—Talal Ansari focuses on foreign policy/affairs, international conflict (including US involvement abroad) and human rights issues abroad.
"Libya's leaders shelter by sea as country tilts towards civil war," by Laura King and Yasmine Ryan. Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2014
As Syria and Iraq dominate the news, lest we forget. This piece to me was another reminder of how the revolutions of the Arab Spring were only Act One in an ongoing tragedy. Three years later, and many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are still facing the arduous task of navigating the fallout of decades of dictatorships.
Aaron Braun focuses on the psychology and politics of work, histories of socialism, and progressive critiques of Zionism.
“Going Back to Class: Why We Need to Make University Free, and How We Can Do It,” by Samir Sonti. Nonsite.org, May 1, 2013.
Last week, on my Twitter feed, there was an argument over the alleged anti-union implications of Malcolm Harris's “Not For Teacher,” a review of Dana Goldstein's The Teacher Wars. Harris questions the progressive value of rank-and-file organizing among teachers, and of public education in general, by ironizing the critiques of neoliberal reformers. Harris, like Kenzo Shibata's Jacobin (Kenzo himself being a rank-and-file teacher/ organizer in Chicago), accuses the other "side" of being either too liberal or too neoliberal. My coworker and I were talking about the back-and-forth and we agreed that both were much much better than the Twitter dialogue that accompanied them. Then my coworker pointed me to the above article, about a year old, which was really helpful at giving the context that seemed to be missing from the argument…enjoy. (Thanks Dan!)
"Mute the Messenger," by Jason Stanford. Texas Observer, September 3, 2014.
When education professor Dr. Walter Stroup testified to the Texas Legislature that the state's standardized testing, developed by Pearson, wasn't measuring what it was intended to measure, he unwittingly set off a chain of events that may have resulted in an academic's worst nightmare: an unsatisfactory post-tenure review. This investigative piece is a fascinating look at the deep flaws in the science of standardized testing, and the millions of dollars invested in making sure those flaws are never brought to light.
Ted Hart focuses on criminal justice, arts journalism and media ethics.
"Everything We Think We Know About Mass Shootings Is Wrong," by Tom Junod. Esquire, October 2014.
During the past two decades, mass shootings have occurred with such frequency that they almost seem to be an indelible part of the American landscape. As Tom Junod describes it, these mass shooters have "supplanted serial killers and possibly even terrorists as our culture's symbol of ultimate evil, seen as unfathomable and hence unstoppable." But Junod wanted to answer two questions: Can mass shooters be stopped? And who, if anyone, is trying to stop them? In his latest for Esquire, Junod takes us inside the world of threat assessment, a relatively new approach to identifying young men and women who could be on the path to mass violence. This approach raises clear ethical and practical issues, but Junod and the people who are pioneering threat assessment are emphatic: "Mass shootings are not unstoppable…They are not even inexplicable."
Yazmin Khan focuses on intersectionality, feminism, race, foreign affairs, politics and pop culture.
“Occupy Offshoot Cancels $4 Million in Predatory Student Loans—and Starts a Debtors Union,” by Liz Pleasant, Christa Hillstrom and James Trimarco. Yes!, September 17, 2014.
With 40 million Americans burdened by more than $1 trillion dollars in student loan debt, the financial future of students and former students can seem bleak. As the movement for justice for student loan debt holders grows, meaningful reform of the public and private student loan system keeps getting voted down in Congress. One innovative form of resistance to this particular form of income-inequality has grown out of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The group Strike Debt was created out of the movement's pursuit of debtors' rights and grass roots solutions to crushing debt incurred for medical treatment and in pursuit of higher education. It raised funds and purchased $4 million dollars of private student debt for pennies on the dollar via secondary markets, just as debt collection companies do. Strike Debt then canceled the debt it purchased, freeing thousands of mostly low-income students who were victims of unscrupulous for-profit colleges. Since so much of our collective student debt is owned by the federal government and not available for purchase on secondary markets, we can't all benefit from this tactic, but it is still the most exciting news I have read in years coming out of the student debt movement.
Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro focuses on world politics, social justice and technology
“The Most Wanted Man in the World,” by James Bamford. WIRED, August 2014.
WIRED's long-form piece on Edward Snowden is an absolute must-read. It provides insight into the personality, circumstances and beliefs of one of the most controversial people of our time. But, most importantly, the story looks into crucial issues in today's society such as national security, individual liberties, technology as an instrument of surveillance both for the government and the people and the role of whistleblowers in journalism, among others. Engaging and polemical, this is a story no one, regardless of his or her political ideas, should miss.
"Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons' electronic privacy," by Alison Macrina and April Glaser. Boing Boing, September 13, 2014.
Government and corporate surveillance of our digital lives may now be accepted by many as the cost of admission to the world wide web, but a handful of Massachusetts librarians are taking a stand. Authors Alison Macrina, a member of Boston's Radical Reference Collective, and April Glaser, who works with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, detail the steps libraries are taking to ensure their patrons' privacy and free and unencumbered access to information, including installing the Tor browser on public computers and privacy-protecting plugins like Disconnect.me, Ad-Block Plus, HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger. Macrina has also been instrumental in organizing workshops to educate both patrons and fellow librarians about digital surveillance.
Muna Mire focuses on race, politics, criminal justice and social movements (youth/millennial movements in particular), using an intersectional, Black feminist lens.
“Dinaw Mengestu: 'Immigrant is a very political term,’” Deutsche Welle, September 15, 2014.
My article this week is an interview with Ethiopian creative Dinaw Mengestu that touches on immigrant fiction as genre—whether that's a coherent or even useful classification—as well as immigrant art as inherently political. It's a lovely continuation of a conversation that's been happening between my two of my favorite writers, Junot Diaz and Edwidge Danticat.
"The Poverty of Culture," by Jonah Birch and Paul Heideman. Jacobin, September 16, 2014.
Since the death of Michael Brown, attention has been focused on inequalities in Ferguson. Authors Jonah Birch and Paul Heideman point out that commentators and writers have reasoned that the experiences of the black Ferguson residents are the result of a "culture of poverty." Scholars have written articles and books on "the culture of poverty," and public officials have articulated their support of this ideology. Yet despite this, black culture is not at fault for racial and social inequalities. Birch and Heidman brilliantly counter the poverty culture narrative by outlining three specifics aspects of black culture frequently subjected to the culture poverty theory. This is article refutes the consumed narrative and offers another perspective that rarely receives recognition.
Allison Pohle focuses on feminism, labor and income inequality, education and health.
“New report slams Twitter, Facebook, Youtube for secrecy around harrassment of women online,” by Caitlin Dewey. The Washington Post, September 16, 2014.
Social media relies heavily on metrics, including clicks, faves and views, and all companies that use social media keep extensive records of how much interaction their posts receive. These companies also tally how many posts they take down for copyright infringements and other violations. However, a new report shows that social networks Twitter, Facebook and YouTube deliberately hide some of their more controversial statistics, including how they handle female abuse on their platforms. Of course, this most likely means the companies are handling it poorly, if at all, andarticles by female writers attest to this. Until these companies publish data regarding abuse, there’s no way that users can hold them accountable, and the barrage of nasty mentions and messages will continue.