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Longform’s Picks of the Week

The best stories from around the world.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - JUNE 26: An Iraqi woman uses a mobile phone on June 26, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq. The war-damaged aging landline telephone infrastructure means Iraqis are increasingly more dependent on mobile phones in daily life and business.  (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - JUNE 26: An Iraqi woman uses a mobile phone on June 26, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq. The war-damaged aging landline telephone infrastructure means Iraqis are increasingly more dependent on mobile phones in daily life and business. (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

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.

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 02: Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill October 2, 2007 in Washington DC. The committee is hearing testimony from officials regarding private security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Erik Prince in the Hot Seat” by Matthew Cole and Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

Blackwater’s Founder Is Under Investigation for Money Laundering, Ties to Chinese Intel, and Brokering Mercenary Services.

Since 2014, Prince has traveled to at least half a dozen countries to offer various versions of a private military force, secretly meeting with a string of African officials. Among the countries where Prince pitched a plan to deploy paramilitary assets is Libya, which is currently subject to an array of U.S. and United Nations financial and defense restrictions.

Prince engaged in these activities over the objections of his own firm’s corporate leadership. Several FSG colleagues accused him of using his role as chairman to offer Blackwater-like services to foreign governments that could not have been provided by the company, which lacks the capacity, expertise, or even the legal authority to do so.

BULELENG, BALI, INDONESIA - MAY 4 : Komang, 27, who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, sits in her room where she is chained May 4, 2012 in Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia. Komang is shackled by her own family in order to control her, they say so she doesn't run away and disturb the community. She rarely changes her clothing and since her wrist is chained dressing herself becomes more difficult. Komang comes from a poor family with six siblings and has been chained off and on for years while taking medication for her illness. Her brother, who also has a mental condition, was chained for eight years but has recovered and was released in 2009. Currently, he is monitored by the Suryani Institute for Mental Health, a non-profit institute that cares for the mentally ill, providing free medical and psychiatric treatment. The mental health institute works to get all of their patients released but in some cases the family creates more problems. Many poor families don't have money to pay for hospitalization or go to doctors and inside the spiritual Balinese society there is often a stigma and misinformation about mental illness. Inside the spiritual Balinese society there is often a stigma and misinformation about mental illness. Some people feel that it is the work of the supernatural and their hope of solving the mental disorder is to let the traditional healer do his work. The Indonesian health ministry spends 2.3 percent of the total national budget on health care for a population of approximately 240 million people and has a shortage of psychiatrists and one government run mental hospital in Bali. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Runs in the Family” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, The New Yorker

New findings about schizophrenia rekindle old questions about genes and identity.

In the winter of 2012, I travelled from New Delhi, where I grew up, to Calcutta to visit my cousin Moni. My father accompanied me as a guide and companion, but he was a sullen and brooding presence, lost in a private anguish. He is the youngest of five brothers, and Moni is his firstborn nephew—the eldest brother’s son. Since 2004, Moni, now fifty-two, has been confined to an institution for the mentally ill (a “lunatic home,” as my father calls it), with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He is kept awash in antipsychotics and sedatives, and an attendant watches, bathes, and feeds him through the day.

LOS POZOS, COLOMBIA: Soldiers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), take part in a military parade in San Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta, Colombia, 07 February 2001. Guerrilleros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), participan de un desfile militar en San Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta, Colombia, el 07 de febrero de 2001. El jueves 08 de febrero Manuel Marulanda, lider de las FARC y el presidente Andres Pastrana se reuniran en Los Pozos para decidir la continuidad del proceso de paz, y tratar otros puntos como el Plan Colombia de lucha antidroga y el combate a paramilitares de extrema derecha. AFP PHOTO/LUIS ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)

A Fragile Peace in Colombia” by Tomas Ayuso and Magnus Boding Hansen, Roads & Kingdoms

An impending peace agreement between the government and FARC guerrillas draws new and old opposition.

In 2000, Commander Wilson Ramirez, a senior explosives expert for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC, left his infant daughter on a stranger’s doorstep for them to look after. Ramirez, commonly referred to by his nom de guerre Teofilo, has seen her only a handful of times as he continues the armed struggle against the state. Today, his daughter, Laura, now 16, still lives with Orfany Neira, the woman who raised her as her own in this small village in the remote mountains of central Colombia, where Communist peasants inspired by the Cuban revolution took up arms 52 years ago.

But Laura and her father could soon be reunited for good. Despite missing a March 23 deadline, the guerrilla group and the government are closing in on a historic peace agreement that would end the FARC’s historic insurgency. Ever since the government entered negotiations with the guerrillas in 2013, a tense but steadfast truce has kept hostilities under control, giving way to a growing police and government contingent in previously impenetrable FARC strongholds like Gaitania. But the agreement has detractors as well as proponents on all sides.

TORONTO, CANADA - NOVEMBER 15: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits during a Toronto City Council meeting at City Hall on November 15, 2013 in Toronto, Canada .The council voted to strip the embattled Ford striped him of striped him of authority during emergency situations and the ability to hire and fire the deputy mayor and appoint members of the executive committee. (Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images)

The Life of Rob Ford” by Richard Warnica, National Post

In his brief, tumultuous time in office, Rob Ford never stopped surprising. But for a large subset of the city — through it all and certainly to the end — he was the guy, their everyman saviour.

On that day outside his office, the day he told the world he smoked crack, Ford faced a huddle of cameras unprecedented in Toronto politics. There were big network cameras, all blocky and square, smaller handheld units, and the smart phones that by then almost every reporter held. In one angle, shot from Ford’s right, a single reporter’s face stands out the background. At every revelation — “crack cocaine,” “drunken stupor,” — her chin whipped to the right, her eyelids popping up. You can almost hear the unspoken questions in her mind: “How on earth is this happening? How is this real?”

They are questions that, even in death, Ford still provokes.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - JUNE 26: An Iraqi woman uses a mobile phone on June 26, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq. The war-damaged aging landline telephone infrastructure means Iraqis are increasingly more dependent on mobile phones in daily life and business. (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

Could a Toll-Free Number Have Saved Brussels?” by Julia Ioffe, Foreign Policy

All the surveillance and intelligence gathering in the world won’t matter if you can’t stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place.

There was the young woman, a medical student from a strict Pakistani family, set on going to Syria. Yousef was able to persuade her to stay home by figuring out the root of her alienation: She felt trapped by her parents’ discipline and by their forcing her to study medicine. He spent hours at their house, arguing with them to let her pursue her dream of studying social work. In the end, he prevailed, and the girl scrapped her plans to go to Syria. After spending hours with a young man, a radical also determined to go to Syria, Yousef zeroed in on his coding skills, all self-taught. He brought him to Microsoft, a partner in Yousef’s organization, which hired and educated the young man, who is now in London for training. Another man “was a full-blown extremist. He was talking ideology like Osama bin Laden,” Yousef told me, “he seemed like an impossible case.” But his plans for going to fight in Syria evaporated as soon as Yousef and the Oslo municipal authorities figured out a way to help him repay his debt — about $80,000 — to a local loan shark. “Once we solved the underlying problem, he left the extremist group right away,” Yousef said. “It was the sole reason he was there.”

Photo credits: Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Paula Bronstein/Getty Images; LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images; Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images

 

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