The Nation has been honored with three awards this week, recognizing both our commitment to investigative reporting and our role in the independent media. Aram Roston has been named a finalist for the prestigious Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, for his investigation How the U.S. Funds the Taliban. The award, from the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, recognizes excellence in "cross-border" investigative reporting–stories that require reporting that is "unusually enterprising or done under especially challenging circumstances." Roston had to win the trust of sources in Afghanistan and the U.S. for his report, which has led to a full Congressional investigation of U.S. contracting practices in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Scahill won the Second Annual Izzy Award for Special Achievement in Independent Journalism this week. The Izzy, a new award from The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, is named for longtime Nation contributor and legendary muckraking journalist I.F. Stone. It recognizes Scahill’s tireless and debate-shifting work reporting on Blackwater, military contracting and the role of private industry in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scahill, incidentally, will launch a new blog for The Nation, "Actionable Intelligence," concurrent with a website redesign next month.

Finally, The Nation is a finalist in the Utne Independent Press Awards for our excellence in political coverage. Awarded by the Utne Reader, the Independent Press Awards recognize outstanding work by the non-mainstream, independent press. The list of finalists is a who’s who of great magazines, news outlets and media organizations. We’re proud to be among them.

Congratulations to Jeremy, Aram and everyone who had a hand in The Nation‘s political coverage.

Also this week:

The Breakdown with Chris Hayes …

Is healthcare reform constitutional? In this week’s Breakdown podcast, our D.C. Editor Chris Hayes focuses on the most controversial element of the healthcare reform bill – the individual mandate. As of Thursday, Attorneys General from fourteen states have filed suit challenging the health care overhaul, particularly the individual mandate, as unconstitutional. So, will it hold up in court? Hayes is joined by Columbia law professor Gillian Metzger. Subscribe in iTunes or listen here:

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Hopefully you read our cover piece last week by Matt Duss on the Cheney’s return to political power. In this VideoNation feature, videographer David Barreda has strung together some of the scariest, most outrageous and most disturbing moments from Liz and Dick Cheney’s recent television appearances.

Some Changes Coming Soon to …

Finally, you should expect some changes to next month. We’re in the process of a redesign, and will relaunch the site in April with a host of new features. We’re excited about it, and we think it will vastly improve your experience on the site. But if things look different in April don’t be surprised. We’ll have a full site guide, a video and more to orient you to the changes. We think you’ll like what you see.

Thanks for reading. As always you can follow me on Twitter – I’m @KatrinaNation.