Sunday, September 30, 2012

Links for the week ending 30 September 2012

"… he filled his time with remedial studies designed by a Canadian college professor— literature, physics and videos of 'Little Mosque on the Prairie.'" Omar Khadr, captured by the U.S. and sent to Guantánamo as a child of 15, was yesterday turned over to authorities in his native Canada, there to serve out the rest of his 8-year sentence for "war crimes." By the Miami Herald's excellent reporter on the Guantánamo beat, Carol Rosenberg.

GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton reports from a bombed-out hospital in Aleppo, Syria. (Warning: I did not watch any of the videos in this article; I assume that any and all of them may contain graphic footage of injuries and violence.) Erika Solomon at Reuters reports further on the burning of Aleppo's historic souk, which dates back to medieval times. At the AP, Zeina Karam reports, "Syrian authorities sent text messages over cell phones nationwide Thursday with a message for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime: 'Game over.'"

Some fascinating writing this week on clashing cultural constructions of freedom of speech. Sarah Kendzior at Al Jazeera English insightfully analyzes this summer's Chick-fil-A boycott in the context of protests against anti-Muslim hate speech: "Free speech does not mean deferring to people's right to abuse you." Also, danah boyd looks at Mona Eltahawy's spray-paint protest against racist anti-Muslim ads on the NYC subway system and concludes: "there's a huge international disconnect brewing over American free speech and our failure to publicly untangle these issues undermines any effort to promote its value." I'm hoping that Zeynep Tufecki will write up a piece expanding on her Twitter thoughts about how freedom of speech means something entirely different in countries that have experienced ethnic cleansing.

This is just plain hilarious: Sarah A. Topol at The Atlantic on tourist-kidnapping as political protest by hopelessly hospitable Bedouin tribes of the Sinai Peninsula.

This will not be the cheeriest thing you read today: Nina Chestney at Reuters on a new international report concluding that "more than 100 million people will die" by 2030 if nothing is done about climate change.

Increased carbon dioxide makes ocean waters much more acidic, with "major catastrophic" consequences for species and ecosystems. At COMPASS, Nancy Baron writes about scientists and journalists talking together about how to communicate the problem to the public: "like dropping a tooth into Coca-Cola and watching the corrosion."

On the other hand, now you can sail across the Arctic Ocean in summertime. Whoa. That's Fridtjof Nansen turning over in his grave, there. By Rebecca Rosen for The Atlantic.

"'We don't have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.'" At the Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin and Jennifer Valentino-Devries report on a new frontier in public and private surveillance: license-plate tracking. After you read this, you may feel that a little sailing jaunt in the Arctic isn't such a bad idea…

Just in case you needed to hear that twice: from Naomi Gilens at the ACLU, "New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance."

Gee, I can't possibly imagine a scenario in which this could go wrong. "Facebook Now Knows What You're Buying at Drug Stores." By Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic.

Voter intimidation never goes out of style. Mariah Blake at The Atlantic profiles the RNC's history of "voter-fraud" campaigns, newly incarnated as independent organization "True the Vote." ProPublica's Suevon Lee offers a reading guide to True the Vote's recent media coverage.

A new longread from Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone: "The Plot Against Occupy: How the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell."

Interesting piece by Steph Herold at RH Reality Check on a recent study about low-income women's opinions on public funding for abortion.

From Liz Szabo at USA Today, coverage of a new study finding that BPA exposure impacts not just the developing fetus but also the eggs forming in the ovaries of female fetuses — meaning that exposure has the potential to disrupt three generations at once.

Cheap, personalized cancer treatment? Marilynn Marchione reports for the AP about a recent NEJM study describing a new technique that allows doctors to culture cancer cells from patient tumors in order to test the cancer's susceptibility to various drugs.

At The Open Notebook, Michelle Nijhuis interviews author Florence Williams about her book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, which I am promptly adding to my to-read list.

Another week, another scary new disease! Helen Branswell reports for the Canadian Press about a new coronavirus that caused two deaths in people recently in Saudi Arabia, where the hajj is soon to begin. At Wired, Maryn McKenna discusses "Why the New Coronavirus Unnerves Public Health: Remembering SARS."

Christie Wilcox at SciAm looks at whether lower pesticide residues are in and of themselves a good reason to buy organic and concludes, "you have more to fear from your home than from your food." That would be more comforting if we hadn't just established that our furniture is stuffed with toxic flame-retardant chemicals, yes.

Also at SciAm, medical student Ilana Yurkiewicz's excellent analysis of why it matters that a recent study shows both male and female scientists display gender bias against women.

At the Washington Post, Frances Stead Sellers writes about Gallaudet University professor Carolyn McCaskill, author of the first formal study of Black American Sign Language and how it differs from ASL.

Sady Doyle writes for Rookie about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A brave piece, and, god, I can't say enough admiring things about writers who take teenagers seriously enough to address this kind of work to them.

At The New Republic, Julia Ioffe bids a fond — and not-so-fond — farewell to Moscow.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Carol Berger finds barbarians inside the gates at the Egyptian Museum.

At Smithsonian Magazine, Jen Miller writes about the complicated, bitter, and loving history of Navajo frybread.

Finally, also at Smithsonian Magazine, Abigail Tucker writes about "The Great New England Vampire Panic." Bram Stoker might have found an inspiration in… Rhode Island???