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.
“Inside the Corporate Plan to Occupy the Pentagon,” by Adam Weinstein. Mother Jones, Nov. 21, 2011.
In 2001, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board, a task force composed of corporate executives and charged with creating “a cost effective military.” Over the past decade, the board’s recommendations to that end have reflected its decidedly pro-business bias, boosting the salaries of “management talent” while putting military pensions and job security on the chopping block. With the Pentagon now facing a potential $1 trillion in cuts over the next ten years, will the board’s recommendations be considered in a new light?
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“A narco’s case against the U.S.,” by Michelle García. Salon, Nov. 14, 2011.
This piece from Salon provides an overview of the US government’s alleged support of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. Michelle Garcia notes that various government agencies’ use of the Sinaloa cartel for information on key players in the drug war extends farther back than the ATF’s botched Fast & Furious campaign. Garcia writes that agencies like Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) have used informants in the cartel since at least 2003, when Sinaloa cartel smuggler Guillermo Ramirez Peyro was on ICE’s payroll, even as he participated in the Juarez cartel’s "House of Death." Such information may add credence to high-ranking Sinaloa cartel member Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla’s claims in court that U.S. agents often ignore the Sinaloa cartel’s criminal activity to use them as an unlikely ally in the drug war.
— Teresa Cotsirilos:
Teresa focuses on "Global South" politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“Cheers to the Silicon Valley of [insert country name here],” by John Sutter. CNN, Nov. 17, 2011.
Gamers in Argentina. App developers in Kenya. This article provides a brief survey of some of the burgeoning hubs of technological innovation throughout the world—and show cases some pretty ingenious new programs that could go a long way to improving the quality of life in certain developing countries. My personal favorite: Ushahidi, a Kenyan open-source platform for mapping crises in real time. Rumor has it that it’s already being used by activists in Egypt to protest more safely and effectively.
— Paolo Cravero:
Paolo follows war, peace, and security.
“Revolution 2.0,” by Steven A. Cook. Foreign Policy, Nov. 22, 2011.
An interesting analysis of the role of the military junta in Egypt as Cairo is on the verge of another revolutionary wave. A clarifying moment in Egyptian political transition or the beginning of a descent into chaos?
— Erika Eichelberger:
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“Energy Dept. offered to put private investors ahead of taxpayers if Solyndra went bankrupt,” by Ronnie Greene. The Center for Public Integrity, Nov. 16, 2011.
This week’s article from the Center for Public Integrity details the way in which the DoE sold taxpayers short when it refinanced Solyndra’s loan last year. As it became clear that the the floundering solar start-up faced possible bankruptcy, the DoE made an offer to Solyndra’s investors: if they raised an additional $75 million to help keep the company afloat, investors–one of whom is an Obama bundler–would collect bankruptcy funds before taxpayers, meaning they now have the first chance to recover.
— Josh Eidelson:
Josh covers the labor beat.
“Rank and File Slate Takes Over Giant California Campus Local,” by Marie Choi. Labor Notes, Nov. 21, 2011.
A challenger slate swept internal leadership elections last month in an AFSCME local covering 20,000 University of California employees. The election may have turned on questions facing labor across the country: in an age of unnecessary austerity and existential threat, what (if any) concessions are acceptable? How do unions build strong partnerships with students and social movements?
— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“High executive pay ‘corrosive’ to the UK economy, report warns,” by Allegra Stratton. The Guardian, Nov. 21, 2011.
If austerity is what one seeks, a reminder that the boardroom is the ideal place to start. The Guardian has an excellent account of the broadly negative economic effects of outsize executive pay, which has major ramifications across the Anglophone world (where it is most pronounced.)
— Collier Meyerson:
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“Secrecy Surrounds Inmate Suicides in California State Prisons,” by Julianne Hing. Colorlines, Nov. 21, 2011.
Colorlines reports that in the last month, 3 male prisoners of the California state penitentiary system have committed suicide. Ironically, all of the men had been taking part in a hunger strike aimed at reversing dire prison conditions in their state. Their deaths would have gone unnoticed had it not been for The Prison Solidarity Hunger Strike Coalition, a Bay Area group that had been working with the men during their fast. A spokesperson for The California Department of Corrections denied the mens involvement in the hunger strike and – as they are notorious for doing – withheld any information on their suicides. The dubious deaths are a grave accent to the tireless work being done by advocacy groups to penetrate our justice system’s opacity.
— Allie Tempus:
Allie follows human rights.
“Interview with a pepper-sprayed UC Davis student,” by Xeni Jardin. Boing Boing, Nov. 20, 2011.
This is interview is great because it is candid and from the heart of an anonymous student who told Chancellor Katehi at University of California Davis "I hold you personally responsible for inflicting pain on me." Important on-the-ground context at UC Davis is provided, as are graphic descriptions of the harmful effects of police-grade pepper spray: "I got up crawling. I crawled away and vomited on a tree. I was yelling. It burned. Within a few minutes I was dry heaving, I couldn’t breathe." The engaging immediacy of accounts like these is what continues to fuel the fire of the Occupy movement. This interview helpfully captures last weekend’s dark moment with more than a snippet or sound-byte or fleeting conversation.
— Jin Zhao:
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“China: United States Begins ‘Pacific Century,’ Online Nationalism Follow,” by John Kennedy. Global Voices, Nov. 20, 2011.
The Obama administration’s "Pacific swing" that will increase the US’s presence in the Pacific Ocean through, among other diplomatic efforts, a trade deal that excludes China and a new permanent US military presence in Australia, has triggered a surge of nationalist expressions online from Chinese public. Many Chinese are unhappy about Chinese leaders’ "soft" response to the US’s perceived threat, and believe that China should strengthen its military and take a hardline position when dealing with the US, a position nevertheless very unlikely to materialize in China’s foreign policy, contrary to the author John Kennedy suggests.