With so much emphasis on jobs and the economy – as well as Big Bird and binders of women – other important issues have been inevitably overshadowed in the U.S. presidential campaign. The I Files has put together a short playlist highlighting a few of the topics that seem to have gotten short shrift from the candidates thus far.
As several activists and pundits have noted, the environment, climate change and global warming have scarcely been mentioned on the campaign trail or in any of the recent debates. One area the candidates have engaged is energy policy and questions of harnessing natural resources. In the second debate, “coal” was mentioned 22 times, with both candidates accusing the other of being anti-coal while lauding the importance of utilizing “clean coal” technology. And earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney unleashed a new attack ad in Pennsylvania decrying President Barack Obama’s opposition to the coal industry there.
Meanwhile, NPR’s “Poisoned Places” presents a portrait of the health effects of one Coke factory on the small town of Tonawanda, N.Y., and residents’ efforts to persuade complacent regulators to take action.
Another largely overshadowed issue in the campaign has involved questions around immigration policy. In the dramatic two-part series “Crossing the Line at the Border,” PBS’s "Need to Know" investigates allegations that U.S. border agents have been using excessive and illegal force to stem the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico. Drawing on eyewitness recordings, the documentary delves into the case of a man who died shortly after border guards beat him and used a stun gun on him. These recordings show the man offering little to no resistance and, at one point, begging officers for mercy. The PBS report also raises larger questions of law enforcement accountability. Because border agents are part of the Department of Homeland Security, they often are not subjected to the same public scrutiny as other public officials.
Serious discussions of gay rights issues have also been largely absent from the campaign to date. CIR's "The Other Convention" documents the struggle of Methodist Church members to chart the future of their congregation and to determine their official policy toward the practice of homosexuality.
Closer to home, a joint investigation between CIR and Al-Jazeera delves into "America’s Prison Problem" and California’s new ballot measure to modify the strict three strikes law that mandates a life sentence for a wide range of sometimes minor crimes. On a larger level, the documentary examines why the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world, often in conditions that human rights organizations like Amnesty International call cruel and inhumane punishment.
If you want to seriously immerse yourself in all things campaign-related, check out this curated I Files election playlist with a wide selection of stories from around the Web, including PBS Frontline’s “The Choice,” Al-Jazeera’s examination of “Mitt Romney and the Mormon Factor” and The New York Times’ light-hearted profile of the “Bronx Obama.”
Behind the story of the Egyptian revolution
We’re also running a new installment of our "Behind the Story" series, featuring director Karim El Hakim discussing his new documentary, “½ Revolution” and previewing a short excerpt of the film.
“½ Revolution” is a gritty, no-holds-barred, insider account of last year’s Egyptian uprising that ultimately lead to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. As chaos broke out in Cairo, young filmmakers took to the streets armed only with small cameras to document the waves of protests that swept their neighborhood and ultimately their country. The resulting documentary also follows the filmmakers as they struggle to navigate the violence and new uncertainly facing their country.
Coming up on The I Files…
Next week, The I Files will feature a special Veterans Day-themed playlist with a wide range of stories highlighting veterans, their families and the challenges troops face when they return home. Contributors include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CIR, PBS, NPR and the Marine Corps' own video unit as well as several acclaimed independent filmmakers.
Nelson Mandela, the revered civil rights icon and first black president of South Africa, has died at 95. This documentary examines the legacy of Apartheid and how South Africa is still wrestling with its fallout. (via Journeyman Pictures)