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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring Mother Jones, Fast Company, The Georgia Review, Pacific Standard, and The Boston Globe.
PUBLISHED: March 21, 2014

How We Survived Two Years of Hell As Hostages in Tehran

Three Americans recount their experience of being held captive in Iran's Evin Prison after unknowingly crossing the Iraq-Iran border while out on a hike. An excerpt from A Sliver of Light, a co-written book about their ordeal:

SHANE (October 2009)

Solitary confinement is the slow erasure of who you thought you were. You think you are still you, but you have no real way of knowing. How can you know if you have no one to reflect you back to yourself? Would I know if I was going crazy? The longer I am alone, the more my mind slows. All I want to do is to forget about everything.

But I can't do it. I am unable to keep my mind from being sharply focused on one task: forcing myself not to look at the wall behind me. I know that eventually, a tiny sliver of sunlight will spill in through the grated window and place a quarter-size dot on the wall. It's ridiculous that I'm thinking about it this early. I've been awake only 10 minutes and I should know it will be hours before it appears.

They take everything from us—breezes, eye contact, human touch, the feeling of warm wet hands from washing a sink-load of dishes, the miracle of transforming thoughts into words on paper. They leave only the pause—those moments of waiting at bus stops, of cigarette breaks. They make time the object of our hatred.

I try not to look for the light.

PUBLISHED: March 12, 2014
LENGTH: 43 minutes (10825 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring the Boston Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Washingtonian, Mother Jones, and The New Yorker.
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2014

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics

Consumers were warned about plastic bottles with BPA, but are plastics from BPA-free bottles releasing the same synthetic estrogens? An investigation into the scientific research and public relations campaigns over replacement plastics like Tritan:

The center shipped Juliette’s plastic cup, along with 17 others purchased from Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us, to CertiChem, a lab in Austin, Texas. More than a quarter—including Juliette’s—came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics. CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.

PUBLISHED: March 4, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6114 words)

‘So What Do You Do?’: A Reading List

This week's picks from Emily includes stories from Politico, Vela Magazine, McSweeney's, and Mother Jones.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 2, 2014

Reading List: What Happens to Whistleblowers After They Speak Out

From Deep Throat to Thomas Drake: Julia Wick selects five classic stories from The New York Times, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair and more.
AUTHOR:Julia Wick
PUBLISHED: Aug. 26, 2013

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our story picks from CNN, Philadelphia Magazine, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and a Rolling Stone guest pick by Win Bassett.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 16, 2013

Merchants of Meth: How Big Pharma Keeps the Cooks in Business

Lawmakers in states across the country have been fighting to make pseudoephedrine—an ingredient found in over-the-counter medicine like Sudafed used to make methamphetamine—a prescription drug to reduce the number of meth labs being built. Few states have succeeded to match the lobbying power of drug manufacturers, while those that have have seen results:

"Pharma companies and big retailers 'flooded our Capitol building with lobbyists from out of state,' he says. On the eve of the House vote, with the count too close to call, four legislators went out and bought 22 boxes of Sudafed and Tylenol Cold. They brought their loot back to the Legislature, where Bovett walked lawmakers through the process of turning the medicine into meth with a handful of household products. Without exceeding the legal sales limit, they had all the ingredients needed to make about 180 hits. The bill passed overwhelmingly.

"Since the bill became law in 2006, the number of meth labs found in Oregon has fallen 96 percent. Children are no longer being pulled from homes with meth labs, and police officers have been freed up to pursue leads instead of cleaning up labs and chasing smurfers. In 2008, Oregon experienced the largest drop in violent-crime rates in the country. By 2009, property crime rates fell to their lowest in 43 years. That year, overall crime in Oregon reached a 40-year low. The state's Criminal Justice Commission credited the pseudoephedrine prescription bill, along with declining meth use, as key factors."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7063 words)

Video Pick: The Detroit Bus Company

A mini-documentary on one resident who took matters into his own hands after the city killed its light-rail plans. Plus: Detroit stories from the Longreads archive, from Mother Jones, GQ, Los Angeles Review of Books and Guernica.
PUBLISHED: July 18, 2013