A Golden Dawn demonstration in Athens on June 27, 2012. (Flickr/Steve Jurvetson)
—Aaron Cantú focuses on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, social inequality and post-capitalist institutional design.
“Household Incomes Remain Flat Despite Improving Economy,” by Annie Lowrey. The New York Times, September 18, 2013.
In what is becoming the most common economic report of the last few years, new data released this week by the Census Bureau shows that income inequality in America remains at a record high: median household income in 2012 was about equivalent to what it was thirty years ago, while the top 1 percent took home their biggest share of income since 1919. As bad as things are now, the pain could be compounded even more in the near future by rising food and raw material prices.
—Owen Davis focuses on public education, media and the effects of social inequality.
“The First Day of School in Philadelphia,” by Andrew Elrod. n+1, September 16, 2013.
Elrod provides a granular account of Philadelphia’s public school travails, as grassroots organizers and students resist a budget that shuttered twenty-three schools and sheared the district of 3,783 employees. Though the full history of Philly’s school woes is one of protracted dismemberment, Elrod’s street-level reporting shows a quietly smoldering rage massing against the incompetence and neglect of state officials.
—Omar Ghabra focuses on Syria and Middle Eastern politics.
Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution, directed by Matthew VanDyke.
This documentary, which was named the “Best Short Documentary” at the Harlem International Film Festival last week, offers a stunning portrait of a Syrian English teacher who became a photographer to document the destruction after the war began. With Syria finally making its way to the top of the United States’s political agenda over the past few weeks, it’s worth taking the time to hear from Syrian voices on the ground. This intimate profile provides a great opportunity.
—Hannah Gold focuses on gender politics, pop culture and art.
“The English Goddess Who Went Away,” by Chinki Sinha. Open, September 14, 2013.
Take a moment to shift your focus from standardized tests and cutting youth programs in the classroom…to colonialism and false idols in the classroom! A couple years back, Indian writer Chandra Bhan Prasad invented the Goddess of English in order to get Dalit (formerly “untouchable”) children to focus on their lessons in English, a skill whose mastery brings with it the increased possibility of social mobility. The goddess resembles a dowdy Statue of Liberty with her billowing robes, floppy, wide-brimmed hat and extended left arm proudly brandishing a pen. This extended essay looks at a particular school in Banka, a village in Uttar Pradesh, where an attempt to build a temple for the goddess’s statue has gone under-financed and unfinished.
—Allegra Kirkland focuses on immigration, urban issues and US-Latin American relations.
“City Leaders Are in Love With Density but Most City Dwellers Disagree,” by Joel Kotkin. New Geography, September 16, 2013.
Jane Jacobs wrote that “there is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.” Yet according to Joel Kotkin, the desire of New Yorkers, Londoners and Porteños to live in human-scale neighborhoods is increasingly being discounted by politicians and developers insistent on the economic logic of hyper-dense, high rise–dotted urban centers. In this searing critique, Kotkin highlights the consequences of unbridled densification: destruction of historic buildings, displacement of lower-income residents, increased pressure on public services and transportation, worsening congestion and, ultimately, the homogenization of the world’s best-loved cities.
—Abbie Nehring focuses on muck reads, transparency, and investigative reporting.
“In New York, Having a Job, or 2, Doesn’t Mean Having a Home,” by Mireya Navarro. The New York Times, September 18, 2013.
In New York City, the gap between wages and rent has reached historic levels. Mireya Navarro illustrates this trend through a portrait of the city’s employed and homeless, a segment of New York growing in size, yet often hidden in plain sight because many hide the truth about their circumstances from coworkers and employers. “The employed homeless are constantly juggling the demands of their two worlds,” Navarro writes. Her reporting shows just how difficult it is to find a way out of the city’s shelter system once entrapped in poverty, homelessness and New York’s unforgiving real estate landscape.
—Nicolas Niarchos focuses on international and European relations and national security.
“For Pavlos: the antifa rapper killed by Golden Dawn,” by Leonidas Oikonomakis. ROAR, September 18, 2013.
Last year saw the rise of ultra-right fascism in Greece in the form of the Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή) party as the country was forced through ever worse austerity measures. Now one of the party’s members has admitted to stabbing and killing a prominent left-winger, Pavlos Fyssas, after a soccer game Tuesday night. Oikonomakis provides a moving tribute to his friend, who loved his soccer team and rapping as “Killah P.” At the end of the tribute, he provides important context on the party, the political situation out of which it arose and the lack of action, so far, on the part of the government against Golden Dawn’s violence.
—Andrés Pertierra focuses on Latin America with an emphasis on Cuba.
“Cubans Protest For Return Of Agents Jailed In The US With Yellow Ribbons,” by Andrea Rodriguez. Associated Press via The Huffington Post, September 12, 2013.
September 12 saw a popular response to a Yellow Ribbon campaign, organized to draw the attention of the US public to the case of five Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in Miami. The Cuban government has insisted that the five had been gathering information only on violent or dangerous exile groups in Miami and has itself detained a US government contractor, Alan Gross, it accuses of espionage.
—Dylan Tokar focuses on Latin America, politics and literature.
“No One Reads Kafka in Gitmo,” by Molly Crabapple. Medium, September 18, 2013.
While much remains hidden to the journalist wishing to tour the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, visual artist Molly Crabapple finds a way in to the life of prisoners, staff and locals through everyday details. “It don’t GITMO better than this,” reads a T-shirt at the local souvenir shop.
—Elaine Yu focuses on feminism, health, and East and Southeast Asia.
“Who is a ‘journalist’? People who can afford to be,” by Sarah Kendzior. Al Jazeera, September 17, 2013.
Sarah Kendzior uses the recent passage of the bill protecting reporters from having to reveal their sources (which required the Senate to define a “journalist”) to segue into topics she has been writing about: labor, privilege and the “prestige economy” that exploitatively conflates full-time and part-time work, especially in the changing fields of higher education and journalism. Her reflections on whether it is the profession or practice of journalism that society is seeking to protect today are acute.