Longform’s Picks of the Week

The best stories from around the world.

ARBIL, IRAQ -  OCTOBER 02: Children play soccer with balls which they recieved from German Development Minister Gerd Mueller (not pictured) in UNHCR-Camp Kawergosk for Syrian refugees during his visit to the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on October 01, 2014 in Arbil, Iraq. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
ARBIL, IRAQ - OCTOBER 02: Children play soccer with balls which they recieved from German Development Minister Gerd Mueller (not pictured) in UNHCR-Camp Kawergosk for Syrian refugees during his visit to the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on October 01, 2014 in Arbil, Iraq. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)

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Environment Institute of Rio de Janeiro State (INEA) staffers collect a bed mattress as the tide moves away from the "eco-barrier" set up to catch floating debris before they enter Guanabara Bay at the mouth of the Meriti river, in Duque de Caxias, next to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 20, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read )

Who Is Polluting Rio’s Bay?” by John Branch, New York Times Magazine

A major part of Rio’s winning Olympic bid was a plan to capture and treat 80 percent of the sewage that flows into Guanabara Bay, something organizers now admit will not happen — certainly not by August, if ever.

A block from the river, Antônio da Costa tried to unclog a narrow pipe under the street with a trowel and 20 feet of thick wire. Waste from the toilets and drains of seven houses flows through this pipe to the Rio Sarapuí, and it is often clogged with sewage, trash and diapers. The backup bubbles through a broken concrete manhole cover and enters the front door of Maria das Graças’ home.

“Every month, something happens that it gets clogged, even when it doesn’t rain,” she said. “Sometimes I wake up, and there is a lot of sewage in my house. I suffer the most because it is in front of my home.”

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: A man looks at of 'The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych' by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch during a press preview of the 'El Bosco' 5th Centenary Anniversary Exhibition at El Prado Museum on May 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. The Prado Museum will host the exhibition celebrating the work of Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch to mark 500 years since his death in 1516. It consists of sixty-five works of art loaned by collections based all over the world, and will be open to the public by May 31 until Septembr 11, 2016. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Abandon All Hope” By Nat Segnit, Harper’s

Hieronymus Bosch comes home.

A naked man grabs me by the lapels and bares his teeth in frustration. I say naked, when I mean clad in a skintight nude suit that delineates his six-pack and decorously abstracts his genitals in the manner of a kids’ action figure. I have been assaulted by the personification of Anger. I’m probably being paranoid, but the unshakable sense of foreboding this gives me derives, as far as I can tell, from the suspicion that his little coup de théâtre is so effective because the guy playing Anger has actually taken against me, can discern in me something weak or sinful that he could exploit as grist for his performance. Earlier, a jester wearing a boat around his midriff had sniggered at the way I was holding my press folder. Maybe I’m not being paranoid, and the bad feeling I’ve had since I walked onstage at the Theater aan de Parade — which will increase over the course of my stay — is only an appropriate response.

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 29: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission) Civilian contractors watch as the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, pulls in for a port call on October 29, 2009 to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The base, currently best known for hosting the military prison that houses terrorists and terror suspects, is the oldest U.S. base overseas and the only one in a Communist country. After the expected close of the prison in 2010, the base will endure as resupply port for American and allied naval vessels in the Caribbean as well as remain as a strong symbol of American military power in the region. The base is spread over 45 miles of land and water on Cuba's southeastern corner and was originally leased from Cuba in 1903. A treaty between the United States and Cuba's Batista government in 1934 granted the United States a permanent lease for $4,085 per year. The base has had a tumultuous and often tense relationsip with the Castro government since the Cuban revolution, although relations have steadily improved in the last two years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Fishing in Guantanamo Bay” by Ed Augustin, Roads & Kingdoms

Life in the Cuban town two miles north of the infamous American naval base.

Thousands of Cuban soldiers guard the area surrounding this village. Nobody gets in without a special pass. Residents here have to show their ID cards every time they leave the town, and organizing visitors permits for friends and family can take weeks. Caimanera has all this security because it borders the Cuban-controlled waters in the inner part of Guantánamo Bay. The infamous naval base of the same name sits at the mouth of the bay.

Our car weaves slowly around the bollards lining the checkpoint approach, to a barrier. Two soldiers clad in green come to check our papers. I peek through the coils of barbed wire surrounding the village entrance while we wait. Nine months of sitting in waiting rooms for meetings that never happened, sweet-talking officials, and other bureaucratic games finally pay off when the soldiers wave us through.

ZAATARI, JORDAN - DECEMBER 10: Children playing football, program Street Football World at Zaatari refugee camp located 10 km East of Mafrag on December 10, 2014 in Zaatari, Jordan. The camp population is estimated at 81,000 refugees. (Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images)

For Refugees, Soccer Helps Pass an Eternity in Limbo” by Sabrina Toppa, How We Get to Next

In the lush verdure of Indonesia’s island of Java, a young girl wearing baggy sweatpants, a short-sleeved shirt, and a black polka-dotted scarf punts a white ball. Before she came here, 12-year-old Hanifa Karimi had never played soccer in her hometown of Quetta, Pakistan—the city her family had escaped to after generations of living in Afghanistan.

“I love soccer,” says Maliha Ali, another girl from Quetta, who is sitting in Cisarua’s verdant grass, watching her peers kick balls. “In Pakistan, I was a fan of soccer, but I wasn’t given the opportunity to play.” She fondly recalls watching World Cup matches and cheering on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

CHENGGONG, CHINA - NOVEMBER 20: (CHINA OUT) A man walks along a street on November 20, 2013 in Chenggong, Yunnan Province of China. Chenggong is a satellite city located just south of Kunming. As of 2012, much of the newly constructed housing in Chenggong is still unoccupied, and it is reportedly one of the largest ghost towns in Asia. According to a China Youth Daily report in July, at least 12 such ghost cities across the country have been found. Besides the best known of these - Ordos in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the list also included Changzhou in Jiangsu, Zhengdong New Area in Henan Province, Shiyan in Hubei and Chenggong District of Kunming in Yunnan. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The End Of Days Is Coming — Just Not To China” by Isaac Stone Fish, Foreign Policy

Why apocalyptic fiction and film haven’t caught on in the Middle Kingdom.

Part of the reason Chinese writers haven’t written fiction about the destruction of their country involves religion: China does not follow the Judeo-Christian tradition that foretells the apocalypse and rapture. “The Christian tradition is linear. There is an end, a judgment day,” said Mingwei Song, an expert on Chinese literature at Wellesley College. “Whereas in China, there is a circle, a change of dynasty, but not a change of the world.” The Analects of Confucius, the closest thing Chinese civilization has to a founding text, advocates harmony, continuity, and order, and the strong Buddhist and Taoist traditions call for an escape from society. “If the human world becomes too corrupted to live in, you can always withdraw to nature,” said Sheng Yun, a contributing editor at the Shanghai Review of Books. Instead of wishing for a great fire or flood to cleanse corruption or immorality, as persists in the Western tradition, the Chinese reaction is to retreat to an often fantastical earthly paradise, she said. (That’s not to say China lacks a substantial fantasy tradition: The mercurial Monkey King is the protagonist of 1592’s Journey to the West, one of the country’s most famous novels.)

But while China may lack a Judgment Day, its literary tradition is ripe with doomsday prophets and dreamers who reached deep into Chinese history and society to criticize its present — from the Taoists to Mao Zedong to China’s burgeoning sci-fi novelists who satirize Communist China with their dystopian visions. The Chinese don’t need zombies to destroy their country. Their history’s ghosts are devastating enough.

Image credits: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images; Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images; John Moore/Getty Images; Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images; VCG/VCG via Getty Images; Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images

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