Rolling Stone

115 articles
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While war raged across Afghanistan, expats lived in a bubble of good times and easy money. But as the U.S. withdraws, life has taken a deadly turn.

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The rise and fall of a chubby Idaho pizza delivery boy turned weed kingpin.

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CeCe McDonald, a homeless trans teen in Minneapolis, was charged with murder for defending herself. Then she became a folk hero.

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Inside a high-profile Hollywood child custody battle.

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Behind the doors of Centaurus, Rio’s most infamous brothel.

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Young neo-Nazis attempt to rebrand hate.

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Published across three consecutive issues and later adapted into the book (and mini-series) Generation Kill, the story of bullets, bombs and a Marine platoon at war in Iraq.

Previously: Evan Wright on the Longform Podcast.

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“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

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A dispatch from Vermont, which is in the midst of what the governor calls a “full-blown heroin crisis.”

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How legends of the American music industry made millions off the work of Solomon Linda, a Zulu tribesman who wrote “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and died a pauper.

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How a group of vigilante cat-lovers seeking the hooded figure who suffocated a kitten in an internet video found a sadistic killer.

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An undercover cop targets an autistic teen as a drug dealer.

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A 16-year-old journalist goes on tour with a band on top. The article that inspired Almost Famous.

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A convert dies in the Arizona desert and the secrets of a controversial guru start spilling out.

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He murdered his parents. Then he threw a party.

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The price we pay for cheap meat.

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A dispatch from Camden, “America’s most desperate town.”

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The twisting paths that brought together Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

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Manson at 79: in poor health and walking with a cane, obsessed with Vincent Bugliosi, willing to talk at length with a reporter for the first time in years, and visited every weekend by a 25-year-old woman he calls Star.

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Last fall, a team of American Special Forces arrived in Nerkh, a district just west of Kabul. Six months later, amid allegations of torturing and murdering locals, the team was gone. Shortly after they left, the remains of 10 missing villagers were found outside their vacated base. An investigation into a possible war crime.

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A few days in the life of Miley Cyrus.

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The story of 15-year-old Audrie Pott, who took her own life after nude photos of her were circulated at school.

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The battle between government and industry for America’s best hackers.

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Why a former Anonymous spokesperson was arrested for, among other things, copying and pasting a link.

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On the fall of Aaron Hernandez, who friends say had been “twisted on dust for more than a year” before the murder of Odin Lloyd.

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“The dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It’s not the cost of the loan that’s the problem, it’s the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.”

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Georgia and Patterson Inman, 15-year-old twins, are the only living heirs to the $1 billion Duke tobacco fortune. They are also emotional wrecks, tortured by a hellacious childhood in which they were raised by drug addicts and left to fend for themselves in mansions across the country.

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An interview with Murphy at the apex of his power, just before the release of Harlem Nights.

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The multiple lives of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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How the city will drown.

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The best women’s tennis player of all-time opens up.

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In the ’50s and ’60s, the Reverend Will Campbell marched with MLK Jr. and worked to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Later, broke, he took a job as Waylon Jennings’ roadie and occasional spiritual guru. Afterward, his ministry grew even stranger and more itinerant.

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William S. Burroughs interviews David Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust mythology.

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An early profile of Justin Beiber.

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Libor, ISDAfix, and how the big banks do business.

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On California’s three strikes laws.

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Inside the most sensational murder in the history of study abroad.

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A profile of the late-night host.

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“It seemed like everyone gets raped and assaulted and no one does anything about it; it’s like a big rape cult.”

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A profile of Richard and Karen Carpenter.

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The dark money and political power behind the nation’s largest gun group.

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Profiles of people who live in their car after losing almost everything during the Great Recession.

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How Jerry Lee Lewis got away with murdering 25-year-old Shawn Michelle Stevens, his fifth wife.

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How the pop psychedelic author helped jumpstart the modern apocalypse movement after an alleged visit from “Quetzal-coatl, a mystical bird-serpent in Mayan myths.”

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On the U.S. government’s pursuit of a legendary hacker.

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He was a nobody who became a porn star, a porn star who became a destitute freebaser, an addict who set up his dealer to be robbed, and finally witness to a retaliatory massacre at the house they called Wonderland.

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A profile of Spears at her nadir.

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An interview with Cobain a few months after the release of In Utero.

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On the road with the makeup-clad band.

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The rise and fall of Lisette Lee, the self-proclaimed “Korean Paris Hilton,” who was busted for drug trafficking.

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Inside FSU, the hardcore brotherhood where the wrong t-shirt can get you killed.
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The rise and fall of Mickey the Pope, the founder of a New York City marijuana delivery business.

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A profile of “not just the toughest but the most corrupt and abusive sheriff in America.”

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“One afternoon about three days ago the Editorial Enforcement Detail from the Rolling Stone office showed up at my door, with no warning, and loaded about 40 pounds of supplies into the room: two cases of Mexican beer, four quarts of gin, a dozen grapefruits, and enough speed to alter the outcome of six Super Bowls. There was also a big Selectric typewriter, two reams of paper, a face-cord of oak firewood and three tape recorders – in case the situation got so desperate that I might finally have to resort to verbal composition.”

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An ode to the MSNBC anchor.

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The story of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who walked off his base in Afghanistan only to be captured by the Taliban.

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A profile of the Against Me! frontman.

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A group of Long Island misfits with aspirations towards Satanic worship disappeared into the woods to take mescaline. One of them never came back.

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An undercover cop infiltrates a group of British activists, befriending and then betraying them.

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How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight.

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On the road with the band:

Axl Rose is carrying on like an Apache. He stormed into his home state for a concert and compared the fans there to prisoners at Auschwitz. He showed up two hours late for a New York show and launched into a tirade against his record company and various other institutions, including this magazine. He steamrolled into St. Louis, and before he left town, a riot had broken out. During an encore in Salt Lake City, he got ticked off because the Mormons weren't rocking and said, "I'll get out of here before I put anybody else to sleep." Then he did.

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Delivered at the Austin Convention Center on March 15, 2012.

In the beginning, every musician has their genesis moment. For you, it might have been the Sex Pistols, or Madonna, or Public Enemy. It's whatever initially inspires you to action. Mine was 1956, Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was the evening I realized a white man could make magic, that you did not have to be constrained by your upbringing, by the way you looked, or by the social context that oppressed you. You could call upon your own powers of imagination, and you could create a transformative self.

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"I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges' ass cracks... among other abuses."
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An obituary for Richard Nixon.

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A profile.

When we're introduced, I spend a long moment trying to conjugate the reality of James Brown's face, one I've contemplated as an album-cover totem since I was thirteen or fourteen: that impossible slant of jaw and cheekbone, that Pop Art slash of teeth, the unmistakable rage of impatience lurking in the eyes. It's a face drawn by Jack Kirby or Milton Caniff, that's for sure, a visage engineered for maximum impact at great distances, from back rows of auditoriums.

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Anyone who wants to know what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about need only look at the way Bank of America does business. It comes down to this: These guys are some of the very biggest assholes on Earth. They lie, cheat and steal as reflexively as addicts, they laugh at people who are suffering and don't have money, they pay themselves huge salaries with money stolen from old people and taxpayers – and on top of it all, they completely suck at banking. And yet the state won't let them go out of business, no matter how much they deserve it, and it won't slap them in jail, no matter what crimes they commit. That makes them not bankers or capitalists, but a class of person that was never supposed to exist in America: royalty.
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An interview with a young star.

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In Michele Bachmann’s home district evangelicals have pushed anti-gay policies to the school board. After a rash of suicides, teens are fighting back.

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A profile of the artist.

"Unfortunately, death is a fact of life. I don't think it's happened to me any more unfairly than to anyone else. It could always be worse. I've lost a lot of people, but I haven't lost everybody. I didn't lose my parents or my family. But it's been an incredible education, facing death, facing it the way that I've had to face it at this early age."

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But now, being a celebrity yourself, you feel differently? I've subsequently changed my opinion. Brad Pitt doesn't have a superpower at his back. He just has some crazed fans and paparazzi. But now, having had all three, I must say, I'm not terribly impressed with the experience.
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Covering a presidential candidate and the people who cover presidential candidates aboard the press buses Bullshit 1 and Bullshit 2 on the 2000 John McCain campaign trail.

From The Longform Guide to the Campaign Trail on Slate.

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The life and death of Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old aid worker in Baghdad.

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How an increase in the earth’s temperature could wipe out a continent.

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In Guyana directly after the Jonestown massacre with the survivors and the dead.

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A report from campus after the rape allegations against members of the lacrosse team.

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It's a glorious thing, hearing Eddie Murphy say "fuck" again. Few people ever said it better – and down here in the basement of the stone-and-marble mansion he built on a Beverly Hills cliff, it's coming from his lips often enough to make Shrek blush. "Come on, motherfucker," Murphy shouts, over the throb of James Brown's "Hot Pants" on a formidable sound system.
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A journey into the controversial religion:
In the next hour or so, Laurie asks me a number of questions: Am I married? Am I happy? What are my goals? Do I feel that I’m living up to my potential? A failure to live up to potential is one of the things known in Scientology as one’s "ruin." In trying to get at mine, Laurie is warm and nonaggressive. And, to my amazement, I begin to open up to her. While we chat, she delivers a soft sell for Scientology’s "introductory package": a four-hour seminar and twelve hours of Dianetics auditing, which is done without the E-meter. The cost: just fifty dollars. "You don’t have to do it," Laurie says. "It’s just something I get the feeling might help you." She pats my arm, squeezes it warmly.
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Why the US intervened in Libya.

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In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year.

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On a convict too young to vote but old enough to be strapped to a chair.

From our guide to the death penalty at Slate.
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In America's third oldest major city, a new sport has been born. It's called rustling cars. According to auto‑theft statis­tics, Newark has the highest rate of car theft per capita in the nation, more than forty cars each day. Sixty‑five percent of the thefts are perpetrated by teens and preteens, known hereabouts as the Doughnut Boys.
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How a middle-class jock from a Texas border town became La Barbie, one of the most ruthless and feared cartel leaders in Mexico.

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But despite all that has been promised, almost nothing has been built back in Haiti, better or otherwise. Within Port-au-Prince, some 3 million people languish in permanent misery, subject to myriad experiments at "fixing" a nation that, to those who are attempting it, stubbornly refuses to be fixed. Mountains of rubble remain in the streets, hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in weather-beaten tents, and cholera, a disease that hadn't been seen in Haiti for 60 years, has swept over the land, infecting more than a quarter million people.
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According to a whistleblower, the SEC has been systematically destroying records of investigations for the last twenty years:

By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.

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A profile of the late singer.

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His friends remembered when Richard became famous. It was the year the hippies came to San Francisco. Richard had published one novel, A Confederate General from Big Sur, but it had sold miserably 743 copies and his publisher, Grove Press, had dropped its option on Trout Fishing in America. Donald Allen was the West Coast representative of Grove and the editor of the Evergreen Review, which had introduced the Beat Generation. Allen had a small nonprofit press called the Four Seasons Foundation, and he decided to publish the book himself. Allen sold 29,000 copies of the book before Delacorte bought it. Eventually, 2 million copies were sold. It was the kind of book that captured the spirit and sound of a generation. Soon there was a commune and an underground newspaper and even a school named after Trout Fishing in America. His short stories and poems appeared regularly in Rolling Stone, often beneath a photograph of him in his broad-brimmed hat. His face became a hippie icon. "For three or four years, he was like George Harrison walking down Haight Street," remembered Don Carpenter, a novelist and scriptwriter and a longtime friend of Richard's. His image infuriated what Richard called the East Coast literary mafia.
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Before the viewing ends at 4 p.m., 975 people pass through the evidence rooms, many of them former students, survivors, and friends and relatives of the dead. Absent, as they have consistently been in the five years since the massacre, are Wayne and Kathy Harris, Eric's parents, and Tom and Sue Klebold, who raised Dylan. Although they live in the same Littleton-area homes they occupied on April 20, 1999, they have contributed virtually nothing to the public's understanding of who their sons were and why they killed.
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A polygamist clan descended from four original families, the Order are believed to run the largest organized crime operation in Utah. When a chest full of gold disappeared, suspicion immediately fell on a group of boys who had split with the cult.

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Ricky Rodriguez was born in the role of the messiah. His father was David Berg, the leader of the polygamous/incestuous cult The Children of God, which published a book documenting his early life:

In 1982 a shop in Spain printed several thousand copies of a book that was then distributed to group members around the world. Bound in faux leather, illustrated with hundreds of photographs, the 762-page tome meticulously chronicled Ricky's young life and was intended as a child-rearing manual for families. Its title, The Story of Davidito, was stamped in gold. With its combination of earnest prose and unabashed child pornography, it is perhaps the most disturbing book ever published in the name of religion.
Eventually, he left the cult and found work as an electrician. But revenge called him back.

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Interviews with the band while “struggling to finish their very latefellow LP, a trouble child, called Rumours.”

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Inside Gibsonton, Florida, the carny capital of the nation.

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While much of the Levin report describes past history, the Goldman section describes an ongoing? crime — a powerful, well-connected firm, with the ear of the president and the Treasury, that appears to have conquered the entire regulatory structure and stands now on the precipice of officially getting away with one of the biggest financial crimes in history.
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All told, the military acknowledged this summer, 14 soldiers from the base have been charged or convicted in at least 11 slayings since 2005 — the largest killing spree involving soldiers at a single U.S. military installation in modern history.
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The rise, fall and stubborn survival of a teenage Internet celebrity who discovered that the real world can be a very scary place.

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The story of $220M in bailout money.

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How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them.

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On the many lives and careers of Owsley Stanley (1935-2011), chemist, sound design innovator, and outback jeweler, whose name appears in the OED as a synonym for “a particularly pure form of LSD.”

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Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract.

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On being the lone male student at a women’s college.

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A profile of Alex Jones, who draws a bigger online audience than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh combined.

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“The entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up. Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.”

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The profile that led to the Massey Energy CEO’s resignation.

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Spilling to nearly book-length across two issues of Rolling Stone; a Manson-contemporary cult group rises out of a jug band, builds a fortress in the Boston ghetto, bullies control of a community newspaper, swallows a successful actor, fractures, splits for California, and attempts to describe to the reporter the enigma that is Mel Lyman.

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Taibbi on the Tea Party. “After lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit.”

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Matthew Weigman was blind, overweight, 14 and alone. He could also do anything he wanted with a phone. Sometimes that meant calling Lindsay Lohan. Other times it meant sending a SWAT team to an enemy’s door.

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Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, media outlets including the New York Times and CBS News provided the CIA with information and cover for agents. Then everyone decided to pretend it had never happened.

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A game called Spacewar is developed by early computer engineers in their spare time, improved in University comp-sci labs, and ultimately made available in coffeeshops for ten cents per game.

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“Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”