Crikey long reads

Josh Taylor, journalist 

What were the coolest things in Griffin’s plan for Canberra that were never implemented?” by Elise Scott on

“Most people know that Walter Burley Griffin designed the original plan for Canberra. What’s less well known is how much of his plan was never realised. In Griffin’s Canberra, a building for the people towered over the city, posing as a symbol of democracy and celebrating the achievements of the nation’s citizens. Yet anyone who’s visited the nation’s capital would know that politicians eventually claimed the prime real estate on Capital Hill. It’s not the only diversion today’s Canberra has taken from Griffin’s original plans.”

Charlie Lewis, journalist

Alt-wrong” by Richard Cooke in The Monthly

“[T]he Western Australian election looks like an inversion of the explanations for Donald Trump and Brexit. Ordinary voters held the line against populist rabble-rousing, while elements of the political class were hoodwinked. It’s also testimony to the sheer amount of forgetting around Pauline Hanson, the incredible effect she has on the media, and the fear with which politicians treat the electorate, a chimerical beast they have given up even pretending to understand.”

Emily Watkins, media reporter

CNN had a problem. Donald Trump solved it” by Jonathan Mahler in The New York Times Magazine

“Had Trump lost the election, CNN would probably have returned to its previously scheduled struggle for survival. Instead, it has become more central to the national conversation than at any point in the network’s history since the first gulf war. And the man who is presiding over this historic moment at CNN happens to be the same one who was in some part responsible for Donald Trump’s political career.”

Cass Knowlton, editor

‘The hospitals were slaughterhouses’: a journey into Syria’s secret torture wards” by Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria in The Washington Post

“Inside the facility, about a half-mile from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s palace, sick prisoners are tortured as they lie shackled to beds crammed with dying men, according to Masri and former detainees and military personnel who worked there. Corpses have been piled in bathrooms, outhouses and anywhere else they will fit, then meticulously documented and trucked away for mass burial.”

Bernard Keane, politics editor

Traumatized Nixon” by Larry Harnisch in the Los Angeles Review of Books

“The most important takeaway from John A. Farrell’s splendid new biography, Richard Nixon: The Life, is that Richard Nixon is not the gateway to understanding Donald Trump. Nixon’s life is a Greek tragedy about a terribly flawed and damaged protagonist who rises to power only to bring about his own destruction; Trump is more of a comedy, a bit like Moliere’s Tartuffe — a blockheaded master at the mercy of his wily servants and scheming counselors who just happen to be rather evil.”

Sally Whyte, deputy editor

Law and order” by CJ Chanco in Overland

“It is difficult to avoid politics at Filipino social gatherings. This last festive season was no exception: at least five drug suspects were executed by police on Christmas Day alone. These were just the latest casualties in Rodrigo Duterte’s vicious war on drugs — a violent crackdown that has now claimed the lives of over 8000 people.”

Dan Wood, subeditor

Giving Birth in Air Strikes: The Life-Threatening Horrors of Pregnancy in Yemen” by Sirin Kale in Broadly

“According to the UN, at least 13,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict. Thanks to a naval, land, and air blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, 18.8 million people currently need food assistance, and more than 7 million people don’t know where their next meal will come from. In a country that is being slowly starved and bombed to death, pregnant women and children are among those suffering worst.”