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Carlos Barria/Reuters

In an eleventh-hour attempt to cement his legacy on climate change and dissuade his successor from scrapping his policies, President Barack Obama published an article in a top academic journal, Science, this week.

Science editors say, according to their records, he is the first sitting US president to author an article in the peer-reviewed journal.  

During World War II, the US Army came up with an idea to boost soldier morale: musicals. 

They were designed for the soldiers themselves to perform in the field.

For the past few days, some of those shows have been performed for the first time since the war. The stage is not on Broadway, but another venue in New York City: a former aircraft carrier, now docked on the Hudson River and known as the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

The US-Mexico border area — especially near the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico — has something of a reputation for crime.

El Paso and Juarez have served as transit points for criminal gangs trafficking in guns and illegal drugs.

"The addicts pull up just after nightfall near a sedan parked along a busy street in this border city best known for murder,” writes Los Angeles Times reporter Kate Linthicum, describing a typical scene in Juarez.  

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Shane McMillan

Many towns in the former East Germany have told the federal government that they would prefer not to be asked to resettle refugees, who’ve entered Germany by the hundreds of thousands in the last couple of years.

But not Golzow.

The night I visited the village with a population of about 800, 5 or so miles from Germany’s far eastern border with Poland, the annual Christmas concert was happening. Every seat in the tiny Lutheran church in the town center was filled. 

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German Federal Archive

British reporter Clare Hollingworth has a good claim on the title of scoop of the century. For the 20th century, that is. Because it was Hollingworth who broke the story of World War II.

Hollingworth died Tuesday in Hong Kong, where she had lived for the last four decades of her life. She was 105.

In August 1939, Hollingworth was in Poland as an aid worker, but then switched careers and turned to journalism. She landed a job with Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A Syrian family finds sweet success in Canada

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Courtesy of Tareq Hadhad

Antigonish is a tiny town in Nova Scotia, Canada, with a population of about 5,000.

It’s kind of out-of-the-way.

But there’s a chocolate shop here so famous that tour buses line up outside. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even talked about it at the United Nations. This shop — it’s called Peace by Chocolate — is run by a former refugee family from Syria.

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NY.gov

One of the first things Ana Maria did when she got her New York City ID card was go to the library — to get books. Information. She checks out CDs and magazines, too, to practice her English.

But she also checks out poetry in Spanish.

I met Ana Maria at a church in Staten Island. She's an undocumented immigrant and she asked me not to use her last name. Ana Maria can’t use her ID to drive — but, for her, it’s nice to have access to all those books in the library, just like other New Yorkers.

FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, has decided to expand the format of its men's World Cup from 32 teams to 48. The change will go into effect with the 2026 edition of the tournament.

So get ready for the debate over the pros and cons of this expansion to continue for the next nine years.

Fighting Nazis with Scandinavian crime fiction

Jan 9, 2017
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REUTERS/ Bo Amstrup/Scanpix Denmark

It was a frigid 9 degrees in Boston on Monday, a brutal temp for walking the dog, but a great one for curling up with some classic Scandinavian crime fiction.

"Jar City." "The Snowman." "The Return of The Dancing Master." Just about everything by Stieg Larsson. You could argue crime fiction is one of the region’s biggest cultural exports.

And for some reason, the villains in the books are often Nazis, neo-Nazis, or people with Nazism in their past.

UC Berkeley's Linda Rugg says that isn't a coincidence.

The recent death of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani leaves the outspoken women in the reformer's family in a sort of political limbo. 

It's unclear how much clout his once-powerful daughter and wife will retain in an increasingly conservative Iran. 

"We have to wait and see how things are going to unfold," says Nazila Fathi, a former correspondent for The New York Times. 

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Sergei Ilnitsky/Reuters/Pool

The Russian Federation inherited a variety of intelligence organizations from the Soviet Union, and has added more. The Russian intelligence community also inherited many techniques from its Soviet predecessors.

“Most of the time,” says Mark Kramer, director of Cold War studies at Harvard, “Russian intelligence focuses on intelligence gathering. That’s true of almost every major intelligence service in the world.”

But Kramer adds there have been many occasions when the Russians have tried to shape events and not just monitor them.

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Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist

The snow-covered plains of Vermont are one of the last places you'd think saffron would grow.

Think about it: The world's biggest crops of the high-priced spice grow in Iran, Spain and Italy. Not places you'd automatically associate with heavy snowfall and bone-shattering cold weather, right?

But Margaret Skinner, a researcher professor at the University of Vermont, wants to bring saffron to the farmlands here.

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Ashley Cleek

Tuhin Das was just 16, living in Bangladesh, when he started writing poems and editing a magazine — and getting noticed.

His writings called out the persecution of Hindus and atheists, religious minorities in Bangladesh. But they infuriated some fundamentalists who thought Das was anti-Islam. When he was only a teenager, a group of fundamentalists stabbed him in the street. Then, in 2015, Das’ name showed up on a hit-list.

For Teju Cole, John Berger was a kindred spirit

Jan 6, 2017

You may never have heard of John Berger.

But the English writer and artist, who died this week at 90, changed how countless art students thought about art and maybe even the world.

His 1972 television series and book ''Ways of Seeing" was designed to upend traditional, and what he termed elitist, ways of evaluating art work.

But Berger wasn’t just an art critic. He was also a novelist.

His book, “G,”, a non-linear account of a man travelling around Europe before World War One, won the Booker Prize.

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Ladyrene Pérez Pérez / Courtesy Cuban Embassy

The business deal doesn't involve fine Cuban cigars. Sorry. Or rum. Sorry again. But it is something that could make a qualitative difference for pizza fans: charcoal.

Artisanal marabu charcoal from Cuba has a reputation for burning long and clean, making it well-suited for fueling ovens to bake pizzas and bread.

The first shipment of 40 tons of the stuff produced by worker-owned cooperatives across Cuba should arrive in the US later this month.

“The charcoal itself is a very unique product,” says Scott Gilbert, the entrepreneur who cut the charcoal deal.

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