MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.phphttps%3A/motherjones.com/files/images/Adnkronos%20Internationalfavicon.ico http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Music Review: "Alerado (Take 2)" by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/05/music-review-alerado-take-2-duke-ellington-his-orchestra <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="200" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200746511&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>TRACK 2</strong></p> <p>"Alerado (Take 2)"</p> <p>From Duke Ellington &amp; His Orchestra's<em> The Conny Plank Session</em></p> <p>GR&Ouml;NLAND</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> Get your cool on, '70s style, with a swinging mix of lounge organ, breezy flute, and brassy orchestral flourishes. Finger snapping encouraged.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music: </strong>German producer and sound engineer Conny Plank collaborated with Ellington on this unreleased session before he became known for his work with Kraftwerk and Eurythmics.</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> Later Duke (not as consistent but still rewarding).</p> <p><em>We couldn't find audio for "Alerado<em> (Take 2)" online</em>, but that doesn't mean you can't get a feel for The Conny Plank Session. The above audio is "Afrique (Take 3, Vocal)" another track off the album.</em></p></body></html> Media Music Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:10:07 +0000 Jon Young 276056 at http://www.motherjones.com We Love America, And You Should, Too. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/we-love-america-and-you-should-too <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>James West: </strong>Okay. How to start. How to start?</p> <p><strong>Ben Dreyfuss: </strong>July 4th! America! That great American holiday wherein we celebrate some bit of the American story. I think the earliest bit. Or the earliest official bit? We aren't celebrating the stuff with the Mayflower.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>So the idea is we're chatting about what makes this holiday so great for Americans and America and by extension the world, because for Americans: America is the world. It's a bit off-brand for <em>Mother Jones</em>, no?</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>You could say that, yes. We don't have a lot of stories called "America Is Great."</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>It's usually: "America: It's Far Worse Than You Think " or "America: Get Out. Seriously, Get Out While You Can."</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>But you can't be critical all of the time or you'll have an aneurysm. So let's talk about the truth of the thing, which is that we actually love America! We're harsh and critical about it, but that's because we love it so much. We wouldn't bother writing these stories that urge it to be better if we didn't have some deep abiding love for it.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I mean, I love America more than is reasonable, because I left a sun-soaked beach paradise with universal health coverage and a social safety net to move to this rat-infested fuckshow called New York City. But anyway, I'm going to start with a simple question. What is your favorite thing about America? FIRST THING that comes to your mind.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Blue jeans. I think blue jeans are amazing. I also love Hollywood and rock &amp; roll. Blue jeans and Hollywood and rock &amp; roll won the cold war.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Blue jeans, when they're not made by children in Asia.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Well, even then we invented them. <strong>"</strong>Guess" may make them in Asia but those kids are playing an American song.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>"Designed in California" is how Apple describes that particular phenomenon.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Apple! Right, that's another cool thing America has. Innovation! Other places have that too, though.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Innovation is one thing I think America excels at quite legitimately and can lay claim to (despite lack of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tech-industry-diversity-jesse-jackson">diversity hires</a>.) Have you tried to use 3G in the UK? It's awful. And all their websites break when you try to book a ticket to see Jurassic World 3D. The internet is basically America. At least in the Anglophone world.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>That's true, but in their favor they did invent radar.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Jurassic World 3D, by the way, is an American film, made by Americans.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>American films are the best films. This is a fact. Cinema is&mdash;along with Jazz&mdash;the great American art form.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I think that's a fact, too. I mean, what is the comparison? French films? I don't think so. Bollywood? Bollywood is great. But very long films.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>And cinema in a very real sense created the American identity that has been exported around the world. For instance, would blue jeans be as important had not James Dean worn them? The French films are all very...well, French. Great! But arty to the point of being intentionally obtuse.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>British films are all set in a kitchen making tea... why is that? And Keira Knightley is in every single one of them.</p> <p><strong>BD:</strong> Have you seen the Eddie Izzard bit on the differences between British and American films?</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TjC3R6jOtUo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>British films are all "room with a view and a staircase and a pond."</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Now I'm in an Eddie Izzard YouTube K-hole.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>"You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife?" "I am your wife!"</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Okay, now I'm going to stop this.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>One thing I think he gets at in this discussion of the size and expanse of American films is the thematic size and expanse of the American ideal, right?</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Big, brash, uncompromising, and designed to sell you food made out of corn served in containers made of corn, in seats made of corn.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>You had this ridiculous frontier mentality in the 18th century. Then you have the moon looming large in the 20th century. There is this idea that you can do anything in America! Even though this isn't true and the poverty trap here is as terrible as anywhere, it's still baked into the pitch. You came here from Australia. Did you get that growing up?</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I think what most Australians refuse to really admit is that we are far more similar to Americans than we are to the British. Same frontier thing, same sense of upward-mobility (as a sometimes-flawed, problematic) national obsession, same sense that given the right circumstances everyone can achieve greatness. (Though in Australia's case, not too great, otherwise you're arrogant, "like an American.")</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Haha right. "Arrogant like an American" is a very British thing. You still have traces of British in you.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>It's tactical! America loomed large&mdash;and continues to loom the largest for Australians, I think. My childhood was drenched with all the cultural products your childhood was.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Nationality was&mdash;and is&mdash;far less a divide than age&hellip; because "everything is global, man!"</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>If I dusted off my Marxist undergraduate degree I would say something about the spread of global capitalism and America's imperialist soft power. But that's kind of boring, isn't it. Plus, I love America.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Right, I mean we're going to get into the Bad Bits later. We are liberal journalists, after all.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>And if there's any country's soft power I would want, it's America's, on balance. I mean, Scandinavian furniture is really nice, and better than American, but they aren't a superpower. But given the choice of current superpowers, I would throw my chips down for America. Also, New York hosts the UN, man, and it's a beautiful building full of august (ineffective!) debate about the future of the planet!</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>And Hillary Clinton wasn't afraid to announce her run for president in front of it!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>No. That was bold.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>That was great. I think a lot of people&mdash;myself included&mdash;think of America as a leader of the world, right? But what Hillary was saying with that backdrop was that we're a leader sure, but still a member of this global community. And that's true and important and when America acts like its worst self on the global stage is when we forget that.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I've been doing some thinking about this question, and I want to get sentimental for a second about America. Are you ready?</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Yes.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>America got a really bad wrap in recent years around the world for obvious reasons. And it made people kind of&hellip;"bigoted" against Americans. Certainly there was this feeling that American culture is crass, debased, somehow inferior. But actually I've only ever found the opposite: a culture that is genuinely open to people and ideas, in the pursuit of creating something cool. In my case, writing and videos. But there's never any hesitation to welcome an idea in any field, from my experience. Americans are natural storytellers, and therefore natural listeners, alert to things and excited by them. That's a really fun culture to be around.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Right. Like, storytelling is a big thing in like every culture but it does hold a special place in America.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Every American has a "story." That's fun. (And great for a reporter.)</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Nietzsche said that everyone tells themselves the story of their life. That's true about countries, too. We're constantly telling ourselves the American story.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Americans are especially good at framing a personal narrative, and then putting it on a path to redemption. Right, the same is true for the country.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>I think we do that because&mdash;we should do it more, too&mdash;but we do that because we have done so much terrible shit. Like, I know we're talking about America as one thing right now and basically it's a very New York liberal blah blah version of America but I was raised with an acute awareness of our original sins. The story of America is necessarily one of progress because if it's not than it's a stale story where we have not risen above Klansmen.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I do like the stakes involved in the project of America though: "We've done awful shit. We'll keep doing awful shit. But we also think of ourselves as the best country on Earth, so we have to hold ourselves to a higher ideal." I mean, what a crazy motherfucking insane project that is. The Russians don't do that. The Chinese don't do that. But it matters, because if America succeeds in that project, the world is a better place for it.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>But like also, yeesh, obviously America is still totally fucking awful on these issues.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Dreadful.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>And it's insane. For decades in America, centuries even, lynching was just a thing that happened. Then not that long after people looked back at it with the genuine shock and outrage it deserved and wondered, "HOW THE HELL DID WE DO THAT?" I think we'll look back on a lot of stuff that happens today the same way. Not seeing ourselves&mdash;not recognizing ourselves&mdash; in our own history. That's a scary feeling. One that everyone can't help but feel time to time.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>But at the same time, America has this idea of itself&mdash;rightly, wrongly&mdash;of becoming better, never settling, never being comfortable, always at war with the concept of "doing good"&mdash;and that makes it really interesting from an outsider's perspective. I'm from Australia. We go to the beach instead of confront our demons.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Haha.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I mean, if you guys had beaches like Australia's you'd do the same.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Have you been to Southern California? Southern California is the most beautiful place on Earth.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>OK, apart from Southern California, which is beautiful. And the Pacific Northwest. And actually, a lot of America is really beautiful.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Gorgeous!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Haha.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>There are ugly bits but even the ugly bits aren't that bad.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Coming back from Newark airport is pretty bad.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Wait, wait, before we start just listing our favorite parts of America&mdash;which we'll do in a second&mdash; I want to do something before we leave the history bit of this discussion.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Okay.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>The constitution looms large, right? My dad likes to talk about how it was a first. Other people had strived for freedom and promise and ratatatata but the Constitution was the first time we codified it aspirationally and wrote it down and put it up on a wall and said, "this is us." If your father was a cobbler, and his father was a cobbler, and his father was a cobbler, you don't have to be a cobbler.</p> <p>I mean Magna Carta was codified, DAD. "Look, dad, have you even fucking read the Magna Carta?"</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Apparently the Magna Carta was <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/20/the-rule-of-history">over-rated</a>?</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>I mean, it seems like it would have to be.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Look at Britain now!</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Haha.</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">ELECTION Photo du Jour: David Cameron meets pupils at Sacred Heart RC School in Westhoughton. By Stefan Rousseau/PA <a href="http://t.co/UE6qS5wm22">pic.twitter.com/UE6qS5wm22</a></p> &mdash; Stefan Rousseau (@StefanRousseau) <a href="https://twitter.com/StefanRousseau/status/585805409115643904">April 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I think Constitutional festishism can be a bit of a problem, though. Pick your amendment to be a nut about!</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Right. No one seems to give a fuck about them all equally. I mean, it would be weird to do that maybe too. I hate the constitutional originalism. Like, it's not some magical document. It was written by a bunch of smart people&mdash;most of whom are in hell now by the way&mdash;hundreds of years ago. Who gives a fuck what the founding fathers would think?</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Also, they would have been horrible people, by modern standards.</p> <p><strong>BD:</strong> Horrible!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>With awful teeth.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Wooden!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Thank god for fluoride.<strong> </strong>When I think of America, I think of Janis Joplin. I think of Nina Simone. I think of Martin Luther King Jr. I think of protest and struggle. There's never really been a time of calm&mdash;where counter culture has given in. All the way through to Baltimore, Ferguson, Charleston.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>That's so interesting. Maybe it's just because I'm a '90s kid but I really had this disruptive change after 9/11 where I felt a calmness lost. Like that is definitely because of "white privilege" and shit though.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Yeah, the "innocence lost" narrative of 9/11 is one to poke holes in for sure, but the whole world was involved, so wasn't just about America at that point.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Sure, but I don't think it's true that it was like equally spread out over the world. A few months ago I was abroad somewhere and a political person from that country was trying to make some point and kept being like "how did you feel on 9/11?" and I was like, "stop trying to co-opt our tragedy for your own bullshit purposes."</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Haha. Well, loads of countries went to war with you guys, including ours. So in that sense your tragedy was very ours.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Anyway...</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Can we list other things we like about America now, in short order?</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Yes. Southern California, Jazz, Hollywood, our breakfasts, the pacific northwest, basketball, rock &amp; roll, going to the moon, leather jackets, bourbon, New York City.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong><em>The Good Wife</em>. Road-trips and going to diners on road trips with my BF. HBO. The Empire State Building.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong><em>The Good Wife</em>!<em> The Americans</em>! Pop music!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>American newscasts and hyperbolic segues. I love them. I also love the weather segments which go for so long compared to back home.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Oh, they're amazing I love the bullshit morning shows. They're so stupid but I love them.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>The national anthem is also pretty special, and amazing, piece of music. Especially as sung by Whitney.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="//www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x3po34" width="480"></iframe></p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>We're good at music.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>And I also think&mdash;I'm going to say it&mdash;the design of your national flag is really iconic and beautiful.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Yeah it's nice. I like it. It's on the moon, too! When the aliens come they'll be very impressed.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>America! I'm so worked up about America now and feel so self-validated by my decisions to move here! Yay, America!</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Yay!</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>Happy July 4!</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Ok, so I guess that's how we wrap this up. We love America. You should too.</p> <p><strong>JW: </strong>I think I wanna end on a quote from my favorite American play (duh&mdash;it's so unsurprising. don't laugh)... <em>Angels in America</em>&hellip; About the guy who wrote the national anthem, one of the characters remarks that he "knew what he was doing. He set the word 'free' to a note so high nobody can reach it."</p> <p>I like that. Sums it up for me. Still trying to hit that high note.</p> <p><strong>BD: </strong>Perfect. All right, let's publish this motherfucker.</p></body></html> Politics Top Stories Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:00:13 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss and James West 278976 at http://www.motherjones.com 3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets, and 1 Racially Charged Tragedy http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/06/3-1/2-minutes-10-bullets-documentary-interview-marc-silver <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="embed-container" style="position:relative; height:0; padding-bottom:56.25%; padding-top:0px;"><iframe class="entity_iframe entity_iframe_node video" frameborder="0" height="100%" id="entity_iframe_node_52191" src="http://www.takepart.com/entity_iframe/node/52191" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;" width="100%"></iframe></div> <p>On Black Friday 2012, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was sitting with three friends in a car at a Florida gas station, cranked up the rap on the stereo. Three and a half minutes later, he was dead, shot at 10 times by Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man bristling at the black teens' "thug music." In a new documentary,&nbsp;<em>3-1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets,</em>&nbsp;director Marc Silver explores the perfect storm of racism and lax gun laws that led to the killing.</p> <p>The film, which opened in theaters this month, comes at a time when a lot of racially motivated tragedies have been in the news&mdash;the most recent being the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. Jordan's death wasn't classified as a hate crime, but the film makes an implicit argument for Dunn's racial motivations, zooming in on his testimony and his jailhouse phone calls with his girlfriend, in which he insists the teens were armed and dangerous&mdash;no gun was found&mdash;and that he acted in self defense. Throughout, the film touches on the murky legal ground at the nexus of bias and self-defense laws: What constitutes a "reasonable belief" that one's life is in danger when that belief may be borne out of racial stereotypes?</p> <p>The film documents both of Dunn's trials&mdash;the first, which ended in a hung jury, and the second, in which he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Silver follows Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, Jordan's parents, as they go to court each day and wait for the final verdict in their son's death. The pair must maintain their decorum in the courtroom as the defense vilifies their son and his friends&mdash;all while wondering whether his legacy will match that of another unarmed Florida teen whose shooter walked free; in one scene, Jordan's father recalls a text he got from Trayvon Martin's dad: "I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in."</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> Tell me a little about why you decided to make this film.</p> <p><strong>Marc Silver:</strong> I saw a tension, a film that would be able to explore this awful moment when two cars happen to pull up next to each other, and within that coincidence this tragedy that consisted of racial profiling, access to guns, and laws that give people the confidence to use those guns. It was unique that you would be able to deconstruct this one tight moment and come out with the big, macro issues. I also felt like it was important to learn about Michael Dunn. I was interested in the idea that there would be audience members who would have some sense of empathy with him at the outset, who also might have felt fear when a car full of young black teenagers pulled up and they start having an argument over music. Through Michael Dunn, you learn about many other people in America who have that same implicit bias, and it might make audiences look at themselves in a different way.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Jordan's parents, Ron and Lucy, are featured prominently. You capture some heart-wrenching moments. How did you get that kind of access?</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> I shoot and do sound on my own, so I'm not approaching them with a big crew and lights and all the rest of it. That's the technical answer. There was also a huge emotional relationship. We met about seven months before the trial. By the time the trial came, I asked, "Would you be okay if I did several mornings with you and several evenings? It's really important that the audience gets to see not just you guys sitting there stoically in court, but actually what impact this really has on you." They were very open to that. They could see the bigger picture, in terms of audiences really understanding that, however many shootings and racist incidents there are in the US, that <em>this</em> is the effect.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> It does feel like, since Ferguson, we hear news about the killing of black men almost daily.</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> I really hope people walk away from the film remembering that there are concentric circles around these events. If you put these on a map and you actually counted the number of people affected, that would be a very different picture. It's not just families; it's communities.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What was it like documenting Ron and Lucy's trepidation?</p> <p><strong>MS: </strong>That was a horrific journey. We could feel the tension, the exhaustion, the horror of having to sit through the trial. Every day in the courtroom, the judge reminded people that they weren't allowed to show emotion&mdash;I presume [because] it might affect the jury. They also weren't allowed to talk about race because it wasn't officially declared a hate crime.<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> That's when I understood this difference between the cold environment of the courtroom and this emotional, every-parent's-worst-nightmare story unfolding outside the courtroom that the public were finding themselves attached to&mdash;because clearly it was about racism.</span></p> <p><strong>MJ: </strong>A second thread in the film touches on stand your ground and gun laws. What made you decide to toggle between those two plotlines?</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> The 50 pages, or whatever it was, of self-defense laws the judge had to read out to the jury lasted about 30 minutes. That obviously wasn't going to work in the film. And the specifics are really difficult to explain. So we put that across to the audience in the simplest way possible by using the jury&mdash;in the way the prosecutor, the defense, and the judge explained self defense. It was essential that we embedded that into the story. Of course, you come up against something really weird: Trayvon Martin wasn't a stand-your-ground case. Jordan Davis' case wasn't a stand-your-ground case. That really complicates stuff.</p> <p>We really didn't get into gun control because the heart of the film is about race. There are subsequent things in the film that may make you think about gun control without us having to slap you with it. One was the white witness [at the gas station]: He describes the gun in such great detail. To be able to say the name, make, and model of a gun you saw for a split second goes to show how embedded gun culture is in Florida.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You're from the UK, which treats firearms very differently than the United States does. How did that affect the film's outlook?</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> I like to think that it gave me a less judgmental perspective. It's always weird coming to the US and seeing how powerful the gun lobby is and how passionate some people are about the use of guns when you come from a place where hardly any of our police have guns. I understand philosophically the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment. But consider what practical effect these concepts have. It's very simple: If there wasn't a gun in Michael Dunn's car, Jordan Davis would not be dead, and Michael Dunn would not be spending the rest of his life in prison. The gun created a totally different narrative.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You're also white. Did that affect the process in any way?</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> I didn't feel it hindered my making the film. That's not to say if I was African American, or American, or owned a gun, I may not have told the story in a different way.&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">But being white made me want to explore what proportion of white America Michael Dunn represents.</span></p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Did you find an answer?</p> <p><strong>MS:</strong> I always had a suspicion that Dunn's perception of race was wildly skewed. Then we found the prison phone calls. The way he described, as you hear in the film, his conviction that Jordan's friends are thugs, that they won't tell the truth in court, that him killing Jordan actually potentially saved someone else's life because Jordan didn't get to kill somebody else. And that all of this is related to baggy pants, their fathers not being around, and MTV. The belief system he had in place led to Jordan's killing. And there were some things that Michael Dunn said that were, for me, metaphorical of what many white people in America say and how they perceive black men. A lot of people think that MTV is this, or all black fathers are that. I don't know how many people who have those opinions would then reach for their gun. But I think a lot of people have those opinions. Michael Dunn is just one person, but what he comes to represent is much more interesting.</p> <p>Also, I thought one of the maddest things about Dunn's rant about black fathers not being present was this amazing irony that Dunn had not seen his son in many years and was literally going to his estranged son's wedding that day. So he would be a not-present father, and Ron, Jordan's dad, would be ever-present father. Even in death, Ron is essentially fathering and standing up for his son.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You started this film before Ferguson got more of America talking about race again. How has the explosion of debate on this topic affected the final product?</p> <p><strong>MS: </strong>I remember we were sitting in the edit suite watching Ferguson erupt on Facebook and in the media. There were moments when we were itching to go out and shoot, not really knowing why. So we held ourselves back. But actually that was the wisest thing. Because Jordan's story held within its DNA all of these layers that not only spoke to what happened specifically to him, but spoke to bigger things that were, and obviously have been happening in the US for many years&mdash;this year in particular. All of that had already happened before Ferguson. So technically nothing changed on the timeline. It just resonated more powerfully.</p> <p>Ferguson happened in between the two [Dunn] trials. Members of the public obviously knew it had happened, and then 12 of those members of the public ended up on the second jury. I've always wondered if some social change had actually occurred. Whether that second jury had been affected by what happened in Ferguson, and they did look at racial bias in a different way and thought, "This isn't self defense." I could never prove that, but I like to think that sometimes.</p></body></html> Media Film and TV Guns Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:00:12 +0000 Hannah Levintova 278611 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Just Came Out Hard Against the Washington Football Team’s Racist Name http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/obama-just-came-out-hard-against-washington-football-team%E2%80%99s-racist-name <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In an irony that will surely be lost on team owner Dan Snyder, the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/ditching-redskins-nfl-dan-snyder-slate" target="_blank">Washington Redskins</a> are being kicked off their land.</p> <p>From the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2015/07/01/obama-administration-rebuffs-d-c-s-efforts-to-bring-back-the-redskins/" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser this spring that the National Park Service, which owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, was unlikely to accommodate construction of a new stadium for the Redskins unless the team changes its name.</p> <p>Jewell&nbsp;oversees both national park land and America's trust and treaty relationships with Native American tribes.</p> <p>Her decision not to extend the District's lease of the RFK land badly hinders Bowser's bid to return the Redskins to D.C.&mdash;and boosts efforts to lure the team across the Potomac to Northern Virginia.</p> </blockquote> <p>Jewell, who has been an <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/09/us-interior-secretary-surprised-redskins-team-name-not-changed/" target="_blank">outspoken critic</a> of the team's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/timeline-history-offensive-sports-mascots-redskins-snyder" target="_blank">controversial</a> name, added that adjusting the federal lease on the property, which doesn't expire for another 22 years, is "not likely to be a priority for the administration." The team's owner Dan Snyder, who <a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9259866/daniel-snyder-says-washington-redskins-never-change-team-name" target="_blank">has vowed</a> to never change the team's name, has <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24683402/daniel-snyder-redskins-have-started-process-of-planning-new-stadium" target="_blank">long been interested</a> in building a new stadium in the DC area.</p> <p>There's actually a great precedent for this. As <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/11/nazis-desegregating-washington-nfl-football-team" target="_blank">we explained in 2013</a>,</p> <blockquote>The showdown began in 1961, when John F. Kennedy's interior secretary, Stewart Udall, who'd committed to ending segregation anywhere in his sphere of influence, declared his intent to break pro football's last color bar...The call for integration was met with opposition, most notably from the team's owner, George Preston Marshall, a laundromat magnate turned NFL bigwig who had held firm for years. Udall had one advantage over Marshall: The team's new home field, DC Stadium (later renamed RFK Memorial), was federal property. With Kennedy's approval, Udall gave Marshall a choice: He could let black players on his team, or take his all-white squad to someone else's gridiron."</blockquote> <p>Don't worry, Washington fans: There's always <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tug-of-war-for-new-redskins-stadium-is-complicated-by-name-debate/2015/04/11/015364de-d4b2-11e4-a62f-ee745911a4ff_story.html" target="_blank">Virginia</a> (or stay in Maryland).</p></body></html> MoJo Race and Ethnicity Sports Thu, 02 Jul 2015 23:06:58 +0000 Edwin Rios 278991 at http://www.motherjones.com John Boehner: "I'm Sorry, but a Gun Is Not a Disease" http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/gun-violence-research-cdc-boehner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last week, after a shooter killed nine parishioners at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, the House Appropriations Committee quietly voted on a bill to effectively block any funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes of gun violence in America. At a press conference last Thursday, a reporter from WNYC's <em>The Takeaway</em> <a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/gop-rejects-gun-violence-research/" target="_blank">asked</a> House Speaker John Boehner about the committee's vote, which was just part of a decades-long <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/us/26guns.html?_r=1" target="_blank">string of</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/republicans-say-no-cdc-gun-violence-research" target="_blank">Republican rejections</a> of official efforts to study gun violence. Boehner <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-02/quietly-congress-extends-ban-cdc-research-gun-violence" target="_blank">responded</a> with this familiar argument:</p> <blockquote> <p>Listen, the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I'm sorry, but a gun is not a disease. And guns don't kill people; people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual, not blame the action on some weapon. Listen, there are hundreds of millions of weapons in America. They're there. And they're going to be there. They're protected under the Second Amendment. But people who use weapons in an inappropriate or illegal way ought to be dealt with severely.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212994478&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>In the wake of the mass shooting in Charleston, President Obama <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/obama-mayors-charleston-gun-violence-speech-video" target="_blank">expressed</a> frustration with Congress for not passing gun safety reforms, and underscored the immense and untold cost of gun violence. "Whether it's a mass shooting like the one in Charleston, or individual attacks of violence that add up over time, it tears at the fabric of the community," Obama told a room full of mayors two weeks ago. "It costs you money, and it costs resources. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america" target="_blank">It costs this country dearly</a>."</p> <p>Read more about the staggering costs of gun violence in this recent <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones</em> investigation</a>.</p></body></html> Politics Congress Guns Health Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:34:51 +0000 Jaeah Lee 278961 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton's Emails Show She's Basically Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep" http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-emails-veep-julia-louis-dreyfus <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This week, the State Department released a large batch of the emails that Hillary Clinton sent and received (on her personal account via a private server!) when she was secretary of state. The media, naturally, dove into this pool and quickly found the most amusing items among the 3,096 pages. One day, Clinton had heard about a Cabinet meeting on the radio and asked her aides, "Can I go?" Another time, she emailed the protocol chief at State, "Can you contact your protocol friend in China and ask him if I could get photos of the carpets of the rooms I met in w POTUS during the recent trip? I loved the designs." She once struggled to get a fax machine to work. Her emails showed how she and her lieutenants <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-emails-greta-van-susteren-leslie-gelb" target="_blank">assiduously worked</a> the press to get positive coverage. They revealed interesting details of <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/state-dept-releases-new-tranche-of-hillary-clintons-emails-119624.html" target="_blank">her close relationship</a> with author and political operative Sidney Blumenthal. But overall, this trove of emails&mdash;the first of several to come&mdash;depicts Clinton as an earnest public servant toiling away on important affairs of state (global food security, Afghanistan policy, climate change, and international women's rights) while often operating in a <em>Veep</em>-like world, as in the HBO comedy in which Julia Louis-Dreyfuss plays a vice president-turned-president who must contend with absurdities and indignities large and small as she handles the gravest of matters.</p> <p>These emails chronicle several scenes that could appear in the television show. At least, it would be easy to envision President (or Vice President) Selina Meyer in these situations.</p> <p>* On December 17, 2009, Clinton zapped senior aide Jake Sullivan an email titled "Argentina." She noted, "The FM [foreign minister] just told me that Arturo&hellip;had insulted their country. He was very upset and said I needed to do damage control. Can you figure out what he's talking about?" (She might have been referring to Arturo Valenzuela, then the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.) Within two minutes, Sullivan replied, "On it." And Clinton responded, "He's standing right inside the door here." In other words, it's awkward; hurry. Imagine Meyer stuck like this: <em>The Argentine foreign minister is waiting for me, I told him I had to go to the bathroom, but now I have to tell him something about Arturo.</em></p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-emails-veep-julia-louis-dreyfus"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Top Stories Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:39:43 +0000 David Corn 278956 at http://www.motherjones.com Jim Webb Just Announced He's Running for President. Here's What You Need to Know About Him. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/jim-webb-is-running-for-president <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>At long last, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) is officially a candidate for president. After weeks of supposedly imminent announcements&mdash;including ones <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/06/27/webb-close-to-2016-decision-insiders-say-clinton-camp-helped-delay-launch/" target="_blank">his staff may not have known about</a>&mdash;he declared on Thursday afternoon that he's running, with a <a href="http://www.webb2016.com/jim-webb-announces-candidacy-for-president/" target="_blank">long statement</a> on his website that blended a prudent hawkishness with economic populism. " I understand the odds," Webb notes, "particularly in today's political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money. I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars&mdash;some estimates run as high as two billion dollars&mdash;in direct and indirect financial support&hellip;We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process."</p> <p>Webb, as he concedes, is a huge underdog, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/01/politics/donald-trump-poll-hillary-clinton-jeb-bush/" target="_blank">polling at just 2 percent</a> in nationwide polls. Here's what you should know about the latest Democratic contender.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/06/jim-webb-is-running-for-president"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics 2016 Elections Top Stories Jim Webb Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:13:53 +0000 Max J. Rosenthal 278731 at http://www.motherjones.com China Adopts an Unusual Approach to Fighting a Stock Market Crash http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/china-adopts-unusual-approach-fighting-stock-market-crash <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_shanghai_stock_market.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hum de hum hum. Greece is in trouble. Puerto Rico too. <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/asian-shares-rise-on-hopes-for-greece-1435800229" target="_blank">And don't forget China:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Chinese shares plunged Thursday, even as Beijing grasps for solutions to stem the selling, including relaxing rules on the use of borrowed funds to invest in stocks....The Shanghai Composite closed down 3.5% while the smaller Shenzhen market was down 5.6%. The ChiNext board, composed of small-cap stocks, sank 4%. <strong>Even after losing nearly a quarter of its value from a mid-June high, China&rsquo;s main stock market has almost doubled in value over the past year.</strong></p> <p>....In a rare move late Wednesday, <strong>Chinese regulators set in motion draft proposals to ease restrictions on margin lending earlier than scheduled</strong>....Regulators&rsquo; sudden shift in attitude about margin trading comes after vocal warnings about its risks in recent months. In April, regulators took various steps to rein in the practice, which had allowed investors to borrow several times their investment money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Inscrutable, those Chinese. Their stock market is crashing so they're promoting an <em>increase</em> in margin trading. That's sort of like lighting a tree on fire when it gets dark outside and all your flashlights are dead. It'll work. For a while. But it's really not considered best practice.</p> <p>Then again, maybe there's something I don't understand here. All I know is that panicky measures to halt a panic don't usually work. And the Chinese stock market still has a long way to fall. I sure hope they figure something out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:38:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 278966 at http://www.motherjones.com The Combined Black Workforces of Google, Facebook, and Twitter Could Fit on a Single Jumbo Jet http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/black-workers-google-facebook-twitter-silicon-valley-diversity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We already knew that Google, Facebook, and Twitter <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/05/google-diversity-labor-gender-race-gap-workers-silicon-valley" target="_blank">employed relatively few African Americans</a>, but new details show that the gap is truly striking. All three companies have disclosed their full <a href="http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/" target="_blank">EEO1 reports</a>, detailed accounts of their employees' race and gender demographics that the law requires them to submit to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The reports show that out of a combined 41,000 Twitter, Facebook, and Google employees, only 758, or 1.8 percent, are black. To put this in perspective, all of those workers could fit onto <a href="http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/the-biggest/the-10-biggest-passenger-airplanes/" target="_blank">a single Airbus A380</a>. Have a look:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="225" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/NLTAD/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>African Americans comprise 13 percent of the overall workforce, which means they are underrepresented at Google, Facebook, and Twitter by a factor of 7. Here's a visual comparison of the black employees&hellip;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/single-airplane.gif"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>versus all other employees:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/lots-of-airplanes2.gif"></div> <p>Race and gender gaps in tech hiring have been hot-button issues as of late. Since last May, when Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up at Google's shareholder meeting, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tech-industry-diversity-jesse-jackson" target="_blank">he has won some serious diversity concessions from major tech companies</a>&mdash;but the pace of minority hiring remains slow. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/01/facebook-diversity-black-employees" target="_blank">As the <em>Guardian</em> noted yesterday</a>, Facebook hired 1,216 new people last year, and only 36 were black. Since last year, the percentage of black Google workers <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/google-diversity-statistics-barely-impoved" target="_blank">has not changed</a>.</p> <p>It should be easier to shift workplace demographics at smaller companies. Twitter, with fewer than 3,000 employees in 2014, has a huge black user base that is sometimes referred to as "<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blacktwitter" target="_blank">Black Twitter</a>." Jackson wants the company to do more to move the needle. "I am very disappointed," he told <em>the Guardian</em>. "We are becoming intolerant with these numbers. There's a big gap between their talk and their implementation."</p> <p><em>Airplane image: <a href="https://thenounproject.com/search/?q=jumbo-jet&amp;i=15251" target="_blank">Anthony Lui/Noun Project</a></em></p> <p><em>Correction: An early version of this story misstated the number of black employees at Google and incorrectly suggested that Twitter had released its 2015 EEO1 report. Mother Jones regrets the errors.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Race and Ethnicity Tech Top Stories Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:41 +0000 Josh Harkinson 278916 at http://www.motherjones.com America's BBQ Grills Create as Much Carbon as a Big Coal Plant http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/your-grills-smoky-truth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As your neighbors fire up their barbecues this Independence Day, the most popular day in America to grill, they won't just send the scent of tri-tip or grilled corn over the fence in your direction&mdash;they'll also send smoke. As my colleague Kiera Butler wrote about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/09/bbq-econundrum-charcoal-or-gas" target="_blank">here</a>, even the "cleanest" gas grills emit pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every hour they're used. So how many emissions can we expect from dinner barbecues on the 4th?</p> <p>Roughly eighty percent of American households own barbecues or smokers, <a href="http://www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/grilling-facts-and-figures" target="_blank">according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association</a>. Let's say all 92.5 million of them decide to grill on Saturday. A 2013 study by HPBA found that 61 percent of users opted for gas grills, 42 percent for charcoal, and 10 percent for electric (some respondents had multiple grills). If that reflected all households across the United States, and each household used <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ObVH5sYMCh8J:web.ornl.gov/ornlhome/print/press_release_print.cfm%3FReleaseNumber%3Dmr20030703-00+&amp;cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">its grill for an hour</a> on the 4th of July, then we'd get a calculation like this:</p> <p>(56.425M gas grills*5.6 pounds of CO2) + (38.85M charcoal grills*11 pounds CO2) + (9.25M electric grills*15 pounds CO2 ) = <strong>882 million pounds of CO2</strong></p> <p>That's <a href="http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html" target="_blank">roughly as many</a> emissions as burning 2145 railcars of coal, or running one coal-fired power plant for a month.</p> <p>But let's be honest&mdash;no one wants to give up summer grilling, and these emissions stats probably won't convince your neighbor to turn off the barbecue. You might instead offer up ideas on recipes with ingredients that are friendlier to the planet&mdash;like these <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/veggie-burger-recipe-vegan-gluten-free-barley-beet-mushroom-falafel" target="_blank">4 veggie burgers that don't suck</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Food and Ag Science Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:48:53 +0000 Maddie Oatman 278911 at http://www.motherjones.com