Broken Land
Borzou Daragahi | Buzzfeed
“Just a few years ago, the land around this outpost, 180 miles southeast of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, was a nature reserve where the deposed leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi, and his entourage would come for retreats, hunting for wild game. The spacious villas that housed them are dotted around, now empty, looted for their gaudy fixtures and fittings. Inhabitants of a nearby village have mostly fled. Once a sleepy patch of desert, Abu Grein has now become the front line against the Libyan branch of ISIS, a gathering force now threatening to demolish what’s left of the country.”

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The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth
James Traub | Foreign Policy
“During World War II, Sweden took in the Jews of Denmark, saving much of the population. In recent years the Swedes have taken in Iranians fleeing from the Shah, Chileans fleeing from Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and Eritreans fleeing forced conscription. Accepting refugees is part of what it means to be Swedish. Yet what [Foreign Minister] Margot Wallstrom meant, and what turned out to be true, was that Germany, Sweden, Austria, and a few others could not absorb the massive flow on their own. The refugee crisis could, with immense effort and courage, have been a collective triumph for Europe. Instead, it has become a collective failure. This is the story of the exorbitant, and ultimately intolerable, cost that Sweden has paid for its unshared idealism.”

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What Has Always Been There
Philip Gourevitch | Lucky Peach
“I eat breakfast more determinedly in Rwanda than almost anywhere else. In Kigali, now that you can get anything, there are excellent patisseries, if pastries are what you crave. There’s even a bagel shop that stray New Yorkers say isn’t bad, but I can’t imagine being that homesick. I don’t go to Rwanda for the dining, but once I’m there, and it’s morning, and I’ve got to eat, I trust that the best stuff in town is what’s always been there, the backyard bounty: maybe some eggs for protein, and for ballast a few of the creamy little bananas, no bigger than my two thumbs put together, that make any other form of that fruit hopelessly disappointing; and then, for the main event, as much fresh mango, passion fruit, avocado, tree tomato, pineapple, and papaya as I can hold.”

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Trident: The British Question
Ian Jack | The Guardian
“Since the advent of the industrial revolution, few weapons systems have survived so long. The modern battleship, devised under the empty blue skies of Edwardian Britain, demonstrated its vulnerability to air attack even before Pearl Harbor; its useful career lasted hardly 40 years. Britain’s submarine-launched nuclear weapon, on the other hand, seems immune to obsolescence—as well as to financial, social and political hazards such as reductions in public spending, deindustrialisation, and the growing possibility of the break-up of the kingdom it was designed to protect.”

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The French Football Team and the Contest for a Diverse Nation
Tony Karon | Aeon
“The decline of French football that began with Zidane’s 2006 headbutt reached its nadir four years later, at the World Cup in South Africa, where a player revolt against the coaching staff precipitated an ignominious early exit. ... The French media and football establishment blamed the debacle on the black and Arab players (and also Franck Ribéry, a white convert to Islam). In the attending scrutiny, it emerged that the national team coach Laurent Blanc had questioned France’s reliance on black players, suggesting racial quotas and calling for preference to be given to players with ‘our culture, our history’. The very idea of the nation is premised on a shared history and culture. Can France include those who were often brutally colonised by a French Republic that proclaimed itself a bastion of liberty under the same symbols?”

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The Garden King of Kabul: Babur’s Legacy Lives on in Afghanistan
Robert Lane Fox | Financial Times
“[T]he garden has been planted and now maintained by devoted Afghan gardeners. Its leading garden engineer, Abdul Latif Kohistani, has had a crucial role. The aim has been to plant the garden with as many local species and plants known to Babur as possible. More than 5,000 are now on site, including roses, pistachios and the purple-flowered Judas trees which Babur described with love.”

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I Couldn’t Tell If We Should Live or Die
Fati Yayaha (as told to Jennifer Koons) | The Development Set, Medium
“During my pregnancy, I did not see a doctor because he lived far away and I could not go without my husband. But he did not want to take me. I was scared because my mom and sister died when they had their babies. But I did not want to see a doctor either. I had never seen one before. So that scared me too.”