I’ve written for The Atlantic, Miami Herald, Sociological Insight, Jacobin, and a number of other outlets. My work has focused on:

Climate Change, International Development and Sustainability

Workers’ Paradise. Harper’s. 2015.

The Most Dangerous Place To Be An Environmentalist. Generation Progress. 2015.

Honduras’ Five-Century War. Jacobin. 2015.

With Its Own Satellite, Bolivia Hopes to Put Rural Areas on the Grid. Inter Press Service, with Gustav Cappaert. 2014.

What Happens When The Water Runs Out? Generation Progress. 2014.

Brazil Begins To Evict Settlers From Awá Land; Will It Be Enough? IPCCA. 2014.

Climate Change Could Increase Poverty In Peru; Indigenous Peoples Respond. IPCCA. 2013.

REDD+ Agreement In Warsaw Threatens Indigenous Livelihoods. IPCCA. 2013.

Warsaw Walkout Highlights The Absence Of Urgent Climate Action. IPCCA. 2013.

Treaty Hints At End Of Reckless International Weapons Sales. Generation Progress. 2013.

Revolutionary Tourism: Cuba’s Deal with the Devil. American Way of Life. 2010.


Race, Class, and Inequality in American Cities

Does Michigan’s Emergency-Manager Law Disenfranchise Black Citizens? The Atlantic. 2013.

Talk about Crisis: Everyday Life in Detroit. Sociological Insight. 2013.

Number Crunch: The Arithmetic of Desperation in Detroit. Z Communications. 2013.

What ‘Ruin Porn’ Does and Doesn’t Tell Us. TheFightBack. 2012.

Making Cents: Rep Payee Clients Tackle Financial Literacy. Bread for the City. 2012.

‘East of the River’ or ‘River East’? Washington City Paper. 2010.

Students: Post-Layoff McKinley High School ‘Dreary.’ Washington City Paper. 2009.


Latin American Political Economy

Anxiety in Havana as US Embassy Opens. Generation Progress. 2015.

America’s Cuba: US Hostility Was Never Really About The Cold War. CounterPunch. 2014.

Why It’s So Hard For Central Americans To Get Asylum In The US. Alternet. 2014.

The road to Machu Picchu, traveled on the backs of its builders. Seattle Globalist, with Gustav Cappaert. 2014.

How Peru Is Kicking Its Coke Habit. Generation Progress. 2014.

Rainbow Tide Rising: How Latin America Became A Gay Rights Haven. Alternet. 2014.

Cuba to Drop Exit Visa Requirements. CounterPunch. 2012.

Cuban Colada Blogger. Miami Herald. 2011.

The Cuban Five and ‘El Sexto.’ Generation Progress. 2010.


The American Economy: Education, Labor, Poverty and Growth

Should College Athletes Be Paid? Generation Progress. 2013.

Give Free Money To Everybody. Generation Progress. 2013.

Is There Really A Shortage Of Science Majors? Generation Progress. 2013.

Nicholas Kristof Is Wrong About Poverty. Alternet. 2013.

American University Adjuncts Vote To Unionize. Washington City Paper. 2012.

The Union Forever At American University? Washington City Paper. 2012.



Peru Gears Up For Coke Conflict

Peru was the top cocaine producer in the world back in the 1980s, and recently returned to reclaim the title. The Andean nation is trying to push coca crops back out of the country, using many of the same methods it did in the 1980s. It could be violent:

“If the government finally decides to implement eradication in the Valley of Apurimac-Ene, it will be really a challenging issue to tackle,” head of the Center for the Investigation of Drugs and Human Rights in Lima Ricardo Soberon told Generation Progress. “I think that the conflict will increase between producers, peasants, armed forces, Shining Path, you name it.”

There are early signs pointing in that direction. According to a report in Peruvian newspaper La Republica, remnants of the Shining Path, the brutal Maoist guerrilla group that ravaged the country in the 1980s and 1990s, have begun to organize coca growers to confront Peruvian drug police.

The United States provided about $100 million to Peru’s eradication efforts in 2013. A U.S. State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) shows Peru’s increased counternarcotics budget, police system reforms, and modest reductions in coca production.

Soberon argues that there’s nothing to celebrate. “Eradication, as a matter of policy, has been a failure,” Soberon said. “The crops always are replaced.”

The movement of production in response to eradication efforts has been called the “balloon effect,” after the way air in a balloon moves when it is squeezed in someone’s hand. A recent article in the New Yorker reported that a plantation half the size of Long Island could meet the entire world’s demand for cocaine.

The rest, including how other American nations are handling drugs differently, at Generation Progress.

Latin America Is An LGBT Haven. Does The “Pink Tide” Deserve Credit?

At Alternet, I wrote about the extent to which Latin America’s left-wing governments have made LGBT rights part of their agenda for “21st Century Socialism.” The short version of the scorecard:

Strong on LGBT: Uruguay (Frente Amplio), Argentina (the Kirchners), Brazil (Worker’s Party)

Weak on LGBT: Venezuela (Chavez/Maduro), Bolivia (Morales), Nicaragua (Ortega)

Mixed: Ecuador (Correa), Cuba (Castros)


Perhaps the best lesson from Latin America’s rainbow tide is this: in the countries most advanced on gay rights, activists have been able to successfully integrate LGBT issues with other social movements.

When the Argentine economy collapsed in 2001, gay rights activists took the chance to “nail themselves into this broader social justice movement that is born out of that crisis,” according to Encarnación. A resulting set of reforms in 2002 included a domestic partnership law for same-sex couples.

Uruguay has benefited from strong links between civil society and party politics. Federico Graña is himself an example, as a member of both the Black Sheep activist group and a member of the central committee of the Uruguayan Communist Party.

“It took me a lot of effort to make [LGBT rights] part of my party’s agenda,” Graña said. “We had an intense debate about how these subjects generated inequalities and how they would be related to a vision of socialism in the 21st century.”

Graña says a turning point in LGBT advocacy came around 2004, when activist groups decided they were taking too narrow an approach to their campaigns .

“In reality there exists a lot of discriminations that generate inequities and inequalities, so we believed that analyzing only sexual orientation was an error,” Graña said. “We realized that it would be impossible to analyze Uruguayan society without taking into account social class, without taking into account gender, without taking into account sexual orientation, and also racial issues.”

He credits the strong links between different civil society groups for Uruguay’s string of progressive new laws legalizing abortion in 2012, gay marriage in May 2013 and marijuana in December.

Read the whole thing here.

The End Of Awful International Arms Sales?

The UN’s Arms Trade Treaty aims to abolish dumb gun transfers to nasty governments. In my first piece on the international beat for Generation Progress, I evaluate how likely that is:

The ATT goes into effect once it has been ratified by 50 nations, a result expected within a few years. Eight countries have ratified the treaty and 115 have signed.

But here’s an eternal question in international law: How effective will the treaty be if signing is voluntary and signatory states are expected to police themselves?

Russia sells arms to the government of Syria, which has been widely condemned for killing civilians in its current civil war. What good is the treaty if compliance is voluntary and Russia—yet to sign the ATT—chooses to abstain?

In response, treaty proponents argue that the ATT will stigmatize reckless arms sales and give activists a tool to “expose and shame” nations that violate the treaty’s guidelines, according to Akwei of Amnesty International.

That may sound like wishful thinking, but the logic has precedent.

The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty is a similarly unenforceable piece of international law, yet it is rarely violated.

“It’s really stopped use,” Allison Pytlak said campaign manager for the Control Arms Coalition.

The only nations still laying land mines are Burma and Syria.

The ATT is more nuanced than the landmine treaty though. Landmines are now banned outright, but the ATT merely regulates the global arms market, banning transfers based on what is undeniably a subjective set of rules. Such complexity might provide cover for nations to wriggle free of their treaty obligations.

A comparable example: American law requires that the United States suspend military aid to a country where there has been a military coup. But the United States has carefully avoided calling the August ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi a “coup” and continued military aid to Egypt for several months after the military takeover.

The rest is here.