Readings

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Port project

For many years, the Port of Piraeus, just outside of Athens, was plagued with strikes and protests. But since China’s COSCO Shipping took over, the port has turned into a competitive force. “Greece is still anchored to the EU…but its affection for China is growing,” The Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly explains. Where does this leave Greece, if a cold war shapes up between China and the US?

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Sex trafficking

In The Guardian, Corinne Redfern has an investigation into the lives of tens of thousands of underage girls in Bangladesh who have been trafficked into sex work. Trapped in brothels and raped many times a day, these girls are enslaved under the watch of a “triumvirate of powerful institutions – government, police and religion.” Their work is enormously lucrative, generating profits they will never see.

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Canadian relations

In The Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders has a deep dive into Canada’s foreign policy — what it has looked like under Justin Trudeau, and where it needs to go in the future. Whoever forms the next government “must thoroughly rethink the notion of Canada as a middle-sized country that depends on trusted allies and reliable trade partners and an outsized role in the old international organizations. All of those certainties have vanished.”

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US-Iran tensions

Tehran announced this week it had exceeded limits set under the 2015 nuclear deal, and tensions between the US and Iran are high. In The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Erin Cunningham and Souad Mekhennet share stories based on dozens of interviews with Iranians of various walks of life, laying out how the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump are affecting those inside Iran.

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G20 in Osaka

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has landed in Osaka, Japan, where he and his G20 counterparts will meet for their annual summit. Kristy Kirkup has a piece for Global News laying out what Trudeau’s strategy might be with regards to his number one priority: making progress on the fraught Canada-China relationship and pushing for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians being detained in Beijing.

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Spying for Russia

For years, Deniss Metsavas rose through the ranks of the Estonian army, a respected officer who was “in effect, a totem for how Estonia sought to present itself: liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan.” But Metsavas had a secret, and it was one he couldn’t keep forever — earlier this year, he was convicted of spying for Russia’s military intelligence service. For The Atlantic, Michael Weiss sat down with Metsavas in an Estonian prison.

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Family separation

For The Guardian, Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha report on a Jerusalem hospital where critically ill Palestinian infants are suffering and dying alone. “Israel allows temporary exit from Gaza for medical reasons in some cases, but not all,” they write, and “prevents or seriously delays many parents of patients from leaving.” Others “never apply in the first place, fearing that extensive security checks for adults will hold up their child’s exit permit and lose vital time.”

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Putin’s popularity

This week, Vladimir Putin conducted his annual hours-long call-in program, a televised and highly scripted affair during which the Russian president answered some of the 2.6 million questions sent to him by people around the country. In The Washington Post, Amie Ferris-Rotman breaks down Russia’s shifting public opinions, a recent rise in discontent and a fall in Putin’s popularity.

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Tiananmen Square

On June 4, 1989, soldiers with tanks descended upon Tiananmen Square, firing on unarmed protestors and killing thousands. In The Diplomat, Bonnie Girard, who was living in Beijing and working at the Australian embassy at the time, shares a nail-biting story from the days following the massacre: having been out of the country, she managed to smuggle in contraband international newspapers in packages of sanitary pads.

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D-Day invasion

This week marks 75 years since the Allied invasion of Normandy — the D-Day landings that laid the foundation for the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe. Ahead of the anniversary, for The Atlantic, Rachel Donadio visits Omaha Beach: “Anyone who has ever set foot here comes away with two questions: How did these men pull this off? And what would have happened if they hadn’t?”

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The new spycraft

“The balance of power in the spy world is shifting,” writes Edward Lucas, and the old rules of spycraft no longer apply. In this feature for Foreign Policy, Lucas details how intelligence gathering has changed over the years, with the biggest disruptive force being, unsurprisingly, technology: “A cover identity that would have been almost bulletproof only 20 years ago can now be unraveled in a few minutes.”

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NAFTA, Huawei, and more

This week, just ahead of a visit from US Vice-President Mike Pence, the Canadian government formally tabled legislation to ratify a new North American trade deal. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson sat down with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was instrumental in the NAFTA talks, to discuss the way forward, and various other foreign policy issues on her radar.

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The Brexit Party

In The New Yorker, Sam Knight writes about the UK’s new Brexit Party, which is only five weeks old but already 10 points ahead in the polls for this week’s European Parliament elections. Knight speaks with a “cheerily menacing” Nigel Farage — the party’s founder and the former leader of the UK Independence Party — who promises to be even more of a thorn in the side of Britain’s main political parties if the polls are correct.

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Refugee check in

Since the 2015 federal election, 58,650 Syrian refugees have been admitted to Canada. With another election around the corner in October and “the emergence of irregular refugees as a new hot-button political issue,” now is as good a time as any to check in on the progress of the “class of 2015/16.” Peter Shawn Taylor does so in Maclean’s, spending time with one Syrian family who are thrilled to be here and are taking challenges in stride.

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Torture in Syria

As the war in Syria winds down, Anne Barnard writes, the world’s attention to atrocities there is fading, and countries are starting to normalize their relations with Bashar al-Assad. But, far from letting up, the “pace of new arrests, torture and execution is increasing.” For The New York Times, Barnard gives readers a harrowing look inside Syria’s secret torture prisons.

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European Parliament elections

More than 370 million people will be eligible to cast their vote in next week’s European Parliament elections, which will take place between May 23 and 26 in the EU’s 28 countries (751 seats are up for grabs). Chris Harris at Euronews has put together an explainer on why the vote is important, how Brexit will affect things, what exactly MEPs do, and more.

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Chinese birth rates

For 36 years, in order to regulate birth rates, China’s Communist Party enforced a strict one-child policy. In 2016, the rules were relaxed — China’s population is rapidly aging, and government officials are now actively encouraging parents to have more than one child. But do they actually want to? Anna Fifield reports for The Washington Post.

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A changing Arctic

As Arctic ice melts, new corridors are being created, “opening up the once isolated region to more shipping, tourism, mining, and oil exploration,” writes Robbie Gramer. For Foreign Policy, Gramer visits a remote Canadian military base in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, to see firsthand how Western nations are preparing for shifting Arctic geopolitics and increased attention from countries like Russia and China.

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Bannon’s next project

A couple of hours outside of Rome sits a thirteenth-century monastery — the future home of a new school of populism spearheaded by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. For The Globe and Mail, Eric Reguly examines how Bannon plans on using the monastery as a base to spread his brand of anti-elite, right-wing nationalism across Europe and beyond.

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Taliban talks

As talks between Afghans and the Taliban move in fits and starts, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet writes that “this historic step is concentrating women’s minds on how much they stand to win — or lose.” In Kabul, Doucet speaks with women who’ve beaten the odds, rising to become ministers, journalists and other professionals. They are determined not to let their gains be wiped away, no matter who’s in power in the future.