New year, same fear

Blues Buzz

On Persepolis. Nerd war. Resistant coral? Why some queer people identify with monsters. Bike shares abound. Poems of Jewish faith and culture. A white supremacist wants to fire his attorneys because they are Jewish and Indian. The importance of narratives of Black vitality. Where are all the gay rural poets? Life as a trans man at the turn of the century.

 

Happy new year from our family to yours! © E.A. Crunden

Happy new year from our family to yours! © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. DRC forces killed more than 30 Burundian refugees. Flooding in DRC is also wreaking havoc and driving up casualties. Dozens of arrests were made in Zanzibar over alleged homosexuality. A suicide bombing killed 15 people in Nigeria. Kenya continues its election follow-up (and rebuttal.) 

Americas. A gay conversion therapy decision prompted outrage in Brazil. Mexico suffered another crushing earthquake, with over 273 casualties reported. Asylum seekers are still fleeing the U.S. for Canada. Puerto Rico, slammed by Hurricane Maria, could be without power for months. The U.N. General Assembly kicked off this week in New York. Protests raged across St. Louis, Missouri after yet another white police officer was acquitted in the murder of a Black man. The U.S. is getting set to scale back national monuments. Protests continued to rage across St. Louis. Once again, Sen. John McCain of Arizona has killed Trump's health care dreams -- for now.

Asia. India's misogynistic WhatsApp groups. A typhoon left several dead in Japan. Cambodia's spat with the U.S. is deepening. Debates over the Kurdish independence referendum are intensifying. Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to condemn military violence against the Rohingya. Japan has two million residents over the age of 90. Brb googling "dotard." 

Europe. France has been pushing the U.S. not to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The country also has its own drama, over labor reforms. Drama over Catalan independence efforts is going about as well as you might imagine. Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to win re-election in Germany -- but the real story is the rise of a terrifying far-right party. Uber is getting kicked out of London.


 

Spoken & Written

"...love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’” -- President Donald Trump, referring to Colin Kaepernick. 


 

Me

Journalism: Hate crimes skyrocketed last year. Back-and-forth on DACA is making life even harder for DREAMers. Trump's U.N. speech was riddled with inaccuracies. Burma's leader tried to blame both sides for the Rohingya genocide. Linguistic mastermind Sergey Lavrov was really excited about Trump's speech. U.S. Jews are anxious and paranoid as the holidays arrive. Earthquake preparedness: a fun topic you should become familiar with!

Anything Goes:

I'm out of town this weekend (PIC's birthday falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which has made planning anything hard, so we took the one shot we got) with not a lot to say -- I love being in the South, even the very near South, and I'm especially happy to be in Southern Queer Spaces. There is a lot else to say -- I'm terrified about my thesis, my future, the world, sad for Mexico, Puerto Rico, and so many other places, and really just a mess of emotions as usual -- but for now I am trying to find vegan brunch so I will just say a happy new year to you and yours, even if it isn't new year for you, and I hope you go forth to do good deeds this day. 

 

Aftermath

Blues Buzz

RIP Edie Windsor, a lioness of a woman and a champion for queer people across the U.S. Rhea Butcher on Edie. Images of Edie and Thea in love, and why it matters. One of Australia's "stolen generation" became a celebrated poet. The socialist experiment in Jackson, Mississippi. Female Viking warriors. What medieval historians have in common with Taylor Swift. Celeste Ng and Nicole Chung in conversation. On prayer and poetry. Where progressives fail on intersectionality and identity politics. Masha Gessen: immigrants shouldn't have to be 'talented' to be acceptedMan Booker list. On the disappearance of fireflies. The enduring lessons of communist Poland. When you're genderqueer but your native language is gendered. The great nutrient collapseCleaning the house to stave off grief. More Myles. Hiroshima, the Holocaust, and what it means to be a survivor. Something sweet for the new year.

© E.A. Crunden

© E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Seventeen people were killed after an al Shabab attack in Somalia. Ghana began a program offering free secondary school education. Anti-government protests are raging in Togo. In Sierra Leone, resistance to rehousing efforts remains an ongoing issue after a landslide displaced tens of thousands.

Americas. Venezuelans are now being encouraged to eat rabbits, something many labeled a "bad joke" by President Nicolas Maduro. A queer art exhibition was canceled in Brazil after opposition from right-wing protesters. The president of Brazil has been charged with obstruction of justice. Members of an uncontacted tribe were reportedly massacred by gold miners in Brazil. Hurricane Irma blasted through the Caribbean before hitting the mainland United States, lashing Florida. Islands are still traumatized after Irma. Health care plans abound with no end in sight.

Asia. In Burma, things have gone from terrible to even worse for the Rohingya. Rohingya in Pakistan are livid as they watch the crisis play out. Pour one out for Yair Netanyahu. North Korea faces its toughest-ever sanctions and also fired another missile over Japan. Twenty-four people were killed in Malaysia when a fire broke out at a school. Tunisian women are now free to marry non-Muslims.

Europe. Europe (+ larger NATO) is beefing up for potential war with Russia. The stateless former president of Georgia arrived in Ukraine. French leader Emmanuel Macron is dodging labor protests and uproar. Norway's right-wing government won re-election. Poland violated an E.U.-imposed logging ban in an ancient forest. An explosion hit the London metro system on Friday, injuring numerous people but causing no fatalities. 


Spoken & Written

“I was never her nurse—I’m her lover! I was just doing things to make her comfortable—and that was with loving her and digging her.” -- Edie Windsor, who died this week, on her marriage to Thea Spyer. 

 


Me

Journalism: Amid silence from Trump, Mexico pivots away from international aid to focus on its own crises. One widow's story highlights how much all immigrants, documented or otherwise, are struggling under Trump. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, residents feel abandoned by the mainland after Irma. Buried in the census data is some bad news about income inequality. War games in Russia yay fun! California is one step closer to recognizing non-binary gender. The Trump administration's immigration policies were dealt yet another blow. The new Republican health care effort also seems terrible, water is wet, etc.

Anything Goes:

To say last week was exhausting would be to understate a thing and so I will not. Instead I will just say this -- I am grateful for all of the language I've gained over the course of the past ten years or so. When I left home (and in the time before it, when things were crumbling) I never had the words for what was happening. In the years that followed, I also lacked vocabulary much of the time, something that did damage -- how do you talk about trauma if you can't even call it that? These days I can and do recognize when things have gone wrong, when they don't feel right, when everything is soaring south at breakneck speed. Being able to talk about that is a blessing; I am lucky.

What else to say apart from that? The dreaded thesis is upon me, work is moving quicker than ever, I am even more tired than I was when this year started and when it started I did not think that was a thing that was possible. But again I have to think about these things in terms of luck -- to be employed at all is a blessing (and doing what I want, at that), and soon school will be over with (so, so soon.) Once the hurricane that ripped through my life this week settled (what a time for hurricanes; they are everywhere now) everything seemed to calm and now we've gone to the farmer's market and there are colorful things in my fridge again and also I've enjoyed a few cups of coffee and the weather is growing cooler. All of which is to say that I think I am reaching the age where I am becoming better at weathering natural disasters and that is a relief.

Last but not least, I have been pondering going to Hungary and Poland for a bit when this heinous thing (the thesis -- all 72 pages of it in draft form) is done, and I think I've decided to just do it, so there is that. 

 

Natural disaster

Blues Buzz

Texas the surprise. All-male movie pitches. The reverend and the rabbi. Harvey taught the country about Houston. Poets respond to the end of DACA. Muslim DACA recipients feel like the most unwelcome people in the U.S. RIP Kate Millet. A tough summer to be a Jew

Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. U.N. investigators accused Burundi's government of crimes against humanity. A leading critic of Rwandan President Paul Kegame has been jailed. Kenya will have a new presidential election. Conflict in CAR continues to spiral.

Americas. Mexico was hit by the strongest earthquake to strike the country in a century. The Pope is in Colombia. Former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were charged in a spiraling corruption case. The ELN rebel group and the Colombian government have announced a ceasefire. Hurricane Irma slammed through numerous small islands (doing a ridiculous amount of damage) before hitting the mainland U.S. The Equifax crisis. The White House announced an end to DACA, a program that shielded 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Fifteen states and D.C. will sue over the decision.

Asia & Australia. North Korea tested a sixth nuclear bomb, sparking condemnation around the world. Syria's government broke a years-long siege by ISIS on Deir el-Zour. Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, a critic of the government, was murdered in Bangalore. Israeli jets targeted the Syrian government.

Europe. Macedonia is mourning the death of linguist and activist Ognen Čemerski. The E.U. says Slovakia and Hungary are just going to have to accept refugees. Catalonia, Spain, will hold an independence referendum on October 1. Australia's contentious same-sex marriage survey is a go.


 

Spoken & Written

"When we are with G-d, there are no borders. Man made borders on this earth." -- Rita Ruiz de Guillen, whose son Alonso, a DACA recipient, was killed while helping people during Hurricane Harvey in Texas.


 

Me

Journalism: The White House has put 800,000 young people in danger. The Republicans who won't pass a clean fix for DACA. Students staged protests and walk-outs in the wake of the decision. Trump's policies will make recovering from disasters like Irma much harder for developing areas

Anything Goes:

What a week. Hurricanes and earthquakes and wildfires everywhere, while my head is still pounding from a lack of sleep. Next week begins thesis editing, we're drawing nearer to the High Holy Days, at some point soon we'd like to move apartments, work is frantic, life is frantic, and in all of this I haven't been sleeping or tending to myself in any way. Last night I half-heartedly pulled up therapy resources yet again, a small acknowledgement to the impact I know trauma can have (will have.) As usual I fixated on the price, the time commitment, the vague unknown of it; the tab is still open, and that's all I have to offer you about the subject.

In the lead up to the New Year I always think a lot about good and evil, right and wrong, how to live, how to act, how to be. To say 2017 has felt like that lead up drawn out over nine months so far is to understate something -- we are all well aware, I know, that we are living in dark times. But they feel more ominous recently, perhaps because we're moving into fall, and nature itself will be darker. I live for this sort of weather, but not these times, so there is a conflict playing out of sorts. Mostly I hate the unknown, a sad fact of life and an inevitability in eras like this one. But what to do about that? What is unknown next week will be known soon; this pattern will follow until it doesn't. This year feels like coming down a mountain at breakneck speed, hitting every single thing around along the way. The end is far from over, but what comfort is that?

The real problem, I think, with this current bump along the road in this year of fire and flood is that it has disrupted my patterns. Morning coffee, cooking projects, bike rides, trips to nature, travels -- these are the things I rely on to set everything into alignment again. But schedules and lives are such right now that I have neither the time nor the space to do what I need to in order to feel calm. When turtles are stuck on their backs, their feet kick the air frantically, trying to right themselves. That's how I feel; kicking the air, making no progress, exposed, while a sense of panic sets in. The best descriptor I can manage at the moment. 

A swift rollercoaster ride

Blues Buzz

Texans show up for each other in a time of crisis. The mosques opening their doors to evacuees on a holiday. Public and private disaster in Houston. Reading Jane Eyre while black. Texas forever. New Hemon. Jhumpa Lahiri on Italy and falling in love with a city. These dudes clearly do not understand what Lord of the Flies was actually about. Appalachia's war cry.

The Castro, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

The Castro, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. In South Sudan, the U.N. is working to protect citizens. Kenya is taking striding measures against the use of plastic bags. In less exciting news, Kenya also threw out the results of last month's presidential election. In CAR, a Catholic bishop is protecting 2,000 Muslims.

Americas. Canada introduced a gender-neutral X option on passports. Opposition figures are being targeted with alarming frequency in Venezuela. Colombia's FARC rebels are making moves towards becoming a political party. Corruption in Guatemala is spiraling. Two laws that would have targeted immigrants and people seeking abortions were respectively halted in Texas. Which is good, because Texas is reeling from the horrifying impact of Hurricane Harvey, which has claimed dozens of lives and destroyed much of the state's southeastern region, including the sprawling Houston.

Asia. A bomb in Helmand, Afghanistan killed at least 13 people. Violence erupted in India after a famed guru was found guilty of raping his followers. Tempers may finally be cooling between China and India. Flooding across South Asia has displaced 41 million people and killed over a thousand. Mumbai's apartments are falling apart as a result. Burma's minority Rohingya community is becoming more and more precarious. Syria's dictator looks poised to consolidate control as Western countries lose interest.

Europe. Britain's Labour party wants an extended Brexit. In a deeply unpopular move, France's Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron is getting set to overhaul the country's labor laws. Jews are concerned over rising anti-Semitism in Poland.


 

Spoken & Written

“They are the number one priority. They will not be disturbed, they will not be displaced, they will not be moved. People who come, if they have to pray in the parking lot, they’ll pray in the parking lot.” M.J. Khan, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.


Me

Journalism: Mexico is ready to help Texas, definitely not paying for the wall. Texans became heroes as Harvey raged. Harvey could worsen and it did. South Asia is also hurting because of climate change. For Katrina survivors, Harvey's toll could be even worse. SB4 was halted late Wednesday night. Well, we're back to U.S.-North Korea drama

Anything Goes:

This week saw some of the most intense highs and lows I've experienced this year and I'm still processing. Southeastern Texas is under water; I watched alerts and updates from loved ones fly past me on the internet all week, while footage of sobbing Texans flashed across the TV screens that surround me at work. It was traumatizing but also captivating -- I kept watching, hoping that if I wrote about everything, got it all down, I would feel closer to home, as opposed to sitting in D.C., feeling useless.

The week ended with terror over DACA, the repeal of which would hurt even more people, ruin even more lives. I sat on Friday, in a state of suspended horror, waiting for some new fresh hell to unfold, worrying about loved ones and unknown ones and all of the bodies put in danger this year. In that way, it was a week like many of the weeks we've all marked since January.

But it was also completely different. My favorite person in all things has been waiting for months (years, really; when does the process of wanting something begin? how do you measure waiting?) to hear back from jobs. International students in the U.S. have only so much time to apply and wait; at a certain point, the clock runs out. This happened last time and we were devastated. This year has felt like deja vu, that same creeping dread. But on Friday we sat waiting on a call (would she get it? wouldn't she?) and then beams abounded, we ordered drinks, we're spending a weekend celebrating and toasting our good fortune. It seems we'll have at least another year before these conversations come up again and, H1B lottery providing, maybe even longer.

It seems terrible to feel joyful while other people are suffering. I don't know how to multitask these things -- the personal win, the personal loss, the more removed loss that comes from any sort of empathy towards others. Even in posting good news to friends I felt the need to make caveats. To be clear I do think this is how it should be; your joy does not necessarily counter another's pain, and no one inherently deserves anything more or less than anyone else. So to that end, I am very glad to have a reason for joy, and I hope everyone else, especially those most precarious right now, soon will to. 

Home is a hurricane

Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's fist lady was granted diplomatic immunity after attacking a young model. Sierra Leone is still facing fallout from a mudslide that killed over 500 people. Anti-government protests have plagued Togo. 

Americas. Brazil is opening an Amazon reserve up to mining. Venezuela's chief prosecutor, now a wanted woman, heads to Brazil. Chilean families are working towards accepting transgender children. NAFTA talks are moving...quickly. The bodies of Navy soldiers were pulled from the Pacific Ocean following their ship's collision with an oil tanker. An execution was stayed in Missouri.  Texas' voter ID law suffered a severe blow. Texas was hit with a massive hurricane, which played out as Trump issued a ban barring transgender military service members (and also pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio.)

Asia & Australia. China-India relations are still souring by the day. Triple talaq dies in India. The U.S. will now process all non-immigrant visas from Russia in Moscow only. Australia's same-sex marriage debate is STILL ongoing. Indian citizens have a right to privacy, the Supreme Court ruled. North Korea fired another missile. Thailand's former prime minister fled the country.

Europe. Swedish journalist Kim Wall's remains were recovered. Poland is working to boost its military. Russia's ambassador to Sudan is only the latest Russian diplomat to die suddenly. The British government mistakenly told a ton of E.U. citizens they needed to leave.


 

Spoken & Written

“Good luck to everybody. They’re going to be safe. Good luck to everybody. Good luck.” -- President Donald Trump upon being asked if he had any words for Texans facing down a hurricane


Me

Journalism: Trump's plan in Afghanistan may have been prompted by a few other factors. Here's what happens when white supremacy goes viral. U.N. human rights experts slammed the U.S. over racism. I got to chat with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher about Take My Wife. What is Jared Kushner doing in the Middle East? Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas while Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio and banned transgender military members. The horrifying legacy of Arpaio.

Anything Goes:

We're away this weekend, back down South, which means I'm surrounded by things more familiar to my younger self than usual. Atlanta's hardly Austin, but there's a strange continuity I've found that exists below the Mason-Dixon Line and I can never put my finger on it. It's hotter, obviously, and the food is better, but there are other things, things I never think about until they're in my face. How the music is the same, for example, or how everyone seems kinder, friendlier, more interested in you, whoever you might be.  There's a familiarity here, one I find natural, easy, and disconcerting.

Meanwhile, my actual home, the one permanently inked on my arm and forever on replay in my head and heart, is seeing one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in recent history. Watching news coverage out of Texas reminds me of a summer years ago, when an oil spill crept along the Gulf Coast, ultimately making its way to that largest and looming of mainland states. I remember that slow creep of fear, and how it felt when the oil finally arrived. No such creep here -- the hurricane has hit and the devastation has been immediate. But that feeling is the same, that dread. Watching and waiting while far away is really the only option in these situations for me now but still. It isn't easier.

Sitting in Atlanta, away from D.C., and watching Texas, I keep thinking about home, space, and impact. How it is all relative and yet, not relative at all. Is space a social construct? I have questions.

 

"Many sides"

Blues Buzz

On being black and brown in Trump country. Why white supremacists go after Jews. On asking Jews to be more anti-Nazi. Liberalism has failed in the face of white supremacy. White supremacy is as American as apple pie. When Pakistan feels like an LA noir. D.C.'s electric cab drivers need help. Greenland is on fire. Skin in the game. WTF IS THIS FRUITCAKE. A changing landscape for abortion rights in Texas. Also in Texas: the death of the "bathroom" bill. Richard Spencer crying. Black, Jewish, gay, and using food as a weapon against bigotry. How many times am I touched in a week? Pakistani doctors are being refused visas to come to the U.S. -- and it's hurting rural health. An open letter to Jews in the U.S., Israel, and everywhere. Adam Serwer on General Lee. Black Charlottesville.

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Several people have died in election-linked violence in Kenya. Nigeria's president is still ailing. Over 400 people died during a horrifying mudslide in Sierra Leone. Zimbabwe's first lady turned herself in after allegedly assaulting a woman. A gunman in Burkina Faso killed 18 people in a cafe. Zambia's opposition leader was arrested

Americas. Venezuela vs. the U.S. A fight over land is heating up in Brazil. A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in the deaths of three people, one of whom was killed when a white nationalist hit her with his car (another 19 people were simultaneously injured.) Trump took a long time to condemn the events, then promptly walked his condemnation back. Steve Bannon is out.

Asia. Several members of the White Helmets were killed in Syria. India and Pakistan marked 70 years of independence. A suicide bombing in Pakistan killed at least 15 people in Quetta. Clashes along the India-China border are intensifying. More than 32 people were killed in a day as the Philippines continues its violent crackdown on drugs and crime. "Umbrella" activists in Hong Kong are being jailed. A 10-year-old raped in India and denied an abortion gave birth to her child.

Europe. A freelance journalist may have been murdered in Denmark. Polish activists blocked a far-right demonstration. Thirteen people were killed and over 100 injured when a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona, Spain; it has been confirmed as an extremist attack. A second attack was confirmed hours later. Another setback for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. Neo-Nazis marched in Berlin.


 

Spoken & Written

“Jews will not replace us!" -- Neo-Nazi white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 


Me

Journalism: Around the world, condemnation over what happened in Charlottesville has been swift. Before Charlottesville, the Trump administration eliminated funding for an organization working to de-radicalize white nationalists. Amid white nationalist rallies and warring over Confederate monuments, a battle is waging. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son argued leftists are worse than neo-Nazis. At least two politicians want to take down the monuments to white supremacy in the U.S. Capitol. Barcelona's horror. Texas' redistricting battle is just getting started.

Anything Goes:

It was A Week. I wrote about Charlottesville almost every day of it, and now it's the weekend and I'm worn out and down. Most of this week I've spent thinking about trauma and hierarchies and who gets to be hurt and who is allowed to take up space and who is centered and how all of those things shift so much in communities and bubbles. I'm angry at a lot of people right now, alienated from a lot of people right now, and, for the time being, alone; PIC had to travel elsewhere for the weekend. That's meant a lot of time to think and stew (a net positive or negative, I can't really say.) Now it's me and my thesis for the next two days, as well as me and my exhaustion. I have so many thoughts about things to write and no energy. On the bright side, I have found background music for this trying time: The National -- I Should Live In Salt. That's all I've got, really. 

Fire and fury

Blues Buzz

Kamila Shamsie wants to bring Pakistan to a global audience. Partition, 70 years on. The heavy conversation no one wants to have on policing content and who gets to write what. Unlearning the myth of American innocence. Chelsea Manning takes some time to focus on herself. As Seeso shuts down, one of the most inclusive shows on and off camera could be lost. DEFEND LEVAR BURTON. Invisible poems. Please stop calling food "ethnic." 

Istanbul, Turkey. © E.A. Crunden

Istanbul, Turkey. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Kenyans went to the polls this week, cuing unrest when the country's opposition leader cried fraud. The UN is warning of early genocide signs in CAR. Violence continues to escalate in DRC. Uganda is facing an uptick in HIV transmissions. Jacob Zuma survived yet another attempted ouster -- the South African leader has avoided efforts to remove him for years. In the Niger delta, protesters stormed a Shell crude flow station.

Americas. The Venezuelan government repelled an attack on a military base. Venezuelans are attempting to claim asylum in Mexico. U.S.-Cuba relations get weirder by the day. A mosque in Minnesota was bombed early Sunday morning last week. U.S. journalists are concerned over recent moves by the Justice Department. The U.S. heavily escalated tensions with North Korea. White supremacists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. 

Asia. Pakistan's former prime minister criticized the Supreme Court decision that ousted him. The U.S. is more deeply involved in Syria than most know. Israel wants to ban Al Jazeera. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's days may be numbered as a corruption probe builds. Young people in Gaza are unemployed and bored out of their minds. The Philippines could see drone strikes from the U.S. An earthquake in China left over 20 people dead and more than 200 injured. All the U.S.-North Korea drama you could ever want a very unhappy China. The Japanese are frantically buying bomb shelters. Tensions between Cambodia and Laos are growing.

Europe. Russia wants to deport a gay reporter to Uzbekistan. In Poland, a fight over a medieval forest now involves the EU. Britain is under fire for giving arms to the Venezuelan government. Spain is seeing triple the number of refugees as 2016.


Spoken and Written

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen...They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before." -- U.S. President Donald Trump


Me

Journalism: Trump still hasn't weighed in on the bombing of a Minnesota mosque. St. Louis is being forced by Missouri to decrease its minimum wage 23 percent -- and activists are fighting back. Chicago and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are clashing over sanctuary cities. The Trump administration can't seem to agree on North Korea. And here's everything you need to know about escalating U.S.-North Korea tensions + with the update that if North Korea strikes first, it will do so without China's backing. SB4 suffered its first big setback in Texas. 

Anything Goes:

When I began grad school, it was with the hopes of furthering my ambitions in journalism. Years spent writing for free were getting me nowhere, and I wanted something tangible, some piece of paper indicating that, yes, I am qualified to do this thing. Almost two years later, the scene has shifted; here I am, a journalist, and my days are the news cycle and quick hits, churning things out and pressing publish as swiftly as possible. That's fine and it's what I wanted, but it does mean school has taken on a different meaning for me. If my job isn't creative writing, then it makes sense that my education might as well be. 

But when it comes to school, time will be up soon. The draft for my thesis is due in around three weeks. There will be a few months of editing and re-writing and anxiety and days spent in coffee shops (a cycle I thought I'd escaped but no, no that never ends, it seems) but then it will be over, finished, and there I'll be, done almost as soon as I started.

I've hated most of grad school, but I've appreciated the liberties it's given me. I wanted to write about home and freedom and anger, and I've been able to do that, even if not to the audience I might have preferred. How will I keep doing that afterwards, when this is done and there is just me and the news cycle and the ebb and flow of the day-to-day? I think about this a lot, more and more as the clock winds down. There are journalists and there are other types of writers, but there aren't many journalists multitasking the way I'd like to, or even making their newsletters the strange cluster that I've made mine. My online presence in general is this way; a friend told me earlier this week that it was a strange hodgepodge of things, just like me, and she was right. There is no rhyme or reason there, no sense of order. I lose followers as quickly as I gain them. I can only imagine the confusion -- when you come for one thing, you do not expect to see so many other, unasked-for offerings. 

Where I am going with this is: how to be everything at once?, and, is that even a possibility?

Global burning

Blues Buzz

The hijacking of the Brillante Virtuoso. Patagonia's Trump resistance. Mikhail Lesin's super ridic death and maybe murder. Those who work and those who don't. The dangerous myth of a singular, unified white South. Charlize Theron is not here to make friends. The podcast boom is forcing podcasts to become more diverse. RIP the wonderful Sam Shepard. Related: My buddy. Human editinggggg. The real legacy of Crazy Horse. Finding solace in the words of furious women. Meat is destroying everything. Alberta's oil workers are in a mental health crisis. Putin isn't a bond villainI Long to Hold the Poetry Editor’s Penis in My Hand. On the Palestinian Occupation. Queering the rural. In the South, climate change is a workplace hazard. BEES. How Ramzan Kadyrov uses homophobia to stay in power.

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. A Kenyan election official was found dead ahead of the country's vote. More than 40 men have been arrested in Nigeria for homosexual behavior. Tanzania has a mob problem. Chinese development in Africa continues to vamp up, with Gambia now opening up discussions after the country severed ties with Taiwan. Paul Kegame won a third term in Rwanda.

Americas. Refugees fleeing the U.S. and heading to Canada are overwhelming the country. Civil war might be over for Colombia, but here comes deforestation. Brazil's president survived an attempted ouster. Venezuela's tragedy through the eyes of an outgoing reporter. Related: the country targeted opposition activists following a controversial vote. Trump fired his chief of staff last Friday and his new communications director on Monday. The DOJ wants to go after affirmative action. Mueller has impaneled a grand jury, the latest big update in the Trump-Russia investigation. Trump's truly amazing phone calls (read: horrifying) with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, respectively. 

Asia & Australia. The Iraqi embassy in Kabul was stormed following a car bombing outside. Australia says it foiled a terror plot. Over half of all Australian university students have been sexually harassed. Pakistan has a new (temporary) prime minister. Basically, North Korea is freaking everyone out. China's border dispute with India is just heating up. Israel and Jordan are experiencing increasingly poor relations. The Iran Deal could be in jeopardy, due in large part to the U.S. president. 

Europe. Ireland's parliament laid out a plan for peaceful reunification between Ireland and Northern Ireland. U.S. arms could be sent to Ukraine as relations with Russia continue to worsen. Poland may demand WWII reparations from Germany. Britain seems so unprepared for Brexit that EU officials worry it's a trick. 


 

Written & Spoken

“I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.” -- U.S. President Donald Trump to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. (Trump did not win New Hampshire in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.) 


Me

Journalism: Spotlight on this feature I spent several months crafting with a co-worker, honing in on the ramifications terrible H-1B visa policies (and the Trump administration's ignorance of the entire process) will have not just for the many talented and hard-working people affected but also the U.S. economy and national innovation. 

In other news: Russia responded to sanctions from the U.S. with a mass expulsion of diplomats. Trump's transgender military ban isn't going over very well with Americans (or with Texas oil executives.) Venezuela's democracy has deteriorated even further. Climate change is being cited as a leading national security threat around the world. The NAACP slapped Missouri with a travel advisory. Military figures are taking over the Trump administration. Activists rallied in Texas for transgender and immigrant rights. 

Anything goes:

My thesis is looming and it occurs to me that I hate everything I've written thus far in grad school. A few months off haven't improved that relationship, but I only have a matter of weeks before a draft needs to be finished. Obvious solution: new pieces. But I've always found it impossible to write creatively without either an immediate deadline (think 24 hours, not three weeks) or a pressing topic.

I do have a few pressing topics, actually. Spurred by recent life events I furious poured out 2,643 words on families. How they are not sacred, how they commit acts of violence, how they are forgiven nonetheless. But how to put that out into the world? Not my family, someone else's will be the response. No, your family too. But how to tell people that? If your mother called you fat, that was violence. If your father said your dreams weren't enough, that was violence. Violence can be physical acts, unthinkable words, but it can also be in the day to day, the creeping criticisms. My mother slapped me across the face and beat my ass with a belt back in the day and that was violence, but it was also violent when she told me to suck my stomach in, and that I would thank her one day. (I was six.) Every time she needed to be right (leaving me in the wrong by default), that was violence. Every time she took out her moods on me, that was violence. It's taken me years and states and space to see that. Around me, friends are hurt constantly by their families. But one word observing that and they turn away (the thought being that someone who does not routinely call their parents has no way of understanding; but that is false, far falser than they know, though of course they'll never know. This is the way of things.)

Most of the people in my life will never recognize the violence in their own lives, or how the people they love have hurt them, and how unacceptable that hurt is. But I can't write that, because that is not something people want to read.

You know what people also don't want to read? A long rambling piece about how the planet is warming, and eating meat and tossing plastic and creating waste and failing to reduce or conserve are all tendencies that are furthering that warming and burning and ending along. People don't want to know they can fix things. That's a lot of responsibility. No one likes responsibility. 

Survivor: White House edition

You may have missed last week's newsletter -- if so, it is here.

Blues Buzz

The Big Sick, South Asian identity, and marriage: a rebuttal. Funding the racist right. Mothers who leave their children. Jenny Zhang, sour girl. Climate change means more ships in the Arctic which could be very very bad. The radical potential of queer road trip novels. Female athletes get concussions but we don't know much about that because of course doctors study male athletes. I don't want to watch slavery fan fiction. The teenage whaler's tale. Sperm counts in Westerners are dowwnnnn. Finland is just a bananas place. Man Booker longlist. Sadiq Khan takes on Brexit and extremismPoems. A shameful and cruel ban on people like me. Genrequeer and genderqueer in Alabama. Abstinence-only sex education, assault, and queer kids.

14th St, Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

14th St, Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe (Abbreviated)

Africa. Sexual harassment claims hit Kenya's biggest tech startup. A South African child with HIV appears to have gone into remission following treatment. Christian militias renewed their attacks in CAR. Al-Shabab is now making fun of Trump. Angola deported 300 Congolese undocumented immigrants.  

Americas. Venezuela banned protests ahead of a controversial vote set to determine the country's future. Nine people were found dead in a hot truck in San Antonio, Texas. Native tribes want an increased role in choosing attorneys under Trump. It was a truly horrifying week for queer people in the U.S.: Trump banned transgender military service members in an abrupt tweetstorm, and the Department of Justice indicated LGBTQ workers were not protected by Title VII. Health care repeal efforts failed AGAIN

Asia. Israel said it would remove metal detectors at Al Aqsa following outrage from Palestinians and condemnation from Jordan. India's Supreme Court heard a plea from a 10-year-old in need of an abortion. India v. China over apparently the world's most controversial dirt road. Pakistan's prime minister resigned, concluding a long Panama Papers saga. 

Europe. Poland's president vetoed a controversial laws targeting the judiciary (though another law did pass.) Russia would very much like you to visit Crimea. Italy faces water rationing crisis in Rome. Turkish journalists on trial defended free speech.


 

Written & Spoken

"I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock." -- Anthony Scaramucci, White House Communications Director


Me

Journalism: Tensions over the Temple Mount continued to escalate. Trump revealed classified information about an operation in Syria on his Twitter account; he also held a deeply bizarre press conference with the prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri. Rexit? Trump's decision to use transgender military members as pawns is already backfiring. Activists say Detroit is in the midst of an ongoing public health crisis. Progressives unveiled a sweeping new effort to shield undocumented immigrants on Friday. 

Anything Goes:

Like most weeks now, it was a long one. Infighting among the people in my life, professional ups and downs, and the general stress of trying to keep above water have proven a challenge. Hunched over my computer at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning dividing my time between CSPAN and Pakistani Twitter updates, it occurred to me that I've lost all sense of time. At one point not so long ago everything seemed to be moving too slowly -- school, work, the speed at which the future was approaching. Now it's mostly here, too much too soon too fast, worsening by the day. In a nod to the times, I pulled my phone out Friday afternoon, wiping off rain (a flash flood was ongoing), only to be sucked in by push notifications. This is how we do things these days.

In other news, I opened my email this week only to realize my thesis is due the second week of August. So, there is that now too. 

 

Born of frustration

Blues Buzz

Lamar Smith goes to the melting Arctic. Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the prestigious Fields award, a mathematics honor, passed away at age 40. The air we breatheA Wrinkle in Time trailer is here! The U.S. has an infrastructure problem -- it extends to Antarctica. What the actual fuck, R. Kelly. Magic can be normal. The lies we tell ourselves about gentrification. Chester Bennington helped us live. Please allow this absolutely horrifying visual to guide you into the weeks to come.

Looking out on a sliver of Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Looking out on a sliver of Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. It seems Kenya's deputy presidential race is going not well. The country is also dealing with a severe cholera outbreak. Somalia's internet blackout finally ceased. South Sudan's president declared a state of emergency in his home state. Security forces in Cameroon may have tortured Boko Haram suspects.

Americas. Uruguay weed. A mob of Chilean fishermen set Peruvian immigrants on fire, landing them in the hospital. Venezuelans want their president gone. An Australian woman was shot by police in Minnesota. The U.S. State Department is swiftly closing offices relating to war crimes, cybersecurity, and more. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in hot water with Trump. The latest GOP plan to repeal Obamacare failed again. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has brain cancer. O.J. Simpson is out on parole. A jail in Tennessee is offering reduced sentences to inmates who opt for vasectomies or birth control implants. Latest Trump-Russia scene.

Asia. After liberation, Mosul struggles. India's garment workers want better wages. A Chinese-American graduate student from Princeton was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for spying. The United Arab Emirates was accused of interfering with Qatar -- which the country denies. Saudi police arrested a woman for wearing a miniskirt. A top female politician in India quit after being told not to "monopolize" a discussion. China has blocked WhatsApp. Palestinians rioted over Israeli crackdowns in East Jerusalem. Syrians are getting surprising help from Israel, which has shown little love for refugees. North Korea is facing a food shortage.

Europe. Poles protested the right wing creep of the ruling Law & Justice party, which is further marginalizing the judiciary. Turkey marked a year from its controversial coup attempt and Turkey and Germany are in a fight. A flight from Spain was delayed when protesters rallied against the deportation of a Senegalese citizen. Brexit talks are not going amazingly


 

Written & Spoken

“The most innocent victim.” -- a lawyer representing the family of Justine Damond, describing the victim, a white Australian woman killed by police in Minnesota. (Other people killed by police in recent years include young Black children.)

 


Me

Journalism: The Trump administration wants international climate funding to go towards coal. Iraqi and Syrian civilians are dying in droves under Trump. Abortion rights are being rapidly eroded at the state level. The white cop who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards has been indicted for murder. Texas progressives are fighting back against an onslaught of horrifying legislation. Poles poured into the streets to defend their democracy, as the far-right Law and Justice (PiS) party works to crack down even further on the judiciary. 

Anything Goes:

A heat wave swept through the city this week, which I should add does not mean the temperature rose twenty degrees from cool to warm, it means the temperature rose from very hot to swelteringly hot. Like a scene out of my central Texas childhood, sidewalks became scorching scenes of carnage while humidity worked to drown passers-by. It's ongoing; as I type the temperature is mounting. We rarely use the air conditioning, but this week it's been on. I wore athletic pants masquerading as their firmer, more oppressive equivalents in an effort to remain comfortable, bringing back my perpetual fears that hips in athletic pants are incapable of being anything but femme. I also avoided the outdoors, which is unlike me, but again, outside was a hostile space, and I avoid hostile spaces whenever possible.

Arguably, everything seemed hostile this week. Maybe it's the heat, but issues seemed to bubble and fester. The blisters have ranged. Two painstaking years have been spent slowly moving towards a greener, sparser life, but the hurdles can seem insurmountable. Waste seemed to follow me throughout the week, with no amount of effort shifting its inevitability. My evangelism didn't go over well, either. On Thursday I attempted to convince coworkers of the problems posed by plastic straws, why they shouldn't be accepted so readily, discarded so easily. (All the plastic in the ocean, in landfills, taking up space and creating catastrophe -- how will we live, where will we live?) "I just hate it when ice cubes hit my teeth," someone said to me, defensive of her straw. (She sucked harder on it, as if to make it clear I had caused irreparable offense.) The same tone was used by a friend as she said to me later, "I just couldn't give up chicken." People, I've found, would rather be complicit in large-scale disaster than shift their habits.

It was also a week where I found myself half-crying on a street to PIC over anti-Semitism yet again -- how it comes from all sides and our friends still say nothing, how I can't say anything on the internet or verbally without pushback, how it creeps and creeps and creeps. How often does existence have to be devalued before those who claim to value it admit they are complicit in the problem? She patted me reassuringly, which is really all she could do, with rain coming down and our umbrella barely doing the bare minimum. Eventually we went to a place marketed as "farm to taco" where wholesome vegetarian food was sold in to-go containers. A mounting pile of waste to go with your earth-friendly meal.

Now, staring down Monday and more heat, I remember that really only a month stands between my body and thesis, that for all my exhaustion now there will be more later. Where did the time go this summer, what was I doing with it? Mostly bemoaning the heat, wishing more people worried about the environment and pushed back on anti-Semitism and racism and sexism and Islamophobia and classism and queerphobia and were kinder and gentler with each other. But that is all summers and all things all the time now, so really I'm not sure that this hasn't all just been business as usual. 

 

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.