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Does ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Deserve PEN’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award? A Conversation

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Earlier this week, six authors — Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, and Taiye Selasi — announced their withdrawal as literary hosts of this year’s PEN America gala, over the group’s acknowledgment of Charlie Hebdo with its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award. Responding to what Kushner referred to as the magazine’s “cultural intolerance,” the writers met with quick condemnation from both PEN itself and one of its loudest spokesmen, Salman Rushdie.

So, who’s right? Is the Charlie Hebdo staff’s martyrdom enough to justify honoring them? Or should an award like this be reserved for work that PEN and its constituency actually endorse? Flavorwire Editor-at-Large Sarah Seltzer and Literary Editor Jonathon Sturgeon found themselves on the opposite sides of these questions. Below, each argues their point of view.
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what's underneath

“What’s Underneath” Video Series Uses Fashion Culture to Uncover Rape Culture

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The mother-daughter team behind eclectic personal style website StyleLikeU, Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, have produced a remarkable series called “The What’s Underneath Project,” a series of short videos in which fashion-forward people — artists, musicians, and others — sit in a studio and take off their clothes. Eventually clad in their underwear, but softly lit and beautifully styled, the subjects talk about their journeys, mostly focusing on the contrast between inner and outer conceptions of style and beauty.
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Mahatma Gandhi, Baltimore, and the Myth of Nonviolence

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It’s like clockwork. There’s a riot in some disenfranchised corner of America — or, more likely, there’s a peaceful protest that turns violent on its fringes. The media beams back images of burning shopfronts and crying children. A man in a uniform appears on television, appealing for calm. There’s a whole lot of hand-wringing about the futility of violence, and then somebody posts something on Facebook about “Ghandi” [sic] — usually, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” pasted onto a nice sharable photo. There’s a long, pious conversation about how nonviolent protest is the only acceptable means of resistance in a civilized society, all involving people who have never known someone like Freddie Gray, and who have never lived in the same circumstances as the average resident of a Baltimore housing project. People like, y’know, me.
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Stephen Lam / Reuters

Baltimore and Black Lives Matter: A Reading List

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Today, Baltimore is under a state of emergency as protesters decrying the mysterious, shameful death of Freddie Gray in police custody take to the streets. The word “riot” has been bandied about, and news cameras have descended on the city, offering a confusing picture of flames and stone-throwing, often with little context. To add nuance, background, and theory to the stream of news, here is some of the best writing we’ve seen on what’s happening in Baltimore.
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Journalists Slam Dissonance Between White House Correspondents’ Dinner and Baltimore Protests

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“The Secret Service is the only law enforcement to face repercussions if a black man gets shot,” was arguably Cecily Strong’s best quip during her gig at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. She followed this up later, by addressing the President directly about his hair color showing signs of age: “Your hair’s so white, it can talk back to the police.”
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Alex Gibney, Bart Gellman, Valerie Plame, and Ralph Echemendia at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In a Post-Snowden, Post-Sony Hack World, Who Has the Power to Disseminate Secrets?

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It’s not that difficult for someone to hack into your computer — and I know you think you know how easy it is, but trust me, it’s so much easier than you think. As a matter of fact, the attendees at Tuesday’s Tribeca Film Festival panel on “Secrecy and Power” were treated to a demonstration of exactly how easy it is, thanks to cyber-security expert Ralph Echemendia, aka “The Ethical Hacker.” Earlier that week, he sent an email with a link to a video clip to one of the TFF interns. As we all watched on a screen overhead, he opened up a window that displayed the intern’s desktop, his documents, his network. He turned on the webcam and the microphone. The poor schmuck had no idea. Most of those who are hacked don’t.
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