I’m excited to report back from a Nation trip to San Francisco this week. Yesterday I visited the University of California at Berkeley for a lively meeting with the editors of the undergraduate, yet independent student newspaper, the Daily Cal, and a conversation with Deirdre English, director of the Felker Magazine Center, to discuss running a magazine in the digital age with journalism graduate students. Tonight I’ll be at Book Soup in Los Angeles for a conversation with my husband, Stephen F. Cohen, on his new book, The Victims Return: Survivors of The Gulag After Stalin, which uncovers one of the greatest, largely unknown human sagas of the twentieth century—the millions of victims of Stalin’s mass terror who survived the Gulag to be freed in 1950s and 1960s. Cohen tells the story of their shattered lives, and the personal and political struggles against people who victimized them. Both Stephen and I personally knew many of the victims during our thirty years of visiting and living in Moscow. Join us tonight at 7pm.  Audience questions and a signing will follow the conversation.

TWO VIDEOS: Ari Berman on energizing Obama’s base and Dean Baker on the deficit

Contributing writer Ari Berman sat down this week to talk about his first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, on Brave New Conversations. Berman discusses the grassroots organizing that defined President Obama’s campaign and the subsequent dismissal of the strategy and organizers that got him elected. Going forward, Berman says that "Obama has to be careful about cutting too many deals with Republicans" if he wants to follow through on the policies he championed during his campaign. Watch this Brave New Video here to find out more.  

Also this week, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, sat down with Laura Flanders on The Nation on GRITtv to discuss how to balance the budget by creating jobs and reforming healthcare—and not by cutting crucial programs that benefit us all. Watch that conversation here.

CONGRESS INVESTIGATESNation reporting spurs Congressional hearing

For the past three years, Joshua Kors has reported on injured soldiers falsely diagnosed with personality disorders. In his piece for The Nation last spring,"Disposable Soldiers," Kors revealed how soldiers discharged for PD are denied a lifetime of disability benefits and longtime medical care, saving the military billions of dollars. Sergeant Chuck Luther—central to Kor’s piece—testified in a hearing before the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee in September. Sergeant Luther went through four weeks of torture by military officials and was forced to sign a Personality Disorders discharge—even though he was injured by mortar fire while serving in Iraq. "After the endless nights of sleep deprivation, harassment, and abuse," he told the committee, "I finally signed, just to get out of there. I was broken." Watch the video detailing Luther’s story and testimony here, and go to JoshuaKors.com to find out what you can do to support injured soldiers’ rights.

NATION CONVERSATIONS: Trillin on Trillin

As part of our exclusive Nation Conversations series, on Monday we posted a podcast of our Deadline Poet Calvin Trillin’s talk aboard the 2010 Nation Cruise. Trillin reflects upon his years working for The Nation, his poetry, writings, experiences with journalism—and manages to get in some jokes as well. Listen to his hour-long talk here and enjoy! 

WEB PIECE: New reporting on "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" 

This week, we published a great web piece by Daniel Redman and Ilona Turner, "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—Anyone, Anywhere," with original reporting on the impacts of the ban and the ways it makes gay service members—and their families—vulnerable. Even proponents of the repeal assume that DADT only interferes with the ability of gay service members to serve openly, leaving them to conduct their private lives in private. Yet that is simply not true. Be sure to read this piece, and spread the word on the devastating impacts of the policy.

THE BREAKDOWN: Why Did the GOP Block the Paycheck Fairness Act?

In this important conversation, Nation DC editor Chris Hayes talks to Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center For American Progress about the GOP’s recent blocking of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate.  Women currently earn an average of 77 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts in the workplace.  Is this a preview of what’s to come for the new Congress come January?  Listen to Hayes and Boushey discuss the act and why the Republicans chose to block it on this week’s Breakdown. Download that podcast here.

—-

Finally, you may have noticed an improvement in our comments section recently. We’ve made major changes to our blog comments and we hope you’ll take a look. While maintaining The Nation‘s long-term emphasis on free-expression and open conversation, we’re committed to maintaining a non-toxic environment—a safe space, if you will—where our smart, savvy readers want to engage in conversation and express themselves. It’s still a work in progress, but we need your help. Read about our new policy and then join the fray!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter—I’m  @katrinanation—and leave your comments below.