MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en PATRIOT Act Warrants Used More For Drugs Than For Terrorism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The PATRIOT Act gave federal agents expanded powers to issue search warrants without informing the targets of the warrant beforehand. Why? Because terrorism investigations were special: they'd fall apart if terrorists received warning that they were being investigated. So with terrorism suddenly a far bigger priority after 9/11, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sneak_peek_warrants.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">national security required that authority for these "sneak-and-peek" warrants be broadened.</p> <p>A few days ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation <a href="" target="_blank">tallied up the known figures for sneak-and-peek warrants:</a></p> <ul><li>2001-03: 47</li> <li>2010: 3,970</li> <li>2011: 6,775</li> <li>2012: 10,183</li> <li>2013: 11,129</li> </ul><p>That's quite an increase. So did terrorism investigations skyrocket over the past decade? Not so much. It turns out that hardly any of these warrants were used in terrorism cases. Instead, they were virtually all used in narcotics cases&mdash;as the chart on the right shows. <a href="" target="_blank">Radley Balko draws the right lessons from this:</a></p> <ul><li>Assume that any power you grant to the federal government to fight terrorism will inevitably be used in other contexts.</li> <li>Assume that the primary &ldquo;other context&rdquo; will be to fight the war on drugs.</li> <li>When critics point out the ways a new law might be abused, supporters of the law often accuse those critics of being cynical &mdash; they say we should have more faith in the judgment and propriety of public officials. Always assume that when a law grants new powers to the government, that law will be interpreted in the vaguest, most expansive, most pro-government manner imaginable. If that doesn&rsquo;t happen, good. But why take the risk? Why leave open the possibility? Better to write laws narrowly, restrictively and with explicit safeguards against abuse.</li> </ul><p>There's no reason laws like this can't be drawn properly in the first place. Sure, some terrorism cases involve narcotics, but that's a poor excuse. If terrorism is genuinely involved, law enforcement officers have plenty of opportunity to convince a judge of that. A properly-constructed statute won't get in their way.</p> <p>This goes for the NSA as well as the FBI, by the way. If they need broadened surveillance powers to fight terrorism&mdash;and perhaps they do&mdash;a narrowly-drawn statute won't hurt them. If they object to this, every one of us should wonder why.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:13:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 263676 at CNN Is Now Just Like the National Enquirer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier today I was idly flipping channels on the TV and came upon a CNN chyron informing me breathlessly that Chuck Hagel had just "blasted" President Obama's Syria policy. Unfortunately, I came in at the end of the segment, so I didn't get to find out just what kind of blasting Hagel had done. But it certainly sounded ominous.</p> <p>I just now remembered this, and figured I should take a look at the news to see what had happened. But that wasn't so easy. Every front page I checked had bupkis about Hagel. Finally I went to the source: CNN. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's what they say:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Earlier this month, while on an trip to Latin America to discuss climate change, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sat down and wrote a highly private, and very blunt memo to National Security Advisor Susan Rice about U.S. policy toward Syria.</p> <p>It was a detailed analysis, crafted directly by Hagel "expressing concern about overall Syria strategy," a senior U.S. official tells CNN. The official directly familiar with the contents declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.</p> <p>....The focus of the memo was <strong>"we need to have a sharper view of what to do about the Assad regime,"</strong> the official said. The official refused to provide additional details, but did not disagree with the notion that Hagel feels the U.S. is risking its gains in the war against ISIS if adjustments are not made.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's it? Hagel wrote an internal memo suggesting that we should have a "sharper view" of what to do about Assad? And some sympathetic White House official kinda sorta agreed that Hagel felt we might be in trouble if "adjustments" aren't made?</p> <p>I swear, watching cable news is like reading the <em>National Enquirer</em> these days: big, blasting headlines that turn out, when you read the story, to mean absolutely nothing. That's ten minutes of my life that I'll never get back. Thanks, CNN.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Media Fri, 31 Oct 2014 01:52:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 263671 at What Can the Developer of the Polio Vaccine Teach Us About Ebola? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> was originally published on <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</em></p> <p>Had he lived, Dr. Jonas Salk would have turned 100 this week. Salk was a young man when in the spring of 1955 he announced his discovery of a vaccine that could prevent polio. He was hailed as a modern miracle worker. He went on to lead scientists from from around the world in studies of cancer, heredity, the brain, the immune system and AIDS at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.</p> <p>In this age of Ebola, it's enlightening and inspiring to hear Salk talk about the lessons he learned in developing the polio vaccine, and how they might be applicable to the AIDS crisis, which was raging at the time of this interview with Bill Moyers recorded in 1990.</p> <p>Salk died five years after this interview was broadcast. His memorial at the Salk Institute reads: "Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>TRANSCRIPT</strong></p> <p><strong>SALK:</strong> What we're doing now is trying to think like nature, in the sense that we are aware that species that have gone before us have disappeared from the face of the Earth. We'd like to use our intelligence and our creative capacity to prolong our presence on the face of the Earth as long as possible. It requires, therefore, that we develop the kinds of tactics and strategies amongst ourselves so as to assure that this can occur, to assure that we will not destroy ourselves or the planet, to make it uninhabitable and to allow the fullness of the potential of the individual to be expressed, to flower. That is&mdash;</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>What is&mdash;</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>&mdash;awfully ideal. The question now is how can we translate this, how can we make this operative? If you want me to give you an example&mdash;</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>Yeah.</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>&mdash;of how people can solve problems for themselves? When the problem of polio confronted this nation, confronted the world, there was an organization that formed in this country called the March of Dimes. Volunteers. They were not government-directed or -led. They didn't ask the government to do anything. They did it themselves. That's just a small illustration of what has happened in the past and can happen again and is happening continuously now here and, I think, in other parts of the world.</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>I read the other day, coming out here, in fact, that by the year 2000, which is not very far from now, there will be some 20 million people in the world carrying the AIDS virus. Is that a comparable challenge to what you faced with polio 50 years ago?</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>Well, it's an even more difficult challenge, but that's what evokes a response on the part of those who want to solve the problem, who are addressing themselves to just that question and philosophically, in approaching it. The virus, if it prevails, then we will lose. But if we are able to reduce the damage caused by the virus and, at the same time, try to enhance the immune response to the virus and establish a more favorable balance between the two, then we will be doing in relation to that problem what we want to do in relation to the world and that is to reduce the negative and enhance the positive at one and the same time.</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>The good news would be that there is a vaccine that protects us and immunizes us, against the AIDS virus. Are we going to have that good news, do you think, in your time and mine?</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>My expectation is that we will solve the problem. It's just a matter of time and just a matter of strategy. Now, why do I say that this is the case? It's because I think solutions come through evolution. It comes through asking the right question, because the answer pre-exists. But it's the question that we have to define and discover, to discover and to define.</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>You mean, when you asked the question about how to defeat polio, the answer was already there?</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>Mm-hmm, in a way. If you think of David and Michelangelo, it was in the stone, but it had to be unveiled and revealed. You don't invent the answer. You reveal the answer.</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>From nature.</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>From nature.</p> <p><strong>MOYERS: </strong>From the life process.</p> <p><strong>SALK: </strong>Yes.</p></body></html> Environment Health International Tech Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:46:22 +0000 Theresa Riley 263636 at GDP Increases at Not-Bad 3.5 Percent Rate in 3rd Quarter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_2014_q3.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today's economic news is fairly good. GDP in the third quarter <a href="" target="_blank">grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate,</a> which means that the slowdown at the beginning of the year really does look like it was just a blip. Aside from that one quarter, economic growth has been pretty robust for over a year now.</p> <p>At the same time, inflation continues to be very low, which you can take as either good news (if you're an inflation hawk) or bad news (if you think the economy could use a couple of years of higher inflation).</p> <p>We could still use some higher growth after five years of weakness, but at least we're providing a bit of a counterbalance to Europe, which appears to be going off a cliff at the moment. Count your blessings.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:29:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 263641 at Will Snow Ruin Your Halloween? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow forecasr" class="image" src="/files/snow-forecast-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The snow forecast from today through the weekend. This data represents a worst-case scenario; there's a 95 percent change there will be less snow than this. </strong>National Weather Service</div> </div> <p>Happy Halloween! Hope you have a good costume lined up that isn't this horrible <a href="" target="_blank">"sexy Ebola nurse"</a> one. Anyway, this year the weather seems pretty determined to mess with your trick-or-treating plans: We've already seen <a href="" target="_blank">pumpkin prices spike</a> thanks to the ongoing drought in California. And now it seems that a snowstorm is headed for the Midwest and East Coast. But fear not: It's unlikely that the goblins and witches in NYC, DC, and other eastern cities will get hit too hard tomorrow night.</p> <p>The map above is the <a href=";fpd=72&amp;ptype=snow" target="_blank">most recent snow accumulation forecast</a> from the National Weather Service, a prediction of how many inches of snow are expected to fall between today and Sunday. It looks worse than it probably will be; this is the 95th-percentile estimate, meaning snowfall is 95 percent likely to be less severe than what is shown here. AccuWeather <a href="" target="_blank">has a good map</a> showing the trajectory of snowfall over the weekend, as it moves from the Appalachians on Friday up to Maine by Sunday. And the Weather Channel has a useful daily breakdown <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. The upshot is that Midwesterners should plan to bundle up, and Mainers could have snow by the end of the weekend, but East Coasters don't need to worry too much about snow-proofing their Halloween costumes.</p> <p>That said, even without snow it could still be cold and blustery, as our friend Eric Holthaus at <em>Slate </em><a href="" target="_blank">points out</a>. The <a href="" target="_blank">NASA satellite imagery</a> below depicts the Nor'easter currently straddling the eastern seaboard, which the latest NOAA forecast says will bring "much colder weather" and possibly some showers by Saturday. So whatever <a href="" target="_blank">ridiculous "sexy" costume</a> you decide to wear tomorrow, probably pack a sweater.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="snow halloween" class="image" src="/files/snow-halloween.gif"><div class="caption">NASA</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Desk Science Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:11:24 +0000 Tim McDonnell 263621 at 32 Countries Where Global Warming Could Make Violence Worse <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Recently, <a href="">the Pentagon</a> released a disturbing report. Climate change, it warned, will exacerbate problems like terrorism and disease outbreaks, drain military resources, and create new enemies. The report said that the military's basic operations&mdash;everything from training to its supply chains and infrastructure&mdash;are now threatened by rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns. It all points to one conclusion: Global warming is a national security issue.</p> <p>Now a new analysis, released Wednesday, is naming 32 countries in which conflict and civil unrest could be worsened by the changing climate. The findings are part of the seventh annual "<a href="" target="_blank">Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas</a>" from Maplecroft&mdash;a firm that studies how vulnerable countries are to various risks. It concludes that climate change is already impacting "food production, poverty, migration and social stability&mdash;factors that significantly increase the risk of conflicts and instability in fragile and emerging states."</p> <p>Those pressures could also "lead to disenfranchisement and drive support for radical groups."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map2.jpg"><div class="caption">Maplecroft</div> </div> <p>Maplecroft analyzed how exposed&nbsp;populations in these are countries are to climate impacts and assessed how well their governments will be able to adapt over the next 30 years. According to the report, the five countries most vulnerable to climate-related conflict and food insecurity are Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Chad.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map_box_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The 10 countries that Maplecroft found were most vulnerable to food insecurity and climate change. </strong>Maplecroft</div> </div> <p>The report's authors highlight Nigeria (tied for third the list), where "widespread drought and food insecurity helped create the socio-economic conditions that led to the emergence of Boko Haram and the violent insurgency in the North East of the country."</p> <p>Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group that the <a href="" target="_blank">US Justice Department says</a> has been responsible for 600 attacks on government, churches, mosques and schools. It has killed about 5,000 people since 2009 and displaced over 650,000. The group kidnapped more than 200 girls and young women in April. (The Nigerian government says it has reached a ceasefire with the militants that would include the release of the girls, but <a href="" target="_blank">according to the BBC</a> the talks are still ongoing.)</p> <p>After visiting Nigeria earlier this year, my <em>Mother Jones</em> colleague Erika Eichelberger <a href="">found that drought, population explosion, environmental degradation, and poverty</a> are all aggravating the country's armed conflicts. There are now more clashes between farmers and nomadic herders over ever-dwindling agricultural land, and economic hardships in the country are boosting Boko Haram's recruitment efforts. Eichelberger quoted Oluwakemi Okenyodo, the executive director of CLEEN Foundation, a Nigerian security-focused nonprofit, as saying that when "young people are pushed to the wall," there's a greater chance that they will be sucked into the growing Boko Haram insurgency. Eichelberger reported that "there's not enough hard evidence yet to implicate human-caused climate change in the bulk of the ecological disaster" in Nigeria&mdash;but that could change in the future as rising temperatures increasingly threaten agriculture in the region.</p> <p>In a 2011 report, the United States Institute of Peace <a href="">outlined</a> a "basic causal mechanism" linking global warming to future&nbsp;conflict in Nigeria: Water and agricultural land shortages are followed by sickness, hunger, and joblessness. Governmental inaction on these issues in turn opens the door to conflict. "In the increasingly parched, violent northeast," writes the report's lead author Aaron Sayn, "members of groups like Boko Haram explain their acts by voicing disgust with government."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/nasa.jpg" style="height: 195px; width: 250px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Lake Chad supports vast swathes of Nigerian farming and grazing land, but it has lost more than 90 percent of its original size. </strong>Jacques Descloitres/NASA GSFC</div> </div> <p>Maplecroft's rankings lend even more weight to the growing body of research tying climate change to the potential for more violence. Prior to the unrest that eventually exploded into revolution and armed conflict, <a href="">Syria had experienced an unprecedented drought</a> that led to the internal displacement of thousands of people who had lost their livelihoods.</p> <p>Natural resources were also at the heart of the Darfur crisis. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon wrote in a 2007 <em>Washington Post</em> op-ed. "Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change."</p></body></html> Environment Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Food and Ag International Top Stories Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:56:30 +0000 James West 263551 at Chris Christie Needs to Rehearse His Lines Better <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Paul Waldman comments on Chris Christie's <a href="" target="_blank">latest outburst against a heckler:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>My favorite part is how Christie keeps calling him "buddy" (reminded me of this). Now try to imagine what would happen if Barack Obama shouted "Sit down and shut up!" at a citizen. Or almost any other prominent politician, for that matter; commentators would immediately start questioning his mental health. But even though it's been a while, shouting at people was how Chris Christie became a national figure talked about as a potential presidential candidate in the first place....If you stand<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 26px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>up at a town meeting and ask him an impertinent question about something like the state budget, he'll shout you down (to the cheers of his supporters).</p> <p>Here are a few ways to explain this pattern of behavior:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>This is a calculated way of showing that he's a Tough Guy, which Christie knows Republicans love</li> <li>This is just who Christie is, and if nobody was around he'd still be picking fights with people</li> <li>Both 1 and 2</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>I lean toward number 3. It isn't just play-acting, because Christie obviously gets sincerely pissed off when he's challenged by people he thinks are beneath him. At the same time, he's a smart enough politician to know that the cameras are on, and there's some benefit to reinforcing the persona he has created.</p> </blockquote> <p>I admit that this is mostly just curiosity on my part, since Christie's act long ago got nearly as stale as Sarah Palin's. But take a look at the video. Unlike Waldman, I vote for No. 1. To me, Christie appears entirely under control. I don't doubt that there's some real annoyance there (even a Vulcan would get annoyed at your average heckler), but overall Christie's response gives the impression of being practically scripted. There are even a couple of instances where Christie seems like he forgot his lines and hurriedly tosses them in before heckler guy goes away and ruins his chance to get off his best zingers.</p> <p>So vote in comments. Is it real anger, or has it just become a well-rehearsed schtick by now? In this case, at least, I vote for schtick.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:44:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 263616 at Watch Anita Sarkeesian Explain Gamergate's "Attacks on Women" and Convince Colbert He's a Feminist <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p>Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist critic at the center of the Gamergate controversy, appeared on <em>T<a href="" target="_blank">he Colbert Report</a></em> last night to explain the sexual harassment issues rampant in the gaming world and why women aren't going to just accept a "separate but equal" community.</p> <p>"Women are perceived as threatening because we are asking for games to be more inclusive," Sarkeesian said. "We are asking for games to acknowledge that we exist and that we love games."</p> <p>But as recent disturbing events have shown, many gamers are not pleased with Sarkeesian's work and have been launching extremely violent messages against her and her supporters via social media. Earlier this month, Sarkeesian was forced to <a href="" target="_blank">cancel a speaking engagement</a> after an anonymous email threatened to stage the "deadliest mass shooting in American history" if she spoke.</p> <p>Speaking to Colbert on Wednesday, she went on to reject the defense that&nbsp;Gamergate is actually about ethics in video game journalism.</p> <p>"That is sort of a compelling way to reframe the fact that this is actually an attack on women," she said."Ethics in journalism is not what's happening in any way. It's actually men going after women in really hostile, aggressive ways. That's what Gamergate is about. it's about terrorizing women for being involved in this industry."</p> <p>For more a deeper dive into the Gamergate controversy, check out our <a href="" target="_blank">excellent explainer.</a></p> <p><em><strong>Correction:</strong> A previous version of this story erroneously quoted Sarkeesian in the headline. This has since been corrected.&nbsp; </em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Sex and Gender gamergate Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:35:46 +0000 Inae Oh 263601 at Here's What Democrats and Republicans Are Afraid Of <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Wonkblog regales us this morning</a> with the chart on the right, which summarizes a recent <a href="" target="_blank">Chapman University survey</a> about what we're afraid of. Basically, it suggests that Democrats are more afraid of things than Republicans. This goes against the conventional wisdom a bit, and it especially goes against the conventional wisdom in the "strangers" category. Supposedly, liberals are <em>more open</em> to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_chapman_survey_democrat_fear.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 28px 0px 15px 30px;">strangers and outsiders than conservatives, but this survey suggests the opposite.</p> <p>So that's interesting. But what's probably more interesting is the cause of all this fear. Here's what the researchers say are the prime causes of fear:</p> <ul><li>Low education</li> <li>Talk TV</li> <li>True Crime TV</li> </ul><p>These all make sense. People with low levels of education tend to be poor and to live in poor areas. I don't know why they're so afraid of clowns, but it makes perfect sense that they'd have relatively high levels of economic anxiety as well as fears for their personal safety. As for talk TV, that makes sense too. "It is a simple, straight-line effect," the researchers says. "The more one watches talk TV, the more fearful one tends to be."</p> <p>So turn off the doofus TV, OK? And tell your friends and family to turn it off too. It's making our lives worse.</p> <p>And for the record, the rest of the survey suggests that Democrats tend to be afraid of crime, pollution, and man-made disasters. Republicans tend to be afraid of today&rsquo;s youth, the government, and immigrants.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:33:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 263606 at "Wild-Caught," Eh? 30 Percent of Shrimp Labels Are False <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Shrimp is America's favorite seafood&mdash;<a href="">we eat more of it than any other kind, by a wide margin</a>. And the tasty crustacean still (more or less) thrives near our ample shores&mdash;from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf to the Carolinas. That's why it's deeply weird that 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from often-fetid farms in Southeast Asia, which tend to <a href="">snuff out productive mangrove ecosystems</a> and have a <a href="">sketchy </a><a href="">labor record</a>. But it gets worse. Even when we do try to choose wild-caught US shrimp, we're often fooled. That's the message of a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> by the ocean-conservation group Oceana.</p> <p>The researchers sampled 143 shrimp products from 111 grocery stores and restaurants in Portland, Ore., New York City, Washington D.C., and along the Gulf of Mexico, and subjected them to DNA testing. Result: 30 percent of them were misrepresented on labels.</p> <p>They found the most deception in New York City, where 43 percent of the samples from supermarkets and restaurants proved to be misleadingly labeled. Of those, more than half were "farmed whiteleg shrimp disguised as wild-caught shrimp." Oof. D.C. shrimp eaters have also have cause for doubt about what's being served them: Supermarkets there showed better than in ones in New York, but nearly half of shrimp samples from D.C. restaurants turned up mislabeled.</p> <p>Even in the Gulf, still the site of a robust shrimp fishery despite the <a href="">occasional cataclysmic oil spill</a> and <a href="">vast annual dead zones</a> from agricultural runoff, the researchers found that "over one-third of the products labeled as 'Gulf' shrimp were farmed." On the other hand, "nearly two-thirds of the samples simply labeled as 'shrimp' were actually wild-caught Gulf shrimp," the report states, "possibly a missed marketing opportunity for promoting domestically caught seafood."</p> <p>Only Portlandia emerged virtually unscathed from Oceana's scrutiny: Just one sample in 20 turned out to be mislabeled&mdash;a dish presented as &ldquo;wild Pacific shrimp&rdquo; turned out to be farmed.</p> <p>Beyond rank mislabeling, the report also reveals that consumers indulge their shrimp habit from within a generalized information void. "The majority of restaurant menus surveyed did not provide the diner with any information on the type of shrimp, whether it was farmed/wild or its origin," Oceana found. As for supermarkets, "30 percent of the shrimp products surveyed in grocery stores lacked information on country-of-origin, 29 percent lacked farmed/wild information and one in five did not provide either.</p> <p>This overriding lack of transparency does more than lull us into accepting an inferior product. As Paul Greenberg argues in his brilliant 2014 book <em>American Catch,</em> it also makes our coastal areas&mdash;home to 40 percent of the US population&mdash;vulnerable to climate change.</p> <p>That's because treating treasures like the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery as an afterthought allows us to disregard the ecosystems that make them possible: the region's wetlands, which are vanishing at the rate of <a href="">one football field-sized chunk per hour,</a> <a href=";emc=rss&amp;_r=1&amp;">largely under pressure from the oil industry</a>. These coastal landscapes don't just provide nurseries for shrimp and other seafood; they also provide critical buffers against the increasingly violent storms and rising sea levels promised (and already being triggered) by a changing climate. Greenberg argues that a revival of interest in US-caught shrimp could rally support for wetland restoration, "conjoining of the interests of seafood and the interests of humans."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:44:45 +0000 Tom Philpott 263561 at