TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
If American children had to work multiple jobs in order to pursue their dreams, it would stir up a whirlwind of controversy. Yet this is a common experience for many amateur American athletes hoping to compete in the Olympic Games, and it receives almost no media attention. Appearing on CSPAN’s Washington Journal, former US Olympic luge competitor and Nation contributor Samantha Retrosi railed against the “privatized sporting hierarchy” that exploits young athletes. “Athletes essentially are property of corporate sponsorship,” Retrosi told host Peter Slen.
The Sochi Olympics are a prime example of celebration capitalism: an exorbitant, nationalism-boosting affair that allows participant countries to distract from economic inequality and civil rights abuses at home. In this panel at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Nation sports editor Dave Zirin joins 2006 Olympic luge competitor Samantha Retrosi and Jules Boykoff, a politics professor at the Pacific University of Oregon, to discuss the profound political implications of the Olympic Games. Citing severe environmental degredation, harsh crackdowns against activists, and the installment of a sweeping surveillance system, Zirin refers to this year’s event as an “unreal clusterfuck of injustice.”
Editorial note: Dave Zirin’s comments start at 12:22.
In the buildup to what are being described as the most corrupt Olympics in history, a broad spectrum of activists has raised issues with Sochi 2014. The list of concerns includes environmental degradation, rampant corruption, labor abuses, indigenous rights and animal mistreatment. Only two days before the opening ceremony, Nation contributor Samantha Retrosi and sports editor Dave Zirin appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss these pressing issues. Echoing sentiments shared in her recent article for The Nation, Retrosi commented on the “cruelty and exploitation” embedded within the Olympics, while Zirin claimed that “what’s happening in Russia is particularly bad, even by Olympic standards.”
While the legal age to purchase tobacco products may be 18, children as young as 10 are working in American tobacco fields. This dispatch by Fusion, reported in partnership with the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, provides an in-depth look at the hazards of tobacco farming, including nicotine poisoning and “green tobacco sickness.” As Rayner Ramirez reports, some 400,000 children work on US farms every year to help support their families, most of whom live below the poverty line. For more on the conditions faced by child farmworkers, see Gabe Thompson’s investigative piece for The Nation.
Will the NFL’s recent $765 million settlement be enough to fully compensate all currently retired players with neurological conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s disease? According to Nation sports editor Dave Zirin, that concern isn’t at the top of the league owners’ minds. When he joined Animal New York contributing editor Amy K. Nelson and former NFL players Wade Davis and Roman Oben on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, Zirin blasted the owners for treating their own players “as extensions of equipment, and when the equipment runs out, well, it’s on to the next one.”
In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Nation correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous provides an update on the crackdowns against dissent that have defined the three-year anniversary of the revolution. Thousands have been detained, including many prominent journalists and intellectuals, and street violence is rampant. At the same time, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has ruled Egypt since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi last July, appears to be setting the stage for his own presidential candidacy. According to Kouddous, “It’s a dark time for many of the young revolutionaries and activists who had very high hopes three years ago…many of whom are in prison now. It looks like the repressive security state is in ascendancy.”
Editor’s note: The interview with Kouddous starts at 14:00
Nation contributor and Russian studies scholar Stephen F. Cohen says the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government would be “a serious blow to democracy” in this conversation with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and London-based researcher Anton Shekhovtsov. Arguing that Western media have misrepresented the protests, Cohen says Ukrainian moderates have lost control of the movement to right-wing extremists whose political activity “includes writing on buildings in western Ukraine, ‘Jews live here.’” He adds: “That’s exactly what the Nazis wrote on the homes of Jews when they occupied Ukraine.”
Editor’s note: Cohen’s remarks begin at 43:03
Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor at Princeton University and NYU, appeared on the Pacifica Evening News for a discussion of the evolving situation in Ukraine. As protests spread from Kiev to other cities across the country, some of them turning violent, pressure for a Western response has escalated. Cohen believes that any action taken by the US and EU would be motivated by economic interest, not support for democratic dissent. “In this whole march towards the East, Ukraine is the prize. It’s the most European, it’s the largest, it’s in resource terms the richest…and the West wants to take that from Russia.”
Editorial note: Cohen’s remarks begin at 21:40
According to a recently released preview, President Obama’s State of the Union speech will focus on income inequality. Since this will be the cornerstone of his 2014 agenda, Obama has pledged to use executive orders to raise the minimum wage, pass immigration reform and extend unemployment benefits if Congress fails to take action. Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel appeared on MSNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacki, alongside Huffington Post editor Amandra Terkel, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone and Chicago Sun-Times editor Lynn Sweet, to share her predictions for the address. For vanden Heuvel, Obama’s emphasis on the economy is part of a broader progressive resurgence nationally. “I think the president is being moved forward by a constituency that has waited too long.”
In this wide-ranging interview, John Batchelor speaks with NYU Professor of Russian History Stephen F. Cohen about the violent turn of Kiev’s street protests and terrorist threats at the Sochi Olympics. According to Cohen, US officials maintain an overly simplified view of the Ukraine protests, failing to differentiate between the pro-EU and ultranationalist factions, and their interference is exacerbating tensions between Russia and the United States. Cohen said, “As this Western/Russian standoff grows into a full-scale confrontation, it spills over and spoils the opportunities for cooperation in Syria, on Iran and at the Sochi Olympics.” For more on the unfolding situation in Kiev, listen to Cohen’s interview on KPFA 94.1’s Letters and Politics.