All NSA, all the time. (I <3 you, faceless government bureaucrats monitoring me on the internets!) "The National Security Agency may keep the e-mails and telephone calls of citizens and legal residents if the communications contain “significant foreign intelligence” or evidence of a crime, according to classified documents that lay out procedures for targeting foreigners and for guarding Americans’ privacy. Ellen Nakashima and dudes Barton Gellman and Greg Miller for The Washington Post on the parameters of the NSA's surveillance programs.
Did you learn something from that article? Appreciate the reporting that got that information to you? "In addition, in several cases, the FBI obtained reporters’ phone records by using this method, including the Post’s Ellen Nakashima and the Times’s Jane Perlez." Marcy Wheeler at The Nation with a brief history of other recent government surveillance programs and the abuses committed under them. (Via Maria Bustillos.)
"They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for 'high-risk persons or behaviors' among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage." Marisa Taylor and dude Jonathan S. Landay for McClatchy on how the Obama Administration's program to crack down on leaks requires government employees to monitor and inform on one another. (Via Cora Currier.)
"Despite the perception that the United States and the Arab and Muslim world operate in opposition to one another, the two regions are inextricably connected via the Arab and Muslim communities who immigrated, or are the descendants of immigrants to the United States." Even if you believe the line that the NSA is only sweeping up the communications of Americans to and from people outside the United States, Anna Lekas Miller reminds us at the Guardian that the vast majority of those are between family and friends. (Via Kristen Gwynne.)
"It’s that in the world’s most surveillance-heavy metropolis, in a city that unironically welcomed tourists to the Olympics with a mascot of a lidless panopticon eyeball dressed as a police officer, it usually doesn’t occur to us to be anything other than compliant." Laurie Penny at The New Statesman.
"Secret government programs that pry into people’s private affairs are bound up with ideas about secrecy and privacy that arose during the process by which the mysterious became secular." Finally, Jill Lepore at The New Yorker with a history of government snooping.
National treasure Carol Rosenberg at The Miami Herald reports on the results of her Freedom of Information Act request that publicly identifies for the first time the four dozen captives held at Guantánamo as "indefinite detainees," who cannot be tried in a court of law.
There were plenty of good reasons to avoid VICE this week, but Molly Crabapple's sketches from Guantánamo are worth making exceptions for.
"Since FY 2009, there have been 326 substantiated cases of sexually-related offenses against recruits, out of an estimated 9,500 recruiters, Pentagon officials say." Suzy Khimm at MSNBC reporting on an "inappropriate sexual relationship" between an Army recruiter and a 17-year-old recruit, culminating in the murder of the teenager and the suicide of the recruiter.
"Stifled by an increasingly authoritarian government, shut out of the mass media public sphere, unrepresented by spectacularly incompetent opposition parties, people in Turkey who are increasingly worried about the country’s direction and their own lives are trying to find ways to express their discontent and to draw a line in the sand." At DMLcentral, Zeynep Tufekci writes about how Taksim Square's standing man became the focal point of public protest, using mass media — and silence.
"Our relationship with China is too important to allow the human rights agenda to be so unduly influenced by one contingent. The one-child policy and abortions can and should be a part of our human rights agenda, but it should not be the exclusive focus. Or if it is, that consensus should be reached in a more democratic process not just by default because no one paid attention." Surprising piece at China Law & Policy by Elizabeth M. Lynch about the degree to which the story about NYU and activist Chen Guangcheng actually revolves around antiabortion politicians in Congress. (Via Melissa Chan.)
"Since the emergence of the Tea Party, there have been plenty of politicians who have rocketed to sudden stardom, but only Paul has managed to leverage his popularity into actual institutional power. Julia Ioffe's cover-story profile of Rand Paul at The New Republic.
This week in Corporations Have More Rights Than You Do: "Despite dicta in previous Supreme Court cases that suggested arbitration clauses are not enforceable when it is prohibitively expensive for claimants to enforce their rights through the arbitration process, the five justices in the Amex majority held that plaintiffs who sign arbitration agreements don’t have the right to pursue their claims on anything but an individual basis, even if the cost of that pursuit dwarfs their potential recovery." Alison Frankel for Reuters.
"The suit further alleges that the fees reduce the actual wages workers receive—in some cases bringing them below minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania remains at the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour." Sarah Jaffe on a class-action lawsuit (you know, the kind of thing the Supreme Court keeps making it more difficult to do?) against a McDonald's that required its employees to accept payment in the form of a JPMorgan Chase debit card, which accrues fees for every use. (Hat tip to Jill Heather, who practically compiled the list for me this week!)
Further news from the Supreme Court that is more ominous than it appears: "What would it take for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to side with the court’s liberal justices and a coalition of left-leaning groups — including advocates for sex workers — as they did in a decision released today? Answer: if it’s about resisting the federal government attaching ideological conditions to its funds." Irin Carmon at Salon.
"A number of recent studies on neurobiology and trauma show that the ways in which the brain processes harrowing events accounts for victim behavior that often confounds cops, prosecutors, and juries." Rebecca Ruiz for Slate on why rape victims are so frequently perceived as being unbelievable. (Hat tip to Anne Jefferson.)
"Yet even with relatively low vaccination rates in the United States, infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped to 3.6 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2006, the officials said." On the unexpected effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, by Sabrina Tavernise at the NYT. Worth reading even though I really, really, really think "resistance to the vaccine" is a poor choice of words in context. (Don't worry, she didn't mean that HPV has become resistant to the vaccine.) (Hat tip to @sciwo.)
"As horrible as that moment was — it will live with me forever — I am grateful. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me." Judy Nicastro at The New York Times writes about her late-term abortion, and why the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" create a false opposition. (Via Amy Davidson.)
"The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830." This edition of Seriously, WHAT? of the week brought to you by Jean Twenge at The Atlantic. (Via Jessica Valenti.)
"It is appalling that an institution responsible for preparing young women for adult life has actively opposed our feminist work. I feel like the school is not supporting its girls in a crucial part of their evolution into being strong, assertive, confident women. If that's the case for a well-established girls' school, what hope does this generation of women have in challenging the misogyny that still pervades our society?" All right, the story in this op-ed at the Guardian by 17-year-old Jinan Younis may topple the previously declared winner of the Seriously, WHAT? category this week. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)
Point: "One explanation for this assumption is that the type of 'serious' journalism that women’s magazines do—an article about the Chinese marriage crisis in Marie Claire, a profile of political brothers Julian and Joaquin Castro in Vogue, a piece about how to spot an ovarian cyst in Cosmo—isn’t respected as much as the 'serious' journalism in men’s magazines." By Jessica Grose at The New Republic. (Via Rebecca Traister.)
Counterpoint: "I hope we can also take this opportunity to question why women’s writing is aligned so heavily with personal essays and service journalism—the forms that are the cheapest and ad-friendliest to produce." Amanda Hess at Slate. (Hat tip to Jody Timmins.)
"Among the lucky candidates: the first female fighter pilot to become an astronaut in nearly two decades. A female helicopter pilot also is in the group. In fact, four of the eight are women, the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected by NASA." At least someone has figured out how to manage gender parity! From Marcia Dunn at the AP.
"While people of color, individually and as groups, have been helped by affirmative action in the subsequent years, data and studies suggest women — white women in particular — have benefited disproportionately." While we wait for the Supreme Court decision that may end affirmative action, Sally Kohn at Time notes how effective the policy has been at helping… white women. (Via Mac McClelland.)
"Losing your homeland is almost like losing an appendage. The phantom ache sometimes becomes too much to bear. The feeling of dislocation all-consuming. But still we keep coming, looking for a better life, hoping the pursuit does not break us beyond repair." Karolina Waclawiak on immigrants at The Rumpus.
"He was still in the habit of waking up at four or five am then, and hours later while I blearily poured myself coffee, he’d cheerily rattle off his latest figures, showing me his equations—what he got if he included all his sick days, or if he took absolutely no vacation days. Then he’d pause, lean back, and announce the point of all his work: 'Only eight hundred more days that I have to go in and deal with all those bastards.'" From two weeks ago at Vela, Amanda Giracca on working, living, and adulthood.
"Any person’s independent productivity depends not upon the head count of her children but the sum of her free hours." Rebecca Mead at The New Yorker, saying things that ought to be — but are, alas, not — obvious. (Hat tip to Jody again!)
"The roadrunner neither smashed into the painting nor fell through it, but ran into it and vanished around the painted bend. When the coyote attempted to follow him, he broke through the painting, plummeted, was smashed up, and then, yet again, as always, he was resurrected. Your door is my wall; your wall is my door." Posted last month at Guernica, an except from Rebcca Solnit's new book, The Faraway Nearby.
Finally, deep thanks to Jill Heather for this gem of a comic about the goddess Anu-Anulan in love. By Emily Carroll.