1) “The Business of Human Smuggling on the Mexican Border,” by Sacha Feinman. A trip to Altar, Mexico—the nexus of the South and Central American human-smuggling business—reveals how trafficking works. Who are the real migrants? How do you find the best guide? Where do you end up?
2) “Robert D. Novak (1931-2009): Darkness claims the prince of darkness,” by Jack Shafer. Novak’s old-school style of journalism depended on close relationships with the powerful and wealthy—and Novak’s willingness to sell out anyone to get a scoop.
3) “The Making of an Afghan Politician: Ashraf Ghani is an intellectual and a technocrat; after this campaign, he is also a pol,” by Jeffrey Stern. Ghani is distrusted by his countrymen for his Western education and time abroad. That’s why his transformation into an impassioned pundit with fiery campaign speeches bodes well for future electoral success.
4) “Health Care Hypocrisy: Many of the pundits attacking government health insurance rely on government health insurance for their own families,” by Daniel Gross. Just as economic analysts must disclose whether they own stock in the companies they talk about, anti-health care reform advocates should be forced to say whether or not they benefit from taxpayer-funded health insurance.
5) “Kind of Blue: Why the best-selling jazz album of all time is so great,” by Fred Kaplan. Fifty years ago, Miles Davis and Bill Evans teamed up to explore the musical implications of a new form of improvisation called “modal jazz.” The result was the best-selling, and perhaps best, jazz album of all time.
6) “Veddy Unfortunate: How the greatest wine hoax ever has diminished a brilliant British oenophile,” by Mike Steinberger. Famed British wine expert Michael Broadbent was tricked into believing he’d acquired rare bottles from Thomas Jefferson’s private cellar. The fallout after he auctioned some off was brutal, and his decision to sue the author of a book about the controversy isn’t going to help him remove the stain on his record.
7) “TV Club: Mad Men, Season 3,” by Patrick O’Keefe, John Swansburg, and Julia Turner. Missed the first episode of AMC’s retro hit? Read the commentary on Don’s flashbacks, Betty’s pregnancy, the Campbell-Cosgrove duel to the death, and the hat that stole the show.
8) “How To Kill Those Death Panel Rumors: Just shut up about them,” by Farhad Manjoo. When we hear something enough times, we begin to think it’s true; Obama’s repeating those nutty death panel rumors just to refute them is doing more harm than good.
9) “Endangered in South Africa: Pimp my ostrich,” by Brendan Borrell. The first dispatch in this three-part series on wildlife ranches in South Africa explores a private ostrich farm that’s looking to put a dent in the beef industry. These refuges are unexpectedly on the forefront of native wildlife conservation efforts in Africa.
10) “Yale Surrenders: Why did Yale University Press remove images of Mohammed from a book about the Danish cartoons?” by Christopher Hitchens. Yale University Press’ decision not to publish any images of the Prophet Mohammed for fear of instigating violence sets a dangerous precedent for worldwide freedom of the press.