A Navy intelligence analyst reports a rape and finds herself ostracized. She's not the only one, and the U.S. military still has not taken serious steps to address a culture that condones sex abuse:
"The scandal of rape in the U.S. Armed Forces, across all of its uniformed services, has become inescapable. Last year saw the military's biggest sex-abuse scandal in a decade, when an investigation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio revealed that 32 basic-training instructors preyed on at least 59 recruits. In Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is currently facing court-martial for sex-crimes charges, including forcible sodomy, for alleged misconduct against five women. In October, an Air Force technical sergeant filed an administrative complaint describing a work environment of comprehensive harassment – in which all women are 'bitches'; and claimed that during a routine meeting in a commander's office, she was instructed to take off her blouse and 'relax' – edged with menace and punctuated by violent assaults. In December, a Department of Defense report revealed that rape is rampant at the nation's military academies, where 12 percent of female cadets experienced 'unwanted sexual contact.' And an explosive series of federal lawsuits filed against top DOD brass on behalf of 59 service members (including Rebecca Blumer) allege that the leadership has done nothing to stop the cycle of rape and impunity – and that by failing to condemn sexual assault, the military has created a predators' playground."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7041 words)
In Israel, people like Naftali Bennett are leading a move to the right:
"More broadly, the story of the election is the implosion of the center-left and the vivid and growing strength of the radical right. What Bennett’s rise, in particular, represents is the attempt of the settlers to cement the occupation and to establish themselves as a vanguard party, the ideological and spiritual core of the entire country. Just as a small coterie of socialist kibbutzniks dominated the ethos and the public institutions of Israel in the first decades of the state’s existence, the religious nationalists, led by the settlers, intend to do so now and in the years ahead. In the liberal tribune Haaretz, the columnist Ari Shavit wrote, 'What is now happening is impossible to view as anything but the takeover by a colonial province of its mother country.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9047 words)
How California's public university system went from "Master Plan" to "no plan," and how it is now incentivized to favor out-of-state students over in-state students:
"When we talk about the decline of public higher education systems such as California’s, however, rising tuition is only part of the story, and maybe not the most important part. Along with pushing instructional costs onto students, for example, the state of California has made it easier for state universities to balance their budgets by accepting more out-of-state students (and thus, fewer and fewer Californian students). Out-of-state students pay much higher tuition rates, but under the Master Plan, state funding was contingent on enrolling a minimum number of in-state students. As the state has withdrawn its commitment to fully fund its universities, it has progressively detached what funding remains from these kinds of commitments. Governor Jerry Brown may have put the final nail in the coffin when, in June, he vetoed specific enrollment targets for the UC from the annual budget. Moreover, since 2007, the extra $20,000 in tuition money that out-of-state students pay has gone directly to the schools enrolling these students—rather than reverting to the UC as a whole—perversely incentivizing each campus to take on fewer California students.
"This gradual retreat from enrollment quotas only adds to a problem that has plagued the California system since its inception: too many applicants and too little space. Over the last three decades, the state has given up on increasing the total institutional capacity—the classrooms, dorms, and new campuses—that a continuously growing university-age population requires. This shortfall is not as immediately visible as red lines in planning documents, as politically explosive as enrollment targets, or as sharply felt by stretched family budgets. But the fact that the state has stopped keeping up with the demand for more higher education points to a slow but fundamental structural change underway in higher education as a whole."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 22, 2012
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4436 words)
The making of the boy and girl groups that are leading the international K-pop explosion:
"Lee founded S.M. in 1989. His first success was a Korean singer and hip-hop dancer named Hyun Jin-young, whose album came out in 1990. But, just as Jin-young was on the verge of stardom, he was arrested for drugs. Russell writes that Lee was 'devastated' by this misfortune, and that the experience taught him the value of complete control over his artists: 'He could not go through the endless promoting and developing a new artist only to have it crash and burn around him.'
"In effect, Lee combined his ambitions as a music impresario with his training as an engineer to create the blueprint for what became the K-pop idol assembly line. His stars would be made, not born, according to a sophisticated system of artistic development that would make the star factory that Berry Gordy created at Motown look like a mom-and-pop operation. Lee called his system 'cultural technology.' In a 2011 address at Stanford Business School, he explained, 'I coined this term about fourteen years ago, when S.M. decided to launch its artists and cultural content throughout Asia. The age of information technology had dominated most of the nineties, and I predicted that the age of cultural technology would come next.' He went on, 'S.M. Entertainment and I see culture as a type of technology. But cultural technology is much more exquisite and complex than information technology.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 3, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7351 words)
An inquiry into a neighbor's suicide leads a man to discover links between heavy marijuana use and psychosis among people who suffer from mental illnesses:
"One afternoon recently, I met Dr. Roger Roffman, professor emeritus at the University of Washington's School of Social Work, in his office up on Roosevelt Way. He has a calm demeanor and a cozy office set up for counseling sessions: He has been studying marijuana dependence for nearly 30 years. I had sent him the police report about Rosado in advance. He offered me some tea and then sat on the couch under his third-floor window and said, 'The research would tend to indicate that she was loaded for an explosion.'
"The moment he began to speak, it began to rain.
"He said what loaded her for an explosion was being sexually abused as a child and then using marijuana heavily and then experiencing psychosis. Citing data from UK researchers published in Psychological Medicine in 2011, he said, 'In some case examples where forced nonconsensual sex occurred during childhood, there was a risk from that experience for later psychotic illness, and that risk was exaggerated, made even greater, if the individual used marijuana.' In the data, researchers found that if an individual's sexual trauma and marijuana use both began before the age of 16, their chances of being diagnosed with psychosis later on was 'over seven times' greater. The researchers wrote that among other stress factors thought to contribute to psychosis—like ethnicity, employment, drug use, and family history of mental illness—sexual trauma was one 'few researchers had acknowledged.'"
PUBLISHED: Aug. 21, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6578 words)
An investigation into how the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) became accused of intentionally allowing American firearms to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels:
"Voth grew deeply frustrated. In August 2010, after the ATF in Texas confiscated 80 guns—63 of them purchased in Arizona by the Fast and Furious suspects— Voth got an e-mail from a colleague there: 'Are you all planning to stop some of these guys any time soon? That's a lot of guns…Are you just letting these guns walk?'
"Voth responded with barely suppressed rage: 'Have I offended you in some way? Because I am very offended by your e-mail. Define walk? Without Probable Cause and concurrence from the USAO [U.S. Attorney's Office] it is highway robbery if we take someone's property.' He then recounted the situation with the unemployed suspect who had bought the sniper rifle. 'We conducted a field interview and after calling the AUSA [assistant U.S. Attorney] he said we did not have sufficient PC [probable cause] to take the firearm so our suspect drove home with said firearm in his car…any ideas on how we could not let that firearm "walk"'?"
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6709 words)
An anonymous personal account from a Marine Corp medic in Afghanistan:
"My corpsmen and I processed dozens of locals who'd been arrested for a countless acts of shadiness. We provided medical exams and documented any marks, scars, or injuries on them before and after questioning. They would arrive with a grape-juice-colored stain across their fingers and palms, from the test for chemical traces of homemade explosives. We wondered: Is this mouth I'm peering into breathing tuberculosis into me at this moment? Were these eyes viewing Marines throguh a Kalashnikov sight earlier? Will these hands make bombs tomorrow?"
PUBLISHED: April 19, 2012
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2433 words)
A moment-by-moment reconstruction of last year's U.S. embassy attack in Kabul:
"In an image that remained strangely fixed in her mind afterward, Howell watched as he slowly peeled the skin off. As he was peeling off the very last bit, there came a heart-stopping screech and then the bang and shock of an impact. Something had just blown up in her waiting room, and though the thick glass had protected the office, they had all felt the concussion and could smell the acrid stench of burning.
"'That was an RPG!' one of her Afghan colleagues said as they scrambled to their feet. All Howell could think of was the other recent attacks in Kabul, where explosions had been a prelude to armed strangers coming in on foot and slaughtering anyone they could find. She called out to see if everyone was all right and then told her staff to evacuate. As they were moving toward the door, security officers came through, shouting, 'Let's go, let's go!'
"Howell glanced back at the glass that looked out on the waiting room, where the little girl had been playing before. There was just an opaque wall of smoke."
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2012
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7782 words)
Sam Brown, a soldier badly burned in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, undergoes an experimental treatment to ease his pain through a virtual reality game called "SnowWorld":
"When they first lowered the goggles over his eyes, Brown was not all that impressed. He found himself floating through a kind of glacial canyon, but the overall vibe was pretty kiddie. Snowflakes wheeled gently from a digital sky. Snowmen and penguins lined up on ledges along the fjord. The soundtrack was kind of lame, too. Kind of an upbeat chirpy world music, a catchy-against-your-will kind of thing that he'd never heard before. If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your loo-ong lost pal, the lyrics went.
"But there was no question Sam felt very much inside this Disneyesque world on ice, and it was a hell of a lot better than being present while they yanked and pulled at his petrified shoulders. So he tried to get into the game. A few milligrams of Dilaudid didn't hurt."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7492 words)