Readings

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The Mueller report

After a 22-month investigation, a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 US election has been released by the Justice Department. The New York Times shares excerpts from and analysis of the report, which reveals that prosecutors “ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him.”

The New Yorker

Guantánamo’s secrets

In The New Yorker, Ben Taub reports on the unlikely friendship between an American guard at Guantánamo Bay and the purportedly high-value prisoner he is assigned to watch. It doesn’t take long for the guard to question whether the prisoner’s detention is merited at all. As Taub reveals, it wasn’t, raising some serious questions about the global war on terror.

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Icebergs for sale

Iceberg harvesting, as Lindsay Jones reports in Maclean’s, is taking off as an industry in Newfoundland and Labrador; it turns out that pure, pollution-free water can sell for eyebrow-raising amounts. But that’s not necessarily good news: icebergs are breaking apart in unprecedented numbers, responsible for one-third of the world’s rising sea levels associated with climate change, Jones writes.

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Haunted by ISIS

For The Washington Post, Emily Rauhala and Amanda Coletta speak with Yazidi refugees who have settled in Canada after fleeing the Islamic State, leaving behind family in Iraq and Syria. The terror group “continues to haunt them, even as [the] caliphate crumbles, even in quiet, Canadian suburbs blanketed in snow,” as supporters advocate for family reunification to re-create a sense of community and continuity.

The New Yorker

Fleeing Guatemala

In the first of a three-part series in The New Yorker exploring migration out of Guatemala, Jonathan Blitzer asks how climate change — from extreme weather events to heat surges and unpredictable rainfall — has driven people out of the country. If climate has so deeply impacted the quality of life there, why is the context so often overlooked? “It’s like the State Department is looking at the fire, but not the kindling,” one expert said.

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Bad for your health

Are some politics bad for our global health? As Maryn McKenna writes in The New Republic, it appears that way. From the United States to Indonesia, McKenna draws parallels between the rise of measles cases, the stalling of efforts to eradicate polio and mixed responses to outbreaks of viruses to a rise in nationalist politics, which causes states to “turn inward, harden their borders, and distrust outsiders.”

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Forced trafficking and voodoo

The trafficking of Nigerian women to Germany has intensified in recent years, with local investigators facing an added complication when trying to break up smuggling rings: victims have been instructed to stay silent or be cursed by the evil power of “Juju.” Alexander Epp and Olaf Heuser report for Spiegel Online in this visual story.

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Return of the strongmen

In a thought-provoking essay in The Washington Post, Robert Kagan documents how authoritarianism — partially kept at bay during the Cold War years — has re-emerged as the greatest threat to the liberal democratic world order many have taken for granted over the last 70 years. And the stakes are high: “Liberalism is all that keeps us, and has ever kept us, from being burned at the stake for what we believe.”

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WWF under fire

A BuzzFeed News investigation into the World Wide Fund for Nature by Katie Baker and Tom Warren, spanning six continents and based on over 100 interviews, has uncovered shocking behaviour: “The beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”

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An interview with MacNaughton

Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, holds his post at a fascinating point in Canada-US relations. In an interview with Maclean’s senior writer Paul Wells, he talks about the election of Donald Trump, the marathon NAFTA renegotiations, the departure of Justin Trudeau’s principle secretary, Gerald Butts, and more.

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ISIS returnees

Amidst the collapse of the so-called Islamic State, officials in Canada, the US, the UK and other Western countries find themselves grappling with how to deal with foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria wishing to come home. In this piece for Global News, Stewart Bell examines how the RCMP is preparing itself for the return of at least a dozen suspected Canadian ISIS members.

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Kashmir clashes

This week has seen a growing military escalation between India and Pakistan — two nuclear powers — over Kashmir. That’s the bad news. The good news, writes Lawrence Pintak in Foreign Policy from Karachi, is that for now, cooler heads seem to be prevailing: “The only thing keeping [a] potential catastrophe in check has been the mostly good faith efforts of the leaders of these two historic enemies.” Will these efforts last?

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Iranian Revolution

Forty years ago, the Iranian Revolution ushered in Ayatollah Khomeini and, with him, an Islamic republic. Reflecting on Iran today, New York Times correspondent Thomas Erdbrink describes a country where society is changing faster than the current regime: “Iran’s leaders face a growing dilemma of whether to start translating the social changes into new laws and customs or try to hang on to the 40-year-old ideals of the revolution.”

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Remembering UNAMIR II

In The Globe and Mail, Gloria Galloway reports on how Canadian troops’ work helping Rwandans to rebuild after the 1994 genocide was a “quiet success” — but you wouldn’t know it looking at the official history of Canada’s involvement on government websites. Twenty-five years later, veterans who were forever changed by their nightmare deployment are looking to be remembered.

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Project Raven

This Reuters investigation by Christopher Bing and Joel Schectman reveals how ex-National Security Agency operatives helped the United Arab Emirates spy on human rights activists, rival leaders and journalists — even other Americans. “I am working for a foreign intelligence agency who is targeting US persons,” one member of the clandestine team called Project Raven said. “I am officially the bad kind of spy.”

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Worlds apart

Jason Rezaian, who spent 544 days imprisoned in Iran, has released a new project inspired by his own relationship (he is American and his wife is Iranian). Together, they were able to build a life in the US, but other couples affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban haven’t been so lucky. For The Washington Post, Rezaian investigates what it looks like when bureaucracy “splits husbands and wives across a continental divide.”

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Cryptocurrency in Georgia

For The New York Times, Liz Alderman visits Tbilisi, where Georgians are betting big on Bitcoin. “Even as the currency has tumbled in value,” she writes, “thousands of Georgians have jumped into the game and sold cars — even cows — to buy high-powered computers to mine Bitcoin and join what has become a state-supported dash toward data supremacy.”

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Chaos in Caracas

This week, Canada and the US announced they would no longer recognize Nicolás Maduro as the president of Venezuela, condemning his “illegitimate mandate” and throwing their support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Vox’s Alex Ward has a primer on recent protests and how Venezuela reached its “boiling point.”

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Trump’s man in Berlin

Konstantin von Hammerstein spent the last few months reporting on Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany and a steadfast ally of Donald Trump. The result is this investigation in DER SPIEGEL, which paints a grim picture of Grenell’s diplomatic status in Berlin: increasingly isolated by everyone except for the far-right. 

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Foreign fighters

In this piece for VICE, Ben Makuch sits down with Canadian ISIS fighter Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi, who made headlines last year when it was revealed on a New York Times podcast that he had managed to make it back to Ontario from Syria undetected. Huzaifa’s story provides a glimpse into what he says are RCMP efforts to de-radicalize foreign fighters who have returned from abroad.