‣ ProPublica does a story about Tamara Lanier’s quest to gain control of photographs commissioned by a racist 19th-century academic at Harvard University, the fortress of White Supremacy, of her ancestors:

When Lanier entered the Peabody that day, after driving for two hours from her home in Connecticut, she clutched a document she’d prepared for Harvard in hopes its experts might review it with her. It detailed the genealogy research she thought could demonstrate her ancestral ties to Renty and Delia. A white woman who would oversee her visit greeted her, in what Lanier recalled as a professional but distant tone. Lanier signed a standard legal form that stated if she was allowed to examine anything in the museum’s archives, she would need permission to publish any part of it.

Then she relinquished her purse and cellphone and anything in her pockets. She had come expecting to feel welcome as a potential descendant. A longtime probation officer, she instead felt like she was entering a prison.

The experience left her shaken. Over the next nine years leading up to her 2019 lawsuit against Harvard to gain control of the photographs, Lanier grew increasingly offended by its dominion over them. As she attempted to get Harvard to engage with her, she grappled with nausea and insomnia. She found it outrageous that the institution whose celebrated employee prompted the taking of the pictures controls the stories of the people he subjected to such degradation.

Another Ivy League university doing unethical thingsit could be a whole vertical. For ProPublica, Biance Fortis, Laura Beil, and Hannah Whitaker have the story and images of how Columbia University “undermined prosecutors and protected a predator for more than 20 years”:

Columbia University where Robert Hadden spent his entire medical career — has never fully accounted for its role in allowing a predator to operate unchecked for decades. To date, more than 245 patients have alleged that Hadden abused them, which by itself could make him one of the most prolific sexual assailants in New York history. But the total number of victims may be far higher. On any given day during his two decades of practice at Columbia, Hadden saw 25 to 40 patients. Tens of thousands came under his care. A baby girl he delivered grew up to be a teenager he allegedly assaulted.

Hadden, 65, was sentenced in July to 20 years in federal prison — the result of a long, arduous process that Columbia often undermined. One of the country’s most acclaimed private universities was deeply involved in containing, deflecting and distancing itself from the scandal at every step.

In agreeing to pay $236.5 million to resolve lawsuits brought by 226 of Hadden’s victims, Columbia admitted no fault, which is in keeping with public statements over the years placing the blame for what happened solely on Hadden. But the university’s own records show that women repeatedly tried to warn Columbia doctors and staff about Hadden. At least twice, the fact that Hadden’s bosses in the OB-GYN department knew of the women’s concerns was acknowledged in writing. They allowed him to continue practicing.

‣ This story about an Airbnb guest who won’t leave is all shade of OMG. Jack Flemming of the LA Times has the story and it starts:

Sascha Jovanovic should be living the good life in his private estate perched in the hills of Brentwood, enjoying the spoils of a successful career in periodontics.

But instead, he says he’s scared to walk to his car because there’s a woman who won’t leave his guesthouse. She says she has the right to stay. So far a judge has ruled that, under the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, he has no legal reason to evict her.

When Elizabeth Hirschhorn’s Airbnb stay ended in April 2022, she simply didn’t move out. She’s been living there rent-free ever since, and she refused to budge unless Jovanovic paid her a relocation fee of $100,000, according to a settlement offer reviewed by The Times.

Jovanovic said his hillside haven has become a hell.

‣ A moving article by the editor-in-chief of Jewish Currents, Arielle Angel, about the situation in Israel:

On October 7th, my own feelings fluctuated wildly. My first feeling was fear. To listen closely to the genocidal language of this Israeli government over the past year has been to live in terror of the day they would find the excuse to pursue it. Writing in n+1Jewish Currents contributing editor David Klion recounts the words of a campus activist in the wake of 9/11: “They’re already dead,” he’d said on the day Bush declared war on Iraqis, their fates sealed. I felt these words in my body, sobbing loudly in front of the screen. There were also bursts, very early on, of awe. I watched the image of the bulldozer destroying the Gaza fence again and again and cried tears of hope. I watched Palestinian teenagers seemingly out joyriding in a place half a mile away that they’d never been; a Gazan blogger suddenly reporting from Israel. But these images were quickly joined by others—the image of a woman’s body, mostly naked and bent unnaturally in the back of a truck; rooms full of families lying in piles, the walls spattered in blood. I wanted desperately to keep these images separate—to hold close the liberatory metaphor and banish the violent reality. By the time I began to accept that these were pictures of the same event, I was distraught, and contending with a rising alienation from those who did not seem to share my grief, especially as the scope of the massacre came into view.

‣ Remember the awful incident in the Canadian Parliament when the House of Commons applauded (apparently unwittingly) an actual Nazi as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stood there? Well, writing for the Forward, Beth Harpaz and Lev Golinkin explain how there is a long history of Canada harboring some Ukrainians who corroborated with the Nazis:

In Canada, questions about the Ukrainian immigrants’ past dogged them for decades, and in 1985, the country launched a Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, known as the Deschênes Commission. 

Investigators were mostly limited to considering evidence gathered in Canada, and ultimately they came to the controversial conclusion that the Galichina Division “should not be indicted as a group” and that “mere membership” in the division was insufficient to justify prosecution or revoke citizenship.

This week, as Trudeau apologized for the Hunka salute, B’nai Brith Canada called for the full release of the commission’s report, which had been heavily redacted, along with other Holocaust-era records, in order to “restore public trust in our institutions.”

“Canadians deserve to know the full extent to which Nazi war criminals were permitted to settle in this country after the war,” the group said Tuesday.

‣ Tribal leaders and researchers have joined forces to map the ancient routes and “suburbs” of Los Angeles to give us insight into the area when it was inhabited by Indigenous groups. Louis Sahagún and Sean Greene report for LA Times:

The effort seeks to illustrate major settlements and the roads that connected them — a 2,500-mile network of paths that stretched across the Los Angeles Basin and beyond and were used to transport acorns, walnuts, pine nuts, elderberries, tar for waterproofing plank ships, shells worked into beads, and salt minerals used to preserve fish.

The project is the result of an unlikely partnership of three tribes — Chumash, Tataviam, and Kizh-Gabrieleño — as well as geographers, historians, biologists, and computer scientists from USC, UCLA and Cal State’s Northridge, Los Angeles and Long Beach campuses.

Undergraduate students from Accelcraft Institute of Geoinformatics and Telangana University, in India, also helped to extract the elevations of over 15 million individual points located on historical topographic maps.

“Our goal is to help people better understand the whole of history in Los Angeles’ backyard,” said Phil Ethington, professor of history, political science, and spatial sciences at USC. Indeed, one of the villages, Yaangna, occupied an area that now hosts Union Station, in downtown Los Angeles.

‣ This story is quite something: Climate expert Gianluca Grimalda was fired after he refused to take a flight back to Germany from the Solomon Islands, preferring to take a cargo ship home. Perhaps the commercial art world should take note?

Grimalda, who has avoided flying for more than a decade, said he had promised the people he met during his field work – some of whom had been displaced by rising waters – he would minimise his carbon emissions on his return journey.

But he faced a dilemma two weeks ago when his bosses at the Kiel Institute for Worldwide Economy (IfW) gave him a deadline to return to his desk that meant he had to travel by air, or face losing his job. He refused and on Wednesday, he said they informed him his contract had been terminated.

“IfW seems to ignore that we have entered the Anthropocene era and that the most important Earth ecosystems are close to collapse, if not already collapsed,” Grimalda said.

“In this era, wasting 4.5 tonnes of CO2 (the difference between the flight emissions and the slow-travel emissions) to comply with the absurd request to be physically present in Kiel at such short notice is morally unacceptable and epitomises the ultimate privilege of the global elites.

‣ The cover of Salman Rushdie’s new book about the attempted murder at the Chautauqua Institution is stunning:

‣ A social media prankster was shot and two TikTok lawyers explain if anyone committed a crime. Pretty fascinating:

‣ Vaccine scientists are warning that the antiscience conspiracies have become a dangerous movement since the start of the pandemic. Writing for Scientific American, Tanya Lewis interviews vaccinologist Peter Hotez:

Do you think Donald Trump’s presidency influenced the rise of antiscience attitudes?

What’s happening now, I say in the book at the beginning, is actually not about Trump. Most of this got worse after Trump in 2021 to 2022. Now there’s this effort to rewrite history—maybe in part because I’ve called [antiscience politicians and influencers] out by saying 200,000 Americans died because of their disinformation campaign. They’re doubling down and trying to say, “No, it was the COVID vaccine that killed Americans, and the scientists made the COVID virus.” This revisionist history is playing out now with the [U.S. House of Representatives] hearings that we’re seeing in the [Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic], which are trying to parade prominent scientists in front of C-SPAN cameras to try to humiliate them. It’s very Stalin-like, very [similar to the] U.S.S.R. in the 1930s.

Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracism Center at Boston University is facing some tough questions about what happened to the $55 million in donations they received. Eboo Patel of The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports:

By now, just about everyone in philanthropy has heard about the implosion at Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. The center, known as CAR, raised a whopping $55 million in philanthropy, much of it right after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.

But CAR’s output wasn’t nearly as impressive as its fundraising.

The degree programs that CAR was supposed to launch haven’t materialized. The Boston Globe is no longer partnering with the group’s news site, the Emancipator. Much of the research CAR promised never got done.

In other words, an appreciable portion of that $55 million appears to have been squandered.

The depth of the problems became widely known this month when CAR laid off more than half of its 36 person staff. But trouble was brewing for some time.

The Boston University student newspaper, the Daily Free Press, reported that in 2021, Associate Professor Saida Grundy, who was employed by CAR and left disillusioned, wrote a highly critical letter about the center to the school’s provost, Jean Morrison. Grundy accused the center of having a “pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing research obligated to them.” She noted that practice “continues to be the standard operating procedure at CAR” and that there is “no good-faith effort to fulfilling funded research projects.”

‣ Writing for the New York Review of Books, Susan Barba points out an aspect of the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that is often overlooked by Western think tankers, scholars, politicians. A must read:

What many geopolitical analyses of the end of Nagorno-Karabakh have failed to understand is the active presence of the Armenian genocide—not only the historical memory of the catastrophe but also Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing denial of it—in all its horror. The methods of denial employed by the Turkish and Azerbaijani states are multiple and diverse. They include, as the scholar Marc Mamigonian has enumerated,

the use of diplomacy and political pressure, the carrot and stick of economic benefits and sanctions, projecting a positive image of Turkey as a staunch NATO ally and a land of tolerance, reframing the Armenian Genocide as an episode of “common suffering,” accusing Armenians of genocide toward Turks and Azerbaijanis, disseminating an alternative “contra-genocide thesis” that seeks the status of academic legitimacy, and a campaign of legal activism and intimidation deployed, most notably, against educational institutions.

“Scholars have defined the denial of genocide as the last stage of genocide itself,” Bedross Der Matossian, a scholar of modern Middle East history, has written:

Denial is not only the reluctance to acknowledge the historical injustices of the past but it further aims at killing the dead and their memory over and over, inflicting pain on the survivors and their descendants, and demonstrating that future acts of violence are possible in a climate of deception and impunity. By denying genocides, states and nonstate actors become complicit in the process of genocide, transmuting the violence from the physical to the psychological plane.

What Der Matossian describes is happening now: the psychological pain of the refugees and the fulfillment of those future acts of violence. During the Holocaust, the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin formulated a definition of genocide that was purposefully expansive, signifying not necessarily the mass killing of an ethnic group but “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.” It is the coordination of different actions—by Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s support—aimed ultimately at the elimination of the Karabakh Armenians that makes the current violence continuous with the past and the forced exodus a genocidal act.

Frontline just released a feature-length documentary about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is a solid retelling of the richest man in the world’s bizarre obsession with the social platform:

YouTube video

‣ The Milwaukee Public Library had fun with this TikTok post about the wave of book bans across the US:


The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has seen an uptick in attempts at censorship in the United States in 2023. Learn more about censorship at ala.org/bbooks. #BannedBooksWeek is coming to a close, but you can read #BannedBooks all year at the library. #Barbie #BookTok #MargotRobbie #BarbieMovie #MargotRobbieBarbie #GretaGerwig #GretaGerwigBarbie #BookRecommendations 

♬ original sound – Milwaukee Public Library

‣ Kyle Chayka of the New Yorker reconsiders Wong Kar Wai’s masterful In the Mood for Love, which turns 23 this year (best read on a big screen):

In the Mood for Love is a kind of singular art work that stands in as a shorthand for one’s personal taste. If you know, you know. Wong created a cocktail of French New Wave filmmaking, American hardboiled mystery, Chinese modernist literature, and the geopolitics of his own Hong Kong-via-Shanghai upbrining, then channeled those disparate influences into the mundane, domestic story of two not-quite-lovers. The combination is both unprecendented and somehow familiar upon watching, like a forgotten memory.

‣ Some of the “psychology” behind Trader Joe’s by TikToker @urbannic (there’s also a general one about grocery stores). One of my favorite things that she does is include a list of our sources for anyone to reference:


Replying to @eleni the psychology behind trader joes

♬ original sound – nicole urban

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

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