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.
Buster Brown focuses on campaign donations in the 2012 election.
“Exclusive: Adelson's Pro-Romney Donations Will Be 'Limitless,' Could Top $100M,” by Steven Bertoni. Forbes, June 13, 2012.
I'm firmly against the Citizens United ruling. It seems obvious that the Abramoff-like lobbyists in Washington are a corrosive force in our political system, precisely because money can better engender political change than any passionate plea. And that's just a micro-example of a macro-trend: Every year more money seems to pour into politics than good will. Look no further than what the Koch brother's did in the Wisconsin recall. Now, gearing up to the 2012 presidential election, we have overzealous men like Sheldon Adelson who are willing to funnel hundred of millions of dollars into PACs in order to influence the game.
Marisa Carroll focuses on gender and sexuality.
“Where Will CeCe McDonald Serve Her Time? The Devil is in the Details,” by Akiba Solomon. Colorlines, June 8, 2012.
Last week, CeCe McDonald—“the 24-year-old black transwoman prosecuted for surviving a white supremacist and transphobic assault”—and her supporters were dealt another disturbing blow, when the state of Minnesota announced that McDonald would be housed in a male corrections facility. At Colorlines, Akiba Solomon breaks down how McDonald's inhumane treatment, including being placed in “administrative containment” (essentially, solitary confinement) for extended periods in the name of protecting her safety, is typical for transpeople in the prison system and analyzes how the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) may influence the McDonald's fate.
Matthew Cunningham-Cook focuses on the role of dissent in the contemporary United States.
“2 Court Cases at Once for Family of Bronx Man Killed by the Police,” by Russ Buetner. The New York Times, June 12, 2012.
I chose this piece for two reasons: because I think that the role of police brutality as stifling dissent in communities of color is vastly underreported, and as an exercise in reading between the lines. Considering that this is a department that has been illegally spying on the Muslim community and is well known for blatantly unethical practices, I think it is not difficult to infer (unless, of course, you happen to be an editor at the New York Times) that the trial against Ramarley Graham's half brothers is being used to put added pressure on the Graham family as they contemplate legal action in response to the murder of their son. Note that the term "murder" is only used to refer to the Graham family, not to the actions of the NYPD.
Andrea Jones focuses on barriers to justice in the United States and abroad.
“Pay Up! Criminal Justice Debt in Philadelphia,” by students at the Penn Program on Documentaries & the Law.
This short documentary by law students at the University of Pennsylvania provides a critical human perspective on the devastating impacts of criminal justice debt—the result of fees and fines imposed on people convicted of crimes by state governments seeking to cover costs. In Philadelphia and elsewhere, emerging from prison burdened by debt blocks individuals’ access to public benefits, hinders employment options, and diminishes opportunities for successful community reentry.
Soumya Karlamangla focuses on environmental and health policy.
“China ready to impound EU planes in CO2 dispute,” by Allison Leung and Anurag Kotoky. Reuters, June 12, 2012.
While Tuesday's Reuters article frames the conflict around the European Union's new cap-and-trade scheme in terms of China's recent threats, this piece illuminates a much larger struggle. What we see here, and definitely not for the first time, is that global warming's truly global nature makes it both an urgent danger, but also makes finding a solution seemingly impossible. With no overarching entity to dictate policy for all, different nations with centuries of tension now try to each create and implement their own worldwide plans to cut carbon emissions but continually proves unsuccessful, all while climate change worsens in the background.
Daniel LoPreto focuses on international relations.
“If Europe is 'a culture of peace', why NATO?” by Richard Falk. Al Jazeera, June 11, 2012.
I chose this piece because, for me, Falk's work functions as a welcomed antidote to mainstream writing on international affairs, which is usually teeming with hawkish platitudes and stark examples of American exceptionalism. This article provides an insightful analysis of controversial issues such as Iran's nuclear program, Islamophobia in Europe, liberal humanitarian intervention, and the contrast between the EU's seeming dismissal of war as a foreign policy strategy and the role of NATO as a Western instrument for military intervention.
Gizelle Lugo focuses on issues confronting students in the public and higher education systems.
“Students Lose Path to Grants,” by Amelia Harris. The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2012.
This article, from the Wall Street Journal, is about the elimination of a particular path, mostly utilized by minorities, to obtain grants and financial aid to go to college. I chose it because this is certainly not an issue that'll make national headlines—even if it is in WSJ—and yet it should, because it's yet another setback for poor and minority prospective students trying to go back to school to make a better life for themselves. It also demonstrates how cuts to federal programs like the Pell Grant adversely affect our nation's students.
Lucy McKeon focuses on race and ethnicity.
“Voter suppression theory: If only Republicans vote, only Republicans can win,” by Maryann Tobin. Allvoices, June 10, 2012.
The latest in voter suppression: Republican Governor of Florida Rick Perry's targeting of specific voting groups through ID laws and other restricting measures based on bogus assertions of voter fraud. It is no coincidence that one group he attempts to silence—disenfranchised former-felons, in the context of recent decades' mass incarceration of Black and Hispanic Americans—tends to vote Democratic.
Max Rivlin-Nadler focuses on the preservation of public institutions and the movement towards a transformed and renewed access to urban life.
“11 of the Best Documentaries About Cities Streaming on Netflix,” by Nate Berg. The Atlantic, June 11, 2012.
I haven't seen every film on this list, but from the few I have seen I can assure you that by simply sitting down and watching these documentaries you will learn an incredible amount about the forces of runaway development, greed and neglect that bring about the unsustainable and unequal condition of most major cities. Much cooler than that depressing insight however, is how these films capture communities who are willing to fight for what they consider important, necessary and just. In one of my favorite films, The Parking Lot Movie, an attendant wisely remarks, “It's not just a parking lot, it's a battle with humanity.”
Zoë Schlanger focuses on environmental policy, public health and corporate influence.
“North Dakota’s Oil Boom Brings Damage Along With Prosperity,” by Nicholas Kusnetz. ProPublica, June 7, 2012.
We've heard a lot about the perils of hydraulic fracturing, but ProPublica's report this week sheds light on its unsettling byproduct: waste water. Millions of gallons of salty, carcinogenic fracking "brine" was spilled or sloppily dumped in North Dakota last year, wiping out aquatic ecosystems and sterilizing farmland. And no one wants to clean it up.
Brett Warnke focuses on Afghanistan.
“Afghans say former warlord meddling in China oil deal,” by Hamid Shalizi. RAWA News, June 11, 2012.
Imperialism in Afghanistan is no new event but understanding who influences Afghanistan in the years ahead is uncertain. China? Pakistan? America? Are these imperialisms equivalent? I'm interested in how America superintends Afghanistan's slow transition to independence and the role of other world powers.
Michael Youhana focuses on US foreign policy.
“Autocrats together.” The Economist, June 9, 2012.
This article from The Economist is characteristic of some of the bad analysis coming out on the ongoing uprising in Syria. The writer banally paints the Kremlin as a cold and unwavering adherent of realpolitik, and 'the West' as an anguished and impotent sideline observer—when in fact we have the means to play, at least, a somewhat constructive role in Syria.