Our favorite stories of the week, featuring Pacific Standard, Aeon, Oxford American, Cincinnati Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
In the fall of 2011, Army Captain Stephen Hill was booed by audience members at a Republican presidential debate for coming forward as a gay soldier and asking the candidates if they would reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The story of what led Hill to that moment:
He learns that Google and YouTube are hosting a nationally televised debate in Orlando, Fla., for the nine Republican presidential candidates. They are accepting questions.
He closes his door. He strips his name and rank from his uniform. He hides his face. He would like to disguise his voice, but he doesn't have the technology.
I am a gay soldier, and I am currently serving in Iraq, he says to the camera. The repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is going to be taking place in six days. Then it will be legal to say, 'I'm gay, and I'm here.' I wanted to know what the rights of gay people will be under a presidency of one of you, and if you'll try to repeal any progress that's been made for gay people in the military.
He sends it in and waits.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 29, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3195 words)
This week's picks from Emily and her friends include stories from MIT Technology Review, Creative Time Reports, The Los Angeles Times, and InFocus.
On the trail of a disgraced ex-LAPD officer who went on a murder rampage after being fired:
The officers followed Dorner onto Interstate 15, heading north, hanging back a safe distance. They were trying to confirm it was Dorner’s truck.
Five miles along, the patrol car followed Dorner down the Magnolia Avenue offramp to the street. Dorner was waiting at the curb beside his parked truck. He opened fire with his assault rifle, riddling the patrol car with .223-caliber rounds.
The officers ducked. They tried to fire back with their handguns, futilely. Dorner was about 100 feet away, with firepower that vastly overwhelmed them. His rounds pierced the squad car’s windshield, punctured a tire, blew out the radiator. It was immobilized in seconds. One bullet grazed an officer’s head. Dorner sped away down Magnolia.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 82 minutes (20731 words)
Our story picks this week include The Atlantic, The Toast, Los Angeles Times, Outside and At Length, with a guest pick by Nolan Feeney.
Inside an operating room at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center during L.A.'s "shooting season":
"The season of shootings has begun on time. Last year, from July through September, this Torrance hospital treated 107 gunshot victims, the highest number in the county.
"This year, four GSWs — medical shorthand for gunshot wounds — arrived on the first day of summer. One was a suicide and three were assaults. Three died and one would probably be discharged in a few days.
"Now, on June 23, two more have come in, both teenagers, both assaults. They walked through the front door at 2:25 a.m., no EMTs, no police. The hospital staff calls it the homeboy ambulance service: patients brought in with injuries often from gang shootings."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2119 words)
An American community college student who converted to Islam before 9/11 emails the CIA and volunteers himself as a spy:
"At the time of his email, intelligence agencies were eager to exploit an opportunity presented by the capture of John Walker Lindh, a U.S. citizen who had converted to Islam and gone abroad to join the Taliban. Intelligence officials believed other American citizens could pose as converts and infiltrate terrorist networks abroad.
"Jara's email landed at the right moment. An FBI agent and a CIA officer drove to his home and enlisted the eager 26-year-old as a contract employee."
PUBLISHED: March 18, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2202 words)
A court orders the release of church files revealing a history of sex abuse by clergy members. The documents back up the allegations of victims, who are finally finding justice:
"In recent years, a key part of clergy abuse cases has involved getting confidential files released. The Catholic Church is a meticulous record-keeper. When a letter accuses a priest of molestation, it's supposed to go into his file. So are reports from therapists — no matter how graphic.
"The documents have repeatedly backed up the allegations of victims whom the church initially tarred as liars. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange made public 10,000 pages. The L.A. archdiocese is expected to release its own trove in the coming weeks."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1988 words)
A journalist reexamines what happened to him more than 20 years ago during his five-year investigation of the Church of Scientology for The Los Angeles Times:
"One morning my wife, a kindergarten teacher, was leaving for work when a process server sent by the church’s lawyers jumped out from behind a hedge with a subpoena for me. Another day I listened to Bob on the phone at work as he struggled to calm his wife. She was home alone and somebody had dropped Forest Lawn burial brochures on their doorstep. It would happen more than once, and one afternoon she even saw somebody scurrying away. Then there was the night when upwards of four California Highway Patrol cars, lights flashing, pulled Bob over as he drove home on the 710 freeway. He was ordered out of his car and given a sobriety test. After he passed, Bob asked why he’d been stopped; an officer said they’d been told he was weaving dangerously.
"The next day the Times’s security chief, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official, made some inquiries and discovered that the pursuit had begun when a man called the CHP and said he was tailing a drunk and would direct units to his location. The caller said he was a Los Angeles police officer."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 18, 2012
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7816 words)