Sunday, August 31, 2014

Links for the week ending 31 August 2014

"Lesley McSpadden waits for the crowds and the cameras to leave before she turns back to her son's casket to kiss it goodbye." Yamiche Alcindor reporting from Michael Brown's funeral. For USA Today.

"Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. Here’s why he probably won’t go to jail." Amanda Taub at Vox. (Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

"But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless." Carol Anderson at The Washington Post.

"'Mommy, am I going to be killed when I go to school?' Jade Bugett asked." Jessica Bock at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Women of color bear a relationship to reproduction that is fraught with trauma and state control, a perpetual tightrope that stretches beyond the simple paradigm of 'pro-choice' organizing." Hannah Giorgis at The Frisky. (Via @prisonculture.)

"But these forces operate in tandem—the tear gas and the tickets; the weaponry and the warrants—compromising a wide range of fundamental rights that seem, in Ferguson and beyond, to have gone up in smoke." Sarah Stillman on Ferguson at The New Yorker, and, while I linked to her piece on probation companies earlier this year, there's no harm in reading it again: "'When you inject a profit motive into the criminal-justice system, you’re opening it up to corruption and abuse,' he later told me, adding, 'You are asking the poorest of the poor to fund the court system, and that’s what’s causing all of these abuses, in my opinion.'" (Via Beth Schwartzapfel and Jelani Cobb.)

"For many desperate families searching for missing relatives, Martinez is one of the few law enforcement officials they’ll ever meet who will genuinely listen." In the last of a four-part series by the Texas Observer's Melissa del Bosque and a multimedia team at the Guardian, a moving profile of the Brooks County sheriff at the epicenter of an immigration crisis.

"The truth is this: even today, in America, white privilege works better than most medicine when it comes to staying healthy. Racial health disparities may be a more subtle killer than gun violence or murder, but they're arguably a more violent one. They infect every part of the body and they strike at literally every stage of life, from cradle to grave." Julia Belluz and dude Steven Hoffman at Vox.

"The long history of associating immigrants and disease in America and the problematic impact that has on attitudes toward immigrants should make us sensitive to the impact of “othering” African immigrants to the United States in the midst of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa." Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne at The Washington Post. (Via @bechamilton.)

"The Islamic State, he said, is likely earning some $2 million a day from crude sales, paid in cash or bartered goods as the oil crosses into the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan." Indira A.R. Laskshmanan for Bloomberg. (Via Yeganeh June Torbati.)

"All dozen or so Christians interviewed by National Geographic adamantly shared the demand for a safe zone, akin to the two no-fly zones the West established in 1992 to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from the forces of former leader Saddam Hussein." At National Geographic, Rania Abouzeid does a deep dive into the perilous choices left to Iraq's remaining Assyrian Christians.

"As for me, I still believe you can only fight terrorists with what they're seeking to destroy, namely, your soul." Mariane Pearl at The Berkshire Eagle. (Via Lyse Doucet.)

"Mike was 33 years old. He’d been in and out of institutions for half his life, since he first got sick when he was 17. His diagnosis had changed over the years — it was schizophrenia, then bipolar disorder, then schizoaffective disorder — and his medications were in constant flux." The first of Jenna Russell's three-part profile of a man struggling with chronic mental illness. At The Boston Globe.

"Up front, aggressive usually wins, but over time, persistent politeness will change the situation, and often even the aggressive people calm down." There are some misfires here, but also a lot of wisdom in this essay by Quinn Norton at Medium, "How To Be Polite For Geeks."

"It’s that the thing that you want to hear during the hardest points in your life is not always that things will be OK, which they mostly turn out to be. What you need to hear is yes, life is hard and strange for everyone. That your pain is valid. That you are seen. That the messiness of humanity is a feature, not a flaw. That we are all improvising here." Margaret Eby pens a tribute to advice columnists. At Brooklyn Magazine.

" Our standards are pretty low. Can you carry on a conversation? Is your kid maybe not a complete asshole? COME SIT NEXT TO ME, YOU ARE MY BUDDY." Speaking of advice columnists! Heather Havrilesky's Ask Polly column moves to The Cut, continues to be awesome. Here on the subject of making friends in one's post-education adulthood.

"When an organism thought to be extinct is rediscovered—either in living form or in the fossil record after a gap of millions of years—it is known as a Lazarus taxon. In this sense, glass sponge reefs are a kind of Lazarus ecosystem." Sarah DeWeerdt at Nautilus on the mind-blowing phenomenon that is "zombie sponge reefs."

"These images were generated using a cat stencil and entangled photons." Schrödinger's cat, for reals. By Penny Sarchet for New Scientist. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"The Lost Ladybug Project, a citizen science program that tracks ladybug populations around the country, has noted for years that populations of many lady beetle species have been shrinking or moving around—the result of an unknown number of variables." Cat Ferguson at The Awl last week.

"'The people who read the Mail are middle-aged women, and they look like me. They know what he’s saying. For all the very right-wing, slightly unpleasant populism that the Mail trades in, its readership is actually people who know an unacceptable insult when they see it. They’ve got gray hair. He’s talking about them.'" Rebecca Mead's profile of Mary Beard this week in The New Yorker. (Hat tip to Paige Morgan.)

Finally, if you haven't seen this already, or even if you have: Mallory Ortberg reads "Male Novelist Jokes" out loud, and you get reaction shots of Roxane Gay in the background. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Links for the week ending 24 August 2014

"And while we were still reeling, while we were yet aghast, either time stood still as Ferguson Police teleported back to 1963 or time sped forward and we were all dumped into a near-future dystopia or, likeliest still, today is no different than the day of Mike Brown’s murder. Today is moving at the same predictable clip as every day that came before it." Gorgeous, heartbroken writing from Stacia L. Brown, at her website.

"'You wake up with your face itching,' Moore said. When they start to smell it in the house, they turn off the air conditioning, because 'it comes right through.'" Durrie Bouscaren for St. Louis Public Radio on one family's experience of Ferguson during nights of protests and police violence.

"In Ferguson, Sherry Taylor, 52, who lives near the protest site on West Florissant Avenue, said having sleep interrupted for days by violence outside her door was the least of her worries. She said police had shot her in the back with a rubber bullet while she was in her own yard, and she has suffered the effects of tear gas." Michele Munz and Lisa Brown at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Ferguson is both what you think it is and so much more." Yamiche Alcindor for USA Today.

"The argument that many in the concerned community are making is that Bob McCulloch, when comes to a choice between protecting the reputation/careers of white police officers and searching for the truth in a case of a 'police-officer-on-African-American-crime,' will choose protecting officers at the expense of fairness, decency and truth." Lizz Brown at The St. Louis American.

"Though police brutality has become the center of this story, one black officer said race issues truly were the underlying reason for these demonstrations. Growing up in the St. Louis area, he said he learned quickly about the importance of the phrase 'yes sir' because police stopped him frequently on the street and asked for his identification." Amanda Wills at Mashable.

"Now, let’s join Michael Brown’s family in rejecting the perfect victim frame. Whether he was a squeaky clean, college-bound, 'gentle giant' or a teenager who may have done stupid things, his life still matters." Jamilah King at Colorlines.

"Violence is the effect, not the cause of the concentrated poverty that locks that many poor people up together with no conceivable way out and no productive way to channel their rage at having an existence that is adjacent to the American dream. This kind of social mendacity about the way that racism traumatizes black people individually and collectively is a festering sore, an undiagnosed cancer, a raging infection threatening to overtake every organ in our body politic." Brittney Cooper at Salon.

"'I tell people I grew up in an apartheid town,' he said. 'The only two places I remember being able to go were the public library and the St. Louis Zoo. Everything else was determined by where you lived and your skin color.'" Jeannette Cooperman with a brief history of segregation in the St. Louis metropolitan area. At Al Jazeera.

"The largest focal point of support is at the Dellwood Recreation Center, where the United Way, St. Louis County government, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and others have set up their base at the drop-in center. They’re providing food, children’s activities and an array of resources and services." At St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Margaret Gillerman lists some of the places where the people of Ferguson can turn for help — and the rest of us can make donations.

"The rhetorical value of 'Iraq or Missouri?' is undercut when it becomes possible to show two pictures, taken seven years apart, of the exact same armored vehicle and ask the question literally." Elif Batuman at The New Yorker.

"The federal government argues that giving local police tanks and other leftover war equipment is a great way to avoid the waste of throwing away expensive gear that taxpayers have already paid for. But critics counter that militarizing police forces escalates conflicts and creates needless violence." Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News.

"More surprisingly, HPD rarely believes even its own officers when they claim to have witnessed unjustified violence against citizens. In the same period, Houston cops reported other officers for excessive force 118 times. Internal Affairs dismissed all but 11." From last year, an investigation on police brutality in Houston by Emily DePrang at the Texas Observer. (Via Melissa del Bosque.)

"Ferguson will not be a freer, better, or more just place when the protesters are allowed to gather without cops in riot gear down the block. It will be the same constitutional nightmare it has evidently been for years. We need to expand our vision of what is a constitutional violation to include what happens when the cameras roll out of town. Because even when the world stops watching, Ferguson and all the Fergusons across the country will need a lot of constitutional protection." Dahlia Lithwick and Daria Roithmayr at Slate. (Via E.J. Graff.)

"What the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption considers to be corruption is not what the United States Supreme Court considers to be corruption. And much of what the commission urged, by way of legislative reform, is, in the eyes of the Court, unconstitutional." Jill Lepore at The New Yorker.

"The Obama administration is promising to change the way travelers can ask to be removed from its no-fly list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel." Eileen Sullivan for the AP. (Via Torie Rose DeGhett at This Week In War.)

"In fact, until recently, ISIS had a very different list of demands for Mr. Foley: The group pressed the United States to provide a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release, according to a representative of his family and a former hostage held alongside him." Rukmini Callimachi for the NYT.

"He wonders if he shouldn’t have married, if he shouldn’t have brought a two-year-old son into this world. 'Why leave people behind when you’re gone? I see these people,' he said, pointing to the screens. 'They’ve left behind families. Honestly, there isn’t an Iraqi family that hasn’t been affected by violence in some way.'" Rania Abouzeid reports from a Baghdad morgue. At The New Yorker.

"The new authorization is one of several alternatives under active internal discussion as the administration grapples with whether and how to try to militarily defeat the Islamic State, which controls a wide swath of territory between Damascus and Baghdad." Hey, why not? We have such a great track record to date, right? Karen DeYoung at The Washington Post.

"Ebola relies on our weakness for compassion and comfort to survive, and as it successfully moves from one grief-stricken host to the next, it erodes another invisible bond between Liberians: trust." Dear god, in a heartbreaking month, this might just be the most heartbreaking piece of all. Jina Moore reporting for BuzzFeed.

"Brown’s death allows America to do what it does best – to plumb the depths of its soul in search of meaning. That she seldom learns the lessons that her poorest citizens teach her is another matter altogether, but for those wanting to learn, Ferguson’s critics offer many instructions on how to report with grace and dignity about people no one is supposed to care about." Thoughtful opinion piece by Sisonke Msimang at South Africa's Daily Maverick, contrasting the American coverage of Michael Brown's death to South African coverage of the recent brutal hate-crime killing of a woman named Gift Makau. (Via Mukelwa Hlatshwayo.)

"Now he's in police detention. No one even knows what crime he's accused of committing, apart from challenging the unspoken orders with his act of remembering an event that is supposed to be forgotten." Louisa Lim on one of the soldiers of Tiananmen. At NPR. (Via Anna Limontas-Salisbury.)

"However, we cannot close the malnutrition gap without addressing the social norms and economic rationales that deprive girls and younger siblings of the resources they need." Seema Jayachandran and Rohini Pande at the NYT on their research showing massive inequality within Indian families.

"All of the Indian professors on campus were upper caste as well, and all, except one, refused to advise me on projects and blacklisted my work. I stopped getting invited to South Asian events. These are some of the structural manifestations of caste in the diaspora. Once you’re out, you’re... out." Fascinating essay at Elle India on coming out as a Dalit in the Indian diaspora. By Thenmozhi Soundararajan. (Via Sonia Faleiro.)

"'You’re waiting on your job to control your life,' she said, with the scheduling software used by her employer dictating everything from 'how much sleep Gavin will get to what groceries I’ll be able to buy this month.'" In a more just world, this would have been the story I led with today. Jodi Kantor at the NYT on how scheduling software relentlessly destroys the lives of service workers — and their families.

"'There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm,' said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. 'They return just to die.'" Cindy Carcamo for the LAT on the murders of children deported back to Honduras. (Via Suzy Khimm.)

"Scientists cannot yet begin to draw simple conclusions about drilling's effects on animals, plants and habitats because 'basic data is missing' on issues such as fracking fluid chemistry, and because of limited access to well sites, said Sara Souther, the study's lead author." Lisa Song for Inside Climate News.

"Whether harassment or discrimination takes place at a field site in Costa Rica or in a conference room, the problem will not be solved with new rules archived on unread websites. The responsibility for pushing back should not rest solely with the victims. Solutions require a change of culture that can happen only from within." Christie Aschwanden at the NYT.

"“It’s a gauntlet. Our very first one, when we opened it up, there were so many structures in there we could not figure out how a sperm would be able to swim from one end to the other,” Mesnick says." Marah Hardt at SciAm bringing the comic relief this week in re: whale vaginas. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"In this phase of human civilization the interaction of the vast networks we’ve built is just about where everything happens. Understanding how networks function isn’t esoteric specialist knowledge anymore than being able to read is." Quinn Norton at Medium.

"The comments have failed us. It is time to acknowledge that comments sections are, most of the time, a disservice to both the writer and the reader." Margaret Eby at Brooklyn Magazine.

"What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson." Zeynep Tufekci at Medium.

"I am affected. This is my truth, so I share it with you. And my dear sweet friends, those of you who have always supported my words, and images and work here, I honestly hope that you're affected too." Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks. (Via Els Kushner.)

"Why so trigger-happy, officers? Are these cops evil people? Violent sociopaths? Racists? Sadists? I suppose some are; all those traits exist in the general population and it’s possible that the nature of police work attracts an undue share of them. But I think a simpler explanation is that cops shoot so much because that’s what they’re trained to do." Damn, this is great. Susan Schorn at McSweeneys. (Hat tip to Rachel Hartman.)

"It’s a song about a movement nearly out of patience by a woman who never had very much to begin with, and who had little hope for the American future: 'Oh but this whole country is full of lies,' she sang. 'You’re all gonna die and die like flies.'" Claudia Roth Pierrpont at The New Yorker with a long profile of Nina Simone.

"Michelle spent many evenings—hundreds, in fact—standing shoulder-to-shoulder with witnesses in a cramped room that afforded a view of the death chamber, where she watched as men, and two women, were injected with a three-drug cocktail that stopped their hearts. All told, she had seen 278 inmates put to death." Finally, a masterful profile by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly: "The Witness."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Links for the week ending 10 August 2014

Beginning the list again with Torie Rose DeGhett's "This Week In War," because it has been that kind of week.

The situation in Iraq is moving fast. Once again, I recommend following Loveday Morris at The Washington Post.

"'How does this end? It doesn’t,' he said." Nancy Youssef on mission creep and the choices the U.S. faces against the Islamic State (ISIS). At McClatchy.

"A few blocks from Dr. Zeyada’s apartment, Younis al-Bakr, 9, sat curled on a sofa, chewing on his fist like a much younger boy. His family said he had not spoken a word since he witnessed the shelling that killed four of his cousins on the Gaza City beach on July 17. Younis and three more cousins survived the attack, suffering shrapnel wounds along with less visible ones." Anne Barnard at the NYT on widespread trauma in Gaza.

"Khuzaa survivors say efforts to flee were blocked by Israeli tanks and that Israeli soldiers shot at them as they waved white flags. Emergency responders say the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shot at ambulances trying to enter the area." Kristen Chick at the Christian Science Monitor. (Via Rabia Mehmoud.)

"The whole point of an international organization like the UN, on the other hand, is to be inclusive—an antidote to nationalistic displays of hatred and violence. The UN won’t throw bombs back. It aims at solutions beyond revenge. " Atossa Araxia Abrahamian at Dissent on the particularly bitter ironies of missile attacks on civilians sheltered by the UN.

"Maisa Arshid, an attorney for dozens of the detainees, said that the crackdown on Palestinian citizens is only getting worse, with 20 to 30 Palestinians getting picked up every week in the Nazareth area alone. 'All of them are accused of participating in illegal demonstrations,' Arshid told Al Jazeera, adding that 'part of these demos were permitted by the police themselves'." Mya Guarnieri at Al Jazeera on Israel's crackdown against internal dissent. (Via Sarah Schulman.)

"Even as the war appears to draw to a close, the battle over casualty statistics rages on. No other number is as contentious as the ratio of civilians to combatants killed, widely viewed, including in Israel, as a measure of whether the commanders in the field acted proportionately to the threat posed by militants — or, in the eyes of Israel’s critics, committed war crimes." From a few days ago, Judi Rudoren at the NYT on the accounting of death in the Gaza war.

"Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer killed in a war zone in four decades, died not at the hand of a sworn enemy but from a burst of gunfire by a soldier in an allied army who had been largely paid, trained and equipped with American and NATO support." Pamela Constable at The Washington Post.

"But, of course journalism suffers. The very essence of reporting—striking up conversations with strangers, hanging around—is a logistical nightmare. We don’t go to restaurants anymore. Some have given up walking. Others have put up higher walls. Kabul as an archipelago of refuge and safety is long over." May Jeong at The New Quarterly on being a woman and a foreign reporter in Afghanistan.

"Within weeks, gang members began to target Exelina. They demanded money, and threatened to kidnap and kill her children. At first, the monthly extortion was $200. Every month Elsy and Salvador sent money to pay off the gang. 'She would call me in tears, saying she didn't want to live there anymore,' Elsy says. 'But I would tell her, "Be patient. Wait for your immigration papers to come through."'" The first of a four-part series by Melissa del Bosque on the deaths of desperate immigrants trying to sneak around Border Patrol checkpoints in Brooks County, Texas. A joint project of The Texas Observer and the Guardian.

"'My family blamed me for my uncle's deportation,' his sworn statement read. 'They told me if I had not been detained he would not have offered to sponsor me and immigration would not have found him. If I go back to Honduras I have nowhere to live. My family will not accept me.'" Susan Carroll at the Houston Chronicle. (Via Lise Olsen.)

"When beginning Chicago Survivors four years ago, Johnson and her team surveyed a single block in a neighborhood just south of Hyde Park, the University of Chicago’s leafy home base. Of 22 single-family homes, 12 had lost an immediate family member to violence. Eight of those households had lost more than one." Carla Murphy at Colorlines.

"We didn’t know it at the time, but we were watching an experiment that tested the validity of the American dream for Boston’s poorest children. The kids we taught at camp and tutored during the school year were growing up in a tough place at a time of widening income disparities. We debated in our dorm rooms at night: How much can we do — or should we do — to try to change their lives?" First of a six-part series from Farah Stockman at The Boston Globe, tracking down the people who participated in a summer camp for Mission Hill children run by Harvard students in the early 1990s.

"In other words, prior to taking Anderson’s urban sociology class, when she is already at least one year into her study, Goffman is unable to discern as class difference the differences among black lower middle class, working class, and poor people. That blackness made that difference illegible as class is one problem that should raise questions about what else Goffman is unable to hear, see, and make sense of; her oscillation between tutor and ethnographer is another." Christina Sharpe at The New Inquiry critiquing a widely praised book by a young white sociologist about young black men in West Philadelphia.

"A new study suggests that highlighting racism in the criminal justice system is not the answer, and in fact pushes white voters in the opposite direction. Even when whites believe the current laws are too harsh, they're less likely to support changing the law if they're reminded that the current prison population is disproportionately black." Dara Lind at Vox.

"Let me repeat: My receipt was not good enough. I have never heard of needing to have a salesperson verify a purchase when a receipt has been proffered but I shouldn’t be surprised. The rules are always different when shopping/driving/walking/existing while black." You probably saw this already, but just in case: Roxane Gay on being profiled while shopping at Best Buy, plus bonus harassment from online conservative mobs afterwards.

"They’d ask me cutting and incisive questions about American political situations (they found the government shutdown as ridiculous as I did), they religiously followed the situation in Egypt with the Muslim brotherhood, mourned Mandela, and trash talked other football teams in anticipation of the World Cup. They also knew what chocolate was (and I suspect the guys in the video did too, but were in on the joke with the producers)." Anthropologist Erin Kane talks back to that video of cacao farmers trying chocolate for the first time. At Quartz. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"Miller is 29, and gets her health care through the university. Her on-campus doctor was barred from even prescribing the IUD, she said, because of Notre Dame’s adherence to Catholic teaching against contraception. The doctor sent her off-campus for the prescription, but even then, Notre Dame’s insurance wouldn’t cover it." Irin Carmon on "the next Hobby Lobby." At MSNBC.

"To automate the process, the team decided to build a robot body out of the most basic components: layers of paper, a thin piece of plastic with a circuit etched onto it, and Shrinky Dinks — children’s toys that contract when heated." Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Boston Globe, reporting on a new study proposing a design for "origami robots." What I wanna know is: do you get to color in the robot, first?

"The crows present a puzzling question to biologists, which gets to the heart of what it means to be a species: Given that hooded and carrion crows can mate and swap genes, how do the two groups maintain their individual identities? It’s as if you mixed red and yellow paint in a bucket but the two colors stubbornly refused to make orange." Emily Singer at Quanta Magazine on the surprisingly difficult question of how species are distinguished from one another.

"My name is Khadija al-Saadi. I am a 23-year-old Libyan woman. I live in Libya's capital, Tripoli. I study in the humanities faculty of the Tripoli university, and I work in my spare time in a couple of local NGOs trying to improve living conditions in the city. I exist, and this is my story." At Gawker, the now-adult daughter of a man who was tortured after being rendered back to Libya by the CIA and British intelligence writes eloquently of her family's experience, and demands that the U.S. and U.K. governments allow a full accounting of their actions. (Via Nicole Cliffe at The Toast.)

'You never hear, "She passed on her own, natural causes, old age," no, no, no,' she continues, ticking off on her fingers. "She's either raped and killed, she's jumped and killed, stalked and killed – or just killed.' Which is why, amid all the death and sorrow, CeCe, whose jagged life experience embodies the archetypal trans woman's in so many ways, has become an LGBT folk hero for her story of survival – and for the price she paid for fighting back." From Sabrina Rubin Erdely at Rolling Stone, a masterful profile of CeCe McDonald.

"Interviewing Cacioppo for my magazine article a few months ago, I naturally took many of his observations personally. One especially fraught time for lonely people, he told me, is when they are in a social setting and feel subject to ostracism or ridicule; it’s then that their brains go haywire, sensing social danger even where none might exist. 'We’re screwed,' I thought at the time." Finally, from two weeks ago, a piece from Robin Marantz Henig about loneliness. At The Archipelago at Medium.

No list next weekend. In the meantime, and as always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Links for the week ending 3 August 2014

"In its early years, Al Qaeda received most of its money from deep-pocketed donors, but counterterrorism officials now believe the group finances the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms paid to free Europeans. Put more bluntly, Europe has become an inadvertent underwriter of Al Qaeda." Kudos to the NYT for hiring one of the most impressive journalistic badasses of our time, Rukmini Callimachi, with another jaw-dropping article about how Al Qaeda gets things done.

"'I hate the future so much,' says 11-year-old Daad of Syria who dresses in pink and has dark nightmares. 'We might live, or we might die.'" Lyse Doucet of the BBC giving voice to the children of the rapidly expanding war zones of the Middle East.

"At the same school, a little girl with big eyes and red hair put her hand out for mine, but instead of shaking it, she just held onto me. She told me her name was Yasmin, but she wouldn't say anything else. She followed me around the school as I did interviews, and then came and sat next to me as I waited in the shade for a press conference. She didn't want to talk, just to sit quietly by my side." Sara Hussein on the children of Gaza. For AFP.

"One night, I make all three sleep in the same bedroom with us, hoping to increase the odds they’ll survive if a shell hits one of the empty rooms in our house. But then the next night, I’ll separate them, thinking that if I divide my children they won’t all die in an attack. (Unless we’re hit by a half-ton bomb, rather than artillery shell, in which case we’ll all be killed, anyway.)" Wejdan Abu Shammala at The Washington Post writes about parenting decisions in Gaza.

"The outlook for the revolt against Assad’s rule is now bleaker than at any time in the past three years, rebel commanders say, diminishing the chances that the opposition will be able to present any meaningful challenge to the regime or even to serve as a counterweight to Islamist radicals, as U.S. policymakers are hoping." Liz Sly reports for The Washington Post.

"In total, at least seven sacred shrines have been razed, said an official with the city’s Sunni endowment authority, which manages religious affairs. 'At first, we expected them to only blow up places for Shiite people,' said the official, who declined to be identified for security reasons. 'Now they are blowing up everything.'" Loveday Morris reporting from Mosul for The Washington Post.

"But in Monrovia, the capital city, there isn’t enough space in the specialized isolation unit to hold all of the city’s symptomatic cases. The Ministry of Health wanted to expand the unit at Elwa Hospital, on the outskirts of Monrovia, but the local community fought back, physically, making it impossible to secure health staff, a Health Ministry official told BuzzFeed by telephone." Jina Moore at BuzzFeed is covering the Ebola beat

"People’s apprehensions about the failings of the healthcare system come from experience, not from ignorance." Susan Shepler at Mats Utas' blog, about the narrative of public ignorance fueling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. (Via Alexis Okeowo.) But, let's face it, she could be talking about events much closer to home.

"Surveillance isn’t simply the all-being all-looking eye. It’s a mechanism by which systems of power assert their power. And it is why people grow angry and distrustful. Why they throw fits over being experimented on. Why they cry privacy foul even when the content being discussed is, for all intents and purposes, public." danah boyd at Medium.

"In 2012, the number of bodies found in the brush or on roadsides in Brooks County doubled to 129, and more than half were unidentified. The next year, according to the sheriff’s department, officials discovered 87 bodies, and 44 percent were unidentified. So far this year, they have found 43 bodies." Heartbreaking piece by Maria Sacchetti at The Boston Globe on the unidentified bodies buried along Texas and Arizona borderlands, and the families left with no way of knowing the fate of their vanished loved ones.

"Four thousand of the fifteen thousand people fighting wildfires in California this season aren't professional firefighters. They're men and women serving out their state prison terms by working full-time in fire crews, under a state program called 'Conservation Camps.'" Dara Lind at Vox. (Via @prisonculture.)

"As the U.S. tries to set a global example by reducing demand for fossil fuels at home, American energy companies are sending more dirty fuels than ever to other parts of the world, exports worth billions of dollars every year." Dina Cappiello reports for the AP. (Via Lisa Song.)

"She calls rolling coal 'conspicuous pollution,' a very public way for conservative drivers to simultaneously broadcast that they aren’t worried about whether humans are the cause of global warming and to openly mock the people who are." Melissa Dahl at NY Mag.

"Groundwater pumping is largely unregulated in California, except in places where judges have ruled in specific disputes. Landowners are generally free to pump as much as they want from under their property." Most of California is now classified as in "exceptional" drought. Lauren Sommer at KQED reports on the unknowns of the groundwater being pumped to make up for the drought.

"It needs to change because while we have many experiences that are similar to those of our white colleagues, we are also living with realities that are very different. I believe that if those conversations had taken place, had been truly inclusive, and had considered a broader array of life experiences, we would all be further along than we are now in addressing so many of the things that, for many women, make life more difficult than it needs to be." At National Journal, Michel Martin speaks out "on balancing career and family as a woman of color."

"'You can't have it all, all at once,' Ginsburg said, referencing the controversial magazine article about work-life balance by academic and former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter. 'Who — man or woman — has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time things were rough. And if you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it.'" Liz Goodwin with the Yahoo News write-up of Katie Couric's interview with the blessed Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Members of the Temple of Satan are encouraging all women who share their belief in medical accuracy to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don’t personally identify as Satanists." Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress on a promising new direction in "religious exemptions" to laws affecting women's access to health care. (Hat tip to Jill Heather.)

"The last time we showed up ('Bring Back Crystal Pepsi,' last weekend), the pro-lifers put away all their signs, put down their bullhorns, stopped yelling at people going into the clinic, and just started praying for me. It went on for probably twenty minutes, all of them just praying around that Crystal Pepsi sign." More brilliant protest ideas, this from Tina Haver-Currin, who talks to Linnie Green at The Hairpin.

"Between June and December of last year, I squandered more than $76 buying extra lives in Candy Crush, which is still holding steady as the third top grossing app on iOS." Nitasha Tiku at Gawker on how we spend money now. (Via Adrienne Jeffries.)

"Almost 70 years later, Bohrer reminisces about her OSS days from the couch of her home in a Virginia retirement village. Now 90, she’s surrounded by seniors whose pasts are more sedate, but as she learned to her pleasure soon after she moved to the village, at least one of her new neighbors can relate." As always, I am a sucker for stories about badass little old ladies. By Monica Alba at NBC News.

"I saw that one of my fellow practitioners had written that she tended to speak very harshly or even yell when she felt she wasn’t being heard. She said she was starting to realize that perhaps sometimes she wasn’t meant to be heard, or she just wasn’t going to be heard. I got tears in my eyes when I read that." Anger, being heard, being an asshole. Sarah Miller at The Hairpin.

"It was my birthday recently. Perhaps you heard? Sorry about that! Google Plus, the zombie social network I have barely used since its launch in 2011, alerted my contacts that have Android phones. And anyone with iCal synced to Google Calendar had it marked in their iPhones." Joanne McNeil at Medium with "The Internet of Things Will Ruin Birthdays." (Via Quinn Norton.)

"If the concept of identification suggested that an individual experiences a work as a mirror in which he might recognize himself, the notion of relatability implies that the work in question serves like a selfie: a flattering confirmation of an individual’s solipsism." Rebecca Mead at The New Yorker.

"The success of 'Hamlet' in Arslank√∂y might attest to Shakespeare’s universality. Alternatively, it might attest to certain similarities between Shakespeare’s world and a twenty-first-century Anatolian village. Rural Turkey is a place where revenge killings, honor suicides, and blood feuds are real." From The New Yorker's unlocked archives, this 2012 piece by Elif Batuman on a women's theater company is so damn good.

"MFA vs. DMV." By Ali Shapiro at Ploughshares.

"She wrote dramatic, repetitive stories, full of sexual violence, and a teacher called Rex McGuinn saw something promising in them – and something deeply troubling. They met one day and he said, 'I'd like you to go to the counselling centre. I think they can help you, and I'll walk you over.'" So many great little nuggets in this Kira Cochrane profile of Roxane Gay at the Guardian.

"This is my own problem, an idiot’s problem, the inevitable result of so much time spent doubling down on jokes until they become unrecognizably assimilated into my lifestyle; the distance between poles eventually had to collapse. But now 'Rude has become the Wrinkle in Time tesseract of both my musical universe and my structural understanding of the relationship between intention and result." Finally, I am OLD, have never even heard this song, and did not click anything that would have dispelled my ignorance of it — but Jia Tolentino is such a damn delight, I would read her analysis of just about anything. (Even books about adultery", which, yawn.) At The Hairpin.