Thursday, January 12

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Making murder respectable

On the utility of euphemisms:

In the upper reaches of the British establishment, euphemism is a fine art, one that new arrivals need to master quickly. “Other Whitehall agencies” or “our friends over the river” means the intelligence services (American spooks often say they “work for the government”). A civil servant warning a minister that a decision would be “courageous” is saying that it will be career-cripplingly unpopular. “Adventurous” is even worse: it means mad and unworkable. A “frank discussion” is a row, while a “robust exchange of views” is a full-scale shouting match. (These kind of euphemisms are also common in Japanese, where the reply maemuki ni kento sasete itadakimasu—I will examine it in a forward-looking manner—means something on the lines of “This idea is so stupid that I am cross you are even asking me and will certainly ignore it.”)

Wednesday, January 11

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Guantanamo: An Oral History

On Thanksgiving weekend, I received a phone call informing me that we had just captured approximately 300 al-Qaeda and Taliban. I asked all our assistant secretaries and regional bureaus to canvass literally the world to begin to look at what options we had as to where a detention facility could be established. We began to eliminate places for different reasons. One day, in one of our meetings, we sat there puzzled as places continued to be eliminated. An individual from the Department of Justice effectively blurted out, What about Guantánamo?
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What the Bagel Man Saw

Lessons learned about white-collar crime from an economist turned bagel salesman whose business relied entirely on the honor system.

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The Strange Case of the Dentist and the Pimps

How a family man dentist got involved in an underage prostitution ring.

Tuesday, January 10

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Did This Man Really Cut Michael Jordan?

On Clifton “Pop” Herring, the then-26-year-old high school basketball coach who famously left Jordan off the varsity squad as a sophomore.

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The Whole True Story of the Dougherty Gang

Inside carpenter brothers Ryan and Dylan, and their stripper sister Lee-Grace Dougherty’s eight-day, fifteen-state, AK-47-wielding crime spree.

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The Autumn of Joan Didion

Didion’s genius is that she understands what it is to be a girl on the cusp of womanhood, in that fragile, fleeting, emotional time that she explored in a way no one else ever has. Didion is, depending on the reader’s point of view, either an extraordinarily introspective or an extraordinarily narcissistic writer. As such, she is very much like her readers themselves.
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The Daughter of the Disappeared

The man 27-year-old Victoria Donda believed to be her father shot himself after  being revealed as a former member of an Argentinean death squad. Immediately after, a human rights group came to her with information on her birth parents: murdered political prisoners.

Monday, January 9

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The Ballad of Johnny France

A Montana sheriff and a manhunt in the mountains.

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How to Get a Nuclear Bomb

Looking for holes in the world’s nuclear security.

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The Mystery Woman Behind the Murdoch Mess

A profile of Rebekah Brooks, who started as a secretary at News of the World and became CEO of News International by 41, developing an incredibly close relationship with Rupert Murdoch along the way.