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News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ar1cha
News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ar1cha
News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ar1cha

The summer of 2020, recalls Hillary Schieve, was hard. The pandemic was bearing down across the country, protests over racial injustice were erupting, and her sister’s breast cancer had become terminal. Schieve moved her sister into her house to take care of her; at night, she would watch the news and wonder how she was going to keep it together. Then her sister died, and a few weeks later, Schieve’s brother unexpectedly died too.

“When my brother died,” she said, “that’s when I fell apart.” She was having anxiety attacks; she was crying all the time. She wanted to find a therapist to talk to, so she started making calls but no one could fit her in for weeks. She was frustrated and unsure of what to do next. “I’m sitting at my counter, and a commercial comes on with Michael Phelps,” she remembered. It was an ad for the therapy app Talkspace. “I was like, I don’t know, maybe I should try that.

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When Anar Sabit was in her twenties and living in Vancouver, she liked to tell her friends that people could control their own destinies. Her experience, she was sure, was proof enough.

She had come to Canada in 2014, a bright, confident immigrant from Kuytun, a small city west of the Gobi Desert, in a part of China that is tucked between Kazakhstan, Siberia, and Mongolia. “Kuytun” means “cold” in Mongolian; legend has it that Genghis Khan’s men, stationed there one frigid winter, shouted the word as they shivered. During Sabit’s childhood, the city was an underdeveloped colonial outpost in a contested region that locals called East Turkestan. The territory had been annexed by imperial China in the eighteenth century, but on two occasions it broke away, before Mao retook it, in the nineteen-forties. In Beijing, it was called New Frontier, or Xinjiang: an untamed borderland.

Growing up in this remote part of Asia, a child like Sabit, an ethnic Kazakh, could find the legacy of conquest all around her. Xinjiang is the size of Alaska, its borders spanning eight countries. Its population was originally dominated by Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other indigenous Turkic peoples. But, by the time Sabit was born, Kuytun, like other parts of Xinjiang’s north, had dramatically changed. For decades, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps—a state-run paramilitary development organization, known as the bingtuan—had helped usher in millions of Han Chinese migrants, many of them former revolutionary soldiers, to work on enormous farms. In southern Xinjiang, indigenous peoples were still prevalent, but in Kuytun they had become a vestigial presence.

As a child, Sabit imbibed Communist Party teachings and considered herself a committed Chinese citizen, even as the bingtuan maintained a colonialist attitude toward people like her. Han residents of Kuytun often called Kazakhs and Uyghurs “ethnic persons,” as if their specific culture made no difference. Sabit accepted this as normal. Her parents, a doctor and a chemistry professor, never spoke of their experiences of discrimination; they enrolled her in schools where classes were held in Mandarin, and they taught her to embrace what she learned there. When Sabit was in elementary school, she and her classmates picked tomatoes for the bingtuan. In middle school, she picked cotton, which she hated: you had to spend hours bent over, or else with your knees ground into the dirt. Her mother told her that the work built character.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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The nightmares began when Ryan Hammons was 4 years old. He would wake up clutching his chest, telling his mother Cyndi that he couldn’t breathe and that his heart had exploded in Hollywood. But they didn’t live in Los Angeles; Hammons’s family resided in Oklahoma.

A few months prior, in early 2009, Ryan had started talking about going home to Hollywood and pleaded with Cyndi to take him to see his other family. He would yell, “Action!” and pretend to direct films when he played with friends; he knew scenes from a cowboy movie he had never watched; and said a cafe reminded him of Paris, where he had never been. He talked about his child, worldly travels, and his job at an agency where people changed their names. Cyndi didn’t think much of it until the nightmares set in and Ryan started describing death.

Read the rest of this article at: Vice

News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

No one in Washington seems to know what the story is, or even where to set the dateline. Is it the culture war over masks, in the Florida sunshine? Is it the crisis along the southern border? (Is there a crisis along the southern border?) CNN’s prime-time viewership is down thirty-seven per cent, MSNBC’s numbers are not much better, and even Fox’s are in decline. The morning political-newsletter writers, and many of the rest of us, have been reduced to replaying the dramas of the Trump Administration (Why is John Boehner backing an Ohio congressman whom Trump opposes?) or even the Obama years (How much hold does Larry Summers have on the Democratic Party?). For a moment this week the story was whether one of the Bidens’ German shepherds, Major, has a biting problem. (Probably so.) The President rises in the morning, takes his intelligence briefing, holds detailed meetings on the economy, consults historians about the meaning of it all, boards Air Force One, deplanes Air Force One, and yet the entire operation is muffled, perhaps because there are no new or interesting conflicts. The saying is that two people matter in Washington at any given time: the President and whoever the President is arguing with. But what if the President isn’t arguing with anyone at all?

The White House has a policy plan—a two-part, roughly four-trillion-dollar program to rebuild the economy—but it also seems to have a narrative plan. Biden rolled out both on Wednesday afternoon, in a speech at a union carpenters’ training facility outside Pittsburgh, in support of the American Jobs Plan, the first and larger of the two components of his economic program. Biden spoke about its specifics: the twenty thousand miles of roads and “ten most economically significant bridges” he wants to repair, the five hundred thousand electric-car-charging stations he intends to build. He mentioned the massive investments in research and development that his plan calls for, but only briefly; his emphasis was on the millions of jobs he said it would create and its sheer size. “It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” he said. “It’s big? Yes. It’s bold? Yes. And we can get it done.” On a partisan level, it operated as a response to all the heavy breathing about a working-class conservatism emanating from Fox News. We see your Infrastructure Week bid and raise you, by four trillion dollars.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 05.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Technically, Megan is a farming heiress.

Her mom grew up on a wheat farm, and for years, the government had been paying her family $15,000 a year to not farm. It was an attempt to keep land from being overused, and that money was basically the extent of Megan’s relationship with agriculture: the source of a yearly gift, the money she and her mom would wait for before, say, buying furniture or making home repairs. Now Megan, who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym to speak freely about her finances, receives that money directly.

In 2019, at the age of 64, Megan’s mother died. It was expected and unexpected. Her mom had been a cancer survivor for 20 years. But chemotherapy had damaged her heart, and two years ago, she went into cardiac arrest.

On the phone, Megan, 38, runs me through the process of settling her mother’s estate. It was a ton of bureaucracy: so many phone calls, so much paperwork. After paying her mom’s bills and taxes, selling off her house and possessions, and handling lawyers’ fees — setting aside for just a second the small piece of land that makes her an agricultural scion — it came to just under $50,000.

Something else Megan says she inherited from her mom, who worked for years in medical billing, was “not really a great sense of money management.”

So Megan used that money to pay off her own formidable credit card bills. She’d been in “a decent amount of debt” since 2008, and for the first time, she says, she was out from under Visa and even able to add to her savings. Today, she’s at something like breaking even; she’s found a balance between her outstanding graduate school debt, her expenses, her income, and the money she receives from the USDA to let her family land lie fallow.

Megan is grateful, and amazed that her mother was able to leave anything after a life of financial struggle. Ultimately, though, we’re talking about $50,000 in 2020s America, set against a person whom she loved deeply.

“I’d obviously much rather have my mom,” she says.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.