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.
“Wealthy Corporations With a Trillion Dollars Stashed Offshore Lobby for a 'Holiday' From US Taxes,” by John Aloysius Farrell and Aaron Mehta. Center for Public Integrity, Oct. 24, 2011.
Multinational corporations are lobbying Congress for a temporary tax holiday that would reduce the rate at which foreign-held earnings are repatriated by nearly 75 percent. Supporters of the proposal have glossed over its $40 to $80 billion price tag with promises of job creation, but an in-depth examination of the 2004 tax holiday—which tax expert Charles Kingson has appropriately dubbed "The Great American Jobs Act Caper"—shows that while the same promises were made, they were never kept.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Double Speak and Intervention in Mexico,” by Fred Rosen. NACLA, Oct. 25, 2011.
This blog post on the North American Congress on Latin America's website outlines a stirring development in Mexican politicians' attitudes towards the cartels. In the wake of the New York Times' recent investigation into US government agencies' collusion with some cartels and the use of informants to gather information, NACLA is reporting that President Felipe Calderon's stance against working with the cartels at all may be increasingly a minority position. Even former president Vicente Fox is now admitting that covertly supporting some of the cartels in order to undermine the more dangerous narco-traffickers is a wiser decision than continuing current law enforcement policies.
— Teresa Cotsirilos:
Teresa focuses on "global South" politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“India's Silent War,” by Imran Garda. Al Jazeera, Oct. 21, 2011.
In an era of Twitter and real time news, it can be hard to imagine that "one of the world's largest armed conflicts" could go unreported. But a slow-burn civil war in eastern India has caused the displacement of at least 12 million people over the past thirty years—and killed thousands of Indian civilians. Al Jazeera correspondent Imran Garda's brief documentary deftly examines the conflict between the Adivasis, India's aboriginal people, the Maoist rebels that ostensibly protect them, and the Indian military, which has been forcing Adivasi villagers from their land to access valuable mineral deposits.
— Paolo Cravero:
Paolo follows war, peace and security.
“Welcome to the Shadow War,” by Michael Knights. Foreign Policy, Oct. 24, 2011.
As the US Army is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, Security Sector issues emerge more clearly delineating a challenging and complex future for the Iraqi security forces. Iranian influence (military and non) and domestic political questions seem to suggest that sustainable security and development are more than a step away.
— Erika Eichelberger:
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“Climate Skeptics Take Another Hit,” by Kevin Drum. Mother Jones, Oct. 21, 2011.
A Koch brothers–backed climate change study has just released its results: the world is indeed warming. A story in Mother Jones tells how last year, University of California, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, darling of climate-deniers, decided to start his own climate analysis project that would "do it right." The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, partially funded by the Koch Foundation, an instrumental player in the climate-denial machine, used a novel statistical methodology, but came up with some surprising results. The resulting data tracked closely with that of the "big three" existing climate models, NASA, NOAA and the UK's HadCRU. Said Muller in a press release, "Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK."
— Josh Eidelson:
Josh covers the labor beat.
“City taxi drivers' organization joins AFL-CIO,” by Daniel Massey. Crain’s New York Business, Oct. 20, 2011.
For the first time since the United Farm Workers half a century ago, a workers' organization with no legal collective bargaining status is affiliating with the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO, the country's largest labor federation, presented a formal charter to the National Taxi Workers' Alliance in a ceremony last week. Because taxi drivers are considered "independent contractors," they are among the millions of workers currently excluded from the union recognition rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Collaborating with organizations of excluded workers has been an increasing focus for the AFL-CIO in recent years. Thousands of New York City taxi drivers organized a one-day strike in 1998.
— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“Occupy first. Demands come later,” by Slavoj Žižek. The Guardian, Oct. 26, 2011.
This timely op-ed from Slavoj Žižek comes just as the debate over whether to tender demands at OWS is starting to come to a head: occupiers seem to be strongly split on principle. It is a thorny issue, which Žižek tries to resolve with some nuance. It's questionable whether he actually manages this or merely manages to argue to a contradiction. He makes a strong case that relatively petty policy demands would only be counterproductive—giving away the energy of the movement on the cheap. But he also advocates something less than demand-free purism—ultimately, strategic demands which, while they cannot be simply dismissed as practically impossible or naive, can also not be agreed to by the ruling order, as it would undermine their very position and power. Yet he also highlights the force or "terror" of the movement's "silence" (drum circle notwithstanding): meaning refusal to engage in a dialogue on the terms of the system as it presently exists. Whether a demand at this point could meet the precise criteria he sets out is an interesting question.
— Collier Meyerson:
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“Ohio Univ. Students to Classmates: ‘We’re a Culture, Not a Costume,’” by Jorge Rivas. Colorlines, Oct. 25, 2011.
Every year the spate of news stories about controversial Halloween costumes spark brief and informal chatter across American college campuses. Disputed costumes have included Adolph Hitler, Ku Klux Klansmen, "a terrorist" and "a rapist," both euphemisms for Arabs and African-Americans respectively. This year 10 students of color at The University of Ohio in Athens banned together and formed a social-media campaign to raise awareness about the detrimental psychological effects of these costumes. Jorge Rivas of Colorlines reports on the initiative's widespread success, just in time for Halloween. BOO racism and sexism!
— Allie Tempus:
Allie follows human rights.
“India education: The chain school,” by Jason Overdorf. Global Post, Oct. 24, 2011.
This article alerts us to a schooling trend in India that can serve as a jumping off point from which to discuss the right to an education, and what makes a good one. Indus World School is a chain of school franchises with plans to expand throughout India. This certainly addresses in part India's goal of near-universal enrollment by 2015 (and, consequently, its need to build 250,000 schools by then). But the IWS model brings up other concerns: will the limited number of scholarships create a tiered system that favors the already privileged? Will the corporate stakeholders influence curriculum?
— Jin Zhao:
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“AdSense: Google cracks down on Pakistani websites,” by Omair Zeeshan. The International Herald Tribune, Oct. 18, 2011.
Google AdSense recently banned a large number of bloggers and publishers on the ground that they lack original content, provide low-quality user experience, and deliberately manipulate design to mislead users to the advertisers' website. Among these banned accounts, most of them are Pakistani, which led many Pakistani bloggers, especially legitimate bloggers, to believe that Google's act is based on racism and its desire to please its advertisers.