Readings

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Talking trash

As landfills and waste dumps around the world quickly fill up — we collectively generate at least 3.5 million tons of solid waste a day — how are major cities combating this epic problem, if they are at all? Photographer Kadir van Lohuizen travelled to six different cities — Jakarta, Tokyo, Lagos, New York, Sao Paulo and Amsterdam — for the Washington Post to find out. 

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Civilian deaths

In this stunning investigation by the New York Times, Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal uncover a disturbing pattern of civilian casualties in the war against ISIS. After 18 months of investigation, and having visited 150 sites across northern Iraq, they found that one in five airstrikes resulted in a civilian death, at “a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.” 

the guardian

A flawed model

The neoliberal model of more markets and less governments has become an ideology that fundamentally goes against the field of economics, argues Dani Rodrik for The Guardian. He takes the reader on a deep dive through the history and significance of the economic movement, before concluding “the fatal flaw...is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.” 

The Star

Offshore revelations

With yet another leak detailing offshore tax havens, this week’s release of the Paradise Papers has some of the biggest revelations yet. The documents show how the global elite — including present and former world leaders and some of the world's best known brands — use tax havens to hide their wealth. The Toronto Star provides a summary of the findings.

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Undead diseases

In The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer examines an often-forgotten symptom of climate change. While much has been made of the polar ice caps melting leading to sea level rise, Meyer is concerned with the pathogens that have been stored in the now melting permafrost. Resistant to modern antibiotics, these viruses and bacteria pose a unique threat to people across the world.

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A Cobalt comeback

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest exporter of cobalt, but as violence grips the country manufacturers who depend on the mineral are worried about their supply chains and are looking elsewhere. Call that good news for Cobalt, Ontario, where, as Danielle Bochove writes for Bloomberg, global demand is breathing new life into the town whose silver mines closed decades ago. 

the guardian

A divided Vatican

“We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private,” a prominent English priest recently said of Pope Francis. In The Guardian, Andrew Brown details a growing schism in the Catholic church between the popular Pope and the conservative factions of the church who believe his reforms to be a form of heresy. It’s a fascinating deep dive into the inner workings of Vatican City.

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Dissecting inequality

The Economist explores the question of why there is a gulf between rich and poor regions, arguing that globalization has left regions outside of rich industrial clusters increasingly marginalized. As the argument goes, economists once thought inequalities would even out over time as rich areas invested in the untapped potential of poor areas, though as globalization kicked into hyperdrive this idea collapsed. 

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'I knew I would die'

“I knew very well that bomb would kill me,” one girl told The New York TimesDionne Searcey. In a series of interviews with 18 girls who survived having bombs strapped to them by the terrorist group Boko Haram, Searcey finds these girls were often taken hostage and forcibly had bombs strapped to them. This breathtaking feature shatters the official narrative that suicide bombers are willing participants. 

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Missing intelligence

In 2006, Halit Yozgat, the son of Turkish immigrants, was murdered in an internet cafe in Germany. A neo-nazi group took credit for it, but a major question hangs over the entire case — a German intelligence officer named Andreas Temme was in the cafe at the time of the murder yet claimed he didn’t hear or see anything. For The Intercept, Robert Mackey and Robert Trafford revisit the case. 

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State of policing

For Buzzfeed, Megha Rajagopalan looks at the draconian surveillance being used by China against the Uyghur minority – a Muslim ethnic group in the country’s far west. She details how police actively monitor phone calls and internet traffic, along with other tools, to heavy handedly repress the Uyghur population. It’s a frightening look inside an unfolding dystopian reality.

The New Yorker

Understanding Tillerson

Rumours have been circulating for months that Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, is on the outs with President Donald Trump. Tillerson is a known recluse, yet here in The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins is able to construct a fascinating profile of him — from Boy Scout to CEO to Secretary of State, this piece takes you inside the mind of a someone used to getting his way, who is now undermined by his own boss. 

the guardian

On science and spies

For The Guardian, Daniel Golden exposes a sprawling, secretive operation conducted over years by the CIA: staging scientific conferences around the world to encourage academics to defect. Golden finds that conferences such as ones hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency “probably [have] more intelligence officers roaming the hallways than actual scientists."

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The view from Mexico

On balance, most Mexicans consider NAFTA a positive, but offering any assessment of the trade agreement's impact on Mexico is complicated, writes David Agren. For CIGIonline, Agren spoke with economists, political scientists, business people and workers from different sectors to see how NAFTA has affected Mexico's automotive industry, labour rights, corruption and more. 

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In the land of Facebook

If Facebook were a country it would be the largest one on the planet. A staggering one in every five minutes spent on the internet is spent on Facebook. In fact, in many places Facebook is the de facto internet. Clearly it is more than just an online service; it’s a phenomenon that shapes our politics and relationships. NY Mag’s Max Read asks if even Mark Zuckerberg knows what Facebook is at this point.

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The US and Islam

In The Atlantic, Shadi Hamid, Peter Mandaville, and William McCants examine how the United States’ policies towards political Islam have shifted over the past four decades. They find that despite sometimes bombastic rhetoric, the US appears primarily guided by basic realpolitik. From rejecting Hamas’s victory at the polls, to cutting contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, US policies stem from advancing American interests. 

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Dissecting deradicalization

In France, a once promising deradicalization program has been undone by promoting aggressive nationalism. Maddy Crowell, in The Atlantic, takes a look at the complex issue by examining the strategies used, whether or not they’ve been successful and what comes next for a country bent on defeating “terrorism.” 

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Canada's myth of inclusion

For The Walrus, Doug Saunders starts by asking: If Canada is a country founded on immigration and diversity, why are there so few of us across this massive country? He finds that over the years Canada long prioritized whiteness, Britishness and closed borders, creating a self-defeating spiral. By reexamining Canadian history, he challenges the myths of multiculturalism and inclusion.

The New Yorker

On civilization

“Every complicated and beautiful thing humanity ever made has, if you look at it long enough, a shadow, a history of oppression,” writes John Lanchester in the New Yorker. By tracing the history of human development, he finds that the rise of civilization has led to a litany of oppressive forces that we have yet to rid ourselves of, leaving readers with the question: could it really be that our ancestors had it better? 

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Undercover with white supremacists

For The New York Times, Jesse Singal speaks with Patrik Hermansson, a grad student who, using his Swedish nationality, went undercover for a year to infiltrate the world of the extreme right. From bragging about connections to the White House to plans moving forward, this is a chilling look inside a dangerous movement.