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Good Reads: A lesson for democracy, lost and found on Google Earth, and the next Arab uprising

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Vanity Fair’s David Kushner found one such story in the incredible saga of Saroo Brierley. As a 5-year-old in India, he was separated from his older brother at a train station, and through a series of dramatic turns, found himself lost among the poor and homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Taken in by an orphanage, he was eventually adopted by Australian parents.

Mr. Brierley adjusted well to his new life, but after graduating from college in 2009, he hit a rough patch: “After years of ignoring his past, it finally came crashing back – the desire to find his roots, and himself.”

Enter Google Earth. Brierley used the program’s satellite imagery to search for his home village in India – whose geographic location and name he did not know. “All he had was a laptop and some hazy memories, but Saroo was going to try.”

Brierley used strategies from an applied-mathematics course to narrow his search, and after months of scouring aerial photos, researching leads, and networking on Facebook, he pinpointed his hometown. 

Armed with the encouragement of his adoptive parents, Brierley flew to India. “With every step, it felt like two films overlaying, his wispy memories from his childhood and the vital reality now.”

Spoiler alert: Brierley found his biological mother. A tearful reunion was followed by 11 days of family reintroductions.

A profile in Egyptian courage

Yasmine Fathi, writing for Al Ahram, the English-language Egyptian paper, pays tribute to Mina Danial, a revered 19-year-old Christian activist a year after his death. Mr. Danial was one of 27 Coptic protesters killed by Egyptian security forces in the Maspero massacre on Oct. 9, 2011. The piece captures not just the brave ethic of a young revolutionary but the struggles of post-Mubarak Egypt, strained by sectarian tensions.

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