MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Michele Bachmann Just Posted One of the Most Hateful Obama Rants You'll Ever Read <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Michele Bachmann was a member of the United States House of Representatives for 8 years. Here's a thing she just <a href="" target="_blank">wrote on Facebook</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-01%20at%208.19.40%20PM.png"><div class="caption">Facebook</div> </div> <p>I need a drink.</p> <p><strong>Update</strong>: <em>The Washington Examiner</em>'s T. Becket Adams noted earlier today <a href="" target="_blank">that this is a day old and no one noticed</a>. Once upon a time the media would have pounced on anything Bachmann wrote this incendiary. We had Google alerts set up, damnit! Now? It took a day for the national media to stumble on to this. I mean, I guess this could be considered...progress?</p></body></html> Contributor Thu, 02 Apr 2015 00:35:53 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272966 at Here's How Many McDonald's Workers Aren't Getting Raises <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>On Wednesday, McDonald's announced that starting this July, it will increase wages for the 90,000 workers who are directly employed by one of the company's restaurants. The plan is to bring the current hourly wage up by $1; the average McDonald's employee will make $9.90 by July and $10 by 2016. Benefits like paid vacation time will be available for employees who have worked for the company for more than a year.</p> <p>The raise, however, only applies to employees of the actual restaurant. The 750,000 workers employed by franchises, which make up 90 percent of McDonald's restaurants, are not included in this wage hike.</p> <p>"The fact that a $1.00 raise for 90,000 workers is headline news is evidence of how low the bar has been set," the Economic Policy Institute noted in a statement. "All workers should receive regular wage increases as productivity rises, and yet despite rising productivity, Americans' wages have been stagnant for three-and-a-half decades."</p> <p>The battle over meager fast food pay has been in the spotlight since November 2012, when the <a href="" target="_blank">Fight for $15</a> campaign began with 200 New York fast food workers talking part in a walk out. Since then, the group, which protests for a minimum wage of $15 and the right to organize, has grown into a national movement. This past September, more than 400 individuals were arrested in 32 cities during a Fight for $15 <a href="" target="_blank">multi-state strike</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Much of the frustration over wage inequity stems from the gaps between worker pay and the large sums that CEOs of fast food companies are raking in. In 2013, the EPI published a report which found that those at the helm of the nation's top 25 restaurant corporations were bringing in an average of 721 times more than the average minimum wage worker.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>"It's a picture of uncontrolled greed," EPI vice president Ross Eisenbrey <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> my colleague Jaeah Lee this past summer. "How can it be that the CEOs are making more in half a day than many of their workers are making in an entire year&mdash;and yet they can't afford to raise the pay of those workers?"</p> <p>The answer many franchise owners give when asked about wage hikes is that their profit margins are too thin to support any employee pay increases. It's worth noting, though, that in Denmark, the base rate for fast food workers is $20 an hour. This past fall <em>New York Times</em> reporters Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse <a href="" target="_blank">wondered</a>: "If Danish chains can pay $20 an hour, why can&rsquo;t those in the United States pay the $15 an hour that many fast-food workers have been clamoring for?"</p></body></html> Politics Corporations Food and Ag Human Rights Income Inequality Labor Top Stories mcdonalds Thu, 02 Apr 2015 00:14:01 +0000 Allie Gross 272941 at Sen. Bob Menendez Was Just Charged With Bribery. Read the Indictment. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, federal prosecutors indicted Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on charges of bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, and making false statements. Salomon Melgen, a top Menendez benefactor and Florida opthalmologist, was named as a co-conspirator in the 22-count indictment. The feds allege that Melgen provided Menendez with private airfare and free accommodations at the donor's luxury resort in the Dominican Republic. In exchange, Menendez helped "influence the immigration visa proceedings of Melgen's foreign girlfriends" and pressured the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to protect the doctor's business interests.</p> <p>Menendez will hold a press conference in Newark on Wednesday night to address the allegations.</p> <p>You can read the full indictment here:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-210915">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script></body></html> Politics Congress Crime and Justice Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 21:29:55 +0000 Tim Murphy 272926 at Chris Rock Is Taking a Selfie Every Time He Gets Pulled Over by the Police <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>"Stopped by the cops&nbsp;again wish me luck."</p> <p>That's the message Chris Rock paired with a selfie on Monday, capturing what is apparently the <a href="" target="_blank">third time </a>in just seven weeks the comedian has been pulled over by police. It's not known why police stopped Rock during these three separate incidents, but the succinct caption alone sums up what's clearly a routine event for him as a black man in America driving what we can assume is a nice car.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/rocktweet.png" style="height: 700px; width: 500px;"></a></div> <p>Rock has long been a vocal critic of racial profiling. In a December interview with <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York</em></a><em> </em>magazine, Rock talked candidly about the everyday racism he encounters with his family, despite being one of the most well-known and respected comedians in the country. "I mean, I almost cry every day," <a href="" target="_blank">he told Frank Rich.</a> "I drop my kids off and watch them in the school with all these mostly white kids, and I got to tell you, I drill them every day: Did anything happen today? Did anybody say anything? They look at me like I am crazy."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/screen%20shot%202015-04-01%20at%207.15.56%20am.png" style="height: 576px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">WhoSay</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chris%20rock.png" style="height: 311px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption">WhoSay</div> </div> <p>In 2013, while filming an episode of <em>Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee</em>, Rock and Jerry Seinfeld were <a href="" target="_blank">pulled over </a>by New Jersey police for speeding. "It would be such a better episode if he pulls me to the side and beats the shit out of me," Rock jokingly tells Seinfeld. "If you weren't here, I'd be scared. Yeah, I'm famous&mdash;still black."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Film and TV Media Race and Ethnicity Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:23:30 +0000 Inae Oh 272861 at NYC Doctors Allegedly Used Free Shoes to Lure Homeless Into Medicaid Fraud <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Nine New York City physicians and 14 other medical workers have been charged with fraudulently billing Medicaid $7 million dollars in expenses for homeless and poor patients whom they convinced to undergo unnecessary medical testing in exchange for free shoes, <a href="" target="_blank">Reuters</a> reports.</p> <p>Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement: "<span id="articleText">These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so." </span></p> <p><span>The doctors allegedly offered the "guinea pigs"&mdash;as the medical workers referred to the homeless and poor patients they recruited from shelters and welfare centers&mdash;a free pair of kicks if they produced a Medicaid card and agreed to have their feet examined. Prosecutors said that in some cases the patients underwent unneeded physical therapy, extensive testing that sometimes lasted days, and were given leg braces and other pieces of equipment they had no use for.</span></p> <p><span id="articleText">Daniel Coyne, deputy Medicaid inspector general for investigations, told Reuters that </span><span>by getting the arbitrary testing, the patients' actual medical problems could have gone untreated.&nbsp; </span></p> <p><span>If convicted, the doctors face up to 25 years in prison.</span></p></body></html> Politics Health Health Care Human Rights Income Inequality Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:20:00 +0000 Bryan Schatz 272846 at This Letter From a Gay Veteran's Brother Is the Most Heartbreaking Response to Indiana's Law We've Read Yet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday morning, Indiana's largest newspaper, the <em>Indianapolis Star</em>, published a full <a href="" target="_blank">front-page editorial</a> calling on Gov. Mike Pence to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the new bill that has incited national furor because it allows businesses to refuse service to gay people, citing their religious beliefs.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/CBZFU8uVIAAlJjE-1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Tuesday's Indianapolis Star. </strong>@markalesia/Twitter</div> </div> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>By the end of the day, the paper received a heartbreaking letter from Nick Crews of Plainfield. Crews writes about walking his dogs to the local market that morning to pick up two copies of the day's <em>Star</em>, something he never does. He continues:</p> <blockquote> <p>With the papers under my arm, I walked to Plainfield's Maple Hill Cemetery, and found my brother's grave. My brother, who had been a troubled Vietnam War vet, was gay at a time when being gay was a very difficult thing to be. When he died of AIDS in 1985 in a far-off city, his refuge from his closed-minded native state, some in our family were sufficiently ashamed that his cause of death was not discussed.</p> <p>At the grave I opened the <em>Star</em>. I said, "Well, Charlie, times have changed, thank God. It turns out you were on the right side of history after all." Then I read aloud as much of the paper's editorial as tears would let me get through.</p> <p>And today I'm doing what I never thought I'd do. I'm renewing my subscription to the<em> Star</em>. I'm doing this because, if for no other reason, I believe we must all support those who stand against discrimination and for inclusiveness. I do it too as thanks to the <em>Star</em> whose courage and right-mindedness on this issue made this moment of personal closure possible for me.</p> </blockquote> <p>Read his entire letter <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights Media Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:57:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272826 at Arkansas Governor Asks For Changes to Religious Freedom Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for changes in the state's <a href="" target="_blank">controversial religious freedom bill</a> on Wednesday, amid mounting criticism from businesses, local leaders, gay rights advocates, and even members of his own family.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hutchinson said in a press conference that he would not sign the bill as presented to his desk and&nbsp;asked state lawmakers to change the bill's language to "mirror"&nbsp;the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Twenty other states, including Indiana,&nbsp;have similar <a href="" target="_blank">religious freedom legislation</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial,"&nbsp;Hutchinson <a href="" target="_blank">told reporters</a>. "But these are not ordinary times."</p> <p>In a press conference on Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whose state has also faced a barrage of criticism from <a href="" target="_blank">businesses, celebrities and athletes alike</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">called on lawmakers</a> to clarify Indiana's religious freedom bill that "makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone." &nbsp;</p> <p>Though Hutchinson had once said he would approve the bill with amendments, the governor <a href="" target="_blank">shifted his stance</a> after <a href="" target="_blank">receiving backlash</a> from local leaders and businesses,&nbsp;including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who called on the governor to veto the bill.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Today's passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold,"&nbsp;McMillon said <a href="" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation."</p> <p>Hutchinson <a href="" target="_blank">told reporters</a> that the controversial legislation, which critics say would allow individuals and&nbsp;businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians, hit home. His son, Seth, a labor organizer with the Texas State Employees Union, asked him to veto the legislation. "I love my dad, and we have a good, close relationship," Hutchinson's son&nbsp;<a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">told the <i>New York Times</i></a>. "But we disagree a lot on political issues. This is just another one, but a lot of families disagree politically. But we stay close."</p> <p>"The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions," Hutchinson said. "It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue."</p> <p>The Arkansas General Assembly has not yet agreed to recall and amend the bill. The governor declined to say whether he would veto the bill if it returned to his desk unchanged.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Gay Rights Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:21:41 +0000 Edwin Rios 272811 at For the First Time, California Is Enforcing Water Restrictions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced <a href="" target="_blank">mandatory water restrictions</a> for the first time in the state's history. The announcement follows a drought of more than<a href="" target="_blank"> three years</a>, which has officials worrying that Californians may have only <a href="" target="_blank">one year</a> of drinking water left.</p> <p>The regulations require California cities to decrease water use by 25 percent, though, crucially, only requires agricultural users to report their water use and submit drought management plans. Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of California's water usage. (For more drought background, check out our past coverage on <a href="" target="_blank">agricultural</a> water use&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">almonds</a> are the biggest suck&mdash;and <a href="" target="_blank">municipal</a> water use.)</p> <p>From the <a href="" target="_blank">press release</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The following is a summary of the executive order issued by the Governor today.</p> <p>Save Water</p> <p>For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville.</p> <p>To save more water now, the order will also:</p> <p>Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments;<br> Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and<br> Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.</p> <p>Increase Enforcement</p> <p>The Governor&rsquo;s order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.</p> <p>Agricultural water users &ndash; which have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off &ndash; will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state's ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today&rsquo;s order. Additionally, the Governor&rsquo;s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.</p> <p>Additional actions required by the order include:</p> <p>Taking action against water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state;<br> Updating standards for toilets and faucets and outdoor landscaping in residential communities and taking action against communities that ignore these standards; and<br> Making permanent monthly reporting of water usage, conservation and enforcement actions by local water suppliers.</p> <blockquote>&nbsp;</blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Top Stories Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Julia Lurie 272816 at Once Again, We Are Unlearning the Lesson of the Great Debt Bubble <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Is this good news?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Millions of Americans unable to obtain credit cards, mortgages and auto loans from banks will receive a boost with the launch of a new credit score <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Credit_Score.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">aimed at consumers regarded as too risky by lenders.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's more:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The new score is largely a response to banks&rsquo; desire to boost lending volumes by increasing loan originations to borrowers who otherwise wouldn&rsquo;t qualify,</strong> many of whom tend to be charged more for loans....The new score, which isn&rsquo;t yet named, will be calculated based on consumers&rsquo; payment history with their cable, cellphone, electric and gas bills, as well as how often they change addresses and other factors.</p> <p>....The new score could help applicants who don&rsquo;t use credit often but are responsible with their monthly payments to get approved for financing....But many borrowers who don&rsquo;t have a traditional FICO score are very risky.</p> <p>....Besides increasing their pool of borrowers and loan originations, banks stand to earn more in interest revenue from riskier borrowers. Lenders charge higher interest rates and in some cases extra fees to borrowers who present a higher risk of falling behind on debt payments.</p> </blockquote> <p>Color me deeply skeptical. Helping people who are denied credit simply because they don't currently use any credit sounds great. And assessing them by their reliability in paying normal monthly bills sounds perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>But I very much doubt this is really the target of this initiative. After all, people with no previous credit history already have access to credit. They just have to start slowly, with low credit limits and so forth. This new scoring system probably won't change that.</p> <p>What it will do is give banks an excuse to extend high-cost credit to risky borrowers&mdash;exactly the same thing they did during the housing bubble. As you may recall, that didn't turn out well, and there was a simple reason: risky borrowers are risky for a reason. When banks start to get too loose with their lending standards they end up dealing with default rates much higher than they expected.</p> <p>This won't happen right away, of course. Banks will be relatively cautious at first. They always are. But just wait a few years and it will be a different story. Then the standards will be lowered just a little too far, the rocket scientists will do their thing, and we'll be headed toward yet another debt crisis.</p> <p>This is almost certainly a bad idea. We'd all like to see everyone get a chance, but there are good reasons to restrict credit to borrowers who are likely to repay. We should remember that.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Megan McArdle has a different take <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a> I'm skeptical, but it's worth reading.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:41:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 272801 at This Is the Only Funny April Fools' Prank That Has Ever Been Pulled <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's April Fools' Day! <em>Or is it?</em> It is. But how could you know? I'm just some schmuck stating a fact. On most days you could believe me&mdash;but on this day, April 1, according to tradition, anything stated as fact must be viewed with suspicion. Because it's April Fools', and on April Fools' otherwise normal, sane, decent, jazzy, fun, neat, and cool people lie. For no real reason, really. Rarely are the lies <em>funny</em>. Mostly they're just "haha, I tricked you into believing something that could be true but isn't. GULLIBLE IS WRITTEN IN THE SKY, DIPSHIT."</p> <p>The internet is so awful on April Fools'. It makes me want to put a knife in my head. The information superhighway is filled with hoaxes and bullshit on a normal day! On April Fools' Day, it's extra unreliable. Sometimes the "pranks" aren't even pranks. Here is the <a href="" target="_blank">front page of Amazon today</a>:</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-01%20at%2012.30.21%20PM.png"></a></p> <p>"Whoa, what happened to Amazon? This new design is crazy! It looks like it's from like olden days or something! Oh, snap! It's an April Fools' Day prank! This corporate web portal just S-E-R-V-E-D me good." Except, not really, because it says in big bright words " has gone retro&mdash;April Fools." It's explaining it's own awful prank. It's supposed to be what? Cute? Is that what April Fools' Day is now? An opportunity for #brands to be #cute? It's ironic because in reality April Fools' is about misleading people and #brands spend every day doing that.</p> <p>To be totally real, April Fools' essentially exists to allow boring unfunny people to let loose one day a year by lying to their friends and colleagues.</p> <p>Want an April Fools' joke? Here's an April Fools' joke:</p> <blockquote> <p>Man runs into apartment. A beautiful woman with a very sad way about her is there. He says, "honey, baby doll, light of my life, I love you!" "Leave me alone," she says. "No, honey, you don't understand. I did it." "Did what?" "I left her! I left my wife!" He shows her his left hand. There is no ring on his ring finger. She's overjoyed. She jumps into his arms, wraps her legs around him, kisses him hard and long, and they fall back onto her bed and make passionate love. Then the guy gets out of bed, puts the ring back on his finger and says, "April Fools'!"</p> </blockquote> <p>Resolved: April Fools' is evil. (And <a href="" target="_blank">OVER</a>.)</p> <p>However there was once a funny April Fools' prank. It happened once and only once and it will be told about in stories for generations to come:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/enhanced-buzz-29343-1333291880-21.jpg"><div class="caption">Greg Stekelman</div> </div> <p>In 2012, this <a href="" target="_blank">image</a> made the <a href="" target="_blank">rounds</a> on the <a href="" target="_blank">internet</a> purporting to show how the BBC "won April Fools" with a great prank. (For some reason many news organizations prank their readers on April 1.) But it was not the case. It was actually a joke created by <a href="" target="_blank">writer Greg Stekelman</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>The BBC have outdone themselves with this year's April Fools joke. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Greg (@themanwhofell) <a href="">April 1, 2012</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>As he put it in a <a href="" target="_blank">comment</a> on this <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Gothamist</em> post</a>, "It seems ironic that an article about April Fools you didn't take the time to check whether the article was actually from the BBC. I thought it would be fun to do an April Fools' story that was so implausible that no one would think it was real. Oh well."</p> <p>So on April 1 let us think of Greg Stekelman, the man who told the only funny April Fools' joke ever.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:56:23 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272766 at