Why you should care

From high-speed trains to a smart urn, here is the best of OZY this week.

This week on OZY we reported on a project in Texas that is at the heart of a quiet revival of high-speed rail plans, and that the nation’s first — a route connecting Houston to Dallas — could break ground later this year.

We have even more provocative stories for you to discover — Iceland’s only rabbi, an environmentalist fighting Colombia’s biggest-ever dam project, the rise of extremism in South African politics, a Wi-Fi-enabled urn that keeps a memorial tree alive, a huge religious festival notorious for people going missing and a look back at how Emperor Akihito brought Japan into the future. Plus we have an amazing love story about a man’s epic journey to find his wife. Here are our favorites on OZY this week.

No. 1: In the Spotlight: Can Texas Put American High-Speed Trains Back on the Rails?

Why You Should Care: A new model to finance high-speed train projects is drawing bipartisan support.

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No. 2: Rising Star: The Story Behind Iceland’s Only Rabbi

Why You Should Care: Brooklyn native Avi Feldman is hoping to revive a population that, in official terms, does not legally exist.

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No. 3: Against the Spread: Sports Leagues Bet Big on Winning Gambling Proceeds

Why You Should Care: MLB and the NBA are eyeing earnings from the very sports betting laws they’re officially opposing.

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No. 4: Tree Tech Support: How to Keep Your Memory Tree Alive

Why You Should Care: This Wi-Fi-enabled, sci-fi plant pot will help you grow a memorial tree from ashes and prevent you from killing it.

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No. 5: Meet: The Death-Defying Activist Standing in the Way of a $4.5 Billion Dam

Why You Should Care: Environmental activist Isabel Zuleta is fighting Colombia’s biggest-ever dam project to protect her people.

Much more >>

No. 6: Lost and Found: How the World’s Biggest Religious Festival Tracks 250K Missing People

Why You Should Care: The Kumbh festival in India is notorious for people going missing. Organizers finally have a fix.

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No. 7: Copy That: Why the West Should Follow China in Push for National Death Education

Why You Should Care: Encouraging conversations around death would help people and their families prepare better for life’s one certainty.

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No. 8: In the News: How South African Politics Is Going to Extremes

Why You Should Care: The African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance remain the country’s political poles, but they’re losing ground to more extremist parties.

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No. 9: True Story: My Terrifying Trek Across Borders, Rivers and Jungles to Find My Wife

Why You Should Care: A Rohingya Muslim travels thousands of miles and risks his life to be reunited with his loved ones.

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No. 10: Flashback: How Emperor Akihito Brought Japan Into the Future

Why You Should Care: The emperor atoned for his father’s violent legacy to find a new — and lasting — role for the throne.

Much more >>

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If you’d want to drink it, eat it, wear it, ride it, drive it; if it’d be cool to see, listen to or do, we’re writing about it.