Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en British Army Officially Withdrew From Northern Ireland 7 years Ago [Photos] <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After 38 years, Operation Banner&ndash;Britian's operation in Northern Ireland&ndash;officially came to an end on July 31st, 2007. It was initially sold in 1969 as a "limited operation" by British Home Secretary Jim Callaghan but wound up being the longest continuously running operation by the British military.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP890714010.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A female catholic screams at a British soldier in Belfast on August, 14, 1989. </strong>AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP05091204525-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A burnt out digger blocks a road near the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005. Protestant extremists attacked police and British troops into a third day Monday, littering streets with rubble and burned-out vehicles in an orgy of violence sparked by anger over a restricted parade. Crowds of masked men and youths confronted police backed by British troops in dozens of hard-line Protestant districts in Belfast and several other towns. Gunmen opened fire on police and soldiers in at least two parts of the capital Sunday night, but nobody was hit. </strong>Peter Morrison/AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP720201046-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A young child, resting on a man's shoulders, holds a hanging effigy of a British soldier during a march in Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland, Feb. 1972. The rally follows the deadly shooting of 13 demonstrators by British paratroopers during the civil rights march on Jan. 30, known as Bloody Sunday. </strong>Michel Laurent/AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP05080101256-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A British soldier begins work on taking down a British Army watchtower in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, Monday, Aug. 1, 2005. Security is being downgraded and spying watch posts on hills are being removed after the recent statement by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that they were giving up the armed struggle for a united Ireland. </strong>Peter Morrison/AP</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Military Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Mark Murrmann 257266 at Film Review: "15 to Life" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">15 to Life</a></p> <p>HITPLAY PRODUCTIONS</p> <p>"Are you the same person that you were at age 14?" one of Kenneth Young's lawyers asks in <em>15 to Life</em>, a documentary challenging the ethics of sentencing kids to life in prison&mdash;a routine punishment only in America. Filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza follows Young, charged with four armed robberies as a teen, as he seeks release in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court decision limiting juvenile life sentences to kids convicted of murder. She weaves interviews with Young and his family, lawyers, and crime victims together with harrowing photographs of youthful inmates to depict a justice system that only perpetuates the sort of violence it was intended to keep in check.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in the </em><a href="" target="_blank">July/August 2014 Issue</a> <em>of </em>Mother Jones.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Film and TV Human Rights Prisons Supreme Court Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Nina Liss-Schultz 252776 at Republicans About to Blow Up Emergency Border Crisis Funding <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Obama administration is&mdash;once again&mdash;being forced to go into crisis mode to keep the government functioning because Republicans refuse to do their most basic job: appropriating money to deal with emergencies. This time it's for the <a href="" target="_blank">refugee disaster on the border:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Border agencies say their existing budgets &mdash; sapped by added costs from overtime, detention and transportation for the children, more than 57,000 of whom have arrived since October &mdash; will start running dry before lawmakers get back in September.</p> <p>Administration officials warn that the price of congressional inaction will be steep, estimating the cost of caring for each immigrant youth runs between $250 and $1,000 a day.</p> <p>"Scary," Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, said about the agencies' budget outlook.</p> <p>On Wednesday, officials at the Office of Management and Budget were putting together plans to scrounge up funds. But without congressional approval, President Obama is limited to moving around money only in small amounts. That probably means the redistribution <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Immigration_Sign.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">will touch many different programs &mdash; a distressing prospect for officials in vulnerable agencies.</p> </blockquote> <p>So why is it that Republicans can't agree on even a minimal stopgap funding bill? <a href="" target="_blank">Because Ted Cruz is grandstanding again:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;The Obama White House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll,&rdquo; said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), a vocal Cruz opponent. &ldquo;We have a chance to pass a good bill, not a perfect bill. Boehner is working hard to get to 218 votes and yet there is Ted Cruz, telling us to do nothing. If he wants to come over and run for speaker, that&rsquo;s fine, but otherwise he should stay over there in the Senate.&rdquo;</p> <p>....At a conference meeting Tuesday, Boehner announced that he would pare down his initial framework after hearing numerous complaints about its size and scope....But Steve King, Gohmert and Salmon &mdash; along with Cruz and others &mdash; want House Republicans to defund Obama&rsquo;s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which has granted temporary relief for some children of illegal immigrants and is set for renewal this fall. Boehner has resisted the idea. But late Wednesday, GOP aides said that leaders were likely to allow a vote on a standalone bill that would defund DACA before voting to approve the border spending measure. If the bill to defund DACA were to pass, it wasn&rsquo;t clear exactly how House leaders would merge the two proposals and send them to the Senate.</p> </blockquote> <p>Basically, Cruz is trying to rally House conservatives to vote against Boehner's stopgap bill unless it also kills DACA, the so-called mini-DREAM executive action that halts deportations of children who have been in the country for many years. If he succeeds, then no funding bill will pass before Congress goes on vacation. That's why the Obama folks are in crisis mode. We can't just starve the kids who have come across the border, after all, and that means Obama is once again forced to be the grown-up in the room.</p> <p>Your Republican Party at work, folks. George Washington would be proud.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Immigration Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:07:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 257386 at Watch: UN Agency Spokesman Breaks Down In Tears While Talking About Gaza School Bombing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>United Nations Relief Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness has been talking to media outlets around the world about the situation in Gaza, "advocating passionately," as he <a href="" target="_blank">puts it</a>, "for Palestine refugees to enjoy all their rights to the full, including the right to a just and durable solution." Gunness'&nbsp; agency runs schools in Gaza that are being used as shelters by Palestinian families and have been attacked <a href="" target="_blank">six times </a>in the current conflict (the Israeli military says it has found rockets in the schools on occasion). On Wednesday he was talking to an Al Jazeera interviewer about the most recent school bombing, which <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly left 15 dead</a>. "The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied, and it's appalling," he <a href=";" target="_blank">said</a> before breaking into tears. Watch:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:07:50 +0000 AJ Vicens 257381 at LA's Crappy Old Pipes Mean More Epic Floods Are Coming <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday at around 3:30 pm, a water main burst near the campus of UCLA in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. It <a href="" target="_blank">gushed for nearly three hours</a>, sending water as high as 30 feet into the air and flooding campus&mdash;cars' wheels were submerged, the brand-new basketball court was covered in standing water, eager students brought boogie boards. As much as <a href="" target="_blank">10 million gallons are estimated to have been lost</a>, at a rate of 38,000 gallons per minute.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/07/los-angeles-bad-pipes-epic-floods"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:38:35 +0000 Sam Brodey 257361 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 30, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The USS George Washington conducts flight operations east of Okinawa. (<span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1406740317802_1495">US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik</span>.)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:17:14 +0000 257341 at Fast-Food Workers Just Took McDonald’s Down a Notch <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday evening, the federal government dealt a huge blow to McDonald&rsquo;s, which has for over a year and a half been the target of worker protests and lawsuits over its low wages and questionable labor practices.</p> <p>McDonald&rsquo;s has long maintained that as a parent company, it cannot be held liable for the decisions individual franchises make about pay and working conditions. On Tuesday, the general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) <a href="" target="_blank">ruled</a> that this is nonsense, saying that the $5.6 billion company is indeed responsible for employment practices at its local franchises. That means that the company is no longer shielded from <a href="" target="_blank">dozes of charges</a> pending at regional NLRB offices around the country alleging illegal employment practices.</p> <p>"McDonald&rsquo;s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today&rsquo;s determination by the NLRB shows there's no two ways about it," Micah Wissinger, an attorney who brought a case on behalf of New York City McDonald's workers said in a statement Tuesday. "The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple."</p> <p>The Fast-Food Workers Committee along with the Service Employees International Union has <a href="" target="_blank">filed numerous complaints</a> against the company with the NLRB since November 2012. Most recently, workers <a href="" target="_blank">filed seven class action lawsuits</a> against McDonald&rsquo;s corporate and its franchises in three states alleging wage theft. The NLRB <a href="" target="_blank">consolidated</a> all these complaints into the case it decided on Tuesday, which focused on whether McDonald's corporate can be considered as a "joint employer" along with the owner of the franchise.</p> <p>Since the fall of 2012, fast-food workers at McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC franchises around the country <a href="" target="_blank">have been striking</a> to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. The strikes recently <a href="" target="_blank">went global</a>. Organizers say Tuesday's ruling will lend workers new momentum in their ongoing battle against the fast-food mega-chain.</p></body></html> MoJo Corporations Economy Labor Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:55:03 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 257336 at Lucy and the Great 10% Myth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Andrew Sullivan reminds me of something I was curious about the other day. <a href="" target="_blank">He quotes Jeffrey Kluger,</a> who writes in <em>Time</em> that he's annoyed with the movie <em>Lucy</em> because it perpetuates the ridiculous myth that we only use 10 percent of our brains. I sympathize. I was sort of annoyed just by seeing that in the trailer. But it did make me wonder: where did this urban legend come from, anyway? <a href="" target="_blank">Wikipedia to the rescue:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One possible origin is the reserve energy theories by Harvard psychologists William James and Boris Sidis...William James told audiences that people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential....In 1936, American writer Lowell Thomas summarized this idea...."Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average man develops only ten percent of his latent mental ability."</p> <p>In the 1970s, psychologist and educator Georgi Lozanov, proposed the teaching method of suggestopedia believing "that we might be using only five to ten percent of our mental capacity."....According to a related origin story, the 10% myth most likely arose from a misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of neurological research in the late 19th century or early 20th century. For example, the functions of many brain regions (especially in the cerebral cortex) are complex enough that the effects of damage are subtle, leading early neurologists to wonder what these regions did.</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. So we don't really know for sure. That's disappointing but not surprising. It's remarkable how often we don't know where stuff like this comes from.</p> <p>As for its continuing popular resonance, I have a theory of my own. There are an awful lot of people out there with&nbsp;remarkable&mdash;and apparently innate&mdash;mental abilities. They can multiply enormous numbers in their heads. They can remember every day of their lives. That kind of thing. And yet, they operate normally in other regards. The fact that they've stored, say, distinct memories of the past 15,000 days of their lives doesn't seem to take up any cerebral space or energy that they needed for anything else. So surely all that storage and retrieval capacity is just sitting around unused in the rest of us?</p> <p>No, it's not. But the idea resonates because freakish mental skills seem to be so much further out on the bell curve than freakish physical skills. It makes the whole 10 percent thing seem pretty plausible. And that's why it sticks around.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> Or does it? I mean, has anyone tried to find out how many people still believe this myth? For all I know, everyone has long been aware that it's not true. We need a poll!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Science Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:44:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 257326 at An Awful Lot of People Think Obama Is Bored With Being President <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You have to give the Fox News polling operation credit for mixing things up in an interesting way sometimes. At first glance, their latest poll is just a collection of all the usual leading questions about Obama busting up the Constitution, Obama being a loser compared to Vladimir Putin, Obama being incompetent, etc. etc. This is mostly yawn-worthy stuff intended as fodder for their anchors. All that's missing is a question about whether Obama plays too much golf. <a href="" target="_blank">But then there's this:</a></p> <p><img align="cednter" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_poll_obama_want_to_be_president.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p> <p>Who else would think to ask a question like that? But it's kind of fascinating, really. And what's most fascinating is that it's barely partisan at all. In virtually every group, something like 40 percent of the respondents think Obama is bored with the whole presidenting thing. That goes for Democrats as well as Republicans; for blacks as well as whites; for the rich as well as the poor; and for liberals as well as conservatives. It's not quite a majority in any group&mdash;though it's pretty close among Hispanics and senior citizens&mdash;but an awful lot of people sure are convinced that Obama has already checked out of the Oval Office. He might want to do something about that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:05:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 257321 at GDP Increases At a Smart 4.0% Rate in Second Quarter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's something that counts as good news: GDP increased in the second quarter <a href="" target="_blank">at an annual rate of 4.0 percent.</a> At the same time, the first quarter numbers were revised to a slightly less horrible -2.1 percent growth rate. This means, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_2014_q2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">roughly speaking, that the economy has grown about 1.9 percent over the first half of the year.</p> <p>Now, this is obviously nothing to write home about. A growth rate of 1 percent per quarter is pretty anemic. Still, it's better than expectations after the terrible Q1 numbers, and the rebound in Q2 suggests there really was some make-up growth. A fair amount of this growth came from inventory build-up, which is normally a reason for caution, but after two previous quarters of inventory decline it's probably not the warning sign it might otherwise be.</p> <p>All in all, this is decent news. It's still not possible to say that the economy is roaring along or anything, but the Q1 number now looks like it really was an anomaly. Slowly and sluggishly, the economy is continuing to recover for the ~95 percent of us who haven't been unemployed for months or who haven't given up and exited the labor force entirely. For those people, economic growth is still slow enough to leave them behind. One good quarter is nice, but we still have a lot of work to do.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:15:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 257311 at Jimmy Hoffa Went Missing 39 Years Ago Today [Photo] <!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/AP7301010398.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Teamsters Union President James R. Hoffa, left, stands with Anthony Provenzano, right, and fellow union members during Hoffa's visit to New Jersey. </strong>AP</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p>On this date in 1975, Jimmy Hoffa was last seen around 2:45 p.m. outside a Detroit area restaurant. His unlocked car was found at the restaurant, but there were no other signs of his whereabouts. Hoffa's disappearance sparked numerous theories as to what might have happened to him, and where he might be buried. In 1982, on the seventh anniversary of his disappearance, Hoffa was legally declared dead.<br> &nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/20060617_zaf_m67_001-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Jimmy Hoffa poses for a photo on July 24, 1975, just six days before his disappearance.&nbsp; </strong>Tony Spina/MCT/ZUMA Press</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Mark Murrmann 257226 at Bud and Miller Are Trying to Hijack Craft Beer—and It’s Totally Backfiring <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>InBev and MillerCoors loom over the US beer landscape like&hellip;well, like one of those monstrous inflatable Bud Light bottles that spring up at certain football tailgate parties and outdoor concerts. Together, the two global giants own nearly 80 percent of the US beer market. InBev alone, corporate owner of Budweiser, spends a <a href="">staggering $449 million on US advertising</a>.</p> <p>But also, like those vast blow-up beer bottles, their presence is not-so-faintly ridiculous and always teetering. The industry's signature light beers are suffering a "slow, watery death," <em>BusinessWeek </em>recently <a href="">reported</a>, their sales declining steadily.</p> <p>Meanwhile, independent breweries cranking out distinctive product&mdash;known as craft breweries&mdash;are undergoing an accelerating renaissance. "Sales of craft beers grew 16 percent in volume over the past year versus a 1.7 percent decline for the biggest U.S. beer brands," Bloomberg <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> in January. And new craft breweries are budding like hop flowers in spring. Here are the latest numbers, just out from the <a href="">Brewer's Association</a>. Note that that the number of US craft brewers has nearly doubled since 2010, and grew 20 percent in the past year alone.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/craft1.jpg"><div class="caption">Chart: The Brewers Association</div> </div> <p>Now, here's an historical look at the situation, a chart that I also included the <a href="">last time I looked at the craft-beer revival</a>, back in 2011. Note that the number of breweries plunged with the coming of Prohibition, surged with the onset of legalization in the 1930s, and then began a long, slow decline as the beer industry consolidated into the hands of giants like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. By the end of the 1970s, the entire US beer market was being satisfied, if that's the word, by fewer than 100 large brewing facilities.</p> <p>And then, starting in the early '80s&mdash;with the gradual demise of <a href="">Prohibition-era restrictions like the one that kept breweries from selling beer directly to the public</a>, as well as people's growing distaste for watered-down swill&mdash;the craft-brew revival, the one reaching full flower today, emerged.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/us_brewery_count_biodesicthumb400x339.jpg"><div class="caption">Chart: Biodesic</div> </div> <p>For its part, Big Beer has responded to the declining popularity of its goods in two ways. The first is relentless cost cutting. When Belgian mega-brewer InBev bought US corporate beer giant Bud in 2008, it very <a href="" target="_blank">quickly slashed 1,400 jobs, about 6 percent of its US workforce</a>. And the laser-like focus on slashing costs has continued, as this aptly titled 2012 <a href="" target="_blank"><em>BusinessWeek</em> piece, "The Plot to Destroy America's Beer,"</a> shows.</p> <p>The second is to roll out phony craft beers&mdash;brands like ShockTop and Blue Moon&mdash;and buy up legit craft brewers like Chicago's Goose Island, which InBev did in 2011. Other ersatz "craft" beers include Leinenkugel, Killian's, Batch 19, and Third Shift. The strategy has been successful, to a point. Bloomberg reports that InBev has seen its Goose Island and Shock Top sales surge.</p> <p>But there's a catch: These stealth Big Beer brands aren't "putting the microbrewers who started the movement out of business," Bloomberg <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>. Rather, "the new labels are taking sales from already-troubled mass-market brands owned by the industry giants peddling these crafty brews." In other words, consumers aren't dropping Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head and reaching for the Shocktop. Rather, ShockTop sales are being propped up by refugees from Bud Light and the like.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the beer world is buzzing about what would be the granddaddy of all mergers: rumors are swirling that InBev is preparing a bid to takeover SABMiller, a move that would give the combined company 30 percent of the globe's beer market. The motivation, reports the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>St. Louis Post Dispatch</em></a>: "A-B InBev could reap $2 billion in cost-savings through an acquisition of their largest rival, through global procurement and shared services, and eliminating job redundancies."</p> <p>While Big Beer attempts to solve its problems with crafty marketing and yet more giantism, US craft brewers are trying out innovative business models. Big-name craft brewers <a href="" target="_blank">Full Sail</a> (Oregon), <a href="" target="_blank">New Belgium</a> (Colorado), and <a href="" target="_blank">Harpoon</a> (Boston) are all fully employee-owned. Here in Austin, <a href="" target="_blank">Black Star Brewery and Pub</a> is cooperatively owned by 3,000 community members and managed by a "workers assembly" as a "democratic self-managed workplace." It may sound like it should be a cluster, but the place is always packed, the service is brisk, the food is good, and the beer is excellent. And the employees proudly refuse tips, citing their living wage as the reason. Meanwhile, a forthcoming worker-owned project, <a href="" target="_blank">4thTap Brewing Co-op</a>, is creating excitement among Austin beer nerds with its promise to "bring radical brewing to the forefront of the Texas craft beer scene."</p> <p>For me, all of this ferment underlines an important point about the US food scene: It may be dominated by a few massive, heavily marketed companies at the top, but that doesn't stop viable alternatives from bubbling from below.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Corporations Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 257181 at Republicans Still Holding Up Virtually All Obama Appointments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jonathan Bernstein notes today that although filibuster reform has technically given Democrats the ability to confirm any executive branch appointment, in practice Republicans can still tie up the Senate by insisting on lengthy parliamentary delays for every nominee. <a href="" target="_blank">And that's what they're doing:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Senate Republicans continue to impose an across-the-board virtual hold on every executive branch nomination....Republican foot-dragging has created a backlog of more than 100 nominees, almost none of whom are controversial, and some of whom have been waiting since January for Senate floor action.</p> <p>....I understand that Republicans are upset about the Democrats' filibuster reform. It has robbed them of leverage over nominations &mdash; even if it's entirely their own fault for having abused that leverage. But Republicans aren&rsquo;t harming Senate majority leader Harry Reid by blocking nominations. They&rsquo;re harming the functioning of the U.S. government. (Perhaps it might be nice to have ambassadors appointed in a few important nations?) And they are needlessly, cruelly, messing with people&rsquo;s lives. On top of all that, they&rsquo;re eliminating the leverage of individual Senators. As Ted Cruz (maybe) just learned, there&rsquo;s no point putting an individual hold on a nomination that is already being held up by the entire Republican caucus.</p> <p><strong>And why? For the sake, as far as I can tell, of a tantrum.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Pretty much. But this is what they've been doing all along. The point of filibustering everything and everyone has never been just to prevent a few objectionable candidates from being confirmed. It's been to tie up Senate floor time and disrupt even the routine functioning of a federal government that's under Democratic control. Even with filibuster reform they can still do that, so why should they stop now? A broken government is nothing but good news for Republicans.</p> <p>Bernstein says in another post today that he's tired of hearing about political polarization. It's not really anything new, after all. That's true enough, and this is a good example. It's not a case of polarization, it's just a straightforward case of assholery. There's no principle or ideology behind this, they're merely causing dysfunction for the sake of causing dysfunction. Welcome to the modern GOP.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:52:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 257306 at My Ten-Dollar Offer to the Halbig Truthers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There's no question that the statutory text of Obamacare contains a mistake. In one of its sections, it authorizes federal subsidies only for taxpayers who enroll through a state-based exchange, not for those who enroll through the federal <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ten_dollar_bill_again_again.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">exchange. But was it <em>really</em> a mistake? <a href="" target="_blank">Brian Beutler comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Right-wing activists have spent the last several months fabricating a rival narrative<span class="em">&mdash;</span>a ludicrous theory of intent, in which leading Democrats meant to condition the subsidies, but decided to keep the inducement a secret from reporters, back bench members, governors, budget analysts, and health care reform advocates. This kind of deceptive argumentation is perhaps to be expected from activists. <strong>What's become incredibly frustrating to me about the <em>Halbig </em>brouhaha in the last few days is watching the conservative health care writers who were in the same trenches watching the same debate unfold<span class="em">&mdash;</span>attempting, from a very skeptical vantage point, to explain the bill correctly<span class="em">&mdash;</span>suddenly turn around and vouchsafe the Halbig Truthers.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That suggests something to me. As far as I know, not a single reporter who covered the Obamacare battle believes that Congress intended to restrict subsidies to state exchanges. As Beutler says, "To the extent that the question wasn&rsquo;t probed widely, if at all, it's because that would've been almost like asking whether the subsidies were intended to be denominated in Rubles." <a href="" target="_blank">Sarah Kliff agrees:</a> "It was never a question, during the five years I've spent writing about Obamacare, whether this would be case." Nobody in Congress questioned the universality of subsidies. Nobody in the executive branch questioned it. No governors questioned it. None of the bureaucrats tasked with building the exchanges questioned it. And nobody in the press questioned it.</p> <p>And that brings me to my suggestion: Is it really true that no one in the press questioned it? For the moment, let's forget about liberals. Hell, everyone knows we're in the bag for Obamacare, and by now we've probably scrubbed all our old posts of damning evidence. Ditto for the mainstream media. They're just shills for Obama anyway. But how about <em>conservatives</em>? They covered the Obamacare battle pretty obsessively too. Here's my guess: every single article written by conservatives between January 2009 and March 2010 (a) assumed that subsidies were universal and (b) never so much as mentioned the possibility that they weren't. In other words, they all believed in universal subsidies too because there was never any reason in their reporting to believe otherwise. Not one single reason.</p> <p>But maybe I'm wrong! So here's my offer: I will send a crisp, new ten-dollar bill to anyone who can point out a conservative who so much as suspected that subsidies were limited to state exchanges prior to March 2010. Surely that's incentive enough? Let's start digging up evidence, people.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Wed, 30 Jul 2014 00:31:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 257286 at "Confused Cats Against Feminism" Is the Purrfect Response to "Women Against Feminism" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Tumblr <a href="" target="_blank">Women Against Feminism</a> has inspired <a href="" target="_blank">scores</a> <a href="" target="_blank">of</a> <a href="" target="_blank">think</a> <a href="" target="_blank">pieces</a> decrying its misuse of the term "feminist." Yet when David Futrelle saw the collection of photos of women holding handwritten signs like "<a href="" target="_blank">I don't need feminism because I am not a victim,</a>" it reminded him of his cats.</p> <p>"It just seems like cats never know what's going on," Futrelle says. "If anyone would get really confused about feminism and announce their opposition to it, it would be cats. They have the right combination of myopicness and solipsism."</p> <p>So last Thursday, Futrelle posed his felines next to Women Against Feminism-style signs, snapped a picture, and launched his own Tumblr: <a href="" target="_blank">Confused Cats Against Feminism</a>. The cats, he said, were reluctant participants. "They did not want to cooperate at all when I started coming at them with this little sign that I'd drawn on with a very smelly Sharpie."</p> <p>Almost immediately, readers began sending Futrelle photos of their own cats. Now the Tumblr has 11,000 followers, and as of Tuesday morning, Futrelle was sorting through hundred of submissions.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Cats against equal pay" class="image" src="/files/huggingcats_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Cats against equal pay. </strong><a href="" target="_blank"></a></div> </div> <p>The Chicago resident thinks his project taps a deep vein of exasperation among feminists that goes beyond the outrage over Women Against Feminism. "A lot of women and feminists are frustrated at trying to respond to arguments that are disingenuous or just weird and silly," he says. "Part of what's fun about the blog is to say, Look, we're just gonna respond with cats."</p> <p>The most successful posts, he says, "manage to tap into cat logic" or "capture the cats' desire to be pampered and protected, which is the complaint that some people have about the Women Against Feminism blog." His favorite submission so far is a cat sprawling on its back, exposing a patch of fur the size and color of a chocolate chip cookie on its stomach. "I DON'T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE...COOKIE BELLY," <a href="" target="_blank">the text reads</a>.</p> <p>Futrelle says the joke wouldn't be as funny if it were Confused Dogs Against Feminism, because cats tend to be culturally coded as female. Also, "Dogs aren't as self-absorbed as cats. If you tried to do it with a dog I think the only thing you could go with is they're too stupid."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Another confused cat" class="image" src="/files/indooroutdoor.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"I don't need feminism because I like it when a man opens the door for me to enter a room. And then leave it again. And enter. And leave. And&hellip; enter. No wait, leave, definitely leave. Wait, I mean enter&hellip;" </strong><a href="" target="_blank"></a></div> </div> <p>This isn't Futrelle's first attempt to push back against antifeminist rhetoric. On his other blog, <a href="" target="_blank">We Hunted the Mammoth</a>, he's been chronicling the foibles of the men's rights movement for four years. Over time he's shifted from seeing the movement as merely misguided to realizing that it's driven by misogyny, he says. He hopes his blogging will encourage other people to respond to antifeminist overtures with humor.</p> <p>"Men's rights activists have a quote that's supposedly from Gandhi that they like to recite constantly: 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,'" Futrelle says. "As they see it, they've gotten to the point where people are fighting them. I'd like to knock them back to the point where people are laughing at them."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Interview Sex and Gender Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:26:59 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 257211 at The Forgotten Murder Trial of the NRA's Top Lawyer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Robert J. Dowlut is the NRA's top lawyer, a "human encyclopedia" on the subject of state gun laws and the man responsible for much of the gun lobby's success in a series of court cases that have steadily eroded restrictions on gun ownership in the United States. "He is a really <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nra_murder_mystery.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 27px 0px 15px 30px;">reliable and exhaustive source for legal input on the issue," says one admirer.</p> <p>But 50 years ago, according to a pile of court documents MoJo's Dave Gilson uncovered for <a href="" target="_blank">"The NRA's Murder Mystery,"</a> a teenage Dowlut had a rather different relationship with guns:</p> <blockquote> <p>Shortly before dark on the evening of April 17, 1963, Robert J. Dowlut went looking for a gun inside the city cemetery in South Bend, Indiana. Making his way through the headstones, he stopped in front of the abandoned Studebaker family mausoleum. He knelt by the front right corner of the blocky gray monument and lifted a stone from the damp ground. Then, as one of the two police detectives accompanying him later testified, the 17-year-old "used his hands and did some digging." He unearthed a revolver and ammunition. As Dowlut would later tell a judge, the detectives then took the gun, "jammed it in my hand," and photographed him. "They were real happy."</p> <p>Two days earlier, a woman named Anna Marie Yocum had been murdered in her South Bend home. An autopsy determined she had been shot three times, once through the chest and twice in the back, likely at close range as she'd either fled or fallen down the stairs from her apartment. Two .45-caliber bullets had pierced her heart.</p> <p>....The following morning, Dowlut was charged with first-degree murder. A year and a half later, a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. Before the judge handed down a life sentence, he asked the defendant if there was any reason why he shouldn't be put away. Dowlut replied, "I am not guilty." A day later, the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City registered Dowlut, now 19, as prisoner number 33848.</p> <p>Less than six years later, Robert Dowlut would be a free man&mdash;his murder conviction thrown out by the Indiana Supreme Court because of a flawed police investigation. The court ordered a new trial, but one never took place. Dowlut would return to the Army and go on to earn college and law degrees. Then he would embark on a career that put him at the epicenter of the movement to transform America's gun laws.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Click the link</a> to read the whole story.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Guns Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:48:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 257221 at Jim Carrey Movies, Ranked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>The Mask</em> came out on July 29 1994. It was Jim Carrey's second blockbuster. (<em>Ace Ventura: Pet Detective </em>had hit theaters that February.<em>)</em> But where does it stand in the Jim Carrey canon? Here are all the Jim Carrey films*, ranked.</p> <p>1.<em> Liar Liar</em><br> 2. <em>The Truman Show</em><br> 3. <em>Man on the Moon</em><br> 4.<em> Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind</em><br> 5. <em>Yes Man</em><br> 6. <em>Bruce Almighty</em><br> 7. <em>Fun With Dick And Jane</em><br> 8. <em>Dumb &amp; Dumber</em><br> 9. <em>The Mask</em><br> 10. <em>A Christmas Carol</em><br> 11. <em>I Love You Philip Morris</em><br> 12. <em>Kick-Ass 2</em><br> 13. <em>Simon Birch</em><br> 14. <em>Me, Myself, &amp; Irene</em><br> 15. <em>Batman Forever</em><br> 16. <em>Ace Ventura: Pet Detective</em><br> 17. <em>Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events</em><br> 18. <em>The Cable Guy</em><br> 19. <em>Mr. Popper&rsquo;s Penguins</em><br> 20. <em>How The Grinch Stole Christmas</em><br> 21. <em>The Incredible Burt Wonderstone</em><br> 22. <em>The Number 23</em><br> 23. <em>Anchorman 2</em><br> 24.<em> Horton Hears a Who!</em><br> 25. <em>The Majestic</em><br> 26. <em>Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls</em></p> <p>(*Note: This is a ranking of "Jim Carrey movies," <em>a la </em>feature-length movies in which Jim Carrey appears beginning with <em>Ace Ventura: Pet Detective</em>. Movies that feature Jim Carrey from before <em>Ace Ventura: Pet Detective</em> are not "Jim Carrey movies." They are just movies that Jim Carrey happened to appear in.)</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:45:23 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 257216 at Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic Will Remain Open—For Now <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The last abortion clinic in Mississippi has been on the brink of closure for nearly two years. But the fight to shutter the&nbsp;Jackson Women's Health Organization may have ended Tuesday, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals <a href="" target="_blank">struck down </a>the strict anti-abortion measure that would have closed its doors forever.</p> <p>The court fight to save the clinic began in 2012, after state lawmakers passed a bill requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital&mdash;or else face criminal charges. Restrictive anti-abortion bills had already closed several clinics in the state, and, had the Fifth Circuit not ruled against the state, Mississippi was <a href="" target="_blank">poised to become</a> the first state since <em>Roe v. Wade</em> without a single abortion provider.</p> <p>Attorneys for the Jackson Women's Health Organization argued that admitting privileges were unconstitutional and not medically necessary for the safety of its clients. (The clinic, after all, <a href="" target="_blank">already had a patient-transfer agreement</a> with a local hospital for rare cases in which a patient required hospitalization.) A federal judge was receptive to this argument and <a href="" target="_blank">blocked</a> <a href="" target="_blank">the law</a> from going into effect; in response, the state of Mississippi appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/roy-mcmillan_0_1_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Take a look</a> inside Mississippi's last abortion clinic. </strong></div> </div> <p>Amid the legal wrangling, the Jackson Women's Health Organization attempted to obtain admitting privileges to comply with the law. As <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="" target="_blank">has reported</a>, all seven hospitals where the Jackson Women's Health Organization was eligible for admitting privileges turned the clinic down. This was partly because its providers travel to Mississippi from out of state, and partly because hospitals refused to be associated with abortion.</p> <p>As <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones </em>reported</a> in 2012:</p> <blockquote> <p>The doctors' applications have been rejected by every hospital they've approached. Two hospitals wouldn't let them apply at all. Five others denied the applications for "administrative" reasons, before even completely reviewing the doctors' qualifications. Their rejection letters cited their policies regarding abortion and "concern about disruption to the hospital's business within the community." The clinic wrote follow-up letters to make sure the hospitals understood that the doctors were only seeking privileges to comply with the new law and wouldn't actually be providing abortions at the hospital, but no dice.</p> </blockquote> <p>Abortion rights advocates feared that the Fifth Circuit would be hostile to such claims. A three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit <a href="" target="_blank">upheld a very similar Texas law</a> in March. Appeals courts in the Fourth and Eighth Circuits have also <a href="" target="_blank">upheld admitting privilege laws</a>.</p> <p>But on Tuesday, the appeals court ruled, "Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state." It is not yet clear if the state will appeal to the US Supreme Court. But the decision&mdash;short of intervention from high court&mdash;means the clinic will remain open for the foreseeable future.</p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Top Stories Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:47:04 +0000 Molly Redden 257191 at Guns and Doctors: A Follow-Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Aaron Carroll responds to my skeptical take on doctors asking patients about their gun ownership:</p> <blockquote> <p>I think you ask legitimate questions, but these are consensus things that pediatricians ask about. You&rsquo;re thinking like an adult, and not as a parent.</p> <p>I don&rsquo;t know if internists ask adults about guns. I doubt they do. But pediatricians do ask parents. They also ask if parents have talked about street safety. They ask if they keep chemicals out of reach of their children. They ask if they&rsquo;ve checked the temperature of the hot water heater. They ask about water safety, bathtubs, and talk about drowning. Fire safety. Bike safety. Car safety (including airbags). I could go on and on and on.</p> <p>This is what pediatricians do. You may be too far removed from that to remember, but it is! Read <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bright Futures</em></a>. It&rsquo;s hundreds of pages long.</p> </blockquote> <p>In my post, I was mostly thinking about adult doctors, not pediatricians, though I suppose both were on my mind. In any case, this is an obvious distinction, and I thought it was worth passing along.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Guns Health Care Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:05:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 257201 at Quote of the Day: "The Press Loves to Cover Her Hard" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_clinton_speech.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Dave Weigel notes that the media is <em>still</em> obsessed with Hillary Clinton's comment about being <a href="" target="_blank">"dead broke" when she and Bill left the White House:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>They've got to be sick of this by now. Maggie Haberman had it nailed three weeks ago: Hillary Clinton was "still raw over the partisan wars that hindered her husband&rsquo;s legacy and left the couple with millions of dollars in legal debt." Her answer, as she told Ramos, was accurate, and it's baffling to her that this became a "gaffe." As she continued her tour, HarperCollins was printing up copies of <em>Clinton, Inc.</em>, a tell-all by the <em>Weekly Standard's</em> Daniel Halper. <strong>On Page 18, Halper recalls that in 2001 "the Clintons were broke, owing a fortune in legal fees from the many investigations into their personal lives," and that they had to be loaned $1.3 by Terry McAuliffe.</strong> Until just a month ago, that was how even conservatives remembered the Clintons' departure from the White House.</p> </blockquote> <p>What's the deal with this? Sure, Hillary could have responded to questions about her wealth a little better. She's not the natural politician Bill is. But really, there's not much else here. So why does it continue to be news a full month later? Uber-insider Mark Halperin explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>She has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage. And it&rsquo;s going to keep going. The momentum&mdash;there&rsquo;s, there&rsquo;s&mdash; <strong>The press loves to cover her hard.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This comes courtesy of Bob Somerby, who's been following this ever since the initial flood-the-zone coverage of Hillary's "gaffe" in the <em>Washington Post</em>. <a href="" target="_blank">Somerby tells the rest of the story:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Multimillionaire TV stars asked if voters would support a person as wealthy as Clinton. In response to Clinton&rsquo;s answers, some of the nation&rsquo;s most famous pundits launched their famous &ldquo;gaffe culture.&rdquo;</p> <p>The <em>Washington Post</em> even launched a front-page jihad concerning the size of Clinton&rsquo;s speaking fees. In the <em>New York Times</em>, Maureen Dowd assailed Clinton for her &ldquo;rapacious&rdquo; behavior and her &ldquo;wanton acquisitiveness,&rdquo; which she was said to be passing along to her daughter.</p> <p>....Halperin made a starting suggestion&mdash;he suggested the press corps&rsquo; coverage of a major candidate could determine the outcome of our next White House campaign.</p> <p>Plainly, that&rsquo;s what happened in Campaign 2000, when a twenty-month war against Candidate Gore let George Bush reach the White House. In the main, that war was conducted by the mainstream press corps, <em>not</em> by the RNC.</p> <p>The press corps&rsquo; poisonous war against Gore let Bush reach the White House. But it&rsquo;s a basic law of the guild: Major journalists <em>never</em> suggest that the behavior of their own guild could have such startling effects.</p> </blockquote> <p>The media's preoccupation with the Clintons' wealth won't last forever. Even for the Washington press corps, it's too transparently silly to pretend that it's somehow surprising that a presidential candidate is wealthy. But Somerby and Halperin are right: it's a sign of things to come. The press has never liked Hillary, and she's never liked them, and that's that. If she decides to run for president, this is going to be one of her biggest problems&mdash;or maybe her biggest, period. She's just never going to catch a break.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Hillary Clinton Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:49:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 257196 at Should Doctors Ask You About Your Guns? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Florida, it's illegal for a physician to ask you if you own a gun. Pediatrician Aaron Carroll <a href="" target="_blank">thinks this is ridiculous:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When pediatricians ask you about using car seats, they&rsquo;re trying to prevent injuries. When they ask you about how your baby sleeps, they&rsquo;re trying to prevent injuries. When they ask you about using bike helmets, they&rsquo;re trying to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gun_sale.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">prevent injuries. And when they ask you about guns, they&rsquo;re trying to prevent injuries, too.</p> <p>....When I ask patients and parents whether they own guns, if they tell me they do, I immediately follow up with questions about how they are stored. I want to make sure they&rsquo;re kept apart from ammunition. I want to make sure they&rsquo;re in a locked box, preferably in a place out of reach of children. Doing so minimizes the risks to children. That&rsquo;s my goal.</p> <p>When we, as physicians, ask you if you drink or smoke, it&rsquo;s not so that we can judge you. It&rsquo;s so we can discuss health risks with you. When we ask you about domestic violence, it&rsquo;s not to act like police detectives. It&rsquo;s so that we can help you make better choices for your health. When we ask you about what you eat or whether you exercise, it&rsquo;s so we can help you live better and longer. We&rsquo;re doctors; it&rsquo;s our job.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't often disagree with Carroll, but I think I might here. Not about Florida's law: that really is ridiculous. The state may have an interest in making sure doctors don't give demonstrably bad advice, but it certainly doesn't have a legitimate interest in preventing them from asking simple, fact-oriented question. This represents prior restraint on non-commercial speech, and as such it's beyond the pale.</p> <p>That said, <em>should</em> physicians ask about gun ownership? I'm not so sure. Carroll says he only wants to discuss "health risks," and that's appropriate. Doctors have expertise in the area of human health: that is, the biology and physiology of the human body. But that's not the same thing as the <em>safety</em> of the human body.</p> <p>Not only do doctors have no special professional expertise in this area, but it's simply too wide open. Does your car have air bags? Do you ever jaywalk? Have you checked your electrical outlets lately? Is your house built to withstand an earthquake? Do you know how to work safely on your roof? Do you make sure to watch your kids in the pool? Are you planning any trips to eastern Ukraine?</p> <p>I could go on forever in this vein. These are things unrelated to human physiology. If you define them all as health risks, you're simply defining every aspect of life as a health risk, and therefore your doctor's concern. That goes too far, and I don't blame people for sometimes reacting badly to it. There are certainly gray areas here, but generally speaking, if I want advice about my health, I'll see a doctor. If I want advice about gun safety, I'll talk to a gun pro. I think it might be best to leave it this way.</p> <p><strong>FULL DISCLOSURE:</strong> My view is almost certainly colored by the fact that I'm all but phobic about doctors. I hate visiting them, I hate talking to them, and I hate the fact that they never seem to really, truly respond to what I tell them. I would be very annoyed if a doctor suddenly veered off and started quizzing me about general safety issues.</p> <p>I'm keenly aware that this is an obvious overreaction on my part, and I do my best to restrain it when I'm actually talking to a doctor. Nonetheless, it's there.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Guns Health Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:47:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 257156 at Color Me Skeptical About a Guaranteed Income for All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Should we have a guaranteed minimum income in the United States? Something nice and simple that would replace nearly our entire current alphabet soup of means-tested welfare programs?<sup>1</sup> Dylan Matthews posts about this frequently, and others <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Uncle_Sam_Money.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">chime in occasionally as well. It even has some support among conservatives.</p> <p>I am not so sure, myself. Keith Humphreys makes a couple of good points <a href="" target="_blank">here,</a> but I want to step back a bit. At a bare minimum, I need answers to four questions:</p> <ol><li>How big would it be?</li> <li>Is it a family benefit or a personal benefit?</li> <li>Is it for adults only, or would children also qualify for a benefit?</li> <li>How would it phase out with income?</li> </ol><p>There are many more details to work out, all of them important, but I don't think you can even begin to talk about this without answers to these four basic questions.</p> <p>I'm skeptical about the whole thing because I don't think you can make the details work out. Nor do I think that it's politically feasible either now or in the future.<sup>2</sup> What's more, I'm always skeptical of ideas like this that haven't been adopted by any other country, even the ones with far more liberal welfare states than ours. I figure there must be a reason for this.</p> <p>But I'm happy to be proven wrong. Just give me a policy skeleton to work with. What exactly are we talking about here?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Proponents usually (but not always) make exceptions for education and health care, which are too variable and too expensive to be handled by a simple minimum income.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>Perhaps it's feasible in our far-distant robot future. Maybe even necessary. For now, though, let's stick to the medium-term future.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Income Inequality Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:50:42 +0000 257146 at America Should Get Out of the Peacekeeping Business in Israel <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From the <em>Washington Post</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Anyone who has made even a passing glance at the Israeli media in the past few days will have noticed the incredible chorus of criticism being directed at John Kerry right now. The secretary of state has been lambasted by all sides for his apparent failure in attempts to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.</p> <p>[Examples follow]</p> </blockquote> <p>And it's not just Israelis. Elsewhere in the <em>Post</em>, David Ignatius <a href="" target="_blank">takes Kerry to task too:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he&rsquo;s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire &mdash; and it&rsquo;s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.</p> <p>Kerry&rsquo;s error has been to....</p> </blockquote> <p>I think we should stop right there. Kerry has made only one mistake, and that was trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the first place. He didn't fail because of any personal shortcomings; he failed because there were no terms under which either side would ever have agreed to a ceasefire. The fighting will stop when both sides decide to stop, and not a minute before. It's long past time for everyone to acknowledge this.</p> <p>The United States has been trying to broker peace in the Middle East for the past 20 years. Maybe longer, depending on how you count. But 20 years at least, and every attempt has failed. Various Americans have tried, all with different approaches, and the result has been the same every time: not just failure, but a steady and inexorable deterioration of the situation. It's no longer credible to pretend that maybe a different person with a different approach and different sympathies might have made a difference in any particular situation. Blaming Kerry for this latest failure is just delusional.</p> <p>Quite famously, we all "know" what a deal between Israel and the Palestinians needs to look like. It's obvious. Everyone says so. The only wee obstacle is that neither side is willing to accept this obvious deal. They just aren't. The problem isn't agreeing on a line on a map, or a particular circumlocution in a particular document. The problem is much simpler than that, so simple that sophisticated people are embarrassed to say it outright: Two groups of people want the same piece of land. Both of them feel they have a right to it. Both of them are, for the time being, willing to fight for it. Neither is inclined to give up anything for a peace that neither side believes in.</p> <p>That's it. That's all there is. All the myriad details don't matter. Someday that may change, and when it does the United States may have a constructive role to play in brokering a peace deal. But that day is nowhere in the near future. For now, it's time for America to get out of the peacekeeping business. Our presence there does no good, and might very well be doing active harm. This doesn't mean withdrawing from the region, it just means getting out of the shuttle diplomacy business. Neither side is ready for it, and probably won't be for years. Let's end the charade.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:58:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 257141 at Today Is International Tiger Day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Established in <a href="" target="_blank">2010</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">International Tiger Day</a>! aims to raise awareness of the fact that tigers are <a href="" target="_blank">facing extinction</a>. "A hundred years ago 100,000 tigers roamed in Asia," explains <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Independent</a></em>. "But now only 3,000 survive in the wild." The culprit? <a href="" target="_blank">Poachers</a>, mostly.</p> <p>Tigers are marvelous creatures. Have a look at some of these stunning photos to celebrate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5590652478_e1bb9e8e80_b.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A tiger cub in Chiang Mai, Thailand. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">lejaclyn</a>/Flickr</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6340731249_4477ee8281_o.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Sumatran tiger cub at the World Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Kent, UK.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Tiny_Packages</a>/Flickr</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/11016214955_2f5a546afe_o.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Two tiger cubs. Washington D.C. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Sonderman</a>/Flickr</div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6789552275_76aeaf4897_b.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Two Siberian tigers in the snow.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Garg</a>/Flickr<br> &nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/4575837040_e665e83c5a_o.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Mother gives cub piggy back ride.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">WOAW</a>/Flickr</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6279148974_60e78e4ce1_o.jpg"></p> <div class="caption"> <p><strong>Two Amur tigers snuggle in Switzerland.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Tambako</a>/Flickr</p> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/5455672660_92573421f6_o.jpg"></p> <div class="caption"> <p><strong>A Sumatra tiger in profile.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">pe_ha45</a>/Flickr</p> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6984925505_9b04776aa6_o.jpg"></p> <div class="caption"> <p><strong>Snow snuggling in Zurich.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Tambako</a>/Flickr</p> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/3833556477_8b1585ffa3_o.jpg"></p> <div class="caption"> <p><strong>A cub by its mother's side. Amn&eacute;ville, Lorraine, France. </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Tambako</a>/Flickr</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div></body></html> Mixed Media Animals Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:24:15 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 257106 at Midwestern Waters Are Full of Bee-Killing Pesticides <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A while back, I <a href="" target="_blank">wrote about</a> how the US Environmental Protection Agency has been conducting a slow-motion reassessment of a widely used class of insecticides, even as evidence mounts that it's harming key ecosystem players from pollinating bees to birds. Since then, another federal entity with an interest in the environment, the US Geological Survey, has released a pretty damning study of the pesticide class, known as neonicitinoids.</p> <p>For the paper (<a href=";from=rss_home#.U9K1y4LQnFI">press release</a>; <a href="" target="_blank">abstract</a>) published last week in the peer-reviewed journal <em>Environmental Pollution, </em>USGS researchers took 79 water samples in nine rivers and streams over the 2013 growing season in Iowa, a state whose vast acreage of farmland is largely devoted to neonic-treated corn and soybeans. Neonics showed up in all of the sites, and proved to be "both mobile and persistent in the environment."</p> <p>Levels varied over the course of the season, spiking after spring planting, the authors report. At their peak, the neonic traces in Iowa streams reached levels well above those considered toxic for aquatic organisms. And the chemicals proved to linger&mdash;the researchers found them at reduced levels before planting, "which indicates that they can persist from applications in prior years,&rdquo; USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report's lead author, said in the press release. And they showed up "more frequently and in higher concentrations" than the insecticides they replaced, the authors note.</p> <p>Other studies have shown similar results. Neonics have shown up at significant levels in wetlands near treated farm fields in <a href="" target="_blank">parts of the High Plains&nbsp; </a>and in <a href="" target="_blank">Canada</a>, as wells as in rivers in ag-heavy areas of <a href="" target="_blank">Georgia</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">California</a>.</p> <p>These findings directly contradict industry talking points. Older insecticides were typically sprayed onto crops in the field, while neonics are applied directly to seeds, and then taken up by the stalks, leaves, pollen, and nectar of the resulting plants. "Due to its precise application directly to the seed, which is then planted below the soil surface, seed treatment reduces potential off-target exposure to plants and animals," Croplife America, the pesticide industry's main lobbying outfit, declared in a <a href="" target="_blank">2014 report</a>.</p> <p>Yet the USGS researchers report that older pesticides that once rained down on the corn/soy belt, like chlorpyrifos and carbofuran, turned up at "substantially" lower rates in water&mdash;typically, in less than 20 percent of samples, compared to the 100 percent of samples found in the current neonic study. Apparently, pesticides that are taken up by plants through seed treatments don't stay in the plants; and neonics, the USGS authors say, are highly water soluble and break down in water more slowly than the pesticides they've replaced.</p> <p>In another <a href="">document</a>, Croplife claims that neonicotinoids "have been used in the United States for many years without significant effects on populations of honey bees." But the paper shows that neonic use didn't start in the heart of corn/soy belt until 2004, and then quickly ramped up. The below graphic, lifted from the paper, shows usage data on the three major neonic chemicals, with the chart on the bottom right depicting total use. According to the USDA, colony collapse disorder <a href="" target="_blank">started in 2006</a>. Correlation doesn't prove causation, but the industry's "many years without significant effects" claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-25%20at%205.49.37%20PM%20copy_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Neonic use in Iowa. </strong>Chart: USGS</div> </div> <p>In leaching from farm fields, neonics follow a pattern established by spray-applied herbicides like atrazine, the authors note, which undergo a similar <a href="">"spring flush</a>" into waterways. That means that each spring in Iowa, critters like frogs and fish find themselves immersed in a cocktail of damaging chemicals.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the use of seed treatments is surging&mdash;it <a href="">tripled over the past decade.</a> And not just neonics. Fungicides&mdash;chemicals that kill fungal pests&mdash;are also being applied to seeds at record rates. According to Croplife, "today&rsquo;s seed treatment market offers pre-mixture products containing combinations of three, four or more fungicides." It also boasts: "The global fungicide seed treatment market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2 percent and is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2018."</p> <p>And these chemicals, too, are <a href="">emerging as a threat to honeybees</a>. They also may be fouling up water. In 2012, the USGS released a <a href="" target="_blank">research review</a> on fungicides and their effect on waterways. The report noted plenty of "data gaps"&mdash;i.e. a dearth of research&mdash;but also evidence of "significant sublethal effects of fungicides on fish, aquatic invertebrates, and ecosystems, including zooplankton and fish reproduction, fish immune function, zooplankton community composition, metabolic enzymes, and ecosystem processes, such as leaf decomposition in streams, among other biological effects."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:00:15 +0000 Tom Philpott 257021 at