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 focuses on money in politics.
“Colbert Super-PAC Members Flood FEC with Fundraising Comments,” by Rachel Leven. The Hill, Nov. 10, 2011.
After Rove-led Super PAC American Crossroads asked the Federal Election Commission last month to allow candidates to appear in so-called “issue ads,” comedian Stephen Colbert filed a public comment with the commission and, in a hilarious letter, urged Colbert Super PAC members to do the same. (Both statements can be read on the Super PAC’s website.) The FEC has since been barraged with comments critical of the request. It’s hard to deny the educative and awareness-raising value of Colbert’s Super PAC saga, but this may be the first time the comedian has moved beyond simple trolling to put real public pressure on the FEC.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Purging Schools of Crime,” by Thelma Mejía. IPS, November 9, 2011.
Explanation: human rights organizations, government officials and former police chiefs are reporting an extensive underground network of rogue police officers in Honduras. These police officers have operated in so-called “cartels of crime,” engaging in extortion of businesses for protection money, car theft, drug trafficking and even murder. The most recent case of the murder of Honduran civilians by police officers involves corrupt cops gunning down two National Autonomous University of Honduras students, one of whom was the son of a former official with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating the state repression following the 2009 coup that overthrew Manuel Zelaya. This leads some investigators to speculate that these rogue cops’ actions might sometimes be politically-motivated.
Teresa focuses on “global South” politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“Syria’s Revolutionary iPhone App Helps Fight the Assad Regime,” by Babak Dehghanpisheh. Daily Beast, November 16, 2011.
As the Syrian uprising escalates, young and persecuted activists have developed a novel way to disseminate information about the Assad government’s brutal crackdown. “Souria Wa Bas” (“Syria and That’s All”), the movement’s new iPhone app, features links to news, raw video, and interactive maps of opposition hot spots, and provides an alternative to the government-controlled news media within Syria. The app is relatively new, and it seems like only a matter of time before the Assad regime attempts to either block access to it or monitor who’s using it. Thus far, however, it’s been a surprisingly effective organizing tool, and has proven to be yet another example of the ways in which new media can enable revolution.
Paolo follows war, peace, and security.
“Obama takes on the LRA: Why Washington Sent Troops to Central Africa,” Foreign Affairs, Nov 15, 2011.
A strong, multi-layered analysis of the domestic and international political aspects regarding Washington’s deployment of troops searching for LRA’s commander, Joseph Kony. A piece for those interested in keeping up with the evolvement of American foreign policy.
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“Head-Exploding Compilation of Fox News Clean Energy Coverage,” by Stephen Lacey. Think Progress, November 16, 2011.
This week, some entertainment. In the form of Media Matters’s compilation of the most painful moments of Fox’s coverage of clean energy, on Think Progress’s Climate Progress blog. Talking heads call green energy “a fantasy” that “will never work” and “too expensive,” saying the only solution is to “drill, baby, drill.” Media Matters points out that while the right portrays the Obama administration as regulation-crazed and anti–Big Oil, domestic oil production has risen every year under Obama, despite the BP oil spill, and fracking faces little federal oversight. Fox lambastes clean energy as being unable to “survive without government subsidies,” ignoring both the huge subsidies the oil industry receives, as well as the fact that significant technological advances in US history—from computers to nuclear power—have relied upon government support. The blog cites a Deutsche bank report that warns that if the US continues its “climate policy drift,” it will be left in the dust by states like China and Germany that have committed to long-term climate planning.
Josh covers the labor beat.
“There Is Power in Community Allies,” by Jake Blumgart. In These Times, November 16, 2011.
Blumgart reports on an innovative campaign by ACORN off-shoot New York Communities for Change and Retail Wholesale and Department Store/ United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 338 that won a union contract and hundreds of thousands in back pay from Master Food grocery store. Faced with the weakness of legal protections against union-busting or wage theft, workers and allies combined a union organizing campaign and a wage theft lawsuit to maximize leverage against management. It’s a model worth studying, and a strategy which is already underway elsewhere.
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“Occupy Econ 101,” by Kono Matsu. Kick it Over, November 4, 2011.
Last week, students in Harvard economist professor Greg Mankiw’s classroom staged a walkout, complaining of neoclassical bias in his introductory economics course (for which he also made students purchase his own authored textbook at $175—another bone of contention for the class). Beyond the typically debated niceties concerning the protest’s efficacy, the action indicates a growing awareness of the relationship between free-market dominance in the academic discipline of Economics and the inequality-producing policies that have received widespread attention since the Occupy movement began. Kickitover.org, a project of Adbusters that posted a report on Occupy Mankiw, has been hosting a conversation since 2009 among radical, heterodox economists who seek to challenge the neoclassical consensus enforced across academia. The econ 101 section of the site presents a series of postings laying the groundwork for a broader reconsideration of the field.
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“National Review: Cain Is More ‘Authentically Black’ Than Obama,” by Adam Serwer. Mother Jones, November 9, 2011.
The right continues to come to the defense of Herman Cain as allegations of sexual harassment pile up. The most recent and vexing appeal to Cain came from Victor Davis Hanson of the right-wing publication National Review. The article I chose for this week is a response piece by Adam Serwer of Mother Jones. Serwer maps out all the ways in which Hanson’s piece was just another “cliche of right-wing victimhood, infantile racial identity politics and gender stereotypes.”
Allie follows human rights.
“Opponents begin massive effort to recall Gov. Walker,” by Mary Spicuzza and Clay Barbour. Wisconsin State Journal, November 16, 2011.
Civil unrest from last winter is resurging again in Wisconsin, this time in a flurry of effort to recall Governor Walker. as of November 16, volunteers are able to start collecting signatures that would bring about a recall election. The obstacles are steep—an average of 9,000 signatures a day for the governor and lieutenant governor each!—and the action has little historical precedent. But the fervor with which Wisconsin citizens are seeking retribution for the violation of their rights is hopeful and indicative of the renewed influence of grassroots power.
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“Pepsi says Tingyi Alliance Won’t Affect Workers,” by Yang Ning, Chen Xin & Huang Zhiling, China Daily, Nov. 16, 2011.
Thousands of workers for PepsiCo Inc. in several cities in China went on a strike Tuesday to protest the possible laying-off after an acquisition deal between the company and Tingyi, a Hong Kong–based company was submitted for government approval. The company promised that management of the new company would not change for two years, and a lay-off plan has to be approved by the authority, workers, especially older workers, are still worried that (1) they will not be paid adequate severance after termination by PepsiCo and (2) their new deal with Tingyi involves less favorable terms.