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.