With less than 5 percent of the planet’s population, the United States houses 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. The challenges of navigating that system don’t end when the convicted felon completes his or her sentence. Keesha Middlemass shines a light on the substantial barriers felons face when they try to reenter society.
For generations, American politicians have promised reducing—or even eliminating—poverty as one of their goals. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson went so far as to declare an “unconditional war” on poverty. Lenette Azzi-Lessing warns, however, that the rhetoric of fighting poverty has become a war on the poor with devastating consequences for America’s most vulnerable children.
Afghanistan is known to most Americans as the site of America’s longest war. Since 2001, the United States has sent hundreds of thousands of its sons and daughters to fight extremists and hunt-down the perpetrators of 9/11. But Afghanistan is more than the war. Ambassador Adela Raz has a unique perspective on her country’s rich history and insights about its future.
On September 22, 1928, a four-year-old girl named Barbara Griffiths disappeared in the woods near the small town of Massena, New York. At some point in the panicked search that followed, someone speculated that the child may have been murdered by a Jewish resident of the community in a ritual sacrifice. This was blood libel, a well-documented antisemitic slander common in Europe but new to the United States. Edward Berenson details the case and places it in historical and contemporary context.
After Alfred Nobel developed dynamite, his invention reshaped the world—literally. From mining to infrastructure projects, dynamite proved essential to the building of the modern world. But it also changed political violence—both on battlefields and in the streets where the first wave of modern terrorists adopted the explosive as a weapon of choice. Audrey Kurth Cronin says we have work to do to manage the new age of open technological innovation before it gets ahead of us with potentially destructive consequences.
Almost a decade ago, protests swept across North Africa and the Middle East, toppling some authoritarian leaders and threatening others. Marina and David Ottaway argue that the “Arab Spring”—as the uprisings are popularly known—splintered the Arab region into four worlds with vastly different outcomes, consequences, and prospects.
In the early morning hours of July 10, 2016, a young staffer for the Democratic National Committee was murdered as he walked home from a bar. Without any real evidence, Seth Rich’s death became a focal point for efforts to debunk the story that Russia hacked the DNC to help Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Michael Isikoff, however, tells us that the conspiracy theories around Seth Rich’s murder have a remarkable origin: Russian intelligence.
If you are a regular viewer of “Story in the Public Square,” you know we define “story” and “story-teller” very broadly. Educators, artists, scholars—and more—all qualify in our eyes; but occasionally, we meet a talent that weaves all three skills together with a profound humanity that commends their work to us, as they inspire and even heal others. Patricia Nguyen is just such a person.