Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.
Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.
“A New Chapter of People Power,” by Srdja Popovic. The European, March 5, 2012.
Srdja Popovic is a non-violent organizer who works with revolutionary groups all over the world. In this interview with The European, Popvic reflects on the revolutionary efforts of the past year (as he says, “a bad year for bad guys”), democratic uprisings, and the importance of “indigenous strategy” in training movements.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.
“FACT CHECK: More U.S. Drilling Didn’t Drop Gas Prices,” by Jack Gillum and Seth Borenstein. Associated Press, March 21, 2012
With the GOP hopefuls upping their rhetoric on gas prices and energy policy, Obama pushing a weak “all-of-the-above energy strategy,” and journalists crowing about impending energy independence in America, claims about the impact of increased domestic drilling warrant some scrutiny. The truth is that we’re drilling as much as we were in 2003, when gas was just over $2 a gallon. But oil is a global commodity, so aggressive posturing towards Iran and demand from developing countries plays a greater role. It’s worth noting that gas prices are really very low considering the external costs of our energy policies—particularly climate change, which President Obama appears to have forgotten about.
Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.
“Campesinos Refusing To Disappear: Guatemala’s Polochic Valley One Year After the Evictions,” by Tristan Call, Upsidedownworld.org, March 26, 2012.
The situation faced by campesinos in the Polochic Valley of Guatemala is certainly not unique, and serves as a great example of what globalization means for many of the world’s poorest. A year ago, a combination of private security guards and Guatemalan security forces evicted three thousand farmers from the valley, destroying 14 villages, to make way for an international sugar company. The campesinos, used to raising livestock and growing corn, were left to starve. Today they live next to sprawling sugar cane plantations, but cannot afford to buy any sugar. International bodies like the Interamerican Court of Human Rights have called on the Guatemalan government to provide food and shelter for the displaced, but no aid has arrived.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture.
“Obama’s Creepy Executive Order: Permanent War Economy,” by Matthew Rothschild. The Progressive, March 20, 2012.
Just over a week before President Obama departed for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, he issued an Executive Order that, with a hint of irony, renewed and revised authority originally granted to President Harry Truman amidst industrial mobilization for the Korean War. Today, debt and the economy have become identified as national security and defense issues, and President Obama’s Executive Order assumes the power to allocate and appropriate industrial defense resources, services, and technologies in perpetual preparation for national security and defense emergencies. As Matthew Rothschild writes: “This is the military-industrial complex on steroids, and it’s devouring our democracy.”
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.
“Inside NOM’s Strategy: Race-Wedging Black And Latino Voters Against Marriage Equality,” by Zack Ford. ThinkProgress, March 27, 2012.
National Organization for Marriage, the bigoted, anti-marriage equality group, made headlines this week for an incredibly ill-conceived and badly timed boycott of Starbucks, protesting the company’s support of same-sex marriage. In short, the campaign flopped, and the media enthusiastically documented its failure. Less publicized, however, was the uncovering of NOM internal memos that detail a strategy to sway public opinion against marriage equality by “driv[ing] a wedge between gays and blacks.” With a history of obfuscating campaign finances and generally operating in a less-than-transparent fashion, NOM’s latest underhanded strategy is perhaps unsurprising, but that is no reason to excuse their dishonesty.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.
"Saudi Arabia: Stop Arbitrary Arrests, Travel Bans on Opposition," Human Rights Watch. March 28, 2012.
This detailed report proves that Saudi Arabia is not immune from the Arab Spring. Arbitrary arrests and travel bans are clear symptoms of citizens’ discontent and the regime’s failure to deal with them.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.
“Far-Right Leader Jailed in Serbia for Making Death Threats Against Gays,” by the Associated Press. The Washington Post, March 27, 2012
Despite years of cultural discrimination and violence against the Serbian LGBT community, pressure from European powers has inspired significant--if sporadic--progressive decisions. This trend was highlighted this week, when a far-right Serbian leader was convicted and sentenced to ten months in prison for making the death threats that led to the cancellation of Belgrade's 2009 Pride Parade.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.
“Of Home-grown Terror and Islam,” Marine Le Pen. The Economist, March 26, 2012.
As France comes to terms with the horrific events in Tolouse last week, presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, is deliberately and crudely confusing terrorism and immigration. The Economist’s Elysée blog considers her attack “wrongheaded” and “out of touch” with modern France. Many commentators don’t.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.
"Paul Ryan's Health Care Fantasy," by Jonathan Oberlander. Health Affairs blog, March 22, 2012.
There is certainly no shortage of commentary about Representative Paul Ryan's new budget proposal, which would transform Medicare and Medicaid. But Jonathan Oberlander, Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy & Management at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, provides a particularly thoughtful analysis in this blog post. "Under the misleading rubric of 'choice,'" wrote Oberlander, Ryan's budget "would shift the burden of rising costs onto elderly and disabled beneficiaries while potentially undermining the stability of traditional Medicare."
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.
“Could the Druze Minority Tip the Scales of Syria’s Revolution?” by Mona Alami. Inter Press Service, March 26, 2012
Lacking a tipping point, the conflict in Syria has steadily worsened over the course of a year, with neither the opposition nor the regime able (or willing) to end it quickly, while sanctions, peace plans and various verbal condemnations have failed to stem the violence. This article suggests that perhaps a marginal protest movement by the often forgotten Druze minority, considered the “spiritual cousins” of the Alawites that dominate the ruling regime, could help move the conflict in favor of the opposition.