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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: How the mafia infiltrated Italy's asylum system

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. Mum and dad are in a band

shutterstock_140154739 Source: Shutterstock/Benoit Daoust

What’s it like being a touring musician and having a child, or children? Franz Nicolay interviews people like Mates of State and Amanda Palmer to find out how they do it.

(Slate, approx 23 mins reading time)

The Hamells tour in a brown 2006 Corolla. Their first few years traveling together, when the young Detroit rode in a child seat in the back, were more likely to feature afternoon trips to amusement parks. Now, Ed says, Detroit’s “into clothes, so [we] go to the Mall of America.” What began tentatively as long weekends became an annual, extended summer road trip. The child in a chair on stage, after a few years, became the teen at the merchandise table, playing video games during his father’s set.

2. How the mafia infiltrated Italy’s asylum system

In Italy, the mafia has gotten a hold in the asylum system there, with this article showing how it makes money off the people who’ve travelled to the country for a new life.

(The Guardian, approx 23 mins reading time)

Cara di Mineo, like the Sant’Anna asylum centre in Isola di Capo Rizzuto in Calabria, and others on the mainland, has also become a hunting ground for traffickers. Posing as asylum seekers, traffickers lure women out of the centre on the pretext of shopping trips or other excursions, and deliver them to the Nigerian women who control forced prostitution rings. They are then forced into sex work under the threat of violence, most of them – like Joy – terrorised by a curse that binds them into slavery. Several centres have become the subject of criminal investigations, revealing corruption at local and state level, and infiltration by powerful crime syndicates. Always quick to exploit new opportunities, the mafia is making vast profits off the backs of migrants.

3. Working for Amazon

shutterstock_539808037 Source: Shutterstock/pixinoo

This longread in The Atlantic looks at the impact of Amazon moving into large cities in the USA – and whether its appearance is a good thing or not.

(The Atlantic, approx 32 mins reading time)

Yet in many ways, Amazon has not been a “rare and wonderful” opportunity for San Bernardino. Workers say the warehouse jobs are grueling and high-stress, and that few people are able to stay in them long enough to reap the offered benefits, many of which don’t become available until people have been with the company a year or more. Some of the jobs Amazon creates are seasonal or temporary, thrusting workers into a precarious situation in which they don’t know how many hours they’ll work a week or what their schedule will be.

4. Did he kill her?

Nathan Carman and his mother went missing on their boat, the Chicken Pox, after heading out to go fishing. But when Nathan was found, his mother Linda was gone. What had happened?

(New York Magazine, approx 33 mins reading time)

Around the docks and on maritime message boards, New England boaters shared theories about what had happened. Had the Chicken Pox collided with some unsurveyed shoal? Or suffered a catastrophic hull failure? Or encountered a massive rogue wave? People who had seen the boat before Nathan and Linda left said it was in good shape, and it was equipped with an emergency transmitter that could send a distress signal and location directly to the Coast Guard. How, in the age of GPS, had a vessel like theChicken Pox vanished without a trace?

5. Brown, Brown, Jason Brown

shutterstock_343591526 Source: Shutterstock

As the Winter Olympics get underway, here’s a profile of skater Jason Brown.

(New York Times, approx 16 mins reading time)

If you haven’t seen Brown skating to “Reel Around the Sun” from “Riverdance” at the 2014 United States Figure Skating Championships, allow me to narrate. This performance has been viewed millions of times on YouTube, and it instantly brought Brown to worldwide prominence. The first thing you notice, as he glides on camera, is that Brown does not look like a typical figure skater. His face offers all the endearments of a cartoon, so expressive that you assume the performance will be comedic. His costume is emerald and black, with gold embellishments that make you wonder, idly, when Claddagh rings are going to become popular again.

6. Quincy Jones has a story

There has been a LOT of talk about this Quincy Jones interview with GQ, and with good reason – it’s, well, a bit of a riot.

(GQ, approx 56 mins reading time)

When Quincy Jones talks—wandering from subject to subject as he does—the next famous name is rarely more than a few seconds away, but it doesn’t seem like name-dropping or showing off. It’s as if this just happens to be the interesting world he occupies. So he’ll refer to the time Nelson Mandela tried to get him to touch a cheetah—”I couldn’t do it”—and then he’ll mention that Colin Powell called a couple of days ago because Powell was annoyed at how Tyler Perry appeared to be portraying him in a forthcoming movie. (Jones helped connect them.)


In 2005, Vanity Fair carried an interview  with Mark Felt, the man who was Deep Throat. Yes, the guy who leaked information about Watergate to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

(Vanity Fair, approx 37 mins reading time)

The identity of Deep Throat is modern journalism’s greatest unsolved mystery. It has been said that he may be the most famous anonymous person in U.S. history. But, regardless of his notoriety, American society today owes a considerable debt to the government official who decided, at great personal risk, to help Woodward and Bernstein as they pursued the hidden truths of Watergate.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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