This week, Silicon Valley is poaching talent from Wall Street—and trying to import it, on the cheap, from abroad. Meanwhile, Canada's crown corporations are undergoing a Tory-style makeover, Texas is killing its own children (that is, its ideas for testing them) and Seattle May Dayers are on the loose. How much does your Yelp vote count?
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“Crash Test,” by Nate Blakeslee. Texas Monthly, May 2013.
Followers of the "education reform" movement's twists and turns would be wise to turn their attention to Texas, the state where George W. Bush's brand of ed reform was born, and the state where it is now being dismantled. Nate Blakeslee lays it all out in long piece for the Texas Monthly: from the rise of Bush advisor Sandy Kress and the "Texas Miracle" to today's uprising of Texas parents and Republican politicians' 180 degree turn against testing.
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Mark Zuckerberg's Self-Serving Immigration Crusade,” by Adrian Chen. Gawker, April 30, 2013.
The same Mark Zuckerberg who screwed over upstartish Ivy League comrades, and who oversees the largest extra-state fiefdom in the world, is now leading the charge to exploit the global techno-proletariat. That's the upshot of his push for streamlined Silicon Valley visas, which, wrought large, promise to make high tech labor much cheaper. Adrian Chen's gloves-off polemic makes this worth a read—but the sliminess of Zuckerberg's new lobbying group, FWD.us, speaks for itself. In one letter to supporters, they write, "We control massive distribution channels, both as companies and individuals. We saw the tip of the iceberg with SOPA/PIPA." Paging the robber barons of an earlier era.
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“France's Forgotten War,” by Robert Zaretsky. Foreign Policy, April 30, 2013.
Three months after the French government launched a military intervention in Mali, it seems that the French population has all but forgotten about France’s presence in Africa—despite the death of six French soldiers in Mali and the recent attack on the French embassy in Libya. The French are more worried about France’s internal situation—rising unemployment and a stalling economy. Only one quarter of the French population is satisfied with President Hollande, who appears helpless and unable to find solutions, and nearly 90 percent of the French told pollsters that France “needed a true leader to reestablish order.” Meanwhile, though the intervention in Mali has succeeded in dispersing the Islamists, it has failed to achieve a clear victory and put an end to the rebellion. The UN and the local population fear that if French troops leave the country, it will create a political and security vacuum in Mali, destabilizing an already fragile region.
— Andrew Epstein focuses on social history, colonialism and indigenous rights.
“Wounded Knee Sale Deadline Looms,” by Vincent Schilling. Indian Country Today, April 30, 2013.
In 1890, the US military murdered between 150 and 300 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the final massacre in what's euphemistically known as the "Indian Wars." (The government awarded 20 medals of honor for the "battle.") Forty years later, a white trader acquired a 40-acre parcel of land that included the massacre site as part of the government's "allotment" program. Abolishing collective land tenure, the government "granted" individual Indian men their own small plots, which they could now sell to eager and cajoling settlers; the resulting land loss was staggering. In 1968, James Czywczynski acquired the Wounded Knee parcel. Now he's hoping to cash in, putting the plot on sale this week and refusing any offer less than $5 million. “What makes them think that I should give it to them? Everything is given to the Indians anyway,” Czywczynski said.
— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.
“Sam Gindin on the crisis in labor,” by Doug Henwood. LBO News from Doug Henwood, June 18, 2012.
Doug Henwood interviews Sam Gindin on the crisis in labor.
— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.
“The 'S-Word': Egyptian Movement Takes On Islamic Rule,” by Ahmed Ateyya. Al-Monitor, April 27, 2013.
A small youth movement, representing a coalition of across-the-spectrum secular political beliefs, organizes and protests against national identity cards that legally must include religion and, more broadly, a religious state in Egypt.
— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.
“'The Law of Politics' According to Sergei Lavrov,” interview by Susan Glasser. Foreign Policy, May/June 2013.
In this comprehensive interview, Russia's foreign minister explains why his country opposes the United States in everything from delivering arms to the Syrian government to missile defense in Europe to the Magnitsky Act and the tit-for-tat ban on American adoptions from Russia. Although he is a diplomat and carefully toes a dogmatic line, there are moments of candor and detail that provide more insight than your standard obligatory quotes in news stories.
— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.
“Tech Poaches Wall Street Talent,” by Jessica Lessin. The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2013.
Jessica Lessin at The Wall Street Journal unearths another kind of revolving door that is quickly accelerating as tech beats Wall Street at its own game.
— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.
“Star Wars,” by Tom Vanderbilt. The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2013.
"A one-star uptick in a Yelp review can lead to a nine percent improvement in revenues for independently owned restaurants." That is an incredible statistic. Vanderbilt considers how those upticks happen (or don't) and why, worrying that as websites like Yelp and Amazon democratize criticism they may also dilute it.
— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.
“Freedom Is Frustrating,” by Brendan Kiley. The Stranger, April 3, 2013.
During Seattle's May Day rally last year, some protestors smashed some windows. (Surprise!) This is supposedly why a federal grand jury subpoenaed several of my friends to answer questions about specific individuals' political beliefs and social networks. My friends, who were not present at the May Day rally, refused to cooperate. They were charged with civil contempt and incarcerated for several months, including extended periods in solitary confinement. FOIA requests have since revealed that the grand jury actually convened prior to May Day, indicating that social-mapping of activist communities, not finding out who broke some windows, was the real motivation behind the investigation. Now, thankfully, my friends are out of prison, and I recently got to hang out with two of them in DC, where they spoke about their experiences at George Washington University Law School. So I'm thinking about them this week and re-reading the articles Brendan Kiley wrote about them for The Stranger. The Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers recently announced they have chosen Kiley to receive their annual Champion of Justice Award for his coverage of the grand jury resisters.
— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.
“Cuba Policy: Fruitless, Mean and Cruel,” by Saul Landau And Nelson Valdés. CounterPunch, April 26-28, 2013.
Saul Landau and Nelson Valdés tell the sad story of five Cuban intelligence officers who have spent the last 15 years unnecessarily imprisoned in the United States. In the late 90s, the agents were in Miami to monitor extremist Cuban exile groups and had developed an informal working relationship with the US government, providing the FBI and Justice department with counterterrorism intelligence. But soon the powerful Cuban exile community wielded its political capital in Florida to have the agents arrested.
— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.
“Harper tightening the reins on CBC, Via Rail and Canada Post,” by Bill Curry and John Ibbitson. The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2013.
Happy May Day! Stephen Harper's Tories are implementing massive changes to crown corporations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada Post and Via Rail. The proposed changes—detailed at the end of a 111-page budget bill—will allow the government to participate in collective bargaining and to direct negotiations with unionized and non-unionized employees. Says a CBC union rep: "I don’t know how anybody looking at [the new powers] cannot see this as turning the public broadcaster into a state broadcaster."