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Sitdown Sunday: The man who didn't exist

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.
Mar 6th 2016, 10:30 AM 18,290 0

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. The man who didn’t exist

shutterstock_73189654 Source: Shutterstock/Viktor Gladkov

Lyle Stevik arrived at a motel on the Washington Pacific coastline in 2001. A few days later, he took his own life. But it turned out Lyle Stevik didn’t exist. So just who was he? (Note: This article contains descriptions of a suicide and photos that may be disturbing to some readers)

(MEL, approx 19 mins reading time)

Gabe called 911. A paramedic arrived, then local law enforcement. Lyle’s emaciated corpse — at 6’2”, he weighed 140 lbs — was referred to the local coroner. Lyle left no identification in room five: no bank card, no driver’s license, no passport. A police detective asked Route 60 bus drivers if they had noticed him. (They hadn’t.) Another asked Quinault Indian Nation members if they knew him. (They didn’t.) Nobody in Amanda Park had reported a missing person that week. Or any of the weeks afterward.

2. The slave that made your chocolate bar

shutterstock_109703435 Source: Shutterstock/Svetlana Lukienko

That bar of chocolate you’re eating might be connected to child slavery. If you think this sounds like madness, then have a read of this Fortune article, which shows that promises to end child labour in the chocolate industry haven’t always been kept.

(Fortune, approx 34 mins reading time)

In a documentary that aired on the BBC, filmmakers interviewed young boys in Ivory Coast who said they’d been beaten and forced to work long hours without pay. One who said he’d been working on a cocoa farm for five years was asked what he thought about people enjoying chocolate in other parts of the world. “They are enjoying something that I suffered to make,” the boy answered. “They are eating my flesh.”

3. Did she drive him to take his own life?

shutterstock_167852012 Source: Shutterstock/file404

Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy met online, and had a whole romance that took place over the internet and texts. But a few years later, Conrad took his own life – and Carter found herself in court, accused of sending the texts that encouraged him. (Note: This article contains a description of a suicide)

(NY Mag, approx 22 mins reading time)

Roy: “I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.”Carter: “No you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it.”

4. Meet the Hollywood divorce lawyer

PEOPLE SPEARS FEDERLINE Britney Spears and Kevin Federline Source: Associated Press

Lauren Wasser makes her money settling the divorces of the rich and famous – from the likes of Britney Spears to Angelina Jolie. Here’s a fascinating look into how her multi-million dollar business works.

(Bloomberg, approx mins reading time)

She charges $850 an hour, requires a $25,000 retainer, and rarely represents people who have less than $10 million. She’s one of the top lawyers in what, when you include custody battles and paternity testing, has turned family law into what research firm IBISWorld calls an $11 billion business and one of the most lucrative areas of law.

5. The schoolboy accused of murder – twice

shutterstock_1139590 Source: Shutterstock/plastique

At just 15, Tumusiime Henry was accused of murder – then, two years later, he was accused of a second murder. It took an American lawyer to come to his rescue.

(BBC News, approx mins reading time)

It was not long before someone from the village spotted the culprit at the market in the nearby town of Hoima, and dragged him back to account for the missing money. A mob set upon him. Henry heard the commotion at school, but did not know what it was about and was not allowed out. His father, however, rushed to the scene and tried to stop the attack. “Enough! Let me get him some water,” he cried. But at that moment someone dropped a huge stone that crushed Imanriho’s head.

6. The girls, the paedophile and Cardinal Pell

Vatican Pope Cardinals Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting at the Vatican Source: Associated Press

This longread is tough going – it’s the story of women who grew up in children’s homes in Australia, and whose lives were scarred by the actions of a paedophile. It comes as the country holds a royal commission into the sex abuse.

(SBS, approx 18 mins reading time)

The hulking figure of Fr Ridsdale had given sermons from the pulpit while secretly running an unsophisticated, but terrifyingly effective paedophile ring. All three of Ridsdale’s Christian Brother cohorts – particularly Brother Robert Best – had also enjoyed uninterrupted access to vulnerable children, whom they handed around to each other to abuse.


Katya Yakimova - Diamonds Source: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

The world of buying and selling diamonds is not one you or I probably know anything about. But this Atlantic longread from 1982 gives a fascinating glimpse into the industry at the time. Things may have changed, but here’s where it all began.

(The Atlantic, approx 58 mins reading time)

As De Beers took control of all aspects of the world diamond trade, it assumed many forms. In London, it operated under the innocuous name of the Diamond Trading Company. In Israel, it was known as “The Syndicate.” In Europe, it was called the “C.S.O.” — initials referring to the Central Selling Organization, which was an arm of the Diamond Trading Company. And in black Africa, it disguised its South African origins under subsidiaries with names like Diamond Development Corporation and Mining Services, Inc.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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Aoife Barry


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