1. Opinion

The Reading File: Excerpts from interesting articles

Alone in confusion and fear

In the New York Times, Diana Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, recounts the trauma of being sexually assaulted as a young teen. Read "My Life After Sexual Assault" in full at Here's an excerpt.

I was dead asleep in the master bedroom when it happened. Out of nowhere, (my swim coach) was on top of me. He yanked my suit down. He grabbed at and drooled onto my breasts. He hyperventilated and moaned. I didn't breathe for perhaps two full minutes, my body locked in an impenetrable flex. My arms trembled, pinned to my sides. He pleaded with me to open my legs, but they were pressed hard together. If breath gives us force, that day I could feel the strength in my body from the polar opposite — from not breathing. He ejaculated on my stomach, my athletic torso I was so proud of now suddenly violated with this strange and foul stuff.

As he slinked out of the room, I gasped for air, as if I had just been held underwater for those two minutes. I vomited onto the floor. That night I was not of this world. Teammates had to prompt me to get onto the blocks. I hadn't heard the announcer's voice. In the end, we won the team title, but while the team was cheering and laughing, I plunged down to the floor of the diving well. My young world had just been capsized and I was very much alone in my confusion and fear. And I screamed into the abyss of dark water: "This is not going to ruin my life!"

Sexism on the front lines

In Politico Magazine, Susan Glasser conducts a roundtable with six top female national security experts about the culture of everyday sexual harassment and sexism that is still rampant in the national security world. Read their remarks in full at Here's a scene described by one of them, Mieke Eoyang.

The political environment is really tough because you add onto this the chauvinism of the military and then you talk about the chauvinism of politics and you're sort of getting it on all sides.

You're getting it from the chairman of the committee who corners you at a reception and talks to you about his sexual endurance, and you get it when you drop off tables at one of your colleagues' desks and his desk faces yours and you look up at his screen and there's porn on it. And do you say something? Do you not say something? Because it's not really that hopeful that something good is going to come out of it. So it's a really hard environment and I think especially when you're young. I started on the Hill at the time of the Clinton impeachment scandals. So the number of senior men in national security who really wanted to have long conversations with me about the Starr Report and what the president did with his cigar and what would I do if I had a dress that had a stain on it.

And it's just like you just feel so creeped out by it. A friend of mine talked about this is the context of a more recent scandal. Like, what do you do when someone's talking to you about the news, but it also feels like an HR violation? You're stuck in this really awkward place. You can't really be like, "Well, it's not of national importance" but you really don't want to be talking about it with anyone.

Greatness going, gone

At, Nick Bryant writes about "The Time When America Stopped Being Great." But first he remembers a time when "more than 30 years ago, as I fulfilled a boyhood dream to make my first trip to the United States. America had always fired my imagination, both as a place and as an idea." That was then. Read his essay in full at Here's an excerpt.

My infatuation had started long before, with Westerns, cop shows, superhero comic strips, and movies such as West Side Story and Grease. Gotham exerted more of a pull than London. My 16-year-old self could quote more presidents than prime ministers. Like so many new arrivals, like so many of my compatriots, I felt an instant sense of belonging, a fealty borne of familiarity.

Eighties America lived up to its billing, from the multi-lane freeways to the cavernous fridges, from the drive-in movie theatres to the drive-through burger joints. I loved the bigness, the boldness, the brashness. Coming from a country where too many people were reconciled to their fate from too early an age, the animating force of the American Dream was not just seductive but unshackling.

Upward mobility was not a given amongst my schoolmates. The absence of resentment was also striking: the belief success was something to emulate rather than envy. The sight of a Cadillac induced different feelings than the sight of a Rolls Royce. It was 1984.

Weinstein's spies

In the New Yorker, Ronan Farrow continues his stunning expose of Harvey Weinstein: "The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists." Read "Harvey Weinstein's Army of Spies" in full at Here's how it begins.

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world's largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives "highly experienced and trained in Israel's elite military and governmental intelligence units," according to its literature.