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The Mother Jones Podcast
29 minutes | 4 days ago
“Queen Sugar” Author Natalie Baszile: Black Farmers Can Help Save the Planet
Natalie Baszile knew she was onto something when she got the call from Oprah’s people. A novelist and food justice activist, Baszile had been working for years on a semi-autobiographical novel about a Los Angeles-based Black woman who is unexpectedly faced with reviving an inherited family farm in Louisiana. The book became “Queen Sugar,” was published in 2014 and, with Oprah’s backing, it debuted as a television series on OWN in 2016. It was executive produced by Oprah Winfrey herself and directed by Ava DuVernay. American audiences were getting an intimate glimpse into how reverse migration was reshaping Black life in America. Now, in a new anthology, Baszile is broadening her scope. In We Are Each Other’s Harvest, Baszile offers up a carefully curated collection of essays and interviews that get to the heart of why Black people’s connection to the land matters. Mother Jones food and agriculture correspondent Tom Philpott recently published an investigation called “Black Land Matters,” which explores how access to land has exacerbated the racial wealth gap in America. The story also takes a look at a younger generation of Black people who have begun to reclaim farming and the land on which their ancestors once toiled. In this discussion, host Jamilah King talks with Baszile about how this new generation of Black farmers is actually tapping into wisdom that’s much older than they might have imagined. This is a follow-up conversation to last week's episode, which took a deep look at how Black farmers are beginning a movement to wrestle with history and reclaim their agricultural heritage. Check it out in our feed.
30 minutes | 11 days ago
The Black Farmer Movement Battling History to Return to the Land
Agriculture was once a major source of wealth among the Black middle class in America. But over the course of a century, Black-owned farmland, and the corresponding wealth, has diminished almost to the point of near extinction; only 1.7 percent of farms were owned by Black farmers in 2017. The story of how that happened–from sharecropping, to anti-Black terrorism, to exclusionary USDA loans–is the focus of this episode on the Mother Jones Podcast. Tom Philpott, Mother Jones’ food and agriculture correspondent, joins Jamilah King on the show to talk about the racist history of farming and a new movement to reclaim Black farmland. You’ll hear from Tahz Walker, who helps run Tierra Negra farm, which sits on land that was once part of a huge and notorious plantation in North Carolina called Stagville. Today, descendants of people who were enslaved at Stagville own shares in Tierra Negra and harvest food from that land. Leah Penniman is another farmer in the movement. She is the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, and the co-founder and managing director of a Soul Fire Farm, a cooperative farm she established in upstate New York that doubles as a training ground for farmers of color. The campaign to reclaim Black farmland has received some political backing. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act in 2020, a bill that would attempt to reverse the discriminatory practices of the USDA by buying up farmland on the open market and giving it to Black farmers. The bill has received backing from high-profile on the left, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), though it is unlikely to get the votes it would need to override the filibuster and pass. On the episode, you’ll also hear from Dania Francis, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a researcher with the Land Loss and Reparations Project. When asked how about economic tactics for redressing the lost land and the current wealth gap, Francis suggests: “A direct way to address a wealth gap is to provide Black families with wealth.”
19 minutes | 15 days ago
The Oscar-Nominated Writers of Judas and the Black Messiah Make History
Judas and the Black Messiah, a ground-breaking film about the life of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, has been hailed as one of the best films of the year. The film is up for five Oscars, including Best Picture. It’s a historic haul for a movie made by an all-Black team of producers. It’s also a notable and somewhat unexpected achievement for Keith and Kenny Lucas, who, along with director Shaka King and co-writer Will Berson, wrote the semi-biopic’s screenplay. The Hollywood honor for the 35-year-old identical twins known as the Lucas Brothers arrives after they built careers in comedy, including standup; appearances in 22 Jump Street and Arrested Development; and starring roles in the series Friends of the People and Lucas Bros. Moving Co. On today’s bonus episode, Mother Jones reporter Ali Breland caught up with the brothers to chat about comedy, philosophy, and what it was like to make a movie about a revolutionary socialist who was committed to Black freedom. An edited transcript of the interview can be found on motherjones.com
16 minutes | 18 days ago
Derek Chauvin Is Guilty. The Fight for Real Justice Is Far From Over.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin delivered its verdict: guilty on all three counts in the killing of George Floyd. The 12 jurors—six of whom are white, four Black, and two multiracial—heard three weeks of testimony and deliberated for about 10 hours. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The verdict comes just less than a year since Chauvin forcibly kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, ultimately suffocating and killing him. Floyd was 46 years old. The video was shared widely and sparked massive waves of protests last summer under the banner “Black Lives Matter”—first in Minneapolis and then across the United States, people took to the streets to demonstrate against police violence and demand racial justice. Chauvin was fired and arrested after killing Floyd. He had worked for the Minneapolis Police Department since 2001, during which time he received at least 17 complaints and had a record of fatal use-of-force. Nathalie, who closely followed the trial over the past few weeks, joined Mother Jones Podcast host Jamilah King just after the verdict came in. "I was really surprised by how quickly the verdict came back," said Nathalie. "It feels like a huge moment." In her analysis of this important moment, Nathalie touched on the barely latent racism in the prosecutor’s argument, the issues with a televised trial, and how this verdict fits into the long fight for racial justice in America.”A lot of people are eager to hold this guilty verdict up as this big symbol of change,” says Nathalie on the podcast. “But after so many viral police shootings, one guilty verdict doesn’t satisfy that appetite for actual change.”
30 minutes | 25 days ago
How America's Super-Rich Tax Evaders Are Hurting Everyone
Money. You’re probably thinking a lot about it these days. From a global pandemic that’s tanked the global economy, to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill, to workers once again trying (and failing) to unionize at Amazon, who gets what and how is the recurring theme of so many important social and political debates right now. Michael Mechanic is a long-time Senior Editor at Mother Jones. His compelling new book is called Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All. From Capitol Hill to family office suites to wine cellar bunkers, this is an eye-opening romp through the lives of the richest people in America–the so-called One Percenter and a.comprehensive look at the structures behind wealth inequality. Not to mention the psychological effects of wealth on the very people who have the most of it. "Higher wealth is associated with more entitlement and narcissism, less compassion," explains Mechanic on the podcast. "People who are wealthier tend to be less socially attuned to those around them." In this conversation with Jamilah King, Mechanic discusses the tax code, the ways that race and gender have played into the accumulation of generational wealth, the tension between the promise of the American dream and the stark reality of the present-day wealth gap. And that specifically American landscape does not have much allure for others. "When people visualize how bad the wealth gap is in America,” Mechanic notes, “they say, I don't want to live there."
36 minutes | a month ago
The Hidden Influence of Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird Johnson always fit the mold of a certain old-fashioned, stereotypical presidential wife: self-effacing, devoted to her generally unfaithful domineering husband, not particularly chic, and, being a traditional first lady one who needed a public cause, and found hers it in planting lots of flowers near highways. They called it at the time, with just a hint of disparagement, "beautification." Nowhere in the hundreds of thousands of pages written by presidential historians on the 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, has there been presented much evidence to the contrary. But in her new book, Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight, Julia Sweig has radically changed the narrative. “She doesn’t just have a front seat at history,” says Sweig on the podcast. “She was shaping it.” Mother Jones's DC Editorial Operations Director Marianne Szegedy-Maszak sat down with Sweig to talk to her about Lady Bird Johnson, writing history, and how the dominance of a certain narrative about male power informed the way we have understood the Johnson presidency. Especially striking is how many of the same issues that are current today—income inequality, the fight for racial justice, police shootings, environmental despoliation, and environmental justice—were priorities for the Johnson administration. Nearly all of them eclipsed by the Vietnam War. This episode includes clips from In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson, a podcast hosted by Sweig and produced by ABC News/Best Case Studios.
23 minutes | a month ago
Hope and Fear: The Dangerous New COVID Phase, Explained
Earlier this week, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky went off-script during a news conference to issue an emotional warning: a fourth coronavirus surge could be on its way. She described a “recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” saying that while there was “so much to look forward to,” the country was entering a dangerous new phase. “I’m scared,” she said. Meanwhile, the country has seen week-on-week vaccination records tumble, and officials predict that half of Americans will be fully protected within the next two months. Nearly 150 million doses have been administered so far. So Americans find themselves confronting yet another front in the war on COVID-19, in which hope and fear are colliding. Can we vaccinate fast enough to combat the threat of dangerous new variants? What’s the deal with the AstraZeneca vaccine drama? Why is the United States populations getting vaccinated at a much faster rate than the rest of the world? When—if ever—can we ditch the masks? We try to answer some of those questions on this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, with Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and the founding dean of the national school of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. He’s been leading a team at the Baylor College of Medicine that uses older vaccine technology to create a COVID-19 vaccine that would be cheaper to make and distribute. “By the summer I think we could potentially vaccinate ourselves out of the epidemic,” Hotez tells Kiera Butler, our senior editor and public health reporter, during a taped livestream event last week. But that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet. Though coronavirus cases have dropped 80 percent from the latest surge, case numbers are at the same level that they were last summer and variants are spreading quickly. “We’re at a dangerous time right now.” This interview was originally recorded for a Mother Jones livestream event on March 24, 2021. The full video can be found on www.motherjones.com or on Mother Jones’ Youtube and Facebook channels.
20 minutes | a month ago
Stop the COVID Shaming!
For many people who contract the coronavirus, shame is an underreported side-effect. Its symptoms are intense bewilderment about the cause of infection, reluctance to engage with healthcare systems, and discomfort disclosing the diagnosis to friends and family. The internal dynamic is likely reinforced by the public shaming that follows news stories about crowds of spring breakers not following social distancing rules. Or the Instagram account dedicated to calling out parties and gatherings. Or the tweets about how people who dine indoors are selfish morons. Shaming others “can function as a way to distance yourself from the fear, the terror, or any uncomfortable feeling you have by placing the badness on someone else,” says Dr. Deeba Ashraf, a psychoanalyst at the Menninger Clinic in Houston. “We can feel this illusion of safety, which is born out of shaming another group.” In this bonus episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, Associate Producer Molly Schwartz interviews Ashraf about the psychological effects of COVID shaming, the impacts on public health, and some tips for dealing with feelings of shame and stigma. This interview is part of Molly’s big feature about COVID shaming and its historical parallels in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Read the full story at www.motherjones.com.
20 minutes | a month ago
A Post-Trump Guide to Stopping the Lies and Healing Our Politics
Cass Sunstein is a public intellectual and provocateur—and he has been pondering a timely issue: public lying. A longtime Harvard law professor and an expert on behavioral economics, Sunstein has written a slew of books, including volumes on cost-benefit analysis, conspiracy theories, animal rights, authoritarianism in the United States, decision-making, and Star Wars. He was recently named senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, where he will oversee the Biden administration’s rollback of Donald Trump’s policies. But right before he rejoined the federal government, he released his latest work: Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception. The book is certainly a product of the Trump era, a stretch in which the “former guy” made 30,583 false or misleading claims while serving as president, according to the Washington Post. All his lying kind of worked. Donald Trump was elected despite—or because—of his serial falsehood-flinging. He nearly won reelection after his tsunami of truth-trashing. And after the election, Trump promoted the Big Lie that victory had been stolen from him, and his crusade triggered an insurrectionist raid on the Capitol that threatened the certification of the electoral vote count. After all that—and after Trump’s misleading statements about the COVID-19 pandemic led to the preventable of deaths hundreds of thousands of Americans—Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party and a hero for tens of millions of Americans. So what, if anything, can be done to thwart such lies? Especially in an age of expanding disinformation, wild-and-wooly social media, QAnon, deepfakes, and widespread acceptance of conspiracy theories? In his book, Sunstein discusses why lying can succeed and how tough it is—especially given First Amendment freedoms—to counter them. He notes that certain forms of lying can be punished: perjury, defamation, and false advertising. And he argues for extending the category of lies that ought to be officially punished, noting, “Governments should have the power to regulate certain lies and falsehoods, at least if they can be shown to be genuinely harmful by any objective measure.” Though that is much harder done than said. Our Washington DC Bureau Chief David Corn spoke with Sunstein about all this. And they addressed the big topic: given that a debate over lying and what to do about it is, in a way, a debate over reality, how can we as a democratic society function, if we don’t agree on what is and isn’t true?
25 minutes | a month ago
What Happened in Jackson, Mississippi, Was a Catastrophe—and a Warning Sign
Boiling water to drink and bathe. Collecting rainwater to flush toilets. Using bottled water distributed by the National Guard to take care of basic hygiene. For four weeks, tens of thousands of people in Jackson, Mississippi, did not have access to clean water. Freezing winter storms wreaked havoc on Jackson’s old and crumbling water infrastructure. In mid-February the city experienced 80 water main breaks, leaving tens of thousands of residents were left without running water. But while the Texas blackouts dominated the news cycle, Jackson’s water crises received far less attention, even as it extended into its fourth week. Jackson’s residents, 80 percent of whom are Black and nearly 30 percent of whom live below the poverty line, were forced to boil water to drink, bathe, and use the bathroom. In the middle of a pandemic, residents of Jackson didn’t have reliable access to clean water to wash their hands. This water crisis was years in the making. For the past 50 years the Republican-led state government has been cutting taxes and neglecting to invest in infrastructure repairs. Jackson’s shrinking tax base has been exacerbated by white flight and the fact that, unlike other capital cities, Jackson does not receive payments in lieu of taxes for its state-owned properties. “It isn't a matter of if these systems will fail, it's a matter of when these systems will fail,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba tells Mother Jones reporter Nathalie Baptiste on this week’s show. “We have a $2 billion infrastructure problem.” Last week, Jackson finally lifted its boil water notice. But Jackson’s water crisis laid bare the budget, infrastructure, and equity issues that leave cities like Jackson vulnerable to future extreme weather events. “Climate change is significantly impacting the pressure on our infrastructure. We have hotter summers, colder winters, and more rain in the rainy season,” says Mayor Lumumba. “They’re becoming our new normal.”
33 minutes | 2 months ago
All Hail Pop Queen Selena, Who Showed Us How to Belong
Anything for Selena is more than a podcast about the iconic 1990s superstar Selena Quintanilla. It’s a nine-part series about belonging itself. Journalist Maria Garcia documents her own journey as she discovers what it means to love and mourn Selena, and what her legacy can teach us about pop culture and Latinx identity today. As a fearsomely talented singer and dancer, Selena dazzled on stage with bold red lips and large hoop earrings, wearing sparkly bustiers and tight, high-waisted pants. She mesmerized audiences in Texas and along the US-Mexico border first, then took Mexico by storm. She built a loyal fanbase across the United States and sold millions of albums worldwide. But the devotion she sparked wasn’t a simple case of celebrity. Before she was tragically killed in 1995, she had become the queen of Tejano music and culture, adored by both United States and Mexico for being unapologetically herself, as she navigated both cultures with pride—something that left a huge impression on a young Garcia. Selena’s mere existence sparked mainstream conversations about race, language, and identity. “The podcast is truly a lifelong culmination of my quest to understand why this woman has meant so much to me and has been a profound flashpoint,” Garcia says on this episode of the Mother Jones Podcast. “I had to go back to little Maria who was new to this country, trying to figure out where she belonged.” Today, more than 25 years later, we’re still grappling with the loss and meaning of Selena, the cross-cultural phenomenon. Just last Sunday, Selena was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Grammys; she only received one Grammy in 1994 before her death. For older fans, This recognition brought back memories of Selena at the peak of her career, and joy to a new wave of young Selena Stans, who weren’t even born until after her death. Anything for Selena is a collaboration between WBUR in Boston and Futuro Studios. Each episode is available in English and in Spanish. This week’s show features MoJo reporter Fernanda Echavarri in conversation with Garcia, and Futuro senior producer Antonia Cereijido.
26 minutes | 2 months ago
Stacey Abrams Is Hellbent on Stopping the GOP's "Jim Crow 2.0"
Stacey Abrams has a name for the series of bills that just passed the Georgia state legislature: “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” Abrams joins the Mother Jones Podcast to explain why your right to vote is once again under attack—perhaps more so now than it has been in generations. Donald Trump’s big election fraud lie sparked a deluge of voter suppression efforts across the country. Over the past two months, GOP legislatures have pushed 253 new voting restrictions in 43 states. Under the guise of “election integrity,” these restrictions run the gamut: enacting voter ID laws, limiting early voting, repealing no-excuse early voting, and purging voter rolls. The Roberts Supreme Court has gutted the section of the Voting Rights Act that would protect against voter suppression in states with long histories of voter discrimination. HR 1, the so-called “For the People” bill, could put crucial voting rights protections back in place. It’s the most ambitious democracy reform bill since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But right now, it remains unlikely that it will ever pass the Senate. Why? Because of the filibuster. Mother Jones voting rights reporter Ari Berman joins Jamilah King to talk through the contents of HR 1, the issues with the filibuster, and how Republicans are benefitting from minority rule to further curtail democracy. The 2020 election might be over, but voting rights are still very much at risk.
19 minutes | 2 months ago
Roxane Gay Says Cancel Culture Does Not Exist
Roxane Gay is one of the most prolific and versatile writers of our generation. She’s written a best-selling collection of essays (Bad Feminist), a blockbuster memoir (Hunger), Black Panther comics, and countless essays of cultural criticism. That’s not to mention her New York Times advice column, her book of writing advice coming out in November called How to Be Heard, a YA novel, and a screenplay for Hunger. Oh, and don’t forget her podcast. Or the TV show that she runs. How does she do it? How has she cultivated her voice over the years? How does she write things that make a difference? Gay has distilled these lessons into a new MasterClass series called Writing for Social Change, and she joined host Jamilah King for a conversation about the project in late February. You can read a lightly edited and condensed transcript at MotherJones.com.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
The Vaccine Rollout Is Racist. We Can Do Something About That.
A new coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been approved. A new coronavirus variant in New York City has been identified—and is spreading. New data shows structural and racial disparities in who is receiving the vaccine, and who is still waiting in line. As the one year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic in the US approaches, we’re seeing a flurry of both hopeful and concerning developments. Kiera Butler and Edwin Rios, two Mother Jones reporters who have been on the pandemic beat for the past year, join host Jamilah King to provide much-needed context about what it all means. Butler, a senior editor and public health reporter, explains that while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has lower efficacy rates than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, it is still highly effective at preventing the worst outcomes of coronavirus infections. “It prevents hospitalization and death 100 percent of the time,” she says. While millions of vaccine dosages have been shipped out this week, and vaccination rates are on the rise, there are concerning reports of low vaccination rates among communities of color—the very the same communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic itself. Black, Latino and Native Americans have been dying of COVID-19 at twice the rate of white Americans. Those disparities widen in younger age groups. But despite the fact that Black Americans account for 16 percent of COVID deaths, they have received just six percent of the first dose roll-out. “The pandemic exacerbates preexisting inequities,” Rios says. “It's not as if those barriers kind of the barriers to access go away when the vaccine rollout starts.” In this episode, we attempt to tackle solutions to vaccine hesitancy by putting trust at the heart of the rollout.
35 minutes | 2 months ago
Biden Can't Make Trump's Immigration Cruelty Vanish Overnight
Overflowing ICE detention centers. Families separated at the border. A multi-billion-dollar border wall. Over the course of his four-year presidency, Donald Trump used executive power to wage war on the United States’ immigration system–leaving millions of immigrants and asylum seekers in impossibly tough situations. Now, President Biden is making immigration reform a top priority. Mother Jones immigration reporters Fernanda Echavarri and Noah Lanard join Jamilah King on this week’s show to walk through the actions that Biden has undertaken during his first month in office to try to reconstruct a broken system. Biden’s slew of executive actions include: an end to the travel ban for majority-Muslim countries; halting construction of the border wall; ending new enrollments in the “Remain in Mexico” policy (officially named Migrant Protection Protocols) and starting a new system to slowly allow some asylum seekers on MPP to enter the US; an unsuccessful attempt to pause deportations for 100 days; and directing the Department of Homeland Security to form a task force to undo some of the damage caused by Trump’s family separation policy. Plus, a huge new immigration reform bill has been introduced to Congress. Trump left Biden with a Gordian knot of immigration policy to untangle. Doing so will likely take years. Lives hang in the balance.
29 minutes | 3 months ago
What the Hell Is “Truth and Reconciliation”, Anyway?
House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin delivered a speech during Trump’s impeachment trial last week in which he made a direct appeal to reality: “Democracy needs a ground to stand upon,” he said. “And that ground is the truth." There’s a lot of demand for reckoning in America right now. Cities around the country are debating and in some cases instituting some forms of reparations for Black residents. Last June, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to establish a “United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation,” which has gained 169 co-sponsors. In December, even anchor Chuck Todd asked his guests on “Meet the Press” about the political prospects for a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The calls for a rigorous public accounting of Trump-era misdeeds reached a crescendo in the aftermath of the violent attack on the Capitol in January: the impeachment proceedings against the former president became, all of a sudden, the de facto court for establishing the reality of the 2020 election results, even as Republican lawmakers voted to acquit. It raised the fundamental question: How do we establish the truth, amid a war on truth itself? On today's episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, journalists Shaun Assael and Peter Keating share their deep reporting into the history of the "truth and reconciliation" movement, here and abroad, and what we can learn from its promises and pitfalls—presenting a realistic view of their effectiveness as building blocks for reality, rather than magic bullets. “There can be no reconciliation before justice,” Keating says. Keep an eye out for their written investigation, appearing later this week at motherjones.com.
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Impeachment Trial Day One: The Damning Case Against Donald Trump
Tears on the Senate floor. Shocking footage of the insurrection. A bumbling and widely panned performance by Donald Trump’s legal team. The former president’s second impeachment has now moved to trial, and House Democrats came prepared. A little over one month after a riotous mob laid siege to the very chamber in which the trial was now taking place, Democrats presented such a damning trail of evidence that that it caused one GOP senator, Bill Cassidy, to change his vote on the trial’s constitutionality. Mother Jones national political reporter Pema Levy joins Jamilah King from DC to recap and explain what went down on Day One. Pema explains how the House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, will set out to prove Trump responsible for the deadly attack. Meanwhile, Republican Senators are expected to try to wiggle out of the toxic political shadow of their former president by sticking by an argument that the proceedings are unconstitutional, letting Trump get off scot-free. Trump’s acquittal is all but a foregone conclusion, and the trial is expected to be an unusually swift one. But as Pema explains, what happens over the next week or so will still be incredibly consequential and perhaps even more damaging for Republicans than Trump’s first impeachment. For up-to-the-minute coverage of every twist and turn, head to motherjones.com, and for special bonus coverage, make sure you subscribe to the podcast, wherever you listen.
23 minutes | 3 months ago
Biden Confronts Our Climate Crisis Head On
Stopping climate change is back on the White House agenda. President Biden came into with the most ambitious climate change plans of any administration to date. He not only promised to reverse the Trump administration's regressive climate policies, including regulatory rollbacks and a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, but also to push the United States farther on climate change action than it has ever gone before. He named climate change action as a top priority, right alongside the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and racial justice. Rebecca Leber, Mother Jones’ environmental politics and policy reporter, joined Jamilah King on the podcast this week to talk about Biden’s executive orders and what they mean. "That was the first time we had a president enter office saying climate was that high of an ambition," says Rebecca Leber. ""Any one of these items on their own would be huge. But the fact that we're seeing them all together is even bigger." In his first few days in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders to get the Untied States back into the Paris agreement, to pause the lease of fossil fuel on public lands, and to establish environmental justice in multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of State, Energy, and Treasury. He issued an executive order to set up a Civilian Climate Corps. He promised to get the United States on track to conserve 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030. He directed federal agencies to eliminate subsidies to Big Oil and invest in clean energy solutions. His actions already seem to be prompting change in US industry. General Motors (GM) announced last week that it aims to move entirely into electric vehicle manufacturing by 2035.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Dr. Seema Yasmin Grew Up Believing Conspiracies. Now She Fights Them.
Trump is gone. But assessing the wreckage wrought by his lies has only just begun. Emerging, battered, from a year advising the former president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the former coronavirus taskforce coordinator, both agree: Trump’s embrace of disinformation and chaos made the pandemic worse. “I think if we had had the public health messages from the top right through down to the people down in the trenches be consistent, that things might have been different,” Fauci told CBS on Sunday. On Face the Nation, Birx described working around Trump, and competing with “parallel data streams coming into the White House.” In his first press conference as President Biden’s top medical adviser, Fauci described the “liberating feeling” of letting “the science speak.” The damage done by anti-science messaging—along with self-delusion, denial, and happy talk—can’t be underestimated, says Dr. Seema Yasmin, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, epidemiologist, and author of the new book, Viral BS. It amounts to a pandemic within a pandemic. “It’s not just a pathogen that threatens our public health,” she tells MoJo’s Kiera Butler, on this week’s episode. “It’s the misinformation and disinformation about the disease, about the vaccine, about the pandemic, that can undo everything you’re trying to do in public health.” Effective communication is the “make or break”, she says. But it’s been in short supply. “Public health agencies and other establishments have not taken the information aspects seriously for many years,” she says. And so the challenge is even tougher when it comes to encouraging Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine, especially in marginalized or underserved communities. “If you interviewed six of them, you would have six different reasons—historical, cultural, religious, all of that—for being vaccine-hesitant, so we have to meet people where they are.” Yasmin lays out her playbook for tailoring messages across a wide range of groups during this live-streamed Mother Jones event, recorded earlier this month. You can also replay the full video on our YouTube page.
25 minutes | 4 months ago
The Post-Trump Era Is Here: Inside Joe Biden's Historic Inauguration
Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Two weeks after an armed mob stormed the Capitol, the new president painted a picture of hope and collective effort in his inaugural address. His message sharply contrasted with former president Donald Trump’s dystopian “American carnage” speech from four years ago. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Biden said in his address. “And unity is the path forward.” DC Bureau Chief David Corn and Senior Reporter Tim Murphy joined Jamilah King for live coverage and analysis of the event. David Corn was at the Capitol, where he witnessed a very different inauguration from ones he had attended in the past. There were no large crowds, but ubiquitous face masks, heavy security, members of Congress wearing body armor, even in the midst of the traditional pomp and circumstance. The US Marine Band played their trumpets and drums, the Capitol was bedecked in huge American flags, and the Clintons, the Bushes, and the Obamas were all in attendance. President Biden said he spoke with former president Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend. The inauguration is usually a passing of the torch, but since Trump boycotted the inauguration in a final venal, norm- busting gesture, the event had the quality of the nation turning the page and ushering in a new era. "We were literally standing where blood had been spilled, where violence had occurred just two weeks ago," says Corn on the show. "Yet democracy prevailed, she persisted as Elizabeth Warren might say, and we were here carrying out this grand tradition which has gone on for over 200 years." Jamilah asked Tim Murphy about the historical context, including Trump’s early escape from the city and non-attendance. “He’s a deeply petty person,” says Murphy, but still there is some precedent. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president has to attend the inauguration, and historically that hasn’t always been the case. John Adams didn’t attend Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. And that’s the election that brought us the peaceful transfer of power that Trump brought to an end by inciting a riot on the Capitol.”
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