The writer visits a farm in the town of Lyme, Conn. with a group of biologists to learn what's driving the population of pathogen-laden ticks:
It's startling to look at the graphs of tick-borne diseases over the past few decades. They’re mostly going in the wrong direction. The research on Lyme disease is fairly recent, sparked in the mid-1970s after a cluster of children around Lyme developed fever and aches. They were diagnosed with juvenile arthritis—a peculiar diagnosis for so many children in one place. Their parents searched for an explanation, and eventually Allan Steere, a doctor at Yale, figured out that they suffered from an infectious disease. The fact that they all came from a rural part of the state suggested that an insect or some other animal had delivered the infection. In 1982, Willy Burgdorfer, an entomologist with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discovered corkscrew-shaped bacteria in black-legged ticks from Long Island. He exposed the bacteria to serum from people with Lyme disease and discovered that their antibodies swarmed around the microbes. That was a sign that these bacteria—which would later be named Borrelia burgdorferi after him—were the cause of Lyme disease.
PUBLISHED: April 30, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5793 words)
An investigation into the underworld of labor brokers or "raiteros" in Chicago, who are used by some of the nation's largest temp agencies and charge temp workers significant fees:
"The system provides just-in-time labor at the lowest possible cost to large companies — but also effectively pushes workers' pay far below the minimum wage.
"Temp agencies use similar van networks in other labor markets. But in Chicago's Little Village, the largest Mexican community in the Midwest, the raiteros have melded with temp agencies and their corporate clients in a way that might be unparalleled anywhere in America — and could violate Illinois' wage laws.
"The raiteros don't just transport workers. They also recruit them, decide who works and who doesn't, and distribute paychecks."
PUBLISHED: April 29, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4400 words)
Our favorite stories of the past week, featuring The Nation, Los Angeles magazine, and more.
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2013
What the Libor and ISDAfix scandals reveal about manipulation of the global economy by banks:
"All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation's GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system."
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3927 words)
An investigation of the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki:
"One day in early September, Abdulrahman woke up before the rest of the house. He tiptoed into his mother’s bedroom, took 9,000 Yemeni rials—roughly $40—from her purse, and left a note outside her bedroom door. He then snuck out the kitchen window and into the courtyard. Shortly after 6 am, the family’s guard saw the boy leave but didn’t think anything of it. It was Sunday, September 4, 2011, a few days after the Eid al-Fitr holiday marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Nine days before, Abdulrahman had turned 16.
"A short while later, Abdulrahman’s mother woke up. She started to rouse his siblings for morning prayers and then went to wake him, but Abdulrahman was not in his bedroom. She called for him and, while searching the house, found his note. In it, he apologized for leaving without telling her and said that he missed his father and wanted to find him. He also said he was sorry for taking the money. 'When his mother told me about the letter, it was just like a shock for me,' Abdulrahman’s grandmother Saleha told me. 'I said, "I think this will be just like bait for his father."' The CIA, she feared, 'might find his father through him.'"
PUBLISHED: April 23, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5050 words)
Writer and photojournalist Deborah Copaken Kogan on her career and her experience with gender bias:
"It's 1999. I sell my first book to Random House, a memoir of my years as a war photographer, for twice my NBC salary. I'm thrilled when I hear this: a new job; self-reliance; the gift of time to do the work I've been dreaming of since childhood. The book is sold on the basis of a proposal and a first chapter under the title Newswhore, which is the insult often lobbed at us both externally and from within our own ranks—a way of noting, with a combination of shame and black humor, the vulture-like nature of our livelihood, and a means of reclaiming, as I see it, the word 'whore,' since I want to write about sexual and gender politics as well. Random House changes the book's title to Shutterbabe, which a friend came up with. I beg for Shuttergirl instead, to reclaim at least 'girl,' as Lena Dunham would so expertly do years later. Or what about Develop Stop Fix? Anything besides a title with the word 'babe' in it. I'm told I have no say in the matter."
PUBLISHED: April 9, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2515 words)
A profile of California Gov. Jerry Brown, who just turned 75 and is ready to address the state's problems:
"Unemployment in California is still higher than the national average and the state has billions of dollars of unfunded pension liabilities. He says there are some public workers in the state who can retire at 50 'and I think they’re going to live until they’re 100. So we have to pay for them for 50 years and they only work for 30 … how’s that going to work?' He has other projects – 'big ideas', such as changing the distribution of new tax money to schools to help children who may not speak English as a first language, and developing a bullet train in the face of considerable opposition and a rising price tag. 'You can’t be a great country without a big idea and without being able to have faith that the people who come after you will continue,' he says, emphatically. 'Otherwise it’s just shifting sands.'"
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3574 words)
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)
A 10-year-old boy suffers abuse growing up and murders his sleeping father, a member of the National Socialist Movement. What led to the killing, and did the system fail him?
"Inside the police station, Joseph sits in the interrogation room with a blanket on his lap and a McDonald's meal on the table. Krista strokes his hand as Detective Hopewell interviews him. Joseph tells Hopewell that he was 'tired' of his dad hitting him and his mom. 'I didn't want to do it,' Joseph tells Hopewell. 'It's just that he hurts us.'
"He says his dad is cheating on his mother and he's afraid if there would be a divorce, he would have to live with his father. 'That really scared me,' Joseph says. He tells Hopewell that Jeffrey threated to kill the family. 'He hates everybody, even my baby sister. When someone says that about someone I really care about, I get really mad.' Every day, Joseph says, he and his father 'are hating each other more and more.'
"Joseph tells Hopewell that the night of the killing he woke up in his bedroom — 'crazy in my thoughts. I think that if I shoot him then maybe he wouldn't be able to hurt us… I started thinking I should end this father-son thing.'"
PUBLISHED: Feb. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6408 words)