—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“The new debtors’ prisons.” The Economist, November 16, 2013.
To be ensnared within the mass incarceration system means to be either in prison, on parole or probation. In most places, the public offices that manage these three services are overburdened and broke, so private ventures have picked up the extra slack for profit. Private probation companies are especially nefarious, extorting payment from probationers to not only cover municipal court costs but also to enrich their own bottom line. They are a debt collection industry. Worst of all is if probationers can’t pay, they often end up in jail—even if their original charge was a non-jailable offense. Ironically, this usually ends up costing the presiding municipality more money, since it is so expensive to imprison somebody.
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
“Detained border crossers may find themselves sent to ‘the freezers,’” by Rachel Bale. The Center for Investigative Reporting, November 18, 2013.
Immigrants arrested by US Border Patrol have heard tell of what awaits them: las hieleras, or "the freezers." These are frigid, fluorescent-lit chambers where detainees are crammed for days without bedding or privacy. Though some immigrants will fight deportation or rightfully claim asylum, such as the Salvadoran family fleeing gang violence profiled in the piece, detainees are kept in a harsh confinement that likely violates international human rights standards. Meanwhile, our brave lawmakers in the Senate have stripped language from immigration legislation requiring "limits on the number of people held in a cell, adequate climate control, potable water, hygiene items and access to medical care" for detained border crossers.
—Omar Ghabra focuses on Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
"Lebanon and the Long Reach of Syria’s Conflict” by Dexter Filkins. The New Yorker, November 20, 2013.
The recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut is the latest of many ominous signs that Hezbollah and Iran's decision to intervene in Syria has made this a regional, sectarian conflict. Filkins puts this latest bombing into the context of the events in Syria over the past year, since the Iranians and their proxy militia in Lebanon turned the tide of the Syrian war in Assad's favor.