MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/sites/all/modules/patched/service_links/images/digg.pn http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Here Are the 10 Best Songs for Scotland's Historic Vote for Independence http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/playlist-10-best-songs-both-sides-scotlands-historic-vote-indepdence <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Scotland is heading to the polls right now to decide on whether or not to become an independent country. A "Yes" vote would be the biggest constitutional change for the United Kingdom in over three centuries, splintering a long-held relationship that has seen the good times and the bad, and weathered plenty of mutual disagreements up until now. And like any pending break-up, we find that music helps soothe or heighten the experience, and connects us to the universal themes of love and loss.&nbsp;So, Scottish chums, whatever side you're on, here's a playlist for you, on this almighty day-of-days.</p> <p><b>1. Queen: I Want to Break Free</b></p> <p>Obviously. One for the "Yes" camp. (Worth it in my opinion just for Freddy with a mustache in drag vacuuming the carpet.) "I want to break free from your lies/You're so self-satisfied I don't need you/I've got to break free!" Sing it Freddy. Sing it Scotland.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bRdo7WXTVoM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><b>2. Natalie Imbruglia: Torn</b></p> <p>If Scotland votes "Yes" and leaves the union bereft and sobbing, this Aussie songtress might be blaring from&nbsp;a few stereos across the Isles tomorrow:&nbsp;"Nothing's fine, I'm torn." Sing it England! Sing it Wales!</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VV1XWJN3nJo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>3. &acirc;&#128;&#139;&acirc;&#128;&#139;Bj&ouml;rk: Declare Independence</strong></p> <p>This is a&nbsp;song that famously landed the Icelandic singer in hot water with the Chinese authorities after a 2008 concert in Shanghai&nbsp;in which she called&nbsp;for Tibetan independence. Brave.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scmp.com/article/628660/bjork-faces-ban-after-provocative-tibet-call" target="_blank">She faced a&nbsp;ban</a>&nbsp;from future performances on the mainland after that. It's easy to see why China's famously&nbsp;censorial authorities were not impressed: "Start your own currency!/Make your own stamp/Protect your language/Declare independence/Don't let them do that to you!"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/42524198" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>4. Oasis:&nbsp;Don&rsquo;t Look Back In Anger</strong></p> <p>No matter what happens, some good advice for both sides. "My soul slides away, but don't look back in anger."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/r8OipmKFDeM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>5. Alicia Keys: Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart</strong></p> <p>Here's one for an emotional Prime Minister David Cameron, potentially presiding over a messy, painful divorce.&nbsp;"I'm going to find a way to make it without you/Tonight, I'm going to find a way to make it, without you." Ouch. Let it out.</p> <p>&acirc;&#128;&#139;<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/srMBZiqNMaM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>6. &acirc;&#128;&#139;Thelma Houston: Don't Leave Me This Way</strong></p> <p>That beat speaks for itself.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rl1BhPpHzD4" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>7. Beyonce: Irreplaceable</strong></p> <p>"Don't ever get to thinking you're irreplaceable," sings Queen Bey. This is the anthem for pretending everything will be fine post-breakup, that it's not a big deal, that you can find another, just as easily, and that it wasn't that good anyway, so don't go thinking you meant anything to me... Get lost.</p> <p>(I love you, come back).</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2EwViQxSJJQ" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>8. Boyz II Men: End of the Road</strong></p> <p>"Although we've come to the end of the road/Still I can't let you go/It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zDKO6XYXioc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>9. Mariah Carey: We Belong Together</strong></p> <p>Who could miss this song in any breakup playlist? It's worth watching to the part of the video where Mariah is losing her shit in the&nbsp;apartment, writhing in the short tunic-shirt thing, near the&nbsp;end of this narratively nonsensical clip.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/0habxsuXW4g" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>10. Alice Deejay: Better Off Alone</strong></p> <p>Mm. And lastly, any break-up is incomplete without some sweet late-90s Top 40.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Lgs9QUtWc3M" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media International Media Music Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:24:56 +0000 James West 260526 at http://www.motherjones.com IHOP Has Cut Back Its Menu By 30 Items http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/ihop-has-cut-back-its-menu-30-items <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's an interesting factoid: in 2008 we apparently reached Peak Menu. That year, the average menu contained 99.7 items. Then the housing bubble burst, we entered the Great Recession, and menus <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_menu_length.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">began to shrink. Today's menus feature a paltry 92.6 items.</p> <p>Why is this? Cost is one reason: it's cheaper to support a smaller menu. But Roberto Ferdman writes that <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/18/americans-are-tired-of-long-restaurant-menus/" target="_blank">there's more to it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The biggest impetus for all the menu shrinking going on is likely tied to a change in the country's food culture: Americans are becoming a bit more refined in their tastes.</p> <p>"Historically, the size of menus grew significantly because there wasn't the food culture there is today,"&nbsp;said [Maeve Webster, a senior director at Datassential]. "People weren't nearly as focused on the food, or willing to go out of their way to eat specific foods."</p> <p>For that reason, as well as the fact that there were&nbsp;fewer restaurants then, there used to be&nbsp;a greater&nbsp;incentive for restaurants to serve as many food options as possible. That way, a customer could would choose a particular restaurant because it was near or convenient, rather than for a specific food craving (which probably wasn't all that outlandish anyway). But now, given the increasing demand for quality over quantity, a growing appetite for exotic foods and a willingness to seek out specialized cuisines, Americans are&nbsp;more&nbsp;likely to judge a restaurant if its offerings aren't specific enough.</p> <p>"The rise of food culture, where consumers are both interested and willing to go to a restaurant that has the best Banh Mi sandwich, or the best burger, or the best trendy item of the moment, means that operators can now create much more focused menus," said Webster. "It also means that&nbsp;the larger the menu, the more consumers might worry all those things aren't going to be all that good."</p> </blockquote> <p>Hmmm. Let me say, based on precisely no evidence, that I find this unlikely. Have American tastes really gotten more refined since 2008? Color me skeptical. And even if American palates <em>are</em> more discriminating, are we seriously suggesting that this has affected the menu length at IHOP, Tony Roma's, and Olive Garden&mdash;the three examples cited in the article? I hope this isn't just my inner elitist showing, but I don't normally associate those fine establishments with a "growing appetite for exotic foods and a willingness to seek out specialized cuisines."</p> <p>So, anyway, put me down firmly in the cost-cutting camp. Long menus got too expensive to support, and when the Great Recession hit, casual dining chains needed to cut costs. They did this by lopping off dishes that were either expensive to prep or not very popular or both. Occam's Razor, my friends, Occam's Razor.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Food and Ag Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:11:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 260536 at http://www.motherjones.com Gore: Fracking Won't Solve our Climate Crisis http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/al-gore-climate-obama-clinton <!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/Rk-92I1Ic3g" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Few figures in the climate change debate are as polarizing as former Vice President Al Gore. His fans and his <a href="http://heartland.org/press-releases/2007/06/27/why-wont-al-gore-debate" target="_blank">enemies</a> are equally rabid, and his 2006 film <em>An Inconvenient Truth</em> is still probably the most-referenced document on climate change in history. In the last few years, Gore's global warming work has mostly been channeled into a nonprofit he oversees called <a href="http://climaterealityproject.org/" target="_blank">The Climate Reality Project</a>, which organizes rallies and educational events.</p> <p>This week, that group held its annual "24 Hours of Reality" marathon of live-streamed videos and appearances by Gore and other celebrities to raise funds for climate action. The event took place in New York City, which is gearing up for a series of meetings and protests in advance of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/09/heres-deal-big-un-climate-summit-next-week" target="_blank">biggest climate summit of the last five years</a>, to take place Tuesday at the United Nations. Gore took a break from the broadcast to chat with Climate Desk's <em>Inquiring Minds</em> podcast, offering his views on everything from President Obama's climate polices, to the role of the tea party in US politics, to his hopes for a strong international climate treaty.</p> <p>Gore said that Obama hasn't yet gone far enough in his efforts against climate change, but that he nonetheless admires "what the president has done."</p> <p>"In his first term I expressed some considerable concern about what I thought he was failing to do," Gore said, adding that after the demise of cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate, "there was not the kind of energy and activity that I felt was appropriate." But Gore credited Obama for shifting course dramatically in his second term, and for going around the "logjam" in Congress by instructing the EPA to issue "historic regulations" on carbon emissions from power plants.</p> <p>Gore did criticize some of Obama's policies, including the president's "<a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/05/29/new-report-all-above-energy-strategy-path-sustainable-economic-growth" target="_blank">all-of-the-above</a>" energy strategy, which Gore described as the "prevailing code for 'let's keep burning fossil fuels.'"</p> <p>"But it's not fair to just take those things out of context without looking at the totality of his policies," he added. "And the totality of what he's doing now in his second term is really historic."</p> <p>Gore expressed skepticism about the fracking boom. He said he opposed the use of natural gas as a bridge fuel&mdash;something the Obama administration <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/hillary-clinton-fracking-shale-state-department-chevron" target="_blank">has supported</a>&mdash;"until and unless they demonstrate the ability to stop the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/methane-fracking-obama-climate-change-bill-mckibben" target="_blank">methane leaks</a> at every stage of the process, particularly during fracking." (Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/methane-vs-carbon-dioxide-raymond-pierrehumbert-inquiring-minds" target="_blank">some scientists argue</a> can negate the climate benefits of burning natural gas instead of coal.) And he added that the increasing cost-effectiveness solar and wind power was already posing a "threat to the viability of natural gas as a source of energy in the marketplace."</p> <p>You can hear Gore's comments in full on this week's episode of our <em>Inquiring Minds</em> podcast, below, and see the highlights of his comments in our exclusive video above.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/168203687&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> Environment Interview Podcasts Video Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Energy Science Top Stories Infrastructure Inquiring Minds Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:57:04 +0000 Tim McDonnell 260471 at http://www.motherjones.com Apple Gives Its Middle Finger to the NSA http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/apple-gives-its-middle-finger-nsa <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm a little late getting started this morning, even though I actually woke up much earlier than usual. What happened is that I wrote a post; then lost it by hitting the wrong key and blowing away my browser window; then recreated it; and then decided not to publish it after all. I'm still not sure if this is because the post was genuinely ill-conceived, or because I'm just <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_apple_logo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">too cowardly to put it up. Questions, questions....</p> <p>In any case, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/apple-will-no-longer-unlock-most-iphones-ipads-for-police-even-with-search-warrants/2014/09/17/2612af58-3ed2-11e4-b03f-de718edeb92f_story.html?hpid=z2" target="_blank">I'm fascinated to see this tidbit</a> among all the boring recent Apple iPhone news (bigger screen, thinner profile, yawn):</p> <blockquote> <p>Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police &mdash; even when they have a search warrant &mdash; taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.</p> <p>....The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm not sure how universally this kind of technical fix can be applied elsewhere. I have a feeling that in practice, it's probably a limited solution. But it would certainly be a bit of poetic justice if the NSA's overreach and the government's unwillingness to rein them in led to a sea change in private security that simply makes it impossible to respond to mass requests for customer data.</p> <p>Of course, this might not be the end of things. For the time being, actual traditional governments with police forces and courts are still more powerful than even the highest of high-tech corporations. If Congress passes a law requiring Apple to maintain unlock codes, then they'll have to do it whether they like it or not. I wonder how this is all going to play out?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Tech Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:54:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 260521 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 18, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/were-still-war-photo-day-september-18-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines prepare to conduct a simulated raid in Hawaii, part of their pre-deployment training cycle.(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Callahan)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:26:11 +0000 260511 at http://www.motherjones.com The MoJo Investigative Fund Needs Your Help http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/mojo-investigative-fund-needs-your-help <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Mother Jones Investigative Fund is the secret behind some of the best work <em>Mother Jones</em> does. Right now we're trying to raise an infusion of $65,000 over the next two weeks, and I'm worried that we won't reach our goal.</p> <p>The urgency is real. Just look at the headlines: The pivotal midterm elections are approaching, with nearly unlimited &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; flowing to candidates. Politicians are itching to send our military back into the Middle East quagmire. Our police forces are being militarized at a scary pace. Women, immigrants, and the poor are under attack.</p> <p>But <em>Mother Jones</em> is fighting back. We expose the powerful, reveal the truth, and shape the national debate with solid, unassailable reporting. If you support this kind of reporting, please donate $5 or more to our investigative fund. Your gift of any amount is fully tax-deductible, and we'll immediately use it to support <em>Mother Jones'</em> reporting.</p> <p>It only takes a minute to make your tax-deductible contribution, and you can give using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.</p> <ul><li>To donate via credit card, <a href="https://secure.motherjones.com/fnp/?action=SUBSCRIPTION&amp;list_source=7Z94DRU&amp;extra_don=1" target="_blank">click here.</a></li> <li>To donate via PayPal, <a href="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&amp;hosted_button_id=LDTEDETCLTJSY" target="_blank">click here.</a></li> </ul><p>Thanks!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:50:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 260501 at http://www.motherjones.com The Walmart Heirs Give a Measly Amount to Charity http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/walmart-walton-heirs-charity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Walmart heirs are infamous for their <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/07/walmart-heirs-waltons-wealth-income-inequality" target="_blank">wealth</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/06/report-walmart-forces-employees-dole-taxpayers" target="_blank">penny-pinching</a>. Christy, Jim, Alice, and Rob Walton wouldn't be the sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-richest Americans, respectively, if not for Walmart's relentless <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/11/how-walmart-could-pay-decent-wage-without-raising-prices" target="_blank">exploitation of its low-wage workers</a>. But the Waltons' stinginess also extends to their philanthropy. According to a new analysis by the union-backed <a href="http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/" target="_blank">Making Change at Walmart</a> campaign, the Walton scions give way less money to charity than other &uuml;ber-rich Americans. In fact, the six other richest Americans have each donated many times more money to philanthropic causes than all four Walton heirs combined:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Walton-charity-WEB.gif"><div class="caption">Making Change at Walmart</div> </div> <p>Typically, the extremely wealthy give <a href="http://nccs.urban.org/nccs/statistics/Charitable-Giving-in-America-Some-Facts-and-Figures.cfm" target="_blank">a higher portion of their incomes</a> to charity than middle and upper-middle income Americans. After all, you can only buy so many yachts, vacation homes, and Teslas before you start to look for other ways to spend money. But that doesn't seem to be true for the Waltons, who've redefined what it means to be a Scrooge. Americans' average net worth is about <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/26/household-wealth-has-yet-to-recover/" target="_blank">$650,000</a> per household (the median is only about <a href="http://www.census.gov/people/wealth/files/Wealth%20distribution%202000%20to%202011.pdf" target="_blank">$70,000</a>), and the average annual charitable donation is about <a href="http://www.nptrust.org/philanthropic-resources/charitable-giving-statistics/" target="_blank">$3,000 per household</a>. Meanwhile, the average Walton has a net worth of $36 billion and gives about $730,000 to charity each year. This means that the four richest Waltons have, on average, a net worth that's 55,000 times higher than that of the average American household, yet give, as a percent of that wealth, about 1/230th as much to charity in a typical year:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="200" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/n0srZ/3/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Income Inequality Top Stories Walmart Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:30:07 +0000 Josh Harkinson 260491 at http://www.motherjones.com The US Military Is Going to Africa to Fight Ebola. Here's What It's Up Against http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/us-military-liberia-fight-ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the White House officially announced that it would be sending US troops to Liberia to fight the Ebola outbreak. The military has <a href="http://www.politico.com/morningdefense/0914/morningdefense15323.html" target="_blank">already requested</a> to use $500 million from its Overseas Contingency Operations budget to deal with Ebola in West Africa and ISIS in Iraq, and plans to request another $500 million to combat the epidemic, which United Nations officials have <a href="http://www.voanews.com/content/ebola-outbreak-who-response-one-billion-dollars/2451347.html" target="_blank">said</a> is needed to keep the number of cases in the "tens of thousands." (So far, the World Health Organization is aware of about 5,000 people who it believes have been infected in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, although it says the actual toll is probably much higher.)</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/ebola-mini.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the Ebola crisis. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-259686"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/ebola-world-health-organization-budget"> Why the World Health Organization Doesn't Have Enough Funds to Fight Ebola</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-259576"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/world-health-organization-doctors-without-borders-ebola-senegal-nigeria"> This Map Shows Why People Are Freaking Out About Ebola's Arrival in Senegal</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-258436"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/08/new-drugs-and-vaccines-cant-stop-ebola-outbreak"> New Drugs and Vaccines Can't Stop This Ebola Outbreak</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-257666"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/08/5-diseases-are-scarier-ebola"> 5 Diseases That Are Scarier Than Ebola</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255436"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/07/we-are-making-ebola-worse"> We Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse by Cutting Down Forests</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>But as the military heads to Liberia, concerns over the region's stability&mdash;and to what degree US troops will be involved in maintaining it&mdash;still hover over the entire operation.</p> <p>The core of the military's 3,000-troop mission in Liberia will be medical&mdash;building treatment centers and training medical staff by the hundreds to run them. But the outbreak and resulting panic have caused other problems, some of which the military will deal with, and others that they may try to avoid. One major problem is a food crisis: Liberia imports about two-thirds of its grain supply, but as its neighbors have closed their borders to prevent the disease from spreading and shipping into the country has slowed, food has become scarcer, and prices have increased. To ease this situation, the US operation will help to distribute food aid in the country.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/09/us-military-liberia-fight-ebola"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Foreign Policy Health International Top Stories Ebola Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:30:06 +0000 Alex Park 260451 at http://www.motherjones.com Even in Palin Country, Raising the Minimum Wage Is Wildly Popular http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/minimum-wage-ballot-initiatives-2014-alaska <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For Democrats, 2014 was supposed to be the year of the minimum wage. President Obama used his State of the Union speech earlier this year to urge Congress to bump the federal rate up to $10.10 an hour. "Congress needs to get on board," he <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/28/president-barack-obamas-state-union-address">said</a>. "Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about 20 percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here."</p> <p>Yet there is little hope that Congress will raise the minimum wage, stalled at $7.25 per hour since July 2009, anytime soon. In April, thanks to a Senate GOP filibuster, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/30/senate-republicans-block-minimum-wage-increase-bill/">failed</a> on a 54-42 vote&mdash;Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the only Republican willing to break party lines to support the measure. That's unlikely to change in the near term, with Republicans poised to keep the House and possibly win control of the Senate.</p> <p>But while DC dilly-dallies, the states have taken it upon themselves to boost the fortunes of the working poor&mdash;and not just the typical liberal redoubts. <a href="http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm">Twenty-three states</a> already have moved past the federal rate, and this November, voters in five more will have a chance to follow suit.</p> <p>In Illinois, voters will weigh in on whether the current rate of $8.25 per hour should be increased to $10. Nebraska's measure would bump the state's rate to $9 starting by 2016. In Arkansas&mdash;currently one of three states where the regional minimum wage is still set <em>below</em> the federal level&mdash;a ballot measure would set the state on a path to surpass the federal rate by 25 cents next year and then boost its rate to $8.50 by 2017. South Dakota's would bump it to $8.50 in January, with automatic increases for inflation.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/09/minimum-wage-ballot-initiatives-2014-alaska"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Economy Elections Income Inequality Labor Top Stories Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:15:06 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 260406 at http://www.motherjones.com 5 Signs the Dark-Money Apocalypse Is Upon Us http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/dark-money-2014-elections-house-senate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's the home stretch of the 2014 election season. No single theme or issue has dominated the midterms, but 2014 is on pace to be the Year of Dark Money.</p> <p>Nonprofit groups, some well known&nbsp;(such as the US Chamber of Commerce&nbsp;and Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers) and some obscure (America Inc., anyone?), have dumped huge sums of anonymous money into every competitive Senate race and many House contests. Here are five eye-opening indicators showing the rapid spread of dark money in this year's&nbsp;campaign season&mdash;and why it's going to get worse as Election Day approaches.</p> <p><strong>The $50 Million Mark</strong><br> A milestone passed in late August: According to the <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/08/dark-money-hits-50-million-most-still-to-come/">Center for Responsive Politics</a>, dark-money groups&mdash;nonprofits created under the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&amp;-Non-Profits/Other-Non-Profits/Social-Welfare-Organizations" target="_blank">501(c)(4)</a> and <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&amp;-Non-Profits/Other-Non-Profits/Business-Leagues" target="_blank">(c)(6)</a> sections of the US tax code&mdash;had by then surpassed $50 million on elections. These groups, unlike political action committees and candidates' campaigns, do not have to disclose their donors. So some of the key players looking to sway election results remain&nbsp;in the shadows. This was a new record and&nbsp;seven times the amount of dark money spent by the same point on House and Senate elections in 2010. And this week,&nbsp;dark-money spending for the 2014 cycle reached $63 million&mdash;just shy of the $69 million in dark money spent during the <em>entire</em> 2008 presidential election.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/dark-money-64-million-opensecrets.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet</strong><br> Every politician knows that campaign season begins in earnest after Labor Day. If recent history is any guide, there is sure to be an unprecedented last-minute blitz of dark-money spending.</p> <p>As the Center for Responsive Politics'&nbsp;Robert Maguire <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/08/dark-money-hits-50-million-most-still-to-come/">notes</a>, almost $7 million had been dropped by Labor Day in 2010. But by the end of that election season, dark-money spending had spiked to $130 million. That trend repeated in 2012: In late August of that year, dark-money spending clocked in at $51 million. Fast forward to Election Day and the total ballooned to more than $300 million.</p> <p>The chart below illustrates how secret spending could accelerate in the final weeks of an election year. This cycle is not a presidential year, but with the US Senate up for grabs, dark-money spending could surpass the record-setting amount of 2012. "If the rate of spending from previous cycles continues,"&nbsp;Maguire writes, "the totals could reach upwards of $730 million or&mdash;if the rate seen in the last midterm holds&mdash;edge close to $1 billion."&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2014-dark-money-estimate.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Casino King Bets Big on Red&mdash;Again</strong><strong> </strong><br> Sheldon Adelson, the 81-year-old casino mogul who runs the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is one of the biggest individual political donors in American history. In 2012, he doled out nearly $150 million to candidates, PACs, super-PACs, and dark-money nonprofits. His largesse propped up former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's wounded presidential campaign during the primaries, and Adelson later&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cmte=c00490045&amp;cycle=2012" target="_blank">gave more</a> than any other donor to the super-PAC backing GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/sheldon-adelson-2014-story-630.jpg"><div class="caption">Vincent Yu/AP</div> </div> <p>Despite a win-loss record in 2012 that would make a rookie craps player blush, Adelson is back at it in 2014. As the <em>Daily Beast</em>'s Peter Stone <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/03/casino-tycoon-sheldon-adelson-takes-100-million-gamble-on-gop-senate.html">reported</a>, Adelson<em>&nbsp;"</em>is poised to donate close to $100 million this election cycle, with much of that total coming in untraceable 'dark money'&nbsp;to conservative groups." Then again, if you're worth <a href="http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2014/mar/03/gates-back-top-forbes-billionaire-rankings/">$38 billion, as Adelson is</a>, what's another nine-figure spending spree to put your friends and allies in power?</p> <p><strong>The Koch Brothers Flood the Airwaves</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PhUCK1k4Ars" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>If you live in a state with a competitive Senate race and you watch TV, there's a good chance you've sat through an ad like the one above. TV viewers around the country have been inundated with political ads and negative messaging this campaign year&mdash;and for that, they can largely thank <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita" target="_blank">Charles and David Koch</a>, the billionaire industrialist brothers, and their sprawling network of dark-money groups.</p> <p>Koch-linked groups ran nearly 44,000 TV ads from January 1, 2013, to August 31, 2014, according to the <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/09/04/15459/gop-s-senate-hopes-energized-koch-network-ad-blitz">Center for Public Integrity</a>. Here's another way of looking at that number: 1 out of every 10 TV ads in that 20-month time period came from a group affiliated with the Kochs' political network. These groups include the Koch network's flagship organization, Americans for Prosperity, the American Energy Alliance, Concerned Veterans for America, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Generation Opportunity and the 60 Plus Association.</p> <p><strong>Democrats Love Their Dark Money Too</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wpdmjnu4oV4" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Don't think that the dark-money action is all on the Republican side. Not only do Democrats have their <a href="http://prospect.org/article/meet-billionaires-backing-team-blue-megaphone-only-money-can-buy">own political sugar daddies</a>&mdash;see Tom Steyer, the retired hedge fund investor who's pledged to spend $50 million of his own money this year on congressional races&mdash;but pro-Democratic dark-money groups rank among the biggest spenders in this year's contests.</p> <p>Four of the <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_elec.php">top 10 dark-money spenders</a> so far in the 2014 midterms are aligned with Democrats and have combined to spend $14 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They are Patriot Majority USA (which paid for the above ad), the League of Conservation Voters, VoteVets.org, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund.</p> <p>Democratic dark-money groups are as prone to twisting the truth as their GOP-allied counterparts. Patriot Majority, for instance, accused Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican running against Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, of wanting to give himself "taxpayer-funded health care for life."&nbsp;<em>PolitiFact</em> <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jun/28/patriot-majority-usa/pro-democratic-group-says-rep-tom-cotton-voted-giv/">rated</a> that claim a lie. VoteVets.org recently blasted out a fundraising email <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/story/azdc/2014/08/24/mccain-photo-isis-terrorists-syria/14475207/" target="_blank">falsely claiming</a> that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) posed for a photo with ISIS militants.</p> <p>Craig Varoga, the president of Patriot Majority USA, justified his use of dark money in an October 2012 interview with <em>Campaigns and Elections</em>. "For the time being, it does not matter whether any of us agree or disagree with current campaign finance laws, or court interpretations and FEC rulings on these laws," he <a href="http://www.campaignsandelections.com/magazine/1825/campaign-doc-think-before-you-photoshop">said</a>. "This brave new world is here."</p></body></html> Politics Congress Dark Money Elections The Right Top Stories Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Andy Kroll 260481 at http://www.motherjones.com