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 brand-new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret, by Michael Hastings. Rolling Stone.
How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight:
use of drones is rapidly transforming the way we go to war. On the
battlefield, a squad leader can receive real-time data from a drone that
enables him to view the landscape for miles in every direction,
dramatically expanding the capabilities of what would normally have been
a small and isolated unit. "It's democratized information on the
battlefield," says Daniel Goure, a national security expert who served
in the Defense Department during both Bush administrations. "It's like a
reconnaissance version of Twitter." Drones have also radically altered
the CIA, turning a civilian intelligence-gathering agency into a
full-fledged paramilitary operation -- one that routinely racks up nearly
as many scalps as any branch of the military.
the implications of drones go far beyond a single combat unit or
civilian agency. On a broader scale, the remote-control nature of
unmanned missions enables politicians to wage war while claiming we're
not at war -- as the United States is currently doing in Pakistan. What's
more, the Pentagon and the CIA can now launch military strikes or order
assassinations without putting a single boot on the ground - and
without worrying about a public backlash over U.S. soldiers coming home
in body bags. The immediacy and secrecy of drones make it easier than
ever for leaders to unleash America's military might -- and harder than
ever to evaluate the consequences of such clandestine attacks.
Another Night to Remember, by Bryan Burrough. Vanity Fair.
The sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship:
9:57, 15 minutes after the ship struck the rock, Schettino phoned Costa
Cruises' operations center. The executive he spoke to, Roberto
Ferrarini, later told reporters, "Schettino told me there was one
compartment flooded, the compartment with electrical propulsion motors,
and with that kind of situation the ship's buoyancy was not compromised.
His voice was quite clear and calm." Between 10:06 and 10:26, the two
men spoke three more times. At one point, Schettino admitted that a
second compartment had flooded. That was, to put it mildly, an
understatement. In fact, five compartments were flooding; the situation
was hopeless. (Later, Schettino would deny that he had attempted to
mislead either his superiors or anyone else.)
were sinking. How much time they had, no one knew. Schettino had few
options. The engines were dead. Computer screens had gone black. The
ship was drifting and losing speed. Its momentum had carried it north
along the island's coastline, past the harbor, then past a rocky
peninsula called Point Gabbianara. By 10 P.M., 20 minutes after striking
the rock, the ship was heading away from the island, into open water.
If something wasn't done immediately, it would sink there.
Getting Plowed, by Selena Ross. Maisonneuve.
Collusion, sabotage, violence-inside Montreal's no-holds-barred snow removal racket:
long before, their boss, the owner of a small snow-removal business,
had won a multimillion-dollar contract to clear snow in that borough for
the first time ever. A different contractor had been working in the
area, but when it came time to place bids that year, the upstart
business named a lower price, and the old company lost out. The two
workers knew exactly who was responsible for the booby-trapped snowbank.
Although their boss had won the bid fairly, moving in on another
company's territory is considered stealing in Montreal's snow-removal
industry -- a sector in which businesses rarely bid on contracts they
haven't already marked as their property. It was only $10,000 in damage,
but to the newcomers, the message was clear: don't step out of line
How the New York Film Academy Discovered Gold in the Developing World, by Andrew Rice. Capital New York.
On the business model of the ubiquitous trade school, and a visit to its satellite operation in Nigeria:
an evening opening ceremony, the academy's 26 instructors and staff
were introduced to a chorus of raucous hollers from the student body.
One of the program's organizers, Stephanie Okereke, took the stage
wearing a hot pink blazer. A statuesque Nollywood movie star, she
herself is the graduate of a New York Film Academy course.
of us went all the way to America to do this opportunity," Okereke
said. "And now it is here, live in Nigeria, so you don't have to go
through the horrors of getting a visa."
Then the actress played the schoolmarm.
"Please, please, please pay attention you guys," she told the students. "Because you have a lot to learn, in so little time."
crash course was extremely expensive, especially by African standards:
$5,000 per student, including living expenses, meaning that the overall
cost to the Nigerians was around $1.2 million. The overwhelming majority
of students were attending on scholarships sponsored by corporations
and Nigerian government institutions. The largest funder was the Niger
Delta Development Commission, an agency charged with creating job
opportunities in a formerly war-torn region of the country. But
technically speaking, the program was open to anyone, regardless of
previous education, grades or experience, in keeping with what the
academy's president, a former movie producer named Jerry Sherlock,
described as its founding democratic principle.
Patriot Games, by J.M. Berger. Foreign Policy.
How the FBI spent a decade hunting white supremacists...and missed Timothy McVeigh:
1990, the FBI began picking up on rumors about an effort to
reconstitute a notorious terrorist-criminal gang known as The Order.
The group's name was taken from the infamous racist 1978 novel The Turner Diaries,
which told the story of a fictional cabal carrying out acts of
terrorism and eventually overthrowing the U.S. government in a bloody,
nihilistic racial purge. The book was an inspiration to a generation of
white nationalists, including Timothy McVeigh, whose path to
radicalization climaxed in the Oklahoma City bombing 17 years ago
the 1980s, extremists inspired by the book began robbing banks and
armored cars, stealing and counterfeiting millions of dollars and
distributing some of the money to racist extremist causes. Members of
The Order assassinated Jewish talk radio host Alan Berg in 1984, before
most of its members were arrested and its leader killed in a standoff.
Less than 10 percent of the money stolen by The Order was ever
recovered, and investigators feared members of the group who were still
at large would use it to further a campaign of terrorism.
To prevent the rise of a "Second Order," FBI undercover agents would become it.
Have a favorite piece that we missed? Leave the link in the comments or tweet it to @longform. For more great writing, check out Longform's complete archive.
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERT LABERGE/AFP/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images