A species of ant is discovered in Texas, and their giant swarms have wreaked havoc on those who discover them on their land and inside their homes:
Soon ants were spiraling up the tongues of my sneakers, onto my sock. I tried to shake them off, but nothing I did disturbed them. Before long, I was sweeping them off my own calves. I kept instinctively taking a step back from some distressing concentration of ants, only to remember that I was standing in the center of an exponentially larger concentration of ants. There was nowhere to go. The ants were horrifying — as in, they inspired horror. Eventually, I scribbled in my notebook: “Holy [expletive] I can’t concentrate on what anyone’s saying. Ants all over me. Phantom itches. Scratching hands, ankles, now my left eye.” Then I got in my car and left.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 7, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4567 words)
This week's reading list by Emily Perper includes stories from The Rumpus, The New York Times, The Millions, and The Toast.
A Florida sheriff’s deputy’s girlfriend is found dead, and the investigation—led by his colleagues—is botched. The case sets off a battle between investigators over whether Michelle O’Connell committed suicide or was murdered:
In fact, though investigators collected the gun, clothing and other evidence, they never tested it for fingerprints, DNA or gunshot residue. Officers also failed to canvass neighbors; failed to file required reports on what officers had seen that night; failed to download Mr. Banks’s cellphone data or collect and test one of the shirts he wore that night and failed to isolate and photograph Mr. Banks before he was interviewed.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 23, 2013
LENGTH: 43 minutes (10933 words)
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, SB Nation, Priceonomics and Esquire, with a guest pick by Sasha Belenky.
Luke Mogelson and Joel Van Houdt go undercover on a boat taking refugees from Indonesia to Christmas Island in Australian territory. They find a desperate situation, and disbelief from refugees that the place they are trying to reach is not what they hope it will be:
Continuing to brave the Indian Ocean, and continuing to die, only illustrates their desperation in a new, disturbing kind of light. This is the subtext to the plight of every refugee: Whatever hardship he endures, he endures because it beats the hardship he escaped. Every story of exile implies the sadder story of a homeland.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 16, 2013
LENGTH: 40 minutes (10160 words)
Ed Caesar explores the black market for art, following a 2012 heist at the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, perpetrated by a group of Romanian “knuckleheads”:
Making money from stolen paintings — particularly famous ones — is not a straightforward matter, and those who try to do so fall broadly into two categories. The first, most common type is the naïf, who steals a painting but has laid few plans beyond the theft itself. He soon discovers that the painting’s notoriety has rendered it toxic, and he can’t sell it. The work of art becomes burdensome and worthless — to him at least. A more sophisticated criminal, on the other hand, recognizes that a pilfered masterpiece is a unique commodity and that in order to profit from it, he needs to think more like a derivatives trader than a pickpocket.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4709 words)
The city of Wilmington in Ohio, a "poster child of the Great Recession," saw its unemployment rate shoot up to 19 percent after DHL, one of its biggest employers, left. The story of how the city is bouncing back:
Ironically, Wilmington’s reputation as the face of the recession ended up working in its favor. The endless media attention—The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, Jay Leno, Rachael Ray, Glenn Beck, 60 Minutes (twice) were among the dozens of outlets that covered DHL’s story—kept the politicians interested. And the political attention—from the governor’s office to the Oval Office, with two Congressional hearings thrown in for good measure—kept the focus on the crisis and possible solutions. “I wanted to stay on the front page,” Raizk said. “When you get pushed back to page 10, everybody forgets about you.”
At the Air Park, Kevin Carver put his energy into creating a functional Port Authority, which was essentially a shell when he was hired, with no staff, budget, or operating procedures. Then he turned to the central task: Figuring out how to redevelop a sprawling facility that was once the engine driving the local economy.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 1, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4375 words)
This week's picks from Emily include stories from Vice, Buzzfeed, Aeon Magazine, and The New York Times Magazine.
Our story picks of the week, featuring Texas Monthly, Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Times Magazine, Washingtonian and Paris Review, plus a guest pick by Drew Grossman.