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.
“Will Foreigners Decide the 2012 Election? The Extreme Unintended Consequences of Citizens United,” by Richard Hasen. The New Republic, December 6, 2011.
U.C. Irvine Professor of Law Richard Hasen has written a column for The New Republic highlighting Bluman v. FEC, a case before the Supreme Court that would determine the rights of foreign nationals living in the United States to spend in U.S. elections. While the Court is expected to uphold the ban on foreign spending whether it chooses to hears the case or not—and rightly so, Hasen argues—such a decision would underline the faulty logic underpinning the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Adventures in drug war logic,” by Alex Pareene. Salon, Dec. 5, 2011.
Alex Pareene’s snarky blog post on Salon examines two recent New York Times articles. The first is about the DEA’s several-year-long operation of laundering large sums of money to drug traffickers in the hopes of "following the money" to the major cartels, a practice the agency had been performing in several European and African countries but just started doing so in Mexico a few years ago. The other article details the various dismissals of law enforcement officers who speak out against drug prohibition. Pareene argues that it is a disturbing double-standard for government agencies to condone laundering money to criminal organizations while simultaneously firing officers who question the effectiveness of the drug war.
— Teresa Cotsirilos:
Teresa focuses on "Global South" politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“Vast and Fertile Ground in Africa for Science to Take Root,” by G. Pascal Zachary. The New York Times, Dec. 5, 2011.
Welcome to the computer science center at Makerere University, a gleaming new college in Kampala, Uganda that is rapidly pushing the boundaries of global research. Through their current experiments, professors hope to provide life saving services to Eastern Africa’s rural populations by endowing their cellphones with the "intelligence" to identify diseases in crops or malaria in a person’s bloodstream. The college has attracted so many undergraduates that faculty members hold lectures past midnight in order to accommodate them.
— Paolo Cravero:
Paolo follows war, peace, and security.
“Northern Distribution Nightmare,” by David Trilling. Foreign Policy, Dec. 6, 2011.
This article indirectly highlights the crucial importance of Pakistan in the Afghanistan conflict. Differently than usual, Trilling’s piece does not talk about the political and military role of Pakistan, but shows the difficulties that the US is going through in order to resupply its troops from the "Northern Route". An interesting take that reminds us that if the war in Afghanistan will ever find a peaceful solution, this will be through Pakistan.
— Erika Eichelberger:
Erika follows the environmental beat.
“Africa: Women Impacted by Climate Change – But Not as Victims,” by Melissa Britz. AllAfrica.com, Dec. 6, 2011.
Women are disproportionately affected by climate change for many reasons. As the primary food providers in poor countries, women are hardest hit by the effects of changing weather patterns on agriculture. Disease and injury resulting from climate change present another burden, as women are the chief caregivers. As resources dwindle, the challenge of curbing an explosive population falls on women as well. Thus, as this article at All AFrica points out, it is encouraging that the importance of women’s voices has been recognized at the current COP17 climate negotiations, otherwise widely expected to be a disappointment. "I’m glad this [conference]…is highlighting women’s leadership at the different levels," said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, and head of a foundation promoting the concept of "climate justice". The story highlights, in particular, the need for climate funding to include investments in reproductive health education and family planning for poor countries in order to address overpopulation. Clearly, Western consumption must be curbed, but both strategies–mitigation and adaptation–will need to be employed to address impending climate crises.
— Josh Eidelson:
Josh covers the labor beat.
“NLRB Moving to Speed Union Elections,” by Michael Goldberg. Labor Notes, Dec. 6, 2011.
Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted to move forward with writing a new rule that would take away some of the tools employers use to delay union elections and buy themselves more time to scare workers. Hours before the vote, it was still unclear whether, in an unprecedented move, Republican NLRB member Brian Hayes would resign his position in order to sabotage the agency by denying it a quorum. Hayes announced that he won’t resign, clearing the way for passage of the new rule later this month. But the Labor Board will be incapacitated anyway come January 1, when Obama’s recess appointment of NLRB member Craig Becker expires.
— Eli Epstein-Deutsch:
Eli looks at the intersection of politics, ideas and economics from a macro perspective.
“Does Inequality Matter?” by Robert Frank. Slate, Dec. 5, 2011.
This Slate piece discusses a hidden mechanism by which pervasive income inequality causes real damage to quality of life for the vast majority of people—without even improving things for those it supposedly favors.
— Collier Meyerson:
Collier’s beat is discrimination.
“‘Opting Out,’” by Allie Grasgreen. Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 2, 2011.
In her new and controversial book entitled Losing The Potential Of America’s Young Black Elite, Maya Beasley concludes that African-Americans graduating from America’s elite Liberal Arts schools are gravitating toward lower paying and "less prestigious" nonprofit and community based professions. Beasley suggests: “Not everybody is going to make a great social worker…. some are going to be fantastic brain surgeons, and we’re really missing the potential of these students because they’re not getting the information they need." We are left asking ourselves: what is the most beneficial route for African-American economic advancement? Is it through vocational, or cerebral work? Here – as was the case during the famous W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington debates on the same subject – we cannot possibly deduce the correct answer, but only offer our opinions.
— Allie Tempus:
Allie follows human rights.
“Can Occupy and the Tea Party team up?” by Chris Dovi. Salon, Dec. 7, 2011.
In Richmond, Virginia the author sits in on what may be the first (though much-pondered and somewhat-anticipated) meeting of Occupiers and Tea Partiers. Their differences (historical influences, rallying tactics) and similarities (desire to return power to the people) are hashed out with optimistic conclusions. Whether one sees the Tea Party as an anti-intellectual threat to a progressive cause or a worthy partner in a "second American revolution," this small-scale local meeting may provide insight into bigger things to come.
— Jin Zhao:
Jin follows the US’s image in international media.
“China, USA: Comparing Poverty Lines,” by Oiwan Lam. Global Voices, Dec. 1, 2011.
China raised its poverty line from RMB 1,196 yuan in 2009 to RMB 2,300 yuan (USD $360) per capita annual income, or $0.99 a day, which is still below the extreme poverty line defined by the World Bank. On Chinese news and social network websites, many Chinese compare the poor in China to the poor in the US, questioning whether China’s "socialism" is truly socialist.