This week's edition of article selections by Nation interns includes introductions written in verse.
—Samuel Adler-Bell focuses on labor, mass incarceration and literature.
“Hartford, Connecticut,” by Freddie DeBoer. n+1, March 13, 2014.
I know it's not pretty
But I was born in this city
New England's Still-Rising Star
And ain't it a pity
We're not the hip kind of gritty.
Then maybe you'd get out of your car.
—Dustin Christensen focuses on Latin American politics and sports.
"The Case Against Qatar.” The International Trade Union Confederation, March 2014.
For those who thought the Sochi Olympics were corrupt, I present the World Cup in Qatar,
an exploitative country where you can kiss labor rights and racial equality au revoir.
ITUC's report shows workers at stadium projects "living like horses in a stable,"
Threatened, robbed, confined, deported, killed or disabled.
Qatar's the most extreme example of World Cup labor abuses but it's not the only one.
The rush to complete stadiums in Brazil has death tolls rising by the ton.
As sports fans we should know about the violence behind events like these,
and demand an end to all the corruption and sleaze.
—Laura Cremer focuses on labor, gender and the historicization of culture and politics.
“Gilding the Lily,” by Carina Hart. The Beheld, March 25, 2014.
Carina Hart discusses "beauty work":
the labor people (mostly women) are
expected to perform to make their bodies
socially acceptable. In this
short post specifically she asks why certain
types of beauty work are viewed as "good"
and others viewed as shameful, bad. Invoking
Donna Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto,"
Hart interrogates our notions of
appropriate and inappropriate
distortions one can make to "natural" forms.
—Cecilia D’Anastasio focuses on ethics, feminism, press freedom and tech.
"Don’t Look Now," by Angus Johnston. The New Inquiry, March 27, 2014.
Fifty years ago, the Times published a headline we might expect to see on the Huffington Post's click-bait-ridden Twitter page: "37 Who Saw Murder Didn't Call Police." Kitty Genovese, a young woman living in Queens, was brutally murdered in view of over thirty witnesses in 1964; but the Times headline, and indeed the entire story describing the overwhelming apathy of all of Genovese's neighbors, was enormously exaggerated. Angus Johnston of The New Inquiry counts twenty-nine significant errors in the original times story, but that's besides the point: Why didn't at least thirty people call the police against the background of Genovese's desperate cries? "Genovese, her friends, her neighbors—all had real reasons to distrust the cops," writes Johnston. Many key witnesses, at least one of whom was homosexual and afraid of persecution, didn't contact the authorities in time to save Genovese for fear of sacrificing their own wellbeing in the process. "The Genovese story isn’t just a story of individual moral culpability, it’s also a story about malign and corrupt institutions and the corrosive effects those institutions have on our lives," and that's a story worth remembering today.
—Simon Davis-Cohen focuses on self-governance, climate adaptation and science.
“Section 32. Right to Local Self-Government [PDF],” proposed amendment to the constitution of Colorado, March 2014.
Can Americans be trusted to self-govern? Well, in Colorado a proposed state constitutional amendment—in response to fracking—strikes a balance between our fear of local control and a growing need for local protections. The amendment would empower local Colorado communities to eliminate the “rights, powers, and duties of corporations,” should they conflict with local “health, safety and welfare.” Though, the amendment clarifies, such local lawmaking shall not weaken or restrict the protections and rights of “individuals [not persons, which would include corporations], their communities or nature.”
Last week, the initiative passed the crucial “single subject” test. Should the initiative survive forthcoming industry appeals it will be accompanied on November’s ballot by up to three competing fracking initiatives brought by large environmental and industry groups. Looks to be a showdown in Colorado.
—Justine Drennan focuses on marginalized groups' relationship with technology and development.
"Banks Won't Do Business With Legal Marijuana Sellers. Enter PotCoin," by Dana Liebelson. Mother Jones, March 26, 2014.
Financial firms still have their fears
about working with pot pioneers,
so weed men use cash,
which leads to a rash
of robberies, violence and tears.
But lo! Check out what PotCoin offers!
Inspired by Bitcoin, it proffers
those legal weed dealers
a tool against stealers:
the chance to use digital coffers.
—Corinne Grinapol focuses on education and international relations/national security.
"Report: NY Schools are most racially segregated." Associated Press, March 24, 2014.
Postracial is not
75 percent black schools
1 percent white schools
70 percent poor schools
70 percent rich schools
It is not New York
holding a title never displayed
in tourism adverts
New York state: Winner, most segregated schools
no Southern state comes close.
—Mara Kardas-Nelson focuses on health.
“On the Pain of Violent Men, or, Why I’m not Sorry about Max and Montle,” by Linda Stupart. Africa is a Country, July 19, 2013.
Last year, a social media war ensued in South Africa after two male writers, who worked for a male magazine, made rape jokes on Facebook. Thanks to the speed of Twitter, within hours the story was making national headlines, and both men were consequently fired.
I was living in Cape Town at the time and several of my friends, some of whom personally know the now-dismissed writers, asked my thoughts on the matter. I generally loathe all things stemming from social media, and so shrugged it off, but coming across this piece nearly a year after it was written inspires within me a more pointed view on the matter. The jokes were not "tasteless" or a simple mistake, as many of my friends argued—even those who considered themselves feminists didn't want to personally attack their acquaintances. They were sexist and the writers deserved to be fired. Stupart describes the pain that she felt in watching the debate unfold, and reading her account reminds me of my emotional and physical discomfort around male assertion of sexuality—cat calls, jokes at parties about who can get the most girls, being looked up and down on a run—that I encounter daily in Washington DC, just as I did in Cape Town. We continue to live in a patriarchal, sexist society, and the rapid defense of the rape joke-telling writers is demonstrative of that. Women have a right to be pissed off; men who say such comments, on any platform, need to be held to account and society should face its own ugliness, and the ease with which we dismiss it, if we're going to provoke any sort of change.
—David Kortava focuses on sustainable development.
“Three Myths that Block Progress for The Poor,” by Bill and Melinda Gates. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014 Gates Annual Letter.
Misconceptions about the volume and impact of foreign aid, and about the low-income countries on the receiving end of it, are many. Here Bill and Melinda Gates take on three of the most common: that poor countries are doomed to stay poor, that foreign aid is generally wasteful and ineffective and that saving lives today will lead to overpopulation tomorrow. They write that these are powerful untruths, dangerous memes that spread cynicism and jeopardize funding for demonstrably successful, life-saving aid programs. So long asthe average American believes that the federal government already allocates 27 percent of its annual budget to foreign aid, advocates like the Gates stand little chance of driving up the actual figure—1 percent, or about $30 in taxes for every American.
Translated into verse by Corinne Grinapol:
Untruths pile up and
Bill and Melinda Gates count the ways:
poor countries are doomed to stay poor
foreign aid is wasteful, ineffective
today's saved lives are tomorrow's overpopulated masses
dangerous memes that
jeopardize funding for
believed by the average American:
27 percent of the federal budget
How to ask for more,
to increase the actual figure:
the lone one percent
obscured in the shadow
of the obstinately solid lie
—Benjamin Pokross focuses on education and the arts.
"The Right's New ‘Welfare Queens’: The Middle Class," by George Packer. The New Yorker, March 25, 2014.
At The New Yorker, George Packer describes the persistence of right-wing ideas about labor and unemployment in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Framed around his recent testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Packer's article shows how conservatives are now targeting the culture of middle class white people as the source of inequality, claiming that they find it more appealing to live off the government than do an honest day's work. More than just a report on a demoralizing new ideology, Packer pulls back the curtain on Washington and shows how in the theater that is politics, ideas that aren't back up by facts can become appealing and influential.