The Best Readings of 2013

By: /
December 20, 2013

Throughout the year, OpenCanada.org scours the web for the best reads on global affairs for our Readings section. Here are our 10 favourites from 2013.

Garrisoned on a Shipwreck

In a remote corner of the South China Sea, the Philippine government ran a Second World War-ear ship aground on a submerged reef to be used as "a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison" to keep China in check. The results have been mixed. Jeff Himmelman visited the ship and wrote about it for the New York Times.

What the NSA Means To You

The Snowden leaks became one of the biggest news stories of the year. But is it about the defence of democracy in the digital age, or are we hindering intelligence agencies from doing important work? The Guardian dives in deep with this six-part multimedia story.

Iran’s Man in Damascus

Dexter Filkins profiles Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force and the “most powerful operative in the Middle East today”, for the New Yorker. Suleimani is currently directing Iran's intervention in Syria, part "a three-decade project to build a Shiite sphere of influence, stretching across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean.”

Friends With Terrorists

J.M. Berger for Foreign Policy on his "unusually star-crossed bromance", via Twitter, with the American terrorist Omar Hammami: "I sent him a direct message (DM) using Twitter's system for private communication and asked him to e-mail me. His reply was the start of something -- exactly what wasn't clear at the time, and to some extent, still isn't.”

How the Humble T-Shirt Is Made

The T-shirt you’re wearing may seem like a basic commodity, but it went through a lot of countries and people before it got to you. The NPR Planet Money team made their own T-shirt and told its story, from the cotton seeds it grew out of to the thing you wear.

Kagame In Charge

Jeffrey Gettleman profiles Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, for the New York Times. Kagame "may be the most complicated leader in Africa". He has had much success alleviating poverty, improving healthcare, and building new infrastructure in Rwanda, but has done so by being a merciless and brutal leader. And the global elite loves him.

Growth and Stagnation in India

In her final story for the Globe and Mail's bureau in New Delhi, Stephanie Nolen reflects on a country that has achieved remarkable economic growth in the past decade, but has failed to have the kind of sweeping social transformation that usually goes with such growth.

Hacking It in Afghanistan

Brian Calvert for the Pacific Standard tells the story of the Synergy Strike Force, a loose-knit collective of Burning Man inspired, security clearance eschewing defense contractors working in Afghanistan to solve all manner of problems using technology. Or, as one of their number put it, "I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki

Jeremy Scahill for The Nation on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki: "Two of the Predator drones locked onto the car carrying him, while other aircraft hovered as backup. A Hellfire missile fired by a drone slammed into his car, transforming it into a fireball. A second missile hit moments later, ensuring that the men inside would never escape if they had managed to survive.”

The Two Chinas

The Globe and Mall's Mark MacKinnon sums up his three-week train journey across China, from the ultramodern skylines of the cities to villages where homes are clustered around a single dirt road.

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