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Nation Interns Choose the Week's Most Important Stories (10/21) | The Nation

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Nation Interns Choose the Week's Most Important Stories (10/21)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out most everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week, and please use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

— Angela Aiuto:

Angela focuses on money in politics.

Financial Giants Put New York City Cops On Their Payroll,” Pam Martens. CounterPunch, October 10, 2011.

The New York City Police Department has made nearly 800 arrests since the Occupy Wall Street protests began a little over a month ago, and several videos have surfaced showing officers using violent tactics in their apprehension of demonstrators. If you've been down to Zuccotti Park, this chant might sound familiar to you: "Who do you protect? Who do you serve?" Pam Martens has taken up these questions in a stellar article on the NYPD's Paid Detail Unit, which allows private entities—including the New York Stock Exchange, the World Financial Center and Goldman Sachs—to rent a city cop for an hourly rate.

— Cal Colgan:

Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.

US Government Accused of Seeking to Conceal Deal Cut With Sinaloa ‘Cartel,’” by Bill Conroy. The Narcosphere, Oct. 1, 2011.

Zambada Niebla, the son of one of the leaders of the notorious Sinoloa cartel who is awaiting trial in federal court in Chicago after being extradited last year, has recently argued that he and other members of the cartel's leadership were working with the U.S. government by providing intelligence on rival drug trafficking organizations. Niebla alleges that U.S. government officials granted him immunity from criminal charges -- like that which he now faces -- in exchange for the information. Although prosecutors issued a rebuttal days after the publication of this article, they did admit that they are seeking special court procedures under the Classified Information Procedures Act to ensure that certain information isn't made public during the court proceedings. Still, the history of Colombian informant Baruch Vega's relationship with the CIA and FBI in dealing with Colombian cartels  and the fallout from the ATF's "Fast and Furious" operation could lend credence to Niebla's claims.

— Teresa Cotsirilos:

Teresa focuses on "Global South" politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.

Haiti Doesn't Need Your Old T-Shirt,” by Charles Kenny. Foreign Policy, November 2011.

Foreign Policy is very good at approaching development issues from minority—and often contentious—perspectives. This week, Charles Kenny discusses the issues and set backs surrounding US aid abroad, arguing that much of the aid we send is ineffective at best, and can often be detrimental to communities. The article also happens to be pretty funny. Did you know that we dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts on Afghanistan in January 2002? Neither did I.

— Paolo Cravero:

Paolo follows war, peace, and security.

Why Regional Solutions Won’t Help Afghanistan,” by George Gavrilis. Foreign Affairs, October 18, 2011.

In the past decade regionalism has gain a position of prominence in the IR discourse. Advocates for these types of solutions base their claims on the idea that cooperation between states will maximize benefits to the parties. However, more often than not, states that wink at regional solution also make sure, on the side, to gain just a little more than anyone else in the deal. This interesting and analytical article shows how despite repeated attempt to push for regional solutions for Afghanistan, these will ultimately not work. A good read if you want to keep up with a seemingly endless war.

— Erika Eichelberger:

Erika follows the environmental beat.

Transparency Watch: A Closed Door,” by Curtis Brainard. Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2011.

Obama promised the most transparent government in history, but a survey of environmental, science and health journalists conducted by The Columbia Journalism Review and ProPublica, found that this administration is silencing science much as the previous administration did. In 2006, the Bush administration tried to keep NASA scientist James Hansen from speaking out about climate change, but, according to the CJR investigative report Transparency Watch: A Closed Door, many of the journalists surveyed complain that similar gag orders are still a problem.  While the Obama administration has made marginal progress toward increased transparency, invocations of "privacy," FOIA delays, interventions by the OMB, and restrictive interview permissions are still big problems. Veteran science reporters contend that this is a long-term trend, that transparency has been on the decline since the 70s."Reporters on the science beat may have to accept that the days of easy access are gone," the report concludes.

— Josh Eidelson:

Josh covers the labor beat.

Greece unrest: Athens clashes amid general strike.” BBC News, Oct. 19, 2011.

Greek private and public sector workers launched a 48-hour strike in opposition to the austerity agenda, including a Thursday parliamentary vote on layoffs of public workers and deeper cuts to their wages and benefits.  Greeks rallied throughout the country, including a 70,000-person demonstration in Athens.  This is the latest in a series of anti-austerity general strikes in Europe this year; Portugal's largest unions have called for a one-day general strike November 24.  Strikes over government legislation, or by union members whose contracts haven't expired, are extremely rare in the United States.

— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:

Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.

Simon Patten on Public Infrastructure and Economic Rent Capture,” by Michael Hudson. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, October 2011.

This essay by the insightful, unorthodox economist Michael Hudson draws on the work of Progressive Era's Simon Patton to paint a non-obvious yet cogent connect-the-dots between various pernicious phenomena of contemporary global capitalism--high rents, decimation of the real-estate tax base, wage repression and cost-inefficient privatization of utilities.  He argues for the interrelated goals of rent-minimization, renewed public investment, and implicitly, an end to the financier-driven debt-stranglehold on national land-wealth, in the form of distressed mortgages. Along with David Harvey's "Right to the City," this should make for good reading at the Occupy working group for the development of demands.

— Collier Meyerson:

Collier’s beat is discrimination.

‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’: Really, Bro?” by Jill Filipovic. AlterNet, Oct. 15, 2011.

Founded on broad-mindedness, The Occupy Wall Street movement makes itself susceptible to being claimed by adherents who reinforce present social inequities. Recently, two young men who admittedly were responding to the images they saw of women at Occupy Wall Street being circulated around the Internet—set out to make a film featuring "The Hot Chicks Of Wall Street." The result is an abhorrent objectification of some women protestors. Sarah Jaffe's piece is smartly crafted scornful addition to the lot.

— Allie Tempus:

Allie follows human rights.

Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line,” by Sasha Chavkin. The New York World, Oct. 18, 2011.

Closer to home, affronts to human rights can operate in subtle shades of gray. This story explains how a bus running between two neighborhoods in Brooklyn requires women to sit in back. The rule is followed by the mostly Hasidic residents that ride this unique, privately-owned bus in compliance with religious tradition. Problems arise because the bus is open to all members of the public. This instance may be limited in impact, but it hints at a larger issue in first-world countries. When a society is free from the outright torture and genocide of citizens, human rights can still hang in the balance between religious rights, rights to free speech and basic measures of equality.

 — Jin Zhao (web):

Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

Why Occupy Singapore Failed,” by Mong Palatino. Global Voices, Oct. 19, 2011.

Occupy Singapore, launched at the Raffles Place last weekend, had a small turnout despite economic problems, such as high income inequality and a high unemployment rate, that plague the country. The reasons for this "failure" could be, as seen by the public, ineffective organization and mobilization, citizens' fear of police action, the "repressive political climate" in Singapore, or simply a culture that is more interested in food than protests.

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