MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Drought Weighing You Down? Nope, It's Lifting You Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a odd piece of news: According to a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> published Thursday in <em>Science</em>, the water loss due to this year's drought has caused the entire western side of the United States to literally rise. After examining data from nearly 800 GPS stations across the country, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that the area west of New Mexico has risen by an average of four millimeters this year. In the Sierra Nevadas and along California's coast&mdash;two areas that have received far less precipitation this year than normal&mdash;the land rose 15 millimeters.</p> <p>Adrian Borsa, a coauthor of the study, explained what's happening: "The earth is an elastic material just like a block of rubber. If you put a water load on it, the earth deforms, if you take the water away, the earth will come back." Using the GPS data, the researchers estimated that the Western United States has lost 62 trillion gallons of water to the atmosphere this year because of the drought. That's enough water to cover the entire Western US in six inches of water.</p> <p>The earth rising seems not only vaguely biblical, but also counterintuitive; one might expect the earth's surface to fall if water is being taken from it. In fact, the ground is falling in some places: Some GPS stations in California had to be left out of the study because farmers are extracting so much groundwater that the ground is literally caving in. But this study didn't examine the ground at a surface-level&mdash;it showed that the earth's crust and mantle are responding elastically to the drought. So while some areas may be falling because of man-made changes at a local level, the West as a whole is rising.</p> <p>As it turns out, the rise and fall of the earth due to water loss actually happens a little each year with the change of the seasons: Land is heavier in the winter and spring, and when water evaporates in the summer and fall, land is a little lighter. But the annual variation in California's mountains is about 5 millimeters&mdash;not this year's 15. The difference "sounds tiny," said Borsa, but from a geological standpoint, "it's a whopping signal" of the amount of water lost to the drought.</p> <p>Contrary to most drought news these days, this rise of the West doesn't have looming disastrous effects in and of itself: The researchers, for example, don't think that this change will cause more extreme earthquakes.</p> <p>But Borsa says that using GPS data on the rise of the earth could help regulators to understand how much water is being used in the West&mdash;particularly in California. California is the only Western state that doesn't measure or regulate major groundwater use; if you can drill down to it, it's all yours. A report produced for the state's Department of Food and Agriculture estimated that California's farmers will pump about 13 million acre-feet of groundwater this year&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">enough water</a> to put a piece of land the size of Rhode Island 17 feet underwater.</p> <p>With no regulatory system in place, though, it's challenging for officials to know if these estimates are lining up with reality. "The extractions aren't monitored, so no one really knows how to monitor the water supply," says Borsa. Using GPS data "could be a great tool for water managers."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:16 +0000 Julia Lurie 258881 at House Candidate Called Female Senators "Undeserving Bimbos in Tennis Shoes" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn could face a major obstacle in his race to unseat Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz: conservative blogger Jim Hagedorn.</p> <p>Hagedorn, the son of retired congressman Tom Hagedorn, was a surprise victor in last Tuesday's GOP primary. But he brings some serious baggage to his race against Walz, a four-term incumbent. In posts from his old blog, <em>Mr. Conservative</em>, unearthed by the now-defunct <em>Minnesota Independent</em>, Hagedorn made light of American Indians, President Obama's Kenyan ancestry, and female Supreme Court justices, among others, in ways many voters won't appreciate.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/minnesota-gop-congressional-candidate-jim-hagedorn-mr-conservative-blog-tim-walz"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Elections Gay Rights Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Supreme Court Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:15 +0000 Tim Murphy 258856 at Ruling on Nuclear Waste Storage Could Create a "Catastrophic Risk" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Strict safety controls sought by environmental groups for the storage of radioactive waste at dozens of nuclear power plants may fall to the wayside under a rule that's expected be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next week. According to a congressional source who does not wish to be identified, the NRC is rushing to vote on the rule before the September retirement of Commissioner William Magwood, an ally of the nuclear power industry.</p> <p>The rule would establish that the environmental risks of storing spent fuel in pools of water at reactor sites for extended periods are negligible and for the most part don't need to be studied as part of the licensing requirements for nuclear power plants. But critics of the rule say that the NRC is blatantly ignoring its own research, which shows that the practice could lead to serious disasters: "You will have all the waste sitting, basically, in a giant swimming pool," the source says, "and the potential of the swimming pool draining or being breached by an accident or an attack or a power loss that causes the water to boil off&mdash;all of those things would have impacts that the NRC's own analysis says would equal that of a meltdown of the reactor core."</p> <p>Existing nuclear plants are designed to store spent fuel for no more than a few years but have accumulated large stockpiles of it due to <a href="" target="_blank">repeated delays</a> in plans to build a permanent repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain. In 2010, the Obama administration <a href="" target="_blank">canceled</a> the <a href="" target="_blank">$15 billion</a> Yucca project, raising the distinct possibility that a single geologic waste storage site may never be built. In 2012, the National Resources Defense Council successfully sued to force the NRC to stop licensing nuclear reactors until the commission conducted an environmental impact study on the long-term risks posed by on-site waste&mdash;including the possibility that those temporary storage sites will become permanent. The completed study, along with the new rule, is expected to be approved by the NRC on Tuesday, over the strong objections of environmental groups.</p> <p>The NRC rule would pave the way for nuclear waste to be stored in open cooling pools at reactor sites for up to 120 years&mdash;and up to 60 years after a reactor is decommissioned. Environmental groups say that's way too long. "The pools are a catastrophic risk," says Kevin Kamps, the radioactive-waste watchdog for a group called Beyond Nuclear. Many pools, designed to store the highly radioactive rods for no more than five years, are holding up to four times as many as intended. Packing so many rods into the pools dramatically increases the risk of a fire should a leak cause the cooling water to drain. A 2003 NRC study found that a pool fire could contaminate 9,400 acres and displace 4 million Americans from their homes for years.</p> <p>The NRC's assumption that operators will guard and maintain their waste for decades after their plants are decommissioned is laughable to many enviros. In comments submitted to the NRC last December, the NRDC pointed to "the sad history" of managing hazardous waste in America, which often involves commercial operations going bankrupt and saddling taxpayers with the cleanup.</p> <p>Even at operable nuclear plants, about a dozen waste storage pools are known to be leaking, including one at New York's Indian Point reactor, which is discharging radioactive water into the Hudson River. To minimize the risk of disaster, environmental groups want the industry to move its waste into thick concrete-and-steel dry casks at a cost of roughly $7 billion. But in a 4-1 vote earlier this year, the NRC ruled that this wouldn't be cost-effective.</p> <p>NRC spokesman David McIntyre denied that the commission is rushing to vote on the waste rule before the retirement of Commissioner Magwood, who joined the commission in 2010. Earlier this year, Magwood said he would accept a job as director general of the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency, an association of governments that sponsor, and in some cases own, American companies licensed to operate nuclear power plants. In a letter to the White House last month, the Project on Government Oversight complained that Magwood's failure to step down from the NRC after accepting the NEA job represented a "glaring conflict of interest."</p> <p>In a response circulated by the NRC, Magwood claims that the NEA "is primarily a research and policy agency" and that his future job doesn't affect his impartiality.</p> <p>Yesterday, 34 environmental groups called on the NRC to delay its vote until Magwood steps down. His retirement comes amid a broader shakeup of the NRC panel: Commissioner George Apostolakis' term ended last month and was not renewed by the White House. The two vacancies on the five-member commission will be filled by Jeffrey Baran, an aide to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and former NRC general counsel Stephen Burns.</p> <p>Environmental groups hope the new commission will break with its industry-friendly past. "The industry crawls all over that place in terms of lobbying," Kamps told me. "They own that place."</p></body></html> Environment Corporations Energy Regulatory Affairs Top Stories nuclear energy Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:14 +0000 Josh Harkinson 258816 at Here’s Why the Feds Are Investigating Ferguson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last Friday, the Department of Justice <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> that FBI agents were working with attorneys from the Civil Rights Division and US Attorney's Office to conduct what Attorney General Eric Holder promised would be a "thorough and complete investigation" into the death of&nbsp;Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, more than 40 FBI agents have <a href="" target="_blank">arrived</a> in the St. Louis suburb to interview witnesses and canvas the neighborhood where Brown was shot by a police officer on August 9.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the AG himself arrived in Ferguson for&nbsp;a <a href="" target="_blank">series of meetings</a> with federal investigators, local authorities, and community members. Writing in the <em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em>, <a href="" target="_blank">Holder said</a>, "At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn&mdash;in a fair and thorough manner&mdash;exactly what happened."</p> <p>What exactly happens when the feds step in to investigate a case like Michael Brown's? A quick explainer:</p> <p><strong>What is the Justice Department investigating?</strong> According to Holder, the <a href="" target="_blank">DOJ is specifically investigating</a> "the shooting death of Michael Brown," and "<a href="" target="_blank">looking for violations</a> of federal, criminal civil rights statutes." The investigation is separate from local authorities' investigation. Some have asked the DOJ to take a broader view: In <a href="" target="_blank">a letter to Holder</a> on August 11, Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) asked the DOJ to consider expanding the scope of its investigation to include "the potential for any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department." Meanwhile, the US Commission on Civil Rights, a panel appointed by the president and members of Congress, <a href="" target="_blank">has asked the DOJ</a> to look into the disproportionately low representation of African Americans on Ferguson's police force and city council. It remains to be seen if the DOJ will broaden its investigation beyond Brown's death.</p> <p><strong>What could happen as a result of the DOJ investigation?</strong> The findings of the investigation could lead to a federal prosecution against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown.</p> <p><strong>Who is conducting the investigation?</strong> So far, three branches of the DOJ are working together on the federal investigation. More than 40 FBI agents <a href="" target="_blank">from the St. Louis</a> field office are canvassing the area and interviewing witnesses. They're working with the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney's Office, which would handle a potential prosecution. Within the Civil Rights Division, two sections may be involved: There's the <a href="" target="_blank">Criminal Section</a>, which "<a href="" target="_blank">prosecutes cases</a> involving the violent interference with liberties and rights defined in the Constitution or federal law," including excessive use of force by police officers; also, the <a href="" target="_blank">Special Litigation Section</a> conducts investigations into systematic violations of civil rights by state and local institutions, including police departments. However, DOJ spokesperson Dena Iverson did not clarify in an email to <em>Mother Jones</em> which section is involved in the Ferguson investigation.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Cards being handed out by FBI <a href="">#Ferguson</a> <a href="">#MikeBrown</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) <a href="">August 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>What triggered the investigation?</strong> Generally, DOJ investigations into civil rights violations can begin in response to an official complaint filed with the Civil Rights Division, or in response to major events like those in Ferguson. The CRD has not said if there was an official complaint filed by citizens, or if the department decided to initiate the investigation on its own. "There's no rule book" that the department follows to determine if a case warrants an investigation, explains <a href="" target="_blank">Samuel Walker</a>, a criminal-justice scholar at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Civil Rights Division doesn't announce all of its investigative activities. The agency has not responded to a request for comment on what percentage of incoming complaints it decides to investigate, and why. But back in 2012, then-DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told my colleague <a href="" target="_blank">AJ Vicens</a> that "the department investigates each jurisdiction based on the allegations received. There is no one-size-fits all approach to our investigations or our settlements."</p> <p><strong>Where else besides Ferguson is the DOJ investigating civil rights violations?</strong> The Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section is currently investigating systematic violations of civil rights by law enforcement in at least 34 other jurisdictions across 17 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, according to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">a list</a> on the DOJ website. But these cases are different from the investigation in Ferguson, which so far appears to be focused on Wilson's shooting of Brown, which would fall under the CRD's Criminal Section. According to <a href="" target="_blank">its website</a>, the Special Litigation Section can step in "if we find a pattern or practice by the law enforcement agency that systemically violates people's rights.<strong> </strong>Harm to a single person, or isolated action, is usually not enough to show a pattern or practice that violates these laws." The Criminal Section, meanwhile, lists <a href="" target="_blank">17 past investigations</a> into criminal misconduct by law enforcement officials in 11 states.</p> <p>The Justice Department's <a href="" target="_blank">Office for Civil Rights</a>, which is separate from the Civil Rights Division, monitors discrimination in DOJ-funded state and local law enforcement institutions. In a May 2013 <a href="" target="_blank">memo</a>, OCR reported that over the previous four years, it handled 346 discrimination complaints, many of them alleging that federally funded law enforcement agencies "engaged in unlawful racial profiling in conducting traffic stops."</p> <p><strong>Since when does the DOJ investigate civil rights violations?</strong> The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 authorizes the Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section "to review the practices of law enforcement agencies that may be violating people's federal rights," and oversees cases involving discrimination&mdash;prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964&mdash;in state or local agencies receiving federal funds. As a result of these special litigation cases dating back to 1997, the <em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that 21 police departments across the country have signed consent agreements with the DOJ to improve their procedures and policies, often the use of force and relationships with minority communities. Samuel Walker says that the number of these cases fell dramatically during the Bush administration, but picked back up under the Obama administration, which has doubled the size of the special litigations unit. While criminal civil rights prosecutions under the DOJ <a href="" target="_blank">date back</a> to 1939, the Criminal Section's powers were <a href="" target="_blank">limited until</a> the Civil Rights Division was created in 1957 as part of the Civil Rights Act.</p> <p><strong>How else is the DOJ involved in Ferguson?</strong> Holder <a href="" target="_blank">has announced</a> that the DOJ's COPS (Community-Oriented Policing Services) office and Office of Justice Programs are also assisting local authorities "in order to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force." It's unclear how this assistance has played out on the streets of Ferguson.<strong> </strong>Holder added that Justice Department officials from the Community Relations Service are also helping "convene law enforcement officials and civic and faith leaders to plot out steps to reduce tensions in the community."</p> <p><strong>When will we see some results from the investigation? </strong>It may be a while before the feds publicly announce the initial findings of their investigation. As Holder wrote in Wednesday's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em></a>, "Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community." For now, there are many more questions than answers.</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:13 +0000 Jaeah Lee 258806 at 26 Percent of Women Scientists Say They've Been Sexually Assaulted Doing Fieldwork <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>One of the most difficult parts of getting a Ph.D. is finishing your dissertation. Those last three months were certainly the hardest of my life. Beyond the mountain of work a dissertation requires, graduate students also have to face feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and anxiety about the looming job search. Sometimes, they need a gentle, supportive push to quit stressing about every last comma and&mdash;after years of blood, sweat, and tears&mdash;finally turn it in.</p> <p>So when Kate Clancy, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, chided an old friend who was still a graduate student about taking that last step to finish her thesis, she thought she was doing her a favor. But she was floored by her friend's response.</p> <p>Clancy remembers her friend saying, "Well, I was sexually assaulted in the field, and every time I open the dissertation files I have flashbacks." On this week's episode of <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Inquiring Minds</em> podcast</a><em>, </em>Clancy goes on to say that conversation "was the first time that it really hit me how much these kinds of experiences can not only emotionally traumatize women, but also explicitly hold them back in their research."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>So she joined up with three fellow female scientists to study the extent to which sexual harassment and sexual assault occur in the field. On this week's podcast, the four coauthors&mdash;Clancy, anthropologists Robin Nelson and Julienne Rutherford, and evolutionary biologist Katie Hinde&mdash;discuss their <a href="" target="_blank">recently published survey</a> of scientists who have worked in the field.</p> <p>Their results were <a href="" target="_blank">eye-opening</a> and immediately <a href="" target="_blank">generated headlines</a>. "Around 70 percent of women from our sample reported experiencing harassment and about 40 percent of men," Clancy says. Additionally, 26 percent of women and 6 percent of men reported being sexually assaulted (defined as "unwanted physical contact") while doing field research. Nearly all of the women who reported assault or harassment were students, post-docs, or employees&mdash;rather than faculty members.</p> <p>Field work is a highly-sought-after experience during scientific training in biology, anthropology, and other disciplines. As the study authors note, many universities require at least one field work module to earn a degree, and scientists who engage in field research <a href="" target="_blank">publish more and secure more grants</a> than those who do not. What's more, despite the fact that <a href="" target="_blank">more women enter and complete Ph.D. programs</a> in biology and anthropology, women are <a href="" target="_blank">less likely than men</a> to maintain fieldwork throughout their careers.</p> <p>There's been a lot of debate concerning why, with an increasing number of Ph.D.s going to women, women remain underrepresented in the top tiers of science. This is a complicated and thorny issue, but Clancy and colleagues have added yet another data point: Women might be leaving some disciplines in order to avoid unwanted sexual comments and contact, especially in the field.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="375" src="/files/SurveyplosOne.jpg" width="640"><div class="caption"><strong>Visual representation of "respondents to the survey, their experiences, and who were aware of, made use of, and were satisfied by mechanisms to report unwanted physical contact." </strong><em><a href=";">PlosOne</a></em></div> </div> <p>So how did the researchers arrive at these results?</p> <p>Relying on social media and other outlets to recruit survey-takers, Clancy and her colleagues managed to collect 666 responses, 77.5 percent of them from women.</p> <p>As the authors note, their sample might overrepresent people who have had negative experiences, as these individuals might be more likely to respond to the survey request. But it might also be an underestimate: "We received information from some folks who said, 'I would love to do your survey, but I can't do your survey because it would trigger me in having to think about this traumatic experience that I had in the field,'" says Nelson, who is an assistant professor at Skidmore College.</p> <p>Importantly, the study's findings go beyond simply documenting that women are far more likely than men to be sexually harassed or assaulted in the field. Women were also more likely to report that they were harassed or assaulted by superiors. Men, by contrast, were more likely to be harassed by their peers. "There is a whole literature on sort of the directionality of sexual harassment, and there's much greater psychological harm when it's a vertical abuse, meaning coming from someone higher up in the hierarchy," Clancy explains. "And so not only are women experiencing harassment and assault in greater numbers than men, but the actual nature of the assault potentially can cause greater psychological harm."</p> <p>What's so special about field work that might explain these findings? "Our data can't speak to specific environments within the lab or the office," says Rutherford, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "But there are some aspects of field work that I think contribute to these kinds of behaviors, and that is there is often a certain amount of confusion about who is in charge&hellip;some field sites are run by investigators from multiple universities, and research institutions; there might be a field school where you'll have students from many different universities&mdash;so the overseeing institution may not be clear to any individual participant in any stage in their training or in the hierarchy. So that confusion contributes to, I think, a loosening of boundaries." And then, of course, there are the practical considerations: Scientists are far away from home, their families, other responsibilities, and social networks that both serve to keep bad behaviors in check and provide support to victims of abuse.</p> <p>Indeed, the study found that only about 1 in 5 respondents who had been harassed or assaulted were "aware of a mechanism to easily report" the incidents at the time. And of those who did file reports, less than 20 percent said they were satisfied with the outcome.</p> <p>So what are the next steps? "We put this paper out there as a start of a conversation," says Hinde, an assistant professor at Harvard. "Solutions are going to be effected by our community coming together agreeing that this is a problem, that these aren't just occasional isolated incidences or the rare bad apple, but something that we need to systematically address with culture-change."</p> <p><em>You can listen to the full interview with Kate Clancy, Robin Nelson, Julienne Rutherford, and Katie Hinde below:</em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p name="b990"><em>This episode of </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Inquiring Minds</a>, <em>a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a short interview with University of Chicago geoscientist Ray Pierrehumbert, who argues that we've been worrying too much about methane emissions from natural gas, and a discussion of a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> finding that kids' drawings at age four are an "indicator" of their intelligence 10 years later.</em></p> <p name="b990"><em>To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to </em>Inquiring Minds <em>via </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>iTunes</em></a><em> or</em> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>RSS</em></a><em>. We are also available </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>on Stitcher</em></a><em>. You can follow the show on Twitter at </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>@inquiringshow</em></a><em> and </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>like us on Facebook</em></a><em>. </em>Inquiring Minds <em>was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" on iTunes&mdash;you can learn more </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p></body></html> Environment Interview Podcasts Climate Desk Science Sex and Gender Top Stories Inquiring Minds Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:12 +0000 Indre Viskontas 258696 at Compton to District Security Guards: Go Ahead, Bring Your AR-15s to School <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When students in the Compton Unified School District return to classrooms on Monday, some of them will have new pencils or notebooks. Their teachers will have new textbooks. But this year, the district's campus police will be getting an upgrade, too: AR-15 assault rifles.</p> <p>The board of the Los Angeles-area school district approved a measure to allow the campus cops to carry the new guns in July. The district's police chief, William Wu, told the board that equipping school police with semi-automatic AR-15s is intended to ensure student safety.</p> <p>"This is our objective&mdash;save lives, bottom line," Wu told the board.</p> <p>Crime is a serious problem in Compton, an independent jurisdiction south of downtown Los Angeles. In the 12 months preceding July, the city of nearly 100,000 experienced 28 murders, making it the 11th-deadliest neighborhood in the county, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">data analysis</a> by the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>.</p> <p>But the choice to make Compton school police the latest local law enforcement agency to adopt military-style weapons was less about dealing with street crime than it was about preventing more exotic incidents like mass shootings. At the board meeting, Wu cited an <a href="" target="_blank">FBI report</a> released in January that found that 5 percent of "active shooters"&mdash; or shooters which are conducting an ongoing assault on a group of people&mdash;wore body armor, which can stop most bullets fired from handguns. To make his case, Wu cited a range of examples, including the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the University of Texas shooting in 1966, in which a student killed 16 people from the campus clock tower, out of range of police sidearms. (The student was eventually killed when a group of police climbed the tower and shot him at close range.)</p> <p>"They will continue until they are stopped," Wu said, at which point a board member interjected.</p> <p>"No, they will continue until <em>we </em>stop them," he said. "Compton Unified School Police&hellip;holding it down."</p> <p>"These rifles give us greater flexibility in dealing with a person with bad intent who comes onto any of our campuses," Wu said in a statement. "The officers will keep the rifles in the trunks of their cars, unless they are needed."</p> <p>Compton is not the first district in the Southern California to allow AR-15s on its campuses. At the meeting, Wu said that Los Angeles, Baldwin Park, Santa Ana, Fontana, and San Bernardino all allow their officers to use the same weapons.&nbsp;</p> <p>Compton school police last <a href="" target="_blank">made news in May 2013,</a> when a group of parents and students filed a suit against the department, alleging a pattern of racial profiling and abuse targeting Latino students. The complaint said that officers beat, pepper-sprayed, and put a chokehold on a bystander who was recording an arrest with his iPod. The group also claimed that Compton school police used excessive force against students and parents who complained that English-as-a-second-language programs were underfunded. (The case is ongoing.)</p> <p>Wu said at the board meeting that seven officers have already been trained to use the new weapons. He said all officers would be purchasing their own weapons. The guns will be the officers' personal property, but they could be bringing them to work as early as September.</p></body></html> MoJo Education Guns Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Alex Park 258656 at At 85, Jules Feiffer Finally Gives Us a Graphic Novel <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp; <div class="caption"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Feiffer_0.jpg"></div> <strong>Jules Feiffer </strong>JZ Holden</div> </div> <p>As you might expect, Jules Feiffer, 85, has a long, impressive r&eacute;sum&eacute;, starting from his apprenticeship, at age 16, with comic industry legend Will Eisner. Raised in the Bronx, New York, Feiffer went on to publish dozens of books, plays, and screenplays&mdash;his animated short, <em>Munro, </em>won an Oscar in 1961. He also illustrated children's books. (Exhibit A: <em>The Phantom Tollbooth</em>.) His syndicated strip in the weekly <em>Village Voice</em>, which ran for more than four decades, earned him a George Polk award in 1961 and a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 1986.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Kill My Mother" class="image" src="/files/kill-my-mother-250x300.png"></div> <p>Despite his accomplishments, Feiffer had never really managed to pull off the style of long-form pictorial storytelling pioneered by Eisner and others&mdash;until now. <em>Kill My Mother</em>, billed as his first graphic novel, is a hard-boiled mystery-romance-thriller that takes us from Depression-era Los Angeles to 1940s Hollywood to the jungles of the Tarawa Atoll during World War II. It's a fun, not-safe-for-work tale, replete with plot twists and secret identities. Bonus: Badass women hold the reins in this story.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> Your publisher says this is your first graphic novel, yet Wikipedia credits you with writing one of the original graphic novels, <em>Tantrum</em>, back in 1979.</p> <p><strong>Jules Feiffer:</strong> There's a vast difference. <em>Tantrum</em> was really an extension of the approach and humor I used in my <em>Village Voice</em> strip. <em>Kill My Mother</em> departs completely from anything I've ever done. I'd call it my first noir graphic novel. But it won't be my last, because I'm working on another one! It's a prequel and a sequel.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> <em>Kill My Mother</em> is a pretty wild tale. The last few chapters feel downright Shakespearean. Why this story and why this era?</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> I don't have a clue. I start off with a premise, and whatever direction I think it may go, it often decides to go somewhere else on its own. To write a story is often a matter of stumbling along until the story does what it wants to. I'm simply the stenographer. Sometimes I try to sharpen them up with editing, but I don't try to edit at all while I'm writing, I just let them go. <em>Kill My Mother</em> was going all kinds of different places in my head and in my notes than where it ended up.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Jules_Feifferarchival.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Feiffer in 1958 with the proofs of his first collection, <em>Sick Sick Sick</em>. </strong><br> Dick DeMarsico/World Telegram (via Library of Congress).</div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Stylistically speaking, what new things did this format enable you to try?</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> The thing that made me want to be a cartoonist in the first place, back in the 1930s, before comic books came on the scene, was adventure comic strips. The most exciting of the strip-layers was a guy named Milt Caniff, who did "Terry and the Pirates," which was akin to a movie on paper. He built storyboards and he did very impressionistic work and real characters who were interesting and involved. He and Will Eisner were my role models. Those were the cartoonists I wanted to emulate in these adventure strips. I ended up writing Eisner's "The Spirit" for three or four years, so I understood the form. But I couldn't do the drawings. No matter how hard I tried, it was pitiful. It took me until age 80 to perfect a style that worked in that kind of genre. And I amazed myself! I thought, when I wrote this story, somebody else would have to illustrate it. The publisher tells me to try it, and so I try&mdash;and by God, things began to click!</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="887" src="/files/feifferpage.jpg" width="630"><div class="caption"><strong>A page from <em>Kill My Mother </em></strong>Jules Feiffer</div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> That's exciting!</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> And terrifying. Each one of the 149 pages, I would sit down and say, "I'm not qualified to do this." [<em>Laughs.</em>] And then I'd have to prove myself wrong. Every day was an act of excitement and an act of terror.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Four years ago, <a href="" target="_blank">you told <em>Mother Jones</em></a> that you thought most graphic novels were "self-pitying confessionals."</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> Well, over the last 20 years there's been the emergence of some extraordinary talents: Chris Ware, <a href="" target="_blank">Dan Clowes</a>. David Small did a brilliant book, which affected me very strongly, called <em>Stitches</em>. I'm not sure, had I not had <em>Stitches</em>, whether I would have gotten the idea to do my own book. Also, <a href="" target="_blank">Craig Thompson</a> has a book called <em>Blankets</em>. These are real stories with real characters, and artwork that's not like anyone else's and works like a dream. So I think this field is in its own golden age right now.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Your central characters here are these badass, highly motivated girls and women. The men are pretty much louts and losers. Was that a conscious decision?</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> No, and it's interesting you point that out. The only thing conscious about it was that the person I originally had in mind to do the illustrations was a woman who had worked as my assistant, and I thought it would be more interesting for her if the central characters were mostly women. Once I got into it, and it became clear she didn't want to do the book because she had her own fish to fry&mdash;she was doing very well with it, her own fish&mdash;I just kept on with it. And I <em>loved</em> those characters.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You may not have seen this, but a female blogger was recently threatened with rape, among other indignities, after she criticized the depiction of women in a <em>Teen Titans</em> comic book. Has the comic world always treated women so badly?</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> There's no rap against comics that isn't true. They were sexist, they were racist, you name it&mdash;and they kind of gloried in that. If someone attacked them, back in the time I was growing up reading comics in the '40s and the '50s, the purveyors would look at you not knowing what the hell you were talking about. This is just what they did: "What's wrong with this?" Over the years, when the women's movement got going, there was greater sensitivity about it, but by that time I'd stopped reading the commercial comics, Marvel and all of that. But there are a lot of women in the graphic-novel and alternative-comics fields taking things in a different direction.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> I gather the audience is pretty different, too.</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> Yes, it is. I mean, you've got <em>Fun Home</em>, the autobiographical novel by <a href="" target="_blank">Alison </a><a href="" target="_blank">Bechde</a>l, which got an awful lot of attention and deservedly so. It was a brilliant piece of work.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Speaking of changes, do you suppose you'll will ever retire?</p> <p><strong>JF:</strong> When I gave up my strip, it was almost a full retirement because I was just doing things that came to my mind, like picture books for kids. And then, out of nowhere, I got involved in writing the book for a musical version of my first kids' book <em>The Man on the Ceiling</em>&mdash;I'm working on that now. I mean, artists generally don't retire. The great Al Hirschfeld died at 99 with his hands twitching because he wanted to draw. Much to my surprise, I had as much fun working on <em>Kill My Mother</em> as anything I've ever done. And this is what I'm going to concentrate on from here on in&mdash;depending on how much here on in there is before I start drooling and falling down stairs.</p></body></html> Media Interview Books Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Michael Mechanic 252746 at Fundraising Effort for Ferguson Cop Who Shot Michael Brown Gets Ugly <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/BvjD4joCEAA8qke.png"></div> <div class="caption"><strong>Comments left on a GoFundMe crowdfunding page in support of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. </strong>Compiled by Jon Hendren</div> <p>The comments seen in the image above were written by donors to the <a href="" target="_blank">online fund</a> set up to support Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown six times in Ferguson, Missouri, last week. Wilson has since been placed on paid administrative leave and is in an undisclosed location. The GoFundMe campaign to assist him was set up earlier this week by an unnamed supporter. "We stand behind Officer Darren Wilson and his family during this trying time in their lives," the page reads. It has since raised nearly $150,000.</p> <p>Among the comments left by donors:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Ofc. Wilson did his duty. Michael Brown was just a common street thug."</p> <p>"Waste of good ammo. It's my privilege to buy you a replacement box."</p> <p>"Black people can be their own enemy and I am not white&hellip;He was shot 6 times cause the giant wouldn't stop or die. Evil people don't die quick"</p> <p>"All self-respecting whites have a moral responsibility to support our growing number of martyrs to the failed experiment called diversity."</p> <p>"I am so sick of the blacks using every excuse in the book to loot and riot."</p> <p>"I support officer Wilson and he did a great job removing an unnecessary thing from the public!"</p> </blockquote> <p>The collection of comments above was <a href="" target="_blank">compiled</a> by Jon Hendren, a comedy writer in San Jose, California. Hendren told <em>Mother Jones</em> that he took&nbsp;screenshots of the comments on the page that seemed especially offensive&nbsp;and compiled them into one image using Photoshop. "There were&nbsp;maaaany more that were borderline or ambiguous or a small dollar amount that I would've also captured, but I got so annoyed that I began to get a headache, so I stopped when I did," he explains.&nbsp;</p> <p>"A couple folks have asked me to wait until we know all the facts before passing judgment, which is kind of absurd," says Hendren. "People are donating money with racist sentiment and to celebrate a killing&mdash;I'm not sure what other facts I should be waiting for. The vast majority expressed disgust and revulsion though."</p> <p>I've asked the creator of the GoFundMe page to comment. I'll update this post if I hear back; she <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> <em>The Daily Beast</em> earlier this week that she is not speaking with the press.</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Ferguson Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:35:29 +0000 Tasneem Raja 258896 at How The US Helped ISIS Grow Into a Monster <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website. </em><em>This essay is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn's new book, </em><a href="" target="_blank">The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising</a>, <em>with special thanks to his publisher, </em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>OR Books</em></a><em>. The first section is a new introduction written for <a href="" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a>.</em></p> <p>There are extraordinary elements in the present US policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the US is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The US would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington's policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>But US, Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a "moderate" Syrian opposition being helped by the US, Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/how-us-helped-isis-grow-monster-iraq-syria-assad"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Bush International Iraq Tom Dispatch Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:39:14 +0000 Patrick Cockburn 258871 at Another GOP Candidate Says Migrant Kids Might Have Ebola. (They Don't.) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Arizona Speaker of the House Andy Tobin is the latest Republican politician to suggest migrants from Central America might bring the Ebola virus with them to the United States. Tobin, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the state's 1st Congressional District in Tuesday's primary, made the connection in an interview published in the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Tucson Weekly</em></a> on Thursday.</p> <p>Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) started the GOP Ebola fearmongering trend last month when he <a href="" target="_blank">wrote a letter</a> to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that "[r]eports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning."&nbsp; In August, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) leveled the same charge.</p> <p>Although allegations of disease-ridden migrants are common throughout history, vaccination rates in Central America are higher than in Texas. And Ebola, which is difficult to contract, is not found in Central America. But Tobin was undeterred.</p> <p>Per the <em>Weekly</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>&hellip;Tobin says he's hearing about worries from constituents that the recent wave of undocumented youth from Central America could cause an Ebola outbreak in the United States.</p> <p>"Anything's now possible," Tobin said last week. "So if you were to say the Ebola virus has now entered (the country), I don't think anyone would be surprised."</p> <p>Tobin acknowledged that Ebola has been limited to outbreaks in Africa, "to the extent that they're really aware of that. I think there is a reason we should be concerned about it and say, 'Hey, can you assure us the people crossing the border are not from the Middle East?'&hellip;So I use that as an example, that the public would not be surprised to hear about the next calamity at the border."</p> </blockquote> <p>But even if there were lots of people crossing the border from the Middle East, they still wouldn't be bringing Ebola, because Ebola is still confined to sub-Saharan West Africa. Here's a useful map:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ebola_0_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Central America is on the left. </strong>Google Maps</div> </div> <p>Fortunately for Tobin, though, the bar for misinformed comments on migrants is high in Arizona's 1st District. State Rep. Adam Kwasman, Tobin's chief rival for the nomination, became a late-night punch line in July when he <a href="" target="_blank">protested</a> a YMCA camp bus he mistakenly believed was filled with undocumented youths.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Immigration child migrants Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:01:02 +0000 Tim Murphy 258886 at