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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Sitdown Sunday: 'He’s in the water. Where is he? Where, where, where?'

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

Image: Shutterstock/Leksele

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. Hitchhiker, hero, celebrity, killer 

In 2013, Caleb McGillivary became an unlikely hero and an even unlikelier star…

(The Globe & Mail, approx 28 minutes reading time)

He called himself Kai, unless the authorities were asking, in which case he was Edward Carl Nicodemus or whatever other series of monikers might come to mind. He was 24 years old. The road had turned him lean and luminous, burnished golden by dirt and sun.

2. China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population…

(Associated Press, approx 16 minutes reading time)

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

3. Romanian Orphans

The story of how dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country to house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children. 

(The Atlantic, approx 44 minutes reading time)

We walk into a pitch-black, freezing-cold building and discover there are youngsters lurking about—they’re tiny, but older, something weird, like trolls, filthy, stinking. They’re chanting in a dronelike way, gibberish. We open a door and find a population of ‘cretins’—now it’s known as congenital iodine deficiency syndrome; untreated hypothyroidism stunts growth and brain development. I don’t know how old they were, three feet tall, could have been in their 20s. In other rooms we see teenagers the size of 6- and 7-year-olds, with no secondary sexual characteristics. There were children with underlying genetic disorders lying in cages. You start almost to disassociate.

4. A Love Letter 

The story of how a love letter to the neighbourhood journalist José Gregorio Márquez felt so ashamed of would be his ticket to a new life abroad…

(BBC, approx 13 minutes reading time)

But the country he knew no longer existed. Things had been changing so rapidly and deteriorating so quickly. And he realised that even if he had to leave the country, he’d never again leave behind that part of himself that was forged in Niño Jesús.

5. The Coast

There is peril in beauty, a danger misunderstood: The story of how seven young people drowned along a strip of New York beaches. 

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(New York Times, approx 12 minutes reading time)

An 11-mile stretch that opens up to the Atlantic Ocean, the Rockaways calls to those weary of New York’s rough edges. Less raucous than Coney Island, it is an easy getaway for those on a budget, the kind of open playscape where a city kid can feel free.

6. Bleaker Island

In the past 30 years, the Falkland Islands have gone from being a poor territory of mostly British settlers to a rich one with a population from all over the world.

(The New Yorker, approx 52 minutes reading time)

Until recently, the Falkland Islands were a quasi-feudal colony, in which an arcadian Britain of the past was preserved in microcosm—a population of eighteen hundred, territory a little larger than Jamaica. The islanders, almost all of whom claimed British ancestry, ate British food and planted British gardens, with crowded flower beds and gnomes. They flew Union Jacks from their cars and greenhouses. They were given to displays of patriotism that were rare in the mother country: they celebrated the Queen’s birthday, and sang the national anthem every Sunday in the cathedral. When older islanders talked about Britain—even if they had never been there, and their families had been in the Falklands for five generations—they called it “home.”


The story behind the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999 that accelerated Vladimir Putin to power and who was behind them. 

(GQ, approx 40 minutes reading time)

It is peculiar, then, how few people outside Russia seem to have wanted that question answered. Several intelligence agencies are believed to have conducted investigations into the apartment bombings, but none have released their findings. Very few American lawmakers have shown an interest in the bombings. In 2003, John McCain declared in Congress that “there remain credible allegations that Russia’s FSB [Federal Security Service] had a hand in carrying out these attacks.” But otherwise, neither the United States government nor the American media have ever shown much inclination to explore the matter.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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