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. 


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. 



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)



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.