—Sam Adler-Bell focuses on labo and mass incarceration.
“Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?,” by Sean Wilentz. The New Republic, January 19, 2014.
I associate Sean Wilentz with two subjects close to my heart: American labor history and Bob Dylan. (I own books of his on both subjects.) So I approached this article, a hit piece directed at anti-NSA crusaders Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, with some trepidation. Wilentz, I feared, would either succeed in convincing me that these figures (lionized by the left for exposing the secret machinations of our government's security apparatus) are really paranoid fanatics, hostile to the idea of liberal governance and critical of the surveillance state only as a means of undermining social democratic institutions—or else I would wind up with a seriously diminished estimation of the writer himself. Suffice it to say, I experienced the latter. But the piece is worth reading, I think, as a demonstration of how even a very smart liberal falls victim to the delusion, more and more prevalent today, that one cannot criticize the excesses of the (surveillance/police/carceral) state while simultaneously endorsing the government's role in alleviating poverty, regulating corporations and protecting the rights of marginalized people. We can do both, and we have to. (Henry Farrell has a comprehensive dismantling of Wilentz's arguments here.)
—Dustin Christensen focuses on Latin American politics and sports.
“World Report 2014: Peru,” Human Rights Watch, January 21, 2014.
With the release of Human Rights Watch's twenty-fourth annual World Report, attention has focused largely on its criticism of the NSA. However, there are also serious concerns raised regarding Latin America, particularly Peruvian president Ollanta Humala's crackdown on protesters fighting against large-scale mining projects in the region. Twenty-seven civilians have died in protests since Humala took office in 2011, and little progress has been made in investigating these cases or prosecuting military or police personal who "used force unlawfully." This condemnation comes amid reports that Newmont Mining Corporation's controversial Conga mine project could restart operations sometime this year. The Conga mine is currently on hold after violent protests against the project in 2011 caused Humala to impose a state of emergency.