This week: Obama outlines an aggressive plan to address climate change, Egyptians brace for a second revolution and the Supreme Court continues to erode workers’ rights.
— Darren Ankrom focuses on climate change.
“‘We Need to Act’: Transcript of Obama’s Climate Change Speech.” Bloomberg News, June 25, 2013.
This week’s climate article is, in fact, a speech. President Obama outlined an aggressive plan to address climate change during a landmark address Tuesday from Georgetown University. Credit to The Weather Channel for actually carrying the speech in full, one of a disappointingly few channels to do so. In his speech, Obama seemed to crack the door for a possible Keystone XL pipeline denial later this year and told climate change skeptics that there’s “no time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”
— Humna Bhojani focuses on the War on Terror and the Middle East.
“I Know What You Think of Me,” by Tim Kreider. The New York Times, June 16, 2013.
As I went through an intensely emotional weekend, a dear friend sent me this blog post about unconditional love. Possessing more flaws than virtues, I am lucky to be surrounded by people who love me despite my failings, or perhaps even because of them. This is an article that I will find myself repeatedly returning to, as I fumble, fall and fail through life.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” —Siddhartha Gautama
— Rick Carp focuses on media, psychology and environmentalism.
“Obama Climate Plan Touts Gas Fracking As “Transition Fuel,” Doubling Down on Methane Risk,” by Steve Horn. DeSmogBlog, June 25, 2013.
Obama’s climate speech blasted “Flat Earth” climate contrarians and described “a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged.” But he also spent a large portion cheerleading for the natural gas industry. He tried to make the case for using it as a “transition fuel”—but the Climate Action Plan notes the need to “encourage the development of a global market for gas.”
— Keenan Duffey focuses on Middle East national politics.
“Across Egypt’s Cairo, districts brace for 30 June and beyond,” by Dina Ezzat. Ahram Online, June 26, 2013.
Two and a half years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt appears primed for a second revolution. Massive nationwide protests are scheduled for June 30 and shops across Cairo are barren from people stocking up in anticipation of an extended period of chaos. Egyptians are divided. Many are disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood and their disastrous economic and security policies while others wish simply for continuity in their government, no matter who is in charge. The mood in Cairo is tense as Egyptians wait in anticipation of what Sunday might bring.
— Prashanth Kamalakanthan focuses on racism, imperialism, and student/worker activism.
“‘I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This’: A Soldier’s Last Words,” by Daniel Somers. Gawker, June 22, 2013.
Somers, an Iraq veteran diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other war-related conditions, wrote this moving letter to his wife and family before taking his own life on June 10 at the age of 30. Twenty-two veterans kill themselves each day as a result of US policymakers’ brutal military campaigns across the Middle East, but still their stories remain largely unheard. Somers’s last words help us understand the guilt, isolation and abandonment imposed on those people who actually fight these wars, too often left in the dark.
— Eunji Kim focuses on gender, race, media and East Asian politics.
“It’s Australia v Japan over whaling in the Antarctic,” by Justin McCurry. The Guardian, June 24, 2013.
Japan’s whaling industry has long been criticized by Japanese and foreign environmentalists alike. Despite reports revealing much of its meat going to waste (because few Japanese consume whale meat), Japan’s whale hunt continued. This may change, however, with the recent case brought to the international court by Australia.
— Samantha Lachman focuses on reproductive justice, healthcare access and intersectionality.
“How workplace harassers won big,” by Irin Carmon. Salon, June 24, 2013.
Vance v. Ball State and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar were definitely not the highest-profile SCOTUS decisions released lately, but both will have harmful effects upon attempts to eliminate workplace harassment and discrimination. Carmon explains how the Court’s conservative majority has further eroded protections for workers.
— Rebecca Nathanson focuses on social movements, student organizing and labor.
“Brazilians Are Taking to the Streets to Protest Their Country’s Injustice and Inequality—Why Aren’t We?” by Marty Kaplan. AlterNet, June 25, 2013.
In the past weeks, many journalists have mused over the causes and effects of the protests spreading across Brazil (for an overview, I’d recommend this piece in NACLA), but few have asked the question posed by Kaplan: why aren’t the masses taking to the streets in the US to protest injustice and inequality when it exists here just as it does in Brazil? While I don’t agree with his response—that Occupy’s dissolution created an atmosphere in which “hope feels naïve”—the statistics he uses to compare inequality, education and other social problems in these two countries with such different histories are fascinating.
— Jake Scobey-Thal focuses on human rights and conflict in Asia and Africa
“Riots in China’s Xinjiang region kill at least 27.” South China Morning Post, June 26, 2013.
Twenty-seven people were killed this week after rioters clashed with police in China’s ethnically divided Xinjiang region. The region is home to almost 9 million Uyghers, an ethnic Muslim minority that has long faced systemic persecution at the hands of the Han majority in China. Significant Han migration in recent years and uneven returns on government investments in natural resource extraction have buttressed ethnic tensions in the region.
— Aviva Stahl focuses on Islamophobia in the US and the UK and its links to racism, homophobia/transphobia and the prison industrial complex.
“Police ‘smear’ campaign targeted Stephen Lawrence’s friends and family,” by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. The Guardian, June 23, 2013.
As NYC prepares itself for a City Council vote on the Community Safety Act, new revelations have emerged about the extent of police spying in Britain. The Guardian has revealed that police officers were instructed to spy on the family of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993, in order to gather possible “dirt” that could be used to discredit them. The Metropolitan Police’s failure to investigate Lawrence’s killing was examined several years later in the Macpherson Report, which concluded that the force was institutionally racist. The recent revelations of spying, which were made by a former undercover officer turned whisteblower, are especially damning given the symbolic importance attached to Lawrence’s case and the cultural shifts around race and policing brought about by the fallout from the Macpherson Report.
— John Thomason focuses on pieces that situate contemporary American political debates in historical and/or intellectual contexts.
Justice Ginsburg’s Dissenting Opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. Supreme Court of the United States, June 25, 2013.
There’s been some good stuff written about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to nullify Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. But nothing is as comprehensive and damning as Justice Ginsburg’s dissent, which argues eloquently not only for the constitutional permissibility—necessity, even—of the VRA as written, but also for the overwh0elming weight of historical (and contemporary) evidence that informed Congress’s landslide vote to reauthorize the law in 2006.