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Dublin: 0°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: The porn star, the drug lord, and the mass murder

Grab 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. The roots of Islamophobia in France

shutterstock_427570150 Source: Shutterstock/M-SUR

Nick Riemer, a political activist, writes about his thoughts on the roots of Islamophobia in France, and how he believes the French state “has excluded and exploited Muslims for decades”.

(Jacobin, approx 20 mins reading time)

Children have watched as their parents are handcuffed or dragged from their beds by heavily armed police. In the first three months of the state of emergency enacted after last year’s Bataclan attack, 274 people were placed under house arrest, the vast majority of them Muslims. Racial profiling is rampant.

2. Was she framed?

Kelli Peters’ car was searched outside the school her daughter went to, and drugs – enough to send her to jail – were found inside. But she insists she was framed.

(LA Times, approx 64 mins reading time)

The next morning, Shaver sat in the police chief’s conference room surrounded by department brass and detectives, walking them through a case that had quickly seized the interest of the command staff.It seemed a much stranger scenario than a suburban mom with a pot-and-pill habit. He had asked Kelli Peters: If the drugs aren’t yours, how did they get in your car? “I have an enemy,” she said.

 3. The woman who discovered India’s first HIV cases 

shutterstock_296391050 Source: Shutterstock/Jarun Ontakrai

Microbiology student Sellappan Nirmala was tasked to screen people for HIV in 1985. It was pretty much “unthinkable” in the country – but her work meant she became a pioneer in her field.

(BBC, approx 10 mins reading time)

Over three months, she gathered more than 80 samples. She had no gloves, no safety equipment. And the sex workers had no idea what they were being tested for. ”I didn’t tell them that I was looking for Aids,” she said. “They were all illiterate and even if I had told them, they wouldn’t have understood what Aids was. They thought I was taking samples for venereal diseases.”

4. A man with a head transplant plan 

Will it eventually be possible to transplant a person’s head onto a new body? That’s what these audacious scientists believe – and there’s a young man counting on them.

(The Atlantic, approx 38 mins reading time)

More troubling are the rash, unfounded claims he makes about the likelihood of the surgery succeeding, and his habit of promoting his work largely through the media—a practice that most scientists consider unseemly, if not unethical. His critics describe him, on blogs and tech websites, as a “corrupt” and “delusional” liar “with a knife and a mad glitter in his eye.” He “glibly glides past major problems,” they say, with his “Human Centipede–level medical horrorshow.” His plan is insane, “like James Bond villain insane,” and will amount to “an elaborate act of slow torture and murder.”

5. How to trace a gun

shutterstock_365659679 Source: Shutterstock/Christopher Slesarchik

These police officers have one of the toughest jobs in the force. Why is it so tough? Well, they have to trace guns, but they can’t use computers. Good thing that they’re ‘geniuses’…

(GQ, approx 34 mins reading time)

Anytime a cop in any jurisdiction in America wants to connect a gun to its owner, the request for help ends up here, at the National Tracing Center, in a low, flat, boring building that belies its past as an IRS facility, just off state highway 9 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in the eastern panhandle of the state, a town of some 17,000 people, a Walmart, a JCPenney, and various dollar stores sucking the life out of a quaint redbrick downtown. On any given day, agents here are running about 1,500 traces; they do about 370,000 a year.

6. Try my hijab 

Nazma Khan wears a hijab, and she knows it makes other people treat her differently. But she also wants to show people why she really wears it.

(Narratively, approx 19 mins reading time)

Khan first began wearing the hijab at age eleven. She was eager to be covered and to look as “feminine” as her mother, aunts and other women around her. “When I don the hijab, I am not judged for my exterior beauty, but rather my character and intellect,” says Khan. “This is true liberation. Thus, to me this is feminine.”


shutterstock_376666267 Source: Shutterstock/Justin Dennis

This story has to be read to be believed – and it’s not an easy read. It’s the story of a porn star, a drug lord, and a brutal mass murder.

(Longform, approx 60 mins reading time)

Since the late Sixties, Holmes had traded on his natural endowment. His penis, when erect, according to legend, measured between eleven and fifteen inches in length. Recently, however, Holmes’s biggest commodity had been trouble. He was freebasing one hit of coke every ten or fifteen minutes, swallowing forty to fifty Valium a day to cut the edge. The drugs affected his penis; he couldn’t get it up, he couldn’t work in porn. Now he was a drug delivery boy for the Wonderland Gang.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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