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 Rhino’s Last Stand” by Carly Nairn, Guernica
Is domestication a final hope for the world’s rhinos?
“It’s easy to get lost on the dirt roads to John Hume’s place. Located in the open savanna of South Africa’s North West Province, the private land is indicated only by wired fencing along the road. A turn onto a path leading up to Hume’s house reveals a hulking gray mass, just as the blood-red sun starts to descend across miles of roaming ground. It’s a bull rhinoceros, but he doesn’t look like anything you might find in a wildlife photo book. In place of the magnificent scimitar, the rhino bears a stunted, blunt block of gray nail atop its nose. It’s been cut to save his life and, perhaps, one day, make Hume incredibly rich.
A sturdy man with wire-frame glasses and graying hair, Hume may be the largest private rhino rancher in the world — with a herd of over 900 and growing. He wakes up before dawn and drives out to sections of his land to check on certain rhinos. He helps his hired hands throw hay and pellets — dietary supplements — into large pits where the rhinos feed. And, when the time comes, he supervises a veterinarian and his workers as they dehorn the animals.”
“The Myth of the Ethical Shopper” by Michael Hobbes, the Huffington Post
We’re still trying to eliminate sweatshops and child labor by buying right. But that’s not how the world works in 2015.
“There’s this video that went viral earlier this year. On Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a vending machine is selling plain white T-shirts for €2 each. Customers approach in ones and twos, insert coins, pick a size. Then, before the shirt comes out, a photo appears — a black-and-white image of rows of sewing machines. ‘Meet Manisha,’ the screen reads, dissolving to a close-up of a girl in a headscarf who looks about 16. She earns ‘as little as 13 cents an hour each day for 16 hours.’ The Berliners put their hands over their mouths.
‘Do you still want to buy this shirt?’ the display asks. The menu comes up again. This time, the options are ‘buy’ and ‘donate.’ As the music swells, all the shoppers press ‘donate.'”
“Death of a Prosecutor” by Dexter Filkins, the New Yorker
Alberto Nisman accused Iran and Argentina of colluding to bury a terrorist attack. Did it get him killed?
“In the last days of his life, Alberto Nisman could hardly wait to confront his enemies. On January 14th of this year, Nisman, a career prosecutor in Argentina, had made an electrifying accusation against the country’s President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. He charged that she had orchestrated a secret plan to scuttle the investigation of the bloodiest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history: the 1994 suicide bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, the country’s largest Jewish organization, in which eighty-five people were killed and more than three hundred wounded. Nisman, a vain, meticulous fifty-one-year-old with a zest for Buenos Aires’ gaudy night life, had pursued the case for a decade, travelling frequently to the United States to get help from intelligence officials and from aides on Capitol Hill. In 2006, he indicted seven officials from the government of Iran, including its former President and Foreign Minister, whom he accused of planning and directing the attack, along with a senior leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Months later, Nisman secured international arrest warrants for five officials, effectively preventing them from leaving Iran. As the case made him a celebrity, he invested in blue contact lenses and Botox injections. ‘Whenever he saw a camera, that was it, he would drop everything,’ Roman Lejtman, a journalist who covered the investigation, said.”
During WWII, Oskar Groening watched as hundreds of thousands of Jews were sent to their deaths. Is his prosecution now too little too late?
“In 1942, when he was twenty-one years old, Oskar Groening was posted to Auschwitz. He almost immediately witnessed a transport arriving at ‘the ramp’ — the platform where the Jews disembarked. ‘I was standing at the ramp,’ he says, ‘and my task was to be part of the group supervising the luggage from an incoming transport.’ He watched while SS doctors first separated men from women and children, and then selected who was fit to work and who should be gassed immediately. ‘Sick people were lifted on to lorries,’ says Groening. ‘Red Cross lorries — they always tried to create the impression that people had nothing to fear.’
“China: The Best and the Worst Place to Be a Muslim Woman” by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Foreign Policy
The officially atheist state has emboldened Muslim women in central China while marginalizing them in the far west.
“A woman’s solitary voice, earthy and low, rises above the seated worshipers. More than 100 women stand, bow, and touch their foreheads to the floor as a female imam leads evening prayers at a women-only mosque during the first week of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan in the northeastern Chinese city of Jinan. Reclining beggars line the gates, asking alms from the women who casually come and go. Though the women of Jinan have enjoyed a mosque of their own for much of their lives, such spaces are extraordinary in a global religion still largely dominated by men.
Meanwhile, in Urumqi, the capital of the autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang that sits 2,000 miles west of Jinan, Muslim women live very different lives. One week before Ramadan began, I witnessed a police officer harass a veiled woman on the street. Along with her headscarf, she had donned a medical face mask, likely as a way of skirting the city-wide ban on face veils that local authorities have imposed. The policeman appeared to have assumed that she wore the creased white face mask for religious rather than health reasons, as Muslim women there sometimes do. In Urumqi, it is forbidden for students, teachers, and civil servants to participate in the Ramadan fast. And outside the main mosque in the city’s historic district of Erdaoqiao, there are no beggars, but rather four soldiers with automatic weapons standing inside a steel cage reinforced with spikes, as though under siege.”
Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images; Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images; Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images; Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images; Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images; Kevin Frayer/Getty Images