News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Fame is not new to Margaret Atwood—it’s a by-product of life as a perennially prizewinning, bestselling author. But in September, The Testaments, her long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, was released, and she became something else entirely: a worldwide cultural phenomenon. The novel, set in a not-so-distant United States where fundamentalist fascists have gained power and stripped away women’s rights, sold more than 300,000 copies across the US, the UK, and Canada within the first two weeks alone. Atwood appeared on cover after cover leading up to the launch—Time, The Sunday Times Style—and her release-day interview, onstage at London’s National Theatre, was broadcast to 1,000 cinemas around the world. Before The Testaments hit stores, it had already been nominated for both the Giller and Booker prizes (it made the longlist for the former and would go on to win the latter), and a television show—building on the wildly popular series The Handmaid’s Tale—had been announced.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Few chance encounters have had a greater political impact than Gordon Brown’s fateful meeting with Gillian Duffy on an April morning in Rochdale in 2010. When the then prime minister was caught on a hot mic calling the Labour-voting pensioner a “bigoted woman” – after she cornered him with complaints about immigrants “flocking” into Britain – it did not just sink his floundering campaign. It set the tone for the way immigration would become the most toxic issue in British politics for the decade to come.

When New Labour came to power in 1997, just 3% of the public cited immigration as a key issue. By the time of the EU referendum in 2016, that figure was 48%. During those intervening years, the issue came to dominate and distort British politics – exactly according to the script established by Bigotgate. Brown’s gaffe both consolidated and gave credence to a political coding that would shape everything that came after: the “hostile environment”, the Windrush scandal, the EU referendum and the revival of Britain’s far right – deploying a narrative in which sneering, out-of-touch, big-city politicians who favour foreigners and open borders are hopelessly oblivious to the struggles and the so-called “legitimate concerns” of ordinary working people (who, in this scenario, are always white).

The Labour movement still bears the battlescars of Bigotgate, as divisions over immigration cut across party factions. With the Labour party about to release its election manifesto, an outburst against free movement of migrants from the leader of Unite the Union, the party’s biggest affiliate, threatens to thwart efforts to move to a more progressive position on the issue.

By the time Brown took his ill-fated walkabout in 2010, immigration was already polling as a top concern, overtaking the NHS and only topped by the economy for a few years following the 2008 crash. By then, politicians and the media had shaped a venomous narrative around the volume of new arrivals to the UK, the identity of those coming and why they did so.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Magazine

News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For most of my life, I’ve been trying to make sense of my Southern-drawling, Tar Heels–loving, fiscally conservative, immigrant from India, gyno, deeply loving dad of three daughters. There have been some strange contradictions. When my sisters and I were little and our parents were still together, he and our mom would drop us off at Sunday school at a nondenominational Christian church in our hometown of Pasadena, CA, while they skipped service and went who knows where, enjoying the free babysitting. When I was 14 and he found out my friends were having sex, he gave me birth control pills to “help with my acne.” He answered my friends’ and my questions about bodily pathologies oftentimes connected to sex without judgment and always with a professionalism that told me I could count on him. But, for most of our childhoods, he was traveling on the lecture circuit. It wasn’t until I was an adult that he became more than the scruffy cheek kissing us goodbye in our sleep, or the dry-cleaned suits encased in soft plastic sleeves hanging on an empty door frame, not to be disturbed. Until then, he was the grumpy, tired person I mostly avoided on the rare occasions he was home. He was the distant guy my middle sister Maya and I drew countless pictures for, of shoes with a plus sign and then a bee — a visual representation of how to pronounce his name, Subi — which he’d hang dutifully in his office at county hospital.

Today, my dad, the source of our brownness, is a marker of how I understand myself. I grew up the lightest of my dad’s three girls — the one who looked least like him. Maybe that’s why I reach for him so much: I don’t want to get swallowed up with Mom’s side of the family, locked in with the white folks. I have learned to subject him to the same critiques I aim at my own body. In some ways, his story is my story. Sometimes, it feels like we’re both half-told, bleeding onto blank pages.


In 2016, my dad was part of the terrifying legions who voted for Trump.

“We’ve got to give him a chance,” he parroted to my sisters and me, as we sat there, horrified.

I watched the ensuing heated debates with Maya, the lawyer and sports enthusiast who he affectionately referred to as his son despite how she has been the most femme-presenting of the three of us for most of our adult lives. Fighting with him about the importance of supporting social programs, keeping abortion safe and legal, challenging discriminatory immigration policies that locked kids away in cages, and the urgent need to expose and eradicate white supremacy was pointless. He had his beliefs, and he wouldn’t budge. He was the consummate provider. He cared deeply for us and the people we surrounded ourselves with. He loved and supported us. But he saw the world outside our small circles so differently than we did. His perspective felt like a kind of violence.

In 2016, my dad was part of the terrifying legions who voted for Trump. ‘We’ve got to give him a chance,’ he parroted to my sisters and me, as we sat there, horrified.

I learned that if I loved him, as I did — deeply — I just couldn’t talk to him about certain things. And, yet, there was some shit I couldn’t ignore. My dad grew up in the segregated South, went to white schools, and believed in bootstraps. He was a good old boy, but he was brown. I wanted so much to begin a conversation with him. How could he not know that his beliefs, no matter how conservative and vitriolic, would not protect him? How could he not know that the fear and hate growing in this country would come for his brown body too?

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

News 11.20.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Women go missing, and police are slow to act

After a night of ragged sleep, a woman who solved murders woke before dawn in her red-tile suburban home and padded across the hardwood floor to her closet. She thought hard about the right color to put on. What do you wear to interview a serial killer?

It was the first of a thousand calculations Anaheim Police Det. Julissa Trapp would have to make that day. For some, she would follow the advice of the Homicide Investigation Manual, or of the small army of local detectives and state investigators and FBI agents who would watch her work.

Many other decisions would be unconscious or instinctive or hard to fully explain.

Trapp was 37, a veteran detective. She had entered this case a month earlier, when she stood beside the body of a young woman at a trash-sorting plant. Since then, she had walked between her city’s cheap stucco motels, studied trash routes and sent teams chasing suspects from Oklahoma to Oakland.

There had been dozens of dead ends … and then one improbable fingerprint that led them to the door of an innocent man, who led them to an alley, which made them gamble on an idea that had initially seemed crazy … and suddenly she was at the center of a case involving 75 cops from seven agencies.

And now, on Day 29 of the case, it would come down to this: A detective. A killer. A windowless 8-by-10 room. A psychological duel that demanded as much instinct as training, and might require her to surrender more of herself than most cops were prepared to give.

At stake was more than a confession. This might be Trapp’s last chance to learn the fates of three missing women, and, if they were dead, to find out where their bodies were and bring them home.

The detective had missing persons of her own, and she carried them everywhere, inked on her skin, confronting her every time she got dressed. They were represented by four small black birds, tattooed in a straight line under her collarbone. They were swallows — the bird that carries souls. Each bird was an unhealable wound from which she did not wish to escape, but also an image of hope.

Today Trapp was searching for the right persona to confront a man who killed women and threw them away like litter. When she was assigned to sex crimes, she had worn pink. It was a useful disguise, because it made her seem exactly what she was not: pliant and harmless.

For this adversary, she thought it was important to look approachable but also to project strength. She did not want to appear soft. Pink wouldn’t do. She found an emerald green blouse. Green seemed like a strong color. She put it on, over the swallows, and grabbed her badge.


When Julissa Trapp drives through her hometown of Anaheim, it feels to her like “one big crime scene.” Every street leads to the site of a remembered stabbing or shooting or chase, to close calls and hard lessons, to dead-eyed killers and inconsolable mothers.

It’s a mental map of what the jaded call “Anacrime,” the crowded city of 350,000 that encircles Disneyland. It’s a map of long business strips that sprang up more than half a century ago and were sidelined by history, the wide boulevards dotted with disappearing relics of indigenous California weirdness — space-age car washes, gaudy neon signage, kitschy theme motels.

It’s a map of neighborhoods that tourists avoid, of blocks menaced by gangs and shadow economies fueled by drugs and sex, of pay-in-cash motels with cages on the night windows where resident families splash in tiny pools hard by the parking lot.

Read the rest of this article at: Los Angeles Times

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