Last week in The Nation, investigative reporter Teo Ballve exposed a stunning lapse in American foreign policy: USAID’s “Plan Colombia” appears to be subsidizing drug traffickers. Although USAID insists that it has done nothing wrong, Balleve’s investigation suggests that taxpayer funds are allowing Narcotraffickers to cultivate biofuels on stolen, contested land. It’s a disturbing story, and while it hasn’t taken off here in the States it made the front page of Colombia’s newspaper of record, El Tiempo. The link is here (in Spanish). Here is a great interview with Teo from the Jack Rice Show, from Air America and other stations nationwide.

We’re hopeful that more attention on this important story will yield some action and a change in USAID policy.

Also this week in/at The Nation, three other stories you may have missed:

* In our special issue on economic inequality from June, 2008, journalist Gabriel Thompson put a face on the financial crisis in his article, Meet the Wealth Gap. In the piece, Thompson profiled a hedge fund worker and the maintenance staff that cleans the hedge funders building. This week Thompson was honored for his work with a 2007-08 Studs Terkel Media Award, presented by the Working-Class Studies Association. Thompson was honored at their annual conference this past weekend. Congratulations to Gabriel.

* In the magazine this week we’re proud to offer an excerpt of Eduardo Galeano’s remarkable new collection of essays, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. On her program “GRIT TV with Laura Flanders”, Nation contributor Laura Flanders sat down with Eduardo for a one-on-one interview about his book, his life and politics today. You can watch the interview here.

* Finally this week: the dustup over Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor and the resurgence of Dick Cheney have provoked some serious conversations about conservatism. Is American conservatism in free-fall, or are there principles for a new and vibrant conservatism emerging from the ashes of “the party of no?” I debated the future of American politics with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Joe has a new book out on the future of American conservatism; our spirited conversation ranged from the role of government to the legacy of Ronald Reagan. You can watch the video here or below; let me know in the comments if I made some salient points or if you would have taken a different point of view.

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