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Sitdown Sunday: The election ‘that could break America’

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Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. The dangers of space junk

Floating around in space is a lot of… junk. Human artifacts and debris, just hanging about. But they can pose danger by being out there.

(The New Yorker, approx 35 mins reading time)

Sometime before three that morning, the surveillance network glimpsed a hunk of debris hurtling toward the I.S.S. A well-known piece of space trash, it had been labelled Object No. 36912 in an extensive inventory of orbital artifacts known as the NORAD catalogue. It had broken off of a Soviet military weather satellite, which was launched in 1979 from a Cold War facility near the Arctic Circle. The cylindrical satellite—resembling an old-fashioned boiler—was designed to work for less than two years. In the ensuing decades, it had been shedding fragments. That April, another piece of it had threatened the space station.

2. The election that could break America

With November not too far away, the discussion is already ongoing in the US about what could happen because of it.

(The Atlantic, approx 44 mins reading time)

The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

3. Our foster child

In this emotional story, a couple talk about their foster child. He had been severely neglected, and chose an unusual way to ask them to adopt him.

(BBC, approx 13 mins reading time)

The next day Tony took George to the local park. He noticed George staring intently at something, and Tony realised that it was a tree. He took George over to the tree and together they looked at it and patted it for a good 20 minutes. “This is the bark, and these are the leaves,” Tony explained to George. “This kid had never seen a tree before, and had certainly never touched one.”

4.  Black Lives Matter

The co-founder of the BLM movement talks about her work. 

(The Guardian, approx 11 mins reading time)

“Quite honestly, that’s why I liked the phrase Black Lives Matter,” says Tometi. “Because it wasn’t just Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride … It wasn’t just these singular names, which are extremely important. I could never, ever take away from their individual lives and the love that their families and communities have for them, absolutely not. But what was important was that we were living in a society where, systematically, our loved ones could be taken from us. And there would be no justice.”

5. The Covid-19 heart debate

How does Covid-19 affect the heart, and what can we do about it?

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(The Atlantic, approx 12 mins reading time)

These developments have only added to COVID-19’s mystique. News stories and scientific articles have spun a narrative about a bizarre virus that behaves like no other, and a supposedly respiratory illness that should perhaps be reconsidered as a vascular disease. But several cardiologists and virologists I’ve talked with say such claims are overblown. COVID-19 is a severe disease that should be taken seriously, but it’s not all that strange. It seems that way in part because it is new and extremely widespread, and so commands our full attention in the way that most viral illnesses don’t.

6. The world is finally ready for Beverly Glenn-Copeland

Musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland has had a fascinating life, but he’s often lived in a world that didn’t understand him. Now, people are finally catching up – and getting to hear his incredible music.

(The New Republic, approx 12 mins reading time)

The composer Beverly Glenn-Copeland weaves his way toward the stage, so slight and unassuming that he is barely noticed by the hipsters thronging the bar. Dressed in a uniform of pressed chinos, neat tie, and a mile-wide smile, he looks out over the audience and says, “Wow!” under his breath, as if he can’t quite believe all the fuss is for him. He seems more like an excited kid than a man in his mid-seventies. His band, who are all 40-odd years his junior, begin layering hypnotic, looping melodies. Glenn-Copeland lifts his arms toward the rapt crowd and sings “Ever New,” his ode to blooming flowers and regeneration, in a voice like summer rain itself.

AND ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In this 2012 article, Elizabeth Day writes about Sweden’s most notorious serial killer… or was he?

(The Guardian, approx mins reading time)

Occasionally, he leans forward to take a pouch of chewing tobacco from a blue tin on the low table in front of him which he slips underneath his top lip. He smiles more than you might expect, each time displaying a line of small, yellow teeth pushed back like a fence falling in on itself. When he laughs, his shoulders shudder gently in his blue sweatshirt. The overall impression is that of a kindly, slightly shy older man who is eager to please. Does he believe he is criminally insane? Bergwall looks at me, smiles, and then shakes his head. “No.” What will he do if he ever gets out of here? “I’ll just walk straight ahead and keep going.” 

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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