Readings

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Chasing jihadis

For BuzzFeed, Mitch Prothero investigates the Islamic State's European tentacles - the cell that's been recruiting terrorists and flying under the radar for years. The results aren't good; Prothero's piece paints a picture of an intelligence and police service with too few Arabic speakers, operating in a landscape with too many cracks for shady and dangerous characters to slip through.

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The war on drugs in the Philippines

“I don’t care about human rights, believe me," said Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte shortly after being elected. For TIMERishi Iyengar chronicles the "autocratic tricks" that led Duterte to wage the country's bloodiest war on drugs. As the bodies begin to pile up, the once-popular leader now has citizens running scared.

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Brazil, from boom to chaos

Next week, the 2016 Olympic Games will be but a memory, and the world's attention will move on from Rio. But what next for the country, steeped in corruption, political dysfunction and scandal? Franklin Foer traces the recent history of Brazil, from Lula's election to the Petrobras affair to the failure of Rousseff, and posits that despite the country's troubles, all is not lost. For Slate.

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Keeping girls in school

“Every school holiday," the head of a school in eastern Uganda tells Helen Lewis of the New Statesman, "we lose ten to 15 girls. They elope or conceive.” This piece tells the story of how the school's supporters are changing families' minds about the value of keeping girls in class. They're also using something seemingly simple - sanitary pads - to offer students a sense of equality and liberation. 

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Tales from Puerto Rico, America's Greece

In The New York Times, Mary Williams Walsh relays the stories of Puerto Ricans who live in precarious conditions as the island suffers a massive debt crisis. From a mother who resides in a crumbling public housing complex to a doctor whose hospital can no longer afford medical supplies, Walsh paints a surreal and haunting depiction of a state at odds with itself.

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Dwindling hope in South Sudan

For The Washington Post, Kevin Sieff captures the anxieties of South Sudanese civilians living in a floundering U.N. displacement camp in Malakal. Facing extreme weather, food shortages, crumbling facilities, low morale and the threat of spreading violence from the capital, Juba, those in the camp worry peacekeepers might not be able to protect them for much longer. 

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Tragedy in the desert

Last September, a group of Mexican tourists and their Egyptian guides set out from Cairo into the desert, an excursion made by countless groups before them. Before the day was out, eight tourists and four guides would be dead, gunned down by Egyptian military aircraft, seemingly out of the blue. With no answers being offered by the Egyptian government, Tom Stevenson investigates for Foreign Policy.

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An ambassador's quest

Many people know Kevin Vickers, now ambassador to Ireland, for his heroic actions as sergeant-at-arms during the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, or for tackling a protestor who was making a disturbance during a memorial in Dublin. For Maclean's, Terry Glavin shows another side of this Canadian, who helped unravel the mystery of a famous poet-revolutionary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

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Death of a diplomat

A car bombing in Washington in 1976 left the remains of one man, a woman on the side of the road, "and a crazed man... screaming about an organization called DINA." For the Atavist Magazine, Zach Dorfman dives into the killing of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier, revealing much about U.S. foreign policy, and a conversation between Henry Kissinger and Chilean minister Hernan Cubillos on the case.

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Austria's far right

In all the furor over Brexit, the question of whether Austria could become the first Western European country since World War II to have a far right president has flown under the radar (answer: there's going to be an election in October, and it could be quite close). In this New York Review of Books piece, Jan-Werner Muller examines why the far right has been so successful in a country whose population seems to be doing relatively well.

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Inside City 40

The forbidden Russian city of Ozersk — also known as City 40 or, more tellingly, "the graveyard of the earth" — was constructed in total secrecy after the Second World War, as the site of the Soviet nuclear weapons program. It's now one of the most contaminated places on earth — so why do its residents want to stay? Samira Goetschel reports for The Guardian, in advance of the release of her documentary.

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Being Turkish

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, Turkey's president has declared a state of emergency. For this New York Times Magazine piece, Suzy Hansen spends time in a conservative, pro-Erdogan Istanbul neighbourhood, delving into the increasingly more complicated issues — the influx of Syrian refugees, ongoing tensions with the Kurds, worrying security concerns — facing residents there.

the guardian

Why France?

Thursday's attack in Nice, which left at least 84 dead after a truck drove into a crowd on Bastille Day, is the latest bout of terrorism-related violence to occur in France in recent years. For the Guardian, Jason Burke attempts to explain why the country has been the target of attacks. While some reasons may be historical, cultural or related to French foreign policy, "others are rooted in grave problems within France itself," he writes.

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The Hillary Clinton gap

Vox's Ezra Klein sat down for an interview with the Democratic presidential nominee seeking to answer one question: "Why is the Hillary Clinton described to me by her staff, her colleagues, and even her foes so different from the one I see on the campaign trail?" The answer, he concludes, lies in Clinton's ability to really listen - an underrated quality, perhaps, on the traditionally male-dominated campaign trail.

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Russia's Far East

Just as the U.S. government offered would-be pioneers plots of lands in the 1800s, the Kremlin has launched a campaign to populate the "mosquito-infested wasteland" that makes up more than a third of Russia using the carrot of free land. Some say it's a pie in the sky; others say this will "save" Russia from the Chinese across the border. Andrew Higgins reports for The New York Times.

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Disappearing water

The drying up of Bolivia's second largest lake is having far reaching effects on a population that is ill-equipped to make a living without its waters, as Nicholas Casey and Josh Haner report in this The New York Times interactive feature. “The lake was our mother and our father,” says one former fisherman. “Without this lake, where do we go?” 

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Saving Timbuktu's manuscripts

This excerpt in mental_floss from a new book by Joshua Hammer details the covert attempts, led by a scholar and his network of like-minded literary custodians, to save hundreds of thousands of centuries-old books and documents from destruction by radical Islamists. By river and by boat, despite jihadis, bandits and suspicious government soldiers, they risk everything to accomplish their mission. 

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Obama's address to Parliament

This week, U.S. President Barack Obama became the seventh president to address a joint session of Parliament. In his speech, POTUS cracked jokes, praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and called for pluralism, equality and tolerance in the wake of #Brexit and Trump's recent isolationist rhetoric. Read the full transcript on Maclean's.

The New Yorker

The man with the 25-year plan

The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, is a voracious reader and an expert on failed states. But his preference for studying on his own and his penchant for always thinking in the long term is alienating allies he might need to stay in power. Can Ghani maintain the presidency long enough to do something about his own failed country? George Packer reports for The New Yorker.

The Star

Jihadi rehab

What to do with foreign fighters who once pledged allegiance to al-Shabaab but now want out? The Toronto Star's Michelle Shephard is the first journalist to visit a secret camp in Mogadishu where hundreds of former Somali Shabaab members are being held, with the aim of rehabilitation. One of the program's allies, a former U.S. Navy Seal, says he "can’t help but want to be a part of what this could be if it succeeds.”