Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.
“Austerity’s Billy Club,” by Andrew Klein. Jacobin, February 5, 2015.
Public transportation has been on my mind lately, from the MBTA’s struggle to provide service through record-breaking snow in Boston (and using the labor of inmates to shovel tracks) to the MTA’s recent shutdown and fare increases. In this timely piece, Andrew Klein explains the history of austerity, racial divisions and violence in the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and connects this history to #BlackLivesMatter protests, crackdowns on homeless populations and the necessity of investing in public infrastructure.
Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.
“Detroit’s ‘Walking Man’ Walks On,” by Charlie LeDuff. Vice News, February 17, 2015.
James Robertson works at a factory in Detroit that’s far beyond the reach of public transit, so he must walk twenty miles to and from work everyday. Thanks to some Internet do-gooders, his story went viral and a “GoFundMe” account in his name received over $350,000 in donations. Detroit-based writer Charlie LeDuff’s reporting on the story underlines both the crisis of poverty in Detroit and the capricious impulses of online humanitarians.
Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia and representational issues in film and television.
“Fifty Shades of Feminist Socialism,” by Laurie Penny. Penny Red, February 16, 2015.
“‘My desires are…unconventional,’ he admits. ‘So are mine,’ I say. ‘I want to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.’” Laurie Penny’s Fifty Shades rewrite gloriously skewers the film adaptation of E.L. James’s “romance” novel by replacing the problematically meek protagonist, Anastasia Steele, with a woman who is not buying Mr. Grey’s brand of bullshit. Film executives take note: this is the sequel the world wants to see.
Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.
“A New Feminist Movement? Middle Eastern Hijabis as Superheroes,” by Women’s Voices Now. Aquila Style, February 18, 2015.
Within the context of rampant regional sexual violence, this article illustrates how MENA women are creatively challenging “restrictive patriarchal norms and rising misogyny” while debunking the “widespread depiction of MENA women as oppressed victims.” The piece showcases the work of an Egyptian artist and creator of a female comic-book hero who emerges out of a “world of superheroes steeped in Western, male narratives” to challenge the status quo both in the MENA region and beyond.
Benjamin Hattem focuses on Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East, as well as economic inequality, homelessness, and the prison system.
“What the Hell Is Going On With the New US Cybersecurity Initiative?” by Ryan Faith. Vice News, February 18, 2015.
The reporting here isn’t great, but the apparent redundancy of US cybersecurity agencies is worth a closer look. There’s the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) under DHS, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) under ODNI, and the Cyber Response Group (CRG) under the Homeland Security Council; all three have similar and potentially overlapping mandates. Figuring out what’s actually going on with those three agencies, which Vice fails to do, would be interesting.
Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.
“Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite,” by Glenn Greenwald. The Intercept, February 16, 2015.
In this piece, Glenn Greenwald illustrates how three years after NATO’s military mission in Libya, often lauded as a model intervention, the country has collapsed into a drawn-out civil war. He explains how US military intervention in other nations ends up bolstering the enemies that it later on fights (such as the rise of ISIS which was created after the 2003 Iraq war, or the creation of Al Qaeda, which was empowered when the United States armed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion). In this hard-hitting piece, Greenwald points out that US militarism “ensures that the US government never loses its supply of reasons to continue its endless war.”
James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.
“Oil Refinery Workers Are on Strike and They’re Getting Support from Environmentalists,” by Ari Paul. Vice News, February 18, 2015.
Now entering its third week, a nationwide strike by more than 5,000 oil workers at nine facilities carries on. The strike is bolstered by the encouragement of environmentalist groups, who share a common enemy. And they should: combating climate change requires a radical restructuring of the economy, which ultimately depends on the mobilization of workers.
Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.
“Which Women in Tech?” by Nicole Sanchez. Medium, February 9, 2015.
Sanchez’s essay on the problem with conflating “white women” with “diversity” in the tech industry (think “lean in”) also aptly applies to all industries in which problematic conversations about diversity take place. “White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us,” Sanchez writes. “If you work on ‘women in tech’ events, organizations, etc and you do not know why a more diverse cross-section of women participate, find out why.”
Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.
“If Teachers Can’t Make Their Unions More Democratic and Social Justice-Minded, Public Ed Is Doomed,” by Bob Peterson. In These Times, February 12, 2015.
Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, knows that in this age of neoliberalism, “we must proceed with caution in our public criticism of…school district policies.” Despite or because of the attack on teachers’ unions throughout the country, Peterson insists that the key to “reclaiming” the profession is to push stagnant, self-serving teachers unions toward “social justice unionism”—a type of organizing that values not only the needs of teachers but also the wellbeing of entire communities of families and students.
Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.
“Don’t Blame Parents for Vaccine Resistance. Blame Mothers,” by Ruth Graham. Slate, February 17, 2015.
I was resistant to post this piece because I agreed with Graham’s disclaimer: “It’s dicey to discuss this gender disparity for a number of reasons, including the fact that ‘blame moms’ is not a thesis that tends to endear one to the sisterhood of womankind.” But her careful findings track a real trend of mothers’ pushing for the anti-vaccination movement and make this story worth considering. Graham points to the fact that medicine is founded in paternalistic language; perhaps changing the rhetoric to appeal to “warrior” mothers might make a difference in this anti-vaccination dialogue.