MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en The Science of How Gay Marriage Will Destroy America <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case that could legalize same-sex marriage in every state by the end of the court's term in June. To stop that from happening, supporters of the state-level bans that could be in jeopardy have filed 66 friend-of-the-court briefs, offering <a href="" target="_blank">a host</a> of social, political, and scientific reasons the court should uphold existing state bans.</p> <p>These briefs fall into a few categories. The more temperate ones <a href="" target="_blank">argue</a> that marriage should be decided at the state level&mdash;an attempt to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy without disparaging same-sex unions. Others are more dramatic in tone, such as a <a href="" target="_blank">brief</a> from the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative group in Texas, that predicts legalizing same-sex marriage would be "analogous overreaching" to "this Court's misguided attempt to impose its views on the entire country in Dred Scott," the 1857 decision often cited as one of the causes of the Civil War.</p> <p>Opponents have also tried to demonstrate more specific social harms from gay marriage in their briefs. As <em>SCOTUSblog</em>'s Lyle Denniston <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> recently, they don't want to be caught flat-footed this time around, as they were during the Proposition 8 case over California's same-sex marriage ban. Asked how same-sex marriages would harm opposite-sex marriages during 2009 pretrial hearing in that case, conservative lawyer Chuck Cooper <a href="" target="_blank">admitted</a>, "Your Honor, my answer is: I don't know."</p> <p>Referring to the California case, attorney Gene Schaerr, who helped coordinate some of the briefs in support of the gay-marriage bans, told the <em>National Law Journal</em> recently that he "looked back at the amicus briefs<em>" </em>filed in that case. "[O]ur side had not made as powerful a social science case for the traditional definition of marriage as could be made," said Schaerr, formerly of Winston &amp; Strawn, which defended Utah's gay marriage ban last year.</p> <p>This time around, Schaerr and his allies want to avoid that mistake. Here are a few of the scientific reasons submitted to the Supreme Court from the opponents of same-sex marriage:</p> <p><strong>Same-sex marriage will cause an additional 900,000 abortions: </strong>As Schaerr, the chief author of this amicus brief, <a href="" target="_blank">admits</a>, "abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated." But, he has found a connection. Schaerr, writing on behalf of "100 scholars of marriage," <a href="" target="_blank">argues</a> that states with same-sex marriage have seen a decline in opposite-sex marriage by "[at] least five percent." Schaerr extrapolates this 5 percent figure, concluding that over the next 30-year "fertility cycle," nearly 1.3 million women will forego marriage. Arguing that unmarried women are more likely to get abortions, Schaerr calculates an additional 900,000 abortions. But, he <a href="" target="_blank">acknowledged</a>&nbsp;to the <em>Washington Post</em> last week, "it is still too new to do a rigorous causation analysis using statistical methods."</p> <p><strong>The "homosexual experience" leads to "early death": </strong>This is the argument put forward by Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions, an advocacy group that supports the "national policy aims" of the former Arkansas governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate, and the Family Research Institute, the "anti-gay movement's main source for&hellip;completely discredited junk science" on LGBT people, <a href="" target="_blank">according to</a> the Southern Poverty Law Center.&nbsp; Their <a href="" target="_blank">brief</a> argues that "consistent evidence indicates that individuals who engage in homosexuality experience significantly higher mortality rates than those who do not."</p> <p><strong>Children of same-sex marriages are disadvantaged:</strong> The Ruth Institute, a San Diego-based group that appears to be run by one woman,&nbsp;Jennifer Roback Morse, and seeks to address "the lies of the Sexual Revolution," <a href="" target="_blank">argues</a> that the "'consensus' that 'the kids are ok' has been manufactured by systematically excluding evidence" that they are not okay. The group is particularly worried about children not having a biological connection to both parents and predicts "social chaos, by creating a world in which families are determined by policy, rather than biology."</p> <p><strong>Same-sex marriage will hurt underprivileged women and children:</strong> A group that describes itself as "scholars of the effects that marriage law has on the welfare of women, children, and underprivileged populations," and including <a href="" target="_blank">gay marriage foe</a> Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, <a href="" target="_blank">claim</a> that marriage is particularly helpful to the stability and economic status of poor Americans. But redefining marriage, they argue, would create a new era "where men and women are viewed as interchangeable, nonessential facets of family life; and where the law has cemented marriage as a mere governmental capstone of a loving relationship." Without marriage's "historical" focus on procreation and stability, single mothers will end up raising children on their own, hurting their economic outlook.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Gay Rights Supreme Court Top Stories Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Pema Levy 274196 at Book Review: "Bringing Down Gaddafi" by Andrei Netto <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bringing-down-gaddafi-250x300.png"></div> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Bringing Down Gaddafi</strong></a></p> <p>By Andrei Netto</p> <p>PALGRAVE MACMILLAN</p> <p>Andrei Netto snuck into Libya in 2011, during the heady days of the Arab Spring, and found rebels of "noble, almost poetic aspirations." He stayed long enough to see the revolution's moral downfall, culminating in the execution of deposed dictator Moammar Gaddafi. This riveting account is a tale of mercenaries and freedom fighters, corrupt politicians, and war crimes on all sides. But Netto also highlights the humanity of the civilians caught in the middle, and their ongoing struggle for a stable and peaceful nation.</p></body></html> Media Books Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Bryan Schatz 272876 at Pepsi Is Ditching One Fake Sweetener, But What About The Rest? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/SODA_630x630.jpg"><div class="caption">Alexei Vella</div> </div> <p>Junk-food giant PepsiCo is preparing to make the biggest change to its Diet Pepsi brand in three decades, <em>Bloomberg News</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>: it's nixing the controversial low-calorie sweetener aspartame. In its place, Diet Pepsi will get its sweet jolt from a mix of sucralose and acesulfame potassium. The apparent reason for the shake-up: Diet Pepsi sales plunged 5.2 percent last year, Bloomberg noted. Rival Diet Coke fared even worse, enduring 6.6 percent drop in sales (though Coke is clinging fast to aspartame). What gives?</p> <p>Even with the recent consumer turn away from these once-formidable products, the lure of sweet-but-virtuous soda is still going strong&mdash;and goes back decades. Recently, I came across one from a 1966 glossy magazine featuring a close-up shot of a supple-lipped woman filling a glass with Tab, Coca-Cola's original diet soda. "One crazy calorie in every six ounces," the copy purrs, with a Don Draper-ish flourish: "Like everything now, a little crazy, but wow."</p> <p>Today, diet drinks make up 27.5 percent of the $76.3 billion US soft-drink market, according to <em>Beverage Digest</em>. And artificial sweeteners don't just work their magic on sodas. They also appear in stuff like Minute Maid Light Orange Juice, Quaker "25% less sugar" granola bars, and Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins. A 2012 <a href="" target="_blank">study by Emory University researchers</a> found that nearly a quarter of adults and 12.5 percent of children regularly consumed artificially sweetened beverages. Globally, the market for low-calorie foods and drinks will hit $10.4 billion by 2019, up from today's $7.4 billion, <a href="" target="_blank">predicts the firm Transparency Market Research</a>. Prominent medical groups approve: The American Diabetes Association, for example, <a href="" target="_blank">recommends</a> diet soda as an alternative to the real stuff.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2015/04/diet-soda-pepsi-aspartame"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Food and Ag Health Top Stories Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:00:06 +0000 Tom Philpott 265406 at Tales From City of Hope #8: The Day +3 Cake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_day3_cake.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">As promised, the Day +3 cake arrived today, produced with a mother's love along with an assist from Duncan Hines. That's the childhood formula, so that's what I got. I will spend the next few days in a chocolate coma.</p> <p>Marian visited today too, which was a good thing. My fatigue is getting ever worse, and when I got back from my daily hydration I pretty much crashed for two hours. So the visit was mostly between Marian and my mother. I woke up just in time to say goodbye. Before I crashed, however, I did get this badly-composed selfie of the three of us, all sporting our now-stylish surgical masks. Enjoy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_three_amigos.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 27 Apr 2015 03:45:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 274261 at Quote of the Day: George Bush Still in Foreign Policy Denial <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>From Bloomberg's Josh Rogin, after reading a transcript of George W. Bush's remarks on the Middle East to a <a href="" target="_blank">closed-door meeting with Jewish donors this weekend:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep, that sounds like the George Bush we all came to know and love. My favorite quote: "In order to be an effective president ... when you say something you have to mean it," he said. "You gotta kill em."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Bush Foreign Policy Mon, 27 Apr 2015 01:57:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 274256 at This Video of the Moment the Avalanche Hit Everest Basecamp Is Terrifying <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">"The ground is shaking,"</a> a man's voice says, sounding incredulous. "Shit," he says, amid giggles of disbelief from others. Then, seconds later, the camera swings around to see something truly horrifying: a wall of snow and debris descending from all directions, about to engulf a collection of tents.</p> <p>The video was uploaded to a YouTube channel operated by Jost Kobusch, <a href="" target="_blank">a German mountaineer</a> <a href="" target="_blank">attempting to climb Everest</a>, on Sunday. The title suggests that the footage captures one of the avalanches that struck Mount Everest during the massive quake that hit Nepal on Saturday, <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=a-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">killing more than 2,400 people and injuring about 5,900</a>. <a href="" target="_blank">Kobusch also posted the video to his Twitter account</a>&mdash;though it's still unclear if he took the footage himself; <em>Mother Jones </em>has reached out to him for confirmation. Nepalese officials say that multiple avalanches triggered by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">killed at least 17 climbers and injured at least 37 others</a>, with <a href="" target="_blank">many still unaccounted for</a>.</p> <p><strong>Warning: </strong>this video contains repeated explicit language, and is simply very scary, as it documents the climbers sheltering in a tent, and the intense panic in the immediate aftermath of the avalanche:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Environment Video International Top Stories Sun, 26 Apr 2015 21:32:18 +0000 James West 274251 at The Law, In Its Finnish Majesty.... <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Finland, a speeding ticket costs you more if you're rich than if you're poor. Fair enough, perhaps. "The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too," says the <em>New York Times</em>.</p> <p>In any case, I already knew this. <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">What I didn't know was the formula:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The fines are calculated based on half an offender&rsquo;s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.</p> <p>Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.</p> <p>Mr. Kuisla, a betting man who parlayed his winnings into a real estate empire, was clocked speeding near the Seinajoki airport. Given the speed he was going, Mr. Kuisla was assessed eight days. His fine was then calculated from his 2013 income, 6,559,742 euros, or more than $7 million at current exchange rates.</p> </blockquote> <p>Sadly for Reima Kuisla, he was clocked at 103 kph, which set him back a whopping 54,024 euros. However, if he'd been traveling just 3 kph slower, his fine would have been only 100 euros. No matter what you think of the social justice of this system, that does seem like a bit of a steep spike, doesn't it?</p> <p>Here in America, though, perhaps we have different priorities. What minor but annoying infractions would you like to apply this system to here in the good 'ol USA?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 26 Apr 2015 17:04:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 274246 at Why CNN Wouldn't Cut Away From White House Shindig To Cover Huge Freddie Gray Protest <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As politicians, celebrities, and journalists gathered for the <a href="" target="_blank">annua</a>l White House Correspondents' Dinner last night in D.C., just miles away in Baltimore, Maryland, a big crowd marched to protest the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. By Saturday evening, <a href="" target="_blank">12 people</a> were reported arrested as some in the largely peaceful crowd threw rocks and smashed windows, and the jumbotron at the Baltimore Orioles game <a href="" target="_blank">warned</a> fans to stay inside.</p> <p>But you wouldn't have known any of that from CNN, which chose to stick with live coverage of every second of the White House dinner. "The most powerful man in the world is going to tell some jokes," contributor Errol Louis explained, with scenes of the gala in the background. If you wanted to know what was going on with the rallies, you could "find a live feed" somewhere, he said&mdash;just not, evidently, on America's 24-hour news network.</p> <p>"We sort of make our best choices, and we'll catch up," Louis said. "They'll find out all of what happened in the streets of Baltimore by this time tomorrow."&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Media Obama Race and Ethnicity Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:06:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274241 at Obama Just Burned GOP Climate Deniers In "Anger Translator" Rant <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Toward the end of his annual speech to the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in the nation's capital Saturday night, President Obama got "angry." Aided by Luther, his "anger translator" (a character played by <a href="" target="_blank">Comedy Central's Keegan-Michael Key</a>, from the TV show <em>Key and Peele</em>), President Obama launched into an epic tirade against climate deniers on Capitol Hill.</p> <p>For those who aren't familiar with the set-up of the skit featured on <em>Key and Peele</em>: "No-drama Obama" (played by Jordan Peele) can't risk getting angry in public, so Luther translates what he's really thinking, behind all the political soft-ball rhetoric. <a href="" target="_blank">It's quite brilliant</a>.</p> <p>When the real Obama got around to mentioning the big challenge of climate change on Saturday, Luther chimed in, filling in Obama's supposedly unspoken rage: "California is bone-dry! It looks like the trailer for the new <em>Max Max</em> movie. You think Bradley Cooper came here because he wanted to talk to Chuck Todd? He wanted a glass of water! Come on!"</p> <p>Eventually, though, Obama didn't need his anger translator anymore:</p> <p>"Look at what's happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act," Obama said, pitch and volume rising. "The Pentagon says it's a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing anything about it, we've got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate! It is crazy! What about our kids?! What kind of stupid, short-sighted, irresponsible..."</p> <p>Luther finally intervenes:</p> <p>"With all due respect, sir? You don't need an anger translator. You need counseling."</p></body></html> Politics Video Climate Change Climate Desk Top Stories Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:57:46 +0000 James West 274236 at This Was Pretty Good/Sad/Awful <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I haven't liked Cecily Strong's speech tonight very much but this was pretty good/sad/awful.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>"Let's give it up for the Secret Service, the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot"</p> &mdash; Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) <a href="">April 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:05:35 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274231 at