Readings

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Wall of women

In India, millions of women decided to kick 2019 off with an unprecedented display of solidarity, building a “gender wall” in support of women’s right that stretched out over 600 kilometres. And they weren’t alone — as Kamala Thiagarajan reports for NPR, “even as women of all ages lined up on one side of the highway, many of their menfolk — husbands, friends and relatives — lined up on the other side to show their support.”

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Rwandan genocide

Almost 25 years ago, at least 800,000 Rwandans were killed in a planned campaign of extermination. In this excerpt in The Walrus, survivors of the genocide who settled in Canada share their powerful, heartbreaking recollections with Christine Magill, who says their stories taught her “about the resiliency of the human spirit, and...demonstrate why we must counter divisiveness in all its guises.”

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The price of refusal

While Donald Trump uses gang-related violence in the United States to justify tighter border security, this investigation by ProPublica journalists Kavitha Surana and Hannah Dreier shows the complications — and life-threatening dangers — that exist for US newcomers from Central America who try to avoid participation in a gang like MS-13. 

The New Yorker

Redefining equality

In this profile for The New Yorker, Nathan Heller paints a picture of American philosopher Elizabeth Anderson whose work "brings together ideas from the left and right to battle increasing inequality." Are equality and freedom in fact much more intertwined than we thought? Anderson's life and work give insight into a new way of thinking around fair societies. 

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Centre Block

This month, Parliament Hill’s Centre Block closed for renovations, and it will be at least a decade before the Ottawa building re-opens. While most Canadians will associate it with politicians and parliamentary debate, journalists have also been a staple of its hallowed halls. For Maclean’sJohn Geddes looks back at how Centre Block has honoured the fourth estate.

The New Yorker

Transatlantic frenemies

For The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser takes a deep look into the fraught relationship between US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are “almost epically mismatched.” The stakes are high as 2018 comes to a close. “Call your friends enemies long enough, and eventually they may start to believe you,” Glasser writes. “Is this, then, finally, the end of Pax Americana? 

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Migration in Italy

Following WWII, the population of the Italian hillside town of Riace shrunk to just a few hundred people. But from 1998, Riace opened its doors to refugees arriving on its shores, breathing new life into the town and staving off economic decline. Now, as The Globe’s Eric Reguly reports, the mayor responsible is in exile, and Italy’s right-wing government is cracking down on migration. What future is there for Riace?

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Land feuds

In Nigeria, the country’s deadliest violence comes not from Boko Haram but from a conflict between farmers and herders competing for space as the population grows and land becomes more scarce. In The Washington Post, Max Bearak reports on the locals who, in the absence of a sufficient government response, “have cobbled together groups of peacekeepers who have become the plateau’s de facto law enforcement.”


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COP24

As representatives of nearly 200 countries meet in Poland to try and negotiate the rules of the Paris climate accord, the CBC’s Nahlah Ayed reports from Krakow, a city with a serious smog problem (the “Beijing of Europe”). It’s not all bad news: after citizens demanded action, Krakow approved a ban on using coal. What can other countries learn from the Polish example?

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Yazidi reunification

For The Globe and Mail, Christina Frangou shares the story of Jihan Khudher, a Yazidi refugee living in Calgary. Though safe in Canada, Jihan, who was held captive by ISIS, is suffering from rare, PTSD-related seizures — a kind triggered by extreme stress or trauma. Her medical team has identified something they believe can help: the reunification of Jihan’s broken family. 

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Cover up in the Congo

In 2017, two United Nations investigators, an American and a Swede, were brutally murdered in the Congo while looking into local killings. But 20 months later, no one has been brought to justice, and many of the details remain obscured. Why has the UN tried to cover up the Congolese government’s involvement? Colum Lynch reports for Foreign Policy.

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Spotlight on China

The New York Times has launched a five-part series seeking to answer the question: how did China become the superpower it is today? The project looks at how China, on track to surpass the American economy, rejected Western economic wisdom and achieved “social economic mobility unrivaled by much of the world.” Here, Megan Specia lays out the key takeaways.


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After ISIS

The town of Sinjar, in Iraq, was liberated from the Islamic State three years ago, but, as Sam Mednick reports for Foreign Policy, ISIS’s defeat has created a power vacuum. As militias move in, the town’s Yazidi minority is left at their mercy, sheltering on the side of a mountain range, “preferring to brace for another cold winter in tattered tents than return to their homes.

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Russian interference

Canada is less than a year away from its federal election, but does the government have a strategy for guarding against interference from abroad? The stakes are high, as Justin Ling writes in The Walrus: “The question of whether Russia can successfully rig an election is, really, beside the point. The real worry is how an unfriendly foreign government can distort or skew our society.”

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Future of the Union

This week, the UK and EU agreed on a Brexit draft withdrawal plan. But somehow, the way forward looks as uncertain as ever. “It is easy to blame [Theresa] May and her bitterly divided Conservative Party,” writes Fintan O’Toole in The New York Review of Books. “But what makes that crisis all the more profound is that what we would usually expect in a parliamentary democracy…is patently not happening either."

The New Yorker

Havana syndrome

From late 2016, American diplomats and spies — as well as Canadian diplomats — posted in Cuba began experiencing unexplained bursts of sound and pressure that left them dizzy and exhausted, with symptoms of concussion and brain injury. In The New YorkerAdam Entous and Jon Lee Anderson unpack the mysterious condition known as “Havana syndrome,” or simply, “the Thing.”

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Intimidation in China

Religious groups have long faced intimidation and control from authorities in Beijing, and Christians are no exception. The CBC’s Saša Petricic reports that in recent weeks, Protestant churches have been closed and their crosses torn down, and a controversial deal with the Vatican looks to give China power over its Catholic church leaders. Is the worst yet to come? 

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Wind of the north

For The Independent, Rachel Savage spends some time reporting on North America’s first Indigenous-owned rail company, Tshiuetin (which means “wind of the north” in Innu). Connecting Sept-Îles, Quebec to the town of Schefferville, 355 miles north, the journey can be as long as 24 hours, and its schedule can be unpredictable. But that doesn’t bother its conductor: “It’s a dream, every journey,” he says.

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Problematic plastics

"Recycling has been promoted as the environmental answer to humanity’s growing amounts of rubbish," write Leslie Hook and John Reed for FT Magazine. But what happens when China, which, along with Hong Kong, was buying 60 percent of plastic waste from G7 countries, shuts its doors? It has "laid bare the uncomfortable economics behind household recycling, and triggered a profound re-examination of the practice."

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A harrowing journey

On August 18, 2016, "Andrew" arrived in Sicily, Italy, after setting off in late November, 2015, from Benin City, in southern Nigeria. Yomi Kazeem traces his steps for Quartz, up Nigeria, through Niger, across the Sahara and, finally, the Mediterranean — detailing the risks migrants face and exploring the personal reasons that compel them to leave home in the first place.