From the Stacks: July 27, 2007

Utne Reader‘s library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500
magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively
dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box
bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights
(and occasional lowlights) of what’s landing in our library each
week in ‘From the Stacks.’ Check in every Friday for the latest
edition.

The
August issue of Sojourners enters the heated debate over
nuclear power, with editor Jim Rice methodically exploring several
major concerns. Though some environmentalists continue to tout
nuclear energy as a cheap and easy way to cut carbon emissions,
Rice argues that nuclear power plants still pose a significant
threat to people’s health and to the environment. He advocates for
a ‘democratization’ of energy sources based on greater efficiency
and sustainability. Also in the issue, editor in chief Jim Wallis
interviews New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who
is known for his consistent reporting on the world’s most
vulnerable people, from Cambodian sex workers to Darfuri refugees.
‘[Y]ou really can’t just forget about these people you meet,’
Kristof says, ‘when it’s so easy to make a difference.’ — Eric
Kelsey

Bidoun challenges contemporary notions
of the Middle East through its discerning arts and cultural
coverage, aiming to ‘bring together cultural expressions from a
vast and nuanced region.’ In the Summer installment of the
quarterly magazine, Gary Dauphin examines John Walker Lindh, who
made headlines as the ‘American Taliban’ after he was caught
fighting against US forces in Afghanistan. According to Dauphin,
Lindh can be understood as a modern example of Norman Mailer’s
famous archetype, the ‘White Negro,’ because of his penchant for
hip-hop and African American culture that ‘bordered on the
obsessive.’ Bidoun was awarded two
Utne Independent Press Awards in 2006,
capturing top honors for best design and best social/cultural
coverage. — Eric Kelsey

Econews succeeds in covering many
environment-shaping stories that fly under the radar of most
other media sources. The informative, northern California-based
newsletter of the nonprofit
Northcoast Environmental Center draws
attention to the local ecological issues of the Northwest, with
an eye to national policies as well. The July issue highlights
several influential news stories, such as the recent Supreme
Court decision that grants states the authority to issue water
permits, allowing developers to bypass the environmental
protections of the Endangered Species Act. The issue also takes
note of President Bush’s proposal to construct 30 new nuclear
plants by the year 2010 as a ‘solution’ to global warming. —
Natalie Hudson
?
Fight These Bastards poetry magazine, published by
Platonic
3way Press
, comes out swinging in the ‘fight against the
mind-numbing poetry’ of more traditional literary journals. In the
magazine’s fourth issue, poetry-haters may be encouraged by the
no-nonsense philosophy expressed in Dan Sklar’s poem ‘How It Is,’
which opens with ‘Don’t be / profound. / Don’t be / insightful.’
Fight These Bastards is a fount of diverse, frank,
readable, and assertive poetry like Sklar’s. Also in the issue,
Wisconsin poet Michael Kriesel writes a guest editorial detailing
his experience with the art of the haiku, explaining the ‘sometimes
fuzzy’ distinction between haiku and senryu.
?– Julie Dolan

‘What
is Iraq, anyhow?’ In the midst of World War II, the US military
issued ‘A Short Guide to Iraq,’ republished this year as
Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq
During World War II
(Chicago University Press, 2007),
to offer a window into Iraqi culture for the soldiers stationed
there. When speaking of Iraqis, the guide dispenses advice
that’s still pertinent nearly 65 years on. For example: ‘Respect
his religion as he will respect yours,’ and ‘remember that every
American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will.’
Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl, who served in Anbar in late
2003 and wrote the new foreword for the book, explains: ‘It is
almost impossible, when reading this guide, not to slap oneself
on the forehead.’ This short guide powerfully illustrates how
much the military knew — and, lamentably, how much it
forgot.
Bennett Gordon

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