Readings

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Crisis in America's fields

Donald Trump's promise to deport millions and build a wall at the Mexican border could have many consequences, but what effect would it have on America's food system? "At least half of all farmworkers in the U.S. are undocumented Mexican immigrants," writes Brian Barth for Modern Farmer. These are jobs Americans would rather avoid — so who will pick up the slack if the president succeeds in his plans?

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On the frontline in Mosul

For Maclean's, Adnan Khan reports from inside the battle for Mosul that has been raging since last fall, as Iraqi forces try to take back territory held by ISIS. The offensive was "supposed to be an act of emancipation," Khan writes. Instead, civilians are finding themselves caught in the crossfire, "up against diminishing odds of survival."

The New Yorker

A disaster of biblical proportions

Iraq has a potentially even more catastrophic problem than the rise of ISIS: the country's biggest dam, located just upstream from Mosul, is failing. If it were to rupture — as experts warn it will — it would let loose "a wave as high as a hundred feet that would roll down the Tigris, swallowing everything in its path for more than a hundred miles," writes Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

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The latest in smartphone revolutions

While much of the focus of Western media is on U.S. politics, Romania is seeing its largest protests since the 1989 fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. For Spiegel Online, Walter Mayr reports from Bucharest, where students and young people have been gathering to demonstrate against corrupt politicians and and show their support for the EU. 

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To Canada, at any cost

In recent months, the border between North Dakota and Manitoba has seen a spike in refugee claimants trying to cross from the U.S. into Canada, most often under the cover of darkness and in freezing conditions. What's driving this influx? Who are these refugees? And what support system exists to help them? Jason Markusoff investigates for Maclean's.

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Whispers of war

It's no secret that Donald Trump's presidency will have far-reaching consequences, well beyond the United States. In this piece for The Globe and Mail, Mark MacKinnon reports from the Balkans, where simmering tensions are threatening to rise to the surface and borders are once again in question. What will happen to peace in the region if the U.S. — long the keeper of order — checks out? 

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The rules matter most

The year is 2021, as U.S. President Donald Trump is about to be sworn in for a second term. With allegations of fraud in the TrumpWorks infrastructure program and the increasing wealth of the First Family, David Frum paints a grim picture of America’s future for The Atlantic  — one rooted in a repressive kleptocracy –and urges readers to hold the U.S. government responsible for its actions.

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The birth of Standing Rock

For The New York Times, Saul Elbein recounts how an anti-suicide campaign led by young Native Americans formed a movement that gained international traction and achieved policy change. Though their victory was short-lived, Elbein explains how Standing Rock galvanized new momentum among Native American activists and environmental groups, just as Trump entered the Oval.

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The day after

In light of the women’s marches held across the globe last week, Micah White highlights notable protests throughout history, as well as what worked and what did not, in The Guardian. White calls the women's march on Washington "an exercise in infantile futility" since it lacked quantifiable goals and offers advice on how to turn last week’s spectacle into something more long-lasting and revolutionary.

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Tricks of the trade deal

In the lead up to the recent U.S. election, politicians characterized trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP as responsible for the loss of American manufacturing jobs and decreases in wage. In an article for Vox, Brad DeLong puts these claims to the test, and discovers that the overall impact of trade deals on America’s economy is not as bad as everyone thinks. 

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The rise of post-truth politics

In The Guardian, William Davies argues that the rise of the populist right has caused statistics to lose their power. Their ability to accurately portray the world now seems questionable, and they are increasingly being used to stir controversy and division. With an increasing amount of people providing their own versions of the truth, what will this mean for democracy?

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The resource curse

For GlobalPost Investigations, Erin Banco meets with members of the Peshmerga, or Kurdish military, tasked with protecting Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil pipelines. Despite good intentions, it quickly becomes clear that a resource once viewed as the country’s ticket to economic prosperity is now a cause for conflict and corruption. “There is no such thing as altruism, personal gain is the underlying motivator,” says one interviewee.

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Going home

After initially accepting his defeat in December's election, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who has been in power for 22 years, is contesting the results before the Supreme Court. Despite this, President-elect Adama Barrow says he will be inaugurated next week, and this has Gambians who fled the country — journalists, protestors, lecturers — contemplating what a return home would mean. Joseph Stepansky for Al Jazeera.

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Obama's legacy

Next week, Barack Obama's time in the White House comes to an end. For the Globe and Mail, Adam Radwanski travels to Chicago to speak with community organizers from Obama's past. What emerges is a picture of the president that "serves as a useful lens for making sense of his time in office...and perhaps even the peculiar way it is ending, with an ostensibly popular president about to be replaced by his polar opposite."

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Profiting from refugees

In case you missed it over the holidays, this interactive feature from the Huffington Post's Highline unearths the unsettling economic side of the world's refugee crisis. "These are the stories of the CEOs, criminal masterminds, pencil-pushers and low-flying vultures," write Malia Politzer and Emily Kassie, "who have figured out how to profit from global instability, also known as human suffering."

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Beijing's "airpocalypse"

In Foreign Policy, James Palmer describes how the dangerous air conditions in Northern China that used to cause outrage are now, worryingly, seen as normal. This is a story the entire world will soon face, Palmer warns, with climate change on the rise: "We’ll mentally rescale, turning the once unacceptable into the merely bad." What does this mean for our response to disasters?

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2017 in charts

What will happen to Canadian housing affordability in 2017? Will Alberta's job market heal? What will electricity prices look like in Ontario? For its third annual "chartstravaganza," Maclean's has put together 75 charts by financial analysts, investors and commentators to answer all your questions on what to expect from the economy in the year ahead.

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The American jihadi

The Atlantic's Graeme Wood tells the story of a drug-loving Texan from an upper-middle class family who rose to become an emulated teacher within the so-called Islamic State. Wood speaks to friends, family and admirers to form an intimate profile of John Georgelas, who may have just taken up the second-most powerful position in the terrorist organization.

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The NYT's Year in Pictures

2016 is coming to a close, and what a year it has been, from the twin shocks of the UK's Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump to the horror of the Syrian conflict, almost six years old. Zika continued to spread and "Hamilton" continued to delight; the effects of climate change continued to make themselves known, and the Cubs won the World Series. Here, The New York Times captures it all, in photos.

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Goodbye, 2016

It's been a tough year for Liberals, but this Economist piece argues that those who believe in democracy and open economies should relish the challenge of proving that liberalism is, in fact, the best way to ensure dignity and equality: "2016 represented a demand for change...The task is to harness that restless urge, while defending the tolerance and open-mindedness that are the foundation stones of a decent, liberal world."