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 look beyond the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. 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.
Elisa Wouk Almino focuses on South America, particularly Brazil.
“La bonanza de América Latina ignora a las universidades,” El País, September 12, 2012. (To read in English, click here.)
Having visited Brazil recently, I witnessed teacher's strikes in universities all over the country, as well as protests against a recent controversial quota that was set in place for university entry. Education is a serious issue in Brazil, and in the rest of South America. Though Brazil has of late been seen as a thriving economic power, the country has been neglecting the importance of education, resulting in an undersupply of qualified people to work.
Nader Atassi focuses on Middle Eastern politics and society.
“Online trafficking of Syrian women shames all involved,” by Hassan Hassan. The National, September 10, 2012.
While most media attention on the Syrian conflict is concentrated on the battlefield, other important issues are being overshadowed, such as the plight of Syrian refugees who have left their homes to escape the violence. In this column for the UAE's The National, Hassan Hassan tells the story of how Syrian refugee women in camps are being exploited by men who say they want to "save" them from their difficult situation by marrying them. This has become a trend, whereby men post ads online requesting marriage from Syrian women, and some Syrian refugee families take up these offers as they see marrying off their daughters as preferable to having them live in refugee camps.
Jeffery Ernsthausen focuses on domestic politics and the influence of money on public institutions.
“Revealed: The Dark Money Group Attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown,” by Justin Elliot. ProPublica, September 7, 2012.
Last Friday, ProPublica uncovered questionable links between a dark money group running ads in Ohio and Republican and state treasurer Josh Mandel, who is campaigning against incumbent Sherrod Brown for a seat in the US Senate. Documents filed with a Cincinnati television station showed that the group, the Government Integrity Fund, is chaired by a state lobbyist who hired a former Mandel staffer last year, and revealed that the group's office is in the same building as an office of the former staffer. So far the group—which is not required to reveal its donors because of its non-profit status—has spent over a million dollars on ads attacking Brown and praising Mandel in what is thus far the most expensive Senate campaign in the country.
Stefan Fergus focuses on US media, the presidency, and China.
“Obama’s Way,” by Michael Lewis. Vanity Fair, October 2012.
As with many Lewis articles, the writer spends a long time setting up the piece. The article is noteworthy for a number of reasons—first, Lewis's access to the President, the fact that it morphed from a domestic economy piece to a foreign policy piece through circumstance, and how candid the president was. It sadly suffers from Vanity Fair syndrome, in that it is also a puff piece. But, as you read, you do get a picture (of sorts) of the president's character and life in the White House.
Steven Hsieh focuses on US politics, the media, and East Asian affairs.
“Hong Kong Retreats on ‘National Education’ Plan,” by Keith Bradsher. The New York Times, September 9, 2012.
Last week, tens of thousands of protesters assembled outside Hong Kong's government headquarters to resist a Beijing-backed K-12 curriculum that would cheerlead communist China and erase Tiananmen Square from history. Under pressure, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying caved on the outrageously titled "Moral, Civic and National Education" plan, illuminating the tremendous disconnect between Hong Kong's puppet government and the citizens it purportedly represents.
Adam Hudson focuses on war and peace.
“The Laws Obama is Breaking in His Relentless Drone War,” by John Glaser. AntiWar.com, September 10, 2012.
This article is important because Obama is waging relentless covert wars around the world, especially with the use of drones for targeted killings, with very little public debate. Morally, I oppose this and other wars. More importantly, I find it troubling because it violates basic principles of international humanitarian law that have developed through custom over hundreds of years. This article (and the memo) touches on that issue.
Ricky Kreitner focuses on corruption, influence, and regulatory capture.
“Trenton Mayor Tony Mack arrested but his lawyer says he won't resign,” by Anthony Campisi. The Record, September 10, 2012.
Progressives’s ire is often—quite rightly—directed at relatively obscure or complicated or novel examples of official corruption and malfeasance. It’s worth remembering that sometimes it can be as simple as an envelope of money handed over in a casino parking lot. Tony Mack, the mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, and eight associates, including his brother, were arrested on Monday and charged with accepting bribes from FBI informants posing as developers. “I like to do it like the Boss Tweed way,” “JoJo” Giorgianni, a Mack supporter and one of those arrested (and a convicted child molester), told an informant. “You know Boss Tweed ran Tammany Hall.” While we’re getting history lessons, it’s worth noting that Monday’s arrest makes Mack—known to his friends in the underworld as “Honey Fitz,” “Napoleon,” or “the Little Guy”—the 17th New Jersey mayor to be charged with corruption in the past 10 years. Who's fist-pumping now?
Annum Masroor focuses on the draw down of the Afghanistan War and how it will shape Afghanistan's own future and that of its neighbors.
“A Pointless Blacklisting,” by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn. The New York Times, September 11, 2012.
I chose this article because it highlights some of the many features of our failed strategy in Afghanistan: our inability to understand the enemy (and our simultaneous misguided belief in the opposite), our sometimes frequent undermining of Pakistan relations and interests in a post-US invasion of Afghanistan, and our failure to embrace engagement with the Taliban through negotiations and/or a ceasefire agreement. These need to change if the US ever wishes to exit Afghanistan, and I think the bigger issues at hand will center on what will happen afterwards (particularly in Pakistan, where the spillover from the war has created many economic, social, and political ramifications).
Nick Myers focuses on the military, environment and politics in pop culture.
“Romney Promises to Revive Stealth Jet, But It Won’t Happen,” by David Axe. Wired, September 11, 2012.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been getting a lot of flak lately for his apparent inability to outline policy specifics—often from fellow Republicans. But let’s give credit where credit is due: In a September 8 interview, Romney said he would bolster the Air Force’s fleet of 187 operational F-22 Raptor jet fighters, among other military expansions. However, with the Department of Defense’s program termination and Lockheed Martin’s production operation since cancelled, it would be a few years and a few billion dollars before more of the aircraft could be put in the air. Now if only he’d tell us his big plans for creating jobs and slashing the national deficit.
Anna Robinson focuses on gender and sexuality.
“NYCLU Study Shows Gaps, Inaccuracies and Bias in NY Sex Ed Instruction,” NYCLU, September 12, 2012.
The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report that reveals that the quality of sex education that New York students receive is "inaccurate, incomplete and biased," based on a study of the materials used in sex-ed instruction in eighty-two school districts. It highlights the importance of statewide guidelines, which are binding and ensure comprehensive information is imparted accurately.
Christie Thompson focuses on structural poverty.
“Deadly poverty,” by Steve Bogira. Chicago Reader, August 22, 2012.
Steve Bogira's analysis of poverty and crime data finds that living in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods "should come with a surgeon general's warning." While we've long known homicide is higher in disadvantaged communities, research suggests poverty is the root of most health disparities, including heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. As politicians continue to leave poverty out of the election conversation, the country's most segregated city shows the true price of ignoring such issues.
Eric Wuestewald focuses on international conflict and human rights.
“The Dividing of a Continent: Africa's Separatist Problem,” by Max Fisher. The Atlantic, September 10, 2012.
Max Fisher of The Atlantic has long been one of my go-to sources for compelling arguments about often overlooked points in international affairs. And, of course, this piece is no different. A necessary reminder of the destabilizing effects of foreign intervention and arbitrarily drawn borders, Africa's post-colonial legacy is still a major source of contention to date. However, the question remains whether further secession would alleviate or exacerbate internal fighting. In this balanced overview, Fisher carefully addresses some of that question's current complications.