The secret negotiator

The priest who helped broker the peace between the IRA and the British government

“Among Stone’s victims was IRA member Kevin Brady. At his funeral three days later, two British Army corporals in civilian clothing, David Howes and Derek Wood, drove into the funeral cortege. Their car was immediately surrounded by a mob and the soldiers were overpowered. They were dragged away, stripped, beaten and taken to nearby waste ground where they were shot dead by the IRA.” Image Credit

Peter Crutchley | BBC

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Who made that Tabasco Sauce?

On the roots of the world’s most famous pepper sauce

“But as the condiment’s popularity grew, comic tales of people mistaking Tabasco for ketchup and slathering it over their food began appearing in the pages of The New York Times. “B’jocks, though, I was thunderin’ nigh dead when I fust et that ketchup,” a seafaring New Englander exclaims in one such account, published in 1901. “Dreadful powerful stuff that is to put on victuals.”” Image Credit

Dashka Slater | The New York Times

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A Deep South cold case goes frigid

How action is lacking when it comes to unsolved murders from the civil rights era

“Whether Butler exposed himself to further violence by talking to investigators is unclear, but he soon faced a white mob himself. On April 5, 1964, Butler was in Kingston again. As on other Sunday mornings, he was working as a farmhand for a white couple, Louisa and Hayward Benton Drane. As he got to work in their barn, he found he was looking down the barrels of shotguns wielded by hooded men.” Image Credit

Ben Greenberg | Narratively

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‘I’m only 66 – my notebook is still full of ideas’

Ian McEwan on writing, mortality, and his new book

“Generally, McEwan, once a prince of darkness and artist of the danse macabre, is sanguine, optimistic and robust in his faithlessness, a convinced atheist. Lately, however, life and art have begun to elide. Mortality has reverberated through his life, as Auden says, like “the sound of distant thunder at a picnic”. He concedes that now he finds “death does press in on the writing, and it does become the subject, even if it’s not foregrounded”.” Image Credit

Robert McCrum | The Observer

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Love/Hate: New York, race, and 1989

The three events that defined the city that year

“The haves and have-nots lived in uncomfortable proximity. Crime ran the streets of neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Red Hook and Manhattan’s Harlem, fueled by cash, guns, and crack—the cheap, dangerous drug that had arrived a few years earlier and devoured the urban core. An average day in 1989 New York saw five murders, nine rapes, and 194 aggravated assaults. The city was in internal strife.” Image Credit

Garrett McGrath | The Wilson Quarterly

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Heroin’s anthrax problem

Tracing the source of anthrax in heroin in Europe

“But other substances have practical benefits to user and vendor alike: caffeine, a cheap and easily-obtained addition, causes heroin to vaporize at lower temperatures and thus allows for greater amounts of the drug to be consumed. Procaine, a local anesthetic, is added to heroine primarily to add volume to the drug, but happens to reduce pain at the site of injection as well.” Image Credit

Rebecca Kreston | Discover

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Obama & the coming election

The US midterms don’t look good for Obama, but there’s still time left to change that

“Probably not since Richard Nixon have so many candidates shied away from being in the presence of their party’s president when he shows up in their states—though they welcome his strenuous fund-raising efforts on their behalf. It’s often said that the president should socialize more with Republicans, but they, too, don’t want to be seen in his presence and often turn down White House invitations…” Image Credit

Elizabeth Drew | The New York Review of Books

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What people cured of blindness see

What exactly do you see if you’ve had cataracts since birth, and they’re removed as a teenager?

“Since 2003, Sinha, through a non-profit that he founded called Project Prakash, has organized and supervised sight-restoration surgeries for more than two hundred blind children from some of the poorest regions in India. The surgeries were given to any child who medically qualified, a subset of whom had been blind since birth with cataracts. After sight had been restored, Sinha posed Molyneux’s question.” Image Credit

Patrick House | The New Yorker

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Weekend Reads | The aftershocks

Every Sunday a pick of five great feature-length reads from the week just gone.

Can you blame scientists for an earthquake? That’s the question David Wolman asked this week as he examined the case of the scientists convicted of manslaughter over Italy’s L’Aquila earthquake. At The World Post, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke looked at the history of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, explaining both how it shapes the ideology of the Islamic State, and how it may come back to bite its main sponsor: Saudi Arabia. In Chicago Magazine, Ted C. Fishman told the story of Motorola, the former giant of US telecoms that was almost torn apart by a cultural shift. Elsewhere, The New Yorker took an exhaustive look at the high profile lobbying group AIPAC, and asked whether its influence is waning, while The Intercept had another exposé on US intelligence, this time detailing how the National Security Agency built its own ‘secret Google’. (31st August 2014)

The aftershocks David Wolman | Matter (23 min)

You can’t understand Isis if you don’t understand Wahhabism Alastair Crooke | The World Post (11 min)

What happened to Motorola Ted C. Fishman | Chicago Magazine (27 min)

Friends of Israel Connie Bruck | The New Yorker (51 min)

The surveillance engine Ryan Gallagher | The Intercept (31 min)

Click the individual stories above or head over to to get this whole collection as a reading list. To get the Weekend Reads newsletter sent straight to your inbox every Sunday just enter your email here.

The genocide that wasn’t

On the trial in Cambodia of the remnants of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime

“By the late 1990s, however, the Khmer Rouge were a tired guerrilla force, and Washington had started to condemn them consistently, using “genocide” to describe their atrocities, as some historians also had been doing. On April 30, 1994 -– while a bona fide genocide was raging in Rwanda — the US Congress passed the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act…” Image Credit

Stéphanie Giry | The New York Review of Books

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