Micheline Tusenius

Chicago school closures the largest in US history

The Chicago board of education voted last week to close 49 elementary schools and one high school over two years to address a budget shortfall of one billion dollars. This decision has been hailed either as a bold step in reforming Chicago’s maligned public schools, or as a counterproductive act that blindly hurts the city’s…

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The blind sage talks constitutionalism

“The law is optional. Those in power use it when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t.” Sound familiar? These words could be describing South Africa, but the context is China. The speaker is Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, the blind self-taught activist lawyer who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last…

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Hurricane Sandy’s generating unexpected debate

“Should we buy a generator?” This question is being posed, of all surprising places, in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. The pattern of losing electricity for days at a time a few times a year is creating a surge in generator purchases. This was the case even before Hurricane Sandy knocked out…

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Race underlies this race

Sometimes it’s shockingly explicit, sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s always present: There’s an undeniable racial undertone to this year’s US presidential contest between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Part of it is structural: Most Americans are no longer white. This year, for the first time, Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, and Native Americans together outnumber…

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Trayvon Martin: It’s about race and a lousy law

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot dead in Florida a month ago because of how he looked. Before being killed by a Hispanic self-appointed crime watch volunteer, Martin was described as “suspicious”. George Zimmerman was suspicious due to Martin’s skin colour, his wearing of a hoodie with the hood up (it was raining),…

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Helping stir South Africans’ consciences

That most complex economic relationship — between domestic helper and employer — is well scrutinised in The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s New York Times bestselling book that is also a film with the same name. The Help depicts the usually fraught relationships between women who worked as domestics and those in whose homes they worked in…

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