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.
“We Can’t Have Corporate Accountability Until We Have Corporate Identifiers,” by Kaitlin Lee. Sunlight Foundation, November 1, 2011.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Kaitlin Lee highlights a little discussed problem: the lack of a reliable mechanism to identify parent corporations and their subsidiaries. Six Degrees of Corporations, the foundation’s new microsite, includes a handy visualization demonstrating the difficulty in linking these entities, as well as an overview of alternative identifier systems.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Anonymous Acts are a Key Feature of Mexico,” by Deborah Bonello, Guardian, November 1, 2011.
Earlier this week, hackers claiming to be members of Anonymous launched an online attack against collaborators with the Zetas drug cartel. In a video widely circulated over YouTube, an alleged Anonymous member wearing a Guy Fawkes mask claimed that one of the international hacktivist network’s members was kidnapped by Zetas in the state of Veracruz, and that the group will begin to publicize the names and contact information of Zetas and the journalists and politicians sympathetic to them if their compatriot isn’t released by Friday. This news analysis piece touches on the supposed upcoming cyber attacks on the drug traffickers, but it also touches on much broader concept: the role of anonymity in Mexico’s drug war. After all, with all of the killings of “clean” police officers, journalists, bloggers and rival gang members, the only thing that seems to protect the players in the drug war—and civilians, for that matter—from almost certain death is lack of public exposure and the avoidance of exposing others. For if Anonymous is indeed intending to expose Zetas and their collaborators, it might only be a matter of time before even more hackers are caught in the crossfire.
Teresa focuses on “global South” politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“Raucous Trial is a Test of Haiti’s Legal System,” by Walt Bogdanich and Deborah Sontag. New York Times, October 21, 2011.
In 2010, a collection of Haitian police officers and prison guards gunned down unarmed inmates at a prison in the small city of Les Cayes—then tried to cover it up by burying them in an unmarked mass grave outside the prison yard. Now, thirteen alleged participants in the massacre are being tried by a judge in a local community theater. In a country where the police force is known to behave with impunity, the trial is viewed as a historical landmark in Haiti’s attempts to reinstate rule of law.
Paolo follows war, peace and security.
“Al-Qaida Targets Somalia Drought Victims with Cash Handouts,” by Jamal Osman. Guardian, November 1, 2011.
A brief but crucial piece for understanding how the militarization of politics will not solve conflicts. Al-Qaeda affiliates are pre-emptively adopting microcredit development strategies to “win hearts-and-minds” in Somalia, while US- and UK-friendly Kenya bombards (by mistake) an IDP camp. Maybe is time to rethink anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency strategies.
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“ SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Who’s behind the ‘information attacks’ on climate scientists?” by Sue Sturgis. The Institute for Southern Studies, October 31, 2011.
A recent investigative report by the Institute for Southern Studies details the story behind the lawsuits that the American Tradition Institute, a Koch-backed climate-denying think tank, has filed against award-winning climate scientists Michael Mann and NASA’s James Hansen. An effort to obtain personal e-mails and documents to determine whether scientists have manipulated climate data or violated ethics law, these attacks are part of a growing trend of using FOIA requests to target academics for political purposes, according to the report. In a hearing in on Tuesday, Mann successfully fought off ATI’s attempt to gain access to his e-mails, but this story does raise the question of where the line should be drawn between the need to respect freedom of information laws to hold public officials accountable, and the need to protect academic freedom and First Amendment rights from politically motivated attacks.
Josh covers the labor beat.
“Alabama Immigration Law May Soon Test Union Solidarity,” by Mike Elk. In These Times, November 2, 2011.
Alabama’s new far-right anti-immigrant law forbids public utility companies to provide services to undocumented immigrants. Mike Elk notes that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a union whose members will be charged by law with cutting off immigrants’ power, is declining to speak up on the issue. Meanwhile, thousands of Alabama poultry workers—most of them Latino—have engaged in wildcat strikes in protest of the law. Elk asks how labor will—or won’t—address the issue, and what it will mean for the relationship between immigrants and the institutions of the labor movement.
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“The Revolt of the Debtors,” by Daniel Gros. Project Syndicate, November 3, 2011.
An interesting take on the ongoing Euro-debt crisis, by Daniel Gros at Project Syndicate—on the occasion of Greece’s Prime Minister holding a national referendum over the “comprehensive solution” agreed to by the EU. Illuminated here are the contradictions between the Enlightenment notion of governance by “sovereign” people, and the contemporary European ideal of fiscal and political union, which are coming more and more to the forefront during recent attempts to salvage the euro.
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“Our Negroes and Theirs: When Ann Coulter Tells the Truth, It’s Worth Listening to Her,” by Corey Robin. CoreyRobin.com, November 1, 2011.
In her defense of Herman Cain against recent sexual harassment allegations on The Sean Hannity Show, Ann Coulter blurted: “Our [conservative] blacks are so much better than their [liberal] blacks.” In a response posted on his website yesterday, professor and author Corey Robin acknowledges Coulter’s racism but is more interested in the “deep truth about conservatism” her remarks reveal. Without actually altering a thing, conservative have managed to rely on a select few “outsiders” to serve as a smokescreen as a way to bolster their roguish, motley crew–esque spirit and appear diverse. This raises the question: is Herman Cain the new Clarence Thomas?
Allie follows human rights.
“U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners,” by Michael Grabell. ProPublica, November 1, 2011.
While much of the media attention on the TSA’s strict security measures has centered on privacy, ProPublica and PBS present the first in-depth investigation on the health hazards of the new airport X-ray scanners. According to their investigation, not only are the scanners not regulated by the FDA (as others are) but the TSA failed to seek required public input to install them, and it continues to use them despite access to safer technology. When faced with a choice between potentially hazardous radiation exposure or an invasive pat-down, US fliers are forced into a situation they didn’t ask for and aren’t protected from.
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“The Global Reserve Army of Labor and the New Imperialism,” by John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. McChesney, and R. Jamil Jonna. The Monthly Review, November 2011.
As the Occupy movement moves forward beyond the United States, a question remains to be answered: What is at root of the global 1 percent and 99 percent divide? The authors of this article revisit Marx’s theory about the global reserve army of labor and argue that the growth the the global capitalist labor force, including the available reserve army, not only has radically altered the position of labor in developing countries but also has stagnated or reduced wage levels and increased unemployment in rich economies.