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:
“Cairo, Hers Again,” by Ahdaf Soueif. Guernica, February 2012.
This is a story of the Egyptian uprising as seen by a writer who contemplates the personal history of her city and her evolving relationship with it. A subtle essay with a unique perspective, Ahdaf Soueif reclaims Cairo from a tumultuous political history and makes it her own again.
Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health, and the environment:
“Atomic Bread Baking at Home,” by Aaron Bobrow-Strain. The Believer, February 2012.
What starts out as the author’s lighthearted attempt to re-create the perfectly homogenized, soft and insipid industrial white loaves that are emblematic of 1950s America becomes an investigation of the politics of healthy eating in America. As he traces the rise of industrial food through one essential product, Bobrow-Strain demonstrates how layers of research, marketing and nationalism influence us as we troll the aisles of the grocery store, and raises surprising questions about contemporary food reform movements.
Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy:
“Amid NGOs Foreign Funding Row, Poll Shows Most Egyptians Oppose US Aid,” by Reem Abdellatif. Daily News Egypt, February 7, 2012.
A recent Gallup poll shows the vast majority of Egyptians would like to see US-funded NGOs gone, along with the $1.5 billion in military and economic finances the US gives to Egypt every year, in exchange for its peace with Israel. Compare this to the media blitz by American officials and publicly-funded NGOs, who are angry about the Egyptian government’s investigation into their activities in post-Mubarak Egypt. Dozens of their workers in Egypt have been arrested under suspicion that the NGOs are operating without a license, instigating strife between the army and civilians, and supporting the campaigns of political parties favorable to the West.
Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power and political culture:
This week, Daniel Serwer, a lecturer and scholar in Conflict Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a former leader of innovation and peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace, made efforts to reassert the term nonviolence into geopolitical debates over how and how not to approach the currently escalating crisis and conflict in Syria. Amidst growing calls for armed intervention or for the offering of material support to the Free Syria Army (FSA), which could amount to civil war, Serwer points out that insurgent action against the Assad regime could provoke an even deadlier response from a government that has already killed hundreds of its own citizens. In his words, “There is nothing inevitable about the fall of this or any other regime — that is little more than a White House talking point. What will make it inevitable is strategic thinking, careful planning, and nonviolent discipline. Yes, even now.”
Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.
“House GOP Memo: ‘Abortion Is the Leading Cause of Death in the Black Community,’” by Nick Baumann. Mother Jones, February 6, 2012.
This article is not really about race, because the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act are not really about race, either. House Republicans who are backing the bill—which is essentially a thinly disguised attack on abortion rights—are disingenuously and disrespectfully appropriating anti-racism rhetoric to advance their wholly unrelated agenda. This week, Mother Jones obtained a memo that illustrates just how artificial their "cause" really is.
Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.
“In The Daily Beast, Niall Ferguson Says: Bomb Iran,” by Haroon Moghul. Religion Dispatches, February 6, 2012.
Even after the Iraq war went so horribly and gruesomely wrong, the loss of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis didn’t discourage Niall Ferguson from advocating a war on Iran and suggesting that we are on the “eve of creative destruction.” In this piece, Haroon Moghul forcefully counters Ferguson’s “commonest” arguments.
Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.
“Dividing by Three: Nepal Recognizes a Third Gender,” by Kyle Knight. World Policy Journal, February 1, 2012.
The LGBT rights movement in Nepal is a mere six years old, and yet the Nepalese government is one of only a handful of countries that officially acknowledge a third gender option in government documents, providing an alternative for trans-identified citizens. (Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India also offer a neutral or alternative gender identification.) But with the most recent Nepalese census ridden with intimidation and discrimination—leaving only three people courageous enough to openly identify as neither male nor female—we have to question the sharp distinction between government acceptance and popular progress.
James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century:
“How Britain’s Migrants Sewed the Fabric of the Nation,” by Robert Winder. The Guardian, February 5, 2012.
In profiling several prominent Brits, Robert Winder of The Guardian offers an insightful and conclusive argument against UK Immigration Minister, Damian Green’s plans to allow ‘only the brightest and the best’ to enter the country.
Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare:
“Lung Transplant System Often Skips Over Those Most in Need.” The University of Chicago Medicine, January 31, 2012.
At an annual meeting of thoracic surgeons held last week, researchers reported that our current lung transplant system, which allocates donated lungs based on geography rather than need, appears to increase the number of patients who die waiting. This press release, which has been republished on several other websites, does more than just report on the findings; it provides poignant anecdotes and historical context, as well.
Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions:
“Syrian Rebel Leadership Is Split,” by Ivan Watson and Omar al Muqdad. CNN, February 7, 2012.
A lot of media coverage of Syria right now is focusing on what the international community is doing, or failing to do, to address the situation in Syria. This article calls attention to a different and perhaps more important complication—the fact that those who oppose and fight the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are far from united in their opposition. They include civilian and military leaders, inside and outside of Syria, with many claiming to represent the opposition.