Sunday, November 3, 2013

Links for the week ending 3 November 2013

"In testimony that caused the translator to stop and begin to weep, he said: 'Congressman Grayson, as a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?'" From Karen McVeigh at the Guardian, a sobering account of the testimony of Pakistani drone victims before Congress — well, to the five lawmakers who bothered to show up for the hearing.

"Polio has broken out among young children in northeast Syria after probably originating in Pakistan and poses a threat to millions of children across the Middle East, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday." By Stephanie Nebehay at Reuters.

"Prey had been spotted, he told a friend. When the host asked what they were going to hunt, he said, 'A beautiful deer.' " The incredible Ellen Barry at the NYT on serial gang-rapists in Mumbai.

"Ahead of the Sochi Olympics in February, Russia is taking saliva samples from religiously conservative Muslim women, according to locals in the North Caucasus, gathering DNA so authorities can identify the body parts if any become suicide bombers." Alissa De Carbonnel at Reuters with yet another reason why the upcoming Winter Olympics looks to be the worst idea ever in the history of sports.

"With only 16,000 inhabitants, Greenland’s capital isn’t exactly Copenhagen or Washington, but by Greenland standards, Nuuk is the rare Arctic metropolis. At the foot of the Sermitsiaq mountain, a 12-story apartment complex and a new shopping mall sit side by side with brightly colored wooden houses from the eighteenth century." At Foreign Affairs, Anna-Katarina Gravgaard reports on Greenland's debate on rare-earth mining — and how to more generally approach the new realities that climate change is bringing to the country.

"The National Security Agency and its British counterpart have apparently tapped the fiber-optic cables connecting Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas servers and are copying vast amounts of email and other information, according to accounts of documents leaked by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden." From dude Charlie Savage, Claire Cain Miller, and Nicole Perlroth at the NYT, it's another week, another data surveillance revelation.

"In fiscal year 2007, before the recession began, there were about 26 million people receiving food stamps. As of this past July, the most recent month of data available, there were nearly 48 million, representing about a seventh of the American population." As of Friday, those 48 million people have even less money for food. Because that's how we value human life in this country, abortion politics notwithstanding. Catherine Rampell reports for the NYT.

"They are sick four times as often as kids who are not homeless, twice as likely to be hungry, and suffer from emotional and behavioral problems at three times the rate of other children." That's the 1,168,354 homeless children counted in the U.S. in 2011. By Sarah Goodyear for The Atlantic.

"'I would have to work a minimum of three jobs, each 40 hours a week at minimum wage. That’s to keep the lights on. No groceries, no gas,' said Donnie, who made $70,000 in his best year." Suzy Khimm reports for MSNBC on the sequester's effects on the coal-mining areas of Kentucky.

"The Davises’ ordeal was always going to be painful. But the grim path that led them to a night in the car was determined, nearly every step of the way, by a state that has scrambled to be the most 'pro-life' in the nation." Irin Carmon reports for MSNBC on the quest of one poor young Oklahoma couple to end a a pregnancy in which the fetus suffered from severe brain malformation.

"That meant that starting this morning, Nov. 1, clinics in Fort Worth, Lubbock, El Paso, McAllen, Austin, Waco, and San Antonio have had to cease providing women with access to legal abortion care. In Austin, that means that Planned Parenthood's South Austin clinic, which provides abortion care up to 20 weeks at its surgical center, will be unable, until further notice, to provide any abortion care." For couples like the Davises, the options are now even fewer. Jordan Smith reports for The Austin Chronicle on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that shutters more than a dozen clinics across Texas.

"The 2nd Circuit hasn’t said whether Scheindlin’s ruling against New York City was right or wrong. Instead, the three-judge panel said she 'ran afoul' of the code of conduct for federal judges by making her impartiality seem as if it could be questioned and through her 'improper application' of the rule by which judges agree to handle 'related cases.'" At Slate, Emily Bazelon explains the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Judge Shira Scheindlin in the NYC stop-and-frisk case.

"Notes from a morning meeting of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight total exactly '6 enrollments' after the marketplace’s first day. It turns out that, behind the scenes, the launch looked just as bad as it did for the general public." This Buzzfeed-type list by Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post about the first 31 days of is nonetheless very informative.

"'The idea that it is not statistically significant to have 19 people die in a couple of days really tells you the enormity of this problem,' she said." Yamiche Alcindor and Meghan Hoyer at USA Today report on a week in which four mass murders took place the U.S. in four days.

"In progressive organizations, the health of the whole community hinges on the safety of every member, not just the most popular ones. We have to step up to for the victims, which means listening to them, making their comfort a priority, and not pressuring them to engage with the abuser so that others can come to terms with what has happened." Mikki Kendall at The Toast.

"Exasperated, the protesters began to post criticism of the new policy in reviews of books on censorship, and in some cases posted reviews making ridiculous attacks on authors (such as accusing the late children’s author Tove Jansson of engaging in orgies with moomintrolls), in order to test the limits of the moderation policy." Laura Miller at Salon on the Goodreads Review Wars of 2013. (Hat tip to Jody T.)

"Although the biggest schools have equipment managers, sometimes that conversation happens with the head coach — who has a financial incentive. Coaches typically receive money from shoe companies in exchange for wearing the apparel and making appearances at that company's events." Football players at some colleges can't tape up their ankles because that would… cover up the shoe-company logo their coaches and programs are being paid to advertise. By Rachel Axon at USA Today.

"This is someone weighing your Black history and your Black pain versus their own sense of folly and choosing themselves. And that, beloveds, is what White privilege is all about. 'I hear what you all are saying, but at the end of the day, I come first.'" At Ebony, Jamilah Lemieux drops the mic on white people in blackface.

"I do not know how much my mother spent on her camel colored cape or knee-high boots but I know that whatever she paid it returned in hard-to-measure dividends. How do you put a price on the double-take of a clerk at the welfare office who decides you might not be like those other trifling women in the waiting room and provides an extra bit of information about completing a form that you would not have known to ask about?" Seriously amazing essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom about the survival skills that drive status-symbol purchases by poor people.

"And so it was that, in December 2011, Coy showed up for kindergarten in a rainbow dress and pink leggings, chin-length blond hair held back with barrettes, and a baby-toothed smile – no longer a 'he' but a 'she.'" Another great piece by Sabrina Rubin Erdely for Rolling Stone, on a family's quest to support their transgender child in the very epicenter of Focus on the Family's hate-activism.

Today, a paper in the journal Immunity provides even stronger evidence to support Profet’s toxin hypothesis. In it, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists show that small doses of venom and the subsequent allergic pathways triggered serve to protect mice against fatal doses of venom later on." Did allergies evolve to save your life… from poisonous snakes? Christie Wilcox at Discover. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"First-person cultural narratives about major battles are often written through the distorting haze of a long memory — that's what David Carr was trying to counter when he investigated his own past for his memoir Night Of The Gun. But there's no substitute, really, for the necessary honesty that comes with currency. Allie Brosh is Allie Brosh right now." Nice Linda Holmes review at NPR of Allie Brosh's book. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

"a leaf just blew in me a leaf just blew in me." I am not even kidding that Mallory Ortberg made me CRY with "Texts From a Jack-O-Lantern." At The Toast.

"Saying ‘The laundry is done’ is like saying: ‘There, I am old. I am all done ageing.’ No. Just as you will get older and older until you die, you will always have laundry to do." Heather Havrilesky wins the internet this week with this essay about laundry at Aeon.

"'Very grand, that was,' said my father a little later, when we had descended into a not-grand-at-all café to happily eat a baby cow covered in tuna sauce. Seeing his relief I thought sadly of Charlotte Bartlett, and heard her grating voice echoing in my own mind: I feel that our tour together is hardly the success I had hoped. I might have known it would not do." But Zadie Smith wins everything everywhere with this essay on public gardens at the NYRB.