The Surreal Ruins of Qaddafi’s Never-Never Land

The aftermath of a revolution:

Amid all the chaos of Libya’s transition from war to peace, one remarkable theme stood out: the relative absence of revenge. Despite the atrocities carried out by Qaddafi’s forces in the final months and even days, I heard very few reports of retaliatory killings. Once, as I watched a wounded Qaddafi soldier being brought into a hospital on a gurney, a rebel walked past and smacked him on the head. Instantly, the rebel standing next to me apologized. My Libyan fixer told me in late August that he had found the man who tortured him in prison a few weeks earlier. The torturer was now himself in a rebel prison. “I gave him a coffee and a cigarette,” he said. “We have all seen what happened in Iraq.” That restraint was easy to admire.

Some Real Shock and Awe: Racially Profiled and Cuffed in Detroit

A first-person account of an arrest:

I stared at the yellow walls and listened to a few officers talk about the overtime they were racking up, and I decided that I hated country music. I hated speedboats and shitty beer in coozies and fat bellies and rednecks. I thought about Abu Ghraib and the horror to which those prisoners were exposed. I thought about my dad and his prescience. I was glad he wasn’t alive to know about what was happening to me. I thought about my kids, and what would have happened if they had been there when I got taken away. I contemplated never flying again. I thought about the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars in conducting an operation like this. I wondered what my rights were, if I had any at all. Mostly, I could not believe I was sitting in some jail cell in some cold, undisclosed building surrounded by “the authorities.”

The Rapist Says He's Sorry

A profile of a serial sex offender:

This is a story about how hard it is to be good—or, rather, how hard it is to be good once you’ve been bad; how hard it is to be fixed once you’ve been broken; how hard it is to be straight once you’ve been bent. It is about a scary man who is trying very hard not to be scary anymore and yet who still manages to scare not only the people who have good reason to be afraid of him but even occasionally himself. It is about sex, and how little we know about its mysteries; about the human heart, and how futilely we have responded—with silence, with therapy, with the law and even with the sacred Constitution—to its dark challenge. It is about what happens when we, as a society, no longer trust our futile responses and admit that we have no idea what to do with a guy like Mitchell Gaff.

High Explosive for Everyone

Madrid, 1937:

Then for a moment it stops. An old woman, with a shawl over her shoulders, holding a terrified thin little boy by the hand, runs out into the square. You know what she is thinking: she is thinking she must get the child home, you are always safer in your own place, with the things you know. Somehow you do not believe you can get killed when you are sitting in your own parlor, you never think that. She is in the middle of the square when the next one comes.

The Great Wisconsin Solidarity Experiment

It’s 11 p.m. when Larson at last agrees to meet me in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, next door to the Gurnee Grand. He’s just come out of a marathon closed-door meeting with his fellow exiled senators. Tall, gap-toothed, and handsome, but with a squished, broad nose, Larson appears in a fitted black overcoat, a sedate suit with a Wisconsin flag lapel pin, and an athletic backpack. He looks shockingly young, younger than his thirty years, and seems to be relieved that I am even a few years younger myself. We jump in my Chevy and head for the town’s late-night diner: Denny’s. By the time we settle into a booth, Larson has dropped the routine political affectations—the measured language, the approved talking points, the inauthentic humor. We’re cracking up comparing Republicans to evildoers on South Park and shit-talking mutual acquaintances in Milwaukee. And then, just as Larson is about to take a bite of his veggie burger, I ask the freshman senator if he is scared. “What would I be scared about?” he replies.

I Bought a Bed

I felt, in some substantive yet elusive way, that I had had a hand in killing my mother. And so the search for a bed became a search for sanctuary, which is to say that the search for a bed became the search for a place; and of course by place I mean space, the sort of approximate, indeterminate space one might refer to when one says to another person, "I need some space"; and the fact that space in this context generally consists of feelings did not prevent me from imagining that the space-considered, against all reason, as a viable location; namely, my bedroom-could be filled, pretty much perfectly, by a luxury queen-size bed draped in gray-and-white-striped, masculine-looking sheets, with maybe a slightly and appropriately feminine ruffled bed skirt stretched about the box spring (all from Bellora in SoHo).

‘We Will Have to Go Through a Hell to Reach Our Future. There Is No Other Way.’

Yemen on the brink of hell:

In a sense, south Yemen itself offers a grim cautionary tale about the events now unfolding in Taiz and across the country. Until 1990, when the two Yemens merged, South Yemen was a beacon of development and order. Under the British, who ruled the south as a colony until 1967, and the Socialists, who ran it for two decades afterward, South Yemen had much higher literacy rates than the north. Child marriage and other degrading tribal practices came to an end; women entered the work force, and the full facial veil became a rarity. It was only after Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed his writ that things began to change. When the south dared to rebel against him in 1994, Saleh sent bands of jihadis to punish it. The north began treating the south like a slave state, expropriating vast plots of private and public land for northerners, along with the oil profits. Tribal practices returned. Violent jihadism began to grow.

Run Like Fire Once More

On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

A Major-League Divorce

How Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers for “for less than the price of an oceanfront home in Southampton” and eventually became entangled in one of the most expensive divorces in California history, which laid bare their finances and confirmed what many already knew: they had bankrupted one of the most storied franchises in baseball.

In all, the McCourts reportedly took $108 million out of the team in personal distributions over five years—a sum that Molly Knight, a reporter with ESPN who has extensively covered the story, notes is eerily similar to the cash payment that she says Frank McCourt has claimed he made for the team.

Fantasy Island: The Strange Tale of Alleged Fraudster Pearlasia Gamboa

Behind a financial fraud lay a secret plan to create a “mothership for con artists worldwide”:

Gamboa's tale involves secret ore deposits, hidden stocks of Soviet nuclear armaments, the Queen Mary ocean liner, portions of Antarctica, a new version of the Bible, allegations of fake deaths and miraculous resurrections, and a collection of some of the most colorful aliases ever to grace America's criminal and civil case dockets. (According to court documents, Korem also answers to the names Tzemach Ben David Netzer Korem and Branch Vinedresser.)