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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The Japanese women stealing so they can go to prison - and not be lonely

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. Marked for death


Henry belonged to the MS-13 gang, but when he decided to help the FBI arrest his fellow members, things got very bad.

(ProPublica, approx 36 mins reading time)

Under normal circumstances, Henry’s choice would have been his salvation. By working with the police, he could have escaped the gang and started fresh. But not in the dawning of the Trump era, when every immigrant has become a target and local police in towns like Brentwood have become willing agents in a nationwide campaign of detention and deportation. Without knowing it, Henry had picked the wrong moment to help the authorities.

2. People got the Pulse massacre story wrong

Omar Mateen killed multiple people at the Pulse nightclub – and newspaper reported his wife could have prevented it. But when she was tried over the killings, the truth came out.

(Huffpost, approx 11 mins reading time)

In May of 2017, Jacquelyn Campbell, a leading expert on domestic violence who evaluated Salman at the request of her attorneys, confided in me that she was extremely concerned about the case, and wanted to make sure it was on my radar. But where was everyone else? Where were the sort of liberal pressure groups that normally could be counted on to bang the drum about domestic violence, Islamophobia, overzealous terror prosecutions?

3. When cops become robbers 

shutterstock_659470504 Source: Shutterstock/boyphare

Police officers Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor are brought to court on multiple counts of extortion, racketeering and fraud. Here’s their story.

(BBC, approx 44 mins reading time)

McDougall formed a rough theory about what had happened – a Baltimore police officer, using the tracker, waited until Anderson’s vehicle was far away from his home, then used the opportunity to rob the apartment. The home invasion had some of the hallmarks of a police raid – the kicked-in door, the methodically tossed apartment. McDougall picked up the phone and called the FBI.

4. The Isis Files

Journalists for the NYT scoured old Islamic State offices, and returned with heaps of documents. Here’s what they learned from them.

(New York Times, approx 34 mins reading time)

Individually, each piece of paper documents a single, routine interaction: A land transfer between neighbors. The sale of a ton of wheat. A fine for improper dress. But taken together, the documents in the trove reveal the inner workings of a complex system of government. They show that the group, if only for a finite amount of time, realized its dream: to establish its own state, a theocracy they considered a caliphate, run according to their strict interpretation of Islam.

5. Stealing for company

shutterstock_417158263 Source: Shutterstock/Ladda Tonglo

Shiho Fukada writes about the challenges facing older women in Japanese society – challenges so big that women are stealing so that they can go to prison and find company.

(Bloomberg, approx 10 mins reading time)

Ms. O, 78. Has stolen energy drinks, coffee, tea, a rice ball, a mango. Third term, sentenced to one year, five months. Has a daughter and a grandson. “Prison is an oasis for me—a place for relaxation and comfort. I don’t have freedom here, but I have nothing to worry about, either. There are many people to talk to. They provide us with nutritious meals three times a day.

6. To not unclutter

We live in a time when minimalism is seen as a worthy goal, and ‘Swedish death cleaning’ is a trend. But perhaps being totally minimalist and uncluttered isn’t something we should all aim towards?

(Review Canada, approx 15 mins reading time)

And so to the home, where I believe there is increasingly some disorder too—something like anorexia worn on the outside, or an obsessive compulsion directed toward the home, where a person’s living quarters become the site for absurd perfectionism, unattainable standards, and distorted perception.


Death and the gospel: Kate Bowler wrote about about people who believe if you live your life well, God would reward you. Then she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

(New York Times, approx 12 mins reading time)

I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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