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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
# 7 deadly reads
Sitdown Sunday: What happened to America's most liberated woman?
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. A Shot To The Heart

shutterstock_376588456 Shutterstock / Mat Hayward Shutterstock / Mat Hayward / Mat Hayward

In 2014, Missouri police officer Timothy Runnels tasered teenager Bryce Masters to the chest for 23 seconds. After being dropped on the ground face first, Bryce went into cardiac arrest.

Bryce now struggles every day because of the lack of oxygen to the brain while he was in cardiac arrest. This is the story of that day, and the aftermath:

Bryce was given simple tasks, “things kindergartners could do,” as he put it. Drawing shapes, holding objects firmly in his hand, walking without a limp, hearing a story and trying to synopsize it back to the storyteller — things that used to be second nature were now exhausting chores. Most of the damage Bryce suffered, though, was done to his psyche. The memories he had formed over 17 years, many of the things he thought made him who he was, no longer applied. He no longer had the ability to adequately control feelings of anger, frustration, depression, and anxiety.

(The Intercept, approx 44 minutes reading time)

2. Why Muhammad Ali Matters to Everyone

Obit-Muhammad Ali Dan Grossi / Associated Press Dan Grossi / Associated Press / Associated Press

Time’s obituary of Muhammad Ali, which has been widely shared this week, looks at his life, his career and the causes he championed:

Ali, the former Cassius Clay, was not just an athlete who embodied the times in which he lived. He shaped them. His conscientious objection to the Vietnam war, and reasoned rants against a country fighting for freedom on the other side of the globe, while its own black citizens were denied basic rights of their own, energized a generation. Ali refused to serve in Vietnam, was convicted of draft evasion, and stripped of the heavyweight crown he won from Sonny Liston in 1964.

(Time, approx 42 minutes reading time)

3. The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare

shutterstock_154199477 Shutterstock / JC Photo Shutterstock / JC Photo / JC Photo

Diver and Chief Executive of Oceans Agency, Richard Vevers, joins journalist Michael Slezak to discuss “the longest and probably the worst global coral bleaching event in history”.

After diving for 30 years in his spare time, he was compelled to combine his work and hobby when he was struck by the calamities faced by oceans around the world. Chief among them was coral bleaching, caused by climate change.His job these days is rather morbid. He travels the world documenting dead and dying coral reefs, sometimes gathering photographs just ahead of their death, too.

(The Guardian, approx 30 minutes reading time)

4. Exclusive: Snowden Tried to Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal

Snowden Speaks AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In a Vice News exclusive, whistleblower Edward Snowden talks about his repeated efforts to raise concerns to the NSA about the security of citizens. The intelligence agency did nothing, he claims:

“US whistleblower reform laws were passed as recently as 2012, with the US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, but they specifically chose to exclude intelligence agencies from being covered by the statute,” Snowden said. “President Obama also reformed a key executive whistleblower regulation with his 2012 Presidential Policy Directive 19, but it exempted Intelligence Community contractors such as myself. The result was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.”

(Vice News, approx 55 minutes reading time)

5. What Happened to ‘The Most Liberated Woman in America’?

shutterstock_403399150 Shutterstock / Talashow Shutterstock / Talashow / Talashow

Barbara Williamson and her husband John set up a free-love commune in the 1970s. Sandstone, situated in the Topanga Canyon, California, offered men and women “a radical, nudist, group-sex commune”.  Journalist Alex Mar speaks to Barbara, now 78, about her experiences.

No low-slung, hip-riding bell bottoms and tie-dyed T-shirts proclaimed your disdain of the establishment. No military or law-enforcement uniforms declared your allegiance. No thousand-dollar Armani suits or five-hundred-dollar calfskin attaché cases advertised your status as a high-powered banker or attorney. When you shed your public persona and stand naked with a group of other naked people, incredible lightness washes over you. All pretense and game-playing are gone.

(Atlas Obscura, approx 33 minutes reading time)

6. Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker

The Stanford rape case has been constantly present in the media this week – especially since Brock Turner’s father’s statement drew controversy. If you haven’t already, read the victim’s statement about her experiences, her anger at Turner’s refusal to admit sexual assault and how her life is now:

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

(Buzzfeed, approx 35 minutes reading time)


7. The Cheerleader Murder Plot

shutterstock_151204487 Shutterstock / CLS Design Shutterstock / CLS Design / CLS Design

Back in 1991, journalist Mimi Swartz, examined the story of Wanda Holloway, the mother who would do anything for her daughter – including hiring someone to kill her daughter’s cheerleading competitor and her mother:

The first sign of trouble appeared in 1989, when Shanna was scheduled to try out for seventh-grade cheerleader at Channelview’s public junior high school. Wanda had planned for the event — she had taken Shanna out of Channelview Christian School, a private elementary school, and enrolled her in Alice Johnson Junior High to assure her eligibility. What she had not foreseen was that Amber, who was still at Channelview Christian, would be one of Shanna’s competitors.

(Texas Monthly, approx 35 minutes reading time)

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday