Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/14)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/14)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/14)

 Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out most everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nationinterns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention.


Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out most everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nationinterns 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.

Karl Rove vs. the Koch brothers,” by Kenneth Vogel. Politico, Oct. 10, 2011.

A competition is brewing between Republican insider Karl Rove and the libertarian Koch brothers, with each camp planning to direct more than $200 million to conservative groups in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Could their growing rivalry—already evidenced by what Vogel refers to as a "seemingly competing infrastructure"—ultimately threaten Republican electoral success this November? It’s still too early to tell, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

— Cal Colgan:

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

Paramilitaries may have entered Mexico’s drug wars,” by Tim Johnson. McClatchy, Oct. 7, 2011.

The recent discoveries of dozens of bodies being found in houses and freeway underpasses in the Mexican port city of Veracruz over the past few weeks indicate the presence of a paramilitary death squad in the region. Authorities claim the death squad was created to conduct revenge killings against members of the notorious Los Zetas cartel. With their apparent military training, the death squad’s actions underscore the reality that President Felipe Calderon doesn’t have as much control over the military as he claims.

— Teresa Cotsirilos:

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

The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa,” Laila Ali. Al Jazeera, Oct. 12, 2011.

Here’s a statistic that should challenge long-held perspectives on the process of third world development. By 2015, it is estimated that sub-Saharan Africa will have more people with cell phone access than electricity access at home—and that people with home access to the internet, but no home access to electricity, will reach 138 million. Seizing on these unexpected trends, schools and universities throughout sub-Saharan Africa are exploring the use of mobile technology to assist in teaching. Pilot programs in Tanzania and South Africa have used video technology, downloadable by phone, to make lessons more engaging and interactive—and to reach rural students who live too far away from school to attend. As with the Aakash tablet in India, these development programs have their critics, but nonetheless promise to approach entrenched problems in creative new ways.

— Paolo Cravero:

Paolo follows war, peace, and security.

Liberia: A time to change perceptions?” by Azad Essa. Al Jazeera, Oct. 11, 2011.

Until 2003 Liberia has been the quintessence of Africa’s war: child soldiers, ‘blood-diamonds,’ blood thirsty warlords and greedy traffickers were the players in this modern African tragedy. Since then things have slowly changed, and Essa’s account looks at how politics has been normalized and a democratic process is developing. Clearly Liberia is not perfect, but it is good enough to ask ourselves whether it is ‘a time to change perceptions.’ Who would have dared asking this question 10 years ago? 

— Erika Eichelberger:

Erika follows the environmental beat.

Oil sands imports could be banned under EU directive,” by Fiona Harvey. The Guardian, Oct. 4, 2011.

As the scandals behind the Keystone pipeline deal mount up, and as environmentalists rally their forces before the administration’s final decision on the fate of the project at the end of this year, the EU is proposing an effective ban on the import of dirty tar sands all together. A story by Fiona Harvey in The Guardian points out that despite intense pressure by the oil lobby and Canada itself, the EU Climate Change Commission is moving in the right direction. The fuel quality standard proposal faces a tough fight before final approval, but comes at a crucial time, with global attention focused on the US as it considers a move that NASA climate scientist James Hansen said would spell "game over for the climate."

— Josh Eidelson:

Josh covers the labor beat.

Obama Averts Railroad Workers’ Strike, Extending Concessions Conflict,” Mike Elk. In These Times, Oct. 11, 2011.

After Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen voted to authorize a 25,000 person strike, President Obama last week exercised his authority under the Railway Labor Act to block the work stoppage.  Obama has appointed a Presidential Emergency Board with thirty days to recommend a resolution to the negotiations over contracts for the BLET and other railroad unions.  The Railway Labor Act allows the President to outright refuse many railway and airline workers who seek to strike. Most private sector workers are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which (as amended by Taft-Hartley) places great restrictions on the right to strike as well.

— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:

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

Finance as a Class?” by Thomas Michl. The New Left Review, July-August 2011.

This book review engagingly delves into a phenomenon that I’ve seen covered in glimpses here and there in the mainstream press (for instance, the Atlantic): the growing ability, over the last several decades of global financial elites to act together as a class, in pursuit of shared interests. The political consequences have been weighty, and it’s a story worth understanding in its various ramifications.

— Collier Meyerson:

Collier’s beat is discrimination.

Decolonization and Occupy Wall Street,” by Robert Desjarlait. Racialicious, Oct. 11, 2011.

The burgeoning “Occupy Wall Street” movement with its 150-plus active protests touts the populist motto, “We Are The 99%,” however the majority of images circulating around the Internet disproportionately reveal sullied white, college-aged youth. According to the 2010 census, minority populations make up almost 40% of this country. In the article I chose for this week, American-Indian writer and activist Robert Desjarlait argues that there is a disconnect between the predominantly white movement of “Occupy Wall Street” and the people they claim to represent. The only way to make equitable change, Desjarlait declares, is to encourage protestors to desert their efforts on Wall Street and shift focus to decolonization.

— Allie Tempus:

Allie follows human rights.

‘Honor killing’ targets Turkey’s LGBTs,” by Jodi Hilton. GlobalPost, Oct. 12, 2011.

With the European Commission’s recent official recommendation that Turkey begin negotiations to join the EU, issues of tolerance still stand in the way. Though Turkey has aggressively promoted a climate of LGBT acceptance of late, the country still has much to prove. This article is a thorough round-up of the story of Ahmet Yildiz, the victim of Turkey’s first known LGBT "honor killing," and similar cases since then, which dramatically undercut Turkey’s more superficial attempts to champion human rights.

— Jin Zhao:

Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

Steve Jobs Dies; Chinese Reactions,” by Samuel Wade. China Digital Times, Oct. 6, 2011.

China Digital Times aggregated Chinese Apple fans’ responses to Apple founder Steve Jobs’s death from various sources including Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent to Twitter), China Real Time Report, AP, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, and South China Morning Post. These awe-struck mournful responses, both vocal—"your products changed the world and your thinking influenced a generation"—and physical—setting up shrines outside Apple stores, when read side by side with the stories reported by Mail Online earlier this year about multiple Apple workers’ suicides in China and the environmental and health issues associated to Apple products’ manufacture, show especially disturbing signs of the effects of globalizing consumerism and the disparity and disconnection between classes in China created on its way to one of the world’s biggest economies.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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