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.
“How a 5-Year-Old Foreign Film Sparked a Free-Speech Fight in Tunisia,” by Massoud Hayoun. The Atlantic, April 30, 2012.
This article highlights the tension between the State and the arts in Tunisia, where recent revolutionary efforts underscore a battle of censorship and free speech. The subject of the piece is Nabil Karoui, who is being prosecuted for allowing the broadcast of Persepolis, a popular and critically acclaimed 2007 film about a young girl growing up and testing her freedom in Iran.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.
“What Money Can’t Buy,” Tana Wojczuk Interviews Michael Sandel. Guernica, May 1, 2012.
Sandel makes the compelling argument that we have undergone a transformation from a market economy to a "market society," in which markets and market-based thinking increasingly govern social spheres once organized around other values. Sandel summarizes key historical changes in economic thinking and explains how certain economic models have risen to the forefront. The importance and challenge of having a debate about market triumphalism are that doing so would raise "big and controversial ethical questions" about "the moral limits of the role of markets in our society" and their impact on health, education, the environment and democracy.
Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.
“Mexico Weighs Law to Compensate Victims of Drug Violence,” by Hannah Stone. The Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2012.
50,000 people have been killed in Mexico since 2006, when President Calderon deployed the army to combat drug violence. This law (now approved by legislators) sets up a national body to track drug-war related deaths, which will include representation from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and compensate relatives of victims with up to $70,000. Most crimes in the drug war are thought to remain unreported though, so it is unclear what impact this law would have. Nevertheless, it could represent a major shift in the political landscape of Mexico, as it looks for a pragmatic way to end the violence.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture.
“Torture Isn't Fair Game, and It Isn't Effective Method,” by Retired Maj. Gen. Walter L. Stewart Jr. PennLive.com, May 2, 2012.
On the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the debate over torture—which is a crime—has once again reared its ugly head. It has been reignited by a new book by the former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez, who claims that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri worked—not in gaining reliable intelligence, but in breaking these men as a means of getting them to acquiesce to the control of their interrogators. Thankfully, people of character and strategic wisdom, like Retired Major General Walter L. Stewart Jr., are responding to this dangerous and reprehensible argument. For more, read Senators Diane Feinstein and Carl Levin’s Statement on CIA’s Coercive Interrogation Techniques and watch this US Army film on the Geneva Conventions and Counterinsurgency from 1965.
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.
“The Stalking of Korean Hip Hop Superstar Daniel Lee,” by Joshua Davis. Wired, April 24, 2012.
On the surface, this is just an incredibly engaging, outrageous story of success, jealousy and cyberbullying: the saga of Daniel Kim, Korean hip hop star and frontman of the group Epik High—who was tormented by anonymous "antifans" until his career came crashing down around him. But underlying it all (in my opinion) is a bizarre, racially tinged tension: for many of these anonymous internet users, the worlds of commercial hip hop and Korean society were simply too far apart; to see them fused in Daniel Lee was so shocking to these people that they unleashed one of the most vicious cyber smear campaigns I have ever heard of.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.
“Riot Police Disperses Protest Violently and Arrests 15 Including a Journalist.” Bedoon Rights, May 1, 2012.
On May 1, in Kuwait, 200 Bedoon Kuwaitis—stateless citizens—protested for their right to full citizenship. Around 120,000 people in Kuwait are Bedoon jinsiyya (without nationality). They cannot legally obtain birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates, or even apply for driving licenses, identification cards or passports. Thousands of Bedoon in Gulf countries suffer similar discrimination, but only after the Arab Spring did Bedoon Kuwaitis dare to organize public protests.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.
“He-Men and Virginity Pledges? Obama Administration Quietly Endorses Absurd Anti-Sex Curriculum,” Debra Hauser, Monica Rodriguez, Elizabeth Schroeder and Danene Sorace. AlterNet, May 1, 2012.
The Department of Heath and Human Services updates its list of endorsed "evidence-based" teen pregnancy prevention programs with no notice or press release. Why? Because one of these programs is the old, detrimental and disproven "abstinence only until marriage" program. AlterNet walks through the impact on teen sexual health, and women's and LGBT rights.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.
“The Nativist Millstone.” The Economist, April 28, 2012.
With Latinos the predicted kingmakers in November, The Economist finds "Republicans’ obstreperousness on the issue" of immigration baffling. And with the Supreme Court set to rule on the controversial Arizona case later in the campaign, the issue of immigration is only going to get hotter.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.
“Health Centers for Poor, Uninsured See Ranks Swell,” by David Morgan. Reuters, May 1, 2012.
According to a White House report, the number of patients served by community hospitals, which provide care for the poor and uninsured, increased by nearly 18 percent between 2008 and 2011. If the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act in June, it would halt the administration's plans to increase funding for these hospitals at a time when patient demand is still on the rise.
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.
“Inside Northern Syria—In Pictures,” photographs by Rodrigo Abd. The Guardian, March 9, 2012.
Although these photos date from about two months ago or earlier, they remain powerful and poignant as scenes of daily life in northern Syria. Their focus, not just on fighting and protesting but also on quieter scenes—children on calm streets, people prayer inside homes—shows the viewer what lies behind the scenes of strife frequently depicted in most media and as a result, serve as a sobering reminder of what's at stake in the Syrian conflict.