Were They Lost Students or Inept Spies for China?

Two students from China, studying at the University of Michigan, travel to Florida during their winter break and find themselves in trouble after entering the Naval Air Station Key West, a major U.S. military facility.



Author: Eric Fish
Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Sep 28, 2020
Length: 14 minutes (3,731 words)

The Secret History of the Russian Consulate in San Francisco

Thanks to ten years of robust and brazen espionage, the US Government closed the Russian Consulate in San Francisco in August, 2017. That’s the short version. The detailed version is far more interesting and terrifying.

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Dec 14, 2017
Length: 17 minutes (4,403 words)

The Watson Files

What if there were a blueprint for climate adaptation that could end a civil war? An English scientist spent his life developing one — then he vanished without a trace.

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: May 31, 2017
Length: 21 minutes (5,334 words)

The Road to Germany: $2400

The odyssey of 11 Syrian refugees, told partly in graphic form.

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Jan 28, 2016
Length: 9 minutes (2,364 words)

What Lies Beneath

In the 1960s, hundreds of pounds of uranium went missing in Pennsylvania. Many fear it is buried in the ground, slowly poisoning locals. But there’s another hypothesis—did Israel steal it to build the bomb?

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Mar 23, 2015
Length: 22 minutes (5,571 words)

The Machine Is a Garden

In 1898, an unassuming British stenographer hatched the idea of “garden cities” as an antidote to dirty, crowded London. Today, a resurgence of that idea is spreading through cities across the planet.

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Sep 26, 2014
Length: 16 minutes (4,000 words)

Unlivable Cities

A writer discusses the awful living conditions of China’s booming cities after seven years of living in the country for seven years, and visiting 21 of China’s 22 provinces:

A Beijing-based blogger who lived in Harbin in 2003 told me about leaving Blues after several drinks and flagging a taxi driver, whom he recognized. ‘The taxi driver told me, “Hi, I just came from a wedding and I’m soused. You drive.”‘ So he drove himself home through Harbin’s icy, deserted streets.

Like many Chinese cities, Harbin can be extremely challenging to the health — and not just due to the sometimes scandalously toxic food served in dim, poorly lit restaurants. Hospital bathrooms in Harbin and elsewhere often lack soap and toilet paper, ostensibly out of fear that residents will steal the items. Six months after I arrived, a benzene spill in the nearby Songhua River briefly left the city without running water. The air in Harbin was so polluted that I felt as though the coal dust had sunk into my lungs, and a fine layer of black soot seeped in through our windows overnight. But even Harbin wasn’t as filthy as Linfen, a city of 4 million people in central China’s Shanxi province that Time in 2007, on a list of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, said made “Dickensian London look as pristine as a nature park.”

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Aug 13, 2012
Length: 10 minutes (2,724 words)

Head of State

How Hilary Clinton carefully negotiated blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng’s freedom and proved herself to be a tenacious Secretary of State.

“By the time the American diplomats acknowledged what had happened and went back to cut a new deal for Chen, the Chinese were in no mood to talk. In the meantime, Clinton herself was pulled away by the hours of unrelated meetings that had brought her to Beijing in the first place. The two sides had used the dialogue to schedule an intensive series of small discussions with Clinton and Dai on the most pressing — and divisive — issues between the countries, from thorny nuclear talks with Iran and what to do about North Korea’s erratic new leader to the bloody crackdown in Syria and the mounting crisis between the Philippines, a major U.S. ally, and China over disputed waters in the South China Sea. It was quite a performance by both sides; no one mentioned Chen. ‘This was all taking place in the eye of the storm,’ said one Clinton aide.”

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Jun 18, 2012
Length: 25 minutes (6,325 words)

Why Do They Hate Us?

A call for justice for women in the Middle East. The writer, who was sexually assaulted by Egyptian police last year, says the revolutions have not addressed the plight of women:

“Yes: They hate us. It must be said.

“Some may ask why I’m bringing this up now, at a time when the region has risen up, fueled not by the usual hatred of America and Israel but by a common demand for freedom. After all, shouldn’t everyone get basic rights first, before women demand special treatment? And what does gender, or for that matter, sex, have to do with the Arab Spring? But I’m not talking about sex hidden away in dark corners and closed bedrooms. An entire political and economic system — one that treats half of humanity like animals — must be destroyed along with the other more obvious tyrannies choking off the region from its future. Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.”

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Apr 25, 2012
Length: 12 minutes (3,098 words)

The Last Famine

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek treks through “the hunger zone” in northern Kenya with a nomadic goat herder to get a better understanding of a region persistently devastated by famine. While describing his experience, Salopek also takes us through a history of hunger and foreign food aid:

“Mister Inas then showed us a few wild plants the Daasanach resorted to during famines: the berries of the kadite bush and a gnarled tree that produced a currant-like fruit called miede. People were forgetting their use. ‘Today, we eat food aid instead,’ he said.

“At that time, the U.N. World Food Program was helping feed 265,000 people in the Turkana region. The nomads, once canny at eking out a livelihood on the gauntest of Kenyan landscapes, had been settling into ramshackle outposts, essentially rural slums, where each household received a monthly allotment of 10 kilograms of maize. They were losing what relief workers termed “famine-coping mechanisms” — their ancestral survival skills. Cutting off assistance cold was unthinkable; countless people would die. So after having helped fund these supplemental feeding programs for decades, the U.S. government, through its African Development Foundation, decided last year to put its foot down. It earmarked $10 million for a pilot program in the Turkana area that might be called aid methadone — still more aid, but this time in the form of fishponds and irrigated market gardens, all intended to pry people off the old aid.”

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Mar 2, 2012
Length: 23 minutes (5,844 words)