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An Iranian Plot Grew in Brooklyn, and the Revelations about Pegasus
The indictment reads like a not-so-great spy novel: the operatives would kidnap the dissident from her home in Brooklyn, deliver her to the waterfront to meet a speedboat, bring her by sea to Venezuela, and then move her on to Tehran—where she would, presumably, face a show trial, and perhaps execution. But this was no potboiler. The Iranian nationals charged in the indictment were allegedly researching an audacious plot to capture a naturalized American citizen, on U.S. soil. The target of the scheme was Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who has been critical of the Iranian theocracy and particularly vocal in speaking out against the compulsory wearing of hijab; she has a large following on social media and a show on Voice of America. Her brother has been jailed in Iran, and her sister was forced to renounce her on television. The F.B.I. took the threat to Alinejad seriously enough to sequester her and her husband, Kambiz Foroohar, in a series of safe houses, where they stayed for months. Alinejad and Foroohar spoke about their ordeal with David Remnick, and explained why the regime regards her as such a threat. “For Iran, hijab is like the Berlin Wall was to the Soviet system,” Foroohar points out. “The narrative of the Islamic Republic was that women are choosing to wear hijab, and Masih is challenging that narrative.” Plus, the revelations about Pegasus. Marketed as a tool against terrorism, the spyware was also deployed by governments against journalists and activists. Isaac Chotiner interviews one of the targets, the Indian journalist and scholar Siddharth Varadarajan.
Eric Adams Talks with David Remnick
The New York City mayoral primary, which culminated in a vote held in June, was full of surprises, including the introduction of ranked-choice voting to a confused electorate, and the presence of Andrew Yang, a newcomer to municipal politics who quickly attained front-runner status. But the winning Democrat was no surprise. Eric Adams is the borough president of Brooklyn and a former state senator, making him an establishment favorite. He was also, for more than two decades, a police officer. With policing at the center of public attention since last year’s uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, Adams occupies a unique position in the debate. He was a firebrand in the N.Y.P.D. and an advocate for Black officers; and he was, as a teen-age boy, a victim of police abuse himself. But Adams is also a strong defender of the police department. He has spoken about the correct way to implement stop-and-frisk policies, which have been previously carried out in ways that were ruled unconstitutional. He rebuked candidates to his left who talked about defunding the force. And he made the national spike in violent crime part of his candidacy, when others focussed their platforms elsewhere.
The nation’s cities face a budgetary crisis, the COVID crisis, a crisis of confidence in policing, and more. Adams doesn’t seem fazed. “We need to be very honest that our city is dysfunctional. And it always has been for a large number of New Yorkers,” he told David Remnick. “I could take you throughout the city where the conditions have remained the same through mayor after mayor. What I must do is stop the dysfunctionality of a city that has normalized being dysfunctional.” Remnick spoke with Adams on July 21, 2021.
Helen Rosner’s Summer Drinks, Plus an Anxious Future in Afghanistan
Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the co-founder of Afghanistan’s only all-girls boarding school, and she is anxiously waiting to see if the Taliban—which brutally opposes the education of girls and women—will make inroads in Kabul. “I was speaking with a young woman,” Basij-Rasikh told the staff writer Sue Halpern, “and she said, ‘Yes, sure, the Taliban will kill more of us. The Taliban will kill a lot more of us. But they will never, ever rule over us.’ ” Plus, the food-and-drink writer Helen Rosner prepares three summer cocktails to toast a reopening world: a Cynar spritz; a Michelada made with nonalcoholic Upside Dawn Golden Ale; and a classic piña colada, complete with umbrella.
The Golden Arches in Black America
Marcia Chatelain, a historian at Georgetown, recently won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.” Chatelain looks at how McDonald’s leveraged the social upheaval of the nineteen-sixties to gain a permanent foothold in Black communities across the country. McDonald’s strategically positioned franchise ownership as an economic goal for Black entrepreneurs. Black franchisees, she notes, have navigated the economic promise and the pitfalls of that corporate relationship, while the wages for fast-food workers, who are disproportionately Black and Latino, have remained notoriously low.
Gillian Flynn, Akhil Sharma, and Alison Bechdel on Their Most Memorable Jobs
The U.S. economy seems to be showing real signs of life, and lots of people are finally returning to the labor force—eight hundred and fifty thousand in the month of June alone. At the same time, job resignations are at a record high, and many workers are changing careers. With work life at top of mind, we asked three writers to tell us about the most memorable jobs they’ve had in the past. Gillian Flynn, the author of novels including “Sharp Objects” and “Gone Girl,” remembers having to wear a frozen-yogurt costume as a teen-ager. Akhil Sharma talks about lying his way into a lucrative gig as a banker, spinning stories that played into ethnic stereotypes, before becoming the author of books such as “Family Life” and “An Obedient Father.” Plus, the cartoonist Alison Bechdel shares how she rewarded herself after her shortest job ever.
This story originally aired on August 25, 2017.
Bon Iver Live at the New Yorker Festival
In the winter of 2007, a songwriter by the name of Justin Vernon returned to the Wisconsin woods, not far from where he grew up. Just a few months later, he emerged with “For Emma, Forever Ago”—his first album produced under the name Bon Iver. Since then, Vernon and various bandmates have released three more records, won two Grammys, and collaborated with Kanye West, becoming one of the most celebrated bands in indie music. The music critic Amanda Petrusich spoke with Vernon at The New Yorker Festival, alongside his bandmates Brad Cook and Chris Messina. They discuss using made-up words as lyrics; Vernon’s deep, deep love of “Northern Exposure”; and how a group like Bon Iver engages with current events in today’s toxic political climate.
Bon Iver performed “U (Man Like),” “Marion,” and “RABi”; Vernon was accompanied by Sean Carey, Jenn Wasner, and Mike Lewis.
This story originally aired November 29, 2019