Readings

the guardian

Royal preparations

It's inevitable that one day, perhaps soon, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II will come to an end. How will the networks respond? How will Commonwealth leaders be informed? What title will Camilla have? And, perhaps most importantly, what will the Queen's death mean for the British Empire? In this fascinating piece for The Guardian, Sam Knight takes readers behind the scenes of the meticulously laid out plans for life after Elizabeth.

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Closing the coal mines

For NPR, Rob Schmitz reports from one of China's largest open-pit coal mines, once a hive of activity but now marked for closure by the government. As China shuts down mines, either for efficiency purposes or as part of a green strategy, what happens to the men who are left behind — coal workers who have known no other job? 

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Inside the refugee archipelago

For Refugees Deeply, Daniel Howden and Apostolis Fotiadis dig into the failures behind the reaction of the international community and the Greek government to the influx of refugees since 2015 ("the most expensive humanitarian response in history"). What they found was stories of severe miscommunication, ego and ineptitude on the part of the people whose responsibility it was to stem this crisis.

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Power shifts

As Syria's civil war rages on, Bashar al-Assad continues to cling to power. But how strong is his hold on the areas of Syria under government control, really? For Spiegel OnlineFritz Schaap reports on the smugglers and warlords who are becoming more influential and brazen as the conflict goes on, leading militias that are, more often than not, accountable to no one. 

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America's envoy

According to Bloomberg News, Trump's choice for the next U.S. ambassador to Canada is Kelly Knight Craft, a wealthy Republican fundraiser from Kentucky. In Maclean's, Shannon Proudfoot compiles what you need to know about her so far: her husband is a coal mogul, she is close with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and she knows how to convince people to hand over loads of cash. 

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Saving Jewish history

This piece for Newsweek by Emily Feldman tells the story of two unlikely allies — a Kurdish, atheist filmmaker from Turkey and an American Jew running a non-profit in New York City. Together, using film footage, eye witnesses and digital mapping software, they are preserving the memory of Jewish heritage sites all around the Middle East — many of which have already disappeared.

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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. 

the guardian

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."