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This Week: An Idea Whose Time Has Come. PLUS: Live Chat With Dana Goldstein | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: An Idea Whose Time Has Come. PLUS: Live Chat With Dana Goldstein

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage last week was a historic marker of progress in the ongoing fight for marriage equality, but also a signal of the power of LGBT activism and movements in general. No sitting president has explicitly supported marriage for same-sex couples, and, at a time of increasingly popular support for marriage-equality, President Obama’s “evolution” is a testament to an idea whose time has come. TheNation.com executive editor Richard Kim joined MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes on Saturday to discuss the ways in which the LGBT movement has helped propel marriage equality to a decisive issue now at the forefront of public debate. On both Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer and on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, Kim looks at whether Obama’s endorsement will lead to substantive policy change as well as the political ramifications as the November election approaches.

A SECOND CHANCE FOR TEENS SENT TO DIE IN PRISON? This week’s deeply reported and compelling cover story, “Throwaway People: Will Teens Sent to Die in Prison Get a Second Chance,” by Nation editor Liliana Segura, introduces us to Philadelphia resident Trina Garnett, who in 1976 accidentally set a fatal fire when she was only 14 years old. Bound by Pennsylvania’s mandatory sentencing laws, Garnett was convicted and sentenced to two life terms plus forty years in prison. Garnett, reports Segura, is approximately one of 2,589 prisoners nationwide serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers. Garnett’s story, like many others, offers a window into the moral and legal limitations of mandatory juvenile sentencing laws. But an upcoming Supreme Court decision, involving two cases in which “lifers” who were 14 when they committed murder, offers these prisoners a second chance. Read the piece here, and be sure to watch the latest edition of VideoNation for a short preview of Trina Garnett’s story.

LIVE CHAT WITH DANA GOLDSTEIN. Join us this Thursday, May 17, at TheNation.com for a live chat on the role of testing in education reform featuring Nation education reporter Dana Goldstein. She’ll be joined by New York City public school education teacher and blogger Mark Anderson and a representative from the Educators for Excellence network to address reader comments and questions on the controversial growth of standardized testing and its effect on educators and students. Nation comments editor Sarah Arnold will moderate. Participants are encouraged to visit Dana’s blog prior to the chat to submit preliminary questions or to sign up for an e-mail reminder. Dana, a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute and a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, is one of America’s foremost writers on education. She has reported on education policy, politics, women’s issues and public health for The Nation, The American Prospect, The Washington Post, the Daily Beast and Slate, among other publications. She is currently working on a book on the political history of American public school teaching. You can follow her work at www.danagoldstein.net and on Twitter (@DanaGoldstein).

THE FIGHT OVER THE NYPL’S RENOVATION PLAN. On Wednesday, over 700 scholars, writers, publishers, artists and other New York Public Library patrons sent a letter to NYPL President Anthony Marx protesting the $350 million planned “renovation” of the 42nd Street branch and calling for a public discussion of the plan. The NYPL’s renovation—known as The Central Library Plan (CLP)—has come under increasing scrutiny over the last six months, after Nation contributing writer Scott Sherman’s November 30, 2011, article, “Upheaval at the Library,” revealed how the closely guarded and secretive project would demolish seven levels of original stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room to make way for a state-of-the-art computer-oriented library. The implications of the makeover, explains Sherman, are dire. What was once a serene and congenial environment for scholars, serious readers, intellectuals and book-lovers could be converted into a noisy, tumultuous branch library. And it would not only weaken one of the world’s great libraries but also mar the architectural integrity of an iconic cultural and historic landmark.

STUDENT WRITING CONTEST. We’re delighted to announce The Nation’s 8th Annual Student Writing Contest. We’re looking for thoughtful, provocative student voices to answer this question in 800 words: What do you think is the most important issue of Election 2012? All high-school and college students are eligible. Winning essays are published in The Nation and at TheNation.com and winners receive $1,000 cash awards. Finalists are published at TheNation.com and awarded $250 each. Entries (only one per student) will be accepted through June 15, 2012. A winner will be announced by September 15. Read last year’s winners here. The Nation’s Student Writing Contest offers a platform to aspiring young journalists, including Sarah Stillman, winner of The Nation’s first-ever student writing contest in 2006 for her essay, “Project Corpus Callosum,” which used the metaphor of the portion of our brain that connects our left and right hemispheres to describe a fundamental challenge: How can our knowledge of injustice be effectively wed to our passion to change it? Stillman has gone on to do remarkable journalism, including her award-winning New Yorker report, “The Invisible Army,” for which she received the 2012 Sidney Hillman Award and was named a finalist for both a MOLLY and a National Magazine Award.

VICTOR NAVASKY’S MAD MEN CAMEO. Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men featured an angered and frustrated Pete Campbell—who, after picking up his copy of the New York Times Magazine—phoned Don Draper to lament getting left out of an article titled, “Advertising Is (A Science? An Art? A Business?)”. To our delight, that article, as Alexander Abad-Santos points out in the Atlantic Wire (and Matthew Creamer cites in AdAge) was written by Nation Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky. Be sure to read the original article, here.

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