A Mother Jones Investigation: Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America's 10 Biggest Gunmakers. [more inside]
Mother Jones profiles subprime lending in the used car industry:
Credit Acceptance makes its loans knowing that a large portion of its customers won't have the happy endings advertised in the promotional materials. The company operates on the assumption that it will collect only about 70 percent of the money it lends out—which means it will end up repossessing an awful lot of cars and suing those customers for the balance. As Wall Street banks clamored for more securities built on subprime auto debt, Credit Acceptance pumped out ever more paper, boosting loan volume by 23 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2011. (Growth has been slower in subsequent years due to increased competition, notes the company's 2014 annual report.) In the meantime, subprime lenders have boosted their average interest rate on used cars from 16 percent to nearly 20 percent annually, guaranteeing that more customers will default and end up with punitive court judgments and garnished wages.[more inside]
Critics warned that Citizens United would bring about a new era of corporate influence in politics, with companies and businesspeople buying elections to promote their financial interests. So far, that hasn’t happened much… Instead, a small group of billionaires has flooded races with ideologically tinged contributions. Zachary Mider profiles the enigmatic Bob Mercer, the single biggest donor of the current campaign, for Bloomberg: “What Kind of Man Spends Millions to Elect Ted Cruz?” [more inside]
Liss-Riordan is tired of hearing that labor laws should adapt to accommodate upstart tech companies, not the other way around: "Why should we tear apart laws that have been put in place over decades to help a $50 billion company like Uber at the expense of workers who are trying to pay their rent and feed their families?" -- Meet "Sledgehammer Shannon," the labor rights lawyer who took on Starbucks and FedEx, and now, Uber, in defense of their workers.
Folk musician Pete Seeger was under investigation by the FBI for decades from his time as a soldier during World War II until the 1970s. David Corn of Mother Jones magazine got over 1700 pages of surveillance reports, which have been released online. Seeger first came to the attention of the FBI because he wrote a letter protesting calls to strip all Japanese-Americans of citizenship and deport them. [via RÚV]
The American Cancer Society released new guidelines today recommending that women start getting the tests later, at age 45, and only every other year. [more inside]
When Eric Wyatt told his public defender that he was mistakenly being thrown back into jail after already serving his time, his public defender cut him off with those eight words. He would spend over three months incarcerated before another public defender urged him to take a plea deal to serve 10 years in prison for a crime he already served time for. It would be another week, 110 days in total, before Wyatt would be set free. [more inside]
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
This Fast-Food-Loving, Organics-Hating Ivy League Prof Will Trick You Into Eating Better: Mother Jones on food psychologist Brian Wansink's work with restaurants, grocery stores, and schools on how to encourage better eating.
The Final Rhapsody of Charles Bowden by Scott Carrier [Mother Jones] [warning, descriptions of graphic violence] [more inside]
Mother Jones reports on Bill O'Reilly's claimed experience in combat zones, reaching conclusions like one of his claims "is at odds with news reports from the time—including the report from his own bureau." O'Reilly responded, and Mother Jones factchecked his monologue. Meanwhile, a veteran CBS News reporter weighed in, backing the work by Mother Jones.
Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health.
Reports that honey bees are dying in unusually high numbers has concerned many scientists, farmers and beekeepers, and gripped the public. There have been thousands of stories ricocheting across the web, citing one study or another as the definitive explanation for a mystery that most mainstream experts say is complex and not easily reducible to the kind of simplistic narrative that appeals to advocacy groups. We explore the claims by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Chensheng Lu, heralded by anti-pesticide and anti-GMO advocacy groups, for his research that purportedly proves that the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids are killing bees and endangering humans.Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees.
Here we examine the specific claim that neonics are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder—the centerpiece of Lu’s assertions and again see how influential media manipulate quotes and selectively present information to ideologically influence trusting readers.[more inside]
Mother Jones: Death Wears Bunny Slippers Guarding and maintaining the ICBMs based in central Montana and other United States Air Force installations is vital to not only the safety of American citizens, but that of everybody on earth. But the personnel to whom the USAF entrusts this mission are bored, burned out, and suffer from bad leadership.
In 1997, Smith retired from the police force. He needed a job to help cover his two daughters' college expenses, so he signed up as an investigator in the Broward County Public Defender's Office. He had little idea that he'd end up a key player in a bold experiment in criminal justice, one that aims to give tens of thousands of people who can't afford lawyers a fighting chance in a system stacked against them. It's an effort that suggests new ways for court-appointed attorneys to get at the truth, despite their insane caseloads. And a big part of it is getting former cops to police the police.
You're Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk: "The A1/A2 debate has raged for years in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe, but it is still virtually unheard of across the pond. That could soon change..." [more inside]
The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll. In California, indoor marijuana grows account for about 9 percent of household electricity use. An indoor grow module accommodating four plants sucks as much electricity as 29 refrigerators. For every pound of pot grown 4,600 pounds of CO2 goes into the atmosphere. The energy needed to produce a single joint is enough to produce 18 pints of beer and creates emissions comparable to burning a 100-watt lightbulb for 25 hours. The production and distribution of pot in America emits as much carbon as 3 million cars. And other fun facts.
A new study "The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II: Contractual Exemptions and the Overrepresentation of People of Color in Private Prisons" theorizes an interesting reason that the population of people of color is larger in the private prison system than in the general population. Mother Jones breaks it down in simpler terms.
"Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner — has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by [David Corn and] Mother Jones." Photo Gallery: Meet Groundswell's Major Players. Also: Groundswell's Secret Crusade to Crush Karl Rove // (Via) [more inside]
"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
When conservative pundits write about climate change, they're more likely to mention Al Gore than science.
Obama, DC Press Corps Locked In Mutual Loathing Pact. Mike Allen, of Politico, in his article Obama, The Puppet Master, said that Obama " has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions." John Cook (Gawker) replies: I will now tweet every question Politico's Mike Allen asked President George W. Bush during a May 2008 interview" (Screenshot) [more inside]
North Korea follows only three people on Twitter. One of them, for some reason, is 25-year-old Coldplay superfan Jimmy "Jammy" Dushku.
Chip Rogers is the Republican Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate, and Treasurer of ALEC (previously 1 2). On October 11th he hosted a four-hour briefing for his fellow senators, regarding Obama's mind-control techniques which are forcing the US into a United Nations-led Communist dictatorship in which suburbanites are forcibly relocated to cities. The theory is based on Agenda 21, the non-binding 1992 UN treaty on sustainable development. Rogers narrowly failed to pass a resolution against Agenda 21, but other states have done so, and Alabama has even forbidden its implementation in law.
As internal leaks from the Romney camp suggest a campaign in serious disarray, and poll-of-polls meta-analyses show him with little time to recover his position before November, Mother Jones has acquired video from a private Romney fundraiser at which the candidate said of Obama supporters: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. Ezra Klein puts aside the political ramifications and crunches the numbers about who does and doesn't pay income tax in America. The Romney camp responds to the leak.
WIRED has been running a fascinating series: Olympic Physics: Can Runners Benefit From Drafting?, Scoring the Decathlon, New [Swimming] Platform Is No Chip Off The Old Block [more inside]
Mark Ames (of the eXile): The Left’s Big Sellout – How the ACLU and Human Rights Groups Quietly Exterminated Labor Rights (via naked capitalism) [more inside]
The FBI has orchestrated "14 out of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks [on U.S. soil] since 9/11" according to the NY Times' counting. As noted previously though, Mother Jones' investigative report found that "all [but three] of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings" and one third of terrorist defendants were actually led by an FBI agent provocateur, often outside contractors. A Rolling Stone blogger has now called out the FBI for "singling out ideological enemies [of the State]", including the FBI's recent Ohio bridge plot, while ignoring much more dangerous right wing groups, including white supremacists. [more inside]
"Ms. Ruth" is a seamstress who makes robes and garments for members of the Ku Klux Klan. Photojournalist Anthony Karen documents her work in this photo essay with audio of interviews.
Mother Jones: The 10 'Occupy' candidates vying for seats in the US House Of Representatives and Senate and their prospects.
"I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave: My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine"
Is Your Food Spending Normal? This interactive calculator from Mother Jones compares your spending with others in your location and income bracket.
"Agribusiness is concentrated to a point that would make a Wall Street master of the universe blush. Vast globe-spanning corporations, many of them US-based, dominate the industry." Tom Philpott, writing in Mother Jones, says Big Food makes Big Finance look like amateurs
Cats are apparently the culprits behind several avian extinctions worldwide. So, are cats bad for the environment?
"I can't tell you about all the suicides and the accidental deaths where I work. ... One guy was 38. He went home after a really long day, poured himself a drink, sat down in his armchair, and died." Harrowing, Heartbreaking Tales of Overworked Americans. First person stories of doing more with less, from warehouses and classrooms to operating rooms and air-traffic control towers. [more inside]
"Customers wanting a RAL paid Jackson Hewitt a $24 application fee, a $25 processing fee, and a $2 electronic-filing fee, plus 4 percent of the loan amount. On a $2,000 refund, that meant $131 in charges—equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 170 percent—not to mention the few hundred bucks you might spend for tax preparation."
Ah wilderness! What better place to escape the stifling trappings of urban existence - overflowing inboxes, two-hour commutes, social-media addiction. And, of course, indoor plumbing. "Take off your shoes for a while, unzip your fly, piss hearty, dig your toes in the hot sand, feel that raw and rugged earth," the great Western author and curmudgeon Edward Abbey once exhorted car-bound city slickers. Contemplating the reasons for taking a trek down the Appalachian Trail (and aping Abbey-ish machismo), travel writer Bill Bryson mused, "I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, 'Yeah, I've shit in the woods.'"
Dan Rather is doing valuable journalism on a subscription cable channel of 20 million households, on a show whose ratings Mark Cuban will not reveal to him, on a show bracketed by pro-wrestling and Girls Gone Wild -- and he loves it. A profile of Dan Rather by Jim Rendon in Mother Jones. (via)
Did America Forget How to Make the H-Bomb? Nobody in the general public knows exactly what it is, though there are guesses, but it seems the bombmakers themselves forgot how to make a crucial ingredient in US thermonuclear weapons, FOGBANK.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency's infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, "The names of those involved in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the records were subsequently destroyed." Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other psychochemical drugs "were administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowledge."
How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It? A former Wall Street Journal writer dissects why business reporters bought the bull—and missed the biggest story on their beat. [more inside]
Aryan Outfitters - a photo and audio essay from Mother Jones magazine about a day in the life of a 58-year old seamstress who caters to the Ku Klux Klan.
The focus of the current issue of Mother Jones is the Moral Dilemma of Leaving Iraq.
The Top 200 Universities in the World. [logon:mefier/pass:metafilter] For the second year, the Times Higher Education Supplement has exhaustively ranked the top schools in the world. The US, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, dominate the list, but Australia continues to have a strong showing, and China makes more appearances. If you don't like that list, try Newsweek's Top 100 Global Universities, or the ranking by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which looks at Nobel Prizes and highly cited articles, or just judge universities by their age. All of this a little too global? Washington Monthly rates universities by how they contribute to social mobility and the US as a whole, Mother Jones ranks by social activism, and Young America's Foundation lists the 10 best conservative colleges. [prev.]
Yackity yackity, choo CHOO!, Yackity yackity.....BLOGS! Self proclaimed Blogoholic George Packer, at Mother Jones, shits on blogs everywhere, joins bemused chorus - FOX, journalism grad students, and so on - blathering on blogs. What are they? What do they mean? Quoth Packer : "Blog prose is written in headline form to imitate informal speech, with short emphatic sentences and frequent use of boldface and italics. The entries, sometimes updated hourly, are little spasms of assertion, usually too brief......All of this meta-comment by very bright young men who never leave their rooms is the latest, somewhat debased, manifestation of the old art of political pamphleteering.....if blogs are "a new way of doing politics," there is also something peculiarly stale and tired about them — not the form, but the content......So far this year, bloggers have been remarkably unadept at predicting events.... Above all, they didn't grasp the intensity of feeling among Democratic primary voters — the resentments still glowing hot from Florida 2000, the overwhelming interest in economic and domestic issues, the personal antipathy toward Bush, the resurgence of activism, the longing for a win. The blogosphere was often caught surprised by these passions and the electoral turns they caused." Packer even gets paid for this, plus starring appearances on snooty public radio talk shows! [ Kevin Drum makes an appearance ].....I can excrete lightly digested opinions with the best of them. Where do I apply ?
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