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Sitdown Sunday: The women who helped build Hollywood

Settle back in 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. Mike Pence and foreign aid

A new investigation shows how Mike Pence’s office worked to reroute foreign aid money to ‘favoured Christian groups’.

(ProPublica, approx 21 mins reading time)

The email underscored what had become a stark reality under the Trump White House. Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decision-makers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake.

2. A miracle recovery

The astonishing story of Tom Patterson, and how his wife helped find a treatment for a devastating superbug he had contracted.

(BBC, approx 15 mins reading time)

“I thought I can’t just take matters into my own hands and keep him alive if he doesn’t want to live any more. I need to ask him,” Steffanie says. “So I held his hand with my blue-gloved hand and I said, ‘Honey, if you wanna live, you need to give it all you’ve got, the doctors don’t have anything left. All these antibiotics are useless now. So if you want to live, please squeeze my hand and I will leave no stone unturned.’”

3. Inside the trial of Shamima Begum

A war reporter meets an ‘Isis bride’ in a refugee camp in Syria. 

(GQ, approx 44 mins reading time)

So I do not write in her defence, as I do not know what she did and did not do during the four years she lived in the caliphate. Nor do I write with any sense of personal guilt – though almost so. For in finding Shamima Begum I played a part in transforming her into a national hate figure at the very moment she was at her most desperate and vulnerable and it would be untrue to say that I do not feel in some way responsible for what happened next. I am bound inexorably to her story by our encounter, like an unwitting fire starter.

4. Trump’s Twitter feed

This past week, the New York Times has been taking a forensic look at Trump’s Twitter feed. Here’s one of the articles, about what you’ll find on his feed.

(New York Times, approx 19 mins reading time)

The president is also awash in an often toxic torrent that sluices into his Twitter account — roughly 1,000 tweets per minute, many intended for his eyes. Tweets that tag his handle, @realDonaldTrump, can be found with hashtags like #HitlerDidNothingWrong, #IslamIsSatanism and #WhiteGenocide. While filters can block offensive material, the president clearly sees some of it, because he dips into the frothing currents and serves up noxious bits to the rest of the world.

5. The women who helped build Hollywood

It wasn’t just men who built Hollywood – women did too. But they’ve been forgotten about.

(The New Yorker, approx 18 mins reading time)

One of the stranger things about the history of moviemaking is that women have been there all along, periodically exercising real power behind the camera, yet their names and contributions keep disappearing, as though security had been called, again and again, to escort them from the set. In the early years of the twentieth century, women worked in virtually every aspect of silent-film-making, as directors, writers, producers, editors, and even camera operators. 

6. A childless woman is not a tragic figure

Irish writer Emilie Pine writes about how being ‘childless’ is not something that should taint a woman’s life, or make her seem tragic or without purpose.

(Vogue, approx 6 mins reading time)

When we decided to stop trying, we began the process of mourning. I mourned my life as a mother. I missed the children I would never get to know. I felt empty. And then, as with any kind of grief, I began to feel better. I still grieve for my life as a mother, but it is a grief that I bear quite easily these days. There are twinges. When friends phone to say they’re unexpectedly having a third child, there is a beat before we congratulate them. In that momentary pause are all the unsaid things we both feel about our own losses. And then we move on.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… 

LeBron James has a mighty mind – and a photographic memory, as this interview shows. 

(ESPN, approx 15 mins reading time)

Within moments, James is watching that very 2009 highlight on a cell phone while icing his aching feet. And indeed, there it is — the crossover step-back on Turiaf from, oh, about six feet to the left of the shot he’d just hit over Iguodala. Right along the sideline inside the 3-point line. A side out-of-bounds play. Just like he said.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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