Chinese President Xi Jinping looks on during a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic in Belgrade, Serbia, on June 18, 2016.Marko Djurica / Reuters

Can Tennis Offer a Means of Social Mobility in India?
Bhavya Dore | Pacific Standard
“Tennis is largely a sport for the affluent. There are few, if any, public courts in the country, equipment and uniforms are expensive, and private club membership is costly. And yet, closely bound up in this rich person's game are young men for whom tennis starts as a source of income and becomes a means of self-respect and dignity, a means to better circumstances. In an elite sport played by a relative minority, there exist unique pathways of social mobility for those who staff its foundations. And in a country where sports coaching has yet to become a steady profession, the informal entry into tennis has, for decades, provided young men, many of whom never completed their schooling, an unusual opportunity.”

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The Uncertain Fate of Iraq's Largest Christian City
Katrin Kuntz | Der Spiegel
“Qaraqosh was once considered the cradle of Christianity in Iraq. Located some 35 kilometers southeast of Mosul along the Nineveh plains, 40,000 people lived here until three years ago—no other city in the country was home to so many Christians. The city was built in Mesopotamia, which is traversed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and its history stretches back to biblical times. Until about eight months ago, Islamic State ruled Qaraqosh—expelling and murdering its Christians, desecrating their churches and, in the end, burning down their homes. After the Iraqi military captured the destroyed Great Mosque of al-Nuri the week before last, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi claimed that the days of Islamic State were almost over—around three years after IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his so-called ‘caliphate’ at the same site three years ago.”

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Beijing’s Balkan Backdoor
Matthew Karnitschnig | POLITICO EU
“Beijing is establishing a significant foothold on Europe’s southeastern doorstep—increasing its influence in countries that will likely one day be full-blown members of the European Union.”

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Colombia’s New Cocaine Problem
Ben Grenrock | Roads & Kingdoms
“[T]he massive scale of trafficking and terror connected with the drug cartels are emblematic of Medellín’s past rather than its present. Over the last decade, the city has been experiencing something of a renaissance, growing safer, more prosperous, and winning international acclaim for its progressive reforms as life under the cartels recedes into memory. While locals are aware of—and proud of—their city’s continuing transformation, many visitors flocking to the city in the wake of these positive changes bring their preconceptions about the old Medellín with them. In places frequented by tourists, small powder-dusted baggies are ubiquitous. As its citizens try to distance themselves from a traumatic past, it seems that Medellín has paradoxically found itself suffering from a new kind of drug problem, not in spite of its burgeoning positive identity, but because of it.”

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European Disunion
Yascha Mounk | New Republic
“A desire to downplay threats to democracy extends beyond American politics. In coverage of the recent presidential elections in France, commentators were intent on emphasizing the signs of continuity and disregarding the signs of change. Neither the candidate of the historically dominant center-left party nor the candidate of the historically dominant center-right party managed to qualify for the run-off. With 33.9 percent of the vote in the second round, Marine Le Pen gained more votes than any extremist candidate in French postwar history, nearly doubling the record set by her father 15 years earlier. Young people were far more likely than older people to vote for her. Yet much of the media celebrated Emmanuel Macron’s victory as a triumph over populism, and intimated that the populist wave was finally cresting. The defeat of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party last December brought similarly demonstrative sighs of relief. ‘The thing is impossible,’ one article after another seemed to say. ‘It must not be.’”

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First, They Came for the Gulenists
Steven A. Cook | Foreign Policy
“Erdogan’s merciless purge has Turkey watchers, journalists, and policymakers debating how the country arrived at this unfortunate moment. For many Turks and observers, the problem is Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with its religiously tinged authoritarianism. They are correct, but that explanation only goes so far. Turkish politics had been defined by repression and blood well before the AKP.”

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