Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy."One Lawyer’s Crusade to Defend Extreme Pornography" by Edward Docx, the Guardian
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
Myles Jackman is on a mission to change Britain’s obscenity laws. For him, it’s more than a job, it’s a moral calling.
“One evening in the late autumn of 2008, Andrew Holland returned from holiday to discover that the front door to his home in Wrexham had been smashed in. Thinking he had been burgled, he phoned the police. They came straight round — and arrested him.
It was the police themselves who had forced entry to his home. They had taken his computers in pursuit of what turned out to be an unfounded allegation; however, in searching the hard drives, they found something else. The original charges were duly dropped and instead, in the spring of 2009, the police indicted him with possession of two images under the new Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. One image was from a sadomasochistic series called the Body Modification Extreme Pain Olympics; the other showed — as the law has it — ‘an act of intercourse with a live animal.’ The animal in question was a tiger.”
Can John McAfee, a gun-toting, vodka-swilling serial liar, save us from the hackers who want to spy on us and steal our identities?
“John McAfee surveys the woods surrounding his Tennessee home while his 100-pound komondor, Marley, shits on his neighbor’s property. The computer-security guru and sometime murder suspect believes he has discovered proof that the Sinaloa cartel is tracking his movements.
It has something to do with a schmear. The 70-year-old McAfee resembles an ocelot, with his striped and streaked hair. He is probably still a multimillionaire, but he chain-smokes generic cigarettes the way a toddler eats Goldfish crackers. He exhales, as a hawk circles above.
‘All they eat is cream cheese,’ McAfee says between phlegmy hacks. ‘Must be for the protein. I find cream cheese packets everywhere. Some of them are out-of-date.'”
Hedge fund titan Bill Ackman has been on a nearly three-year quest to bring down the $5 billion-in-revenue nutrition giant. Call it destructive activism. But worth asking: Do short-sellers make good regulators?
“At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, CNBC’s Kate Kelly broke the news that billionaire Bill Ackman’s hedge fund had taken a massive short position — about $1 billion worth, we know now — in the stock of a nutrition company called Herbalife. He considered it to be a pyramid scheme, Kelly continued, and would be presenting details the next day. Herbalife stock then fell 10 percent in six seconds, triggering circuit breakers and a temporary trading halt.
Ackman, now 49, is the brilliant, cocksure, media-savvy activist investor whose fund, Pershing Square, has harvested 21 percent average net returns since inception in 2004. The fund now commands nearly $19 billion in assets.
Herbalife might seem like an odd target for such venom. Based in Los Angeles, it doesn’t make cigarettes, sell alcohol, manage casinos, or emit pollutants. It’s a 35-year-old, 8,000-employee nutrition company that sells 5,300 products in 91 countries, including weight-loss powders, vitamins, performance sports drinks, and a skin-care line.”
First, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.
“America is a Christian country. This is true in a number of senses. Most people, if asked, will identify themselves as Christian, which may mean only that they aren’t something else. Non-Christians will say America is Christian, meaning that they feel somewhat apart from the majority culture. There are a large number of demographic Christians in North America because of our history of immigration from countries that are or were also Christian. We are identified in the world at large with this religion because some of us espouse it not only publicly but also vociferously. As a consequence, we carry a considerable responsibility for its good name in the world, though we seem not much inclined to consider the implications of this fact. If we did, some of us might think a little longer about associating the precious Lord with ignorance, intolerance, and belligerent nationalism. These few simple precautions would also make it more attractive to the growing numbers among our people who have begun to reject it as ignorant, intolerant, and belligerently nationalistic, as they might reasonably conclude that it is, if they hear only the loudest voices.”
Two thousand young men and women, equipped with 10 weeks of training, have been sent into the streets of Kiev to convince Ukrainians that the days of a corrupt and brutal militsiya are over. Can “my new police” rescue a faltering revolution?
“KIEV, Ukraine — On the eve of her first day on the job, Oksana Kapitanska, 28, was as ready as she could possibly be. Her kit was laid out on her single bed, watched over by a dozen stuffed animals: black pants and a black shirt, a black cap, a belt, a pair of handcuffs, pepper spray, a phone charger, a pad of paper, a pen, a street map of Kiev, a first-aid kit, and a knee brace. She bought the knee brace herself. Some of the rest was bought by the state of Ukraine. But most had been donated by wealthier countries: The first-aid kit, with a picture of a red kangaroo on it, came from Australia; the uniform and the boots, made by the American company 5.11 Tactical, were donated by the United States; and the car that Kapitanska and her two partners would be driving that day was a gift from Japan. It was a Prius.
Kapitanska had gone through 10-and-a-half weeks of preparation, much of which had also been funded by the Americans, who had trained her trainers.”
Photo credits: Misha Friedman/Foreign Policy; Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Wikimedia Commons; Pete Marovich/Getty Images; Misha Friedman/Foreign Policy
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