This week: Gender segmentation still prevails in the workplace, the greenery of West Virginia hides the scars of strip mining and Canada's border service holds off on capturing terror suspects until new terrorism legislation is up for debate. Speaking of terrorists, Americans are as likely to be killed by them as by their own furniture.
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“Corporate Reform Puts Democratic Party Leaders in a Bind,” by Anthony Cody. Education Week, April 17, 2013.
Democratic and Republican Party support for "corporate education reform" is showing sings of decay. California's state Democratic Party passed a resolution last week decrying the "Corporate 'Reform' Agenda." Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee passed its own resolution against the federally supported curriculum initiative Common Core. Blogger Anthony Cody describes Democrats in a bind: union and Democratic leaders continue to support corporate reform.
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Overworking Women: How Long Hours Lead to Gender-Segregated Jobs,” by Sarah Jaffe. In These Times, April 24, 2013.
Why all the blathering on workplace equality, conservatives ask, when the newish economy has meant more jobs for women than under high-Fordism, and an attendant breakdown in gender segmentation? "We'd like to think this ideal is changing," Sarah Jaffe writes, but really, it's not. Jaffe unpacks new research showing that workplace standards, coupled with gender norms, still tend to push women into certain, often crappier-paid, jobs. When women are primary caretakers, for example, especially single mothers, how can they afford to work jobs demanding longer hours (and, in many cases, higher pay)? That's one of many issues, Jaffe suggests, that should inform policy-making.
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“Amid Much Tumult, France Approves ‘Marriage for All,’” by Scott Sayare. The New York Times, April 24, 2013.
After months of demonstrations and heated debates at the French National Assembly, France has adopted the “Marriage for All” bill, becoming the world’s 14th nation to approve same-sex marriage. If the Constitutional Council approves the legislation and French President François Hollande signs it into law, the first same-sex marriages will be celebrated this summer. However, this highly contentious issue continues to divide French society as opponents to the law are organizing huge rallies in the country to protest the new legislation, while several attacks against gay couples have been reported.
— Andrew Epstein focuses on social history, colonialism and indigenous rights.
“Trinity Church Split on How to Manage $2 Billion Legacy of a Queen,” by Sharon Otterman. The New York Times, April 25, 2013.
Lurking behind this illuminating article on Trinity Church, Manhattan's largest private landowner with assets of more than $2 billion, is a dark history of settler colonialism, rapacious capitalism and white supremacy. In the 1690s, the church forbade the burying of African Americans in its churchyard, who were pushed to the outskirts of "Collect Pond," what's now the City Hall area. (A struggle in the 1990s led to a proper memorial.) In 1705, Queen Anne bequeathed the church a massive tract of what remained unceded Lenape territory ($24 myths not withstanding) in what came to be known as the Great Trinity Land Grab. By 1857, the church had more than $600,000 worth of mortgages on smaller churches. By the early 1990s, these rent rolls amounted to $40-50 million per year. Think of them as an ecclesiastical Donald Trump.
— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.
“Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism,” by Micah Zenko. The Atlantic, June 6, 2012.
Let’s put things in perspective: “The number of US citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year.” Now consider the terror of capitalism.
— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.
“Women of the Wall, the Sharansky Plan, and the Continuing Struggle for Women’s Equality in Jerusalem,” by Abby Caplin. Tikkun Daily, April 17, 2013.
Centered around the struggle of the Women of the Wall, a group supporting equal access to worship at the Western Wall, and a recently unveiled plan to create a more inclusive space for Wall visitors, many of the complexities highlighted in Caplin's article—government financial support for the ultra-Orthodox, civil rights repression and the many parties who must be consulted in all decision making processes—are equally manifest in the host of issues Israel faces, including Palestine.
— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.
“What Dzokhar Tsarnaev and Bradley Manning Have in Common,” by Alyssa Rohricht. CounterPunch, April 24, 2013.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev is accused of setting off blasts that killed three and injured at least 141 others, whereas WikiLeaker Bradley Manning released documents that exposed torture and civilian casualties perpetrated by the military. Tsarnaev will likely receive a trial by jury, and rightly so (The Nation's Ari Melber recently broke down the dubious legality for naming him an "enemy combatant"). Manning, on the other hand, having spent over three years in confinement, awaits a July court date in front of a military judge that could send him to prison for life. Rohricht makes a strong case here that justice is being compromised to silence Manning, and I would only add that even some government and military officials have begrudgingly admitted that Manning's leaks did not harm American national security.
— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.
“Data Barns in a Farm Town, Gobbling Power and Flexing Muscle,” by James Glanz. The New York Times, September 24, 2012.
This is the second in a two-part series about the environmental impact of large data centers. I chose this article because it gives context to Facebook's recent effort to establish a new $1.5 billion data center in Altoona, Iowa. It seems to be another instance in which rural communities are stripped of their resources and left to deal with the consequences.
— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.
“Out in the Great Alone,” by Brian Phillips. Grantland, April 24, 2013.
The bells and whistles might not be for everyone, but there's no denying that this is a kind of storytelling that takes advantage of qualities unique to its medium. Not much point looking for a "print" button, though.
— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.
“Fog Count,” by Leslie Jamison. Oxford American, April 1, 2013.
One of my favorite passages in “Fog Count” describes the deceptively beautiful drive into West Virginia as Potemkin forests hiding a moonscape of strip-mined land. Rich imagery abounds in this essay about the hidden scars of prisons and mines, and the privilege of being an outsider asking questions in a world that isn't yours.
— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.
“Brazil's green flagbearer Marina Silva ready to get back in the race,” by Jonathan Watts. The Guardian, April 22, 2013.
An engaging but slightly disheartening profile of Brazil's most prominent environmentally-minded politician, Marina Silva. Her alienation from Lula and Dilma's Working Party is a testament to the government's refusal to address environmental degradation and climate change. However, her achievement of 20 million votes in Brazil's most recent presidential election combined with her ongoing influence in the national discourse show that there is a large constituency for conservationist policies in the country.
— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.
“Government denies link between RCMP arrests and House terrorism debate,” by John Geddes. Maclean’s, April 22, 2013.
The timeline looks like this: On Friday, April 19, the Conservative government announces it is fast-tracking debate on Bill S-7, the controversial "Combatting Terrorism Act," for Monday. Come Monday, April 22, a joint operation of the RCMP, CSIS and the Canadian Border Services Agency (with assistance from the FBI) arrests two men in connection with an alleged terror plot, thought to be backed by al-Qaeda in Iran. Perhaps the strangest part about this timing? Police had originally planned to arrest the suspects three weeks ago.