‘We Will Have to Go Through a Hell to Reach Our Future. There Is No Other Way.’

Yemen on the brink of hell:

In a sense, south Yemen itself offers a grim cautionary tale about the events now unfolding in Taiz and across the country. Until 1990, when the two Yemens merged, South Yemen was a beacon of development and order. Under the British, who ruled the south as a colony until 1967, and the Socialists, who ran it for two decades afterward, South Yemen had much higher literacy rates than the north. Child marriage and other degrading tribal practices came to an end; women entered the work force, and the full facial veil became a rarity. It was only after Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed his writ that things began to change. When the south dared to rebel against him in 1994, Saleh sent bands of jihadis to punish it. The north began treating the south like a slave state, expropriating vast plots of private and public land for northerners, along with the oil profits. Tribal practices returned. Violent jihadism began to grow.

Run Like Fire Once More

On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

A Major-League Divorce

How Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers for “for less than the price of an oceanfront home in Southampton” and eventually became entangled in one of the most expensive divorces in California history, which laid bare their finances and confirmed what many already knew: they had bankrupted one of the most storied franchises in baseball.

In all, the McCourts reportedly took $108 million out of the team in personal distributions over five years—a sum that Molly Knight, a reporter with ESPN who has extensively covered the story, notes is eerily similar to the cash payment that she says Frank McCourt has claimed he made for the team.

Fantasy Island: The Strange Tale of Alleged Fraudster Pearlasia Gamboa

Behind a financial fraud lay a secret plan to create a “mothership for con artists worldwide”:

Gamboa's tale involves secret ore deposits, hidden stocks of Soviet nuclear armaments, the Queen Mary ocean liner, portions of Antarctica, a new version of the Bible, allegations of fake deaths and miraculous resurrections, and a collection of some of the most colorful aliases ever to grace America's criminal and civil case dockets. (According to court documents, Korem also answers to the names Tzemach Ben David Netzer Korem and Branch Vinedresser.)

Cisco's Big Bet on New Songdo: Creating Cities From Scratch

On the development of South Korea’s New Songdo and Cisco’s plans to build smart cities which will “offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities – water, power, traffic, telephony – into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.” The demand for such cities is enormous:

China doesn't need cool, green, smart cities. It needs cities, period -- 500 New Songdos at the very least. One hundred of those will each house a million or more transplanted peasants. In fact, while humanity has been building cities for 9,000 years, that was apparently just a warm-up for the next 40. As of now, we're officially an urban species. More than half of us -- 3.3 billion people -- live in a city. Our numbers are projected to nearly double by 2050, adding roughly a New Songdo a day; the United Nations predicts the vast majority will flood smaller cities in Africa and Asia.

Blackwater Founder Forms Secret Army for Arab State

Since being revealed as a CIA operative and selling Blackwater, Erik Prince has set to work building U.A.E. a mercenary army, made up heavily of Colombian and South African troops, to be used “if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.”

Held by the Taliban

NYT journalist David Rohde’s alternately terrifying and absurd first person account of his kidnapping en route to an interview in Southern Afghanistan and the subsequent seven months he, along with his translator and driver, spent in captivity in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

  1. 7 Months, 10 Days in Captivity

  2. Inside the Islamic Emirate

  3. ‘You Have Atomic Bombs, but We Have Suicide Bombers.’

  4. A Drone Strike and Dwindling Hope

  5. A Rope and a Prayer

  6. Epilogue

Rajneeshees in Oregon: The Untold Story

Twenty-five years ago, a guru from India showed up in rural Oregon with 2,000 followers. Here’s what happened next: they legally turned their multi-million dollar ranch into an incorporated city, imported homeless people to swing local votes, poisoned hundreds and attempted to assassinate the state’s U.S. attorney.

  1. Part 1: 25 Years After Rajneeshee Commune Collapsed, Truth Spills Out

  2. Part 2: Thwarted Rajneeshee Leaders Attack Enemies, Neighbors with Poison

  3. Part 3: Rajneeshee Leaders Take Revenge on The Dalles’ with Poison, Homeless

  4. Part 4: Rajneeshee Leaders See Enemies Everywhere as Questions Compound

  5. Part 5: Rajneeshees’ Utopian Dreams Collapse as Talks Turn to Murder