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Dublin: 0°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: The 'picture-perfect' family life that ended in 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. Judith Clark’s transformation

Brinks Heist Rethinking Clemency Judith Clark in 1981 Source: David Handschuh

Judith Clark was a young radical who was jailed for her role in a bombing. But prison changed her, as an old friend finds out when they go to meet her.

(New York Times, approx 30 mins reading time)

No one ever accused Clark of holding or firing a gun that deadly afternoon. But she was there, a willing participant, at the wheel of a tan Honda getaway car. Over the next two years while she awaited trial in jail, Clark became a fiercer warrior than she was on the day of the robbery. During court hearings, she told the judge she was a “freedom fighter” who didn’t recognize the right of imperialist courts to try her. She called court officers “fascist dogs!” when they clashed with her supporters.

2. Children of Men

Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault/YouTube

A 10-year-old film about a dystopian future called Children of Men was a commercial flop, but it’s seeing a resurgence thanks to the fact that it was actually quite prescient about the future.

(Vulture, approx 25 mins reading time)

Now, in 2016, Children of Men is having a remarkable resurgence — not just because of its tenth anniversary but because of its unsettling relevance at the conclusion of this annus horribilis. There have been glowing reappraisals on grounds both sociopolitical (Children of Men is “obviously something that should be on people’s minds after Brexit and after the rise of Donald Trump,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared in September) and artistic (“Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life,” wrote Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson in August). It’s getting the kind of online attention it sorely lacked ten years ago,

3. The Menendez killings

Source: ABC News/YouTube

In 1989, two brothers shot their parents – Jose and Mary Louise Menendez – at their mansion in Beverly Hills. Their trial was televised, and the public quickly became fascinated with their grim story.

(Rolling Stone, approx 11 mins reading time)

Jose Menendez expected the best from his sons – and everyone else. He was an ambitious man, as was evident from his rapid rise in the business world. But this didn’t necessarily make him popular. Dominick Dunne of Vanity Fair followed the case for years, and wrote of Jose’s strong hand in October of 1990, reporting that the businessman was not all that well-liked and that, perhaps, he was cheating on his wife. The media, it seems, was trying to make as much sense of the horror as they could by searching for a villain.

4. The migrant crisis you’ve never heard of

Homeless In Paradise File photo of Kionina Kaneso, left, and her boyfriend, Racly Rufes, rest in their tent at a homeless encampment in the Kakaako district of Honolulu. Kaneso, 59, moved to Hawaii from Chuuk in Micronesia to find better medical care for her son, who has a heart condition. But instead of finding a better life, she wound up living in one of the nation's largest homeless encampments with her boyfriend, daughter and three grandchildren. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Mother Jones covers the story of the Micronesians who are having to migrate in search of a better life – and why we’re not hearing about their stories.

(Mother Jones, approx 19 mins reading time)

But the federal government has revoked some of the benefits previously available to Micronesians, leaving them unable to afford the health care many of them came for and the high cost of living in Hawaii, their main destination. With climate change inundating the Pacific islands and rendering them increasingly uninhabitable, the flow of migrants is likely to grow in the coming years, along with the struggles of the Micronesians who come to America in search of something better.

5. The tiny house revolution

Source: Tiny r(E)volution/YouTube

The principles of the Tiny House Philosophy are: reduce your belongings, get out of debt, and do work that you love. Here’s a look into why some people are embracing the idea of downsizing as much as possible.

(Outside Online, approx 25 mins reading time)

Tiny Housers’ zeal approaches the religious. “It’s not really about the tiny house,” one told me. “It’s about values, a way of life.” Another said, “Your whole life changes when you live in a tiny house.” As with any sect—or recovery group—its core is the narrative of personal transformation, whether being saved or getting sober. Here the stories pivoted around Turning Tiny. Before Tiny, there was an unhappy marriage, unpaid bills, stifling office work, a home of 2,500 square feet or more; after Tiny came freedom, new love, debt relief, self-employment, and, of course, a handmade nest.

6. Donald Trump is not a fascist

Is Donald Trump a fascist or not? Dylan Matthews, who has interviewed many actual fascists, says he isn’t – instead, he says Trump is a right wing populist. This article compares fascism with populism and gives a good rundown of the two.

(Vox, approx 19 mins reading time)

As this brief discussion should make clear, there are some similarities between fascists and today’s populists, including Donald Trump, but also some crucial differences. First, while contemporary populists often extol things like “national sovereignty” (see Brexit) and the importance of national values and communities, they rarely present the nation as an “organic entity” existing above or beyond the people. And “the people” tend to be defined on the basis of shared customs, traditions, and behaviors, rather than on purely racial or ethnic grounds. Populists are thus more often xenophobic than racist.


Meet Apollo Robbins, an incredibly talented pickpocket who’s considered a legend in his field.

(The New Yorker, approx 42 mins reading time)

He is probably best known for an encounter with Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service detail in 2001. While Carter was at dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several of his Secret Service men. Within a few minutes, he had emptied the agents’ pockets of pretty much everything but their guns. Robbins brandished a copy of Carter’s itinerary, and when an agent snatched it back he said, “You don’t have the authorization to see that!” When the agent felt for his badge, Robbins produced it and handed it back. Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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