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.
“As Political Groups Push Envelope, FEC Gridlock Gives ‘De Facto Green Light,’” by Marian Wang. ProPublica, November 7, 2011.
The Supreme Court rewrote federal campaign finance law nearly two years ago with its landmark Citizens United decision, but the Federal Election Commission has yet to address key questions that have arisen in the wake of the ruling. ProPublica’s Marian Wang examines the “deep ideological divide” fueling their inaction.
Cal follows the drug war and human rights in Latin America.
“Voters Elect Presidents in Nicaragua and Guatemala,” by Brian Finlayson. NACLA Report on the Americas, November 9, 2011.
While US government officials have expressed concern that the re-election of Sandinista leader and former Marxist guerilla Daniel Ortega for a third term at the Nicaraguan presidency will signify his manipulation of the election process to run in perpetuity, a more worrying case is the election of former general Otto Pérez Molina as Guatemala’s chief executive. Pérez won the election presumably over his declaration to deal with the violence and influence of Mexican drug cartels with “an iron fist.” However, human rights advocates like Jennifer Harbury have accused the right wing politician and School of Americas graduate of actively participating in the massacres of Mayan civilians and guerillas during the country’s civil war, saying Pérez helped to direct the torture, imprisonment and possible killing of Mayans in the Quiche Highlands in 1982 and other torture campaigns between 1992 and 1993, when Pérez was head of intelligence. If the allegations are true, Pérez’s election signifies a trend of voters appealing to caudillos, the right-wing military strongmen who became notorious for their human rights abuses in Latin America throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
Teresa focuses on “Global South” politics, or sociopolitical developments in areas of the developing world.
“South Sudanese fear impact of farming deals,” by Katrina Manson. Financial Times, November 6, 2011.
South Sudan has only been an independent country since July—but nearly 10 percent of its land is already owned by foreign interests. A diverse group of private equity firms and hedge funds are taking part in a “land grab” throughout Eastern Africa, purchasing millions of hectares of land to (ostensibly) grow food for the global market and provide much needed jobs and development to the region. Activists accuse the companies of displacing local farmers and monopolizing precious arable land in desert countries— then hiring foreign nationals, and using the land to grow non-edible crops for biofuels. Unsurprisingly, much of the land bought by private equity firms in South Sudan also contains valuable oil and mineral deposits. This is one of several recent articles about the latest African “land grab,” which may ultimately displace millions of people. To learn more about it, check out this great report by Al Jazeera.