Unfriendly Fire

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This week, Guernica‘s got a feature up about the US military’s flaming trash pits in Afghanistan. After all, “There are more than 100,000 troops currently deployed in Afghanistan—and thousands more private contractors—and the Department of Defense estimates that each soldier and contractor generates about ten pounds of solid waste per day,” and they’ve got to do something with it. Who could possibly be harmed by burning it?

Early last year, MoJo did a story on how the toxic smoke from these conflagrations of everything from electronics to human feces could be killing otherwise perfectly healthy American soldiers. And as Guernica‘s thorough rundown of the environmental and human impacts shows, nothing has changed. It’s heartbreaking, not just for the deaths and the senselessness, but for the Army’s unwillingness or inability to deal with the longstanding problem. Sure, it’s tough for a country to just pull out of a war, stop a war, fix all the problems a war caused. But it has somewhat more control over setting giant piles of poison on fire and making its soldiers and any nearby civilians breathe the fumes, no?

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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