More than 25,000 North Korean defectors have escaped to South Korea to build new lives for themselves, but transitioning to a foreign way of living isn't always so easy:
"Defectors arriving in South Korea are debriefed intensively by security agents before going to the Hanawon rehabilitation complex, where they are given training in the skills considered necessary to lead a normal life in the South. Adapting can still be a struggle: many North Korean defectors are dumbfounded by the slang they encounter in the South, with its plethora of loanwords from English, while their distinctive accent instantly marks them out from the rest of the population. They are also confronted by a maze of unfamiliar technology; one charity worker tells of the humiliation of a middle-aged female defector who stood prodding helplessly at an automated teller machine while those waiting behind her sniggered impatiently."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 6, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3235 words)
What it's like to grow up as a Muslim in America today. Although Muslims embrace their faith while facing discrimination, they also suffer from anxiety as a result from racial profiling:
"For me, this issue is personal. My son was born in America but has an Arabic surname and is growing up bilingual, although we are not religious in any direction. He has my lighter hair but his father’s colouring. Once, in an airport, a woman asked me what he was 'mixed with'. A look that fell just short of horror passed over her face when I replied, 'Iraqi.' I shudder to think of my son being on the receiving end of that look, just because of his name or the way his skin tans at the merest hint of summer.
"I am one of many parents who worry. Arwa Aziz, a 41-year-old mother of two boys, moved her youngest son Adam, now 13, from public school to a private Muslim school in Brooklyn because she was concerned about him being bullied. 'He got so shy as he was growing up, so I just thought he would be better off there,' Aziz told me while we talked at the Arab American Association, showing each other photos of our boys. 'I tell my kids that they’re second-generation Americans, I won’t let them make us feel weak.'"
PUBLISHED: July 19, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3850 words)
There are glimmers of peace found in Somalia's capital—in a country that hasn't had a functioning government for 22 years:
"One brightly painted brick at a time, the shelled-out city is coming back to life. Along Mogadishu’s tree-lined drags, shopfronts form a tableau of hope. Outsized poster-paint impressions of burgers, fizzy drink bottles and doughnuts daub walls where bullets once made their mark. Renderings of hairdryers, laptops and pressure pumps advertise the high-tech wares inside. Walls and gates are painted the same bright powder-blue base which matches the sea, the sky and the national flag.
But the revival goes beyond shopkeeping. Scaffolding shapes the skyline, livestock and fish markets are back in action and women plunge into the sea from stunning white sands. Surrounded by the crescent of ruins that cradles the old fishing port, I speak to a young fisherman as he smears the hazel sludge of sea lion liver oil over upturned boats. He says he hopes Somalia’s latest government, formed in 2012 in the most legitimate process in years, will last."
PUBLISHED: May 31, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4138 words)
A man struggles to accept his father's criminal past:
"The more I pushed, the more Horst insisted on varnished truth. Wächter was a father. He saved Jews. He had responsibilities to others. He followed orders and an oath (to Hitler). He had to provide for the family. He was an idealist. He was honourable. He believed the system could be improved. In a court these arguments would be hopeless. Yet Horst maintained that Wächter was 'very much against the criminal system' even if hard put to offer any convincing examples."
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3770 words)
Authors revisit and annotate their own famous work:
"J.K. Rowling had only agreed to annotate a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on condition that it was a genuine first edition, from the first print run in 1997 of only 500 copies, 300 of which had gone to libraries. Gekoski had to find one of the remaining 200. 'So she was quite surprised,' he said cheerfully, 'that two days later, I came up with a copy and said, "Let’s go ahead."'
"It had cost him £20,000 (he will be reimbursed after the sale). But now, “freely annotated” by its author, with more than a thousand words “on the process of writing, editorial decisions and sources of inspiration …” along with 22 illustrations, it is likely to go for a great deal more.
"Sotheby’s has released a short paragraph to give a flavour of what’s inside – though what she describes is so familiar, it’s already part of JKR mythology. 'I wrote the book … in snatched hours, in clattering cafés or in the dead of night … The story of how I wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is written invisibly on every page, legible only to me. Sixteen years after it was published, the memories are as vivid as ever as I turn these pages.'"
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3460 words)
A profile of California Gov. Jerry Brown, who just turned 75 and is ready to address the state's problems:
"Unemployment in California is still higher than the national average and the state has billions of dollars of unfunded pension liabilities. He says there are some public workers in the state who can retire at 50 'and I think they’re going to live until they’re 100. So we have to pay for them for 50 years and they only work for 30 … how’s that going to work?' He has other projects – 'big ideas', such as changing the distribution of new tax money to schools to help children who may not speak English as a first language, and developing a bullet train in the face of considerable opposition and a rising price tag. 'You can’t be a great country without a big idea and without being able to have faith that the people who come after you will continue,' he says, emphatically. 'Otherwise it’s just shifting sands.'"
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3574 words)
An American electronics engineer is found dead in Singapore. Police told the family it was a suicide, but they believe their son was murdered:
"Shane had died a week before he was to return to the US. The police said he had drilled holes into his bathroom wall, bolted in a pulley, then slipped a black strap through the pulley and wrapped it around the toilet several times. He then tethered the strap to his neck and jumped from a chair. Shane, 6ft 1in and nearly 200lb, hanged himself from the bathroom door, the autopsy report said.
"So the Todds, along with two of Shane’s younger brothers, John and Dylan, were unnerved by what they didn’t see as they crossed the threshold. The front door was unlocked and there was no sign of an investigation – no crime-scene tape, no smudges from fingerprint searches. 'The first thing I did was make a beeline for the bathroom,' Mrs Todd recalled. She wanted to see exactly how Shane had died – and she saw nothing that fitted the police description. The marble bathroom walls had no holes in them. Nor were there any bolts or screws. The toilet was not where the police had said."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5470 words)
A reporter meets with John McAfee, the eponymous creator of the McAfee antivirus software who has been on the run from authorities in Belize for the past several months:
"The obvious question was, why run at all? After all, the police had said that there were no charges against McAfee yet. 'He is still just a person of interest' in the investigation, Raphael Martinez, a police spokesperson, told me. 'We are still looking for him.' (Asked why they had not found him, Martinez said, 'It beats the hell out of me.')
"Besides, McAfee insisted that he had nothing to do with Faull’s murder and that in spite of being neighbours – their houses were about 300 yards apart – he barely even knew the man. 'He drank and I don’t hang with people who drink,' he said. He also reminded me that Belize was not as safe as people thought. I had already checked the statistics: according to United Nations figures, the country’s murder rate has risen rapidly, from about 16 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to more than 41 in 2010.
"For many people, the answer was that McAfee was paranoid. Or as Dean Barrow, Belize’s prime minister, suggested a couple of weeks ago in statements made in Belize City to a local reporter, McAfee might simply be 'bonkers'."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 7, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3749 words)
In 2009, Brazil introduced "one of the boldest experiments in policing ever witnessed in the democratic world"—the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, or UPP—to rid its poorest neighborhoods from the grip of drug traffickers and violent militias before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics:
"'Everybody in Rio knew – every taxi driver, every senator, every sociologist and every journalist,' he says with a hint of controlled anger. 'They all knew that Rio was a divided city. But for 40 years, nobody did a single thing about it.'
"The favelas, Beltrame argues, were islands from which the state had just decided to absent itself. Their residents were forgotten and ignored, stewing in a toxic juice of extreme poverty, domestic violence and, from the late 1980s onwards, the omnipotence of Uzi-wielding drug cartels or their vigilante alter-egos, the militias, who specialise in blackmailing entire communities. Regular police raids peppered by arbitrary killings and extortion ensured that favela residents regarded the state not as an ally, but perhaps as their worst enemy.
"Appalled by this collective inaction and the stain on the city’s reputation, Beltrame decided to do something about it. In times past, he would have struggled to receive the backing from the governor of Rio state to divert public funds into the favelas. But with the World Cup and Olympics looming, the moment for the UPP had come."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 2, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4088 words)