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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 23 June, 2018

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Michael Freeman

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. How to spy on an entire country
James Bamford on the huge new security installation designed to monitor millions of communications – which may include yours (Wired).

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications.

2. Reaching puberty before age 10
Elizabeth Weil on how more and more children are showing signs of adulthood before they reach double figures (New York Times).

One day last year when her daughter Ainsley was 9, Tracee Sioux pulled her out of her elementary school in Fort Collins, Colorado, and drove her an hour south, to Longmont, in hopes of finding a satisfying reason that Ainsley began growing pubic hair at age 6.

3. The Daily Mail’s road to dominance
Lauren Collins on the much-maligned newspaper that has leveraged gossip and outrage to become one of the world’s most powerful media outlets (New Yorker).

One editor told me, “The paper’s defining ideology is that Britain has gone to the dogs.” Nor is the Mail easy to resist. Last year, its lawyers shut down a proxy site that allowed liberals to browse Mail Online without bumping up its traffic.

4. The rebel executioner
Ulrike Putz on the story of Hussein, a member of an execution squad for the rebel forces in Syria (Der Spiegel).

“That’s why they gave me the job of executioner. It’s something for a madman like me.” Before he joined the Farouk Brigade, as the Baba Amr militia is known, last August, the 24-year-old had worked as a salesman. “I can sell everything, from porcelain to yogurt,” he says.

5. Legally a child, trying to live alone
Laura Rena Murray on her battle to work, go to school and rent a flat – while still under 16 (The New Inquiry).

I had no fixed address, cycling through more than a dozen residences over the course of a year. I traveled relatively light, investing in my first suitcase and learning the delicate art of stashing it under counters at work, in basement corners or behind sofas. Sometimes I got lucky and other times I was robbed or ripped off.

6. Here on Planet Tollywood
Pico Iyer takes a trip to India’s second film industry hub – home to the largest studio complex on the planet (Vanity Fair).

Now, in the bright late-monsoon-season morning, I watch young women in shalwar kameezes—and black cowboy hats—sauntering toward the “Wild Western Days Shooting Gallery.” An Islamic woman clad from head to toe in a burka is approaching the Gunsmoke restaurant.


In October 2002, Tom Junod wrote about bullying, and what society did to one young bully, for Esquire magazine.

Brian pointed the gun at his head. “I’m sick of it,” he said and once again pulled the trigger. This time, a bullet was chambered. This time, the gun went off, and Brian Head, fifteen years old, fell to the floor, dying.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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Michael Freeman

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