While the rest of the country was agonizing over the vagaries of March Madness and the end of the Miami Heat's winning streak, Nation interns were keeping tabs on the ups and downs of activism and politics (while also trying to win the office NCAA pool). Their picks are full of protest and fighting words, from Chicago teachers' fight against school closings to the topless activists of Femen to the Canadian aboriginal youths who snowshoed 1,000 miles in support of Idle No More. 


— Alleen Brown focuses on education.

Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Michigan Ban on Race-Conscious Admissions,” by Peter Schmidt. The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 25, 2013.

The US Supreme Court added another affirmative action case to its docket Monday. This one's from Michigan, where plaintiffs are calling unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on using race as a deciding factor in college admissions. With Justice Elena Kagan recused, the case will be decided by a 5 to 3 conservative majority.


— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.

Civil Disobedience Planned in Chicago to Oppose Unprecedented Mass School Closings,” by Jaisal Noor. The Real News Network, March 27, 2013.

You may have heard that Chicago is planning to close over 50 schools; you may have also heard Mayor Rahm Emanuel say some baldly racist things about it; and you guessed right that Emanuel's arch-enemy, the militant, community-centered Chicago Teachers Union, is not taking it sitting down. Left missing in most coverage of education politics, though, are students, parents and allies who have known racism since long before Emanuel appointed his rubber-stamp Board of Education. "I don't want an iPad…if they can't prove I'll be safe walking to school," says a Latina student in Jaisal Noor's documentary about mass resistance to the closings. Noor does the hard work of interviewing students and community activists—as well as Chicago's shameless schools CEO. It's a must-watch.


— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.

Uganda's oil: lessons on governance and the resource curse,” by Ben Shepherd. The Guardian, March 20, 2013.

The discovery of Uganda’s vast quantities of oil has sparked off a strong debate in the country over how to avoid the “resource curse” that plagues other African countries, such as Nigeria. Indeed, resource management is a “daunting challenge” and often the problem lies in poor governance, corruption, the lack of transparency and the political concentration of power. However, as the author of this article points out, “the resource curse can be overcome if Ugandans work together and look to the long term.” This would enable the government to use the oil revenues to promote sustainable human development.


— Andrew Epstein focuses on social history, colonialism and indigenous rights.

The Violent Disorder of Our Public Mind,” by Richard Lichtman. Truthout, March 25, 2013.

The proliferation of random violence in American society is not simply a public health concern, a technocratic problem solvable by laws and regulations. Nor is the "insanity" driving such bloodshed an individual malady. As philosopher Richard Lichtman powerfully articulates, profound alienation is endemic to capitalism, particularly in this hyperactive and potentially terminal phase. Violence and hatred is a mode of "reconstruction." "To destroy is to remake the universe, to eliminate from it something—not necessarily what confronts one—but what that fragile presence before us symbolizes," Lichtman writes. "Violence contracts what cannot be embraced or even expanded; it minimizes what cannot be enlarged or shared: one's powers, one's love, one's creative affirmation of the humanity of life in a world that bears the possibility of transcendence in beauty."


— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.


The Labour party has failed us. We need a new party of the left,” by Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar. The Guardian, March 25, 2013.

This week’s article complements the selection from last week on the defections from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a factional split that has resulted in productive efforts to form a new broad front social democratic party—or shall we say— a British Syriza.


— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.

The Madness of America’s Arabs,” by Ibrahim al-Amin. Al-Akhbar English, March 27, 2013.

This week the Arab Legue held a two-day summit in Qatar in which, for the first time, opposition forces—and not President al-Assad—represented Syria. Here, al-Amin highlights the lunacy of Arab leaders focusing almost exclusively on the Syrian struggle, ignoring the myriad dire situations all over the region. In the analysis, al-Amin critically concludes that Arab leaders operate from the assumption that they are all-powerful, and that US powers will always be there to swoop-in and save the day.


— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.

Rise of the naked female warriors,” by Kira Cochrane. The Guardian, March 20, 2013.

I don't think that "the activists breasts [are] obscuring the message." It's probably true that a sizable portion of the audience spends more time ogling the Femen protestors’ chests than contemplating the injustice they're protesting, but if not for such an eye-catching protest, that issue likely wouldn't have been raised at all. Either way, this article is a fascinating look inside the organizing that Femen does.


— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.

Why Asking What Adria Richards Could Have Done Differently Is The Wrong Question,” by Deanna Zandt. Forbes, March 22, 2013.

Last week the tech community was confronted with its own sexist brogrammer culture after Adria Richards tweeted out the pictures of two men making sexual jokes at a large tech conference in California. Richards received vicious attacks and was fired from her job at SendGrid. Zandt's opinion piece in Forbes seemed to be the most intelligent intervention in the conversation that ensued because of her thought towards the racial dynamics of the conversation and critique of responses that blamed Richards for how she handled the situation.


— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.

How Marshall Henderson Gets Away With Being Marshall Henderson,” by Greg Howard. Deadspin, March 27, 2013.

Spoiler alert: it's because he's white.


— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.

What Lies Ahead for the Steubenville Rapists,” by Meagan Hatcher-Mays. Jezebel, March 24, 2013.

Like many people following the Steubenville case, I felt the paltry sentence both rapists received was the judicial version of rape apologism that was rampant in the media throughout the trial. But in seeking justice for survivors of rape, it's easy to find ourselves mired in a paradigm in which justice is synonymous with incarceration, and the only options on which to take a position are: No jail, Some jail, or Lots of jail. That is why I am so glad Meagan Hatcher-Mays wrote this article arguing that if we want to dismantle rape culture, we shouldn't send rapists into institutions that reinforce rape culture. Though she offers no clear alternative other than rehabilitative or therapeutic components to detention, Hatcher-Mays' critique is powerful in that it frames incarceration as a feminist issue and offers a space to envision ways of dealing with rape that challenge the patriarchal conditioning at its root.


— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.

China's exploitation of Latin American natural resources raises concern,” by Jonathan Watts. The Guardian, March 26, 2013.

In Latin America over the past decade, the decline of United States political hegemony has been accompanied by the rapid growth of China's economic influence. Trade has boomed from $10 billon in 2000 to $241 billion in 2011 and China is now the region's primary lender. Writing at The Guardian, Jonathan Watts concedes that the relationship has had several benefits in Latin America, but warns that it has also resulted in widespread environmental degradation that is likely to get worse as the region's dependency on China grows.


— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.

Journey of Nishiyuu walkers’ names now ‘etched’ into ‘history of this country,’” by Jorge Barrera. APTN News, March 26, 2013.

Six aboriginal youths and a guide walked and snowshoed 1,600 KM (1,000 miles) from the Cree community of Whapmagoostui, Quebec, to parliament hill in Ottawa, Ontario, in support of the Idle No More movement. Instead of meeting with the group—joined by scores of walkers and supporters at various stages over the past two months—Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent the day of their arrival, March 25, greeting a couple of pandas at the Toronto airport.