Readings

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The tallest hotel in Iran

The lifting of international sanctions on Iran signals a lot of different things for a lot of different Iranians. For Ebrahim Pourfaraj, it means he is able to attempt to build the tallest hotel in the country. Steve Inskeep visits northern Tehran for NPR: "An old saying holds that if you want to get out of a hole, first stop digging. Pourfaraj has already dug his hole. His only choice now is to keep building."

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Gender inequality in India

The Indian Constitution guarantees equality under the law – but for women, this rarely translates in real life. Ellen Barry reports on a group of women risking everything to be able to work. “When you start working, your heart opens up,” one said. “Then you’re not scared anymore.” For The New York Times

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Where the bodies are buried

Helen Lewis of the New Statesman profiles Sue Black, one of Britain’s leading experts in human identification. From mass graves in Kosovo to pedophile rings in Scotland, Black has devoted her life to pinpointing the identities of individuals – living or dead. What helps her get by is the mantra: “You didn’t cause this, you didn’t do this, you’re not responsible.”

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The crisis boiling over in Europe

In this piece for the National Post, Matthew Fisher travels through Europe and asks some tough questions: “How can France and other countries absorb hundreds of thousands of new Muslim refugees when the failures of the past are evident everywhere? What is the blueprint for the future when second-generation youth already feel alienated in their birth countries, and some are turning to extremism?”

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Farmers on Facebook in Myanmar

Craig Mod spent six weeks interviewing farmers in a country that finds itself in the midst of an Internet revolution. His refreshing and honest account of the interviewing process tells a story of smartphone use that's very different to what we're used to in the West. For The Atlantic.

the guardian

In Litvinenko's own words

This week, a British inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko found that his murder from polonium poisoning was 'probably' ordered by Vladimir Putin. From his deathbed in 2006, Litvinenko had already come to the same conclusion, as recounted by Luke Harding for The Guardian

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A new Cuban revolution

Big changes are forecasted for Cuba as relations with the U.S. become normalized. What does a more open economy mean for a historically Communist country? Stephanie Nolen investigated for The Globe and Mail, but it "proved tricky – not many people study inequality in a place where, in theory, the political system has eradicated it."

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From Beirut to Peterborough

It's easy to be overwhelmed by news coverage of the influx of Syrian refugees coming to Canada. By focusing on one Syrian mother and her children - "family no. 417" - Michael Friscolanti makes the story personal. He captures the family's voyage from Beirut to Peterborough, ON., and tells of a community determined to make a difference. For Maclean's

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An inconvenient relationship

Tracing the history of the United States' involvement with less-than-savoury Islamic groups from Afghanistan's mujahideen in the 1980s to al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria today, Andrew Cockburn highlights some uncomfortable truths from America's war on terror, for Harper's Magazine.

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The real roots of Sunni-Shia conflict

Saudia Arabia's execution of a popular Shiite cleric has inflamed tensions in a region that can scarcely afford more conflict. But what is really behind the religious sectarianism we're seeing in the Middle East? "Today's divide between Sunni and Shia isn't primarily about religion, and it's not ancient: It's quite recent, and much of it is driven by politics, not theology," writes Max Fisher for Vox.

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The invention of modern time

The road to timekeeping as we know it has been filled with hard-fought reforms, revolt and emotion. In this piece for The Atlantic, Ian P. Beacock reviews Vanessa Ogle's The Global Transformation of Time, 1870-1950. This history of time "offers us a way to think more deeply about technological change at a moment when we're nearly overwhelmed by it."

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A coup by any another name...

The president of Brazil is facing impeachment and demonstrators in the streets abound, protesting either for or against Dilma Rousseff's removal. What is really behind this political turmoil - and is impeachment legitimate, or a way for the president's foes to execute a bloodless coup? Stephanie Nolen investigates for The Globe and Mail.

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2015 in visualizations

A collection of maps, data-driven articles and visual features from The New York Times. Often stunning and always informative, this list showcases pieces about issues as varied as Nepal's historic sites, the routes of refugees, the challenges facing Paul Ryan and the best and worst places to grow up.

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China's man-made islands

Last year BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes managed the difficult task of observing up close how China is constructing new islands in the South China Sea. Now he returns to the area in a small aircraft: "In Manila last month US President Barack Obama said China must 'halt all further construction' and 'not move to militarise' these new outposts. From what I saw and heard, it is almost certainly already too late." 


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The forgotten refugees

As Alleen Brown writes for The Intercept, much attention has been paid to the thousands of people who have died or disappeared as they crossed the sea this year, but migrants have been perishing on land as well. During COP21, Brown spent time in a different part of France, the "garbage-dump-turned-refugee-camp" in Calais known as "the Jungle."

the guardian

The grand strategist from Maryland

“Military strategist, classical scholar, cattle rancher – and an adviser to presidents, prime ministers, and the Dalai Lama. Just who is Edward Luttwak?” This Guardian profile by Thomas Meaney follows Luttwak from Santa Cruz to Zurich to Washington, and takes a look at the career and motivations of this modern day Machiavelli.

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Shunned in Liberia

During the height of the ebola crisis last year, 30 young Liberian men worked tirelessly to burn the dead bodies of those who had been infected with the disease, to prevent its spread. Instead of being hailed as heroes, these men have been shunned from the very community they were trying to save. Helene Cooper reports for The New York Times.

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Coding culture

Almost a decade ago, the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer wondered why there was no 'British Google.' Now, programming is on the curriculum in Britain, with plans in the works for the same in New York City. Is coding the way of the future? Gaby Hinsliff explores the question in The Guardian.

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The disappearing islands

The Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean are sinking, and the nation's foreign minister is pushing hard this week at COP21 for climate negotiators to consider the peril his land is facing when setting the terms of an agreement in Paris. Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times, with stunning photos and video by Josh Haner.

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The struggle for Mali

Following last week’s attack on a luxury hotel in Bamako, Jack Watling and Paul Raymond delve into the ideological schism in Mali that’s become increasingly pronounced since the 2012 occupation by jihadists. “It is a security nightmare for west Africa,” they write in The Guardian, “and increasingly for Europe, which fears the creation of yet another haven for terrorism.”