Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
“Meet the Vasectomists” by Malcom Nicholson, Hopes & Fears
The organizers of World Vasectomy Day want to educate the world about the values of voluntary male sterilization, one incision at a time.
I spoke to Jonathan Stack, co-founder of World Vasectomy Day, while he was in Bali making preparations for World Vasectomy Day 2015, part of a larger tour of south Asia that includes Bangladesh and India which he referred to as “a global scrotal adventure.” In New York, there was a World Vasectomy Day event that took place at a bar where vasectomies from Florida were live-streamed.
“The Samoan Pipeline” by Mike Sager, California Sunday Magazine
How does a tiny island, 5,000 miles from the U.S. mainland, produce so many professional football players?
As the sun sets over their practice field, a patchwork of dirt and forlorn grass strewn with rocks and coral, the Warriors of Tafuna High School sit cross-legged in tidy rows. It is Friday evening in Samoa. The third game of the season is scheduled for 10 tomorrow morning. The boys are sweaty and bloodied, their helmets placed on the ground uniformly before them like battered war drums. Forty sets of eyes shine attentively. Some wear maroon-and-white jerseys, the school’s colors. Others wear blue-and-white jerseys. Much of the equipment has been donated by local boosters and former NFL players and coaches. A number wear white Nike cleats given out for free this past summer at the annual football and volleyball clinic put on by former Pittsburgh Steelers great Troy Polamalu, an ethnic Samoan with strong ties to the island, who was raised in Southern California.
“Medical Mountaineers” by Rebecca Solnit, The New Yorker
Delivering basic care to the remote Himalayas.
The abbot welcomed the Nomads Clinic into the temple, and locals asked the doctor and the nurses to treat wounds, address pains, listen to stories. The first evening, a horseman brought in a comrade, who was too sick to walk. “He was such a beautiful man, and he was almost dead when I first saw him,” the doctor, who diagnosed a severe kidney infection and treated him with antibiotics, said. The man, who was in his early forties, had a drawn, sun-darkened face, a faint mustache, the high cheekbones of most of the Nepalis in the region, and a thick coil of crimson strands of wool around his braided black hair. He wore camo-patterned tennis shoes. The next day, he was back on his feet, lingering outside the monastery to make contact with the doctor and the nurses coming from meditation inside.
“In Danger” by Anna Krien, The Monthly
The strange life and tragic death of a gorilla named Julia.
They drove to a parking lot in Diest where journalist Jan Bonjer (Ineke’s real husband) and his photographer were waiting. Months of stealth and investigation had finally paid off. Sitting on Ineke’s lap, the baby gorilla was gazing out the window, its leathery hands curled and settled like fallen leaves. For a little while, the gorilla pinched and nipped at Ineke, but by the time they drove over the border into the Netherlands later that day, she had snuggled in tight, and fallen asleep. She was named Julia.
“Hagel: The White House Tried to ‘Destroy’ Me” by Dan De Luce, Foreign Policy
In an exclusive interview, Chuck Hagel said the Obama administration micromanaged the Pentagon, stabbed him in the back on the way out — and still has no strategy for fixing Syria.
Even before he started the job, Hagel had been crippled by a bruising and unusually partisan Senate confirmation hearing in which many of his former Republican colleagues denounced him as unfit for office, painting him as hostile to Israel and weak on Iran.
A few Republicans had warned him in advance that they would have to “rough him up” at the hearing because of their dissatisfaction with the president, Hagel said. And conservative websites had painted him as “anti-Semitic” before the hearing began.
Image credits:SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images; Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images; PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images; JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images; Oli Scarff/Getty Images
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