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Global Comment must-reads for the week

Happy Leap Day from Global Comment! Your US-based Editor in Chief is gearing up for Super Tuesday and critical primaries in the morning, but before tucking into bed, how about some lovely reading to start your week off right?

First, a video. If you’re interested in Harajuku Girls (and boys!) and Tokyo fashion, this feature from Refinery 29 is an absolutely fascinating look into what this style really looks like, how it’s evolved over the decades, and how Gwen Stefani got it very, very wrong.

A 150-Year Timeline of the Flint Water Crisis‘ (Pacific Standard)

Flint’s toxic water isn’t new, and this is a really intriguing investigation into the long and complex origins of the region’s water and racial politics. While the water wars of the West may be well known thanks to Chinatown, this is a story that hasn’t been told.

Flint’s problems with water (and contentious debates about how to solve them) have been more or less constant since the city’s founding. The most active period was during and just after World War II, as the city sought to secure sufficient water for the military, the automobile industry, and a booming population.

Don’t sacrifice Turkey to save Syria‘ (The Guardian)

Caught between East and West, Turkey finds itself teetering along a precipice as violence in the Middle East makes surrounding governments unstable while refugees flood across its borders in search of sanctuary. In the process, the country is being torn apart, and that’s bad news for Turkey and her allies.

A dangerous turning point is now evident in northern Syria, where Turkey faces challenges from Kurdish fighters, Russia and Iran. Wrong moves by both Turkey and the US here are already cracking open the Nato bedrock of Turkey’s relationship with the west. US and European leaders have rushed into a policy that posits Islamic State as the principal threat that must be countered at all costs.

Goodnight, and Good Luck‘ (Al Jazeera America)

Al Jazeera America closed its doors this month after a daring, innovative, and important experiment in news. Sadly, the troubled organisation had to cease publication — reflecting a growing number of media outlets forced to close in a changing landscape. Before it did, Al Jazeera produced some outstanding journalism, fostered incredible talent, and challenged the US media establishment.

For Al Jazeera America online, no human tragedy could be reduced to a statistic or dismissed as the collateral damage of another’s self-defense or an inevitable consequence of geography, politics, class, race, sect or ethnicity. Poverty, violence and environmental degradation are not immutable forces of nature; they are the product of choices made by those in power. The media’s function in a democracy is to enable the public to make informed choices, which in turn requires laying bare the human consequences of policy decisions. That was a challenge we accepted with relish. Freed of commercial pressure to serve up clickbait, we could focus on stories that needed telling.

‘Nature Notes: Diary of a Naturalist’ (Egypt Magazine)

A delightful meditation on observing wildlife, keeping field journals, and interacting with the diversity of nature in the Western Desert.

It found our blackening and overripe bananas much more attractive than we did, and one hawkmoth so many hundreds of kilometers from anywhere seemingly moth friendly (we probably had the most isolated overripe bananas in the world) would be a surprise. But reading through my notes they were regular at our campsites in some of the most austere habitats on the planet, Wadi Queba on the 25th and over a year later at Wadi Hamra on June 4, 2009. It is a strongly migratory species.

Unholy Politics of India’s Far Right‘ (Le Monde Diplomatiqué)

Conservative politics in India, a nation undergoing huge cultural and social shifts, have complicated ties with religious minorities. As members of marginalised and little-known faiths try to adjust in society, sometimes they find their place in dangerously conservative settings.

But these organisations are part of, or have close links to, the ultra-nationalist Hindu movement Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteer Organisation). The RSS’s ideological project, Hindutva (Hindu-ness), is based on a political and supremacist vision of Hinduism. In many Donyi-Polo places of worship today, there are portraits of RSS leaders. Talom Rukbo, co-founder of the indigenist movement, was made an icon of the RSS after his death in 2002.

Image: baraa kell, Creative Commons