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“Frogs and toads are disappearing on your planet. Others are born deformed,” reads the ominous message at Frogweb’s Adopt a Frog Pond Web site (www.frogweb.gov/adopt.html). This warning comes courtesy of Captain Ribbitt, the space-age spokesamphibian for the U.S. Geological Survey’s campaign to bring attention to the plight of the little green earthlings.

“He’s a frog from another planet who patrols the galaxy looking out for the conditions under which frogs live and making sure that they are OK,” says Tom Arvis, the illustrator who developed the planet-hopping crusader. Sam Droege, a USGS biologist who helped design the site, says the agency chose the caped amphibian to make the campaign “less stodgy, less bureaucratic.”

The bipedal frog hero, apparently a mutant himself, greets visitors with a simple message: “Save the Frogs.” The site seeks volunteers to help scientists count and monitor normal and mutant frogs, and asks people to report malformed frogs and dwindling frog populations in their areas. The USGS hopes to find the cause of the malformations before humans are at risk of defects like those of Captain Ribbitt’s marshland friends. As Droege says, “Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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