MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/feed%5Baction.subscribe http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en This Chart Shows the Staggering Human Cost of Staging a World Cup in Qatar http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/chart-fifa-deaths-qatar-move-it-to-the-united-states <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice <a href="http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/nine-fifa-officials-and-five-corporate-executives-indicted-racketeering-conspiracy-and" target="_blank">dropped the hammer</a> on FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, indicting nine senior FIFA officials and five sports marketing execs on charges of corruption, wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.</p> <p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2011/may/10/millions-bribes-qatar-2022-world-cup-claims" target="_blank">Allegations of bribery</a> have long plagued FIFA, especially since its controversial decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup. But much worse is the plight of South Asian migrant workers brought in to build the stadium infrastructure there:&nbsp;Since 2010, more than 1,200 migrant workers have died in Qatar under hazardous working conditions, and a 2013 <em>Guardian</em> investigation <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead" target="_blank">found</a> that at least 4,000 total are projected to die before the 2022 World Cup even starts. And as we reported yesterday, Nepalese workers <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/world-cup-qatar-nepal-earthquake-soccer" target="_blank">weren't even allowed </a>to return home after the country's recent devastating earthquake.</p> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/27/a-body-count-in-qatar-illustrates-the-consequences-of-fifa-corruption/" target="_blank">Christopher </a><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/27/a-body-count-in-qatar-illustrates-the-consequences-of-fifa-corruption/" target="_blank">Ingraham</a> at the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/27/a-body-count-in-qatar-illustrates-the-consequences-of-fifa-corruption/" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a> put that toll in perspective in a striking infographic. He compared the number of workers who died in the run-up to several Olympics and World Cups with the number of those who have died in Qatar so far. It's horrifying:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Toll-Of-FIFA%27s-Corruption.jpg"><div class="caption">Christopher Ingraham/<em>Washington Post</em></div> </div></body></html> Mixed Media Charts Human Rights International Sports Wed, 27 May 2015 23:17:42 +0000 Edwin Rios 276091 at http://www.motherjones.com Nebraska Becomes First Conservative State in 40 Years to Repeal the Death Penalty http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-thanks-conservatives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nebraska legislators on Wednesday overrode the Republican governor's veto to repeal the state's death penalty, a major victory for a small but growing conservative movement to end executions. The push to end capital punishment divided Nebraska conservatives, with 18 conservatives joining the legislature's liberals to provide the <a href="http://www.omaha.com/news/legislature/nebraska-senators-override-governor-s-veto-repeal-death-penalty/article_32726c27-0ef4-5415-9d07-f90f08707602.html" target="_blank">30 to 19 vote</a> to override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto&mdash;barely reaching the 30 votes necessary for repeal.</p> <p>Today's vote makes Nebraska "the first predominantly Republican state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, in a statement shortly after the vote. Dunham's statement singled out conservatives for rallying against the death penalty and said their work in Nebraska is "part of an emerging trend in the Republican Party." (Nebraska has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature, so lawmakers do not have official party affiliations.)</p> <p>For conservative opponents of the death penalty, Wednesday's vote represents a breakthrough. &nbsp;A month ago, overcoming the governor's veto <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/nebraska-republicans-take-gop-governor-over-death-penalty" target="_blank">still looked like a long-shot</a>.&nbsp; Conservatives make a number of arguments against the death penalty, including the high costs and a religion-inspired argument about taking life. "I may be old-fashioned, but I believe God should be the only one who decides when it is time to call a person home," Nebraska state Sen. Tommy Garrett, a conservative Republican who opposes the death penalty, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/nebraska-republicans-take-gop-governor-over-death-penalty" target="_blank">said</a> last month.</p> <p>"I think this will become more common," Marc Hyden, national coordinator of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in a statement following the repeal vote. "Conservatives have sponsored repeal bills in Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, and Kentucky in recent years."</p> <p>But conservative opponents of the death penalty have a tough slog ahead. Though support for the death penalty has reached its lowest point in 40 years, according to the <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/16/less-support-for-death-penalty-especially-among-democrats/" target="_blank">latest Pew Research Center survey</a>, 77 percent of Republicans still support it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice death penalty Wed, 27 May 2015 21:59:14 +0000 Pema Levy 276031 at http://www.motherjones.com This Map Shows the Price Of Weed In Every State http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/weed-map <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Where would you go if you wanted to smoke weed? Well you might start in Colorado or Washington, the two states where it's legal to smoke it recreationally (although <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/pot-marijuana-legalization-map-states" target="_blank">that landscape is always shifting</a>). But what if you didn't care about the law, and you just wanted to blaze based on financial considerations? Well, you'd probably still head to Colorado or Washington, according to a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankbi/2015/05/12/the-most-and-least-expensive-states-to-buy-marijuana/?utm_campaign=Forbes&amp;utm_source=TWITTER&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_channel=Technology&amp;linkId=14394783" target="_blank">new map from <em>Forbes</em></a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/potmap630.png"><div class="caption">Map courtesy of Forbes</div> </div> <p><em>Forbes</em> used data from <a href="http://www.priceofweed.com/" target="_blank">priceofweed.com</a>, which gets its data by "crowdsourc(ing) the street value of marijuana from the most accurate source possible: you, the consumer." One might say stoners aren't the best source of financial data, but, then again, there isn't much stoners are more serious about than what they shell out for weed.</p> <p>So good on you, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, California. And bad on you, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia.</p> <p>(h/t <em><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marijuana-prices-map-shows-average-pot-prices-in-each-us-state-10277477.html" target="_blank">The Independent</a>)</em></p></body></html> Politics Marijuana Regulatory Affairs Wed, 27 May 2015 19:25:07 +0000 AJ Vicens 275966 at http://www.motherjones.com Scott Walker Says Mandatory Ultrasounds Are "Just a Cool Thing" for Women http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/scott-walker-mandatory-ultrasounds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After months of keeping a <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/05/where-is-scott-walker.html" target="_blank">low profile</a> for a man very likely running for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is back in the headlines today with quite the <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/scott-walker-ultrasounds-should-be-mandatory-theyre-cool-thing-out-there" target="_blank">outrageous quote</a>. Walker, who was speaking in defense of a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/wisconsin-governor-signs-abortion-bill-requiring-ultrasound-93762.html" target="_blank">controversial abortion bill </a>he signed into law that forces women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, said in an interview on Friday the mandatory exams are "just a cool thing" for women.</p> <blockquote> <p>I'll give you an example. I'm pro-life, I've passed pro-life legislation. We defunded Planned Parenthood, we signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they're pro-life or not, I find people all the time who'll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids' ultrasound and how excited they are, so that's a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It's just a cool thing out there.</p> </blockquote> <p>He went onto say Republicans shouldn't solely focus on abortion, but also embrace other key conservative issues. Nevertheless:</p> <blockquote> <p>It certainly is a part of who we are and we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it, and we shouldn't be afraid to push back. When you think about Hillary Clinton, and you think about some others on the left, you say, I think it's reasonable, whether you're pro-life or not to say that taxpayers dollars shouldn't be spent to support abortion or abortion-related activities. Most Americans believe in that. There are many candidates on the left who don't share that belief.</p> </blockquote> <p>Seriously, ladies. Why keep fighting for autonomous control over your bodies, when clearly mandatory ultrasounds are just so darn neat? Put down the pitchfork and embrace the red wave!</p> <p>Listen to the Walker's interview, recorded by <em><a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/" target="_blank">Right Wing Watch</a></em>, below:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="250" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207319871&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Reproductive Rights Scott Walker Sex and Gender Wed, 27 May 2015 19:23:04 +0000 Inae Oh 275956 at http://www.motherjones.com Your Snobby Wine Friends Are Full of Shit http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/cheap-wine-rules <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Find yourself in the company of an intolerable, self-annointed&nbsp;wine connoisseur? Don't bother arguing about how great the $7 bottle of supermarket merlot is. The best way to deal with the inevitable snobbery headed your way might be to show them the following video <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/20/8625785/expensive-wine-taste-cheap" target="_blank">produced by Vox</a>, which slays the belief expensive wines are more delicious.&nbsp;</p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mVKuCbjFfIY" width="630"></iframe></p> </center> <p>When 19 staffers blind-tested three different red wines from the same grape, the average ratings for the cheapest and most expensive wines were exactly the same! And while half of those tested were able to correctly identify which wine was the most expensive, they actually reported enjoying it <em>less </em>than the cheaper offerings. That's because, according to the video, more complex wines tend to challenge our plebian palates.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks Vox. Now here is <em>Mother Jones</em>' contribution to you oenophiles:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/05/how-open-wine-bottle-your-shoe" target="_blank">"How to Open a Wine Bottle With Your Shoe."</a></p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9XyvC8LyvXQ" width="630"></iframe></p> </center></body></html> Mixed Media Food and Ag Wed, 27 May 2015 18:43:54 +0000 Inae Oh 275951 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/health-update-0 <!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.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/so-how-did-my-experiment-turn-out" target="_blank">Last Saturday</a> I wrote a post whining about how tired and nauseous I was and how I crashed every day around 2 pm. I wrote that post a little before noon, and then....nothing. No crash. Sunday: no crash. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: no crash. And the nausea has improved dramatically. There are two possible explanations for this:</p> <ul><li>It's just a coincidence.</li> <li>Whining in public is really therapeutic and helped me feel better.</li> </ul><p>So which is it? Who knows. I suppose it was just a coincidence, but that's not a very satisfying explanation for us pattern-obsessed primates, is it? In any case, I'm still tired and I still make sure to rest frequently throughout the day. But my energy level is distinctly better than last week, and my nausea is clearly getting better too. Genuine progress! Hooray!</p> <p>Unfortunately, the foul taste in my mouth is still hanging around. In theory, full recovery from the chemo side effects should take 6-7 weeks, and I'm now at week 5. Hopefully this means in another week or two I'll be feeling pretty sprightly and foulness free. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 18:39:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 275961 at http://www.motherjones.com Your City Is Probably Not Going to Be Hit By A Terrorist Attack http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/list-cities-most-risk-terrorist-attacks-probably-wont-suprise-you <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Americans are understandably<a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/american-fear-74-see-catastrophic-terrorist-attack-inside-united-states/article/2558294" target="_blank"> terrified of terror attacks</a>. But good news! These fears have nothing to do with actual data. According to a new tool released last week, n<a href="http://maplecroft.com/portfolio/new-analysis/2015/05/20/abuja-cairo-nairobi-and-islamabad-among-12-capital-cities-facing-extreme-terrorism-risks-verisk-maplecroft/" target="_blank">o US cities are among the world's 50 most at risk of terror attacks</a>.</p> <p>The index, designed by UK based Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk assessment firm, calculates the risk of terror attacks in "1,300 of the world&rsquo;s most important commercial hubs and urban centers" using historic trends. By logging and analyzing every reported attack or event per 100 square meters and calculating the frequency and severity of those&nbsp;incidents, Maplecroft's tool establishes a baseline for the past five years. Then, it compares that data with the number, frequency, and severity of attacks for the most recent year. Depending on the most recent statistics, cities move up or down on the list of cities at risk for terror attacks.</p> <p>What cities are in danger? Cities near ISIS.&nbsp;Baghdad&nbsp;is the most terror prone city, followed by five other places in Iraq&mdash;including Mosul, an ISIS stronghold in northern Iraq, and Al Ramadi, ISIS's <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/26/middleeast/iraq-ramadi-inside-the-fight/" target="_blank">most recent </a>hostile takeover. In just one year, as of February, over 1,000 residents of Baghdad lost their lives in one of the almost 400 terror attacks the city endured.</p> <p>A total of 27 of the 64 countries at "extreme risk" are located in the Middle East, and 19 are in Asia. Residents living in the capital cities of Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Tripoli face some of the strongest risks of terror attacks as well. Maplecroft <a href="http://maplecroft.com/portfolio/new-analysis/2015/05/20/abuja-cairo-nairobi-and-islamabad-among-12-capital-cities-facing-extreme-terrorism-risks-verisk-maplecroft/" target="_blank">points</a> to the risk of terror incidents in high-ranking countries like Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan as major threats to US commercial interests.</p> <p>And, recent events have triggered some cities to climb in the rankings. Prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack, Paris didn't even make the top 200 most at risk cities. But according to the current index, the French capital jumped over 100 spots, now coming in at&nbsp;97. Increasing violence purported by African militant groups, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia, have heightened the risk of terror incidents in African nations, landing 14 countries in the top 64.</p> <p>So stop freaking out about terror attacks, America.</p></body></html> MoJo Afghanistan Foreign Policy Human Rights International Top Stories National Security Wed, 27 May 2015 18:32:15 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin 275941 at http://www.motherjones.com My Neighbor Ratted Me Out for Watering My Garden. Bring It On. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/05/california-drought-shaming-water-watersmart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last summer, one of my neighbors in Oakland, California, anonymously reported me to the East Bay Municipal Utility District for wasting water. I'd been dousing my front yard once or twice a week with arcing sprays from three huge Rain Bird sprinklers. Upon receiving written notice of the complaint, I called the utility and learned that I wasn't actually violating water use rules, but the incident got me thinking. My ample vegetable garden was certainly green. Other yards the neighborhood were going brown. Did my neighbors think I was a water hog?</p> <p>Confronted with a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going" target="_blank">fourth year of drought</a> and mandatory <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-jerry-brown-new-drought-fines-20150428-story.html" target="_blank">conservation measures</a>, California has become a minefield of water politics. Snared in the web of blame are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/california-drought-almonds-water-use" target="_blank">almond eaters</a>, <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-05-15/california-floods-fields-to-grow-rice-in-a-drought" target="_blank">rice farmers</a>, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/05/21/us/your-contribution-to-the-california-drought.html?hpw&amp;rref=us&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=well-region&amp;region=bottom-well&amp;WT.nav=bottom-well&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">out-of-state grocery shoppers</a>, <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/california-drought-lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-parched-110305.html#.VWT-kFVVhBc" target="_blank">rich people</a>, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-feeding-china-hay-20140609-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">China</a>, and even <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2015/04/10/why-the-california-drought-matters-to-the-fashion-industry/" target="_blank">hipsters</a>. In cities and suburbs, the owners of dust-bowl lawns have squared off against their neighbors, including those of us who hand-water a few flowers or tomato plants at dusk while nervously looking over our shoulders. There's a name for our fear: Drought shaming.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DroughtShaming?src=hash">#DroughtShaming</a>: Wealthy celebrities called out over lush California lawns <a href="http://t.co/slDVv3vLYw">http://t.co/slDVv3vLYw</a> <a href="http://t.co/DFIW5AcTAh">pic.twitter.com/DFIW5AcTAh</a></p> &mdash; CBC News (@CBCNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews/status/601175627539046400">May 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Drought shaming isn't just for celebrities or the rich. Smartphone apps such as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/technology/personaltech/video-feature-as-california-thirsts-these-apps-help-save-water.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Vizsafe, H20 Tracker</a>, and <a href="https://twitter.com/droughtshameapp" target="_blank">DroughtShame</a> allow users to snap and post geotagged photos of alleged water abuse. In Los Angeles, the infamous "water crusader" <a href="http://www.today.com/news/drought-shaming-california-water-vigilantes-snitch-their-neigbors-t15896" target="_blank">Tony Corcoran</a>, a.k.a. YouTube's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE63IFloqt2kd3Kb-DB07CA" target="_blank">Western Water Luv</a>, bicycles around town videotaping homeowners with modestly sized green lawns who dare venture outside with a hose in hand:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="376" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fYzRg09JZoM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Few water scolds take such a confrontational approach. Most don't have the time to hunt down gushing sprinklers or the inclination to anger their neighbors. More common is the mild, polite sort of water shaming that a next-door neighbor directed at me last week, suggesting that I cover my garden in a layer of moisture-retaining bark mulch. I'd already felt pangs of guilt watching her irrigate her ragged flowers with a watering can filled with leftover dishwater.</p> <p>With many California cities facing mandatory water cutbacks of 25 percent or more, it's probably for the best that keeping up with the Joneses sometimes means not keeping up your yard. After all, most utility districts lack the will to cut off people's water or the manpower to send out a fleet of water cops. And tiered water rates aren't a silver bullet, either; <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/prop-218-ballot-measure-california-drought" target="_blank">they face new legal challenges</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2009/07/why-wasting-water-so-damn-cheap" target="_blank">aren't really steep enough to be all that effective</a>. Ultimately, peer pressure is pretty much all we've got.</p> <p>But here's the problem: Even as progressive urbanites police each other's water consumption, many California communities continue to treat water as a bottomless resource. In hose-happy suburbs such as Palm Desert, you're still more likely to be treated as a pariah if you let your lawn die. Even in my own water district, some neighborhoods over the hills stubbornly cling to the East-Coast ideal of glistening Kentucky bluegrass and fluffy hydrangeas.</p> <p>A tech startup has figured out how to bring a measure of constructive drought shaming to communities that were once impervious to it. San-Francisco-based <a href="http://www.watersmart.com/" target="_blank">WaterSmart</a> sends out individualized reports that show water users how they stack up against their neighbors. Using insights gleaned from behavioral science, the reports essentially traffic in the same kind of peer pressure one might get from living in, say, a Berkeley enclave of <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=3505803" target="_blank">graywater guerillas</a>. The result is an average water savings of 5 percent&mdash;a big deal at a time when every drop counts.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water-report-app2.gif"><div class="caption">WaterSmart</div> </div> <p>The goal, says WaterSmart marketing director Jeff Lipton, is to coax out the feelings of tribal affinity that drive human behavior. "As we evolved, humans turned to the tribe and the behavior that was normal in that group as a survival mechanism," he says. "There is sort of an existential threat of not fitting in. So it's not shame and it's not competition; I think it is a little more abstract than that." And a lot more wonky: WaterSmart has a <a href="http://www.watersmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WSS_TappingintoBehaviorScience.pdf" target="_blank">19-page paper</a> on this stuff, including the science of "goal setting," "feedback," and "injunctive norms."</p> <p>Though the WaterSmart interface seems simple, the calculations behind it are not. Two households of the same size can't be expected to use the same amount of water if one has townhouse without a yard and the other a suburban spread on half an acre. That's why WaterSmart combines utility data with property records to control for variables such as lot size, house size, microclimates, and the likely age of a home's appliances. Users can further tweak their homes' specs. If you have a large yard, WaterSmart will suggest installing drip irrigation and drought-tolerant plants. If you live in an old apartment building, it may prompt you to install a low-flow toilet or shower head.</p> <p>Founded in 2009 by Peter Yolles, the director of water resource protection for The Nature Conservancy, WaterSmart grew slowly for several years, hindered, in part, by the low cost of water across the United States. Then came the drought. Last year, it tripled its customer base to 40 utilities in six states that represent 2 percent of all residential water meters in the country. It's expecting a similar rate of growth this year. "I think we are at the very early stages of a transformation of the industry," Lipton says.</p> <p>WaterSmart still faces obstacles. Only about 20 percent of municipal utility districts employ advanced meters that can transmit residential usage in close to real-time, making it possible to frequently update customers on their water use. And glaring inefficiencies in agriculture, which uses 80 percent of California's water, provide a convenient scapegoat for homeowners who'd prefer to keep running their taps.</p> <p>Some users may interpret their favorable WaterSmart reports as an excuse to use <em>more</em> water. I asked the company to crunch the numbers for my house. Comparable dwellings, I learned, use an average of 336 gallons per day during the summer. In the summer of 2013, my house used 156 gallons per day. Behavioral scientists call the impulse that I might feel to use more water "<a href="http://www.watersmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WSS_TappingintoBehaviorScience.pdf" target="_blank">the boomerang effect</a>." WaterSmart expects that it can keep the boomerangers in line with the virtual equivalent of a scowling neighbor, a frowning emoji.</p> <p>Of course, the true dynamics of social pressure can be much more complicated. Last summer, my house used a whopping 591 gallons of water a day. I feel bad about this, but not <em>that</em> bad; most of the water went toward irrigating plugs of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festuca_rubra" target="_blank">festuca rubra</a>, a native grass that doesn't need any summer water once it's established. Now that it has taken root and I've mostly stopped watering it, I expect to easily best my neighbors' water savings this year and still have an attractive lawn. Other than my fescue, the greenest thing in the neighborhood will be all the envy.</p></body></html> Environment Food and Ag Tech Top Stories water Wed, 27 May 2015 17:23:57 +0000 Josh Harkinson 275696 at http://www.motherjones.com Note to Politicians: Stop Being So Self-Centered About Medical Research Funding http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/note-politicians-stop-being-so-self-centered-about-medical-research-funding <!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_test_tubes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Steve Benen mentions one of my pet peeves today: politicians who want to cut spending on everything except for research on one particular disease that happens to affect them personally. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/politicians-should-learn-bigger-lessons-their-pet-causes" target="_blank">A couple of years ago,</a> for example, Sen. Mark Kirk suddenly became interested in Medicaid's approach to treating strokes after he himself suffered a stroke. The latest example is Jeb Bush, whose mother-in-law has Alzheimer's. I suppose you can guess what's coming next. <a href="http://mariashriver.com/blog/2015/05/i-emailed-jeb-bush-about-alzheimers-and-he-responded-maria-shriver-jeb-bush/" target="_blank">Here's Jeb in a letter he sent to Maria Shriver:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I have gotten lots of emails based on my comments regarding Alzheimer&rsquo;s and dementia at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. It is not the first time I have spoken about this disease. I have done so regularly.</p> <p>Here is what I believe:</p> <p><strong>We need to increase funding to find a cure.</strong> We need to reform FDA [regulations] to accelerate the approval process for drug and device approval at a much lower cost. We need to find more community based solutions for care.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-jeb-bushs-line-alzheimers-matters" target="_blank">As Benen points out,</a> Bush vetoed a bunch of bills that would have assisted Alzheimer's patients when he was governor of Florida. I guess that's changed now that he actually knows someone with the disease. However, it doesn't seem to have affected his attitude toward any other kind of medical research spending.</p> <p>I'm not even sure what to call this syndrome, but it's mighty common. It's also wildly inappropriate. If Jeb wants to personally start a charity that helps fund Alzheimer's research, that's great. But if he's running for president, he should be concerned with medical research for everyone. I mean, where's the billion dollars that <em>I'd</em> like to see invested in multiple myeloma research? Huh?</p> <p>Presidents and members of Congress represent the country, not their own families. They should get straight on the fact that if their pet disease is being underfunded, then maybe a lot of other diseases are being underfunded too. It shouldn't take a family member getting sick to get them to figure that out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 May 2015 17:14:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 275946 at http://www.motherjones.com Texas Wants Its Own Fort Knox http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/texas-fort-knox-gold-new-york <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Texas independence&mdash;or paranoia&mdash;strikes again. In&nbsp;recent years, some Lone Star officials, including former Gov. Rick Perry, have flirted with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/rick-perry-secession_n_2120453.html" target="_blank">secession</a>. Last month the new Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, asked the state national guard to monitor a US military exercise that some residents fear is cover for a federal takeover of the state that will use Walmarts as staging areas. And now the state is on the verge of seizing the gold owned by the state that is stored in New York City and building a massive bunker to hoard&nbsp;this booty.</p> <p><a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/30/abbotts-letter-puts-jade-helm-national-stage/" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">Per the </a><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Senate-Let-Texas-establish-its-own-Fort-Knox-6287035.php" target="_blank"><em>Houston Chronicle</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>AUSTIN &mdash; Texas could get its own version of Fort Knox, the impenetrable depository for gold bullion, if the Legislature gets its way.</p> <p>Under House Bill 483, approved unanimously on Tuesday by the state Senate, Comptroller Glenn Hegar would be authorized to establish and administer the state's first bullion depository at a site not yet determined.</p> <p>No other state has its own state bullion depository, officials said.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">The state government has about $1 billion in gold bullion stored outside the state, mostly in the basement of the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan. The gold has been there for years&mdash;because it's so annoying to move, it's easier to keep everyone's gold in the same place, and the financial center of the world is the most obvious place. When bullion changes hands, it's mostly on paper. So</span>&nbsp;why does Texas now need to grab all its gold? Is it just because Texans don't trust New Yorkers? Is it really that simple?</p> <p><a href="http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Senate-Let-Texas-establish-its-own-Fort-Knox-6287035.php" target="_blank">Yes</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"New York will hate this," [state sen. Lois] Kolkhorst said of the bill that now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. "To me, that and the fact that it will save Texas money makes it a golden idea."</p> </blockquote> <p>The cost-cutting bit refers to the storage fees Texas has to pay to keep its gold offsite, although Texas would still have to shell out money for upkeep and security if it went the DIY route. Incidentally, Perry supported the Texas Bullion Depository when it was first proposed in 2013, <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/2013/03/21/perry-some-lawmakers-want-states-gold-back-texas/" target="_blank">telling</a> Glenn Beck, "If we own it, I will suggest to you that that's not someone else&rsquo;s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not."</p> <p>But building a giant vault to house all the state's gold will be the easy part. The tough task? Safely and securely moving&nbsp;57,000 pounds of gold from Gotham to Texas. Perhaps we now know the plot for the <a href="http://www.bustle.com/articles/73979-when-will-fast-furious-8-be-released-the-story-isnt-over-for-the-crew-just" target="_blank">eighth <em>Fast and Furious</em> movie</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Economy Texas Wed, 27 May 2015 17:00:57 +0000 Tim Murphy 275936 at http://www.motherjones.com