Week Thirty-Five

Internal Alarm, Public Shrugs: Facebook’s Employees Dissect Its Election Role

Company documents show that the social network’s employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation and conspiracies before and after the contested November vote.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/technology/facebook-election-misinformation.html
Sixteen months before last November’s presidential election, a researcher at Facebook described an alarming development. She was getting content about the conspiracy theory QAnon within a week of opening an experimental account, she wrote in an internal report.

Who Gets to Escape the Taliban

The chaotic American withdrawal forced individual soldiers, aid workers, and journalists to decide which Afghans would be saved.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/who-gets-to-escape-the-taliban
What became apparent at the gates of the Baron is that there was no American strategy for leaving Afghanistan—none that considered the future of the Afghans left behind. President Biden asserted to the press for months, at times angrily, that Kabul was not Saigon. Based on what I witnessed, he was right. It was worse.

Amid Flames and Gunfire, They Were Evicted From Where They Called Home

Critics say an Indian state’s campaign to expel longtime residents on government land marks the ruling party’s latest campaign against Muslims.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/17/world/asia/india-assam-muslim-evictions.html
They swarmed into his village, wielding sticks, to beat up participants in what local residents described as a peaceful protest against forced evictions. When the protesters fought back, they opened fire, killing two people, including a 12-year-old boy. Then the police began burning local homes and the possessions inside: a bed, a quilt, hay for feeding their cattle.

At Axel Springer, Politico’s New Owner, Allegations of Sex, Lies and a Secret Payment

A high-flying German media giant is ahead on digital media but seems stuck in the past when it comes to the workplace and deal-making.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/17/business/media/axel-springer-bild-julian-reichelt.html
Mr. Döpfner, who once described himself “a mixture of aesthete and carpet salesman,” is an enthusiastic deal-maker who stands 6-foot-7. Under his leadership, Axel Springer has had elaborate holiday parties, including a disco night in 2018 that included 10 D.J.s, 512 disco balls and a joint performance by the Village People and company board members. His dance moves at one party left an impression on the company’s slacks-wearing partners at Politico. He also owns one of Germany’s leading collection of female nude paintings.


Until late this summer, I worked as a senior producer at a company that made podcasts for clients and media partners. I quit, in part, because I saw how far my ideas could go without my name attached

When you buy into the myth of the singular genius, it becomes unseemly that a brilliant writer might need an equal partner in an audio producer to coherently package and adapt their thoughts for a new medium.

Dave Chappelle’s Betrayal

Poet Saeed Jones used to consider himself a longtime fan of the comedian. But Chappelle’s new Netflix special “The Closer,” which fixates on gay and trans people, feels like a stab in the back.

Link: https://www.gq.com/story/chappelle-the-closer
That’s the gag, Dave. I thought when you got free, if you decided to come back to us, you’d find a way to help us feel more free too. I believe that’s what laughter does. It loosens us up, helps us shake ourselves free. But watching you spew bullshit just as hurtful as the words those men hurled at us last weekend, I didn’t feel like I was being set free. I felt like I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding.

Exclusive: Documents Reveal Erik Prince's $10 Billion Plan to Make Weapons and Create a Private Army in Ukraine

Documents obtained exclusively by TIME reveal the American businessman's ambitious plans to take over Ukraine's military industry.

Link: https://time.com/6076035/erik-prince-ukraine-private-army/
At least one of Prince’s offers to Ukraine appeared to be in line with U.S. geopolitical interests. As the Wall Street Journal first reported in Nov. 2019, Prince has been competing against a Chinese firm to buy a Ukrainian factory called Motor Sich, which produces advanced aircraft engines. China sought those engines to develop its air force. The U.S., concerned about the rapid growth of the Chinese military, has long urged Ukraine not to complete the sale. Prince emerged as the American alternative, offering to save the factory from China’s clutches.

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

What is it like to live through—and escape—the Uyghur genocide? Tahir Hamut Izgil tells his family’s story in an unprecedented, five-part series.

Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/the-uyghur-chronicles/
The Chinese government’s mass internment of Uyghurs was in full swing. This campaign had begun in Kashgar, Khotan, and other predominantly Uyghur parts of southern Xinjiang. Now it had reached Urumqi, the regional capital, where our acquaintances were regularly disappearing. Every day, hundreds of Uyghurs who had moved here over the decades—finding work, starting families, buying houses, coming to consider themselves locals—had been shipped out to concentration camps known as “study centers.” Nearly everyone I knew from the labor camp where I’d been imprisoned two decades earlier had already been rearrested. My turn would clearly come soon.

The Nobel Peace Prize Acknowledges a Dangerous Era for Journalists

The co-winner, Dmitry Muratov, is the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, which has lost more journalists to murder than any other Russian news outlet.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-nobel-peace-prize-acknowledges-a-dangerous-era-for-journalists
When I asked Muratov what he thought he got the prize for, he told me, instead, who he thought the prize was intended for: the investigative journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin, poisoned in 2003; Politkovskaya, who was shot in 2006; the investigative journalist Igor Domnikov, beaten to death in 2000; the lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the paper in the Domnikov case, shot in 2009; the junior reporter Anastasia Baburova, who was shot together with Markelov; and the journalist Natalia Estemirova, who was kidnapped and killed in Chechnya in 2009.

A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Woman

Patricia Highsmith’s diaries and notebooks chart her early work and love life.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/10/04/a-portrait-of-the-writer-as-a-young-woman
5/15/48: Please try to notice if every artist isn’t ruthless in some way. Even the sweetest of characters have done something, generally because of their creative life, that to the rest of the world is inhuman. Some cases are more obvious, others may be more concealed. I know mine exists, my cruelty. Though where I cannot precisely say, for I try always to purge myself of evil.

When public health becomes the public enemy

Far-right extremists are robbing the West of the officials who protect community health.

Link: https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.10/north-extremism-when-public-health-becomes-the-public-enemy-community
Shortly after, board member Michael Nicosia resigned, writing in a letter that he could not, “in good conscience, continue to serve as a member of the Board of Health alongside Dr. Bukacek.” Board members came to expect that Bukacek would shoot down any public health proposal. “Every initiative or anything we tried to do, Annie fought against,” says Robinson. “And I said, ‘This is ridiculous — we have to fight our own fellow board members to manage the COVID situation?’ ”