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:
“France: Abusive Identity Checks of Minority Youth.” Human Rights Watch, January 26, 2012.
As concerns about safety erode into dangerous excuses for personal violations, this article from Human Rights Watch serves as a sobering reminder of police power, institutional racism and individual freedom in everyday France. The personal stories of the young men about their experiences with invasive and unwarranted "identity checks" add a unique first person element to an important and sobering story.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment:
“Design o’ the times: Empowering Minorities to Shape Urban Landscapes,” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson. Grist, January 31, 2012.
The landscape of urban America is often painted as a troubled one: the city as an incubator for disease and crime, a smog-hued emblem of social, economic and environmental catastrophe. Dickinson looks at architecture and design as active forces that both reflect the values of our society as a whole and shape the character of local communities. She offers a hopeful vision of how participatory design could make for cities that work for, rather than against, health and empowerment.
Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy:
“Growing Irrelevance of the Indian Ayatollah,” by Praveen Swami. The Hindu, February 2, 2012.
The recent decision of the Indian government to bar Salman Rushdie from speaking at a literary festival has reignited Indian discussion of secularism. In this piece, religious extremism is predictably blamed on poverty, and the author pits "civilization" (equated with capitalism) against faith. While the article’s historical and contemporary assertions are dubious, it represents an important mindset among South Asia’s educated seculars, who often peek over the India-Pakistan border to see what their neighbor is up to.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture:
“Seymour Hersh and John Pilger on U.S. Imperialism, Iran’s Imaginary Nuclear Weapons, and Media Complicity in War,” hosted by Dr. Helen Caldicott. If You Love This Planet, January 20, 2012.
In a recent edition of If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott, a physician and expert on nuclear and environmental dangers, spoke with renowned journalists Seymour Hersh and John Pilger about how and why mainstream media is so unwilling to report the big picture truth of what major national powers are doing. Hersh demystified the IAEA report on Iran and what he called the P5 “dance against the Iranian bomb, that frankly most people understand doesn’t exist.” In turn, Pilger observed, “The most important weapon in the armory of great power in these wars is to convince the public at home that they are not colonial wars, that they have a real purpose that involves the people of the country.” He added, “What I am implying is that the media is an extension of organized power.”
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations:
“Christie Says Like Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Rights Movement Could Have Been Settled Through Ballot Referendum,” Tom Hester. Newsroom New Jersey, January 25, 2012.
Though he has since apologized, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s comments last week are deeply troubling, and point to a persistent misunderstanding about the civil rights movement in the United States. In short, Christie suggested that the civil rights movement could have accomplished its goals through ballot referenda. The unstated, erroneous assumption here is that a majority would have approved civil rights protections for minorities. Christie and other officials considering marriage equality legislation right now need to understand that an important function of the legislative process is to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority–and should be used as such.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights:
“Boston College Researchers Drink with the IRA, and Academics Everywhere Get the Hangover,” by Harvey Silverglate. Forbes, January 25, 2012.
What happens when an academic institution is thrown in the middle of a political dispute and is pushed to share a confidential research study? Lawyer Harvey Silverglate raises important points regarding the latest court order forcing Boston College to reveal certain testimonies of former of IRA members documented in its Belfast Project. He argues that unlike journalists, academics are not accustomed to having to stand up to government demands for confidential information.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender:
“Land Rights for Women Can Help Ease India’s Child Malnutrition Crisis,” by Renee Giovarelli. The Guardian, January 20, 2012.
Despite robust economic growth, a recent study showed that 42 percent of children under five in India are malnourished, with rates of maternal mortality, low birth weight and malnutrition comparable to sub-Saharan Africa. But giving women the right to own land could help combat these statistics—new research in developing countries has indicated that if the woman of the house owns land, families are likely to have better education, nutrition and health. Women are considered a lower class in India—but it’s not just about gender equality anymore.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century:
“Europe’s Lost Generation: How it Feels to be Young and Struggling in the EU,” by Viola Caon. The Guardian, January 28, 2012.
This simple but striking feature on the crisis in Europe sets a human face to the all-too-familiar youth unemployment statistics. Reports from Greece, Spain and Italy illustrate how Europe’s youth, the so-called lost generation, is worst hit by the austerity measures gripping the continent.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare:
“GSK’s Andrew Witty on the Future of Pharma Collaboration to Help Poor Countries,” by Sarah Boseley. The Guardian, January 31, 2012.
In this article, Sarah Boseley attempts to cut through evasive diplomatic responses in order to find out how thirteen Big Pharma CEOs, whose companies "used to fight tooth and nail," decided to work together in launching an initiative to eliminate or control neglected tropical diseases. Given that companies like GlaskoSmithKline, Pfizer and Abbott are going so far as to open their compound libraries, which contain information about potential drug treatments that have yet to find commercial application, Boseley’s question seems quite appropriate.
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions:
“Exclusive: Leaked Syria Observers’ Report Details Failings of Mission,” by Colum Lynch. Foreign Policy, January 31, 2012.
With regard to Syria, two crises appear to be going on—an extremely violent, urgent and destructive one inside the country, and a completely different one outside. In the latter, international organizations such as the Arab League and the United Nations have pathetically failed to constructively address the violent crackdown, casting serious doubts upon both the utility and intent of efforts such as observer missions and Security Council resolutions.