A Crisis in Brazil and a Tourist Agency in North Korea: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

The Feel of Bespoke Suits
Alejandro Chacoff | n+1
“From a distance, the causes of the Brazilian crisis seem obvious. A corrupt government, after fourteen years in power, begins to suffer the consequences of erratic policies: a deep recession follows, and protesters then take to the streets to overthrow the government. This explanation isn’t so much unfounded as insufficient. The government is corrupt, but so are all the other parties. The economy is in recession, but there have been other periods of turbulence in the past, and not all of them led to a coup. Protesters are on the streets, yet they make up a small demographic, and are unrepresentative of the larger population. To state that a couple of organs in a body have failed says little of the disease that overtook it.”

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The Day We Discovered Our Parents Were Russian Spies
Shaun Walker | The Guardian
“For Alex and Tim, the geopolitics behind the spy swap was the least of their worries. The pair had grown up as ordinary Canadians, and now discovered they were the children of Russian spies. Ahead of them was a long flight to Moscow, and an even longer emotional and psychological journey.”

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Kenya’s Push to Close World’s Largest Refugee Camp Fuels a Sense of Displacement
Heidi Vogt | The Wall Street Journal
“Brownkey Abdullahi was born here in the world’s largest refugee camp 23 years ago and has never lived anywhere else. Now the Kenyan government has distressed its Western allies by renewing a push to close it, throwing residents’ lives into confusion and uncertainty.”

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Playing by Pyongyang’s Rules
Aaron Fox-Lerner | The Awl
“The ethics of traveling to North Korea have long been debated, with those in favor saying that even small, outside contact can help change the country, and a visit can help you learn about it. Barbara Demick, the author of Nothing to Envy, expressed caution about traveling to North Korea in an email to me, but also noted that ‘you can still get glimpses of people’s lifestyles if you look carefully. On trips to the outskirts of Pyongyang, I saw barefoot children and people collecting weeds at the side of the road out of bus windows. The North Koreans you meet are all official guides, but it is still interesting to talk to them.’ Most debates over ethics and tourism center on how visitors can end up changing a place for the worse: local traditions rendered inauthentic, cities gentrified, environments despoiled. The debate over North Korean tourism, however, centers on how to more effectively change the country for the better.”

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India’s Dying Mother
Justin Rowlatt | BBC News
“The Ganges is revered in India but it is also the sewer that carries away the waste from the 450 million people who live in its catchment area.”

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When Hospitals Are Targeted
Betcy Jose | Foreign Affairs
“The situation in Syria is, in some ways, unprecedented. According to Physicians for Human Rights, a U.S.-based advocacy group, ‘the scale and brutality of the attacks on Syrian medical facilities and health professionals is unparalleled’ in its 30-year history of documenting attacks on medical care. Michael Van Rooyen, director of Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, has concurred that ‘Syria’s been the most notable and notorious example’ of a growing trend of intentional attacks on healthcare institutions. The situation has gotten so dire that medical professionals and NGOs there have been forced to provide care in the most unlikely of places, including factories, caves, and chicken coops.”