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.
“An Exclusive Look at Sony’s Hacking Saga” by Mark Seal, Vanity Fair.
The devastating moment that Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton learned Sony had been taken hostage by vicious cyber-criminals targeting The Interview, was just the beginning of the drama. Mark Seal speaks with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for an inside account of Hollywood caught in the crosshairs.
“Kim Jung Il ‘was the perfect villain, not just because of how unusual he was, but because no rational person would ever try to defend him,’ say Rogen and Goldberg in an e-mail. ‘North Korea has one of the worst human rights records on earth and no freedom of speech whatsoever. Once we began researching in earnest, the idea of in some way shedding light on this situation became incredibly appealing.’
They pitched the movie to Sony: a buddy comedy of sorts, in which a vapid entertainment-TV talk-show host, Dave Skylark, played by Franco, and his semi-bumbling producer, played by Rogen, are recruited by the C.I.A. to assassinate Kim Jong Il. ‘They seemed to love the idea in the room and we left feeling good,’ says Goldberg. ‘Before we even got to the parking lot, they called to tell us they were going to buy it.'”
“Special Report: Anatomy of Nigeria’s $20 Billion ‘Leak'” by Tim Cocks and Joe Brock, Reuters.
In 2013, the governor of Nigeria’s central bank claimed the state oil company failed to remit tens of billions of oil revenues to the state. He lost his job and now declines to talk about his earlier claims, but he might have accurately predicted Nigeria’s ongoing financial crisis.
“Nigerians are rarely shocked by stories of billions going unaccounted for, or ending up with politically powerful individuals. Africa’s largest oil producer has for years consistently ranked toward the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Sanusi handed his documents to a parliamentary inquiry set up last February to investigate the assertion in his letter that billions of dollars in oil revenue had not reached the central bank. He told the inquiry that state oil group NNPC had made $67 billion worth of oil sales in the previous 19 months. Of that, he said, between $10.8 billion and $20 billion was unaccounted for.”
“The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps” by Wil S. Hylton, the New York Times Magazine.
The Obama administration’s draconian policy toward female refugees and their children has sown misery on the border — and pushed volunteer lawyers to the breaking point.
“Christina Brown pulled into the refugee camp after an eight-hour drive across the desert. It was late July of last year, and Brown was a 30-year-old immigration lawyer. She had spent a few years after college working on political campaigns, but her law degree was barely a year old, and she had only two clients in her private practice in Denver. When other lawyers told her that the federal government was opening a massive detention center for immigrants in southeastern New Mexico, where hundreds of women and children would be housed in metal trailers surrounded by barbed wire, Brown decided to volunteer legal services to the detainees. She wasn’t sure exactly what rights they might have, but she wanted to make sure they got them. She packed enough clothes to last a week, stopped by Target to pick up coloring books and toys and started driving south.”
“The Filmmaker and Star Who Were Kidnapped by Kim Jong-Il” by Paul Fischer, Esquire.
An exclusive excerpt from A Kim Jong-Il Production, the gripping new book about the North Korean dictatorship’s kidnapping of a famous actress and director to create a filmmaking powerhouse.
“The days ticked by. Shin requested meetings with Kim several times, in vain, and worried that he was being toyed with and ignored. In fact, Kim was touring China with his father. It was the first time the leader-in-the-making had shadowed his father on a state visit. When he returned in May 1983, a propaganda documentary covering the visit was brought to the villa for Shin and Choi, not to critique but, Shin thought, to make them aware Jong-Il was now more than just a Leader in name: he was openly involved in policy-making. For two more months Shin’s pleas for a meeting went unanswered. Then, on August 19, the phone finally rang. As always, Kim opened with a question about Shin and Choi’s health, then he told Shin that he had set up their offices and work was ready to commence. He was sending a car to get them right away.”
“To Forgive a Warlord” by Andrew Green, Foreign Policy.
The wheels of justice are turning for Joseph Kony’s top deputies. But could rehashing the worst days of the Lord’s Resistance Army at The Hague tear Uganda apart?
“Lilly Atong lives a few houses down from Florence Ayot, in a dense cluster of huts in the middle of Gulu inhabited by former LRA captives. The two became friends in the bush, and maintain an easy camaraderie owing to their similar backgrounds: Both were abducted at a young age, trained to fight, and forced to marry an LRA commander. Except Atong’s husband was Joseph Kony.
Ugandan soldiers ambushed Atong’s LRA contingent in 2005; she was captured and then released after being pardoned. Since moving back to northern Uganda, she is constantly reminded of her connection to the warlord. The most painful incident, she says, occurred shortly after her return. An old woman chased her son on his way home, screaming that if she had been forced to deliver Kony’s child, ‘I would have beaten him to pulp!’ Since then Atong has tried to keep to herself, though she says amnesty has provided some relief. If people give her grief, she reminds them that the government forgave her and so should they.”
Marle/AFP; Robyn Beck; Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images; John Moore/Getty Images; AFP; Michele Sibolini/AFP/Getty Images; Photo illustration by FP