referendum will be held on Sunday and Greeks will vote to stay in the euro and accept Germany's terms. It will basically be an unconditional surrender.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:24:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 278866 at http://www.motherjones.com