We’re reading all sorts of things this week, from fascinating deep looks into the shadowy world of high-level equestrian sports to analysis of the biggest news of the week. Take a ride through our browser history…and share your own recent favorites!
‘The lesson of the Panama Papers‘ (The Economist)
We’re going to be untangling the Panama Papers for months and years to come, but the short-term fallout is what we’re all interested in at the moment. Clearly, regulations surrounding banking practices are going to change — but the lively offshoring industry will be fighting back. Here’s The Economist on what’s happening right now.
Browsing through the data that the ICIJ has so far disclosed, it is striking how rich the cronies and relatives of some politicians have become. The daughters of Azerbaijan’s president appear secretly to control gold mines. A nephew of South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, has done nicely out of oil contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where South Africa has sent more than 1,000 peacekeepers. Ordinary citizens are incensed. Mr Zuma faced impeachment proceedings this week over allegations that he misappropriated public money to build himself a palace and refused to pay it back (see article). Furious protests forced Iceland’s prime minister to resign, after his wife was revealed to have secret offshore investments with claims on the country’s failed banks.
Documents and interviews about the horrors of Homan Square, the black site used by the Chicago police department, are still trickling out. The Guardian is working its way through a trove of materials and reporting along the way, and the testimonies it is publishing are deeply troubling.
Some of those injured by police inside Homan Square told the Guardian they had experienced chronic pain or impairment years later. One said he was instructed by police to lie about his strangulation, which police claimed on an official form resulted from the already handcuffed man ‘manag[ing] to put another flex cuff around his neck.’
‘Isis in Iraq: The female fighters that strike fear into jihadis — because they’ll rob them of paradise‘ (The Independent)
The situation for Yazidi women under Daesh is horrific, and some are fighting back. Like women across the Middle East, they’re forming their own militias to repel violent attacks, and these heroines are giving no ground as they fight on their own and alongside their male counterparts as well.
‘They are so scared of us! If we kill them they can’t go to heaven. It makes us laugh…. We make loud calls of happiness when we see them to let them know we are coming. That’s when they become cowards,’ she says. Under the strict interpretation of Islam by Isis, if a fighter is killed by a women he cannot go to heaven, a fact the women clearly relish.
Show jumping, an internationally competitive sport, may not be widely known outside the equestrian community, but it’s big in horse circles — and even bigger this year, with Olympic trophies on the line. The mounts used in competition are extremely expensive, and some suspect that money laundering and fraud may be going on behind the scenes, so Spiegel conducted and investigation to learn more. The results are fascinating.
The story of the financial backer behind Oak Grove’s Heartfelt is also the story of the world in which show jumpers operate. This is a world in which few people seriously ask where the millions that sponsors pay for a horse are actually coming from; whether prosecutors are after them, or whether they owe their wealth to large-scale fraud.
‘Can Neighborhoods Be Revitalized Without Gentrifying Them?‘ (The Nation)
Journalist Michelle Chen takes on a question that’s troubling many communities in America as the nation faces stagnation, white flight, and entrenched poverty. Once lively communities are being reduced to ‘ruin porn’ and attempts are turning them around often result in gentrification and exclusion. It should be possible to promote growth while also preserving the character of American neighborhoods — and making sure that the people who built them and lived through privation have a state in their renewal.
Baltimore struggles with both massive abandoned vacancies and pockets of gentrification. Residents face areas of sky-high rents alongside chronically neglected housing stock, dividing wealthy and impoverished areas. Now the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, a coalition of grassroots groups envisions a plan to curb displacement and rationalize the twisted housing market. It sees joint ownership as a path to revitalizing community oriented housing.
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