SOPA and PIPA: Intellectual Property Protection At What Cost?

By Ramee Mossa

Last week, many websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit and Google shut down or took action to protest two bills in the American Congress: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). SOPA and PIPA are essentially anti-piracy bills whose main goal is to prevent access from within the US to websites which "engage in, enable, or facilitate" the infringement of intellectual property. But if these bills are passed, it could usher in an era of widespread censorship affecting every website in the world and with unforeseen political repercussions.


Is the Beginning of the End for Chavez?

By Antonio Corrales

After more than twelve years as president, Hugo Chavez is again facing re-election. Venezuela is accustomed to turmoil and conflicts, and after another year of chaos, the upcoming elections are to represent an end to the soap opera of Venezuelan politics. The opposition and its conglomerate parties will have primary elections in February to elect a unity candidate to compete against Chavez and his monumental governmental machinery. The opposition will also elect united candidates to participate in county and state elections. With general elections set for next November 2012, the question is who will have the final leverage and political momentum to carry out the winning results.


A Networked Drug War in the Jungles of Colombia

By Antonio Sampaio

This Christmas the Colombian government is sending small shining spheres through the rivers of poor regions controlled by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Inside each shining orb there will be a message: "Do not let this Christmas go by. Demobilize". This is perhaps the first time Christmas decorations have been used for counterinsurgency purposes. After the death of the top leader of the FARC, Alfonso Cano, during an army operation last November, the government hopes to reach a record figure for demobilisations of guerrillas during the festivities and the two following months. 


What Future for Keystone XL?

By Roland Bensted

The decision to postpone the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrates that North America has not yet defined a workable compromise between competing demands to increase energy security, and reduce the negative environmental impacts of energy. The US$7 billion proposal by TransCanada to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas has been delayed in the face of strong environmental protests and local opposition within Nebraska along the pipeline’s would-be route. The project, which has been strongly supported by the Canadian government, has now been pushed back until after the next US Presidential election.


Brazil's Plea for Global-Power Recognition

By Antonio Sampaio

The 66th Session of the UN General Assembly on 21 September, presented a precious opportunity for Brazilian president Dilma Roussef to shine on the international stage, even without the personal charisma of her popular predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. She held talks with US and European authorities on the financial crisis and in November will again be in the international spotlight during the G20 summit in France.

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A Hollow Feeling

By Douglas Quan

On the morning of 9/11, I woke up to the sound of my roommate yelling from the living room of our apartment. Two planes had just hit the World Trade Center towers. I quickly absorbed the images on television, gathered my things and headed to the scene. On the way to the subway, I bumped into a couple of Columbia Journalism School classmates. While we rode the train, we tried to figure out how this could have happened. I do not recall that terrorism immediately registered on our minds. The subways were not going all the way down to Lower Manhattan so we had to walk or run dozens of blocks. Seventh Avenue was eerily quiet. Crowds huddled around vehicles to listen to news bulletins over the radio. There were reports of possible attacks on Washington, and the Pentagon. I do not recall there was a lot of panic at that moment – more confusion and disbelief.

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Lessons That Will Never Be Forgotten

By Eric Tucker

I arrived at Columbia as green as can be, fresh out of college and wholly unprepared for a news story as transcendent as the 11 September terrorist attacks. Yet I also knew enough to realize that I simply had to be part of the coverage. Within an hour of a second plane striking the World Trade Center, I was in downtown Manhattan, interviewing rattled and soot-covered survivors as they streamed north. I spent the next week with emergency workers who had arrived from around the country to assist their New York counterparts; interviewing Pakistani immigrants in Jackson Heights, Queens who suddenly felt under suspicion; and speaking with grief-stricken relatives who came forward with toothbrushes in hopes of a DNA match that could identify the remains of their loved ones.