Emojis and ‘Narco-terror’: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

Eugene Tanner / AP

Trudeau’s Canada, Again
Guy Lawson | The New York Times Magazine
“Trudeau, who is 43, was still working on getting his staff to call him ‘Prime Minister.’ For years, he was ‘Justin,’ and staff members often still referred to him that way. ‘It’s like your really smart friend suddenly became prime minister,’ Kate Purchase, his communications director, told me.”

The Narco-terror Trap
Ginger Thompson | ProPublica
“The DEA strongly defends the effectiveness of such sting operations, claiming that they are a useful way to identify criminals who pose a threat to the United States before they act. ... But Russell Hanks, a former senior American diplomat, who got a firsthand look at some of the DEA’s narco-­terrorism targets during the time he served in West Africa, told me, ‘The DEA provided everything these men needed to commit a crime, then said, “Wow, look what they did.”’ He added, ‘This wasn’t terrorism — this was the manipulation of weak-minded people, in weak countries, in order to pad arrest records.’”

Why Japan Got Over Emojis
Matt Alt | Slate
“‘The emoji boom is over here in Japan,’ says Shigetaka Kurita, the man widely credited with creating the adorable little runes. ‘They’re still around, they’re still pervasive, but they aren’t a fad anymore.’ ... He ventures that when Obama mentioned emojis on the White House lawn, ‘I suspect most Japanese people’s response was, ‘wow, emoji are still popular over there!?’’”

U.S. Seeks to Avoid Ground War Welcomed by Islamic State
Rukmini Callimachi | The New York Times
“The group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region. Should that invasion happen, the Islamic State not only would be able to declare its prophecy fulfilled, but could also turn the occurrence into a new recruiting drive at the very moment the terrorist group appears to be losing volunteers.”

The Other Migrant Crisis: Cubans Are Streaming North in Large Numbers
Nick Miroff | Washington Post
“The number of unauthorized Cubans arriving in the United States nearly doubled in fiscal 2015, rising to 43,159 from 24,278 the previous year, according to U.S. border officials, and the surge appears to be accelerating. The vast majority are coming not in rickety boats or rafts but right through U.S. ports of entry at the border with Mexico. Combined with the more than 20,000 who are issued immigration visas annually under existing accords, it amounts to the largest influx of Cubans into the United States in decades.”

Is the Taliban Gaining Ground or Falling Apart?
Joshua Keating | Slate
“[T]he Taliban has been regaining territory at an alarming rate. According to Long War Journal, it now controls 37 districts in Afghanistan, 15 of them seized in just the last two months, including one yesterday. But this expansion is coming at a time when the group is both fractured and threatened from the outside. In the past few weeks, there have been deadly internal clashes between Taliban factions fighting over the appointment of new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.”