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.
“The Unrecognized” by Joshua Keating, Roads and Kingdoms
The Somaliland National Football Team, a gregarious squad representing a controversial disputed territory in East Africa, made up mostly of the children of refugees living in Europe, had become the hometown team of Gagra, a past-its-prime resort town in the similarly controversial and disputed pseudo-state of Abkhazia.
Somaliland had been knocked out of contention, but the tournament would continue for another five days. The players were looking forward to a few more days of being tourists in Abkhazia. But in the sort of twist you never get in larger, more organized tournaments, it turned out the squad was not quite done. Unbeknownst to all the players, the losing teams from each group in the competition would play each other to determine ConIFA’s final rankings. Team director Ilyas Mohamed only learned in a postgame press conference that while Somaliland wouldn’t be going home with a trophy, it would have two more chances to get its act together.
“Relieved,” Mohamed told me when I asked how he felt on the bus back to the hotel. “We have a chance for redemption.”
“Fully Loaded” by Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones
Inside the shadowy world of America’s 10 biggest gunmakers.
As the debate over gun laws has grown louder, sales have soared. In the year following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the three largest gunmakers—Sturm Ruger, Remington Outdoor, and Smith & Wesson—netted more than $390 million in profits on record sales. Shares in publicly traded Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson jumped more than 70 percent that year, benefiting institutional investors such as Vanguard, Blackrock, and Fidelity. The hedge fund that owns Remington Outdoor—maker of the assault rifle used in Newtown—saw the annual return on its investment grow tenfold.
And the picture looks no different today, on the heels of the deadliest mass shooting in US history. President Barack Obama once again mournfully addressed the nation after the attack in Orlando—which was carried out with a Sig Sauer assault rifle designed for US special operations forces, the civilian sales of which have helped make Sig Sauer the fifth largest producer of firearms for the US market. In what has become a typical pattern after gun massacres, the stock prices of publicly traded Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson on Monday both jumped more than 6 percent (on a day when all the broader market averages dropped).
“Brexit: how a fringe idea took hold of the Tory party” by Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
Two decades ago the idea of Britain leaving the EU was almost unthinkable. How did a generation of Tory Eurosceptics bring it back?
How does an idea banished to the tundra of irrelevance make its way back to the mainstream? First, a moment of recognition – and ignition – is required. Someone must dare to make the initial leap, to retrieve the frozen thesis from its glacial prison.
In the case of Brexit, it was Norman Lamont, the former chancellor of the exchequer, who dragged the idea back from the snowy wastes. Since the 1975 referendum on Common Market membership – in which British voters opted to stay in by 67% to 33% – the notion that Britain might be better off outside the European Community had lost traction, apart from on the political fringes. Yes, withdrawal remained official Labour policy for much of the 1980s; but this was one of many reasons why the party was still unelectable.
“PNL’s World Or Nothing” by Atossa Abrahamiam, The Fader
A French duo ushers in a new era of rap that speaks to the whole globe.
One of the most popular slogans at the protests was “le monde ou rien,” French for “the world or nothing,” a phrase that simultaneously condemns small-minded conservatism and demands much more from life than what’s currently on offer. According to Mouloud Achour, a veteran French journalist who covers youth culture, “It means, ‘We don’t have any problem comparing ourselves to the rest of the world; we want that.’” It’s a distinctly French expression, but the feeling is universal: “le monde ou rien” could speak to youth everywhere.
The source of the phrase was a rap song of the same name, released the preceding June by PNL, a group comprised of two brothers from the Parisian suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes. The opening track of their second album, Le Monde Chico, “Le Monde Ou Rien” was unavoidable in France in the same way Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was unavoidable in America. Currently approaching 40 million YouTube plays — the equivalent of one view for every two French people — the song is catchy, but with an underlying sense of despair that transcends language.
“Trouble Is Brewing in Nigeria’s Oil Country” by Chika Oduah, Foreign Policy
For years, the government paid militants in the Niger Delta not to blow up oil pipelines. Now it’s cutting them loose — and they’re taking up arms once again.
In the communities of the Niger Delta, there is a feeling that these mind-boggling profits belong to the people here. Oil money, people feel, is a birthright. They say God blessed them with oil and they deserve to reap its wealth.
Instead, they have borne the costs of environmental degradation while the benefits have largely passed them by. Much of the wealth, which is supposed to flow back to the states from the federal government, is simply siphoned off. A recent federal government audit showed that the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) failed to pay $16 billion in revenue that it owed to the state treasury in 2014 alone. (NNPC officials disputed that figure, claiming it was closer to $1 billion.) The revelation came after then-Central Bank Gov. Lamido Sanusi accused the NNPC of failing to pay $20 billion to the federal government between January 2012 and July 2013. (Sanusi was immediately suspended after making the accusation and eventually forced out of his job.)
Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images; Christopher Furlong/Getty Images; David Wolff – Patrick/Redferns