Trial

It’s unusual for a criminal trial to endear the victims’ families to the lawyers for the defense. But up in Boston, where the mobster James "Whitey" Bulger has spent the summer on trial for nineteen murders (along with dozens of other counts of racketeering and conspiracy), that’s exactly what happened.

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A visit with the “two most famous prisoners in all the world.”

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The Bloodlust State

For any who were not adequately shaken by David Grann's masterful article "Trial by Fire," about a man put to death by the state of Texas for a crime he almost certainly did not commit, Ta-Nehisi Coates points to a Salon article by Alan Berlow that simply beggars belief: If anyone had any doubt that the Texas justice system operates in a parallel universe, look no further than the latest decision by the state's highest court in the case of death-row inmate Charles Dean Hood.

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Living in Rwanda After the Genocide By Jean Hatzfeld (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 242 pp., $25) The Antelope’s Strategy: Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda By Lee Ann Fujii (Cornell University Press, 212 pp., $29.95) After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post- Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond Edited by Phil Clark and Zachary D.

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Unwanted?

In today's New York Observer, Felix Gillette has a thorough postmortem on "The Wanted," the short-lived and controversial NBC News show I wrote about earlier this month, in my piece about the case of Leopold Munyakazi, a former Goucher College professor accused of participating in the Rwandan genocide.

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This was a matter of American interest. More than that: it was actually an American matter. And the contempt that Great Britain, particularly Scotland, and Libya have shown the United States in it is a fact with which we must conjure, lest this drama in four parts otherwise define, delimit and demean our very position in world affairs. This is a choice that neither Russia nor China ever seem to face. That is, they never stand down (or seem even to contemplate standing down) from what they deem to be core.

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This was a matter of American interest. More than that: it was actually an American matter. And the contempt that Great Britain, particularly Scotland, and Libya have shown the United States in it is a fact with which we must conjure, lest this drama in four parts otherwise define, delimit and demean our very position in world affairs. This is a choice that neither Russia nor China ever seem to face. That is, they never stand down (or seem even to contemplate standing down) from what they deem to be core.

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Being Human

Quiet Chaos -- IFC Films The Girl From Monaco -- Magnolia Pictures Nanni Moretti, treasured in Europe, is scarcely known in the United States. This schism usually happens with film people whose work is strapped culturally to one country, but Moretti's writing and directing and acting are not only celebrated in Italy, they have prospered elsewhere. Not here, however, though his strongest concern is human commonality. Sometimes, in a career that began in 1973, he has appeared in films directed by others. This is true of his latest, Quiet Chaos.

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In the summer of 1990, I was 16 years old and working as an intern on Capitol Hill. As one might expect of a high school student who spends his summer vacation interning for a senator--rather than, say, working as a camp counselor or hanging out at the beach--I had a somewhat inflated view of my importance. I came to work early and stayed late, certain my presence was vital to the smooth running of government. But about halfway through the summer, I put in for a day off. My boss, probably thinking I was going to do something fun, eagerly granted it. Little did she know.

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Fundraising is a massive part of politics that the media and public rarely see in action. A voice mail message from Hillary Clinton to her notorious fundraiser Norman Hsu, who has already copped to running a $20 million Ponzi scheme and is now on trial for campaign finance violations, offers a glimpse into a world of sycophancy and mutual manipulation: "Norman, it's Hillary! What am I going to do with you, Norman? You are working so hard for me that I just don't know what to say any more.

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