Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.
Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.
“Malaysia: Security Bill Threatens Basic Liberties.” Human Rights Watch, April 10, 2012.
A security bill that could "facilitate violations of fundamental human rights" has been presented to Malaysian Parliament, and is expected to pass quickly, according to Human Rights Watch. The bill, which could lessen the harshness of some current procedures (like detention periods and arrests solely on political basis), still raises concerns among activists who contend that the improvements still violate basic human rights and open the door for significant violations.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.
“Attacks on Climate Science by Former NASA Staff Shouldn’t Be Taken Seriously,” by Dana Nuccitelli. The Guardian, April 12, 2012.
Iran, gas prices, and Keystone dominate the energy conversation, but global climate change has’t faded completely out of the picture. Last week, leading NASA scientist Jim Hansen asserted that climate change is a "great moral issue" akin to slavery, but he was drowned out by the climate skeptics, who have recently stepped up their public attacks on decades of science. With the "balance"-obsessed news media allowing the skeptics’ untenable arguments to frame an unnecessary debate, Nuccitelli explains exactly who the latest skeptics are, and why they cannot be considered "experts" in the field.
Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.
“Grand Prix Dilemma in Bahrain,” by Frank Gardner. BBC, April 10, 2012.
Despite a profound lack of attention from media, the uprising in Bahrain has continued for more than a year now. The annual Bahrain Grand Prix race was cancelled last year, not out of ideological or principle sympathy for protesters, but largely because the safety of international participants could not be guaranteed. This time around, more participants are voicing their concerns, but as the article points out, it is unclear if the race will be postponed again this time.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture.
“Interview with General George Kenney.” The Mike Wallace Interview via the Harry Ransom Center, October 12, 1957.
In tribute to Mike Wallace, who passed away on April 7, I have selected a video this week from the Harry Ransom Center’s archives of The Mike Wallace Interview. In this edition, Wallace speaks with Retired Air Force General George Kenney, who served as commander of the allied air forces in the southwest Pacific from August 1942 to 1945, about Sputnik and the risk of a third world war. Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to be put into orbit and was launched by the Soviet Union via an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Though Kenney’s views are very hawkish and Cold War fanatical, in this interview he offers insights into Cold War history and ways of thinking, as well as reflections that are worthy of remembering as the United States and its allies decide how to respond to North Korea’s planned satellite launch sometime between April 12 and 16.
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.
“Why Conversations on Race Usually Fail,” by Mychal Denzel Smith. The Root, April 7, 2012.
This article offers a fascinating argument. Touching on the unfortunate reality that national discussions about race relations happen only in disingenuous spurts (and only when precipitated by a particularly egregious incident), the author compellingly claims that America does not do its race relations "homework." If all conversation regarding this important topic is confined to such limited periods of time, these conversations fail—and we simply cannot afford to let race relations remain a "special-interest" topic, to be explored only when particularly trying circumstances arise.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.
“Saudi Activists Fight Through Their Fear,” by Jeffrey Fleishman. Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2012.
This brief LA Times profile of renowned Saudi activist Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani provides a rare peek inside Saudi activists struggles and aspirations.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.
“Prominent Researcher Disavows His Own Study Supporting Ex-Gay Therapy,” by Zack Ford. ThinkProgress, April 11, 2012.
Dr. Robert Spitzer has a complicated history with LGBT history, punctuated by his 2003 study declaring the success of "ex-gay" reparative therapy, which is now widely cited by most anti-gay organizations to justify their opposition to gay rights. But in an interview this week with the American Prospect, Spitzer retracted his own study, claiming that his conclusions were largely false, and rescinding the scientific backing for this ineffective, and harmful, practice.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.
“How Mass Migration Cushioned the Great Depression,” by Matt Yglesias. Slate, April 3, 2012.
We are constantly told that the current downturn has been "the worst since the great depression." But Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias, armed with a map of American population shift in the 1930s, believes that statement to be a little misleading.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.
“The Impact Of Socioeconomic Factors On The Racial Gap In Life Expectancy.” Medical News Today, April 11, 2012.
According to a study recently published in Demography, 80 percent of the life expectancy gap between white and black males and 70 percent of the gap between white and black women could be due to socioeconomic factors like income, education, and marital status. As one researcher explained, this is the first study to determine the extent to which socioeconomic disparities are responsible.
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.
“Syria’s Opposition in Exile Plagued by Infighting,” by Viktoria Kieber. Der Spiegel, April 4, 2012.
"Diehard opponents of the regime… have been able to exploit [the situation] for their own political ends," Patrick Seale, an expert on Syria, told Syria Today in June 2011. This article in Der Spiegel shows how his statement is just as true ten months later. The story of one Syrian, who snuck into Turkey for supplies but heard about a conference of the Syrian National Council in Istanbul and decided to go, says it all. He had to negotiate for half an hour to be rather unwillingly allowed into the conference, where discussions confirmed how the exiled opposition remains extremely removed from—and disinterested in—events within Syria.