MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/favicon.ico/sites/all/modules/patched/service_links/images/digg.png http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en I'm Pretty Thankful This Year. Here's Why. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/im-pretty-thankful-year-heres-why <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You might not expect someone who was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago to be feeling especially thankful right now. And it's true that I'm not excited about either the cancer itself or the fairly miserable effects of the weekly chemotherapy that's treating it. Nevertheless, this episode of my life has gotten me thinking about thankfulness, and it's been on my mind for a while now. I know this is a little out of character, but allow me to share this with you in my usual bloggish way today.</p> <p>The whole thing started on the evening of October 17th, when I sneezed hard and injured my back. On the morning of Saturday the 18th I couldn't move enough to get out of bed. Here's what happened next.</p> <p>Marian called 911. Within ten minutes a troop of firefighters and paramedics were at our door. They hauled me downstairs on a stretcher, and ten minutes later I was in the emergency room. Over the next couple of hours I was tended to by an attentive staff of nurses and doctors. Blood was drawn, X-rays were taken, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_thanksgiving.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">painkillers were administered. By a little after noon, a preliminary diagnosis of possible multiple myeloma had been made and I was admitted to the hospital.</p> <p>The hospital was clean and efficient. My room was comfortable and private and had plenty of room for visitors. Over the course of the next few days, a rotating squadron of nurses took care of me. Biopsies were done. Medication was prescribed. A kyphoplasty was performed to stabilize my back. The myeloma diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday, and I was started on chemotherapy a few hours later. It was superb, unstinting care.</p> <p>The day after I was released from the hospital, Marian and I went shopping and spent several thousand dollars on new furniture that my back could tolerate. A few days after that we got an enormous bill for the hospital stay, but it was nearly entirely paid for by insurance. The balance was something we could easily afford.</p> <p>In short, everything that happened after that fateful sneeze has demonstrated just how lucky I am. I got immediate, skilled treatment. I have great health insurance. I have a good job and no money problems. I work at home and can set my own hours&mdash;and I even have a job I like so much it actually <em>helps</em> me weather the treatment. I work for editors who are completely understanding about what I'm going through and want only for me to recover. I have family and friends who care about me and are endlessly willing to help. And most of all, I have a wife who loves me and is always, always, always there for me.</p> <p>There is nothing more I could want. I'm even thankful for the sneeze. It hurt like hell, but it's the thing that got me to the hospital in the first place. Without it, I wouldn't be recovering as I write this.</p> <p>So sure: cancer sucks. But how many people who go through it have all this? Not many. Some have money problems. Some have work problems. Some are on their own. Some have lousy or nonexistent health insurance. Some get inadequate treatment. I have none of those problems. I am lucky almost beyond belief.</p> <p>And one more thing: health care is suddenly a lot more real to me than ever before. Sure, I've always favored universal health care as a policy position. But now? It's all I can do to wonder why anyone, no matter how principled their beliefs, would want to deny the kind of care I've gotten to even a single person. Not grudging, bare-bones care that's an endless nightmare of stress and bill collectors. Decent, generous care that the richest country in the richest era in human history can easily afford.</p> <p>Why wouldn't you want that for everyone? It beggars the imagination.</p> <p>In any case, that's what I got&mdash;that and a lot more. And I am thankful for it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 265561 at http://www.motherjones.com 5 Key Inconsistencies in What Happened During the Michael Brown Shooting http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/inconsistencies-what-happened-during-michael-brown-shooting <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Since the St. Louis County prosecutor's office <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/here-are-transcripts-and-audio-darren-wilsons-grand-jury-hearing" target="_blank">released a trove</a> of documents and evidence reviewed by the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/darren-wilson-grand-jury-decision-ferguson-police-prosecutions" target="_blank">grand jury</a> that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/ferguson-darren-wilson-grand-jury-decision-reaction" target="_blank">decided to not</a> indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, there have been numerous reports pointing out the discrepancies between Wilson's and various witness accounts of what happened on the day that Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. While the grand jury has put an end to the state's case against Wilson, questions about witness accounts could still sway the outcome of the Justice Department's ongoing investigation. The <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/ferguson-grand-jury-findings/" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/11/25/7287443/dorian-johnson-story" target="_blank"><em>Vox</em></a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/in-grand-jury-testimony-passion-but-little-agreement-from-witnesses/article_f2fc0e21-dc59-59bf-82bc-c0f35fd40572.html" target="_blank"><em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em></a>, <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/newly-released-witness-testimony-tell-us-michael-brown-shooting/#.VHZ4k0lpfdc.twitter" target="_blank"><em>PBS</em></a>, and the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/ferguson-grand-jury-transcripts-show-widely-varying-witness-testimony-1416948406" target="_blank"><em>Wall Street Journal</em></a> have reported on these different accounts in further detail, especially the differences between the testimonies of Wilson and Dorian Johnson, a friend who was with Brown when Wilson approached them. We matched those accounts up with McCulloch's statement during his announcement of the grand jury decision. Here are five key discrepancies:</p> <p><strong>1. What happened during Wilson's initial encounter with Brown and Dorian Johnson?</strong></p> <p><strong>Prosecutor Robert McCulloch</strong>: Wilson saw Brown and Johnson in the street, slowed down and told them to get on the sidewalk, and words were exchanged.</p> <p><strong>Darren Wilson</strong>: Wilson saw Brown and Dorian Johnson walking in the middle of the road. He told Johnson and Brown to get on the sidewalk. He noticed Brown was holding Cigarillos and remembered the report about the theft.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190071">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190071.js'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190317">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190317.js'); </script><p><strong>Dorian Johnson</strong>: Brown stole the Cigarillos from the Ferguson Market and then the two of them were walking toward their apartments as Wilson passed. Wilson told them to "Get the fuck on the sidewalk."</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190094">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190094.js'); </script><p><strong>2. How did the situation escalate?</strong></p> <p><strong>McCulloch</strong>: Wilson reverses his car at an angle, blocking traffic and Brown and Johnson's path. Wilson and Brown get into an altercation, with Wilson still in the car and Brown standing at the driver's window.</p> <p><strong>Wilson</strong>: After Wilson told Brown and Johnson to get on the sidewalk, he says he heard Brown respond "fuck what you have to say." He backed the car up to contain them, and asks Brown to come over to the car. He starts to get out of the car and Brown slams the door shut and says "what the fuck are you going to do about it."</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190078">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190078.js'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190063">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190063.js'); </script><p><strong>Johnson</strong>: Johnson says neither he nor Brown said a word and Wilson reversed his car unexpectedly, then opened his door and hit both him and Brown, and the door bounced back closed. Wilson then grabbed Brown by the shirt around his neck.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190093">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190093.js'); </script><p><strong>3. What exactly happened during Wilson and Brown's "tussle"?</strong></p> <p><strong>McCulloch</strong>: McCulloch says witness statements were inconsistent, with some saying Brown was never in the car at all, and others saying Brown was punching Wilson, some saying they were wrestling, and another saying that it was a tug-of-war. Two shots are fired during the altercation.</p> <p><strong>Wilson</strong>: After getting the door slammed on him, Wilson told Brown to "get the fuck back," and tried to use the door to push him. Brown shut it again, and Brown then came "in my vehicle." Brown punched Wilson. Wilson had one hand on his gun and tried to fire twice. Brown reached for Wilson's gun. The gun goes off twice, and one bullet hits the door.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190090">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190090.js'); </script><p><strong>Johnson</strong>: Johnson says that Wilson reached his hand out of his car window and grabbed Brown's shirt by his neck. A "tug of war" ensued with Brown trying to escape Wilson's grip, but Brown's hands never entered the car. After hearing the first gun shot, Johnson noticed blood on Brown, then turned and ran away. Brown followed behind him.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190097">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190097.js'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190089">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190089.js'); </script><p><strong>4. Did Wilson shoot at Brown and Johnson as they ran away?</strong></p> <p><strong>McCulloch</strong>: McCulloch again says witness statements were inconsistent, with claims ranging from Wilson firing from the car, firing at Brown's back as he was running, and others saying Wilson didn't fire until Brown turned around and came back toward Wilson.</p> <p><strong>Wilson</strong>: Brown begins to run from Wilson after two shots were fired from the car. Brown runs but then turns around, and won't comply with demands to get on the ground. Wilson says he didn't open fire while Brown and Johnson ran away.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190096">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190096.js'); </script><p><strong>Johnson</strong>: Johnson hid behind a car, and watched as Brown ran past him and Wilson followed. Wilson opens fire while Brown is still running, at which point Brown stops and turns around. (Witness Piaget Crenshaw has told CNN Wilson shot as Brown ran away, adding that one bullet struck the building she was standing in. <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1371165-interview-witness-30.html#document/p3" target="_blank">Another</a> witness told investigators Wilson shot at Brown as he ran away.)</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190109">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190109.js'); </script><p><strong>5.</strong> <strong>What was Brown doing when Wilson shot him?</strong></p> <p><strong>McCulloch</strong>: McCulloch says witness accounts differ on whether Brown's hands were up when he was facing Brown after turning around. Some say Brown didn't move at all before Wilson shot him, others say he was in "full charge." McCulloch stressed that several witnesses' stories changed over the course of multiple interviews with authorities.</p> <p><strong>Wilson</strong>: Brown initially runs away but then turns around, and won't comply with Wilson's demands to get on the ground. Brown appears to charge toward Wilson. Brown put his hand at his waistband. Wilson opens fire.</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190095">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370883-grand-jury-volume-5-darren-wilsons-testimony/annotations/190095.js'); </script><p><strong>Johnson</strong>: When Brown turned around to face Wilson, Brown's hands were up, one higher than the other. His hands were nowhere near his waist. Brown appeared to try and tell Wilson that he didn't have a gun, starting to take a step forward. Before Brown could complete his sentence, Wilson shot him several more times. (Crenshaw told CNN that after Brown turned around, he barely moved toward Wilson and that his hands were up. "They were just slowly going up, it probably didn't even have a chance to get all the way up there before he was struck.")</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190106">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190106.js'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190102">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190102.js'); </script><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-190112">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1372191-grand-jury-volume-4-dorian-johnsons-testimony/annotations/190112.js'); </script><p>PBS Newshour <a href="http://linkis.com/to.pbs.org/HjEvk" target="_blank">analyzed</a> more than 500 pages of witness testimony and compared them to Wilson's statements. Their graphic shows 16 witnesses testified that Brown put his hands up when fired upon:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pbsWitnessTestimonies.png" style="max-width: 630px;"></div></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Ferguson Thu, 27 Nov 2014 03:49:37 +0000 Jaeah Lee and AJ Vicens 265556 at http://www.motherjones.com This Article Has Been Retracted http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/donald-baldwin-retraction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This story included erroneous information. Waterford, NY, fire chief Donald Baldwin was not the commenter in question. We regret the error and are investigating.</p></body></html> Politics Immigration Obama The Right Top Stories Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:18:50 +0000 265366 at http://www.motherjones.com The Looming Olive Oil Apocalypse http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/11/looming-olive-oil-apocalypse <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The world's most celebrated olive oil comes from sun-drenched groves of Italy. But Italy is also a hotbed of olive oil subterfuge, counterfeit, and adulteration&mdash;and has been since Roman times, as Tom Muellar showed in an eye-opening <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/08/13/slippery-business">2007 New Yorker piece</a> (which grew into a book called <a href="http://www.extravirginity.com/"><em>Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil</em></a>.) &nbsp;Next year, getting real olive oil from Italy is going to be even harder than usual. Here's the <em>LA Times' </em>Russ Parsons:</p> <blockquote> <p>As a result of what the Italian newspaper <em>La Repubblica</em> is calling &ldquo;The Black Year of Italian Olive Oil,&rdquo; the olive harvest through much of Italy has been devastated&mdash;down 35% from last year.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>The reason is a kind of perfect storm (so to speak) of rotten weather through the nation:</p> <blockquote> <p>When the trees were turning flowers to fruit in the spring, freezing weather suddenly turned scorching, causing the trees to drop olives. Summer was hot and humid, leading to all sorts of problems. Then in mid-September, there was a major hail storm, knocking much of the fruit that remained onto the ground.</p> </blockquote> <p>Other major olive oil-producing nations suffered similar calamities; Parsons reports that in Spain and Mediterranean neighbors, production is also "forecast to be far below last year's." And California, that big chunk of Mediterranean-like climate on our west coast, where excellent olive oil is produced? Parsons says the epochal drought is pinching production, and he quotes Muellar to the effect that "frankly, I hear about a lot of games being played there too, with labels and quality alike." Sigh.</p> <p>I find all of this distressing. I came of age as a cook in an era of olive oil hegemony. I treat it like the oil that powers my car, as something to be relied on casually, as if it appeared by magic from nowhere. (Nearly all my Tom's Kitchen columns feature it.)</p> <p>Once a staple of Mediterranean polyculture&mdash;farms and households would feature olive trees in mixed groves along with a multitude of other crops&mdash;olive oil production has long since industrialized. Here is <em><a href="http://www.theecologist.org/investigations/food_and_farming/269479/drizzle_with_care.html">The Ecologist</a></em> from 2008:</p> <blockquote> <p>Industrial olive farms grow their olive trees, planted at high densities, in massive irrigated orchards on lowland plains. The olives are harvested by machines that clamp around the tree&rsquo;s trunk and shake it until the olives fall to the ground. Oil is then extracted by industrial-scale centrifuge, often at high temperatures. In contrast, small, traditional farms are often ancient, their trees typically planted on upland terraces. The farmers manage their groves with few or no agrochemicals, less water and less machinery. Olives are picked off the ground by hand and the oil extracted by grinding the olives in a millstone and press. Demand for cheap, mass-produced oil is making it a struggle for the smaller, traditional farms to be economically viable, however.</p> <p>&hellip;.</p> <p>Intensive olive farming is a major cause of one of the biggest environmental problems affecting the EU: widespread soil erosion and desertification in Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal. In 2001, the European Commission ordered an independent study into the environmental impact of olive farming across the EU. The report concluded: &lsquo;Soil erosion is probably the most serious environmental problem associated with olive farming.</p> </blockquote> <p>I fear that next year's olive oil crunch is a harbinger of things to come. I am officially in search of alternative cooking fats. One I've come to appreciate: lard from pasture-raised hogs. Lard's rotten nutritional reputation is the result of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/12/opinion/12kummer.html?_r=0">outdated and discredited science</a>. And it makes food taste really good, too.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:02:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 265546 at http://www.motherjones.com Thanksgiving Films, Ranked http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/thanksgiving-films-ranked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ho ho ho and merry Thanksgiving! Here is a ranking of twenty Thanksgiving films. What is a "Thanksgiving film"? For the purposes of this post it is a film that is both a) on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_set_around_Thanksgiving" target="_blank">Wikipedia's list</a>, and b) one I, Ben Dreyfuss, immediately recall seeing and have an opinion about.</p> <p>1. <em>Hannah and Her Sisters</em></p> <p>2. <em>Rocky</em></p> <p>3. <em>Scent of a Woman</em></p> <p>4. <em>Rocky II</em></p> <p>5. <em>Planes, Trains, and Automobiles</em></p> <p>6. <em>Home for the Holidays</em></p> <p>7. <em>Avalon</em></p> <p>8. <em>The Ice Storm</em></p> <p>9. <em>The Morning After</em></p> <p>10. <em>For Your Consideration </em></p> <p>11. <em>Grumpy Old Men</em></p> <p>12. <em>Addams Family Values</em></p> <p>13. <em>Funny People</em></p> <p>14. <em>Spider-Man</em></p> <p>15. <em>The Object of My affection</em></p> <p>16. <em>The Other Sister</em></p> <p>17. <em>Bean</em></p> <p>18. <em>Son in Law</em></p> <p>18. <em>Tower Heist</em></p> <p>19. <em>Unknown</em></p> <p>20. <em>Jack and Jill</em></p> <p><em>Disclosure: I haven't actually seen </em>Jack and Jill<em> but I'm pretty confident it's the worst. Also, </em>The Last Waltz<em> was not included in this ranking because though it is on the Wikipedia list of Thanksgiving films, it shouldn't be.</em> <em>Still pretty good though!</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:04:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 265541 at http://www.motherjones.com Will Obama Pull the Plug on Wind Energy? http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/11/will-obama-pull-plug-wind-energy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday President Obama <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/business/congress-nears-deal-on-major-business-tax-breaks.html?_r=2" target="_blank">threatened to veto</a> a $440 billion package of tax breaks negotiated by a bipartisan group of legislators led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The bill, a White House spokesperson said, disproportionately benefits businesses over families. The bill excludes a child tax credit for the working poor that had been a top goal for Obama, but <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120420/tax-extender-deal-handout-big-business" target="_blank">makes permanent a group of tax incentives for big businesses</a> that had been provisional.</p> <p>But if Obama does kill the deal, he'll also create a casualty that seems odd for a president who in recent weeks has made climate change a central issue: The tax credit for wind energy, which Reid's bill would resuscitate for a few years before phasing out in 2017.</p> <p>The Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides wind energy developers a tax break of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour of energy their turbines produce for the first ten years of operation, which industry supporters say is a important lifeline to help wind compete against <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/oil-subsidies-renewable-energy-tax-breaks" target="_blank">heavily-subsidized fossil fuel power sources</a>. For over a decade, wind power has been locked in a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/breaking-winds-boom-bust-cycle" target="_blank">boom-and-bust cycle</a> as the PTC expires and then is re-upped by Congress: Every time the credit stalls or looks like it might disappear, contracts dry up, manufacturers shut down production, and <a href="http://www.awea.org/Advocacy/content.aspx?ItemNumber=797" target="_blank">jobs get cut</a>. The same could happen again soon: The PTC expired again last year, and so the fate of Reid's tax bill will be the fate of a cornerstone of America's clean energy economy.</p> <p>Any project that broke ground before the PTC expiration last year still got to keep the credit, so the wind industry is still on an up cycle. So far this year, wind accounts for 22 percent of new energy capacity, second only to natural gas, <a href="http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/24/two-thirds-of-us-installations-were-from-the-wind-sector/" target="_blank">according to federal data</a>. And with or without subsidies, wind is now <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/business/energy-environment/solar-and-wind-energy-start-to-win-on-price-vs-conventional-fuels.html" target="_blank">one of the cheapest electricity sources</a> out there. Those are critical pieces of the puzzle if the US is to meet President Obama's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/11/obama-just-announced-historic-climate-deal-china" target="_blank">new goal to reduce the nation's carbon footprint</a> 26-28 percent by 2025.</p> <p>But wind's halcyon days won't last unless the PTC is extended soon, said Daniel Shury, a market analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.</p> <p>"The momentum will peak next year, and then we'll start to feel the effects," Shury said. "Without the PTC extension, the main US manufacturers are going to start running out of orders by 2016."</p> <p>The Reid bill throws a bone to conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/225202-conservative-group-targets-gop-members-in-ads-against-wind-energy" target="_blank">who have called the PTC a handout</a> for an industry that should be able to support itself by now: gradually phasing out the credit by 2017. The American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, <a href="http://www.awea.org/MediaCenter/pressrelease.aspx?ItemNumber=4696" target="_blank">has supported such a plan</a>, saying it would give manufacturers, developers, and other wind investors a degree of certainty about future market conditions that they don't currently have. Shurey agrees: The actual amount of the credit is far less important, he said, than a clear, consistent signal to frame contracts and investments around.</p> <p>Whatever tax deal Congress ultimately passes will probably include the PTC, says Jim Marston, vice president of US energy policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. Some of the credit's biggest proponents are powerful Republicans from windy states, such as Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who <a href="http://www.nawindpower.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.13675" target="_blank">said on the Senate floor</a> last week that gutting the PTC "would cost jobs, harm our economy, the environment and our national security." But a veto could mean a long delay&mdash;and more of the uncertainty that the wind industry fears.</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Energy Obama Top Stories Infrastructure Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:19:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265516 at http://www.motherjones.com We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The Newsroom" http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/11/climate-desk-fact-checks-aaron-sorkins-climate-science-newsroom <!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/YQ9_2K2_z3A" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>I watch too much TV drama, so I can say this with a degree of certainty: It's rare that climate change comes up. (Television news programs also contain "tepid" coverage, in general, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/climate-change-tv-news_n_4606313.html" target="_blank">according to watchdog group Media Matters</a>). That's why it was so weird/exciting for this climate reporter when global warming received its very own subplot on Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama <em>The Newsroom</em> over the last two episodes.</p> <p>First, a little context: Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) is the show's once daffy news producer whose role this season seems exclusively designed to reverse earlier <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/02/aaron-sorkin-the-newsroom-sexism" target="_blank">charges of sexism against Sorkin</a>. She's now good at her job! During a convoluted scene on a train from Boston to New York, Maggie overhears and records a top EPA official talking shit on the phone about President Obama to another journalist, off-the-record. Even though that agreement of confidentiality doesn't extend to the other Amtrak passengers, she eventually tells the official she won't use his juicy Obama-dissing quotes. So impressed by her ethics, the official, Richard Westbrook (Paul Lieberstein), rewards her with a scoop: <em>an embargoed EPA report</em>. WHOA! WHAT A SCOOOOOP! (For the uninitiated, while a heads-up about a study is great to get a jump on your competition, reports are circulated and embargoed all the time). Anyway... Maggie also gets an exclusive interview with the official, the deputy assistant administrator of the EPA (WHAT A GET!) and in the most recent episode, she produces a segment for host Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) about the report's dire warnings.</p> <p>The scene is odd for a number of reasons.<em> The Newsroom </em>packages its drama based on last year's events, and at that time, the news that the world was approaching 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had been publicly anticipated for weeks. So, not a scoop in any way, or anything that anyone following the science didn't already know.</p> <p>But putting that aside, let's take a look at Sorkin's&nbsp;"facts", as presented in the episode. How do they measure up? Let's go line-by-line through the scene above.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact1-630px.jpg"></div> <p>In the weird parallel universe of <em>The</em> <em>Newsroom</em>, I'm not sure&nbsp;<em>when</em> these "latest measurements" were meant to have been taken. But he's right. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/400-ppm-carbon-climate-change" target="_blank">We covered this at the time</a>: The world passed that 400 ppm threshold&nbsp;for the first meaningful way in May 2013, when the&nbsp;daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide was higher than at any time in human history, according to&nbsp;the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The measurements are indeed taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii; you can follow what's known as the "Keeling Curve"&mdash;a measurement of atmospheric concentration of CO2&mdash;<a href="https://twitter.com/keeling_curve" target="_blank">on Twitter</a>, naturally, thanks to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact2.jpg"></div> <p>Depends what you're defining as catastrophic failure, I suppose.&nbsp; Say you were born last year, when I assume this episode was meant to be set. If we follow along current emissions trends, the planet will be 3.96&deg;F-8.64&deg;F (2.2&deg;C&ndash;4.8&deg;C) hotter than preindustrial times by your retirement. (You can type your birth year <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2013/sep/27/climate-change-how-hot-lifetime-interactive" target="_blank">into this cool interactive</a>, driven by data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to check how hot it will be when you're old). That's above temperatures recommended to be in the supposedly "safe" zone by the IPCC, and could definitely result in a variety of "catastrophes" and "failures". As deaths increase due to things like extreme weather, droughts and wildfires, this statement seems true enough when applied to individual episodes of calamity, which will surely increase. (The number of annual deaths in the UK due to heat, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/04/heat-related-deaths-climate-change" target="_blank">for example</a>, is predicted to rise by 257 per cent by 2050.) The EPA official is right, in one sense. But it's also arguable that deaths are <em>already</em> and <em>will continue</em> to be linked to climate change events. The line in the script infers the failure of the planet as a whole, which I think is artful flourish to illustrate just how glum this fellow is feeling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact3-630px.jpg"></div> <p>Yup. That's what the science says. The last time the atmosphere clocked 400 ppm it was 3 million years ago&mdash;the "Mid-Pliocene"&mdash;when sea levels were as much as 80 feet higher than today (see this 2007 <a href="http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_2.pdf" target="_blank">research</a> paper authored by a group led by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University.) I'd probably add an "around" or "about" before the "80 feet higher" in the above statement; the studies leave a margin of error. But this statement checks out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact4-630px.jpg"></div> <p>His point is sound, but I'd like to see the writers' sourcing&mdash;these numbers seem to date to <a href="http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/websites/retiredsites/natdia_pdf/ctrends_proceed.pdf" target="_blank">around the late 1990s</a>. According to a more recent <a href="http://www.erh.noaa.gov/ilm/AllHazards/pdf/NCCOS%20HML%20Natural%20Resource%20Hazard%20Response_SNW%20Nov2_2011_pdf.pdf" target="_blank">2011 NOAA report</a>, 55 percent of the world's population lives within 50 miles of the coast. The UN has a slightly different number: Over 40 percent of the world's population, or 3.1 billion, lives within 60 miles of the "ocean or sea in about 150 coastal and island nations." In the US, 39 percent of the nation's population lived in counties directly on the shoreline <a href="http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/population.html" target="_blank">in 2010</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact5-630px.jpg"></div> <p>That seems right.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact6-630px.jpg"></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/05/video-97-climate-scientists-cant-be-wrong" target="_blank">There's consensus amongst 97 percent of climate scientists that global warming is happening and that's it's a manmade disaster</a>. And I've heard climate scientists use this analogy before. (For what it's worth, there are other things that can influence the boiling point of water, including altitude.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact7-630px.jpg"></div> <p>He's talking about the "carbon budget", and again this is sound, despite Newsman Will's growing anguish at a pretty devastating interview. The 565 gigaton number was popularized by Bill McKibben in a <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719" target="_blank">2012 <em>Rolling Stone </em>article</a> that <em>Newsroom </em>writers seem to have read. The number is "derived from one of the most sophisticated computer-simulation models that have been built by climate scientists around the world over the past few decades" (done by financial analysis firm Carbon Tracker) and is what we can <em>add</em> into the atmosphere by mid-century and still have a reasonable chance of success of staying below that safe two degrees warming threshold. Our grumpy scientist is so despondent because, yes, 2,795 is the number of gigatons of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves in the hands of fossil-fuel companies and petrostates. In short, it's the fossil fuel we're currently planning to burn, writes McKibben. Carbon Tracker says <a href="http://www.carbontracker.org/report/carbon-bubble/" target="_blank">80 percent of these assets need to remain unburned</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Newsroom-Fact8-630px.jpg"></div> <p>All of these things are predicted by the IPCC&mdash;I mean, not the permanent darkness thing, I don't think that's meant to be scientific. But yes, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/ipcc-climate-change-impact-adaptation" target="_blank">as we reported in May this year</a>, Europe faces freshwater shortages; Asia can expect more severe flooding from extreme storms; North America will see increased heat waves and wildfires, which can cause death and damage to ecosystems and property. Especially in poor countries, diminished crop yields will likely lead to increased malnutrition, which already affects nearly 900 million people worldwide.</p> <p>So, in all, well done <em>Newsroom</em>. Informative, accurate, if a little heavy-handed on the doom and gloom.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Media Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:29:36 +0000 James West 265381 at http://www.motherjones.com Europe Wants To Make Its Memory Hole Global http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/europe-wants-make-its-memory-hole-global <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Europe's infamous right to be forgotten is <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/eu-says-google-should-extend-right-to-be-forgotten-to-com-websites-1417006254?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories" target="_blank">on track to become truly Orwellian:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Europe&rsquo;s privacy regulators want the right to be forgotten to go global. In a new set of guidelines agreed Wednesday in Brussels, the body representing the EU&rsquo;s 28 national privacy regulators said that search engines should <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_memory_hole.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">apply the bloc&rsquo;s new right to be forgotten to all of their websites.</p> <p>....Google may consider a way to apply the ruling on Google.com without applying it globally [...] by returning different results depending on whether the person is searching from an Internet Protocol address located within the EU. But it is unclear if such a move would satisfy regulators, as it would only make it harder to sidestep the ruling inside the EU, not globally.</p> <p>&ldquo;These are fundamental rights. My rights don&rsquo;t go away at the border,&rdquo; one data-protection official said of the idea of using IP addresses to apply the rule.</p> </blockquote> <p>I understand that the EU has a more expansive view of personal privacy than the US and other countries. What's more, I'm generally on their side in this battle when it comes to truly personal information. Both corporate and government collection of personal buying habits, internet browsing patterns, and so forth deserve to be reined in.</p> <p>But here we're talking about largely public information. It's bad enough that the EU is insisting that people not only have a right to control genuinely personal data, but also have a right to shape attitudes and perceptions that are based on public record. It's even worse that they're now trying to impose this absurdity on the entire planet. If they insist on having a continent-wide memory hole, I guess that's their business. But they sure don't have the right to foist their insistence on artificially altering reality on the rest of us. Enough's enough.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Tech Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:51:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 265531 at http://www.motherjones.com Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Heart Surgery http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/ruth-bader-ginsburg-heart-surgery <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is "resting comfortably" after undergoing a coronary catheterization procedure, a <a href="https://twitter.com/ToddRuger/status/537626965977870337" target="_blank">press release</a> from the nation's highest court announced Wednesday morning.</p> <p>Ginsburg, who at 81 is the Supreme Court's oldest member, is expected to be discharged in the next 48 hours. From the <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ruth-bader-ginsburg-heart" target="_blank">release:</a></p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a coronary catheterization procedure this morning at MedStar Heart &amp; Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to place a stent in her right coronary artery. The coronary blockage was discovered after Justice Ginsburg experienced discomfort during routine exercise last night and was taken to the hospital. She is resting comfortably and is expected to be discharged in the next 48 hours.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ginsburg has pushed back against suggestions she step down while President Barack Obama is still in office. In an interview with <a href="http://www.elle.com/life-love/society-career/supreme-court-justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg" target="_blank"><em>Elle</em></a> last September, she defended her resistance to such calls. "Anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they&rsquo;re misguided. As long as I can do the job full steam&hellip;. I think I&rsquo;ll recognize when the time comes that I can&rsquo;t any longer. But now I can."</p></body></html> MoJo Supreme Court Top Stories Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:14:14 +0000 Inae Oh 265526 at http://www.motherjones.com Under Pressure From Obama, France Delays Warship Sale to Russia http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/under-pressure-obama-france-delays-warship-sale-russia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I confess that I'm <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-france-warship-russia-20141125-story.html" target="_blank">surprised to read this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>France has put on hold a controversial deal to supply Russia with two high-tech amphibious assault ships following international concern over Moscow's military involvement in Ukraine</p> <p>....After months of wait-and-see messages from the French, Hollande's declaration Tuesday was at least clear: It would not be appropriate to deliver the control-and-command vessels given the current conflict between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine, he said.</p> <p>....In June, Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, had insisted that the contract had been signed and sealed and had to be honored. <strong>On Tuesday, following months of pressure from the United States, Fabius appeared to have changed his mind.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. I guess the weakling Obama really is working quietly behind the scenes on stuff like this, and really does still have some clout on the international stage. Who knew?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Obama Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:38:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 265521 at http://www.motherjones.com