MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en This Is What Cuba Really Looks Like These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If you know anyone who's been to Cuba in the last decade or two, you've likely seen the photos from their visit: some lovingly restored colonial manors, sometimes right alongside a crumbling facade; the bookshelves lined up around Havana's Plaza de Armas; and image after image of 1950s Buicks, Fords, and Chevrolets. All too often, Cuba is visually portrayed as nothing more than a tropical time machine, a place where the people and their lives aren't nearly as interesting as the relics surrounding them.</p> <p>Photographer Greg Kahn went to Cuba last year and documented the recent expansion of private businesses under Ra&uacute;l Castro, a shift that has brought, Kahn writes, "a hesitant, wary embrace of new expression." Sure, his collection includes the occasional photo of state iconography&mdash;for example, that famous Che Guevara sculpture in Plaza de la Revoluci&oacute;n&mdash;but many of the images are of everyday people working, playing, and, in a way, making sense of a rapidly changing environment. In other words, they're a window into a culture that might soon become <a href="" target="_blank">increasingly familiar to Americans</a> in the coming years.</p> <p><em>All photos by <a href="" target="_blank">Greg Kahn/Grain Images</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/017_2012_1111_GK_CUBA017.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A couple kisses along the Malec&oacute;n, a famous avenue along the water in Havana. With new regulations passing, allowing some forms of capitalism, many Cubans are wondering if this is the beginning of moving from isolation to globalization. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0429_GK_CUBA3658.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Yodany Rivero Marcial, a member of the group Onda Expansiva, records his part for a new track at a home in Alamar. Reggaeton, a style of music with Caribbean roots, has become wildly popular in Cuba, even though the Cuban government has cracked down on reggaeton artists, saying the lyrics are too vulgar and offensive.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0428_GK_CUBA3245.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>More than half of the Cuban population is Catholic, and while Castro restricted religion shortly after he seized power in 1959, the government has since backed off and generally allow the freedom to practice religions that obey the laws of the country.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/005_2013_0423_GK_CUBA005.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Children play in the streets of Havana. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0423_GK_CUBA1866.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Pigs are butchered in the morning at a local street market in Vedado, a suburb of Havana.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/043_2013_0430_GK_CUBA043.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>After spending the morning harvesting sugar cane, Yulien D&iacute;az Hern&aacute;ndez tries to get his old television to work to show cartoons to his son and daughter. D&iacute;az Hern&aacute;ndez said sugar cane workers are the first link in the chain of production, but the last to get paid. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/046_2013_0501_GK_CUBA046.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>While many in Cuba live in poverty, there is a class of wealthy Cubans who have found success in owning private restaurants. This one, in Havana, is located on the 11th floor of an apartment complex and doubles as living quarters for the two men who own it. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/037_2013_0429_GK_CUBA037.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Farmworkers pick up harvested sugarcane on a private farm in Caimito. The group, who work almost every day, only gets paid when the cane sells, so sometimes they can go weeks of work without being paid. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/032_2013_0430_GK_CUBA032.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>In a nearly empty apartment in Regla, a neighborhood of Havana, Juli Roby el Emperador, right, is joined by his entourage and friends to start creating new music for an upcoming US tour. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0424_GK_CUBA2024.jpg"><div class="caption"> <p><strong>Dozens of flags titled the "Mount of Flags" in "Anti-Imperialism Park"</strong> <strong>sits directly outside the US Interest Section in Cuba.</strong></p> </div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1110_GK_Cuba231.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A mechanic works on bicycles in his shop in Old Havana. With a shortage of parts for many everyday items, Cubans have learned to reuse scraps to patch everything from cars to ovens.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2013_0423_GK_CUBA1700.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An oil refinery, a sign of old industry, sends black smoke into the sky while residents wait at a bus stop along the Malec&oacute;n in Havana. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1109_GK_Cuba117_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Cars travel around the famous Revolutionary Square in Havana.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/016_2013_0423_GK_CUBA016.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The Malec&oacute;n is a popular spot for Cubans and tourists alike. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2012_1111_GK_Cuba32.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>A tiled Cuban flag in a rundown building sits empty besides a sculpture of Jos&eacute; Mart&iacute;.</strong></div> </div></body></html> Politics Photo Essays Foreign Policy Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:45:06 +0000 — Photos by Greg Kahn; Text by Ian Gordon 266891 at The Best Books of 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In what's become an annual tradition, we invited <em>Mother Jones</em> staffers to write up their favorite books published this year, the ones they'd recommend to friends and relations, and so here they are. We can't read it all, of course&mdash;feel free to list your own favorites in the comments. Foodies should be sure and check out food and ag writer Tom Philpott's "<a href="" target="_blank">Best Food Books of 2014</a>." For music lovers, <em>MoJo</em> critic Jon Young has shared his list of "<a href="" target="_blank">The 10 Best Albums of 2014</a>." Stay tuned for more great end-of-year coverage from the MoJo crew.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/capital125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Capital in the 21<sup>st</sup> Century</em></strong></a><strong><em>,</em></strong><strong> by Thomas Picketty. </strong>You read a half-dozen reviews, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't crack the French economist's vast tome. In prose as sparkling as a gold coin, he crunches centuries of data to demonstrate capitalism's tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, unless checked by determined state intervention. Along the way, he strews plenty of gems&mdash;on why post-World War I novelists stopped mentioning prices in their books (inflation), the contribution of slavery to America's economic emergence (huge), and more. In all, a bravura performance from that rarest of commodities: the rock-star economist. &mdash;<em>Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/grapes125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>The Grapes of Math</em></strong></a><strong>, by </strong><a href=""><strong>Alex Bellos</strong></a><strong>.</strong> A readable, fascinating exploration of some higher math that I haven't thought about since the dark days of high school trig and calc. There is a lot of cool stuff for the math-curious in here (<a href="">Benford's Law</a>, Conway's <a href="">Game of Life</a>, how to fairly divide a cake between three people) presented in a lively manner not seen in the old math textbooks. Still, if you never want to see an equation again, this book may not be for you. <em>&mdash;Dave Gilson, senior editor</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/americans125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>The Book of Unknown Americans</em></strong></a><strong>, by Cristina Henr&iacute;quez.</strong> While often lumped together as a monotone immigrant workforce, the "unknown Americans" in Henr&iacute;quez's novel assert themselves as a messy web of distinctive voices sharing a drab apartment building in Delaware. There's Quisqueya, a nosy Venezuelan with a closely guarded past; Nelia, bent on becoming the next Rita Moreno; Benny, who got into drugs after leaving Nicaragua. At the novel's core are the Riveras, who've come to America from Mexico because their daughter, Maribel, can't fully recover from a brain injury. Wracked by guilt but determined to make do, her mother navigates convenience-store grocery shopping, bus routes, and English, with its "hard letters, like miniature walls." When Maribel catches the eye of a neighbor, two families come crashing together with an unexpected twist. Though Panamanians, Paraguayans, Mexicans, and Boriquas take center stage, Henr&iacute;quez's tale, spun with simple, throat-tightening prose, will appeal to anyone who's had to adapt to a strange new place.&nbsp;&mdash;<em>Maddie Oatman, research editor </em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/sons125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Sons of Wichita</em></strong></a><strong>, by Daniel Schulman.</strong> If you had hundreds of millions of dollars, you'd think, life would go smoothly. Not so for the Koch Brothers. In this gripping soap-operatic tale of money, power, and family dysfunction (<a href="" target="_blank">excerpt here</a>), Daniel Schulman, a senior editor of this magazine, chronicles the rise of the four sons of midwestern industrialist Fred Koch. It's a real-life mashup of <em>Dallas</em> and <em>Dynasty</em>, with the four Kochs fighting (physically!) and suing each other over the decades, as they vie for control of the expanding family empire. The arch-conservative, anti-government passions of Charles and David don't dominate the story until various scores are settled. Then Schulman details how C&amp;D go from being supporters of a fringe political party to becoming the most influential fat cats of the day. A product of extensive investigative digging, <em>Sons of Wichita</em> is a balanced, gracefully penned, and fascinating inside look at a small but oh-so-significant slice of the American elite. &mdash;<em>David Corn, Washington bureau chief</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/boy125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Boy Snow Bird</em></strong></a><strong>, by </strong><strong>Helen Oyeyemi.</strong> <em>Boy Snow Bird</em> is a retelling of Snow White, a fairytale made (somewhat) modern. But it's much more than that: Oyeyemi's tale takes us from a rat-catchers den to a bucolic upstate town in a matter of pages, and it upends the senses in a way you won't want me to reveal here. With a tangle of love, family, and history, Oyeyemi challenges the very notion that we understand who is in front of us. It's as if she's holding up a mirror to have us look for what we thought was left behind.&nbsp;<em>&mdash;Elizabeth Gettelman, public affairs director</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gilbert125.jpg"></div> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Signature of All Things</em></a>, by Elizabeth Gilbert.</strong> (Note: The <em>paperback</em> was published in 2014; the hardcover came out last year.) No one loves Liz Gilbert's latest protagonist Alma Whittaker, but that's the point: Her true love is knowledge, all kinds, but particularly mosses. In <em>The Signature of All Things</em>, Alma is the smartest woman in a swath of history&mdash;late 1700s new America. The <em>New York Times</em> called her a "large, spinstery botanist," and there's perhaps too much ink given to how plain and unlovable she is. But the reader gets to know and care for her, from her complicated family ties to her unrequited love to her beating Charles Darwin to divining natural selection (but failing to publish). Every flowerly detail is so precise, and the period and its subtleties are so well researched, it's as if Gilbert (read our interview with her <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>) has unearthed an 18th century autobiography. The airy delight that was <em>Eat, Pray, Love</em> this isn't; but it's glorious in its heft.<em> &mdash;E.G.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/water125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>This is the Water</em></strong><strong>,</strong></a><strong> Yanick Murphy.</strong> This literary thriller had me smelling the chlorine that permeated my youth as an age-group-competitive swimmer. At heart, it's a serial killer novel whose villain stalks his victims from the pool bleachers. But Yanick Murphy isn't a crime novelist. Her works have won Pushcart and PEN prizes and she writes for McSweeney's, so <em>This is the Water</em> isn't just a good airplane read. Written in the second person, it's unusual and quirky, as is the setting, which the main character, whose daughters work out there, simply calls "the facility." Murphy gets almost all of the tiny details of competitive swimming just right&mdash;which endeared her to me from the beginning. The criminal aspect is a backdrop to a story about failing marriages, infidelity, obsessive parenting, the mindset of a killer, and of course, swim-meet intrigue&mdash;all of which appealed to me as a crime-novel junkie and swimmer. But the novel's oddities and Murphy's hauntingly lovely writing will hold plenty of appeal for a broader audience. <em>&mdash;Stephanie Mencimer, reporter</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/windfall125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Windfall</em></strong></a><strong>, by MacKenzie Funk.</strong> If you read one book about climate change this year&mdash;no, ever!&mdash;this is it. An exceptional crafter of narrative, Funk travels the globe hanging out with fascinating characters who have one thing in common&mdash;they are all angling to turn global warming to their advantage, financially or otherwise. Forget the deniers. They're idiots. Funk follows the money, and the result makes for some fabulous and enlightening reading. Here's an <a href="">abbreviated taste</a>. <em>&mdash;Michael Mechanic, Senior Editor </em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fickry125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>The Storied Life of AJ Fikry</em></strong></a><strong>, by Gabrielle Levin.</strong> A delightful story about a curmudgeonly, widowed, deeply unhappy bookseller on a touristy East Coast island whose life is upended by the theft of a rare tome&mdash;his nest egg&mdash;and the sudden appearance, not long after, of a person who gives his life new meaning. (No, I'm not going to give it away.) Author Gabrielle Levin's engrossing cast of small-town characters make <em>Fikry</em> difficult to put down. <em>&mdash;M.M.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mortal125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Being Mortal</em></strong></a><strong>, by Atul Gawande.</strong> If you care about living and dying with dignity, this latest book from the wonderfully talented author/surgeon Atul Gawande will be the most important thing you&mdash;and your aging parents&mdash;read all year. <em>Being Mortal</em> confronts the failure of the medical community to grasp the difference between <em>caring</em> for the elderly and <em>treating</em> them, usually futilely. Sounds grim, and sometimes it is. (You'll find more details on the content <a href="">here</a>, plus my interview with Gawande.) At the same time, it's a great read that&nbsp; leaves you better equipped to face the future, and without making you feel like you just took your medicine. <em>&mdash;M.M.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gwyn125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Mr. Gwyn</em></strong></a><strong>, by Alessandro Baricco.</strong> I judged this book at first by its elegant cover, and a good thing, too, for within it was a story (plus <em>Three Times at Dawn</em>, a story within the story) that's truly unique. The titular Jasper Gwyn, a famous author, abruptly decides to quit writing books. Over time, he develops a new sort of discipline&mdash;he calls himself a "copyist"&mdash; writing meticulous portraits of people who pose for him as a model would for an artist. What he writes are not profiles, but rather stories that manage to encapsulate the soul of the individual&mdash;we see Gwyn's first subject, his agent's overweight and self-conscious assistant, bloom under this strange treatment. Baricco's characters are enigmatic and his story enticingly mysterious. Bonus: You'll learn more than you knew existed about artisan light bulbs. <em>&mdash;M.M.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/roose125_0.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Young Money</em></strong></a><strong><em>, </em></strong><strong>by Kevin Roose.</strong> In what you might call an Occupy-era addendum to Michael Lewis' <em>Liar's Poker</em>, financial journalist Kevin Roose embeds with a bunch of Wall Street newbies struggling to claw their way up the ladder. The book is enlightening, thought-provoking, and&mdash;Oh. My. Fucking. God.&mdash;totally appalling! When Roose <a href="">crashes an actual fraternity</a> of Wall Street CEOs and hedge-fund douchies, it's like a scene out of a bad movie&mdash;only real, and therefore pretty great. Would that every journo had that kind of chutzpah. <em>&mdash;M.M.</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/saga125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Saga Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1</em></strong></a><strong>, by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. </strong><em>Saga </em>is a&nbsp;comic-book series that&nbsp;follows two star-crossed lovers as they flee a ceaseless interplanetary war to protect their young daughter. It's also a closely observed story about a couple fiercely in love, and the unique forms of generosity and cruelty that people in love can visit upon one another. It's tough to imagine anyone besides master storyteller Brian K. Vaughn achieving a balance between these two themes. But in his hands, the result is a wry, witty, and tender adventure story, punctuated by cliffhangers.&nbsp;<em>Saga</em>&nbsp;is not for squeamish readers. Fight sequences&nbsp;are strewn with teeth, guts, and bone shards. The scuzzier characters frequent a brothel planet. (Picture an x-rated version of the Mos Eisley cantina.) But readers with fortitude will love&nbsp;<em>Saga</em>&nbsp;for its arch dialogue, exhilarating plot, and, above all, exquisite art: Fiona Staples imagines alien races of soldiers, journalists, bounty hunters, and baby nannies with staggering visual inventiveness. There are nights when I pull&nbsp;<em>Saga</em>&nbsp;off the shelf just to stare at it. <em>&mdash;Molly Redden, reporter</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/colorless125.jpg"></div> <p><a href=""><strong><em>Colorless Tsukuro Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage</em></strong></a><strong>, by Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel).</strong> Full disclosure: This was my first Haruki Murakami novel, and I figured this regretful fact would make my reading labored and challenging. Instead, I dove easily into the book, which follows the travails of protagonist Tsukuro Tazaki after he leaves his hometown for Tokyo and is banished from his closest friends for reasons unbeknownst to him. The story is rooted in the intense dread and sadness Tsukuro feels as a result of his rejection, a painfully universal experience, and reading it has sparked my interest in the rest of his <em>oeuvre</em>. &nbsp;<em>&mdash;Mitchell Grummon, business analyst</em></p></body></html> Media Books Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:30:05 +0000 — By the Mother Jones staff 266856 at Bid Farewell to "The Colbert Report" with Some of the Show's Most Genius Moments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tonight, Stephen Colbert will close the curtain on the&nbsp;ludicrous, yet wholly enjoyable persona he created as the conservative host of "The Colbert Report."&nbsp;</p> <p>As the nation prepares to say goodbye, <em>Mother Jones</em>&nbsp;pays tribute to everyone's favorite right-wing blowhard&nbsp;with a round-up of&nbsp;some of our most treasured moments from the show's stellar nine year run.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1. In which Colbert takes on Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent video by throwing shrimp at poor people:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">"We job creators know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Lunch is $50,000 a plate!"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong style="line-height: 2em;">2. In which Colbert becomes a migrant worker for a day:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">"</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">Are there any beans that are in the shade?"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>3. In which Colbert cites our study on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">income disparity</a>&nbsp;to propose the rich starting their own country, American Plus:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">"We already live in gated communities, I say we just connect them all with really long driveways. To visit, you just need a green card!"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;"><strong>4. In which Colbert repeatedly&nbsp;stabs his Karl Rove substitute,&nbsp;"Ham Rove,"&nbsp;with a large knife,&nbsp;a segment that prompted the political operative to&nbsp;question Colbert's mental state:</strong> "Ham Rove, my salted and trusted advisor."</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>5. In which Colbert and Buddy Cole take on Russia's anti-gay laws through the lens of the U.S. speed skating team:</strong> "Is speed skating a choice or were you born a speed skater?"</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>6. In which Colbert hypnotically dances with Bryan Cranston, Jeff Bridges, and even Henry Kissinger to "Get Lucky": "</strong>This is Colbchella goddammit!"</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>7. In which Colbert breaks character to pay a moving tribute to his mother, Lorna Colbert:</strong> "If you also like me, that's because of my mom."&nbsp;</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:17:05 +0000 Inae Oh 266791 at The Fierce Life and Too-Soon Death of My Unlikely Cuban Friends <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><span class="section-lead">When Luis Enrique passed</span> in early September, just a couple of months after first learning he was HIV-positive, Carlos took his remains to Cuba's best funeral parlor, the one where they bring the government officials. He had seven of the nicest wreaths made, and he dressed Luis Enrique, his longtime partner, in his best clothes. Their Italian friend Maurizio had once given them some French cologne, and Carlos made sure to spritz it throughout the coffin. He then rode with Luis Enrique by the church before ending up at the cemetery, where another friend gave a stirring eulogy. Carlos dabbed some more cologne in the tomb and headed home.</p> <p>He told me all of this in an email, two weeks later. He was wiped out. "Don't stop writing me," he said, "since the emails make me feel like I'm surrounded by people I care about."</p> <p>As it turns out, Carlos was HIV-positive too.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">We first met Carlos</span> and Luis Enrique at the doorstep of their apartment during a blackout, deep inside a tumbledown building off a dilapidated thoroughfare in Central Havana. Large chips of paint had fallen from the facade, and the dark, humid stairwell reeked of fresh dog shit. It wasn't exactly where my wife and I had envisioned staying at the start of our two-week Cuban vacation.</p> <p>It was 2005. We were living in Venezuela at the time, and after reading an article online about a Cuban tax on exchanging US dollars, I was convinced that we should bring bolivares instead. Ch&aacute;vez and Castro were <em>panas</em>, right? Perhaps, but upon arriving at Jos&eacute; Mart&iacute; International Airport we learned the limits of that friendship: There was virtually nowhere to exchange Venezuelan currency on the entire island.</p> <p>A cabbie brought us into the city after we'd explained our situation. He assured us that the two men now in front of us were good people, that their unregistered <em>casa particular</em> was the most affordable place to stay. Brooke and I shared a glance&mdash;as if to say, <em>We've stayed in dodgier-seeming places before, right?</em>&mdash;and steeled ourselves for the introduction. Carlos, whose threadbare tank top hung low off his slight frame, asked us where we were from. Brooke smiled. "The United States." Walking to his tiny kitchen to prepare coffee, Carlos stopped short. He turned around and folded his arms across his chest. While Luis Enrique, the graying one, whispered <em>Estados Unidos</em> behind me, Carlos took a step back, as if he were trying to get a better look at the two of us. They'd never met Americans before.</p> <p>After a pause, Carlos snapped back to life. He let out a big smile, unfurled his arms, and pointed above the doorway to the dining room. There, a mid-'80s Madonna poster looked down on us, her hair short-cropped, her bejeweled bra exposed. "Imagine that, Luisito," said Carlos, still grinning. "Americans!"</p> <p>The lights were out, they told us, to save electricity for the Canadian and European tourists who would crowd Old Havana's colonial plazas and Varadero's white-sand beaches that summer. We sat in the dimming apartment, sharing stories. When they found out we'd lived in New York, they pumped us full of questions about everything from the state of the World Trade Center site to the length of a subway car. After the lights popped back on Carlos shared his music collection&mdash;a hodgepodge of Madonna, Michael Jackson and, strangely, Barry Manilow&mdash;while Luis Enrique prepared a dinner of rice and beans.</p> <p>While we ate they told us that they each earned roughly $10 a month as a bookkeeper (Carlos) and grocer (Luis Enrique). They had met years ago, after Luis Enrique arrived from the central countryside; it was his idea to rent out a bedroom in Carlos' place to make a little extra money. We were their third guests halfway through 2005. Because they didn't have a license from the government, which cost about $150 monthly, they were a strictly word-of-mouth operation.</p> <p>After several hours of conversation, we felt comfortable enough to tell them that we only had enough cash for a day, and that we would be searching for a place to change our bol&iacute;vares the next morning. When Luis Enrique got the gist of what we were saying&mdash;that these young Americans didn't bring the world's most recognizable currency along with them&mdash;he shook his head and cringed. "You messed up," he said.</p> <p>We were in some kind of trouble. Because of the embargo, we couldn't use our credit cards to get a cash advance or buy new tickets home. Since we didn't want to risk possible State Department fines, going to the proto-US Embassy known as the Interests Section was out. By trying to save a couple hundred bucks on the dollar tax, we'd ended up having to try to survive on about $20 for two whole weeks.</p> <p>Carlos must have noticed the stress on my face. He walked past the refrigerator, a 1940s Westinghouse beauty, and over to a couple of buckets. "Don't worry," he said, opening the lids. "We have rice. We have beans. We have eggs. Forget the money. <em>Est&aacute;n en su casa</em>."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/brookecarlos630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Carlos and Brooke dancing in the living room, 2005 </strong></div> </div> <p><br><span class="section-lead">The next two weeks</span> were a whirlwind. Within a few days, we figured out the money situation, thanks to Western Union and our incredulous but accommodating families. Because we were having such a good time with Carlos and Luis Enrique, we scrapped our plans to try to travel across the entire island and stayed closer to Havana to spend more time with them, off the tourist circuit. So instead of checking out cigars in Pinar del R&iacute;o, for example, we ended up a party at Carlos' workplace, a meatpacking plant, where folks drank Bucanero by the crate and a British grad student named Camillia sang Dido karaoke to an entranced crowd.</p> <p>We passed hours around their dining room table, drinking nips of rum and talking about practically everything. (Things we didn't discuss: the contours and complications of their relationship, and Cuba's historical persecution of gay men.) Both Carlos and Luis Enrique were around 40 and never had known life without Fidel. They told us they admired his character and strength, and that they both were repulsed by the idea that some day, a Miami-bred Cuban American might try to take the apartment away, claiming it was his family's 50 years ago. That said, they loved what little American culture they could access and considered Cubans and <em>los yumas</em> to be brothers separated by a messy divorce.</p> <p>Some of that came from their families. When Carlos was 16, his parents applied for the Interests Section lottery, which each year grants some 2,000 visas to Cubans. Somehow, Carlos parents hit the jackpot. There was only one problem: He didn't want to go. He believed deeply in the revolution and just couldn't see himself leaving. So, despite waiting years to leave, his parents died in Cuba. On the surface, Carlos always played by the rules, always did what the state expected. But here he was, the proprietor of an unregistered casa particular, paying off the neighborhood snitch from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution with mayonnaise and chocolate ("Cuban business") and guarding an armoire full of deodorant, toothpaste, and aftershave given to him by guests during the past several years.</p> <p>If Carlos was nervous and overly excitable, Luis Enrique was guarded, depressed. A week into our stay he told us that he had planned to leave for the United States during a paid-for trip to visit friends in Bogot&aacute;. His nephew in Naples, Florida, had fronted $6,000 and set it up: Luis Enrique was to go to Caracas, where we would get a fake Venezuelan passport, and fly to Mexico City, after which he would make his way to the Texas border. His nephew would meet him there, and upon crossing he would qualify for asylum. Two months into the stay in Bogot&aacute;, he crossed into western Venezuela and made his way to the capital. He was terribly nervous at the airport, and when he got to immigration he handed over the passport. The agent looked at it, then at him. "Sir, you and I both know this is fake." Luis Enrique tried his best Venezuelan accent. "Sir, you should just turn around and walk away." He did.</p> <p>Looking back, Luis Enrique wondered if he should've stayed in South America, as his nephew had wanted. He had sold everything he owned, and he moved in with Carlos, he said, to avoid his empty apartment. When he told us the story, he seemed resigned to the fact that he'd be in Cuba until Castro's death, maybe longer. "I'm scared," he told us. "Who knows what the United States will do? I think there will be a lot of people who will try to humiliate us Cubans. I'm not looking forward to that."</p> <p><br><span class="section-lead">Carlos' emails often started</span> by lamenting the fact that he hadn't heard from us in months. "HAVE OUR AMERICANITOS FORGOTTEN US?" But when he wrote to tell us that Luis Enrique was sick, he was sober and to the point: "I haven't been able to write because the news here is pretty sad." He'd later send photos from the hospital, with an exhausted-looking Luis Enrique underneath a purple-and-green blanket, Carlos standing by his side, in scrubs.<strong> </strong></p> <p>Last week, I wrote to Carlos to see how he was holding up, a couple of months after Luis Enrique's death and a couple of months after he'd started his own HIV treatment. I didn't think much of it when I didn't hear back right away, given his condition and the generally unreliable internet connection on the island. And then, early Wednesday morning, I got this response:</p> <blockquote> <p>Subject: MESSAGE</p> <p>HELLO, CARLITOS DIED OF HIV TOO AFTER LUISITO. THIS A FRIEND OF THEIRS, LA MULATA WHO LIVES AROUND THE CORNER WHO RENTS TO FOREIGNERS. THIS IS MY EMAIL ADDRESS NOW. IF YOU EVER COME TO CUBA AND NEED A ROOM&hellip;</p> </blockquote> <p>No warning, no slow decline, no goodbye. He was gone too, just like that&mdash;and just before the Obama administration made history by <a href="" target="_blank">reestablishing diplomatic relations</a> between the United States and Cuba.</p> <p>I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about Carlitos and Luisito these past few months, flipping through photos and replaying those two weeks over and again in my mind, and I keep coming back to the last night Brooke and I spent with them. It was a Saturday, and we arrived back at the apartment from a stroll along the Malec&oacute;n at midnight, mid-blackout. Central Havana was dark&mdash;even the normally bright Capitolio was unlit&mdash;but inside Carlos' building his neighbors milled around, tense. The illegal-cable guy was on the roof.</p> <p>They had been waiting for weeks, although no one knew what to expect. There allegedly were two American channels available for $10 per month. Carlos wanted to watch American music videos. Luis Enrique wanted Hollywood movies. The taxi dispatcher next door wanted Major League Baseball, while his wife wanted Mexican soaps. The wannabe rocker upstairs said he didn't care, but he was getting cable anyway. Everybody was.</p> <p>The outage didn't last long. Gustavo, the cable guy, went to work when the oscillating fans puttered on, barking orders to the roof through a walkie-talkie. He almost looked like a professional. His silver Motorola cell phone hung from a belt clip off olive Abercrombie cargo shorts, covered at the belt by a ribbed white tank top, and in the new light I could see he was covered in sweat. Carlitos paced in front of his red wicker-and-vinyl couch, long ago warped by the humidity, and asked Gustavo several times if he could help. Brooke laughed and told Carlitos to relax, and Luisito stood with China outside, waiting for the first program to come across the screen.</p> <p>The whole process took no more than 20 minutes. Soon Gustavo gave the word, and his partner clicked into the movie. We stared at the television, dying to see what the first <em>yanqui</em> transmission in the building's revolutionary history would be. I hoped for something classic, maybe even artistic. Instead, we got the Wayans brothers spoof <em>Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood</em>. Brooke shook her head and sighed. The Cubans were transfixed.</p> <p>The clock read 1:45 a.m., and it looked like they would be up all night watching whatever beamed though the screen. When I woke up and padded across the cool marble into the living room early that morning, Luis Enrique was sitting in very same spot on the couch, watching <em>Bob the Builder </em>in Spanish. He hadn't slept much, but he grinned at me from beneath Madonna's pouty lips. "You know, Carlos is the most communist person in the building," he said, leaning in, "and even <em>he</em> has cable now."</p></body></html> Politics Longreads International Top Stories Cuba Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:15:05 +0000 Ian Gordon 266896 at The War on Reproductive Rights Will Get a Lot Uglier Next Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After a <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Guttmacher+%28New+from+the+Guttmacher+Institute%29" target="_blank">record-shattering year</a> in 2013, the pace of harsh anti-abortion bills introduced in 2014 slowed down. Elections cut short the legislative calendar in many states, and the general assemblies in Texas and North Dakota, two&nbsp;anti-abortion heavyweights, didn't meet.</p> <p>But brace yourself for 2015.</p> <p>Next year, Republicans will control <a href="" target="_blank">11 more legislative chambers</a> than they did in 2014. Lawmakers in Texas and North Dakota are back in session, and there are no major elections to take up lawmakers' time or cause them worry about war-on-women attacks.</p> <p>In at least nine states, abortion foes forces have already begun crafting restrictions for 2015. Below, <em>Mother Jones </em>has compiled a list of anti-abortion bills that have been pre-filed in statehouses across the country. (Did we miss one? Shoot us an <a href="" target="_blank">email</a>.)</p> <p>And this list only covers states where bills have actually been submitted. In other states, abortion foes are still scribbling away.</p> <p>In <strong>Iowa</strong>, lawmakers are expected to <a href="" target="_blank">consider a bill</a> that bans physicians from giving instructions on abortion-inducing drugs by webcam or phone. (Iowa has more than a dozen clinics that provide "telemedicine" procedures in which patients use medication at home and receive advice on how to do so from supervising doctors via phone calls or video chats.) Members of t<font color="black" face="Calibri,sans-serif" size="2"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="Cambria" size="1"><span style="font-size:12px;">he state's Board of Medicine, all of whom were appointed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, are</span></font></span></font> also trying to ban telemedicine abortions in Iowa; their efforts have been <a href="" target="_blank">halted by a lawsuit</a>. <strong>Arkansas</strong> Republicans want to <a href="" target="_blank">ban telemedicine abortions</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">stop government money</a> from going to an STI prevention program run by Planned Parenthood because of the group's affiliation with abortion services.</p> <p>Republicans in <strong>Wisconsin</strong><strong> </strong>will <a href="" target="_blank">push a 20-week abortion ban</a> and an audit of Planned Parenthood to investigate whether the group is overbilling Medicaid. <strong>New Hampshire </strong>general assembly records show that New Hampshire Republicans have started drafting two abortion acts, one "relative to banning abortion after viability" and the other "prohibiting the use of public funds for abortion services." And in <strong>Ohio</strong>, the state's Right to Life President has promised that his group will help lawmakers draft a "rather large and robust" slate of anti-abortion laws next year.</p> <p><strong>Missouri</strong></p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">Mandatory anti-abortion video</a>: Already, women who want abortions in Missouri must listen to their providers read a medically-inaccurate script describing the risks of the procedure. This bill instructs the state's health department to turn that script into a video that women must watch on top of hearing her doctor read the information. The video would tell women that fetuses 22 weeks and older can feel pain and that there are "adverse psychological effects associated with abortion." Mainstream medical organizations <a href="" target="_blank">reject</a> <a href="" target="_blank">both</a> of these assertions. The video will also tell women that "the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Protecting crisis pregnancy centers</a>: Crisis pregnancy centers are controversial facilities set up to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions. Abortion rights advocates have criticized these centers for providing women with false information about the risks of abortion&mdash;such as a disproved link between abortion and breast cancer&mdash;and for setting up shop next door to abortion clinics in the hopes that women will confuse the two. This legislation would prevent towns or counties from passing laws that regulate crisis pregnancy centers. In the past, lawmakers have used legislation to rein in crisis pregnancy centers' deceptive practices.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Government funding for abortion research</a>: The bill would ban the use of public funds to finance research projects or economic incentives related to abortion services, human cloning, or stem cells research.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">New rules for custody</a>: Under this bill, if the father of a child tried to coerce the mother into having an abortion, a court may deny him custody.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Consent from the father</a>: A measure that would force women seeking an abortion to get "written, notarized consent" from the man who impregnated her. See <em>Mother Jones</em>' full coverage <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</li> </ul><p>Under <a href="" target="_blank">current Missouri law</a>, a minor who wants an abortion must have the consent of one parent or guardian. <a href=";year=2015&amp;code=R" target="_blank">Two</a> <a href=";year=2015&amp;code=R" target="_blank">lawmakers</a> have filed bills for the 2015 legislative session that would add new hurdles to that parental consent law.</p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">Notifying the other parent</a>: This bill requires the parent or guardian who gives consent for an abortion to inform other parents or guardians in writing. There is an exception if the other parent or guardian is abusive&mdash;but only if he or she has been convicted of a crime.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Parental consent for a minor's abortion</a>: The teen and her parent must sign the consent form in front of a notary, and&nbsp;the consent form must warn the teen that an abortion "will result in the death of her unborn child." Minors in Missouri who cannot or do not want to ask for a parent or guardians' consent can petition a judge for permission through <a href="" target="_blank">a confidential process called judicial bypass</a>. This bill changes the law to require minors to petition a court in the county where she lives. That can be <a href="" target="_blank">a daunting requirement</a> for pregnant teens who live in small, rural communities, where judges sometimes refuse to hear judicial bypass petitions. The bill also allows judges to submit pregnant teens to psychiatric evaluations before denying or granting them permission for an abortion.</li> </ul><p><strong>South Carolina</strong></p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">Fetal pain</a>: Similar bills in the <a href="" target="_blank">House</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Senate</a> would ban abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, based on the scientifically discredited notion that fetuses at that age can feel pain. There is an exception if the abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the mother; in those cases, the provider must use a method of abortion that "provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive." <a href="" target="_blank">Nine other states</a> ban abortion at 20 weeks, and several of those laws have been blocked in federal court.</li> </ul><p><strong>Tennessee</strong></p> <ul><li><a href=";ga=109" target="_blank">Mandatory ultrasound</a>: A measure requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound before performing an abortion, except in medical emergencies.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Ballot initiative restrictions</a>: Voters in November approved constitutional language that paves the way for new abortion restrictions. The speaker of the state house of representatives is drafting <a href="" target="_blank">three anti-abortion bills</a> for 2015: One measure would set up a mandatory waiting period between a woman's first visit to an abortion clinic and the time of the procedure. A second would force women to undergo counseling, known as informed consent, before an abortion. And a third would add new, unspecified inspection requirements for abortion facilities. See <em>Mother Jones</em>' full coverage <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</li> </ul><p><strong>Texas</strong></p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">Banning Planned Parenthood from sex ed</a>: The bill would block anyone who performs abortions "or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions" from providing public schools with human sexuality or family planning materials&mdash;regardless of whether or not those materials mention abortion.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Mandatory adoption seminars</a>: Sen. Ed Lucio (D) has promised to introduce a bill that would force women to undergo an hour-long adoption seminar before having an abortion.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Sex-selective abortion ban</a>: This measure forbids a provider from performing an abortion if he or she knows that the woman wants an abortion because of the sex of the fetus. South Dakota lawmakers <a href="" target="_blank">passed a similar bill</a> in 2014, citing <a href="" target="_blank">the myth</a> that some Asian American women seek abortions to avoid having daughters. Arizona approved a race- and sex-selective ban in 2011. That law is <a href="" target="_blank">tied up in a court challenge</a>.</li> </ul></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights The Right Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Molly Redden 266851 at What Kills More Americans: Guns or Cars? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/guns-mini-nav220_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-260221"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/nra-women-sexism-guns"> How the NRA Degrades and Objectifies Women</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256776"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/robert-dowlut-nra-murder-mystery"> When the NRA's Top Lawyer Went on Trial for Murder</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-251606"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/05/guns-bullying-open-carry-women-moms-texas"> Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-257246"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/moms-demand-action-guns-madd-shannon-watts-nra"> These Women Are the NRA's Worst Nightmare</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-186991"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map"> A Guide to Mass Shootings in America</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-263356"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/10/nra-warrior-cop-police-militarization"> The NRA Comes Out in Support of Warrior Cops</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214686"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check"> 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See our special reports on <a href="">mass shootings</a> and <a href="">child gun deaths</a> </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;published this week in the&nbsp;<em>Annual Review of Public Health&nbsp;</em>summarizes some basic, sobering stats about about gun violence in America. The author, University of California-Davis doctor and&nbsp;researcher Garen&nbsp;Wintemute, used statistics from the Centers for Disease Control to track mortality rates from&nbsp;firearm suicides and homicides in the United States over more than fifty years.</p> <p>Here are some of the findings from Wintemute's study, in a handy&mdash;if grisly&mdash;Q&amp;A format:</p> <p><strong>Which kills more Americans, guns or cars?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer:</strong> Car accidents, but firearms deaths are catching up. In some states, guns do kill more people than cars&mdash;check out <a href="" target="_blank">this map</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth_1-02.png"></div> <p><strong>Which kills more people: gun homicides or gun suicides?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer:</strong> Suicides, by a long shot.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth%203_1.png"></div> <p><strong>At what age do gun suicides and gun homicides kill the most people?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer: </strong>In 2012 (the most recent data available), gun homicides spiked among people in their late teens and early twenties, and declined in older populations. Suicide deaths peaked among people in their mid-twenties and gradually increased with age.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth%204_0.png"></div> <p><strong>Which demographic has the highest gun homicide rate?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer:</strong> Young black males, by a long shot. The first chart shows the age breakdown for men in 2012; the second&nbsp;shows the same for women. Firearm homicide death rates peak among black men and women&nbsp;ages 20 to 24. But note the difference in scale:&nbsp;Among black males that age, the rate is nearly 90 deaths per 100,000 people, while for black females, the rate is about 7 deaths per 100,000.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth_cp-03_0.png"><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth_cp-04.png"></div> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> <p><strong>Which demographic has the highest gun suicide rate?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer:</strong> Older white males, by a long shot. The first chart shows the age breakdown for men in 2012; the second&nbsp;shows the same for women.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth_cp-05.png"><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth_cp-06.png"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> <p><strong>Which demographic has the highest number of firearm deaths?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer: </strong>Middle-aged white males have the highest absolute number of deaths per year; in the 50-54 age category alone, about 1,900 white men died in 2012. Overall, about 9,000 white men died in 2012, compared to about 6,000 black men.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth%208_0.png"></div> <p><strong style="line-height: 2em;">Which states have the highest gun homicide and gun suicide rates?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer:&nbsp;</strong>In 2012, Montana had the highest suicide rate, followed by Alaska, Idaho, and New Mexico. Louisiana had the highest homicide rate, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth%2010_0.png"></div> <p><strong>So, how does America compare to other nations when it comes to gun deaths?</strong></p> <p><strong>Answer: </strong>Not well at all.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pubhealth%2011_0.png"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Guns Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Julia Lurie 266861 at How Fox News Ran With Bogus Testimony Given to the Ferguson Grand Jury <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On December 8, St. Louis County Prosecutor&nbsp;Robert McCulloch released additional details about the grand jury documents his office made public last month after no charges were brought against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. As a result, more details have come to light showing that the testimony of one particular grand jury witness was a sham&mdash;testimony that was repeatedly touted by Fox News' Sean Hannity and other pundits who defended Wilson and the grand jury's decision.</p> <p><em>The Smoking Gun </em><a href="" target="_blank">reported this week</a> that after it pieced together the identity of "Witness 40" using the latest information from McCulloch's office, 45-year-old St. Louis resident Sandra McElroy confirmed that she was indeed that witness. Her role in the grand jury proceedings had already gained notoriety in part for her <a href="" target="_blank">journal entry recounting</a> Wilson's confrontation with Brown, which was submitted as evidence and included some bizarre and racially charged comments.</p> <p><em>TSG's </em>report added to a picture of <a href="" target="_blank">inconsistencies</a> <a href="" target="_blank">with</a> McElroy's testimony, such as why she had been in Ferguson that day. (An explanation that started out as her visiting an old friend <a href="" target="_blank">later changed</a> to her taking "a random drive to&nbsp;Florisant" because she needed to "understand the Black race better.") And while her account to investigators about the violence that occurred on August 9 hewed closely to <a href="" target="_blank">Wilson's version</a> of events, during her testimony prosecutors <a href="" target="_blank">noted that</a> details from video footage and maps of the area didn't jibe with her claims. Moreover, <em>TSG</em> dug up documents detailing McElroy's involvement in a&nbsp;2007 kidnapping case in St. Louis County, in which she gave testimony that police later determined was "<a href="" target="_blank">a complete fabrication</a>."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/12/ferguson-grand-jury-witness-40-fox-news"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Crime and Justice Media Top Stories Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Jaeah Lee 266781 at How a 20-Minute Conversation Can Convince Someone With Anti-Gay Views to Change Their Minds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A recent study suggests that a single conversation between a gay person and a same-sex marriage opponent may have the power to change the a person's mind on the issue.&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published last week in the journal <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a>, analyzed data collected by the <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles LGBT Center</a> after it sent pro-gay marriage canvassers to areas of southern California that had voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008 until the Supreme Court overturned it in 2013. Starting in 2009, canvassers&mdash;both gay and straight&mdash;engaged in over 12,000 brief one-on-one conversations with those precincts' registered voters about either gay marriage or, with a placebo group, recycling. The survey found that respondents who had discussed gay marriage showed less prejudice towards gay people following their chat with the canvasser than those who had discussed recycling.</p> <p>But these conversations weren't equally effective across the board: At a certain point in the initial conversation, the gay canvassers had been instructed to reveal that they were gay and hoping to get married, but that the law prohibited it, whereas the straight canvassers spoke of a "friend" or "relative."</p> <p>Only the gay canvassers' effectiveness proved enduring.</p> <p>"Those who discussed same-sex marriage with straight canvassers," write the study's authors, Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green, "quickly reverted to their pretreatment baseline opinions, and 90% of the initial treatment effect dissipated a month after the conversation with canvassers."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the respondents who spoke to gay canvassers remained just as enlightened nine months later.</p> <p>"The data show that in 20 minutes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center&rsquo;s volunteer canvassers accomplished what would have otherwise taken five years at the current rate of social change," the center's David Fleischer said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement.</a>&nbsp;"How did we do it? Our team had heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations on the doorsteps of those who opposed marriage for same-sex couples, and volunteers who were LGBT came out during their conversations."</p> <p>Researchers are hopeful their persuasion methods can produce similar results in&nbsp;reducing&nbsp;prejudices on other social issues as well.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Gay Rights Science Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Inae Oh 266631 at Russia Has Already Blown Up the Global Economy Once. Will It Do It Again? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Just in case you're thinking that Russia's economic problems are little more than a fitting karmic payback for Vladimir Putin, you might want to think twice. When the global economy is fragile, sometimes even small events can send the whole system into cardiac arrest, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_committee_save_world.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and that affects everyone, not just Putin and his cronies. So in case you've forgotten, here's a brief refresher on the events of August 1998:</p> <ol><li>Russia devalues its currency and defaults on its sovereign debt.</li> <li>Markets that are already jittery thanks to the East Asian financial crisis go into full-blown frenzy mode.</li> <li>Money pours out of low-quality emerging market investments and into high-quality US, Japanese, and European bonds.</li> <li>As a result, yield spreads between low-quality and high-quality bonds widen sharply.</li> <li>Long Term Capital Management, which had made large bets on spreads <em>narrowing</em> as the East Asian crisis receded, is blindsided, suffering huge losses.</li> <li>As LTCM gets close to insolvency, Bear Stearns stops clearing their trades. Death is imminent.</li> <li>Because LTCM is so highly leveraged, its debts exceed $100 billion and its collapse thus threatens every bank on Wall Street. Amid growing panic over a systemic meltdown, the Fed finally steps in and arranges a bailout package. Crisis over&mdash;for now.</li> </ol><p>This is not going to happen again. The world is not the same now as it was in 1998. It's just meant as an example of how an otherwise limited financial crisis can have a global impact. The fact that it begins with a Russian currency crisis is merely a felicitous coincidence.</p> <p>But also a bit of an unnerving coincidence. More than likely, Russia's problems will be contained to Russia. But they might not be, so we should all be careful what we wish for.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:47:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 266906 at New Documents Show the US Called Waterboarding Torture During World War II <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Decades before it started waterboarding terrorism suspects, the US government had dramatically different standards for what it considered torture, particularly when it was being done to our soldiers in World War II. <a href="" target="_blank">Recently released</a> documents detail how the the United States charged hundreds of Japanese military officials and prison guards with war crimes for abuses against American prisoners of war, including waterboarding.</p> <p>"What the US was calling torture, what it was prosecuting as war crimes [during World War II] were not even close to what has come out in the torture report," says Shanti Sattler, assistant director at the War Crimes Project at the <a href="" target="_blank">Center for International Studies and Diplomacy</a> at SOAS, University of London, who fought to have the trove of documents made public.</p> <p>The torture indictments are documented in the <a href="" target="_blank">archives of the United Nations War Crimes Commission</a>, which was created in 1943 to classify and identify Axis war crimes and<em> </em>to assist in the prosecution of war criminals. Unlike the Nuremburg and Tokyo Tribunals, which prosecuted major figures from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan after the war, the UNWCC was set up to help investigate <a href="" target="_blank">"minor criminals,</a>" and did not have prosecutorial powers. In all, the UNWCC investigated more than 30,000 cases that lead to more than 2,000 criminal trials brought by its member states, including the United States<em>.</em> (The tribunals collectively held 49 trials.)</p> <p>Based on UNWCC's work, the United States charged Japanese military officials for numerous war crimes, such as forcing prisoners to stand outside without meals, slapping prisoners, and subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement. While <a href="" target="_blank">several</a> <a href="" target="_blank">articles</a> <a href="" target="_blank">have cited</a> the Tokyo Tribunal's classification of waterboarding as torture, the UNWCC documents shed more light on how the US government defined torture and pursued it as a violation of international law. "These actions were clearly labeled by the Washington War Crimes office as 'ill-treatment' and 'torture,'" Sattler explains in an email.</p> <p>Compiled below are excerpts from the<em> </em>United States' cases against Japanese military officials and prison guards accused of torturing and abusing prisoners.</p> <p>The UNWCC archive has multiple examples of the United States charging Japanese soldiers and prison guards with war crimes for waterboarding prisoners (often referred to as the "water cure" or the "water treatment"):</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193814">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193485">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193742">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>Some Japanese military officials were convicted of waterboarding:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193748">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>In addition to waterboarding, the United States brought war crime charges against defendants for other offenses, including making prisoners stand in the sun without food or water:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193749">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>Other charges included clubbing prisoners:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193752">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>Kicking prisoners:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193753">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>Slapping prisoners:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193755">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193759">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>Whipping prisoners:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193758">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>And subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-193761">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><p>This is just a sampling of the charges brought against Japanese military officials and prison guards. The documents show that the United States' definition of torture in World War II,&nbsp;when it was used by our enemies,&nbsp; was very different than the one the Central Intelligence Agency has been using since 9/11. "Today, nearly 70 years later, the concept of torture has become a debate in the United States," says Sattler. "The United States must recognize the principles of international humanitarian law that we as a nation helped to develop."</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Human Rights International Military Top Stories historical memory CIA Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:05:05 +0000 Luke Whelan 266681 at