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.
“The Political One Percent of the One Percent,” by Lee Drutman. Sunlight Foundation, Dec. 13, 2011.
Forget the 1 percent—in an America that increasingly conflates money with speech, the 1 percent of the 1 percent matter most to candidates. According to a recent analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, this elite group of Americans—many of whom have ties to the corporate and lobbying worlds—was responsible for nearly a quarter of all itemized federal campaign contributions in 2010. And if not for the generosity of this 0.01%, a staggering 74 candidates would have seen their itemized contributions cut in half! And we’re meant to believe that elected officials aren’t beholden to their funders? Justice Kennedy might want to read this report.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Noriega jailed on return to Panama.” Al Jazeera, Dec. 12, 2011.
Manuel Noriega, the former military ruler of Panama, is now in jail in his home country after being extradited from France. Noriega was serving jail time in France for money laundering, but he has been convicted in Panama of murder, fraud and embezzlement. The former ruler, who previously served 17 years in American prisons for drug trafficking, will be serving time in Panama for the murder of two political opponents. This marks the first time Noriega has returned to his home country after the U.S. government ousted his military junta in 1989.
— Teresa Cotsirilos:
Teresa focuses on "Global South" politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“Holding the Line: An extraordinary portrait of ordinary citizens at war.” Al Jazeera, Dec. 14, 2011.
In the summer of 2011, filmmaker Patrick Wells spent three weeks imbedded with a motley crew of civilian fighters on the frontlines of the Libyan civil war. His brief documentary of the conflict has only now been released, and it is definitely worth watching. The soldiers that Wells interviews are well-educated twenty-somethings, many of whom had less than a week of fighting experience at the time of filming; their daily lives are mostly tedious, always surreal, and punctuated by terror. Viewer discretion is advised.
— Paolo Cravero:
Paolo follows war, peace, and security.
“Syria should be referred to ICC, UN’s Navi Pillay says.” BBC, Dec. 13, 2011.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the U.N. Security Council to take action against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The allegation is that his crackdown against domestic protesters is constituting a crime against humanity and that Syria should be brought to the ICC. This statement was delivered as the U.N. estimates for the death toll during the Syrian uprising were revisited. More than 5,000 people are now believed to be killed, including 300 children. Another 14,000 are believed to have been arrested, and 12,400 people had fled to other countries increasing the refugee problem in the region. Ignoring the problem hasn’t solved it. Maybe the time has come for effective actions to be taken.
— Erika Eichelberger:
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“The Bizarro World of Bjorn Lomborg and the NY Times’ “Post-Pollution” Solution to Climate Change,” by Joe Romm. Think Progress, Dec. 13, 2011.
In a recent post at ThinkProgress, Joe Romm slams the NY Times’ Andy Revkin’s support for the idea that the debate around climate change mitigation should shift from emissions reductions targets to R&D in renewables in order to bring down their cost. Romm calls this a "false dichotomy" and also points out that the best way to make renewables more cost-efficient is for governments to deploy them, since economies of scale would drive down their market price.
— Josh Eidelson:
Josh covers the labor beat.
“West Coast Port Shutdown Sparks Heated Debate between Unions, Occupy,” by Evan Rohar. Labor Notes, Dec. 12, 2011.
The move by West Coast occupiers to use direct action to shut down unionized ports on Monday sparked heated debate within organized labor and between union and occupy activists. At stake: What risks are worth taking? How democratic is the longshore union, or the Occupy movement? What kind of democratic claim do workers have over what happens where they work?
— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“Economic Conflicts with China and Class War in the United States,” by Dean Baker. Truthout via Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dec. 12, 2011.
In this article for Truthout, economist Dean Baker illuminates the class bias disguised behind the United States’ disingenuous calls for China to address its currency manipulation.
— Collier Meyerson:
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“If I Were A Poor Black Kid,” by Gene Marks. Forbes, Dec. 12, 2011.
Forbes columnist Gene Marks took some time off from his "technology" beat to write a story on what he would do if "[he] were a poor black kid." He suggests that he’d use Internet tools like Google, Google Scholar, Spark Notes and “Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school.” Marks certainly misses the mark with this one. He fails to address the myriad of structural inequalities that prevent impoverished black youth from even having access to computers to Skype with.
— Allie Tempus:
Allie follows human rights.
“Voter ID becomes law of unintended consequences,” by Robert Mentzer. Wausau Daily Herald, Dec. 4, 2011.
"Ruthelle Frank was born on Aug. 21, 1927, in her home in Brokaw. It was a hard birth; there were complications." So begins this local newspaper article about an 84-year-old Wisconsin woman who may be blocked from voting for the first time in her hardworking, hard-earned life. Since publication, Frank’s story has rocketed to national outlets. As announcements are made that Wisconsin has gathered almost enough signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker, here’s hoping Frank (and the large chunk of the population like her) will have the option to influence the state’s upcoming–and especially pivotal–elections.
— Jin Zhao:
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“Occupy Wall Street resonates within Japan,” by Mark Schreiber. The Japan Times, Dec. 4, 2011.
The author recapitulates the coverage of Occupy Wall Street and commentaries in five Japanese magazines, comparing issues such as Japan’s unemployment and increasing income disparity with those in the US. A magazine reminds the readers of the blessing of universal healthcare, another describes the US as "capitalist dictatorship, most of them depict a bleak outlook of Japan’s working and middle class, and all are sympathetic with the Occupy movement.