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Campus-oriented news, first-person reports from student activists and journalists about their campus.

New Study Says One Quarter of Young People Can't Make Ends Meet

HuffPoCollege had an interesting post on a new survey of nearly 2,000 adults by retail trend research firm WSL Strategic Retail which said that one quarter of millennials, the generation aged 18 to 34, aren’t making enough money to cover basic needs.  By comparison, only 17 percent of adults between the ages of 35 to 54, and 13 percent of those 55 and older reported having the same problem.

The results underscore the financial challenges young adults now face. At 54 percent, the employment rate for Americans aged 18 to 24 is at its lowest in more than 60 years, according to the Pew Research Center. On top of that, the current value of student loan debt is more than $1 trillion, greater than credit card debt.

As an editorial in the new issue of The Nation, the student loan crisis has had two effects. The United States, once the leader in the percentage of college graduates age 25 to 34, has dropped to sixteenth among thirty-six developed nations, with more and more students dropping out because they can’t afford the rising costs.

As a result of such finacial strain, many millennials are being forced to make serious lifestyle changes. Living at home is a big one as, last year, 5.9 million people aged 18 to 34 lived with their parents, according to US Census Bureau data cited by the Wall Street Journal.

What lifestyle choices has the recession forced on you? Please use the comments field to let us know.

Columbia Students Join New York's May Day


Photo courtesy: Swara Salih

Throughout the world, May 1 means Labor Day: a day to celebrate the contributions of workers and to protest for more equitable conditions.  At Columbia, May 1 means that it's time to start cramming for finals. But uptown from Occupy's epicenter, a group of Columbia students  abandoned their books and papers for the day to express international solidarity this past Tuesday. 

More than one hundred Columbia students congregated in the middle of campus to express solidarity with labor and their own personal frustrations with an economy that is run increasingly by the 1%, for the 1%, before heading down to Union Square to join the massive Occupy protest there.
 
As students and some faculty gathered despite morning drizzle in front of a large banner that read "Columbia Solidarity," students called out the reasons they had come.  "To stand in solidarity with labor," said one.  "Because no one is illegal," shouted another.  "For better education."  "To end student debt."  The reasons students came to protest were varied, but all of them indicted a system which is increasingly putting the American Dream out of their own reach and out of the reach of millions of Americans.
 
Student responses gave an answer to a question which hung heavy in the air: is May Day relevant anymore?  Yoni Golijov, an organizer of Columbia's protest and member of the Columbia-Barnard International Socialist Organization, gave the crowd a brief history of May Day in the United States.  The first May Day was celebrated in 1886 with a general strike when unions declared that 8 hours should constitute a legal workday.  But with deindustrialization and globalization, with the rise of the service industry and the decline of unions, in an age when America's two biggest employers are Walmart and a temp agency, does a day of protest for labor make sense anymore?
 
The answer, not just according to Columbia students but also to the thousands of protestors who came out citywide, is a resounding yes.  "May Day is more important and more relevant today than it has been in the past 80 years," said Austin Heyroth, a freshman and Columbia Democrats member.  "Real wages for most Americans have stagnated since the 1970s and the gap between the richest and everybody else makes it look like we're in the Gilded Age."
 
Golijov concurred.  "Obviously, we need to keep fighting.  Obama isn't going to legislate an 8-hour workday.  We got what gains we have by protesting and agitating." Golijov did not wholly reject the political system, however, saying, "We can work with and push Obama and the Democrats."  
 
Eric Foner, noted professor of history at Columbia, Nation magazine editorial board member and Pulitzer Prize winner, agreed with Golijov.  "Obama needs radical pressure.  Lincoln needed the abolitionists in order to be Lincoln.  FDR needed labor, and maybe even the Communist Party, to achieve the New Deal." 

In his remarks at the demonstration, Foner placed the modern-day Occupy movement in a tradition of American radical protest dating back to the American Revolution.  Foner invoked figures like abolitionist Frederick Douglass and socialist Eugene Debs as "people we can and must admire" who changed the system through their actions.  To Foner, and to many of the student activists gathered at Columbia, the Occupy movement is the logical heir of such radicals.

One distinctive characteristic of the Occupy and labor rights movements which students identified is its inclusivity.  "No one is above these kinds of issues," explained a graduating senior.  Privileged Columbia graduates are still hampered by an economy in which they can't get jobs commensurate with their education.  This May Day also had the distinction of bringing together immigrants and workers in the same demonstrations; previous May Days had seen two separate marches.  The worker's rights movement is not becoming irrelevant, it is evolving in a world where fewer workers are unionized, more people are immigrants (documented or undocumented), and the economy is increasingly devoted to the enrichment of a few at the expense of the majority.
 
"We can't think big and act small," said one student.  And by protesting on campus and then joining the demonstrations downtown, by calling for decent hours, salaries, and working conditions regardless of industry, and by refusing to stay silent in the face of ever-increasing inequality, Columbia students are doing big things. 

NYU Kicks Off May Day With Bobst Picket Against 2031

This article was originally published by the invaluable NYU Local and is reposted here with permission.

This morning, a crowd of over 60 students, faculty, and Village residents picketed Bobst, marching around the library’s red sandstone columns in the light rain. For a little under an hour, the group expressed their opposition to NYU’s 2031 plan, which its opponents characterize as aggressive real estate expansion that threatens the historic character of the Village.

The demonstration, jointly organized by NYU4OWS and NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, was the NYU kick off of May Day, a nation-wide general strike called by Occupy Wall Street.

“We’re just generally upset by NYU’s corporate strategy,” explained Peter Wirzbicki, an organizer with NYU’s Graduate Students Union. Wirzbicki expressed optimism that NYU would scale back their plans again (beyond the 16% cut the university announced last month). “We’re trying to publicize the faculty departments that voted against the plan,” he said.

Indeed, faculty represented the largest contingent at the picket. Christine Harrington, a politics professor, marched with a bright sign that read “Politics Department Opposes NYU 2031.” 

“We were the first one to do it,” Harrington said. Now, 27 departments have passed resolutions against the plan.

One art history professor who hesitated to give her name (“I’m not tenured,” she cautioned) said she had canceled her office hours in honor of the general strike. The professor, who herself holds two advanced degrees from NYU, sympathizes with her current students. “The student debt is just crippling,” she said.

Also present in force were the usual crowd of neighborhood residents, who miss no chance to oppose NYU 2031. Milton Polsky, a former faculty member at Steinhardt and current Washington Square Village resident, opposes NYU’s proposed new buildings. “We resent and object to them putting up massive towers on green space,” he said. “I don’t mind NYU,” Polsky continued, gesturing at the NYU baseball cap he sported. “What I object to is turning this residential zone into a commercial zone. Promises have been broken,” he said.

Public Safety officers stood outside the library’s revolving doors, checking IDs to enter the building. Inside the atrium, a few NYU administrators watched the crawling picket line and chatted. One public safety administrator confirmed that his department has been preparing for May Day “for weeks.”

Unsurprisingly, the protest met with the usual mix of disdain and apathy from NYU students.

“Haven’t these idiots cost us enough money in taxpayers dollars,” one Steinhardt masters student loudly exclaimed as he swiped in to the library. Shannon Foreshee, who objected to the money spent policing Occupy Wall Street events since the movement began in September, had little sympathy for NYU4OWS’ concerns about the university’s high cost. “I’ve found ways to pay for it,” she said.

Ian Sykes, a Steinhardt undergraduate, felt that he wasn’t well informed about the 2031 plan. “NYU 2031 seems like it’s going to cost a lot of money,” he said. Ultimately, he was neutral towards the protest. “As long as they keep the library open,” he said as he swiped in.

Interns’ Favorite Pieces of the Week (4/26/12)

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 You Should Still Care About Chicago's NATO Summit,” by Allison Kilkenny. Truthout, April 24, 2012.

In this article for Truthout, Nation contributor Alison Kilkenny makes the case for why progressives shouldn't lose focus on the NATO Summit, even after many declared that the President moving it to Camp David signaled a victory for protestors. Totalitarian anti-protest measures are still on track to block free speech in Chicago, and when protestors arrive in May, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and a beefed up police force will be ready to greet them en force. As Kilkenny says, May will still present the opportunity to "witness to the clash between forces bearing wildly different styles of armor," which is why the eyes of the nation still need to be on Chicago.

 

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

The World's Most Important Story,” by Jonathan Watts. China Dialogue, April 17, 2012.

With China as his example, Watts makes a strong case for multidisciplinary reporting: journalism that explores the connections between the big topics of politics, economics, and the environment. He pinpoints the environment and the economy as the “drivers of change,” not just in China, but globally. Watts makes the crucial point that the environment is not a topic but rather a "prism," and the basis for our economic and politic future. Our outputs—for example, greenhouse gas emissions or toxic waste—capture attention, but it is what we take in, our staggering levels of extraction and consumption, that lays the groundwork for the future.

 

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

The Crisis of Big Science,” by Steven Weinberg. The New York Review of Books, May 10, 2012. 

Do publicly-funded science and engineering initiatives create jobs for those in America who most need them? Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has been party to debates on funding science experiments for some time, and in this piece he argues for re-funding major science projects in America. Instead of diverting funds from social services, as has been done in the past, Weinberg calls for targeted taxing. It is interesting to read his view on how, or if, public projects like war or science create jobs. As he says: “For promoting invention, big science in this sense is the technological equivalent of war, and it doesn’t kill anyone.”

 

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

A Declaration of Conscience,” by Albert Schweitzer. Originally broadcast by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee via Quinnipiac University, April 24, 1957.

Marking the fifty-fifth anniversary of an historic event in nuclear non-proliferation history, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Gottemoeller, tweeted: “Read Albert Schweitzer’s famous speech on ending nuclear testing, ‘A Declaration of Conscience,’ first given 4/24/57.” Gottemoeller could not have invoked this famous speech by Schweitzer, in which he explained the dangers that the radiation produced by atomic blasts imposes upon the human body and all of humanity through fallout, at a more ripe time. Debate over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is once again heating up in the U.S. Senate following the release of a National Academy of Sciences report, in which it has been asserted that US nuclear stockpiles can be safely maintained without the need for testing. Additionally, it has been reported that North Korea could carry out a third nuclear test in the next few days. Though nuclear tests are now conducted underground to primarily contain fallout, Schweitzer’s words of conscience are timeless. He said, “The end of further experiments with atom bombs would be like the early sunrays of hope which suffering humanity is longing for.”

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

Community Leaders in LA’s Chinatown Question if Wal-Mart Bribed City Officials,” by Jorge Rivas. Colorlines, April 24, 2012.

Coming on the heels of an excellent piece from the New York Times about Wal-Mart's systematic bribery in Mexico, this Colorlines report explores allegations that the company used similarly shady tactics to acquire building permits in LA's Chinatown.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

In Response to Mona Eltahawy’s Hate Argument,” by Mona Kareem. Al-Monitor via monakarrem.blogspot.com, April 23, 2012.

Listing gruesome violations against Arab women without giving the context nor a deeper analysis of each country's women rights conditions, and simply concluding that Arab men are women haters is a frivolous argument and a dangerous stereotype. Luckily, young Arab feminists, like blogger Mona Kareem, are quick to respond to Foreign Policy's racist, Islamophobic cover story.

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

Is the US Military Ready for Women on the Frontline?” by Katie Drummond. The Guardian, April 26, 2012.

While the U.S. Military is holding off on allowing women on the front lines, the Pentagon has announced plans to open 14,000 more jobs to women in the military—many of which are more dangerous, and closer to the front lines. The Department of Defense has acknowledged that their limitations on women in the military are archaic, and many women are eager to serve in the same capacity as men, but the Guardian asks, amidst institutionalized sexism and chronically overlooked sexual assault, is the military ready for them?

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

Diverse Streams: African Migration to the United States,” by Randy Capps, Kristen McCabe, and Michael Fix. Migration Policy Institute, April 2012.

Black Africans are among the fastest-growing groups of US immigrants. Overall, they are well educated, with college completion rates that greatly exceed those for most other immigrant groups and US natives. But with the African population projected to double by 2036, and U.S. immigration policy set to change, something's got to give. This paper, released by the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, assesses the future of African migration to the United States.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Romney's Healthcare Plan May Be More Revolutionary Than Obama's,” by Noam Levey. The Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2012. 

With the general election season now underway, it is more important than ever for journalists to present the candidates' healthcare plans clearly and in historical context. In this article, the author does both as he explains that Romney's alternative to the Affordable Care Act would provide consumers with more choices but give employers an incentive to stop providing insurance for employees.

 

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

Syria: On Lockdown.” GlobalPost, April 24, 2012.

In Dara'a, where the Syrian uprising began, checkpoints, tanks, snipers and security forces make up the landscape in what is essentially a military occupation by Syrian security forces and armed troops. However, one effect, perhaps unintended, is that residents who once appeared apolitical are turning against the regime.

Cooper Union Students Protest College’s First Ever Tuition

This article was originally published by the NYC Local and is reposted here with permission. Follow @

This week, Cooper Union student organizers preparing for an Occupy Wall Street protest against student debt were energized and infuriated by their school’s decision to introduce tuition in the graduate program. In a move announced in the New York Times on Tuesday, Cooper Union will begin charging tuition to students in the graduate program; previously, all students at Cooper Union received full scholarships to attend the prestigious school for art and architecture as part of the university's historic mission and mandate. Undergraduate education will remain free “for now,” according to the college’s president.

On Wednesday afternoon, students gathered in Cooper Square, a plaza just south of Astor Place, and enclosed by the college’s two buildings: the arched brownstone Foundation Building, and the rippling, gouged metallic facade of 41 Cooper Square. Before marching to Union Square to join a larger demonstration there, Cooper students condemned the actions of the school board.

Eduardo Alfonso, an undergraduate studying architecture at Cooper, watched the protest from steps on the park’s north side. He said that in the small school, the contentious decision has been subject to considerable discussion and speculation. “There’s a question,” he said, “if the compromise with the graduate program is priming for future changes.”

Aaron Fowler, an undergraduate in Cooper Union’s art school, said that the decision had been first announced in the New York Times, not to the student body directly. “It really changes the dynamic of the school,” said Fowler, citing Cooper Union’s 110-year mission to provide free education. Fowler said that this mission, now being called in to question, provides an “even playing field” for prospective students to compete on merit, not money.

One demonstrator took his protest to a new level — quite literally. Jesse Kreuzer, a Cooper Union alumnus, climbed the towering statue of Peter Cooper, the school’s founder. As passers-by looked up curiously, Kreuzer danced to his iPod and waved his large sign: “NO TUITION IT’S OUR MISSION.”

NYU Local spoke with Kreuzer by phone from the plaza some 30 feet below. “This is a stunt for media attention,” Kreuzer admitted, “but they don’t seem to be paying much attention.” Kreuzer agrees that Cooper’s tuition-free model is central to its identify. “It’s what makes this school what it is. It’s what makes it so beautiful.”

Kreuzer, like many of his peers, takes pride in Cooper’s unique tuition-free model. “Few institutions of higher learning that are free. The Board is talking about charging tuition which goes against the 100-year mission,” he said. “If that were to happen, it would represent the death of an ideal.”

At the time, Kreuzer said that the police “don’t seem to care,” and considered climbing down to march to the larger rally in Union Square. Within a few hours, however, NYPD had taped off the area around the statue and were working to coax the 23-year-old alumnus down. He got his press coverage: New York Times’ East Village Local blog reported that at 6:44, the activist was retrieved from the top of the statue in an NYPD cherry picker and placed under arrest.

Image courtesy Tim Schreier

Student Loan Debt vs. the American Dream

Over the last couple of years students in places like Chile, England and Canada have made their voices heard in opposing tuition increases and and the conditions that exacerbate spiraling student debt. In the US, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt and has exceeded the $1 trillion mark. Robert Applebaum, founder of ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com, answers questions on student loan debt in this video segment from RT Television.

Occupy Student Debt

Occupy Student Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy movement focusing on student debt and urging students to pledge not to repay their loans, is staging several events today to commemorate the total amount of student debt passing $1 trillion. "Demonstrations and creative actions" are planned for Union Square, in New York; the headquarters and regional offices of the student lender Sallie Mae; and at colleges across the country, including the University of Chicago, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union, Hampshire College, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Please use the comments field to let us know about related events on your campus and watch this space for reports from coast to coast.

Congress Needs to Act on Stafford Loan Rate

This piece originally appeared in Claremont Port Side, a student publication at Claremont College that receives funding and training as a member of the Campus Progress journalism network.

On July 1, millions of students across the nation will see interest rates on their student loans double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

In 2007, as part of a plan to help make college more affordable, Congress temporarily cut interest rates to 3.4 percent on subsidized Stafford loans. Since then, students have reaped the benefits of a system that makes college more affordable than before. The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 reduced subsidies to lenders and attempted to ensure the saved monies would be spent easing student costs. Among these efforts to reduce cost were lower interest rates, rewards for college that effectively lowered tuition, and increased grant money.

However, the temporary cut in interest rates is set to expire, and Congress has yet to take any action to extend the low rates. President Obama is calling on Congress to renew the current rates at 3.4 percent until legislation is passed that further re-structures the Free Application for Federal Student Aid system to permanently make college more affordable.

With the economy still in a fragile recovery and many students from lower- and middle-class families still struggling, Congress needs to act and, at the very least, push the expiration date for the lowered interest rates forward a year.

For the highest borrowers, a doubling in the interest rates will mean a substantial $5,000 in extra student debt payments after graduation. On average, students with subsidized Stafford loans will pay $1,000 more than they otherwise would.

For graduates, this means potentially shifting career goals from more lofty, yet less lucrative plans, to careers that can save credit scores from withering away. Student-loan debt already mandates a significant amount of attention in all Americans, both old and young. Indeed, Americans aged 60 or older owe nearly $36 billion in loans, and more than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. With an expiration of the lowered interest rates, surely, the burden of debt will weigh even heavier.

Through prevention of the rate expiration and improvement of the current Pell Grant system, higher-education could become an even greater agent of social mobility. But, if interest rates increase, and Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is successful in moving Pell Grants from mandatory to discretionary funding, higher education will become a system in which the amount of opportunity is even more directly related to income level.

A college degree is increasingly a greater necessity in professional life. Some roadblocks were temporarily moved aside, and nearly 8 million students have benefited. The current system is by no means perfect. But to make college even less accessible for the poor would have a devastating effect on inequality and upward mobility in this country. Congress can—and must—act on this important deadline.

Occupiers Take Over UC Land for Farm

Thios article was originally published in The Daily Cal. Follow the paper on Twitter to keep up with its invaluable coverage of the Berkeely campus and community.

Members of the local community and Occupy movement broke into UC-owned research land in Albany on Sunday to farm the land before setting up tents and establishing an occupation. Protesters from Occupy Cal, Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco cleared and tilled the ground and planted hundreds of vegetable starters before setting up tents on the Gill Tract, a plot of land at the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues.

In the past, the plot has been used for university research and experimentation, but current plans will bring a Whole Foods Market and senior center to the plot. According to event organizer Gopal Dayaneni, the purpose of the  “Occupy the Farm” event was to show that the land should be used for the public good as opposed to for corporate expansion. “This is the last, best agricultural land in the East Bay,” Dayaneni said. “Some research happens here, but the UC has been chopping it up and selling it off through the years, and it’s now been designated for capitalism.”

Participants began the day by marching from Ohlone Park in Berkeley to the location in Albany. About 200 people helped work the land throughout the day, Dayaneni said, roughly 15 of whom were members of Occupy Cal.

Dayaneni said the participants intended to camp overnight Sunday and continue farming Monday morning if they are not forced out by UCPD. Earlier in the day, UCPD officers announced that participants would be subject to citation or arrest if they remained on the land.

Under the California Education Code, people on UC campuses cannot bring tents or set up a campsite without authorization from a university official. When tents were erected on the UC Berkeley campus during the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest, at least 50 officers from UCPD and Alameda County Sheriff’s Department physically confronted the hundreds of protesters, making arrests, taking down the tents and allegedly injuring several people.

About 25 tents were set up on the farmland by 9:30 p.m, according to UC Berkeley senior and Occupy Cal member Navid Shaghaghi.

UC Berkeley alumna Anya Kamenskaya had conducted research on the land and proposed to the university in 2009 that it establish a farm to teach young students about farming and healthy food.

Her proposal was denied, and the land remained covered by weeds and mustard seeds. After graduating, Kamenskaya kept an eye on the land to see how it would be used and helped organize the Occupy event. “The University of California is a public institution — the land is public land, so it belongs to all of us,” Kamenskaya said. “Many people in the East Bay have to depend on the corporate-industrial food complex for financial reasons, but we’re dedicated to teaching them how to grow their own food so they can put it to use in their individual communities.”

While looking out over the rows of collard greens and celery being planted, UC Berkeley graduate student and Occupy Cal member Ian Saxton said that this event was “the best of Occupy.”

“The Occupy movement brings together a diverse group of people with a wide range of perspectives, experiences and skill sets,” Saxton said. “That potential is being realized today.”

Interns’ Favorite Pieces of the Week (4/18/12)

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.

Revealed: CISPA — Internet Spying Law — Pushed by For-Profit Spy Lobby,” by Lee Fang. AlterNet, April 13, 2012.

While the backlash against SOPA legislation was swift and palpable, a new bill with serious implications for Internet privacy is quietly making its way through Congress without as much fanfare. CISPA, as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 is known, is actually backed by tech companies like Facebook and Verizon. This article from AlterNet details how this bill threatens Internet privacy and who stands to gain from it.

 

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

A New Front in the War Against Malaria,” by Matthew Power. Harper’s, April 11, 2012.

Malaria, a mosquito-born parasite, has been our deadly companion through thousands of years of human evolution. Recently, an ambitious effort to eradicate the disease has been undercut by rising levels of resistance to artemisinin, a derivation of sweet wormwood once hailed as a "magic bullet." Matthew Power reports on the attempt to contain artemisinin-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia and the geopolitics that complicate the endeavor. (Read the complete article from the April 2012 issue if you're a subscriber.)

 

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

The Movement for Peace Marches On Against the Drug War,” by Bill Conroy. The Narcosphere, April 9, 2012. 

The War on Drugs has ravaged American inner cities for decades, but its most devastating effects are saved for the countries meeting our demands for consumption.  In Mexico, furious families of the war's victims began a grassroots movement last year, calling it the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, and embarking on a goal to end the bloodshed.  This article by a long-time drug reporter summarizes two forces behind the violence: American demand for drugs, and American weapons sales.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture.

ICBM Coalition Of Rural Senators Fights Nuclear Weapons Cuts,” by Andrea Stone. Huffington Post, April 17, 2012.

On New Year’s Eve, 1983, The Nation published an article by Kurt Vonnegut in which he wrote: “If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to the nearest meeting of War-Preparers Anonymous. We would be telling it to stand up before the meeting and say, ‘My name is Western Civilization. I am a compulsive war preparer. I have lost everything I ever cared about. I should have come here long ago.’” Today, almost thirty years later, the US Congress and defense policymakers remain in desperate need of such a meeting. They have become subjugated by insecurity and beholden to dealers of influence, money and industrial-military power. So it goes.

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

Federal Court ruling could open door to equal funding for native kids,” by Tanya Talaga. The Toronto Star, April 18, 2012.

This article sheds light on some native rights issues in Canada—which are sometimes easy to forget when faced with the vast, systemic inequalities and problematic dynamics that are so prevalent in our own country. An interesting read, and an issue that needs more attention.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

Einstein on Palestine,” by Albert Einstein. Falestine via El Pias, March 15, 1930.

In a letter published in Falastin in March of 1930, Albert Einstein suggested that an even number of members of each community form a “Secret Council,” consisting of a physician, jurist, worker and a clerical man, who will hopefully lead to a “state in which the differences will gradually be eliminated.” Many activists on both sides nowadays would agree with Einstein’s conclusions that the challenges are still  “more of a psychological than an actual nature, and that they can be solved if honest good will be manifested by both sides.”

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

How Organized Labor Helped Win Marriage Equality in Maryland and Washington--And What We Can Learn,” by James Cersonsky. AlterNet, April 15, 2012.

"Fighting for working families, not just certain families," unions played a vital role in passing gay marriage in Maryland and Washington this year. In this article, James Cersonsky demonstrates how a unified progressive front was able to find common ground implement change and how we could recreate it throughout the country.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

Breivik's toxic legacy,” by Aslak Sira Myhre. The Guardian, April 16, 2012.

As the trial against self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik gets underway in Norway, international media is focusing primarily on the details of the case: the killings, the police mistakes, the suits, the uniforms, the guns, the crazed manifesto. But what about the future? This should be the time to confront the hate, to deal with a future where people of different religions and people live side by side. As Asiak Sira Myhre writes in the Guardian, "We are looking so intensely into the eyes of the terrorist that we are becoming blind."

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Study suggests breast cancer is clutch of 10 diseases,” by Kate Kelland. Reuters, April 18, 2012.

A study recently published in Nature shows that breast cancer can be classified into ten different subtypes, with unique genetic signatures. One of the study's leading researchers explained that breast cancer should actually be thought of as an "umbrella term" for what is in fact a larger number of diseases. In the future, he said, treatment can be tailored to the genetic footprint of a tumor.

 

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

In ‘dream city’ for Syria refugees, hope of return dims,” by Erika Solomon. Reuters, April 13, 2012.

Described by one Turkish official as "a city," the refugee camp in Kilis, Turkey is expanding and becoming more permanent. Schools are being constructed, and instead of tents, refugees are now living in rows of identical cubicles. Some residents are growing accustomed to daily life in the camp, but all of them know why they're there and wonder how long they will be staying.

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