Longform’s Picks of the Week

Longform’s Picks of the Week

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 - MARCH 09: The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington, DC. F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller was responding to a report by the Justice Department inspector general that concluded the FBI had committed 22 violations in its collection of information through the use of national security letters. The letters, which the audit numbered at 47,000 in 2005, allow the agency to collect information like telephone, banking and e-mail records without a judicially approved subpoena. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The FBI Accused Him of Terrorism. He Couldn’t Tie His Shoes.” by Jessica Pishko, Esquire

According to records relating to the case, Peyton altered his Facebook page to fit a new persona. He deleted his non-Muslim friends and changed his listed name to Usamah Anthony, a hybrid of Osama and his own father’s name. At the behest of some of his new online friends, he joined Wickr, an instant-messaging app popular with dissidents because of its strong encryption capabilities. Through chats conducted on both platforms, Peyton communicated with more than one person who claimed to be interested in or affiliated with ISIS.

According to someone close to the investigation, he professed that he wanted to enroll at a Tunisian university so that he could cross the border into Libya and join a terrorist group. He sent one recipient a link to an article from Inspire, Al Qaeda’s official English-language magazine, that contained bomb-making instructions. These chats could be a linchpin for District Attorney Minor’s case against him.


Whale Hunters of the Warming Arctic” by Tom Kizzia, The New Yorker

Few Americans are as affected by climate change as Alaska’s Inupiat, or as dependent on the fossil-fuel economy.

The spring hunt started promisingly last year for the village of Point Hope, on the Chukchi Sea in northern Alaska: crews harpooned two bowhead whales and pulled them onto the ice for butchering. But then the winds shifted. Out on the pack where the water opened up, the ice at the edge was what is called sikuliaq, too young and unreliable to bear a thirty-ton whale carcass. The hunters could do nothing but watch the shining black backs of bowheads, breathing calmly, almost close enough to touch.

On a trip to the ice edge, Tariek Oviuk, a hunter from Point Hope, felt a strange sensation: the lift of ocean waves beneath his feet. The older men, nervous about the rising wind, hurried back toward shore, but the younger hunters remained, stripping blubber from a few small beluga whales. Then the crack of three warning shots came rolling across the ice, and the hunters scrambled for their snowmobiles. “As soon as we heard those shots, my heart started pounding,” Oviuk recalled.

Jonas Despinasse, from Haiti, sits as he waits for the Custom and Border Protection agents to seek for asylum in the United States, on the Mexican side of the San Isidro Port of Entry, on May 26, 2016, in Tijuana, northwestern Mexico. On the past couple of weeks some 600 hundred migrants, mainly from Haiti and some African countries, arrived to Tijuana to try to ask for asylum to the U.S. government through the local points of entry. / AFP / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Passage through Mexico: the global migration to the US” by Nina Lakhani, The Guardian

While waiting for travel documents in Tapachula, African and Asian migrants recount the treacherous journeys they took to get one step closer to a new home.

Michael left Uganda for Rio Branco in northern Brazil in September 2015. He spent a few months learning Portuguese and planning his route, before crossing into Peru in May 2016. Next, he travelled overland on buses with the help of “connectors” – an organised network of individuals who help migrants buy bus tickets and find cheap hotels – through Ecuador and Colombia. In Turbo on Colombia’s west coast, he took a boat to Panama where he walked with Africans, Bangladeshis and Haitians for five exhausting days through acres of mountainous jungle with a coyote.

CLEVELAND, USA - JULY 21: Donald Trump greets his daughter, Ivanka, as he comes on stage to accept the Republican nomination for President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, USA on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Is Ivanka for Real?” Hannah Seligson, The Huffington Post

One of the greatest enigmas of 2016, explained.

Not long after her parents’ very public, very mortifying divorce, an adolescent Ivanka Trump sat with her father in the back of his private plane, waiting to leave New York for Palm Beach. The doors were closed and the engines were on, but they were still missing Marla Maples. Donald’s second wife—the woman he had left Ivanka’s mother for—was late. She was always late. This drove Donald crazy.

They were just about to take off when Ivanka spotted a distressed Marla rushing toward the plane. Ivanka tapped Donald to alert him to the figure on the tarmac below. Maybe, she thought, he could tell the pilot to cut the engines. But Donald merely raised his hands. Pretty soon his wife was just a speck on the ground.

BOONE, NC - JULY 29 Ginseng plants belonging to Travis Cornett are photographed on Cornett's land in Boone, North Carolina on July 29, 2016. (Photo by Jacob Biba for Foreign Policy)

China’s Gold Rush in the Hills of Appalachia” by Suzy Khimm, Foreign Policy

Buyers in Hong Kong and Beijing are paying top dollar for wild American ginseng, fueling a digging frenzy that could decimate the revered root for good.

On the outskirts of Boone, North Carolina, a small college and ski town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Travis Cornett had turned his bucolic farm into a virtual fortress. He’d started by installing a handful of security cameras across his 12 acres of sloping pine woods. Then he’d nailed 15 bright red signs to tree trunks along the property line that warned, “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” He also kept a .22 Ruger rifle and a Kalashnikov on hand.

As far as Cornett was concerned, no one was going to touch his ginseng.

It was the fall of 2013, six years since Cornett had planted his first “sang,” as locals call it: some 40 pounds of seed in a patch of forest shade. Initially, Cornett wasn’t too worried about poachers, well known around Boone for stealing ginseng from land that isn’t theirs. His fledging crop, low growing with green, jagged-edged leaves, had looked like wild strawberry plants. Now, though, it was coming into its prime. The maturing stems were taking on a distinctive purple tinge, their leaves multiplying, their berries turning lipstick red. Cornett knew that the plants’ roots, which are more valuable with age, could soon fetch hundreds of dollars per pound. It was only a matter of time before the rest of his farm, where he’d planted more seed over the years, would grow ripe for profit — and for theft.


Photo credits: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; AP/YouTube; GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images;  Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images;  Jacob Biba for Foreign Policy