Sunday, May 26, 2013

Links for the week ending 26 May 2013

"'There were so many mistakes with Gitmo. It took years to create a mess this bad; and not just one bad decision, many bad decisions. It's painful,' he told me during one of a series of interviews over the last four years." At Foreign Policy, an epic piece by Michelle Shephard on the doomed quest to close the prison camp at Guantanamo.

Civil war in Syria continues spreading throughout the region. From Beruit, Sara Hussein reports for AFP on Syrian refugees. From the Lebanese side of the border city of Tripoli, Loveday Morris reports for The Washington Post on spillover fighting between Sunni and Alawite Shiite neighborhoods. And, for The New Yorker, Jenna Krajeski reports on car bombs in the Turkish border city of of Reyhanli, host to thousands of Syrian refugees.

"Carbon-dioxide levels have been monitored at the observatory ever since, and they’ve exhibited a pattern that started out as terrifying and may be now described as terrifyingly predictable." Did you all see that stuff last month about how Tylenol may reduce the sense of existential despair? Yeah, you may want to have some Tylenol handy while reading this Elizabeth Kolbert piece in The New Yorker about Keystone XL and crossing the 400 ppm of CO2 mark.

I have heard some traumatic birth stories before, but this blows my mind: "As the floor shook 'like an earthquake' beneath her and ceiling tiles and insulation fell overhead, the 25-year-old huddled with four nurses, braving both the peak contractions of childbirth and the wrath of the worst twister the veteran Oklahoman had ever endured. By JoNel Aleccia for NBC News.

"So, you can try to enforce your basement with steel; ultimately, though, the steel will be anchored to rock that is 'rock' only in the broadest sense of the word." Megan Garber at The Atlantic on why homes in central Oklahoma rarely have basements or underground tornado shelters. (Via Anne Jefferson.)

"'It went from being a benign-looking blip to a supercell in 10 to 15 minutes. All the ingredients were there at the right time.'" Nice short piece by Eryn Brown at the Los Angeles Times on a storm researcher for NOAA in Norman, Oklahoma who tracked the developing tornado on her radar equipment — and then filmed it out her office window.

"Rosen instructed Kim to send him coded signals on his Google account, according to a quote from his e-mail in the affidavit: 'One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.'" At The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow takes a closer look at the Justice Department's leaks investigation against a Fox reporter and his contact at the State Department, both of whom would have been better off conducting their meeting in front of some instructional exhibits at the Spy Museum. (Via Jennifer Steinhauer.)

"Serrano did as he was told, but as he took the men’s I.D.’s and wrote their tickets, he told them: 'I’m violating your rights, and you should take my name down. If you ever want to sue, you can use me as a witness.' Moving, must-read long profile of quietly heroic NYPD whistleblower Pedro Serrano, by Jennifer Gonnerman at New York Magazine. (Via Nikole Hannah-Jones.)

"There is a surprisingly rich and dynamic academic literature developing around the concept of 'sousveillance,' a term coined by the University of Toronto professor and inventor Steve Mann to describe privately made recordings that can serve as a counterweight to institutional and government surveillance. Maria Bustillos at The New Yorker on the rise of "Little Brother."

"'There's no freedom of speech in Nuevo Laredo — if they write the truth, they kill them,' one of the men said of the cartels." Molly Hennessy-Fiske at the Los Angeles Times on censorship in the face of drug violence at a Spanish-language newspaper published on both sides of the Mexican-U.S. border. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"But then it hits her: If she’s scared as a grown woman, one just under 6 feet tall, how are small children going to feel?" Heartbreaking reporting by Lauren FitzPatrick and Jessica Koscielniak for the Chicago Sun-Times on the dangers that will be facing Chicago schoolchildren when their neighborhood elementary schools close. The first in a multi-part series. (Via Dan Sinker.)

"When the perpetrators of this new kind of melting pot come primarily from the investor class, one winds up with a bland cosmopolitan monoculture that crystallizes the world’s inequities into a snowglobe of Louis Vuitton luggage and Tiffany jewelry, mingling over pan-Asian cuisine cooked by a Frenchman, served on plates made in China, by Mexicans in an anonymous downtown high-rise made of glass and steel." Great book review by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian at The New Inquiry.

From Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones: "Obamacare Doesn't Make Employers Cover Spouses. Does That Matter?" Uh. I'm going to go with "yes" here. (Via Kate Sheppard.)

"So, what did the DSM do for me? I collected diagnoses, but none of them— aside from the one I never officially received — fully described my real problems." Maia Szalavitz at Time looks at the controversies of the DSM 5 — and the larger failures of psychiatry — from a brutally personal standpoint.

"But these studies suggest that for some people — particularly those who are middle-aged or older, or already sick — a bit of extra weight is not particularly harmful, and may even be helpful." Never let it be said that I don't bring you good news! Virginia Hughes reports for Nature on how epidemiologists are battling over a recent meta-analysis throwing received wisdom about being overweight into doubt. Hughes also writes more about the story at National Geographic.

"I’m going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story you’ve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves – lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. Best metaphor of the week, by Kameron Hurley in the essay "'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative." At A Dribble of Ink. (Via, well, Jill Heather and Rachel Hartman can battle that one out.)

"Click on our masthead. Look at the photos. Skim the bios. What do you notice?" In the wake of VIDA counts, Lauren Quinn at all-female magazine Vela does a hard reckoning about her own publication's role in marginalizing writers of color.

"'Let's get rid of weddings,' Dinara says. 'Each one is a bloodless war.'" I suspect Jia Tolentino may have the best real-life conversations pretty much ever. At The Billfold.

"Sometimes the hair is all I can think of and sometimes I forget for a few days and then look in the mirror at the tiny whiskers growing out of my chin, my cheeks, my neck, and cannot believe, literally cannot believe, I’ve been walking around like this." Also at The Billfold. I love Logan Sachon so damn much, I can't even stand it.

"They were guys who stayed trying to put a couple dollars together — usually to get high. They were guys for whom the hustle was a way of life, who might get a piece of a job here or there but not keep it for long — but who were still decent enough to look out for the elders on the block, like my mom." Beautiful essay by Carolyn Edgar on her first serious boyfriend. (Via @saltypepper.)

"I had to remind myself to focus on the patient. I was her witness, her advocate, her midwife with a twist. To be any good to her, I would have to be present, not wrapped up in my own hormonal whirlwind." Wrenching and gorgeous, an essay by Patricia O'Connor at Vela about serving as an abortion counselor while struggling with a high-risk pregnancy of her own. (Via John Darnielle.)