Welcome to the weekend. New Zealand has shivered through the week as winter tightened its grip on the country for the first week of school holidays.

So find a cosy spot inside this weekend, keep warm, and take some time to catch up on some of the best pieces of journalism from our premium international syndicators.

The inside story of why Mary Trump wrote a tell-all memoir

For most of her life, Mary L. Trump was shunted aside by her own family.

Her status as an outcast culminated in 1999 when Fred Trump Sr. died, and she discovered that she and her brother had been cut out of his will, depriving them of what they believed was their rightful share of untold millions. A dispute over the will devolved into a court fight, its details shielded by a confidentiality agreement that Mary Trump has adhered to for nearly 20 years.

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Now, however, the story of that fight — and other new allegations — has been thrust into the spotlight with the publication of her memoir.

The New York Times looks at the book which casts a cold light on the relatives Mary Trump describes as dysfunctional.
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A memoir by President Trump's niece, Mary L. Trump, sheds new light on decades of family infighting. Photo / Doug Mills, The New York Times
A memoir by President Trump's niece, Mary L. Trump, sheds new light on decades of family infighting. Photo / Doug Mills, The New York Times

Inside the family feud that could end an empire

The famously private Barclay brothers were renowned for being tight‑knit and spent decades building their $13 billion fortune. But with a spying scandal and a looming divorce, is their family's vast organisation about to fall?

Oliver Shah of The Times reports.

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay. Photo / Getty Images
Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay. Photo / Getty Images

Sweden has become the world's Covid cautionary tale

Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered.

This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighbouring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden's economy has fared little better.

The New York Times looks at how Sweden's situation offers red flags as other countries move to lift lockdowns.

Sweden largely avoided imposing prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open. Photo / AP
Sweden largely avoided imposing prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open. Photo / AP

How the Mafia infiltrated Italy's hospitals and laundered the profits globally

Over the past two decades, the leading families of the 'Ndrangheta have expanded operations far outside their small home region. Today they control a large part of cocaine importation into Europe, as well as arms smuggling, extortion and cross-border money laundering. Several hundred autonomous clans have been transformed into one of Italy's most successful businesses, with some studies estimating their combined annual turnover to be as high as $75.5 billion.

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Yet even among such lucrative criminal activities, the riches on offer from plundering Italy's public health system stood out as a golden opportunity.

The Financial Times investigates how the country's most powerful organised crime group packaged millions of plundered euros into funds and portfolios.
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Italy's most powerful organised crime group packaged millions of plundered euros into funds and portfolios. Photo / 123RF
Italy's most powerful organised crime group packaged millions of plundered euros into funds and portfolios. Photo / 123RF

The reality behind Below Deck

How real is reality television? The New York went behind the scenes of Bravo's hit show, Below Deck, which offers a window into the world of yachts and yachties. What they found was a master suite crammed with producers, camera operators and Pringles.

Caity Weaver explains the complex logistical operation.

An episode of Bravo's Below Deck Mediterranean is filmed in Majorca, Spain. Photo / Albert Bonsfills Morell, The New York Times
An episode of Bravo's Below Deck Mediterranean is filmed in Majorca, Spain. Photo / Albert Bonsfills Morell, The New York Times

As neo-Nazis seed military ranks, Germany confronts 'an enemy within'

Germany has a problem. For years, politicians and security chiefs rejected the notion of any far-right infiltration of the security services, speaking only of "individual cases." The idea of networks was dismissed. The superiors of those exposed as extremists were protected. Guns and ammunition disappeared from military stockpiles with no real investigation.

The government is now waking up.

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The New York Times examines the cases of far-right extremists in the German military and police.

Shooting drills at the base of the KSK, the military special forces, in Calw, Germany. Photo / Laetitia Vancon, The New York Times
Shooting drills at the base of the KSK, the military special forces, in Calw, Germany. Photo / Laetitia Vancon, The New York Times

A woman without a country: Adopted at birth and deportable at 30

When Rebecca Trimble was a little girl, she wore red, white and blue to Independence Day parades.

It was on the eve of getting married in 2012 that she realised there was something amiss in her all-American upbringing. Adopted as an infant from Mexico, she discovered that what she thought was a minor mix-up in her paperwork was something else entirely. Eventually, she realised that not only was she not American, she did not, in the government's view, belong in the United States at all.

The New York Times looks at how Rebecca's quest to fix the problem put her at risk of deportation.

John and Rebecca Trimble moved to Bethel, Alaska, in 2017. Photo / Ash Adams, The New York Times
John and Rebecca Trimble moved to Bethel, Alaska, in 2017. Photo / Ash Adams, The New York Times

Hong Kong, changed overnight, navigates its new reality

In recent days, as China took a victory lap over the law it imposed on the city, the defiant masses who once filled Hong Kong's streets in protest have largely gone quiet. Sticky notes that had plastered the walls of pro-democracy businesses vanished, taken down by owners suddenly fearful of the words scribbled on them. Parents whispered about whether to stop their children from singing a popular protest song, while activists devised coded ways to express now-dangerous ideas.

In a city where China has made some ideas suddenly dangerous, people are trying to figure out where the boundaries lie, and how their lives have changed.

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The New York Times reports.

At a restaurant in the Tsim Sha Tsui district on Friday, sticky notes bearing pro-democracy slogans - now potentially illegal - had been replaced with blank ones. Photo / Lam Yik Fei, New York Times
At a restaurant in the Tsim Sha Tsui district on Friday, sticky notes bearing pro-democracy slogans - now potentially illegal - had been replaced with blank ones. Photo / Lam Yik Fei, New York Times

How Netflix beat Hollywood to a generation of Black content

Hollywood is scrambling, in its traditional way — late, liberal, a bit ham-handed — to catch up with this cultural moment. Some streaming services have made civil rights-themed programming free to all, while studios race to sign new projects by Black directors. And to the immense frustration of mostly white executives all over town, they also find themselves — again! — scrambling to catch up with Netflix, already a threat to their technology and business model, and now winning the race to the centre of the conversation as well.

Netflix didn't set out to build a big library of Black programming, but now it's the envy of its rivals.

The New York Times reports.

A promotional image for When They See Us, Ava DuVernay's mini-series on the false convictions of the Central Park Five, in the lobby of the Netflix offices. Photo / Hunter Kerhart, The New York Times
A promotional image for When They See Us, Ava DuVernay's mini-series on the false convictions of the Central Park Five, in the lobby of the Netflix offices. Photo / Hunter Kerhart, The New York Times

Venice tourism may never be the same. It could be better

Venice, and other European cities that grew to rely heavily on tourism, have been left particularly exposed to the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But there's a new feeling many residents and local travel operators share: The crisis creates an opportunity to make future travel to and within their cities and regions more sustainable. This crossroads is sparking conversations about how to make tourism less taxing on urban infrastructure and local inhabitants.

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The New York Times looks at how many see this as an opportunity to rethink a "tourism monoculture."

A gondolier in Venice in February, when the Carnival period typically marked the start of peak tourist season. Photo / AP
A gondolier in Venice in February, when the Carnival period typically marked the start of peak tourist season. Photo / AP

'It will consume your life': Four families take on rare diseases

Monica Coenraads had a terrible feeling something was wrong with her 14-month-old baby, Chelsea. She had not learned to walk. She had one word, duck, and then lost it.

Chelsea, it turned out, had a rare genetic disease, Rett syndrome.

Coenraad has encouraged research into Rett syndrome where there had been none, providing hope for her daughter and the small number of people who live with the disease, and showing one way that a determined person can succeed against such odds.

When frantic parents of children with other rare disorders ask how she did it and what they can do, Coenraads recognises the fear in their voice.

The New York Times tells the stories of Coenraads and three people who have succeeded in promoting research on uncommon diseases, but in very different ways.

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"We have no choice," Monica Coenraads said, pictured with her daughter Chelsea. "We are desperate parents. We have children with horrible diseases." Photo / Monica Jorge, The New York Times