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.
“From Tamil Film, a Landmark Case on Free Speech,” by Samanth Subramanian. New York Times, February 14, 2012.
Free speech in India has had a rough few months, what with the police being accused of inventing bogus threats on Salman Rushdie in a perverse attempt at crowd control and the banning of a controversial play due to the resemblance to a public figure. With this in mind, the NYT takes a look at an important 1989 case that continues to define art, social stature and free speech in India.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health, and the environment.
“Remember HIV/AIDS? It’s Still Raging in the U.S.,” by Kai Wright and Hatty Lee. ColorLines, February 7, 2012.
Kai Wright makes the simple but invaluable point that illness is not merely a biological condition—it’s also a socioeconomic phenomenon. Wright’s argument that "infection rates are an excellent measure for who societies don’t give a damn about" highlights an intimacy between health and power that has often been overlooked in healthcare policy.
Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.
“Observations From the World Social Forum in Brazil: The Life and Death of Liberal Democratic Capitalism,” by Aaron Schneider. Upside Down World, February 6, 2012.
Despite very limited media coverage, the World Social Forum attracts tens of thousands of grassroots thinkers and activists each year, providing an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Latin America, perhaps the only region of the world where a leftist, socialist ethos holds political power today, has been the natural host for most of the Social Forums. This short piece discusses whether or not the uprisings "defy the predictions of liberal, democratic capitalism" and signal a shift in our global paradigm.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture.
“City Buys Face Shields to Protect Cops From G-8 Protesters,” by Fran Spielman. Chicago Sun-Times, February 14, 2012.
The G8 and NATO are planning to hold major summits in Chicago, from May 19-21, and the city is preparing for an emergency. Ad Busters is calling for 50,000 protesters to take to the streets and, in turn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel—who does not want to let a serious crisis go to waste—is assuming expanded executive powers; bypassing the City Council and bidding process to award contracts for new police gear. As the world’s great powers meet to negotiate and discuss security and our shared future, out in the streets, police officers and protesters should seize the opportunity to do the same. Open dialogue, discipline and nonviolent deescalation tactics could prove beneficial to all.
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.
“NYCLU Analysis Reveals NYPD Street Stops Soar 600% Over Course of Bloomberg Administration.” NYCLU, February 14, 2012.
A new NYCLU analysis out Tuesday shows both a huge increase in NYPD stop-and-frisks over the last ten years, and more alarmingly, that these searches disproportionately target minorities—adding to the department’s already-long list of racially and religiously charged PR disasters in recent months. (In case you missed these, the recent incidents include spying on Muslims, an effort to cover up involvement in and complicity with the hateful training video, "The Third Jihad," and various charges of brutality). It will be interesting to see if this new data proves provocative enough to effect any real change.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.
“The Hamza I Know,” by Omar al-Tamimi. Mashallah News, February 14, 2012.
This sincere letter written by an acquaintance of Hamza Kashgari, the young Saudi writer who is facing blasphemy charges for three controversial tweets he wrote on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, shows clearly that this frenzy attack is no coincidence, and he’s not it’s only target. This well-organized violent campaign led by Saudi’s most extreme clerics, and encouraged by the Saudi regime is aiming not only for the young activists of Jeddah’s Bridges Bookstore, but also after everyone who dares to gather and discuss and read about religion, politics, revolutions, corruption, philosophy and literature.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.
“Virginia School District Wants to Ban Cross-Dressing By Students,” by Kristina Chew. Care2, February 11, 2012.
In response to the middle school and high school bullying that has targeted LGBT youth throughout the nation, a Virginia school district has moved to ban "cross-gender dressing" for the sake of students’ safety. Skirting their responsibility to educate on sex and gender issues and enforce anti-bulling systems, this school district in instead showing their students that they have to conform in order to be safe—yet another gender issue that has been flipped to blame the victim.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.
“Will Immigration Matter in France’s Presidential Election?” by Angela Diffley. Radio France Internationale, February 7, 2012.
Long before Americans go to the polls this November, the French will vote in their own Presidential election. The Euro, job creation, and credit ratings may dominate the agenda, but with France’s colonial past and large Muslim population, the topic of immigration is never far from the surface. In assessing reaction to the immigration policies of President Sarkozy—the son of a Hungarian immigrant—Angela Difley gauges the extent to which the matter will shape the 2012 election.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.
“Hospitals Mine Patient Records in Search of Customers,” by Phil Galewitz. USA Today, February 5, 2012.
This article, produced by Kaiser Health News and USA Today, examines a trend whereby hospitals use patients’ health and financial records to sell expensive services. Some worry that targeting well-to-do patients is discriminatory, though others argue that "consumer relationship marketing" helps deliver information to people who may need it. This article’s timing is spot on given the number of hospitals that have recently adopted, or plan to adopt, electronic health records.
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.
“Syria’s Economy Begins to Break Down.” GlobalPost, February 10, 2012.
A GlobalPost reporter offers a simple but compelling overview of how economic sanctions, imposed by some countries to weaken the Syrian regime, are affecting everyday Syrians. The cost of necessities such as eggs and bread has skyrocketed, but people’s salaries remain constant, at best. Indirectly questioning sanctions’ effectiveness, the article concludes that sanctions have yet to discernibly weaken the regime or those with ties to it and instead "have so far only hurt ordinary citizens."