MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/feed%5Baction.subscribe http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The US Has No Clean Battle Lines in the Middle East http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/us-has-no-clean-battle-lines-middle-east <!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://www.nationalreview.com/corner/416115/top-nbc-foreign-correspondent-us-strategy-middle-east-leaving-region-confused-andrew" target="_blank">From The Corner:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The United States is sending mixed signals to its allies in the Middle East by simultaneously giving support to the Saudi-led Sunni coalition fighting in Yemen and negotiating with Shiite Iran on its nuclear program, according to NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.</p> <p>Engel pinpoints an apparent contradiction: <strong>Even as the U.S. is assisting Saudi Arabia and other nations in &ldquo;confronting the Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen&rdquo; by providing intelligence and other support, it continues to negotiate with Tehran on its nuclear program, and to collaborate with Iranian forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.</strong></p> <p>As a result, Engel says, &ldquo;the Saudis, and the larger Sunni Muslim world, doesn&rsquo;t [sic] feel the U.S. can really be trusted.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Gee, no kidding. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni ally of the US that hates Iran. Iraq is a Shiite ally who's cozy with Iran. The US itself is hostile toward Iran, but shares a common enemy in ISIS. Syria is a total mess with no clear good guys. And, yes, a good nuclear deal with Iran would be a bonus for the safety of the entire region.</p> <p>That's it. That's the way the world is. The United States is not allied solely with Shiite or Sunni regimes and hasn't been since at least 9/11. It's confusing. It's messy. And maybe President Obama hasn't handled it as skillfully as he could have. But who could have done any better? There just aren't any clean battle lines here, and the sooner everyone faces up to that, the better off we'll be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:11:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 272556 at http://www.motherjones.com Peculiar Eyesight Question http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/peculiar-eyesight-question <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'll be asking my optometrist about this shortly, but just for fun I thought I'd throw it out to the hive mind to see if anyone knows what's going on.</p> <p>Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that my distance vision is a little fuzzy. Time for new glasses, you say, and you're probably right. But here's the odd thing. I keep all my old glasses, and last night I tried them all on just to see if an <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_red_blue_led_clocks.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">older prescription worked better than my current glasses. What I discovered was a little strange.</p> <p>Right under my TV I happen to have two LED clocks. One uses red LEDs and the other uses blue LEDs. With my current glasses, the blue LEDs are sharp and the red LEDs are fuzzy. But when I put on glasses that are a few years old, it changes. The red LEDs are sharp and the blue LEDs are fuzzy. The difference is quite noticeable, not a subtle thing at all.</p> <p>Anyone know what this is all about?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:14:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 272551 at http://www.motherjones.com Should We Welcome Saudi Arabia to the Fight in the Middle East? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/03/should-we-welcome-saudi-arabia-fight-middle-east <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I have occasionally griped in this space about the fact that putative Middle East allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan basically view the American military as a sort of mercenary force to fight their own tribal battles. Sure, they provide us with basing rights, and sometimes money, but they want us to do all the fighting, and they complain bitterly about American naivet&eacute; when we don't fight every war they think we should fight.</p> <p>Recently this has changed a bit, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan launching independent air attacks against various neighbors, and Saudi Arabia even making noises about launching ground attacks in Yemen. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/be-happy-they-are-acting" target="_blank">Josh Marshall makes some useful points:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It is always dangerous when power and accountability are unchained from each other. In recent decades, we've had a system in which our clients look to us for protection, ask for military action of various sorts&nbsp;&mdash; but <em>privately</em>. <strong>And then we act, but always in the process whipping up anti-American sentiment, mixed with extremist religious enthusiasms, which our allies often, paradoxically, stoke or accommodate to secure their own holds on power.</strong> This is, to put it mildly, an unstable and politically toxic state of affairs. This does not even get into the costs to the US in blood and treasure.</p> <p>There are pluses to the old or existing system. We control everything. Wars don't start until we start them. But the downsides are obvious, as well. <strong>And nowhere has this been more clear than with the Saudis. The Saudis sell us oil; and they buy our weapons. We start wars to protect them, the reaction to which curdles in the confines of their domestic repression and breaks out in terrorist attacks against us.</strong> I don't mean to suggest that we are purely victims here. We're not. But it's a pernicious arrangement.</p> <p>This is why I think we should be heartened to see the Saudis acting on their own account, taking action on their own account for which they must create domestic support and stand behind internationally.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's more, and Marshall is hardly unaware of the risks in widespread military action among countries that barely even count as coherent states. "Still, the old system bred irresponsibility on many levels, including a lack of responsibility and accountability from the existing governments in the region. For all the dangers and unpredictabilities involved with having the Saudis or in other cases the Egyptians stand up and take actions which they believe are critical to their security on their own account is better for everyone involved."</p> <p>Some food for thought this weekend.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:01:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 272546 at http://www.motherjones.com Book Review: Chasing the Scream http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/03/book-review-chasing-scream <!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-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/hari_cover.png"></div> <p><strong style="line-height: 2em;">Chasing the Scream</strong></p> <p>By Johann Hari</p> <p>BLOOMSBURY</p> <p>The drug war is viewed by many as a 40-year-old waste of resources. But in this beautifully written book, British journo Johann Hari shows that its roots extend as far back as the early 1900s, when young Harry Anslinger heard the shrieks of a neighbor in withdrawal; he grew up to lead the Bureau of Narcotics, the DEA's precursor, pioneering ruthless drug policies that endured for decades. Knowing his work would be scrutinized due to a past plagiarism scandal, Hari spent three years meticulously researching and footnoting the book, which puts a vivid human face on our behemoth and often abstract anti-drug efforts.</p></body></html> Media Books Crime and Justice Sat, 28 Mar 2015 10:15:09 +0000 AJ Vicens 265916 at http://www.motherjones.com Book Review: The Powerhouse http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/03/book-review-powerhouse <!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-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/powerhouse-250x300.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Powerhouse</strong></p> <p>By Steve LeVine</p> <p>VIKING</p> <p>Arguably no existing technology holds more potential to slow climate change and reboot the economy than the lithium-ion battery. <em>Quartz</em> reporter Steve LeVine chronicles the global race to develop a battery cheap and durable enough to supplant the internal-combustion engine. The field is littered with hype and people left in the dust&mdash;including LeVine, whose book, in its slow march to press, didn't get to the solid-state battery technology that's now at the cutting edge. Even so, he offers a revealing deep dive into the challenges of creating a killer app for the planet.</p></body></html> Media Books Climate Change Energy Sat, 28 Mar 2015 10:15:07 +0000 Josh Harkinson 265906 at http://www.motherjones.com The Often Overlooked Role of Natural Gas in the Israel-Palestine Conflict http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/how-gazan-natural-gas-became-epicenter-international-power-struggle <!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/levi.jpg" style="height: 482px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Known oil and gas fields in the Levant Basin </strong>US Energy Information Administration/<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Levant_Basin.png" target="_blank">Wikimedia</a></div> </div> <p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175961/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>Guess what? Almost all the current wars, uprisings, and other conflicts in the Middle East are connected by a single thread, which is also a threat: these conflicts are part of an increasingly frenzied competition to find, extract, and market fossil fuels whose future consumption is guaranteed to lead to a set of cataclysmic environmental crises.</p> <p>Amid the many fossil-fueled conflicts in the region, one of them, packed with threats, large and small, has been largely overlooked, and Israel is at its epicenter. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1990s when Israeli and Palestinian leaders began sparring over rumored natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza. In the ensuing decades, it has grown into a many-fronted conflict involving several armies and three navies. In the process, it has already inflicted mindboggling misery on tens of thousands of Palestinians, and it threatens to add future layers of misery to the lives of people in Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. Eventually, it might even immiserate Israelis.</p> <p>Resource wars are, of course, nothing new. Virtually the entire history of Western colonialism and post-World War II globalization has been animated by the effort to find and market the raw materials needed to build or maintain industrial capitalism. This includes Israel's expansion into, and appropriation of, Palestinian lands. But fossil fuels only moved to center stage in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in the 1990s, and that initially circumscribed conflict only spread to include Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and Russia after 2010.</p> <p><br><strong>The Poisonous History of Gazan Natural Gas</strong></p> <p>Back in 1993, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the Oslo Accords that were supposed to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and create a sovereign state, nobody was thinking much about Gaza's coastline. As a result, Israel <a href="http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/main%20points%20of%20gaza-jericho%20agremeent.aspx">agreed</a> that the newly created PA would fully control its territorial waters, even though the Israeli navy was still patrolling the area. Rumored natural gas deposits there mattered little to anyone, because prices were then so low and supplies so plentiful. No wonder that the Palestinians took their time recruiting British Gas (BG)&mdash;a major player in the global natural gas sweepstakes&mdash;to find out what was actually there. Only in 2000 did the two parties even <a href="http://nsnbc.me/2014/07/10/war-natural-gas-israeli-invasion-gazas-offshore-gas-fields/">sign</a> a modest contract to develop those by-then confirmed fields.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/02/how-gazan-natural-gas-became-epicenter-international-power-struggle"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics International Tom Dispatch Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:10:28 +0000 Michael Schwartz 271061 at http://www.motherjones.com Ellen Pao Loses Her Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Silicon Valley VC Firm Kleiner Perkins http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/ellen-pao-verdict <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This is a breaking news story. We'll be updating this post regularly.</em></p> <p>Ellen Pao's $16 million lawsuit against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, has captivated Silicon Valley for the past month. Pao, now the interim CEO of Reddit, sued her former employer on charges of gender discrimination and retaliation. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-17/the-trial-that-makes-silicon-valley-shudder">Many</a> <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Ellen-Pao-like-Anita-Hill-changing-the-dialogue-6149161.php">have called</a> the trial Silicon Valley's version of the Anita Hill hearings, in part because it offers a rare glimpse into the challenges faced by women at the Valley's elite companies, where cases of this rank usually settle rather than go public. At 2 PM pacific today, the jury returned a verdict, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html?emc=edit_na_20150327&amp;nlid=28193795&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">voting no on all four counts</a> of alleged gender discrimination and retaliation by Kleiner Perkins.</p> <p>But the official verdict barely lasted a half hour, thanks to an error in basic math: The judge asked each juror to list their individual verdict for the court. This revealed that on the fourth count&mdash;which alleges that Pao's termination was retaliation for raising concerns about gender discrimination and filing her lawsuit&mdash;4 of the 12 jurors, two men and two women, voted yes. The judge ruled that 8-4 was an insufficient majority&mdash;a consensus among nine jurors is needed&mdash;and asked the jurors to return to the deliberation room for further discussion. That means that there hasn't yet been an official verdict. We'll keep updating this post as news unfolds.</p> <p><strong>Update, Friday, 7:45 p.m. EDT:</strong> After the first jury miscount, an official verdict is in and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins has prevailed on all counts. The jury returned to the courtroom after several hours of additional deliberations to deliver the verdict. Juror 3, one of the four original "yes" votes on the retaliation count, flipped his vote. With a consensus of nine jurors or more on all counts, the case is over. Ellen Pao gave a brief statement to the press, thanking her family and friends for their support throughout the trial. "I have told my story and thousands of people have heard me," <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/27/ellen-paos-statement-on-losing-the-kleiner-perkins-case-the-battle-was-worth-it/" target="_blank">she said</a>. "If I've helped level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it."</p></body></html> Politics Sex and Gender Tech Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:16:17 +0000 Hannah Levintova 272531 at http://www.motherjones.com BREAKING: Italian Court Reaches Verdict In Amanda Knox Case http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/03/breaking-italian-court-reaches-verdict-amanda-knox-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>AFP</em> has the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/italy-clears-knox-sollecito-kercher-murder-215508840.html;_ylt=AwrBEiG90hVV9BUAPL3QtDMD" target="_blank">breaking news</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Italy's top court on Friday cleared Amanda Knox of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an eight-year legal drama.</p> <p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1427493755398_1081">Judges at the Court of Cassation also cleared Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after ten hours of deliberations in Rome.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Contributor Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:06:48 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 272536 at http://www.motherjones.com Koalas Are Cute and Cuddly. This Video Proves They Are Also Fearsome Warriors. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/03/you-didnt-know-koalas-were-fierce <!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/7wDhDc17trQ" width="630"></iframe></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/koala-mini-nav_1.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);"> Weekends are always better when they start with koalas. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-270971"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/02/koala-car-jack"> This Koala Is So Cute You'll Want It To Get Away With Stealing This Kid's Car</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-272511"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2015/03/you-didnt-know-koalas-were-fierce"> Koalas Are Cute and Cuddly. This Video Proves They Are Also Fearsome Warriors. </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-269381"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/jeremy-koala-australia-bushfire-returned-wild"> We Have Some Good News For You About the Koala That Was Burned in the Fire</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268041"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/01/wildfires-koala-paws-burn-australia-mittens"> Please, Please Stop Making Mittens for Koalas</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264866"> <li><a href="/mixed-media/2014/11/here-photo-president-obama-holding-koala"> Here Is a Photo of President Obama Holding a Koala</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-243481"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2014/01/heat-wave-photos-australian-open"> PHOTOS: Koalas, Tennis Players Grapple with Australian Heat Wave</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>Oh, Australia. Even when you're just taking the dog out for a walk, you might walk straight into a CRAZY KOALA WRASSLIN' MATCH.</p> <p>This fight raises fresh questions about the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nbc-news/white-house-supports-secret-service-chief-amid-controversy-414442563562" target="_blank">Secret Service's competency</a>: Why would they let the president <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/here-photo-president-obama-holding-koala" target="_blank">get so close</a> to one of these dangerous beasts!?&nbsp;</p> <p>Happy Friday.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Animals Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:15:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272511 at http://www.motherjones.com Illegal Pot Farms Are Literally Sucking California Salmon Streams Dry http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/03/marijuana-farming-drought-salmon-california <!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/Water-map-web_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Outlet Creek watershed in Northern California's Mendocino County. </strong>Scott Bauer</div> </div> <p>Northern California pot farmers are using up all of the water that normally supports key populations of the region's federally protected salmon and steelhead trout.</p> <p>That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study, <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120016" target="_blank">published last week in the journal PLOS One</a>, that examined four California watersheds where salmon and trout are known to spawn. In the three watersheds with intensive pot cultivation, illegal marijuana farms literally sucked up all of the water during the streams' summer low-flow period, leaving nothing to support the fish.</p> <p>Author Scott Bauer, a biologist with the state department of fish and wildlife, estimated the size and location of outdoor and greenhouse pot farms by looking at Google Earth images and accompanying drug enforcement officers on raids. He did not include "indoor" grows&mdash;marijuana grown under lamps in buildings.</p> <p>After visiting 32 marijuana greenhouses in eight locations and averaging the results, Bauer extrapolated his findings to all greenhouses in the study area&mdash;virtually nothing else is grown in greenhouses in this part of the country. The sites contained marijuana plants at a density of about one per square meter, with each plant (taking waste and other factors into account) using about six gallons of water a day. Overall, he calculated, pot operations within the study yielded 112,000 plants, and consumed 673,000 gallons of water every day.</p> <p>And that is water the area's fish badly need. The Coho salmon population is listed as threatened under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts, and is designated as a key population to maintain or improve as part of the state's recovery plan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bauer collected his data last year, at a time when California's drought had already become its worst in more than 1,200 years. When I spoke to him at the time, he told me that pot farming had surpassed logging and development to become <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">the single biggest threat to the area's salmon</a>. Now that that the drought is expected to extend into a fourth year, the same streams could run dry again this summer, and remain so for an even longer period of time.</p> <p>Overall, the outdoor and greenhouse grows consume more than <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change" target="_blank">60 million gallons of water a day</a> during the growing season&mdash;50 percent more than is used by all the residents of San Francisco.</p> <p>"Clearly, water demands for the existing level of marijuana cultivation in many Northern California watersheds are unsustainable and are likely contributing to the decline of sensitive aquatic species in the region," Bauer's study concludes. "Given the specter of climate change"&mdash;and the attendant rise of megadroughts&mdash;"the current scale of marijuana cultivation in Northern California could be catastrophic for aquatic species."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Marijuana Top Stories drought Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:06:30 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272476 at http://www.motherjones.com