Sunday, January 26, 2014

Links for the week ending 26 January 2014

"The attacks sparked renewed calls for Sissi’s candidacy, as well as an outpouring of rage against the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed Morsi and has been locked in a campaign of protest against the new government." Abigail Hauslohner for The Washington Post on this week's Cairo bombings. I suspect a lot is being said between the lines in this piece.

"The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has funded and co-operated with al-Qaeda in a complex double game even as the terrorists fight Damascus, according to new allegations by Western intelligence agencies, rebels and al-Qaeda defectors." Ruth Sherlock and dude Richard Spencer for The Daily Telegraph. Not a lot of named sources in this piece, but worth taking into consideration anyway. (Via Loveday Morris.)

"There is a tendency to infantilize the military men in charge by talking about them as though they were innocents." From Carol Berger at The New Yorker, a clear-eyed and informed look at the brutal realities behind the under-reported violence in the world's youngest nation, South Sudan.

"At the end of the last match, he threw himself across the court to save a shanked pass, winning the game for him and his team. Danny stood up, wiped the sand from his new shorts, and flashed his crooked smile. 'Beer?' he asked." A wrenching, difficult read from Asra Q. Nomani at the Washingtonian on her quest to solve and resolve the murder of her friend, journalist Daniel Pearl. (Via Nilanjana Roy.)

"'We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,' said the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post." At The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima on a report by the executive branch's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board which disagrees with assertions made by President Obama.

"'We’re all thinking the atmosphere is not going to be super easygoing when we get there,' said Julia Mancuso, a three-time Olympic medalist in skiing who is competing in Sochi." By Sarah Lyall for the NYT, and here's to hoping that the event is not a blast for anyone involved.

"Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk." Coral Davenport for the NYT.

"The world's richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economies, according to a draft UN report." Suzanne Goldenberg for The Guardian, and I get a little grumpy with framing that suggests consumers in the West have had some sort of say in the matter of where our goods get produced (I mean, we like low prices, but we also like living-wage jobs and stuff; our opinions do not seem to count for much on the latter), but the point is still a useful one.

"While stop-and-frisk is only legally allowed for the purpose of uncovering weapons, it has been linked to far more low-level summonses and pot busts than guns." Kristen Gwynne for Alternet on the prevalence of stop-and-frisk techniques that have more in common with sexual assault.

"Petchesky's tenure—meaning she can't be terminated without just cause—renders her one of the most protected workers in the nation. Newfield's course load could be eliminated for any reason, even after classes begin." A tale of two professors, by Nona Willis Aronowitz at NBC News. (Via Laila Lalami.)

"We’re talking about a piece aimed at golf readers. So we’re talking about a mostly white, mostly older, mostly male audience that wound up reading a story that reinforced several negative stereotypes about trans people." From Christina Kahrl, an in-house condemnation of the Grantland story that resulted in the suicide of its subject. (Via Mallory Ortberg.)

"McDonnell, 59, is the first governor ever to face criminal charges in Virginia, a state that has prided itself on a history of clean and ethical politics, and the charges will probably accelerate a push for the legislature to tighten state ethics laws." At The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Sari Horowitz on the fall of a Republican star in Virginia

"Dart is a former prosecutor. He wants criminals punished. But he says he had no idea when he took the job of sheriff that he would also become the state's mental health provider." At NPR by Laura Sullivan, a hard-hitting look at how Cook County's prison system copes with up to one-third of its inmates suffering from mental illness. (Via Prison Culture.)

"When he went to prison, Paul had been working at the family restaurant on and off. He had made several attempts at getting clean. While he was at the Billerica House of Correction, his brain began bleeding into itself." From earlier this month at The Rumpus, an extraordinarily moving reflection on the experience of jury duty for a prison-based medical malpractice trial, by Jacqui Morton. (Via Cassie Rodenberg.)

"Georgia’s prison system is still the state’s single biggest provider of mental health care, but Grady is number two, logging more than 68,000 visits in 2013. The police drop off so many mental-health patients there every day, 'you’d almost think they were another ambulance service,' said hospital spokesperson Denise Simpson. " Suzy Khimm for MSNBC on how Republican governors' refusal to participate in Medicaid expansions is causing an ineffective safety net for the mentally ill to fray even further.

"Among black men who had internalized strong anti-black biases, those who experienced high levels of racial discrimination had on average 140 fewer base pairs of telomeres than those who reported low levels of racial discrimination. The combination of high levels of external racial discrimination and internalized anti-black attitudes was a toxic mix." From Julianne Hing at Colorlines, a report on a new study showing how the effects of racism are inscribed on the body — to devastating effects on health and longevity.

"Ms. Cumberbatch said her ancestors were slaves in Barbados." By Kate Taylor for the NYT, a short piece on the connection between a newly appointed NYC commissioner of citywide administrative services and the star of "Sherlock."

"Biracial people are largely invisible as a group; we get tossed into whatever category we resemble most. We’re expected to choose black or white (or Indian, or Chinese, or whatever traits dominate). But lots of us don’t want to quietly 'Circle One.' Some things aren’t black or white. Like human beings." The Toast was on fire this week, and this piece by Steph Georgopulos is one of the stand-outs.

"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your four weeks does anybody but you and your tour operators any good. Definitely don’t go work with the kiddies for one day. That’s using a community like a museum, or a zoo." Against voluntourism: advice for would be do-gooders by Stephanie Lai, also at The Toast.

"It was at one of these geriatric wonderlands that I met 92-year old Nina who has travelled to every country except Antarctica, has a PhD from NYU, and is so beloved at one particular Red Lobster in New Jersey that they dedicated a booth to her." Kate Gavino at The Toast will convince you to take your volunteering instincts to your local nursing home.

"Google, Facebook and Apple aren’t facing millions in unpaid parking fines, however, because the MTA hasn’t been writing the tickets. Since the shuttles began using public bus stops, they’ve simply flouted the law without consequences." Excellent piece by Julia Carrie Wong at Salon on how San Francisco's "Google Bus" exemplifies a model of law enforcement in which persons get penalized harshly for slight infractions but corporations get passes for systematic law-breaking.

"Then, unexpectedly, Ashley died. Less than a year later, last Thursday, her father received a promotional mailer from OfficeMax addressed to 'Mike Seay/Daughter Killed in Car Crash/Or Current Business.'" Amy Merrick at The New Yorker.

"Most of my stories about China start off like this. All of them are strange, peripatetic tales starring teenagers." At Fashionista, Meredith Hattam writes evocatively about her time working as a foreign model in China. (Via Heather Havrilesky.)

"One of her patents is for a bioherbicide, which MacAlpine developed using molecular compounds found in garlic mustard plants and Tim Hortons coffee grounds." Is this Ontario teenager on track to become the most Canadian scientist ever? You decide. By Jennifer Yang for the Toronto Star. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"Now, every prayer is a mystery, even if it’s not written in a code that takes two decades to crack. Even the very impulse to pray is mysterious." You've probably already read about MetaFilter and the dying grandmother's coded index cards, but this take on it by Casey N. Cep at The New Yorker is quite lovely. (Via Ruth Graham.)

"This box contained Fairchild corporate newsletters and annual reports for shareholders that depicted Navajo women bent over microscopes soldering together integrated circuits. I had no idea that indigenous people in the U.S. had played such an important role in the early history of computing devices." Lisa Nakamura at Computer History Museum on how she stumbled upon the history of Navajo women's pioneering role in the manufacture of semiconductors in the United States. (Via Sarah McCarry.)

Some of you have asked me if I have any recommendations for podcasts by women. I don't, but Emily Threlkeld at The Toast does.

"I told them the one thing that might finally sever the bond between us. It’s not that I didn’t want my parents in my life but I did not know how to be broken and be the daughter they thought they knew." Roxanne Gay at Autostraddle on the ways in which she used queer identity.

"3. Your Uncle Fred is masquerading as a beloved Russian novelist in a dining car containing half of the most important members of your gentleman’s club as well as your publisher, who currently has on his person a compromising letter that could end your literary career. What tie will you wear?" Dear god, Mallory Ortberg at The Toast with "Choose Your Own P.G. Wodehouse Adventure."

"'There are two kinds of people: the giver and the taker,' he said, as 'Tosca' soared and crashed in the background. 'The taker eats better, but the giver sleeps better.'" Finally, from Katie Johnston at The Boston Globe, this wonderful profile of a local butcher on his 50th year in the business. (Via Carolyn Y. Johnson.)