This week's articles critique the United Nations, big labor, big business, the mainstream media and President Obama.
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Sex Ed Bill To Expand LGBT Inclusive, Gender Balanced Health Classes,” by Tara Culp-Ressler. ThinkProgress, February 15, 2013.
Last week democratic legislators re-introduced a bill that would fund "medically accurate" sex education programs that are LGBT-inclusive, avoid gender stereotypes and talk about HIV. It's unclear that such a bill's passage would convince states pushing abstinence-only curricula to change course.
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Immigration Reform May Come With Big Gifts to Employers,” by Samantha Winslow. Labor Notes, February 18, 2013.
What does big labor have to say about immigration reform? For one, not necessarily the same things as its smaller allies. In this piece, Samantha Winslow lays out the immigration reform goals of the US's major labor federations, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win. Winslow departs from Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times in giving equal time to non-union groups like the National Guestworker Alliance and the National Immigration Law Center. It's an interesting mix of perspectives. How will big labor's immigration reform politics affect guest workers? What does it mean for unions and the Chamber of Commerce to have "common ground"?
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“The Incredible Shrinking United Nations,” by Suzanne Nossel. Foreign Policy, February 15, 2013.
As this article points out, in recent years, the UN has failed to act as a forum for high-stakes geopolitical decision-making. The UN has not been able to reach a consensus on a definition of terrorism and has not succeeded in spearheading significant actions on climate change. The UN has also failed to deter North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and remains paralyzed over the situation in Syria. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon lacks charisma and is probably too low profile to act as a real leader addressing global challenges. Nevertheless, the UN and its various agencies play a significant role on technical, development and humanitarian issues, but these actions often remain unnoticed by the public. However, the real problem is the Security Council, plagued by high-level diplomatic rifts, political trade-offs and internal strife, as Member States don’t want the UN to meddle in their own disputes. The author of this article, Suzanne Nossel, identifies three steps the UN should take in order to reverse this trend. First, the UN should use its charismatic leaders and turn them into strong media personalities in order to gain more visibility. Second, the UN should accept to take credit for some of its successful contributions. This could be the case this spring if UN members agree on the world’s first treaty regulating trade in small arms. Third, the UN should take leadership on some issues, for example on LGBT rights within the UN. Yet it remains to be seen if the UN is able to overcome its own internal divisions.