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This Week: Amazon & the Conquest of Publishing. PLUS: Scahill on Drone Warfare | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: Amazon & the Conquest of Publishing. PLUS: Scahill on Drone Warfare

AMAZON & THE CONQUEST OF PUBLISHING. In this week’s special issue of The Nation, Steve Wasserman examines Amazon’s impact—from its growth in the early years to its predatory pricing and labor practices, and most recently, to its foray into book publishing. Read Wasserman’s cover story, “The Amazon Effect” to find out how Amazon got so big so fast. Also in this issue, Michael Naumann, Germany’s first federal minister of culture, reports in his piece, ”Germany, by the Book,” how fixed-price laws in Germany curtail the power of big chains like Amazon—and promote the cultural relevance of a diverse and independent book industry. In “Search Gets Lost,” Anthony Grafton asks why Amazon has customers do the search chores it used to do for them. And be sure to check out the slide show, “Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business With Amazon.com” to find out what’s at stake in the battle over e-commerce.

NYPL BLUES. In The Nation last November, contributing writer Scott Sherman provided new reporting on the details of a closely guarded and secretive renovation project planned at the New York Public Library. In this week’s issue, the editors write how the implications of the project, called the Central Library Plan (CLP), are dire. The CLP would demolish seven levels of original stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room (which holds 3 million books and tens of thousands of adjustable shelves) to make way for a state-of-the-art computer-oriented library. What was once a calm and meditative environment for library-goers could be converted into a noisy branch library. And the $250–350 million raised could be better spent on improvements to already dilapidated library branch locations. The CLP might also starve research libraries, like Harlem’s historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. We were pleased that Sherman’s article generated coverage and a much-needed public debate in outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. And high-profile critics from Salman Rushdie to Annie Proulx have joined 1,500 others and signed a protest letter. There’s still time to save the NYPL: take action now and join thousands in demanding that the NYPL reconsider.

IN DEFENSE OF CHRIS HAYES. As the conservative blogosphere continues to attack The Nation’s Chris Hayes this week by misrepresenting comments he made about heroism and war, we were encouraged to see several articles that engage in honest and critical discussion in his defense. At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf lamented the attacks piled on Hayes. “Our public discourse is such that anyone can find him or herself viciously denounced by complete strangers based on a single sound-byte from which everyone extrapolates wildly,” writes Friedersdorf. Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast agrees: “This entire little fracas isn’t about the alleged substance of the complaint against him. It’s just right-wing bloggers spotting an opportunity to pile on and bully a liberal.” Check back to TheNation.com next week, as we’ll be sharing our own take on the conversation surrounding Hayes and our political culture.

NICHOLS ON WISCONSIN. As voters in Wisconsin gear up for the long-awaited recall election putting Governor Scott Walker’s job on the line, The Nation’s John Nichols has been an indispensable voice in the fight to reject Walker’s anti-union austerity politics that promote tax cuts for the rich, while attacking unions and slashing public services. From appearances on The Ed Show to extensive coverage on the pages of The Nation, Nichols shows how the movement in Wisconsin is a blueprint for progressives everywhere. Read a recent interview with Nichols at Alternet and stay tuned for Nichols’s live coverage here at TheNation.com as we countdown to the election.

VIDEO NATION. In the video, A Short History of Drones, Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, discusses how the United States is on a new trajectory of warfare. Moving away from large-scale military invasions, the Obama administration has been supportive of drone warfare and has even expanded operations beyond places like Yemen and Pakistan. “What we’re seeing emerge is a mini–Obama Doctrine which is returning to a proxy war mentality of the 1980s in Central America,” says Scahill. “Warlords are being embraced, secret programs are being authorized, and there’s a secret air war that is seen but never confirmed publicly by any named officials.” Watch that video to find out where Scahill thinks these covert ops are headed next.

PROGRAM NOTE. On Sunday, tune in to MSNBC as Washington correspondent John Nichols joins the conversation on “UP with Chris Hayes; Nation writer Lisa Graves is set to appear on Melissa Harris-Perry.

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