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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: 'Did this happen? Or did I just have a really, really bad dream?'

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

Image: Shutterstock/895_The_Studio

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. Tainted love 

Liz Hooper has had two big loves in her life – and both men happened to be haemophiliacs. But tragically, both died due to NHS scandals over tainted blood.

(BBC, approx 23 mins reading time)

In 1978, when Liz was 13, a special assembly was called for the third year at Kineton High School in rural Warwickshire. The headmaster stood up and announced that a new pupil would soon be joining them and that he had a disease that meant his blood didn’t clot – so no-one was to pick on him and no-one was to fight with him. Liz – then Liz Byng – was intrigued about this boy who was special enough to warrant his own assembly.

2. One night at Mount Sinai

Aja Newman went to the emergency room with a pain in her shoulder. She was treated by a doctor who was a ‘superstar’. What happened was chilling.

(The Cut, approx 31 mins reading time)

On her woozy walk down the hall, holding her IV bag in her hand, Aja tried to piece together what had happened next. She knew for sure that she’d been drugged. She was struggling to stand up, to stay conscious; she felt disoriented and nauseated. Now, did this shit happen? she wondered. Or did I just have a really, really bad dream?

3. Their survival story

The story of DeAndre Hopkins, who plays for Houston Texans, and his mother Sabrina Greenlee – who was blinded when a woman threw acid on her face 17 years ago.

(ESPN, approx 30 mins reading time)

Over time, she regained her sight in spurts, but it disappeared completely a few years ago, just as her son was emerging as one of the NFL’s brightest stars. Since then, millions of people have watched the Texans wide receiver dive for otherworldly catches on the national stage, racking up more receptions through the first six seasons of a career than any other player in NFL history. Greenlee sees Hopkins’ highlights only in her mind. “I visualize everything that he does,” she says. “The dreads, the body movement.”

4. Team older feminist

A woman in her late 40s writes about being a feminist from an older generation, and what it means to her. Is she, she asks, allowed nuanced feelings about #MeToo?

(The Guardian, approx 18 mins reading time)

One time, as I walked down a mostly empty Columbus Avenue around midnight, a man walked up to me – a redheaded, bearded man perhaps 10 years my senior – reached his hand out, and shoved me just below my left collarbone. It was a fairly hard shove, and I almost lifted my arm to shove him back. Instead, the moment passed and I just looked at him in disgust and confusion as we both continued along our way. I remember feeling grateful that the situation hadn’t escalated into anything worse.

5. Olympic destroyer

The untold story of the 2018 Olympics cyberattack, and why detectives say the next big attack will be even harder to crack.

(Wired, approx 30 mins time)

As Oh made his way out of the press section toward the exit, reporters around him had already begun complaining that the Wi-Fi seemed to have suddenly stopped working. Thousands of internet-linked TVs showing the ceremony around the stadium and in 12 other Olympic facilities had gone black. Every RFID-based security gate leading into every Olympic building was down. The Olympics’ official app, including its digital ticketing function, was broken too; when it reached out for data from backend servers, they suddenly had none to offer.

6. Saving Aru

The biodiversity of the Aru Islands helped to inspire the 19th century theory of evolution by natural selection. But just a few years ago, a company was granted permission to convert rainforests on the island into a sugar plantation. The people of Aru had to fight back – here’s their story.

(Mongabay, approx 20 mins reading time)

It would soon become clear they were fighting not just against a plantation, but for something more fundamental — to make government accountable to the people, in a country where business interests have widely co-opted the levers of state power. It was a battle whose outcome would decide the fate of one of the world’s last great tracts of rainforest, and of the people whose lives and culture were entwined with it. Today their struggle resonates across the planet, as a growing global movement seeks to confront the same binary choice between prosperity and the environment that the Aruese decided, to profound effect, was false.


The story of a Sunni family who escaped Isis, but still faced difficult times. 

(The Atlantic, approx 35 mins reading time)

But they soon realized that their new home offered little shelter from the conflicts erupting on distant battlefields. As the Islamic State spread its brand of Sunni extremism, their new Shiite neighbors seemed to cast blame on all Sunnis, even those who had lost homes or loved ones to isis. By March, when isis was battling Iraqi forces in Tikrit, 120 miles north, Falah could feel the city changing. In the market, neighbors began to look away from him. At police checkpoints, the family’s IDs were examined more closely.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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