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Occupy Davis's Bank Boycott Victory

This post was originally published by Adbusters.org.

For the last two months, Occupy UC Davis has been blockading a campus branch of U.S. Bank. Now, in a victory for Occupy that potentially gives birth to a new movement tactic, U.S. Bank has capitulated and permanently closed the branch.

U.S. Bank has been a visible symbol on campus of the corporatization and monied corruption of education in part because, as The Aggie campus newspaper explains, “in 2010, all students were required to get new ID cards with the U.S. Bank logo on the back.”

The tactic of the occupiers was simple, nonviolent and highly effective. The Aggie describes the scene: “the blockade became a daily ritual. Protesters — typically numbering around 15 — would arrive around noon, followed by an officer from the campus police department. Thirty minutes later, bank employees would leave and the entire process would be repeated the next day.”

A celebratory statement posted on Occupy UC Davis’s website said, “the blockade of the U.S. Bank was a real battle against the privatization agenda, and its closure is a victory... This is not enough, this is not the end.”

The victory at Davis opens a new tactical horizon for Occupy. Can the bank blockade tactic be replicated across the nation? Could shutting down big banks every day for a month be the tactical breakthrough we need for May?

Interns’ Favorite Pieces of the Week (3/14/12)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

Youth in Revolt: The Plague of State-Sponsored Violence,” by Henry Giroux. Truthout, March 14, 2012.

Since Occupy began last fall, the protest movement has found many of its most critical moments marred by violence and police brutality. This article finds a link between state-sponsored violence against protestors, the disintegration of social programs, and the increasing tendency toward harsh punishment of combat. Henry Giroux discusses and analyzes the long erosion of civil society that has reached a point where "the war on terror has become a war on democracy."

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health, and the environment.

Goodbye, Texas Women's Health Program,” by Andrea Grimes. RH Reality Check, March 13, 2012.

The national fight over women's health services came to roost in Texas this week, where hundreds of thousands of women are set to lose access to preventative and reproductive health care—thanks to determined efforts by state legislators, who have for years tried to block Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women's Health Program. In Texas, and across the country, the attacks on women's health—led predominantly by white men—have been most devastating for low-income and uninsured young women and mothers. 

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.

10 ‘Occupy’ Candidates Running for Congress,” by Josh Harkinson. Mother Jones, March 12, 2012. 

While the Occupy movement has shied away from making any "official" links with political candidates, there have been plenty of candidates that look to the phenomenon for support. This article provides a list of ten (there are likely more) people running for Congressional seats, what connects them to the Occupy movement, and what chances they have of winning.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture.

U.S. May Disclose Missile Defense Data to Russia,” by Alexey Eremenko. RIA Novosti, March 12, 2012.

In negotiations over the deployment and long-term development of missile defense, the United States has expressed potential openness to sharing with Russia data on the speed of its rockets. RIA Novosti cites Alexander Khramchikhin, a researcher with the Institute for Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, as saying that the offer to share "secret data" on the velocity of rockets is key to countering Russian military concerns that US/NATO missile defenses threaten Russia’s missile capabilities and the delicate balance of deterrence. This offer further demonstrates that the United States is committed to a robust trajectory of missile defense policy.

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

Where Were You When Rush Was Blasting Black Folks?” by Jeneba Ghatt. Politics365, March 8, 2012.

After Rush Limbaugh's recent incendiary comments about Sandra Fluke sent liberals everywhere into a (justified) fit of rage, we're left wondering: why did it take this? Why are his sexist comments perceived as more offensive than his racist comments?

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

No Saudi Spring: Anatomy of a Failed Revolution,” by Madawai Al-Rasheed. Boston Review, March/April 2012.

The headline is misleading, and I have to add that I strongly disagree with the writer's conclusion. But nonetheless, this piece provides a detailed insight and a reasonable argument on the hindered Saudi Spring.

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

Egypt’s Fading LGBT Movement,” by Michael Luongo. Global Post, via Salon, March 8, 2012.

In the early days after the fall of Mubarak, LGBT Egyptians had high hopes for their place in the revolution. There were promises of democracy and social justice, and with it, a place for the budding community in Egyptian society. But with two thirds of the newly elected parliament representing Islamist groups, equal rights are no longer on the horizon—and the progress that was made before the revolution may have been lost.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

Generation Stuck: Why Don't Young People Move, Anymore?” by Derek Thompson. The Atlantic, March 12, 2012.

Since focusing on the migration of young Europeans earlier in this series, I have regularly asked myself if the economic downturn has had a similar effect on migration rates and patterns in the United States. The answer, according to Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, is no. In processing recent data from the Brookings Institution, Thompson offers an insightful and succinct analysis of why the overall American migration rate is at its lowest since World War II. Some of his findings will surprise you; and unfortunately, others won't.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Report: 1 in 3 Americans Burdened With Medical Bills,” by Jason Kane. PBS NewsHour, March 8, 2012. 

A new CDC study shows that one in five Americans live in a family that struggles to pay its medical bills each month. When asked how healthcare reform will affect this type of data, which will undoubtedly inform presidential debates, Peter Cunningham of the Center for Studying Health System Change had a mixed response. The Affordable Care Act, he said, may help low-income people who receive new coverage through Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges, but it will probably do little to make employer-sponsored healthcare more affordable.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Syrian Shop-Keeper Wages Lonely War From English City,” by Maria Golovnina. Reuters, March 14, 2012.

This story is about a man who goes by the name of Rami Abdulrahman. He runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a global organization that is one of the most cited and most disputed sources of information regarding the Syrian conflict. The article reveals the challenges of running such an organization, which has come under fire from all sides and so, in many ways, symbolizes the tension and divisions within those who oppose the Syrian regime.

 

From Nation Interns: The Week's Top Stories (3/8/12)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

Why Hungary's Youth Are Angry—and Drifting to the Far Right,” by John Nadler. TIME, March 7, 2012. 

Young people have been leading the process of dissent and revolution across the globe. While the vast majority of these young people come from and have flocked to the left, in Hungary, a surprising right ring party has captured the attention and loyalty of some young protestors. The article looks at why this is and if it will last.

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health, and the environment. 

The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom,” by Jeff Goddell. Rolling Stone, March 1, 2012.

Goodell's tough profile of Aubrey McClendon, one of the billionaire executives responsible for inflating the natural gas bubble, makes it clear that beneath the fracking craze lies a quagmire of financial, health and environmental hazards. Goodell's story isn't merely about strange cases of explosive tap water—it's about land grabs, ponzi schemes and levels of debt and obfuscation reminiscent of the mortgage crisis.


Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy.

High Turnout in Iran Elections Could End 'Paranoia' of Leaders,” by Scott Peterson. The Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2012.

Iran held parliamentary elections recently, the first since the disputed 2009 Presidential race. The government claims up to 64 percent voter turnout, which if true, would be a resounding piece of evidence against the Green movement, whose leaders have been under house arrest for a year. This piece touches on the larger positive implications that a high turnout could have in Iran, and echoes concerns some had in 2009 about western intervention and its possible negative effects for the Green movement in Iran.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture. 

NATO Hopes Putin Will Maintain Efforts to Reach Missile Defense Deal.” Global Security Newswire, March 6, 2012.

With the re-election of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency and the approaching NATO summit in Chicago, the US-NATO alliance is continuing it's diplomatic dance of danger with Russia over missile defense. Mr. Putin has been invited to the summit and birthday party for European-based missile defense operations, but Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko said he is not likely to attend if substantive discussions of Russia’s concerns are not on the menu. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded in kind by saying that the summit and birthday party might be cancelled due to Russian disagreement with NATO's plans. So it goes.


Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations. 

Black Students Face More Discipline, Data Suggests,” by Tamar Lewin. The New York Times, March 6, 2012.

The Department of Education report that this article centers around doesn't really show us anything that wasn't already suspected, but it does call renewed attention to the startling reality that children of minority backgrounds in this country must put up with not only less opportunity, but also with a system that works against them from the minute they walk in the door.


Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights. 

Stratfor Emails: Covert Special Ops Inside Syria Since December,” by John Glaser. WarisaCrime.org, March 8, 2012.

This enlightening review of Elizabeth Holtzman's book, Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution—and What We Can Do About It, proves that prosecuting Bush administration over charges "of lying to Congress about the grounds for war, wiretapping Americans, and conspiring to torture," is not only still a possibility, but it's primarily a national duty in which we've got only twenty-three months to do.


Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender. 

Rape in the US Military: America's Dirty Little Secret,” by Lucy Broadbent. The Guardian, December 9, 2011. 

News of the lawsuit filed against the US military for rape and sexual harassment has spread across headlines, but the media have predominantly treated it delicately, and from a distance. This article parses through personal testimonies of the victims, taking time in particular to address one of the more overlooked issues—the male victims involved in the suit.


James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

The Crossing Point: Would-be Immigrants to Europe Can Go Almost Anywhere—For a Price.” The Economist, March 3, 2012. 

Despite its current economic woes, Europe remains a very attractive destination for millions of would-be immigrants. This feature in The Economist charts the well-worn path from the banks of the Evros River in Turkey, across the Balkans, to the Schegen Area—the prosperous free movement zone at the heart of the continent that is so attractive to the many Asians and Africans seeking a better future. 

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare. 

Coverage Denials Draw Ire of Emergency Docs,” by Emily Walker. MedPage Today, February 29, 2012.

In this article, Emily P. Walker reports that Medicaid officials are denying coverage for emergency department visits in which a doctor concludes that a patient's condition is non-urgent. The danger here seems to be that patients with symptoms that might indicate an urgent problem may choose to forgo a visit to the emergency room, knowing that they could be denied coverage.


Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

The Fearful Realities Keeping the Assad Regime in Power,” by Robert Frisk. The Independent, March 4, 2012.

In this op-ed, Robert Fisk highlights the utter hypocrisy of countries involved or invested in the Syrian crisis, from Saudi Arabia to the United States to Britain to Syria. Fisk's analysis underscores the paradoxical relationship between the principles upon which foreign policy decisions are supposedly based and the realities of domestic situations, such as upcoming elections or a status quo that a rulers may be determined to preserve.

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UVA Hunger Strike Ends

This was published today at the website of the UVA Living Wage Campaign.

13 days ago, we started with 12 students hunger striking to draw attention to the need for a living wage at the University of Virginia. Through snow, through rain, through thunder and lightning, through pangs of hunger, through exhaustion, through opposition and discouragement, through hours of meetings and rally speeches, we have made our voices heard. In the past 13 days, 14 UVa students and recent grads joined the original 12, bringing the total to 26 student strikers. Over 75 members of the UVa and Charlottesville communities joined in solidarity fasts, including members of the UVa NAACP chapter, the Black Student Alliance, the Latino Student Alliance, Queer and Allied Activists, and a student at Monticello High School. Students from Georgetown, from UNC, from William and Mary, and from the University of Miami have shown support through fasting, vigils, and statements of solidarity. We can’t even list all the individuals and groups who gave this campaign the momentum it needed to engage the entire UVa community, the Charlottesville community, the UVa administration, and the local, regional, and national news media.

To all those who have supported us, we express our deepest thanks. You have been heard. We have been heard. Today, after 13 days, we announce the end of the hunger strike. But let us be very clear: this is the end of this strike, but it is not the end of the struggle. We are energized, we are organized, and we remain, as we have been for the past 13 days, and the past 14 years, hungry but hopeful for justice and a living wage here at the University of Virginia.

The Living Wage Campaign declares our action an enormous victory.  Here’s a short list of what we’ve accomplished: first, the administration was forced to send two emails to some 40,000 people responding explicitly on our campaign.  We’ve met with them twice on short notice in the last week.  We have brought an unprecedented level of attention on grounds, in the state of Virginia, and indeed in the nation, to the issue of fair wages at UVA.  We have educated this campus and the broader community, and shown that UVA students care deeply about the issue of how employees are treated.  Every member of the BOV, and top administration figures, got literally thousands of emails supporting us—we know this for a fact. We have also received the support of thousands of people in the form of letters, petitions, donations, and calls.  We have focused the attention and support of at least two major unions, the AFL-CIO and SEIU, on labor issues on our campus.

Perhaps as importantly, we have inspired campus-based Living Wage campaigns across the south, especially in other right-to-work states, and we have given them a tremendous base of research and strategy documents to work with. When 30 Harvard students occupied their administration building for a month fighting for a Living Wage, they emerged with exactly what we have won: a commitment from the administration to audit contractors, to examine the university’s labor practices, and to prioritize the lowest-paid employees—and to make all this information public. Harvard’s campaign built on this same exact leverage to win an unprecedented living wage that included contract employees, and this is exactly what we will do.  We have utter confidence that this action has laid the groundwork for an indexed living wage, that includes contract employees, in the very near future.  We will not rest, indeed we will escalate, until this happens.

The fight for a Living Wage at this University is not over. This is still a place where workers are forced to work 2 and 3 jobs to keep food on the table. A place where the concept of a “caring community” does not extend to those whose labor makes this institution possible.  A place where equal work does NOT mean equal pay and contracted employees are consistently underpaid, exploited, and ignored. The University has thoroughly and consistently abdicated responsibility towards its workers. Until this problem is rectified and all workers are paid a living wage, WE WILL NOT STOP.

The resistance of the University administration has only strengthened our resolve and determination. The victories we have achieved are significant ones and have set the stage for tomorrow’s work. We’ve established a nationwide media presence; forced the administration to recognize the low-wage crisis; and built a network of activists and union support across the South and the entire nation. These things have made us stronger than we have ever been before and there has never been an opportunity for change like the one that faces us now. All of us together, working at this University now under national scrutiny, are organized. We are outraged. And our Campaign is ready to escalate.

So to this administration, which has so far failed to provide moral leadership to our University, we have only this to say: get ready, because we are already here. We will hold you accountable for your promises. This spring, we will be organizing teach-ins to train and educate people on this issue. We call on all people of conscience to come and learn more, and to get involved. We never thought this struggle would end quickly and the plan for our next steps is what it has always been: organize, escalate and fight.

Statement Concerning Personal Attacks on Our Student, Sandra Fluke

The following statement was signed by more than 250 members of the faculty of Georgetown University Law Center.

The undersigned faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center and other law schools strongly condemn the recent personal attacks on our student, Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke has had the courage to publicly defend and advocate for her beliefs about an important issue of widespread concern. She has done so with passion and intelligence. And she has been rewarded with the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate. As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them.

From Nation Interns: This Week's Top Stories (2/29)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

Burma Awakes to Glasnost: A (Partly) Free Press and (Some) Freedom of Expression,” by Mark Honigsbaum. The Guardian, February 25, 2012. 

The evolution of a free press in Burma is coming in drops instead of a flood. While there are still many taboo subjects, this article highlights how censorship standards are becoming more relaxed, giving many Burmese citizens hope that a "truly free and independent press" won't be far behind.

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.

Colonialism in Africa Helped Launch the HIV Epidemic a Century Ago,” by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin. The Washington Post, February 27, 2012.

In an excerpt from their new book, Timberg and Halperin argue that the novel networks established by colonialism in Africa—trade patterns, rapid transportation, migratory labor and sexual interactions—provided a "tinderbox" that allowed HIV to explode from a potentially local, short-lived outbreak into a global epidemic. Their narrative provides a gripping account of how politics, economics and power shape health and illness.  


Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy.

New Thinking for City Finances,” by Gar Alperovitz. The Baltimore Sun, February 21, 2012.

Economist Gar Alperovitz has been thinking about how cities can build sustainable, local, engines of economic revival for some time. In this piece he provides illuminating examples of how cities are working to combat disinvestment and austerity, challenging the notion that outside investment, often equated with positive economic development, should be subsidized by taxpayers.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture. 

Missile Defense: Toward a New Paradigm,” by EASI Working Group on Missile Defense. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 2012.

This paper, by the EASI Working Group on Missile Defense, is introduced by the following: “No issue is more urgent or central to achieving progress toward the goal of creating an inclusive Euro-Atlantic Security Community than making European missile defense a joint project of the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Russia.” The proposal lays out a framework and strategic architecture for projecting power in the 21st century, and demonstrates that sometimes very smart people can make big mistakes, As the US-NATO alliance presses forward with their portions of a strategy not far different from this one, missile defense and all of the antagonisms that come with it will become ever harder to hold back and deconstruct—increasing the likelihood of unforeseen but predictable miscalculation, misunderstanding and blunder.


Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

"Former Ban on Black Priests Still Reverberates Through Mormon Faith," by Jason Horowitz. The Salt Lake Tribune (originally via the Washington Post), February 29, 2012.

This article provides a balanced, nuanced portrayal of the Mormon Church's racist history—which includes a ban on black people in the priesthood, only lifted in 1978. Many of Mitt Romney's supporters have argued again and again that his opponents are (or would be) unfair to hold his religion against him. As a Salon.com writer derisively notes, "because of the current political climate in this country, we're not supposed to talk about any of that." But we need to talk about it. We need to confront the fact that many Mormons (including, to a certain degree, Romney, whose staff would not comment to the Washington Post for this article) refuse to unequivocally condemn the racism of their predecessors.


Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights. 

StoryCorps Oral Histories in partnership with the Arab American National Museum and the National Network of Arab American Communities.” Reclaiming Our Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes, September 2011.

In order to reclaim their identities, Arab-Americans are determined to dismantle Arab stereotypes by capturing the experiences of Arab-Americans ten years after September 11. Fifteen candid conversations among Arab-Americans from across the nation not only serve as documentation of the profiling and stereotyping in the post-9/11 era, but also offer a humane window into their lives; they'd like you to listen.


Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

Women in the Media: Why the Call for a Quota in Germany is Vital,” by Ines Pohl. The Guardian, February 29, 2012. 

The past two decades of feminism have been muted by an "it's only a matter of time" attitude—that all of the work has been done already, and with enough patience, society will catch up. But this week, hundreds of female journalists in Germany decided they were tired of waiting for their industry to figure that out—and signed a letter to 250 editors and publishers, demanding a quota to ensure that women fill at least 30 percent of the executive positions in media.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

The Illegal Immigrants Desperate to Escape Squalor of Britain,” by Chris Rogers. BBC News, February 28, 2012.

This report from BBC News reveals the sad and shocking situation in which a growing number of undocumented immigrants find themselves in Britain today. Caught in a legal no man's land, their stories underline the horrendous failures in immigration policy—from the lax border controls which allow human traffickers to prey on the hopes and dreams of migrant families, to the apathy of government in legislating just and progressive solutions to the problem.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Proposed Stage 2 Requirements Raise the Bar for Providers,” by Christine LaFave Grace. Modern Healthcare, February 23, 2012. 

As part of its multi-billion dollar investment in health information technology, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would have providers using electronic health records (EHRs) for each and every American by 2014. Last week, recently proposed "meaningful use" requirements that would determine providers' eligibility for federal incentive payments were made available online and will encourage electronic prescribing and online access to EHRs for patients.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Syria Referendum Called 'A Sham,’” by Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand. Global Post, February 27, 2012.

A referendum in Syria last Sunday, which the government said resulted in nearly 90 percent of voters supporting a new constitution, was dismissed by many world leaders as a farce. This Global Post article details why and how the voting was a complete sham and discusses the vote's sectarian implications for Syria and its political future—if it has one.

From Nation Interns: This Week's Top Stories (2/22)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

No Parties, No Banners: The Spanish Experiment with Direct Democracy,” by Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza. Boston Review, January/February 2012.

Frustrated citizens, unclear demands, populist anti-bank sentiments—it may sound like Occupy Wall Street, but this description applies to Spain's indignados, a movement that predates and influenced Occupy. While the similarities are striking, this piece does a good job of illuminating the differences between the two movements—both in content and context—and provides a useful explanation of an important movement we can learn from. 

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.

Reproductive Health Locked Up,” by Sara Mullen and Carol Petraitis. ACLU, February 16, 2012.

This new report from the ACLU on the inadequacy of health services for women in the criminal justice system opens a new angle in the reproductive healthcare debate and raises yet more questions about an increasingly incarcerated America. The report reveals that the thousands of women who cycle through the jail system—often for nonviolent offenses—are often unable to access healthcare to which they are legally entitled.

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy. 

The Baloch Who Is Not Missing,” by Mohammed Hanif. Dawn.com, February 11, 2012. 

A decades-long insurgency and military crackdown in the Pakistani province of Balochistan is making waves in that country's politics, as leaders condemn a recent American congressional bill that would call for the region's independence, including the parts in Iran and Afghanistan.  As the Pakistani Supreme Court continues ground-breaking hearings into thousands of missing persons, many of them Baloch, this article focuses on the story of one of those “disappeared.”

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture.

NATO Will Switch On Its (Tiny) Missile Shield in May,” by Spencer Ackerman. Wired.com, February 2, 2012.

Last week’s article submission concerned the procurement of police gear in preparation for G8 and NATO summits that will be held this May in Chicago. While police and protesters face one another out in the streets, inside the NATO summit attendees will be focused on the strategic future of the world’s only military bloc. High on the agenda will be an announcement declaring the operational launch of the first phase of the “phased adaptive approach” to European-based missile defense capabilities. As Spencer Ackerman notes: NATO is “sending the message that a European missile shield is an irreversible fact that missile-wielding adversaries have to adjust to.” In these dangerous times, there is little room for error, misjudgment, miscommunication or the failure of diplomacy.

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

Counting Justices,” by Scott Jaschik. Inside Higher Ed, February 22, 2012. 

This is an important case that warrants close attention, particularly because it will likely be argued this autumn, just as the media's obsessive fixation on the presidential race reaches its apex. Ironically, though, the case does highlight an important facet of the presidential race: whoever wins may have the opportunity to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. Remember, this affirmative action case wouldn't even be a question if George W. Bush never had the chance to appoint Samuel Alito when Sandra Day O'Connor retired.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

Peaceful Protest Can Free Palestine,” by Mustafa Barghouthi. The New York Times, February 21, 2012.

"Over the past 64 years, Palestinians have tried armed struggle; we have tried negotiations; and we have tried peace conferences," starts Mustafa Barghouti. His eloquent op-ed displays much frustration, but is followed immediately with a very promising approach to the Palestinians plight. Peaceful protests, represented by Khader Adnan's hunger strike, are inspiring Palestinians to seek the last and most effective path for their just cause.

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

How an Abortion Divided America,” by Guy Adams. The Independent, February 16, 2012.

Jennie McCormack, a single mother of three in a small Southern Idaho town, learned that she was pregnant again last autumn. Unable to support a fourth child—or even the cost of the three hour trip to the nearest Planned Parenthood in Salt Lake City—McCormack ordered RU-486, a drug to induce a miscarriage. Self-administered abortions are illegal in Idaho (a previously unenforced law), but in the midst of this campaign culture war, McCormack has now become the center of a case that may become our newest Roe v. Wade.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

David Goodhart on Immigration and Multiculturalism,” by Alec Ash. The Browser, February 21, 2012.

The United Kingdom is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and has had its fair share of success and failure in accommodating its multicultural population. David Goodheart, founder of Prospect magazine and the current director of London-based think tank Demos, is writing a book on the history of British immigration. In this wide-ranging interview with Alec Ash of The Browser, Goodheart discusses the process of British multiculturalism, citing five other books to further enlighten the reader. 

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Bureaucracy May Be Putting Lives At Risk, Europe.” Medical News Today, February 15, 2012.

This article covers a European Parliament meeting held last week, where critics of a 2001 EU directive had an opportunity to discuss its shortcomings. Although the directive was designed to standardize clinical-trial regulation, critics say a lack of coordination and large increases in bureaucracy have had a detrimental effect on academic clinical research and may put children and adolescents with rare forms of cancer at risk. This will be an interesting story to watch in the coming months as a proposed revision of the directive is to be sent for legislative review in September.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Underground Medical Expertise Refined in Syrian Crucible,” by Ivan Watson and Kareem Khadder. CNN, February 22, 2012.

In the northern province of Idlib, the Syrian regime and its army are targeting the opposition's medical workers, who are cobbling together an underground medical network to aid the wounded and prepare for the possibility of a far more brutal assault. But they are extremely short on medical supplies, and Syrian government is arresting and torturing medical workers. The story depicts both the resourcefulness and the desperation of the Syrian opposition in Idlib. 

Student Activists Occupy Novartis

AIDS activists, students, and community groups “OCCUPIED” the offices of pharma giant Novartis today in three US cities on the eve of the Swiss pharmaceutical company’s annual shareholders meeting in Switzerland.  The effort was part of a global day of action drawing attention to the company’s lawsuit against cancer patients and the government of India, aiming to reinterpret India’s patent standards to block access to life-saving generic medicines.

In 2006, Novartis sued the Indian government after its request for a patent on its blockbuster cancer drug Gleevec was denied. The Novartis version of the drug costs roughly ten times the cost of the high-quality generics on the market and the company is trying to stop production of those versions.  Prior to 2005, India did not grant patents on medicines at all – a policy that fostered generic production of essential medicines then shipped to poor countries around the world. After a World Trade Organization agreement forced India to start granting patents in 2005, India created Section 3(d) of its patent law that requires pharmaceutical companies to demonstrate that changes to an existing substance actually shows increased efficacy for patients before a new patent is granted—preventing frivolous patents. Novartis was unable to show that its tweaks to the basic compound in Gleevec had resulted in improved efficacy in treating cancer.

“Without this protective provision in place, patents will be granted indiscriminately on trivial changes to existing medicines, thereby preventing generic production and allowing drug companies to charge high prices,” explained Brook Baker, policy analyst for Health GAP (Global Access Project).

India has historically proved vital in the global fight against AIDS—producing the vast majority of high quality, affordable drugs used in Africa and throughout the world.

“Novartis’s shortsighted corporate greed could have disastrous long-term consequences for nations reliant on generic medicines. India supplies 80% of AIDS medicines in the developing world as well as good quality generic equivalents for many other health needs.  Poor patients will continue to need access to new, improved, and affordable medicines instead of having them blocked by successive patent monopolies,” said Darshali Vyas, from Harvard College and member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign.

Since Novartis initiated action against the Indian government, protests have been held around the world. On Wednesday, demonstrators in New York, Washington, and Boston stood in solidarity with actions in India, Switzerland, and other regions. “We’re here to try to ensure that India remains the pharmacy of the developing world,” said Katrina Ciraldo, Boston University medical student and member of Occupy Boston’s Health Justice group.

From Nation Interns: This Week's Top Stories (2/16)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

From Tamil Film, a Landmark Case on Free Speech,” by Samanth Subramanian. New York Times, February 14, 2012. 

Free speech in India has had a rough few months, what with the police being accused of inventing bogus threats on Salman Rushdie in a perverse attempt at crowd control and the banning of a controversial play due to the resemblance to a public figure. With this in mind, the NYT takes a look at an important 1989 case that continues to define art, social stature and free speech in India.

 

 Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health, and the environment.

Remember HIV/AIDS? It’s Still Raging in the U.S.,” by Kai Wright and Hatty Lee. ColorLines, February 7, 2012.

Kai Wright makes the simple but invaluable point that illness is not merely a biological condition—it's also a socioeconomic phenomenon. Wright's argument that "infection rates are an excellent measure for who societies don’t give a damn about" highlights an intimacy between health and power that has often been overlooked in healthcare policy.

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy. 

Observations From the World Social Forum in Brazil: The Life and Death of Liberal Democratic Capitalism,” by Aaron Schneider. Upside Down World, February 6, 2012.

Despite very limited media coverage, the World Social Forum attracts tens of thousands of grassroots thinkers and activists each year, providing an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Latin America, perhaps the only region of the world where a leftist, socialist ethos holds political power today, has been the natural host for most of the Social Forums. This short piece discusses whether or not the uprisings "defy the predictions of liberal, democratic capitalism" and signal a shift in our global paradigm.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture. 

City Buys Face Shields to Protect Cops From G-8 Protesters,” by Fran Spielman. Chicago Sun-Times, February 14, 2012. 

The G8 and NATO are planning to hold major summits in Chicago, from May 19-21, and the city is preparing for an emergency. Ad Busters is calling for 50,000 protesters to take to the streets and, in turn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel—who does not want to let a serious crisis go to waste—is assuming expanded executive powers; bypassing the City Council and bidding process to award contracts for new police gear. As the world’s great powers meet to negotiate and discuss security and our shared future, out in the streets, police officers and protesters should seize the opportunity to do the same. Open dialogue, discipline and nonviolent deescalation tactics could prove beneficial to all.

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations. 

NYCLU Analysis Reveals NYPD Street Stops Soar 600% Over Course of Bloomberg Administration.” NYCLU, February 14, 2012.

A new NYCLU analysis out Tuesday shows both a huge increase in NYPD stop-and-frisks over the last ten years, and more alarmingly, that these searches disproportionately target minorities—adding to the department's already-long list of racially and religiously charged PR disasters in recent months. (In case you missed these, the recent incidents include spying on Muslims, an effort to cover up involvement in and complicity with the hateful training video, "The Third Jihad," and various charges of brutality). It will be interesting to see if this new data proves provocative enough to effect any real change.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

The Hamza I Know,” by Omar al-Tamimi. Mashallah News, February 14, 2012.

This sincere letter written by an acquaintance of Hamza Kashgari, the young Saudi writer who is facing blasphemy charges for three controversial tweets he wrote on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, shows clearly that this frenzy attack is no coincidence, and he’s not it’s only target. This well-organized violent campaign led by Saudi’s most extreme clerics, and encouraged by the Saudi regime is aiming not only for the young activists of Jeddah’s Bridges Bookstore, but also after everyone who dares to gather and discuss and read about religion, politics, revolutions, corruption, philosophy and literature.

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

Virginia School District Wants to Ban Cross-Dressing By Students,” by Kristina Chew. Care2, February 11, 2012.

In response to the middle school and high school bullying that has targeted LGBT youth throughout the nation, a Virginia school district has moved to ban "cross-gender dressing" for the sake of students' safety. Skirting their responsibility to educate on sex and gender issues and enforce anti-bulling systems, this school district in instead showing their students that they have to conform in order to be safe—yet another gender issue that has been flipped to blame the victim.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

Will Immigration Matter in France's Presidential Election?” by Angela Diffley. Radio France Internationale, February 7, 2012.

Long before Americans go to the polls this November, the French will vote in their own Presidential election. The Euro, job creation, and credit ratings may dominate the agenda, but with France's colonial past and large Muslim population, the topic of immigration is never far from the surface. In assessing reaction to the immigration policies of President Sarkozy—the son of a Hungarian immigrant—Angela Difley gauges the extent to which the matter will shape the 2012 election.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare. 

Hospitals Mine Patient Records in Search of Customers,” by Phil Galewitz. USA Today, February 5, 2012.

This article, produced by Kaiser Health News and USA Today, examines a trend whereby hospitals use patients' health and financial records to sell expensive services. Some worry that targeting well-to-do patients is discriminatory, though others argue that "consumer relationship marketing" helps deliver information to people who may need it. This article's timing is spot on given the number of hospitals that have recently adopted, or plan to adopt, electronic health records.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Syria's Economy Begins to Break Down.” GlobalPost, February 10, 2012.

A GlobalPost reporter offers a simple but compelling overview of how economic sanctions, imposed by some countries to weaken the Syrian regime, are affecting everyday Syrians. The cost of necessities such as eggs and bread has skyrocketed, but people's salaries remain constant, at best. Indirectly questioning sanctions' effectiveness, the article concludes that sanctions have yet to discernibly weaken the regime or those with ties to it and instead "have so far only hurt ordinary citizens."

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