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New Internationalist’s 2017 top reads

Long read
New Internationalist

So long 2017: good riddance to bad rubbish? Well, it’s not all been bad. In Liberia and Kenya we’ve seen supreme courts flexing their muscles in defence of free and fair elections, China is expected to have brought more solar power online in a year than any other country ever has, and in the US – despite a shocking wave of racism unleashed by Trump’s election – Black Lives Matter campaigns have surged forward and in November seven US cities elected their first black mayors.

In Britain, the Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, which now has the largest membership in Europe, wiped out a 20-point lead in the polls and decimated the Conservative Party’s majority in a snap June election.

And at New Internationalist (*shameless plug warning*), we’ve published some crackers. Here’s our list of the top 10 performers:

Honorary mention: The joy of kunyaza: why women’s pleasure comes first in Rwanda

A late entry, this multimedia piece, published mid-December, has shot through the ranks in only a week: with a longer time on the site we’re sure it would have easily made it into our top 10 biggest hitters of the year. It takes a look at kunyaza, the Rwandan sexual practice where female pleasure comes first – highlighting the country’s intriguing gender politics. A must read!

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10. Death and re-birth of a lake: How water came back to the dry Aral Sea

The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth biggest lake, but dried up when the Soviet Union diverted the rivers feeding it for irrigation. This triggered decades of environmental disaster. But part of the sea is now experiencing a rebirth...find out more in this fascinating photostory.

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9. Is PM Theresa May really as economically illiterate as her immigration based stance on Brexit suggests?

In Britain, 2017 saw the xenophobia unleashed by the Brexit vote continue its happy partnership in prime minister Theresa May, who pioneered the Conservative government’s Orwellian-sounding ‘hostile environment’ policy for migrants.

Not content with leaving the EU, she’s been pushing for Britain to leave the bloc’s single market as well, which will hit trade with Britain’s largest trade partner.

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8. UK General Election: What are the foreign policy implications?

But this year’s UK election also saw a rare ray of hope shining through, with the Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party pulling off a remarkable turnaround – at the start of the campaign they were 20 points behind in the polls, but the end of his left populist campaign saw the party taking Conservative seats to wipe out Theresa May’s majority. In this article, Mark Curtis looked at the foreign policy implications of the two contenders for UK political power.

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7. Why are there still British military bases in Cyprus?

A good question if ever there was one. Darren Loucaides reports on how Britain has hung on in Cyprus, more than half a century after independence – and how the island’s messy partition remains.

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6. What’s sex got to do with it?

In New Internationalist’s issue on Brazil, editor Vanessa Baird reported on how the culture of rape, violence and sexism has gained a new lease of life since 2016’s ‘constitutional’ coup in the country.

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5. ‘We are with you’: 22 East London housing estates stand in solidarity with Grenfell

Just days after the UK’s general election, a tower block in the UK’s richest borough went up in flames – killing 71 and revealing a litany of failings and a culture at every level of the UK’s political system that showed complete disregard for the country’s poor. Here activists from 22 housing estates in the east of the capital write after their banner drop showing solidarity with the victims.

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4. Inside Unilever’s sustainability myth

Unilever certainly talks the talk on its green credentials. But when the Dutch investigative journalism platform Investico looked deeper, they discovered that the company’s practices don’t look quite as rosy as Unilever would have us believe.

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3. One woman against Big Oil and patriarchy

Linda Etchart interviewed the brave indigenous activist Alicia Cawiya, who stood against all the odds to resist oil companies’ advance into the Ecuadorian Yasuni National Park.

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2. The lives behind the label

In this multimedia project, we looked at the lives of Bangladesh’s almost five million garment workers, with touching film interviews produced by On Our Radar.

Explore the multimedia project

1. Exclusive: Inside Diego Garcia, America’s highly secretive military base

In our top piece of the year, Katie McQue reported for New Internationalist on the strategic American military base in the Indian Ocean – from where the British Army forcibly evicted the indigenous population in the 1960s – and on the shockingly exploitative labour conditions forced on many of the workers there.

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