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In recent years, a new genre of fiction known as the Officialdom novel has become increasingly popular in China. Fans claim that the novels offer rich entertainment while providing valuable insights into the byzantine system of manners and etiquette that is the key to success at white-collar jobs in China, but the trend might signal a much more significant shift in the culture—one that goes beyond matters of literary taste. –“A New Genre in Chinese Fiction,” Stephen Morison Jr., Poets & Writers
Inside the U.S. government’s head, a tragic monologue about mass killings echoes. It goes something like this: “Genocide is evil. It must be prevented before it starts, and, if it starts, it must be stopped. But it is not really my problem. I will do something significant only if the alternatives become even more costly than taking action.” And since the risks of acting appear immediate while the full costs of inaction accrue over time—even as tens or hundreds of thousands are killed in the interim—U.S. efforts to halt genocide have been embarrassingly rare. –“Do the Right Thing: A genocide policy that works,” Sarah Sewall, Boston Review
Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never– poor baby– being able to return to the U.S.). Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she’d rather not see him prosecuted because she can’t stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let’s take a moment to recall that according to the victim’s grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, “No,” then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm. –“Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child,” Kate Harding, Salon.com
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Chances that a Republican man believes that “poor people have hard lives”:
A school in South Korea was planning to deploy a robot to protect students from unwanted seductions.
Nuremberg’s Neues Museum filed a criminal complaint against a 91-year-old woman who completed a crossword puzzle that was in fact a $116,000 piece of avant-garde Danish art.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”