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A New Front in Reparations and More: The Week in Reporter Reads

This weekend, listen to a collection of articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.

Written and narrated by Audra D. S. Burch

For much of their lives, the Jones siblings had passed by a parking lot on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville without giving it much thought. Then one day, a relative casually pointed to the spot and said she thought it was once owned by their ancestors, who had farmed the land since the 1870s.

The Joneses want it back.

African American families across the country — particularly in the South — are pushing for the return of land they say was taken in government seizures, an emerging attempt to provide economic restoration for the long saga of Black land loss and deprived inheritances.

Written and narrated by Dan Barry

The Picasso fell off the proverbial truck. It vanished from a loading dock at Logan International Airport in Boston and wound up where it didn’t belong, in the modest home of one Merrill Rummel, also known as Bill.

In fairness, this forklift operator had no idea that the crate he tossed into his car trunk contained a Picasso until he opened its casing. In fairness, he didn’t care much for it; he preferred realism.

But now things had turned all too real. F.B.I. agents were hot on the trail of a hot Picasso unavailable for public viewing, as it was hidden in Rummel’s hallway closet. He and his fiancée, Sam, began to panic.

The Case of the Missing Picasso, revealed here for the first time, goes back. Back before the much more notorious theft of 13 works of art from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Back, in a sense, to a time before Picasso had even painted the piece in question.

Written and narrated by Damien Cave

Seeking to dominate the strategic waterways of Asia, China has deployed an armada of boats that are equipped with 76-millimeter cannons, the capacity to add anti-ship missiles, and they are bigger than U.S. Navy destroyers. But they are not Chinese Navy vessels. Their hulls are painted white, with “China Coast Guard” in block letters on the sides.

In just a decade, China has amassed the world’s largest coast guard fleet, and it is like no other. More militarized, more aggressive in international disputes and less concerned with the usual missions of policing smugglers or search and rescue, the Chinese force has upended 200 years of global coast guard tradition.

Written and narrated by Jesse McKinley

Mitchell Montgomery said he knew there was something curious about his new home when he moved in last year, surrounded as it was by empty streets and overgrown lots — and priced below the going rate for many rental houses in Niagara Falls.

When he brushed his teeth, for instance, he sometimes noticed a peculiar smell coming through the drain. It seemed like his 8-year-old son’s asthma was getting worse, and his pregnant girlfriend was having occasional nosebleeds and headaches. And a couple of months ago, when he replaced a sump pump in the basement, it was covered in a thick tar-like substance.

It was Love Canal, the scene of one of the nation’s worst toxic-waste catastrophes and now — 45 years later — the site for a new, and sometimes unknowing, generation of homesteaders.

Written and narrated by Jack Healy

As the mayor of an old farming town bursting with new homes, factories and warehouses, Eric Orsborn spends his days thinking about water. The lifeblood for this growth is billions of gallons of water pumped from the ground, and his city, Buckeye, Ariz., is thirsty for more as builders push deeper into the desert fringes of Phoenix.

But last week, Arizona announced it would limit some future home construction in Buckeye and other places because of a shortfall in groundwater. The worried calls started pouring in to Mr. Orsborn.

The upheaval was caused by a new state study that found groundwater supplies in the Phoenix area were about 4 percent short of what is needed for planned growth over the next 100 years. That may feel like a far-off horizon, but it is enough of a change to force the state to rethink its future in the near and long terms.

The Times’s narrated articles are made by Tally Abecassis, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Aaron Esposito, Dan Farrell, Elena Hecht, Adrienne Hurst, Emma Kehlbeck, Tanya Pérez, Krish Seenivasan, Kate Winslett, John Woo and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.

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