Journal 132 — a surreal Oval Office interview, a history of perfume, Brazil’s election, a con artist of epic ambition, and Song Yang’s tragic story

President Trump, Vice-President Pence, and Chief of Staff John Kelly in the Oval Office

This week — a surreal Oval Office interview, a history of perfume, Brazil’s would-be President, and a con artist of epic ambition.

If you only read one thing — The New York Times’ poignant story about a Chinese woman who lived and died in Queens is worth the time.


The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail | The New York Times | Society

The story of Song Yang, a woman working in one of Queens’ notorious massage parlours, but brought up in Liaoning, China. The story starts with her death, but it goes on to explore how she came to that moment, and the brutal environment in which she found herself, in a finely nuanced portrait.

My Private Oval Office Press Conference With Donald Trump, Mike Pence, John Kelly, and Mike Pompeo | New York Magazine | Politics

File this one in the surreal drawer. When a journalist was unexpectedly invited to the Oval Office, little did she think she’d be received by an all-star Trump administration line up. But she was, and they were in charm offensive mode.

The Amazing 30-Year Odyssey of a Counterfeit Saudi Prince | Vanity Fair | Life

The mind-boggling story of a Colombian-born man raised in Michigan, who spent 30 years masquerading, enormously successfully, as a Saudi prince.

The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Perfume | Longreads | Science

A story about the often unsavoury things that go into making smells that are not only pleasant, but also interesting enough to keep us coming back for more.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Would-be Dictator | The New York Review of Books | Politics

Brazil is the latest country to flirt with the right wing strongman, with the former army captain Jair Bolsonaro well placed to win a second round electoral run off at the end of the month. This story examines the political and social context that has enabled his sudden rise.


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