MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/sites/all/modules/patched/service_links/images/index.xml http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Blogging Isn't Dead. But Old-School Blogging Is Definitely Dying. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/01/blogging-isnt-dead-old-school-blogging-definitely-dying <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2015/01/31/a-note-to-my-readers/" target="_blank">With Andrew Sullivan giving up his blog,</a> there are fewer and fewer of us old-school bloggers left. In this case, "old school" pretty much means a daily blog with frequent updates written by one person (or possibly two, but not much more). <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_end_of_blogging.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Ezra Klein thinks this is because <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/1/30/7948091/andrew-sullivan-leaving-blogging?curator=MediaREDEF" target="_blank">conventional blogging doesn't scale well:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>At this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. Links from other bloggers &mdash; the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature &mdash; just don't deliver the numbers that Facebook does. But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don't go viral. People share things their friends will understand, not things that you need to have read six other posts to understand.</p> <p>Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own. Alyssa Rosenberg put it well at the <em>Washington Post</em>. "I no longer write with the expectation that you all are going to read every post and pick up on every twist and turn in my thinking. Instead, each piece feels like it has to stand alone, with a thesis, supporting paragraphs and a clear conclusion."</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd add a couple of comments to this. First, Ezra is right about the conversational nature of blogging. There was lots of that in the early days, and very little now. Partly this is for the reason he identified: traffic is now driven far more by Facebook links than by links from fellow bloggers. Partly it's also because multi-person blogs, which began taking over the blogosphere in the mid-aughts, make conversation harder. Most people simply don't follow all the content in multi-person blogs, and don't always pay attention to who wrote which post, so conversation becomes choppier and harder to follow. And partly it's because conversation has moved on: first to comment sections, then to Twitter and other social media.</p> <p>Second, speaking personally, I long ago decided that blog posts needed to be standalone pieces, so I'm not sure we can really blame that on new forms of social media. It was probably as early as 2005 or 2006 that I concluded two things. Not only do blog posts need to be standalone, but they can't even ramble very much. You need to make one clear point and avoid lots of distractions and "on the other hands." This is because blog readers are casual readers, and if you start making lots of little side points, that's what they're going to respond to. Your main point often simply falls by the wayside. So keep it short and focused. If you have a second point to make, just wait a bit and write it up separately not as a quick aside open to lots of interpretation, but with the attention it deserves.</p> <p>And there's a third reason Klein doesn't mention: professionalism. I was one of the first amateur bloggers to turn pro, and in my case it was mostly an accident. But within a few years, old-school media outlets had started co-opting nearly all of the high-traffic bloggers. (I won't say they co-opted the "best" bloggers, because who knows? In any case, what they wanted was high traffic, so that's what they went for.) Matt Yglesias worked for a series of outlets, Steve Benen took over the <em>Washington Monthly</em> when I moved to MoJo, Ezra Klein went to the <em>Washington Post</em> and then started up Vox, etc. Ditto for Andrew Sullivan, who worked for <em>Time</em>, the <em>Atlantic</em>, and eventually began his own subscription-based site. It was very successful, but Sullivan turned out to be the only blogger who could pull that off. You need huge traffic to be self-sustaining in a really serious way, and he was just about the only one who had an audience that was both large and very loyal. Plus there's another side to professionalism: the rise of the expert blogger. There's not much question in my mind that this permanently changed the tone of the political blogosphere, especially on the liberal side. There's just less scope for layman-style noodling when you know that a whole bunch of experts will quickly weigh in with far more sophisticated responses. Add to that the rise of professional journalists taking up their own blogs, and true amateurs became even more marginalized.</p> <p>All of this led to blogs&mdash;Sullivan excepted&mdash;becoming less conversational in tone and sparking less conversation. There are probably lots of reasons for this, but partly I think it's because professional blogs prefer to link to their own content, rather than other people's. Josh Marshall's TPM, for example, links almost exclusively to its own content, because that's the best way to promote their own stuff. There's nothing wrong with that. It makes perfect sense. But it's definitely a conversation killer.</p> <p>In any case, most conversation now seems to have moved to Twitter. There are advantages to this: it's faster and it's open to more people. Blogs were democratizing, and Twitter is even more democratizing. You don't have to start up your own blog and build up a readership to be heard. All you have to do is have a few followers and get rewteeted a bit. Needless to say, however, there are disadvantages too. Twitter is often <em>too</em> fast, and when you combine that with its 140-character limit, you end up with a lot of shrill and indignant replies. Sometimes this is deliberate: it's what the tweeter really wants to say. But often it's not. There's a premium on responding quickly, since Twitter conversations usually last only hours if not minutes, and this means you're often responding to a blog post in the heat of your very first reaction to something it says&mdash;often without even reading the full blog post first. In addition, it's simply very difficult to convey nuance and tone in 140 characters. Even if you don't mean to sound shrill and outraged, you often do. Now multiply that by the sheer size of Twitter, where a few initial irate comments can feed hundreds of others within minutes, and you have less a conversation than you do a mindless pile-on.</p> <p>I'm not really making any judgments about all this. Personally, I miss old-school blogging and the conversations it started. But I also recognize that what I'm saying about Twitter is very much what traditional print journalists said about blogging back in the day. You have to respond within a day! You have to make your point in 500 words or less! Whatever happened to deeply considered long-form pieces that took weeks to compose and ran several thousand words? Sure, those conversations took months to unfold, but what's the rush?</p> <p>Well, they were right to an extent. And now conversations have become even more compressed. Some people think that's great, others (like me) are more conflicted about it. When I respond to something, I usually want to make a serious point, and Twitter makes that awfully hard. Writing a coherent multi-part tweet is just way harder than simply writing a 500-word blog post. On the other hand, the tweet will get seen by far more people than the post and be far more timely.</p> <p>As with everything, it's a tradeoff. I miss old-school blogging. A lot of people say good riddance to it. And the world moves on.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:32:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 269411 at http://www.motherjones.com Harvard is Buying Up Vineyards in Drought-Ridden California Wine Country http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/01/wine-water-harvards-move-california-farmland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I recently wrote a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/california-drought-almonds-water-use" target="_blank">piece</a> about growing interest in California farmland by <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/01/wine-water-harvards-move-california-farmland" target="_blank">massive investment funds</a>. But almonds and other tree nuts, the main focus of my article, aren't the only commodities drawing interest from the smart-money crowd. From what I can tell, a successful California farmland investment requires these two conditions: 1) a sought-after commodity, preferably one with a booming export market; and 2) access to water for irrigation&mdash;increasingly important as <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/23/the-massive-scale-of-californias-drought-and-how-it-informs-the-climate-change-debate/">California's drought lurches on</a>.</p> <p>Harvard University's famed <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/harvard-endowment-earns-15-4-return-for-fiscal-2014-1411506002">$36 billion endowment fund</a>, the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-28/harvard-beats-stanford-raising-record-1-16-billion-in-a-year">biggest of any US university</a>, has alighted upon just such a sweet spot in California's coastal <a href="http://www.pasowine.com/ava-map/">Paso Robles wine region</a>, north of Los Angeles. Reuters <a href="http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0KV29G20150122?irpc=932">reports</a> that the Harvard fund "has spent more than $60 million to purchase about 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties since 2012, making it one of the top 20 growers in Paso Robles."</p> <p>The move would seem to meet my two conditions swimmingly. US wine exports (90 percent of which originate in California), are <a href="http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/02262014">booming</a>, up 16.4 percent in 2013, the most recent year with numbers. And as with almonds, US wine exports to China have been surging for years, as this <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/files/usChinaExports5_hotExports_0.png">chart</a> I assembled last year with colleagues Jaeah Lee and Alex Park shows. And wines from grapes grown in Paso Robles should have no trouble finding buyers&mdash;<em>Wine Enthusiast </em>deemed Paso Robles the 2013 <a href="http://www.winemag.com/Web-2013/2013-Wine-Region-of-the-Year-Paso-Robles/" target="_blank">"Wine Region of the Year," </a>and rival <em>Wine Spectator</em> has <a href="http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/44525" target="_blank">declared</a> that it's "emerging as most dynamic [wine region] in California."</p> <p>As for water, while making its land buys, Harvard's investment company "acquired rights to drill 16 water wells of between 700 and 900 feet deep, two or three times deeper than the average residential well, according to county records," Reuters reports. 'Deeper wells will continue to give them access to water as shallower wells run dry."</p> <p>Obtaining those permits turned out to be a great move. Reuters reports that the fund acquired rights to drill seven of those wells on August 21, 2013, while "local lawmakers were trying to figure out how to deal with the <a href="http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/08/15/2633964_groundwater-basin-paso-robles.html?rh=1">worsening water shortage</a>" in the region. Soon after the Harvard fund got its pumping permits, the county placed a "ban on new pumping from the hardest-hit part of the basin," Reuters reports.</p> <p>Reuters adds that "no environmental advocacy group has accused Brodiaea [a Harvard-owned investment firm] of trying to profit from the drought."</p> <p>In an <a href="http://www.farmlandinvestorcenter.com/?p=722&amp;option=com_wordpress&amp;Itemid=171">item</a> last year, the veteran analyst Michael Fritz of the Farmland Investor Center noted the timing of Harvard's move:</p> <blockquote> <p>Some market observers have wondered if Brodiaea was a well-timed water play in light of the region&rsquo;s worsening groundwater shortage. Last August, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors adopted an &ldquo;urgency&rdquo; ordinance that prohibits any new development or new irrigated crop production unless the water it uses is offset by an equal amount of conservation. Water levels in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin have fallen sharply in recent years&mdash;two to six feet a year in some areas&mdash;causing wells to go dry and forcing many vineyards and rural residents to drill deeper wells, according to local accounts.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>Fritz adds that a local investor involved with managing the Harvard wine project told him that "the timing of Brodiaea&rsquo;s irrigated land purchases in San Luis Obispo County and the subsequent moratorium on new irrigation development was 'pure coincidence.'&rdquo;</p> <p>California isn't the only region upon which Harvard is placing farmland investment bets, Fritz reported. The fund also has such investments in <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/8628552/Harvard-buys-Otago-dairy-farm">New Zealand</a>, Romania, Latvia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Panam&aacute;, Fritz notes.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 269226 at http://www.motherjones.com We Have Some Good News For You About the Koala That Was Burned in the Fire http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/jeremy-koala-australia-bushfire-returned-wild <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After a series of <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-30677472" target="_blank">devastating bushfires</a> ripped through Australia earlier this month, volunteers across the world quickly came to the rescue with custom-knitted mittens for the burned paws of koalas (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/wildfires-koala-paws-burn-australia-mittens" target="_blank">way <em>too</em> many volunteers, it turns out</a>). The poster koala that sparked the movement was Jeremy, whose heart-rending hospital room portrait quickly went viral.</p> <p>Good news! Jeremy is fully recovered and back in the wild. From the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-31052633" target="_blank"><em>BBC</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>He has since made a complete recovery, says Aaron Machado, who operates the clinic that treated the animal... "The only thing he has to do now is get used to not having any more room service," Mr Machado told the BBC.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's to koalas everywhere!</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0" height="354" id="flashObj" width="630"><param name="movie" value="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=4019491145001&amp;playerID=3680665367001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAACKW9LH8k~,A7HfECo5t7CatyA-8fEJ4LzBn7uU7ewe&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value="http://admin.brightcove.com"><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=4019491145001&amp;playerID=3680665367001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAACKW9LH8k~,A7HfECo5t7CatyA-8fEJ4LzBn7uU7ewe&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="354" name="flashObj" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" seamlesstabbing="false" src="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Climate Change Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:09:21 +0000 Tim McDonnell 269381 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 30 January 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/01/friday-cat-blogging-30-january-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>My fatigue level is off the charts today. I have no idea what's causing this. But there are always plenty of catblogging pictures available, and you can hardly go wrong with Hilbert in a bag, can you? Enjoy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_01_30.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:40:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 269376 at http://www.motherjones.com How China's Filthy Air Is Screwing With Our Weather http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/pollution-china-winter-weather-america-smog <!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="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qtAd4p22NRo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>As the snow began to fall earlier this week in the lead up to the season's first major blizzard, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the Northeast was witnessing <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcsteve/status/559765426973208577" target="_blank">"a pattern of extreme weather that we've never seen before."</a> Climate change, Cuomo argues, is fueling bigger, badder weather events like this one&mdash;and like Hurricane Sandy.</p> <p>While the science that links specific snowstorms to global warming is profoundly difficult to calculate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change <a href="http://www.un.org/climatechange/the-science/" target="_blank">says</a> it's "very likely"&mdash;defined as greater than 90 percent probability&mdash;that "extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent" in North America as the world warms. In New York City, actual snow days have decreased, but <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/big-blizzards-have-become-more-common-in-new-york/" target="_blank">bigger blizzards have become more common</a>, dumping more snow each time. <em>Mashable </em><a href="http://mashable.com/2015/01/25/blizzard-forecast-got-worse/" target="_blank">reported</a> that all of New York City's top 10 snowfalls have occurred in the past 15 years. Scientists can trace the cause to the enormous amount of energy we're pumping into the oceans. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/01/global-warming-blizzard-worse/" target="_blank">told <em>Wired </em>this week</a> that "the oceans are warmer, and the air above them is more moist"&mdash;giving storms more energy to unleash more precipitation. In short, the blizzard dubbed Juno was being fueled in part by the ocean's excess of climate change-related heat.</p> <p>But climate change may not be the only way that human activity is making storms worse. In an emerging body of work, NASA scientists have identified a surprising contributor to American storms and cold snaps: Asia's air pollution. Over the past few years, a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology has <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/111/19/6894.full.pdf+html" target="_blank">found</a> that aerosols&mdash;or airborne particles&mdash;emitted from the cities fueling Asia's booming economies are making storm activity stronger in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. These storms wreak havoc on the polar jet stream, a major driver of North America's weather. The result: US winters with heavier snowfall and more intense cold periods.</p> <p>Pollution billowing from Asia's big cities, they found, is essentially "seeding" the clouds with sulfur, carbon grit, and metals. This leads to thicker, taller, and more energetic clouds, with heavier precipitation. These so-called <a href="http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/A7.html" target="_blank">"extratropical" cyclones</a> in the Northwest Pacific have become about 10 percent stronger over the last 30 years, the scientists say.</p> <p>Chinese cities, for example, are so toxic that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/chinese-cities-toxic-air-pollution-greenpeace" target="_blank">90 percent of them</a> fail to meet the country's own<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/chinese-cities-toxic-air-pollution-greenpeace" target="_blank"> pollution standards</a>. But it's not just China. In terms of air quality, <a href="http://qz.com/307176/thirteen-of-the-20-most-polluted-cities-in-the-world-are-indian/" target="_blank">13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India</a>. <a href="http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/cities/en/" target="_blank">And thirty-one of the world's 50 most polluted cities are found in China and Southeast Asia</a> (including India), according to the World Health Organization.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP821803431431.jpg" style="height: 187px; width: 300px;"><div class="caption"><strong>New Delhi, India, has the worst air pollution in the world, according to the WHO. All that smog is altering weather patterns around the world. </strong>Altaf Qadri, File/AP</div> </div> <p>The NASA <a href="http://gmao.gsfc.nasa.gov/research/aerosol/modeling/nr1_movie/" target="_blank">animation</a> above shows how these aerosol emissions moved around the world, from September 1, 2006, to April 10, 2007. I've included two versions of it. The first shows the Earth as a globe, the second shows the planet laid out flat. Also seen in the video are locations of wildfires, indicated by red and yellow dots. At the start, fires burn over South America and Africa, emitting black carbon, while dust from the Sahara moves westwards, getting sucked into two Atlantic cyclones. Later, in February, fires burning in Thailand and Southeast Asia mix with sulfates from industry in China and are eventually pulled eastward into cyclones that cross the Pacific and reach North America.</p> <p>The work raises questions about proposals to "geoengineer" the globe by pumping aerosols into the atmosphere, which some argue could reduce the Earth's temperature by partially blocking out the sun. The <a href="http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2218/" target="_blank">NASA researchers found</a> that sulfates are the most effective type of aerosol for deepening extratropical cyclones, which means that using them to fight global warming could bring about more stormy winter weather around the world.</p> <p>There's some hope that China is attempting to stabilize and, eventually, curb its pollution through new emissions standards that would cut the level of dangerous particles, including sulfates. There are also signs that China's coal boom&mdash;the source of most of the country's air pollution&mdash;is finally slowing down. A new analysis released this week by Greenpeace showed that for the first time this century, China's coal consumption fell in 2014.</p> <p>But India is another story. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/world/coal-rush-in-india-could-tip-balance-on-climate-change.html?_r=0" target="_blank">That country, which has the fifth-largest reserves of coal</a> on Earth, is desperate to provide power to its millions of impoverished citizens. Sixty percent of the India's power currently comes from coal, and despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promises to ramp up solar energy, he is also planning to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/heres-why-obama-wont-get-a-climate-deal-with-india-this-trip/2015/01/24/77fb95cc-9ccf-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html" target="_blank">double India's coal production</a> to more than 1 billion tons annually.</p> <p>So stock up on non-perishable grocery items. Looks like those blizzards are only going to increase in size.</p></body></html> Environment Video China Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:25:16 +0000 James West 269306 at http://www.motherjones.com David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Is Fighting a Tax Perk He Once Exploited http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/david-koch-americans-for-prosperity-tax-credit-restoration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Americans for Prosperity, the <a href="http://americansforprosperity.org">free-market advocacy group</a> established by the Koch brothers, mounts battles around the country on issues big and small via its nationwide network of chapters. Right now in North Carolina, AFP is vigorously opposing the revival of a state tax credit for renovating historic properties. The credit, which can be claimed by a company or a person, expired at the end of 2014, and the state's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, is pushing to renew it. AFP is working hard to thwart him. But the group's lobbying on this issue might be a tad awkward for one of its main benefactors: David Koch, who cofounded AFP and currently serves as chairman of the AFP Foundation. He used a near-identical tax credit when he renovated his historic Palm Beach villa&mdash;and saved money at local taxpayers' expense.</p> <p>Donald Bryson, the director of AFP-North Carolina, recently <a href="http://www.fayobserver.com/news/local/n-c-official-calls-for-renewing-historic-property-tax-credits/article_378603a0-da2d-5bc5-a77d-23d0633b17a0.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Fayetteville Observer</em></a> that the restoration perk was "another one of those tax credits that complicates the tax code." Bryson went on, "We're all for historic preservation, we have no problems with that. But if people are going to do it, they need to do it within the private market. I don't know why that requires a state tax credit."</p> <p>What Bryson probably didn't know was&nbsp;that David Koch relied on the same type of tax credit when he spruced up Villa el Sarmiento, his 25,000-square-foot historic oceanfront mansion&nbsp;on Palm Beach's swanky South Ocean Boulevard, a decade ago.</p> <p>In January 2002, the <em>Palm Beach Post</em> reported that Koch's waterfront mansion received one of six tax breaks approved by the town council under Florida's historic restoration tax credit. At the time, Koch was planning a $12 million remodeling of Villa el Sarmiento, a Mediterranean-revival-style structure built in 1923 and designed by famed architect Addison Mizner. Koch's tax break was expected to cost the city $48,000.</p> <p>Asked about David Koch's 2002 tax deal and his group's opposition to North Carolina's housing restoration credit, Bryson said the current debate is "a different matter altogether." He added: "The historic tax credit in North Carolina was scheduled to sunset under an agreement made by the Governor and General Assembly in 2013. AFP has consistently advocated for simplifying the tax code, including allowing this credit to sunset. However, as long as these tax credits exist, we don't begrudge taxpayers making use of them."</p> <p>A spokesman for Americans for Prosperity's national office pointed me to Bryson. A spokeswoman&nbsp;for Koch Industries, where David Koch is an executive vice president and board member, did not respond to a&nbsp;request&nbsp;for comment.</p></body></html> Politics Dark Money Money in Politics The Right Top Stories Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:06:42 +0000 Andy Kroll 269346 at http://www.motherjones.com Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/01/mitt-romney-not-running-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's official: Mitt Romney will not seek the presidency for a third time. After <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2015/01/30/mitt-romney-is-running-for-president.html" target="_blank">some news outlets reported</a> he would announce a run on a call with donors this morning, a <a href="http://www.hughhewitt.com/romney-statement-not-running-ive-decided-best-give-leaders-party-opportunity-become-next-nominee/" target="_blank">statement leaked</a> in which Romney said, "I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee." Here's a look back at what Mitt 3.0 could have been, as well as some highlights from 2012.</p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/mitt-romney-progressive-champion" target="_blank">He was going to run as a liberal.</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/mitt-romney-climate-change-shift" target="_blank">He had plans to be a born-again climate hawk.</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/mitt-romney-koch-brothers-donor-network" target="_blank">He was going to face some resistance from the Kochs.</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/mitt-romney-new-private-equity-problem-solamere-capital" target="_blank">He had a new private equity conflict-of-interest problem. </a></p> <p>We were deprived the chance to revisit the controversy over <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mitt-romney-bain-outsourcing-flextronics-jabil-circuit" target="_blank">Romney's lengthy</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/bain-capital-mitt-romney-outsourcing-china-global-tech" target="_blank">history of outsourcing.</a></p> <p>Also, this little problem:</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MU9V6eOFO38" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Thanks for the memories, Mitt:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eb7Qc6FwZes" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Mitt Romney 2016 Elections Top Stories Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:09:24 +0000 Sam Brodey 269356 at http://www.motherjones.com One of the World's Biggest Lakes Is Dying and We're to Blame http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/climate-change-lake-victoria-overfishing <!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/ABxnyjiifns" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>At Ibrahim Mohammed's fish stall, business is slow.</p> <p>He's sitting behind a wooden table piled with a dozen tilapia and Nile perch at the market in Katoro, a roadside town in northern Tanzania. The fish&mdash;a staple of the Tanzanian diet&mdash;came in that morning from Lake Victoria, an hour's drive north. Around us, hundreds of shoppers are snatching up pineapples, textiles, and motorcycle parts. But Mohammed explains that basic economics is keeping customers away from his fish.</p> <p>"There's less fish," he says. "So the price goes up, so customers can't afford to buy."</p> <p>In the two years Mohammed has operated this stall, the retail price for both species has doubled. An average Nile perch has gone from roughly $2 to $4; tilapia from $4 to $8. That's far above the <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/FP.CPI.TOTL.ZG/countries/TZ?display=graph" target="_blank">overall rate of inflation</a>.</p> <p>Stories like Mohammed's are becoming common among vendors and fishermen across Tanzania. The freshwater fishing industry here is <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1508206-fisheries-regional-action-plan-eastern-africa-en.html" target="_blank">nine times larger</a> than the ocean fishing industry, and it's a vital source of income for more than 2 million people, <a href="http://ftp.fao.org/fi/document/fcp/en/FI_CP_TZ.pdf" target="_blank">according to the United Nations</a>. Half of the freshwater haul <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1502870-fishdiagnostic-1.html" target="_blank">comes from Lake Victoria</a>.</p> <p>Nile perch makes up the majority of the catch. An invasive species that has dominated the lake for half a century, it's driven many of the native fish to extinction, earning it a reputation as an ecological disaster. For fishermen, though, it has become a cornerstone of the economy.</p> <p>But over the last several years, locals here say, fish yields have begun to drop. The culprit: a worrisome combination of overfishing and climate change.</p> <p>Hard statistics are notoriously difficult to come by, as the resource-strapped federal fisheries agency struggles to keep tabs on an industry composed almost entirely of small-scale, informal operators. But a <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1511340-document.html" target="_blank">2013 government audit</a> painted a disturbing picture. Between 2009 and 2011, according to the audit, yields of Nile perch on Lake Victoria fell about 5 percent.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2015/01/climate-change-lake-victoria-overfishing"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Video Climate Change Climate Desk Food and Ag International Science Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:30:07 +0000 Tim McDonnell 269291 at http://www.motherjones.com England Just Established "Yes Means Yes" Guidelines for Police Investigating Rape http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/01/england-rape-guidelines-consent%20 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Police departments in both England and Wales have been provided an unprecedented&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31037876" target="_blank">new set of recommendations</a> when it comes to investigating rape allegations. The guidelines, launched by the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders and Martin Hewitt of the Metropolitan Police, now require officers to establish sexual consent, rather than prove when a victim says&nbsp;"no."&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is really about making sure investigators and prosecutors look at the whole context, so we're able to put strong cases before the court and we don't just focus on what a victim did or said," Saunders told the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31037876" target="_blank">BBC</a>. "We know there are too many myths and stereotypes around rape and consent &nbsp;and this is about making sure we really examine cases."&nbsp;</p> <p>The&nbsp;shift to a more <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/governor-andrew-cuomo-plans-yes-means-yes-policy-at-college-campuses-statewide-1421529943" target="_blank">"yes means yes"</a> context comes as a welcome move for sexual assault advocates, who have long blamed the&nbsp;"no" standard for discouraging victims to report assaults. The new guidelines also strongly <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/28/new-rape-guidelines-will-remove-any-grey-area-over-sexual-consent-5040439/" target="_blank">emphasize </a>the need to stop blaming rape victims "for confusing the idea of consent, by drinking or dressing provocatively" as Saunders states, and clearly outline what sexual consent is.</p> <p>While many in England and Wales are applauding the change, some have been more cautious, waiting to see if police forces actually adhere to the new guidelines.</p> <p>"The CPS's new rape toolkit might make welcome headlines, but I won't be celebrating until police officers and prosecutors are made to put existing policies and guidelines in practice or face appropriate sanction for failing to do so," Harriet Wistrich wrote in a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/29/cps-rape-guidelines-victims-practice" target="_blank"><em>Guardian</em></a> column on Thursday.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:15:06 +0000 Inae Oh 269311 at http://www.motherjones.com Lemony Snicket Walks the Plank http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/01/lemony-snicket-daniel-handler-pirates <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Handler_A_fullframe.jpg"><div class="caption">Mark Murrmann</div> </div> <p><strong>THE NOVELIST DANIEL HANDLER</strong> is bobbing ahead of me in the cold bay water at San Francisco's Aquatic Park. His head, swathed in a red cap, resembles a maraschino cherry, and I struggle to keep up as the current presses me back toward land. "They told me to wear a swim cap so I wouldn't be mistaken for a seal," he explains. "So I was always wearing it, but then I wondered, 'What happens if I get mistaken for a seal? What then?'"</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Balclutha2.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The "Balclutha" docked in Aquatic Park </strong>Maddie Oatman</div> </div> <p>Handler, 44, is best known for his <a href="http://www.lemonysnicket.com/books.html" target="_blank">Lemony Snicket kids' books</a>, but his latest novel, the gruesome and delightful <a href="http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9781608196883-0" target="_blank"><em>We Are Pirates</em></a>, isn't so child-friendly. We'd arranged to meet here at the Dolphin Club, where he swims three or four mornings a week in the presence of historic tall ships such as the mighty <em>Balclutha</em>. Swimming makes him feel free, he says. It lets him shake off his celebrity and escape urban life for a bit.</p> <p>Gwen, Handler's 14-year-old protagonist, also yearns to slip away. She's an awkward kid from SF's hypersafe Embarcadero neighborhood, grounded for pilfering makeup and a porn mag from the drugstore. Aided by her friends and a demented old man spewing pirate lore, she steals a boat and sets out for high adventure on the bay. As the dazzle of piracy darkens, Gwen's father, a dweebish radio producer, tries to bring her back to safety. Without skimping on talking parrots, Handler's novel touches on the nature of modern surveillance and the forces that compel us to reckless acts.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/media/2015/01/lemony-snicket-daniel-handler-pirates"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Interview Books Media Top Stories Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:15:05 +0000 Maddie Oatman 265456 at http://www.motherjones.com