Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to look beyond the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.
Buster Brown focuses on campaign donations in the 2012 election.
“Paul Ryan Brings Fundraising Prowess to Romney Presidential Bid,” by Alina Selyukh, Alexander Cohen and Sam Forgione. Reuters, August 14, 2012.
For the last three months, Romney has outraised Obama. And the consensus among Washington insiders is that Romney’s VP pick will be a boon to his fundraising prowess, helping continue this trend in the run-up to the election. On Saturday, the Republican nominee announced his running mate to be Paul Ryan, whose Wisconsin congressional campaign is a top raiser this year. Reuters, as well as myriad pundits and journalists this week, said that Ryan is already energizing donors, especially in the securities and investment industry.
Marisa Carroll focuses on gender and sexuality.
“Going to Mississippi: If I Don’t, Who Will?” by Dr. Willie Parker, MD. The National Partnership for Women and Families, August 14, 2012.
We usually select reported pieces here, but this week the most important writing on gender and sexuality comes from a physician who travels to Mississippi to provide abortion care. His work is dangerous, contested and vital, but he returns because women deserve “what I want for myself: a life of dignity, health, self-determination, and the opportunity to excel and contribute.” Truly an incredible—and necessary—look at why the reproductive justice movement matters.
Matthew Cunningham-Cook focuses on the role of dissent in the contemporary United States.
“For Latinos, Anaheim gang sweep rubs riots’ wounds. Should police have waited?” by Schuyler Velasco. The Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2012
Once again, the deep hostility of the Anaheim elite towards the Latinos that constitute a majority of the city’s population (yet not a single member of the city council) is demonstrated in this report of the gang sweep, where local community members were arrested on seemingly baseless suspicions. It’s obvious that the Anaheim police are well trained in counterinsurgency techniques—we know that the Pentagon has screenings of The Battle of Algiers—one has to ask if they are showing it in the Anaheim Police Department as well.
Andrea Jones focuses on barriers to justice in the United States and abroad.
“How the ‘Best Interest’ Bias of Family Court Threatens Immigrant Parents,” by Seth Freed Wessler. Colorlines, August 8, 2012
In sharing the story of Felipe Bautista Montes, whose three children were placed in the US foster care system after he was deported to Mexico following a series of traffic violations, Seth Freed Wessler reveals the troublesome double standards that plague family courts across the country. Conflating undocumented, detained, or deported with neglectful, abandoning and abusive, judges have frequently determined that it’s in the best interest of children to enter foster care or adoption in the United States rather than reunite with their parents—no matter how fit and willing they are. Thus the criteria changes for immigrant parents, with biases “about poor people, about undocumented people, about people of color and about what life must be like in other countries” shaping the judicial process. Granted temporary return to attend a hearing and strive for the custody of his kids, Montes, as Wessler reports, “has a fight before him.”
Soumya Karlamangla focuses on environmental and health policy.
“Wind Energy Tax Credit: More Hot Air or Key Job Creator?” by Meg Handley. U.S. News and World Report, August 14, 2012.
This story lays out what’s at stake if a President Romney were to let the wind tax credit expire. The tax credit, which has become a talking point in the presidential race, supports thousands of jobs and—in a time when anti-environment lawmakers are pushing for more oil and gas drilling—it’s a needed incentive for alternative energy production.
Daniel LoPreto focuses on international relations.
“From Military Threats to Crippling Sanctions, U.S.-Israel Posturing on Iran Stokes Fears of War,” Amy Goodman. Democracy Now!, August 15, 2012.
Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, discusses the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran before the year is out. Bennis notes that despite the fierce language and aggravating tone of certain Israeli political leaders, right-wing pundits in the United States, and some mainstream columnists, the military and intelligence leadership of both Israel and the US are staunchly against an attack on Iran by Israel. While the mainstream media inundate the public on a daily basis with news of the ‘immanent threat’ posed by Iran on Israel due to Iran’s insatiable quest for nuclear weapons, US intelligence agencies have come to an agreement that Iran doesn’t have a bomb and isn’t planning on making a bomb anytime soon. These facts are lost on people like Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who, according to scholar Trita Parsi, “has played a significant role in bringing the debate in this country to a hysterical level in which a lot of facts are just simply thrown out the window.” Bennis ominously concludes, “It is true that in the past, when Israel has preventively attacked Arab countries…it was after silence. It was not after this kind of public campaign, public ratcheting up of the war rhetoric…[but] I don’t think we can depend on those prior approaches to necessarily reflect what’s going on this time.”
Gizelle Lugo focuses on issues confronting students in the public and higher education systems.
“Tweeting for Student Health Care Coverage,” by Leila Moore. The New York Times, August 3, 2012.
I recently watched the Frontline special from 2009 “Sick Around America” and it is (or now was) essentially a snapshot of our decrepit healthcare system with a focus on our nation’s so-called “insurance industry.” Many Americans pay into these companies in good faith so in the event that they do get sick, they will be covered. But much like the case reported in this blog with Arjit Guha, a doctoral student at Arizona State University, insurance companies find ways to elude their duties—their fundamental purpose, essentially—and end up leaving insurees out in the cold. Post-ACA, many of the issues confronting the youths in the aforementioned documentary and Guha will dissolve as the act’s reforms are implemented, such as: young people under the age of 26 being allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plan, the elimination of coverage caps and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals based on pre-existing conditions. Specifically the first benefit regarding the under-26s gives students options, as many in years past were left with no health insurance after they graduated out of their school’s plan. In this economy and job market, with so many graduates already burdened by student loan debt, affordable—and, at the very least, dependable—healthcare is a necessity.
Lucy McKeon focuses on race and ethnicity.
“We’re Gonna Scapegoat Like It’s 1995: Welfare and the Never-Ending Lies of the American Right,” Tim Wise, August 11, 2012.
Anti-racist activist/writer Tim Wise reacts to the recent of Romney’s running mate by dispelling the racialized conservative belief that’s circulated since Reagan: that welfare recipients are “black and brown folks, eating bonbons and having babies out of wedlock, while salt-of-the-Earth white men break their backs and pay the taxes that help support them in their idleness.” Wise begins by confronting the fact that the number of Americans on welfare is at an all-time low—nowhere near the “over 100 million” Fox claims—and goes on to address the inaccuracy of the long-term welfare reliance myth as perpetuating a kind of culture of poverty based on character flaw rather than structural impediments to employment.
Max Rivlin-Nadler focuses on the preservation of public institutions and the movement towards a transformed and renewed access to urban life.
“Obama vs. Poverty,” by Paul Tough. The New York Times Magazine, August 15, 2012.
At 23, President Obama went to a Chicago neighborhood, Roseland, looking to help those mired in poverty. When he left that community three years later, he felt that the only way to effect large-scale change was to collect power, power enough to change the way the government deals with poverty on an institutional level. While campaigning for president, he spoke frankly about poor people, and the injustice that ten of every ten children in the richest country on earth lived in poverty. Paul Tough explores the Obama administration’s approach to poverty and laments the fact that he no longer speaks about what was to be one of his major social initiatives.
Zoë Schlanger focuses on environmental policy, public health and corporate influence.
“Exxon Unit Investigates Oil Spill Near Nigeria Facility,” Reuters, August 15, 2012.
Exxon Mobil announced a new oil spill in the Niger Delta yesterday. The all-too-common occurance was discovered by fishermen whose fishing waters are now covered with a toxic film. There isn’t much known beyond the announcement now—there’s no word on how much is spilled, what environmental damage has been done, if people are hurt, etc. But with the US oil presence in Nigeria in the news for moment, it’s a good time to flag the fifty-year history of abuse by multinational oil companies in the region. A good place to begin is with the 2009 documentary Sweet Crude, a the well told story of Big Oil in the Niger Delta, and the local resistance to it. If you’ve ever wanted to know how protest struggles evolve to include guns, and how we come to see the side we see, here’s one way.
It is also a good time to bring up the poetry of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the poet and activist who was arrested and executed in 1995 after staging a nonviolent movement against Royal Dutch Shell’s ecological destruction of Ogoniland.
Brett Warnke focuses on Afghanistan.
“Is the Taliban wearing out its welcome in Afghanistan?” by Tom A. Peter. The Christian Science Monitor, August 15, 2012.
Fifty-four percent of Libyans approve of America’s leadership, no doubt residual feelings from the support the United States gave to rebels who deposed Muammar Qadaffi. The unprecedented level of goodwill is not, however, matched in Iraq: approval of the US was at 29 percent. Though, the level of violence is at its lowest level in Iraq since 2003, infrastructure is developing, and GDP and oil production are flourishing. The acclaimed support given to Libya could be a model for assisting and arming Syrian rebels shaking free from Assad. If Obama assists Syria, supports electoral politics in Iraq and an improvement of relations with Turkey, encourages civil society in Afghanistan—whose population is disgusted by Islamists—and does not betray its efforts in Libya, his contribution to assisting a new Middle East will be significant in comparison to the bungling of the Bush years.
Michael Youhana focuses on US foreign policy.
“Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Angering Britain,” by Alessandra Prentice and Eduardo Garcia. Reuters, August 16, 2012.
Ecuador has granted Julian Assange asylum. The UK has threatened to enter the Ecuadorean embassy to apprehend Assange. Ecuador asserts that it is not a British colony and that such a course of action would be considered a “hostile act.” Last night, WikiLeaks reported that, “UK police have penetrated interior fire escape and foyer of Ecuador embassy building (but not yet the embassy, proper).” Storming the Ecuadorean embassy would cause a serious dilemma for US foreign policy architects. Do they steadfastly stand by an ally who flagrantly and dramatically violates international norms? Or do they hold Britain to the same standard as, say Iran—a nation that drew public condemnation from the US for not protecting the UK embassy from being stormed by protesters last year? In any case, it sure seems like Britain is going through a lot of trouble for someone wanted for “questioning.”