Feed aggregator

Reince Priebus doubles down on Trump’s assertion that journalists are the enemy of the people

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 3:43pm

Reince Priebus did the rounds on the morning shows Sunday — and affirmed President Donald Trump’s controversial tweet that the news media are the enemy of the American people.

Speaking on CBS show “Face the Nation,” White House Chief of Staff Priebus said that the president meant it when he called the media the enemy.

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

“I think you should take it seriously,” Priebus told CBS’ John Dickerson. “I think the problem we’ve got is that we’re talking about bogus stories… And I think the media needs to, in some cases, not every case… but in some cases, really needs to get its act together.”

Priebus criticized news outlets that rely on anonymous sources, pointing to two stories that he found especially problematic. The first was a recent story by the New York Times reporting that Trump aides were in repeated contact with Russia in the year prior to the election.

The second story was by the Wall Street Journal, saying that intelligence officials were withholding information from Trump because they were concerned that it could be leaked. Both stories relied on anonymous sourcing from current and former intelligence officials.

Dickerson asked Priebus whether the administration was fostering conspiracy around the media to shield themselves from potentially damaging stories, such as the allegations of communication between Trump’s team and Russian officials.

“I mean, you’re talking about people that you’re not naming, and whether or not some things need to be improved,” Priebus replied. “What things? What people. What are you referring to? Give me a specific question with a specific purpose — accusation, and I’ll answer the question.”

Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday also hammered Priebus over Trump’s tweets, asserting that the president “crosses a line when he talks about that we’re an enemy of people.” “That is concerning,” Wallace said.

“I don’t know why you’re so hot in here,” Priebus replied. “You’re going bananas here, Chris. It’s ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s comments on NBC’s Meet the Press have garnered a lot of attention. “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” McCain said. “Without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators started.”

McCain clarified that he was not accusing Trump of being a dictator, but instead made his comments during a broader discussion about dictators in the context of World War Two. “They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power when you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”


Phoenix Immigration Arrest

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 3:02pm

This segment originally aired Feb. 10, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO. 

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was recently deported to south Nogales in what advocates are viewing as evidence of a change in ICE deportation policies under President Trump. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos has called the United States home for the past 20 years and both her children are citizens.

VICE News Correspondent David Noriega reports yards from the U.S. Border in Mexico where he follows the family as they make sense of what Rayos’ deportation will mean for their families future.

The Scandinavian hygge lifestyle is taking the world by storm

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 2:13pm

This segment originally aired on Feb, 9, 2017 on VICE News Tonight on HBO. 

Hygge is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” In the past year, this concept of Scandinavian coziness has made inroads with an international audience.

At least six books about hygge were published in the United States this year, with more to come in 2017. Author of the international best-seller The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking takes VICE News on a hygge tour of Copenhagen coffee shops, library gardens, and wine bars that epitomize the lifestyle trend.

Iraqi forces launch assault on west Mosul to take back control from Islamic State group

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 12:41pm

Iraq government forces launched an offensive Sunday to recapture the western part of the city of Mosul, the last stronghold for Islamic State jihadists in the country — but United Nations officials warn that as many as 650,000 civilians could be trapped there and at risk of being used as human shields or caught in the crossfire.

IS have previously threatened to kill any of the estimated 350,000 children still in Mosul if they try to leave the city.

Hundreds of Iraqi military vehicles rolled across the desert towards Mosul on Sunday, showering the city with airstrikes, the BBC reported, in what was the decisive day of a four month operation. The offensive was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday morning.

But the layout of Mosul’s west side could make liberating the city especially challenging, military experts and human rights advocates have said.

“An estimated 350,000 children are trapped in western Mosul, and the impact and other explosive weaponry in those narrow, densely-populated streets is likely to be more deadly and indiscriminate than anything we have seen in the conflict so far,” Maurizio Crivallero, Save the Children’s Iraq Country Director said in a statement. “This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay; or execution and snipers if they try to run.”

Meanwhile, commanders have noted that military vehicles will be unable to pass through many of the narrow, winding streets, according to Reuters.

Iraq forces recaptured the eastern side of the city last month. Mosul’s two sides are divided by the Tigris River and normally linked by bridges. During Iraq’s assault on IS-posts in the eastern side of the city last month, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeted some of the bridges to prevent militants on the west side from sending reinforcements to their eastern counterparts.

After Iraqi forces successfully recaptured the east, IS militants reportedly destroyed remaining bridges in a “desperate act” to delay the government’s advance, according to a U.S-led Coalition spokesperson. The lack of bridges has made Iraq’s plan to liberate Mosul’s western region more challenging.

Iraq's EDRcelebrate their first success in the west mosul campaign, taking Alignatra village. 13 IS killed, four car bombs detonated. pic.twitter.com/wZRDrWhhn1

— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervillebbc) February 19, 2017

Mosul fell to Islamic State group in June 2014.

This Louisiana charter school is working miracles for dyslexic kids — but it may shut down

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 11:28am

This segment originally aired Feb. 7, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Betsey De Vos’s confirmation as Secretary of Education comes with the expectation that she will be a strong ally for charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded but are run like small businesses – it’s the state’s responsibility to regulate which are succeeding and which are falling short. But judging the efficacy of charters isn’t always easy.

In Louisiana, where the number of charters has grown significantly since Hurricane Katrina, the state is still figuring out how to manage the system. Roberto Ferdman visited to explore how the original promise of charters – creating the opportunity for more diverse and specialized schools – hasn’t come to be.

DHS memos signal strict new border enforcement and action on undocumented immigrants

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 11:07am

The Department of Homeland Security has drafted two new memos which aim to ramp up deportation efforts against undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The memos, which were signed by DHS Secretary John Kelly and dated Friday, were reportedly distributed to agency heads, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration services, according to media site McClatchy, who first obtained the documents.

Kelly’s memos offer a blueprint to agency heads for how they should implement Trump’s executive orders on immigration. But they aren’t final until the White House signs off on them, which it hasn’t yet done.

Here’s what the memos propose:

  • The new system would expand the criteria for “expedited removal proceedings.” At the moment, fast-track deportation applies to anyone who has arrived in the U.S. in the last two weeks. The new criteria would apply to anyone who arrived in the last two years.
  • Currently, Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border are given the option to be held at a U.S. detention center while they wait on the outcome of their proceedings. The new system would immediately return people to Mexico while they wait for their immigration hearing.
  • Children who arrived in the U.S. as “unaccompanied minors” and were later reunited with their parents living in the country illegally would not be protected from deportation. Their parents could be subject to prosecution though, especially if they paid human traffickers to transport their children over the border.
  • One memo says that Dreamers — young people whose undocumented parents brought them to the U.S. as children, and who became eligible for semi-legal status under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program  — would be safe from immigration enforcement. But another section states that no class of immigrants will be given special protection.
  • The memos would also put the wheels in motion for the additional hiring of more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, building the infamous wall along the southern border, and expanding detention facilities.


A Travel Query for the Hive Mind

Mother Jones - February 19, 2017 - 10:29am

Ben Cawthra/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA

OK, hive mind, I have a question for you. My sister is heading to London later this year, and this time she has a shiny new iPhone to take with her. She's on T-Mobile, so allegedly she'll have access to calling, texting, and low-speed data without doing anything. So here's one plan:

  • Download the maps she needs before she leaves.
  • Rely on T-Mobile for calling and texting.
  • Use WiFi whenever she's at the hotel, in a coffee shop, etc.
  • Register for The Cloud, and use that when she's out and about.
  • When all else fails, use T-Mobile's low-speed data.


  • Buy a SIM when she gets there and use local calling, texting, and high-speed internet.

Do I have any T-Mobile readers who have been to London lately? What's the dope? What do you think her best alternative is?

People are confused after Trump alluded to terror attack in Sweden that never happened

VICE News - February 19, 2017 - 9:42am

Swedish people have taken to social media to express their confusion over President Donald Trump’s allusion to a terror attack in their country that didn’t actually happen.

“You look at what’s happening,” Trump told the crowd at a campaign-like rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday night. “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

“Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden,” the president continued. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like the never thought  possible. You look what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”

Except, as Swedes pointed out on social media, nothing bad had happened the previous night in Sweden. “Sweden? Terror attack?” wrote former Prime Minister Carl Bildt on Twitter. “What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”

Swedish tabloid AftonBladet dedicated its front page to the headline, “In English: This Happened in Sweden Friday Night Mr President,” along with a bulleted summary of that days’ news events, such as a car chase involving a drunk driver and an avalanche warning due to harsh weather.

@sweden we all need to start to heal pic.twitter.com/1a1n14CB8J

— Virgile Le Maléfique (@Ad_Virgilium) February 19, 2017

Some asked whether perhaps Trump had confused Sweden with Sehwan in Pakistan, where more than 85 people died in a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine on Friday.

Many have theorized that the president has a tendency to make public remarks based on what he’s seen on television on any given day. Given this, a school librarian who runs one of Sweden’s official Twitter accounts, wondered whether his comments were inspired by an interview aired Friday evening on Fox News with documentary-maker Ami Horowitz, whose recent film argues that there is a relationship between Sweden’s new refugee population and high crime rates.

The librarian, Emma, noted that the most pressing news in Sweden right now is actually about selecting their contestant for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

No. Nothing has happened here in Sweden. There has not ben any terrorist attacks here. At all. The main news right now is about Melfest. ->

— @sweden / Emma (@sweden) February 19, 2017

Trump was alluding to terror attacks in Europe to justify his frustration that a federal court two weeks ago blocked the implementation of a controversial executive order which temporarily banned foreigners from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Dear @realDonaldTrump, Sweden is immigration friendly, international & liberal. One of the most prosperous, richest, safest places on earth.

— Alexander Stubb (@alexstubb) February 19, 2017

Trump is not the first in his administration to refer to an attack that did not happen. His adviser, Kellyanne Conway recently urged viewers during an appearance on MSNBC to remember the Bowling Green Massacre (remarks she had made in the past during interviews with TMZ and Cosmopolitan). There was never a Bowling Green Massacre. In 2011 Federal agents arrested two Iraqi men in Bowling Green, Kentucky for conspiring to send money and weapons to al-Qaeda.

On Jan. 29, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer thrice alluded to a terror attack on Atlanta. There were bombings in Atlanta in the late 1990’s, but Spicer later clarified in an email to ABC News that he was actually talking about the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

"Jane Roe" Has Died. Abortion Rights Might Not Be Far Behind.

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 9:09pm

Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States, died Saturday at at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Texas. She was 69.

McCorvey was a complicated symbol for the political fight over abortion rights. Following the high court's 1973 decision, she became the face of the pro-choice movement. At the time, she represented the struggles faced by ordinary women confronted with unwanted pregnancies. Abortion was illegal in Texas in almost all cases when she learned she was pregnant in 1969. Poor and with a ninth grade education, she didn't have the means to seek abortion across state lines. The legal battle dragged on for three years; by the time she won, she had long since carried the pregnancy to term. She gave the baby up for adoption.

But in 1995, McCorvey reversed her stance on abortion after discussing the Bible with Pastor Flip Benham, the director of Operation Rescue, an aggressive pro-life group that had moved in next door to the women's health clinic where McCorvey worked. She soon quit her job at the clinic and was baptized by Benham. She became a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion movement, penning a book about her ideological transformation and traveling the country giving speeches to religious groups.

Like McCorvey's own views on abortion, popular opinion about a woman's right to choose has been the subject of much conflict and debate since the landmark 1973 case. And while a strong majority of Americans still agrees with the Roe decision, dismantling the right to an abortion is now an explicit objective for both the new administration and the Republican-led congress.

In the month since President Donald Trump's inauguration, GOP lawmakers have put forward measures aimed at pulling federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and repealing the Affordable Care Act, including its requirement that insurance plans cover contraceptives. They have also introduced bills that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would ban the standard abortion method used by doctors in the second trimester.

A Supreme Court majority that would be open to overturning Roe is becoming increasingly likely, as well. This is something Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign as part of his largely successful effort to win over skeptical evangelical voters. As a candidate, he made four promises to the anti-abortion community: He pledged to nominate anti-abortion justices; defund Planned Parenthood; sign the 20-week abortion ban; and permanently enshrine into law the Hyde Amendment—a 40-year old budget rider that Congress has repeatedly used to bar federal tax dollars from funding most abortions. Assuming that Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed this spring, it may only take the departure of one pro-abortion-rights justice to tip the balance on the court against Roe

During the campaign, the formerly pro-choice Trump brought on Mike Pence to shore up his anti-abortion bonafides. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed some of the country's strictest abortion restrictions into law, including a measure requiring burial or cremation of aborted fetus remains and a ban on abortions due to fetal anomaly. In a September 2016 speech, Pence told an evangelical conference in Washington, DC, "I want to live to see the day that we put the sanctity of life back at the center of American law, and we send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history, where it belongs."

Last month, Pence became the highest-ranking government official to ever address the annual March for Life in person. "Life is winning again in America," Pence said at the anti-abortion gathering, pointing to the "historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who, I proudly say, stands for the right to life."

Roe has been seen by many as an imperfect decision. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the foremost legal warriors for gender equality, has criticized the decision for changing too much, too quickly. After founding the ACLU's women's rights project in the 1970s, Ginsburg focused on fighting sex discrimination with an incremental strategy. She brought several cases to the Supreme Court, building up a body of court victories that together established a sweeping legal and moral understanding of sex discrimination as something that is both illegal and wrong. Roe, she said at a conference in 2014, "established a target" for abortion opponents because it ditched this incremental approach, instead imposing a drastic change on states across the country. She suggested that if the high court had moved a little more slowly, today the idea of reproductive choice wouldn't be so controversial. "A movement against access to abortion for women grew up, flourished, around a single target," Ginsburg said.

After her victory as Roe's main plaintiff, McCorvey joined the movement that sprung up to oppose Roe. Her death comes at a time when that movement, with help from the Trump White House, could achieve many of its long-held goals.

Premiere Episode of Trump Show Disappoints With Sluggish Pacing and Dated Material

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 7:04pm

Today's episode of the Trump Show was disappointing. It started late, it was only 30 minutes long, and much of it was read off a teleprompter. A few miscellaneous comments:

  • No tie! Truly, Trump is a man of the people.
  • The first five minutes is dedicated solely to trashing the media. He says he wants to speak directly to The People without the filter of fake news. "When the media lies, I won't let them get away with it."
  • This is all done in service of a speech carried live and commercial-free by all three cable news channels.
  • The White House is running "smoothly, very smoothly."
  • He wants to bring back mining jobs for "clean, very clean coal." I'm sensing a rhetorical trend here.
  • He reprises several of his greatest hits: His Obamacare replacement will provide much better health care at a much lower cost. No more jobs are going to be sent overseas. He's going to slap a 35 percent tax on goods sent back here. And he still wants a "trillion dollar" infrastructure plan.
  • Jobs are already "pouring back in" to the country.
  • "Not one network will show the crowd," he says at the exact moment the pool camera pulls back to show the crowd.
  • He says he got the price of Air Force One down by a billion dollars. When did that happen? Let's google a bit...ah. It's just your basic Trump bullshit. The CEO of Boeing has agreed to keep the price tag below $4 billion for a project that's currently estimated to cost between $3.2 billion and $3.7 billion. Nice work, Donald.
  • He also got the price of the F-35 down by "hundreds of billions" dollars. It's actually hundreds of millions, but who's counting? And it was a price reduction that was already in the works before Trump ever got involved.
  • He says Obama was letting immigrants into the country with "no vetting, no nothing." This is just a ridiculous lie.

Meh. I doubt this rally did much for him. Even his most fervent supporters are starting to figure out that Trump isn't accomplishing a whole lot. Besides, how often can he go back to this well? Is he going to hold a pep rally every month? If he does, he better start coming up with some new material.

Trump kicks off 2020 by ripping into the media: “They’re part of a corrupt system”

VICE News - February 18, 2017 - 6:57pm

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Twenty-nine days after being sworn in, President Donald Trump kicked off his reelection campaign with a rally where he called the crowd his “friends” and framed the press as his enemy.

Speaking in a muggy airplane hangar in front of a crowd local officials pegged at 9,000-strong, Trump said he wanted to speak “without the filter of the fake news.”

“They’ve become a big part of the problem. They’re part of the corrupt system,” he said.

Trump promised: “When the media lies to the people I will never ever let them get away with it,” and warned the media “have their own agenda.”

It was an invigorated and in-control Trump that took the stage in front of a cheering crowd — a stark contrast to the Trump that’s stumbled during his first few weeks as president back in Washington. He delivered a largely standard stump speech, to a typically adoring crowd, and was introduced, unexpectedly, by his wife before taking the podium.

Trump used the speech to paper over what’s been by all accounts a rocky start to his tenure, marred by major policy defeats, the recent resignation of his National Security Adviser, nationwide protests and continued questions over his advisers’ relationships with Russia.

“The White House is running so smoothly,” he told the crowd.

The president listed a litany of accomplishments — moving towards approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines; reducing regulations — and some he hasn’t yet achieved, like taking “decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.” His one move in that direction — banning immigration from some majority-Muslim nations — was blocked in the courts.

Trump took particular ire with that court decision, calling it “unbelievable” and “so unfair,” and reading a statute he said defended his right as president to establish the ban, which judges ruled was too sweeping.

But he promised a new travel ban would come next week: “I think you’ll be impressed; we’ve got to keep our country safe,” he said.

He also promised action on Obamacare and rolling back environmental regulations, which he said were “clogging up the veins of our country.”

However surreal the campaign-style rally was so early into his tenure, it still marked the use of a more traditional presidential tactic: Speaking from the bully pulpit to move national sentiment in his favor. Trump told the crowd to “tell Democrats to stop their tactics of delay and obstruction and destruction,” lamenting the slow pace of confirmation for his cabinet nominees.

With Trump’s approval rating underwater in every recent poll, it’s unclear whether the president will have the same ability to use the bully pulpit to regain control of the news cycle or turn it in his favor.

But rallies were always both Trump’s strength and his source of energy during the campaign, and indeed he told reporters on Air Force One before descending onto the stage that it’s bigger than just a rally for him — “Life is a campaign.”

“Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign. To make America great again is absolutely a campaign,” he said.

“It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”


Trump Just Held His First Campaign Rally for the 2020 Race

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 6:52pm

On Saturday, just one month into his presidency, President Donald Trump held the first rally of his 2020 presidential campaign.

Trump was introduced by several Florida congressmen before making a dramatic entrance. To the soundtrack of the movie Air Force One, the presidential aircraft pulled into the airplane hangar where the rally was being held. Earlier this week, the White House said in a statement that they would not use the plane in the background as a prop, something Trump did often during the campaign with his own airplane.

LIVE: Pres. Donald Trump holds campaign-style rally at the Orlando-Melbourne Airport https://t.co/03fmvuYY4l pic.twitter.com/BHZgQYBYKj

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 18, 2017

After Melania Trump recited the "Our Father" and said a few words, Donald Trump opened his rally with an attack on the media. "I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news," he said, accusing news outlets of writing false stories about him using made-up sources. "When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it." For the next 45 minutes he returned to his familiar themes of the wall on the US-Mexico border, keeping out unvetted immigrants, the unreliable judiciary, and America's return to greatness.

In one particularly odd moment, Trump forced the Secret Service to let a man who had complimented his presidency during a pre-rally interview join him on stage. Trump instructed the man to climb over a fence to get to the stage and then briefly gave him the microphone to address the crowd. Trump acknowledged that the Secret Service was probably not pleased with this, but "we know our people," he said.

Trump also lashed out at the Ninth Circuit appeals court that overturned his executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim nations, saying that thousands of immigrants have been allowed into the country with no vetting. "There was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. Nothing," he saidIn fact, the immigration process for refugees and other immigrants requires extensive vetting and documentation. Trump also said he's ordered the Department of Justice to protect police and sheriffs "from crimes of violence," and reiterated his plans to cut taxes, while also promising to implement a trillion dollar infrastructure program around the country.

You can watch the full speech here:

Waiting For Trump

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 4:45pm


Who Really Benefits From Repealing the Stream Protection Rule?

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 4:30pm

Behold the politics of Donald Trump in a nutshell:

Talking to Trump voters here, several have said that Trump "put the miners back to work." (They are referring to the stream rule rollback)

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 18, 2017

Weigel is in Florida, so the workers in question are mostly Appalachian miners. Here's a quick look at Appalachian coal mining employment:1

This chart shows two things. First, coal mining in Appalachia has been plummeting for a long time. Decades, actually. So it's pretty easy to see why Appalachian coal miners are in dire straits and eager to listen to someone, anyone, who sounds sympathetic to their plight.

Second, Trump is getting a lot of of attention for rolling back the Stream Protection Rule, but it's not going to put anyone back to work. I had to cheat to even get it to show up on the chart. It's responsible for maybe a hundred mining jobs out of a total decline of 30,000 between 2009 and 2020.

So who does benefit from rolling back this rule? Well, OSM figures that Appalachian mine owners will save about $24 million per year in compliance costs.3 So they're pretty happy. This is a dynamic that we're going to see over and over from Trump:

  • He puts on a big show about something or other. Workers cheer.
  • Offstage, it turns out the benefit to workers is minuscule.
  • Instead, the bulk of the benefits end up going to corporations and the rich.
  • Liberals will find out about this because the New York Times will probably write about it. Working-class Trump fans won't, because none of it will be reported by Fox News or Drudge or Limbaugh or Breitbart.

Executive summary: workers get a pittance, the rich get rewarded, and streams and rivers will continue to be fouled by mine tailings. But Trump's supporters will be happy because they'll be kept in the dark by all the people supposedly looking out for them.

UPDATE: I've gotten several requests for a longer look at coal mining employment. Here it is.4 Please note two things: (1) this is for the entire US, not just Appalachia, and (2) it's for coal miners, not total coal mine employment. You can't compare it to the chart above.

1This is approximate. I counted coal mine employment from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Alabama. The projection is based on a 50 percent loss of coal production and coal jobs between 2012 and 2020. The Office of Surface Mining figures that the Stream Protection Rule will cost about 260 mining jobs, and that Appalachia will bear 46 percent of compliance cost. (See this CRS report, p. 17.) So we can roughly figure that it will cost Appalachia a little over a hundred mining jobs.2

2The net job loss will be about zero, thanks to additional hires of engineers and biologists. However, that does nothing for miners.

3See here, p. 15. Total estimated compliance costs are $52 million per year, with Appalachia bearing 46 percent of the total.

4 Data for 1950-1985 from here. Data from 1985-2016 from FRED.

NSC Aide Fired, Now Owes Us Account of Trump Call to Mexico's President

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 1:44pm

Now is the winter of our discontent:

The White House abruptly dismissed a senior National Security Council aide on Friday....The aide, Craig Deare, was serving as the NSC's senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Earlier in the week, at a private, off-the-record roundtable hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for a group of about two dozen scholars, Deare harshly criticized the president and his chief strategist Steve Bannon and railed against the dysfunction paralyzing the Trump White House, according to a source familiar with the situation.

He complained in particular that senior national security aides do not have access to the president — and gave a detailed and embarrassing readout of Trump's call with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.

I can't fault Trump for firing Deare. Then again, I also can't fault Deare for going berserk. Sometimes a marriage just doesn't work.

However, now that Deare is out of a job, perhaps he'd like to share his detailed and embarrassing readout of that Mexico conversation? My email address is below.

Gossip of the Day: What's the Deal With KT McFarland?

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 1:25pm

It's a weekend. How about some gossip?

contact says, Just was told Trump told KT McFarland to pick her new boss. She named Bolton. see where this goes

— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) February 18, 2017

contact earlier said the personnel disagreement btw Adm. Harward & Trump was centered on McFarland. KT is very close to the Trump family

— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) February 18, 2017

Apparently David Petraeus has withdrawn his name for consideration over the same issue as Robert Harward. He wants control over NSC personnel, but Trump refuses to give up McFarland as deputy. Given the fact that McFarland hasn't held a government post in over 30 years and is wildly unqualified to be the #2 person on the National Security Council, there must be some strangely tight bond to account for Trump keeping her even though it's preventing him from appointing his preferred candidates to the #1 spot.

OTOH, we also know that Trump doesn't like John Bolton's walrus mustache. Would he demand that Bolton shave it off as a requirement of the job?

Arizona Suggests Forced Suicide For Death Row Inmates

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 11:30am

It's getting tougher and tougher to obtain the lethal cocktail used to execute prisoners convicted of capital crimes:

Now Arizona has responded with a new — and some say bizarre — solution to this quandary: Death row inmates can bring their own execution drugs. The state’s manual for execution procedures, which was revised last month, says attorneys of death row inmates, or others acting on their behalf, can obtain pentobarbital or sodium Pentothal and give them to the state to ensure a smooth execution.

Note to conservatives: sometimes you just have to give up. Do you really care that much about killing lots of bad guys as opposed to letting them rot in prison for the rest of their lives? It might be time to let go and save your energy for other battles. This one is getting absurd.

It's Pretty Sad That the President of the United States Needs to Watch Briefing Videos Like This

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 10:10am

On Thursday morning, Mother Jones fellow Ashley Dejean reported on a classified memo which revealed that Donald Trump's "daily briefing book typically contains reports on only three topics, typically no more than one page each."

On Thursday afternoon, American Urban Radio White House correspondent April Ryan asked the president a question about the Congressional Black Caucus that provoked a response suggesting Donald Trump thinks all black people know each other.

On Friday night, occasional Mother Jones contributor (and my brother) Harry Dreyfuss published a video neatly tying those two stories together.

Why Does a White Guy Always Have to Be the Hero?

Mother Jones - February 18, 2017 - 5:00am

Chinese director Zhang Yimou, of Hero and House of Flying Daggers fame, made his English-language debut with The Great Wall, which opened Friday. But in a story set in ancient China, Matt Damon's character sticks out like a sore thumb. The presence of his pale mug in movie posters and trailers drew backlash even before the film's release. "We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world," Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu wrote in a Twitter tirade. "We don't need salvation." Damon and Yimou felt compelled to publicly defend the film, with Damon calling it "historical fantasy."

The lack of people of color in starring roles is a longstanding Hollywood problem, and things are especially bad for Asians. A 2016 study (PDF) by the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California found that more than half of films and TV shows had no speaking roles for Asian characters—and it's exceedingly rare to see Asians in lead roles. Producers often claim there just aren't enough roles for Asian actors, which is true—or vice versa, which is not. Often, when the opportunity arises to cast Asian characters, Hollywood decision-makers hire white actors to portray them. Sometimes they simply rewrite nonwhite characters as white ones. These things are called whitewashing.

The Great Wall exemplifies a related Hollywood trend wherein white characters play a dominant role in a foreign situation, while nonwhite locals are reduced to sidekicks or people "to be killed or rescued—or to have sex with," as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen put it recently. Vogue recently added to the outrage over cultural tone-deafness by presenting Karlie Kloss, an American model of German and Danish descent, as a geisha—for the magazine's diversity issue, no less. Vogue later removed the photographs from its website and Kloss apologized for her participation, but it was yet another episode in America's long history of whitewashing Asians. We'll leave you with this brief history of the same. Dig around and you're sure to find plenty more.


The first Charlie Chan film is released, starring Japanese actor George Kuwa, but the films fail to win large audiences until Warner Oland, a Swedish actor, takes on the role. The Chan films become extremely popular, with more than 40 made, but are later criticized for racist stereotypes. 

Wikimedia Commons

Merle Oberon, whose partial Indian ancestry she keeps a secret for most of her life, is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She is later credited as the first (and only) Asian-American ever nominated in that category.


In Dragon Seed, Katharine Hepburn, plays Jade, a Chinese woman who stands up to Japanese invaders. Turhan Bey, who is of Turkish and Czech descent, co-stars as her husband.

Katharine Hepburn and Turhan Bey in Dragon Seed. Wikimedia Commons

Rex Harrison portrays a Thai king in Anna and the King of Siam, the film adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. A 1951 remake continues to use non-Asian actors in the role—Russian-born Yul Brynner is the new king.


Marlon Brando plays Sakini, a Japanese translator on the island of Okinawa after World War II, requiring hours of daily makeup work. "It was a horrible picture," he later writes, "and I was miscast."


Mickey Rooney dons yellow-face, prosthetic teeth, and taped eyelids for his role as Audrey Hepburn's temperamental landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany's. (His "bucktoothed, myopic Japanese" is "broadly exotic," the New York Times writes.) Rooney is later taken aback to learn that his portrayal is considered racist. "It breaks my heart," he tells the Sacramento Bee in 2008, adding, jokingly, "Those that didn't like it, I forgive them."

Breakfast at Tiffany's Wikimedia Commons

Sean Connery, 007, goes undercover Japanese in You Only Live Twice. (His makeup job would fool nobody, let alone a Bond villian.)


In the TV series Kung Fu, David Carradine plays Kwai Chang Caine, a Buddhist monk versed in the martial arts. Bruce Lee had originally pitched the series and hoped to star in it, but the producers went with Carradine instead. Kung Fu became one of the most popular shows of its day.

David Carradine in Kung Fu. Wikimedia Commons

Asian actors and artists in California protest Hollywood's attempt to revive Charlie Chan with Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. "I don't think racism is funny any more," San Franciscan Eliza Chan tells the Washington Post. "We have been called "Charlie" for so many years. We have been made fun of—the way we speak, the way we act—people expect us to be like Charlie Chan, and we can't stand that any more."


British actor Ben Kingsley, whose father is Indian, wins a Best Actor Oscar for Ghandi. He is the first—and as of 2017, the only—actor of Asian descent ever nominated in the category, much less win.

Director Richard Attenborough, left, and actor Ben Kingsley pose with their Ghandi Oscars. Reed Saxon/AP

Japanese-American actor Gedde Watanabe portrays the (ostensibly) Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Mainstream audiences find the caricature hilarious, but many Asian-Americans cringe. "Because there were so few Asian actors onscreen at that time, people were looking for Kurosawa in a comedy," Watanabe recalls in a 30th anniversary interview. "Sixteen Candles wasn't that kind of movie."

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

A British theater production of Miss Saigon, a retelling of Madame Butterfly in the context of the Vietnam War, almost doesn't make it to Broadway after a union protests the casting of British actor Jonathan Pryce in a Eurasian role. Although Pryce, who wears eye prosthetics and bronzer for the performance, wins a Tony and the play goes on to become one of Broadway's longest-running hits, Miss Saigon continues to be criticized for its stereotypical portrayals.


Edward Zwick's The Last Samurai features Tom Cruise as Capt. Nathan Algren, a guilt-wracked former Union Army soldier who gets to be the hero when he helps some rebel samurai fight a corrupt Japanese empire—it's all about Cruise, of course. Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter savages the film: "Basically what Zwick has done is to take Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves and insert it into the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, with a samurai clan in the role of an Indian tribe."

Warner Bros.

Ang Lee is the first Asian director to win an Oscar, for Brokeback Mountain.

Director Ang Lee accepts his Oscar from Tom Hanks. Chris Carlson/AP

White actors play the leads in the live-action film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, previously an animated series with characters of Asian and Native American descent. Fans pan it and the movie flops.

Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Nickelodeon The Last Airbender movie. Paramount Pictures

White actor Jim Sturgess dons yellowface and doctored eyes to play a Korean character in Cloud Atlas. Director Andy Wachowski defends the casting: "The intention is to talk about things that are beyond race. The character of this film is humanity." It's not Sturgess' first brush with whitewashing: In 21, a film based on the true story of college card-counters who gamed the casinos, he plays a student who in real life was Chinese-American.


Emma Stone stars as a half-Asian character in Aloha, which flops at the box office. The role, she says later, opened her eyes to Hollywood's diversity problems and "flaws in the system." Director Cameron Crowe also apologizes, calling the casting "misguided."

Feb. 2016

In an otherwise spot-on monologue—"I'm here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People's Choice Awards"—Oscars host Chris Rock rips Hollywood's lack of diversity, yet manages to stereotype Asian Americans, who are all but invisible in American films

April 2016

The creators of Ghost in the Shell, adapted from a Japanese manga and anime film, face backlash after casting Scarlett Johansson as the Japanese main character. Tilda Swinton also gets hit with criticism for her role as the Ancient One, a Tibetan character, in Dr. Strange.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995.  Production IG Ghost in the Shell, 2017. Paramount Pictures
May 2016

Comedian Margaret Cho, Nerds of Color blogger Keith Chow, author Ellen Oh and other Asian Americans start a monthlong #WhiteWashedOut campaign that calls on Hollywood to stop whitewashing Asians and urging white actors to reject Asian roles.

#whitewashedOUT means the continued stereotype of the unattractive Asian male, the submissive Asian woman, the tiger mom, etc.

— ❄️Ellen Oh❄️ (@ElloEllenOh) May 3, 2016

Not a sidekick. Not a sidechick. #whitewashedOUT

— Margaret Cho (@margaretcho) May 3, 2016

There's a real problem with Asian representation in Hollywood, and we're #WhitewashedOUT. https://t.co/6ejm80GYYN pic.twitter.com/nZX1EZlzvJ

— Book Riot Comics (@BookRiotComics) May 3, 2016

#whitewashedOUT meant it took years for me to realize writing Asian protags was possible. I cast myself as the sidekick in my own stories.

— Sarah Kuhn (@sarahkuhn) May 3, 2016

I didn't think seeing Indian Americans mattered to me until @mindykaling. Until I cried seeing @azizansari on Netflix. #whitewashedOUT

— Amitha Knight (@amithaknight) May 3, 2016
Nov. 2016

Hong Kong actor and director Jackie Chan accepts an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in an emotional speech: "After 56 years in the film industry, making more than 200 films, breaking so many bones, finally this is mine." He is one of four filmmakers to receive the lifetime achievement award.

Jackie Chan at the Governors Awards. Chris Pizzello/AP
Feb. 2017

Matt Damon plays a European mercenary who saves China from monsters in The Great Wall. Actress Constance Wu takes issue: "We like our color and our culture and our strengths and our own stories," she writes. "Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them."

Trump Decrees That the Economy Must Grow Twice as Fast

Mother Jones - February 17, 2017 - 10:39pm

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the labor force will grow 0.5 percent annually over the next ten years and productivity will grow 1.4 percent. That's total economic growth of 1.9 percent per year. But the Trumpists are forecasting 3.5 percent growth over the next decade. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they supercharge the economy, pulling everyone back into work and achieving labor force growth of 0.8 percent. They still need productivity growth of 2.7 percent. That's astronomically higher than anyone thinks possible. So how are Trump's economists justifying this?

The answer is simplicity itself. The Wall Street Journal explains:

What’s unusual about the administration’s forecasts isn’t just their relative optimism but also the process by which they were derived. Normally, the executive branch starts with a baseline forecast prepared by career staff of the CEA....Discussions for the Trump administration unfolded differently, with transition officials telling the CEA staff the growth targets that their budget would produce and asking them to backfill other estimates off those figures.

So...they're doing it by just telling their economists what growth will be. That's an interesting approach. But what's the point of this? Here's a pair of growth forecasts—one for 2 percent and one for 4 percent—that should illustrate things:

If you assume higher growth, you can cut taxes and still get the same revenue. Alternatively, you can spend more on the military or a border wall without increasing the deficit. Or a combination of both.

In other words, it's magic fairy dust. Sprinkle it around and you can do anything you want. Problems only arise if a bunch of snooty Ivy League economists insist that you're delusional, which explains why Trump hasn't bothered to hire anyone for his Council of Economic Advisors. They would just tell him stuff he doesn't want to hear. It also explains why Paul Ryan isn't playing this game too: his budget is vetted by the CBO, which has no intention of aiding and abetting fantasyland figures like these.

It's hard to know what the point of this is. Most likely, Trump said on the campaign trail that he'd grow the economy at 4 percent, and by God he's going to stick with that. (Remember: 3.5 rounds up to 4, so his campaign promise is safe.) Besides, Trump probably really believes that he can get the economy growing that fast through the sheer force of his personality.

The real shock here isn't Trump—we already know he's divorced from reality—but the rest of his staff. Is there really not a single person in the White House who has both the gumption and the standing to tell Trump that the president can't peddle this kind of drivel in an official document? Is there no one who can tell him that Twitter is one thing, but the Budget of the United States of America is another?

I guess not.


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