Readings

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Border towns

Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented residents has triggered a northward flow of asylum seekers. For Maclean's, Jason Markusoff, Nancy Macdonald, Aaron Hutchins and Meagan Campbell spent 24 hours covering seven towns along the border, witnessing both Canadians' openness and deep suspicion of the newcomers that are shaping the fabric of Canada.

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No good options

Donald Trump will "collide with the same harsh truth that has stymied all his recent predecessors: There are no good options for dealing with North Korea,” writes Mark Bowden for The Atlantic. For the Kim dynasty, nukes are understood to be the only option to repel a looming U.S. menace. This leaves a dangerous dilemma: a nuclear armed North Korea is worrisome, but so are the “decapitation strikes” Trump’s administration has discussed.

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Hong Kong's future

On the 20-year anniversary of the UK's handover (or return, depending on who you ask) of Hong Kong to China, Keith Bradsher of The New York Times reflects on the challenges ahead. Caught between East and West, what was once held up as an example of a modern, international city is quickly slipping into a cautionary tale of competing systems.

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Russian meddling

Last August, the White House received a report from the CIA detailing Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in cyber efforts to interfere with and discredit the U.S. presidential election. Through interviews with more than three dozen U.S. officials, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous of the Washington Post examine the way the Obama administration struggled in its response.

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Getting rid of refugees

For years after its creation, Israel welcomed refugees from all over, but in the past decade, as the number of African migrants swelled, the country's receptiveness has waned. In this investigation for Foreign Policy, Andrew Green looks at Israel's secretive system of shuffling refugees to Rwanda and Uganda, and then on to third countries — often as dangerous as the ones the asylum seekers left behind in the first place.

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The boys of Boko Haram

"Over the course of a four-day siege in January 2015, Boko Haram carted away the boys of Baga," writes Sarah Topol. "No one knows exactly how many were taken, but by the end...virtually an entire town’s worth of children vanished." In this feature for The New York Times, Topol tells the story of four boy soldiers and includes horrific details of life under the terrorist group that have never been reported before.

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Venezuela’s HIV/AIDS program

As Stephanie Nolen writes for The Globe and Mail, back when she was covering the African AIDS epidemic, Venezuela's AIDS program was held up as a model. But with the country's economic and political crisis, that program is in tatters. Nolen speaks to those affected and looks at the challenges around securing international funding in the face of government inaction. 

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Massacre in Mexico

"There's no missing the signs that something unspeakable happened in Allende, a quiet ranching town just a 40-minute drive from Eagle Pass, Texas," writes Ginger Thompson. This joint investigation from ProPublica and National Geographic describes in heartbreaking detail how the mishandling of information by American DEA officials led to a horrendous assault by a cartel on a Mexican town. 

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A swing to the left

Donald Trump promised to "Make America Great Again," but according to FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, he might instead be "Making Europe Liberal Again." Counter to the prevailing narrative of a swing towards right-wing parties, Silver compares politics in several European countries and finds it has become more difficult to make the case that a nationalist tide is on the rise.

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Lost cities

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, Hisham Melhem argues in Foreign Policy that the places that once fostered intellectualism in the Middle East are now nearly gone: "Cairo has lost its greatness, Baghdad is on its way to becoming almost exclusively a provincial Shiite capital, Aleppo was sacked for the first time in 600 years, and Damascus is a city in fear."

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Love for a leader

For Buzzfeed, Albert Samaha travelled home to the Philippines to understand how and why so many people have rallied around its violent and dangerous president, Rodrigo Duterte. Since his election, Duterte has been responsible for thousands of deaths and yet maintains popular support. Samaha paints a complex picture of a country caught struggling to forge a righteous path forward. 

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The Trump-Russia scandal

From Michael Flynn to Russian oligarchs to Donald Trump himself, the links between the Trump administration and Russia form a growing web of shady connections. To help make sense of it all, Ashley DejeanHannah Levintova and AJ Vicens have compiled short backgrounds about the cast of characters connected to the story, for Mother Jones.


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Aleppo after the fall

In December, much of the world watched, heartbroken, as the Syrian city of Aleppo fell to government forces. Robert Worth knew and loved Aleppo before it was reduced to rubble by years of fighting. For The New York Times, he returns to the city: "I wanted to wind back the clock and make sense of how a city that seemed so averse to politics — of any kind — had been torn apart."

The Star

Torture and abuse

Damning images and footage by photojournalist Ali Arkady, published in the Toronto Star, reveal the physical abuse, torture and murder perpetrated by the Iraqi soldiers that Canada and its coalition partners have "designated the good guys" in the battle against ISIS. A warning that this piece by Mitch Potter, Michelle Shephard and Bruce Campion-Smith contains disturbing content.

the guardian

Obama's optimism

This Guardian read is an adaptation of a speech by former president Barack Obama, in which he strikes a hopeful note and is adamant that it's not too late to address the world's greatest challenges, like perpetual poverty and hunger and ever-rising temperatures. "I believe these are problems that were caused by man," Obama says, "and they can be solved by man."

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Journey to the end of the world

Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. The recently formed Swiss Polar Institute invited a team of climate scientists to circumnavigate the continent to understand how this rapidly changing region will affect the world at large. In this interactive feature for Al Jazeera, join the team as they voyage to never-before studied islands and see first hand the effects of climate change. 

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An impending impeachment?

When it comes to Donald Trump and Russia, the elephant in the room is “the big I-word — Impeachment,” writes Domenico Montanaro for NPR. After the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and revelation after revelation of Trump’s alarming connections to Russia, the calls for impeachment are increasingly growing louder and more serious. Here's a run-down of the big names considering it and why.

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Democracy hijacked

For The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr traces the insidious connections between Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and Cambridge Analytica, a firm owned by Robert Mercer and linked to Steve Bannon. Cadwalladr also uncovers a Canadian connection in this shadowy effort to reshape global politics, and leaves readers with the question: is the British electoral process still fit for purpose?

The New Yorker

Could the U.S. have been Canada?

In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik asks one of the most taboo questions in American political life: what if the American Revolution wasn’t a good idea? He expertly dissects the theories behind the U.S.'s now mythical birth and wonders if the "injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them?”

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Killed for bones

In 23 countries in Africa, "the past decade has seen an increase in the number of documented killings and maimings of people with albinism, driven in part by a belief that their organs, bones and body parts can be sold on the black market," writes Azad Essa. This powerful Al Jazeera feature sheds light on this horrific phenomenon through interviews with victims, their families, and perpetrators.