Sunday, January 12, 2014

Links for the week ending 12 January 2014

"And because doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat, state law says Marlise Munoz’s body -- against her own and her family’s wishes -- must be maintained as an unwilling incubator." Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd at The Dallas Morning News.

"The agency, in response to political and other pressures, is examining whether there are feasible ways for third parties such as phone companies to hold the data while allowing the agency to exploit the records, the officials said." This week in People Unclear on the Concept. By Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

"She said the detectives made threatening comments about her husband and children, and hinted that her immigration status could come into play." By Sarah Maslin Nir at the NYT, a witness to a 20-year-old murder recants on the testimony that sent a man to prison for life. The last line of the story is everything.

"'What you take for granted and what I hope you will never have to know is that we humans actually speak ourselves into being. You are your voice and your voice is you. You must speak to remind yourself to be.'" Short, devastating essay at Prison Culture about an imprisoned friend of the author. (Via Liliana Segura.)

"In Egypt, the legal system is strict until it’s not; every rule, it seems, can be broken. At first, the guards said Fahmy could not be seen. But then they were unusually accommodating, not checking IDs or searching bags." At McClatchy, Nancy A. Youssef writes about her brief visit with Mohamed Fahmy, the acting Egypt bureau chief for Al Jazeera English, who was arrested and has been held incommunicado by Egyptian authorities since late December.

" After a tumultuous year at the war-on-terror detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — where the U.S. military’s motto is 'Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent' — operations are cloaked in secrecy." National treasure Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald.

"In a statement released Thursday by Safe Horizon, a victim assistance organization in New York that represents her, Richard welcomed the indictment and said: 'I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did — you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you.'" Karen DeYoung for The Washington Post catching the point that matters in a diplomatic row between the U.S. and India.

"But a series of stunning reversals in recent days has made clear that the militant group may be more vulnerable than it seemed, in part because its frequent kidnappings and attacks on fellow rebels have won it few allies." Loveday Morris at The Washington Post on how a coalition of Syrian rebel groups have turned on Al Qaeda fighters.

"Militants affiliated with al-Qaeda have taken advantage of the turmoil to raise their flag over areas from which they had been driven out by American troops, including the powerfully symbolic city of Fallujah, where U.S. forces fought their bloodiest battle since the Vietnam War." Meanwhile, the same Al Qaeda group is retaking territory in neighboring Iraq, reports Liz Sly for The Washington Post.

"The west's drive to reduce its carbon footprint cheaply is fuelling a dirty war in Honduras, where US-backed security forces are implicated in the murder, disappearance and intimidation of peasant farmers involved in land disputes with local palm oil magnates." Nina Lakhani for the Guardian.

"It is safe to say that there is nothing I can do about my relapsing infections. What I have will kill me when I run out of antibiotics that can kill it. I can only hope to outrun evolution until I die of something else." Journalist Quinn Norton at Medium, on the inevitable march of drug-resistant bacteria — inside her own body.

"The British gov­ernment, like many others, is no longer even pretending to care about how or if the next generation gets to thrive. It is demonstrably content to sacrifice its young. That quality is not just spiteful; it is a recipe for social and cultural self-annihilation." Laurie Penny at the New Statesman.

"That includes a controversial type of subsidy in which Nissan gets a rebate on part of the taxes the state withholds from workers’ paychecks—in effect, as Good Jobs First puts it, this means workers are 'paying taxes to the boss.'" One of the more startling revelations in an article by Sarah Jaffe for In These Times about permatemp labor.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation—and the tech companies that benefit from its ratings—are undoubtedly committed to fighting government First Amendment abuses. But when they focus their efforts on stemming the spread of anti-harassment laws from outdated media, like landline telephones, to modern means like Twitter, their efforts act like a thumb on the scale, favoring some democratic values at the expense of others." Long essay by Amanda Hess at Pacific Standard on the harassment of women on the internet. I'm still waiting to read an essay about how the NSA has a moral responsibility to use all that data they collect about all of us to identify and hold accountable people who use the internet to terrorize others…

"As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level." Sarah Ganim at CNN. Also don't miss her follow-up on the — you guessed it — death threats, harassment, and public repudiation the researcher has received since the original piece was released.

"But explorers are not neutral. They are the shock troops of empire. The lands explorers traverse are later conquered by armies, their sacred objects melted down for gold. Glass Explorers continue the corporation's conquest of reality." Molly Crabapple at Rhizome on an hour with Google Glass.

"'Girls have been socialized into believing they need to be helpers,' she said. So her message to girls is 'Hey, you can create apps to use in emergencies to help people. You can do all sorts of cool things. Computer science has wonderful potential to help people.'" Eleanor Barkhorn at The Atlantic.

"(The person dressed as a hamburger did not indicate whether he was a Christie supporter.)" From Alana Semuels at the LA Times, a report from Gov. Chris Christie's apology to the town of Fort Lee, NJ.

"When you decide you need to watch every single episode of every single Star Trek franchise, and when you decide to write about it on a blog or in a forum, you’re still doing humanities. You’re doing humanities if you write Harry Potter fanfiction to reinterpret the world of Hogwarts as a place where gay romances can flourish, or where characters of color aren’t relegated to supporting roles." Nice essay by Natalia Cecire on her blog making the case for not just the relevance but the urgency of the study of the humanities.

"Of course, if you are a girl reading Oedipus Rex, there is no role for you to play as hero. So if you have a naturally fictional imagination, you might say, That’s not a story into which I can walk. But I didn’t have a fictional imagination, so I didn’t run into that particular difficulty." Another of the Paris Review's interviews from long-ago issues: Helen Vendler interviewed by Henri Cole in 1996. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"I mean to live and die by my own mind. If that is cowardly, then I am a coward." A 1943 letter from Zora Neale Hurston to Countee Cullen, reprinted at the website of the PBS series American Masters.

"I think I speak for all girls and women between the ages of 13 and 19 when I say that grown-up male journalists are probably not the best choice to assign stories about teen-girl culture to (keeping in mind those aforementioned exceptions)." Hazel Cills at Rookie.

"Weiner does not take credit for changes at the Book Review, but she does take satisfaction in them. 'Maybe they are doing focus groups, and lots of people are, like, "Could you please not write all the time about whatever Presidential biography you are reviewing for the second time?" ' she says. 'I would love to believe that I had something to do with it, but I have no idea. They are certainly not writing me thank-you notes.'" Rebecca Mead (the only woman in the week's "Contributors" list except for poet Jennifer Grotz) at The New Yorker with a long and perhaps predictably ambivalent profile of popular novelist Jennifer Weiner.

"When I tendered my two dollars, however, the young girl behind the counter turned away, consulted in a whisper with her colleagues, then returned to me and decisively shook her head. 'It’s free,' she said. 'You don’t have to pay anymore.'" Finally, this may be the ultimate example of nonfiction white hipster chick-lit, but if so, it is the genre at its finest. Sadie Stein at The Paris Review living out the secret romantic dream we never realized we harbored: free donuts for life.