Gambling in Finland


Slot machines are everywhere in Finland. Some 80% of Finns gamble at least once every year, and Finland ranks fourth in the world in terms of per capita spending on gambling.

To find out how gambling became so widespread and accepted in Finland, I dug into the history. The report can be read at Yle News: “Gambling in Finland: From vice to national virtue

An audio piece I made on the same topic can be heard on Yle’s All Points North podcast here starting around 20:20.


On the “Ban the Box” movement

The “Ban the Box” movement is pushing public and private employers to refrain from asking about criminal records until later in the hiring process. It’s an increasingly popular policy within the criminal justice reform movement, and I recently reported on it for The New Republic. 

“Ban the Box” is getting bipartisan support:

[S]upport for Ban the Box spans the ideological spectrum. Georgia’s Republican governor is responsible for his state’s ban, while companies like Koch Industries and Walmart have voluntarily removed criminal history questions from their job applications.

The numbers indicate that the policy works. But it’s about more than jobs:

While these studies are good at showing concrete effects of these policies, the Ban the Box movement should be seen as part of a larger effort to humanize those with prior convictions. “It’s a deeply stigmatized population,” said Michelle Rodriguez, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “The criminal record has been used to basically dehumanize a population and to treat them as less than deserving of human dignity and respect.”

Understanding Colombia’s Armed Conflict: A Series for Colombia Reports

1504388_10152775220162408_1621929184215240779_oI recently wrote a five-article series for Colombia Reports on understanding the armed conflict in Colombia. Each article examined a different aspect of the dynamics of Colombian history and society which have played some role in the current violence between the leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries, and the armed forces.

Among the causes, I examined the history of political exclusion, inequality, and the weak/corrupt state institutions.

Other factors which have aggravated the situation have been drug trafficking and international actors, including the United States and multinational corporations.

Interview with The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson



On Wednesday afternoon, I attended some panel discussions hosted by the Premio Gabriel García Márquez de Periodismo, a yearly festival that celebrates Spanish-language journalism. The list of panelists included Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker, whose work I started following after I read his biography of Che Guevara. He’s a seasoned journalist who has covered Latin American politics for decades, writing profiles of people like Fidel Castro, Augusto Pinochet, the King of Spain, and Gabo himself. He’s also covered conflicts around the world in Africa and the Middle East, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Given his experience in the region, I wanted to get his take on US decision to strike ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He was in a bit of a rush, but was kind enough to give me a short interview after the panel discussion. Here’s what he said: Continue reading

First piece for Latin Correspondent


My first piece for Latin Correspondent was posted earlier this week.

In it, I write about several Colombian government officials who have fled the country to avoid prosecution for their actions while in office. Three of them were part of former President Uribe’s administration, and were allegedly involved in some very serious crimes.