Klansmen may guard Florida clinks

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

A number of Florida state prison guards may belong to a racist cabal, reports THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. According to several inmates and former guards, the six inch knotted cords with a loop at one end that many guards use as key chains — often called “nigger knots” — symbolize membership in a white supremacist gang, possibly the Ku Klux Klan. The cords can also come in handy for bending back inmate’s fingers or putting painful pressure on their noses, according to a former guard. Prompted by inquiries from the Times, the Florida Department of Corrections has launched an investigation.



Hardship is how you spin it

Dec. 16

It sure is rough when life isn’t, well, rough. That’s the plight of well-off high school seniors eager to get into the University of California system. The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that students from all walks of life are looking to tug on admissions officers’ heartstrings with hard-knocks stories, even those whose knocks haven’t been all that hard.

Since the death of affirmative action in the UC system, the new admissions criteria look at grades and test scores, but also give extra points to students who have faced “difficult personal or family situations.” Admissions officers have been surprised by a resulting rash of sob stories from affluent kids, from dubious tales of parental cancer to bizarre natural disasters. “It’s not unusual to run into a student from an upper middle-income family who says, ‘We don’t have a chance because we don’t have a hardship,'” says a former UC admissions director.

Incidentally, the story mentions another little bar students from less wealthy schools face: the average GPA of a Berkeley frosh is 4.15. Yep, 4.15. Seems the admissions gurus count an A in an Advanced Placement or honors class as a five on the 4.0 scale. And if your school doesn’t have any? You’re out of luck — even if your cancer-free parents did love you as much as your sister.



Take me to America, baby

Dec. 15

Think you’ve got issues with how mom raised you? At least when you were a baby, she didn’t rent you out as a prop to help illegal immigrants slip into the US. A Honduran woman living in the US was recently sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for doing just that with her 7-month-old daughter, according to APBNews.com.

The 30-year-old mother apparently rented her baby, at $200 a shot, to would-be Americans on at least three different occasions, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The advantage:the INS allows undocumented immigrant families (unlike individuals) to freely roam the US while awaiting their immigration court dates — giving the pseudo-parents plenty of time to give the child back and disappear.



Watch those thoughts, bucko

Dec. 14

Wary of security cameras that track your every move? How about one that predicts your every move? NEWSCIENTIST reports on an advanced visual security system that some say will be able to actually prevent crimes by sounding an alarm before they are even committed. Two British researchers have developed a prototype system which uses mathematical pattern recognition to detect potential miscreants casing a car, for example, before stealing it.

Though the machine is being pitched as a tool for crime prevention, it is setting off alarms among privacy advocates worried about potentially nefarious uses.

“This is a very dangerous step towards a total-control society,” said Simon Davies, director of the group Privacy International.



Muslim faces down NY police over facial hair

Dec. 13

Ahmed Abdul-Khaliq, a New York state trooper, doesn’t want to shave. It could cost him his job, reports the NEW HAVEN REGISTER.

A devout Muslim, Abdul-Khaliq insists his faith dictates that he wear a beard; facial hair, however, violates state police grooming regulations.

Abdul-Khaliq’s suit against the state is the second such in recent memory. Earlier this year, a Muslim employee of the New York State Parks also sued after being suspended for refusing to shave his beard. And in Newark, NJ, a Muslim officer successfully sued the police department for it’s grooming policy, which an appeals court found to be unconstitutional.




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

payment methods

We Recommend