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Nation Interns Choose the Week's Most Important Stories (12/1) | The Nation

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Nation Interns Choose the Week's Most Important Stories (12/1)

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.

How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word,” by Richard Teitelbaum. Bloomberg, Nov. 29, 2011.

A Bloomberg investigation reveals that former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had tipped a roomful of Wall Street executives to the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during a July 2008 meeting, seven weeks in advance of the takeover. Short interest in Fannie peaked that month, with short interest in Freddie following a similar path. The worst part? Paulson’s actions were entirely legal.

—Cal Colgan:

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

Mexico activists seek ICC investigation of drugs war.” BBC, Nov. 25, 2011.

A Mexican human rights lawyer has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, asking the international law body to to investigate the deaths of the hundreds of civilians slain at the hands of both cartels and security forces, in addition to cases of torture and rape. If the ICC rules that war crimes and crimes against humanity have indeed been committed by security forces as well as the cartels, the ruling could put a damper on President Felipe Calderon's strongman approach to fighting the drug war in Mexico. The Calderon administration has been outspoken in its denial that its policies have resulted in international crimes, but a Human Rights Watch report released in early November reveals that Mexican security forces were involved in several extralegal killings and disappearances in five states. If the ICC agrees to investigate these claims, it will be the first official investigation the body has done outside of an African country.

— Teresa Cotsirilos:

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

The Stories You Missed in 2011,” by Joshua Keating. Foreign Policy, Dec. 2011.

India's military build up. Thailand and Cambodia's shooting war. Rwanda's potential backslide into despotism. Welcome to some of the least reported events in 2011—most of which took place in non-Western countries, and all of which could have a game changing geopolitical effect in the future.

— Paolo Cravero:

Paolo follows war, peace, and security.

After NATO attack, truckers face hard times,” by Mujib Mashal. Al Jazeera, Nov. 30, 2011.

The Pakistani ban on trucks carrying NATO supplies is a comeback to the recent NATO raid on Pakistan territory. Islamabad's authorities described the act as a deliberate act of aggression despite the Atlantic Alliance having ordered the "most formal level of investigation" into the raid. It seems that Pakistan has opted for a quite muscular—but economic detrimental—position towards NATO.

— Erika Eichelberger:

Erika follows the environmental beat.

New Study Links Climate Change to Higher Medical Costs,” by Frances Beinecke. Think Progress, Nov. 25, 2011.

A recent blog post at Think Progress concerns a first-of-its-kind study published in Health Affairs revealing the healthcare costs due to climate change in the US over the past decade. The study found that illness and injury due to extreme weather and smog accounted for over $14 billion in healthcare costs and more than 760,000 interactions with the healthcare system. This points to another way in which economic disparity will manifest itself in the future. Disadvantaged communities without the resources to cope with changing weather and associated healthcare costs will find themselves increasingly polarized from the rest of society.

— Josh Eidelson:

Josh covers the labor beat.

Rolling Sympathy Strikes Harass Food-Service Giant,” by Jane Slaughter. Labor Notes, Nov. 25, 2011.

Earlier this month thousands of Teamsters in nine states took part in brief rolling strikes against the second largest food service company in the country, US Foods.  Despite being under contract, and under the United States' strike-averse legal regime, workers were able to pull it off because of a hard-fought contract clause protecting their right not to cross picket lines.  After a bargaining unit of two janitors went on strike over alleged unfair labor practices by US Foods, one of them traveled from city to city, setting up quick pickets that gave local Teamsters a justification not to work.

— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:

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

America Beyond Capitalism,” by Gar Alperovitz. Dollars & Sense, Nov/Dec 2011.

In the wake of the tremendous failure of modern market capitalism to provide for the social and economic needs of great numbers of its constituents, it was inevitable that alternative forms of commerce would come to thrive. Post-industrial decay in the rustbelt is among the most quintessentially American examples of this failure, so it is natural that the heartland would be where some of the most (quietly) radical and thoroughly American experiments in different modes of organization would arise. This article from Dollars and Sense details a variety of cooperative initiatives in Ohio and beyond, ranging from worker-owned firms, community land trusts, to public asset reclamation for popular benefit. The writer who has a forthcoming book on the subject, both dispels the notion that grassroots communitarianism is merely a creature of wide-eyed sixties radicalism, while also calling for greater politicization of these often unsung institutions-in-formation.

— Collier Meyerson:

Collier’s beat is discrimination.

Inmates, Vermont prisons in conflict over Muslim prayer services,” by Terri Hallenbeck. Burlington Free Press, Nov. 28, 2011.

The rights of Muslim inmates at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, Vermont are being unmercifully infringed upon. Among the numerous offenses, Muslim prisoners were being denied the right to gather for Friday night Jum’ah services under unsupported suspicions that they were planning to use the time as an opportunity to organize a gang.  During the religion’s holiest month of Ramadan where adherents fast during the day, one staffer wrote in an e-mail: “Why do we continue to struggle with the Ramadan mess every August 1st?” It comes as no surprise that the Muslim prisoners complained of cold food and unfair treatment from officers throughout that month. The Vermont Department Of Corrections claims to have resolved the issues but Muslim prisoners say the discrimination persists.

— Allie Tempus: 

Allie follows human rights.

In Haiti, U.S. deportees face illegal detentions and grave health risks,” by Jacob Kushner. WisconsinWatch.org, Nov. 27, 2011.

This extensive investigation reveals the horrible conditions and illegal practices surrounding US deportation of Haitians. Produced as a collaborative project of several independent news organizations, this piece is a powerful example of the evolving structure of investigative journalism. And as we round the second anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake that prompted an outpouring of US charitable efforts, it serves as a reminder that humanitarianism begins at the policy level.

— Jin Zhao:

Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

‘Climategate’ Redux: Conservative Media Distort Hacked Emails ... Again.” Media Matters, Nov. 30, 2011.

Despite overwhelming evidence showing that climate change is happening at an alarming rate, conservatives continue to deny it, and one of such efforts recently was the "leak" of purportedly incriminating material taken from email exchanges among members of a climate research group at the University of East Anglia in 2009. However, anonymous hackers recently released a batch of emails showing that the email excerpts conservative media used to claim that climate change was a "hoax" and "conspiracy" cooked up by scientists were truncated and taken out of their contexts.

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