This week, our scandal-ready media leaped on the General Petraeus "love pentagon," obsessing over every single trickling detail in real time. As relief, Nation interns picked some stories you might have missed while pundits were obsessed over military affairs. This week they cover the crisis in Gaza, drones in Pakistan and Qing-era China.
Nader Atassi focuses on Middle Eastern politics and society.
“Interview: Ali Abunimah on the situation in Gaza.” Al Jazeera, November 15, 2012.
This week, Israel intensified its airstrikes on Gaza in what looked like a full-scale escalation, after assassinating Ahmad Jabari, the head of Hamas' armed military wing, and Palestinian resistance groups, in response stepped up rocket fire at Israel. In light of these recent events, Ali Abunimah gives a very informative interview on Al Jazeera English, offering a timeline of events that led to the situation today in Gaza. Ali's timeline counters the narrative that Israel is engaged in a defensive campaign in Gaza, and shows how this is simply the latest manifestation of Israeli aggression against the blockaded people of Gaza.
Jeff Ernsthausen focuses on domestic politics and the influence of money on public institutions.
“Sweet Forgiveness,” by Mike Konczal. Boston Review, November/December 2012.
This month, Boston Review features a debate on debt forgiveness. Mike Konczal leads off by arguing that modifications to our bankruptcy and debt collection practices—which have grown far more favorable to creditors in recent decades—that help indebted households decrease their burdens are not only fair, but hold the key to a robust economic recovery. Konczal offers a brief history of such interventions on behalf of debtors during times of crisis in America's past and explains the social and political obstacles, including the opposition of President Obama's top economic advisors, that have stymied such proposals this time around.
Stefan Fergus focuses on US media, the Presidency, and China.
“The Real China Model,” by Mark Elliot. The New York Times, November 14, 2012.
The romanticized impression of the Ming and (especially) Qing dynasty "meritocracy" continues to persist, even among many academics. This is strange, given the stunning implosion caused by the rampant corruption in Qing-era China. In this piece, Elliott outlines the truth behind the system: yes, it was possible for anyone in China to take the public exams and elevate themselves in society. However, your socio-economic background was far more important a factor in dictating whether or not you could a) afford the resources you needed to pass the exams, or b) afford to bribe someone. The chance of success in Ming and Qing dynasty China had far more to do with who you knew and who your relatives were (like today's China), than any meritocratic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-