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Report: Climate change could flush your savings

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Businesses say risks to their bottom line from climate climate add up to tens of billions of dollars. That may seem like a lot, but their actual risks to business are at least 100 times higher, according to a study just published in Nature Climate Change. Trillions, instead of billions.

The mismatch between those numbers could liquify the money you’ve been saving for retirement. Company climate plans “give little inkling that up to 30 percent of manageable assets globally may be at risk,” researchers wrote.

Climate change could soon be “the defining issue for financial stability” according to Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and former head of the Financial Stability Board, the international body established to make recommendations to prevent financial collapse. To take that out of econo-speak: Failure to fully comprehend climate risks — droughts, floods, heat waves — could lead to an economic crisis that makes the Great Recession look like a joyride.

The researchers had access to a treasure trove of data, environmental disclosures from 1,630 companies worth more than more than two-thirds of the world’s stock markets added together. It’s the biggest and most comprehensive study of this kind ever done. Some 83 percent of businesses said that they faced real risks from climate change, but only 21 percent had quantified those risks.

It’s fascinating to see how the one in five companies that have crunched the numbers anticipate climate change will affect their business. For example, Samsung estimated that if a cyclone shut down one of their semiconductor factories for a single day it would cost $110 million. And when monsoon floods stopped Hewlett-Packard’s hard drive manufacturing in Thailand, back in 2011, it cost the company $4 billion.

“It was just endlessly surprising, as I did the data analysis, to see all the ways that companies were being affected, and how they were adapting,” said Allie Goldstein a scientist at Conservation International and lead author on the paper.

Airlines are preparing plans to carry fewer passengers and cargo on extreme heat days, because warmer air temperature generate less lift for their planes. Rubber companies, concerned about droughts killing rubber trees, are investing in synthetic alternatives. The Colombian utility Celsia SA is planting thousands of trees upstream from its hydroelectric dams to improve the watershed and hedge against declining rainfall. The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi is installing anti-flood bulkheads in its factories.

“There’s a real thought and creativity going into this, and coming up with an amazing diversity of solutions,” said Will Turner, an executive at Conservation International who also worked on the study. “That’s the positive. The negative is that it’s all incremental progress — it represents just a nascent understanding of the risks.”

You might give less credence to a study like this, because it suggests a need for more action on climate change and comes from an environmental organization that pushes for more action on climate change. But the estimates of investor risk come from the Economist Intelligence Unit, academic research, and the World Economic Forum, not Conservation International. In this paper, the researchers simply tallied up all the adaptations companies are making.

“I always encourage people to be smart consumers of science and look at the methods and also who is doing it,” Goldstein said. “They will find that these findings are based on real data, and real results, not preconceived notions.”

It’s easy to think that average people have little influence over major companies But we have to think differently, if we want to prevent a financial meltdown as climate disasters begin to pile up, Goldstein said. “There’s a tendency to think that this is someone else’s problem, but if you are an employee, or a customer, or an investor, I’d encourage people to think of this as something they can influence themselves, by making a call or asking a question.”

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Report: Climate change could flush your savings

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Why Remembering Japanese-American Internment Really Matters This Year

Mother Jones

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Flowers were distributed prior to the interfaith service at the end of the ceremony. Matt Tinoco

As the long line of cars, trucks, and more than two dozen charter buses pulled into dusty, makeshift parking lots in the high desert below California’s snowcapped Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains on Saturday morning, they were greeted by a National Park Service ranger. “Welcome to Manzanar,” she said. “It is very dry. Drink a lot of water.”

They’d descended on the remote Owens Valley, four hours north of Los Angeles, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066—President Franklin Roosevelt’s February 1942 decision to forcibly detain 120,000 Japanese Americans until the end of World War II. Manzanar War Relocation Center, as the facility was formally called, was one of 10 internment camps nationwide; at its peak, the 5,415-acre site held more than 10,000 people in army-style barracks behind barbed wire.

In the language of the Roosevelt’s order, these actions were taken to establish “every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense.” Approximately two-thirds of those incarcerated without due process were fully enfranchised American citizens by birth. The remainder were lawful permanent residents.

President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric about Muslims, Mexicans, and other immigrants has reignited scrutiny of this dark period in American history. Internment even made headlines in November when Carl Higbie—the former spokesman of the pro-Trump Great America PAC—cited American treatment of Japanese residents in WWII as an example of appropriate action to protect national security.

Banners signifying the 10 camps erected by the US government Matt Tinoco

So perhaps it was no surprise that the 2,500 people who showed up as part of the 48th-annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday were a record for the event, according to the Park Service. The blowing dust, the whipping wind, and the beating sun all set an elemental tone for the day’s program—a not-so-subtle reminder how, as Manzanar Committee co-chair Bruce Embrey later would tell me, “there was a vicious, just despicable drive to make sure that these camps were sites of suffering. That the people here were going to be isolated psychologically and physically, far from civilian populations, in desolate areas intended to make people suffer.”

Though the camp was almost entirely disassembled after World War II—concrete slabs and the occasional piece of rusted metal are all that remain of the camp’s former living areas—the pilgrims visiting Manzanar walked past full-size reconstructions of the camp’s latrines, its mess halls, and its tar-paper barracks on their way to the day’s ceremony. Wooden Park Service signs marking the locations of long-disappeared structures—a recreation hall, an outdoor theatre, a pet cemetery, an elementary school—dotted the path.

Matt Tinoco

Several people in the crowd wore shirts from various California-based Muslim organizations. Among them was Syed Hussaini, an organizer with CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter. Hussaini explained that, for the past few years, CAIR-LA has participated in the Manzanar Pilgrimage in order to keep alive the memory of internment—it is only briefly mentioned, if at all, in most schools—in the Muslim community.

“We have to stand very vigilantly, and make sure that we are upholding the tenants of democracy. If good people don’t do anything, this is what could happen again,” said Hussaini, who came to Manzanar on one of the three buses CAIR-LA chartered this year.

“When the executive order was signed back in the ’40s, only the Quaker community openly voiced dissent,” said Hussaini, echoing a point made a few minutes earlier by one of the event’s speakers. “But we have seen an outpouring of support from many other faith communities and many other civil rights organizations coming out to say that Trump’s words are not in keeping with American values, and will not stand.”

Preserving the memory of internment is the guiding mission of those who organized Saturday’s pilgrimage, as well as those who work to maintain and expand the facilities at Manzanar National Historic Site. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the generation of Japanese Americans born after internment began pushing for recognition and reparations. The Manzanar Pilgrimage, for example, began in 1969, kicking off decades of work to establish Manzanar as an officially recognized National Historic Site, which finally happened in 1992.

Matt Tinoco

The theme for this year’s pilgrimage was “Never Again, to Anyone, Anywhere,” emblazoned in red text on black banners and T-shirts scattered throughout the event. That message, it seems, is resonating more than ever: In 2016, more than 105,000 people visited Manzanar, a record attendance year. A few employees noted that, since Trump’s election, there have been better, deeper conversations between Manzanar’s guests and those who work at the site.

A couple of hours after the ceremony concluded, several hundred people made their way to Lone Pine High School, about 10 miles south, for Manzanar at Dusk. In the school gymnasium, the Nikkei Student Unions at several LA-area colleges put on a three-hour program that spawn intergenerational conversations about their daytime experiences at the Manzanar Pilgrimage, and to spread the oral tradition of those who spent years confined in the camp.

After a spoken word performance that wove together FDR’s E.O. 9066 with Trump’s E.O. 13769, a.k.a. the travel ban, the 300 attendees broke into two-dozen randomly sorted small groups for an informal, hourlong conversation. Sprawled out on high school’s front lawn in the twilight shadows of the Sierra’s highest peaks, the small group I joined consisted of 10 people, the youngest in high school, the oldest in his 70s.

We listened to the grandson of a woman who lived at Manzanar relay one of her stories about the dust, and how she remembered seeing the outline of her sleeping body sketched out in her bedsheets when she got up each morning. We discussed why people remained quiet about their time in camps for years following their internment. And, by the end of our hour, we were sharing the history of our own personal names, comparing notes about whether our parents gave us a name from the old country or one considered more traditionally “American.”

“History is always relevant. But there are times when what’s happening in the world magnifies that relevancy,” said Alisa Lynch, the chief of interpretation at Manzanar National Historic Site, said to me after Manzanar at Dusk had concluded. “Our job is to share history, not to please whoever’s in office. We’re here to help people learn about the history, and if they want to make parallel connections, they’re free to. People see them. We don’t have to point them out.”

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Why Remembering Japanese-American Internment Really Matters This Year

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Mar-a-Lago Is the Definition of Excess—Except When It Comes to Refrigerating Raw Meat

Mother Jones

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Back in January, the swank South Florida resort Mar-a-Lago got even swankier, doubling its initiation fee to $200,000. Weeks later, its owner, the Trump Organization, got some less appetizing news. In an unannounced inspection on Jan. 26, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation found 11 violations, including hotdogs, burgers, beef, shrimp, duck, and ham stored at temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, in two different coolers “not maintained in good repair.”

The “winner,” as the Miami Herald cheekily noted its report, was the ham, which clocked in at a cool—certainly not cold—57 degrees.

The inspection report also cited fish “offered raw or undercooked,” which “had not undergone proper parasite destruction.” Oops.

The inspectors deemed the above-temperature meat and under-processed fish “High Priority violations,” defined as “those which could contribute directly to a foodborne illness or injury and include items such as cooking, reheating, cooling and hand-washing.”

No doubt much to the comfort of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited and dined at Mar-a-Lago just days after the inspection, all of the serious violations were “Corrected On-Site” under the inspector’s gaze, the report states.

The Herald reports that in the past, Mar-a-Lago owner and US President Donald Trump was “often involved personally in the day-to-day operations,” and it “wasn’t rare to see him check out the kitchen and give directions to the club’s floor personnel.” The paper adds:

At the time, Mar-a-Lago passed inspections with flying colors, with one or two violations at most.

But as Trump jumped into presidential politics, so did the number of health violations.

There were 11 last year compared to just two in 2015.

If the White House gig doesn’t work out, sounds like Trump can make himself useful back at Mar-a-Lago.

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Mar-a-Lago Is the Definition of Excess—Except When It Comes to Refrigerating Raw Meat

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Donald Trump Is Turning His Mar-a-Lago Estate Into a National Security Nightmare

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump was reportedly alerted to the news of North Korea’s missile firing on Saturday, while dining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, the exclusive club owned by Trump that the administration has dubbed the “Winter White House.”

As the two leaders learned of the unfolding international crisis, so, too, did the private citizens and resort members who happened to be dining alongside them. Quick to realize he was witnessing something unusual and highly shareable, club member Richard DeAgazio swiftly took out his camera phone to capture the incident and post the resulting photos to Facebook:

Hours before, DeAgazio also posted photos of himself posing with a man he described as carrying the “nuclear football” that enables the president to launch a nuclear attack from afar. He has since deactivated his Facebook account.

But DeAgazio isn’t alone in turning Mar-a-Lago’s social-media tag into a bizarre window into the American presidency. Here are some other snapshots from this past weekend alone, including one of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn jogging with some Secret Service agents.

The social-media postings have sparked widespread alarm over the extraordinary security risks Trump poses by governing from his Palm Beach estate, where hundreds of members and staff who lack proper security clearances are free to roam while high-level meetings and even international crises take place.

“There’s no excuse for letting an international crisis play out in front of a bunch of country club members like dinner theater,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fired off in a tweet on Monday.

With Trump scheduled to ditch the White House for Florida for the third time since his inauguration this coming weekend, there are likely to be future photos offering regular Americans, who can’t shell out the recently doubled $200,000 membership fee, more glimpses of the luxe and occasionally top-secret life at Mar-a-Lago.


Donald Trump Is Turning His Mar-a-Lago Estate Into a National Security Nightmare

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Will Donald Trump Gut Science at NASA?

Mother Jones

The threat of climate change was thrust into the public consciousness in June 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen told a congressional committee that researchers were now 99 percent certain that humans were warming the planet. “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now,” he said.

In the three decades since Hansen’s dramatic testimony, NASA has played a leading role in researching climate change and educating the public about it. The space agency’s satellites track melting ice sheets and rising seas, and its scientists crunch the data showing how quickly the Earth is warming.

James Hansen, then a top NASA scientist, testifying about the links between global warming and drought at a 1989 Senate hearing Dennis Cook/AP

But if Donald Trump’s advisers get their way, NASA won’t be studying the Earth as much as it has in the past. Bob Walker, a former GOP congressman from Pennsylvania who counseled Trump on space policy during the campaign, has referred to the agency’s climate research as “politically correct environmental monitoring” that has been “heavily politicized.” Walker (inaccurately) told the Guardian in November that “half” the world’s climate scientists doubt that humans are warming the planet.

Walker wants to shift new climate research from NASA to other government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing NASA programs,” he told the Guardian, “but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies.” NASA, he says, should focus on deep space exploration. (As my colleague Pat Caldwell points out, “Since Trump isn’t promising any additional funds to NOAA for these new responsibilities, the result could be pressure to cut back on climate change research.”)

Trump hasn’t actually endorsed Walker’s proposal, and some experts doubt that such a transition could ever be implemented. But his comments have garnered plenty of backlash from the scientific community. “We’re not going to stand for that,” said astrobiologist David Grinspoon in a recent interview with Indre Viskontas on our Inquiring Minds podcast. “We’re going to keep doing Earth science and make the case for it. We’ll get scientists to march on Washington if we have to. There’s going to be a lot of resistance.”

Grinspoon, a researcher at the Planetary Sciences Institute, receives NASA funding for his work. But he’s quick to point out that he doesn’t do Earth science. During a follow-up interview, he told me that even though he and his space science colleagues could personally benefit if funding was shifted away from Earth research, he would still staunchly oppose such a move. “I will defend the NASA Earth science division with everything I’ve got,” he said, adding that Walker’s proposal “would be disastrous to our overall efforts to understand the Earth and the other planets, which is really the same effort.”

Grinspoon’s argument that Earth science and space science are inseparable might sound odd to someone who has been listening to Walker or some Republicans currently in Congress. “I would suggest that almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space,” Ted Cruz, whose Senate subcommittee oversees NASA, said in 2015 while complaining that Earth science used too much of the agency’s budget. “I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”

Grinspoon says the view espoused by Walker and Cruz is based on a “misconception” that Earth science is somehow “frivolous” or not really “key to NASA’s main mission.” That’s simply wrong. “You cannot study other planets without referring to Earth and without applying the techniques and the insights of Earth science,” he argues. “And you cannot really do a good job understanding the Earth without the insights from planetary exploration.”

Grinspoon points to the “great revelation that started the Scientific Revolution 400 years ago”: Galileo’s telescope research demonstrating that the Earth is a planet orbiting the sun and that other, similar, planets are doing the same thing.

In the modern era, Grinspoon is particularly interested in his colleagues’ research demonstrating the impact people are having on our planet—he’s the author of Earth in Human Hands, a recent book exploring the role man has played in altering our world. But he points out that NASA’s Earth science program goes far beyond climate change. “It’s a broad-based effort to understand the Earth system,” he says. “And out of that research has come a realization that climate is changing—a wide range of indicators: from changes in sea ice to droughts and changes to the hydrological cycle, and movement of species, and the documentation of urbanization and deforestation.”

“We’re going to stop looking at Earth from orbit because we don’t like what we are seeing and the conclusions that leads us to?” he adds, incredulously. “That’s nonsense.”

Galileo Galilei got in trouble for mixing Earth science and space science. Wellcome Images

But what about Walker’s proposal to shift NASA’s climate work to NOAA? That, too, is nonsense, Grinspoon says. “NOAA is tiny compared to NASA.” The move would require a massive expansion of NOAA’s capabilities that would set American research back 20 years. “If we gutted NASA Earth science, it wouldn’t be NOAA or some other agency that would take the lead,” he says. “It would be the Chinese and the Europeans and the Japanese.”­

Fortunately, Grinspoon is pretty convinced that the threats to Earth science are mostly “loose talk.” While he’s worried that NASA research programs could lose some funding, he doesn’t think Trump or Congress would really try to stop it altogether.

Other experts I talked to agree. “It’s not at all clear that they are even going to propose this,” says Josh Shiode, a senior government relations officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He points to a recent Science magazine interview with Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who chairs the House subcommittee in charge of the budgets for NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation. While Culberson wouldn’t promise that Earth science programs would continue to be housed in NASA, he didn’t endorse Walker’s proposals either. “Nobody in the Earth sciences community should be concerned in the least,” he said. “All of us in Congress are strong supporters of keeping a close eye on planet Earth.” Shiode says the idea would face even longer odds in the Senate, where a number of mainstream Republicans would likely oppose it.

Andrew Rosenberg, who heads the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, also doubts that Congress would attempt to eliminate NASA’s Earth science budget. A bigger concern, he says, is that Trump—an infamous global warming denier—could appoint officials who would interfere with the ability of climate scientists at the agency to publicize their research.

The key, says Rosenberg, will be for the public—scientists, politicians, and concerned citizens—to hold the Trump administration accountable. NASA’s researchers will continue doing groundbreaking climate change work, and Americans, he says, “need to let the government know that they demand this information.”

Inquiring Minds is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook.


Will Donald Trump Gut Science at NASA?

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Cooks, Illustrated: Why So Many Chefs Have Tattoos

Mother Jones

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When it was time for sailor and cook Mandy Lamb to get a tattoo, she decided on two arrows arranged in an “X” on her forearm. They remind her, she says, of a painful lesson learned on her first boat: “Don’t fall in love with the captain.”

Fishing-boat cook Mandy Lamb

Lamb’s is one of more than 65 illustrated vignettes (and probably my favorite) on display in the artful book Knives and Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos, by BuzzFeed books editor Isaac Fitzgerald and prolific illustrator and graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton, who appeared on our latest episode of Bite. The duo previously worked together on the 2014 book Pen and Ink, which was inspired by their popular Tumblr blog of the same name and portrayed tattooed people of all professions.

But for Knives and Ink, they zeroed in on cooks and chefs, a breed well known for sporting body art. Fitzgerald, who had a short stint as a sushi chef in San Francisco, says one reason for the propensity for tattoos is that chefs want a symbol for their “dedication to the craft.” Some chefs feel they’ve landed in a career perfectly suited to their talents—and that getting a tattoo is a way of publicly dedicating their lives to the craft. Fitzgerald explains:

For a very long time, being a chef is one of the very few industries where you could just be covered head to toe, tattoos on your face, it didn’t matter as long as what you were making is good. It’s this idea of, ‘If I tattoo my neck, if I tattoo my knuckles, I can’t just walk away from this and start selling cars or just go work in a business or put on a suit or sit in a cubicle. This is going to be my life.’

Personal Chef Roze Traore; Chef Timmy Malloy

MacNaughton, who learned to cook while working on a cookbook project a few years ago, points to another reason for kitchen tattoos: “Chefs are preparing food for a lot of people, but it is about their distinct dishes and their distinct flavors and they’re expressing themselves in everything they do,” she says. “I think that the marks on their body are also manifestations of the same thing, the stories and experiences that are meaningful to them.”

The tales in Knives and Ink range from sentimental to flippant, sometimes revealing deep truths about a chef’s past, sometimes simply revealing her favorite seasoning. When asked about the most popular tattoo inked by the cooks they interviewed, Fitzgerald and MacNaughton were unequivocal: the pig. “It seems to be the official or unofficial logo of professional chefs,” MacNaughton says. Sure, the quintessential butchering diagram showing a quartered hog is a favorite, but Fitzgerald found fascinating the extent to which some chefs had “tried to one-up this classic pig tattoo design” with neck tattoos of pig skulls or a gory image of a zombie ripping up a pig from the inside. If that isn’t a reason to check out this delightful book, you’re sure to enjoy the recipes or artistic renderings of favorite ingredients accompanying many of the portraits.

Sous Chef Catherine Doyle

Bite is Mother Jones‘ new food politics podcast, out every other Friday. Listen to all our episodes here, or by subscribing in iTunes or Stitcher or via RSS. Please rate us and write us a review—it helps get the word out!

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Cooks, Illustrated: Why So Many Chefs Have Tattoos

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"Prevent Tragedy Before It’s Too Late": Read the Statement 1,200 Scholars Just Released About Trump

Mother Jones

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Concerned by the hateful rhetoric that has accompanied President-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House, a group of 1,200 historians and other scholars have put out a powerful statement urging Americans to stand guard against civil rights abuses.

“Looking back to history provides copious lessons on what is at stake when we allow hysteria and untruths to trample people’s rights,” the scholars wrote. “We know the consequences, and it is possible, with vigilance and a clear eye on history, to prevent tragedy before it is too late.”

The statement was first created by three associate professors at Northwestern University, Oberlin College, and the University of Kansas who were alarmed about parallels between the current political climate and instances throughout history when Americans’ rights have been suspended, like during World War II. They originally planned to collect signatures from a small group of scholars and then publish a letter or an op-ed, says Shana Bernstein of Northwestern, one of the organizers, but interest spread quickly as they reached out to their networks.

Historians from a range of institutions signed on, including those from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and many other elite universities, as well as independent scholars. Among the signatories were six Pulitzer Prize winners, a MacArthur “Genius” award recipient, five Bancroft Prize winners, and at least 12 Guggenheim Fellows. “I continue to receive inquiries about signing the letter, from people both inside and outside academia,” Bernstein says, noting that they only included scholars of US history and related fields.

Their statement raises concerns about an increase in harassment of minorities since the election, as well as Trump’s proposal to create a registry that tracks Muslims in the United States. “While we find ourselves in a distinct moment compared to World War II and the Cold War, we are seeing the return of familiar calls against perceived enemies. Alarmingly, justifications for a Muslim registry have cited Japanese American imprisonment during World War II as a credible precedent, and the Professor Watchlist—which speciously identifies ‘un-patriotic professors’—is eerily similar to the communist registry of the McCarthy era,” they wrote, referring to a new website that accuses college professors of pushing “leftist propaganda.”

“All of us are deeply concerned about the talk of registering Muslims, breaking up immigrant families by deporting and interning undocumented parents, limiting speech on campuses and by cracking down on peaceful protest, and the damaging effects of rolling back civil rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans,” Annelise Orleck, a history professor at Dartmouth College who signed the statement, tells Mother Jones. “We are the people who know well the times in American history when there have been wholesale violations of civil and human rights, when our intelligence agencies have exceeded their constitutional mandate and conducted secret surveillance of American citizens who are simply exercising their rights. We are saying that it is naive to assume that ‘it can’t happen here.'”

Check out the full statement below.

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Final Collective Statement, December 13, 2016 (PDF)

Final Collective Statement, December 13, 2016 (Text)

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"Prevent Tragedy Before It’s Too Late": Read the Statement 1,200 Scholars Just Released About Trump

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You’ve Been Wrong About Fortune Cookies Your Whole Life

Mother Jones

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco isn’t much bigger than a narrow garage, but it produces thousands of fortune cookies each day. Large machines drip batter onto hot circular plates, hardening them in an instant. Two Chinese American women quickly grab the warm wafers, fold them over an iron, and insert a small piece of paper inside before fully closing the cookie. They move quickly under the gaze of tourists, who pay 50 cents to snap a photo.

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco’s Chinatown Photo by Jenny Luna

There’s a decent chance the last fortune cookie you ate came from this factory: San Francisco and Los Angeles churn out most of the country’s supply. Aside from being big producers of the treat since the mid-20th century, these two cities also have a running feud about which city can claim to be the cookie’s original hometown. Jennifer Lee writes about this history in her book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles; you can hear her on a recent episode of our podcast Bite.

Thirty years ago, this battle came to a head when representatives for each city met in San Francisco’s Court of Historical Review to settle the dispute once and for all. (To be clear, this court was a mock court, the same that deliberated on whether martinis originated in San Francisco or the nearby city of Martinez, and whether Bay Area bagels are as good as New York’s.) After arguments for both sides were heard, the judge was presented with a fortune cookie. It read: “Judge who rules in favor of L.A. not a very smart cookie.”

After the laughter died down, a small Japanese woman named Sally Osaki approached the stand. She was carrying two long irons with clamps on the end—the original tools for making fortune cookies, she said.

And then Osaki said something that shocked everyone: “They’re not Chinese, they’re Japanese.” Later, Osaki recalled that the statement “just came out. I knew it in my soul.”

The irons she carried belonged to the owner of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Osaki, who grew up in Japan, recognized that the fortune cookie concept originated with Japanese bakers, who would stick messages into tea cakes. Fortune cookies, she said, only became a Chinese tradition later—during her family’s, and her people’s, darkest times.

At the start of World War II, 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps on the West Coast. They had to leave everything behind: their homes, their businesses, their belongings—and, for those who were bakers, their iron tools for making tea cakes. It’s rumored that Japanese families passed these on to Chinese immigrants in their neighborhoods. And, well, the rest is history.

To hear more about Osaki’s story and the origin of fortune cookie, download our episode here. Also on that episode, don’t miss Tom Philpott’s interview with author Valerie Imbruce on how Chinatown markets have been sources of fresh produce since before the days of big supermarkets, and why they’ll continue to flourish.

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You’ve Been Wrong About Fortune Cookies Your Whole Life

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Building a ‘Good’ Anthropocene From the Bottom Up


Halloween Cute Characters Sticker for iMessage – Ha Phuoc Viet

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Building a ‘Good’ Anthropocene From the Bottom Up

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Here’s the Transcript of Trump’s Meeting With the President of Mexico

Mother Jones

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I can’t reveal my sources, but I have gotten hold of a transcript of Donald Trump’s meeting today with Enrique Peña Nieto. Here it is:

EPN: Mr. Trump, Mexico will never pay for a border wall. The idea is insulting and demeaning to the Mexican people and we resent it. You must stop telling the American people this ridiculous fantasy.

DJT: That’s a nice tie you’re wearing. Is it silk? I’ve always loved silk. Melania does too, and she always makes sure that all our sheets are 100 percent silk. Even Barron’s. You can’t start too young when it comes to quality, you know. When I get to the White House, I’m going to change out all the sheets in the guest rooms. You should come for a visit. It’ll be great. They probably have cotton sheets now because Obama doesn’t know quality the way I do. I mean, the guy is obviously in way over his head, don’t you agree? He just doesn’t understand how to negotiate with a head of state. But you and I are going to get along. We’ll be friends. I just know it. Many of my best friends are Hispanic, you know. It’s something people don’t give me credit for. But that’s the press for you. Is it the same here? How does the press treat you? When you do something great, like inviting me for this meeting, do they give you any credit or do they just publish the most horrible lies about you? When I’m president that’s going to stop. They shouldn’t be able to publish lies and get away with it. They said I wanted to use nuclear weapons on Syria! I mean nuclear, that’s where….

2,385 words omitted

So I told him that was impossible, and he said “Not for you, Trump-san!” The Japanese are great kidders. But he was right. We got it done on time and under budget. It was….

Aide: Sir, the press is waiting. We need to make our way out to the portico.

DJT: And I’ve got a plane to catch. It’s been great talking with you, Enrique. I can call you Enrique, can’t I?

So you see, both sides have told the truth about this meeting. Peña Nieto did tell Trump that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall, and Trump didn’t discuss it with him.

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Here’s the Transcript of Trump’s Meeting With the President of Mexico

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