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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: A history of British Europhobia

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Unreal

Source: televisionpromosdb/YouTube

The show Unreal hasn’t quite made it across this side of the pond yet, but this profile of its creator is still worth reading. It has sex, gossip, and behind-the-reality-show tidbits that will make you want to read and read.

(New Yorker, approx 29 mins reading time)

Shapiro could see how shrewd “The Bachelor” was, but she hated that it objectified women and vaunted heterosexual romance. She especially disliked working in an environment that fetishized beauty. To rebel, she wore a “George Bush, Out of My Uterus” T-shirt, and jeans that exposed her butt crack. She says, “Since then, I’ve always been body positive, refusing to talk about myself as a sexual object that way—and am so adamant about it that I just don’t even think I have a body.”

2. States of fear

Turkey World Refugee Day A doctor treats a double amputee Syrian refugee in the hospital at the Oncupinar camp for Syrian refugees next to the border crossing with Syria Source: Emrah Gurel

Being a doctor in Syria is becoming a more and more dangerous game. Ben Taub outlines how Assad’s government has killed almost 700 medical personnel, and details exactly what professionals are going through.

(New Yorker, approx 31 mins reading time)

Despite the onslaught, doctors and international N.G.O.s have forged an elaborate network of underground hospitals throughout Syria. They have installed cameras in intensive-care units, so that doctors abroad can monitor patients by Skype and direct technicians to administer proper treatment. In besieged areas, they have adapted hospitals to run on fuel from animal waste.

3. Europhobia

EU referendum Source: Nick Ansell

You’ve probably wondered about the history of euroscepticism in the UK, and how it led to Brexit. Wonder no more, and give this a read.

(The Guardian, approx 22 mins reading time)

As Robert Tombs, the Cambridge historian and author of The English and Their History, recently put it: “The campaign seems hardly about Europe at all, but it’s all about us and the English identity.” Both of the first two British attempts to join the Common Market were vetoed by Charles de Gaulle, and it was he who also said that all his life he had been inspired by “une certaine idée de la France”. Behind our present turmoil lurks a certain idea of Britain, or of England. We are trying to find our identity.

4. The ghosts of Fukushima

Japan Nuclear Worker Ghetto A worker cleans radioactive waste at the garden of a private house in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture Source: AP/Press Association Images

It’s been five years since a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was caused by an earthquake and devastating tsunami. Last autumn, the first town in Fukushima reopened. What has life been like there since?

(The New Republic, approx 23 mins reading time)

Wakizawa doesn’t blame his neighbors for preferring the conveniences of city life in Iwaki, where 80 percent of Naraha’s evacuees went during the disaster, to the preternatural quiet of their hometown. “It’s even worse here than before the nuclear plants were built 40 years ago,” he says. “When I drive up Route 6, I don’t see any life, not even insects. Around 8 o’clock it’s scary, because nobody’s here.”

5. Meet Donald Trump’s right-hand woman

Campaign GOP 2016 TrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign communications manager Hope Hicks, right, and Daniel Scavino Jr., Director for Social Media for Trump CampaignSource: Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hope Hicks, who works as campaign communications manager for Donald Trump, is just 27 years old, but her star is on the rise. She’s somewhat of an accidental press secretary, says GQ – and here’s why she’s so successful.

(GQ, approx 17 mins reading time)

Hicks’s job—a sui generis role of outsize importance that she half invents on the fly—involves keeping the media at bay and operating as Trump’s chief gatekeeper. But she’s also summoned in critical moments of confusion to play instigator and score-settler. It was her job to facilitate Trump’s rebuke of the Pope after His Holiness questioned the Christianity of anybody who would build a border wall (kind of Trump’s thing). And it was she who helped malign a female reporter who’d been manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager, immediately claiming she was a lying attention hound.

6. The undercover prison guard

San Quentin State Prison Source: Eric Risberg

One of the most-shared longreads this week was this one from Mother Jones, about a journalist who went undercover for four months as a prison guard in the US. What he discovered makes for some shocking reading.

(Mother Jones, approx 179 mins reading time)

“We just put him on his bed. He had fell off this side of his fucking bed just now, bro,” an inmate says to me. “He’s fucked up.” I radio for a stretcher. Mason starts to cry. His left hand is a fist. His back arches. “I’m scared,” he mouths. Someone puts a hand on his arm for the briefest moment: “I know, son. They finna come see you now.”


Lebron Hometown Rally Basketball Source: Phil Long

Back in 2003, LeBron James entered the NBA. He had a big contract, was under lots of scrutiny and was just 18 years old.

(Sports Illustrated, approx 25 mins reading time)

No one has gotten this much this soon, no one has ever entered any league under so much scrutiny. The three-year, $10.8 million rookie contract he’s getting from the Cavaliers is Monopoly money to James, who has endorsement deals worth more than $100 million. “I’ve been around the game for 40 years,” says Cavs coach Paul Silas, “and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s scary.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday

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