MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Have You Ever Thought About the Republican Party? I Mean, Really Thought About It? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As much as we've talked about it, I wonder if we've really gotten our heads around the fact that Paul Ryan is literally being begged to be the leader of the Republican Party. He is Literally. Being. Begged. To be the leader of one of America's two major parties! And he doesn't want it, no how, no way. Because he knows there's a substantial faction of his party that's insane. And who would know better?</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_boehner_ryan_stoners.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I feel like this is one of those things that maybe you can only truly comprehend after a couple of blunts:</p> <blockquote> <p>Boehner: Dude, have you ever thought about the Republican Party? I mean, <em>really</em> thought about it?</p> <p>Ryan: I know. <em>I know.</em> It's, like, insane, man. (Giggles, coughs.) This is good stuff. Medical, right?</p> <p>Boehner: That's it! Totally insane. I mean, completely batshit fucked up.</p> <p>Ryan: But awesome. Insane but <em>still awesome</em>. I mean, seriously, it's our only defense against, like, total socialism.</p> <p>Boehner: Oh man, you been reading <em>Atlas Shrugged</em> again? You're bumming me out, dude.</p> </blockquote> <p>And while we're on the subject, I have another idea. As thousands of people have pointed out, nothing in the Constitution says the Speaker has to be a member of Congress. This has spawned a whole cottage industry of jokes. Donald Trump! Bibi Netanyahu! Rush Limbaugh! But I have another idea: does it have to be one person? Here's the relevant text:</p> <blockquote> <p>The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers....</p> </blockquote> <p>Sure, "Speaker" is singular in that sentence, but "Speaker and other Officers" suggests that maybe leadership of the House could be shared. How about a triumvirate, like Rome in its glory days? Ryan could be one, some tea party nutcase could be another, and the third could be, um, Mia Love, who's a black woman and the daughter of immigrants. I'm not sure how they'd make decisions, but I guess they'd figure out something. Maybe rock paper scissors.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 10 Oct 2015 17:08:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 286651 at Donald Trump Has Big Plans to Reform the NIH <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few days ago Donald Trump called into Michael Savage's radio show. Savage suggested that if Trump wins, he would like to be appointed head of the National Institutes of Health. <a href="" target="_blank">Trump responded:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Well, you know you'd get common sense if that were the case, that I can tell you, <strong>because I hear so much about the NIH,</strong> and it's terrible.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is appalling on several levels, but the part that made me laugh is in bold. It's such vintage Trump. Can you just picture this? People practically mobbing Trump in the streets to complain about the NIH? Hell, I'd be willing to bet a week's salary that Trump had never even heard of the NIH until Savage mentioned it.</p> <p>Then again, maybe I'm just easily amused these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 10 Oct 2015 15:30:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 286646 at You Think the NSA Is Bad? Meet Former CIA Director Allen Dulles. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%" v_space="10"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/devils-chessboard-250x300.png"></div> <p>"What follows," David Talbot boasts in the prologue to his new book <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Devil's Chessboard</em></a>, "is an espionage adventure that is far more action-packed and momentous than any spy tale with which readers are familiar." Talbot, the founder of <em></em> and author of the Kennedy clan study <em>Brothers</em>, doesn't deal in subtlety in his biography of Allen Dulles, the CIA director under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, the younger brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and the architect of a secretive national security apparatus that functioned as essentially an autonomous branch of government. Talbot offers a portrait of a black-and-white Cold War-era world full of spy games and nuclear brinkmanship, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Dulles&mdash;who deceived American elected leaders and overthrew foreign ones, who backed ex-Nazis and thwarted left-leaning democrats&mdash;falls firmly in the latter camp.</p> <p><em>Mother Jones</em> chatted with Talbot about the reporting that went into his 704-page doorstop, the controversy he invited with his discussion of Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theories, and the parallels he sees in today's government intelligence overreach.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> You seem to have a thing for brothers&mdash;particularly for younger brothers in the shadow of their more prominent older brothers. As it happens, you yourself have a successful older brother&mdash;former child actor and Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Stephen Talbot. Do you see yourself in Allen Dulles or in Bobby Kennedy?</p> <p><strong>David Talbot:</strong> No one has pointed that particular analogy out before. But definitely it's there. I had a very close relationship and still do with my older brother. We both went into progressive media work, and live in the same city still, San Francisco, and have worked together off and on over the years. So I guess I have a feel for what that chemistry is like between brothers.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Given that Allen Dulles isn't exactly a household name these days, did you feel the need to inject your book with extra drama?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> No, because I actually do think the history is so epic that it actually kind of writes itself. Dulles is not a household name anymore. He was at the time, though, particularly as part of this two-brother team. He was on the cover of all the magazines. For a spy, he was kind of a glory hog.</p> <p>But what I was really trying to do was a biography on the American power elite from World War II up to the 60s. That was the key period when the national security state was constructed in this country, and where it begins to overshadow American democracy. It's almost like <em>Game of Thrones</em> to me, where you have the dynastic struggles between these power groups within the American system for control of the country and the world.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Is that why you chose not to include much about Dulles' childhood or his internal strife or the other types of things that tend to dominate biographies?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> I focused on those elements that I thought were important to understanding him. I thought other books covered that ground fairly well before me. But what they left out was the interesting nuances and shadow aspects of Dulles's biography. I think that you can make a case, although I didn't explicitly say this in the book, for Allen Dulles being a psychopath.</p> <p>They've done studies of people in power, and they all have to be, to some extent, on the spectrum. You have to be unfeeling to a certain extent to send people to their death in war and take the kind of actions that men and women in power routinely have to take. But with Dulles, I think he went to the next step. His own wife and mistress called him "the Shark." His favorite word was whether you were "useful" to him or not. And this went for people he was sleeping with or people he was manipulating in espionage or so on. He was the kind of man that could cold-bloodedly, again and again, send people to their death, including people he was familiar with and supposedly fond of.</p> <p>There's a thread there between people like Dulles up through Dick Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld&mdash;who was sitting at Dulles's knee at one point. I was fascinated to find that correspondence between a young Congressman Rumsfeld and Allen Dulles, who he was looking to for wisdom and guidance as a young politician.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> I'm interested to hear you mention Rumsfeld. Do you think the Bush years compared in ruthlessness or secrecy to what was going on under Dulles?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> Definitely. That same kind of dynamic was revived or in some ways expanded after 9/11 by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration. Those guys very much were in keeping with the sort of Dulles ethic, that of complete ruthlessness. It's this feeling of unaccountability, that democratic sanctions and regulations don't make sense in today's ruthless world.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> And do you see echoes of the apparatus that Dulles created in some of the debates today over spying on allies and collection of cellphone records?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> Absolutely. The surveillance state that Snowden and others have exposed is very much a legacy of the Dulles past. I think Dulles would have been delighted by how technology and other developments have allowed the American security state to go much further than he went. He had to build a team of cutthroats and assassins on the ground to go around eliminating the people he wanted to eliminate, who he felt were in the way of American interests. He called them communists. We call them terrorists today. And of course the most controversial part of my book, I'm sure, will be the end, where I say there was blowback from that. Because that killing machine in some way was brought back home.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Let's talk about that. For 500 pages of the book you lay out Dulles's acquisition and use and abuse of power in and out of the CIA. And then at the end you take a deep dive back into some of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy ideas that you explored in <em>Brothers</em>. It's not an uncontroversial subject. Did you worry that including that might color the reaction to the rest of the book?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> Yeah, you always worry, because unfortunately this climate has been created over the years that discourages and intimidates scholars and journalists and investigators from looking into these dark corners in American life that should be examined. Poll after poll for the last 50 years has shown that most American people don't accept the official version. The only people who do are the media establishment and the political establishment, at least in public.</p> <p>To me it's one of the greatest examples of media incompetence and negligence in American history. I even confronted Ben Bradlee about this, who was probably JFK's closest friend in the Washington press corps and wrote a book all about JFK and their close friendship. "Why didn't you, with your investigative resources, try to get [to] the bottom of it?" You should read what he says in <em>Brothers</em>, but basically it came down to, "Well, I thought it would ruin my career."</p> <p>I think I have studied this about as much as anyone in my generation at this point, and my final conclusion after 50 years was we have to go there, we have to look at the fact that there's a wealth of circumstantial evidence that says not only was there, at the highest level, CIA involvement. Probably in the assassination cover-up. But beyond the CIA, because the CIA wouldn't have acted on its own.</p> <p>During the Kennedy period, there was a sense that he'd broken from the Cold War hegemony and that he was putting the country at risk, and that he was a young, untested president. He was maybe cowardly. He was physically not fit. So they just felt, for the good of the nation, that as painful as it probably was to do, he had to be removed. That's what I think the consensus finally was about him. And Dulles would have been the person, as the executor of this kind of security wing of the American establishment, who would have been given this job.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Given that exploring these theories has been perceived as a career-killer, did you not have those same fears yourself?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> If you have fears at 63 after a career in journalism like I have, taking the risks I have, then you don't belong in journalism. That's what journalism should be all about: taking risks and asking the questions that no one else is.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Alright, last question for you. [<em>Connection cuts out. MJ calls DT back.</em>]</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> Aaron? There you are. They're fucking with us again! The NSA!</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> The NSA, of course. Okay, so: When the <em>Devil's Chessboard</em> movie comes out, who should play Allen Dulles?</p> <p><strong>DT:</strong> [<em>Laughs</em>.] That's a very good question. In fact, the book is being read widely in Hollywood now, and I have no idea. But there have been some interesting suggestions. One is William Hurt, who kind of looks like him now in his older age. You know, to tell you the truth, we'll see if Hollywood will be willing to take this on. <em>Brothers</em> had a long and winding road in Hollywood. And it was about to go many different times and then the plug was pulled on it. I still think this is kind of a verboten subject in Hollywood, particularly the Kennedy stuff. But, you know, we'll see. We'll see if they're braver with this one.</p></body></html> Media Interview Books Civil Liberties Foreign Policy International Military Sat, 10 Oct 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Aaron Wiener 286391 at See How Your Life Would Change If We Cloned Ruth Bader Ginsburg <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In 2012, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made headlines by saying she hoped to see an all-female Supreme Court one day. "When I'm sometimes asked when there will be enough [women justices] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked," <a href="" target="_blank">she explained</a> during a legal conference in Colorado. Nobody "ever raised a question" when nine men dominated the court, added the now-82-year-old, one of three women on the bench today.</p> <p>If Ginsburg got her wish, what might that mean for America? And what if women had taken a majority of seats on the highest court a long time ago? That's a question raised by dozens of feminist law scholars and lawyers across the United States who are putting together a new book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Feminist Judgments</em></a><em>, </em>in which they re-examine 24 of the most significant Supreme Court cases related to gender&mdash;dating from the 1800s to the present day&mdash;and rewrite the court's final decisions as if they had been the judges.</p> <p>More than 100 people applied to help write the book, which will be published sometime next spring, according to Kathryn Stanchi, a law professor at Temple University and one of three editors overseeing the project. All selected applicants agreed to follow an important rule: They could only base their revision on the legal precedent that bound the Supreme Court<strong> </strong>back when the case was first decided.</p> <p>Some original rulings had little chance of surviving the rewrite.</p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Geduldig v. Aiello</em>:</a> In this 1974 decision, an all-male court upheld a California statute that denied disability benefits to women with pregnancy-related disabilities. Lucinda Finley, a professor at the University of Buffalo who analyzed the case for <em>Feminist Judgments</em>, says she disagreed with Justice Potter Stewart, who <a href="" target="_blank">had written for the majority</a> that the California law did not constitute sex discrimination because it distinguished not between women and men but between "pregnant women and nonpregnant persons."</li> <li><em><a href="" target="_blank">Harris v. McRae</a>: </em>The court in this 1980 decision upheld the Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress several years earlier to ban the use of federal funds for reimbursements of most abortion services under Medicaid. Leslie Griffin, a professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who reviewed the case for the book, took issue with the ruling: "Animus against poor pregnant women motivated the amendment and cannot survive even rational basis review," Griffin explains.&nbsp;</li> </ul><p><em>Feminist Judgments </em>also re-examines decisions that at the surface level appeared to help women, but that also contained rationale later used to restrict their rights.</p> <ul><li><em>Roe v. Wade</em>: <a href="" target="_blank">The landmark 1973 ruling</a> on abortion declared unconstitutional a state law that banned abortions except to save a mother's life. Rutgers School of Law professor Kimberly Mutcherson says that in her rewrite of Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion, she agreed that the Fourteenth Amendment protects a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy; but she diverged from Blackmun's opinion by rejecting the trimester approach, in which states can regulate abortion after the first trimester and ban it completely after viability.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Oncale v. Sundowner</em></a>: The court found in this 1998 decision that same-sex sexual harassment could be actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Ann McGinley, another professor from the University of Nevada who re-examined the case for the book, agreed but went a step further, noting that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity could also be actionable under the law.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Griswold v. Connecticut</em></a>: This case came about after the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut was convicted under a state law that made it illegal to offer married people counseling or medical treatment related to birth control. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that the law violated sexual privacy rights for married couples. In <em>Feminist Judgments</em>, <a href="" target="_blank">Laura Rosenbury</a>, dean of the University of Florida's Levin College of Law, says she "extend[ed] the scope of this liberty interest to all personal relationships between adults&mdash;whether married or unmarried and without regard to the adults' sexual orientation." She also pointed out that the Connecticut law violated equal protection for women by allowing the <a href="" target="_blank">sale of condoms</a> but not other types of birth control.</li> </ul><p>Stanchi says <em>Feminist Judgments </em>was inspired by similar projects in <a href="" target="_blank">Canada</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">United Kingdom</a>, and that legal scholars in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are working on their own versions. The goal, she adds, is to demonstrate that it's not "pie in the sky or outrageous" to protect women's rights with the law of the land. "You can have feminist jurisprudence with the precedent that we have now," she says. "We just have to view it differently."</p></body></html> Media Books Supreme Court Sat, 10 Oct 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Samantha Michaels 279766 at We're About to Cause the Worst Coral Die-Off in History <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> was originally published by the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is reproduced here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history.</p> <p>Since 2014, a massive underwater heat wave, driven by climate change, <a href="" target="_blank">has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean</a>. By the end of this year 38 percent of the world's reefs will have been affected. About 5 percent will have died forever.</p> <p>But with <a href="" target="_blank">a very strong El Ni&ntilde;o</a> driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as <a href="" target="_blank">"the Blob,"</a> hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2015/10/oceans-coral-bleaching-climate-change"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:39:42 +0000 Karl Mathiesen 286606 at Inside the Scandal Rocking the Fantasy Sports World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You've almost certainly seen the commercials. Turn on the TV or browse the internet, and you'll be bombarded with ads for daily fantasy football leagues that offer huge <a href="" target="_blank">potential winnings</a> <a href="" target="_blank">each week of the season</a>. But in recent days, the two largest daily fantasy sites&mdash;DraftKings and FanDuel&mdash;have been rocked by scandal. Now, the companies are facing a lawsuit, a state probe, and possible congressional hearings.&nbsp;</p> <p>The controversy started last week, after a DraftKings employee won $350,000 in a FanDuel&nbsp;contest after inadvertently publishing information showing how many competitors had drafted certain players&mdash;before that information was supposed to be made public.</p> <p>Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman <a href=";smtyp=cur" target="_blank">opened an investigation</a> into the business practices of DraftKings&nbsp;and&nbsp;FanDuel, seeking to determine whether employees at the sites won payouts based on access to internal information. In <a href="" target="_blank">separate letters</a> to each company obtained by the <em>New York Times</em>, Schneiderman&nbsp;demanded information on how both companies operated, their policies surrounding employee participation in fantasy games, and what access employees had to sensitive data.</p> <p>And on Thursday, a class action lawsuit <a href="" target="_blank">was filed</a> in a federal court in New York against the two powerhouse fantasy sites, <a href="" target="_blank">alleging</a> that the companies "fraudulently&nbsp;induced" players to pay fees to participate in contests without acknowledging that employees participated in matches and had access to confidential, nonpublic information.</p> <p>DraftKings CEO Jason Robins defended his company's response to the data leak, saying <a href="" target="_blank">in an interview with the&nbsp;<em>Boston Globe</em></a> that he runs a "very ethical company."</p> <p>An investigation of the daily fantasy sports industry, which gaming firm Eilers Research <a href="" target="_blank">estimates will generate</a> about $2.6 billion in entry fees this year alone, could disrupt the largely unregulated business. Lawmakers have called for hearings and Federal Trade Commission intervention into a world that walks the line between traditional fantasy leagues and online sports gambling.&nbsp;</p> <p>And it all began with a&nbsp;mishap.&nbsp;Let's start at the beginning:</p> <p><strong>What are fantasy sports, anyway? </strong>For years, fantasy leagues have captivated audiences, giving people a new way to follow their favorite professional sports. Basically, participants enter a league,&nbsp;draft athletes to their rosters, and compete in weekly or nightly matches against others based on their players' statistical performances. So, for instance, it's football season, so you get together with a few buddies and act as your own general manager&mdash;every time one of the players on your team scores a touchdown or kicks a field goal in real life, you get points in your fantasy league. In the United States, about 31 million people <a href="" target="_blank">participate</a> in fantasy football leagues. You often play for free, for money, or for bragging rights.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What makes daily fantasy leagues such as DraftKings and FanDuel different? </strong>Unlike the typical office pool, at DraftKings and FanDuel, participants must drop an entry fee&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">anywhere from 25 cents to $1,000</a>&mdash;into contests and draft a fresh team on a nightly or weekly basis to compete against hundreds of opponents. The stakes are higher: Competitors can win as much as $2 million, depending on the size of the competition. What's unique about daily fantasy sites is the inclusion of a "salary cap." Participants are given a limited budget to <a href="" target="_blank">draft</a> a lineup of players. That means it's important to predict which undervalued players will perform well that week.</p> <p><strong>Who's making money off this? </strong>While participants have the chance to win millions of dollars in these competitions, the reality is you're more likely to lose the money you've put in than to gain anything substantial. An <a href="" target="_blank">analysis by the <em>Sports Business Journal</em></a> showed the disparity between the most successful competitors and the rest of the field. The top 1.3 percent of participants in the daily fantasy baseball economy accounted for 91 percent of all player profits. And while the majority of small-time players lose about $10 per month on games, a few&mdash;5 percent of the field known as the "big fish"&mdash;accounted for 75 percent of the losses. "Hence, the DFS economy depends heavily on retaining the big fish," Ed Miller and Daniel Singer wrote.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eilers Research partner Adam Krejcik <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Bloomberg</em></a> in September that&nbsp;DraftKings and FanDuel&nbsp;would bring in a combined $60 million in entry fees in the first week of the NFL season, compared with the $30 million the sports bookies in Las Vegas would handle.&nbsp;At the same time, the two companies, which are each valued at more than $1 billion, hauled in a <a href="" target="_blank">combined</a> total of nearly $800 million&nbsp;in <a href="" target="_blank">funding</a> from investors. Those investors <a href="" target="_blank">included</a>&nbsp;New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Fox Sports, Comcast/NBC, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association, among others.</p> <p>This summer, Disney (which owns the majority of ESPN) pulled out of a potential <a href="" target="_blank">$250 million investment deal</a> with DraftKings. But ESPN subsequently reached an advertising agreement with DraftKings, making it the network's exclusive fantasy partner.&nbsp;After the scandal came to light, ESPN <a href="" target="_blank">partially distanced</a> itself from the company, and <em>Outside the Lines</em> host Bob Ley announced the network would stop airing segments sponsored by DraftKings on its original programming. ESPN told media outlets such as <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Deadspin</em></a> and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>CNN Money</em></a> that it would be evaluating how it incorporates DraftKings into its programming "on a day-to-day basis."&nbsp;&acirc;&#128;&#139;</p> <p><strong>Okay, so what's the current controversy all about?&nbsp;</strong>The scandal surfaced after Chris Grove, editor of, <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that Ethan Haskell, a content manager at&nbsp;DraftKings, had inadvertently released lineup data for his employer's most popular contest&mdash;the Millionaire Maker&mdash;before it was supposed to go public but after games had started at&nbsp;FanDuel.&nbsp;</p> <p>Before the scandal hit, employees at&nbsp;FanDuel&nbsp;and&nbsp;DraftKings&nbsp;were barred from competing in their own companies' events, but they were still allowed to compete elsewhere. So when Haskell came in second place in a $1 million FanDuel&nbsp;competition and raked in $350,000, eyebrows were raised. Questions swirled about employees' access to data that can be used to gain a competitive advantage&mdash;in this case, information about the percentage of participants who drafted certain players.</p> <p>No evidence has surfaced suggesting that Haskel actually used that information to gain an advantage. In a <a href="" target="_blank">statement&nbsp;on Tuesday</a>,&nbsp;DraftKings&nbsp;said that after a "thorough investigation," the fantasy site found "this employee could not have used the information in question to make decisions about his&nbsp;FanDuel&nbsp;lineup" because he did not see the data until after all FanDuel lineups were finalized.</p> <p>"This clearly demonstrates that this employee could not possibly have used the information in question to make decisions about his FanDuel lineup,"&nbsp;DraftKings <a href="" target="_blank">stated</a>. "Again, there is no evidence that any information was used to create an unfair advantage and any insinuations to the contrary are factually incorrect."</p> <p>A&nbsp;FanDuel&nbsp;spokesperson <a href="" target="_blank">told ESPN</a> that 0.3 percent of its prize money had been won by&nbsp;DraftKings&nbsp;employees&mdash;though that still amounts to at least $6 million. Both companies <a href="" target="_blank">have now banned</a> their employees from participating in any daily fantasy events for money. DraftKings enlisted former US Attorney John Pappalardo <a href="" target="_blank">to conduct an internal investigation</a>, and FanDuel&nbsp;has&nbsp;asked former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey to "review the facts and evaluate our internal controls, standards, and practices," <a href="" target="_blank">according</a> to a company statement.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How exactly could nonpublic information skew the results? </strong>In daily fantasy sports, data is crucial. Participants make roster decisions based largely on which players are doing well at that point in the season and how much value they are likely to offer at their going "salary." The complaint in the lawsuit against DraftKings and FanDuel explains why it would be so valuable to know how often each player is drafted: "Because the goal is to beat the other players, a player with statistical data about ownership percentages of competitors would have an edge over players without this data in many ways, including the ability to make rosters with enough players different from competitors' rosters.&acirc;&#128;&#139;"</p> <p>While DraftKings says it found no evidence indicating the employee in question used that information to his advantage, the lawsuit suggests that employees' ability to access such information and the company's awareness that employees participated in these outside competitions constitutes wrongdoing. DraftKings and FanDuel declined to comment on the lawsuit.</p> <p><strong>What are the legal implications of all this? </strong>Marc Edelman, an associate professor of law at the City College of New York, told <em>Mother Jones</em> that while the most recent scandal doesn't necessarily reflect "insider trading," it lifts the curtain on the "lack of institutional walls in place" on online fantasy groups.&nbsp;Sports legal expert Michael McCann <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a> on&nbsp;;that if the companies "knowingly" failed to prevent their employees from making money off their access to nonpublic data, other users could argue that both&nbsp;DraftKings&nbsp;and&nbsp;FanDuel&nbsp;"are engaged in anti-competitive conduct that violates antitrust law."</p> <p>It's no surprise then that an investigation is under way in New York, which has one of the stronger consumer protection laws in the country. McCann noted that the Federal Trade Commission could also dive into the case and explore "whether insider knowledge in the&nbsp;DFS&nbsp;industry poses an&nbsp;anticompetitive, consumer-harmful practice in violation of federal trade regulations." Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has said she <a href="" target="_blank">will not pursue</a> an investigation into DraftKings, which is headquarted in Boston. Healey noted that no federal or state law prevents the company from operating.</p> <p>The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, a Kentucky-based fantasy player named Adam Johnson, <a href="" target="_blank">argues</a> that DraftKings breached its duties by "failing to prevent persons with inside information and data by virtue of their employment at other DFS sites from competing" against other players. The complaint alleges that DraftKings also "willfully failed to disclose" that employees with access to nonpublic information could compete at other sites, causing financial damage to players. The lawsuit alleges that by letting employees at both sites play in competitors' contests, both companies "committed negligence and/or fraud."</p> <p><strong>Why isn't this considered sports gambling?</strong> In 2006, Congress passed legislation that outlawed online gambling. Fantasy sports, however, were left in the clear and exempted from the law. Lawmakers <a href="" target="_blank">were apparently</a> persuaded by an intense lobbying campaign from the professional sports industry, which argued that success in fantasy sports requires skill, not chance. As a result, it's legal and largely unregulated.</p> <p><strong>What's going to happen now? </strong>Lawmakers may&nbsp;now reconsider whether fantasy sites should be regulated. New Jersey Rep. Frank&nbsp;Pallone Jr. (D)&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">recently made</a>&nbsp;the argument that the rise in popularity of daily fantasy sites supports the case for the legalization of sports gambling nationwide. He and Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) <a href="" target="_blank">wrote a letter</a> to FTC director Edith Ramirez asking whether the commission <a href="" target="_blank">could regulate and set for rules</a> the industry.</p> <p>"Like professional sports betting, fantasy sports should be legal, but both are currently operating in the shadows," Pallone <a href="" on="" target="_blank">said</a>&nbsp;in a statement.</p> <p>Other lawmakers have joined the fray. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who once oversaw the Nevada Gaming Commission, <a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>Huffington Post</em></a> that Congress should scrutinize the fantasy sports industry in light of its "scandalous conduct." And Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) requested that the House Judiciary Committee hold a hearing to examine whether the multibillion-dollar industry should be allowed to police itself.</p> <p>The <em>New York Times</em> and the <em>Boston Globe</em> have penned editorials calling for regulation. Fantasy enthusiasts are calling for changes, too: Cory Albertson, who, along with his playing partner Ray Coburn, has won millions from fantasy sports,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> in an op-ed&nbsp;in the <em>Wall Street Journal,&nbsp;</em>"Let's cut to the chase here: Playing daily-fantasy sports games for money is gambling. And it should be regulated.&acirc;&#128;&#139;"</p></body></html> Media Regulatory Affairs Sports Top Stories Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:09:14 +0000 Edwin Rios 286436 at Prosecutors Dealt a Setback in Trial of Rand Paul Aides <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>An Iowa judge dealt a setback to prosecutors who have <a href="" target="_blank">accused several Paul family political operatives of breaking campaign finance laws</a> during Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. The judge ruled on Friday that all the charges filed against John Tate, a longtime Paul family operative who worked for both Ron and Rand Paul and for<strong> </strong>groups tied to the family's political causes, should be dismissed. During the 2012 election, Tate was in charge of America's Liberty PAC, a pro-Rand Paul super-PAC endorsed by the Kentucky senator. Several of the charges against Jesse Benton, who is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter and also involved with America's Liberty PAC, were also dropped. But Benton and a third Paul lieutenant, Dimitri Kesari, are still both scheduled to go to trial next week<strong>.</strong></p> <p>This case focuses on these operatives' <a href="" target="_blank">roles running the 2012 Ron Paul campaign and an apparent plan to pay an Iowa state senator</a> to switch his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. The state senator, Kent Sorenson, initially denied there was a scheme to pay him to back Ron Paul, but eventually he admitted that he took money from the Paul campaign through a third party (to cover the campaign's tracks). He pleaded guilty last year to federal campaign finance charges and is awaiting sentencing. On Friday, federal judge John Jarvey, <a href="" target="_blank">dismissed</a> all the charges against Tate and all but one of the charges against Benton, saying that in presenting charges to the grand jury, prosecutors improperly included accusations that Benton and Tate lied about their involvement in the case during meetings with investigators and prosecutors.</p> <p>The judge's decision was apparently based on complaints by Benton and Tate's respective lawyers that the government convinced a grand jury to indict them by using statements the men made when they were under the impression that prosecutors wouldn't use these remarks against them. According to court documents, last summer, before a grand jury was convened, the two men met, separately, with investigators and prosecutors in what is known as "proffer sessions"&mdash;meetings in which the subject of the interview is usually given some immunity and a promise the government won't use what they tell investigators against them. The one instance in which statements made during a proffer session can be used to prosecute the interviewee is when the government prosecutes the person directly for making false statements to federal investigators. The charges against Tate and Benton that were dismissed today were related to conspiracy and campaign finance violations. The judge ruled that it was improper for prosecutors to bring up what Benton and Tate said in the proffer sessions when accusing them of those crimes.</p> <p>Benton is still charged with making false statements to federal investigators and Kesari still faces six charges relating to the case, including conspiracy and campaign finance charges. Prosecutors also claim he tried to convince Sorenson to not cooperate with investigators.</p> <p>Neither Benton nor Tate's attorney responded to requests for comment, but Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said new charges may still be filed against Tate and Benton.</p> <p>"The government is free to proceed to trial&mdash;and informed the court today that it will proceed to trial&mdash;on the remaining counts pertaining to Benton and Kesari," Carr said. "The decision regarding the dismissed counts will be made at a later date post trial."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Rand Paul Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:40:47 +0000 Russ Choma 286621 at Shock Jock Who Wants to Be Trump's Top Medical Researcher Once Told a Caller to "Get AIDS and Die" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Three days ago, Donald Trump <a href="" target="_blank">called in</a> to Michael Savage's radio show for a 12-minute lovefest. As the chat wrapped up, Savage made a modest proposal to The Donald:</p> <blockquote> <p>When you become president, I want you to consider appointing me to head of the NIH. I will make sure that America has real science and real medicine again in this country because I know the corruption. I know how to clean it up and I know how to make real research work again.</p> </blockquote> <p>"I think that's great," Trump responded to the right-wing talk-radio fixture. "Well, you know you'd get common sense if that were the case, that I can tell you, because I hear so much about the NIH, and it's terrible."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>So what are Savage's qualifications to head the nation's premier biomedical research organization, which oversees <a href="" target="_blank">$30 billion worth</a> of medical research annually?&nbsp;</p> <p>As he is fond of reminding his listeners, Savage does have some scientific credentials. He grew up revering Charles Darwin, got a biology degree and a master's in medical anthropology, and then earned a doctorate in nutritional ethnomedicine from the University of California-Berkeley. In the 1970s, he took several trips to the South Pacific to study medicinal herbs and soak up "ethnic wisdom." (Along the way, he is said to have skinny dipped with Allen Ginsberg in Fiji.) He published dozens of books on herbs, plants, and health under his real name, Michael Weiner.</p> <p>As I discovered when I perused his body of work <a href="" target="_blank">while profiling him</a>, some of his writings veered into serious woo territory:</p> <blockquote> <p>In <em>The Way of the Skeptical Nutritionist</em>, he ventured that a person's ideal diet should be determined by his or her ethnicity. <em>Getting Off Cocaine: 30 Days to Freedom</em> promised blow addicts "an alternative plan for getting 'high'&mdash;legally and naturally!" The treatment involved ingesting a daily cocktail of Sudafed, vitamins C and E, and amino acids, as well as self-administering the occasional coffee enema. "Use a good quality coffee," Weiner advised. "Not decaffeinated or instant."&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In his 1986 book, <em>Maximum Immunity</em>, Savage insisted on mandatory nationwide AIDS testing and suggested that vitamin C might stop the disease. He said that gays should "accept the blame" for the spread of AIDS and sneered that "those who practice orgiastic sex, with many partners, and use street drugs are not likely to respond to reason."</p> <p>Beyond that, Savage has boasted of a serious academic r&eacute;sum&eacute;, including affiliations with Harvard, the University of California-Santa Cruz, and the University of Heath Sciences at Chicago Medical School. He's also claimed to have conducted "important research" for the NIH's National Cancer Institute.</p> <p>Ever since he changed his name and hit the airwaves in the early 2000s, Savage has moved on from his days as a "World Famous Herbal Expert." But his biggest breakouts from the AM-radio echo chamber have involved his comments on science, medicine, and infectious disease. In 2008, he described <a href="" target="_blank">autistic kids</a> as "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out" and said "here is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism." (The NIH, which sponsors autism research, has a definition <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.) Earlier, in 2003, the would-be NIH director told a caller to <a href="" target="_blank">"get AIDS and die"</a> and was promptly canned by MSNBC, which had just given him his own cable program. One of the NIH's main goals is to make sure people <a href="" target="_blank">don't get AIDS and die</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Media Science Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:15:37 +0000 Dave Gilson 286616 at Congressional Republicans Are in Total Chaos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>GOP land went crazy on Thursday when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly pulled out of the race to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as House speaker. Tweets and headlines frequently employed the word "chaos" to describe what happened after McCarthy withdrew. The news caused major reverberations throughout the political world, yet much of the rest of the country was probably wondering why everybody was freaking out. Here's a quick primer:</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/10/gop-speaker-congress-chaos"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:12:28 +0000 AJ Vicens 286591 at Friday Cat Blogging - 9 October 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hmmm. What happened here? There is no documentary record, so perhaps if Hopper hides no one will connect her with it. Worth a try! Meanwhile, Hilbert hangs around absentmindedly, not realizing that his sister is doing her best to pin the rap entirely on him. That's family values, folks.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_10_09.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:55:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 286631 at