Happy new year! 2017 is likely to be an eventful year, and we’re curious about what lies ahead for US politics as well as America’s position in the world. A lot is at stake, including fragile climate treaties, decades of nuclear policy, and the social safety net in the US. This week, we’re taking a look at some stories that turn America’s lens on itself, and a number of other things that caught our fancy.
‘Suspected of Corruption at Home, Powerful Foreigners Are Finding Refuge in the United States‘ (Kyra Gurney, Anjali Tsui, David Iaconangelo and Selina Cheng for Pacific Standard)
While politicians screech about hordes of unwanted immigrants (Muslims and Latinx people, just so we’re clear), the US is paying host to scofflaws from around the world who want to take advantage of the nation’s lax legal system to avoid prosecution and accountability in their homelands. By nature of their wealth, they find it easy to settle, and even easier to hide their money.
An investigation by ProPublica, in conjunction with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, has found that officials fleeing prosecution in Colombia, China, South Korea, Bolivia, and Panama have found refuge for themselves and their wealth in this country, taking advantage of lax enforcement of U.S. laws and gaps in immigration and financial regulations. Many have concealed their assets and real-estate purchases by creating trusts and limited liability companies in the names of lawyers and relatives.
‘The Legacy of Altamont‘ (Sarah Marshall for the New Republic)
If ‘rock’s darkest day’ doesn’t sound relevant to the current political climate, take a closer look at the events at Altamont and how they shaped a generation. The violent horrors revealed a great deal about American society and contemporary culture, and the same fissures exposed then are gaping wide now.
The story goes that the dream of Sixties ended because something weakened, something broke. Because the loving energy that emerged as a dominant force in society for a few short years was no longer strong enough to remain dominant. Because human nature tried too hard to be something it wasn’t. Because reality had to intrude one way or another, and so it made its presence known in a lion-colored field in California, as a temporary city sang along with its temporary anthem: “War, children, is just a shot away.”
‘My year covering Trump‘ (David Fahrenthold for the Washington Post)
Fahrenthold is one of our favourite reporters on the Trump beat in the US — if you’re not following him on Twitter, we highly recommend it. He’s relentless, meticulous, and thoughtful, a powerful combination in a journalist chasing one of the most powerful, perplexing, and unpredictable men on Earth.
That was the start of nine months of work for me, trying to dig up the truth about a part of Trump’s life that he wanted to keep secret. I didn’t understand — and I don’t think Trump understood, either — where that one check, and that one question, would lead.
‘The right is emboldened, yes. But it’s not in the ascendancy‘ (Gary Younge for The Guardian)
Younge has an interesting take on a political situation, and question, that’s becoming all-consuming as we debate America’s future. As we look at right, left, and the balance of power, it’s also worth exploring whether the right’s perceived ascendancy is really about the left’s fracturing.
But while the prospects for hope are scarce there is, none the less, one thing from which we might draw solace. The right is emboldened but it is not in the ascendancy. The problem is that the centre has collapsed, and liberalism is in retreat. There is nothing to celebrate in the latter but there is much to ponder in the former. It suggests that this moment is less the product of some unstoppable force than the desperate choice of last resort.
‘Uber said it protects you from spying. Security sources say otherwise‘ (Will Evans for Reveal)
Rely on ridesharing to get around? You’re certainly not alone — and the level and detail of data collected, and how it’s used, might surprise you. This is a year when it would behoove Americans to become more security conscious, because the rise of a security state makes them more prone to exploitation.
Thousands of employees throughout the company, they said, could get details of where and when each customer travels. Those revelations could be especially relevant now that Uber has begun collecting location information even after a trip ends.
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Photo credit: Hans Splinter/Creative Commons