Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast and beyond, leaving millions, including some Nation interns (and the Nation office) without power. Yet, interns managed to plug-in and bring you stories you would have a very good reason for missing these last few days. This week: a move against unions in Michigan, the displacement of Brazil’s indigenous and several underreported perspectives on Hurricane Sandy.
Nader Atassi focuses on Middle Eastern politics and society.
“Our Storm, and Syria’s,” by Philip Gourevitch. The New Yorker, October 29, 2012.
Philip Gourevitch puts what happens in Hurricane Sandy in perspective when he compares it to Syria's "nineteen months of hell." Although I don't agree with all of his conclusions, he shows how no matter how much destruction is caused by Sandy, after it is over, things will go back to normal, with the state and communities helping each other recover. In Syria, there is no such expectation: the destruction and leveling of entire cities will not be over the next day, it will continue, and no one will help people recover, especially not the state, as it is the one causing much of the destruction in the first place. This is not to belittle the suffering of people caused by Sandy, but simply to point out that, as bad as Sandy was, in some ways, we are fortunate.
Jeff Ernsthausen focuses on domestic politics and the influence of money on public institutions.
“Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst Group Weighs In On Michigan's Proposal 2,” by Joy Resmovits. Huffington Post, October 25, 2012.
This month, StudentsFirst, the politically active non-profit run by former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, contributed half a million dollars to a conservative coalition opposed to Michigan's Proposal 2, a union-backed measure that would constitutionally protect collective bargaining rights in the state. StudentsFirst defended the move, saying the proposal would undermine many of the legislative changes to public education enacted by the Republican-controlled statehouse in the past two years, many of which the state's teachers' unions opposed. Last year, StudentsFirst also found itself spending opposite Michigan's teachers' unions when it contributed tens of thousands of dollars to defend Republican state representative Paul Scott from a successful union-supported recall effort.
Stefan Fergus focuses on US media, the Presidency, and China.
“Obama Defends His Finance Reform Record to Rolling Stone: A Response,” by Matt Taibbi. Rolling Stone, October 26, 2012.
I thought this was a great, detailed response to a short segment of President Obama’s interview with Douglas Brinkley. The president turns around a question about his handling of the economic situation into a criticism of Rolling Stone’s reporting on the issue. This meant Matt Taibbi’s reporting, which naturally generated this response. In this long post, Taibbi offers a calm, detailed explanation and defense of his reporting.
Steven Hsieh focuses on US politics, the media, and East Asian affairs.
“Sandy’s Frist Strike,” by Nick Miroff. GlobalPost, October 30, 2012.
Hurricane Sandy passed through the Caribbean, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes, before hitting the United States’ eastern seaboard. At least 52 were reported dead in Haiti, and 11 in Cuba, with more expected to come as the searching continues. While Sandy's devastation in the East Coast was unimaginable, it's important to maintain a global perspective in any international crisis.
Adam Hudson focuses on war and peace-related issues.
“US Expands Secretive Drone Base for African Shadow War,” by David Axe. Wired, October 26, 2012.
Last week, the Washington Post released three investigative pieces about recent developments in US counterterrorism operations, particularly targeted killing. The final article in the series looks at Camp Lemonnier—a secret US base in Djibouti that lies at the heart of the US's shadow wars in the Horn of Africa. Camp Lemonnier serves as a launching pad for US drones that carry out surveillance and targeted killing operations against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia. In addition, the base houses several war planes, 200 special operations forces and 2,000 troops and civilians that carry out raids, airstrikes and reconnaissance missions. Wired points out how this report sheds more light on the US's underreported shadow war in East Africa.
Ricky Kreitner focuses on corruption, influence, and regulatory capture.
“How Economic Inequality Makes Hurricanes More Deadly,” by Zack Beauchamp. Think Progress, October 29, 2012.
This blog post, written before Sandy hit, argues that economic and other forms of inequality increase the destruction of life and property caused by hurricanes. Some would argue that the impact of the hurricane attested to that prediction. However, perhaps the more interesting, lasting and politically relevant truth revealed by Sandy is that the storm did not bother to check the average income level in those beachside neighborhoods it nearly decimated, like Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. Such indiscrimination may lead, at long last, to progress in the battle against climate change—no small thing, and not too shabby a silver lining.
Annum Masroor focuses on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“US detention of Imran Khan part of trend to harass anti-drone advocates,” by Glenn Greenwald. The Guardian, October 28, 2012.
When Imran Khan declared on Twitter that he had been detained by US authorities in Canada en route to New York, to be "interrogated on [his] view of drones," as he alleges, many (including this reader) were surprised to hear that his views were considered unclear enough to question. As arguably the leading public critic of drones in Pakistan, it would seem odd that US officials were unaware of his routine denouncements of American foreign policy in his country. But as Glenn Greenwald points out, this episode is just the latest in what has become the Obama Administration's "trend" of intimidating and harassing opponents of US drone policy. The implications of such a trend are obvious and troublesome; there is arguably a general ignorance of the impact of drones in the countries where they are used. If the domestic public is unwilling or unable to criticize the President, then who is?
Nick Myers focuses on the military, environment and politics in pop culture.
“NASA Warned New York About Hurricane Danger Six Years Ago,” by Chris Mooney. Climate Desk, October 30, 2012.
When those geeks at NASA tell you something bad could happen, it’s probably best to listen. Scientists with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies pretty much pinpointed which parts of New York could see the worst flooding in a bad hurricane. The city did pretty much nothing. Now that the worst has happened, maybe it’s time to take what scientists say seriously.
Anna Robinson focuses on gender, sexuality and social justice.
“Safe States: Safe for Whom?” by Falguni A. Sheth. Translation Exercises, October 31, 2012.
Is the United States "safe" for men of color? Falguni A. Sheth, associate professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at Hampshire College, looks at the disproportionate impact of the drug war, wars abroad, mininum sentencing laws, governmental anti-terrorist measures and kill lists on people of color. She asks, "Is there a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans? Perhaps so. For a very small subset of folks who are still “safe” and can vote “safely” for their Democrat in their “safe” state. That difference is nearly nonexistent and/or rapidly waning when it comes to the quotidian existence of the poor, migrants, and brown and black men and women in every state—who must wake every day to check and see which side of the law they are on—and whose side they must curry favor to, in order to avoid the wrath of the law. Safe states. Safe for whom? Certainly not for young black and brown and Muslim men and women and their families."
Christie Thompson focuses on structural poverty.
“The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy,” by David Rhode. The Atlantic, October 31, 2012.
New York is a city of inequality, divides that were put into stark relief in the wake of the storm. When the city began to re-open as early as Monday night, it was largely thanks to New York's low-wage work force. As David Rhode writes in his column, "There were residents like me who could invest all of their time and energy into protecting their families. And there were New Yorkers who could not." As power returns and the cleanup begins, those New Yorkers will wait to see if, as in a post-Katrina New Orleans, communities of privilege are the first priority.
Elisa Wouk Almino focuses on South America, particularly Brazil.
“Brazil's indigenous fight for their land,” by Ericka de Sá. Deutsche Welle, October 28, 2012.
The Guarani-Kaiowa tribe in Brazil wrote a letter to the government stating that they would rather be killed and buried with their ancestors than be expelled from their territory. The territory has been given over to the agricultural industry, and if the Guarani-Kaiowa refuse to leave they must pay 500 reais a day (about $259). Though the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) has said that it would cover these costs, the Guarani-Kaiowa does not see it as a solution. It points to Brazil's need to officially map out and acknowledge its indigenous territories, as violent territorial encounters are on the rise.
Eric Wuestewald focuses on international affairs and human rights.
“One Storm Away.” Foreign Policy, October 31, 2012.
Though New York was heavily hit by Superstorm Sandy, eventually the city will be able to recover. Unfortunately, other places around the world might not be so lucky. If hit by a major storm or if rising sea levels increase as expected, these 10 major world cities could end up underwater.