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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: Who murdered the student Giulio Regeni?

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. Who murdered Giulio Regeni?

Mideast Egypt European Parliament The family of Giulio Regeni follows his coffin during the funeral service in Fiumicello, Northern Italy. Source: AP/Press Association Images

This article looks into the death of Giulio Regeni outside Cairo in Egypt. Though police blamed a car accident, they then blamed a robbery. But why were there signs of torture on his body?

(The Guardian, approx 28 mins reading time)

The Italians requested the video footage from the metro station where Regeni last used his mobile phone, but the Egyptians allowed several days to elapse, by which time the footage from the day of his disappearance had been taped over. They also refused to share the mobile phone records from the area around Regeni’s home, where he disappeared on 25 January, and the site where his body was found nine days later.

2. Big trouble in little China 

The US movie industry is seeing a new Chinese influence, thanks to firms like Dalian Wanda who are buying up their own empire. Questions about censorship and control are now coming into play.

(Politico, approx 15 mins reading time)

This leaves U.S. moviemakers in a precarious position. Due to SAPPRFT restrictions, all American movie scripts are vulnerable to change based on the Communist Party’s wishes. For example, the 2006 release of “Mission: Impossible III” — partially shot in Shanghai — retroactively excluded a scene of the city featuring underwear hanging from a clothesline because SAPPRFT claimed it portrayed China as “a developing country.”

3. The problems with computer voting 

Campaign 2016 What Ifs Hacking File photo of an e-voting machine. Source: Alan Diaz

Computerised voting seemed like a great idea, but it turns out to have led to numerous issues. Servers freezing, delayed results – and what happens when votes go missing? A cautionary tale from the USA.

(Bloomberg, approx 24 mins reading time)

After California declared almost all of the electronic voting machines in the state unfit for use in 2007 for failing basic security tests, San Diego County put its decertified machines in storage. It has been paying the bill to warehouse them ever since: No one wants to buy them, and county rules prohibit throwing millions of dollars’ worth of machines in the trash bin.

4. Living in their cars

The homeless issue is a major one in Ireland, and over in the US it is too. The author of this article spends time with people who have to live in their cars in a wealthy suburb of Virginia.

(Washington Post, approx 14 mins reading time)

He pops the trunk and pulls out his sleeping bag and pillow, leaving the bags of family photos, medical records and other belongings undisturbed. After nearly 200,000 miles, his car has broken down a few times, and Baird’s tab at a nearby garage has ticked up to $1,800. But he is careful to keep the interior neat and uncluttered, clear of any obvious signs that he’s homeless.

5. Baltimore vs Marilyn Mosby

Baltimore Police Death Source: Steve Ruark

You might not have heard of Marilyn Mosby, but her story is a fascinating one. The state attorney of Baltimore, she decided to prosecute six officers over the death of Freddie Gray – and lost. Now she and her husband, a city councillor, are dealing with the fallout.

(New York Times, approx 42 mins reading time)

She is now being sued for defamation by five of the officers she indicted and has become a go-to grievance for the voluble right, being subject to more or less constant assault on the conservative airwaves, accused of criminal misconduct by Donald Trump and featured on the cover of the police magazine Frontline under the headline “The Wolf That Lurks.” A steady barrage of racist hate mail and death threats still pours into her home and office.

6. The secrets of Patagonia

Yvon Chouinard, an environmentalist, wanted to start a company that reflected his ideals. This fascinating look at the result, Patagonia, is a must-read if you love business, entrepreneurship, and unique minds.

(The New Yorker, approx 45 mins reading time)

Eventually, they went so far as to openly discourage their customers from buying their products, as in the notorious 2011 advertising campaign that read “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” It went on, “The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing.” Manufacturing and shipping just one of the jackets in question required a hundred and thirty-five litres of water and generated nearly twenty pounds of carbon dioxide. “Don’t buy what you don’t need.” (Some people at Patagonia had been considering declaring Black Friday a “no-buy day,” to make their point about consumption.)


Hurricane Matthew Florida A car drives past a downed tree as Hurricane Matthew moves through Daytona Beach, Florida. Source: Charlie Riedel

With the destructive Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Haiti and the US, this 2009 read from Harper’s Magazine gives an insight into the quest to control hurricanes. It’s also a read about the relationship between a late dad and his daughter.

(Harper’s Magazine, approx 39 mins reading time)

From the annals of old newspapers and journals, I pieced together a history of storm modification. In October of 1947, in conjunction with both the military and General Electric, the United States Weather Bureau dropped 180 pounds of crushed dry ice into the rainband of Hurricane King, a hurricane that had already made landfall and moved out to sea. The hypothesis was that the dry ice would weaken the storm, and, at first, this appeared to prove true. A few hours later, though, the storm took an unexpected turn and hit Savannah, Georgia, making what insurance companies term an “act of God” into—at least plausibly—an act of man.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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