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Pulitzer Center Update June 1, 2012

This Week in Review: Haiti: The Golden Rule

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Media file: haiti-gold-rush.jpg
Image by Ben Depp. Haiti, 2012.

"A gold rush is shaping up in Haiti's north," writes Pulitzer Center grantee Jane Regan this week for The Guardian. The estimated $20 billion worth of gold, silver and copper that lies beneath the surface "could help Haiti escape its dependency on foreign aid and rebuild from the devastating 2010 earthquake." Unemployment in Haiti has soared to 70 percent and about half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. The country could surely use a break.

But, as Jane tells Democracy Now!, "You've got a perfect storm brewing whereby you're looking at giant pit mines in the north, in a country that's already environmentally devastated, and giant pit mines being run by Canadian and American companies who have done this all over the world in Third World countries where most of the money that's made and most of the gold that's dug up will go straight north."

Jane is teaming up with fellow Pulitzer Center grantee Jacob Kushner for a comprehensive look at how Haiti's notoriously weak leaders will handle the mining behemoths of North America, part of our continuing effort to examine the true cost of producing various commodities.

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Pulitzer Center grantee Josh Kucera has been traveling in the Caspian region to report on the rapid and expensive military build-up on this inland sea whose waters are now shared by five nations. But this week Josh took a step back from that assignment to take in the annual kitsch-fest known as the Eurovision Song Contest, which this year happened to have been hosted by the Caspian port city Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Josh, writing in Slate, describes the event as a cross between American Idol and the Olympics "in which all the countries of Europe compete to determine who has the best song of the year." More than 125 million viewers across Europe watched the televised finals last week. Azerbaijan's famously corrupt and heavy-handed ruling family seized the opportunity to spotlight its "achievements," including the musical talents of President Ilham Alyiev's son-in-law Emin. Sweden won the contest.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor