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Settling up with Bank of America

This is a cross post with the Fordham Corporate Law Forum.

It is no secret that Bank of America (“BofA”) has faced numerous lawsuits concerning its role in the financial crises. From liability concerning bad mortgages to allegations of securities fraud, BofA’s reputation and bottom line has paid a high price for its actions. And the bad news just keeps coming.  Recently, important developments in two current cases involving Bank of America have the potential to end up costing the bank as much as $60 billion. Read more

Corruption’s Impact on Voting in Nigeria and Mexico

Asch Harwood is the Council on Foreign Relations Africa program research associate. A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition, a Council on Foreign Relations blog.

John Campbell has regularly made the point that from 1999 to 2007  increasingly bad elections led Nigerians to withdraw from the political process. Despite official proclamations, the 2007 elections were thought to have had an extremely low turnout.

A recent paper (PDF) by the National Bureau of Economic Research (h/t to Chris Blattman), “Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes,” provides what could be some empirical evidence from their randomized experiment in Mexico to support this observation. Read more

New Figures on Facebook and Twitter in Africa

Asch Harwood is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Africa program research associate and Melissa Bukuru is the CFR Africa program intern. A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition, a CFR blog.

Like mobile statistics (which Asch wrote about yesterday), information on social media use can also be thin. A communications firm, Portland, has set out to address this deficit and measure just how prevalent Twitter is and how it is being used across Africa. They analyzed about 11.5 million geolocated tweets across the continent (including North Africa). Read more

Defining Mobile Phone Usage in Africa

Asch Harwood is the Council on Foreign Relations Africa program research associate. A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition, a Council on Foreign Relations blog.

A comment was recently made to me citing the huge number of mobile phones in Nigeria—over 90 million—as an indicator of that country’s budding middle class. However, in this conversation, my interlocutor failed to make the distinction between mobile phones and mobile phones subscriptions, which turns out to be important. Read more

The Case for U.S. Foreign Aid

Emma Welch is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. A version of this post originally appeared on Politics, Power, and Preventive Action, a Council on Foreign Relations blog.

Yesterday, the Obama administration released its highly anticipated $3.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2013, and will begin the process of obtaining Congressional approval for how to allocate and disperse government funds, domestically and abroad. The proposal calls for $43.4 billion for the core budget of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, with an additional $8.2 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. A 1.6 percent increase overall from last year’s budget (essentially a cost-of-living adjustment), it includes a new Middle East and North Africa Fund to incentivize regional political and economic reform efforts offset by reduced funding to a number of commitments. Read more

Johannesburg’s Undocumented Immigrants

Melissa Bukuru is an intern with the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition, a Council on Foreign Relations blog.

Last week, the UNHCR released a report claiming that one thousand five hundred would-be African migrants to Europe drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The episode reinforces the common perception that throngs of Africans are knocking on Fortress Europe’s door every day with varying degrees of success. It also reinforces the notion of victimhood – that these immigrants are fleeing unlivable conditions, and that they are at the mercy of their adventure north. But the reality is that most African immigration is intra-continental. Read more

Ríos Montt’s Incriminating Self-Defense

A version of this post originally appeared on Latin American Thought.

Barring any last minute appeals, General (ret) Efraín Ríos Montt will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity during his tenure as de facto President of Guatemala in the early 1980s, the most violent years of the country’s civil war. At a preliminary hearing last Thursday, Judge Patricia Flores declared the 85 year old Ríos Montt fit to stand trial for the murder of some 1,700 civilians, 1,500 rapes of under-aged women and the displacement of 29,000 people. Read more

Chat Rooms for Change

This post is part of the Innovation in Politics and Policy series.

Young people growing up in the Internet age were often told by their parents that there was one corner of the World Wide Web that was off limits: chat rooms. But that was ages ago, before boardrooms had video conferencing, before iPhones had FaceTime (or we had iPhones for that matter) and before leaders of the free world were “hanging out” on Google+. We were practically living in the dark ages. Read more