Too big to jail

The Economist

Illustration Corey Brickley for The Economist

The Colombian drug lord who snitched his way to freedom

A senior member of the Medellín cartel conned American and Swiss authorities, framed the Mexican president’s brother, destroyed a private Swiss bank, and brought down the Attorney General of Switzerland.

And they let him walk free.

In fact, they paid him to do it. Law enforcement agencies across the globe are giving millions of dollars to criminal informants, creating a system where–for big fish like José Manuel Ramos–crime truly does pay.

Read: The Economist’s 1843 Magazine


A Vespucci Story, with Swiss journalist Daniel Ammann

Railway Splits Kenya’s Parks, Threatens Wildlife

National Geographic

Andrew Renneisen

As dawn breaks, nine Kenya Wildlife Service rangers dressed in camouflage and brandishing rifles assemble at an airstrip. They are equipped with a Cessna, a helicopter, and a caravan of Toyota Land Cruisers. Their mission: find, tranquilize, and collar Tsavo’s savanna elephants to see how well they traverse a new rail line that has recently split their habitat in two. It is the first time in history that elephants are being collared specifically to study how they interact with human infrastructure.

Read: English | Spanish

A Cruise With a Cause

VICE Magazine

Photo/Amy Lombard

Photo/Amy Lombard

 

Meet Fathom, the world’s first-ever cruise for voluntourists: vacationers who don’t just want to do beaches, spas, and shopping, but do good.

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go as planned.

 

Update: Two weeks after my VICE investigation published, Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, announced it would discontinue the cruise.

Published in the November 2016 issue of

VICE Magazine

Listen: Tiny Spark

On the Run

VICE Magazine

Jake Naughton

The plight of Kenya’s LGBT Refugees

 “God has a book of life,” Mugisa told his worshipers. “He remembers your name. But to be written in this book you need to do good.” Mugisa turned to his congregants. “Mulondo, Lujja, Kasule, Nansamba: You want to be able to say, ‘God, I served you when I was in Kakuma camp.’ You want to be able to say, ‘I served you in Uganda. Remember me. This is what I have done, remember me.'”

Jake Naughton

Mugisa glanced around his congregation of LGBT worshipers, catching the eyes of a few of them. Unable to ignore the trepidation on their faces, he comforted them. “Trust me—one day we will be out of this place.”

Honorable Mention (runner-up), 2016 Immigration Journalism Award, The French-American Foundation; Official Nomination, “Outstanding Magazine Article,” 2017 GLAAD Media Awards; Shortlist, 2017 One World Media Print Award.

Read: VICE Magazine

They Call It Canaan

VQR

Allison Shelley

In the aftermath of disaster, Haitians ask what makes a city

Port-au-Prince was decimated when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010. Within weeks, settlements began to appear on a barren landscape, shacks and tents spreading over dusty plains. They called it Canaan, the biblical promised land where Moses led the Israelites out of slavery–the land of milk and honey. “This Canaan has the same history,” one pastor, who was among the first to move there, told me. “This is our honey.”

But in Canaan, as in any city, people—the rich and the poor, the powerful and weak, the complacent and the desperate—were destined to get in one another’s way.

Read: VQR

As featured in Longreads

The Chinese Company Eradicating Malaria in Africa

The Atlantic

Han Haidan

In 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an ambitious endeavor: To eradicate malaria across the globe.

It was late to the game. That year, Chinese scientists working with a Chinese philanthropist had already begun eradicating malaria from the small African nation of Comoros. Now they’re setting their sights on a more ambitious location: Kenya, the East African nation of nearly 50 million people.

Read: The Atlantic

Listen: The China Africa Podcast

Will LGBT Ugandans Ever Be Free?

Playboy

Photos by Jake Naughton

Inside the Fight for a Queer Country

Just a few years ago, Kampala was a nightmare for LGBTQ Ugandans, some of whom were beaten and stripped in the streets, chased by angry mobs or jailed.

But you wouldn’t guess that from the relaxed atmosphere at Cayenne on Kampala’s north side. Few people seem to notice the transgender woman dancing by the pool, and if they do, they don’t seem to care. Javan belongs to a generation of queer Ugandans barely old enough to remember when the antigay fever first erupted here, in 2009.

Read: Playboy

Resurrection Science

WIRED

George Steinmetz/Corbis

Biologists Could Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. But Should They?

“Until we make space for other species on Earth, it won’t matter how many animals we resurrect,” writes M.R. O’Connor in her book Resurrection Science. “There won’t be many places left for them to exist.”

“Paradoxically, the more we intervene to save species, the less wild they often become.”

Read: WIRED