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Sitdown Sunday: Why did people join David Koresh's doomed Waco cult?

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. George Soros

George Soros-Explosive Device Source: Francois Mori

You’ve probably seen mention of George Soros as you amble across the internet. But how is criticism of him so mainstream, when it previously was quite a fringe pursuit?

(New York Times, approx 14 mins reading time)

On both sides of the Atlantic, a loose network of activists and political figures on the right have spent years seeking to cast Mr. Soros not just as a well-heeled political opponent but also as the personification of all they detest. Employing barely coded anti-Semitism, they have built a warped portrayal of him as the mastermind of a “globalist” movement, a left-wing radical who would undermine the established order and a proponent of diluting the white, Christian nature of their societies through immigration.

2. Why Britons joined the Waco cult

It wasn’t just Americans who joined David Koresh’s Waco cult – people from other countries did too. The BBC looks at why some Britons joined the doomed cult.

(BBC, approx 7 mins reading time)

One day a leaflet came through the sisters’ door – it was an invitation to the local Seventh Day Adventist Church, where many of the congregation, like Gail and Bernadette, were either first or second Windrush generation. Gail and Bernadette both took up the offer. Bernadette fell in with a group preaching radical Christian theology in their own small circle, away from the main church services – and there was talk of a man in Texas who knew the secrets of the final judgement day.

3. The ghastly-eyed muppet 

MLS 2018 Union 5-1 Minnesota United FC Source: Ricky Fitchett

You might not have heard of the mascot Gritty, but his story is just wonderful.

(The New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

Like another monster that was created by man and then burst, uninvited, into public sight, Gritty at first met a hostile reception. Many pronounced him the stuff of nightmares, and the Penguins from across the state dismissed him with a tweet: “lol ok.”

4. The get-rich-quick scheme that almost killed a German soccer team

In 2017, a bomb went off by the Borussia Dortmund bus. It turns out it was part of an electrician’s plot to make a lot of money. But he nearly killed the team. 

(Bloomberg, approx 12 mins reading time)

The three bombs in Dortmund were filled with metal pins and hidden on the side of the driveway, about midway between the hotel and the street. As the bus approached the road, the bombs exploded, sending a cloud of heat, dirt, and metal shooting through the air. One of the bus’s windows was punctured, and glass splinters flew through the interior. 

5. Pregnancy – or an alien invasion?

shutterstock_516134599 Source: Shutterstock/Paradise On Earth

Sara Fredman writes about her experiences of the third trimester of pregnancy, and how it’s a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

(Longreads, approx 15 mins reading time)

The impulse to see pregnancy as a sci-fi curiosity turns pregnant people into something that is not human, or at least adds an asterisk to their humanity. The only process by which we can perpetuate our existence becomes an exception rather than the rule, a quirky but sometimes terrifying aberration, rather than a linchpin in the survival of our species.

6. Pop stars growing up gracefully

Is it possible to be a popstar and mature gracefully? Yes, writes Jude Rogers, as she looks at how pop has changed over the years. 

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

In many ways, this is an understandable change. Born long ago, pop is now of pensionable age. Surely chart-pleasing kids should be allowed to get a little older? But pop’s standard currency, until now, was always aspirational fantasy, not nuanced reality. It never really allowed itself to enter the real world before. Or perhaps the suits never really allowed it.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

You’re probably reading this on your phone – but do we always know exactly how our phones were made, and the fact that slavery was involved?

(Longreads, approx 35 mins reading time)

“See the little girl playing with the hammer?” asked a local investigator. “Along with the child, the size of the hammer grows, and that’s the only progress in her life.” Slavery in granite quarries is a family affair enforced by a tricky scheme based on debt. When a poor family comes looking for work, the quarry bosses are ready to help with an “advance” on wages to help the family settle in. The rice and beans they eat, the scrap stones they use to build a hut on the side of the quarry, the hammers and crowbars they need to do their work, all of it is provided by the boss and added to the family’s debt.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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