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A lawsuit filed earlier this week in the US shows it in chilling detail: The dehumanization of asylum seekers and migrants is routine in detention camps—and it doesn’t spare children. According to these children, guards shout at and threaten toddlers and babies; there is often not enough to eat, and clean water is harshly rationed. Children are crammed in sleeping areas too small for everyone to lie down, without blankets, in cold rooms where lights blare 24 hours a day, and frequent check-ins interrupt what little sleep they manage. Girls receive one sanitary pad per day during their periods, left to bleed through their pants and wear soiled clothes.
It’s in line with the directives of a government intent on turning cruelty into policy: Only weeks after it confirmed it would not give flu vaccines to families at border camps, the Trump administration quietly suspended (pdf) delayed repatriation for severely ill children. America, in short, is ready to deport children with cancer.
Inhumanity, it seems, is contagious. In Italy, babies and children have been repeatedly kept at sea for days by a government that fears—hates, even—migrants, no matter their age. In Turkey, authorities are cracking down on the Syrian refugees that Europe didn’t want. Globally, more people have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the past five years than at any previous time in history, and more than half of the world’s 26 million refugees are children. Many are met with systematic dehumanization coupled with apathy in the places where they hoped they would be safe.
This suffering cannot be blamed on politics alone. There’s a silent majority that is allowing it to continue—not protesting, not calling our representatives, not taking to the streets. Hundreds of millions of us who keep going about our days as if children weren’t being treated as less than humans in our own countries. There’s a word for this: complicity. —Annalisa Merelli and Annaliese Griffin
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Trouble ahead. This week the Hong Kong protests hit an important milestone, surpassing the 2014 Umbrella Movement’s 79-day street occupation. As Mary Hui reports from the city, sensitive days lie ahead, including the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1. Recent reports, meanwhile, seem to confirm that Beijing is calling the shots on how to deal with the protests, and the arrests of democracy activists Friday felt like the first steps of a crackdown.
Unfrozen treasure. While global warming is clearly not a good thing, rising temperatures have led to an entirely new field: glacial archaeology. Ritoban Mukherjee talks to scientists in the fledgling discipline who have rescued artifacts—including a pre-Viking ski and 10,000-year-old dart—from the melting ice. The catch? Archaeologists can only access digs for a few months of the year, and warmer air reduces the likelihood of such items surviving outside the ice.
Building modern Africa. It’d be easy to assume that China is the leading investor and biggest donor in Africa, but those honors still belong to the US. Where Beijing has made its mark like no other is on the African landscape—physical structures like airports, stadiums, dams, bridges, and roads. In a Quartz member exclusive, Youyou Zhou highlights such projects across the continent, using satellite images to show their scale.
Dear SCOTUS. US senators are weighing in on a gun-rights case under review in the Supreme Court. Democrats filed an amicus brief that caused an uproar earlier this month and Republicans responded in a letter to the court this week. The missive, sent by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, reminds the justices that the judiciary is an independent body not to be influenced by politicians. Ephrat Livni examines the correspondence and the issues it raises.
They sing, they score! It might look like indoctrination, but Canada’s citizenship ceremonies at NHL hockey games and in other iconic locales are perfectly in keeping with a small “p” political agenda. The idea is to foster support for immigration and multiculturalism, two central—if sometimes shaky—traits of the Canadian identity, writes Lila MacLellan. She looks at how the country got to be this way and lessons it might hold for other nations.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
Keeping it fun. Many North Korean defectors struggle to adapt to life in South Korea. But today some younger ones are thriving as YouTube stars, tapping into a curiosity about people like themselves and life across the border. For the Wall Street Journal, Na-Young Kim and Dasl Yoon show how these online celebrities garner followers and cash-generating clicks talking about food, dating, and movies—and hardly ever about geopolitics.
Bar none. The value of a gold bar isn’t only in the precious metal itself—the refinery stamp also matters. This is especially true with regulators trying to staunch bullion supplies that fund terrorism, conflict, or organized crime, leaving jewelers and banks worried about compliance risks. As Peter Hobson writes for Reuters, the industry is being roiled by high-quality but fake-branded gold bars that bear trusted producers’ logos, but could ultimately be sourced from anywhere.
Missed connections. Normally an airline’s closure wouldn’t threaten a national economy. But in the case of Iceland and Wow Air, which shuttered in March, the budget carrier was central to a tourism boom that sped the country’s recovery from a financial crisis. Now retailers, hotels, and others are struggling amid a drop in visitors that is threatening a recession, as Peter S. Goodman and Liz Alderman report for the New York Times.
Compound interest. Considering it was formulated 150 years ago, one could be forgiven for thinking the periodic table of elements isn’t terribly relevant today. But as Peter Coy writes for Bloomberg Businessweek, “exactly the opposite is true. Matter still matters.” In a special issue, the magazine shows the importance of one element after another to our modern world, ranging from hydrogen fuel to lithium-ion batteries to useful compounds like sodium chloride, aka salt.
It’ll take your order. The US fast-food industry has long thrived with an HR model of turnover-proof jobs: Employees might routinely flee, but it’s no problem if you “routinize” the work. With a tight labor market, however, that model is being stretched, and the turnover rate has reached up to 150%, by some estimates. As Eric Rosenbaum writes for CNBC, that has some analysts thinking the industry will be the first to fully automate, with outlets coming to resemble giant vending machines.
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, robot-made burgers, and fun-loving North Korean defectors to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Weekend Brief was edited by Steve Mollman and Kira Bindrim.