The Boston Bombings, Gun Control Failure, and Earth Day: Interesting Slate Stories

The week's most intriguing stories.
April 20 2013 7:00 AM

The Boston Bombings, Gun Control Failure, and Earth Day

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

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Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the suspected Boston Marathon bombing suspects, speaks to reporters in front of his home in Maryland.

Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Please, Listen to Ruslan: The bombing suspects’ uncle delivers an extraordinary message about character, shame, and collective responsibility,” by William Saletan. Amid the speculation surrounding the identity of the two Boston bombers, William Saletan draws our attention to their uncle. Friday morning, Ruslan Tsarni expressed condolences to the victims in Boston and ended his appearance by saying, “Those who suffered, we’re sharing with them, with their grief—and ready just to meet with them, and ready just to bend in front of them, to kneel in front of them, seeking their forgiveness.” Read Slate’s complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt.

We Need More Cameras, and We Need Them Now: The case for surveillance,” by Farhad Manjoo. Although seen by many as an affront to our civil liberties, increased video surveillance of public spaces is a cost-effective and reliable method of keeping Americans safe, argues Manjoo. The two suspects of this week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon were identified using surveillance footage recorded by cameras at the site of the explosions. And video cameras have proved their effectiveness before, when in July of 2005, a team of suicide bombers attacked London’s transportation systems and were brought to justice using footage taken primarily from closed-circuit television cameras.

How Vladimir Putin Could Help Boston: The Russian president offered to help in any way he could. Actually, he could do a lot of good,” by Fred Kaplan. Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to help the United States in any way he could after the Boston bombings.  Now that the two suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appear to have Chechen roots, Putin can do just that by sharing whatever intelligence the Russians might have on ptotential contact between the Tsarnaevs and Chechen radicals..  

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“‘They Won’t Get Away With It:’ Four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers says the bombing will not destroy the world’s greatest race,” by Josh Levin. In response to Monday’s bombings, former champion Bill Rodgers vowed to attend next year’s race with all his friends. He said, “They would never ever let those puny people treat us that way and get away with it. They won’t get away with it.”

Why Newtown Wasn’t Enough: Gun control advocates won’t win until senators fear them as much as they fear the NRA,” by John Dickerson. Dickerson observes that the tragedy at Newtown was not enough to push gun control legislation through the Senate on Wednesday. Getting this legislation passed, he argues, will require taking electoral revenge on those Republicans and Democrats who killed the bill. In addition, gun control advocates need to prove that their grass-roots supporters are as single-issue focused as the gun rights advocates.

“‘Burn Her at the Stake’: Amanda Knox was acquitted of murder. Why do so many people still hate her so much?” by Douglas Preston. In an excerpt from his Kindle Single, Preston explores Amanda Knox’s vilification on the Internet, one of the most disturbing aspects of this high-profile case. Anthropologists use the term ‘altruistic “punishment” to explain how we punish those who violate a given set of societal norms. This behavior is altruistic in that it is aimed at benefitting society at large. Yet never in human history has a system developed like the Internet in which our punishing instincts are allowed to run riot. 

 “‘We’re the No. 1 Threat to Women!’ The feminist comedy of Louis C.K.,” by David Haglund. Louis C.K describes feminists and comedians as “natural enemies,” since “stereotypically speaking, feminists can’t take a joke” and “comedians can’t take criticism.” The comedian took some backlash for purportedly pitting comedy against women, but David Haglund looks back at some of Louis C.K.’s most hilarious (and feminist) work.

 “A Dog-Eat-Dog World: Does your pet’s food contain dead pets?” by Jackson Landers. There is a strange and disturbing conglomeration of unlisted ingredients we pour into our pets’ feed bowl each morning. Unusable meat products, from leftover slaughter house material to euthanized animals from shelters and veterinary clinics, are sent to rendering plants where they are ground up, boiled, and served. Landers argues, however, that the process does constitute an effective form of recycling. The real outrage, he found, lies in our wasteful food production system and a broken animal adoption system which produces this massive amount of biomass in the first place.

Stop Whining About Air Travel: Flying is safer, cheaper, and better than ever. And luggage fees are great,” by Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias sings the praises of today’s commercial airlines. Americans fly about 10 billion more passenger-miles than they did a decade ago, at a price per mile that’s been decreasing over the past 30 years. In addition, air travel is relatively safe: Death rates for car travel are 72 times higher.

Seven Spectacular Places Saved by the Environmental Movement: To celebrate Earth Day, visit a spot that was almost flooded, polluted, or paved over,” by Jennifer Weeks. The first Earth Day in 1970 was an act of anger toward those were careless with the natural environment. Today, as weeks writes, that “passion has morphed into guilt.” . If you’re feeling thankful, check out these seven places of natural beauty and solace.

Liana Mehring is a Slate intern.