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A Portrait of Colombia in 26 Gorgeous Polaroids

Mother Jones

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Bay Area photographer Matthew O’Brien documented Colombia from his unique vantage as a long-time visitor, straddling the line between traveler and insider while living in the country off and on from 2003 through 2013. Using a Polaroid camera, O’Brien photographed Colombia in a way that contradicted the stereotype of the country as a war-ravaged narco-state and more closely reflected reality for most who live there, as well as for the tourists who visit. Having a foot in both worlds brings together a body of work that shows many of Colombia’s contours, outside the wars we here in America have heard so much about.

O’Brien collected his Colombian Polaroids in a new book called No Dar Papaya: Fotografías de Colombia 2003-2013 (Icono Editorial/Placer Press). The book’s title comes from a common Colombian expression that has nothing to do with tropical fruit, but instead roughly translates to “show no vulnerabilities and present no easy target.”

As a longtime documentary photographer—O’Brien won the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography in 1998—he first went to Colombia to work on a project about beauty pageants called Royal Colombia. He later wound up teaching at different schools throughout the country and eventually got a Fulbright to continue working on the project that would eventually become No Dar Papaya.

The book’s 190 images show a depth of appreciation for a country not seen enough in photography, especially by an outsider looking in. Portraits, landscapes and more photojournalistic images work together to given a well-rounded sense of the country.

First shown in Colombia in 2013 and 2014, 24 large prints from the book are now on exhibition at the Colombian Consulate in San Francisco from May 4 to August 3, with a talk and signing on July 19.

Left: Carmen de Viboral, 2010; Right: Santa Marta, 2011

Left: Cartagena, 2003; Right: Bogotá, 2005

Left: Punta Gallinas, 2011; Right: Salento, 2010

Left: Bogotá, 2013; Right: Cali, 2010

Left: Medellín, 2010; Right: Cabo de la Vela, 2011

Left: Cali, 2010; Right: Cartagena, 2010

Left: San Andrés, 2005; Right: Urabá Antioqueño, 2011

Left: Acandí, 2011; Right: Acandí, 2011

Left: Playa Salguero, 2013; Right: San Andrés, 2005

Left: Pereira, 2005; Right: Cartagena, 2010

Left: Capurnagá, 2011; Right: Manizales, 2010

Left: Cartagena, 2010; Right: Medellín, 2004

Left: San Andrés, 2005; Right: Salento, 2010

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A Portrait of Colombia in 26 Gorgeous Polaroids

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The Press Corps We Deserve

Mother Jones

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“FAKE NEWS—A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account blared last week, after CNN reported that US intelligence officials had briefed him and President Barack Obama on an alleged Russian operation to co-opt him and gather compromising information.

The allegations, summarized in a memo that a former foreign intelligence official passed to the FBI last summer, were not new. They were first reported by MoJo‘s David Corn on October 31. That was, to state the obvious, eight days before the election; it was also three days after FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau had discovered what might be a new batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Though those emails hadn’t yet been reviewed (and turned out to reveal nothing) Comey thought they were significant enough to bring them to the world’s attention. He did not make a similar announcement about this other trove of information. Make of that what you will.

Nor, it should be noted, did the rest of the press devote even a fraction of the attention it lavished on the email announcement to the Russia story; some even speculated that a batch of Russia-related stories that broke that day had to be the result of an “oppo dump,” suggesting that the journalists were covering this issue simply because Clinton forces were pushing it. (This assumption is still poisoning the debate, but that’s for another day.)

Let’s be absolutely clear: David’s story was the result of enterprise reporting and fact-checking. Mother Jones did not choose to publish the memos themselves or detail the specific allegations because we were not able to independently verify them. (As David noted on Twitter, “even Donald Trump deserves journalistic fairness.”)

What we were able to verify, though, was that the former intelligence professional was who he said he was, that he had the respect of many others in his field, that he’d taken his information to the FBI, and that the bureau had followed up.

That an authoritarian foreign power might be seeking to compromise the next president of the United States was news, and it deserved further investigation by the FBI as well as the press. (Mother Jones will definitely stay on the beat—just a few hours ago, David published his latest scoop on this matter.) That neither institution drew sufficient public attention to it may prove to be an error of historic consequence. But that moment has passed. Now, with Trump taking office as the 45th president, the urgent task is to learn from it.

One lesson is that fearless, independent reporting is more critical than ever. If you believe that, consider supporting our nonprofit newsroom. Your donation goes directly to the work that David and his fellow reporters and editors do every day.

Another lesson is that journalists’ reflexive instinct to undercut or ignore each other’s work—standard competitive point-scoring in a normal environment—may have a cost. Because we are no longer in a normal environment. That was chillingly demonstrated in Trump’s response when the Russia dossier story finally became blew open last week.

First came those tweets calling it fake news—a term, don’t forget, that came into use to describe made-up stories intended to boost Trump. (Trump isn’t alone with this rhetorical sleight of hand. Lots of people, on the right and the left, now use “fake news” as a synonym for “news I disagree with.” That’s a perversion of the concept.)

Then, with the press corps assembled at his tower the next morning, Trump sent out his spokesman and his vice president to slam and humiliate the outlets that had made the story big news again, lumping together CNN, which had been careful not to publish the memos or details, and BuzzFeed, which had made the controversial choice to run the documents in full. “Sad” and “pathetic” were some of the kinder terms used.

Finally, Trump went in for the kill. He called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage.” He refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling CNN “fake news.” His spokesman later told Fox News that he would “remove” Acosta if he demanded the right to ask a question again.

This response deserves a little unpacking, because it is a dry run for what we can expect going forward. In just a couple of tweets and a handful of comments, Trump sought to (a) discredit all of the press for the decisions of some; (b) neutralize a term that describes, in part, propaganda ginned up by Moscow to help his candidacy; (c) use that term to dismiss a story of enormous concern to the public; and last but not least, (d) play a divide-and-conquer game with the press itself.

The president-elect had started the news conference by complimenting some news outlets (that he did not name) for the “professional” manner in which they handled the Russian intelligence story. But then, as Acosta asked him to “give us a chance to ask a question, sir,” he shook his head: “Not you. Your organization is terrible. Quiet!”

Sorting the press into “good” and “bad” is a tried-and-true tactic of media manipulation. It aims to push reporters to conduct themselves in a way that will land them on the good list, to be rewarded with access, and to fear ending up on the bad list that may come in for punishment and exile. Quiet. Or else.

(What that punishment could look like is already becoming apparent, with Trump demanding that Congress investigate NBC’s decision to report a leak of another element of the Russia story.)

The president-elect and many of his supporters have long made clear their contempt for reporters who pursue inconvenient stories. When they impugn real reporting as “fake news” and use that slur to dodge vital questions, it’s an attack on all journalists—and on the audience. On you.

As citizens, as participants in democracy, you deserve journalists who ask hard questions and refuse to back down when the president tells them to shush. You deserve a press that doesn’t wave off conflicts of interest and possible ties to foreign autocrats as just another wrinkle in the who’s-up-who’s-down of political competition. You need a Fourth Estate that goes exactly where powerful people don’t want it to go.

But the economics of media are such that we are not assured that kind of watchdog press unless we build an alternative to a model where newsrooms are owned by entertainment corporations and financed by cheap advertising. Those corporations and advertisers have lots of interests; a vigorous and unrestrained press is not necessarily the first one. If you sign up as a sustaining donor to Mother Jones, you become part of building the alternative.

Journalists don’t always talk about the backstory to our reporting, and that’s been to our disadvantage. Here at MoJo, we have been seeking to jump-start that conversation with our series of articles on the media business and our own campaign to build a reader-supported model. In the coming year, we hope to roll out more ways for you to participate in that conversation, and in the journalism itself. But don’t be shy to jump in right now: What did you think of how Trump characterized the press? Do you think MoJo should have published the Russia memos? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, or by sending us an email.

P.S. Just have to add this other bit of news that broke just as we were about to publish: Mother Jones has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards (the Oscars of our industry), for general excellence, reporting (for Shane Bauer’s prison investigation), and Magazine of the Year. That’s a huge honor to the insanely hard-working team here—and to you, our readers, who make it all possible. Thank you.

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The Press Corps We Deserve

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Should Trump Be Investigated?

Mother Jones

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We really should have seen this coming. On Monday, amid a whirlwind of shocking news about Russian interference with America’s election, Donald Trump had some news of his own—or rather, non-news. He canceled a press conference at which he was supposed to explain how he would disentangle the conflicts of interest posed by his far-flung business interests.

It wasn’t the first time Trump had bailed on answering questions: From the time he declared that “we’re working on” releasing his tax returns, to when he vowed to produce evidence that he hadn’t groped a woman on a plane, to the promised press conference to clear up his wife’s immigration history, this is a pattern we’re sure to see again.

But why is it only now, well past the election, that Trump is being pushed to address how he would deal with banks to which he is in debt, or foreign leaders who have a say over his company’s projects? Those questions were there for anyone to see, and investigate, the minute he announced he was running. And yet, they weren’t a focus for media, with a few notable exceptions, until far too late in the game.

Why? Simply put: Math. We’ve gone into the problems with the dominant media business model before—advertising pays fractions of a penny per click, which means that publishers have to pump out buckets of fast, cheap content to make ends meet, and that leaves little opportunity for serious investigation. Trump understands this well, and he plays that dynamic like a violin.

Grim, right? But there is an alternative to this model. Reader support has allowed MoJo reporters to go after essential stories, no matter what it takes.

In normal times, right now we’d be in the middle of the kind of routine end-of-year fundraising drive many nonprofits do in December (“We need to raise $250,000 by December 31!”). But these aren’t normal times; in the weeks since the election, we’ve seen record interest in the journalism we do, because more and more people see this work—digging for the truth and reporting it without fear—as essential for our democracy.

So enough with the tired marketing pitches. We want to make the case for your support based on the journalism itself. We want to show why it’s worth your investment. (And of course, if you already get it, you can make your tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation now!)

Take that Trump conflict-of-interest issue. Back in June, MoJo reporter Russ Choma and our Washington bureau chief, David Corn, broke the story of Trump’s remarkable relationship with Deutsche Bank—a huge German financial institution that has lent Trump a lot of money. About $364 million, to be exact.

That’s some serious leverage over a man who is worth, by one of the more generous estimates, about $3.7 billion. And it gets worse: Deutsche Bank manipulated interest rates before the financial crash, and the federal government wants them to pay a $14 billion settlement. Deutsche Bank doesn’t like that. As president, Russ and David pointed out, Trump “would have a strong disincentive to apply pressure on Deutsche Bank.”

Just consider that for a second: The president’s personal business interests are in direct conflict with those of America’s taxpayers.

When we first published that piece, Trump wasn’t even the nominee yet. Hillary Clinton was still fighting off Bernie Sanders’ challenge. It was, at that point, just a warning sign—a check-engine light, you might say, for democracy.

But that’s not what the rest of the media universe was concerned with at the time. The headlines were dominated by horse race polls, and in the Hollywood Reporter, veteran media writer Michael Wolff recounted chatting with Trump over a pint of vanilla Häagen-Dazs as the candidate gushed about media moguls. On Rupert Murdoch: “Tremendous guy and I think we have a very good relationship.” On former CBS and Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone: “He’d give me anything. Loved me.” On current CBS Chairman Les Moonves (who famously noted that Trump’s bomb-throwing “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”): “Great guy. The greatest. We’re on the same page. We think alike.” And so on.

You’ve got to discount all that for the Trump factor—nothing he says can be assumed to be true. But what we do know is that, as Wolff notes, Trump “has a long, intimate relationship with nearly every significant player in the media…He may know few people in Washington, and care about them less, but he knows his moguls and where they rank on the modern suck-up-to list.”

The Moonveses and Redstones of the world don’t issue memos directing their newsrooms to ignore the GOP nominee’s scandalous conflicts of interest. But they don’t need to. The corporations they run are built to maximize advertising revenue, which comes from maximum eyeballs at minimum cost. There are people in all of their news divisions who push back against that gravitational force, but everyone knows what the bottom line is.

Russ, for his part, kept plugging away. On August 15, he published a story headlined, “Trump Has a Huge Conflict of Interest That No One’s Talking About.” The Trump International Hotel in Washington, Russ reported, is a $200 million venture, run by Ivanka Trump, for the hospitality branch of the president-elect’s company. Its building is federal property, and to lease it Trump agreed to pay way more than any other bidder. If the hotel doesn’t turn a profit, it will have to negotiate with the federal government—run by the hotel’s owner—to pay less. If it does turn a profit, it will have to charge rates way above any other Washington hotel.

Right now, the cheapest room in January—inauguration weekend is sold out—goes for about $625 a night, though you can snag the Ivanka Suite for $1,050 and the Postmaster Suite for $4,450. And already, corporate honchos and foreign diplomats are lining up to pay. (“Spending money at Trump’s hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new president” for foreign dignitaries, the Washington Post reported a week after Election Day. One diplomat told the paper, “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!'”) As banana-republic palm-greasing goes, it’s an incredible bargain.

Some reporters would have called it a day after that initial story. But Russ, like all great journalists, is a bit of a pit bull. He worked for a newspaper in New Hampshire before joining the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics and then making the jump to MoJo. He’s always been drawn to money and influence reporting, he says, because “if you ask enough questions, that’s where you wind up. You talk about nearly any national policy issue, it almost always leads you to campaign donations and lobbyists. And with Trump, we have this new dimension—that his own personal wealth seems to be an even more consuming passion. There’s so much we don’t know, it’s mind-boggling.”

Russ kept documenting Trump’s conflicts, reporting on his massive debt and (in a story together with our reporter Hannah Levintova) his business in Russia, including his relationship with an oligarch close to Putin—so close that Trump tweeted, “Do you think Putin will become my new best friend?”). He was the first, after the election, to really drill into a term that quickly became part of everyone’s political vocabulary: the emoluments clause, in which the Constitution forbids the president from taking gifts from foreign governments. None other than George W. Bush’s former White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, told Russ that an emoluments clause violation would make “Hillary’s emails look like a walk in the park.”

The day Trump announced that he was canceling the press conference focused on his business, Russ tallied up all the debt Trump owes. Take a moment to absorb the enormity of what this chart represents:

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Russ (along with a handful of others) had labored away at this issue for six months when it finally became headline material for the rest of the press. Today, outlets from the New York Times to National Public Radio are digging in, and 17 members of Congress are demanding an investigation.

And here’s the key: Russ was able to keep going because of you. No advertiser or other source of revenue would have made that work possible. With news, you get what you pay for.

Investigative reporting doesn’t always have an immediate, visible impact. Sometimes you see a dramatic event—like when the US Department of Justice announced last summer that it was no longer going to do business with private prison companies shortly after we published a big investigation. Sometimes it’s more opaque and slow-building, as with the conflict-of-interest reporting that has finally broken through. But the results always come—and that, not a stock certificate or a tote bag, is the reward for our readers. (Though if you’re in the market for a tote bag, or a Hellraiser baby onesie, we have those too!)

In the next four years, we’re going to focus on one thing above all others: fighting creeping authoritarianism and the lies that advance it. We’ll fight them with truth, by digging deep and calling a spade a spade, whether anyone else is willing to or not. (Just a couple of weeks ago, CBS—”great guy” Les Moonves’ network—amplified Team Trump’s slur against democracy, that “millions” of people might have voted illegally, without so much as a qualifier.)

And we’re going to need you to join us in that fight. You can make a tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation to support our work.

Make no mistake: Democracy’s fabric is under threat. Not by a coup d’état or an invasion from outside, but because we have allowed its critical institutions—from access to the ballot to the vigor of the press—to fray.

At a time like this, it’s important to remember that trends don’t just go one way.

Here at Mother Jones, we’ve seen that there is an enormous appetite for vigorous, fearless reporting—now more than ever. In October and November, visits to our website were 50 percent higher than usual, approaching 15 million each month. And while we don’t force you to pay to read our stories—because it’s important for this journalism to be accessible as widely as possible—a growing number of you are choosing to subscribe or donate. That is incredibly heartening, because it means you feel the same urgency we do: Right now, none of us needs to be motivated by some arbitrary fundraising goal. Covering Trump, and what he represents, will take everything we’ve got.

We know there’s a lot of competition for your tax-deductible year-end support. We hope that supporting independent journalism makes the cut. Readers, as you know, account for 70 percent of our budget. Without you, our pages would be empty save for advertising and cats.

That might be something Trump would like to see. But you—and we—are not going to let it happen.

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Should Trump Be Investigated?

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What Went Wrong With Trump And The Media

Mother Jones

There aren’t a lot of people who have not yet been blamed for the election of Donald Trump.

FBI Director James Comey. Vladimir Putin, Jon Stewart, Sean Hannity, Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and oh, Donald Trump. There’s a good case to be made for almost every culprit you can imagine, and a tweetstorm or thinkpiece to lay it out.

This is not going to be one of those pieces. As my colleague Kevin Drum writes, “For the most part, people are just blaming all the stuff they already believed in.” But in the flood of emails that have poured into MoJo since the election, many readers have asked us to dive into one issue in particular—the role of media.

And it happens to be an issue we’re obsessed with. We believe that the business model for media in the United States is broken; that if we’re going to have the kind of journalism that democracy requires, we’re going to need different ways of paying for it; and that critical among those will be reader support in many different forms.

So we’re not going to pussyfoot around: By the end of this piece, we hope you’ll invest in our hard-hitting investigative reporting. And if you’re already in for that, you can do it right now. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at where things stand.

We’re preparing to be governed by a man with a record of contempt for truth and transparency, at a time when every potential countervailing force, from the Democratic Party to the courts, is on the ropes. We’re also headed for nearly unmitigated one-party control of the federal government and a growing number of states.

In the past, the Fourth Estate has been essential at moments like this, holding the powerful accountable until the pendulum swings back toward checks and balances. Whether that can happen this time, though, is not so clear. Because this time, the press itself is among the institutions under strain—and that strain may well be part of what made Trump’s ascent possible.

Here’s what played out during the campaign, and is playing out again in the transition: Individual journalists and individual outlets do amazing work under the most difficult circumstances, facing down virulent abuse in person and on social media. But the larger gravitational forces of the industry pull in the opposite direction. Those forces push us toward the lowest common denominator. They reward outrage and affirm anger—and they don’t incentivize digging deep, explaining complex problems, or exposing wrongdoing.

One person who understands this better than most is…Donald Trump. He knew from the get-go that as a celebrity known for saying outrageous stuff, he could call up any show, anytime, and count on being put on the air because he brought the eyeballs. As CBS chairman Les Moonves put it way back in February, his bomb-throwing “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

Trump could have capitalized on this at any time, but he really hit a perfect-storm moment. Media revenues are under enormous pressure across the board. Newspapers and magazines are battling cheap and free digital competitors. Cable is threatened by cord-cutting. And digital publishers are watching new ad dollars rush over to Facebook and Google.

That made news organizations desperate for eyeballs and content, and Trump gave them both. Airing his interviews, covering his rallies, turning his tweets into posts and his comments into tweets was quick and inexpensive—far less expensive certainly than digging through his business record or analyzing how his campaign has emboldened white nationalists.

When it comes to news, you get what you pay for, and when the answer to that is “zero,” that’s also the value of a lot of what you get in your Facebook feed.

Which brings us to the other part of the perfect storm: social media. Rage (and fear) motivate sharing. Rage-sharing reinforces the beliefs we and our friends already hold, which makes us want to signal those beliefs even more. Each “OMFG, Trump just_______” pushes the button again, and motivates.

And it’s not just media organizations that noticed Trump driving the clicks and shares. A network of bottom-feeders, bots, and outright provocateurs have discovered that you can cash in on ad networks by simply making up fake news stories that will spread wildly on social media. And what a coincidence that we didn’t learn until after the election that Facebook had a way to tamp down fake news, but held back because it was terrified of a conservative backlash. Google likewise waited until after the election to kick fake-news sites out of its ad network; Twitter didn’t crack down on far-right accounts until November 15. That really bodes well for the future decisions of companies that govern our digital life (and know more about each of us than the National Security Agency ever will).

The last part of the perfect storm was—is—the evisceration of newsrooms. There are, give or take, 40 percent fewer journalists in America than there were a decade ago, and there are about to be even fewer as companies cut back dramatically post-election. Univision is shedding more than 200 jobs, many of them at millennial-aimed Fusion; the Guardian is in the process of reducing its US newsroom by 30 percent, the Wall Street Journal is trimming positions and consolidating sections, and the New York Times has said it has a newsroom downsizing coming in January.

For those journalists who remain, the pressure will only increase—to bring eyeballs, but also avoid offense. Because while big media companies feed on controversy, they are terrified of being targets of controversy themselves. They built big audiences and revenue streams on a style of journalism that avoids any semblance of a point of view, so as not to drive any part of the audience away. Trump’s attacks on journalists as biased are designed to reinforce that fear. That’s one reason why for much of the campaign his lies weren’t called out, his falsehoods weren’t fact-checked—because that would have appeared like injecting a point of view.

Grim, right? Here’s another link where you can support our work during these challenging times with a monthly or one-time gift (along with a Harvard study showing that the act of giving may promote happiness).

In the end, political journalism is deeply conservative—not in the partisan sense, but in the sense of being invested in institutions, ways of doing things, and the foundational belief that the system works and destructive forces will be neutralized in due time. That was what made it hard to imagine a Trump win, or to recognize Bernie Sanders’ movement as more than the usual protest candidacy.

And it’s what now is driving coverage inexorably toward normalization. Already, public radio hosts banter as they inform us that Steve Bannon, a man who ran an openly race-baiting website, has become the senior White House strategist; already People, just weeks after publishing a harrowing article about its own writer’s experience of being assaulted by Trump, has compiled “27 Photos of Ivanka Trump’s Family That Are Way Too Cute.”

Demagogues are dependent on a compliant media. It is the air they breathe, the fuel they run on. They rely on it to legitimize their lies and give their bombast a veneer of respectability. They deploy it to bestow favors and mete out punishment. And they will not abide disrespect from the press, because it’s contagious.

Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump champion, showed one way of punishing journalists when he spent millions on the lawsuit that shut down Gawker. (Mother Jones was a target of similar litigation—though we won.) There will be many other opportunities, from rewriting transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act to defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (So in addition to supporting Mother Jones with a monthly or one-time gift, consider pitching in for your local public media station.)

We need an alternative—and we need it now.

Back to where we started: The business model is broken when it comes to ensuring the kind of journalism democracy requires. In the uncertain, dangerous times ahead, we’ll need something better, and a lot of it.

We’ll need media that doesn’t have to bargain for access or worry about backlash.

We’ll need media that isn’t dependent on giving bigots a platform. (CNN announced that it expects to make $600 million this year—even as it, too, cuts its workforce by 10 percent—in large part thanks to election coverage that had many high moments, but also employed paid Trump operative Corey Lewandowski.)

We’ll need media that doesn’t sell out its own for political ends. (Remember when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had to “make up” with Trump after nearly a year of bullying and threats?)

We’ll need reporters who can chase after what is shaping up to be cronyism and corruption of epic proportions, and who can stand up to the intimidation that is bound to ensue.

We’ll need a business model that—to circle all the way back to Les Moonves—isn’t dependent on pumping up the eyeballs at any cost.

That’s what we are determined to build here at MoJo.

We don’t claim to have all the answers on where things go from here. But we know a free, fearless press is an essential part of it, and that means doubling down on the investigative reporting that readers like you have demanded, and supported, for 40 years.

Instead of focusing on the controversies that Trump and other politicians spoon-feed the press (over here, five candidates for secretary of state! No here, a fresh Twitter rant against the New York Times!), we’ll dig into the stories they want to keep secret. We’ll go after the unprecedented conflicts of interest and corruption wherever they arise. (These, as you well know, are not limited to either party.)

We’ll expose the danger to vulnerable communities like immigrants and religious minorities, while also exploring how people are organizing and fighting back. We’ll listen to people whose voices aren’t heard enough—including the working-class people who voted for Trump because he promised them better times. And we will ask you, our readers, what else is important to cover now—your input is key as we all find our way in this new landscape.

Whatever the story is, we won’t be held back by timidity or fear of controversy. The only thing that limits us are the resources we have to hire reporters, send them into the field, and give them the time and job security they need to go deep.

That’s where your tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation makes all the difference. (So does subscribing to our magazine, giving a gift subscription—we have some great holiday savings going on—or signing up for our newsletters.) A full 70 percent of Mother Jones’ revenue comes from reader support. It’s the core of the business model we think will be critical to saving watchdog journalism. And many of you agree: Since the election we’ve been seeing unprecedented support from readers who have flocked to our site to read, subscribe, donate, and share their thoughts about where we need to go from here.

And let’s take one more step. While it’s critically important to shore up independent reporting, you’re going to want to take action in other ways too. Here are some things we’re thinking about as we head toward the holidays.

Many of you will talk—and listen—to people you disagree with, to understand where they’re coming from and maybe find the tiniest sliver of common ground. Arlie Hochschild did that in our cover story about Trump voters, and she saw many of the trends others in the media missed. Some of you might want to try to open up your Facebook feeds to people you differ with; we put together a list of tools to get out of your “filter bubbles.” And one of our editors, James West, has started a project where he’s friending all the Trump supporters he interviewed this year. He’ll tell their stories as that evolves.

Finally, we’re remembering to be thankful—not least, to you. Mother Jones as you know it today is the result of a big, risky bet at a moment not unlike this one—2006, when we were looking at media that had failed to challenge a war-mongering government’s lies and a digital news landscape where hot takes had overtaken original reporting. We asked you, our readers, to help us counter that trend, to build a 24/7 digital operation and a newsroom to go after the big stories of the day. And you did.

Ten years later, at a moment of even more radical upheaval, many of you have told us that you want to be part of a movement that builds a bigger, stronger independent journalism scene. Thanks to you, we are ready.

MoJo will need to be stronger, more agile, and even more fearless in an environment that’s growing more dangerous to journalism and democracy. Let’s go.


What Went Wrong With Trump And The Media

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Here’s a Map of All the Problems at the Polls So Far

Mother Jones

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For months now, voting rights advocates have expressed concern over possible voter suppression at the polls on Election Day. This is the first presidential election since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 ruling that gutted the sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that had given the Justice Department the power to monitor election law in areas with histories of voting discrimination. Following the 2013 decision, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that without these VRA protections, discrimination at the polls, particularly against minorities, was likely to increase. “Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake­ proofed, she wrote in her dissent,places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination.”

Inside the Knock-Down, Drag-Out Fight to Turn North Carolina Blue

In recent months, concerns over potential voter suppression have proved to be prescient. A report published last week by The Leadership Conference Education Fund found that counties once covered by the VRA’s Section 5—one of the rules diluted by the Supreme Court—have closed at least 868 polling places in advance of the 2016 election. In addition, 14 states will be operating under new voting restrictions this election, including voter ID requirements, while the Justice Department’s capacity to monitor the implementation of those laws is weakened. Another consequence of the Shelby County decision was the DOJ announcement in July that the department had to slash the number of election monitors it would send to the polls, from more than 780 observers in 23 states in 2012 to just a handful of observers in five states. On Monday, the department announced that instead it would deploy more than 500 election monitors to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states.

Donald Trump has often asserted that the election will be “rigged” against him. On his website, he has encouraged his supporters to sign up to be a “Trump election observer” and monitor polling stations for what he says will be voter fraud. In response, state Democratic parties have filed voter intimidation lawsuits against the Trump campaign in six statesArizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey. So far, the Ohio case is the only one where a federal judge issued a restraining order against the Trump campaign compelling them not to intimidate or harass voters at the polls, and that did not last long: This week, a panel of judges from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Ohio judge’s restraining order, and on Monday the Supreme Court upheld that decision.

But allegations of voter intimidation, improper voter ID practices, long lines, and even guns at the polls have been rolling in since the start of early voting across the country—in some states it begins as early as late September. We have collected some reports of problems and will continue to update this post until the last polls close on Election Day. Click on each state below to see a list of the reports we’ve gathered so far. (And if you experience or witness issues at the polls, send us a tweet or an email.)

Click Any State for Details

Source: News reports, advocacy organizations.

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and search for FANCY FADE below to make a similar change there
If you do this you’ll need to copy our fade-in fade-out css or make your own

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class_to_add = ‘ clickable ‘ + state’class’;

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state_svg.attr(‘data-state-specific-body’, state’body’ );

//this is what happens when you click on a state
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var body = jQuery(event.target).attr(‘data-state-specific-body’);
if you’re feeling fancy, you can apply a fade in and out here instead
replace the line above with


and search for FANCY FADE above to make a similar change there
If you do this you’ll need to copy our fade-in fade-out css or make your own

//give class selected
var state = jQuery(event.target);
previous_class = state.attr(‘class’);
if (typeof previous_class !== ‘string’)
state.get(0).getAttribute(‘class’) + ‘ selected’
new_class = previous_class + ‘ selected’;
state.attr(‘class’, new_class);


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simpleSheet: true
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container: ‘state_specific_area’,
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Here’s a Map of All the Problems at the Polls So Far

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We Can’t Stop Looking at These Unforgettable Images of the Black Panthers

Mother Jones

For the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, two exceptional new books take on the legacy and history of one of the most powerful and controversial community empowerment movements in America. One book offers a succinct but in-depth history of the party at its peak. The other scratches the itch that always surfaces around anniversaries like this, asking, “Where are they now?”

In 1968, as a student at the University of California-Berkeley, Stephen Shames befriended Bobby Seale, who became a mentor to Shames. Recognizing the importance of having someone document their revolution, Seale gave Shames unfettered access to himself and the Black Panther Party network to take pictures. It gave Shames an unparalleled, insider’s perspective on the party, from 1968 through Bobby Seale’s campaign for Oakland mayor in 1973. It’s a remarkable body of work, not just for its historical significance, but for the poignancy of the images.

Oakland, 1971. Black Panther children in a classroom at the Intercommunal Youth Institute, the Black Panther school. Stephen Shames from the book Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers (Abrams). Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, July 28, 1968. Kathleen Cleaver, communications secretary and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making Central Committee, talks with Los Angeles Panthers at the Free Huey rally in DeFremery Park (which the Panthers dubbed Bobby Hutton Park). Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers, Shames’ new book with Seale, collects photos he shot through 1973 and pairs them with Black Panther Party ephemera and oral history. It’s an excellent introduction to a movement many people see only in a dramatically cinematic fashion. In popular culture, the Black Panthers are associated with tough dudes in cool leather jackets toting guns, fed up with racism and injustice. The truth, of course, is much more nuanced.

The book details how the Black Panthers took a proactive role in bettering poor communities that were ignored, if not outright shit on, by the powers that be. Their school breakfast program—famously reviled by J. Edgar Hoover—set a now-common standard for making sure school children don’t start the day hungry. The Black Panthers helped get old people to the grocery store and, in particularly tough neighborhoods, escorted them to cash their Social Security checks. They launched schools and newspapers, organized strikes, arranged health care for people. Such community “survival programs” were the backbone of the party. As Seale puts it, “The real heroes of the Black Panther Party were the thousands of sisters and brothers who made our survival programs work.”

Shame’s photos concentrate on the Black Panthers’ activities in Oakland and Berkeley, but he also got around, traveling across the United States in 1970 to document Panther activities in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Toledo, Ohio, among other cities. This was at the height of tension between the FBI and the Black Panthers, when the group’s headquarters around the country were being raided and bombed and fortified in anticipation of shootouts. A time when Panthers like Fred Hampton were being killed. It was a heavy time.

Shames says his photos are “aspirational,” but the tension and disquiet come through. The photos don’t capture the more controversial aspects of the Panthers, which are instead bluntly dealt with in the text by Seale and others.

Oakland, 1971. Black Panther Gloria Abernethy sells papers at the Mayfair supermarket boycott, with Tamara Lacey in the rear. Abernethy now works for the state of California, and Tamara is a real estate agent. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, August 28, 1971. Party members carry George Jackson’s coffin into St. Augustine’s Church for funeral services. Jackson was killed in a San Quentin prison riot a week earlier, in which three corrections officers and two other inmates were also killed. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

August, 1970, Berkeley. Minister of Defense and Black Panthers co-founder Huey Newton listens to a Bob Dylan album at home shortly after his release from prison. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, 1973. Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale campaigns for mayor on a city bus. Seale came in second out of nine candidates that year, only to lose the runoff. But the party’s 1972 voter registration drive helped Lionel Wilson became Oakland’s first black mayor in 1977. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Power to the People wraps up with Shames and Seale reflecting on the current mood in America and the legacy of the Black Panther Party, featuring photos of recent Black Lives Matter protests.

And that brings us to Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams‘ book, The Black Panthers: Portraits From an Unfinished Revolution (Nation Books).

While no doubt rooted in the past, Portraits From an Unfinished Revolution focuses squarely on the present, with portraits and interviews with former members today. While the authors did an excellent job of tracking down higher-ups in the party, the book smartly turns its focus to the “real heroes,” the group’s rank-and-file members, giving us a fuller picture of life as a Black Panther, and the impact those years had on people’s lives. Some of the former members are now academics. Some are solidly working class. Some are in prison. And many remain active as organizers and activists.

Shih’s simple, powerful, Richard Avedon-esque black-and-white portraits are paired with short pieces on each person: who they were then, where the Black Panther Party took them, and where they are now. Interspersed among the interviews are essays on different aspects of the Black Panthers.

Ericka Huggins was a leader of the Black Panthers Los Angeles chapter along with her husband, John Huggins, who was later killed in a shootout on the UCLA campus. She later founded the party’s New Haven chapter. A longtime director of the party’s Oakland Community School, she helped create educational and social justice programs with an emphasis on spirituality. She is also a professor of sociology and women’s studies at several California colleges and universities. (See our recent chat with Huggins here.) Bryan Shih

Phyllis Jackson grew up in Tacoma, Washington, before joining the party at its national headquarters. She served as a communications secretary and ran a voter registration campaign. She is an associate professor of art history at Pomona College, teaching arts and cinema of Africa and the African diaspora. Bryan Shih

Abdullah Majid (formerly Anthony Laborde), born in Flushing, New York, was a founding member of the Queens Chapter of the party and a full-time party member from 1968 to 1971. At the time of his death this past April, he was incarcerated in Five Points Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, for his role in the shooting death of one NYPD officer and the wounding of another. Bryan Shih*

Mike Tagawa was born in 1944 at the Minidoka Relocation Camp in southern Idaho, one of the locations where Japanese were interned during World War II. He and his family moved to Seattle. He joined the Air Force and later the Black Panther Party in Seattle, where he now works as a bus driver. Bryan Shih

B. Kwaku Duren coordinated the Black Panthers’ reorganized Southern California chapter (January 1977 to March 1982). After his sister was shot and killed by the police, he helped establish the Coalition Against Police Abuse, which became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the LAPD. The lawsuit was settled for $1.8 million and led to the disbanding of the LAPD’s Public Disorder and Intelligence Division. Duren worked as a paralegal and lawyer in the South Central office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles from 1977 to 1990. Bryan Shih

Ronald “Elder” Freeman grew up in Detroit and in the early 1960s moved to California, where he became a founding member of the Southern California chapter of the party, along with his brother, Roland. He was a priest in the African Orthodox Church, was affiliated with the Marcus Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association, and was a longtime prison reform advocate. Both brothers died of illness within a week of each other in October 2014, a few months after this interview was conducted. Bryan Shih

Elaine Brown chaired the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977, the only woman to serve in this top position. The author of two books, A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B, Brown is now executive director of the Michael Lewis (“Little B”) Legal Defense Committee and CEO of Oakland and the World Enterprises, a nonprofit that helps former prisoners create businesses—including an urban farm in West Oakland, where the party was headquartered. Bryan Shih

Taken together, the books offer a well-rounded primer on the Black Panther Party, then and now, top to bottom. You can find books out there with a more detailed history and books that go deep in the political thinking and revolutionary tactics employed by the Black Panthers. Dozens, if not hundreds of academic books parsing the party have been written. If you want to go deep on biographies, they’re out there, too. But for a solid introduction or a quick refresher, you can’t do better than this.

Shames’ photos are on exhibit at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City through October 29. Shames and Seales will be doing book signings in DC the last weekend of October, including one at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on October 30. Shih’s photos are part of the Oakland Museum of California’s impressive “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50” exhibition, on display through February 12.

* Name corrected.

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We Can’t Stop Looking at These Unforgettable Images of the Black Panthers

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Homeless People Are Older and Sicker Than Ever Before. Here’s One Way to Help.

Mother Jones

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“Everything,” Tom Wesley answers when I ask what’s ailing him. Diabetes. Multiple heart attacks. Chronic liver failure. “They’ve told me I’m dying.”

Wesley, a towering man in a salmon-colored corduroy shirt buttoned just at the top, is only 54. But for most of his adult life, he lived on the streets. He refused to stay in shelters because he didn’t like the structure; he says he also spent a significant time behind bars for heroin possession. “You could say I was using heroin,” Wesley says with a smirk. “But I don’t know who was using who—it sure used me up.”

This article is part of the SF Homeless Project, a collaboration between nearly 70 media organizations to explore the state of homelessness in San Francisco and potential solutions.

He quit a few years ago—after losing two wives to overdoses. Around that time Wesley’s health problems started getting worse. Last year, a terrible pain in his abdomen brought him to San Francisco General Hospital, where he says he was admitted, via the emergency room, seven times in a matter of three months. At that point he was already used to the ER, having relied on it instead of primary care. “I wasn’t one for doctors,” he says.

Wesley’s experience isn’t unique. Sixty-six percent of the country’s chronically homeless people—those who have a disabling condition and who’ve been homeless for a year or more (or four times in three years)—are living on the streets. Chronically homeless adults have high rates of mental illness, substance use, and incarceration. They tend to be sicker than both housed people and other homeless people. And they’re less likely to use primary or specialty care to address their medical needs. Many make up the group of “super-utilizers“: patients who rack up huge medical costs from recurring yet preventable ER and hospital visits.

According to one estimate from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, more than 80 percent of all homeless people have at least one chronic health condition. More than half have a mental illness. They are frequently the victims of violent crimes, and they’re more susceptible to traumatic injuries like assault and robbery. Their living conditions also make them more likely to have skin conditions and respiratory infections.

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that people experiencing homelessness have a life expectancy of between 42 and 52 years, compared with 78 for the general population. A recent study by Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, found that homeless people in their 50s develop geriatric conditions such as incontinence, failing eyesight, and cognitive impairment that are typical of people 20 years older. “When you see a homeless person in their 50s,” Kushel says, “you should imagine a 75-year-old.”

Kushel is also one of the founders of the San Francisco Medical Respite Program, a long-term medical shelter located on the edge of the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood that gives homeless people like Tom Wesley a place to recuperate after being in the hospital. With the homeless population in San Francisco and the rest of the country getting older—the number of homeless people age 60 or older in San Francisco increased 30 percent from 2007 to the 2014-15 fiscal year, and an estimated 31 percent of homeless people in the United States were older than 50 in 2014, a 20 percent increase from 2007—Respite and programs like it are seeing more people who are managing both chronic diseases and short-term illnesses. “We now have a group of homeless people that have more complex and co-occurring medical needs than ever before,” Kushel says.

For those homeless people who live on the streets or in a shelter—most of which are only open overnight—getting discharged from the hospital often means losing their meds, struggling to clean their wounds, or failing to make the specialist appointment across town. Others will get even sicker. Some will go back to the emergency room and start the process all over again.

“If you’re experiencing homelessness,” says Michelle Schneidermann, the medical director at Respite, “you’re thinking about where you’re going to get your next meal and how you’re going to keep yourself safe, not where you’re going to refrigerate your meds or make your next appointment.”

As a result, homeless people visit the hospital at rates up to 12 times higher than low-income people with housing. A 2007 study in Boston found that the majority of high emergency room users were homeless, according to the NHCHC. At one hospital, 16 homeless patients visited the ER a combined 400 times in one year. Hospital readmissions for homeless people are “strikingly high“; one study found that more than half of the homeless people it followed after discharge were readmitted to inpatient care within 30 days. Another recently published study found that homeless people had a 30-day readmission rate of 22 percent, compared with a rate of just 7 percent for housed people with the same health concern. And once in the hospital, homeless patients stay nearly twice as long as housed people.

This reliance on emergency medical services is extremely costly to San Francisco, which spends more on health care than on any other type of homeless service. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city spends $241 million annually on homeless services, including an average of $87,480 in medical costs per year for each of the sickest people on the streets, compared with $17,353 a year for each person in supportive housing. Another estimate, from 2004, places the cost of hospital care for the city’s homeless people at more than $2,000 per person per day, by far the priciest service. “People who are homeless use the most expensive parts of the health care system,” says Schneidermann, who notes that SF General discharges an average of 130 homeless people each month.

This is despite the fact that, in a city like San Francisco, health insurance and access to outpatient primary care clinics are relatively accessible, thanks mostly to Medicaid expansion. “Access to insurance is not the biggest problem” Kushel says. “Their chaos of life prevents even those with insurance from getting care.” Indeed, evidence shows that even with access to primary care and specialty doctors, homeless people still use emergency services at rates higher than everyone else. In one study based out of Canada, where health coverage is universal, people experiencing homelessness still had longer inpatient stays and cost the hospital more than housed patients.

“Appointment-based care is difficult for all of us, let alone someone who is homeless,” Schneidermann says. “That’s where medical respite comes in.”

The first medical respite programs for the homeless were founded in Boston and Washington, DC, in 1985, but the model gained currency in 2006, when an elderly woman in a hospital gown and slippers was spotted wandering on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The woman, a homeless 63-year-old with dementia, had been released from a nearby Kaiser hospital, which was later sued by the city and forced to establish new discharge rules. At least four other hospitals were caught “patient dumping,” including once incident when a paraplegic man was dropped on Skid Row and was later seen dragging himself, along with a torn colostomy bag, down the street.

There are now nearly 80 homeless medical respite programs, more than twice as many as in 2006. San Francisco’s Respite was founded in 2007 by the city’s Department of Public Health to address the acute medical needs (think broken bone or stab wound) of homeless patients who’ve ended up in General’s inpatient care via the emergency room. But beyond that, it might just offer an emergency room alternative to reach the city’s sickest, most vulnerable homeless population.

With only 45 beds and a waitlist at least equal that, Respite prioritizes people who are both the sickest and also the highest users of the ER. More than a quarter of Respite clients have seven or more chronic illnesses, and the average stay is five weeks, a figure that has risen as the client population has aged. (The longest stay was almost eight months.)

A 2006 study that compared homeless people who’d gotten into respite programs with those who hadn’t found that the respite group had fewer ER visits the following year. Among those admitted to the hospital following an emergency visit, the respite group stayed an average of three days, compared with eight days for the nonrespite group. A 2009 study found that discharging homeless people from the hospital to respite was associated with a 50 percent reduction in their likelihood of readmission in the next three months.

The dining area at the San Francisco Medical Respite Program Mark Murrmann/Mother Jones

Still, despite evidence that medical respite programs reach the health system’s super-utilizers, only 10 respite centers nationwide are covered through Medicaid or Medicare. Instead, most programs rely on funding from hospitals, donations, or state and local governments.

And so Respite has its limitations. A quarter of its clients go straight from the program into permanent housing or long-term residential treatment. Another 50 percent are discharged back to a shelter with a case manager. The last quarter return to the streets.

The first time Tom Wesley was admitted to Respite, he was discharged to a single-room-occupancy hotel. He promptly ditched that setup, traveled to Cincinnati to see his children, and then returned to San Francisco’s streets. Shortly afterward, he was back in the hospital and then Respite, where he was diagnosed with chronic liver failure and moved into what he calls a glorified nursing home—a permanent supportive housing apartment just blocks away. Feeling like he’d tied up loose ends, he decided to stay.

When I meet Wesley in Respite’s foyer, in front of the room that houses the few dozen beds where the men stay, he’s been out for a few months already. He’s wearing a Golden State Warriors cap, and his eyes are blood red. We take the elevator up and walk to the facility’s small meeting space, past the dining room where patients receive three meals a day and the single-person rooms where women stay.

He grabs a seat with his back facing the bright light coming through a window. As he tells me about his connection to Respite, Wesley’s legs bounce up and down. “If there were more programs like this,” he says, “people wouldn’t be dying on the streets every day.”

Mark Murrmann/Mother Jones

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Homeless People Are Older and Sicker Than Ever Before. Here’s One Way to Help.

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Powerful Photos From One of Texas’ Most Historic Black Communities

Mother Jones

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Johnny Jones
Whether singing in a choir or playing keyboards on stage Saturday nights, music is been Jones’ passion. He spent his career working on the railroad tracks that run through Tamina. Now retired, Jones devotes his time to singing and recording Gospel music.

When photographer Marti Corn moved to The Woodlands, Texas, in 1996, she found herself living next to the subject of what would become her first book: the town of Tamina.

“Literally across the tracks” from The Woodlands, as Corn says, Tamina is a small community just north of Houston. Founded in 1871 by freed slaves, Tamina (originally known as Tammany) flourished for decades, benefiting from the logging industry and a railroad that ran from Houston to Conroe. It’s the oldest freedman town in Texas and one of the last emancipation communities of its kind left in the country; descendants of the original freed-slave founders still live in town.

But in the 1960s and ’70s, affluent suburbs like Shenandoah, Chateau Woods, Oak Ridge, and The Woodlands grew, pushing up against poorer, rural Tamina . This juxtaposition is what drew Corn to Tamina. As she met its residents, she thought she could help create awareness of the town and its history through her photography. “At the very least,” Corn says, “I could gift those who live in Tamina with a book of portraits and their stories so their descendants would know where they came from.”

Consider Corn’s mission accomplished. Her book, The Ground on Which I Stand (published by Texas A&M University as part of its Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life), is a nuanced portrait of the town, filled out by archival family photos and a history of the town

The book compiles oral histories of 15 families, from those whose trace their lineage in Tamina for seven generations to relative newcomers. Resilience and pride in Tamina are common threads throughout the book, tying together family stories into a wonderful tribute.

As Annette Hardin, one of the descendants of the founding families, told Corn, “The value developers place on our land is vastly different than ours. What they don’t understand is that it’s not just our property—it’s our legacy. The land represents the blood, heart, and soul of our African American heritage.”

Live Oak
This emancipation town’s landscape has a unique pastoral charm. Eighty-year-old live oaks shade houses built years ago. Horses can be found along most streets behind the wooden fences or tethered to a tree.

“The prejudice we have felt might be one of the reasons we are such a close community.”


Horse and Trailer
This is a community that is at risk of gentrification as real estate values escalate and surrounding cities eye Tamina land for development.


“Five-fifty a week, that’s what we made cuttin’ wood. We’d cut four cords a day to make that dollar. Times sure could be real hard, and we had many hungry days.”

Faith plays an important role in Tamina. There are five churches, many of which line the railroad tracks.

Sweet Rest Cemetery
Many headstones at Tamina’s Sweet Rest Cemetery are hand-made with names either painted onto crosses or etched into concrete markers. The cemetery floods every time there is a heavy rain, causing headstones to sink into the ground.

Tamina has the opportunity to send its children to some of the best schools in the country, thanks to the growth of surrounding cities. But that growth also puts the town at risk of gentrification.

The Ground on Which I Stand: Tamina, a Freedman’s Town
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce


Powerful Photos From One of Texas’ Most Historic Black Communities

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Marlboro Boys: Indonesia’s Youngest Smokers Light Up

Mother Jones

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More than 70 percent of Indonesian men smoke. So do more than 40 percent of 13- to 15-year old boys. And then there are the legions of even younger smokers. Despite recent bans on smoking in public places and prohibitions on cigarette ads, public-health activists describe Indonesia as a “playground” for big tobacco companies like Philip Morris, which makes the country’s No. 2 cigarette as well as the ubiquitous brand evoked by Michelle Siu‘s photos of the kids she calls “Marlboro boys.”

Illham Muhamad, who has smoked since he was five, slowly inhales his first cigarette of the day. If his grandmother refuses to give him money for cigarettes he goes through withdrawal, crying and throwing fits.

Dihan Muhamad, who used to smoke up to two packs a day before cutting down, smokes while his mother breastfeeds his younger sibling.

Kids buy single cigarettes at a kiosk after school in Jakarta.

Dihan Muhamad enjoys his first cigarette at 7 a.m. before he attends first grade.

Dihan Muhamad smokes at home.

Ilham Hadi, a third grader, smokes in his bedroom.

Andika Prasetyo, who smokes about a pack a day.

Muhammad Taufik Hidayat, 14, has smoked since he was 11.

Ardian Azka Mubarok buys a single cigarette in the town of Garut.

Then he smokes at home. He’s five years old.

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Marlboro Boys: Indonesia’s Youngest Smokers Light Up

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Here Are Live Results From the Iowa Caucuses

Mother Jones

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The first voting of the 2016 presidential election is upon us as thousands of people brave snowy weather to caucus for their preferred candidates in Iowa. Below are the live results via the Iowa Secretary of State’s election page:

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Here Are Live Results From the Iowa Caucuses

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