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Dublin: 1°C Friday 22 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: His dad injected him with HIV - but he survived

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

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 noodle crisis

India Noodle Scare Source: Aijaz Rahi

Maggi is a hugely popular brand in India – so when lead was found in some of its noodles, things got bad, quickly. Here’s how Nestlé, which owns Maggi, dealt with it.

(Fortune, approx 39 mins reading time)

Enraged consumers wasted no time venting their anger. In some cities protesters in the street smashed and set fire to packs of noodles and photos of Bollywood stars who were paid Maggi endorsers. One prominent newscaster compared the situation to Bhopal, the worst industrial accident of all time, in which a toxic gas leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in central India killed thousands of people.

2.  Life in solitary confinement

shutterstock_48973762 Source: Shutterstock/Paul Fleet

People who spent time in solitary confinement tell their stories – what being in solitary does to your mental health and spirit.

(The Guardian, approx 12 mins reading time)

I remember stepping into the cell and it was like stepping over a bridge into another world. The first feeling I had is that something could happen to me in here and no one would ever know. When your food comes, if you don’t eat it all flush it down the toilet, because if you waste any food you are going to have a punishment which is called the loaf, a small piece of bread baked with rotten cabbage meant to punish you by giving you diarrhoea.

3. Prince and the women

Prince Revolution Reunion Source: AP/Press Association Images

Prince collaborated with some really talented women: drummers, guitarists, women who took a major place in his band. Here’s the story of how they inspired other women.

(Village Voice, approx 8 mins reading time)

The first magazine I ever bought (or, rather, had bought for me) was a Rolling Stone in 1986. The cover said it all: “Prince’s Women.” I was eight. These weren’t women as I saw them all over that era’s hair metal or even hip-hop — accessories in the forms of dates or flings, burdens ranging from fiancée to divorcée. What I saw was Prince seeing women as collaborators, co-workers; they were essential in art and life, and creators in every sense of the word.

4. Why would a father do this?

shutterstock_409885954 Source: Shutterstock/Chompoo Suriyo

24 years ago, a dad named Brian Stewart injected HIV into his son, called Badger, who was just 10 months old. Remarkably, Badger survived – but why on earth did his father, a phlebotomist, do such a thing?

(GQ, approx 30 mins reading time)

Stewart decided to pay Badger a visit. He arrived at the hospital that day carrying his white lab coat, which he draped over a rocking chair in the hospital room. Jennifer, who was there with Badger, would testify that she thought it peculiar when he said, “I brought my lab coat up because I didn’t want to leave it in the car.” She complained she was thirsty, and Stewart suggested she leave the hospital room to take a break, to go get a soda—leaving her son with his father for about 15 minutes. When she came back to the room Stewart was in a rocking chair, holding Badger, who was screaming.

5.  First Avenue rocks

Source: matdinozzo/YouTube

Prince. The Replacements, Husker Du. They all played at the legendary Minneapolis venue First Avenue. Here’s a history of how the venue became so important… and how it happened by accident.

(Pitchfork, approx 29 mins reading time)

He had better luck a year later when, back-to-back, he booked Pat Benatar and the Ramones. Both were rousing successes, and American Events noticed. “They let me do whatever I wanted after that, ’cause I sold out two shows like I knew what I was doing,” says McClellan, who was nevertheless surprised by the Ramones’ sellout. “I thought, They don’t even have a [hit] record out. How come people are buying these tickets? There was something exciting going on.”

6. The Mastermind

shutterstock_408155986 Source: Shutterstock/Darren415

Paul Le Roux was a brilliant programmer – but he was also a cartel boss. This six-part series delved deep into his career and the cartel he ruled with an iron first.


 I also knew that Le Roux was once known online for helping build one of the world’s most significant pieces of encryption software, and then, in the mid-2000s, he poured his technical talents into an Internet pharmacy business, selling prescription drugs to Americans. That operation, according to the Department of Justice, earned hundreds of millions of dollars. Le Roux then directed his money into a broad portfolio of criminal concerns around the world: cocaine dealing, arms dealing, gold and timber smuggling, money laundering, and selling technology to pariah states. In the course of business, he’d arranged the murder of at least half a dozen people that I could name.


The British writer Jenny Diski passed away this week. Here’s a profile of her from 2014.

(New York Times, approx 27 mins reading time)

As the future recedes, the past rushes in to fill the vacancy. Diski’s has been some past. Of the misfortunes that can befall a person, there aren’t many she has avoided. Born in Central London to a pair of “suicidal hysterics,” as she describes them, both of whom sexually abused her, Diski grew up in the years of postwar austerity. Her father, a professional con man and prolific adulterer, abandoned her and her mother several times before finally disappearing for good.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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