This week, the drone debate continues, punctuated only by the tenth anniversary of another US power-play. Meanwhile, the Church got a new pope, AT&T and other networks pondered serious overhauls and a Canadian immigration raid was caught on reality TV (perhaps less inspiring than another must-watch: a rousing speech given by Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis).
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“NYCORE Conference 2013—Karen Lewis Keynote.” Vimeo, March 17, 2013.
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis delivered an inspired speech at Saturday's New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) conference. Lewis's argument for a grassroots, building-by-building "taking back" of public education was strengthened by her frankness and her brilliant use of humor. That kind of ability to find and express hilarity even in painful situations is a quality that activists, child-wranglers and leaders of all stripes would do well to cultivate.
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Native Americans Challenge Teach For America in New Mexico,” by Anthony Cody. Education Week, March 18, 2013.
The Indian Education Act, a New Mexico law passed in 1978, is meant to "ensure equitable and culturally relevant learning environments" for Native students. Teach for America may care a lot about "equity"—its 501(c)4 spinoff is named for it—but, on the reservations of New Mexico, does it pass the "culturally relevant" test? This is one question that Anthony Cody raises in his block-quoted take on TFA's procurement of $800,000 in competitive IEA funds. As one Native educator, Dr. Carlotta Bird, puts it, "the whole 'reform movement' that is happening in NM is colonialism in its newest form." That's one way of thinking about TFA's larger American empire—and, really, any education system that isn't committed to so-called cultural relevance and community control.
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“At the Bottom of Lake Nyasa is ‘Rare Earth,’” by Thembi Mutch. IPS, March 6, 2013.
The 29,000-square-kilometre Lake Nyasa borders Tanzania and Malawi. For centuries, local populations have shared the lake’s resources and revenues without incident. However, the recent discovery of oil and gas resources in the lake has reignited a border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over who owns the lake—and its resources. Local communities do not understand the reasons of the dispute and it appears that the present situation is used to further political careers, as elections will be held in Malawi in 2014 and in Tanzania in 2015. For the moment, all efforts to settle the dispute have failed. The conflict over Lake Nyasa’s resources echoes other regional conflicts in Africa as natural resources often lie at the core of wars.
— Andrew Epstein focuses on social history, colonialism and indigenous rights.
“The World Says No to War! Millions March in New York, Rome, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney and France.” Democracy Now! February 17, 2003.
On the tenth anniversary of the second US invasion of Iraq, the media is saturated with grotesque mea culpas from pundits and so-called journalists, for whom the war was a "mistake," not a crime. Ignored are those millions of people—the largest global protest movement in human history—who saw it for exactly what it was.
— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.
“Interview with a writer: John Gray,” by JP O’Malley. The Spectator, February 22, 2013.
In the aftermath of Richard Rorty’s death no other thinker has done more to earn the rare distinction of armchair liberal cynic than the philosopher John Gray. That the two choices one can opt for—whether to cast aspersions on his name or extol his dour ruminations—pivot to such divergent poles of antagonism only assures Gray’s standing among those people fortunate enough to be “interesting.”
— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.
“Iraqi Politicians Stoke Flames Of Religious Sectarianism,” by Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Al-Monitor, March 19, 2013.
Much of this week's coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War has highlighted sectarian division and violence, which continue to define Iraq's ongoing political and social instability. The best stories, recalling the existence of pre-occupation Iraqi national identity and peaceful inter-religious relations, have pointed out that the antagonism is a US manufactured crisis. Here, Khadami situates the current sectarianism in a hyper-political environment full of politicians invoking tribalism as a scapegoat, in order to access and maintain power. As a contrast, he also identifies a number of religious leaders working to solve the crisis non-politically through religious dialogue.
— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.
“Exclusive: No More Drones for CIA,” by Daniel Klaidman. The Daily Beast, March 19, 2013.
The Daily Beast's content varies widely, of course, in terms of both quality and political point of view. But there was little doubt about the power of Daniel Klaidman's story this week, which reported on the transfer of the CIA's drone strike program to the Department of Defense. It's hard to know what to make of this development (nobody is talking, after all, about reducing drone strikes in general), but Klaidman highlights several important changes in protocol that will result. It appears to be a mixed bag: The military is more tightly bound by US and international law, but subject to less congressional oversight. Ultimately, however, the reorganization means the United States will have one drone program rather than two (the DoD already runs one separate from the CIA). Dare we call that a good thing?
— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.
“‘The telephone network is obsolete’: Get ready for the all-IP telco,” by Jon Brodkin. ArsTechnica, January 7, 2013.
This article from ArsTechnica is an excellent breakdown of the ongoing contention around the all-IP transition, in which AT&T and other legacy telephone companies would get legal permission to move all their services to Internet protocol technology. At face the transition seems to be forward-thinking and beneficial for the public good, but, as ArsTechnica lays out, it has serious consequences for telephone users who still depend on landlines.
— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.
“How Soccer Explains Israel,” by Amos Barshad. Grantland, March 19, 2013.
The headline might be a bit clunky, but Amos Barshad's account of Israelis' response to the announcement by FC Beitar—a Jerusalem soccer team that is the only team in the Israeli Premier League never to have signed an Arab player—that it was bringing aboard two Chechen Muslims for the remainder of the season, is worth considering.
— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.
“How to think about drones,” by Natasha Lennard. Salon, March 7, 2013.
Whether you reluctantly find yourself sharing common ground with Rand Paul on the drone issue or think that his filibuster two weeks ago was totally off-base, one thing is clear: Paul's talkathon has brought drones to the forefront of political dialogue in the US. But, as Natasha Lennard explains, the dialogue is limited by the binary within which it is typically framed. When the issue is reduced to whether one is "for" or "against" drones, obfuscated are the nuanced ways in which technology shapes our ideas of and relationships to control, sovereignty, privacy, surveillance and subjecthood.
— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.
“In the war on the poor, Pope Francis is on the wrong side,” by George Monbiot. The Guardian, March 18, 2013.
The election of Pope Francis and allegations that he collaborated with Argentina's military junta have inspired a dialogue about the philosophical divisions in Latin America's Catholic Church, which grew particularly pronounced after the 1968 CELAM Conference in Medellín. Weighing in at The Guardian, George Monbiot reflects on his encounters with liberation theology and condemns members of the Catholic hierarchy, including Pope Francis, who demonized the ideology.
— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.
“Reality show filmed immigration raids, B.C. advocates say.” CBC News, March 14, 2013.
The Canadian Border Services Agency raided a Vancouver construction site on March 13, arresting eight migrant workers… and filming it all for a reality TV show. This case is a mind-boggling perfect storm of the following:
*The Conservative Party's law-and-order agenda
*The exploitation of migrant ("illegal") workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
*Romantic portrayals of state and border policing
*Gentrification and condo development in East Vancouver ("Canada's poorest postal code")
That, plus reality TV.