The U.S.--Al Jazeera Détente

Relative to the American sound bite, John Kerry recently gave an in-depth interview to Al Jazeera, the independent Middle Eastern news service which operates an international TV channel and a website in Arabic and English. Kerry discussed Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, and now the New York Times’ Media Blog reports that Hillary Clinton has met with Al Jazeera’s “senior manager” and has herself given an interview before a crowd of 300 university students. Is this possibly the same Al Jazeera that former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called “vicious” and “disgraceful”, referring to its coverage of the Iraq War?

Quite possibly, yes. But now that a more diplomatic approach is being taken at the highest levels of the American government, perhaps our statesmen and stateswomen have realized that being friendly across Middle Eastern airwaves will do more to advance American interests than Rumsfeld’s brand of sarcasm and grimace.


Al Jazeera is remarkable partly because it has been able to maintain its editorial integrity in a region where most media is heavily controlled by the State. A loan from a Qatari Sheikh allowed the news network to get off the ground.

Still, American policy towards Al Jazeera has been fierce, especially after 9/11 when many debates over factual matters, such as the presence of WMD in Iraq or the legality of a unilateral preemptive war, were treated as inferior to the debate over whether one was a patriot or a turncoat, a debate won and lost—typically lost—over how loudly one parroted the most aggressive of government policies. According to The Nation:

The United States bombed [Al Jazeera’s] offices in Afghanistan in 2001, shelled the Basra hotel where Al Jazeera journalists were the only guests in April 2003, killed Iraq correspondent Tareq Ayoub a few days later in Baghdad and imprisoned several Al Jazeera reporters (including at Guantánamo), some of whom say they were tortured.

At the time, the British press reported that former President Bush discussed his desire to deliberately bomb Al Jazeera offices with former Prime Minister Blair.

For the moment, the U.S. seems to be taking a more conciliatory approach.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less

Following sex, some men have unexpected feelings – study

A new study shows that some men's reaction to sex is not what you'd expect, resulting in a condition previously observed in women.

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study shows men's feelings after sex can be complex.
  • Some men reportedly get sad and upset.
  • The condition affected 41% of men in the study
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less