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Nation Now Alerts

Alerts, announcements and information from The Nation.

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."

What Are You Missing?

We're delighted to announce the winners of The Nation's sixth annual Student Writing Contest!  Congratulations to Bryce Wilson Stucki, an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, and Hannah Moon, a 2011 graduate of Brooklyn College Academy in Brooklyn, New York and to our ten finalists! The winners each receive a cash award of $1,000; the finalists receive $200 each. All receive Nation subscriptions. This year we asked students to send us an original, unpublished,  800-word essay detailing what they think is the most important issue facing their generation. We received hundreds of submissions from high school and college students in forty-one states. Read the winners now.

The only way to keep up on all of The Nation's student content is by joining our free EmailNation list. Arriving three times each week, this timely alert provides breaking news, informed opinion, first looks at new Nation investigative reports, details on when Nation writers are on TV and info on critical activist initiatives. And we'll never share your name with anyone! Sign up now!

What Are You Missing?

The Nation’s editors—starting with its abolitionist founders—have always provided space for those persistent and too-often lonely voices inveighing against the evils of racial injustice. In this archival slide show, we present a small sampling of articles highlighting issues of race and civil rights from The Nation’s past 147 years with original contributions by Martin Luther King, Jr, Langston Hughes, Howard Zinn, James Baldwin and many others.

The only way to keep up on all of The Nation's historic content is by joining our free EmailNation list. Arriving three times each week, this timely alert provides breaking news, informed opinion, first looks at new Nation investigative reports, details on when Nation writers are on TV and info on critical activist initiatives. And we'll never share your name with anyone! Sign up now!

Occupy Harvard Occupies Lamont Library

Last week, two-dozen Harvard students and affiliates claimed a corner of the Lamont Library Café at Harvard University. The New Harvard Library Occupation was announced on the Occupy Harvard website: “We intend to open a persistent community space for critical thought, engaged learning, and insistent action in the Lamont Library Café.”

The group plans to hold study breaks, film screenings, knowledge shares, and facilitated discussions about many issues including access to higher education, the ongoing privatization of the university, and Harvard’s role in facilitating neo-liberalism worldwide. Topics for upcoming discussions include: “The role of knowledge in promoting social equality and social justice,” and “What is a library? What does the library of the future look like?” The group intends to maintain a presence in the cafe until 10:00pm on Friday February 17th.

The Occupation of the Library coincides with a larger campus debate about plans for restructuring the Harvard library system. In a letter sent to the Harvard community last week, President Drew Faust wrote, “We are moving into an exciting yet uncharted new world of digital information in which experiments and innovations are constant and necessary, yet their outcomes not always predictable.”

Such vague statements from the administration about restructuring the library have provoked serious concerns about the human and academic cost. Library workers have received mixed messages about the security of their jobs, and students and workers held a rally last week when the University refused to take lay-offs off the table. “As a member of the No-Layoffs Campaign I am grateful for the solidarity this group is showing to the library workers whose jobs are threatened by the restructuring process,” said Sandra Korn, a sophomore at the College who is also a member of the Student Labor Action Movement. 

“Our concern for the library staff is certainly the major motivation for this Occupation. More broadly, we are exploring how we can play a more active role in the production and ownership of scholarship.” said Fenna Krienen, a graduate student in Psychology. “Libraries quite literally house stored knowledge; rather than passively absorb it, we ask: what happens when we collectively and critically engage with these spaces of learning in a more intentional way?”

From Nation Interns: This Week's Top Stories (2/9)

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: 

Cairo, Hers Again,” by Ahdaf Soueif. Guernica, February 2012.

This is a story of the Egyptian uprising as seen by a writer who contemplates the personal history of her city and her evolving relationship with it. A subtle essay with a unique perspective, Ahdaf Soueif reclaims Cairo from a tumultuous political history and makes it her own again.

 

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

Atomic Bread Baking at Home,” by Aaron Bobrow-Strain. The Believer, February 2012.

What starts out as the author's lighthearted attempt to re-create the perfectly homogenized, soft and insipid industrial white loaves that are emblematic of 1950s America becomes an investigation of the politics of healthy eating in America. As he traces the rise of industrial food through one essential product, Bobrow-Strain demonstrates how layers of research, marketing and nationalism influence us as we troll the aisles of the grocery store, and raises surprising questions about contemporary food reform movements.

 

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

Amid NGOs Foreign Funding Row, Poll Shows Most Egyptians Oppose US Aid,” by Reem Abdellatif. Daily News Egypt, February 7, 2012.

A recent Gallup poll shows the vast majority of Egyptians would like to see US-funded NGOs gone, along with the $1.5 billion in military and economic finances the US gives to Egypt every year, in exchange for its peace with Israel.  Compare this to the media blitz by American officials and publicly-funded NGOs, who are angry about the Egyptian government's investigation into their activities in post-Mubarak Egypt. Dozens of their workers in Egypt have been arrested under suspicion that the NGOs are operating without a license, instigating strife between the army and civilians, and supporting the campaigns of political parties favorable to the West.


Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture:

Yes, Nonviolence, Even Now,” by Daniel Serwer. Peacefare.net, February 8, 2012. 

This week, Daniel Serwer, a lecturer and scholar in Conflict Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a former leader of innovation and peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace, made efforts to reassert the term nonviolence into geopolitical debates over how and how not to approach the currently escalating crisis and conflict in Syria. Amidst growing calls for armed intervention or for the offering of material support to the Free Syria Army (FSA), which could amount to civil war, Serwer points out that insurgent action against the Assad regime could provoke an even deadlier response from a government that has already killed hundreds of its own citizens. In his words, “There is nothing inevitable about the fall of this or any other regime — that is little more than a White House talking point. What will make it inevitable is strategic thinking, careful planning, and nonviolent discipline. Yes, even now.”


Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

House GOP Memo: ‘Abortion Is the Leading Cause of Death in the Black Community,’” by Nick Baumann. Mother Jones, February 6, 2012. 

This article is not really about race, because the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act are not really about race, either. House Republicans who are backing the bill—which is essentially a thinly disguised attack on abortion rights—are disingenuously and disrespectfully appropriating anti-racism rhetoric to advance their wholly unrelated agenda. This week, Mother Jones obtained a memo that illustrates just how artificial their "cause" really is.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

In The Daily Beast, Niall Ferguson Says: Bomb Iran,” by Haroon Moghul. Religion Dispatches, February 6, 2012.

Even after the Iraq war went so horribly and gruesomely wrong, the loss of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis didn’t discourage Niall Ferguson from advocating a war on Iran and suggesting that we are on the “eve of creative destruction.” In this piece, Haroon Moghul forcefully counters Ferguson’s “commonest” arguments.


Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender. 

Dividing by Three: Nepal Recognizes a Third Gender,” by Kyle Knight. World Policy Journal, February 1, 2012.

The LGBT rights movement in Nepal is a mere six years old, and yet the Nepalese government is one of only a handful of countries that officially acknowledge a third gender option in government documents, providing an alternative for trans-identified citizens. (Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India also offer a neutral or alternative gender identification.) But with the most recent Nepalese census ridden with intimidation and discrimination—leaving only three people courageous enough to openly identify as neither male nor female—we have to question the sharp distinction between government acceptance and popular progress.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century:

How Britain's Migrants Sewed the Fabric of the Nation,” by Robert Winder. The Guardian, February 5, 2012. 

In profiling several prominent Brits, Robert Winder of The Guardian offers an insightful and conclusive argument against UK Immigration Minister, Damian Green's plans to allow 'only the brightest and the best' to enter the country.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare:

Lung Transplant System Often Skips Over Those Most in Need.” The University of Chicago Medicine, January 31, 2012. 

At an annual meeting of thoracic surgeons held last week, researchers reported that our current lung transplant system, which allocates donated lungs based on geography rather than need, appears to increase the number of patients who die waiting. This press release, which has been republished on several other websites, does more than just report on the findings; it provides poignant anecdotes and historical context, as well.


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

Syrian Rebel Leadership Is Split,” by Ivan Watson and Omar al Muqdad. CNN, February 7, 2012.

A lot of media coverage of Syria right now is focusing on what the international community is doing, or failing to do, to address the situation in Syria. This article calls attention to a different and perhaps more important complication—the fact that those who oppose and fight the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are far from united in their opposition. They include civilian and military leaders, inside and outside of Syria, with many claiming to represent the opposition.

 

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

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:

France: Abusive Identity Checks of Minority Youth.” Human Rights Watch, January 26, 2012.

As concerns about safety erode into dangerous excuses for personal violations, this article from Human Rights Watch serves as a sobering reminder of police power, institutional racism and individual freedom in everyday France. The personal stories of the young men about their experiences with invasive and unwarranted "identity checks" add a unique first person element to an important and sobering story.

 

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

Design o’ the times: Empowering Minorities to Shape Urban Landscapes,” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson. Grist, January 31, 2012.

The landscape of urban America is often painted as a troubled one: the city as an incubator for disease and crime, a smog-hued emblem of social, economic and environmental catastrophe. Dickinson looks at architecture and design as active forces that both reflect the values of our society as a whole and shape the character of local communities. She offers a hopeful vision of how participatory design could make for cities that work for, rather than against, health and empowerment.

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy:

Growing Irrelevance of the Indian Ayatollah,” by Praveen Swami. The Hindu, February 2, 2012.

The recent decision of the Indian government to bar Salman Rushdie from speaking at a literary festival has reignited Indian discussion of secularism. In this piece, religious extremism is predictably blamed on poverty, and the author pits "civilization" (equated with capitalism) against faith. While the article's historical and contemporary assertions are dubious, it represents an important mindset among South Asia's educated seculars, who often peek over the India-Pakistan border to see what their neighbor is up to.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture:

Seymour Hersh and John Pilger on U.S. Imperialism, Iran’s Imaginary Nuclear Weapons, and Media Complicity in War,” hosted by Dr. Helen Caldicott. If You Love This Planet, January 20, 2012.

In a recent edition of If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott, a physician and expert on nuclear and environmental dangers, spoke with renowned journalists Seymour Hersh and John Pilger about how and why mainstream media is so unwilling to report the big picture truth of what major national powers are doing. Hersh demystified the IAEA report on Iran and what he called the P5 “dance against the Iranian bomb, that frankly most people understand doesn’t exist.” In turn, Pilger observed, “The most important weapon in the armory of great power in these wars is to convince the public at home that they are not colonial wars, that they have a real purpose that involves the people of the country.” He added, “What I am implying is that the media is an extension of organized power.”

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations:

Christie Says Like Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Rights Movement Could Have Been Settled Through Ballot Referendum,” Tom Hester. Newsroom New Jersey, January 25, 2012.

Though he has since apologized, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's comments last week are deeply troubling, and point to a persistent misunderstanding about the civil rights movement in the United States. In short, Christie suggested that the civil rights movement could have accomplished its goals through ballot referenda. The unstated, erroneous assumption here is that a majority would have approved civil rights protections for minorities. Christie and other officials considering marriage equality legislation right now need to understand that an important function of the legislative process is to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority--and should be used as such.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights:

Boston College Researchers Drink with the IRA, and Academics Everywhere Get the Hangover,” by Harvey Silverglate. Forbes, January 25, 2012.

What happens when an academic institution is thrown in the middle of a political dispute and is pushed to share a confidential research study? Lawyer Harvey Silverglate raises important points regarding the latest court order forcing Boston College to reveal certain testimonies of former of IRA members documented in its Belfast Project. He argues that unlike journalists, academics are not accustomed to having to stand up to government demands for confidential information.

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender:

Land Rights for Women Can Help Ease India's Child Malnutrition Crisis,” by Renee Giovarelli. The Guardian, January 20, 2012.

Despite robust economic growth, a recent study showed that 42 percent of children under five in India are malnourished, with rates of maternal mortality, low birth weight and malnutrition comparable to sub-Saharan Africa. But giving women the right to own land could help combat these statistics—new research in developing countries has indicated that if the woman of the house owns land, families are likely to have better education, nutrition and health. Women are considered a lower class in India—but it's not just about gender equality anymore.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century:

Europe's Lost Generation: How it Feels to be Young and Struggling in the EU,” by Viola Caon. The Guardian, January 28, 2012.

This simple but striking feature on the crisis in Europe sets a human face to the all-too-familiar youth unemployment statistics. Reports from Greece, Spain and Italy illustrate how Europe's youth, the so-called lost generation, is worst hit by the austerity measures gripping the continent.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare:

GSK's Andrew Witty on the Future of Pharma Collaboration to Help Poor Countries,” by Sarah Boseley. The Guardian, January 31, 2012.

In this article, Sarah Boseley attempts to cut through evasive diplomatic responses in order to find out how thirteen Big Pharma CEOs, whose companies "used to fight tooth and nail," decided to work together in launching an initiative to eliminate or control neglected tropical diseases. Given that companies like GlaskoSmithKline, Pfizer and Abbott are going so far as to open their compound libraries, which contain information about potential drug treatments that have yet to find commercial application, Boseley's question seems quite appropriate.

 

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

Exclusive: Leaked Syria Observers' Report Details Failings of Mission,” by Colum Lynch. Foreign Policy, January 31, 2012.

With regard to Syria, two crises appear to be going on—an extremely violent, urgent and destructive one inside the country, and a completely different one outside. In the latter, international organizations such as the Arab League and the United Nations have pathetically failed to constructively address the violent crackdown, casting serious doubts upon both the utility and intent of efforts such as observer missions and Security Council resolutions.

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