On the go

Blues Buzz

Gay, Muslim, and a refugee in Trump's America. What does an American city sound like? The silence (but what about the women who have loved male survivors?). Hags in your face. Blue Alabama. In love and anxiety. How a male author would describe you. Armenian and Urdu, a comparison. G-d save Austin. Poetry by indigenous queer women. What did the South do to arroz con pollo? Memory of the Holocaust slips away and anti-Semitism roars. On seatbelts and sunsets (and two other new things from Nif.) The South's push to re-segregate its schools. All the novels now Pulitzer Prize-winning author Andrew Sean Greer almost wrote. The local carb diet.

  Mt. Rainier. © E.A. Crunden

Mt. Rainier. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Me

Last week: The border isn't happy with the National Guard deployment. Texas' wealth-based bail system sparks yet another lawsuit. Meet the new Poor People's Campaign. The DOJ will halt and audit a legal aid program for detained immigrants facing deportation. Mexican-American studies finally get the go-ahead in Texas -- with one major caveat.

This week: Kansas farmers pay the price for White House trade rhetoric. A Texas official thinks millennials and "especially students" are to blame for the state's suffering oil and gas industry workforce shortage. Even EPA staffers with deep industry ties aren't happy with the agency's "secret science" initiative. 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Chad is no longer included in the U.S. travel ban (and it's still unclear why it was ever included to begin with.) More than 250 people died when an Algerian plane crashed. The U.N. wants to eliminate yellow fever epidemics across the continent. Malawi's cholera death toll rises. Can the country rid itself of HIV?

Americas. Hope for queer people in Trinidad and Tobago. Twenty people died in Brazil during an attempted prison break. Cuba without a CastroA mea culpa from Pope Francis on sex abuse allegations in Chile. 

Asia. Syria's catastrophe is fueled by Russia, Israel, and Iran. The U.S. could get involved even more than it is??? Salman Khan is literally never going to have to actually pay for being a shmuck. A Palestinian journalist was shot and killed by Israeli snipers during protests in Gaza. The rape and murder of a young child exploded tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India. Banknote shortage in the Subcontinent. A U.S.-North Korea talk maybe coming to a world near you.

Europe. Hungary's right-wing leader was re-elected following an anti-Semitic campaign that seems set to continue. A sex abuse scandal roils the Nobel Prize committee. Romanian leaders brawl over Israeli embassy move.

 


Green Is A Thing

Texas makes billions from oil and gas -- at the expense of rural communities. The connection between Hurricane Harvey and jail. Endangered rivers. The Puerto Rican town trapped in toxic waste. Houston's soggy future. Red states are leading the wind energy charge.

 


Spoken & Written

“El Paso is safer than Washington D.C., than Chicago, than most of the country’s major cities. But they still insist that we need walls, that we need to militarize the border." -- Fernando Garcia, executive director for the Border Network for Human Rights


Recs

Climb a mountain. (A real one, like Mt. Rainier, where I was last week.) | Maybe don't travel ALL the time (as I feel I'm currently doing.)

A far cry from exodus

Blues Buzz

From Selma to Montgomery. Marriage equality is a matter of tribal sovereignty. An imaginary week without anxiety. The Sherpa women smashing glass ceilings. We need more women of color working in the outdoors. The myth of idealogical diversity. How birth control advocates found an ally in religion. Tinder and Bumble are at war. A betrayal. Unruly bodies. Can straight couples survive #MeToo? Wonderful Richmond.

  © E.A. Crunden

© E.A. Crunden

 

 


Me

The citizenship question is going to mess with Texas. In a blow to Trump administration, undocumented teenagers seeking abortions will be allowed the procedure writ large as an ACLU lawsuit proceeds. A massacre in Gaza left 15 dead and more than 700 people wounded. Trump spent two days attempting to link "caravans" to DACA -- incorrectly. China is hitting U.S. farmers where it hurts following White House trade antics. Puerto Rico will close 283 schools amid dwindling funds and population decline.

 


Around the Globe

Africa. RIP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Sierra Leone's post-election drama is just getting started. South Africa's Jacob Zuma has been charged with corruption. Ghana is going forward with upping U.S. military presence in the country.

Americas. Caravan drama. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is in a lot of trouble but going forward with his campaign. Trump is getting ready to send troops to the southern border and the Pentagon isn't pleased. The majority of Canadians think a trade war is coming. Facebook drama forever. Teachers are on strike across the South and Appalachia.

Asia. China responded to U.S. tariffs -- with its own tariffs. Anti-India protests are sweeping Kashmir. India briefly floated -- and then walked back -- efforts to ban "fake news." In Israel, a deal and then limbo for Africans seeking refuge. For Gazans, a week of tragedy and resolve. Where is Googoosha? Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been convicted on a number of charges including bribery and extortion. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Raza called elections.

Europe. Russia is cracking down on Telegram, a messaging app used in many parts of the world where censorship has stomped out alternatives. Efforts to reform various sectors aren't going over well in France. Hungary's increasingly authoritarian government is on the way to re-election

 


Green Is A Thing

U.S. conservatives are still way behind on climate consensus. Hurricane season 2018 will be above-average. And, hurricane season is eight weeks away and the U.S. still isn't ready. Clean air and helping the whales. Erasing the anthropocene. The dying coal ash spill workers of Tennessee. The next Flint?


Spoken & Written

“People think it’s a concept. People are like, ‘oh, we’ve already seen a music video about two girls,’ and it’s like, cool, I’ve seen a video about a girl and a guy literally my entire life, 4 bajillion times. So why is mine a concept and yours a reality?” -- Hayley Kiyoko

 


Recs

Giving something up for awhile (like, say, bread). | Reading instead of watching television or your screen.

Why is this night different from all other nights?

  How to feel less homesick. © E.A. Crunden

How to feel less homesick. © E.A. Crunden


Me

The March for Our Lives showed calls for gun control transcend blue and red. California became the first to sue the Trump administration over the Census 2020 citizenship question. The Senate's 22 women slammed 'inaction' on sexual harassment legislation. As Texas cracks down on immigrants, Latinx lawmakers and activists are working to unite the border. Milwaukee students of color say it's time for police reform in schools.

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Elections in South Africa are looking unlikely. Egypt's election went as expected with the official results expected Monday. Ghana opens to the U.S. military. The Sudanese ceasefire has been extended. Congo's president is deeply unpopular.

Americas. Graverobbing in Chile? Heterosexuals in Argentina truly doing the most! Venezuela's Measles outbreak is worrying its neighbors. An overcrowded prison in the country caught fire, killing nearly 70 people. Ecuador says no more internet for Julian Assange. The U.S. and U.K. just keep expelling Russian diplomats. Life is about to get even worse for anyone who wants a visa to the U.S.

Asia. India is now the world's third-largest producer of electricity. In the Holy Land, Jews and Arabs near population parity according to Israeli officials. Clashes between Gazans and Israeli military turned deadly in the lead-up to Passover. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un went to China. South Korea is, to many observers, Trump's first trade victory. Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan.

Europe. More than 60 people, many of them children, died in a Russian mall fire earlier this week. A poisoned former Russian spy and his daughter were said to have little chance of survival, though the daughter now appears to be improving in health. Everyone is expelling diplomats over the crisis. The murder of a Holocaust survivor in France has many worried.


Green Is A Thing

Life at an Alaskan salmon cannery. What gives, Patagonia? Winter in one map. Inside Antarctica, where changes will affect us all. Climate change comes for Louisiana. The White House favored Texas over Puerto Rico when it came to hurricane aid. The impermanence of permafrost.


Spoken & Written

“I am not afraid of him or of his immigrant-hating supporters. My family and I will answer the census. We will not answer the citizenship question. I will urge everyone who can hear my voice to not answer the citizenship question.” -- Jessica Azua of the Texas Organizing Project will not be answering the citizenship question

 


When nothing feels nice at all ever

Blues Buzz

A feminist history of the bicycle. Black and Midwestern. The Delta Chinese. Filipinx food finds its footing in the U.S. The uprising of women in red states is just beginning. Why we need queer books. The racial wealth gap. Fifteen years ago, America destroyed my country. The desert, divided. “We are made of the all the things we have consumed.Remembering Brazilian lesbian activist Marielle Franco. Photos to challenge your assumptions about race and coal country. Appalachia isn't Trump country. Celebrating Nowruz in America. Related: how the media fails AppalachiaQueering seder. What isn't mine isn't mine.

  Mexico City © E.A. Crunden

Mexico City © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Me

A fourth bombing shook Austin and a fifth closely followed (albeit closer to San Antonio.) The suspect later died in an explosion following a car chase. Six months after Maria, Puerto Ricans rallied at FEMA. Back and forth over tariffs is threatening the very regions Trump vowed to revitalize. Here's how the world reacted to John Bolton's appointment

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Around 14 people were killed in an explosion in Somalia on Thursday. Nigeria is facing a Lassa fever outbreak. An African free trade zone. Political violence is playing out across Sierra Leone. Zambia's leading party will see to impeach the country's president.

Americas. Another journalist was murdered in Mexico, this time in Veracruz. On sea access, it's Bolivia v. Chile. There's now a tuberculosis outbreak in Venezuela. Government-sponsored segregation in Houston. Bolton incoming.

Asia. Nearly 30 people died in a bombing targeting a Persian New Year's celebration. Crackdowns on drug dealers continue in the Philippines. China is warning the U.S. the country isn't afraid of a trade war -- or targeting U.S. farmers. (Relatedly, the U.S. snubbed Japan on tariff exemptions.) Eastern Ghouta is still in hell.

Europe. Anti-Semitism continues to factor heavily into Hungary's election. Indeed, another term for Putin. Drama over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the U.K. is sparking a crisis. Sarko's back. Mass protests in Poland as the government tightens abortion restrictions. ISIS claims another attack in France.

 



Spoken & Written

"Human scum." -- North Korea loves John Bolton! 

 


Recs

Spring cleaning. | Bake a cake -- lemon or carrot, maybe. 

 

In this house, we eat Tex-Mex

Blues Buzz

The people left behind by #MeToo. The movement comes for Sherman Alexie. Climbing needs more first ascents by women. International students aren't coming to the U.S. The West Virginia teachers' strike is a model for the leftHow to understand the strikeSome Eileen Myles. Danny Ortberg on the joys of transitioning and how white men are still garbage. Puerto Rican schools seek emotional healing for teachers and students. What happens after progressive revolution comes to a city like Durham? 47 passionate comments from straight people on an article saying there is no such thing as straight people. Thinking about Kanye's Katrina moment. RIP Stephen Hawking. What's wrong with the Nat Geo twin cover. Immigrant life in Florida. The common heart. What sucks about Gigi and Zayn's breakup. The 75-year Christian interracial farm experiment. Too large a thing to contain. The wonderful history and importance of Tex-Mex, the true food of the Lord. The ties that bind the Global South.

  Mexico City. © E.A. Crunden

Mexico City. © E.A. Crunden

 

 

 


Me

Kentucky is moving closer to banning most abortions after 11 weeks. Then there's Iowa, which could ban abortions before most people even know they're pregnant. SB4 goes into effect in Texas but the fight goes on for activists. For Black students, the walkouts meant something far more profound. U.S. cuts to UNRWA are reportedly far worse than originally thought. 

Last week: Progressive momentum is alive in Texas -- but that's thanks to decades of work. Ah yes, that time Bibi compared Trump to a Persian king. Retaliatory E.U. tariffs would hit the Rust Belt, Midwest, Appalachia. Texas has never sent a Latinx woman to Congress -- that's about to change.

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Sierra Leone elected a new president. U.S. fire fights in Niger: more widespread than the government originally indicated. Chad off the U.S. travel ban?  White farmers in South Africa have an Australia visa advantage? The teflon president is teflon no more.

Americas. Yellow fever spreads in Brazil. The murder of a Rio activist and councilwoman has enflamed tensions across the city. A Salvadoran woman convicted of murder (for an abortion) was released. Argentina eyes an abortion referendum. Guatemala joins the U.S. in moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The Canadian dollar is slipping thanks to NAFTA talks. The saga of Trump, Trudeau, and making things up. After nine days, teachers in West Virginia won. But West Virginia also wants to ban abortionRexit. McMaxit?

Asia & Australia. The U.S. is beefing up its presence in Vietnam. North Korea nuclear talks? Following rape accusations, a South Korean official resigned. A powerful earthquake hit Papua New Guinea. Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency following attacks on Muslims. More than half the passengers aboard a flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu died in a crash landing. Japan's prime minister is embroiled in scandal. Singapore is the most expensive city in the world. Israel halted the mass-deportation of West Africans from the country. The U.S. could restrict visas for Chinese students.

Europe. Italy's elections aren't a good sign for basically anyone. Another former Russian spy has fallen ill after contact with a mysterious substance -- leading to a sprawling diplomatic disaster. Slovenia's prime minister resigned. So did Slovakia's.

 


Green Is A Thing

FEMA's outdated flood maps. The Horn of Africa is drying up. Most of America's fruit is imported. How the EPA hurt Alabama. What 2.4 million gallons of oil is doing to Charleston. Appalachia is the least climate-resilient region in the U.S. Students in coal country want renewable energy. Hail the octopus.

 


Spoken & Written

"Yeah, that’s been anxiety-inducing, especially because: Men as a group? Not fantastic. White men as a group? I don’t have a sense that I will be met with safety and joy on the other side." -- Daniel Mallory Ortberg on his transition

 


Recs

A vacation (I just took one, to beautiful Mexico. No regrets.) | Enfrijoladas

1. Stop making boxes. 2. Stop putting people in them.

  Happy Texas day. © E.A. Crunden

Happy Texas day. © E.A. Crunden


Me

A feud between Texas anti-abortion organizations is finally boiling over. Georgia is moving closer to barring adoption for queer couples. Anti-Semitism is alive and roaring in the U.S. More than 40 areas and countries lack a U.S. ambassador. The same Trump administration official who wanted to "reverse" a teenager's abortion also believes undocumented immigrants do not have the right to abortion, period. NAFTA talks were already going poorly -- then the White House endorsed "trade wars."

 


Around the Globe

Africa. The last families living in Tunisia's underground homes. Multiple armed attacks targeted French buildings, including the country's embassy, in Burkina Faso on Friday. Militancy remains an ongoing fact of life in northern Nigeria.

Americas. Mexican police in Veracruz are accused of using death squads. Venezuelans are fleeing to Colombia and the Western Hemisphere's refugee crisis begins. The country also delayed its presidential election. NAFTA talks aren't going well thanks to U.S. demands and Canada isn't optimistic. Related: trade wars; U.S.-Mexico relations are doing poorly in general.

Asia. India to Justin Trudeau: Sigh. Xi Jinping moves closer to becoming China's leader for life. A quake in Papua New Guinea killed at least 20 people. Taiwan is going through a toilet paper crisis. North Korea's dark ties to Syria's war. Taliban recognition, coming to an Afghanistan near you.

Europe. Anti-circumcision measures in Iceland are going over poorly with Jews and Muslims. Thousands rallied in Moscow on the anniversary of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov's death. A Slovak journalist was killed, likely for his work -- along with his partner. Hungary's ruling party faced an unexpected local election setback. Sexual harassment accusations come for the U.K.'s Labour party. Northern Ireland is a problem for Brexit. It is never too late in the 21st century for Marine Le Pen news.

 


Green Is A Thing

Climate change and overfishing are harming Native communities. Hurricanes left behind a mountain of trash in the Virgin Islands -- with nowhere to put it. King penguins are endangered by global warming. Rome eyes banning diesel cars. What follows Standing RockBeat of the East. South Africa's Western Cape is set to take heavy agriculture hits. A plastic-free aisle comes to the Netherlands. Cape Town's wealthy are drilling wells as water runs out, while the poor struggle for food. Meanwhile, the water crisis could mean penalties for officials. "My elementary school is a toxic waste site and other hometown environmental nightmares." The West Virginia teachers' strike comes for coal, gas. Poland is banking on electric cars

 


Spoken & Written

“Our county said we would not be returning to the classroom. We did not want to go back with a promise. We wanted it signed, sealed and delivered. We wanted it to be fulfilled, not just empty words." -- Katie Endicott, a West Virginia high school English teacher


Recommended

Kings of Leon - The Face | Savory hamantaschen | A haircut, which I just got. And, like magic, better I felt. 

 

Life is a panic attack

Blues Buzz

What rescinding DACA would do to Texas. Whitewashing "Trump country." Amazon could speed up Atlanta's displacement problemsAndrogyny isn't just for thin people. How do you launch a generation of Native American writers? Gumbo in the age of social media. Teenage bisexual Latinx activist Emma González is coming for the U.S. government. Reparations for Black and indigenous farmers.

  Brooklyn, NYC. © E.A. Crunden

Brooklyn, NYC. © E.A. Crunden


Me

Global human rights are under siege in the age of Trump -- but activists are fighting back. Scott Pruitt's having a time. Poland's foreign minister said "Poles of Jewish ethnicity" share blame for the Holocaust. UNICEF issued a blank "statement" amid an ongoing massacre in Syria. Trump's war on NAFTA is hurting U.S. farmers. The White House has decided there is no need for a new AUMF. And, it's official: the U.S. is not a "nation of immigrants."


Around the Globe

Africa. Nigeria on ice. Another group of Nigerian girls have been seemingly kidnapped by Boko Haram. Five people were killed during a raid on a South Africa police station. A U.N. report says more than 40 South Sudanese officials are responsible for war crimes.

Americas. Oxfam has apologized to Haiti over sex abuse claims. The youth shall lead us and gun control is coming to a head in the U.S. maybe finally, with Trump attempting to mitigate fallout. Pennsylvania's gerrymandering saga continues. Billy Graham is dead. West Virginia teachers go to war for their rights.

Asia & Australia. An Iranian plane crashed, killing all 65 people onboard. Relations between Iran and Israel are as relaxed and friendly as usual. The U.S. wants Pakistan on its Global Terror List. Syria saw one of the bloodiest stretches in its seven year civil war and Eastern Ghouta has been destroyed. Australia's scandal-plagued deputy prime minister is resigning his post.

Europe. Poland isn't into the E.U.'s rule of law plan. A suicide attacker targeted the U.S. embassy in Montenegro. Suicides in Northern Ireland have now surpassed the death toll of the Troubles. 

 


Green Is A Thing

Can you hack coral to save it? Puerto Rico's ongoing energy woes. The climate rulebook will likely be done this year, with or without the U.S. A study shows that people of color deal with more air pollution than white people in 46 states. The coal industry is celebrating a severe blow to West Virginia media. Yes, volcanic ash can bring down an airplane! The Southern revolt against offshore drilling. Severe weather drenched the Midwest and parts of the South this week. These women are the only reason some people in Mexico City have any water. A tsunami of trash. Canada is looking into the (likely terrible) impact of microplastics.

 


Written & Spoken

"I’ve said at events that “I don’t write for straight people. If they like it, that’s great, but I’m not writing for them.”" -- Carmen Maria Machado to Autostraddle


Recommended

Her Body and Other Parties -- Carmen Maria Machado | "The End" -- Daughter

Only place in the world where this happens regularly

Blues Buzz

Even in queer spaces, non-binary people are invisible. A brief history of forcing feminine people to shave. Rest in power, Asma Jahangir. Solnit on the #MeToo backlash. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Alabama road trip. Mildly unhappy, with moments of joy. The end of gender. Fear of butch identity is costing us so much. How to queer the map. Hardliners fear the written word. American maniac. A literary trip to the heart of Russia. DACA in Appalachia and the South. Opening a queer, feminist bookstore in Mississippi. 

  Brooklyn Museum. © E.A. Crunden

Brooklyn Museum. © E.A. Crunden


Me

Journalism: Austin's paid sick leave vote was the result of a groundswell of progressive activism -- now, the city is the first in the South with such a requirement. Five months later and Puerto Rico is experiencing the longest blackout in U.S. history. Thousands of Canadians are demanding #JusticeForColten. The leaked IPCC report draft isn't looking very good for Paris climate targets. Here are the stories and faces behind the tragedy in Florida. Teen survivors want lawmakers to push for gun control. Before Adam Rippon, there was Rudy Galindo.


Around the Globe

Africa. South Africa's Jacob Zuma finally resigned from office; Cyril Ramaphosa will replace him. Zimbabwe's opposition leader died following a battle with cancer. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has stepped down

Americas. Venezuela v. Colombia. In Canada, Native activists want justice. Trump's proposed budget is really something. Refugees resettlement offices close en masse. Seventeen people, many of them teenagers, were killed in the latest mass shooting in the U.S

Asia & Australia. In the Maldives, it's India v. China. Filipinx leader Rodrigo Duterte did indeed threaten to shoot people in the vagina. Monsoon season could spell disaster for Burma's Rohingya. Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu is facing corruption charges and Israelis want him to step down. Nepal's new prime minister is a communist open to China. Meanwhile, in Australia

Europe. Seventy-one people died in a plane crash near Moscow. Following a bill outlawing linking the Holocaust to Poland, the country is eyeing a bill limiting kosher slaughter. Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian president, has been deported from Ukraine to Poland. Romania’s new Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă apologized for calling Romanian European Parliament members "autistic." Kosovo has been independent from Serbia for 10 years.

 


Green Is A Thing

Iceland is on track to spend more energy on bitcoin "mining" than on home power. The coal miners living with black lung. Rural America's drinking water crisis. The invisible oil spill threatening some of Asia's richest fisheries. Above-average rainfall in the Ivory Coast is helping cocoa. The diversity of talent in Appalachia. The EPA Scott Pruitt first class drama. Giving mountains back their indigenous names. Eastern Kentucky's struggle with water, in context.

 


Spoken & Written

"I want to go over to the judges and say, ‘Can I just have a Xanax? And a quick drink? I’ll be fine.'" -- Olympic ice skater Adam Rippon

 

Normal but what if military parades

  Projects © E.A. Crunden

Projects © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Troops arrived at the Sudan-Eritrea border over a dam dispute. The ANC is struggling to decide whether long-term President Jacob Zuma should go. Kenya's crackdown on the opposition and the press continues. Gambia is back in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Americas. Bermuda became the first country in the world to legalize and then repeal same-sex marriage. An Amtrak train crashed in South Carolina, killing two people and injuring over a hundred. Down like the Dow Jones. Military parade. The Rob Porter situation. Tiny shutdown.

Asia. China wants to make 90 percent of its polluted farmland safe for farming within two years. Definitely do not mistakenly label Taiwan as China. Taiwan was hit by a devastating earthquake. All hell is breaking out in the Maldives, where two Supreme Court justices and a former president were arrested. Syria's humanitarian crisis continues to spiral. The ICC is eyeing the Philippines.

Europe. Greeks mass-rallied to protest the name Macedonia. No one knows what to do in Brexit, as usual. Germany breaks its political deadlock. Turkey says it has met E.U. criteria for visa-free travel. Like everyone else, the original Brits were brown. Russians think Americans rigged their elections more than they think the opposite. Northern Ireland will likely stay in the single market post-Brexit.

 


Green Is A Thing

Climate change and choosing not to have childrenD-Day for Bears Ears. The "hater" judge, the border wall, and the environment. Flint's problem goes beyond lead poisoning. The Arctic is full of toxic mercury and guess what happens when the permafrost melts? Coal job losses are still hurting Appalachia, but the industry is likely to bottom out soon. The fate of the red wolf. FEMA contract fails. Scott Pruitt thinks climate change is going to help humans. If the world builds every planned coal plant, we are screwed. The U.S. solar industry lost 10,000 jobs in 2017. Malawi's drought is sparking mob violence. Lavender farms in Appalachia. As U.S. ski trails vanish, one Olympian is fighting climate change.

 


Spoken & Written

"I tell God all the time, 'These sons of bitches make me so mad. I want to cuss 'em out, ooh Jesus.'" -- Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), Texas' longest-serving female and Black lawmaker, joins the #MeToo discussion.

 


Me

Journalism: With elections looming, white supremacy and nationalism roar again in Italy. Hondurans and Nicaraguans could face the same confusion over application deadlines that hurt DACA recipients. A Senate budget deal came at the expense of DACA and Pelosi went to war. Officials have said the E.U. will make no new trade deals with countries that fail to ratify the Paris climate agreement. The global gag rule is already set to hurt Planned Parenthood badly. DHS is weighing new rules penalizing immigrants who apply for permanent residency if they choose to take advantage of the public services paid for by federal funds. Here are your queer female athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Anything goes:

After a long week I'm off for an un-relaxing weekend -- racing to Brooklyn for a close friend's birthday. It's no secret I don't love New York and I could write pages about why, more pages probably even than have been written by all those who love New York, consider it the best of cities, will never leave, etc. But I go for friends (+ bagels) and so in Brooklyn I'll be. 

The extent to which I'm dragging my feet says more about the person I've turned into than anything else. Rewind even a few years ago and I was different -- eager to meet people and antsy, itching to move and be moved. I'm still antsy -- stationary panic is a true thing, I am the proof. But I've lost the need to physically collide with people at all times, the spurt of extraversion I slammed into as I entered college gracelessly, the state I embraced upon exiting the introversion of 18 years in a large state full of things hostile and unreceptive to me. That means my days spent in a newsroom are more than enough for me when it comes to socializing; I like my weekends solitary and quiet, something that happens less often than I'd like.

It's hard to explain that to people. For all the lauding (and fetishizing) of introversion that abounds, the world is built for extroverts. I'm neither -- if I didn't live with someone, I would have more energy for people, enough to last for more than a few solid hours. I don't gain energy from others but I don't hate company. Ambiversion isn't something anyone really discusses but I wish they did -- the need for a balance, for enough of all things, just enough. 

But there will be no balance, least of all from me. When I'm in a state it's hard to break it. I oversocialized for six years in no small part because I had started and could not stop. Now that I've had more time to be alone I'm back there, in the space that made me, that world of silence that rears lonely and isolated children the world over. It's comfortable there and I hate leaving. I spent two years bailing on plans and ignoring text messages thanks to the eternal excuse of "grad school" and now it is over and here they are, the demands and the asks and the requests for time.

That means instead of sitting quietly in a coffee shop in D.C. or reading a book or going for a run (which I do now -- some personal news), I'll be in a busy, overwhelming city, trying to stick to the part I know -- Brooklyn is, to me, separate somehow from New York itself -- and trying to stay awake and engaged, sweet not salty, open not closed. That's not really what I wanted but showing the people in my life I care is something I said I would do this year and so I am. So come this afternoon, Brooklyn-bound I'll be. 

Shaky ground

Blues Buzz

These are the faces of dreamers. The lost giant of American literature. The original girl from the North Country. Let these Afghan skiers inspire you. The immigrant astronaut who could get the U.S. to Mars. Bearing witness, from the Mississippi Delta to Krakow. I, your newsletter curator, relate deeply to this story from Alexander Chee on the complications of inheritance and how it destroys families. The state of Pakistani cinema. Traveling while Black. Big trouble in little Cambodia (Texas). How do we explain this national tragedy (Trump)? A novel of the AIDS crisis. A vegan in diaspora. 1-866-MRTR. The South without connection. Lesbian foster parents in the Bible Belt. The long history of mocking South Asian accents.

  Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Ethiopia will release more than 2,000 political prisoners amid protests. Egypt's opposition leaders are calling for an election boycott. No more foreign travel for Namibian officials, apparently. Nearly 1,000 gold miners were rescued after being trapped in a mine in South Africa.

Americas. Canadian politics and #MeToo. Canadians vote for a gender-neutral national anthem. Brazilians are suffering from record homelessness. Pope Francis has dispatched a sexual abuse investigator to Chile. Trump's State of the Union speech rankled a number of groups. I have not linked to The Memo but yes, that happened.

Asia. Yet another horrifying week for Kabul. The Taliban remain active in 70% of Afghanistan. Separatists in Yemen have captured most of Aden. India's ambitious new health plans. Thailand apparently has a penis whitening fad? Scores of Pakistanis attempting to flee the country appear to have drowned near Africa, off the coast of Libya.

Europe. Russians marched in mass-support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Finland's president has been re-elected in a landslide vote. Poland's efforts to erase national accountability in the Holocaust has sparked a spat with Israel. The real impact of cutting immigration to Britain isn't pretty.

 


Green Is A Thing

What gets to be called milk? Kentucky's "worst" water system could be weeks from collapsing. POTUS has some interesting thoughts about climate change, as I'm sure will shock no one. Houston's flood problems. Surprising (good) EPA news. Salting against ice can cause problems for water species -- but there are other solutions. Australia's shrinking environmental protections. Climate change emojis for your nightmares. Working from home is good for the environment. Thousands in South Texas live without water, power, or basic roads. Straws -- they're bad (but this solution is extreme.) Exxon will triple production in the Permian basin. The White House wants 72% cuts to energy research. Sexual harassment is rampant in the outdoor industry. And that industry isn't very inclusive. Plastic junk is a vector for disease. Sinking islands = floating nations? JELLYFISH

 


Spoken & Written

"Straight people really think we watch movies with them in it on purpose. Amazing. The degree of self-deception simply takes my breath away." -- Brandon Taylor

 


Me

Journalism: Trump's rhetoric is having a devastating impact on South Asian and Muslim communities. NAFTA talks could stretch into 2019. The Pennsylvania shooting is the latest example of gun violence mingling with toxic masculinity. FEMA has ended food and water aid to Puerto Rico. Latinx leaders weren't happy with Trump's SOTU. Climate change is a threat to half of all U.S. military sites worldwide. Progressive activism is alive and well in Appalachia. Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers want the Supreme Court to throw out a January 22 gerrymandering ruling. Here's what's up with Israel and Poland.

Anything goes:

Winter is a season I respect and keep peace with, which I know is a wildly unpopular opinion. (Similarly, I hate summer -- another wildly unpopular opinion.) It isn't my favorite -- thank you, fall -- but I do like cold weather and, more truthfully, I like the honesty of winter. With absolutely no scientific basis whatsoever I can tell you that I feel things come out more often in winter. They reveal themselves. Is that good? It certainly doesn't feel nice. But I appreciate it and I respect it and I'm usually ultimately glad for it.

That in mind, January dragged on (and yet flew by?) and February stands to do the same. Full weekends -- the stuff of my nightmares -- loom ahead of me as do plans and projects and things meant to be done or begun and done or begun soon. There's been no lull and I expect there won't be one for some time, which means these days I'm on the go, constantly. There's an upside to that -- like a lot of anxious people it's sometimes best for me to just race through motions. The downside, of course, is that I am tired and dragging and unsure, which isn't an enjoyable way to be.

But still, it's winter and I plan to make the most of it. Things I haven't been doing I plan to start doing; I want to check things off of lists. All of this is a very long way of saying I have added a climate section to this newsletter and that I hope it is the beginning of a shift in focus I've been thinking about for awhile. So, yeah, there's that. 

 

Dreams in limbo

Blues Buzz

The books that can get you through wrongful incarceration. FERRANTE. Where do the children of queer families fit in? Skydiving as a woman of color. Nova Scotia remains the best placeOrientalism at 40. "An electric time to be gay." Jia on identity and writing is so, so good. For Latinx people, it's still #OscarsSoWhite. America's climate change refugees. The Inuit woman who survived in the Arctic alone. RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, the best of us and mother to us all. The long history of othering Haiti and the Caribbean. 100 years of Virginia Woolf. Trump could gut NASA. Lifting up fellow writers. Aciman on the film birthed by his work. The solar markets hurt the most by Trump's tariff decision include Texas. The female price of male pleasure.

  Harpers Ferry © E.A. Crunden

Harpers Ferry © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Ongoing protests in DRC left dozens wounded. A former footballer will lead Liberia. Egypt's democracy is as non-existent as ever. A mine explosion killed 26 people in Mali.

Americas. Venezuela says the country will hold elections soon. The women's marches return. The U.S. government re-opened...for three weeks. A powerful earthquake shook Alaska. Another mass shooting. Larry Nassar is sentenced. The White House floated an immigration plan exchanging legalization for 1.8 million DACA recipients in exchange for a harsh crackdown on documented immigration. Indeed, POTUS did try to fire Mueller

Asia. A number of people were killed after militants stormed a hotel in Kabul; Saturday also brought deadly violence. Arab Israelis and Palestinians protested U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit. A volcano in Japan set off a deadly avalanche. Turkey launched a major offensive against Kurdish groups. A fire in South Korea left nearly 40 people dead and dozens injured. 

Europe. German coalition talks are finally looking better? The E.U. is trying to save the Iran Deal. France voted to give citizens "the right to make mistakes." The E.U. barred a "gay test" for asylum seekers. Nutella riots.

 


Spoken & Written

"Let's call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note." -- Greisa Martinez Rosas of United We Dream on Trump's immigration proposal

 


Me

Journalism: Cape Town is set to be the first major city in the world to run out of water. I wrote about the crisis here and made my video debut here discussing just what this means and what other cities can learn.

Geopolitical disaster coming to you in 2019. Israeli pilots are refusing to fly Black asylum seekers to their deaths. NAACP sues on behalf of 46,000 Haitians covered by TPS. Ah, the Senate, a study in priorities.

Anything goes:

What a week, what a week. I never know exactly what to do with this section of the newsletter, one I introduced exactly because I needed pressure to churn out a free-write every week and this little project has been a labor of love for four years now, so why not? Usually I find it's not what I want -- during grad school I would tiredly pull news together only to arrive at this part and then begrudgingly spit words onto the screen, only to send them off into the void, typos and grammar errors and angst and all, a dangerous way to live on the internet. Even now I'm not sure how to approach it, or if it really even works.

The real thing at hand is that there are different types of writing and different types of newsletters. Some of the most beautiful writing I read in a week comes from TinyLetters sent by writers I admire; some of the most informative comes from newsletters packed into my email. They aren't really merged, which makes sense. So often the measure of "good journalism" in an industry that has grown increasingly polarized is just how "impartial" you can be, how invisible in your work. That's a lie of course -- everyone has an opinion, a bias, a view, and the illusion of impartiality is a dangerous falsehood. But it's one reporters (and media more broadly) cherish.

Creative writing is wildly different and that can be a terrifying thing. Throughout grad school I shied away from really engaging with different types of writing too seriously, in no large part because I spent years trying to break into journalism and I worried the pursuit of writing in another form would be the end. I don't know of many journalists who actively publish fiction, poetry, or even personal essay, while remaining widely respected for that most sacred of illusions, impartiality. I took out an essay from my thesis of personal essays because it was, I worried, too personal, and I was afraid someone might read it. (The horror.)

But if all that is true, what to do with the free-write section of a newsletter about news? There's obviously a slant here without any additional information about me -- I routinely link to articles about the things that interest and move me and it's very clear that I work within progressive journalism, less so the "both sides" journalism I've worked hard to avoid. But there's a fundamental difference  between linking to my professional victories this week (shoving away anxiety and mounting terror and agreeing to do a video component for a piece on Cape Town's water crisis that I worked very hard on and feel strongly about) and discussing my personal ones. If I was to, for example, go in-depth into my struggles to find a therapist equipped to deal with a very specific set of needs and how I've finally opted to shell out an obscene amount of money to try texting therapy as a last resort, that would take away from the journalism for a lot of people. 

And yet I feel it's so important for people to know who journalists are (and to let us live and breathe and thrive.) Some of the best writing I've engaged with stem from the rare moments when, say, a Muslim woman covering the 2016 presidential campaign shared her feelings of horror and marginalization, or when a Black reporter fleshes out what it means to "impartially" cover police brutality. A number of environmental reporters have come forward online to admit they've sought mental health counseling after years of writing about climate change. Etc, etc. That's all so important and so is everything else. Why can't journalists write poetry or novels or play in rock bands or do whatever else? Why are people more generally expected to be smaller than they are?

Writing for work is easy in the sense that I'm a full-time reporter: I arrive in the newsroom at 8:00 a.m. and I begin pitching and writing and I am paid accordingly. Writing anything else is harder. Living with someone is, for me, a challenge when it comes to creativity -- it's hard to get the time and I'm incredibly private. I need to be alone to write and really, being alone can be a challenge with a busy life and a full house. Really there's often only the few minutes on Saturday morning that I spend hastily spitting this out and publishing before PIC wakes up and wants to engage, eat, get coffee, all the things people do together on weekends. But if this is the one space I have, what do I do with it and, really, what can I do with it, all boundaries considered?

 

Sickness and shutdown

  A cafe in Budapest, Hungary. © E.A. Crunden

A cafe in Budapest, Hungary. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Cape Town could be the first city in the world to run out of water. A jailed Ethiopian opposition leader has been freed. Zimabwe will hold elections this year. One of the country's opposition leaders died in a helicopter crash. Uganda may resume use of the death penalty. 

Americas. While in Chile, Pope Francis accused victims of sexual abuse of "slander." Sao Paulo in Brazil is at risk for yellow fever. DACA is going to the Supreme Court. China outranks the U.S. when it comes to world leadership. Shutdown

Asia & Islands. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accused Trump of destroying the Oslo accords. Palestine voted to rescind recognition of Israel until Israel recognizes Palestine. Tibet, Taiwan, and China. Suicide bombings in Baghdad killed dozens of people. The Koreas will march under the unity flag at the Olympics. Rohingya Muslim leaders issued their list of demands before returning to Burma. New Zealand's prime minister is living her best life.

Europe. Macron flips on immigration. A Kosovo Serb politician's murder has enflamed ethnic tensions in the region. Romania has its first female prime minister. Belgium will offset some of the funding UNRWA has lost from the U.S.


Spoken & Written

"Larry, you do realize now the women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing? The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices. And we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it's your turn to listen to me." -- Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman to Larry Nassar, her abuser


Me

Journalism: I spoke with advocates and experts about the diversity visa program, which isn't a real lottery, has merit-based components, and serves a crucial role in the U.S. immigration system. The White House keeps flip-flopping on DACA and the wall. Trump trampled a Republican plan to fund CHIP at the expense of DACA. The "ultimate deal" isn't going so well. Another day, another false nuclear missile alert. The Trump administration is slashing millions in aid to Palestinians. The peace games cometh.

Anything goes:

The past few years have wildly changed how I talk about and interact with bodies, as well as the things bodies produce. This is partially because both the person I live with and one of my best friends both actively discuss shit, to such an extent that I would be unable to function if I failed to adjust my own bandwidth for toilet conversations. But here's something they (and everyone else I know) doesn't talk about: vomit.

An important thing to know about me is that I barely function. For the past two years or so I've labeled a lot of my ongoing misery something that may or may not actually exist with the label "chronic nausea." I have a number of undiagnosed health problems unrelated to mental health (have plenty of those as well) and virtually all involve my body's inability to function the way I assume bodies should, allowing me some relative level of comfort in exchange for healthy eating practices and due diligence. Migraines, stomach pain, and a bad back are the most enduring symptoms, but the underlying one is unexpected, unstoppable nausea. 

My entire life has been an exercise in physical misery; everything hurts, all the time. When I was little I used to whine and cry about this and my mother would smack me over the head and tell me no one likes people who complain and feel sorry for themselves. These days everything still hurts but I'm quieter about it (when I can be.) A loft of the misery has been muted since I took a number of drastic steps to fix the problem -- I became a vegetarian, I started making food almost entirely from scratch, I avoid most eggs and dairy that I can't closely monitor and source, I exercise regularly, and I try to listen to my body. That usually gets me through about half of every month. The other half, well. 

I woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday and proceeded to throw up for nine hours. It was #GovernmentShutdown day, I had a large passion piece on diversity visas publishing, with both a happy hour and a friend's birthday party planned for after work. Instead I spent half the day in bed, shuddering and miserable, before finally keeping down a croissant and managing some caffeine to deliver me from a relentless headache. It's not the first time I've lost an important day to an eating mishap, or a body mishap, or just something about me in general failing to do its job. But it was still frustrating. I treasure my Fridays, the days when I work from home, multitasking writing with laundry, recycling, planning, and precious time alone. This one vanished into a toilet, along with the contents of my stomach, making everything somehow even worse than it would have been had I gotten sick on any other day.

In the midst of this -- the throwing up, the lost day, the misery -- I thought back to every time I've tried to discuss vomit with friends (or anyone.) It's such an enduring part of my life and I'd love to be able to talk more about it: what it feels like to be constantly ill, constantly in pain, constantly prepared to dry-heave for a few minutes in order to restore order to the body, something that happens a minimum of five days a week. Yet it remains taboo; "I'm eating here" is the usual response. I wish I could just be eating here too, is really the point. But like the realities of pregnancy and sex and shit and birth and death, though, vomit is off limits. 

 

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Light is surprising

Blues Buzz

The 100-year-old sick experiment keeping Appalachia sick and stuck on coal. Western rehab for white men. Australian birds of prey who light things on fire OKAY. Americans are filling India's hospitals. Why are some of our most important teachers paid the least? West Texas winter wonderland. Inside the deadly world of private trash collection. Letting felons vote is changing Virginia. Her name is Moira and she will not be Roiphed. A requiem for brutal Stalinist Albania. The health impact of off-shore drilling. The warming winter Olympics.

  Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden

Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. More than a dozen people were killed during an attack in Senegal. Tunisia's opposition is encouraging protests. DRC residents are facing brutal flooding. Clashes between Christians and Muslims killed around 70 people in Nigeria.

Americas. Canada worries that the U.S. will pull out of NAFTA. A number of islands (including the battered Puerto Rico) stared down tsunamis this week. Julian Assange, Ecuadorian citizen. Russia is accused of meddling in Mexico's upcoming elections. Thousands are protesting new elections in Honduras. The U.S. is preparing to deport 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants. Bannon out at Breitbart. Massive mudslides killed more than 15 people in California. Yes, North Carolina is gerrymandered. Big Medicaid changes could be coming. Shithole countries.

Asia & Australia. For a brief time, a suburb of Sydney was the hottest place in the world. Car bombs in Syria killed 23 people. Israel targeted a number of groups over their BDS stance. As Olympics talk heats up, keep an eye on the Koreas. Everything you need to know about Israel's Strippergate. A prominent Pakistani journalist escaped an assassination attempt in Islamabad. Palestinian refugees live in fear of Trump's threats. An oil tanker is on fire in the East China Sea. The Iran nuclear deal survives another day. Big time for Saudi women.

Europe. Coalition talks are still struggling along in Germany. More fun in Hungary. Poland's president massively reshuffled the country's cabinet. Farage gonna Farage.

 


Spoken & Written

"And here are the all-male [Best Director] nominees." -- Natalie Portman

 


Me

Journalism: Israel has blacklisted a group that won a Nobel Peace Prize for aiding refugees from Nazi Germany. The year just started and transgender women are dying. No, the White House did not endorse a clean DACA bill. Michelle Williams made 1% of Mark Wahlberg's salary to re-shoot All the Money in the World. A fourth undocumented immigrant is clashing with the Trump administration over her right to an abortion. The president wants immigration from countries like Norway as opposed to "shithole" countries. Trump's Islamophobia is backfiring.

Anything goes:

I couldn't tell you how I thought this year would go because I didn't (and don't) know. Two weeks in and I'm still baffled. At work I've ricocheted between ups and downs (big ups, big downs), at home we've yelled and laughed and slept easily and poorly, outside it was freezing cold and then suspiciously warm (and, as I write this, cold again.) What that means for the year to come, I've no idea.

In all of this, the most surprising thing is where I live. I've never lived in a truly beautiful space in my life, and I mean that in a number of ways, for a number of reasons. If this space will wind up being truly beautiful I can't tell you, but living here has been surreal. My time in D.C. has been spent in basements, with one exception: the $650/month squished room I lived in during my first year in this city, the one that was almost exactly the size of the small futon bed I bought a block over. It had one small window, through which no light shone through. All the rest, basements. They were all expensive, because D.C., and filled with various problems. I spent minimal time in each and fled often.

Now, I live in a two-level apartment on the second and third floors of a beautiful corner house. There are windows in almost every room, with a clear view of my beloved neighborhood, a safe, sweet spot in a city with staggering attractions and severe problems. The floors are hard and wood, the walls are white. I've never been a homebody in my life and I assume I never will be, but the extent to which I've felt at ease (occasionally) staying indoors here is remarkable. When I leave, there are even more wonders -- our small grocery store is a one minute walk, our neighborhood cafe the same distance. The gym once seemed impossibly far, but now it is down the hill and a short walk over. Our best friend in the city is a twelve minute walk away. The bus to work, once a painful fifteen minute crawl, is now just across the street. In winter, the house holds light until the last possible moment. In summer, I imagine, it will be endlessly bright with easy access outside to the farmers' markets and cafes I haunt.

All of this is to say I was a misanthrope before 2018 and I'll be one when 2019 rolls around. But it's nice to be comfortable where you sleep. I'm grateful for light, for white walls, and for small wonders like street noises and large windows. Two weeks into the year and these small things have been overwhelming, but blessed.

 

 

Clarity

Blues Buzz

Nova Scotia is a great place. Searching for the self-loathing woman writer. Traveling while Black in Japan. Roy Moore's Jewish attorney. Dressing for your sexual harassment hearing. Nicole Chung interviews Kristi Yamaguchi. On feminism and transition. Emma Green's equal parts controversial and acclaimed article on how America is transforming Islam. Three coming-of-age movies should leave you asking -- Who has the freedom to choose their path? Oxygen is disappearing from the world's oceans. A new DTF. Everything this administration hates. Raw water is the reason we should eat the rich. On the nuances of immigration and cultural identity.

  Old town, Warsaw, Poland. © E.A. Crunden

Old town, Warsaw, Poland. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. A gas fire cued the shutdown of Nigeria's electrical grid. A suicide attack on a Nigerian mosque also killed multiple people. Deadly floods are plaguing DRC. Coalition talks are faltering in Zimbabwe. Guinea says it thwarted a coup. The death toll from a train crash in South Africa has risen to 19

Americas. Five Mexican politicians were assassinated within a week. Canada is fucking cold and so is the U.S. Trump v. Bannon. Prepare for drilling everywhere. Puerto Rico is still without full access to water and electricity more than 100 days after Hurricane Maria hit.

Asia. Protests across Iran. Pakistan drew some unwanted attention from Trump on the first day of the year and then hit back. Israel's right-wing is dooming the two-state solution. North Korea agreed to talks and also threatened to bomb the U.S. India's Dalits are protesting en masse. China is cracking down on cars that don't meet its fuel standards.

Europe. Iceland is getting real about equal pay unlike basically everyone else. Latvians are fleeing the country for elsewhere in the EU. New year, same Brexit drama.

 


Spoken & Written

“Iguanas have a good chance of thawing out if you move them into the sun.” -- Maxine Bentzel, reporter at CBS12 News, amid frozen iguana drama in Florida.


Me

Journalism: Queer and trans Texans are running for office in droves. U.S. foreign policy is already off to a rocky start in 2018 and that's including U.S.-Pakistan relations. Trump said he wanted highly-skilled immigrants -- but now he's forcing them out

Anything goes:

It's the new year and I live in an apartment coated with boxes and lacking real furniture. We ate on the floor one night, wrapped in sweatshirts and scarves; the upstairs warms up but not the lower level and, if you are unaware, the Northeast is frigid right now. We have no wireless internet and I cannot find where I packed my gloves. But it is a beautiful place and I feel glad we are here.

Apart from that there is work and and a new year of things to feel terrible about and no time and rapidly-dwindling energy. I spent hours on a piece this week about H-1B visa holders only to watch it disappear into a sea of other articles. This usually happens with my passion projects and this usually happens to most people's passion projects. Journalists know: the things you care about usually aren't the things people click. It's tiring for me but it's far worse for all of the people impacted by terrible policies that no one cares to read about. 

Mostly my week was tiring because, like everyone else, I live in a world dominated by white cishet Western male perspectives. I'll never know what it's like to live in a world shaped by people like me, and, arguably, there are more people like me in power than there are people like any of many of my closest friends. 2018 didn't change that. Neither will 2019. Or 2020. Rough pill to swallow.

But returning to work did reunite me with several of my favorite people. Much like the beautiful snow that accompanied the cold front, their reappearance in my life has reminded me how valuable kindred spirits can be, and how vital. Running off to grab coffee with one of my favorite coworkers this week and wrapped head to toe in layers, I remembered all the things I love about winter, which is, I maintain, a season of clarity. 

 

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Deep cold

Programming note: This newsletter will be off for at least two weeks, as your curator will be in Eastern Europe. No one send me Twitter updates or the latest from the U.S. government, thank you for your kindness. 

Blues Buzz

Who will advocate for West Virginia? In praise of the deep cold. "Kwuaussie." The impossible heterosexuality of losing weight. The year in tension. Destroyer of monuments. While the U.S. has been stealing land since it first began occupying it centuries ago, I am nonetheless supportive when capitalism works for the greater good. Who cares about the great American novel? The Woman Warrior. No, your "flirty boss" who became your husband story is not an ok story. America values women less than men. Narwhals can't handle stress and are honestly very relatable. Norway's Sami minority are fighting the government over reindeer culling. Kazuo Ishiguro on diversity in writing. Butch, please. Goodbye, Eastern Europe. Black mothers keep dying after giving birth.

  Harper's Ferry © E.A. Crunden

Harper's Ferry © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's new government looks a lot like Zimbabwe's old government. A suicide bombing in Nigeria killed 15 people. Massive blackouts plagued Malawi. At least 15 UN peacekeepers died in DRC, the deadliest attack on the group in 25 years. 

Americas. Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is wanted for treason after helping to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing of a Jewish center more than two decades ago. A Brazilian environmentalist seeks the presidency. Tens of thousands of Hondurans protested and demanded an election recount. The U.S. withdraw from a U.N. global refugee effort. CVS is buying Aetna. Queer people can't have nice things.

Asia & Australia. An Egyptian lawmaker was sentenced to three years in prison after attempting to incite rape. The death toll from a cyclone continued to mount in southern India. Activists in Hong Kong marched against authoritarianism. Yemen's former president was reported dead amid deadly clashes in the war-weary country. U.S. embassy drama in Jerusalem. Lebanon's prime minister un-resigned. Australia voted to finally legalize same-sex marriage. 

Europe. Brexit talks continue to fail. This is largely because Northern Ireland is bringing Britain's chickens home to roost (and, it seems, there will be no hard border in Ireland.) Russian Olympics doping drama. The former king of Romania has died.

 


Spoken & Written

“Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.” -- Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)

 


Me

Journalism: The U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. global refugee compact. A Florida man threatened to "shoot up" a mosque prior to his arrest. Muslim-majority nations blasted the Trump administration's Jerusalem moves. Another shooting. Trump finally called for an end to the Saudi blockade in Yemen. Discredited sting videos have now prompted a DOJ investigation into Planned Parenthood. The ban is back.

Anything goes:

Hello, my thesis was accepted and this means tonight I have to read a small excerpt publicly. When I say I am a deeply anxious person with a terror of public speaking, no one seems to fully understand what that means and it's hard to explain to people who flippantly use words like "anxiety" without grasping what word entails for some of us. For me, cold sweats, heart palpitations, an inability to function or focus, and a general sense of enduring panic are all realities of daily life, made even worse in moments of actual heightened stress. This is the long way of saying: no, I'm not looking forward to this.

Once that painful task is over, however, I'm off. It's been so long since I traveled alone and even longer since I traveled alone internationally. When I was 20 or 21, I train-hopped around central Europe, veering off into other regions as it suited me. I flew into Turkey once at 2 am and navigated my way from Asian Istanbul to European Istanbul, a useless boy I'd met at the airport tagging along because the city confused him. Shortly after an abrupt breakup I flew into London, took an overnight bus to Scotland, spent a day meandering, and then took an overnight bus back. Once, I stayed up all night in front of a train station somewhere in France, sitting on top of a vent because it was warm, and taking turns keeping watch with a nice woman who had come from Morocco, lived outside, and was concerned about someone as young as me in a place where ominous groups of men were wandering around. 

That was forever ago and now I'm older and I work a lot and until but a few days ago I worked and went to school and that was most of my life. It's hard to travel when you have very little time and very few days off and very little money because one of your monthly paychecks is almost entirely for rent and the other has to be divided between loans, groceries, basic household needs, and, you know, the occasional moment of enjoyment. But now I'm going and I'll be gone for awhile. I'll be spending the entirety of Chanukah in a region where Jews once thrived and later died in staggering numbers. It will be very cold and I will be very much by myself. Off we go, I guess. 

 

A taxing time

Blues Buzz

Afghanistan's hipsters carve a space for themselves. I really need to see Call Me By Your Name. Self-driven disaster relief. Sherman Alexie on Thanksgiving. Her name is Pocahontas. Something great: a rural Mississippi county wants to start a recycling program. The Pakistani general who won't go away. 100 notable books (and 20 left off.) Favorite authors on favorite books. Walking while Black. The dangerous lure of writing for white readers. To give a name to it. Dear Rose. Justice for Ann Curry. Good news: Ferrante is back on her bullshit (in the best way.)

 

  Denver, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden

Denver, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. A massive extremist attack in Egypt's Sinai region killed hundreds; those targeted were Sufis and you should know what that means. Kenya's president vowed to overcome divisions despite a heated and contested election. The U.S. military denies that civilians were killed during a raid in Somalia.

Americas. Colombia is seeking to suspend mining in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Both candidates claimed victory in Honduras' presidential election. The children of Argentina's dirty war want their fathers punished. LGBTQI2S+ Canadians received an apology. Texas high school students are moving away from high school football. Men are bad. Russia-Trump drama keeps rolling. The Senate passed a truly terrible tax bill.

Asia. Anti-Ahmadi sentiment led to the downfall of Pakistan's law minister, another blow for democracy and minorities. Nine people were killed in an attack on Peshawar College. A volcano in Bali is getting set to erupt. Nepal is holding a historic election. On a visit to Burma, Pope Francis bowed to pressure and declined to use the word "Rohingya." I regret to inform y'all that North Korea is firing intercontinental ballistic missiles again. India is making moves in support of net neutrality.

Europe. France could criminalize cat-calling. Anti-Muslim sentiment continues to be an issue in majority Catholic Poland. Germany is headed for some drama. A war criminal committed suicide via poison in the Hague and it wasn't even close to the biggest story of the week -- the year, it was 2017, and the times they were these. 

 


Spoken & Written

“I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real.” -- Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) after a House Democratic sexual harassment meeting

 


Me:

Journalism: Military officials are pushing back on Trump's nuclear threats. A federal judge permanently blocked White House efforts to block sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds. The U.S. finally labeled anti-Rohingya atrocities ethnic cleansing. Diplomats are fleeing Delhi as the city's smog crisis worsens -- but that won't solve the problem. The State Department continues to dissolve. Sting videos have had severe consequences in Arkansas. Even far-right U.K. leaders blasted Trump's Islamophobic retweets. Senate Republicans essentially voted to defund public schools to help private ones. Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would be bad -- but so is designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital more generally. White evangelical Alabamans are standing by Roy Moore

Anything goes: Oh wow, it's here. The final draft of my thesis is turned in -- with decisions coming Monday, cool, fun time, no anxiety here -- and the year is barreling to its conclusion. By this time next week I'll theoretically be hours from my thesis reading and two days from a flight to Budapest. Then, I'll be back, just in time to pack up the two years I've spent buried deep in D.C.'s best-kept-secret neighborhood and heading to a more central part of that neighborhood. I'll be doing this mostly myself, since PIC will be traveling. 

That's stressful and I'm feeling the brunt of it. I spent a few wonderful days hiking mountains recently and since coming back I've felt off, like taking a break took me off track and now I can't get back into the swing of things. A tax bill with alarming implications, chaos in several countries near and dear to me, and a relentless news cycle haven't been enough to really shake me awake, something I've been feeling guilty about. But maybe a break -- a real, longer break -- is what I actually need. I'm excited to be abroad again (it's been ages) and happy for the chance to reflect and spend some time alone. Flip side, I remember how lonely (and depressing) traveling alone for a long period of time can be. So, I'm bracing myself.

Still, with this chaotic year winding to an end, I'm grateful for a number of things, not least of all the 30-minute pep talk my better half gave me this weekend over drinks and dinner, the close friends offering repeatedly to help with the move, and the brief but great time I got to spend with the beautiful, rambunctious little Texan I consider my niece. There will be a lot to reflect on when 2017 is done -- understatement of the century -- but my gratitude for the many truly A+ people in my life will definitely be a part of that. And so, belatedly, I am giving thanks. 

 

A reckoning

You may have missed last week's newsletter -- it is here. Programming note: your newsletter curator will be taking a break next week, returning to you the week following. Many thanks and easy times to you and yours. 

Blues Buzz

Oh Florida. Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced. Let the flood go on forever. "I really wish people would see fat people as humans" -- a profile of Roxane Gay. NEW PLANET. Try to sound more Jewish why don't you. National Book Award winners. Officials flooded one of Houston's wealthiest neighborhoods to save everyone else. Still waiting to dive into this piece on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Trumpers. On languages and colonization. I have loved Annie Proulx for so long and now you can too. What the closet stole from me.

  Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's military threatened to intervene in ongoing purges -- then orchestrated a coup. The head of Angola's state oil company was dismissed. Nigeria's army may quit training female soldiers. Bad news for elephants. 

Americas. Thousands protested a blanket abortion ban in Brazil. Venezuela's state electricity company is defaulting. Another mass shooting where the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence. FCC BAD SCENE. Men with progressive politics are also regressive. Massive oil spill in South Dakota

Asia & Australia. A massive earthquake killed hundreds of people along the Iran-Iraq border. Lebanon's prime minister says he is safe in Saudi Arabia. Another North Korean soldier defected to South Korea. Japan is set to simplify visa rules for India. A market airstrike killed more than 60 people in Syria. Australians voted via survey in favor of same-sex marriage (though the results are non-binding.) Thailand says it may hold elections next year. Cambodia's unraveling democracy. 

Europe. Brexit could damage UK food security and standards. Thousands of white nationalists marched in Poland last weekend, chanting Islamophobic and anti-Semitic slogans. Sexual assault charges are on the rise in France. Free press not doing A+ in Hungary.

 


Spoken & Written

“Pray for an Islamic Holocaust." -- One of the slogans written on signs at last weekend's march in Warsaw, Poland


Me

Journalism: Trump and Duterte bonded over their shared media feelings. Journalists in Poland also have reason to be concerned. Yemen's crisis is partly the fault of the U.S. All men. I spoke to Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, and other organizations about rising hate crimes -- all saw a link to Trump's rhetoric. Two churchgoers were injured by a gun in church during a discussion about guns in church. 

Anything goes:

What a week (I say this every week.) I ended yesterday on poor terms with a number of people after several weeks of sexual assault allegations finally overwhelmed me and I lost my shit. I've grown weary of people not minding their language or their reactions or prioritizing the individuals and communities that need it right now. If you aren't feeling personally triggered or traumatized right now, fine -- but always, ALWAYS assume someone in your proximity is. Center them. Keep your comments to yourself. Was Al Franken your favorite senator? Were you shocked your favorite comedian is in fact a vile human being? Are you amazed to learn millions of people live in constant terror of half the planet? Among other things, you should perhaps reconsider your heroes and your trust but regardless please know some of us are always afraid, never shocked, and weary of your surprise, your excuses, and your complicity. 

(What I mean to say is, you probably love a man -- who doesn't -- and you should probably be questioning him. Are you a man? You should probably be questioning yourself. If you aren't, you are the problem.)

(Are you a woman or an enby or another gender minority? Feel free to prioritize yourself. You owe a society that abuses and builds itself from your bones nothing.)

That's that and this is this: the final draft of my thesis is due a week from Monday, I'm going to (Eastern) Europe in less than a month and haven't planned anything, I'm moving on January 1 and I have no idea how. That's a lot at the end of a long year, but nothing this year came slowly or with consideration, so this is to be expected. My oven, however, is working, and for that I am very, very grateful. 

 

 

The margins bite back

Blues Buzz

Paradise Papers. Zadie Smith on New York City. Leonard Cohen forever. Queer short stories. Looking back on Bastard Out of Carolina. The male sensitivity reader. Louis C.K. is going down. The future of being outed after Kevin Spacey. Sikh motorcycle club. Surviving assault and struggling to look forward at 68.

  Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Liberia's presidential run-off has been indefinitely postponed. Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe fired his vice president for "disloyalty." South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are facing a horrifying predicament. The ICC will look into alleged Burundian war crimes (something Burundi rejects.) DRC has a year to hold elections and clean up its act.

Americas & Australia. Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was indeed probably murdered. Texas executed a Mexican citizen. The Trump administration is making it even harder for Americans to visit Cuba. Millions of Puerto Ricans lost power yet again. Twenty-six people were killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas when a gunman walked in and began shooting. An Alabama Senate candidate is accused of serial assault and harassment. 

Asia. The House of Saud went a little nuts last weekend. Trump visited several Asian countries this week, promising U.S. resolve on nuclear issues specifically and inking a number of contracts with China. Lebanon's prime minister resigned. Syria joined the Paris climate agreement. New Delhi's pollution is out of control. Egypt's anti-LGBTQ crackdown is just getting started

Europe. Catalonia's president surrendered to police. Poles continue to protest the erosion of democracy. Germany will recognize a third gender. One bad week for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

 


Spoken & Written

“I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career. So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago ... Jesus, suck it up once in a while! I would like to ask [him] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.” -- Gay Talese on Kevin Spacey

 


Me

Journalism: Reactions to the Texas shooting are wildly different from the NYC attack. A country in the midst of a civil war is doing better on climate change than the United States. Tuesday night saw big wins for progressives -- and bodies on the margins. China doesn't like the media and neither does Trump. Delhi is experiencing "gas chamber"-like pollution -- no thanks to the United States.

Anything goes:

Our oven and stove are fixed. We signed a lease on a new apartment (our dream apartment, really) starting January 1. We're heading off to Philly for the weekend. A lot went wrong this week and my head's all over the place, but these are good things, important things. So, heading off on a train, trying to focus on the bright things at the end of a dark year. Calming thoughts to all. 

 

No country for good men

Blues Buzz

The queers are not here for Kevin Spacey. Probably don't go to Notre Dame. Texas wants to attract doctors to its public universities in the hopes that they'll stay and help stem the state's doctor shortage. The horrors of Tuam. Domestic extremism is an American problem. A new narrative of Appalachia. New York City's Uzbeks are afraid. More men are trash. Sarah Polley is a gift. Hell of a way to go out. Climate gentrification in Miami. Images from America's forgotten "third coast." The Southerners fighting white supremacy. Humans are definitely causing climate change. Local news is SO important -- and it's dying.

 

  Great Falls, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

Great Falls, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Kenya's president won re-election in a controversial re-do. Anti-poaching efforts in Mali are working. Eritrean forces killed 28 protesters in Asmara, the nation's capital. Protesters abroad rallied against the Eritrean regime. An American citizen is being charged over a tweet criticizing Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe. 

Americas. Hundreds of armed men attacked Brazil's environmental agencies. Cuba-U.S. relations are back to suckingManafort Monday. Eight people were killed when a man drove a truck into them and then pulled out two handguns in New York City. The Virgin Islands are still facing a crisis. A billionaire shut down a number of local news sites after they voted to unionize, taking down DCist and Gothamist in the process. No prison for Bowe Bergdahl. 

Asia & Australia. As Australia moves to shutdown its brutal detention centers, refugees are calling for an end to mistreatment and assurances about their futures. Australia cracked down on Uluru climbing. The Iraqi Kurdish president stepped down following a failed independence bid. Saudi bombs continue to strike Yemen.

Europe. Madrid took over Catalonia following a failed bid for independence. Sexual harassment scandals are rocking Britain's parliament. France's state of emergency finally ended, but many are worried replacement measures aren't much better. 

 


Spoken & Written

“In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways, and it appears that may have been true for mammoths also.” -- Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist

 


Me

Journalism: The Whitefish scandal is only the latest mess linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The Trump administration doesn't want a new AUMF vote. After NYC, Trump is calling for extreme policy measures -- but they won't work. The shooting you probably missed. A DACA deal could come at the expense of diversity visas. "Good guys with guns" only made things worse in Colorado.

Anything goes:

There are a lot of things I know to be true of myself, but here's one I conveniently like to forget: I'm overly sensitive and I take things very personally. That is to say, thesis revisions have been a struggle for me. I began my program planning to focus on journalism and related nonfiction writing -- I was trying to become a reporter, writing for free for an online publication, blogging, and plugging away on this newsletter, and my masters program seemed like a potential solution. Part-time, entirely covered by loans, and over in two years. Then, I thought, I could head to a publication where my words would met with payment, and all the work would be worth it.

Things went differently -- I went to work for a publication full-time only four months into my masters program, which turned out to be very memoir-heavy. I'm a contrarian but I'm also a people-pleaser; my professors and classmates wanted words about me, not really so much about the world, and so I gave them myself. I've regretted that a lot but that's neither here nor there -- I'm just over a month away from the end of all this and a much-dreaded thesis reading and then I'll be done and this will be behind me. But the weeks between me and that time are looming large, made no better by the feedback on the stories. Criticism is valuable; I balk at it, but it's definitely made me a better writer. But how can you really assess difference of opinion? Life experience? 

One of my essays for this nightmare hell project deals a lot with good and bad, with Austin and Texas, with perceptions and prejudices and stereotypes and the pitfalls stemming from all these things. That was hurdle one; I've overhauled it several times and it seems more convincing than it was before, although I still feel 'misunderstood' for lack of a better complaint. (To be clear: I am someone who feels 'misunderstood' a lot, whether true or not.) The other thorn in my side is the essay I knew would cause problems -- a running, warbling rant about families and my exhaustion with people who refuse to acknowledge the flaws inherent within the structures they consider integral. I knew no one would like this essay (I'm a person in the world with virtually no family ties; I am WELL aware how other people react to that situation) but I wasn't expecting quite the level of defensiveness and pushback. I don't know that anyone reacts well to being told they're condescending and unforgiving but I've had a disproportionately bad reaction -- I've spent the past two days in an ongoing sulk, with my #2 looking anxiously at me and offering tentative shoulder squeezes.

This will pass, of course. Living with high anxiety and intense depression means my world seems on the verge of ending once a week on average, several times a day during particularly bad spells. Feeling on the verge isn't really new for me. I just want it to be over, to accelerate to a time where my thoughts and memories aren't subject to people with pens and their own opinions, telling me how well and convincingly I've articulated experiences I shouldn't have to defend. But time passes, blink and it will be January. In this instance, at least, that's comforting to me.