Christopher Ketcham

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Letter from Paris — From the August 2019 issue

A Play with No End

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What the Gilets Jaunes really want

Readings — From the July 2019 issue

Ramblin’ Man

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Context — October 28, 2016, 11:35 am

The Great Republican Land Heist

Seven militants are acquitted in takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge; Christopher Ketcham traces the history of the Bureau of Land Management

Context — May 6, 2016, 3:42 pm

The Albany Handshake

Sheldon Silver is sentenced to twelve years in prison for fraud; Christopher Ketcham visits New York’s dysfunctional state legislature

Report — From the March 2016 issue

The Rogue Agency

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A USDA program that tortures dogs and kills endangered species

Supplemental Reading — February 15, 2016, 11:47 am

A Biocentrist History of the West

“Enough poison of various kinds was spread on the Western range in a single year during the 1960s to kill every man, woman, and child west of the Mississippi”

Context — January 8, 2016, 3:26 pm

The Great Republican Land Heist

Ammon Bundy takes over a wildlife refuge in Oregon; Christopher Ketcham traces the history of the Bureau of Land Management

Letter from Nevada — From the February 2015 issue

The Great Republican Land Heist

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Cliven Bundy and the politicians who are plundering the West

Report — From the April 2014 issue

Razing Arizona

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Will drought destroy the Southwest?

Special Feature — October 19, 2012, 2:52 pm

Monopoly Is Theft

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

Article — From the January 2012 issue

Stop Payment!

A homeowners’ revolt against the banks

Article — From the May 2010 issue

The Albany handshake

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Lulus, do-nothings, and the machinery of the state

Article — From the June 2008 issue

They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They

Hazing America’s last wild herd

Article — From the December 2004 issue

Meet the New Boss

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Man vs. machine politics in Brooklyn

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October 2019

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

Article
Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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Constitution in Crisis·

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

Article
Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun

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“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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