The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Got Its Way in Mexico
David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab • New York Times
Corruption within Wal-Mart de Mexico.
But 30 miles away in Mexico City, at the headquarters of Wal-Mart de Mexico, executives were not about to be thwarted by an unfavorable zoning decision. Instead, records and interviews show, they decided to undo the damage with one well-placed $52,000 bribe. The plan was simple. The zoning map would not become law until it was published in a government newspaper. So Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. Sure enough, when the map was published, the zoning for Mrs. Pineda’s field was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart’s store. Problem solved.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Rain Forest for Sale
Scott Wallace • National Geographic
How the demand for oil threatens a remote part of the Amazon.
Far beneath the ground, Yasuní harbors yet another treasure that poses an urgent challenge to the precious web of life on the surface: hundreds of millions of barrels of untapped Amazon crude. Over the years, oil concessions have been drawn over the same territory as the park, as economic interests have trumped conservation in the struggle over Yasuní’s fate. At least five active concessions blanket the park’s northern section, and for a poor country like Ecuador the pressure to drill has been almost irresistible. Half of the nation’s export earnings already come from oil, nearly all of it from its eastern provinces in the Amazon.
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
The Last Stand of Somalia's Jihad
James Verini • Foreign Policy
Can the Kenya Defense Forces put an end to the Islamist insurgency in Somalia?
Since AMISOM decided to assemble a multinational force to go after al-Shabab in 2010, taking Kismayo has been viewed as the endgame, at least of the military phase of the mission. The city was al-Shabab's base and the port its economic engine, providing an estimated $35 million to $50 million a year to the group. And as the interests of the United States and European Union, Somalia's largest bilateral and multilateral donors, respectively, have shifted in the last few years from targeting high-value al Qaeda in East Africa figures to degrading al-Shabab and shoring up Somalia, Kismayo began to be viewed as a priority by them too. In the West, the capture of the city is now seen not just as a win against Islamist political extremism, but a symbolic victory in the battle for what may be the world's most dysfunctional country.