Readings

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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."

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7,000 miles to salvation

Washington Post reporter Chico Harlan follows Dumano Aristide, a 29-year-old Haitian, who decided to make the treacherous trip from Brazil to the U.S. after being laid off from his job. Like thousands of other migrants this year, largely from Haiti and Africa, he trekked across numerous countries in hopes of finding salvation in America, just as political tides turned against him. 

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The last diplomat

In the fall of 2014, longtime American diplomat Robin Raphel, known for her extensive experience and connections in Pakistan, arrived home to find the FBI searching her files. For The Wall Street Journal, Adam Entous and Devlin Barrett piece together the ultimately unfounded investigation into Raphel's particular brand of on-the-ground diplomacy that clashed with "the new realities of covert surveillance."

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Syria's “Sarajevo moment”

For this Globe and Mail feature, Mark MacKinnon travelled to half a dozen countries over several months, tracking down the Syrian boys behind an act of rebellion - the spraying of anti-Assad graffiti - that sparked the conflict that is now tearing Syria apart, and having hard-hitting, wide-ranging effects across the world, from the rise of ISIS to the refugee crisis. 

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The unquiet dead

For MosaicEd Vulliamy, who covered the Balkans war 25 years ago, returns to Bosnia to chronicle how scientists are helping to piece together evidence from mass graves in order for surviving relatives to finally have some closure. The dead "appear as statistics, all 40,000 of them," says one interviewee."But each number is a horror story that people are going through, every one of them like a novel you could read for the rest of your life.”

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Pipeline decisions

The Trudeau government's pipeline announcement this week has elicited both praise and criticism. In the National Post, Jason Fekete lays out the questions that remain to be answered surrounding the approval of two pipeline projects  for instance, what might the potential economic benefits and environmental impacts be, and what will this mean for the prime minister's relationship with Indigenous peoples?

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Trudeau's hostage conundrum

"I started to become quite concerned with the... lack of strategy." The families of the two Canadian hostages who were murdered earlier this year by Filipino militants tell the CBC's Rosemary Barton and Lisa Laventure about their frustration with the Liberal government's hostage response system, and how they took matters into their own hands.

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The making of an obit

In this fascinating account, 16 New York Times journalists recount their involvement in last weekend's Fidel Castro obituary  one that was decades in the making. First drafted in 1959, the obituary was part of a greater Times "Death Plan," which itself was tweaked over the years as digital technology changed and as the Cuban leader defied countless health scares and assassination attempts.

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Guardians of the forest

The United Nations has warned that if the destruction of the world's forests continues at its current rate, "not a single square meter of forest" will be left in 80 years. For Spiegel OnlineJacopo Ottaviani  and Isacco Chiaf visit the Indonesian rainforest, where activists are working to stop man-made fires and commercial development activity using everything from their bare hands to drones. 

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Saving old Sulaimania

In the late 1700s, a Kurdish prince returned home to Iraq from his studies abroad with a dream of building a diverse and cosmopolitan city. The result was Sulaimania, which attracted royals, philosophers, poets, tradesmen and refugees of all stripes. But now, 232 years later, what is left of the city's urban past is under threat, as Tanya Goudsouzian reports for Al Jazeera.

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Malaise in France

Terrorist attacks, the debate over what it means to be French, the forced closing of refugee camps in Paris and Calais, a president with approval ratings at four percent - the news out of France hasn't been good, and many fear what lies ahead as the far right gains traction. In the New Statesman, Jonathan Fenby looks at the country's options for next spring's presidential election.

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The rise of Duterte

As coverage of Donald Trump continues to dominate, Adrian Chen takes a look at a different populist demagogue: Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who came to power in May with "neither the family name nor the party machinery that is typically needed to compete in a Presidential election." How is it that the raving and dangerous Duterte has an 86 percent approval rating? For The New Yorker.

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Mass blinding in Kashmir

"The state convinces itself that it has the power to inflict blindness. In no time, then, it blinds itself too – to the character of democracy," writes Mirza Waheed for The Guardian. In this eloquent piece, Waheed describes the summer protests in Kashmir that were met with ruthless brutality from Indian security forces who fired metal pellets at demonstrators and civilians alike, leaving hundreds blinded.