This week: Turkey’s citizens are uniting against an authoritarian state, the families of Guantánamo Bay hunger strikers are waiting for action and universities are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from corporations. On the bright side, Facebook has finally admitted that censoring pictures of breast-feeding women but allowing ones depicting violence against women is wrong.
— Darren Ankrom focuses on climate change.
“Why America’s Shale Oil Boom Could End Sooner Than You Think,” by Christopher Helman. Forbes, June 13, 2013.
A thorough economic analysis of potentially volatile future oil production and prices. Just more incentive to develop alternative energy sources, not to even mention the environmental impact of all this shale.
— Humna Bhojani focuses on the War on Terror and the Middle East.
“New York police sued over surveillance of Muslims,” by Chris Francescani. Reuters, June 18, 2013.
On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over its surveillance of Muslim communities. The surveillance by the NYPD combined with the metadata collection by the NSA is an unprecedented invasion into the private lives of Muslims in this country. Wait a minute, is that… is that… a drone outside my office window?
— Rick Carp focuses on media, psychology and environmentalism.
“Buzz Off, Monsanto,” PR Watch, June 19, 2013.
Pesticide corporations begin a tour to discredit the science that says their products are killing the pollinators that sustain the food system. On a related, slightly older note: while they go on tour trying to deflect attention away from the problems caused by the pesticides, they also are developing ridiculous so-called solutions like Robot Bees.
— Keenan Duffey focuses on Middle East national politics.
“Occupy Gezi: The Limits of Turkey’s Neoliberal Success,” by Cihan Tugal. Jadaliyya, June 4, 2013.
Turkey’s ruling AKP party has dealt with protests against its development policies for over a decade by marginalizing and dividing their opposition. Neoliberal economic policy has driven the ruling party to remake Istanbul in the image of the West, eliminating much of its public space in the process. In recent weeks, however, the government’s brutal tactics in trying to disperse protesters from Taksim Square’s last green space, Gezi Park, has united the previously disparate interest groups against police brutality and an increasingly authoritarian state.
— Prashanth Kamalakanthan focuses on racism, imperialism and student/worker activism.
“A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse,” by David Graeber. The Baffler, Issue No. 22.
This is an important intervention by David Graeber that goes beyond the usual critique of neoliberalism—as a system that sacrifices all human values for economic growth while paradoxically failing at even this—by elaborating on what it has been successful at (so far): diffusing resistance. Suggesting that the system’s administrators are “obsessed by the prospect of revolutionary social movements once again challenging prevailing common sense,” he points to evidence that hearteningly suggests their control is much shallower than it might initially appear.
— Eunji Kim focuses on gender, race, media and East Asian politics.
“It’s time for Facebook to show its real commitment against gender-based hate speech online,” by Marta Cooper. The Daily Telegraph, June 18, 2013.
Facebook finally admitted that its gender-based hate-censoring system (that removed photos of breast-feeding women but not of “more abuse-laden content”) wasn’t working. Sure, it’s an important step taken, but Marta Cooper reminds us of a real, bigger question—violence against women online—and what lies ahead in this ever-expanding media-saturated world.
— Samantha Lachman focuses on reproductive justice, health care access and intersectionality.
“Can Women’s Magazine’s Do Serious Journalism?” by Jessica Grose. The New Republic, June 17, 2013.
This piece exposes the disparities in accolades and recognition that women’s magazines experience as compared to men’s magazines. As per Grose, there exists “an assumption that what women’s magazines publish is not as influential or important.” I’ll admit that I partially dismissed this piece upon first reading because of my biases against magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue, but after Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) tweeted a ton of smart, in-depth pieces from women’s magazines like Elle, Marie Claire and Glamour, I was turned on to so many important stories that deserve to be read.
— Rebecca Nathanson focuses on social movements, student organizing and labor.
“NYU’s Gilded Age: Students Struggle With Debt While Vacation Homes Are Lavished on the University’s Elite,” by Pam Martens and Russ Martens. AlterNet, June 17, 2013.
While NYU students graduate with the highest average student debt in the country, NYU’s administrators are given massive bonuses and extravagant perks. In the latest discovery about the inner workings of the university, an investigation revealed loans given to administrators for vacation homes, including President John Sexton’s Fire Island beach house. With five votes of no-confidence against Sexton already completed by university faculty, the resistance to this corporate, top-down model of governance is only growing, and these new revelations will surely help that process.
— Jake Scobey-Thal focuses on human rights and conflict in Asia and Africa.
“Islamists Press Blasphemy Cases in a New Egypt,” by Ben Hubbard and Mayy El Sheikh. The New York Times, June 19, 2013.
Since the revolution, the frequency of blasphemy cases in Egypt has risen dramatically. With the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist activists have greater clout to influence local judiciaries—most cases have been filed on behalf of Salafists against the country’s Christian minority. Egypt is not alone; blasphemy laws have been used in many countries—Pakistan and Indonesia most recently—to persecute religious minorities.
— Aviva Stahl focuses on Islamophobia in the US and the UK and its links to racism, homophobia/transphobia and the prison-industrial complex.
“Johina Aamer—‘What have you done in the last 11 years?’” Cage Prisoners, June 18, 2013.
Shaker Aamer is the last remaining British resident in Guantánamo Bay, and has now been on hunger strike, along with many others, for over 134 days. In this video, his daughter Johina poses an important question—“What have you done in the last eleven years?”; for Johina, the answer is simple—she’s being waiting eleven years for her father to return home, despite the fact that he has never been charged with a crime and has been cleared for release twice. Featuring Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith, former associate foreign editor of The Guardian Victoria Brittain, Gossip Girl actress Caroline Eugenie and several former Guantánamo detainees.
— John Thomason focuses on pieces that situate contemporary American political debates in historical and/or intellectual contexts.
“Total Information Awareness,” by Michael McCanne. The New Inquiry, June 19, 2013.
This piece clears up some confusion by situating recent revelations about government surveillance in the context of the NSA’s decades-long quest for “Total Information Awareness.” It also argues that intelligence gathering is “part and parcel with war making.” What this means in an era where digital information constitutes our very selves is left for us to consider.