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Saturday
Apr092016

Your Genocide Guide

Producer: Tik Root | National Geographic | Film by: Juan Herrero 

As the head guide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, Serge Rwigamba leads heads of state and VIPs such as Angelina Jolie through his country’s deeply painful past. The task is also very personal: He lost his father and countless other family members in the 1994 genocide. The role, he says, is therapeutic, a way of understanding his trauma. Like any job though, it comes with its quirks, characters, and challenges.

Wednesday
Mar092016

God's People Don't Deserve This



Tik Root | Newsweek | Photos: Juan Herrero

John Muir was a fervent believer. Not just in science or conservation or the National Park Service, which he championed. The founder of the Sierra Club and father of American environmentalism also believed in God. “The forests of America, however slighted by man, must have been a great delight to God,” Muir wrote in his 1897 essay “The American Forests.” “[For centuries] God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools.”  

This sort of religious language was “very much present in early conservation movements,” says Evan Berry, an associate professor at American University and author of Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism. George Bird Grinnell, founder of the Audubon Society, also invoked faith, and many of the environmentalist leaders in the late 19th and early 20th century were Congregationalists, a traditional Protestant sect, says Berry.

But then God abandoned the forest.

CONTINUE READING AT NEWSWEEK (ONLINE AND IN PRINT)...

Sunday
Nov292015

Nascar Says Goodbye to Jeff Gordon—and the Golden Era He Created

Text: Tik Root | The New Yorker | Video: Juan Herrero, Tik Root

With two laps to go at Martinsville, drivers were racing not only each other but a sinking Virginia sun. If the light left, the race would end early. Screaming through the corners of the half-mile-long track, brake temperatures climbed well past the thousand-degree mark, and the rotors began to glow. Jeff Gordon led the way, and the crowd was on its feet. The early-November race was Gordon’s last at Martinsville Speedway, and another milestone in his twenty-third and final season on the Nascar circuit. While farewell tributes had been abundant throughout the year, wins had not: in thirty-two starts, he’d yet to be victorious. Each time he came up short, his shot at an elusive fifth championship grew more distant and his send-off more bittersweet.

CONTINUE READING AT THE NEW YORKER...

Monday
Jun232014

Polio vaccine effort in Syria reaches 1.4 million children as volunteers brave violence

Tik Root | The Washington Post | Photo: Hosam Katan/Reuters

Despite grave danger, a campaign to combat the spread of polio in rebel-held Syria has been surprisingly successful, with volunteers inoculating about 1.4 million children since the beginning of the year.

The reemergence of polio in Syria in October alarmed health organizations, which feared that factors such as tainted water, dysfunctional sanitation systems and a mobile population could contribute to a broader, region-wide epidemic.

In response, a coalition of nonprofit organizations quickly recruited and deployed thousands of volunteers in the country’s embattled north, where they won the cooperation of rebel fighters and braved shelling and airstrikes to administer the vaccine to children under age 5. Four volunteers have been killed in the process, but there has not been a confirmed case of polio in Syria in nearly five months.

CONTINUE READING AT WASHINGTON POST...  

Friday
Feb282014

Al-Qaida Destroyed Our Family

Tik Root | Slate and Roads & Kingdoms | Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters

SANA’A, Yemen—On the morning of Aug. 30, 2013, in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, Khaled al-Dhahab’s phone rang. The villager on the other end relayed the news Khaled had long dreaded: His brother, Qaid, was dead.

Hours earlier, Qaid al-Dhahab had been returning from a wedding celebration to his home near the rural city of Rada’a, roughly 160 miles southeast of Sana’a, when a torrent of missiles flew from the sky, turning the car in which he rode into a smoldering heap. Qaid, who by most accounts was a rising leader in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)—considered the most active and dangerous branch of the global terrorist network—had been a target in a suspected U.S. drone strike.

Khaled was not vengeful—he said Qaid had “chosen his path.” He was, however, upset—distressed that his once-proud family keeps finding itself mixed up in al-Qaida and the West’s so-called war on terror.

CONTINUE READING AT ROADS & KINGDOMS OR SLATE