Readings

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Offensive in Syria

This week, Turkey launched an offensive on a Kurdish militia in Syria that has been instrumental in the fight against ISIS. Tens of thousands of people are reportedly fleeing their homes, and several people have been killed. In The New York Times, Megan Specia has an explainer on Turkey’s relationship with the Kurds, how the US fits in, and what this attack could mean for an ISIS resurgence.

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Assessing Freeland

Ahead of the federal election, Globe and Mail correspondents in various continents spoke to politicians, business leaders and others to paint a picture of how Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is perceived around the world. “She’s either one of the last, best hopes of the liberal world order,” they write, “or she’s an out-of-touch idealist who is risking trade by starting diplomatic fights that Canada can’t hope to win.”

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Oh, Canada

In this essay for The Walrus, Sarmishta Subramanian asks big questions around the causes of polarization and whether Canada is immune to the deeper divisions tearing societies apart elsewhere: "Does our society simply feel more divided because there is space for voices that were always there but not heard widely in the past? Are opinions really polarizing? Is intolerance growing?" Such questions are key to understanding what's at stake this election.

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Generation Greta

"For every youngster there are potentially two parents and four grandparents. So for every million students, there could be six million adults behind them. And this means that while it may be a children’s movement, its influence is massive." In this multi-authored feature from El Pais, we meet youth in Spain, Switzerland, Mexico and beyond who are leading the way on climate action. "There has possibly never been a mass movement that has spread this fast."

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A changing North

Photographer Weronika Murray takes us to the Northwest Territories, where a climate change monitoring program combines Western science-based research and Indigenous knowledge. The program also provides continuous data collection — something that fills a research gap. For The Narwhal, Murray captures those involved in the project, explaining along the way the impact of climate change in the North and why projects like this matter.

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On truth and trust

Is it possible to have too much scepticism, William Davies asks, in this essay for The Guardian. One would think critical voters, ones with access to an infinite amount of data, would make for a more informed citizenry. But, as Davies writes, "this radically sceptical age... is a liberation of sorts, but it is also at the heart of our deteriorating confidence in public institutions."

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Poetry in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been in turmoil for months now, as pro-democracy protestors demanding political reform clash with the Beijing government. In The Globe and Mail, Nicole Baute reports on how some of the city’s writers are using poetry to capture the current climate: “There’s something about the ambiguous and metaphoric potential of poetry that makes it the perfect genre for the task.”

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The disappearing Amazon

Fifty years ago, Brazil encouraged millions of its people to colonize the Amazon. Today, the world’s largest rain forest is vanishing. “If things continue as they are now, the Amazon might not exist at all within a few generations, with dire consequences for all life on earth,” writes Matt Sandy, who travelled thousands of miles to the front lines of deforestation with photographer Sebastian Liste-Noor for TIME.

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Hezbollah and Israel

Over the past few years, Hezbollah has been occupied with propping up Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. But now, “Hezbollah fighters suggest they’re more than ready to renew their old hostilities with the hated Israelis,” writes Sulome Anderson from Lebanon for Foreign Policy, “even if it happens by accident.” How likely is the resumption of fighting between these two old enemies?

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ISIS women

For The Washington Post, Louisa Loveluck and Souad Mekhennet report from the sprawling al-Hol camp in Syria, where 20,000 women who lived under the ISIS caliphate are being held. Residents and camp authorities say the women, from various countries, are imposing a “reign of fear,” with “mounting anger, violence and fanaticism growing amid the squalor.” With few foreign governments willing to take them back, what is the future of the camp?

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Crisis in Italy

Italy’s parliament is in chaos this week, after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned as a result of the scuppering of his coalition government by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Italy’s Senate has already passed Salvini’s anti-immigration security decree, which lays out punitive measures for ships rescuing migrants in Italian waters. What happens if Salvini manages to become prime minister? Cecilia Butini reports for Foreign Policy.

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Syria, after war

After half a year, New York Times correspondent Vivian Yee, her interpreter and her photographer were finally granted entry into Syria, where they spent eight days documenting what “victory” — after a civil war that cost half a million lives — looks like: “We found ruin and generosity, people grieving and people getting through the day. Suffering had been unequally distributed…The recovery, too, was unevenly shared.”

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City of dreams

Walking through Ramallah, Raja Shehadeh reflects in The Guardian on how his city has changed over 50 years and what that tells us about Israel-Palestinian relations. "The landscape familiar to me as I was growing up is no more; it has changed... The legal strategies we employed to resist the occupation have dismally failed... It is time we recognise our defeat, step aside, hand over the reins to the young."

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Faded icon

For many, the indifference of Aung San Suu Kyi, once "an avatar of human rights," towards the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar has felt like a betrayal, writes Ben Rhodes, Obama's former deputy national security adviser. For The Atlantic, Rhodes traces her path and asks what she truly wants — power, democracy, or, possibly, both. "I realize, she has always contained multitudes—the idealist, the activist, the politician, the cold pragmatist."

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Turkey’s purge

Ilhan Uzgel, one of Turkey’s leading specialists in American-Turkish relations, spent 30 years at the University of Ankara’s storied school of political science. But two years ago, he was fired, and some 6,000 of Turkey’s 150,000 academics would share the same fate. For The New York Times Magazine, Suzy Hansen spoke with Uzgel and many of his colleagues to document the Erdogan regime’s purge of Turkey’s intellectual class.

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A Nuremberg moment?

The Commission for International Justice and Accountability — so secret that the exact location of the group’s European headquarters remains a mystery to most people — is headed by William Wiley, a Canadian, whose team has been gathering smuggled documents to make the case for Bashar al-Assad’s key role in atrocities in Syria. Mark MacKinnon visited Wiley for this Globe and Mail feature.

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Port project

For many years, the Port of Piraeus, just outside of Athens, was plagued with strikes and protests. But since China’s COSCO Shipping took over, the port has turned into a competitive force. “Greece is still anchored to the EU…but its affection for China is growing,” The Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly explains. Where does this leave Greece, if a cold war shapes up between China and the US?

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Sex trafficking

In The Guardian, Corinne Redfern has an investigation into the lives of tens of thousands of underage girls in Bangladesh who have been trafficked into sex work. Trapped in brothels and raped many times a day, these girls are enslaved under the watch of a “triumvirate of powerful institutions – government, police and religion.” Their work is enormously lucrative, generating profits they will never see.

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Canadian relations

In The Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders has a deep dive into Canada’s foreign policy — what it has looked like under Justin Trudeau, and where it needs to go in the future. Whoever forms the next government “must thoroughly rethink the notion of Canada as a middle-sized country that depends on trusted allies and reliable trade partners and an outsized role in the old international organizations. All of those certainties have vanished.”

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US-Iran tensions

Tehran announced this week it had exceeded limits set under the 2015 nuclear deal, and tensions between the US and Iran are high. In The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Erin Cunningham and Souad Mekhennet share stories based on dozens of interviews with Iranians of various walks of life, laying out how the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump are affecting those inside Iran.