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 for it. Governments across the globe spend millions of dollars a year on 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 Amman

The Pernicious Power of American Promises

The New York Times

Jacob Kushner

Donors claimed they would fix Fabienne Jean’s body. They broke her heart instead.

The first time I saw the famous Fabienne Jean, she was limping toward me, slowly, but with the unmistakable elegance of the dancer that she was.

The last time I saw the famous Fabienne Jean, she was sitting idle in her basement apartment, unable to work, unable to dance, still nostalgic about her brief encounter with American generosity.

Eleven months later, Fabienne was dead. For all the promises Americans made to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake, it seems we somehow failed to rebuild even a single life.

Read: English Español

Controversial 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 and other SUVs. 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: National Geographic

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.'”

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.”

Jake Naughton

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

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

Beside a Vast Graveyard, a New City Rises in Haiti

Pacific Standard

Allison Shelley

Haiti’s earthquake shattered several cities, but it also birthed another. A place with space for the dead is a place with space for the living. And in post-earthquake Haiti, space was in short supply. Called Canaan, after the biblical holy land, a place defined by death has come alive.

Read: Pacific Standard

The Chinese Company Eradicating Malaria in Africa

The Atlantic

Han Haidan

In 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it was committed to eradicating 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