Entries by Tom Baxter

Courts take another look at the cold science of gerrymandering

Gerrymandering was once a kind of artisanal branch of politics. The late U.S. Rep. Phil Burton was said to have single-handedly redrawn the 1970 congressional map of California armed with nothing more than a stack of telephone books and his encyclopedic knowledge of the political landscape of his state. But computerization has turned it into a cold science. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will try again to decide when gerrymandering goes too far.

The world as seen from Nollywood is different from Donald Trump’s

Stuck in a middle-row seat on a flight from Johannesburg to London last year, I watched my first Nollywood movie, “30 Days in Atlanta.” It came to mind last week in the uproar over President Trump’s scatological remarks about the countries we were flying over.

Nollywood is the nickname for Nigeria’s boisterous film scene, which thrives on low-budget, madcap romantic comedies like “30 Days in Atlanta.” The movie’s about an unpolished bumpkin named Akpos and his more urbane cousin, an IT specialist, who win a 30-day trip to Atlanta at a party for the opening of a fancy new real estate development in Lagos. Ayo Makun, who plays Akpos, also produced the film, which was a box office smash across much of Africa.

The new year dawns with the first salvos of Culture War Two

For a few crystalline moments in Atlanta Monday night, opposite poles of our tightly stretched American culture, the tweeter Donald Trump and the rapper Kendrick Lamar, came into rare convergence, for a game that under other circumstances you figure neither would have understood or cared about. The verbal stabs of rapping and tweeting, Trump style, have a lot in common, but they speak to opposite sides of the divide which has absorbed so much political energy over the past few decades.

Tax reform in the time of crypto currencies

Here’s a startling and largely unreported development which tells us a lot, indirectly, about what’s going down this week in Washington on tax reform. This year, investors have put more money into the initial offerings for crypto currencies than they have into all the initial public offerings for U.S. companies that came onto the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ.