Welcome to the weekend. It's been a tough week for New Zealand as the country grapples with the second mass tragedy of 2019 following the eruption of Whakaari/White Island.

As family and friends mourn the loss of loved ones questions emerge around why tourists were allowed on an active volcano.

With Christmas just around the corner it can be a busy time of year. Make sure you take some time over the weekend to catch up on some of the best pieces of journalism from our international syndicators.

Lovers in Auschwitz, reunited 72 years later. He had one question

The first time he spoke to her, in 1943, by the Auschwitz crematory, David Wisnia realised that Helen Spitzer was no regular inmate.

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For a few months, they managed to be each other's escape, but they knew these visits wouldn't last. Around them, death was everywhere. Still, the lovers planned a life together, a future outside of Auschwitz. They knew they would be separated, but they had a plan, after the fighting was done, to reunite.

It took them 72 years.

The New York Times shares the incredible story of the two lovers in Auschwitz

David Wisnia at his home in Pennsylvania. Photo / Danna Singer, The New York Times
David Wisnia at his home in Pennsylvania. Photo / Danna Singer, The New York Times

This is what racism sounds like in the banking industry

Jimmy Kennedy earned $19 million during his nine-year career as a player in the NFL. He was the kind of person most banks would be happy to have as a client.

But when Kennedy tried to become a "private client" at JPMorgan Chase, an elite designation that would earn him travel discounts, exclusive event invitations and better deals on loans, he kept getting the runaround.

At first, he did not understand why. Then, last fall, he showed up at his local JPMorgan branch in Arizona, and an employee offered an explanation.

"You're bigger than the average person, period. And you're also an African American."

A JPMorgan employee and a customer secretly recorded their conversations with bank employees.

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Jimmy Kennedy, a former NFL player. Photo / Ash Ponders, The New York Times
Jimmy Kennedy, a former NFL player. Photo / Ash Ponders, The New York Times

Comment: The painful truth about feedback at work

Constant, blunt feedback is a hallmark of Ray Dalio's singular management style, which has been known to bring employees to tears. It did not stop him creating the world's largest hedge fund. Equally, a bracing feedback culture at Netflix does not seem to have hurt the online streaming group.

The success of such companies is one reason many business leaders have been drawn to the idea that painful truths equal better performance.

The Financial Times looks at how when done well, radically honest performance reviews tend to produce good results.

There are many reasons to admire forthright feedback at work. The trouble is, too many of us do it badly. Photo / 123RF
There are many reasons to admire forthright feedback at work. The trouble is, too many of us do it badly. Photo / 123RF

The champion who picked a date to die

Knowing she had the legal right to die helped Marieke Vervoort live her life. It propelled her to medals at the Paralympics. But she could never get away from the pain.

Andrew Keh and Lynsey Addario spent almost three years reporting on Marieke Vervoort as she and her parents wrestled with her decision to die by euthanasia. They visited her multiple times at home and in hospital stays in Belgium, and accompanied her on trips to the Canary Islands and Japan.

This New York Times shares her journey.

Marieke Vervoort embraces her parents before her euthanasia. Photo / Lynsey Addario, The New York Times
Marieke Vervoort embraces her parents before her euthanasia. Photo / Lynsey Addario, The New York Times

Diary of a war correspondent: I've lost count of the people I've seen killed

From his headline-making discovery of the former London schoolgirl in a refugee camp to his photograph of a boy horrifically burnt by Turkish bombs, via reports from inside the prisons holding Isis suspects

This is award-winning Times war correspondent Anthony Loyd's urgent and compelling diary of 2019.

Women who fled the Islamic State's last areas of control in Syria at the Al Hol camp. Photo / Ivor Prickett, The New York Times
Women who fled the Islamic State's last areas of control in Syria at the Al Hol camp. Photo / Ivor Prickett, The New York Times

Six decisions that shaped the decade

Even the most seemingly insignificant decisions can influence the course of history.

As the 2010s come to an end, The Washington Post revisit the people whose choices helped spark sweeping changes to our politics, law, culture and the geopolitical order.

A fruit seller, a man in love, Ashley Judd and others made tough choices that affected millions.

Ashley Judd speaks at the rally at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Photo / Getty Images
Ashley Judd speaks at the rally at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Photo / Getty Images

As water runs low, can life in the Australian outback go on?

Fleur Magick Dennis has stopped showering every day, allowed her vegetable patch to die and told her four sons to let the dishes pile up. Sometimes, all her family has is bottled water, and they have to preserve every drop.

A year and a half ago, the reservoir in their town, Euchareena, went dry, leaving the family and some other residents without running water.

As a crippling drought and mismanagement have left more than a dozen Australian towns and villages without a reliable source of water, the country is beginning to confront a question that strikes at its very identity: Is life in Australia's vast interior compatible with the age of climate change?

"We're starting to glimpse what the future is going to be like," one scientist tells the New York Times.

Fleur Magick Dennis and her son James carrying drinking water home from the town hall in Euchareena, Australia. Photo / Adam Ferguson, The New York Times
Fleur Magick Dennis and her son James carrying drinking water home from the town hall in Euchareena, Australia. Photo / Adam Ferguson, The New York Times

Video games and online chats 'hunting grounds' for sexual predators

Sexual predators and other bad actors have found an easy access point into the lives of young people: They are meeting them online through multiplayer video games and chat apps, making virtual connections right in their victims' homes.

Criminals strike up a conversation and gradually build trust. Often they pose as children, confiding in their victims with false stories of hardship or self-loathing. Their goal, typically, is to dupe children into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves — which they use as blackmail for more imagery, much of it increasingly graphic and violent.

The New York Times investigates.

Criminals are making virtual connections with children through gaming and social media platforms. Photo / Kolood Eid, The New York Times
Criminals are making virtual connections with children through gaming and social media platforms. Photo / Kolood Eid, The New York Times

What does it mean to create new life when one parent is dying?

Ben Boyer can still picture the expression on his wife's face that night six years ago, as they talked over dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant in London.

It had been four years since Xenia Trejo had been diagnosed, at the age of 33, with a malignant brain tumour that doctors said would eventually end her life. But as she sat across the table from Ben that evening, Xenia radiated joy.

She felt strong, and after numerous rounds of treatment, her doctors had just told them that Xenia's tumour was stable enough to do something she had long dreamed of: pursue a pregnancy. Now Xenia was asking Ben, What do you think? Should we try?

The Washington Post looks at the people who contront the extraordinary convergence of birth and death.

Xenia Trejo and daughter Ella in 2016. Ella had just turned 2. Xenia died in May 2018. Photo / Washington Post
Xenia Trejo and daughter Ella in 2016. Ella had just turned 2. Xenia died in May 2018. Photo / Washington Post

Comment | How a generation that sucks is embodied by the name Karen

While everyone is complaining about boomers, Gen Z doesn't want you to forget to complain about Generation X, the other generation that's significantly older than them that also sucks. This sucking is embodied by the name Karen, the young people have noticed — middle-aged white moms who are always asking for the manager and calling the police on perfectly fine pool parties and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities.

I know Karens are hard. As a member of Gen X, I grew up surrounded by them, writes Sarah Miller of The New York Times.

While everyone is complaining about boomers, Gen Z doesn't want you to forget to complain about Generation X. Photo / Saehan Park, The New York Times
While everyone is complaining about boomers, Gen Z doesn't want you to forget to complain about Generation X. Photo / Saehan Park, The New York Times

The best Christmas romcoms: Seven cult feelgood films you need to see

Yes, all we do want for Christmas is romance, Wham! and Daenerys Targarye dressed as an elf. Thankfully, all three join forces in the latest romantic comedy Last Christmas.

Should Oscar hopefuls be quaking in their boots? No. But who cares? It's got heart, laughs and charm and it the latest in a long line of festive romcoms.

Even the hardest of seasonal cynics can't resist a Christmas romcom, and these are the classics.

Is it even Christmas if you don't watch Love Actually? Photo / Supplied
Is it even Christmas if you don't watch Love Actually? Photo / Supplied