Human Trafficking, Warrior Police, Childhood, Eritrea, Nile Rodgers, Richard Thaler

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Mastermind: The Evil Genius Of The Migrant Crisis

Alex Perry & Connie Agius | Newsweek | 10th June 2015

Action-packed profile of Ethiopian-born smuggling kingpin Ermias Ghermay, who sends thousands of migrants across the Mediterranean from Libya to Sicily in rafts and tubs. When the boats sink, hundreds drown. The Lampedusa wreck which killed 366 was his. The Italian police, who tap Ghermay's phone, say he talks of retiring. "Complaints about the number of his clients drowning are getting on his nerves" (6,350 words)

Law Enforcement’s Warrior Problem

Seth Stoughton | Harvard Law Review | 10th April 2015

If you train your police to be warriors, you are going to get some war. "From their earliest days in the academy, would-be officers are taught that they live in an intensely hostile world. A world that is quite literally gunning for them. The dangers officers face are depicted in graphic and heart-wrenching recordings that capture a fallen officer’s last moment. Death, they are told, is constantly a single small misstep away" (4,800 words)

A Lesson From My Father

Bernard Hare | BBC Magazine | 8th June 2015

A Yorkshire miner takes his 10-year-old son down the pit in the 1950s. The noise and dirt are frightening enough. But dad has arranged some surprises. The descending lift-cage goes into free-fall. A section of roof collapses while they are underground. The boy comes out "a terrified wreck". For years afterwards he blames his "nutcase" father for a day of "humiliation". And then, years later, he finds out why his father did it (2,600 words)

The Only Safe Thing In Eritrea

Abraham Zere | Africa is a Country | 9th June 2015

Letter from Eritrea, a "penitentiary state with numberless underground prisons". Everybody is in the army by default. Party meetings are mandatory. Nobody can leave the country without official permission. "The ruling party’s company, Red Sea Corporation, is the sole importer of goods. Basic food commodities are rationed." The only safe subject of conversation is football: "The President is an Arsenal fan" (1,080 words)

Nile Rodgers: Man With Two Brains

Kate Mossman | New Statesman | 4th June 2015

An interview which gets more interesting as it goes along. Rodgers grew up in Hell's Kitchen with a junkie stepfather, joined the Black Panthers, survived cocaine psychosis and prostate cancer, and has written and produced a string of hits worth $2 billion for Chic, Madonna and David Bowie. He says he hears music in his head non-stop. "He is now understood to be a legendary Quincy Jones-style figure" (2,340 words)

The Mischievous Science Of Richard Thaler

Cass Sunstein | New Rambler | 8th June 2015

Inspired partly by the psychological work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Richard Thaler founded behavioural economics, which contends that individuals make persistent and predictable errors in their economic choices. For example, we value things we possess more highly than identical things owned by other people. Nudge theory, Thaler’s other invention, suggests ways of correcting those predictable errors (3,750 words)

Video of the day: Johnny Express

What to expect: Cartoon adventures of a courier in Space. Perhaps an allegory for Amazon on Earth (5'26")

Thought for the day

Let no one be fooled by the fact that we write in English, for we intend to do unheard-of things with it
Chinua Achebe (

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