Talal Ansari focuses on foreign policy and affairs, international conflict and human rights issues abroad.
“Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany,” by Peter Maas and Laura Poitras. The Intercept, October 10, 2014.
With how little privacy we have, perhaps we are desensitized when more revelations occur. Our desensitization started with Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. It was our first foray into covert worlds in the twenty-first century. It marked a new era in the government’s targeting its information drones on the Internet and beyond. That was just the beginning, as Edward Snowden has shattered any and all beliefs that our rights and privacy as citizens are respected. Much of the NSA’s invasion of our privacy is usually thought of as an intangible intrusion, via hacking and collusion with telecommunications and technology companies. But as this Intercept article reveals, the quest for more access may involve the physical sphere, with convert agents using “physical subversion” as a new method of gaining access to data. It turns out the CIA and the NSA have more in common than we think.
Aaron Braun focuses on the psychology and politics of work, histories of socialism, and critiques of Israeli exceptionalism.
“The Economics of Palestinian Liberation,” by Raja Khalidi. Jacobin, October 15, 2014.
I appreciate Jacobin’s coverage of Palestinian politics because it has prioritized the complexities within Palestinian society over those broad-strokes narratives through which we discuss Israeli-Palestinian history. Every national struggle, as the author explains (with the help of Fanon), is necessarily rife with contradictions. However, there are few places on the media (leftist publications included), where these contradictions are not cynically used to unfairly dismiss dissent as fundamentally flawed, and few where those contradictions can be used to help that dissent to evolve and adapt in the context of changing political constellations.
Also, unrelated, but Nikil Saval’s “Bartlebys All” in the most recent issue of Dissent feels so relevant, or at least it does from this cubicle. If you enjoy this you should also check out his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.
Naomi Gordon-Loebl focuses on queer and trans politics, youth and education, and the criminal justice system.
“Appropriation vs. Appreciation,” by Browntourage and Mohammed Fayaz. Interrupt, September 23, 2014.
Last Halloween, my friends and I were standing outside a tropical bass party on the Lower East Side when we got into an argument with a drunk white woman in a Pocahontas costume. The suggestion that her costume might be racist incensed her, and the conversation quickly escalated, culminating in her sob-yelling, “You’re fucking racist!” and walking away. All of that might have been avoided if she’d just read an article like this “illustrated style guide” to “Appropriation vs. Appreciation.” Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s a good time to remind ourselves that “appropriation continues patterns of disempowering groups that are already marginalized.”
Ted Hart focuses on criminal justice, arts journalism and media ethics.
“A Wrongful Conviction Robbed William Lopez of His Freedom, and Then His Life,” by Liliana Segura. The Intercept, October 8, 2014.
Where so many wrongful conviction stories are framed as redemption narratives, Liliana Segura’s latest story lingers on the continued hardships of life after a conviction is vacated and a long-time prisoner is released. Writing in The Intercept, Segura explores the life and untimely death of William Lopez, a man who spent twenty-three years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of killing a drug dealer. Lopez’s case had all the “classic hallmarks of a wrongful conviction: a dearth of physical evidence, a prosecutor who withheld exculpatory evidence, hapless defense attorneys, a hostile judge,” but even after his release, Segura notes, he was still hounded by attempts to retry him and had trouble adjusting to life on the outside. On top of all that, Segura writes, “prison is like a debilitating illness; it literally speeds up the aging process.” And in Lopez’s case, the toll that prison took on his health killed him before he had a chance to receive any restitution from the state for what it did to him.
Yazmin Khan focuses on intersectionality, feminism, race, foreign affairs, politics and pop culture.
“Let John Oliver and Jeff Goldblum Show You How Police Commit ‘Legalized Robbery’”
Did you know that if the police ever stop you for anything, ever, they can take all your cash? They can take your car, your home and any other goods they deem valuable, and even if you are innocent, you may never get it back. This is because in order to seize assets from a citizen, there is no legal requirement that the police arrest you, charge you, that the property seized be related to any crime, or that you be found guilty of any crime. This process is called civil forfeiture, and it is unregulated and so far, completely sanctioned under current law. Amazingly, knowledge of this practice is limited, although it is widely experienced. Civil forfeiture has been covered every now and again in the media, but has never ignited public passions. That is, hopefully, until now. John Oliver, former Daily Show correspondent and host of Last Week Tonight, has taken up the issue. In one of his show’s incredibly well researched and edited segments, he introduces the issue to millions of Americans. This segment is a must-watch. Check out The Washington Post’s recent investigation into civil forfeiture that John Oliver cites as a source in this segment for more comprehensive information.
Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro focuses on world politics, social justice and technology.
“Search who’s giving money to Cuomo, Astorino in race for NY governor,” by Michelle Breidenbach. Syracuse.com, October 15, 2014.
Syracuse.com—Syracuse, New York’s online news operation—has built an interactive database to look up contributions to Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino’s campaigns in New York’s gubernatorial race. I think this is worth showcasing, because it’s a great example of public-service journalism that helps ordinary citizens and journalists keep an eye on politicians. Unfortunately, money plays an important role in US politics, so people must watch how finances are influencing or could influence their government.
Jessica McKenzie focuses on technology and politics, transparency and accountability.
“The Future of the Culture Wars is Here, and It’s Gamergate,” by Kyle Wagner. Deadspin, October 14, 2014.
This is worth a read even if you haven’t been following Gamergate, which is fully explained and described (as “a mutant variant of the traditional American grievance movement”) in the article, if you’re not already familiar. Wagner draws an interesting parallel between gamers responsible for the Gamergate plague and other relatively small groups with outsize pull on public discourse, like Tea Partiers. “Co-opting the language and posture of grievance,” Wagner writes, “is how members of a privileged class express their belief that the way they live shouldn’t have to change, that their opponents are hypocrites and perhaps even the real oppressors.”
Muna Mire focuses on race, politics, criminal justice and social movements (youth/millennial movements in particular), using an intersectional, black feminist lens.
“The Death Penalty, Missouri and the Continued Devaluing of Black Life,” by William C. Anderson. Truthout, October 14, 2014.
This week, a thoughtful article from my friend William C. Anderson in Truthout, asks us to consider the “pageantry of black death” when police brutality (more accurately, fatality) and extrajudicial killing of black bodies are the seemingly ubiquitous backdrop to American life. Anderson makes linkages between the killing of Mike Brown and the resistance movement that came from Ferguson and the spectacle of cruel and unusual punishment that has quietly taken over the American South: the botched and mishandled executions of death-row inmates. How can we think about black bodies implicated in the prison-industrial complex? How can we begin to think about justice for these bodies, stolen from us by the state?
N’Kosi Oates focuses on race and politics, social justice, black identity, pop culture.
“Black and Blue,” by Jamelle Bouie. Slate, October 13, 2014
In the days following the shooting of slain black teen Michael Brown, the public learned that Ferguson Police Department was nearly 95 percent white, although Ferguson is 67 percent black. When questioned by the media about the lack of diversity among the police officers, Mayor James Knowles explained, “There’s also the problem that a lot of young African-American people don’t want to go into law enforcement. They already have this disconnect with law enforcement, so if we find people who want to go into law enforcement who are African-American we’re all over it because we want them to help us bridge the gap.” In this compelling article, Jamelle Bouie addresses the perception that hiring black cops will solve the issue of police brutality. As revealed in his article, the focus on demographics should center on which racial groups reside in a city. The fact is, more black residents in any city yield more police shootings. This is true particularly for young black males between the ages of 15 and 19. They are twenty-one times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than white males of the same ages. Police are physical representations of the institutions that manage racial control, regardless of the race of the police officer. Hiring more black officers will not solve the legacy of racial discrimination; it begins with dismantling the training practices and cultures of all police.
Allison Pohle focuses on feminism, labor and income inequality, education and health.
“Battered, Bereaved and Behind Bars,” by Alex Campbell. Buzzfeed, October 2, 2014.
Arlena Lindley’s boyfriend is serving a life sentence (with the possibility of parole) for killing her son. She is serving forty-five years for “failing to protect” her child from the man who repeatedly beat her and once stuffed her in a trunk. In this unsettling and thoroughly researched narrative, Campbell explores the way in which many state laws punish women for not being able to defend their children or themselves from the men who abuse them.