Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“Feds seek to legalize marijuana industry banking,” by Pete Yost. Associated Press via The Boston Globe, September 10, 2013.
As the Feds move to decriminalize business transactions between financial institutions and “legitimate” marijuana businesses, the advent of a full-blown ganja industry—complete with rich lobbies, glossy advertising and a corporatized culture—appears to be a real possibility. The time for hope and wishful thinking may be passing, and now is a moment for marijuana proponents to reflect on what that industry should look like; though it would be unfortunate if nascent marijuana enterprises chose to replicate the business model of their peers in Big Alcohol, Tobacco and Junk Food who target vulnerable populations with habit-forming products.
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
“The Revolution That Wasn’t,” by Hugh Roberts. London Review of Books, September 12, 2013.
In this behemoth of a book review, historian Hugh Roberts complicates the tidy narrative of a monolithic Arab Spring while clarifying the nature of the dual Egyptians revolutions. Roberts issues some much-needed correctives to the credulous Western media, whose coverage he says “amputate[d] the drama of the last two and a half years from its historical roots.”
—Omar Ghabra focuses on Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
“Syria crisis: Incendiary bomb victims ‘like the walking dead.’” BBC, August 29, 2013.
As the focus of the media has pivoted to the political chess match over chemical weapons, this report, which shows the grisly aftermath of an attack on a school in Aleppo, is a stark reminder of the horrific situation on the ground. It is important to note that chemical weapons have accounted for a tiny fraction of the deaths in this conflict, and this report illustrates that conventional weaponry is no less appalling.
—Hannah Gold focuses on gender politics, pop culture and art.
“My Train Ride with Donald Rumsfeld,” By Julia Ioffe. The New Republic, September 11, 2013.
On Tuesday night, while Obama was busy telling the country how exceptional it is, senior editor at The New Republic Julia Ioffe had a chance encounter at a Philadelphia train station with Donald Rumsfeld. Yes, she tried to ask him about Syria, and, yes, he demurred. The real meat comes once inside the train, when Rumsfeld tries to make some off-the-cuff jokes and runs into a fellow Princeton grad. The former secretary of defense appears in Errol Morris’s new film The Unknown Known, which was screened at the Venice Film festival last week.
—Allegra Kirkland focuses on immigration, urban issues and US-Latin American relations.
“Was US Journalist Charles Horman Killed by Chile’s Coup Regime With Aid of His Own Government?” Democracy Now! September 9, 2013.
This week marks the anniversary of an event that is often referred to in the mainstream US media as “the other 9/11”: the day that a junta led by the four branches of the Chilean military bombed the presidential palace in Santiago and deposed President Salvador Allende, launching a dictatorship that endured for seventeen years and resulted in the torture, disappearance and death of thousands of Chileans. American journalist Charlie Horman was one of the many swept up in the early waves of arrests, and in this interview with his widow Joyce we see the extent to which US officials not only supported the coup but colluded in the imprisonment and murder of American citizens living in Chile whose political views did not align with their own.
—Abbie Nehring focuses on muck reads, transparency and investigative reporting.
“The Child Exchange: Inside America’s underground market for adopted children,” by Megan Twohey. Reuters, September 9–11, 2013.
This Reuters investigation is a powerful invective against the semi-legal practice of “re-homing” troublesome children adopted by American parents. As Twohey points out early on, the term is extracted from unhappy dog and cat owners, who bear an uncanny resemblance to parents reconsidering their commitment to raising an adopted child. Twohey scours online forums where parents and prospective parents set up exchanges, which have led to cases of sexual abuse and psychological trauma. The stories of these children are gut-wrenching. The investigation is essential reading in this week’s muck reads beat.
—Nicolas Niarchos focuses on international and European relations and national security.
“Let’s open our borders to Syria’s refugees,” by Ian Birrell. The Independent, September 11, 2013.
Ian Birrell, a former editor of The Independent, is back writing for them online this week, suggesting that Britain start taking in Syrian refugees. Through the story of the refugee Azad Sino, he shows us how Germany has started taking in people who’ve been displaced by the civil war, and asks why Westminster (and, indeed, Washington) can’t begin to countenance the same initiatives. He asks: “Instead of cheap talk or cruise missiles, how about some action to show we really care about this crisis?”
—Andrés Pertierra focuses on Latin America with an emphasis on Cuba.
“Cuba: Doing It Your Way,” by Damien Cave. The New York Times, September 11, 2013.
Despite the fact that we had normalized relations and travel with the USSR even when it maintained many political prisoners, re-established relations with China under Mao despite millions dead and even Vietnam despite the horrors of that war, we still have no formal diplomatic relations with Cuba. Here is an excellent summary of current travel regulations.
—Dylan Tokar focuses on Latin America, politics and literature.
“Teju Cole’s 9 questions about Britain you were too embarrassed to ask,” by Max Fisher. The Washington Post, September 3, 2013.
In a parody of foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher’s primer on the Syrian conflict and the contention surrounding possible US military intervention, writer Teju Cole imagines that there are two types of countries in the world: those we can bomb and those we can’t.
—Elaine Yu focuses on feminism, health, and East and Southeast Asia.
“Comprehensive Immigration Bill Does Nothing For Our Families,” by Abraham Paulos. The Huffington Post, September 10, 2013.
Immigration reform has been kept out of the spotlight for various reasons, and some House Republicans are eager to delay the passage of S.744. However, this article by Abraham Paulos, the executive director of Families for Freedom, reveals that the “comprehensive” bipartisan bill indeed excludes many, increases surveillance and continues to criminalize immigrants, while doing little to facilitate family reunification.