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Barry Gibb: The Last Brother

The Bee Gees were “one of the strangest, most complicated, most brilliant groups ever to achieve pop stardom”. They had hits in the Sixties, fell apart, got their groove back in the Seventies when their manager called: “He was producing a disco movie, and he needed songs for the soundtrack”. The last brother, Barry, is rich and gloomy at 67: “A heart attack onstage would be ideal. Right in the middle of Stayin’ Alive(4,580 words)

Jimmy Iovine: The Man With The Magic Ears

From the archives. Retrospective interview with Jimmy Iovine, legendary record producer, label boss, Beats founder. He started out engineering for John Lennon, with Phil Spector producing. Things went quiet. Then they livened up again: “Roy calls me: ‘There’s a guy at the Hit Factory. They just threw him out. His name is Bruce Springsteen, and he wants to come to our studio’. I’m 21 and I have my second client” (h/t Longreads) (6,500 words)

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Weekend treat. Thanks to Longform for pointing out that this piece, one of the most influential and enjoyable magazine articles ever published, is available ungated on Rolling Stone‘s website. If you haven’t read it before, seize the moment. And if you have, read it again. Just try and stop yourself: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold …” (22,900 words)

Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview

He may well be “the most optimistic” man alive, as well as the richest. He sees the world as a “giant operating system” that “just needs to be debugged”, and his charitable foundation is on the case. Topics include surveillance, public health, inequality, Microsoft, Apple, America. “Say you’re gay in America, would you go back 50 years? Say you’re sick in America, do you want to go back 50 years? I mean, who are we kidding?” (6,400 words)

Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman

From the archives of Rolling Stone: David Bowie in conversation with William S. Burroughs. You may have to be of a certain age to enjoy this fully. In which Bowie explains the plot of Ziggy Stardust; declares Lou Reed to be the greatest musician on the planet; and reveals himself as unexpectedly class conscious, in the English way. His lyrics, he says are “a bit middle class, but that’s all right, ’cause I’m middle class” (5,780 words)

The Great Marijuana Experiment

On the economics and social-policy dimensions of marijuana liberalisation in America. Colorado opened its first legal pot shops this week. Washington State will follow soon. Legal pot sales will probably top $2.4bn this year — but watch where you shop. “If you drop a gram of Sour Diesel on the sidewalk in Seattle, a police officer may help you sweep it up. Do that in New Orleans and you could face 20 years hard labor” (4,500 words)

The Men Who Leaked The Secrets

You may feel that you have read your quota of articles about Edward Snowden and/or Glenn Greenwald for the current year, but make an exception for this well-made profile, which moves lightly on its feet and offers much new colour and detail throughout — notably on Greenwald’s early life as a lawyer, on Snowden’s time at the NSA, and on how Julian Assange elbowed his way belatedly into Snowden’s drama (10,900 words)

Geeks On The Front Lines

US government and corporate recruiters vie to hire hackers, as cyberwarfare escalates. If you know how to hack into the Chinese government’s computers, chances are the US government would like to use your services — and vice-versa. Security contractors are booming, and boasting. “If [the U.S. government] came to a company like us and said, ‘Here’s $15 million,’ we could turn a North Korean missile into a brick” (4,800 words)

Rogue State Kansas

Remember Sam Brownback — who tried briefly for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008? As governor of Kansas he has turned the state into a laboratory for Tea-Party policies — gutting spending on social services and education, privatising Medicaid, cutting taxes, and aiming to abolish state income tax entirely. After which he might make another run for president. Rolling Stone disapproves, at length (6,200 words)

Cruel And Unusual Punishment: The Shame Of Three Strikes Laws

In California, the first state to pass a “three-strike” law mandating long prison sentences for third-time offenders, thousands of people are serving life sentences for non-violent and often trivial crimes. “Have you heard the one about the guy who got life for stealing a slice of pizza? Or the guy who went away forever for lifting a pair of baby shoes? Or the one who got 50 to life for helping himself to five children’s videotapes from Kmart? This Frankenstein’s monster of a mandatory-sentencing system isn’t just some localized bureaucratic accident, but the legacy of a series of complex political choices we all made as voters decades ago” (6,334 words)

Gangster Bankers: Too Big To Jail

“For at least half a decade, HSBC helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, The bank also moved money for organisations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and aided countless common tax cheats”

NRA vs America

“The NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora”

Secrets And Lies Of The Bailout

“We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we ended up doing was the opposite: committing taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system”

Obama And The Road Ahead

Interview with President Obama. Friendly, but still a good read if you haven’t had your fill of electioneering. Here is his pitch for a second term and his criticism of Mitt Romney, which went unarticulated in that first TV debate

Mitt Romney’s Real Agenda

If you want to understand Romney’s game plan, says Dickinson, just look at what Republicans have been doing in Congress (h/t Shara Sprecher)

The Gangster Princess Of Beverly Hills

She claimed to be a model, a pop star, even heiress to the Samsung fortune. She lived in LA and called herself the Korean Paris Hilton. But then the DEA caught her out. This is the bizarre story of drug trafficker Lisette Lee

Greed And Debt: The True Story Of Mitt Romney And Bain Capital

“He is the frontman of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are erected while American communities fall apart”

The Hugging Saint

Indian spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi specialises in hugs. So far 30 million have felt her rapturous embrace. Followers believe she’s a divine soul in a human body. But she’s commercial too and, allegedly, violent and abusive

From An Unlikely Source, A Serious Challenge To Wall Street

Could local government use eminent domain to seize sinking mortgages? It could be “the first true open, pitched battle between Wall Street and the homeowners and communities who have been the primary victims of financial corruption”

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

“When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math.” Here are the three numbers that matter

Rachel Maddow’s Quiet War

New-generation TV anchor builds “a different channel for liberal anger, an outsider channel, one that steers the viewer’s attention away from the theater of politics and toward the exercise of power, which is to say, toward policy”

The Sharp, Sudden Decline Of America’s Middle Class

Janis Adkins never dreamt she’d be unemployed. She ran a successful plant nursery in Utah. Then the recession wiped her out. Now she lives in her car, parked up beside a church. And forages for food. Her story is far from unique

The Scam Wall Street Learned From The Mafia

How banks defrauded small towns across US. “No thumbs were broken, and nobody ended up in a landfill in New Jersey, but money disappeared, lots and lots of it, and its manner of disappearance had a familiar name: Organised crime”

America’s Last Prisoner Of War

Three years ago, a 23-year-old American soldier walked off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban. Now he’s a crucial pawn in negotiations to end the war. But not everyone, Taliban or American, wants to do a deal

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