Readings

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Tiananmen Square

On June 4, 1989, soldiers with tanks descended upon Tiananmen Square, firing on unarmed protestors and killing thousands. In The Diplomat, Bonnie Girard, who was living in Beijing and working at the Australian embassy at the time, shares a nail-biting story from the days following the massacre: having been out of the country, she managed to smuggle in contraband international newspapers in packages of sanitary pads.

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D-Day invasion

This week marks 75 years since the Allied invasion of Normandy — the D-Day landings that laid the foundation for the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe. Ahead of the anniversary, for The Atlantic, Rachel Donadio visits Omaha Beach: “Anyone who has ever set foot here comes away with two questions: How did these men pull this off? And what would have happened if they hadn’t?”

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The new spycraft

“The balance of power in the spy world is shifting,” writes Edward Lucas, and the old rules of spycraft no longer apply. In this feature for Foreign Policy, Lucas details how intelligence gathering has changed over the years, with the biggest disruptive force being, unsurprisingly, technology: “A cover identity that would have been almost bulletproof only 20 years ago can now be unraveled in a few minutes.”

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NAFTA, Huawei, and more

This week, just ahead of a visit from US Vice-President Mike Pence, the Canadian government formally tabled legislation to ratify a new North American trade deal. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson sat down with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was instrumental in the NAFTA talks, to discuss the way forward, and various other foreign policy issues on her radar.

The New Yorker

The Brexit Party

In The New Yorker, Sam Knight writes about the UK’s new Brexit Party, which is only five weeks old but already 10 points ahead in the polls for this week’s European Parliament elections. Knight speaks with a “cheerily menacing” Nigel Farage — the party’s founder and the former leader of the UK Independence Party — who promises to be even more of a thorn in the side of Britain’s main political parties if the polls are correct.

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Refugee check in

Since the 2015 federal election, 58,650 Syrian refugees have been admitted to Canada. With another election around the corner in October and “the emergence of irregular refugees as a new hot-button political issue,” now is as good a time as any to check in on the progress of the “class of 2015/16.” Peter Shawn Taylor does so in Maclean’s, spending time with one Syrian family who are thrilled to be here and are taking challenges in stride.

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Torture in Syria

As the war in Syria winds down, Anne Barnard writes, the world’s attention to atrocities there is fading, and countries are starting to normalize their relations with Bashar al-Assad. But, far from letting up, the “pace of new arrests, torture and execution is increasing.” For The New York Times, Barnard gives readers a harrowing look inside Syria’s secret torture prisons.

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European Parliament elections

More than 370 million people will be eligible to cast their vote in next week’s European Parliament elections, which will take place between May 23 and 26 in the EU’s 28 countries (751 seats are up for grabs). Chris Harris at Euronews has put together an explainer on why the vote is important, how Brexit will affect things, what exactly MEPs do, and more.

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Chinese birth rates

For 36 years, in order to regulate birth rates, China’s Communist Party enforced a strict one-child policy. In 2016, the rules were relaxed — China’s population is rapidly aging, and government officials are now actively encouraging parents to have more than one child. But do they actually want to? Anna Fifield reports for The Washington Post.

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A changing Arctic

As Arctic ice melts, new corridors are being created, “opening up the once isolated region to more shipping, tourism, mining, and oil exploration,” writes Robbie Gramer. For Foreign Policy, Gramer visits a remote Canadian military base in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, to see firsthand how Western nations are preparing for shifting Arctic geopolitics and increased attention from countries like Russia and China.

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Bannon’s next project

A couple of hours outside of Rome sits a thirteenth-century monastery — the future home of a new school of populism spearheaded by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. For The Globe and Mail, Eric Reguly examines how Bannon plans on using the monastery as a base to spread his brand of anti-elite, right-wing nationalism across Europe and beyond.

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Taliban talks

As talks between Afghans and the Taliban move in fits and starts, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet writes that “this historic step is concentrating women’s minds on how much they stand to win — or lose.” In Kabul, Doucet speaks with women who’ve beaten the odds, rising to become ministers, journalists and other professionals. They are determined not to let their gains be wiped away, no matter who’s in power in the future.

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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.”