Talal Ansari focuses on foreign policy and affairs, international conflict and human rights issues abroad.
“Hindu Right Rewriting Indian Textbooks,” by Raksha Kumar. Al Jazeera, November 4, 2014.
It is a case of history being written by the victors. Textbooks in the newly elected Prime Minister’s home state of Gujarat rely heavily on Hindu mythology, confusing religious teachings and stories with scientific facts. The inclusion of only Hindu teachings—by omission of other faiths—“equates India to Hindus,” leaving India’s substantial religious minorities even more marginalized than they already are.
Aaron Braun focuses on the psychology and politics of work, histories of socialism, and critiques of Israeli exceptionalism.
“Boom and Rust,” by Meagan Day. The New Inquiry, November 5, 2014.
This piece is paywalled for now, but either buy a subscription or wait to check out Meagan Day’s piece for the New Inquiry. I mean, the piece itself is beautifully laid out, but more important is the way that Day gives lyrical content to diminishing returns. It’s a refreshingly readable (and historical) analysis of the aesthetics of decay in California. Love it.
Naomi Gordon-Loebl focuses on queer and trans politics, youth and education, and the criminal justice system.
“Bait-and-Switch for America,” by Gary Rubinstein. November 5, 2014.
Teach for America alum Gary Rubinstein is one of the country’s most outspoken, and well-spoken, TFA critics. He was also my high school math teacher, and I’m embarrassed to say that despite his best efforts, I was not the most engaged of precalculus students. That’s why it gives me great pleasure to engage with his work in a different way now: by sharing his latest blog post, which is an attempt to dissuade 2015 TFA recruits from joining the Corps. The stories he tells are both absurd and disturbing, and the post serves as a great gateway to his blog, which is one of the most meticulously researched archives of TFA’s track record that I have ever encountered.
Edward Hart focuses on criminal justice, arts journalism and media ethics.
“The Obama Brief,” by Jeffrey Toobin. The New Yorker, October 27, 2014.
Jeffrey Toobin is one of the sharpest legal analysts writing today, and his interview with Barack Obama, published in The New Yorker, is revelatory in its careful consideration of Obama’s impact on the American courts. About a third of the federal judiciary is now made up of Obama appointees, but, Toobin notes, his judicial appointments are less notable for their ideological purity than for the diversity he has brought to the bench. The interview is wide-ranging, thorough and, as Obama enters the lame duck stage of his presidency, a preview of what will be an important pillar of Obama’s legacy.
Yazmin Khan focuses on intersectionality, feminism, race, foreign affairs, politics and pop culture.
“Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge,” by Greg Palast. Al Jazeera America, October 29, 2014.
This is a long read, but it’s worth it. I have not seen enough coverage of this fantastic investigation that Al Jazeera America did with Greg Palast. They uncovered a massive purge of voters from voter rolls across the country. On a mission to prevent non-existent voter fraud, this secret list was compiled by largely Republican statewide election officials, adding the names of felons who are unable to vote. The list was then checked against millions of names in multiple states, targeting people of color. If someone’s name broadly matched a felon’s, their right to vote was stripped from them, and they were unable to reinstate it. The project is called the Interstate Crosscheck Program, and up until now, the lists of who is on it has been secret. Al Jazeera America was able to get the lists and bring this nefarious plan to light.
Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro focuses on world politics, social justice and technology.
“Hackers Could Decided Who Controls Congress Thanks to Alaska’s Terrible Internet Ballots,” by Steve Friess. The Intercept, November 3, 2014.
I think this article is relevant because it underscores the paradoxical nature of technology: it can strengthen democracy, but it can also threaten it. For example, technology has enabled people to spread messages across borders and organize grassroots movements. It has facilitated the media’s watchdog role. But it has also enabled government surveillance.
In the case of this article, technology has given Alaskans the option to cast their votes electronically—but at the risk of having their choice changed without anybody noticing. The Internet was conceived as a realm of freedom and as a vehicle for free speech. If the Internet can be used to distort voter’s voices, maybe it’s not time yet to use online voting.
Jessica McKenzie focuses on technology and politics, transparency and accountability.
“The $9 Billion Witness,” by Matt Taibbi. Rolling Stone. November 6, 2014.
In the tradition of hawking articles based on how they will make you feel: this piece will make you so mind-numbingly angry that you can’t even begin to articulate it. An insider look at the non-prosecution of Wall Street criminals, and the extent to which both sides, prosecution and defense, went to silence one whistleblower named Alayne Fleischmann.
Muna Mire focuses on race, politics, criminal justice and social movements.
“No, We Don’t Need A Law Against Catcalling,” by Liliana Segura. The Intercept, November 3, 2014.
By now you’ve heard about and maybe even seen Hollaback’s latest viral video campaign, produced in collaboration with the marketing team at Rob Bliss Creative. The video in question has been viewed over 33 million times on Youtube, sparking a firestorm of cultural commentary. Catcalling is a violent act no matter who does it. But highlighting women of color who have affirmed this fundamental truth while bringing valid criticisms to bear is important. The danger of the dynamics in the video is that white supremacy has already rendered it so public spaces allow us to read black and brown bodies as deviant. In the video, there are next to no white men catcalling, as many have pointed out. By contrast, the woman walking through the city is white. There is a specific and storied history around violent carcerality justified by racialized interactions in public space. Historically, white women’s protection has been used as the justification for many brutal lynchings, including, famously, Emmett Till’s murder.
In the wake of the video’s debut, some have called for a law against catcalling. Segura eloquently sums up why this would never work and how it would, in fact, inevitably echo the racial disparities that have come to characterize the prison industrial complex as we know it: “While men are certainly responsible for their personal behavior, a law against street harassment would, in practice, randomly punish a select few individuals in the name of redressing a vast and systemic problem.”
N’Kosi Oates focuses on race and politics, social justice, black identity, pop culture.
“#TurnedAway: the truth about US voting rights on election day, according to you.” The Guardian, November 4, 2014
Millions of Americans attempted to go to the polls this past Tuesday. Many casted their vote. But many others did not and were prohibited from exercising their right. In “#TurnedAway” The Guardian compiled a collection of voter disenfranchisement stories from Tuesday’s midterm election. From the disappearances of names on the voter roll call, to arriving at incorrect precinct (due to gerrymandering), to utilizing malfunctioning voting machines, this article featured many insidious experiences. While this was perhaps not intended, the piece displayed narratives that heavily highlighted black and poor/working-class voter narratives, demonstrating that although voting is a right, it must be earned. Americans’ path to the polls are littered with many obstacles, that in our political moment just voting—regardless of the outcome—is a victory.
Allison Pohle focuses on feminism, labor and income inequality, education and health.
“The Secret Dual Lives of People Living With Mental Illness,” by David Roseberg. Slate, October 28, 2014.
I recently published an article about my struggle with depression. I received responses from acquaintances who “had no idea” I have a mental illness because I “hide it so well.” Living a double life, one where we exude positivity in public and shrink into a depressive solitude in private, is common for many people with mental illnesses. Liz Obert, the subject of Rosenberg’s article, doesn’t think we should be ashamed of this. She photographs people with major depressive disorders to show the dualities that exist in their everyday lives. So far, only ten people have agreed to participate, which she thinks is due to the stigma against mental illness. Growing up, I heard that I shouldn’t trust people who are “two-faced.” But, for some of us, being two-faced is a way to survive.