MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Obama Just Called Saving the Planet an "Act of Defiance" Against Terror <!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 <a href="" target="_blank">major two-week summit on climate change</a> opened on Monday in Paris, and President Barack Obama was there to urge world leaders to push for a strong international agreement to slow global warming.</p> <p>In his speech (video above), the president also offered a rebuke to the terrorists behind the Nov. 13 attacks in the French capital that left 130 people dead.</p> <p>The summit, he said, is "an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children."</p> <p>Obama acknowledged America's unique responsibility for ensuring success at the talks, which are designed to produce an unprecedented agreement between nearly 200 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. It's the first time nations have tried to reach that goal since the last major climate summit, in 2009 in Copenhagen, crumbled over disagreements between the US, China, and developing nations.</p> <p>In his second term, Obama has sought to make action on climate change a central part of his legacy; a strong agreement in Paris would be a vital component to that. "I've come here personally, as the leader of the world's largest economy and the second-largest emitter," Obama said, "to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it."</p> <p>Prior the speech, Obama met privately with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders have worked closely over the last year to <a href="" target="_blank">advance a joint climate agenda</a>. President Xi also gave a speech, in which he said it was "very important for China and the United States to be firmly committed to the right direction of building a new model of major country relations."</p> <p>Obama's remarks come a day after the White House announced a <a href="" target="_blank">sweeping initiative</a> to double public-sector investment in clean energy research and development from $5 billion to $10 billion by 2020. That new program, known as <a href="" target="_blank">Mission Innovation</a>, also includes over a dozen major private-sector investors, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg.&nbsp;</p> <p>Finance for clean energy and for climate change adaptation is likely to be a major issue at the talks, as vulnerable nations in Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere urge the US and other major emitters to pony up more cash. At the last major climate summit, in 2009 in Copenhagen, countries agreed to raise $100 billion per year for a UN-administered climate adaptation fund. That goal is only about two-thirds met.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk International Obama Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:12:57 +0000 Tim McDonnell 290766 at When a Kid Kills His Longtime Abuser, Who's the Victim? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You could hardly open a Pennsylvania newspaper in 2012 without running into a story about the prosecution of sexual predators or their enablers. The case of Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football coach convicted of abusing 10 boys, was all over the headlines. Two Philadelphia grand juries, in 2003 and 2011, had documented a massive cover-up of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church that would end up with two priests and a Monsignor going to prison&mdash;the latter was the first senior church official in the United States convicted of endangering children by covering up abuses by priests under his supervision.</p> <p>In July 2012, after yet another priest was arrested, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams lauded the alleged victim for speaking out after years of silence: "As we have learned," Williams said, "it is extremely difficult for sexual abuse victims to admit that the assault happened, and then to actually report the abuse to authorities can be even harder for them."</p> <p>The grand juries had made similar points. The most recent version of Pennsylvania's statutes of limitation, noted the 2003 grand jury report, required prosecutors to initiate sexual abuse cases by the child victim's 30th birthday, but "the experts have told us that this statute is still too short. We ourselves have seen that many victims do not come forward until deep into their thirties, forties and even later."</p> <p>The 2011 grand jury was even more forceful, noting that <em>most </em>victims don't come forward "for many years, or even decades." Seven of Sandusky's victims took a combined 73 years to report their ordeals. The Pennsylvania legislature responded by passing a law allowing the use of experts at trial to help juries understand how sexual violence affects its victims, and how they typically behave.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/11/terry-williams-philadelphia-death-penalty-sexual-abuse"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Longreads Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories death penalty Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Marc Bookman 290166 at Why Flying Home for the Holidays Might Be Greener Than Driving <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Planes_630.jpg"><div class="caption">Christy Lundy</div> </div> <p>In July, British tabloid the<em> Daily Mail</em> came out with a screaming headline: "EXCLUSIVE: Video shows Hillary Clinton boarding private jet just hours after launching global-warming push." Clinton's strategy to slash carbon dioxide emissions, <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Mail</em> gleefully reported</a>, didn't preclude her from traveling on an aircraft that burns hundreds of gallons of jet fuel every hour.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/plane300.gif"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Read more: It's cheaper for airlines to cut emissions than you think. </strong></a></div> </div> <p>Air travel by environmentalists has long been an easy punching bag for conservative pundits&mdash;and private jets like Clinton's probably deserve some sneering. But for those of us who have to make do with commercial airliners, flying is becoming much easier to defend. Michael Sivak, a transportation researcher at the University of Michigan, has found that from 1970 to 2010, the amount of energy consumed per mile, per passenger, on an average domestic flight <a href=";isAllowed=y" target="_blank">dropped 74 percent</a>. From 1968 to 2014, the fuel efficiency of new airplanes <a href="" target="_blank">improved 45 percent</a>, according to the <a href="" target="_blank">International Council on Clean Transportation</a> (ICCT).</p> <p>For this good news, we can thank airlines' obsession with fuel, which accounts for roughly one-third of their expenses. At <a href="" target="_blank">Boeing</a>, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, there's a rule of thumb: A 1 percent improvement in efficiency adds up to $1 million in fuel savings over the course of a single-aisle plane's 25-year life span.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2015/09/eco-friendly-air-travel"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Climate Change Econundrums Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Tim McDonnell 284896 at Kevin's Three Laws of Political Speech <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Following the attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic on Colorado, we are having the usual spats over what kind of political speech is and isn't appropriate. Apropos of that, here are three things I believe. These are not universally fashionable at the moment, but I suppose that's all the more reason to lay them out yet again.</p> <p><strong>Nazi analogies are OK.</strong> Most Americans are not great students of history, and Nazi analogies are often just the most accessible way to make a historical point that you know everyone will get. Generally speaking, comparing a bit of behavior to the Third Reich doesn't mean you're literally accusing someone of being Hitler, and everyone knows it. We should all stop pretending otherwise. What's more, sometimes the comparison is actually apt. For example, pro-lifers claim to believe that abortion is murder, which makes comparisons to the Holocaust perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. It's easy to go overboard and trivialize Nazi horrors. This is both insulting and tedious. It also makes you <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_triangle_shirtwaist_cartoon.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">look like an idiot, so have a care. Not everything deserves to be compared to Hitler.</p> <p><strong>There's nothing wrong with politicizing tragedies.</strong> The Triangle Shirtwaist fire prompted a sea change in views of workplace safety, and I think that was just fine. The 9/11 attacks increased public support for the invasion of Iraq, and I assume conservatives think that was just fine. More generally, what's wrong with politicizing tragedies? That's when people are paying attention, which means it's often the best time to mobilize public support to address the issues underlying the tragedy. That's what politics is for, isn't it? If liberals want to use the Planned Parenthood attack to raise public awareness of gun violence and access to abortion, they should go right ahead. If conservatives want to use it to raise public awareness of the number of abortions performed every year, they should feel free to try.</p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. Wait until we actually know what happened. Show some respect for the victims and their families. Don't lie. Never even hint that the tragedy was in some way deserved.</p> <p><strong>Talk is not responsible for extreme acts, especially by the mentally ill.</strong> Political speech is often fiery. It's often <em>supposed</em> to be fiery, and there's always a risk that a few unhinged listeners will react in extreme ways. That's a chance we have to take. If we rein in political speech to a level where there's literally no risk of anyone reacting badly, we'll have nothing but pabulum. Robert L. Deer might very well have been motivated to attack Planned Parenthood because he heard about them selling fetal tissue, but that doesn't mean it was wrong for activists to bring this to the public's attention.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. If you're doing the verbal equivalent of hoisting a pitchfork and telling people to storm the Bastille, don't pretend to be surprised when they storm the Bastille. Directly inciting violence is both legally and morally wrong.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>It was wrong to <em>lie</em> about it, but that's a whole different subject.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:21:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 290761 at The Beauty and the Peril of Being a Photojournalist in Afghanistan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">image</a> made the pages of newspapers around the globe: a young girl in brilliant green, arms outstretched, mouth open in a scream, surrounded by bodies after a suicide bomb tore through a religious ceremony in Kabul in 2011. It's an image that, for many in the West, reignited concern over what was taking place in Afghanistan, and it earned the photographer, Massoud Houssaini, a Pulitzer Prize. It also was an image that wouldn't have been captured under the reign of the Taliban&mdash;who outlawed the taking of photos.</p> <p>Houssaini's work, along with that of three other photojournalists, is explored in <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Frame by Frame</em></a>, a quietly devastating new documentary now making the festival circuit. Directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli follow the photojournalists as they document their country's events in the face of skepticism, censorship, and threats.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Wakil.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Wakil Kohsar </strong>Mo Scarpelli</div> </div> <p>Farzana Wahidy, Houssaini's wife and one of the only professional female photojournalists in Afghanistan, has the monumental task of documenting the lives of women whose voices are typically silenced&mdash;such as a girl who was doused in gasoline by her father-in-law and set alight. Soft-spoken Wakil Kohsar snaps shots from underneath bridges and in the middle of streets where addicts mainline their drugs. Najibullah Musafar, the eldest of the four, now runs a school for aspiring photojournalists in addition to doing his own photography. What they have in common is humble bravery and a deep caring for their subjects. Musafar puts it this way: "If a photojournalist does not have empathy, his photos may be meaningless. If a photojournalist has empathy, he's able to work on a subject from the bottom of his heart."</p> <p>The film, despite Musafar's poetic musings about the natural beauty of Afghanistan captured in his portrait work, contains a sense of urgency, as though its protagonists are racing toward an uncertain future. Press freedoms have expanded considerably&nbsp; since the 2001 American invasion, but as the troops withdraw, the threat of a resurgent Taliban looms. In fact, the film opens with Hossaini rushing in to cover a suicide bombing. Arriving on the scene, he warns a colleague, "Be careful that they don't think we are terrorists." Soon after, he notes, "These 10 years were a revolution for photography, but I don't know what will happen now...Government itself is against us sometimes. Taliban will come back somehow, to the government or some part of the country."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Indeed, the security situation has deteriorated in recent months. "The Taliban has been taking over northern parts of Afghanistan, they're still very present in the south, and ISIS is in Jalalabad," Bombach says. In October, <a href="">the Taliban declared</a> two Afghan TV networks and their entire staffs legitimate military targets. In a recent email responding to questions about Taliban threats, Houssaini wrote simply, "I am not scared."</p> <p>His words highlight something else Bombach and Scarpelli reveal, something Westerners miss amid the grisly headlines: the character of Afghan citizens. The film is an ode to a place and a people who fear that the world will forget about them if fundamentalism returns.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FarzanaWahidy_byAlexandriaBombach.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farzana Wahidy </strong>Alexandria Bombach</div> </div> <p>As Bombach and Scarpelli tail their subjects, we get a sense of everyday life in the country: the "smartass" Afghan sense of humor, the tenderness among friends, people holding their chests out of respect when they say hello, men holding hands out of friendship, the vendors who sell "the most amazing fruit," as Bombach puts it. "People always say there's something about Afghanistan that gets under your skin."</p> <p>Scarpelli adds, "There's this sense that life is being lived on both ends of a spectrum. Afghans are always talking about flux, but all of it feels normal to them, and you find yourself in the midst of it thinking, 'God, humans are amazing.'"</p> <p><em>Frame by Frame</em> will leave you feeling much the same way.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FramebyFrame_NajibullahMusafar_byAlexandriaBombachpg.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Najibullah Musafar </strong>Alexandria Bombach</div> </div></body></html> Media Afghanistan International Media Sun, 29 Nov 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Bryan Schatz 290401 at 3 New Books to Feed Your Brain <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You've just filled your belly to the brim. Turn now to some new tomes that will help fill your mind:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%" v_space="10"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/devils-chessboard-250x300.png"></div> <p><em>The Devil's Chessboard</em></p> <p>By David Talbot</p> <p>"What follows," David Talbot boasts in the prologue to his new book <em>The Devil's Chessboard</em>, "is an espionage adventure that is far more action-packed and momentous than any spy tale with which readers are familiar." Talbot, the founder of and author of the Kennedy clan study Brothers, doesn't deal in subtlety in his biography of Allen Dulles, the CIA director under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, the younger brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and the architect of a secretive national security apparatus that functioned as essentially an autonomous branch of government. Talbot offers a portrait of a black-and-white Cold War-era world full of spy games and nuclear brinkmanship, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Dulles&mdash;who deceived American elected leaders and overthrew foreign ones, who backed ex-Nazis and thwarted left-leaning democrats&mdash;falls firmly in the latter camp.&mdash;<em>Aaron Weiner</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%" vspace="30"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/hidden-half-of-nature-250x300.png"></div> <p><em>The Hidden Half of Nature</em></p> <p>By David R. Montgomery and Anne Bikl&eacute;</p> <p>In this <a href="" target="_blank">transformative read</a>, David Montgomery, a professor of earth and space sciences, and his wife, biologist and environmental planner Anne Bikl&eacute;, unravel the universe of microbes that make dirt fertile and allow us to digest food. Both the lining of our colons and the ground beneath our feet, the authors write, are "bio&shy;logical bazaars where plants and people trade nutritional wares and form alliances." Combining lucid explication of emerging science with personal anecdotes, Montgomery and Bikl&eacute;, who confronted a cancer diagnosis while writing the book, reveal that our immune defenses depend on protecting and nourishing these microscopic brigades.&mdash;<em>Tom Philpott</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/my-life-on-road-250x300.png"></div> <p><em>My Life on the Road</em></p> <p>By Gloria Steinem</p> <p>Steinem spent her childhood crammed against her sister in the backseat of a car as her father tried to persuade roadside antique dealers to buy his wares. In <em>My Life on the Road</em>, her first book in more than 20 years, Steinem <a href="" target="_blank">elegantly reflects</a> on this nomadic upbringing and how it inspired her own travels. Though she never learned to drive, her tours as a young journalist introduced her to women who helped shape her ideology: disgruntled American stewardesses, passengers in a female-only Indian train car, and an Irish taxi driver who told Steinem in the 1970s, "Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament!"&mdash;<em>Becca Andrews. </em></p></body></html> Media Books Sun, 29 Nov 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Maddie Oatman 290671 at This Composer Wants You to Know Who Syrian Refugees Really Are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When Suad Bushnaq thinks of Syria, she thinks of the wonderful years she spent studying at one of the Middle East's top conservatories, attending performances at the Damascus Opera House, and catching jazz gigs in back-alley cafes.</p> <p>She thinks of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>musakhan</em></a>, <em>shwarma</em>, fresh-squeezed juices; and of her dearest friends and the jokes they told each other.</p> <p>She thinks of her late mother, born and raised in Syria, and of her mother&rsquo;s family still living there.</p> <p>But these days, watching events unfold from the safety of the United States, she is barraged by daily images of violence, airstrikes, and fleeing refugees. And the public apprehension, ever since the Paris terrorist attacks, that has allowed craven politicians (including <a href="" target="_blank">the governor of her home state</a>) to paint those refugees as a threat. "No one [in the West] has the image of the Syria that I know,&rdquo; Bushnaq told me. "The beautiful Syria filled with culture and history and amazing food and people who laugh.&rdquo;</p> <p>Syria has changed dramatically in the decade since Bushnaq, one of only a handful of Arab women composers on the planet (<a href="">Layal Watfeh</a> and <a href="">Farah Siraj</a> being among the other notables), last set foot there. The ongoing civil war has disrupted and even claimed the lives of many of her friends and relatives. Now she's fighting the loss of Syrian culture in the only way she knows how: by creating orchestral pieces and scores that combine the Western and Middle Eastern musical traditions.</p> <p>She has <a href="!__music/discography" target="_blank">released two albums</a> and collaborated with award-winning Arab filmmakers, as well as the <a href="" target="_blank">Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra</a>, which <a href="" target="_blank">performed</a> a movement of her orchestral suite <em>Hakawaty</em> (or <em>Suite for Damascus</em>) to a sold-out international audience in Bremen, Germany, this past September.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="200" scrolling="no" src=";auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="200" scrolling="no" src=";auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The 33-year-old composer was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, by a Syrian mother and a Palestinian-Bosnian father with a large LP collection. ("My house was full of music,&rdquo; she says.) She started piano at age four but hated her lessons, preferring to make up her own songs. "When I was in fifth grade, my mom told me, 'If you stop taking piano lessons I will break the piano! I am not the type of mom who would allow us to have a piano as a piece of furniture.'"</p> <p>By 16, she decided that composition was more than just a whim. She dreamed of attending McGill University's Schulich School of Music in Montreal, but her parents said no. It was too far away and too expensive. So Bushnaq moved to Damascus.</p> <p>There she attended the <a href="" target="_blank">Higher Institute of Music</a>, where she learned from and performed with some of the region's premier musicians&mdash;many of them women who've gone on to international success. But Bushnaq was the only one studying composition. She would also be the only Arab woman ever admitted to McGill's prestigious composition program, where she landed a full scholarship in 2005. At McGill, she further honed her compositional style&mdash;a distillation of the influences of "a classically trained pianist who grew up in the Arab world, who has a bit of Balkan blood, and who likes to listen to jazz."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Bushnaq, who now lives with her husband in North Carolina, has worked on the scores of several films. One of them is a documentary about a 12-year-old Syrian refugee, by the female Lebanese director<a href="" target="_blank"> Niam Itani</a>. There's also a psycho-thriller called <em>The Curve</em>, which will <a href="" target="_blank">premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival</a> in December, by J<a href="" target="_blank">ordanian-Palestinian director Rifqi Assaf</a>. (The strings on the soundtrack were recorded by Syrian musicians in Damascus.)</p> <p>Lately, Bushnaq has been looking around for an orchestra to perform her <em>Suite for Damascus </em>in full, following on the success of the Syrian Expat concert. She remains in constant contact with friends and family back in Syria, where, despite all the chaos, the Higher Institute of Music continues to operate, and its musicians continue to perform.</p> <p>"It's sad what&rsquo;s happening now,&rdquo; Bushnaq told me. "But it makes me happy to know that the music scene is still going. It shows me that despite the war, people are still trying their best to live."</p></body></html> Media Music Sun, 29 Nov 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Luke Whelan 290186 at Worried About the Planet? These Condoms Are Your Ticket to Guilt-Free Sex <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Twenty years ago, when the eco-home products company Seventh Generation was in its heyday, co-founder and then-CEO Jeffrey Hollender trademarked the name Rainforest Rubbers, assuming that, as with cleaning and parenting products, people would be into sustainably-produced condoms. Nothing came of that idea, until Hollender's millennial-aged and business-school-educated daughter, angered by how so few women her age wanted to buy condoms and frustrated by the dearth of sex products with natural ingredients, decided to get involved.</p> <p>So decades after its conception, the father-daughter duo finally brought Hollender's idea to fruition, dumping his name for something sleeker and creating a condom that's sustainably produced, lacks the carcinogenic chemicals found in the standard brand, and is marketed specifically for women. Their <a href="" target="_blank">Sustain Natural</a> condoms brand, which has been on the market for just a year and a half, is one of a handful of eco- and body-friendly condom brands that have cropped up in recent years. The new wave of condoms include brands that take a more hipster, less macho tack to advertising, one that <a href="" target="_blank">delivers</a> condoms by bike and one that <a href="" target="_blank">named</a> their<strong> </strong>company<strong> </strong>after unicorns, for example.</p> <p>Since founding Sustain, the Hollenders have gone beyond their flagship product, which boasts a long list of certifications and perks&mdash;they now also manufacture and sell "post-play wipes" and lube. And Jeffrey's wife runs the companies charitable arm, which donates 10 percent of its condom and lube proceeds to women's health care organizations such as Planned Parenthood.</p> <p>Meika and her father, whom she calls "Jeffrey," chatted with <em>Mother Jones </em>about latex allergies, lube, and what it's like creating a condom company with your dad.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> What makes your condoms environmentally friendly?</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> If you look at the life cycle of the condom, you start with the fact that they're made from the sap of the rubber tree, like maple syrup is from a maple tree. We were lucky enough to find the world&rsquo;s only fair trade certified rubber plantation. The plantation provides free education for 1,000 people in southern India. They built a hospital that provides 100 percent free medical care to employees and a discount to the whole community. And they provide free housing. It&rsquo;s the only one certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means they&rsquo;re managing the biological diversity on the plantation, the use of chemicals and pesticides. We took that through to the factory&mdash;changing the way the product is made. We reduced the protein content in the latex, which is what causes allergies. Most condoms are contaminated with a carcinogen called <a href="" target="_blank">nitrosamine</a>. We removed casein, which makes it ok for vegans to use. It's the only non-GMO-certified condom in the United States. But the more important part of the story is that condoms help women plan the size of their families. When women plan the size of their families they have a better socioeconomic outcome. There&rsquo;s a lot we can do without, but we need condoms. The world&rsquo;s most sustainable, responsible, condoms.</p> <p><strong>MJ<strong>:</strong></strong> How is the standard condom made?</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> Mostly there&rsquo;s children working on the plantation. If you look at the living conditions of most rubber capitals and their income relative to other people in those countries, they&rsquo;re at the lower end of the spectrum. That's invisible to most consumers. There&rsquo;s been way more progress in the labor conditions of fair trade coffee, but condom production is a whole world that people have not shined a light on.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Why does Sustain focus on women's condom use instead of men's?</p> <p><strong>Meika:</strong> Our goal in the condom space is to get more young women to be using condoms, period. We have to get more women to use condoms over time which is going to take education.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Jeffrey%20Meika%20Hollender%20inline.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Meika and Jeffrey Hollender </strong>Courtesy of Sustain Natural</div> </div> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> It&rsquo;s scary how few women use condoms. The average woman who graduates from her first year in college, 25 percent will have an STD because they aren&rsquo;t using condoms. In Sacramento today and New York until a year ago you could be arrested for carrying condoms. We&rsquo;ve been supporting a group of women in Sacramento to help change that law. You shouldn&rsquo;t be searching and arresting them because they carry a condom. It also sends a terrible message to young women about what it means when you do.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> On the website you talk specifically about gay women and men. Will non-straight relationships be a focus of yours?</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> We have not been as focused on the LGBT market as we should be, and we see a real opportunity. Particularly with lubricants, it&rsquo;s a huge issue for gay men, and the health issues with lubricants are very significant for both sexes.</p> <p><strong>Meika:</strong> You don&rsquo;t want to use anything that has parabens or glycerin. And you don't want petroleum-based lube. What happens with the petroleum when it enters your body is it damages the cell tissue in that area and makes you more susceptible to contracting an STI. That combined with bacterial vaginosis, which can also be caused by petroleum or silicone-based lubricant, makes you 13 times more likely to contract an STI. So the health benefits were so obvious to us. And women in general are moving in a direction of wanting more natural condoms.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What kind of stereotypes do you two experience as a father-daughter condom company?</p> <p><strong>Meika:</strong> In the original round of investing, Jeffrey was raising money from friends, like upper class white men who thought the idea of starting a condom company with your daughter is a little uncomfortable. But we draw a line. People have been like, &ldquo;Why don&rsquo;t you do eco sex toys?&rdquo; honestly that to me is something we wouldn&rsquo;t want to do together. It&rsquo;s a sensitive relationship and condoms is more of a public health category. If something does make us uncomfortable, most things don&rsquo;t, but we do draw a line.</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> There&rsquo;s no child I know of who says, &ldquo;When I grow up I want to be a condom salesman!&rdquo; I say to Meika, "You have to be brave to do this." People think it&rsquo;s a weird thing for a father and daughter to be doing because it&rsquo; not something we talk about openly enough and that people have fears and secrets about. So from my perspective it&rsquo;s a great way to shift those attitudes for us to be in business about it. No one should think twice about it.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> How many people assume that sustainable condoms means they are biodegradable?</p> <p><strong>Meika:</strong> At least 60 percent.</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> Nobody wants a biodegradable condom.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> How will Sustain condoms increase the number of women buying condoms?</p> <p><strong>Meika:</strong> One is just through packaging, branding, and design. The condoms on the market were all extremely male oriented, and women felt like they had no brand loyalty because they weren&rsquo;t targeted at them. So that was a low bar for us we just thought we could create something that&rsquo;s more beautiful, that has more functional benefits and attributes, like the sustainability piece.</p> <p><strong>Jeffrey:</strong> Tactically, we're helping to overturn these laws around women carrying around condoms is also foundational. It continues to reinforce these attitudes that are so dangerous. We haven&rsquo;t met anyone that has the magic solution to changing these attitudes. We know there&rsquo;s an absence of dialogue with families and pediatricians. There&rsquo;s not one point you can focus on that will change this.</p></body></html> Environment Interview Health Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Sun, 29 Nov 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Nina Liss-Schultz 289756 at Ben Carson and the Conservative Grift Machine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the <em>LA Times</em> today Joseph Tanfani and Maloy Moore have a great piece about the American Legacy PAC and its 2014 Save Our Healthcare campaign. It was fronted by Ben Carson, who starred in a video denouncing Obamacare and told viewers, "If you want to hold Washington accountable and truly save American health care, join me and sign our petition<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="228" src="" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="405"></iframe> today." Needless to say, when you called the toll-free number, it turned out that Carson wanted more than just your John Hancock. <a href="" target="_blank">He also wanted your Benjamins:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When Juanita McMillon saw his name, she was eager to get out her checkbook. &ldquo;I think he is sincere, and I think he is honest, and I think he is exactly what we need,&rdquo; said McMillon, 80, from the small town of De Kalb in northeast Texas. She gave $350....American Legacy raised close to $6 million in 2014 &mdash; and spent nearly all of it paying the consultants and firms that raised the money. <strong>Just 2% was donated to Republican candidates and committees, financial reports show.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really careful who I give money to, but I guess I did not read it close enough,&rdquo; McMillon said, adding that she had never heard of American Legacy. &ldquo;I prefer to give money to individuals, and I assumed, I guess, that Dr. Carson was getting my money.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Though American Legacy didn&rsquo;t raise much money for Obamacare-hating Republicans, it was a success at something else &mdash; finding people willing to give to Carson</strong>....When Carson entered the race, the campaign tapped those donors again. Donnell gave another $250 to the campaign, and McMillon another $450. Of the more than 4,000 donors to American Legacy, more than 25% also ended up giving to the Carson campaign, a <em>Los Angeles Time</em>s analysis showed.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is good reporting, but so far there's nothing all that new here. Conservatives have turned grifting into a high art, and Carson is just the flavor of the month. What makes this piece great is the response from Doug Watts, Carson's campaign spokesman:</p> <blockquote> <p>Watts defended the American Legacy effort and offered assurance to donors. &ldquo;I would say to those people, you did give to Dr. Carson,&rdquo; Watts said. <strong>&ldquo;They participated in the building of a list&rdquo; of donors for the campaign.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Booyah! By giving money to Carson's anti-Obamacare campaign, you identified yourself as a soft touch who would give Carson even more money later on. And that's a big help. Of course, these elderly donors <em>thought</em> they were helping Carson fight Obamacare, because, you know, that's what Carson actually said. But what's the difference? Tomayto, tomahto.</p> <p>Anyway, read the whole thing if you've got the stomach for it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 Nov 2015 20:15:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 290756 at Republican Candidates Are Too Busy This Morning to Denounce Attack on Planned Parenthood Clinic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When I went to bed last night, none of the Republican presidential candidates had said anything about the horrific shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. But that was ten <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stand_planned_parenthood.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">hours ago, and it's now nearly noon on the East Coast. Anything new?</p> <p>As near as I can tell, no. No tweets, no statements, nothing on Facebook. On Twitter, Donald Trump is still blathering about how much he loves the disabled. Jeb Bush is tweeting about football. Ted Cruz hasn't put up anything new in over a week.<sup>1</sup> Marco Rubio was "sickened" by the killing of Lu&iacute;s Diaz in Venezuela a couple of days ago, but is busy promoting his cold-weather bundle of Rubio gear today. Ben Carson is burnishing his foreign policy credentials by talking to refugees in Jordan. Carly Fiorina has been quiet since Thanksgiving.</p> <p>But it's a holiday weekend, so maybe they've turned off the news to spend more time with their families. All 14 of them. Still, I know they're all resolutely opposed to terrorism and adamantly in favor of law and order, so I'm sure they'll issue uncompromising condemnations sometime soon. After all, we can't allow depraved attacks against health clinics on American soil to be met with silence that could easily be interpreted as backing down in the face of hate. Right?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Oops. I was fooled by the fact that Cruz has his demand for President Obama to insult him to his face permanently at the top of his feed. But Cruz did indeed tweet something this morning. Here's the full version of his statement <a href="" target="_blank">on Facebook:</a> "My and Heidi's prayers are with the loved ones of those killed in Colorado Springs, with those injured, and with the first responders who bravely got the situation under control." Not exactly a stirring condemnation of violence, but I guess it's a start.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:55:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 290751 at