Erika Eichelberger

Erika Eichelberger

Reporter

Erika Eichelberger is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She has also written for The NationThe Brooklyn Rail, and TomDispatch. Email her at eeichelberger [at] motherjones [dot] com. 

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3 Years After the Earthquake, Haiti Is Still in Shambles

| Fri Jan. 11, 2013 3:02 PM EST

The devastating Haiti earthquake that killed 217,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless happened three years ago Saturday. For a year or so, the drama captured plenty of headlines and human interest; our own human rights reporter, Mac McClelland, traveled to Port-au-Prince to document the hazards that befell Haitians and the morass that doomed much of the nation's inbound aid. This year's anniversary hasn't generated much media attention, but that's not because everything in the island nation is fixed. Almost 360,000 people remain in tent camps, and the country's infrastructure is still in shambles. A lot of that is due to the failures of the international community.

Only half of the $13.34 billion in international aid allocated for Haiti reconstruction has been disbursed. And of that, only a small portion has gone to "reconstruction," strictly defined. Instead, the New York Times reported in December, "much of the so-called recovery aid was devoted to costly current programs, like highway building and HIV prevention, and to new projects far outside the disaster zone."

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Bad News for Vampire Cops Everywhere

| Thu Jan. 10, 2013 10:55 AM EST

So this is where the Roberts Court draws the line on civil liberties: warrantless, forced blood tests. The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in Missouri v. McNeely, on whether someone arrested for drunk driving can be forced to provide blood samples without consent or a warrant.

Missouri’s top court had unanimously rejected a argument by the state that there should be a categorical exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement in all DWI cases. And it looks as though the highest court in the land will go the same way.

Proposed Legislation Would Block Bank Execs From Regulating Banks

| Wed Jan. 9, 2013 4:09 PM EST

Four years after the financial crisis, and two years after "financial reform," top bank executives are still allowed to serve on the boards of regional Federal Reserve banks—institutions that are partially responsible for regulating the financial industry. People like Jamie Dimon, the JP Morgan Chase CEO whose term at the New York Fed just ended, have influence over whether banks get bailed out by taxpayers when they screw up. Dimon was on the New York Fed board during the 2008 financial crisis, and his bank got over $390 billion in low-interest emergency bailout loans from the Fed.

If liberal Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has his way, all that may soon change.

Sanders announced Wednesday that he will reintroduce legislation to forbid financial industry executives like Dimon from sitting on any of the 12 regional Fed boards of directors.

Will Thorium Nuclear Energy Save Us All?

| Mon Jan. 7, 2013 10:37 PM EST

Even in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which half-drowned our biggest metropolis, Congress is still ostriching on climate change and thinking about chopping clean-energy programs as part of fiscal cliff, part II. Meanwhile, China, which has been leading the way on futuristic ideas from offshore wind energy to high-speed rail, is spearheading the development of nuclear energy derived from thorium, a naturally occurring radioactive element.

The Telegraph reports that the politically connected industrialist Jiang Mianheng is bankrolling a $350 million project at China's National Academy of Sciences to develop thorium power, which would be used to fuel molten-salt reactors, as opposed to old school uranium-fueled water reactors, and which would be much cleaner and meltdown-safe.

Fiscal Deal Could Make Health Insurance More Expensive

| Fri Jan. 4, 2013 4:38 PM EST

Conservative websites have been giddy in recent days because the fiscal deal President Barack Obama just signed repeals a piece of Obamacare—a long-term care program for the disabled that even the administration admits was not cost effective. But another section of the Affordable Care Act bit the dust at the same time, and consumers who will soon be required to purchase health insurance (i.e. everyone) should be none too happy about it.

The ACA established a federal loan program to subsidize nonprofit CO-OPs (consumer oriented and operated health insurance plans) so that these plans could participate in the new online health insurance exchanges with traditional plans. The goal: increasing competition and reducing costs for consumers. Half of the $3.8 billion allocated for the program has already been doled out to 24 nonprofits in 24 states, but the remaining $1.9 billion was slashed in the recent tax-cut deal.

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