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This week: Obama’s compromises / The changing Mecca / Learning how to be a KGB-style spy / Our risk from asteroid strikes / Puerto Rican statehood

This week: Obama’s compromises / The changing Mecca / Learning how to be a KGB-style spy / Our risk from asteroid strikes / Puerto Rican statehood

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. The smooth compromise: How Obama’s iconography obscured his omissions
By Blair McClendon | The Guardian | August 2021
“A look back at the official photographs of Obama’s presidency shows his skill at conjuring a sense of pride and possibility — but today his victories seem narrow indeed”

2. Mecca: How the holy city has changed over the past 100 years
By Mohammed Haddad | AJLabs :: Al Jazeera | July 2021
“Before the coronavirus pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims would descend on Mecca for the annual Hajj. However, this year, like 2020, no foreign pilgrims will attend the Hajj after Saudi Arabia restricted the annual pilgrimage to a maximum of 60,000 vaccinated citizens and residents between the ages of 18 and 65.”

3. Home Country
By Héctor Tobar | Harper’s | August 2021
“What does it mean to be Latino?”

4. How the Mercury 13 Fought to Get Women in Space
By Jess Romeo | JSTOR Daily | October 2020
“In 1962, the House of Representatives convened a special subcommittee to determine if women should be admitted into NASA’s space program.”

5. What’s making mid-Atlantic songbirds sick?
By Christina Larson | Associated Press | July 2021
“The U.S. Geological Survey, which oversees responses to some natural hazards and risks, has recommended that people temporarily take down bird feeders and clean out bird baths to reduce places that birds could closely congregate and potentially spread disease.”

6. Learn how to be a spy from previously unpublished KGB training manuals
The World | July 2019
“Dig into the documents, and you’ll find lots of how-to guides, including information on ‘how to recruit and psychologically manipulate agents on Western soil,’ ‘how to root out enemy disinformation schemes,’ ‘how to infiltrate international scientific gatherings to recruit agents’ and ‘how to outflank suspected agents provocateurs.’ ”

7. The Vexing Question of Puerto Rican Statehood
By Osita Nwanevu | The New Republic | April 2021
“The debate over the territory’s status isn’t just dividing Washington. It’s dividing the island’s residents, too.”

8. Asteroid impact: NASA simulation shows we are sitting ducks
By Robby Berman | Big Think | May 2021
“If we discovered a potentially deadly asteroid destined to hit Earth in six months, was there anything we could do to prevent a horrifying catastrophe? The disturbing answer is ‘no,’ not with currently available technology.”

9. Amores Perros: Force of Impact
By Fernanda Solórzano | The Criterion Collection | December 2020
“The scene from the film that stays with me most is one in which a panting dog enters the ring, ready to fight. … This dog seems poised to tear through the streets of Mexico City — violent, rebellious, and vigorous — capturing the inimitable spirit of the film and its setting.”

10. The Long March
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2018
Also see: Pocahontas | The Berlin Conference | Galen | Exoplanets

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