Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/7/11)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/7/11)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (10/7/11)

 Read about this week’s important stories around the world, and leave your comments. 


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.

Lobbyists in on ‘super’ secrets,” by Anna Palmer. Politico, Oct. 3, 2011. 

As the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement against disproportionate corporate influence in politics continues to swell, the Congressional supercommittee charged with slashing $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit is deciding the nation’s financial future in secret. Well, not entirely in secret: Though no details of the committee’s recent closed door meetings have been released to the press, congressional staffers have made sure to keep their lobbyist friends up to date. This news is hardly surprising, but serves as a current and significant example of how the 99 percent are largely excluded from the most important political conversations.

— Cal Colgan:

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

Drug War: Faster And More Furious – Analysis,” Eurasia Review, Sept. 30, 2011. 

This news analysis piece in Eurasia Review critiques the U.S. and Latin American governments’ muddled efforts to fight the War on Drugs. The article not only critiques the ATF’s botched Fast & Furious operation, but also argues that multimillion-dollar enforcement policies like the U.S.-Mexico Merida Initiative and Plan Columbia primarily serve the arms industry and private contractors. The result, according to the article, is the escalation of violence, especially on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

— Teresa Cotsirilos:

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

India unveils world’s cheapest tablet computer,” by Mark Magnier. Los Angeles Times, Oct. 6, 2011.

Subsidized by the government, the "Aakash" tablet computer costs only $35, and officials hope to eventually drive the price down to $10. The production of this device has been riddled with delays and plagued by skepticism— widespread corruption has historically jettisoned a wide array of outreach programs in India, and many rural schools in India lack toilets and teachers, let alone the electricity to power a tablet. If successful, however, the Aakash could bring basic computing, social networking, and Web surfing to up to millions of rural Indians, and could help raise a large percentage of India’s population out of poverty.

— Paolo Cravero:

Paolo follows war, peace, and security.

The climate gamble on African soil,” by Sumayya Ismail. Al Jazeera, Sept. 17, 2011.

When talking Climate Change and Climate Justice we often refer to the perils to our future. By looking into some of the proposed solutions Ismaili’s article shows how the mainstream is not concentrating on the real climate challenges on the ground. 

— Erika Eichelberger:

Erika follows the environmental beat.

Retired Republicans Quietly Try to Shift GOP Climate-Change Focus,” by Coral Davenport. National Journal, Sept. 30, 2011.

Rick Perry and his ilk in Congress might deny climate change, but a recent article in the National Journal reveals that a number of retired Republican lawmakers are now working behind the scenes to correct their party’s "anti-science" image. While formerly vocal GOP climate-change fighters have caved to the Tea Party base and quieted their calls for action, those outside the campaign cycle have decided to speak the truth.

— Josh Eidelson:

Josh covers the labor beat.

"Two-Tier System Remains in UAW Deal With Ford," by Akito Yoshikane, In These Times, Oct. 5, 2011.

Yesterday the UAW reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford that appears similar to the one ratified by General Motors employees last week.  Despite Ford’s $6.6 billion in profits last year, the Ford agreement would leave in place the two-tier wage system established in 2007.  Improvements in the agreement reportedly include job creation and a raise for lower-tier workers.  But Yoshikane interviews a professor whose research suggests that if workers ratify the agreement, the two-tier system will make future negotiations even more difficult.

— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:

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

Bleed the Foreigner,” Harold James. Project Syndicate, Oct. 4, 2011.

Harold James’s ongoing series "Capitalism Then and Now" insightfully places the global financial crisis in context, linking it to larger social trends. This week’s article is a good reminder that the seduction of greater isolationism and nationalism is a false comfort in the face of instability and distant threats; a sense of mutual obligation and solidarity is what’s needed.

— Collier Meyerson:

Collier’s beat is discrimination.

Gene Lyons’ column too far: To dismiss a great black public intellectual because she made you feel uncomfortable is completely ridiculous,” by Elon James White. Salon, Sept. 30, 2011.

When Mellissa Harris-Perry published “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals are Abandoning Obama” in The Nation she identified legislative zones especially dear to the liberal electorate (progressive Health Care policy, criminal justice, gay rights, African American unemployment rates and military defense spending) that have been used to malign Obama’s presidency as ineffective but in which, by her reckoning, the President’s policies have in fact been comparable to or more liberal than his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton’s.  Perry makes the claim that white liberal disenchantment with the current President has less to do with his policy record, then, and more to do with a less explicit form of racism that would hold black leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts.  The piece initiated a sometimes angry, sometimes patronizing, sometimes conciliatory and sometimes congratulatory dialogue with white and liberal journalists (among others) like Joan Walsh and Gene Lyons that, in the end, strengthened the potency of Perry’s initial claim: the unwillingness of white liberals to examine their racial prejudices perpetuates existing inequitable power structures. The article I chose for this week is a visceral addition to the conversation by Elon James-White.

— Allie Tempus:

Allie follows human rights.

How a Rick Perry Ally Kept an Innocent Man Locked Up,” by Tim Murphy. Mother Jones, Oct. 4, 2011.

With Troy Davis and Amanda Knox in the news, wrongful imprisonment is on worlds’ conscience right now. This example is hopeful, as Texan Michael Morton was released after new DNA evidence was finally tested. But as often in these cases, a corrupt official and backroom politics exacerbated the evils of a broken justice system and kept an innocent man imprisoned 25 years too long.

— Jin Zhao (web):

Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

Philippines: Creative Protests During Campus Strikes,” by Karlo Mikhail Mongaya. Global Voices, Sept. 28, 2011.

As the world is starting to get psyched about the (long over-due) Occupy Wall Street and other "Occupy" protests in the US, students across countries such as the UKChileSpain, and the Philippines continued to rise up this fall in mass demonstrations to protest against education budget cuts, tuition raises or privatization in their countries. In this article, Philippine activist and writer Mongaya reports on the creative strategies students used in their mass protests across the Philippines to protect their rights to education.  

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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