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

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

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

Each week, The Nation interns pick compelling stories in their areas of interest.


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 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.

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