MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.phphttps%3A/motherjones.com/files/images/Adnkronos%20International http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Will Democrats Keep Control of the Senate This Year? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/will-democrats-keep-control-senate-year <!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_senate_forecast_pec_28_august_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium thinks that Democrats currently have a 72 percent chance of retaining control of the Senate this year. Most other forecasting outfits think Republicans have a 60-70 percent chance of winning control. <a href="http://election.princeton.edu/2014/08/28/senate-democrats-are-outperforming-expectations/" target="_blank">Why the difference?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In most cases, added assumptions (i.e. special sauce) have led the media organizations to different win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; which I currently believe are wrong....The major media organizations (NYT, WaPo, 538)...all use prior conditions like incumbency, candidate experience, funding, and the generic Congressional ballot to influence their win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; and opinion polls.</p> <p>....Longtime readers of PEC will not be surprised to know that I think the media organizations are making a mistake. It is nearly Labor Day. By now, we have tons of polling data. Even the stalest poll is a more direct measurement of opinion than an indirect fundamentals-based measure. I demonstrated this point in 2012, when I used polls only to forecast the Presidency and all close Senate races. That year I made no errors in Senate seats, including Montana (Jon Tester) and North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), which FiveThirtyEight got wrong.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd sure <em>like</em> to believe this. PEC is my go-to political polling site, after all. But it sure doesn't <em>feel</em> like Democrats are in the driver's seat right now, does it? All of my political instincts scream that Wang's forecast is wrong.</p> <p>That's probably because I'm a pessimist by nature. But you either believe in poll aggregation or you don't. I do, and PEC has performed well in every election for the past decade. So just as I wouldn't "deskew" bad poll results I didn't like, I guess I won't try to second guess good poll results that don't seem quite right. If Wang thinks Democrats are currently favored to keep control of the Senate, then so do I.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Fri, 29 Aug 2014 04:09:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 259376 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet." http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/quote-day-we-dont-have-strategy-yet <!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_obama_tan_suit_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcriptpresident-obamas-aug-28-remarks-on-ukraine-and-syria/2014/08/28/416f1336-2eec-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">From President Obama,</a> asked if he needs congressional approval to go into Syria:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's not going to go over well, is it? Three years after the Syrian civil war started and (at least) half a year after ISIS became a serious threat in Iraq, you'd think the president might be willing to essay a few broad thoughts about how we should respond.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. I think I understand what Obama is doing here. He's basically trying to avoid saying that we <em>do</em> have a strategy, and the strategy is to do the absolute minimum possible in service of a few very limited objectives. And generally speaking, I happen to agree that this is probably the least worst option available to us. Still, there's no question that it's not very inspiring. You'd think the brain trust in the White House would have given a little more thought to how this could be presented in a tolerably coherent and decisive way.</p> <p>In the meantime, "We don't have a strategy yet" is about to become the latest 24/7 cable news loop. Sigh.</p> <p>Oh, and the tan suit too. It's quite the topic of conversation in the Twittersphere.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Military Obama Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:31:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259366 at http://www.motherjones.com This is What a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Looks Like http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/what-russian-invasion-ukraine-looks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It has become quite hard for Vladimir Putin to deny that Russia's activities in Eastern Europe are benign. On Thursday, Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/28/ukraine-accuses-russia-invading-south-east-help-rebels" target="_blank">announced</a> that "Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine." And at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman&nbsp;Jen Psaki called Russia's activities "an incursion and a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty."</p> <p>The most striking evidence comes&nbsp;from <a href="http://aco.nato.int/new-satellite-imagery-exposes-russian-combat-troops-inside-ukraine.aspx" target="_blank">NATO, which has released</a> satellite photos&nbsp;of what it calls "concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image1.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, the image above&nbsp;depicts a&nbsp;Russian convoy carrying artillery in Krasnodon, an area of Ukraine currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists, on August 21.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image2.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This shows artillery setting up in firing positions in Krasnodon. "This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers," a NATO press release notes.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image3.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This image shows side-by-side photos of Rostov-on-Don, about 31 miles from the Ukrainian border, taken two months apart. The photo on the left, taken on June 19, shows the area mostly empty. The photo on the right shows the same area on August 20&nbsp;occupied with tanks and other armored vehicles, cargo trucks, and tents. These units "are capable of attacking with little warning, and could potentially overwhelm and push-back Ukrainian units," according to NATO.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image4.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, this image shows Russian six artillery pieces, probably 6-inch howitzers, positioned&nbsp;six miles south of the Ukrainian border. The guns are pointed toward Ukraine.</p></body></html> MoJo International Military Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:56:15 +0000 Alex Park 259351 at http://www.motherjones.com How Does a 9-Year-Old Come to Shoot a Fully Automatic Weapon? http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/uzi-arizona-9-year-old-girl <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A nine-year-old in Arizona accidentally killed her gun instructor on Monday when the Uzi he was teaching her to fire recoiled out of her control and shot him in the head. A <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2014/08/25/arizona-girl-accidentally-shoots-shooting-instructor/14594549/" target="_blank">video</a> of the incident shows 39-year-old Charles Vacca switching the gun into automatic mode, then standing at the girl's side as she pulls the trigger and the weapon's force wrenches her arm in his direction.</p> <p>Many commentators have since expressed disbelief&mdash;though not the NRA, which was busy talking up <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/nra-arizona-uzi-tweet-guns" target="_blank">fun for kids at gun ranges</a>&mdash;that a child was permitted to wield a weapon with such firepower.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>It's illegal to eat a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg in America, on health grounds. It's fine for 9yr olds to use Uzi submachine guns.</p> &mdash; Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) <a href="https://twitter.com/piersmorgan/statuses/504553546277478400">August 27, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>But the shooting lesson was just normal business at the firing range where Vacca worked. Its "<a href="http://www.bulletsandburgers.com/packages/the-bullets-and-burgers-experience" target="_blank">Bullets and Burgers</a>" website advertises vacation packages like "Extreme Sniper Adventure": "At our range,&nbsp;you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns," it reads. "Let 'em Rip!" It also says children between 8 and 17 can use its guns as long as a parent is present. The mother and father of the girl, whose name has not been made public, both were on Monday. Still, questions linger about the tragedy.</p> <p><strong>How did Burgers and Bullets get all those weapons in the first place? Isn't it illegal to possess fully automatic weapons in the US?</strong><br> Under the federal <a href="https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/national-firearms-act" target="_blank">Firearm Owners' Protection Act </a>of 1986, it became a crime for civilians to own machine guns, but with a huge exception: Any gun made before the law went into effect is exempt. It's fine for civilians to resell and buy those old guns, too, as long as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives approves the sale. The approval process involves a $200 transfer tax and an FBI background check. A few states have banned automatic weapons entirely, but Arizona, one of the most gun-friendly states, is not one of them.</p> <p><strong>Can it really be legal for an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2013/12/newtown-shooting-one-year-later" target="_blank">elementary school kid</a> to shoot an Uzi?</strong><br> "Assuming it was a pre-1986 machine gun and the sale was legal, then yes," says Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. <a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/minimum-age-to-purchase-possess-firearms-policy-summary/#federal" target="_blank">Federal law</a> prohibits children under 18 from buying guns, but they can still fire them with adult supervision.</p> <p>Less than three days after the tragedy, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office said it didn't expect to file criminal charges, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/26/us/arizona-girl-fatal-shooting-accident/index.html" target="_blank">according to CNN</a>. Arizona authorities say the situation is being treated as an industrial accident, and job safety officials are investigating. So is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.</p> <p><strong>How hard is it to handle one of these guns?</strong><br><a href="http://qz.com/256510/that-arizona-uzi-shooting-by-a-9-year-old-girl-is-one-of-several-hundred-accidental-shootings-that-will-happen-this-year/" target="_blank">Quartz's Gwynn Guilford</a> did the math: With the average American nine-year-old girl weighing about 60 pounds, and the average Uzi weighing seven to nine pounds, "<span class="anno-span">That would be roughly equal to a 40-year-old man firing a 25-pound gun like, say, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotchkiss_M1909_Benet-Mercie_machine_gun">Hotchkiss M1909</a> used in trench warfare in World Wars I and II&mdash;a weapon so heavy it&nbsp;sat on a tripod." (Ironically, the Uzi is designed to be relatively light in the hands of an adult, which can also make <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/us/arizona-firing-range-instructor-killed-by-girl-9-in-accident.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSumSmallMediaHigh&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">handling its powerful recoil more tricky</a>.)</span></p> <p>The shooting range's manager said that the girl's parents had signed waivers and understood the range's rules. Still, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/27/year-old-girl-death-at-shooting-range-stirs-debate-over-children-and-automatic/" target="_blank">he told the Associated Press,</a> "I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that [Vacca] was killed in the incident."</p> <p><strong>Has anything like this happened before and what might it mean for the national gun debate?</strong><br> Sadly, this tragedy is not the first of its kind. An eight-year-old Massachusetts boy died at a gun show in 2008, when an Uzi he was firing at pumpkins kicked back and he shot himself in the head. The former police chief who organized the show and provided the child with the weapon was <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/01/14/massachusetts.gun.show.verdict/" target="_blank">acquitted of involuntary manslaughter</a>.</p> <p>That incident did have one positive outcome, in Cutilletta's view: It inspired neighboring Connecticut to pass a law banning anyone under 16 from using a machine gun at a shooting range.</p> <p>Shannon Watts, the founder of the advocacy group <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/nra-everytown-indianapolis-shannon-watts" target="_blank">Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America</a>, said in a statement Wednesday that she hopes the Arizona case will galvanize the national debate about guns specifically with regard to children. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victim and the young girl involved in this tragedy," Watts said. "We hope this event spurs dialogue on the importance of gun safety and responsibility."</p> <p><strong>Do deadly gun accidents involving children usually result in nobody being held legally responsible?</strong><br> Indeed, that's the outcome in the vast majority of cases. A recent <em>Mother Jones</em> investigation found that out of 72 cases in 2013 in which kids handling guns accidentally killed themselves or other kids, adults <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/children-killed-guns-newtown-anniversary" target="_blank">were held criminally liable in only 4</a>.</p></body></html> Politics Guns Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:29:16 +0000 Rebecca Cohen 259251 at http://www.motherjones.com 5 Terrifying Facts From the Leaked UN Climate Report http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/08/un-ipcc-climate-change-synthesis-report <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>How many synonyms for "grim" can I pack into one article? I had to consult the thesaurus:&nbsp;ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.</p> <p>This week,&nbsp;a big report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked before publication, and it confirmed, yet again, the grim&mdash;dire, frightful&mdash;reality the we face if we don't slash our global greenhouse gas emissions, and slash them&nbsp;fast.</p> <p>This "Synthesis Report," to be released in November following a&nbsp;UN conference in Copenhagen, is still subject to revision. It is intended to summarize three previous UN climate publications and to "provide an integrated view" to the world's governments of the risks they face from runaway carbon pollution, along with&nbsp;possible policy&nbsp;solutions.</p> <p>As expected, the document contains <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/ipcc-climate-change-impact-adaptation" target="_blank">a lot of what had already been reported</a> after the three underpinning reports were released <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/climate-change-ipcc-live-blog" target="_blank">at global summits</a> over the past year. It's a long list of problems: sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, crippling heat waves and multidecade droughts, torrential downpours, widespread food shortages, species extinction, pest outbreaks, economic damage, and exacerbated civil conflicts and poverty.</p> <p>But in general, the 127-page leaked report provides starker language than the previous three, framing the crisis as a series of "irreversible" ecological and economic catastrophes that will occur if swift action is not taken.</p> <p>Here are five particularly grim&mdash;depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant&mdash;takeaways from the report.</p> <p><strong>1. Our efforts to combat climate change have been grossly inadequate.</strong><br> The report says that anthropogenic (man-made)&nbsp;greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase from 1970 to 2010, at a pace that ramped up especially quickly between&nbsp;2000 and 2010. That's despite some regional action that has sought to limit emissions, including carbon-pricing&nbsp;schemes in Europe. We haven't done enough, the United Nations says, and we're already seeing the effects of inaction.&nbsp;"Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history," the report says. "The climate changes that have already occurred have had widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems."</p> <p><strong>2. Keeping global warming below the <a href="https://unfccc.int/meetings/copenhagen_dec_2009/items/5262.php" target="_blank">internationally agreed upon</a> 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (above preindustrial levels) is going to be <em>very</em> hard.</strong><br> To keep warming below this limit, our emissions need to be slashed dramatically. But at current rates, we'll pump enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to sail past that critical level within the next 20 to 30 years, according to the report. We need to emit&nbsp;<i>half</i>&nbsp;as much greenhouse gas for the remainder of this century as we've already emitted over the past 250 years. Put simply, that's going to be difficult&mdash;especially when you consider the fact that global emissions are growing, not declining,&nbsp;every year. The report says that to keep temperature increases to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, deep emissions cuts of between 40 and 70 percent are needed between 2010 and 2050, with emissions "falling towards zero or below" by 2100.</p> <p><strong>3. We'll probably see nearly ice-free summers&nbsp;in the Arctic Ocean before mid-century.</strong><br> The report says that in every warming scenario it the scientists considered, we should expect to see year-round reductions in Arctic sea ice. By 2050, that will likely result in strings of years in which there is the near absence of sea ice in the summer, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/staggering-decline-sea-ice-frontline-climate-change" target="_blank">following a well-established trend</a>. And then there's Greenland, where glaciers have been retreating since the 1960s&mdash;increasingly so after 1993&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/inquiring-minds-richard-alley-antarctica-greenland-sandy" target="_blank">because of man-made global warming</a>. The report says we may already be facing a situation in which Greenland's ice sheet will vanish over the next millennium, contributing up to 23 feet of sea level rise.</p> <p><strong>4. Dangerous sea level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world's coastlines by the end of the century.</strong><br> The report finds that by 2100, the devastating effects of&nbsp;sea level rise&mdash;including flooding, infrastructure damage, and coastal erosion&mdash;will impact the vast majority of the world's coastlines. That's not good:&nbsp;Half the world's population lives within 37 miles&nbsp;of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast, <a href="http://www.unep.org/urban_environment/issues/coastal_zones.asp" target="_blank">according to the United Nations</a>. The sea has already risen significantly:&nbsp;From 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.62 feet.</p> <p><strong>5. Even if we act now, there's a real&nbsp;risk of "abrupt and irreversible" changes. </strong><br> The carbon released by burning fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere and the seas for centuries to come, the report says, even if we completely stop emitting CO<sub>2</sub> as soon as possible. That means it's virtually certain that global mean sea level rise will continue for many centuries beyond 2100. Without strategies to reduce emissions, the world will see&nbsp;7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming above preindustrial temperatures by the end of the century, condemning us to "substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, [and]&nbsp;consequential constraints on common human activities."</p> <p>What's more, the report indicates that without action, the effects of climate change could be irreversible: "Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."</p> <p>Grim, indeed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Infrastructure Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:08:21 +0000 James West 259321 at http://www.motherjones.com In the Restaurant Biz, It Pays To Be a Man http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/restaurant-biz-it-pays-be-man <!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.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/28/chart-the-troubling-gender-pay-gap-in-the-american-restaurant-industry/" target="_blank">Via Wonkblog,</a> here's a chart showing the pay gap between men and women in the restaurant industry. It comes from a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/restaurant-workers/" target="_blank">recently released EPI report,</a> and as you can see, not only are men better paid in virtually every category, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_restaurant_pay.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">but the premium goes up for the highest paying jobs. Bussers and cashiers are paid nearly the same regardless of gender. But when you move up to cooks, bartenders, and managers, the premium ranges from 10-20 percent.</p> <p>This data isn't conclusive. There are other reasons besides gender for pay gaps, and the EPI report lists several of them. Whites make more than blacks. High school grads make more than dropouts. Older workers make more than younger ones. You'd need to control for all this and more to get a more accurate picture of the gender gap.</p> <p>But in a way, that misses the point. There are lots of reasons for the gender gap in pay. Some is just plain discrimination. Some is because women take off more time to raise children. Some is because women are encouraged to take different kinds of jobs. But all of these are symptoms of the same thing. In a myriad of ways, women still don't get a fair shake.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Sex and Gender Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:22:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 259336 at http://www.motherjones.com Ex-George Washington University President Responds to Controversy Over His Sexual Assault Remarks http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/08/sexual-assault-george-washington-trachtenberg-university <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A former university president came under fire this week for the advice he gave on how to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Tuesday, George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Trachtenberg appeared on NPR's <a href="http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-08-26/role-fraternities-and-sororities-today" target="_blank"><em>Diane Rehm Show</em></a> and said, "Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave." Critics pounced. <a href="http://jezebel.com/ex-gwu-president-knows-why-rapes-happen-drunk-chicks-1627542602" target="_blank"><em>Jezebel</em></a> slammed his comments as "jaw-droppingly stupid," and the website noted, "<span>If this is the attitude freely and blithely expressed by a former University President, it's no wonder that <a href="http://jezebel.com/76-colleges-now-being-investigated-for-mishandling-rape-1621646792">more than 75 schools</a> are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for botching sexual assault investigations</span>."</p> <p>The following day, Trachtenberg told the school newspaper, <em><a href="http://blogs.gwhatchet.com/newsroom/2014/08/27/former-university-president-stephen-joel-trachtenberg-takes-heat-for-sexual-assault-remarks/" target="_blank">The <em>GW</em> Hatchet</a>,</em> that his remarks had been taken "out of context," but he reiterated his main point: <em>"</em>What I'm saying is you want to have somebody you care about like your daughter, granddaughter or girlfriend to understand her limits because she will be less likely to be unable to fight off somebody who is attacking her."</p> <p>On Thursday, <em>Mother Jones</em> asked Trachtenberg to comment on the ongoing controversy, and he replied with a written statement. Regarding <em>Jezebel</em>, he said:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Jezebel</em> has a world view that informs their prose. They are an advocate for an important cause and they take every opportunity to make their case. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they may get a little overheated. It's hard to resist an apparent opportunity when you believe you are on the side of the angels.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to other questions&mdash;including why he chose to use the word "misbehave" to describe sexual assault&mdash;Trachtenberg said:</p> <blockquote> <p>I chose that word because I was thinking and speaking quickly under time constraints on a radio show. Under different circumstances I might have used another perhaps stronger word. I am an educator. I believe in the power of education. I think that education about drinking and its effects on an individual can help protect that person from vulnerability. Knowledge makes one stronger. I also believe that having skills gives one power. If you know how to defend yourself you have strength that can be helpful in the event things turn physical. These two ideas are not meant to solve all problems. They are not blame shifters. They are what they are. Better to know things then not. No silver bullets here. We need to educate men too. Date rape is largely the responsibility of young men and alcohol and opportunity. We can address these issues as a community. Men and women and institutions together. Victims should do their best but they are victims and not to blame. My recommendation is to change the culture of the campus so that men and women protect and nurture each other as a family would. It will take work but it can be done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this an apology? You be the judge.</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:12:54 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259326 at http://www.motherjones.com Mitch McConnell Doesn't Get to Decide if Republicans Will Threaten Another Government Shutdown http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/mitch-mcconnell-doesnt-get-decide-if-republicans-will-threaten-another-government <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Are congressional Republicans threatening once again to shut down the government this year unless they get their way on a bunch of pet demands? Over at TNR, <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119241/marco-rubio-mitch-mcconnell-arent-threatening-government-shutdown" target="_blank">Danny Vinik doesn't think so:</a> "There is no excuse for the news media to inflate the quotes of Republican politicians to make it seem that they are threatening to shut down the government again," he says. <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119247/republican-government-shutdown-over-immigration-real-threat" target="_blank">But Brian Beutler thinks Vinik is being too literal.</a> It's true that no one is explicitly using the word <em>shutdown</em>, but no one ever does. Still, he says, "the threat is clear."</p> <p>I'm with Beutler, but not because of any particular parsing of recent Republican threats. It's because of this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The truth is practically irrelevant to the question of whether [recent saber rattling] presages a government shutdown fight. Just as it doesn&rsquo;t really matter whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell actually has a government shutdown in mind when he promises to strong-arm Obama next year, or whether he intends to cave.</p> <p>In either case he&rsquo;s threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That's a government shutdown fight. <strong>And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining. They can&rsquo;t control the plot.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. It's just not clear that McConnell has any real leverage over Ted Cruz or that John Boehner has any leverage over Michele Bachmann. Once they implicitly endorse the rider game, they cede control to the wingnuts. And the wingnuts <em>want</em> to shut down the government. Fasten your seatbelts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:15:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 259331 at http://www.motherjones.com Stock Buybacks Are a Symptom, Not a Disease http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/stock-buybacks-are-symptom-not-disease <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Paul Roberts writes in the <em>LA Times</em> today about <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-roberts-corporate-responsibility-20140828-story.html" target="_blank">stock buybacks:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Here's a depressing statistic: Last year, U.S. companies spent a whopping $598 billion &mdash; not to develop new technologies, open new markets or to hire new workers but to buy up their own shares. By removing shares from circulation, companies made remaining shares pricier, thus creating the impression of a healthier business without the risks of actual business activity.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree: that statistic <em>is</em> depressing. In fact, back in the days of my foolish youth, when I dabbled a bit in stock picking, one of my rules was never to invest in a company that had done a share buyback. I figured it was a sign of tired management. If they couldn't think of anything better to do with their money than that, what kind of future did they have? Moving on:</p> <blockquote> <p>Share buybacks aren't illegal, and, to be fair, they make sense when companies truly don't have something better to reinvest their profits in. <strong>But U.S. companies do have something better: They could be reinvesting in the U.S. economy in ways that spur growth and generate jobs.</strong> The fact that they're not explains a lot about the weakness of the job market and the sliding prospects of the American middle class.</p> <p>....Without a more socially engaged corporate culture, the U.S. economy will continue to lose the capacity to generate long-term prosperity, compete globally or solve complicated economic challenges, such as climate change. We need to restore a broader sense of the corporation as a social citizen &mdash; no less focused on profit but far more cognizant <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_austerity_state_local_federal_spending_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">of the fact that, in an interconnected economic world, there is no such thing as narrow self-interest.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree with some of what Roberts says about American corporations increasingly being obsessed with short-term stock gains rather than long-term growth. It's also true that stock buybacks are partly driven by CEO pay packages that are pegged to share price. Those have been standard complaints for decades. But it's misleading to suggest that US companies could be spurring the economy if only they'd invest more of their profits in growth. That gets it backwards. Companies will invest if they think they'll get a good return on that investment, and that decision depends on the likely trajectory of the macroeconomy. If it looks like economic growth will be strong, they'll invest more money in new plants and better equipment. If not, they won't.</p> <p>The macroeconomy doesn't depend on either companies or individuals acting altruistically. You can't pass a law banning stock buybacks and expect that companies will invest in plant expansion and worker training instead. They'll only do it if those investments look likely to pay off. Conversely, forcing them to make investments that will lose money does nothing for the economy except light lots of money on fire.</p> <p>You want companies to invest in the future? The first step is supporting economic policies that will grow the economy. If we were willing to do that, corporate investment would follow. If we don't, all the laws in the world won't keep the tide from coming in.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:42:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 259316 at http://www.motherjones.com Top Immigration Court Hands Huge Win to Battered Women Seeking Asylum. Conservatives Freak Out. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/doj-immigration-court-domestic-violence-asylum-conservative-backlash <!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 country's top immigration court ruled that some migrants escaping domestic violence may qualify for asylum in the United States. <a href="http://www.justice.gov/eoir/vll/intdec/vol26/3811.pdf">The decision</a>, from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), is a landmark: It's the first time that this court has recognized a protected group that primarily includes women. The ruling offers a glimmer of hope to asylum-seekers who have fled horrific abuse. The decision has also <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/26/justice-dept-opens-new-asylum-gate-for-guatemalans/">infuriated</a> conservatives, who claim that the ruling is a veritable invitation to undocumented immigrants and marks a vast expansion of citizenship opportunities for foreigners.</p> <p>The case involved a Guatemalan woman who ran away from her abusive husband. "This abuse included weekly beatings," the court wrote in its summary of her circumstances. "He threw paint thinner on her, which burned her breast. He raped her." The police refused to intervene, and on Christmas 2005, she and her three children illegally entered the United States.</p> <p>Before Tuesday's decision, immigration judges routinely denied asylum to domestic violence victims because US asylum law does not protect people who are persecuted on account of their gender. The law only shields people who are persecuted because they are members of a certain race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group. Tuesday's ruling, however, recognized "married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship" as a unique social group&mdash;giving the Guatemalan woman standing to make an asylum claim.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/doj-immigration-court-domestic-violence-asylum-conservative-backlash"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Human Rights Immigration Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:29:42 +0000 Molly Redden 259291 at http://www.motherjones.com