Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (9/30/11)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (9/30/11)

Nation Interns Choose the Week’s Most Important Stories (9/30/11)

Every week, Nation interns 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, 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.

The Hidden Hands in Redistricting: Corporations and Other Powerful Interests,” by Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lois Beckett. ProPublica, Sept. 23, 2011.

A ProPublica investigation of the redistricting battles that have followed the 2010 Census reveals that many major players—from Fair Districts Mass to the California Institute for Jobs, Economy and Education—are not who they appear to be. Their tactics are as deceptive as the stakes are high, for the victors will shape elections at the state and Congressional level for the decade to come. ProPublica’s findings serve as yet another example of how unlimited, undisclosed political contributions are eroding our democratic process.

Cal Colgan

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

Drug war cables: ‘Burn poppies, burn,’” by Chris Arsenault and Sam Bollier. Al Jazeera, Sept. 4, 2011.

Although this Al Jazeera English article is almost a month old, it is still relevant because it details the most recently discovered WikiLeaks cables on the drug war. In spite of their often snarky and humorous titles, these cables reveal a recurring theme, especially when it comes to Latin America: U.S. officials consistently doubt the resolve of their Latin American and Caribbean allies when it comes to political purity in their fight against drug traffickers.

Teresa Cotsirilos:

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

Brewing Up Double-Edged Delicacies for Mosquitoes,” by Donald McNeil Jr. The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2011.

The New York Times’s recent special section, "Small Fixes," covers low-cost, high-impact innovations in the developing world that could ultimately save thousands of lives. The articles in this series are all well worth a read—one of them, involving groundbreaking developments in cervical cancer prevention, has already been extensively re-blogged—but the one that I’ve listed above is my favorite. Scientists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem have developed a strain of "nectar poisons" that can be sprayed on flowing plants, and would attract and then kill mosquitos (little known fact: while female mosquitos drink blood, mosquitos usually subsist on nectar). Environmentally friendly and inexpensive, preliminary forms of the solution have killed off 90% of the mosquito populations in Malian villages—thereby all but eliminating the threat of malaria.

Paolo Cravero:

Paolo follows war, peace, and security.

 Armed defenders of Syria’s revolution,” by Nir Rosen. Al Jazeera, Sept. 27, 2011.

In this second article of Al Jazeera’s Syrian Series, Special Correspondent Nir Rosen discusses instances of armed clashes between Syrian army defectors and state security forces and gives a comprehensive account of the internal dynamics of the fighting factions. Worth a read if you like crisp and in-depth reporting in the tradition of great foreign correspondents.

Erika Eichelberger:

Erika follows the environmental beat.

Millions of Acres of Land You Inherited are at Risk,” by Congressman John Garamendi. Firedoglake, Sept. 21, 2011.

Congressman John Garamendi of California writes on Firedoglake that there are several bills currently being debated in Congress that would eliminate protection for millions of acres of national land, allowing oil, timber and mining interests to exploit them for profit. Hopefully, such outrageous proposals that threaten the climate, biodiversity and water access will be defeated.

Josh Eidelson:

Josh covers the labor beat.

GM UAW Members Ratify Labor Accord; Ford Deal May Be Next,” by David Welch and Keith Naughton. Business Week, Sept. 28, 2011.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) announced Wednesday that General Motors employees had ratified their first new contract since emerging from bankruptcy. UAW leaders faced criticism from members during negotiations for agreeing to maintain a two-tier system established in 2007, under which new employees have worse benefits and half the wages of long-time workers. That helps explain why more than a third of the membership voted against the new agreement. UAW leaders say the new contract guarantees profit-sharing and new job creation while resisting further benefits cuts. Negotiations are ongoing between the UAW and Ford, the most profitable of the "Big Three."

Eli Epstein-Deutsch:

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

Immigration, the Republicans, and the End of White America,” by Ron Unz. The American Conservative, Sept. 21, 2011.

Sometimes it can be entertaining to read the conservative press. I sometimes like the American Conservative not only because it lays out right-wing thinking so starkly, but also because can it be relied on for strange perspectives (contrast with the cliched, predictable Weekly Standard). For instance this article begins with a spine-tinglingly cynical calculation about the efficacy of Republican race-baiting, yet somehow by the end evolves into a stirring call for a living wage—detailing arguments about the socially detrimental character of a poorly paid underclass that liberals quite often fail to muster.

Collier Meyerson:

Collier’s beat is discrimination.

Ching Chongs and Tiger Moms: The ‘Asian Invasion’ in US Higher Education,” by OiYan A. Poon. Hyphen, Sept. 27, 2011.

Professor of Law at Yale University, Amy Chua wrote a memoir last year entitled Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mom, that revealed "the rewards and the costs – of raising her children the strict ‘Chinese’ way." The piece I chose for this week is an analysis of the cultural significance behind the popularity of Chua’s memoir. OiYan A. Poon cites Chua’s ability to "take advantage of white anxieties over China’s challenges to American exceptionalism and white dominance in elite US colleges" as the main reason for its success.

Allie Tempus:

Allie follows human rights.

A clinic in Gonzales struggles to deal with Texas’ health care cuts,” by Lisa Sandberg. Texas Observer, Sept. 27, 2011.

While Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues to come under friendly fire in GOP debates for his stance on the HPV vaccine, back home rural communities face the real problem of deep cuts to already limited reproductive health resources. This piece is littered with details that manage to highlight the state’s coexisting cultural pride and its social bleakness, revealing an unsettling new reality: in Texas, champions for family planning care may as well be outlaws on the range.

Jin Zhao:

Jin follows the US’s image in international media.

US soldier gets 7 years in prison for Afghan murder.” Reuters, Sept. 24, 2011.

Andrew Holmes, an American soldier who shot a 15-year old unarmed civilian Afghan boy at close range, posed with the body for photographs (viewer discretion recommended), and kept a finger bone of the boy as a souvenir, plead guilty and was sentenced to seven years in jail, which can be reduced to no more than four years, according to his lawyer. Holmes’s family has set up a website asking for support, claiming that Holmes unwillingly participated in the killing.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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