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Sitdown Sunday: Murder, mystery and greed - the bizarre case of Pam Hupp

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. Drugs and trafficking 

shutterstock_355085264 Source: Shutterstock/one photo

The war on drugs has been called a failure – and German Lopez talks to an expert about the idea of a ‘balloon effect’, and how that led to the drug trade getting bigger and bigger.

(Vox, approx 15 mins reading time)

Well, we’ve forced this [drug] economy to evolve at a lightning pace. In some ways, the war on marijuana got [traffickers] to realize there’s something that’s easier to smuggle and more profitable and addictive to some people. That’s why they switched to cocaine from Colombia, rather than marijuana that used to come from Colombia and Jamaica. So we end up with cocaine very popular in the 1980s. And the war on cocaine helped popularize another substitute — a poor person’s substitute — in crack. And in other ways, our war on crack helped repopularize an old drug — methamphetamines, the “poor person’s crack.

2. The genius of Trainspotting

Now that its sequel – T2: Trainspotting – is out, it’s a great time to read this oral history of the modern classic.

(NME. approx 15 mins reading time)

 “It was a game-changer. The visceral quality of the writing, combined with the subject matter, really captured the time [Welsh] was living in brilliantly. I thought it was amazing, but I didn’t know how big it could be outside of Scotland; later, I found out Stephen Fry would do ‘The Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene from the book as a party-piece, and that’s when I realised it had taken off way beyond what I thought it would.”

3. MIA

shutterstock_140748682 Source: Shutterstock/Keith Tarrier

Over 50 years ago, an American commando named John Hartley Robertson disappeared in the Laos jungles during the Vietnam war. Then he seemed to have reappeared…

(Atavist Magazine, approx 46 mins reading time)

 the spring of 2008, a Christian missionary named Tom Faunce was digging wells in rural Cambodia when he heard a rumor, from a local pastor, about an American soldier who had managed to survive a helicopter crash over Laos in the spring of 1968. According to the pastor, the soldier, a decorated Green Beret, had later married a nurse from a North Vietnamese Army prison, taken the identity of the woman’s dead husband, and migrated with his new wife to the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai. Locally, the man was known as Dang Tan Ngoc. But his real name, the pastor said, was John Hartley Robertson.

4. How to control the internet 

We live in a world where almost everything is connected to the internet – but what does that mean, and how can control this world before it starts to control us?

(New York Magazine, approx 32 mins reading time)

We also need to reverse the trend to connect everything to the internet. And if we risk harm and even death, we need to think twice about what we connect and what we deliberately leave uncomputerized. If we get this wrong, the computer industry will look like the pharmaceutical industry, or the aircraft industry. But if we get this right, we can maintain the innovative environment of the internet that has given us so much

5. Sesame Street explains life

Source: Mikerulez101/YouTube

The genius of Sesame Street is that it’s a children’s programme that doesn’t talk down to children. Death and even terrorist attacks are all discussed on the show.

(Fast Company, approx 50 mins reading time)

Sesame Street has always been real-world,” says Sherrie Westin, EVP of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces the show. “It’s not a fantasy, it’s not a fairy tale. One of the things that sets us apart is respecting children and dealing with real-world issues from a child’s perspective.”

6. The infamous case of Pam Hupp

You might not have heard the story of Pam Hupp before, but her story is a fascinating – and dark – one. It involves, murder, insurance, 911 calls, and bones turning up on a doorstep.

(STL Mag, approx 66 mins reading time)

St. Louisans squinted at their TV screens, trying to fathom this blond woman, her square jaw set hard, her face impassive. This was the same woman who’d testified three years earlier in a murder trial after her friend was stabbed 55 times. The friend’s husband was convicted and later acquitted. In the meantime, Hupp’s mother had died in a suspicious fall from a third-floor balcony.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

The 23rd Annual SAG Awards - Arrivals Source: Jordan Strauss

You’ve probably seen the actor Riz Ahmed in a number of films lately – this is his essay from 2016 about how he often gets stopped at airports by those concerned he is a terrorist.

(The Guardian, approx 15 mins reading time)

As children in the 1980s, when my brother and I were stopped near our home by a skinhead who decided to put a knife to my brother’s throat, we were black. A decade later, the knife to my throat was held by another “Paki”, a label we wore with swagger in the Brit-Asian youth and gang culture of the 1990s. The next time I found myself as helplessly cornered, it was in a windowless room at Luton airport. My arm was in a painful wrist-lock and my collar pinned to the wall by British intelligence officers. It was “post 9/11”, and I was now labelled a Muslim.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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