By Bill McKibben
In the cloud of toxic dust thrown up by the Kavanaugh hearings last week, two new Trump initiatives slipped by with less notice than they deserve. Both are ugly, stupid — and they are linked, though in ways not immediately apparent.
In the first, the administration provided the rationale for scrapping President Obama’s automobile mileage standards: because Trump’s crew now officially expects the planet to warm by 4C . In the environmental impact statement they say it wouldn’t make much difference to the destruction of the planet if we all keep driving SUVs.
The news in that statement is that administration officials serenely contemplate that 4C rise (twice the last-ditch target set at the Paris climate talks). Were the world to actually warm that much, it would be a literal hell, unable to maintain civilizations as we have known them. But that’s now our policy, and it apparently rules out any of the actions that might, in fact, limit that warming. You might as well argue that because you’re going to die eventually, there’s no reason not to smoke a carton of cigarettes a day. …
By Mandy Len Catron
I was 19 the first time someone shared her story of being sexually assaulted with me. Over AOL Instant Messenger, a friend from high school said she’d lost her virginity at a party a year earlier. “But,” she added, “it wasn’t what I wanted. I was drunk. He took advantage of me.”
I had no idea what to say. I understood that she was describing a traumatizing experience. I could tell she was still upset. What she was alluding to was terrible, but it was also commonplace. I heard stories of hookups gone bad almost every weekend. I sat frozen at my keyboard. Should I ask for details or would that only make it worse? Should I encourage her to talk to someone — her mom, an adviser, a therapist? …
By Kathleen McLaughlin
I started my decade-long turn as an international blood smuggler in 2004 with a mundane task: packing. I gently stacked a dozen half-liter glass vials into two soft-sided picnic coolers. The bottles held the components of a syrupy mix, a powerful medicine made from the immune system particles collected from thousands of people. A nurse would infuse the syrup into my veins, a treatment to keep my immune system under control, to halt its potentially paralyzing attacks on my nerves.
First, I had to get all of this, plus my own needles, to China.
Shortly after learning I had a nerve disease that required these periodic infusions, I moved from the US to China, home to the world’s largest and deadliest blood plasma debacle. Early on, I learned a statistic that would guide me through nearly 15 years in China: at the time, an estimated 50% of medications sold in the country were counterfeit or compromised. This was only one symptom of a fractured system where blood was perhaps the most notoriously unsafe product of all. …
By Leslie Bennetts
When Renate Schroeder Dolphin signed a group letter to the Senate judiciary committee claiming that Brett Kavanaugh treated women with respect, she didn’t realize that the boy she had known in high school had publicly slut-shamed her for the amusement of his fellow football players.
Then Dolphin — along with millions of other Americans — discovered that Kavanaugh described himself on his yearbook page as a “Renate Alumnius” (sic), which classmates explained as the code phrase that boys used to boast about their sexual conquest of a female student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.
Dolphin was appalled. “The insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue,” she said, adding that she had never even kissed Kavanaugh. …
By Joe Moran
Every writer, of school age and older, is in the sentences game. The sentence is our writing commons, the shared ground where all writers walk. A poet writes in sentences, and so does the unsung author who came up with “Items trapped in doors cause delays”. The sentence is the Ur-unit, the core material, the granular element that must be got right or nothing will be right. For James Baldwin, the only goal was “to write a sentence as clean as a bone”.
What can celebrated writers teach the rest of us about the art of writing a great sentence? A common piece of writing advice is to make your sentences plain, unadorned and invisible. George Orwell gave this piece of advice its epigram: “Good prose is like a windowpane.” A reader should notice the words no more than someone looking through glass notices the glass. …
By Oliver Milman
Only half-jokingly, some residents of a progressive city 300 miles north of the Mexican border have adopted the “build the wall” slogan in the face of a wave of newcomers. But these perceived interlopers are starkly different from Donald Trump’s imagination.
They are American, mainly white and are fleeing the unlivable heat.
Arizona’s vast sweep of landscapes stretches from the scorched western movie backdrop of the Sonoran desert in the south, past rusty red sandstone outcrops further north in Sedona until you ascend to Flagstaff, a pleasant city carved into the largest expanse of ponderosa pine trees in the world, at an elevation of 7,000ft. …
By Jessica Glenza
The former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has denounced the United States’ healthcare system as politically and morally wrong, and urged American leaders to enact publicly financed healthcare as a “human right”.
Ban made the comments in an exclusive interview with the Guardian in New York, as part of his work with The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela to work on issues of global importance, including universal health coverage.
The US has the world’s most expensive health system, accounting for nearly one-fifth of American gross domestic product and costing more than $10,348 per American. The United Kingdom, by comparison, spends a little under 10% of GDP according to the latest available statistics, and healthcare is free at the point of delivery. …
By Samuel Gibbs and Alex Hern
In the summer of 1995, a second-year grad student called Sergey Brin was giving a tour of Stanford University to prospective students. Larry Page, an engineering graduate from the University of Michigan, was one of those being shown around the Palo Alto, California campus.
“I thought he was pretty obnoxious,” Larry Page said of the encounter. “He had really strong opinions about things, and I guess I did, too.”
“We both found each other obnoxious,” said Sergey Brin. “But we say it a little bit jokingly. …
By Moira Donegan
First, it was Harper’s. In their October issue, the magazine published an essay by John Hockenberry, the disgraced former public radio host who was accused of sexual harassment and racially inappropriate comments by women he worked with. He sent them emails asking for dates, made comments on their appearance and made sex jokes. In August 2017, after multiple complaints about his behavior were made to WNYC management, Hockenberry quietly retired from his program, The Takeaway. His behavior was only made public later, in reporting by Suki Kim for The Cut.
Hockenberry’s Harper’s piece, titled Exile, reached nearly 7,000 words — extraordinarily long for a personal essay — and details the suffering that Hockenberry claims to have endured since his behavior was made public. In the essay, Hockenberry relies heavily on the notion that his disability is exculpatory of his behavior — Hockenberry uses a wheelchair — and compares himself to Lolita, the teen girl who is kidnapped and raped in the…
By Lauren Smiley
With record-breaking wildfires carving up the American west this summer, firefighters have become the rarest of civil servants: the kind almost universally lauded as heroes. Reinforcements dropped into California’s firefight from as far away as Australia and American Samoa to bolster strained state and federal crews, reaching a high point of 14,000 firefighters on the ground.
Yet other crews have pulled into the fires’ path with a less grandiose purpose: to save only select addresses. …