When Israelis and Arabs for once agreed

On Lawrence Wright’s Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David

“The British folded. They conceded that the Mandate was “unworkable” and in February 1947 handed the problem of how to divide the Holy Land to the United Nations. Still, Begin pressed his offensive. When the authorities flogged teenage members of the Irgun, Begin had four British soldiers flogged in reprisal. When the British hanged three Irgunists in 1947, he had two British soldiers hanged.” Image Credit

William Cohen | The New York Review of Books

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Salvage beast

Is Captain Nick Sloane the most valuable man on the seas?

“Most recently he directed the removal of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that ran aground and capsized in 2012 off the Tuscan island of Giglio, with the loss of 32 lives. For more than two years he stayed on the island…The routine was hard on him. Speculative salvage is what he prefers. He is an adventurer at heart.” Image Credit

William Langewiesche | Vanity Fair

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Assassination and the American language

A former CIA operative on the thin line between ‘targeted killing’ and ‘assassination’

“…when you watched the Predator strikes light up the night sky just across the border; and then, when you took that same picture and moved it into a file for archiving, it sure felt like an assassination…The discomfort existed because it felt like we were doing something, on a large scale, that we’d sworn not to.” Image Credit

Elliot Ackerman | The New Yorker

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Out of Ebola

The story of Kent Brantly, in the words of those who saved him

“People have a septic kind of phase where their body’s trying to fight the virus so hard, all your immune cells are activated; you can have organ failure and die just from being septic. Then there’s a gastroenteritis phase with cholera-like diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration, which can also kill you.” Image Credit

Sean Flynn | GQ

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War of the worlds

The ugly battle over who really discovered the first Earth-like planet

“The two teams evolved into fiercely competitive dynasties, fighting to have the most—and most tantalizing—worlds to their names. Their rivalry was good for science; within a decade, each had found on the order of a hundred planets around a wide variety of stars. Soon the hunt narrowed to a bigger prize. The teams went searching for smaller, rocky planets they could crown “Earth-like.”” Image Credit

Lee Billings | Wired

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Chris Christie is back

Meeting Chris Christie as he makes an ‘artful’ comeback with an eye on 2016

“Several of his top aides had ordered the closing of two on-ramp lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, creating a four-day traffic jam in apparent retaliation for the refusal of the town’s mayor, a Democrat, to endorse Christie. As a political scandal, “bridge-gate” — or “the bridge thing,” as Christie described it to me — had so much going for it…” Image Credit

Mark Leibovich | The New York Times Magazine

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The myth of the Caliphate

On the political history of an idea

“The caliphate’s more recent history under the Ottomans shows why the institution might be better thought of as a political fantasy—a blank slate just as nebulous as the “dictatorship of the proletariat”—that contemporary Islamists are largely making up as they go along.” Image Credit

Nick Danforth | Foreign Affairs

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Stop trying to save the World

Why big ideas are ‘destroying’ international development

“You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand the underlying dynamic here: Cheap food is boring. In many developing countries, Duflo and Banerjee found that even the poorest people could afford more than 2,000 calories of staple foods every day. But given the choice between the fourth bowl of rice in one day and the first cigarette, many people opt for the latter.” Image Credit

Michael Hobbes | The New Republic

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The man who made ‘Tetris’

On Alexey Pajitnov, creator of the legendary video game

“The KGB, then, was heavily interested in applying Pajitnov’s speech recognition experiments to an audio system that would start recording automatically if and when certain keywords, deemed dangerous to the state or incriminating to the speaker, were uttered.” Image Credit

Jagger Gravning | Motherboard

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The Shazam effect

Download and search data is great for record companies, but is it good for music?

“It has also helped set off a revolution in the recording industry. While most users think of Shazam as a handy tool for identifying unfamiliar songs, it offers music executives something far more valuable: an early-detection system for hits.” Image Credit

Derek Thompson | The Atlantic

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