Week Seventeen

Turkey Claims to Have ‘Captured’ Cleric’s Relative in Kenya

The removal of a Turkish citizen from his home in Kenya is part of the crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on those he sees as connected to a failed 2016 coup.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/world/europe/turkey-kenya-gulen.html
Interpol has come under widespread criticism for allowing autocrats and strongmen to abuse its alert system to serve their political ends.

The Dark Side of Congo’s Cobalt Rush

Cell phones and electric cars rely on the mineral, causing a boom in demand. Locals are hunting for this buried treasure—but are getting almost none of the profit.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/05/31/the-dark-side-of-congos-cobalt-rush
The man stopped digging in his yard. Instead, he cut through the floor of his house, which he was renting, and dug to about thirty feet, carting out ore at night. Zanga Muteba, a baker who then lived in Kasulo, told me, “All of us, at that time, we knew nothing.” But one evening he and some neighbors heard telltale clanging noises coming from the man’s house. Rushing inside, they discovered that the man had carved out a series of underground galleries, following the vein of cobalt as it meandered under his neighbors’ houses. When the man’s landlord got wind of these modifications, they had an argument, and the man fled. “He had already made a lot of money,” Muteba told me. Judging from the amount of ore the man had dug out, he had probably made more than ten thousand dollars—in Congo, a small fortune. According to the World Bank, in 2018 three-quarters of the country’s population lived on less than two dollars a day.

One Man’s Amazing Journey to the Center of the Bowling Ball

Mo Pinel spent a career reshaping the ball’s inner core to harness the power of physics. He revolutionized the sport—and spared no critics along the way.

Link: https://www.wired.com/story/one-mans-amazing-journey-to-the-center-of-the-bowling-ball
This is what the mercilessness of the pandemic has abruptly robbed from us: tens of thousands of men and women whose rare and hard-won knowledge can never be replicated. This is how artisanal skills are forgotten, how dialects vanish, how the stories meant to sustain us ebb away from our collective memory. And it’s all happening at a pace far faster than we can grieve.

The Native Scholar Who Wasn’t

More than a decade ago, a prominent academic was exposed for having faked her Cherokee ancestry. Why has her career continued to thrive?

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/25/magazine/cherokee-native-american-andrea-smith.html
In Native Studies there’s a concept called “settler colonialism” that Smith has written about. It includes the conviction felt by non-Natives that the land, but also the knowledge, cultural heritage and identities of American Indians belong to the rest of us. In “Playing Indian,” the book by Deloria, he argues that white people in this country have been co-opting Native identities since the Boston Tea Party. “Playing Indian is a persistent tradition in American culture,” he writes, “stretching from the very instant of the national big bang into an ever-expanding present and future.”

Are U.S. Officials Under Silent Attack?

The Havana Syndrome first affected spies and diplomats in Cuba. Now it has spread to the White House.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/05/31/are-us-officials-under-silent-attack
Geolocation data, which is based on signals from electronic devices, indicated that both victims had been in the vicinity of G.R.U. vehicles when they began experiencing symptoms. Some officials believed that this was a smoking gun, and were annoyed by what they saw as the C.I.A.’s and the State Department’s reluctance to call out the Russians. “We’ve talked enough about this,” Chris Miller, the acting Secretary of Defense, said. “Let’s get after it. I mean, this is bullshit. Something’s going on. I thought we were well beyond the phase where we thought it was an unexplained mania or any shit like that.”

The Republican Party, Racial Hypocrisy, and the 1619 Project

As the G.O.P. seeks to deny Americans knowledge of their own history, Nikole Hannah-Jones is denied tenure.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-republican-party-racial-hypocrisy-and-the-1619-project
Recently, as the Texas Tribune reported, Texas introduced a bill that prohibits the teaching that any race is superior or inferior to another—an ostensibly respectable principle, but the bill was ultimately concerned with an imaginary world in which white people were actually the victims in need of protection from racism.

Sinead O’Connor Remembers Things Differently

The mainstream narrative is that a pop star ripped up a photo of the pope on “Saturday Night Live” and derailed her life. What if the opposite were true?

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/arts/music/sinead-oconnor-rememberings.html
But O’Connor doesn’t see it that way. In fact, the opposite feels true. Now she has written a memoir, “Rememberings,” that recasts the story from her perspective. “I feel that having a No. 1 record derailed my career,” she writes, “and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track.”

Opinion | Kushner’s Absurd Peace Plan Has Failed

There's no ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. 

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/17/opinion/us-israel-palestine-jared-kushner.html
To circumvent that dispute, the United States set about bribing other Arab and Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel. The United Arab Emirates got an enormous arms deal. Morocco got Trump to support its annexation of the Western Sahara. Sudan got taken off America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Secret Sharers: The Hidden Ties Between Private Spies and Journalists

A booming, renegade private intelligence industry is increasingly shaping (and misshaping) the news.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/15/business/media/spooked-private-spies-news-media.html
The short answer is no. To learn from the dossier episode, news organizations would have to examine their ties to private intelligence agents, including why they so often granted them anonymity. But as long as the media allows private spies to set the rules, journalists and the public will continue to lose.

‘No Smile, No Trash Talk’: Behind Tim Duncan’s Quiet Excellence

A bank shot carried Duncan from St. Croix to Wake Forest, five championships with the Spurs and now the Hall of Fame.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/sports/basketball/tim-duncan-hall-of-fame.html
When we were playing together, he’d come in after a loss and he’d be like, “That’s my fault guys.” And you’d look at the box score, he’d have 30 and 17 and 6 blocks.

A Press Corps Deceived, and the Gaza Invasion That Wasn’t

A spokesman led the international media to believe that Israeli forces had entered Gaza. They hadn’t. But the army wanted Hamas to think they had.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-disinformation.html
All through the week, the conflict has inspired a broader storm of misinformation on social media, as well. False claims are being widely shared around the world — sometimes with misidentified or mischaracterized photos and videos, or fake rumors about Israeli troop movements or Palestinian threats.