Readings

standard-reading-logo

Surprise from Russia

Russia's Vladimir Putin may not be called "president for life" like Chinese leader Xi Jinping, but, as Henry Foy and Max Seddon explain in the Financial Times, this week Putin told the world how he plans on remaining de facto leader — by rewriting the constitution and reducing the power of any future president.

standard-reading-logo

Knowing Ghanimat

“She could slip between two worlds... very proud of her heritage as a tribal nomadic person... [with] this ability to work very effectively in western science and policy contexts.” So describes Ghanimat Azhdari, the PhD student who died, along with 175 others, in the crash of Flight 752. For The Narwhal, Jimmy Thomson describes the meaningful path Azhdari was on and the impact she already made in the field of Indigenous rights.

gm logo

Lives lost

When Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed in Tehran on Wednesday, all 176 on board lost their lives, including 63 Canadians and another 75 headed to Canada, many of whom were international students. While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the plane appears to have been shot down and is calling for an investigation, many across Canada this week are grieving. Here The Globe and Mail profiles many of the victims.

standard-reading-logo

Future of spycraft

In Yahoo! News, Jenna McLaughlin and Zach Dorfman have published an investigation, based on interviews with more than 40 current and former intelligence officials, revealing the high-level debate within US spy agencies on the future of officers’ ability to go undercover in the digital age. “The foundations of the business of espionage have been shattered,” says one former senior CIA official. What is the way forward?

gm logo

Cambridge controversy

Two years ago, Canadian scholar Stephen Toope became the first non-British vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, promising to bring some new ideas to the institution. One of them involves seeking answers and justice for how the university benefited in the past from enslaved labour. The effort has divided academics, as Paul Waldie reports in The Globe and Mail.

standard-reading-logo

Holiday talk

For many readers, the holidays will include spirited conversations with relatives of various political stripes, and this BuzzFeed essay by Scaachi Koul might resonate. Koul has found herself largely at odds with her Hindu family over the recent crisis in Kashmir. “For the first time in my life,” she writes, “I engaged in a pastime that I thought was largely reserved for white people: fighting with my family on Facebook about their terrible politics.”

nytimes logo

Year in pictures

New York Times photo editors sifted through 5.6 million photos from the past 365 days — of protest in Hong Kong, war in Yemen, crisis in Venezuela and so much more — for their “Year in Pictures 2019” feature. The result, writes executive editor Dean Baquet, “is this collection of images, a visual chronicle of violence, political power struggles, climate catastrophes, mass shootings and a few poignant scenes of everyday life.”

standard-reading-logo

Afghan war

This week, The Washington Post published what it calls a “secret history” of the war in Afghanistan — a massive investigation by Craig Whitlock based on documents released under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle. The documents reveal that senior US officials under three presidents misled the public during the 18-year war, hiding evidence that it had become unwinnable.

gm logo

Meng Wanzhou

A year on, The Globe and Mail has new details on the hours leading up to the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, which “generated headlines worldwide and threw Canada-China relations into a deep freeze,” write Robert Fife and Steven Chase. “It has also trapped Canada in a power struggle between China and the U.S., which views Huawei as a national-security risk and a pawn of the ruling Communist party.”

The New Yorker

Deepening divisions

In The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins dives deep into the widening divisions between India’s Hindu and Muslim populations. He highlights the work of Rana Ayyub, one of the country’s best-known investigative journalists, who has worked to document Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in championing anti-Muslim forces, dating back to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

standard-reading-logo

State of diplomacy

For career foreign service officers, can the current state of diplomatic relations be described as an ice age? Many would say yes, Stephen Brown reports in POLITICO, as he takes stock of how the age of Trump has impacted diplomatic dealings. “The rules-based post-war order is being broken by those who made it,” said one EU diplomat. “It’s becoming the Wild West, and they’re sending in the cowboys.”

gm logo

A cinematic escape

In The Globe and Mail, Michelle Zilio recounts how Iranian-Canadian Maryam Mombeini and her sons devised a plan to get Mombeini out of Iran — where she had been living a nightmare, forbidden from leaving the country for nearly 600 days, after the mysterious death of her husband in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Her sons hope that Mombeini, now safe in Canada, can live a “good, happy and healthy life.”

standard-reading-logo

Latin Spring?

From the Caribbean coast to Patagonia, South America is witnessing its strongest and most widespread protests in decades. What’s behind the unrest? “Unlike the popular rebellions across the Arab world nearly a decade ago,” write Anthony Faiola and Rachelle Krygier in The Washington Post, “the actors and causes of the still-unfolding uprisings in South America are as varied as the countries themselves.”

standard-reading-logo

Forgotten combat advisers

On CBC.ca, Murray Brewster has a feature on the Afghan-Canadian language and cultural advisors recruited by the Department of National Defence who “carried out some of the most dirty and dangerous assignments during Canada's war in Afghanistan.” Many of these civilians, he writes, returned injured and broken — and are struggling to seek help and recognition for their contributions.

standard-reading-logo

The last East German

This weekend marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In Politico, Matthew Karnitschnig has a lively interview exchange with Egon Krenz, the last leader of the German Democratic Republic, who was in power for only two months. As Karnitschnig writes, Krenz sees his continued allegiance to the ideals of East Germany as a sign of “character,” not delusion.

gm logo

Farce in Xinjiang

China’s Xinjiang region is frequently under a spotlight for the mistreatment of its Uighur population. In response, reports The Globe and Mail’s Nathan VanderKlippe, authorities are going to great lengths to deceive visitors, staging “intricately managed scenes filled with pedestrians, street vendors and drivers played by people – police officers, teachers, retirees – who have been screened by the authorities and assigned roles.”

nytimes logo

Shuttered schools

This week, India formally stripped Kashmir of its special status and divided it into two new territories. For The New York Times, Sameer Yasir and Jeffrey Gettleman report from the region, where soldiers and militants prowl the streets. At least 1.5 million Kashmiri students are out of school, and young people worry for their future. “My dream of becoming a doctor is ruined,” one said. “Sometimes I wonder why was I even born here.”

macleanslogo

What ISIS left behind

For Maclean’s, Adnan Khan visited Northern Syria, reporting on how the ghosts of the world’s most violent terror group are still felt “in the tunnels they have left behind and the mines they planted; in the tens of thousands of their faceless, black-clad female followers haunting refugee camps; and in the thousands more of their dead fighters.” Given recent developments, will ISIS remain contained?

standard-reading-logo

Trial in Norway

“When a suspect in one of Norway’s most elaborate illegal employment schemes entered Oslo’s district court this month, he couldn’t stop smiling,” writes Rick Noack in The Washington Post. It turns out Arne Viste, having hired 70 undocumented migrants, is hoping a trial might force Norway to reconsider its policy of forbidding migrants in limbo — those who’ve had their asylum claims rejected but cannot be deported — from working.

The New Yorker

Ghost towns

Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, Iran’s population has surged by almost 50 million people, and Tehran can no longer hold everyone who wants to live there. For The New Yorker, Hashem Shakeri captures the satellite towns built by the government in response — from where some residents commute hours a day to the capital — in a series of photos that are beautiful despite the towns’ sterility.