MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/sites/all/modules/patched/service_links/images/facebook.png http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Watching This Porcupine Taste a Pumpkin Is Why the World Is Going to Be Okay Today http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/watching-porcupine-taste-pumpkin-why-world-going-be-okay-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cILZ_cB3_so" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Imagine if we were all as happy as this adorable porcupine, enjoying the seasonal harvest with this much gusto. (You really need to wait until he takes his first bite&mdash;the sounds he makes are amazing). This video was posted to YouTube by <a href="http://www.zooniversity.org/" target="_blank">Zooiversity</a>, a traveling animal education company in Texas, last year, and appears to be enjoying an encore seasonal run this week, as the nation heads&nbsp;into full-on pumpkin madness. (H/t to the website <em>Unwindly</em>, <a href="http://www.unwindly.com/i/272-Porcupine-Tastes-His-First-Pumpkin-Cant-Contain-His-Excitement">where I first saw it</a>).</p> <p>Teddy Bear, an 11-year-old male North American porcupine (<em>Erethizon dorsatum</em>), is something of a YouTube star at this point, it seems. <a href="http://www.zooniversity.org/our-animals/teddy-bear-the-porcupine/" target="_blank">According to Zooiversity's website</a>, he's raked in 11.5 million views from 16 viral videos and enjoys a following from over 19,000 Facebook fans.&nbsp;</p> <p>He's even...a movie star. Yes. A movie star. According to Zooiversity, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8vUO0lywa8">Teddy gave voice to Sebastian the hedgehog in <em>The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey</em></a>. He's come a long way since his days as an abandoned newborn found by a rancher in West Texas.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Animals Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:06:52 +0000 James West 263101 at http://www.motherjones.com Yet More Housekeeping http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/10/yet-more-housekeeping <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>How much detail do you want about my medical woes? Well, I'm bored, so you're going to get more.</p> <p>By the time you read this, I should be sedated and ready for a something-plasty, a procedure that injects bone cement into my fractured L3 lumbar vertebra. In other words, I will become a low-grade Wolverine in one teeny-tiny part of my body. According to the doctors, the cement dries instantly and should relieve my back pain almost completely. It sounds too good to be true, and of course it's always possible that I have some other source of back pain in addition to the compression fracture. But this should help a lot.</p> <p>There is more to this story, and hopefully tomorrow will wrap everything up as all the rest of the test results come back. I'll keep you posted.</p> <p>On a related subject, I have to say that the Irvine Kaiser hospital is excellent. I have a very nice little single room with good visiting accommodations. It features all the usual annoyances of a hospital, some of which have made me grumpy, but everyone has been very nice and professional. They've made my stay about as nice as it could be under the circumstances.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 263091 at http://www.motherjones.com Scott Brown’s Big-Money Sellout http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/scott-brown-big-money-sellout <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Name a major super-PAC or dark-money outfit and there's a good chance <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.php?cycle=2014&amp;id=NHS2">it has helped</a> Republican Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts now trying to oust Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Karl Rove's American Crossroads? <a href="http://nhjournal.com/american-crossroads-3m-tv-ad-features-child-spelling-shaheen-as-o-b-a-m-a/" target="_blank">Check</a>. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity? <a href="http://atr.rollcall.com/americans-for-prosperity-targets-n-h-senate-race-video/" target="_blank">Check</a>. The US Chamber of Commerce, billionaire Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending, FreedomWorks for America, ex-Bush ambassador John Bolton's super-PAC&mdash;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/04/politics/romney-brown-new-hampshire-senate/" target="_blank">check</a>, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000002829023/ad-touts-scott-brown-in-new-hampshire.html" target="_blank">check</a>, <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/indexpend.php?cmte=C00499020&amp;cycle=2014" target="_blank">check</a>, and <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/indexpend.php?cmte=C00542464&amp;cycle=2014" target="_blank">check</a>.</p> <p>Despite being a darling of conservative deep-pocketed groups, Brown once was a foe of big-money machers. As a state legislator in Massachusetts, he sought to curb the influence of donors by stumping for so-called clean elections, in which candidates receive public funds for their campaigns and eschew round-the-clock fundraising. But during his three years in Washington&mdash;from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/us/politics/20election.html?_r=0" target="_blank">his surprise special-election win</a> in January 2010 to his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/11/elizabeth-warren-scott-brown-massachusetts" target="_blank">defeat</a> at the hands of Elizabeth Warren in November 2012&mdash;Brown transformed into an insider who embraced super-PACs, oligarch-donors such as the Koch brothers, and secret campaign spending. On the issue of money in politics, there is perhaps no Senate candidate this year who has flip-flopped as dramatically as Brown. Here's how it happened.</p> <p>In November 1998, Brown <a href="http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1954918,00.html" target="_blank">won</a> a seat in the Massachusetts House. That same year, voters in the state <a href="http://www.massvoters.com/MVFE/celaw.shtml" target="_blank">approved</a> a ballot measure to implement a clean elections system; the proposal <a href="http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elebalm/balmresults.html#year1998" target="_blank">passed</a> by a 2-1 margin. By law, however, ballot measures can't allocate taxpayer funds, and the fight to implement the new system moved to the legislature in Boston.</p> <p>Brown allied himself with supporters of clean elections. As part of the state House's tiny Republican caucus, Brown clashed with the old-guard Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Tom Finneran, who viewed clean elections as inimical to incumbents. Brown did quibble with reformers over some details of the proposed clean-elections system, but he <a href="http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-7695502.html" target="_blank">voted</a> in 2002 against a plan that would have gutted the program.</p> <p>David Donnelly, who spearheaded the clean elections effort in Massachusetts, remembers Brown as a reliable supporter of clean elections: "Over those years, Scott Brown was not only a consistent vote, but a consistently outspoken supporter of the clean-elections program." In a June 2001 letter to the editor in the <em>Boston Globe</em>, an activist with Common Cause, the good government group, <a href="http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8649672.html" target="_blank">hailed</a> Brown's support for clean elections as "not only courageous, but gutsy and heroic."</p> <p>When Brown ran for state Senate in 2004, he <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/02/28/state_senate_candidates_debate_guns_gay_marriage/" target="_blank">billed</a> himself as "the person that bucks the system often." He frequently mentioned his support for clean elections as evidence of his reformer bona fides. "As a state representative," he said then, "I fought House Speaker Thomas Finneran's pay raise bill and supported the voters' will on Clean Elections." Brown won the special election and served in the state Senate from 2004 to 2010.</p> <p>In 2010, Brown ran for the US Senate seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/us/politics/27kennedy.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">for 46 years</a>. Most people remember his ubiquitous pickup truck, the one he drove everywhere and used to burnish his regular-guy image. What's less remembered is how Brown again bragged about his support of campaign finance reform on his way to becoming a US senator.</p> <p>Here's what Brown <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122777101" target="_blank">told NPR</a> the day after his upset win over Democrat Martha Coakley:</p> <blockquote> <p>Maybe there's a new breed of Republican coming to Washington. You know, I've always been that way. I always&mdash;I mean, you remember, I supported clean elections. I'm a self-imposed term limits person. I believe very, very strongly that we are there to serve the people.</p> </blockquote> <p>That reformer approach vanished as soon as Brown joined the Senate Republican caucus.</p> <p>In the summer of 2010, Senate Democrats <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/08/dems-to-place-big-bet-on_n_639751.html" target="_blank">heavily lobbied</a> Brown to be the decisive 60th vote on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would beef up disclosure of spending on elections by dark-money nonprofit groups, including Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and David Koch's Americans for Prosperity. But Brown instead joined the Republican filibuster that killed the bill. In an op-ed <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/108681-i-cannot-support-the-disclose-act-sen-scott-brown" target="_blank">explaining</a> his vote, Brown said the bill was an election year ploy that exempted labor unions, which traditionally back Democrats, from some disclosure requirements. (In fact, the bill applied the same requirements to corporations and unions, and the AFL-CIO opposed it.) But he praised the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law as "an honest attempt to reform campaign finance" and wrote that genuine reform "would include increased transparency, accountability, and would provide a level playing field to everyone." This gave some reformers hope that Brown might support a whittled-down version of the bill.</p> <p>But no. Brown later <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/09/senate-republicans-again-block/" target="_blank">opposed</a> two newer, slimmer <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/how-did-senators-vote-on-the-disclose-act/2012/07/16/gJQALt4ppW_blog.html" target="_blank">versions</a> of the DISCLOSE Act and <a href="http://campaignmoney.org/press-room/2012/08/08/watchdog-slams-new-scott-brown-attack-voting-rights-welfare-recipients" target="_blank">refused to cosponsor</a> a national clean-elections bill similar to the measure he had backed in Massachusetts. (A spokeswoman for Brown's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)</p> <p>Brown has gone on to accept millions from the interests most opposed to campaign finance reform. In 2011, he was caught on camera <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/03/07/149006/scott-brown-david-koch-money/" target="_blank">practically begging</a> David Koch, the billionaire industrialist, for campaign cash. "Your support during the [2010] election, it meant a ton," Brown told Koch. "It made a difference, and I can certainly use it again." In his 2012 race against Warren, he benefited from a super-PAC <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib.php?cmte=C00520411&amp;cycle=2012" target="_blank">funded largely</a> by energy magnate Bill Koch, the youngest Koch brother and also a billionaire, and casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company. And though he <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/brown-warren-pledge-to-curb-outside-campaign-spending/2012/01/23/gIQAi4jbLQ_story.html" target="_blank">agreed</a> that year to the "People's Pledge"&mdash;a pact intended to keep outside spending out of the campaign&mdash;Brown <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/03/scott-brown-new-hampshire-senate-jeanne-shaheen" target="_blank">refused</a> to make the same pledge in his current campaign against Shaheen.</p> <p>As a state legislator, Brown bragged that he was someone who "bucks the system often." Today, he is relying on the system&mdash;dominated by millionaires and billionaires, overrun with money, and cloaked in secrecy&mdash;to get back to the Senate.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Dark Money Elections Money in Politics Top Stories Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:15:05 +0000 Andy Kroll 262901 at http://www.motherjones.com SWAT Teams Keep Killing Innocent People in Their Homes http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-raid-casualties <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today, 85 percent of SWAT operations target private residences. When heavily-armed policemen conduct raids at peoples' homes, they often go in expecting a fight from hardened criminals&mdash;but sometimes they're wrong. Here are a few cases where botched SWAT raids ended in tragedy:</p> <p><strong>Bounkham Phonesavanh</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/booboo.jpg"><div class="caption">Curtis Compton/ZUMA Press</div> </div> <p>One night last May, 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh ("Bou Bou") was sleeping in the Atlanta home of relatives. Around 2 a.m., a SWAT team arrived to arrest Bou Bou's 30-year-old cousin, an alleged drug dealer. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/baby-in-coma-after-police-grenade-dropped-in-crib-during-drug-raid/">Officers threw a flash-bang grenade into the room</a> where Bou Bou was sleeping. It landed in his crib and exploded under his pillow, giving him third-degree burns and injuries so severe he was put in a medically-induced coma. While Bou Bou's injuries remain severe, he's expected to survive. The <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/baby-in-coma-after-police-grenade-dropped-in-crib-during-drug-raid/">Habersham County Sheriff expressed deep regret</a> but insisted his men were simply following procedure. Earlier this month, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/charges-botched-ga-drug-raid-injured-baby-article-1.1965521" target="_blank">a jury cleared them</a> of wrongdoing.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Jose Guerena</strong></p> <p>On the morning of May 5, 2011, in Tuscon, Arizona, a SWAT team assembled outside the home of 26-year-old Jose Guerena. A former Marine who served in Iraq; Guerena had just come home from working the night shift at the copper mine. <a href="http://www.kpho.com/story/20142545/depositions-show-contradictions-in-fatal-swat-raid">Local law enforcement believed</a> Guerena was involved in a drug distribution operation with his brothers. Woken up by his wife, who thought she heard burglars, Guerena went outside with an AR-15 rifle to investigate. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/tucson-swat-team-defends-shooting-iraq-marine-veteran/story?id=13640112">He was shot 60 times</a> and died before the SWAT team allowed paramedics to help. After his widow sued, the Pima County Sheriff's Department agreed to a <a href="http://tucson.com/news/blogs/police-beat/m-settlement-in-deadly-swat-raid-near-tucson/article_832b91ca-5b21-517d-bf8d-124008f63529.html">$3.4 million settlement</a> in 2013.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Eurie Stamp</strong></p> <p>On the night of January 4, 2011, Eurie Stamp, a 68-year-old grandfather of 12, was watching a basketball game in his Framingham, Massachusetts, home. <a href="http://www.wgbh.org/articles/Part-2-DJ-Henry-Eurie-Stamps-And-Race-4549">A SWAT unit was staking out his home</a> and had already arrested his 20-year-old stepson outside. Despite having booked their suspect, the SWAT team raided the house. Officer Paul Duncan forced Stamp to lie face down on the ground. While Stamp was complying, Duncan allegedly <a href="http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20110501/News/305019966/?Start=3">tripped</a>, causing his gun to go off and kill Stamp. Duncan <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/03/10/officer_in_fatal_shooting_will_not_be_charged/">was cleared</a> of any wrongdoing.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tarika Wilson</strong></p> <p>On January 4, 2008, a SWAT team arrived in the Lima, Ohio, home of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson. The team was looking for her boyfriend, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/30/us/30lima.html">who was suspected of dealing drugs</a>. They broke through the front door and soon opened fire, killing Wilson and injuring her 14-month-old son, whom she was holding. Sgt. Joe Chavalia, who shot and killed her, was placed on paid leave and <a href="http://www.limaohio.com/news/local_news/article_2cccd314-56df-11e2-a0f7-0019bb30f31a.html">later cleared of wrongdoing.</a><br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Aiyana Stanley-Jones</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/stanleyjones.jpg"><div class="tk">Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press</div> </div> <p>On May 16, 2010, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/11/aiyana-stanley-jones-detroit">a Detroit SWAT crew arrived</a> at the home of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, with a TV crew from the A&amp;E network trailing them to film a show. They were looking for Chauncey Owens, who allegedly shot a teenager two days before. He was upstairs, but Aiyana was sleeping on the living room couch. The front door was unlocked, but the <a href="http://archive.freep.com/VideoNetwork/2434417838001/Video-of-police-raid-that-killed-Aiyana-Stanley-Jones-7">team busted open the door</a>. Soon after, Officer Joseph Weekly's gun went off, sending a bullet through Aiyana's head. She died shortly afterward. Weekly is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/17/aiyana-stanley-jones-joseph-weekley-trial_n_5824684.html">currently being tried</a> for felony involuntary manslaughter; he claims it was an accident.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Dogs</strong></p> <p>In the past few years, SWAT teams have shot and killed dogs in <a href="http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/25981713/st-paul-police-shoot-kill-2-family-dogs-in-swat-raid">Minnesota</a>, <a href="http://abc11.com/archive/8140686/">North Carolina</a>, <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/05/video-surfaces-of-swat-team-shooting-pet-dog-during-raid/">Missouri</a>, and <a href="http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/07/01/viral-video-appears-to-show-hawthorne-police-fatally-shoot-dog/">California</a>. In almost every case, officers have insisted that they felt threatened by the dogs. Pet owners have responded that their dogs were simply startled when SWAT teams broke in&mdash;often unannounced&mdash;to their homes, and denied that the dogs attacked officers. Take the case of Chris Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights, a quiet D.C. suburb. On the evening of July 29, 2008, a Prince George's County <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-08-08/news/0808070248_1_berwyn-heights-mayor-cheye-calvo-prince-george">SWAT team burst into Calvo's home</a>, responding to a report of a package of marijuana on the doorstep. Upon entering, the officers shot and killed the family's two Lab retrievers, handcuffed Calvo, his wife, and his mother-in-law, and then forced them to the ground. <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-08-08/news/0808070248_1_berwyn-heights-mayor-cheye-calvo-prince-george">Police later found</a> that Calvo had been targeted in a scheme in which drug dealers used the homes of unsuspecting people as pickup points for drugs.</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Sam Brodey 262996 at http://www.motherjones.com Ratings of Animal Planet Show Nosedive After MoJo Exposé http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/10/animal-planet-scandal-animal-mistreatment-ratings-dive <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Animal Planet's hit reality TV show <em>Call of the Wildman</em> came under intense scrutiny earlier this year as the subject of a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/animal-abuse-drugs-call-of-the-wildman-animal-planet">seven-month <em>Mother Jones</em> investigation</a> into behind-the-scenes animal mistreatment. Now, it's no longer such a hit.</p> <p>Prime time audiences for this year's season tumbled by nearly a third compared to 2013&mdash;translating to an average loss of more than 400,000 viewers per first-run episode, according to figures supplied to <em>Mother Jones</em> by Nielsen, the media ratings company.</p> <p>The <em>Mother Jones</em> expos&eacute;, published January 21, revealed that the show trapped and caged wild animals to be used in highly scripted and elaborately staged sequences; one Texas installment starred a zebra that had been drugged by handlers before the show's star, Ernie Brown Jr., a.k.a. "Turtleman", chased and tackled it to the ground; other cases&mdash;which are now under state and federal <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/animal-planet-new-episodes-feds-USDA-animal-mistreatment" target="_blank">investigation</a>&mdash;include malnourished raccoons,&nbsp;caged coyotes, and bats left for dead in a beauty salon.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Chart_1_250px_2.jpg"></div> <p>The Nielsen data shows that in 2014 <em>Call of the Wildman</em> suffered its worst ratings since the show began in 2011, breaking a two-year stretch of million-plus audiences per episode. The average audience size for the 2012 season was nearly 1.4 million viewers for first-run episodes; last year enjoyed similar numbers of around 1.3 million viewers (up there with blockbuster reality shows like <em>Storage Wars</em>, <em>Keeping Up With the Kardashians</em>, and <em>The Real Housewives of New Jersey</em>). But Season 4, which wrapped up last month, averaged just 900,000, about the same audience for a 5:30 a.m. rerun of <em>Full House </em>on the Nickelodeon channel Nick at Nite. (Nielsen's numbers for <em>Call of the Wildman</em> excluded specials, repeats, and encore screenings.) Neither Animal Planet nor Sharp Entertainment replied to emails requesting comment.</p> <p>Nielsen does not make detailed data for individual episodes publicly available, except for the top-line, season-on-season averages mentioned above. But a closer look at figures compiled from the television ratings blog <a href="http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/" target="_blank"><em>TV by the Numbers</em></a>, which releases a daily "top 100" list of Nielsen numbers, reveals the extent of the woes for the program.</p> <p>In 2012, <em>Call of the Wildman</em> reached the top 100 list 15 times, across its Sunday airings (including episodes of&nbsp;<em>Call of the Wildman: More Live Action</em>.)&nbsp;Turtleman did even better in 2013, with 16 appearances in the top 100. But this year, the show made it to the list only once. It never appeared again in the top 100 across the whole season, which ended last month. What's more, competition was far less fierce this year: It was nearly 20 percent easier to make it to the top 100 list this year than during the same period in 2013.</p> <p>Possibly most alarming for the show's producers is an apparent drop in the crucial advertiser-targeted demographic of viewers aged 18-49. The season 4 premiere attracted around 40 percent fewer viewers than the previous year's premiere in this demographic.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Chart_2_250px_2.jpg"></div> <p>Audience losses of this size are a "big deal," says <a href="http://about.me/paul.dergarabedian">Paul Dergarabedian</a>, senior media analyst at <a href="http://www.rentrak.com/">Rentrak</a>, an audience research firm in Los Angeles. "Any indicator that you're losing a third of your audience has to be alarming to any television producer or network executive," he said.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Animal Planet Canada&mdash;the network's sister channel north of the border&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/animal-planets-call-wildman-abruptly-canceled-canada">abruptly canceled upcoming episodes</a> of the show just days before a new season was scheduled&nbsp;to air, saying at the time that, "<em>Call of the Wildman</em> has not been resonating with Canadian audiences."</p> <p>The show's formula, which depicts Turtleman's high-drama rescues of nuisance wildlife by hand, didn't change between the seasons, save for the final three episodes, in which Turtleman, instead of responding to businesses and family homes, ventures out into the wild with his sidekick Neal James to live off the land and his down-home instincts. (When Turtleman releases a catfish he has caught in a river, Neal solemnly intones via voiceover: "That's Turtleman. Thinking of the critter first.")</p> <p>Ratings analyst Dergarabedian says that while it's hard to establish direct causality using ratings data, viewers tend to react negatively when bad publicity hits the very core idea of a show: in this case, the treatment of animals. "There's a trust between an audience and a show about animals that behind the scenes, animals are respected and well treated," he said. When that trust is broken, an audience will decide quickly whether or not it can "in good conscience continue to support the show."</p> <p>Christopher Mapp, an assistant professor of communication&nbsp;at the University of Louisiana-Monroe&nbsp;and contributor to the book <em>Reality Television: Oddities of Culture</em>, says there may well be additional factors involved in <em>Call of the </em><em>Wildman</em>'s decline beyond animal mistreatment. "Reality show ratings have been trending downward for a couple of years, both on cable and networks," Mapp wrote in an email exchange. "This is partly because the novelty wears off. What was once exotic inevitably becomes pass&eacute;. It's true that familiarity breeds contempt."</p> <p>Despite that, reality television, he says, isn't going anywhere fast. "Talent, labor, production costs&mdash;they're all so cheap, compared to some genres.&nbsp;Low production costs equal 'authenticity,' which works in a reality show's favor," he said. "It's just a winning formula that no one's willing to abandon. They're too profitable."</p></body></html> Environment Animals Media Top Stories Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:07 +0000 James West 263001 at http://www.motherjones.com The Making of the Warrior Cop http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-warrior-cops-police-militarization-urban-shield <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><head><link href="http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Oswald:400,700,300" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"><link href="http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Titillium+Web:400,200,300,300italic,400italic,600,600italic,700,700italic,900,200italic" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"></head><body><div id="shell960"> <section class="right-rail"><div class="mobile-css-hide" style="width: 300px;float:right; margin-left:10px;margin-top:9px;"><script language="javascript"> <!-- if (typeof mobile_ad_RNS === 'undefined') { ad_code('righttopros', 170); } //--> </script></div> </section><section id="mobile-header"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mu6m__F86aY?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;autohide=1;" width="640"></iframe> <p id="author">Story and Photos by Shane Bauer | Wed Oct. 22, 2014 6:00 AM ET</p> </section><p><span class="section-lead"><span class="dropCap">B</span>y 7:30 on Thursday morning,</span> the capacious ground-floor convention center of the Oakland Marriott was filled with SWAT teams. Mostly men, mostly white, dressed in camouflage or black fatigues, they stood in groups of eight or ten, some eating pastries, others sticking to coffee and a dip of tobacco. A few wandered the expo hall, stopping by booths to test the feel of armored vests, boot knives, and sniper rifles, grab swag like grenade-shaped stress balls, or drop tickets into a box for a raffle of iPhone covers and pistols.</p> <p>"Want to see the new toy?" a vendor asked a police officer in camo. He handed him a pamphlet for his company, Shield Defense Systems. "This will blind anyone for 10 minutes. Imagine, walk into a bar fight, blind everyone, then figure out what's going on. Some guys on drugs, you can put three slugs in their chest and it won't stop them. But blind him, and I guarantee you he'll calm down." The device attached to a gun and sent out a frequency that the vendor said temporarily scrambled its target's ocular fluid. The vendor turned to me&mdash;conspicuous for my lack of fatigues&mdash;and insisted the device caused no permanent damage (hence the name Z-Ro, as in "zero damage"), though he said it would probably make you nauseous. He expected it to be on the market this coming January.</p> <p>The expo hall was just a warm-up to the main event: Starting at 5 a.m. on Saturday, 35 SWAT teams would compete in a two-day training exercise around the San Francisco Bay Area. The winning team would take home a trophy and the glory of having unseated the reigning SWAT champion&mdash;Berkeley, California.</p> <div class="mobile-css-hide"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/mu6m__F86aY?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="853"></iframe> <div class="captionSmall">What we saw at the SWAT convention before being kicked out.</div> </div> <p>Organizers of the conference, <a href="https://www.urbanshield.org/" target="_blank">known as Urban Shield</a>, said it was the largest first-responder training in the world; now in its eighth year, it has drawn teams from places as far-flung as Singapore, South Korea, Israel, and Bahrain. Each group would go through 35 tactical scenarios over 48 hours, with no breaks except the occasional catnap. An airplane was lined up for busting a gun smuggler, and a cargo ship would be seized by a terrorist after a make-believe earthquake. A "militant atheist extremist group" would take hostages at a church.</p> <p>The event was paid for mostly by the Department of Homeland Security, but more than 100 corporations threw in money too, up to $25,000 each. In many of the scenarios, teams would try out the latest equipment on offer from Urban Shield's corporate sponsors&mdash;Verizon, Motorola, SIG Sauer. Many were military supply companies&mdash;FirstSpear, for example, was founded by former soldiers to make body armor and bandoliers for "US and allied warfighters." Here, they sold their stuff to cops. Then there were "platinum sponsors" like Uber, which gave police discount black-car rides for the weekend.</p> <p>Urban Shield was started in 2007 by an Alameda County assistant sheriff named James Baker. In 2011, he told me, Homeland Security asked him to bring the event to other parts of the country, so he started a company, the Cytel Group, that would put on Urban Shield in Boston, Austin, and Dallas. "Urban Shield is a program that gets everybody working together" to respond to crises, he said. <a href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland/ci_20498364/alameda-county-sheriffs-swat-team-travels-jordan" target="_blank">Baker's firm has also received $500,000 in state funds</a> to write guidelines for SWAT teams, on things like how much gear each team is required to have. When I spoke to him, he was in Kenya, where he had been contracted by the State Depart&shy;ment to organize an Urban Shield-like training.</p> <section class="inline"><img alt="" src="http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/SWAT-group1-960-2.jpeg"><div class="captionSmall">Gear on display ranged from T-shirts and night-vision scopes to tactical vests and high-powered rifles.</div> </section><p>This summer, images of armored vehicles and police pointing semi-automatic rifles at demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, set off a debate over what journalist <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/people/radley-balko" target="_blank">Radley Balko</a> has termed the "<a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rise-of-the-warrior-cop-radley-balko/1113024804?ean=9781610392112" target="_blank">rise of the warrior cop</a>." <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/342494225/mraps-and-bayonets-what-we-know-about-the-pentagons-1033-program" target="_blank">A National Public Radio analysis</a> found that since 2006, the Pentagon has given local cops some $1.9 billion worth of equipment&mdash;including 600 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles<em> </em>(MRAPs), 80,000 assault rifles, 200 grenade launchers, and 12,000 bayonets (yes, bayonets). But those totals pale in comparison to the amount of gear purchased from private companies. The Ferguson Police Department, for example, received some computers, utility trucks, and blankets from the military&mdash;but all that battle gear you saw on TV was bought from corporations like the ones pitching their wares at Urban Shield. Outfitting America's warrior cops, it turns out, is a major business, and one fueled in large part by the federal Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Defense has given $5.1 billion worth of equipment to state and local police departments since 1997, with even rural counties acquiring things like grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers. But Homeland Security has handed out grants worth eight times as much&mdash;$41 billion since 2002. The money is earmarked for counterterrorism, but DHS specifies that once acquired, the equipment can be used for any other law-enforcement purpose, from shutting down protests to serving warrants and executing home searches.</p> <aside class="full pullQuote">All that battle gear you saw in Ferguson was acquired not from the military, but from private companies like the ones touting their wares at Urban Shield.</aside><p>For the vendors at Urban Shield, the task at hand was showing that these arsenals needed further beefing up. Semi-automatic rifles, for example, were once reserved mostly for SWAT teams and the military. Now they are standard squad car guns. At the Patriot Ordnance Factory booth, a vendor showed off the POF 308, a 14.5-inch military-style semi-automatic rifle that, he emphasized, fish and game officers used to shoot bears. An article in a gun magazine by a fish and game warden boasts that it's also handy for raiding pot farms and fighting "narcoterrorists." The vendor showed me the slightly smaller .223-caliber semi-automatics they'd started selling to the California Highway Patrol a year ago, for use in vehicle takedowns on the freeway. "The United States will forever be a nation of ready militia," the company's website said. For $5,100, it sold limited-edition, rotating bronze sculptures of a man in a tricorn hat, posed as though in battle, a sword on his belt, a tattered Colonial flag waving behind him, a POF semi-automatic rifle in his hand.</p> <p>Farther down the hall, Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate was showcasing a drone. It not only captured video, but was designed to drop objects at specified GPS coordinates, "like <em>Hunger Games</em>, if you will," a representative from Robotics Research, DHS's contractor on the project, told me. Buzzing around her booth was a cylindrical, remote-controlled robot that sold for $1,100. If the robot was too big to fit into, say, a building's ventilation system, the police could make a smaller body on-site using a 3-D printer, then transfer the electric wiring.</p> <section class="right-rail"><img src="http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/urban_sheild_charts-350.png"></section><p>Robots were popular in the convention hall. QinetiQ's 20-pound Dragon Runner looked a bit like WALL-E, with treads like a tank and an arm that could be maneuvered like a miniature crane. Its pamphlet said it was meant for "some of the most hazardous conditions and terrains found on earth, from desert and mountain combat situations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to the streets of Europe and the United States."</p> <p>One of the most popular booths belonged to Tactical Electronics. A man extended a pole 20 feet into the air to demonstrate a special camera used for peering into windows. They sold cameras that could be slipped under doors and others made for strapping onto a dog, relaying video to a screen on the user's wrist. They also had a device for steering the animal with vibrations to which it was trained to respond.</p> <p>The event felt surprisingly open at first&mdash;vendors talked to me freely and I could sit in on workshops&mdash;but by the second day, I started noticing cops whispering to each other while looking in my direction. Some came over to feel me out, asking what I thought of the term "militarization." One of them worked for the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a Homeland Security project to coordinate intelligence from local cops and federal agencies like the FBI. As I flipped through the counterterrorism handbook at his booth, he snatched it away. "That's for law enforcement only," he said. He told me he knew who I was.</p> <p>The mission of the center is to "detect, prevent, investigate and respond to criminal and terrorist activity." When another reporter, Julia Carrie Wong, visited their office during the convention, <a href="http://juliacarriewong.com/2014/09/15/militarized-cops-pretend-to-fight-terrorists-in-oakland/" target="_blank">she found them tracking tweets</a> from the few hundred protesters gathered outside.</p> <aside class="full pullQuote">SWAT teams were created for extreme situations like mass shootings or hostage taking. But today, the highly armed units more commonly serve warrants.</aside><p>From inside the hall, cops watched warily as the demonstrators chanted slogans about Ferguson. "If I see someone with an upside-down flag, I'm going to punch him in the face," one said to his team. Nearby, a vendor sold shirts with slogans of his own. One bore the image of a Spartan helmet and the phrase "Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none." His most popular shirt read "This Is My Peace Sign"; it showed crosshairs centered on what I briefly took to be a person with his hands up, though it was actually an AR-15 sight.</p> <p>He told me to make sure I remembered one thing: We are sheep and police are the sheepdogs. They protect us, and they kill the wolves. I pointed at the shirt and asked, "The person in the sight, is that the flock or the wolf?"</p> <p>"If he's in the crosshairs, it's gonna be the wolf," he said. "It's gonna be the bad guy."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">Special Weapons and Tactics teams</span> were created in the late 1960s for extreme scenarios like saving hostages and taking down active shooters. But police departments soon began deploying them in more mundane situations. In 1984, just 40 percent of SWAT teams were serving warrants. By 2012, the number was 79 percent. In all, the number of SWAT raids across the country has increased 20-fold since the 1980s, going from 3,000 per year to at least 60,000. And SWAT teams are no longer limited to large cities: In the mid-1980s, only 20 percent of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had such teams. By 2007, 80 percent did.</p> <p>Much of the increase has been driven by the drug war, says David Klinger, a former Los Angeles cop and a professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "If we didn't think that drugs were the most evilest thing in the history of God's green earth," he says, "and weren't running hither and yon trying to catch people with dope in their house, none of this would have happened."</p> <p>Today, 85 percent of SWAT operations are for "choice-driven raids on people's private residences," Peter Kraska, an Eastern Kentucky University researcher who studies tactical policing, said in a <a href="http://www.c-span.org/video/?321337-1/hearing-militarization-police-forces" target="_blank">recent Senate hearing</a>. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1307598-aclu-report-war-comes-home" target="_blank">According to a study released by the American Civil Liberties Union</a> earlier this year, 62 percent of SWAT deployments were for drug raids. The study found that in these raids, drugs were found only half of the time. When weapons were "believed to be present," they were not found in half of the cases for which the outcome was known.</p> <section class="inline"><img alt="" src="http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/SWAT-group2-960-2.jpeg"><div class="captionSmall">Several vendors showcased drones, like this one designed to do reconnaissance.</div> </section><p>The study also found that while white people were more likely to be involved in the types of scenarios SWAT teams were intended for&mdash;like hostage or active-shooter situations&mdash;71 percent of today's SWAT raids (when race was known) target people of color. The racial disparity can be much higher in some places: In Burlington, North Carolina, the study notes, African Americans are 47 times more likely to be affected by SWAT raids than whites.</p> <p>SWAT officers have even come to be used to conduct "saturation patrol," where extra police are deployed in a specific neighborhood. One SWAT commander told Kraska, "The key to our success is that we're an elite crime fighting team that's not bogged down in the regular bureaucracy. We focus on quality of life issues like illegal parking, loud music, bums, troubles."</p> <p>Standing in the expo hall near a booth where a charity was selling raffle tickets for an AR-15, I spoke with Sergeant JD Nelson, the spokesman for both Urban Shield and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. He was chatty and amicable. I asked him what he thought when people said the United States was becoming a police state. "I think there is some validity to that," he said, explaining that "there's some violent people out there. You turn on the news any given night and something terrible has happened. If you got a guy that's wanting to do some harm and you have a choice between riding in a Crown Victoria or <em>that</em>"&mdash;he pointed to a huge black truck that looked like an armored personnel carrier&mdash;"you're going to choose that every time."</p> <p>Jeremy Johnson, the tactical vehicle specialist at the Armored Group, sounded a similar note when he showed me the company's ballistic armored tactical transport vehicle, or BATT. With a blast-resistant floor and a Batman-style insignia on its grill, it was designed to stop .50-caliber rounds and had front-mounted battering rams for busting into buildings, a 360-degree rotating turret, and sniper rifle mounts on the doors. The Armored Group sells the vehicles worldwide from offices in countries like Libya, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.</p> <p>"Some of these trucks do look intimidating," Johnson said. "They should. You don't want to pull up a Chevy Chevette in front of the house and say, 'Here, we're gonna get you.' You're not gonna get the effect you want."</p> <p>This was a common theme: Since the bad guys are well armed, police need better defenses and an intimidating appearance. And it's true that guns on the street have gotten bigger&mdash;but it's also true that being a cop today is the safest it has been since 1964. The most dangerous year in recent decades was 1973, when there were 134 felony killings of police officers in the line of duty. By 2012, that number had dropped to 47. Some of that might be because police are better protected, but they are also not being attacked as often: Assaults on cops are down 45 percent since their peak in 1971. Indeed, violent crime overall is down in America&mdash;it has fallen by nearly half since 1991.</p> <p>In the end, the driving factor behind the police arms race may be not so much greater risk, but greater spending. This year, Homeland Security will give out $1.6 billion to state agencies and local police departments for counterterrorism and disaster preparedness. The Armored Group, Johnson told me, has its own grant-writing specialist to help police departments get the funds for its $100,000 to $300,000 vehicles. Police departments, <a href="http://www.swat-vehicles.com/?q=forfeiture.php" target="_blank">the company's website points out</a>, also have the option of using "funds from assets seized in criminal activities"&mdash;money, cars, and other property&mdash;so long as the vehicle will be used for "drug enforcement in some capacity." Forfeiture funds are a huge pot of money: <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/stop-and-seize/?hpid=z3" target="_blank">The <em class="italic">Washington Post</em><em> </em>found</a> that in 2012, $4.6 billion in cash and goods was seized by police, in many cases without any criminal charges. And unlike Homeland Security dollars, forfeiture funds can be used to buy firearms.</p> <p>Johnson said his vehicles were appropriate to use whenever police faced a "threat of violence," from an active-shooter situation to a street protest. A rogue group of demonstrators might be armed, he said. They may "look innocent, which is great," but they might also shoot at police. "No one wants to think about it, but it happens. We've seen it." He couldn't name an example, but advised me to "go back to the news footage."</p> <p>Johnson didn't think "militarization" was an accurate term for what was happening with police. "They're not buying a lot of things that would be considered military, in my opinion. Do they wear fatigues? Some of them do. Why is that? Well, a lot of that stuff's proven by the military that it works. [But] it's totally different training, it's totally different scenarios."</p> <p>Or not so different. A 2007 study found that 49 percent of police departments surveyed used active-duty military personnel, including special-forces troops, to train their SWAT teams. One of the teams competing in Urban Shield was from the US Marine Corps. When the training event kicked off Saturday morning, I sat in an Amtrak train in Oakland as they came through in combat gear shouting at the pretend civilians to "put your fucking hands up! Anyone who puts their hands down will get fucking shot! Don't fucking move!" Even though they were just shooting little plastic bullets, my heart was pounding. Afterward, I asked a Marine why they trained in exercises designed for police. "To learn different tactics," he said. "You have some of the best guys out there, and they give their input and we take that back with us and teach our Marines."</p> <p>So the most powerful military in the world is taking cues from cops? "It's interesting that we've had a lot of conversations on the militarization of the police, but you could make the same argument for the police-ization of the military," said Nelson, the Urban Shield spokesman. The modern military is in the business of occupation, he said, of getting governments up and running. When the military fights insurgents, it is "almost acting like a police force."</p> <p>The Marines weren't the only nonpolice team competing for the trophy at Urban Shield. The California Department of Corrections had a SWAT team present&mdash;its leader, Lieutenant Adam Dennis, told me the corrections department is actually the largest SWAT agency in the state, with 495 officers across 19 locations. They work as prison guards by day and are trained to do hostage rescue. Much of their SWAT work, though, doesn't happen inside prisons, but with local police in communities where the prisons are located, Dennis said. The team this year, from Susanville, California, worked with police in the town of fewer than 16,000 people to do "warrants, drug eradication, narcotic surveillance&mdash;stuff like that." Their training at Urban Shield&mdash;where they did mock assaults on jetliners&mdash;was meant to inform their work back home. "The tactics you use to take anything down, whether it's a building, a plane, a train, an automobile&mdash;the tactics don't change," Dennis said. "It's all the same."</p> <p>Other agencies fielding SWAT teams include NASA, the National Park Service, and the University of California-Berkeley, whose team I watched in a training exercise in Foster City. The scenario was this: A Muslim man had been fired from his job. He'd come back to his workplace, the participants were told, "screaming that he wanted to hurt the Jews for what they have done to him and his people." He had been known to "visit pro-jihadist websites and anti-Semitic websites and many websites that instructed on how to build different types of weapons of mass destruction." Detectives had found literature at his home proposing jihad against Israel. Now he was inside a classroom, holding a Jewish ex-coworker hostage.</p> <p>When the SWAT team busted into the classroom, the commander shouted, "Gentlemen, we have a chemical!" A five-gallon bucket sat next to the Muslim hostage taker, liquid bubbling over toward the feet of the captive. The hostage was a dummy (or "smarty," as they preferred to call it) with a sign taped to him that read "Alive but bleeding!!!!!" The team of eight burst in and trained their guns on the assailant, getting him to put his hands up as they dragged the hostage out. Then they pulled the terrorist out too, leaving the chemical to ooze onto the floor. That, they explained later, was for hazmat to deal with.</p> <p>The UC-Berkeley team formed in 1992, their commander, Lieutenant Eric Tejada, told me, after a mentally disturbed, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/26/us/police-kill-protester-at-berkeley-in-break-in-at-chancellor-s-home.html" target="_blank">machete-wielding woman busted into the chancellor's house</a> on campus at 6 a.m. Today, he said, "most of what we do is high-risk warrants," mostly going off campus to find suspects in muggings of students.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ZJfYm3KCqQU?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="853"></iframe></p> <div class="captionSmall">Watch the University of California SWAT team in action.</div> <p>I left the training site feeling unsettled. If you were the hostage in a real-life version of one of these scenarios, would you want someone to come and save you? Of course you would. If you were a cop, would you want to be protected against anything that might come your way? Of course. And yet, nearly every SWAT cop I talked to at Urban Shield was spending most of his time doing drug busts, searching houses, and serving warrants.</p> <p>"When equipment is requested for SWAT teams, it's common to talk about the threat of terrorism [and] other rare but highly dangerous situations like hostage taking, barricaded suspects, and riots," David Alan Sklansky, a Stanford law professor who studies criminal law and policing, told me. "But the majority of times that SWAT teams have been deployed, it's been for more conventional kinds of operations."</p> <section class="right-rail"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-raid-casualties" target="_blank"><img src="http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/aiyana-stanley-jones300x200.jpg"></a> <div class="captionLarge right">Also Read: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-raid-casualties" target="_blank">SWAT Teams Killed These Innocent People in Their Homes</a></div> </section><p>"SWAT teams definitely have legitimate uses," he added. "But like lots of other things, when they are sitting around they can wind up getting used when they are not required and may do more harm than good."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead">The next morning, my colleague</span> Prashanth Kamalakanthan and I showed up at the Port of Oakland for a Bay Bridge training exercise. Each team in the competition had been on the move for more than 24 hours. Teams had been taking a boat out into the bay and climbing up into the underbelly of the bridge to disrupt a fake IED. We were planning to film the exercise, but when we arrived, the site manager told us that wouldn't be possible. We could tag along, but no video.</p> <p>I sighed, frustrated. When we'd applied for press passes, the sheriff's department had welcomed our presence. They even encouraged us to film, noting that video did a better job than photos to "depict the hard work and dedication displayed." But the day before we'd driven two hours to observe a raid on a pretend bomb factory only to be turned away, and now this. As we got ready to leave, we stopped by the trailer of HaloDrop, a robotics company that was displaying video screens, drones, and 3-D printers inside. They had intended to use their drones for recon on the bridge, but the sheriff's office was still waiting for FAA approval to fly drones in the county.</p> <p>After filming an interview with the HaloDrop representative, we discussed our plans for the rest of the day. Should we watch South Korea do an assault on an armored truck, then head over to see the prison guards evict a right-wing sovereign citizens group? As we talked, the HaloDrop vendor approached. "I'm not getting a good feeling from you guys," he said. He warned us not to use the interview we'd just conducted. He had experience with the courts, he said. "I'll just leave it at that."</p> <p>A few minutes later, a police officer came up to us in the parking lot and asked us to hand over our media badges. His captain had called, he said, and told him we had been filming at an unauthorized location. Where was that? I asked. "I don't know. I assume it's this site."</p> <p>Hours later, I got ahold of Sergeant Nelson, the Urban Shield spokesman. He said we'd been kicked out for "taking photos of an unauthorized area."</p> <p>"What area?" I asked.</p> <p>"I don't know. I assume it was the Bay Bridge."</p> <p>"We were not even near the Bay Bridge."</p> <p>"I don't know what to tell you," he said.</p> <p>It seemed pointless to argue that, in the United States, photographing a bridge does not require police authorization.</p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vj5r3inyugY?rel=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="853"></iframe></div></body></html> Politics Full Width Longreads Video Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Top Stories Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Shane Bauer 261376 at http://www.motherjones.com Canada's Coverage of the Ottawa Shootings Put American Cable News to Shame http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/cbc-ottawa-shootings-cable-news <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking-news reporting.</p> <p>Anchored by the unflappable Peter Mansbridge, news of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/shooting-canadian-parliament-ottawa" target="_blank">shootings in Ottawa</a> unfolded live on the CBC much like they do here in the United States: lots of sketchy details, conflicting reports, unreliable witnesses, and a thick fog of confusion. All of that was familiar. What was less familiar was how Mansbridge and his team managed that confusion, conveying a concise and fact-based version of fast-moving events to viewers across Canada and the world.</p> <p>This live bit of level-headed reporting by Mansbridge, from around 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, should be given to journalism students around the country. It basically contains everything you need to know about why CBC did its audience proud:</p> <blockquote> <p>MANSBRIDGE: And so, the situation is, as we say, tense and unclear. And it's on days like this&mdash;we keep reminding you of this and it's important&mdash;it's on days like this, where a story takes a number of different pathways, a number of changes occur, and often rumors start in a situation like this. We try to keep them out of our coverage, but when they come, sometimes from official sources, like members of Parliament, you tend to give them some credence. But you carefully weigh it with what we're also witnessing. It's clear that the situation is not over. It is clear the police are in an intense standby situation and continue to be on the lookout, and until somebody blows the all-clear on this we will continue to stay on top of it and watch as the events unfold.</p> </blockquote> <p>Watch below, courtesy of the CBC:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MLORytusZ4c" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The broadcast was deliberative and deferential to the facts even when they were sparse. Exacting and painstaking, but never slow or boring, Mansbridge weighed the credibility of every detail, constantly framing and reframing what we knew and, most crucially, <em>how we knew it</em>. He literally <em>spoke</em> the news as it happened, using his experience not to opine nor fill the gaps in his knowledge, but to provide the necessary support for his team's reporting.</p> <p>Getting things wrong during fast-moving live coverage is, of course, common. Coverage of the Washington Navy Yard shooting last year got the details wrong early and often: It misstated the perpetrator's name, age, and how many guns he had. Following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, there was false coverage about the identity of the bombers, and anonymous sources leading journalists to nonexistent bombs and arrests. <em>On the Media</em>'s handy <a href="http://www.onthemedia.org/story/breaking-news-consumers-handbook-pdf/" target="_blank">"breaking news consumer's handbook"</a> is a great roundup of the reporting errors that get repeated every time there is a mass shooting.</p> <p>No newscast, especially live news, is immune to mistakes, and during the initial haze of leads and counterleads, it's easy to point fingers. But for the six-some hours of CBC broadcasting I watched off-and-on (mostly on) today, I never once felt lost in the wall-to-wall speculation that has characterized so many recent breaking-news broadcasts in the United States.</p> <p>It seems like others on Twitter agree that CBC did pretty damn well today:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Exactly right. <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews">@cbcnews</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/petermansbridge">@petermansbridge</a> covered today&rsquo;s awful events properly: calmly, carefully and accurately. <a href="http://t.co/Ij2dOPlGmz">http://t.co/Ij2dOPlGmz</a></p> &mdash; Mike Wickett (@mwickett) <a href="https://twitter.com/mwickett/status/525023274661855232">October 22, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>CBC, by the way, has not gone to break in over two hours. Peter Mansbridge has barely exhaled. Grand work by our public broadcaster.</p> &mdash; Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) <a href="https://twitter.com/ArashMadani/status/524964924033089536">October 22, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>.<a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews">@CBCNews</a> anchor <a href="https://twitter.com/petermansbridge">@petermansbridge</a> has been brilliant today, and US news could learn a lot: <a href="http://t.co/PvnyhNVzLs">http://t.co/PvnyhNVzLs</a> <a href="http://t.co/gKaO6lo6n5">pic.twitter.com/gKaO6lo6n5</a></p> &mdash; Mark Joyella (@standupkid) <a href="https://twitter.com/standupkid/status/524991532454412288">October 22, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Media Top Stories Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:28:39 +0000 James West 263076 at http://www.motherjones.com Climate Change Is Kicking the Insurance Industry's Butt http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/10/climate-insurance <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the months after Hurricane Sandy, insurance companies spooked by rising seas <a href="http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Newsroom/record.cfm?id=344160" target="_blank">dropped coastal policies in droves</a>.</p> <p>That could become an increasingly common story, according to the <a href="https://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/insurer-climate-risk-disclosure-survey-report-scorecard-2014-findings-recommendations/view" target="_blank">largest-ever survey of how insurance companies</a> are dealing with climate change, released today. Global warming is increasing the risk of damage to lives and property from natural disasters beyond what many insurers are willing to shoulder. And most insurance companies aren't taking adequate steps to change that trend, the survey found. That's a problem even if you don't live by the coast: When private insurers back out, the government is left to pick up much of the damage costs; already, the federal flood insurance program is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/hurricane-sandy-global-warming-flooding" target="_blank">one of the nation's largest fiscal liabilities</a>.</p> <p>Ceres, an environmental nonprofit, evaluated the&nbsp;climate risk management policies of 330 large insurance companies operating in the United States. The results are worrying. Only nine companies, 3 percent of the total, earned the highest ranking.</p> <p>The insurers that scored highly on the survey (including several of the world's biggest, such as Munich Re, Swiss Re, and Prudential) were those that have adopted a broad range of climate-conscious products and services, such as rate pricing plans that account for potential climate impacts like storms and fires. Some insurers are also investing in high-end climate modeling software to better understand where their risks really are. Others offer environmentally friendly plans like mileage-based car insurance and encourage their customers to rebuild damaged homes using green technologies. And some insurance companies are making significant efforts to monitor and reduce their own carbon footprint.</p> <p>However, the report finds that one major way insurance companies are adjusting to climate change is by not insuring properties that are threatened by it, said Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a lead author of the report.</p> <p>"As a regulator, it's very bad to see markets being abandoned because of the threat that exists," he said.</p> <p>Certainly the threat is real. Globally, average annual weather-related losses have increased more than tenfold in the last several decades, from $10 billion per year in the period 1974-1983 to $131 billion in 2004-2013, according to the report. The insurance industry is not keeping pace: The proportion of those damages that are insured is steadily declining:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="insurance charts" class="image" src="/files/insurance3.jpg"><div class="caption">Tim McDonnell</div> </div></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/10/climate-insurance"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Corporations Infrastructure Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:33:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263026 at http://www.motherjones.com Map: The Most Popular NFL Teams Everywhere in America—According to Twitter http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/10/nfl-team-twitter-map-popularity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For now, even after all the concussions, the domestic violence, and the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/timeline-history-offensive-sports-mascots-redskins-snyder" target="_blank">still-horribly named</a> team from Washington, DC, Americans still love their pro football. Twitter took a stab at measuring <a href="http://blog.twitter.com/2014/nfl-fan-map-where-are-your-team-s-followers" target="_blank">the popularity of every NFL franchise</a> by looking at the official Twitter handle for each team and then counting followers of those teams in each county. It's an imperfect measure, for sure, but it's a nifty interface and a lot of fun! Take a look:</p> <p><iframe src="https://interactive.twitter.com/nfl_followers2014/#?mode=team&amp;team=all" style="border:none;height:1100px;width:100%;"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Maps Sports Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:39:59 +0000 AJ Vicens 263066 at http://www.motherjones.com Fox News Thinks Young Women Are Too Busy With Tinder to "Get" Voting http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/fox-news-young-women-voting-tinder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, a woman, shared some advice for us <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/10/21/right-wing-media-discourage-young-women-from-vo/201259" target="_blank">feeble-minded young ladies out here</a>: Let's not burden ourselves with voting! After all, we're far too busy swiping for a man on Tinder to cast an educated vote in the midterm elections, or any election for that matter.</p> <p>"It's the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea," Guilfoyle explained to her approving co-hosts. "They don't get it!"</p> <p>"They're not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, health care. They're like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world," she added.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EOY3StMKLME" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>But what to do with all of our overabundant, perky energy?!&nbsp;Guilfoyle says not to worry&ndash;just "go back on Tinder or Match.com" and all will be right in the world.</p> <p>Sigh. For a more detailed look into what a war on voting looks like, check out <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/voting-rights-november-voter-suppression-states" target="_blank">our coverage here. </a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Elections Media Sex and Gender Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:09:40 +0000 Inae Oh 263056 at http://www.motherjones.com