Our picks this week include fiction from The New Yorker, plus FT Magazine, Texas Monthly, Washingtonian, The Verge and a guest pick by Margaret Ely
On Sept. 22, 1987 an American pilot named Tim Dorsey shot down a U.S. plane during a flying exercise. The incident could have ended his career, but it didn't:
"Dorsey offered compelling evidence that something was changing in the Navy. Every time he was up for promotion, a selection board reviewed his performance and the record of the shootdown. They’re required to consider any 'adverse information' in their decision. There’s actually a mark in a personnel record, called a Field-Code 17, that signals to members of a selection board that there’s a black mark in the officer’s past. That code stays in the officer’s file. In Dorsey’s, it pointed to hundreds of pages of testimony about the shootdown, flight records, even an invoice that itemizes millions of dollars in damage he caused to US government property.
"During every promotion review, the shadow of the shootdown hung over Dorsey. But it never overtook him."
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2013
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8614 words)
This week's picks include the Washingtonian, Newsweek, Los Angeles Magazine, The Morning News, The Hairpin, fiction from Electric Literature and a guest pick by Elise Foley.
Hospitals nationwide are experiencing drug shortages, including critical nutrients needed to keep premature babies and other patients alive. Are drug manufacturers and the FDA both at fault?
"Some hospitals have resorted to bartering with one another to secure even a small supply of nutrients, and many are rationing.
"At least one NICU in the District is administering some trace elements only three days a week instead of seven. At Atticus’s hospital, no patients heavier than 2½ kilograms (5½ pounds), including NICU babies, are getting intravenous phosphorous. 'You could have a brand-new, full-term baby and they don’t qualify,' a staff member says. 'There are really sick babies and one-, two-, three-year-olds that don’t get anything at all because we’re rationing it for our tiniest preemies.'
"'It almost makes me cry—our patients are starving because of drug shortages. How can this happen in this country?' says ASPEN past president Jay Mirtallo, a professor of clinical pharmacy at Ohio State University. 'In the last three years, there hasn’t been one PN product that hasn’t been in short supply. I’ve traveled all over the world talking about parenteral nutrition, and our colleagues in Europe, South America, and Asia just look astounded and ask how this can be such a significant problem when they have no issue whatsoever in any of their countries.'"
PUBLISHED: May 22, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7538 words)
The Supreme Court is considering whether or not it is unconstitutional for police to gather DNA from from individuals who are arrested—even if the DNA evidence results in crime-solving:
"Once the government has someone’s DNA, Shanmugam argues in his briefs, Big Brother has possession of that person’s genetic blueprint. Allowing the government to collect and keep DNA raises privacy concerns, he writes, because it contains 'information that can be used to make predictions about a host of physical and behavioral characteristics, ranging from the subject’s age, ethnicity, and intelligence to the subject’s propensity for violence and addiction.'
"Shanmugam acknowledges that laws prohibit unauthorized disclosures of DNA, but he points out that Maryland’s law allows sharing DNA for 'research' purposes. And he notes that state attorney general Gansler 'embraced' the notion that the government would eventually have everyone’s DNA, because Gansler testified before the legislature that someday 'everybody’s DNA' would be in some sort of a database, 'like with our Social Security numbers.'
"Shanmugam wrote in his brief: 'Some Fourth Amendment incursions may come dressed in sheep’s clothing. This wolf comes as a wolf.'"
PUBLISHED: April 30, 2013
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4822 words)
How the last king of Rwanda ended up living on public assistance in Virginia:
"In 1990, under Western pressure, Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu who had ruled with an iron first for nearly two decades, agreed to share power with other parties. Seeing its chance, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the militant group of Tutsi exiles in Uganda, invaded, igniting long-dormant tensions between Hutu and Tutsi.
"Kigeli refused to endorse the RPF's violent tactics, but a Rwandan journalist who interviewed him in Kenya was arrested upon his return to Rwanda on charges of harming state security. Kenya's then-president, Daniel Arap Moi, had close ties to Habyarimana, and Kigeli and Benzinge began to fear for their security.
"The United States wouldn't just be safer, they thought; its freedoms of speech would allow them to broadcast Rwanda's plight to the world. They picked up the phone and called the one American they knew: Bill Fisher."
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6984 words)
[Not single-page] A man helps his friends during a killing spree in Southeast Washington D.C., leaving five young people dead. He then decides to testify against them in court:
"When they sat down a few days later, Williams launched into his standard spiel: Don't talk on the jail phones, don't discuss your case with anyone. 'And I think he was hearing, ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah,' because he turns to me and says, "Man, what can I do to make this right?" '
"Williams couldn't recall working with a client whose first instinct wasn't to minimize his exposure. But he did as asked and arranged a meeting with the prosecutors.
"A team of investigators crammed into a small conference room at police headquarters. One of the first things Nate told them was perhaps the most surprising: Malik Carter, the 14-year-old, had nothing to do with the shooting. The government's working theory—the kid's name was Carter, after all, and he'd run at the sight of the cops—now had an ugly hole in it. 'Mike Brittin's jaw was on the floor,' Williams says."
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7039 words)
An oral history of the Beltway sniper attacks that occurred during three weeks in October 2002. Ten people were killed, three people were injured, and many people were too afraid to leave their homes:
"Iran Brown, victim, now 23: 'I remember every detail, down to what I ate for breakfast: chocolate-chip waffles. My aunt drove me to school, and it was very early because she had to go to work. I was the first to arrive.
"'I got hit right under my left chest. I fell to the ground. A teacher came out to help me. I had my hand over the wound, but it wasn't like in the movies with blood gushing out. I explained that I'd been shot and needed help, but it didn't seem to register in her brain.
"'My aunt heard the shot and reversed the car when she saw me on the ground. I got up on my own and walked to the car. Of course, I'm panicking and praying. Reality is kicking in. My aunt was a nurse, so she knew more than the average person. She rushed me to a clinic.
"'I had been watching the news. I was aware of what was happening. I had asked our PE teacher why we were going outside if the sniper was in the area.'
PUBLISHED: Oct. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7862 words)
[Not single-page] A young football player kills himself after he sustained a concussion on the field:
Heading home, the Trenums stopped at the Chuck Wagon, a restaurant around the corner from their house, where the Brentsville High players gathered after games. Austin’s teammates recounted his sideline exchange with Scavongelli.
Scavongelli: “Do you know where you are?”
Austin: “Yeah. This is my field!”
Scavongelli: “No. Do you know what school you are at?”
Austin: “Yeah. My school!”
Scavongelli: “Do you know who you’re playing against?”
PUBLISHED: July 24, 2012
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6790 words)