The Pistorius trial is a parable about celebrity, not South Africa

Fascinating take on the Pistorius trial in the context of South African society

“Terrified, Boshoff raced to his gun safe, took up his weapon and levelled it at the closed bedroom door. When the handle turned, he pulled the trigger – only to discover that he’d put a bullet in the head of his eight-year-old daughter. What distinguished this from the Pistorius shooting? Mostly that Oscar and his victim were rich and famous…” Image Credit

Rian Malan | Newsweek

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My captivity

Theo Padnos on being kidnapped, tortured and released in Syria

“His feet bicycled through the air. “You must let me down, for the sake of God! For the sake of Muhammad and God!” he screamed. “This is our music!” Kawa yelled at me. “Do you hear it?” That night, Kawa tortured me and told me that if I didn’t confess to being a C.I.A. operative, he would kill me. I confessed to stop the pain.” Image Credit

Theo Padnos | The New York Times Magazine

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The Red Cross’ secret disaster

Investigation into the organisation’s response to the devastating storms that hit the US in 2012

“During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls. “We were sent way down on the Gulf with nothing to give,” Dunham says. The Red Cross’ relief effort was “worse than the storm.”” Image Credit

Justin Elliott, Jesse Eisinger and Laura Sullivan | ProPublica

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Behind the wall

On the Berlin Wall, 25 years after it came down

“They picked a spot on Zimmerstrasse, near the American Checkpoint Charlie, and just after two o’clock in the afternoon they made a run for it. Kulbeik got over, but Fechter was shot by a guard, and fell to the ground. He was easily visible from the West; there are photographs of him, taken as he lay calling for help.” Image Credit

Amy Davidson | The New Yorker

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Iraqi TV comics make fun of Islamic State at huge risk

On the hit Iraqi TV show lampooning Isis

“Wissam Abd Wahad, an actor who plays Islamic State’s hapless minister of security, said he shut down his Facebook page and changed his email address after receiving death threats…He takes a different route to and from the station every day. Neither the show nor the police provide any special protection.” Image Credit

David Zucchino | Los Angeles Times

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The great paper caper

The story of the most prolific counterfeiter in American history

“The size of the haul was, for the authorities, a source of joy. Nearly a million dollars in fake bills, stacked in a suburban basement, is a sight few cops see in the course of their careers…Though as far as the cops knew, the $949,000 was the extent of Frank’s operation. They were still wholly ignorant of the $200-plus million, stashed in the farmer’s garage.” Image Credit

Wells Tower | GQ

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The crisis in US-Israel relations is officially here

With the relationship as strained as it’s ever been, could ‘profound changes’ be coming?

“The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.” Image Credit

Jeffrey Goldberg | The Atlantic

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Naked and marooned for 60 days on a tiny island

After spending 60 days alone on an island, the hardest bit for Ed Stafford was getting home

“I tried to make a blanket, again, out of grass just by weaving it together, but it was pretty ineffectual, and covered myself in all sorts of things, leaves, sand, whatever I could basically do to cut out the wind. Eventually, obviously, the key to it all was getting a fire going which took two weeks, but once I got a fire going, night was a lot more comfortable, certainly.” Image Credit

Mark Frauenfelder | Boing Boing

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Ballad of the 13-year-old bride

The child bride of Jerry Lee Lewis speaks about their rock & roll romance

“But when the Lewis party landed in London, the press wanted to know about the teenage girl at his side…The British tabloids went ballistic, and after a few dates, the tour was cancelled. Jerry Lee held a defiant press conference at the London airport, boasting about his houses and cars and accusing the British of being “just plain jealous,” and the Lewises returned home to Memphis.” Image Credit

Alan Light | Cuepoint

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The branding of Julian Assange

On the commercial arm of Wikileaks

“Indeed, the self-licensing of Mr. Assange is arguably the ultimate example of the phenomenon identified by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland in their 1997 compilation of essays from The Baffler, “Commodify Your Dissent,” though they were talking about the business world’s co-option of the language of revolution…” Image Credit

Vanessa Friedman | The New York Times

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