The race to save Peter Kassig

The inside story of an ultimately doomed attempt to negotiate with the Islamic State

“On 17 October, Food told Cohen that after speaking to an Isis cabinet member and various warlords on the ground, he and his associates in Kuwait had decided that the only way to save Kassig was to reach out to Isis’s chief scholar, a 30-year-old Bahraini called Turki al-Binali. The young cleric was the only person who could stay Jihadi John’s knife with a single edict.” Image Credit

Shiv Malik, Ali Younes, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili | The Guardian

Read It Now (27 min)

Dollar guilt in the land of the collapsing ruble

The result of Russia’s economic problems for an American expat in Moscow

“I walked in the cold among these masses and the thought went through my mind repeatedly: “I’m getting richer and richer, they’re getting poorer and poorer.” That night I gave the woman who walks my dog while I’m at work a 60 percent raise.” Image Credit

Yael Levine | The Billfold

Read It Now (9 min)

Framed by forensics

How can we throw out-of-date science out of court?

“But the prosecutor devised a theory that the 11-year-old victim had had sex with another man previously, and that Rivera did not ejaculate when he raped her after that. A jury found Rivera guilty a second time. Finally, after another appeal in 2011, Rivera’s lawyers were able to set him free. He had been wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 20 years.” Image Credit

Douglas Starr | Aeon

Read It Now (16 min)

The Zen predator of the Upper East Side

On the monk who arrived in Manhattan 50 years ago, exposing a dark corner of the Buddhism

“At our two lunches, Shimano often seemed about to answer a question about sex when Gerzog would say, “Roshi, don’t answer that!” And Roshi wouldn’t. But at our second lunch, on June 20, 2013, at Montebello, a New York City restaurant, Shimano did say that he has had sex with “far fewer” than 12 of his students.” Image Credit

Mark Oppenheimer | The Atlantic

Read It Now (68 min)

The troll hunters

Have a group of Swedish journalists targeting Internet hate gone too far?

“Dossiers on other trolls were tacked up in two rows: a pair of teens who anonymously slander their high school classmates on Instagram, a politician who runs a racist website, a male law student who stole the identity of a young woman to entice another man into an online relationship.” Image Credit

Adrian Chen | MIT Technology Review

Read It Now (18 min)

What to eat after the apocalypse

The research project that asks how we might feed seven billion people

“Let me take the most likely one: the nuclear winter case. Say two countries that both have access to nuclear weapons get very angry at each other, and then retaliate, destroying most of the major cities in the opposite country. The vast bulk of humanity would survive, eventually.” Image Credit

Yvonne Bang | Nautilus

Read It Now (7 min)

After the revolution

Barbara Smith’s 1963 report from Cuba on life after Castro’s revolution

“There is no need in Cuba to stick up Dr. Castro’s photograph on every available wall (as, for instance, General Qassim’s picture was stuck up all over Baghdad). There are a lot of pictures of him, but they take their place with portraits of Lenin, Martí, or whoever is the local hero of the province. The affection for Castro is spontaneous and unforced.” Image Credit

Barbara Smith | The New Republic

Read It Now (15 min)

47 sacks of coke

The story of a pilot’s run-in with Venezuela’s drug lords

“Six to eight armed men are standing in front of the jet. It becomes clear to the crew that they can’t expect anyone to come to their assistance — that everyone is in on the operation. “The entire airport must have been involved,” Lückert says. “Calling the local police was not an option.”” Image Credit

Arndt Ginzel, Martin Kraushaar and Steffen Winter | Spiegel

Read It Now (17 min)

The Which Blair Project

Sarah Ellison sits down with Tony Blair 

““…I took a view right at the outset that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was a disaster. I supported the street movement to get [Morsi] out of power and put Sisi in office. That doesn’t mean I don’t criticize them for some of the things that happened in Egypt.” But, Blair says, “I helped him. I have been very happy to help…”” Image Credit

Sarah Ellison | Vanity Fair

Read It Now (35 min)

Project Martyr

On the doctor who swapped Britain for Syria

“He trained as a paediatrician, working at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General and Glenfield hospitals. The medicine he practises today bears scant resemblance to that. Days after the FSA seized Salma in 2012, the regime launched a counteroffensive with helicopter gunships and a barrage of Russian-made Grad rockets…” Image Credit

Martin Fletcher | New Statesman

Read It Now (16 min)