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."