As the election approaches, the airwaves are getting increasingly cluttered with poll numbers, “breaking” videos, and this week, debate analysis. For those suffering from election fatigue, Nation interns bring you eleven stories you might have missed, including a sobering drone report from Columbia University, a blow to domestic workers’ rights in California and the destruction of a historic market in Syria.
Elisa Wouk Almino focuses on South America, particularly Brazil.
“Alarm Grows in São Paulo as More Police Officers Are Murdered,” by Simon Romero. The New York Times, October 3, 2012.
Brazil has the fourth-largest prison population in the world. The prisons are overcrowded and inhumane, and often run by gangs, especially those in São Paulo, most notably by the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC). This article discusses the many police officers murdered in São Paulo over the past year, possibly by the PCC. This article sheds light on the power that prison gangs have beyond prison walls and their tensions with a mostly corrupt police system.
Nader Atassi focuses on Middle Eastern politics and society.
“In Syria’s Largest City, Fire Ravages Ancient Market,” by Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad. The New York Times, September 30, 2012.
This story is about how an ancient souk (Arabic for marketplace) in Aleppo in Syria has fallen victim to the conflict between government forces and anti-government rebels. The souk, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, was set on fire and appears to have been severely damaged. In existential battles such as the one we are seeing in Syria, nothing, not even ancient monuments, is immune. A doctor in Aleppo is quoted in the article as saying, “It’s not just a souk and shops, but it’s our soul, too.”
Jeff Ernsthausen focuses on domestic politics and the influence of money on public institutions.
“DHS Counterterror Centers Produce ‘a Bunch of Crap,’ Senate Finds,” by Spencer Ackerman. Wired, October 2, 2012.
A report released this week by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that “fusion centers,” among the largest domestic counterterrorism initiatives financed by the Department of Homeland Security, were largely useless in achieving their aims while also being prone to waste and abuse. According to the report, the seventy-plus fusion centers, created to share data between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and often criticized by civil liberties groups, failed to identify a single terrorist threat during the thirteen month period studied by Congressional investigators. The report also found that the information collected and stored in the centers possibly violated US law relating to citizens’ rights to privacy, and noted that DHS failed to keep track of up to $1.4 billion in funds earmarked for the centers.