Dog days

Blues Buzz

Excommunicate me from the church of social justice. RIP Nelsan Ellis. Who cares what straight people think? A poem. A new metaphor for Israel-Palestine. Federal hospitals fail Native tribes in the U.S. Appalachians are tired of national media coverage so they are doing things their way. Many women of color feel unsafe working in the sciences. Queer celebrities react to the L Word reboot. Gyrocopters. White kids are bullying minorities using Trump's language. Bye bye Larsen C. Gentrification is harming Black residents from East Austin. A friend of mine wrote about how India's trans models want their own agency. The dark side of writing India. D.C. women are returning home to their red states to run for office. The Big Sick is about dating and romance, but it's also about parents and children. The uninhabitable earth. Hungary's squeeze on a Jewish center known for, among other things, supporting queer youth and the minority Roma community, is outrageous. 

A resting spot, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

A resting spot, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. An internet outage is costing Somalia $10 million per day. Zambia's jailed opposition leader wants a dialogue with the government. Bird flu keeps cropping up in South Africa. Djibouti saw the arrival of Chinese troops. A suicide bombing killed 12 people in Cameroon. Nigeria is investigating allegations that almost 100 fisherman were killed in a dispute over fishing fees.

Americas. Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sentenced to almost 10 years in prison. The former president of Peru is now involved in Brazil's massive scandal. Spyware was used on experts investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico. Mexican authorities are investigating the murder of a Honduran journalist who sought refuge in the country. Latest Trump-Russia fun, thanks to Donald Trump Jr. A major redistricting case in Texas could have huge implications for the 2018 elections. Sixteen people died in a U.S. military plane crash in Mississippi. Senate goes into overtime. The Trump administration has been stopped (for now) from deporting 1,400 Christian Iraqis. Hawaii dealt another blow to Trump's travel ban.

Asia. Iraq has officially declared victory over ISIS in Mosul. Gender-based violence in Ghor province, Afghanistan has swelled. Abkhazia's abortion ban is killing people who can become pregnant. Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo died still under house arrest, the first time such an event has happened since Nazi Germany. Eight people died in a mass-shooting in Thailand. Vietnam jailed a prominent activist blogger. The rise of a new Israeli Labor leader. Qatar's drama continues but it could end soon? Flooding is threatening Indian rhinos, who are being pushed closer to poachers. #CalibriGate, for those who need to be caught up to speed. Jerusalem was rocked by another attack. Five Egyptian police officers were killed close to Cairo. Big Cambodia news.

Europe. London's Camden Market was hit with a fire. Poland's authoritarian government continues to take steps to hinder the judiciary. Same-sex marriage, coming to a Malta near you! Trump spent quality time with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, this week.


 

Written & Spoken

"Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican." -- David Brooks, who hopefully will never write another column relating to class ever again.


Me

Journalism: Rep. Mo Brooks argued this week that while universal health care is too cost-intensive, tax cuts for the wealthy are important. One new study sharply rebuked a key GOP talking point on Medicaid. Trump's plan to use China to deter North Korea is failing, spectacularly. Judges in Texas this week listened to a redistricting case with major national implications. Last year was the most dangerous on record for environmental activists. Trump is not joking about the solar-powered border wall.


Anything Goes:

Summer is dragging on, draining me the way it always does. Cutting up tomatoes this weekend, one of my few summer joys, I was reminded of a piece I wrote around this time last year for the graduate program I am finally nearly close to done with. Short piece, short prompt. I wrote about summer, how it drains me, and how that summer was particularly draining. Later, it was ripped to shreds by my peers for being too depressing. In a scene reminiscent of my Texas childhood (where a friend once told me I might be happier if I "got a tan"; at the time I was severely burned, the inevitable byproduct of harsh sun on sensitive skin), several classmates took umbrage at my hatred for summer, that most holy of seasons. I would spend the rest of the year cautiously working to avoid "depressing" topics, somehow the only kind I ever really want to elevate -- perhaps why grad school and I are not in sync with one another. 

An aversion to things beloved by others has haunted me. Another winning example is Christmas, which seems strange to reference in July, but there you are. Cherished by the majority in this country, there is a feeling of deep resentment whenever the holiday (nay, season, at this point) comes under fire. Privileged bodies want to believe their treasured pastimes and beloved norms are universal. (Minorities, by contrast, know their holy rituals are not; if they were, we would not be dying at the hands of the majority.)

Summer is a far cry from Christmas is a far cry from other forms of bigotry (sometimes) but every year these things hit me the same way. I had another moment, walking into a bathroom in the building where I work, wearing a pair of shorts, my least-worn clothing item for a number of reasons, not least of all this: As a woman's eyes passed over my legs (covered in a mat of curly, reddish brown hair), I watched her shock register. She left, hurriedly. Another offense I committed this week.

My body, my pleasures, my traditions, my beliefs, my preferences. I grow more stubborn in the summer, a trait I learned in Texas, where summer is most of the year and frail things don't survive. I'm thinking about home a lot these days, as health care battles loom large and gerrymandering sees its day in court. I left home behind for the life of a coastie, and now I'm in 'the swamp,' so to speak. But this piece is still on my mind. If everywhere is Texas, what did I even leave?

So here we are; it is mid-July and the heat is getting to me. 

Post-traveling blues

Blues Buzz

Genderless in Canada. Junot Diaz in conversation with Margaret Atwood. Shakespeare's cure for xenophobia. The queer men who fled Chechnya's purge. Texas is the future of the United States. The Heartland wants more new Americans. Jupiter. A queer migration to the American South. Empathy isn't working. Adam Serwer breaks down what's wrong with Jay-Z's subtle anti-Semitism on 4:44. Judith Butler on Guantanamo. The faces of intermarriage. Russian media coverage of the U.S. and U.S. media coverage of Russia

San Francisco © E.A. Crunden

San Francisco © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

(Somewhat shortened this week)

Africa. Al Shabab militants clashed with Kenyan forces. A large group of NGOs asked the Tanzanian government to stop threatening them. Soldiers in Niger killed 14 civilians after mistaking them for militants. Struggling to pay its national budget, South Sudan is seeking donor countries.  

Americas. Overhauling the Bolivian penal code could help abortion activists. Opposition politicians and journalists were beaten by supporters of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela's National Assembly, the latest bloody incident to rock the country. #HanAssholeSolo: an explainer for you. A New York City police officer was killed in an assassination-style murder. Hobby Lobby has agreed to give up 5,500 artifacts smuggled out of Iraq. U.S. President Donald Trump finally met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Asia. Everything continues to escalate in North Korea, where an intercontinental missile was successfully tested on Wednesday. Qatar responded to a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states; the feud may stretch into the summer. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel. A new report contends that Bangladeshi authorities have detained hundreds of people since 2013 and are holding them secretly. Japan has suffered from heavy flooding. Mongolians went to the polls.

Europe. France honored the late Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and former health minister who legalized abortion. Russia continues to wade into Syria's war. With the U.S. edging away, Europe is eyeing its own nuclear deterrent. Trump found a friend in Poland's alarmingly far-right government. Turkish police have detained multiple human rights activists. Germany hosted the G20 summit, where mass-protests broke out. Cyprus unification talks have collapsed


Written & Spoken

"Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow." 

— Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who, like myself, seems to have struggled under the weight of Texas' questionable secondary school system


Me

Journalism: A GOP congressman decided to film a political video inside a former gas chamber. Ahead of the G-20 summit, Japan and the E.U. inked a new trade deal, further isolating the U.S. from its allies. Things in Venezuela have gone from bad to worse. France wants to ban fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2040. G-20 protesters clashed heavily with police, while leaders signaled they were willing to move forward on climate -- without Trump. 


Anything goes:

I spent the last week running around San Francisco, a city full of hills and Canadian tuxedos and sunshine and unexpectedly cool weather. It was an actual vacation, one where I didn't check Slack (often) and allowed at least two days for restful meandering (as opposed to the ambitious multi-day hikes I initially proposed to PIC.) Being there was a rush at times -- chilly winds, the kind I live for, uninhibited queer people (of all types and in all types of pairings, carefree and effortless the way queer people are never allowed to be), and all the niceties I struggle to find so often when we travel (coffee -- the expensive, dark, rich kind I never got in Texas growing up and can now afford, by the grace of Gd; the vegan and vegetarian food my sensitive stomach and nagging guilt demand; access to spaces urban and rural alike with minimal compromise, something that always seems impossible.) But it was also marked by other moments -- sunshine has depressed me my entire life, a phenomenon no one understands but a persistent one and, in California, a perpetual problem.  There was also the nearness of work, the nagging feeling that news was ongoing and I was away from it (forever, that feeling of missing out, or of not doing enough.) And then there was the sense I always have during any time spent off or away -- that it is ending as soon as it begins and soon will be gone.

Either way, it came and went and now I'm back. Post-traveling blues have set in but the comforts of home are also many; I'm alternating between those states of being, surrounded by the farmer's market produce we worship and the neighborhood we never tire of wandering. We spent this weekend on bikes, close to a creek and trees, and at home, combining vegetables and spices in new and savory ways. Eventually summer will end and I will be the gladder for it but for now we have our health and home and I am grateful. 


To your wealth and health

Blues Buzz

This newsletter will be on hiatus next week, as your human is going on vacation (!!!). Apologies if this in any way impacts your weekend reading habits, or you're welcome if this spares you any weekend annoyance. Regularly scheduled programming will return the weekend after next.

Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Faith and family in transition. When sleeping in the car is the price of a doctor's visit. Our obsession with having a "cute" pregnancy is doing serious harm to the people who get pregnant. Masha Gessen on pride and politics. One of Virginia Woolf's most beautiful sentences. Transgender and Jewish.  Zadie Smith on Get Out (and a thread from a Black American on Zadie Smith on Get Out.) Chelsea Manning's leaks do not seem to have in fact threatened national security. On queer writing and the MidwestEvery word of this story is something essential. The importance of queer book clubs. Gay v. queer nightlife. When the man who abuses you is also a cop. Accusing a powerful man of rape drove one college student to suicide. On memoirs by parents of the children killed by police. Is Pride for queer people like me? Interracial love won't save America. An openly trans mayor in Texas. Is your Gd dead?


Around the Globe

Africa. A resort in Mali was attacked by gunmen. Rebel groups signed a ceasefire deal with CAR's government, but it doesn't seem to be doing much good. The U.N. is opening an investigation into killings in DRC. South Africa is dealing with a bird flu outbreak. Egypt's president pardoned 502 prisoners. Solar energy is providing opportunities for refugees.

Americas. The government reacted harshly after the Organization of American States accused Venezuela of violating human rights. Brazil's president could be next on the country's political chopping block. Journalists are under surveillance in Mexico. Two Dutch journalists were kidnapped in Colombia. Bill Cosby's sexual assault case ended in a mistrial. Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student held in North Korea, died shortly after being returned home. Uber's CEO is out following an ongoing series of allegations of sexism and harassment that have plagued the company. Video footage of Philando Castile's death has been leaked (massive TW.) The Senate unveiled its also-truly terrible health care bill. The U.S. opioid crisis.

Asia. The Muslims saving Christians in the Philippines. Pakistan upset India in a shocking and well-played game of cricket. The U.S. waded even deeper into the Syrian civil war while U.S.-Russia relations deteriorated further over the issue. Saudi Arabia's line of succession shake-up. Saudi, flanked by allies, issued a list of demands to Qatar in exchange for restoring ties -- one of which directly targeted Al Jazeera. Another beloved Iraqi mosque has been destroyed by ISIS. Thailand passed a bill extending military rule for another 20 years. 

Europe. A forest fire killed more than 60 people in Portugal. French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party has claimed a large majority in the National Assembly that only weeks ago seemed impossible. Muslims leaving mosque were targeted by a white man in London, who killed one person and injured eight others. Norway faces a climate conundrum. Romania's government withdrew support from the country's prime minister, who later resigned. A 16 year-old was gang-raped and thrown from a train in India. Bombings were botched in both Paris and Brussels. Hate crimes spiked in Manchester following an extremist attack.


Me

Theresa May's hard Brexit plans are being complicated by the DUP. Muslims leaving mosque were targeted in the latest U.K. attack. World Refugee Day came and went, with globally displaced people at a record high. Police brutality is a reproductive justice issue. Trump's visit to the U.K. seems to be off. Non-binary gender could see a wave of recognition if legislation in several states goes through. Activists in wheelchairs were arrested en masse while protesting the AHCA. Afghanistan is still suffering and the U.S. has no plan. With anti-Semitism at home at record highs, the Trump administration is rolling back monitoring abroad.


Recs

To listen: It's no secret that I enjoy Lorde, easily one of the weirder people to shoot to fame in recent years. I haven't fully decided how I feel about her new album, Melodrama, which marks a big departure from her debut, but I've been easing into it. There are a few obvious wins ("Green Light" is excellent) but now I'm on a "Sober" kick. Mostly, just really delighted she's back. (And I just spent a small fortune to see her in concert almost a year from now, so any thoughts you can spare for both my bank account and her ability to keep from being problematic on social media between now and then are appreciated.) 

To do: Get out! No one has ever accused me of being a homebody and fleeing my immediate surroundings is a cherished hobby. This weekend I've run off to New York; next weekend I'll be off in San Francisco. These are the nice things working long hours for many years have bought me, nice things a lot of people don't have -- I can see and recognize that easily. But regardless, there are more ways to get out than one, so even if you're more of an "in" soul I'd still back taking an extended walk or going some place new. 


Written & Spoken

"'I love this script. I love weird girls. I am a weird girl. I've always been a weird girl.' OK, yeah, less so now that I identify as nonbinary, but whatever." -- Jill Soloway

 


Fact(s)

Among the most vocal activists condemning the American Health Care Act (AHCA) are disability rights advocates, due in large part to the cuts the AHCA would make to Medicaid -- something that would be devastating (and deadly) for many in the community. Members of ADAPT, a disability rights organization, were arrested en masse Thursday while protesting the AHCA, drawing attention to the legislation's disproportionate ableism. For more information on just how terrible the bill would be for the disabled (and/or differently abled), I turn things over to ADAPT

 

 

Arise, fallen progressives

Blues Buzz

Fourteen books to read after the Handmaid's Tale. An ambush on NPR reporters in Afghanistan may have been deliberate. PSA: Stop pretending you're not rich. We can never have enough Elizabeth Bishop articles. On 50 years of Loving. Faces of healing, one year after Pulse. Sydney's ambivalence towards culture. The great Mallory Ortberg. Chelsea Manning's long and lonely road. The modern trans memoir. Leopold Bloom is not the only Jew in Ireland. Brooklyn Book Festival coming at ya! From Russia with blood. A big win for non-binary Oregonians. Reviving a lost Canadian language. Amen to the Babadook. Bill Cosby is not Cliff Huxtable.

Equality March in D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Equality March in D.C. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. Kenya foiled an al-Shabab militant attack. A massive jailbreak occurred in the DRC. Leaders are worried about DRC's future as the country continues to face stops and starts. Burundian forces are allegedly targeting and killing opponents. Eight Ethiopian nationals are missing following a massive London fire. Five soldiers were killed and eight wounded in an attack on a military camp in Mali. One church is CAR is sheltering 1,500 Muslims. Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying disputed territory.

Americas. Protesters in Venezuela set fire to the Supreme Court. Trump is rolling back Obama's Cuba policies. Puerto Rico wants to be a state. Two attorney generals are suing the U.S. president. Officials in Flint, Michigan have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. A horrifying shooting saw several GOP members of Congress wounded and the shooter dead. Americans are going to Mexico to get dental work done because it's too expensive in the U.S. Yet more blows for U.S. LGBTQ workers. DREAMers are safe, for now -- but their parents are screwed.

Asia & Australia. U.S. behavior is baffling Syrians. More trouble for Pakistan's prime minister. An American college student held in North Korea was evacuated back home after being in an emergency coma for over a year. Heavy fighting continues on the Philippine island of Marawi, where martial law has been imposed. Australia will pay $70 million (AUS) in a case brought by detainees on Manus island. Press freedom in Japan is under threat, the U.N. has warned. Japan passed a controversial counterterrorism law.

Europe. France's president will likely have a supermajority in the National Assembly. A former military commander wanted for war crimes in Serbia won Kosovo's parliamentary election. The E.U. is taking moves to punish several Eastern European countries who have refused to take in refugees. A terrible fire in London killed at least 30 people; Muslims waking up early for Ramadan/Ramzan were able to save numerous lives.


 

Me

France's new anti-establishment politics are working out well for President Emmanuel Macron. Russia is being rocked by protests yet again. Tillerson really wants frosty relations between Trump and Merkel to be read as not frosty. Confederate nostalgia nearly won Virginia's gubernatorial GOP primary. In a rare victory, Australia must pay refugees held on Manus Island AUS$70 million. Twelve of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail members have been slapped with arrest warrants. An inexperienced former event planner is going to run arguably the most important HUD region.


 

Recs

To make: My PIC up and made amazing tortillas recently, spurred by some recent stir craziness (between illness, a heat wave, and other factors, we've spent WAY too much time indoors.) Once a purist about tortillas, my Texan aversion to playing with the established norm has wavered significantly in the eight and a half years since I left home. Now, I'm open to creative variations. So, we had tortillas and I broiled red and green bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, and zucchini to put on them, then we added avocado and greek yogurt and cilantro and there we were, quite content at 10 PM on whatever evening of the week this was. Highly advise. 

 

 


 

Written & Spoken

"I’ve learned that most people are tolerant, but that is different from being accepting." - Jennifer Hutcherson, in an interracial marriage

 


 

Fact(s)

It's Pride month in the U.S. and many other countries, which means various things. We mark Pride in June in most areas because of the Stonewall riots, which took place in June of 1969. Following years of ongoing abuse and harassment at the hands of all (with an emphasis on law enforcement, in this case), queer people, predominately (and most unforgivably forgotten) trans women of color, turned the tables on cops and staged a series of riots. They were sparked by a raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, and would later be mirrored by queer demonstrations in other areas around the country and outside of the U.S. 

In the time since, the queer community has faced other divisions -- the privileging of white queer cis men over the wider community, decisions made by some in the community to prioritize fighting for same-sex marriage over work protections and other issues of vital concern, and on and on. But Pride month is still marked by queer people all over the world (and Pride marches and parades take place in many months outside of June), making the time a powerful and important one for queer people, albeit one increasingly co-opted by those outside of the community. 

 

Pride goeth before justice

Blues Buzz

Silence is an occupation all its own. Polish refugees in Iran. Faking "wokeness." Southern and queer. Stranger than fiction. Faith is no substitute for honesty about mental health. Bullying is up in schools -- but how do you stop the problem when kids are quoting their president? Uber is still TERRIBLE. The small Texas border town leading the charge against a crackdown on immigration. Students v. their teachers on climate change. Roxanne Gay on daring to be fat. All of the drama surrounding the Jewish identity of Wonder Woman.

14th street, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

14th street, D.C. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Senegal has resumed relations with Israel. Moroccan authorities blocked women from protesting. South Africa is back in a recession. Ten thousand South Africans were evacuated following a fire. Al Shabab carried out another attack on a military base in Somalia. Three peacekeepers were killed in Mali. The "cradle of humanity" covered all of the African continent

Americas. FARC rebels in Colombia have handed over 30 percent of their weapons. Floods have displaced 3500 people in Uruguay. Backers of a Honduran dam are pulling out following the murder of an activist. Canada is going to start beefing up defense because the country feels it can't count on the U.S. Puerto Rico votes on its future...but it's unclear what the vote will do. A federal government contractor has been charged with leaking intelligence to the Intercept. More U.S. health care nightmares. U.S. banks win big -- goodbye, Dodd-Frank.

Asia. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and African nation Egypt severed ties with Qatar at the beginning of the week, with Libya, the Maldives, and Yemen soon following suit -- it hasn't been going well for Qatar. Three explosions targeted a funeral service in Kabul, Afghanistan. On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising, China arrested protesters in Beijing while opposition activists gathered in Hong Kong. A dual attack, on both parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, left 12 dead in Tehran. (Iran blamed Saudi Arabia and the U.S. president made an actually horrifying statement in response to the tragedy.) According to reports, China may be looking to build overseas military bases in Pakistan. A "gay prevention" category was struck from a video competition in Malaysia following outcry. A military plane in Myanmar went missing; debris and bodies were later found. Yemen is experiencing a devastating cholera outbreak. ISIS claimed a suicide bombing in Karbala that killed around 20 people.

Europe. Seven people were killed and around 50 injured when three militants attacked two neighboring areas in London. Catalonian referendum. Around 1500 people were injured in Italy during a stampede at a football match. Turkey apparently had not stripped Fethullah Gulen of his citizenship, has now done so. Romanian scientists vs. the government. Theresa May wanted a mandate to pursue Brexit talks in the U.K. -- instead, she's got a hung parliament, an alliance with the deeply questionable Northern Irish DUP, and a surging Labour serving as opposition. Same-sex marriage, coming to some Scottish churches near you.

 


Me

The acting U.S. ambassador to China resigned over Trump's climate policies. China and India are preparing to step up into new roles as the U.S. exits the Paris agreement. James Comey testified before Congress, and my senator, John Cornyn, decided it would be a great time to talk about Hillary Clinton's emails. Trump is still cracking down on refugees at a time when children are fleeing sexual and gender-based violence in the Northern Triangle countries -- Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Then there was Qatar, and all the ways the U.S. doesn't have a coherent foreign policy established. 

To top it off, Britain had an election -- I bet you wanted an American to explain it to you.


Recs

To do: Take care of yourself, and by that I mean hydrate, consume citrus and honey and anything else you can find to fight off illness and retain your health and well-being. I say this because I spent my entire week battling sickness, something that was awful for a number of reasons -- busy news week; close friend starting work, whose first week I missed; close friend leaving work, whose last week I missed; general inability to go to the gym or enjoy life and a last bout of decent weather. I'm blessed with a wonderful PIC who tirelessly fed me soup, shoved medication on me, and oversaw the consumption of copious orange slices and mugs of tea, and while I hope you have the same luck, I also hope you don't get to the point where you are in this state, and so I say to you -- take care.

To make: Something for the heat. If you know me, you know I am a cool weather person despite Texas roots. Heat is what I dread, yet here it comes. D.C. will be sweltering for the foreseeable future, so I'm keen on summer recipes. Excuse my horrifying levels of bougie, but maybe these sesame eggplant and almond butter tofu bowls


Spoken & Written

"He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended. That was the last time I spoke with President Trump." -- Former FBI Director James Comey

Runner-up:

“Folks, it has already been a banner week for infrastructure.” -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence


Fact(s)

Let's talk about this hung parliament situation. A lot of U.S. residents were deeply confused by what went down Thursday night into Friday morning, as it offered up a situation very unlike any Americans are used to. To boil down a complex issue: in order to achieve an outright majority, a U.K. party needs 326 seats. The Conservatives, or Tories, not only didn't achieve that, they lost the 330 seat majority they had -- meaning no party has an outright majority. There are several solutions here, with forming a coalition government arguably the one you've seen floated most. But the Tories only have a few natural allies -- the Northern Irish Unionist parties, and, once, the center-left Liberal Democrats. But no more the latter, so the Tories have struck a deal with the DUP, a right-wing Unionist party whose views will likely remind U.S. voters a bit of the Tea Party (so, right-wing -- far right-wing.) But while the DUP are to the right of many Tories, they are, again, Northern Irish. This means a soft Brexit is infinitely preferable to a hard Brexit for party leader Arlene Foster, preserving the soft border Northern Ireland currently shares with the Republic of Ireland. So...everything is about to get really interesting. 

 

 

We have no Planet B

Due to a fun glitch, you may not have received last week's newsletter. It is stale now, but located here, if you are longing for the recommendations and buzzings you may have missed. 

Blues Buzz

Sense8 is gone because queer people can't have nice things. Semi-related: the queer origins of Wonder Woman. Jessica Chastain on sexism at Cannes. California is ready to recognize a third gender, but is the rest of the U.S.? Elena Ferrante on My Brilliant Friend moving to the screen. Covfefe. FLY INTO THE SUN. One of the major problems with Master of None's second season. Here, have some gravitational waves. Chris Kraus on why you should read some Eileen Myles. "I think we live in a constant funeral." New York forces people like this woman to carry nonviable pregnancies to term. The first indigenous woman to run for president of Mexico. Tuesday in America.

Pride month arrives in D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Pride month arrives in D.C. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Tensions are growing between Sudan and Egypt. Kenya opened a new railway, marking a major infrastructure moment for the country. Ethiopia inexplicably blocked mobile internet. A botched vaccination campaign killed at least 15 children in South Sudan. Lesotho is voting in its third election in five years. Thousands are rallying for the release of Morocco's protest leader.

Americas. Meet the Venezuelans being robbed of a second chance at life. Panama's former dictator died after ongoing health problems. Cuba's detente with the U.S. may be coming to an end. Y'all, it was Jared. A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a transgender student fighting to use the boys' restroom. The United States, the biggest carbon polluter in history, says goodbye to the Paris agreement. U.S.-Russia update: Vladimir Putin says "patriotically-minded" Russians might have tried to influence the U.S. election. Kathy Griffin did a thing. The Muslim travel ban returns AGAIN.

Asia. Yet another North Korea missile test. Muslim women in India are fighting Islamic divorce laws. Flooding in Sri Lanka has killed more than 150 people and displaced half a million -- a fate Bangladesh is frantically trying to avoid. A Chinese dating app for queer women has been shut down. China is preparing to fill the void as the U.S. exits the Paris agreement. The Ramadan/Ramzan ad dividing the masses. Two tragic bombings in Iraq killed dozens, with one attack targeting families enjoying ice cream after a day of fasting. At least 80 people died and 350 were injured when a bomb went off in Kabul, Afghanistan -- targeting an area many had thought somewhat safe. A gunman opened fire on a private school in Saudi Arabia. United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia vs. Qatar. An armed robbery in the Philippines killed at least 36, most of whom died suffocating when the gunman set fire to the casino.

Europe. Following a terse G7 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe must look inward and attend to its own interests, pivoting away from reliance on the U.S. and U.K. France didn't love Emmanuel Macron, candidate, but the country seems to be more excited about Emmanuel Macron, president. Russia vs. Ukraine: Twitter edition. Macedonia finally has a new government. Ireland is set to have a gay, Indian-Irish leader; you should probably know that while he is socially liberal, he is economically conservative.


Me

Portland wasn't the only hate crime last week. Kabul's tragedy came at a dark time for U.S. foreign policy. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thinks Trump is an idiot. Trump doesn't care what people think of him -- including the Israeli government, and all governments: on Thursday, he signaled that the U.S. would be leaving the Paris agreement, a terrible moment for the fight against climate change. He also opened the announcement condemning a "terrorist attack" in the Philippines -- it was in fact an armed robbery. San Antonio and Austin joined the lawsuits mounting against SB4, Texas' draconian anti-immigration law.


 

Recs

To do: You may well be feeling bleak about the planet. If you're searching for productive ways to channel your energy, making individual life changes can be surprisingly meaningful. In our home we've made moves to reduce waste, get rid of plastic (replaced with wood, glass, silicon, + a slew of other alternatives), invested in a composting service, opted for a fan instead of air conditioning, shifted away from fast fashion, and collectively we work to think meaningfully about our purchases and life choices. At times this can be exhausting -- in order to really cut out our waste, we bring a pile of cloth bags whenever we shop. And, when we shop, it's typically at farmers' markets, a small neighborhood grocery store, or the two bigger grocery options that offer items we can fill our bags with in bulk (beans, lentils, sugar, flour, rice, etc.) It can be more costly, more time-involved, and more of a headache overall (the number of times I've fought over plastic straws at restaurants, or plastic bags anywhere, or excess packaging...it isn't fun.) We are also incredibly privileged in our proximity to some of these spaces, and while neither of us has a particularly impressive income, we're both savers who work to be able to prioritize the things that matter -- which means going without sometimes, but not necessarily being forced to decide between basic needs and morals. Not everyone has that luxury. 

I'm not saying you have to go to these extremes. I'm just saying, if you've been spending a lot of time recently reading up on climate change and the environment, you may be looking for personal actions you can take. And there are many. Looking for reading material? Reading My Tea Leaves is a decent lifestyle blog and probably the one I read most frequently. But Trash is for Tossers, The Guardian's sustainable fashion blog, and the Note Passer are good places to start. Buying less and thinking more is good too, honestly. Now's as good a time as any. 


Written & Spoken

"As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future." -- Mayor Bill Peduto, of Pittsburgh, PA 


 

Fact(s)

The U.S. is the number two carbon emitter in the world, behind China. But up until 2007, the positions were reversed -- China in position two, the U.S. in slot one. The U.S. also remains the biggest carbon polluter in history (here is a great NYT guide to break this all down for you.) Much has been made of China's current position but rarely with context; for one, China is also the world's top producer of renewable energy (the U.S. is second). For another, China is rapidly industrializing, while Western countries like the U.S. are already considered by many to be developed and fully equipped with the infrastructure necessary to implement wide-scale changes on a national level. Now, what "developed" means and which countries meet that definition is a conversation rooted in grayscale. But it's not hard to conclude that more should be expected on a global level of countries where pre-existing systems allow for greater systemic change -- especially countries disproportionately contributing to global crises, like climate change. 

 

United, divided, and globetrotting

Blues Buzz

What the media misses about Appalachia. ISIS has a media strategy and the media is struggling to disrupt it. Japan's first transgender politician. American Muslims were left out of Trump's big speech on Islam. How lead poisoned a generation of Black kids in New Orleans. Israeli media and Trump. Muslim leaders in Manchester fear for their communities. Australia's stolen generations. There's an issue with how Ivanka Trump talks about sex trafficking -- she's not talking to sex workers. Scandinavian literature. Flint isn't ready to trust anyone yet. Previously unseen Sylvia Plath poems! LGBTQ representation in media is still appalling. Jupiter! How Dallas became one of America's most welcoming cities for refugees.

Mount Pleasant with some Trump feelings © E.A. Crunden

Mount Pleasant with some Trump feelings © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Apparently thousands of inmates made a jailbreak in DRC. Nigeria is set to close five foreign missions. A hospital blood shortage killed three people in Uganda. A roadside bomb killed police officers in Kenya. More than 30 refugees, most of them toddlers, drowned off the coast of Libya. At least 26 Coptic Christians were killed in Egypt following a horrifying attack. Burundi wants unmarried couples wed.

Americas. Venezuela continues to deteriorate, with 51 people now dead amid massive protests. That isn't stopping efforts to overhaul the constitution, though. Brazil has been plagued by protests, prompting harsh crackdowns. Undocumented immigrants are increasingly giving up hope on the U.S. and trying for Canada. North Carolina engaged in racial gerrymandering, it's official. 50,000 Haitians have been given temporary protected status in the U.S. A Republican congressional candidate in Montana assaulted a reporter and still wonWeekly Trump updates: The new CBO score for the new version of TrumpCare is...also bad. Last summer, top Russian officials discussed how to influence Trump. Trump's Muslim ban was dealt another blow; next stop, Supreme Court? Trump himself had quiet the week, visiting Saudi Arabia (delivering a speech on Islam that was questionable at best), Israel (where he received a warm welcome from the government, less so the people), the Vatican (where the Pope gave him some reading on climate change), Belgium (where he met with NATO leaders and essentially refused to promise U.S. support), then on to Italy, where the G7 summit showed a clear difference of opinion between the U.S. and its peers (though, the U.S. finally dropped its protests over declaring gender equality a human right.)

Asia & Australia. At least 18 CIA (U.S.) sources were killed or imprisoned in China between 2010 and 2012. Aboriginal Tasmanians want land returned to them and three percent of Australia's economic output for the next 200 years, something the community is arguing in court. People NEED to stop climbing Mount Everest. A victory for same-sex marriage in Taiwan. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, which has seen a rise in ISIS activity; he also made yet another truly terrible joke -- about sexual assault, of course.

Europe. A suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killed 22 people and injured 59 others. Britain is now on its highest terror alert, meaning another attack is considered imminent. Leaks from the U.S. panicked British citizens and infuriated intelligence -- the U.K. was briefly not sharing Manchester-related intelligence with the U.S. (though now it is), and Trump has ordered an investigation into the leaks. Moldovan police halted an LGBTQ protest over fears of clashes with counter-protesters. Anarchists are filling the void left by the government in Greece. Trump met with Pope Francis, the latter of whom looked displeased. Chechnya's crackdown on queer men is heinous, per a new report.

 


Me

Trump went to Israel this week, which I previewed. Also on my radar -- the same Minnesota-born politician dying on the hill that is preserving the Confederacy also blamed progressives (and Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison, of, ironically, Minnesota), for anti-Semitism. Manchester Arena suffered a horrifying attack, and leaders around the world reacted. Trump found common ground with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on drug crackdowns, which is terrifying. Meanwhile, the administration's leaking is out of control, and Israel has had enough. Trump wrapped up his first international tour in Italy, where the G7 summit notably did not center the refugee crisis -- thanks to Stephen Miller, architect of the U.S. Muslim travel ban. Still in the works: a bigger story on H-1Bs, the visa many people need/want/rely on, and one Americans know nothing about.


 

Recs

To Listen: Amber Run - Heaven. There are songs that loosely maintain my interest throughout, only to end on a note so captivating that I promptly re-play them. This is that song. From a band that I associate with more melancholy and less upbeat fare, like '5 AM' and 'I Found,' offerings that -- make no mistake -- I enjoy, but are a far cry from driving, energized rock tracks. Not so this short, swift song, which, again, is worth it mostly for the last 20 seconds. Then repeat.  

To Make: Let me begin this by saying I've spent the better part of my 26 years in a war with my insides. They usually win, and they are winning right now, so it's back to basics with cooking. Less: bread, dairy, sugar, anything processed, anything not carefully self-assembled in the safety of my small kitchen. More: seasonal veggies baked with some olive oil; quinoa; fruit; etc. To that end, this afternoon's timid effort involved kale chips, red pepper strips, red potatoes, scallions, and a healthy dose of the ten thousand spices typically involved in anything I consume (emphasis on cumin, thyme, and paprika in this particular instance.) Anyways, it was actually really good, did not make me ill, and thus I am here to dutifully remind you all to treat yourselves gently, eat things that nourish and sustain you, etc. 


 

Written & Spoken

“Society seemed a significantly safer place to white males than it did to all other groups, including nonwhite men. What on first inspection seemed like a sex difference was actually a difference between white males and everyone else.” -- Cordelia Fine for Nautilus


 

Fact(s)

The G7 summit happened this week, which might have you wondering -- what is the G7, what is this summit, why should I care, and other questions along those lines. So. The G7 are the seven nations of: the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, the United States, and Canada, or: the world's seven major advanced economies according to the International Monetary Fund, or IMF. (The European Union is also represented when the nations gather.) Originally, the G7 were an unofficial gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors from five countries (minus Italy and Canada) and then the 'Group of Six' -- not featuring Canada, with Germany actually being West Germany at the time, as it was 1975 (so, pre-fall of the Berlin Wall.) Canada joined in 1976, thus birthing the G7 as we know it. Notably, Russia has been looped in on a number of summits, leading to the 'Political 8' and 'G7+1' nicknames. Russia formally joined the group in 1998, making the G8 official. But Russia got the boot following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, so now we're back at G7. Geopolitics, friends.

 

Letting it go

Observation: This is rapidly becoming a Sunday newsletter. The year was 2017, these were the realities. On to the news:

Blues Buzz

Dorothy Allison on working-class lit. Chelsea Manning is a free woman and more photogenic than your newsletter curator. ....Ailes.... The painful truth about teeth in the U.S. RIP Chris Cornell, rock legend. A Muslim author, on belonging at a Tennessee book festival. Espresso as literary necessity. Check out the new Korean president's bodyguard. When your hometown is the last place to accept who you are. The last person you'd expect to die in childbirth. A man's story about Lola, the woman his family kept as a slave -- plus all the controversy that came with it. Behind the scenes with Chase Strangio, Chelsea Manning's attorney. Unfair & Ugly is lovely. On storytelling and defying Iceland's isolation. Texas is the most dangerous state in the U.S. to have a baby. Dreams and Ferrante fever, if only for a day. The urban-rural divide in interracial marriage. How to write Iranian-America. Queering the "I" in first-person LGBTQ narratives.

© E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Soon, all Ugandan forces will be gone from CAR, but the legacy of their alleged sexual assaults will not. Three people have died so far in an Ebola outbreak in DRC. More than 30 people have died in clashes between militias in CAR. Soldiers in the Ivory Coast ended a stand-off with the government. A car bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia killed at least two soldiers.

Americas. Colombia is battling extreme rains. A prominent Mexican journalist who fearlessly covered the drug trade was killed. Hearings have begun on Puerto Rico's debt crisis. Is Brazil about to impeach another president? North Carolina's discriminatory voter ID law is dead. New global gag rule restrictions will affect almost $9 billion in global health funding. Chelsea Manning is free. A slew of Republicans want to make health care even worse than it currently is in the U.S. The white police officer who killed Terence Crutcher was found not guilty of manslaughter. A woman drove a car into a crowd in Times Square while intoxicated, killing one and injuring at least 22. Trump drama: So, the U.S. president spilled classified information about ISIS to Russian officials. (That info came from Israel.) That was technically legal. Less legal? The president asking former FBI Director James Comey (who he fired) to abandon his investigation of former adviser Michael Flynn. He also asked him about jailing journalists. Conclusion: former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead a special investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia during the 2016 election. (Also, House Republicans were maybe or maybe not joking about Trump and Russia in comments captured on audio during the election.) That's that; then, there's Flynn. Oh boy is there Flynn.

Asia & Australia. The Syrian government is reportedly using a crematorium to hide the mass-killings of its prisoners. North Korea had another missile underperform (China condemned the action.) Only locals were allowed to attend Singapore's LGBTQ rally. Yemen declared a state of emergency over a cholera outbreak. A court in northern India decided that a 10 year-old child, raped repeatedly by her stepfather and now at least five months pregnant, could receive an abortion. An impeachment complaint against Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte was thrown out by lawmakers. Beirut is set to holds its first queer Pride. Australia wants to shut down Manus island -- refugees are being told to just go elsewhere. President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan came to the U.S., promptly allowed his guards to assault several protesters. Iran's elections saw a dramatic victory for President Hassan Rouhani, marking a win for progressives and for the Iran Deal. 

Europe. A giant cyberattack last Friday hit spots all over Europe, including the NHS in the U.K. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party is edging towards victory. In Moscow, thousands protested an unpopular housing plan. Apparently, U.S. visas are out of reach for queer Chechens seeking to leave Chechnya and Russia more generally. Poland says it will accept no more refugees despite E.U. protests. Swedish prosecutors have dropped their seven-year-old rape case against Julian Assange, who is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 


Me

I wrote about a death row inmate who asked to be executed by firing squad rather than lethal injection, and about two separate incidents of violence involving young children (both of color, one with special needs) and Dallas ISD police officers. Also have a piece coming to an internet near you this Monday at 8 a.m., on the U.S. president's trip to Israel. Exciting times. 


 

Recs

To make: Our tiny space is going to see company for the next week and change, so I'm brainstorming ways to be more creative in the kitchen. When there's only two of you, nightly rounds of quinoa and kale, or avocado toast (silence from the back row), become reliable and easy patterns, but once company arrives creativity suddenly seems more critical. To that end, we loaded up at the farmer's market this weekend and I'm frantically looking through recipes and websites. We've also been eating more Spanish food lately (PIC enjoys a melange of cuisines with origins in Italy and Southeast/East Asia; I'm inclined towards Texmex and South Asian variations; Spain somehow is our compromise?), so that's adding some inspiration. Maybe this, but with asparagus (or just the basics)? Romesco potatoes? Spinach and chickpeas, also a good choice.

Mostly though, probably making something with peaches, because I have a lot of them and they're going bad. Maybe a cake.

To do: Bike ride! There is a long backstory to this that very few people are familiar with, which may or may not make it into my senior thesis for my graduate program. Whether it does or not, just know, there's a story. As relates to recommendations, however, I can just tell you this: it's been a very long time since I got on a bike, but this weekend PIC and I revived our weekend efforts to learn to cycle down our neighborhood alleyways. Riding a bicycle is a wonderful experience -- I endorse it to any and all. 


 

Spoken & Written

"So anyway, it’s a romper for guys and it’s called the RompHim and I just ordered two." -- Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)


 

Fact(s)

Iran had an election on Friday, spurring many comments from Americans. This is a common trend with elections around the globe; people vote, Americans have thoughts. A lot of those thoughts unsurprisingly ignored something Americans in particular might want to consider more -- voter turnout. Historically, the U.S. suffers from remarkably low voter turnout. This occurs for a number of reasons -- elections held on weekdays (when many are at work), voter suppression, complicated systems and varying requirements, to say nothing of other factors.

But in many other countries, turnout can be quite high, especially for national elections. Take Iran, for example. According to an IFES project, Iran's average voter turnout is 64.19 percent. While that might not seem much higher than the U.S. average, 55.7 percent per Pew, Friday's election saw a turnout of around 73 percent. By contrast, 60.2 percent of Americans voted in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For a "developed" (not ideal terminology) country, that's incredibly low. Belgium, for example, has a turnout average of 87.2 percent; South Korea has 77.9 percent. Iran, by contrast, is not a Western country, nor do a number of commentators consider it "developed"; still, voters waited for hours to participate in the nation's elections, despite international claims of rigging and a general dismissal of the results before they were even announced. In countries where comments are many and turnout is low despite considerable privilege, that's worth a few moments of reflection.  

 

 

 

Fired.

The newsletters are coming later and later these days -- many apologies! In this media climate, side projects suffer. Thanks for bearing with me, all -- may your weekends be long and your weekdays freer of breaking news updates. 

Blues Buzz

The radium girls. Non-birthing queer mothers want to feel like mothers tooAnne of Green Gables and darkness. A Black queer kiss. Non-French "alt-right" (far right/Nazi) efforts to use memes in support of Le Pen backfired, in no small part because, among other things, frogs have historically been used as slurs against the French. How to write about authoritarians without getting arrested, Pakistani-style. When graduate school doesn't helpDeers and human flesh, idk. How the ACLU became the leader of the resistance. Deep in Macron country. A family's journey home to Afghanistan from Pakistan. NEW HUMAN RELATIVES. The rise of the "alt-left" (with the understanding that this newsletter does not endorse the term "alt-right.") Richard Ford recalls his parents in love. Is an open marriage a happy marriage? Being Russian-American is a little awkward right now. Winners and losers of the recent nuclear holocaust. The white houses not far from ISIS.

D.C. wants you to know. © E.A. Crunden

D.C. wants you to know. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. After three years in captivity, at least 82 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok, Nigeria, were returned to their families. A bus crash in Tanzania killed more than 30 people. There's a dengue fever outbreak in Kenya. Angola is struggling under the weight of those fleeing DRC. The U.N. chief has requested $900 million for Somalia, currently suffering under a horrifying drought. Ivory Coast soldiers clashed with the government over a pay dispute. 

AmericasMeet Argentina's first transgender police chief. Brazil's former president (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, not Dilma Rousseff) is going to court on corruption charges.  A group of indigenous Venezuelans fled the country to Brazil. Venezuela's anti-government protests continue to rage and now there is literal human shit involved. Puerto Rico's debt crisis is hitting schools hard. Texas is punishing sanctuary citiesThe (U.S.) drama: FBI Director James Comey was fired, and the U.S. is in uproar. The story has changed so much over the course of the week one can hardly blame anyone for being lost -- for one thing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was singled out as the source of the recommendation to fire Comey, but then it surfaced that Rosenstein and his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had maybe probably been asked to look for a reason to fire Comey. (Trump himself said he intended to fire him all along. He also said Russia was on his mind when he made the decision.) Then he said there were tapes. Now we're here.

Asia & Australia. Discourse surrounding the Iranian election is pushing boundaries. North Korea detained another American. South Korea's president is a liberal who wants to reshape how the country deals with its northern neighbor. The U.S. is set to arm Kurds in Syria in the fight against the Assad regime. U.S.-backed forces asked ISIS to hand over a Syrian city -- it worked. All hail the Australian politician breastfeeding in parliament. Pakistan and Afghanistan are looking to settle their border dispute. A 49 year-old newscast was abruptly shut down in Israel. A blast in Baluchistan, Pakistan was claimed by ISIS and killed at least 25 people. The U.S. and China agreed to new trade talks

Europe. Portugal won Eurovision. The anti-Kremlin movement is in full swing in Russia. Russia claims there is no campaign going on against queer men in Chechnya. Emmanuel Macron won the French election -- he will be the young leader the country has had since Napoleon Bonaparte. Poland is facing criticism over human rights. Queer people and trafficking victims may have been wrongly deported to Albania due to outdated guidance.  Thousands protested the Czech Republic's finance minister. A small blast went off in Rome, Italy, but no one was injured.


 

Me

I wrote about how SB4 took Texas' war with Austin statewide, and the ACLU's response: a travel warning. After James Comey's firing, I spoke with several experts in authoritarian regimes -- their responses were unsettling. I also wrote about the possibility of an electronics ban on inbound European flights to the U.S., as well as something good happening this Mother's Day.


Recs

To listen: Here's a life reveal: I bought tickets to see Michelle Branch in a few months. Throwback. To that end, I should probably listen to Hopeless Romantic (title track is here), her new album, which seems to be getting good reviews. No lie, I was always a fan.  

To make: My PIC is wrapping up grad school and in the midst of finals. In a fit of stress-induced angst, brownie muffins appeared before me, to zero complaints. Unclear what recipe was used (or if any methodology at all went into the spurt of mania) but for recreations, this one looks good. (This one appeals to me personally, but PIC hates bananas, so I'd be on my own finishing them. Not sure this is such a terrible burden, though.)


Spoken & Written

"As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!" -- U.S. President Donald Trump, who may cancel White House press briefings because his staff cannot be trusted to speak with accuracy 


 

Fact(s)

I've only just started it, so it can't be a recommendation yet, but Netflix's Anne of Green Gables has come at an interesting time in my life (tl;dr at present I am a freckly ginger, whose earliest childhood summers were spent in Nova Scotia, not far from Prince Edward Island, or PEI. A Lot of L.M. Montgomery was read. Nowadays, she's a thing of nostalgia for me, but I'm curious to inspect her through the lens of cynical criticism that comes to us as we creep along our lifespans.)

On that note: L.M. (Lucy Maud) Montgomery was an interesting one. A Canadian writer (1874-1942), LMM's most famous works are easily AoGG and its sequels. But she published many more novels, to say nothing of short stories and poems, as well as some non-fiction. She adored her native PEI, which is immortalized in her work, but the U.S. media (and arguably Canadian media as well) belittled the setting as rustic and backward, reflecting 1) larger contemporary U.S. attitudes towards Canada and 2) larger Canadian attitudes to the Maritimes. With the understanding that Canadian women were, like most women, expected to ultimately marry, LMM did so -- a Presbyterian minister, with whom she was not overly enamored, marking a shift for someone who by all accounts seems more of an Anne than a Marilla. It was by virtually all accounts a miserable marriage, leaving LMM deeply depressed and disenchanted. As a result, she wrote more and more as a form of escapism. 

 

A bill to kill

Blues Buzz

Ellen DeGeneres came out on television 20 years ago -- saving lives in the process. Inequality shortens lifespans. Hassan Minhaj reigns supreme. Beetle poop dye! Airbrushing Shittown. Scaachiiiii. The Chinese factory workers who write poems on their phones. A weird story about a lawyer, Trump, and an anonymous threat. Trapped in a skirt. If abortion becomes illegal in the U.S., here's how the government will persecute the people who have them. The Great British Bake-Off remains a perfect thing. After 30 years in prison, Ashley Ford's father is out -- and technology has a strange role in their relationship. CATS DO IN FACT LIKE PEOPLE. Heartlessness as style. The physics of forbidden love. The many ways we are wrong about Jane Austen. Believe. When a fat person sees a doctor. Anxiety, hope, and miscarriage. How Sweden became the most "alt-Right" country in Europe. An apology. Bangladesh: a case study in censorship

As seen in Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

As seen in Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Clashes in CAR have left dozens dead. Nigerians are encouraging their ailing president to take medical leave. Algerians are watching the French election raptly, despite a local boycott; the governing coalition retained parliamentary power this week. Zimbabwe's dictator is denying that his country is in turmoil. Friendly fire killed a Somali government minister considered to be a rising star. A campaign for the return of an exiled opposition leader is gaining steam in the DRC.

Americas. Canada's seniors outnumber children. Eight Islamic State sympathizers were sentenced in Brazil for plotting an attack during the Olympics. Electrical shortages prompted explosions in Toronto's underground. Venezuela's president is calling for a new constitution as protests continue to rage. Mexico is being slammed for its inability to protect the press. Puerto Rico, severely in debt, turns to protest. Severe weather did extreme damage in the Southern and Midwestern U.S. Around 100,000 people attended the Climate March in D.C. A Stabbing attack at the University of Texas at Austin left one dead and four injured. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson has said U.S. security comes before U.S. values. Hillary Clinton stands by her claims that a combination of FBI Director James Comey, Russian interference, and sexism cost her the 2016 U.S. election; for his part, Comey feels "mildly nauseous" at the thought of election-swaying but no real guilt. Trumpcare 2.0 rose from the dead and narrowly passed the House of Representatives -- it now goes to the Senate.

Asia & Australia. Chinese Wikipedia. The North Korea saga, condensed: the country has been increasingly aggressive, has fired two failed missile attempts, the U.S. president reacted first with threats, then with offers of friendship, and now we are here. As part of this grand saga, we have: Duterte and Trump, sitting in a tree (but also, Duterte is maybe too busy for Trump.) Afghan interpreters will be provided with 2500 more visas from the U.S. Congress in a move that could save lives. Two Muslims were beaten to death amid religious tensions in India. A suicide attack on a NATO convoy killed eight people and injured at least 25 more in Kabul. Judges in India are questioning each others' sanity -- literally. At least 21 miners died and many more remained trapped after an accident in Iran. Australia offers universal health care -- apparently the U.S. president is a fan.

Europe. Young Slovaks are leading anti-corruption protests. Thousands of Russians gathered to present letters of protest to the government. Since 2014, there have been 38 unsolved deaths of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rivals. Greek bailout coming. Marine Le Pen seems to have plagiarized a François Fillon speech. Brexit and the $100 billion euro exit drama. The U.K.'s Prince Philip is stepping down from royal duties. Romania dropped efforts to pardon corrupt officials. Germany will not allow Turks living in Germany to vote in a death penalty referendum. 


 

Me

Following the news cycle this week, which meant covering the death of Jordan Edwards, a Black Texas ninth grader killed by police. Officers initially claimed the car Edwards was in drove aggressively -- before walking those comments back. I also wrote about HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who doesn't want affordable housing to be "too comfortable" and who doesn't seem to understand just how important affordable housing is. Going back to my one true love, world news, I wrote about Venezuela's crisis, and, of course, how Marine Le Pen could destroy the European Union


 

Recs

To do: Embassy Week is coming up in D.C., and its imminent arrival is reminding me of how many annual events I routinely anticipate with glee only to promptly drop the ball at the last minute. Interesting things happen everywhere, and it's a shame to miss them -- find something in your area, and commit to going. Positive results not guaranteed, but likely. 

To listen: When I sent around "Moondust," a song by artist Jaymes Young, one of my coworkers helpfully responded with, "That's not how you spell James." My offering went otherwise unacknowledged. I am undaunted. Whether to your liking or not, his name is indeed Jaymes, and I'm enjoying "Moondust" on repeat.


 

Spoken & Written

"It's going to be fantastic health care. I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do." -- President Donald Trump, whose health care plan is a far cry from universal, to Malcolm Turnbull, prime minister of a country where health care is in fact universal. 


 

Fact(s)

Donald Trump's praise for Australian health care may be causing you to wonder -- what's health care like in Australia? (Unless it has not and/or you are already very familiar, in which case, it's been fun and adieu!) For those wondering: Australia has a universal health care system called Medicare, which is publicly funded. Under Medicare, introduced in 1975, Australians can obtain free treatment at public hospitals, and are entitled to subsidized treatment from a range of medical practitioners. Australia also has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with a number of nations, entitling visitors from those countries to limited Medicare access while in Australia, and entitling Australians to similar benefits when they visit those countries. The nations in question are the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Slovenia, Malta, Italy, Ireland, and New Zealand.

 

100 days

Blues Buzz

The first 100 days: call a lie a lie. Neutral outfit pairing guide. The hotbed of antisemitism isn't the non-Western world -- it's college campuses. Three new poems. If you did not think cis men were garbage it is entirely possible you might after reading this. Crime fiction in Duterte's Manila. "Have you told your parents?" Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf's love affair ended in part because the latter hated the former's book. Familiarize yourself with the Southern Center for Human Rights. What bullets do to bodies. Sebastian Gorka: failing up. Reclaiming the golem as a symbol of Jewish resistance in the time of Trump. An incredible piece on the refugees trying to integrate into Weimar, Germany. Anatomy of a fake news story: how a Muslim politician became a villain. Pakistan v. India: mango season edition. Obese and pregnant. You are doing yourself a disservice if you have not followed Fyre Festival. This story will break you.

Boulder, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden

Boulder, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. A famous conservationist was ambushed and shot on her ranch in Kenya. A bus crash in the country killed 27 people. Libya asked the U.N. for help patrolling its coast. South Sudan's banks have run out of cash. Pope Francis paid a visit to Egypt, where Coptic Christians have been under attack and faced extreme violence. Charges that Chad's former dictator committed crimes against humanity have been upheld by a Senegalese court.

Americas. Canada is going head-to-head with the US over tariffs. Venezuelans are crossing the border to Brazil to seek medicine. Police clashed with indigenous protesters in Brazil. Millions of Brazilians also went on strike. Drug violence is on the rise in Mexico again. New Orleans' Confederate statues are being removed -- at night, while workers wear bulletproof vests, because their lives have been threatened by white supremacists. Arkansas carried out the first double execution since 2000, and ended the week having killed four people on death row. This week in Trump: efforts to block funding for sanctuary cities were stopped momentarily; former Trump advisor Michael Flynn may have broken the law in his dealings with Russian figures; Trump unveiled a major "tax plan" (if it can be called that) to overhaul the tax code; space aliensmaybe goodbye NAFTA (or maybe not)? Over 100 ESPN employees got the axe this week.

Asia. Afghanistan experienced the deadliest attack on a military base thus far in its 16 year war. North Korea detained a U.S. citizen as he was trying to leave the country.  South Korean presidential frontrunner Moon Jae-in has said he opposes homosexuality. A liberal blogger was stabbed to death in the Maldivian capital. Maoist rebels killed 25 police officers in eastern India. Russia has denied it is supplying arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan. A Thai man killed his baby daughter on Facebook Live, then himself.

Europe. Thousands of angry truckers are protesting in Moscow. After Ukraine cut off power to its rebel-held east, Russia stepped in. Former investment banker Emmanuel Macron and far-right creature of notoriety Marine Le Pen made the run-off for France's presidential election. Le Pen stepped aside as the leader of the National Front; her would-be replacement then stepped aside after making comments questioning the existence of gas chambers during the Holocaust. The IMF can't decide if it wants to bail Greece out again. An American member of the European monitoring team in Ukraine was killed after driving over a landmine. The partner of a queer murdered French police officer delivered a powerful eulogy at his funeral. Hungary's CEU drama continues. Macedonia's political crisis erupted when protesters attacked an ethnically Albanian lawmaker.


 

Me

I wrote about how the U.S. has done damage in Afghanistan and Trump isn't making it any better. I also noted that progressive Jewish groups weren't happy with Trump's Holocaust day speech, and that the Tillerson-Haley divide is a wider indicator of the Trump administration's lack of any coherent foreign policy.


 

Recs

To do: Learn a language! With grad school winding down, I'm eyeing a return to one of my favorite pasttimes: attempting, and failing, to learn another language. Right now, it's between Russian and Urdu, the latter of which I started three years ago and is now appallingly unacquainted with my tongue. Flip a coin.

To listen: Most people in my life love podcasts, and I keep going through flirtations with their sounds before abandoning them. Some are lovable but have too many blind spots to really hold me (I'm thinking here of the wildly popular Call Your Girlfriend), and others are promising but take awhile to get into, which is a lot to ask of someone with minimal commitment to the endeavor to begin with. That aside, I'm really enjoying Nancy, an LGBTQ-centric podcast that is heartwarming, heartwrenching, and appealing in a strange, indescribable sort of way. I'd encourage all listeners, queer and cis and straight alike, to give it a try.


 

Spoken & Written

"I don’t really believe in the “Western” audience. You’re in America right now—you’re part of the Western audience. And I’ve lived in America for several years which makes me as much part of the “Western” audience, although I happen to be in Pakistan. I think the same way about a Pakistani audience—it’s way too diverse and different. When you look closely at the idea of any monolithic audience, you see that it immediately starts to collapse." -- Mohsin Hamid to Guernica 


 

Fact(s)

Everyone loves to talk about the U.S. president's first 100 days. But what does 100 days mean? Mostly, it's the 3-month window period during which presidents are enjoying a honeymoon phase of sorts -- those who voted for them are happy, those who did not have yet to fully mobilize, and they've had time to establish their agenda, or at least put down a framework of sorts.

Trump once emphasized his first 100 days, and he now thinks it's an irrelevant metric. There's an argument to be made that the measurement isn't without flaws, but there's no question it's important. FiveThirtyEight breaks down why the time period is noteworthy here.

 

 

 

 

Science vs. power

Shorter (and later) newsletter this week -- a lot going on personally and professionally, and this labor of love tends to bear the brunt of tight schedule-induced corner-cutting. Apologies!

Blues Buzz

Throwback: The tiny paper in Iowa that won a Pulitzer doing the labor the way all journalists should be doing labor. Also: this Margaret Atwood profile. Rahul Mehta on brownness, queerness, and writing. We have lost our connection to the 1800s. The return of Lorde. Traveling in Iran looks amazing. There's a huge problem with survivor spaces for "women" -- they leave out trans and non-binary folks. Female explorers! Men have recommended David Foster Wallace to me. Marine Le Pen relies on pitting Jews and Muslims against one another. Southern audiobooks, twangs, and drawls. Mother of all Bombs. #MarchforScience! Booker Prize international shortlist! Finally, a decent explainer on how queer men are being targeted in Chechnya. 

D.C. road signs mirror reality. © E.A. Crunden

D.C. road signs mirror reality. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. More on the horrifying famine crisis facing numerous countries in Africa. The U.S. sent troops to Somalia this week. An additional 17 mass graves were discovered in the DRC. Sudan's arms sales to Iran may have violated U.N. sanctions. Egypt experienced another deadly attack on a monastery. Fifty-three Nigerians were charged with conspiring to celebrate a same-sex wedding. Zimbabwe's opposition figures are teaming up to fight President Robert Mugabe. 

Americas. Lenin Moreno is Ecuador's new president. Seventeen people were killed after a landslide in Colombia. Protesters are dying as Venezuela's protests swell. Efforts to kill eight prisoners in 11 days have been put on hold in Arkansas. A man killed an elderly man and uploaded the video to Facebook in a horrifying incident resulting in a manhunt that dragged on (he later killed himself.) Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is someone you may be aware of, and he is not seeking re-election, which you may want to know. Bill O'Reilly is buh-bye and only one of numerous serial harassers to finally be out at Fox. President Trump is cracking down on H-1B visas, which will have serious ramifications for foreign workers.

Asia & Australia. Australia and New Zealand are cracking down on visas for skilled workers. A convoy carrying Syrian refugees was struck by a bomb, killing over 100 people, including dozens of children. Over 1000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel staged a hunger strike. The North Korea missile buildup continues, but an American armada did not actually go to deter North Korea. South Koreans did not appreciate some recent Trump comments about the history of China and Korea. Pakistan's "Panama Papers" case dropped, leaving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the clear -- for now. Emirates Airlines is limiting its U.S. flights in response to the Trump administration's increased restrictions. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is officially banned from running in the Iranian election.

Europe. Turkey's increasingly authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, narrowly won a referendum massively expanding his powers. Next step: bringing back the death penalty in Turkey. Snap election in Britain! A shoot-out in Paris killed two, including the attacker; ISIS has claimed responsibility. Russia has banned Jehovah's Witnesses. Protests continued in Hungary over the pending closure of a university backed by George Soros. 


 

Me

I wrote about Trump's recent efforts to crack down on H-1B visas, and how centering the tech sector in the conversation is an injustice to the numerous other workers who will be impacted. I also wrote about the one and only Marine Le Pen, who is masterfully using Islamophobia to attract the female vote. 


 

Recs

To watchLast Tango In Halifax (on Netflix right now), a series about the romance between an older couple who reconnect after decades out of touch, and their quirky families. There is a prominent queer character in this show (who is, moreover, in an interracial relationship) and there are older people and that is really all I need to be deeply involved on an emotional level. It's somewhere between a romantic comedy and a heart-wrenching drama and it's really British. That's all I've got, but definitely watch it. 

To listen: Dustin Tebbutt is an Australian musician I had only vaguely listened to until recently (mostly in the context of an older song, The Breach.) Recently I stumbled on Illuminate, a collaboration between Tebutt and one-man act the Kite String Tangle. It's been on repeat ever since. 


 

Spoken & Written

“Just watch the interlopers from all over the world come and install themselves in our home. They want to transform France into a giant squat.” -- the always-charming French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, on immigrants

 

Thought(s) & Fact

French women did not have the ability to vote or run for office until 1944, and it's been a slippery slope to political equity ever since. Much like other Western peers, no woman has ever held the nation's highest office, and while French women are far more likely to register to vote, they are less likely to turn out. Ségolène Royal, the current Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, ran a prominent campaign for president against Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, becoming the first woman from a major French political party to run for the position (she lost.) Now Marine Le Pen could be France's first female president. If so, she would hardly be a feminist candidate, having run a campaign catering to the hard-right aggressive nationalism her party, the National Front, is famous for.  Among other issues, Le Pen has flip-flopped on abortion issues and LGBTQ+ rights (she remains opposed to same-sex marriage and would work to outlaw both that and surrogacy if elected.) Many Muslim, Jewish, and immigrant women see her as an enemy far more than a friend. As she nears the finish line, responses from women to her candidacy have understandably been mixed.

France24 has a brief 2014 article on the history of woman's suffrage in France; it sheds some light on the complicated history women have with politics in the country, though it only just skims the surface of the issue. Read up if you have interest, though -- the French election is Sunday. 

 

Some cake with your bombs

Blues Buzz

Trumpian conspiracy theories and antisemitism are closely connected. A 69 year-old man was brutally removed from a United Airlines flight in a completely unacceptable show of force (warning, video is a bit graphic.) New Mexico has banned school 'lunch shaming' as should everyone because it is fucking awful. Coming out as genderqueer. Dating bisexual men is something a lot of women seem to really enjoy. Yet more hand-wringing over travel writing. Three Russian theories on why the U.S. hit Syria. The stories about Abu Dhabi that are rarely told. Guess how many European states have a transgender sterilization requirement? Queer love and struggle in Jackson. We've been killing South Asians since they got to the U.S.

Behold, my week. © E.A. Crunden

Behold, my week. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. Somalia's new military chief survived a bombing that killed 10 others. Egypt's Coptic Christian minority faced a horrifying dual-attack on Palm Sunday, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 people. Tanzania is cracking down on LGBTQ people and getting away with it. Migrants and refugees from West Africa are reportedly being bought and sold--in Libyan markets. The U.N. Secretary General has called for a renewal in talks over the occupied Western Sahara, which Morocco currently controls. Nigeria says it foiled militant efforts to target the U.S. and U.K. embassies in Abuja. Nigeria's government is also in talks to release the remaining Chibok girls.

AmericasJOINT WORLD CUP BID. Pot, legal and coming to a Canada near you. Floods in Peru have endangered thousands of children, per UNICEF. Venezuelans are protesting their governmentYet another man murdered a woman (and a child to boot.) The governor of Alabama resigned after allegations that he had used public funds to cover up an affair. A Black Muslim judge, the first of Black Muslim woman to serve on the highest court in New York, was found dead in the stateThis week in Trump: Press Secretary Sean Spicer engaged in some low-key Holocaust denialism; related: the White House hosted a seder but neither the president nor his daughter attended; the White House accused Russia of covering up the Syrian chemical weapons attack; Paul Manafort has finally registered as a foreign agent; Trump did a 180 and now thinks NATO is important again; Trump was apparently eating chocolate cake when he ordered the missile strike on Syria; Planned Parenthood is once again a target.

Asia. In a show of force, the U.S. sent warships to the Korean Peninsula. North Korea launched a missile, but it seems to have fizzled. Japan joined the U.S. in its exercises, a clear show of alliance against North Korea. At least eight people were killed in an attack on a Philippine resort island. The Trump administration is apparently eyeing the war in Yemen? The death of a Pakistani transgender woman in Saudi Arabia has attracted the attention of Human Rights Watch. The U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Afghanistan. A U.S. drone strike in Syria killed at least 18 rebel allies. A British woman was stabbed to death in Jerusalem, reportedly by a Palestinian attacker. 

Europe. Hungarians mass-protested against the closure of a top university funded by George Soros. Eastern Europeans are complaining because, as with many other things, their grocery stores are not offered the same quality as those available to Western Europeans. Rallies against Serbia's leader continue. Three explosions hit a bus carrying a German football team en route to a match against Monaco. Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an investigation into Syria's most recent chemical weapons attack. Turkey's referendum is coming -- this Sunday. Russia is out of Eurovision after a spat with Ukraine. Montenegro has charged 14 people with a plot to overthrow the government.


Me

Along with my dear co-worker Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, I wrote about the diplomatic minefield Rex Tillerson waded into when he went to Moscow.


 

Recs

To make: MACAROONS. The understated champion of the Pesach feast, the enduring favorite of seder-goers everywhere (or so we can probably assume), the superior option to whatever you were offered recently as an acceptable kosher-for-Passover dessert. I love macaroons, as does my non-Jewish PIC, and between the two of us we've killed multiple tins swiftly in years past. Moving away from anything pre-made towards things we only make ourselves means we tackled macaroon-making this year (thanks, Deb.) And while those Smitten Kitchen chocolate ones were definitely the best we made, I also attempted more traditional vanilla coconut macaroons (vanilla, coconut flakes, egg whites, sugar, and, for most people, salt, but we do not use salt because I am a monster.) For the record: they did not hold together. Not enough egg white protein, I believe. So, I resorted to peanut butter, which was very effective, but then obviously we had peanut butter macaroons, as opposed to vanilla macaroons. Win some, lose some.

To do: Every year at our seder (we host exactly one per year, and timing has varied drastically), we encourage everyone to share what they're grateful for. It's a small moment, but in light of the current state of affairs, a necessary one -- taking a moment and really thinking about it could be beneficial for you, too. 


 

Spoken & Written

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy." -- President Donald Trump, on his initial feeling that China could eliminate the threat of a nuclear North Korea. Apparently Chinese President Xi Jinping needed only ten minutes of Korea-China history to convince him otherwise. 


 

Thoughts & Facts

This year was a special year for a lot of Reform and Conservative Jews, though really last year should have been too -- it just took awhile to kick in, which is why I spent this year messaging frantically with friends to figure out what, indeed, we were allowed to eat. In December 2015, the multi-centuries old ban on consuming kitniyot (instituted by the Ashkenazim; Sephardim and Mizrahim, etc, seem to have been spared) was lifted by two teshuvot (responses to Jewish law.) 

Kitniyot are rice, legumes, beans, and generally enjoyable things that now only Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews are prevented from having. The rationale for the new rulings has varied, though the Forward article above notes that as more and more Ashkenazi-Sephardi couples form, schisms over things like kitniyot are becoming more apparent. I prefer the line of thought maintaining that there was literally no need for the ban, with much of the world's Jewry not adhering to it anyways and enjoying delightful rice and bean dishes while the rest of us suffered.

With my apologies to my Orthodox Ashkenazi friends, chag sameach, and I am very glad the rest of us have legumes back. 

 

 

Strike out

Blues Buzz

Questions to ask if you have more privilege than your partner. Billions star Asia Kate Dillon is being nominated for acting awards, which are gendered -- something the non-binary Dillon is challengingMeet the queer Black woman changing journalism (spoiler alert, she's Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post.) Maxine Waters, long may she reign. RIP Yevgeny Yevtushenko. A really depressing story about two of the living members of one of the first famous surviving groups of quintuplets. The incredible Maggie Nelson. Want queer content featuring femmes of color? Head to a web series near you (and see more below.) Is your name your destiny? Apparently queer people should give the rainbow back to G-d? Outsider Blackness. An epic tale involving two NYT reporters tracking down a pro-Trump mayor running from them. The U.S. House really wants you to be able to kill animals in their sleepTraveling while trans. The map to resistance. "Why I'm an abortion doctor in the Deep South." Why is ICE arresting so many people in 'weird', liberal Austin? Mongolia: a good place to die. Let us now celebrate Kristen Gillibrand, the hero we never expected. Ellen Page and Janet Mock, just hanging out, casually. Tearing down powerful women for millennia. Eat, pray, hate: Living and loathing in Northern Ireland. The ungrateful refugee. The youth will lead us. Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Jewish life means paying a high price.

Art in Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Art in Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. South African leader Jacob Zuma may have finally landed himself in unfixably hot water (or not.) Either way, South Africans are taking to the streets to protest their leader. A large earthquake rocked Botswana. Benin's parliament rejected one-term limits for future presidencies. Somalia's president has declared war on militant group al-Shabab. Mortar shells also struck homes in Mogadishu, killing three people and wounding several more. South Sudan has denied U.N. peacekeepers access to a site that reportedly saw a massacre. 

Americas. New Brunswick became the first Canadian province to distribute abortion pills. Brazil delayed a ruling that could unseat its president. Colombia was hit by a devastating flood -- at last look the death roll was around 300. Ecuador's tense political showdown. Venezuela reversed parts of a ruling that would have stripped the national legislature of its power. This week in Trump: Trump and Blackwaterno more funding for the U.N. family planning agency; Susan Rice has become a pawn in efforts to argue that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump; Steve Bannon is out at the National Security Council; the administration did an about-face on Syria and sent 59 missiles in a strike that has drawn praise and outcry in equal measure; numerous women have come forward to accuse Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment but the president doesn't care; Republicans used the 'nuclear option' to essentially guarantee the anti-choice Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. 

Asia. Prior to the strike on Mosul, the U.S. estimates it killed over 200 Iraqis by accident. Iraq's parliament has banned the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk. A gas attack in Idlib, Syria killed around 80 people in an attack, one of the worst in recent memory. Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with Trump this week; they got along famously. North Korea fired a ballistic missile test right before a meeting between the leaders of America and China. Israel appointed its first female Muslim diplomat. Floods hit Indian-administered Kashmir, resulting in several deaths.

Europe. A bomb hit the St. Petersburg metro on Monday, resulting in nine deaths and at least 20 injures. Chechen authorities have been arresting and killing queer men. Anti-corruption protests continued in Moscow. Gibraltar and Brexit, or, rather, Spain v. Britain. Serbia's prime minister is ascending to the presidency, eroding checks on his power. Thousands are marching in Hungary to defend a Soros-backed university threatened with closure.


Me 

Dipping back into my one true loves, South Asia and Eastern Europe, this week. I wrote about how anti-Muslim hate crimes are disproportionately targeting South Asians -- and how neither Trump nor India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, are doing much about it. I also wrote about the horrifying bombing in St. Petersburg, and how Russia's extremism issue is arguably an internal one. Shifting gears a bit, I wrote about Chinese leader Xi Jinping hanging out with Trump, and the many things their conversations could cover (or not cover -- see: climate change.)


 

Recs

To watch: The web series is a deeply under-appreciated medium that has long been far more diverse and inclusive than more widely-watched equivalents. Brown Girls is one popular example, but alums of my undergraduate home are involved in Afternoon Snatch, which I've been enjoying, and that's not even counting everything on this list --  which I'm planning to dive into when my semester ends and the teetering balance of school and work is less painfully present in my life. 

To make: Pesach (Passover for the goyim) is rapidly approaching, which means bread products are fading quickly from my life. While a week of matzo pizza is probably going to be as much my fate as it has been in years prior to this, diversifying my food intake in this constricted time is still a goal. To that end, flourless dessert ideas are looking great, but let's be honest: my Pesachs live and die on the hill that is the macaroon


Spoken & Written

“Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of [G-d] should ever suffer such horror.” -- President Donald Trump on the recent chemical weapons assault on Syrians + notably the same man who has worked to ban all Syrian refugees, including "beautiful babies," from entering the U.S.


Thought & Fact(s)

This is not the first time in the Syrian Civil War that the U.S. has used military force (though it is the first time that the Assad regime has been directly targeted.) The U.S. has long worked to supply arms and support to the rebels fighting the regime, an effort that has also seen American strikes on the Islamic State. Both strong opponents and supporters of intervention in Syria have had a lot to say along partisan lines, but the reality is murkier than many might like. President Barack Obama oversaw a not insignificant amount of American action in Syria -- and many argue that the situation was inflamed by Obama's actions (and inactions) when dealing with the conflict.

However, it is still important to make a distinction between the efforts of the Obama administration and those of its successor. Here is a very basic intro to the differences between their approaches and actions.

Murky visuals

Blues Buzz

What it's like to be a Muslim in Birmingham right now. White dude drama and the March for Science. Trump is scaring Indian Americans into finding their political voice. Life advice from Adrienne Rich. Attn nerds: Doctor Who is getting a queer companion who is a lesbian woman of color to boot. The true meaning of nostalgia. Having a trans child changed this Texas conservative's life. Bangladesh's tragedy at the hands of Pakistan. The abortion pill was supposed to revolutionize abortion access, so what happened? RuPaul has some real talk for cis straight women in gay bars. Melissa Febos is finally getting her due, thank heaven. The everyday experience of antisemitism in America. Avoiding the occupation at a shiva. The Holocaust survivor denouncing ICE. The dangers of associating queerphobia with closet queerness. Escaping is not a form of understanding. China's hottest new boy band is a group of androgynous females. Sixteen lesbian power couples from history. Where are you really from?

Edinburgh, Scotland, currently still in the U.K. © E.A. Crunden

Edinburgh, Scotland, currently still in the U.K. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. Struggling with a drought, Somalia is also battling hunger and cholera. War continues in DRC, where the bodies of two U.N. workers were found in a shallow grave. As Africa faces one of the worst hunger crises numerous countries have seen in 70 years, the Trump administration is cutting aid -- something the continent really can't afford. A meningitis outbreak has killed well over a hundred people in Nigeria. RIP Ahmed Kathrada, South African anti-apartheid hero. People in certain parts of Cameroon have had no internet access for two months -- and they're predominantly English and French speakers. Ethiopia extended its state of emergency, which was imposed in response to anti-government protests. What it's like to be poor, gifted, and Black in South Africa.

Americas. Panic is spreading in Venezuela after the Supreme Court stripped the national legislature of power, edging the country closer to one-man rule. Paraguay is becoming increasingly anxious as its president moves to extend his presidency. Colombia is seeing casualties in its war between guerrilla fighters and paramilitary forces. The Mexican Catholic Church has some words for anyone helping with Trump's wall. El Salvador became the first country in the world to ban the mining of metals. United Airlines barred several girls wearing leggings from traveling. A mosque was vandalized in Colorado. A shooting in Cincinnati left one dead and more than a dozen injured. This week in Trump: one hell of a nightmarish climate order; everyone meet Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is a good study in how to completely fail at not looking suspicious; goodbye internet privacy rules; a halt on the Muslim ban 2.0 has been extended; Michael Flynn wants immunity in exchange for testifying on Russia; LGBTQ people will not be tallied in the 2020 census because once again, Trump does not care about queer people. Sean Spicer v. April Ryan. Fifteen felonies for the anti-abortion activists who filmed Planned Parenthood. (Related: Helpful Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie vote to defund Planned Parenthood because of course.) North Carolina claimed to have repealed HB2, the state's transphobic bathroom bill, but in reality LGBTQ people are as marginalized as ever.

Asia & Australia. Raqqa could flood. The U.S. is weighing greater involvement in Yemen's ongoing war. Cyclone Debbie hit Australia. The U.S. has caused an overwhelming number of casualties in the Middle East. African students were hospitalized after mob attacks in India. Hong Kong's democracy has suffered numerous setbacks and blows recently. LGBTQ activists in Indonesia are struggling to move forward. Israel has approved its first West Bank settlement in 20 years. Removing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power will no longer be an American priority. Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was arrested on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

Europe. Brexit has begun: British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, making it official -- the U.K. and the E.U. are getting a divorce. E.U. nationals might be really screwed, and the Scots might want out. Aleksei Nalvany, a leading Putin critic, was arrested after anti-Putin protests exploded last Sunday. (In nearby Belarus, brutal crackdown measures were taken against protesters also voicing dissent against their government.) Bulgaria ex-premier is nearing a return to power -- a good sign for the E.U. An Italian court dropped a rape case because a woman "did not scream." The Polish consulate in Ukraine was attacked with a grenade launcher


 

Recs

To watchGrace and Frankie, the absolutely delightful Netflix show (now in it's third season) that my main human pestered me for eons to watch and that has, in all honesty, taken a starring role in my evenings. Older women! Vibrators! Queer late-in-life love! Interracial couples! The absolutely delightful duos of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen! The absolutely delightful glee of not feeling miserable about something in the year 2017! You too can say the words 'absolutely delightful' multiple times and check it out -- and in the meantime here's Autostraddle's review (warning: spoilers.)

To make: I deeply hesitate to label what Americans call Italian food "Italian food", as I have friends who are Italian and I know they would not appreciate the connection. It also needs to be noted that what Americans call Italian food is a genre of cuisine I really am not partial to and actively avoid. However. The other occupant of my home adores it and I've had a few positive interactions with the food recently. So. I'm pretty much exclusively interested in handmade pasta (the store-bought stuff gives me a stomach ache and looks like plastic), and we have yet to invest in a pasta-maker, but even I'm eyeing this spaghetti with lemon and olive oil idea for when we do. Until then, spinach and egg pizzette it is! (Routine reminder that non-egg eaters should 100% feel empowered to swap that ingredient out for any other preferences they may have.)


 

Quote of the Week

“That was some weird shit.” -- Former American President George W. Bush, allegedly, on President Donald Trump's inauguration

 

Fun Fact

Britain's forty-plus-year relationship with the E.U. has always been a complex one -- the nation has been trying to leave almost as long as it's been in, though never enough to actually go before now. Euroskeptics have slowly gained power over the course of the past few decades, however, and, voila, Brexit. The Telegraph has a decent breakdown of the rocky relationship, which is now culminating in a divorce.

Get out when you can

I was out of town for the past few days, taking a break from a hectic newsroom and the media cycle to take some time for myself and family. Mea culpa for the late newsletter, which was delayed as a result -- I hope that you all will find comfort and rejuvenation in spaces that nurture you at some point in the near future. 

Blues Buzz

Writers who are women of color: this LOOKS AWESOME. Everyone stop giving Hollywood credit for its pitiful nods to queer existence and acting like a joke character in Beauty and the Beast is the equivalent of Moonlight. Queer YouTubers claim the site is blocking their videos (and it appears they are correct.) From an Austin resident: How my red state sees me despite my blue city. Sesame Street has been trolling Trump for years. A space for queers. Arizona abolished parole for murderers -- so what happens to murderers sentenced with a chance of parole? Immigration poetry. George W. Bush is apparently actually good at painting. Jenny Slate just sounds like a really cool human. Art Spiegelman, creator of MAUS, has some piercing words for Trump. From a friend: Get Out, Claudia Rankine, and the horror of Black hypervisibility. Iraq's prime minister wants more help for his country from the U.S. Six writers on life behind bars in Turkey. What it's like to be queer and undocumented. Rediscovering Jewish identity in the age of Trump.

Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. Algeria's president is indeed alive. Somalia's new leader named a cabinet, consisting of 26 members. Ghana has shut down the tourist site where 20 people died in an accident. Ten mass graves were uncovered by UN investigators in DRC. More than 200 people are feared dead off the coast of Libya. Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak is free. Roadside bombs killed 10 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Gambia will set up a truth commission now that its dictator is gone. 

Americas. Latin America is swinging to the right. Another Mexican journalist has been assassinated. Argentina is welcoming refugees. Several Peruvian cities were buried by water this week. After bringing cholera to Haiti, the UN is having trouble raising money to fight it. A Jewish teenager was arrested in Israel in connection with over a hundred threats made against Jewish spaces in the U.S. It is that time of year again: Texas is being terrible about abortion. (But Texas women and gender minorities are amazing, and creative.) Related: An ICE raid in Austin may have been revenge for its status as a sanctuary city. Big changes are coming in the American egg industry. A white man traveled to New York with the intent of killing Black people, and murdered an older man at random. This week in Trump news: the FBI is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any contact the nation may have had with the Trump campaign; the FBI and the NSA dismissed Trump's wiretapping claims; something about Russia, intelligence, meetings, and sketchy business. And, something great to end your week with: Trump's effort to overhaul Obamacare and replace it with an incredibly poor alternative, went down in flames.

Asia. The bombing of a Syrian mosque that left dozens dead is being investigated by the Pentagon. Burma's Muslims are being targeted by internet trolls. Meet Uttar Pradesh's super controversial new leader. Airports across the Muslim world (mostly in the Middle East and North Africa) are facing crackdowns on U.S. flights -- passengers must check their laptops and most electronics rather than carrying them onboard; those affected are: Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, all of which are U.S. allies. Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte is backtracking on his support for same-sex marriage. The Taliban captured the Afghan city of Sangin after years of struggle. Chinese, Saudi, and Turkish troops joined the annual Pakistan Day parade. Hong Kong selected a new leader.

Europe. A British national drove a car into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, before being confronted by police -- he ultimately killed three people and injured numerous others (he was killed as well.)  That time Trump didn't shake Angela Merkel's hand. All eyes on the Balkans. Late-March Brexit. Navalny in green -- the Putin foe made the most of an attack designed to cover him in hard-to-remove coloring. Martin McGuinness, a key and controversial Northern Irish figure, has died. Europe's neo-fascist revival. The U.K. followed the U.S.' controversial laptop ban for flights, though it impacts fewer countries and adds Lebanon and Tunisia to the list, in addition to covering ALL flights from the countries impacted. A Russian MP who had fled to Ukraine was assassinated in Kyiv. A man attempted to drive a car into a crowd in Antwerp, Belgium. 


 

Recs

Take a vacation (or take care of yourself in a way that involves a break): It is entirely possible that you can't, and up until very recently in my life I could not either, so I am here for you regardless of your life situation. Ideally you are not working seven days a week (as was my reality four years ago), but even if you are you can make this work -- taking even an afternoon or a few hours away from work or stress, letting the people around you briefly take the load, and just breathing for a bit while doing something enjoyable can go a long way. If you do have the luxury of vacation days (and they are a luxury foreign to many), then take them. Go some place nice, stay home, do whatever suits your pace and preference and budget. No regrets.


 

Quote of the Week

""Word up!" It is I, the Gray Lady, with a "shoutout" to all my hip young friends. Just wanted you to know I've added new specialized feeds". -- I SHIT YOU NOT THIS IS A THING THE NEW YORK TIMES TWEETED IN 2007 (h/t Vox)

 

Fun Fact

Savannah, Georgia has an incredibly old and historic Jewish population. Congregation Mickve Israel was established centuries ago, after a small group of mostly Sephardic Jews arrived in Georgia (they were permitted to stay because, coincidentally, yellow fever was raging and one of the newcomers was a doctor.) Ashkenazim have slowly taken over in the time since, but descendants of the original group can still be found around the wider area, and there are three different congregations in the city (the aforementioned reform Mickve Israel, and both a conservative and an orthodox congregation to even out the spectrum.) A tour through Mickve Israel itself yields two truly special gems: centuries-old torahs, one of which is believed to have been written during the 1400s, in the Sephardic style. 

A budget that will kill you

Blues Buzz

Read the full court order that stopped the Muslim Ban 2.0. Celebrate your wins like you are the Dutch "GreenLeft" party. Housekeepers vs. Harvard. Experts in the field, or, a brutally honest take on gaslighting, assault, and abuse in the literary community. The media does underreport some terrorist attacks -- the kind carried out by non-Muslims. The genderqueer Jewish Nazi fighter who made incredible art. KStew has always been great, I will die on this hill. A Black trans woman on the problem with our fave Chimamanda's comments. Related: trans women should not constantly have to defend their womanhood. LammysThis article, asking Irish politicians whether they like Beyoncé and, if so, which song is their favorite, is possibly the best thing you will ever read. The underground abortion assistance group that helped thousands of women before Roe. The woke misogynist. Halal if you hear me. Very excited for A Wrinkle in Time. Washington's spy paranoia. Transphobe Pat McCrory feels he is discriminated against because he is a transphobe. So you're in an interracial relationship and you just watched Get Out. Bloodroot. Some of our greats on sexual harassment and assault in the literary field. How UCLA students want to redefine 'sanctuary campus' -- for Black, queer, and undocumented students. Music videos are finally showing queer girls in love. When the Queen of England leaves us. Letters from trans and non-binary survivors to their body parts. There will still be lesbians on Bake Off, for those of us who were concerned. Be cautious when you fall for the false temptations of the Russia story, Americans. 

Looking out over Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

Looking out over Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. South Africa and Nigeria are working to prevent hate crimes against foreigners. Kenyan doctors ended a strike after coming to an agreement with the government. After a seeming slow-down, Somali pirates are seeing a resurgence. Thirty-one Somali refugees died in a helicopter attack off the coast of Yemen. A trash dump landslide in Ethiopia has killed over 100 people. FIFA has banned Mali from international football following the firing of the country's sports minister. 

Americas. Dozens of human rights activists have been killed in Colombia. Brazilians are protesting against proposed pension reforms. Trump's "skinny budget" dropped, and it cuts virtually everything you probably liked. The Muslim Ban 2.0 was halted by a hero in Hawaii hours before it was set to go into effect. Channel your inner Preet Bharara wherever you go. Twenty-four million people would lose their health insurance under Donald Trump's proposed health care overhaul. In case you somehow missed it, Rachel Maddow broke news of Trump's 2005 tax returns. The Forward, a Jewish publication, dropped a Nazi-laden bombshell about Sebastian Gorka, a Hungarian Trump counter-terrorism aide and controversial figure -- and they're standing by their story.

Asia & Australia. Japan doesn't know what to do with its mounting pile of radioactive waste. Afghanistan spends a month celebrating women, but like most things it gets complicated fast. Suicide bombings killed more than 70 people in Damascus. Six years of war in Syria. Vietnam has demanded China cease sending cruise ships to the South China Sea. China, for its part, is promising firm retaliation against Japan if it interferes in the area. A former Uttar Pradesh minister was arrested over gang rape charges. Pakistan has asked Facebook and Twitter for help with identifying blasphemers. Australia's Great Barrier Reef is toast if we don't stop climate change. North Korea vs. the U.S. is probably something no one wanted ever and yet here we are.

Europe. Turkey and the Netherlands are in a fight. Also in Dutch news, Islamophobe Geert Wilders notably lost an election. The EU's highest court ruled that employers can prevent their workers from wearing headscarves. Floundering French presidential candidate François Fillon apologized for tweeting an antisemitic caricature of one of his opponents. Keep your eyes on: Scottish independence (but not before Brexit.) Belgium's new deportation law isn't going over well with civil rights groups. A Crimean Tatar official was questioned and warned by Russian counterparts. Asylum seekers in Hungary are hunger-striking. A student opened fire on a school in southeastern France. A letter bomb exploded Thursday morning in the French IMF office. Ireland's taoiseach, Enda Kenny, used the occasion of St. Patrick's Day to lecture his American counterpart on immigration. Trump accused Britain of wiretapping him and then had to apologize. 


 

Recs

To listen: I've taken a stroll down memory lane recently, enjoying the music I grew up with (especially now, with SXSW full-blown in my home city.) Alternative rock is huge in Texas, far less so in the western part of Massachusetts where I spent four years, or in Geneva, Switzerland, or even here in D.C. Music is how I connect, more often than not, and certain sounds take me immediately home. So mea culpa if you were one of the many bus riders treated to the entire Matchbox Twenty discography blasting through my headphones this past week. (Bent, Back 2 Good, Real World, to name a few.) Listen to something that reminds you of a place you love, friends. 

To make: Admittedly I've laid off drinking as work and school have consumed my life. But it was St. Patrick's day, and homemade "Irish" (lol) cream is always fun, so have at it. For my alcohol-free friends, leave out the whiskey -- I imagine it's still delicious. 


 

Quote of the Week

"If I had to pick just one (which is unfair) it would be “Irreplaceable.” Apart from the general good advice from Beyoncé that we should move “to the left, to the left,” it would behove us all as elected members of the Dáil that we should never for a second get to thinking we’re irreplaceable." -- Jonathan O’Brien, member of Irish party Sinn Fein

 

Fun Fact

American health care is famously very, very bad. But that's not a global reality everywhere. A strong example is the U.K.'s National Health Service, or NHS, which provides Brits with more than decent medical treatment and care. But there are other strong examples for how a country should treat sickness -- New Zealand, Canada, and the Scandinavian nations are often cited, but why stop there? Business Insider argues for Qatar, Hong Kong, Japan, and more. And then there's Cuba's system, which deserves a close look and a close read, especially given Western attitudes about the communist nation. 

 

 

 

Women's work

Blues Buzz

Sixteen stories about incredible women so you can work to make every day International Women's Day. Ten books for IWD. The day itself was complicated in the U.S. -- there were reasons to strike, and reasons not to. When you make Jews afraid, you only prove we are human. Related: the graveyard shift. You may want to marry this dying woman's husband. The Alt-Left is a problem too. How today's visa restrictions could impact tomorrow's America. The dangers of Feminism Lite, per Chimamanda, who should probably think long and hard about her comments on trans women. Unpublished Jane Austen. Two words: Solnit. Profile. The British Empire carried out horrifying crimes against humanity and no one should ever be proud. Ruby Tandoh is a gem. Butch is beautiful. The marines are a horrible place to be a woman, as I'm sure will shock no one. The man who turned gay rights into a weapon for Islamophobes. Anxiety for highly productive people. Jhumpa Lahiri on writing is always worth reading. Some Eileen for you. Joan Didion is annoyingly good, and here is some insight into South and West. The paradox of being a queer gentrifier. Black cowboys are fighting erasure. Non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon on making TV history and gender identity. Nike hijab. This is the Russia Americans are so afraid of, the one they feel the need to turn into an enemy.  On disability, trans identity, and exhaustion over bathrooms. Why is Vermont so white? Anthony Stewart Head, on the feminism of Buffy.

Seen in Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Seen in Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. A really horrifying amount of hunger news -- Eight people died in a stampede in Zambia over food aid. Somalia's famine crisis is worsening. Cuts to bread subsidies are spurring fury and sparking riots on Egypt. In an attempt to bring in more money, South Sudan is charging up to $10,000 for foreign work permits, a move that will be counterproductive and discourage people from coming to fill jobs that the country needs (namely, aid workers.) Libya is spiraling back into civil war. It seems that Black lives don't matter in xenophobic South Africa. Nigeria's president returned home from the UK, but reportedly needs to 'rest', which isn't comforting given concerns about his health. 

Americas. Panama's former dictator is in critical condition after brain surgery. Bolivia's president will travel to Cuba for an operation. The wall dividing Argentina and Paraguay is a shrine to failure. Canada too is seeing a rise in antisemitism. One Canadian town is very sorry for its pink tap water. The American president claimed (sans any evidence) that his predecessor had tapped the phones at Trump Tower during the 2016 election -- and called for a congressional investigation. He also signed the next Muslim ban, which looks much like the first, except that Iraq has notably been taken off the list of banned countries and a few other alterations have occurred. (Hawaii has challenged the ban.) Republicans are getting set to completely destroy American health care, something that was never great to begin with. Trump told Planned Parenthood to stop providing abortions if it wants federal money and PP was like lol no. The U.S. is considering separating children from their parents at the border. A Sikh man was shot (but survived) in Seattle in what appears to be a hate crime. The UN slammed the U.S. over its treatment of Native peoples. Introducing THAAD. Wikileaks and the CIA.

Asia. A South Korean court ousted Park Geun-hye from office; the president's downfall following a bizarre scandal has been ongoing for months. Nothing to see here, just North Korea's potentially intercontinental missile tests. Malaysia (where Kim Jong Nam was assassinated) and North Korea are duking it out the old-fashioned way -- with travel bans. Five Pakistani soldiers were killed in militant raids across the border, in Afghanistan. Iraqi troops have retaken several government buildings in Mosul (they were previously held by the Islamic State.) A Thai 'red shirt' leader was jailed for insulting the monarchy. At least 30 people were killed when the Islamic State stormed a hospital in Kabul dressed as doctors. A new Israeli law bars foreign critics from entering it. Tajik women have some thoughts about the state of their 'equal' rights. The U.S. is putting marines on the ground in Syria. Attacks in eastern Burma left numerous people dead -- an ominous indicator that violence is returning to areas of the country that aren't Rakhine state, where the persecuted Rohingya are based.

Europe. Scandal-plagued French presidential candidate François Fillon fought on this week. Sinn Fein, Ireland's main Catholic nationalist party, just scored a huge victory in Northern Ireland. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of Nazi-era practices after the latter halted Turkish political rallies on its soil. RIP, Azure Window of Malta. Russian women scaled the Kremlin to strike a blow against patriarchy. Scottish independence could be coming. At least five people were injured when a man went on a rampage with an axe at a German train station. 


 

Recs

To watchWhen We Risethe new miniseries from ABC, has a deeply outdated format, numerous gaping flaws, and an imperfect script. However, you should watch it. Why? This is queer history by queer people for queer people. Trans characters are played by trans actors. Real queer people gave their input, and the main three characters all survive. I know the bar is low, but queers don't get a lot in this world, and we do have this. (I recommend Hulu if you, like me, do not own a TV and are confused by the concept.)

To make: A cake! This weekend marks a birthday for one of my best friends, and has me in cake mode. My own birthday will coincide with the Jewish holiday of Pesach (Passover), something that has occurred numerous times before and will happen again (to break down what this means for the goyim: I've spent a lot of more-or-less gluten-free birthdays.) I'm putting off those cake thoughts. For now: lemon cake looks good. Or maybe chocolate?


 

Quote of the Week

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care? I’m just . . . is that not correct? And should they?” -- Rep. Joh Skimus (R-IL), who thinks men should probably not have to pay for prenatal care

Fun Fact

International Women's Day has its roots in socialism, far more so than the U.S. likes to admit. On March 8, 1917, female textile workers began to protest in Russia, in a move that would eventually spark the Russian Revolution. The day was popularized throughout the communist world for years, but did not became a global celebration until 1975, when the UN established IWD as a reality. To the surprise of no one, the day has been less popular in the U.S., in no small part because of lingering Cold War animosity (something that is starting to look a lot like present day.) Activists and the internet, however, are making the day hit home for many Westerners -- as is the movement known as the Women's March. 

Moonlanding

Blues Buzz

The Oscars were really something -- a display of white faux progressivism rubbing arms with the real, raw groundbreaking progressivism only some are capable of. Never let Moonlight's win be overshadowed by a mixup, it deserved everything -- and yes, the mix-up was problematic. Mahershala Ali is a Black Ahmadi Muslim and every one of those identities counts. Jimmy Kimmel's name jokes are a problem.  After Moonlight, one Black Southern gay man no longer feels 'niche.' The limits of Black graciousness. La La Land is a propaganda film. 'Gary from Chicago' is the hero we need and his prison record only makes that more true. Mohsin Hamid on the dangers of nostalgia. The unlikely man who has kept thousands of people from becoming HIV positive. Blue cities, red states. Eileen Myles forever. On being non-binary but sticking to she/her pronouns. Can this Democratic El Paso congressman (who is super fond of Mexico) unseat hardline conservative Ted Cruz? James Baldwin found solace and space in Turkey. Gay liberation didn't cure gay lonelinessMeet Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer, the man working overtime to ensure that, more or less, Roe v. Wade remains law. Two rich people will get to fly around the moon in 2018. Planned Parenthood isn't sure it's going to be okay. New Zadie Smith! When We Rise is what we need now and here's what it took to pull it together. HBCUs and 'choice.' Uber is still terrible. Fatimah Asghar: If they should come for us. On building a diverse list. SJW behaviors that hurt social justice. Swet Shop Boys are back at it, and this one's for Qandeel, who would have been 27 this week. For friends who did not grow up with an intimate knowledge of antisemitism. Texas is the future. (The future that liberals want.)

Writers protest against the Trump administration at the annual AWP conference, held in Washington, D.C. this past February. © E.A. Crunden

Writers protest against the Trump administration at the annual AWP conference, held in Washington, D.C. this past February. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. Coptic Christians are fleeing violence in Egypt. Zimbabwe's dictator has no plans to step down. Zimbabwe has also banned corporal punishment. Nigeria's army has been accused of killing civilians. The country's president, Muhammadu Buhari, has been in the U.K. on medical leave -- and the country's vice president is gaining power in his absence. South Africa is actively deporting Nigerians. Moroccan troops are set to pull out of a buffer zone in the Western Sahara. Burundi's president is at war with independent media.

Americas. Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres' killing appears to have been extrajudicial. Contamination left millions without drinking water in Chile following extreme rains. An Indiana plant is finalizing its efforts to move jobs to Mexico. Vaquitas are dying out. Colombia's FARC rebels are disarming under the new peace deal. Thanks to Trump, nationalism is on the rise in Mexico. Antisemitism is on the rise across the U.S. A French scholar of the Holocaust was detained at the Houston airport for 10 hours (he was born in Egypt.) Houses of worship are preparing to break the law in order to shelter undocumented immigrants. Four American mosques have been burned in seven weeks. Jewish centers, schools, and cemeteries are being targeted and one synagogue saw a bullet fired from a playground. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador twice during the election, appears to have lied about that reality, and everyone is very upset about it. (Sessions has also been linked to white supremacy routinely, a thing that, for some reason, fewer people are upset about.) A DREAMer spoke about her fear of being arrested -- just before she was promptly arrested by ICE. A new Muslim ban is coming, but Iraq may be spared.

Asia. Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown in the Philippines is targeting children now. Two women in Malaysia will be charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam. The Islamic State is threatening China with a wave of terror attacks. Eastern Japan experienced an earthquake this week. Indians are mourning the American hate crime that killed an Indian man living overseas. After coming under fire for its treatment of ethnic minorities in Pakistan, the government is expanding rights for citizens in FATA, the country's northwestern territories. Taiwan will conduct military trainings in (where else?) the contested South China Sea. Vetoes from Russia and China ensured that UN sanctions will not be placed on the Assad regime in Syria. Russian and Syrian forces bombed U.S.-backed Syrian troops -- something Russia claims never happened. Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. 

Europe. Supporters of fallen Putin foe Boris Nemtsov marched in Moscow to honor the two-year anniversary of his murder. Croatian neo-Nazis are super excited about Trump, apparently. A new report claims racial profiling is rampant in Germany. Zoya Svetova, a Russian journalist and human rights advocate, was the target of a sudden raid at her home this week. Hungary's prime minister has linked ethnic homogeneity with economic success. A French sniper accidentally shot two people while Prime Minister François Hollande was speaking. Horrors in Greece's refugee camps. As the far-right grows in Eastern Europe, so too does pushback against liberal billionaire George Soros. Same-sex marriage has gone into effect in Finland. Poland is sending asylum seekers back to Belarus, a dictatorship. Norway has the right idea about the comments section. 


 

Recs

To make: In honor of Texas' 181st birthday, make all the Texan things, even if you care not at all for the Lone Star State! (We have excellent cuisine.) Breakfast tacos are my personal preference, but why stop there -- stacked enchiladas (shoutout to West Texas), migas (meat-free for me), squash blossom quesadillas, fried pickles, and some Texas sheet cake to top it off (or my childhood favorite, as best prepared by my great-grandmother: banana pudding.) Best made in large quantities and shared with friends. 

To listen: New Lorde! 'Green Light' is the first track to drop off of Melodrama, the follow-up to Pure Heroine. Video + sounds here, as well as some background on this latest addition to the Lorde discography. Pretty upbeat for a song about a breakup, is all I'm saying. 


 

Quote of the Week

"I realized the problem began with the fact that adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are “novelists” and “female novelists,” “African-American doctors” but not “European- American doctors,” “gay soldiers” but not “heterosexual soldiers,” “transgender activists” but not “cisgender activists.” As has been true forever, the person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective." -- Gloria Steinem

 

Fun Fact

This past Thursday marked the 181st birthday of the state of Texas. Or, more accurately, 181 years since the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. Your newsletter curator is a Texpat and enthusiast re all things Texas (ask me about my shameless Texas tattoo some time), so here is a brief recap of the mainland U.S.' largest state's odd history under six flags, per the Austin-American Statesman:

'“Six flags over Texas” is more than just the name of a theme park. Throughout history, many flags have flown over our great state, including a version of the hotly debated Confederate flag....Spain actually flew two different flags over Texas...The simplified version of the royal banner of France was lifted by French nobleman René-Robert Cavalier, who was attempting to establish a colony on the Texas coast.....Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, and the region of Texas became Mexican territory....Following a victory over Mexico in 1836, Texas finally became its own republic....During the Civil War, Texas joined many of its southern neighbors in seceding from the Union and forming the Confederate States of America....Texas was inducted into the United States in 1845.'

Happy 181st birthday, Tejas. Live long and speed up the import of real breakfast tacos to the rest of the world, thanks much. 

Habitable elsewheres

Blues Buzz

Make no mistake: Steve Bannon is going to go after queers. This Muslim, hijab-wearing woman lasted eight days in Trump's White House. The wild west of wind. Uber is still awful. Zealandia. Carson McCullers at 100. 'Our most cruel experiment yet.' Apparently now everyone else has realized a nightmare trash human is a nightmare trash human. He might be gone but his transphobia will remain. Still, Roxanne Gay has the last word. One editor is going to the South and the Rust Belt, not to parachute in, but to find reporters already there. Mahershala Ali on Blackness and Islamophobia. 34 works by women of color for 2017. The gender-specific, women-only Chinese script. When neighbors turn on each other and when they don't -- like this week, when Muslims stepped up for Jews. Is America a 'safe country' for refugees? Native women remain amazing. This trans boy sticking it to haters. The comics giving life to gender diversity. Melissa Febos on love, both human and canine, and depression. The making of Moonlight. (Related: how done this one Arab actor will be with the Oscars if La La Land wins.) Some bizarre writing residencies you should probably actually consider. Democracy dies in darkness. 'You wouldn't have known about me.' Han Kang and when time stopped forever. Dating while Black in Canada. Good news -- we could maybe one day leave this planet for one of seven cool new options.

Pro-Unionist mural seen in Belfast, Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

Pro-Unionist mural seen in Belfast, Ireland. © E.A. Crunden


 

Around the Globe

Africa. South Sudan is in the midst of a horrifying famine (and 20 million people worldwide are facing a similar situation, many of them in countries destroyed by war.) Zimbabwe's dictator had some fond words for Trump. Tanzania is threatening to publicly out queer people. South Africa wants to withdraw from the ICC, no matter what anyone says. Libya's ongoing brushes with refugees and tragedy continued this week when 87 bodies washed up on the country's shore. DRC has said it will investigate a video seeming to show a massacre of civilians. Nigerians are protesting violence against immigrants and migrants in South Africa.

Americas. A homemade bomb in Colombia exploded, injuring dozens of people. The Guatemalan army is blocking a Dutch boat that takes women into international waters to perform abortions. Canada is still seeing an uptick in refugees and immigration from the U.S. The Trump administration's horrifying crackdown on immigrants has gone from bad to worse. (Mexico and the U.S. are, understandably, not on good terms right now.) ICE is denying trans detainees their medical necessities. Trump sort of pseudo-condemned anti-Semitism (despite continuing to employee white nationalists.) Trans students got screwed by Trump. Private prisons made a comeback. Protesters fighting the Dakota Access pipeline hit the deadline to evacuate; many set fire to the protest site, including to traditional structures that were burned ceremoniously in keeping with Native spirituality. Americans are PISSED about everything (but mostly health care) and they are assembling at town halls. Two Indian engineers were shot in Kansas by a man who believed they were Middle Eastern.

Asia. An Israeli soldier was sentenced to a mere 18 months in prison over the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian assailant. Israel is also denying visas to Human Rights Watch staff. Eastern Libya has banned women under the age of 60 from traveling abroad on their own. Pakistan's economy is growing, in spite of a resurgence of terror. That terror, however, made itself heard yet again this week--an attack hit a shopping center in Defence, an affluent area of Lahore. Deadly bird flu returns to China. Iraqi forces recaptured a Mosul airport previously held by the Islamic State. The half-brother of North Korea's dictator was reportedly killed with a banned nerve gas in a Malaysian airport. A car bomb killed 51 people in the Syrian city of al-Bab. A prominent foe of Rodrigo Duterte has been arrested in the Philippines.

Europe. Hungary withdrew its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. Britain's housing crisis has more and more young people staying at home with their parents. The Tories won a long-held Labour seat in a humiliating defeat for the latter. Russian diplomats keep dying in the U.S. which is probably fine and not suspicious but also these are strange times and people are raising eyebrows. What did happen in Sweden and what did not. Breaking news: Iceland's president is not pro pineapple on pizza.


 

Recs

To watch: Brown Girls, a new web series focused on the friendship between a (seemingly straight) Black woman and a queer Pakistani-American woman as they dive headlong into their twenties, with results both painful and comical. To caveat, I did not find this show amazing, the acting ranges, and it's unclear where it's all going. (The trope of 'I always know you were queer because once your girl Barbies touched each other' does indeed make an appearance. Hélas.) But it is VERY hard to find good work featuring queer women, and it is also highly unusual to see the bonds between women of color explored in a meaningful way on the screen. With that in mind, it's worth the occasionally cringe-worthy flubs and stumbles for what is, we can only hope, the first in a long line of series similar to this, and props to creator Fatimah Asghar for bringing us a world that looks much more like the one many of us inhabit. 

To do: Self-care and care for others. Let us take a moment for realness. Perhaps it was a weird (read: not good) week for you, or perhaps it was a good week, or perhaps it was just like any other week. Perhaps you are like me and were really hurt that no one reached out to you after your community was directly targeted (as so many have been) by the Trump administration, especially when you are a gender-nonconforming non-binary person who already: feels deeply uncomfortable in most social situations, fears public spaces, and is SO thankful to not have been out when young and vulnerable in Texas. Perhaps this is not your life. But if you have been affected or might be affected by current events arounds the world, or even if you just care about other people, take two moments. One for yourself and one for others. All liberation is intertwined. If you can't take a moment for others, you cannot expect them to take one for you. And you cannot have space for others if you do not have space for yourself. That's all, really.



 

Fun Fact

'Habitable' means very different things to different people. When we hear the term used to describe planets and areas in the solar system, we typically think of the cushy deal Earth provides: water, various climates that sustain life, and a pretty sweet deal, all things considered. But as this article from Cosmos details (h/t Vox), 'habitable' in the planetary sense doesn't necessarily translate to the situation we're currently used to. Put more bluntly:

'In the study of alien worlds, there is perhaps no designation more hopeful, or more misleading, than “habitable”. While it evokes a vision of a pleasant, temperate world, complete with breathable air and a human-friendly landscape, to an astronomer it means none of those things.' 

Moreover,  as the article notes, though we might be inclined to 'classify our own planet as habitable, the term could be applied to any of a wide range of lethal nightmare planets' -- so don't go picturing newly discovered habitable planets as a vacation, is the tl;dr of this.