home Must Reads Must reads: Travel, refugees, health care, wrongful convictions, massacres

Must reads: Travel, refugees, health care, wrongful convictions, massacres


Good morning, gentle readers! It’s likely going to be an active week, so why not start off gently, with some recommended reads to linger over as you gear up to face the day? This week, we’re traveling from Iceland to Mexico, learning about the psychology of wrongful convictions, and exploring a new model for education at a school heavily populated by refugees. Join us!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Global Comment podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud and catch up on the first episode, a fascinating interview with Omar Saif Ghobash.

The Ideal Iceland May Only Exist in Your Mind‘ (Taff Brodesser-Akner for The Wayfarer)

Travelogues can be painfully dull, or performatively arch, but this is a delightful romp through Iceland that reveals a slice of the community and culture in an empathetic, thoughtful, lovely way. Reading it feels like being taken on an adventure, an encouraging glimpse into someone else’s unmitigated joy.

So I went in search of the puffins again. I came back and folded my hands across my chest and stamped my foot at the hotel clerk and said once more that he was wrong, that the puffins were most certainly gone, and he came out from behind his desk and told someone in the office he was taking his break.

Welcome to Refugee High‘ (Elly Fishman for Chicago Magazine)

The United States may be torn on its responsibility to refugees, but all across the nation, young people fleeing violence and horror arrive in the US and need something quite basic: An education. The way schools decide to cope with immigrants and refugees says a great deal about their communities.

It’s no coincidence that as Sullivan has established itself as the go-to school for refugees in the last couple of years, its academic standing has also risen. It has gone from a Level 3 school (the lowest in CPS’s ranking system) to a 2-plus and is on track, Adams says, to reach Level 1 by this time next year.

Where Health Care Won’t Go‘ (Helen Ouyang for Harpers)

There are tremendous disparities in the US health care system, even under the Affordable Care Act. This is the story of one of them: Persistent tuberculosis in a community that lacks even the most basic of equipment and supplies for meeting the health care needs of a majority Black population.

The case Lee saw in that first X-ray was at an advanced stage, and the patient died. Though the health department’s staff tried to track those who might be vulnerable to infection — they traced the patient’s immediate contacts until they found someone positive, then traced that person’s contacts, working outward — most people declined to speak about others in their midst, even when they came for screenings at Lee’s clinic.

Remembering the Murder You Didn’t Commit‘ (Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker)

This is a mesmerising read. False convictions are a terrible truth in the United States, with many hardworking organizations struggling to free people who are wrongfully imprisoned. But what happens when innocent people have convinced themselves they really did commit the crime?

Fictitious memories do not only afflict those who have been traumatized; people with stable backgrounds also struggle to distinguish between experiences that they had themselves and those they absorbed through someone else’s stories. Studies show that people will come to believe that they were in an accident at a family wedding, were attacked by an animal, or had tea with Prince Charles, if they are told that family members saw it happen. The more often the stories are told, the more likely the memories are to be implanted.

How the U.S. Triggered A Massacre in Mexico‘ (Ginger Thompson for ProPublica)

ProPublica is famous for the depth of their reporting for a reason — features like this one draw upon a rich assortment of resources to tell a complex, vivid, and compelling story. In this case, it’s also a terrible one.

A few miles outside of town, the gunmen descended on several neighboring ranches along a dimly lit two-lane highway. The properties belonged to one of Allende’s oldest clans, the Garzas. The family mostly raised livestock and did odd contracting jobs, including coal mining. But according to family members, some of them also worked for the cartel.

If you enjoy our work, please consider supporting us with a one time or recurring donation. We believe in paying writers, and we rely on our readers to help us continue serving up interesting, dynamic, and engaging commentary every weekday. To make sure you don’t miss any of that commentary, you can subscribe to our newsletter below — and if you’re interested in writing for us, check out our contributor guidelines.

Photo: Garry Knight/Creative Commons