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Big Stories

Holiday Reads, Dec. 24

This week’s special guest is Karla Zabludovsky, the Mexico bureau chief and Latin America correspondent for BuzzFeed News, talking to us about some of her favorite reads.

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Former Mexican cartel assassins who are allowed to walk free on U.S. soil. Weakened criminal syndicates that have paved the way for colossal ones to grow even more powerful. Lauded drug enforcement agents who are overwhelmed with frustration and rage over the limited reach their efforts ultimately have. David Epstein's ProPublica feature on how the U.S. brought down the Arellano Felix Organization, one of the most expansive Mexican cartels, poses the million-dollar question: Is drug enforcement working?

Shortly after Marie, an 18-year-old who spent part of her life in foster homes, reported being raped at knifepoint in her home, she recanted her story, and was charged with a gross misdemeanor and forced to pay $500. But when a handful of indefatigable investigators started digging deeper, a surprising, complicated picture emerged in Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller's story, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” published by The Marshall Project.

For Vanity Fair, William Langewiesche visited with a French friar fighting slavery in the Brazilian Amazon, where thousands of people are lured to work the land with false promises, only to be held in slave-like conditions indefinitely — some are even murdered with almost guaranteed impunity. The friar, Xavier Plassat, has become one of the leaders of the movement to end slavery in the Americas, but will his efforts endure?

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