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Nation in the News

Nation in the News

TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.

Cornel West and Melissa Harris-Perry at Odds on Obama's Performance

In a recent interview by Chris Hedges at Truthdig, Princeton Professor Cornel West provided a blunt critique of Barack Obama, saying the president “lacks backbone.” Last night on The Ed Show, West further explains this statement saying that the president lacks backbone for “poor children, abused workers, those unfairly incarcerated, those middle class folks experiencing downward mobility and confronting the Wall Street Oligarchy and the corporate plutocrats.”

The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry responded, both on The Ed Show and in a piece called “Cornel West v. Barack Obama,” calling West’s assertions disingenuous and vague. She points to actions the president has taken to speak for America’s underrepresented such as his Supreme Court nominations and signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

—Sara Jerving

Jeremy Scahill: Inside Erik Prince's United Arab Emirates Mercenary Army

 Why is Blackwater founder Erik Prince building a mercenary army for the United Arab Emirates? The Nation's Jeremy Scahill thinks the contracted guns will be much less involved in maintaining the peace than they will in suppressing any dissent within the country.

Joining Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! this morning, Scahill explains that the main purpose of Prince's secret deal with the monarchy will be to crack down on any unrest from the country's massive guest worker population. Prince has also discussed covertly sending private military contractors into other countries in the region to confront any influence from Iran—a move that would only fan the flames of tension in the Middle East. 

 Check out Scahill’s full response to Prince's mercenary army and the implications it will have in the region.

 

Paul Ryan Aims to Rebrand His Medicare Plan, But Nobody's Buying It

After realizing his Medicare voucher plan was not sitting well with American voters, Representative Paul Ryan tried to re-brand his plan during a speech in Chicago earlier this week. By using phrases like “empowering Americans” and “guaranteed coverage options,” Ryan tried to conceal what’s at heart of his plan: increasing the power of private insurance companies to take advantage of seniors, a demographic not seen as profitable by the industry. The Nation’s John Nichols debunks this rhetoric and explains on The Ed Show that the American people are rejecting Ryan’s plan because Medicare is a widely popular and functional federal program.

—Sara Jerving

Mitch Daniels Targets Women's Health to Push Forward His Campaign

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who is seen as one of the most likely GOP presidential candidates, made Indiana the first state to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood.

Only months ago, Daniels called on Republicans to lay aside social issues in order to focus on budget and spending issues. But he has attacked the nation's leading provider of women's reproductive health care to show conservatives driven by issues like abortion and gay marriage that he is on their side, The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry says on The Rachel Maddow Show. All that even though the state's funding never went to abortions to begin with. “The thing is, its not symbolic if you are the woman that can’t get the pap smear,” she says.

—Sara Jerving

As Floodwaters Rage, Rural Areas Are Sacrificed to Spare Louisiana's Cities

What are the ethical implications of flooding communities in largely rural areas in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from the rising waters? On MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts this morning, The Nation's Melissa Harris-Perry says that just as soldiers are making sacrifices in wars abroad, rural residents are being asked to bear the brunt of the floods here at home. People in New Orleans need to acknowledge this great sacrifice and work to provide these communities with the health care, housing and education they will need to recover from the flooding.

You can catch Melissa on MSNBC Live every Tuesday and Thursday between 11am and noon.

—Kevin Gosztola

Jeremy Scahill: Is Blackwater's Erik Prince Starting a Proxy War Against Iran?

The New York Times recently broke the story that Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor Blackwater, is building a mercenary army in the United Arab Emirates. The army could be used by the oil-rich nation to quell future pro-democracy or labor protests, and balance Iran’s power in the region. Prince has ordered that none of the mercenaries hired be Muslim.

The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, who has reported extensively on Blackwater, spoke on The Rachel Maddow Show last night about how this army could potentially set the scene for a proxy war against Iran. What's more, Reflex Responses, the new company Prince is forming in UAE, likely needs a license to undergo the training of these mercenary forces, and Prince's companies have been fined in the past for not obtaining one, he says.

Check out Scahill’s full response to the report on Prince.

—Sara Jerving

The Political Elites Have Strayed From the Will of the Majority

The current political system doesn’t allow for a full range of views, leaving us with a downsized politics that excludes many options that would help the majority of Americans. This is what The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel argues on CNN's In the Arena with Reason magazine's Nick Gillespie. The political polarization holding our nation hostage is less a result of the separation between Democrats and Republicans and more of a disconnect between the beltway and the rest of the country, she says.

Vanden Heuvel points to the unpopularity of Paul Ryan’s budget and the war in Afghanistan as two strong examples that clearly reveal that most Americans are not being represented by our government.

—Sara Jerving

Where are Newt Gingrich's Presidential Credentials?

In the wake of Newt Gingrich’s announcement that he will be running for president, The Nation’s Ari Melber calls him the most serious joke in the presidential race. Gingrich is not positioned to be a presidential candidate based on historical precedent; he resigned from the House of Representatives and has never won statewide office, held a cabinet position or served in the military. Every president elected in the 20th Century has had these credentials, Melber says on MSNBC’s The Last Word.

—Sara Jerving

Will Obama's High Approval Ratings Change the GOP Debate on the Debt?

With an approval rating as high as 60% in some polls, President Barack Obama is meeting with Republicans to discuss how to deal with the country's debt. The Nation's Melissa Harris-Perry explains on MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts this morning that, as a political science professor, this is an exciting moment for her. During her "Soundoff" segment, Harris-Perry says that the killing of Osama bin Laden means distress for the "out party," and that they may now want to go along with Obama and use the president's approval rating to "shield" them from criticism.

You can catch Melissa on MSNBC Live every Tuesday and Thursday between 11am and 12noon.

—Kevin Gosztola

Should the Public Be Able to See Osama bin Laden's Death Photos?

The decision to not release death photos of Osama bin Laden continues to spark debate. NPR and the Associated Press are pursuing a Freedom of Information Act request to get the photos released, and now the CIA might show the photos to “select lawmakers.” On The Ed Show on MSNBC on Tuesday night, The Nation’s John Nichols argues that “we don’t need our intelligence committee to be a priestly class," and that whatever lawmakers see, all Americans should be able to see. Nichols also finds it disrespectful to the Arab Muslim world to suggest that a release of the bin Laden death photos could spark anger in the Middle East.

—Kevin Gosztola

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