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New York Times
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:An Opposing View of Affirmative Action and More: The Week in Reporter Reads

This weekend, listen to a collection of articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.

The Liberal Maverick Fighting Race-Based Affirmative Action

Written and narrated by Anemona Hartocollis

The Liberal Maverick Fighting Race-Based Affirmative Action

Since picking up a memoir of Robert F. Kennedy at a garage sale his senior year of high school, Richard D. Kahlenberg, 59, has cast himself as a liberal champion of the working class. ‌For three decades, his work, largely at a progressive think tank, has used empirical research and historical narrative to argue that the working class has been left behind.

That same research led him to a conclusion that has proved highly unpopular within his political circle: that affirmative action is best framed not as a race issue, but as a class issue. Race-conscious affirmative action, while it may be well intentioned,‌ ‌actually aligns with the interests of wealthy students‌ and creates racial ‌animosity.

His advocacy has brought him to an uncomfortable place. The Supreme Court is widely expected to strike down race-conscious affirmative action this year in cases against Harvard and the University of North Carolina. He has joined forces with the plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions, run by a conservative activist; the group has paid him as an expert witness and relied on his research to support the idea that there is a constitutional “race-neutral alternative” to the status quo.

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He Told Their Stories of Repression. Now They Are Telling His.

Written and narrated by Anton Troianovski

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was arrested in Russia last month on accusations of espionage, a claim The Journal, the U.S. government and press advocacy groups have rejected.Credit...Dimitar Dilkoff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He Told Their Stories of Repression. Now They Are Telling His.

The urgent message arrived from a Russian human rights group that aids people caught up in the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent.

“Friends, sorry!” the spokeswoman for the group, called OVD-Info, wrote to Anton Troianovski and some of his New York Times colleagues last Thursday. “Does anyone have contacts in the leadership of The Wall Street Journal?”

Less than half an hour had passed since Russia announced the detention of Evan Gershkovich, a Moscow correspondent for The Journal, on accusations of espionage that The Journal, press advocacy groups and the United States government have firmly rejected.

It’s one of the most brazen attacks on press freedom anywhere in years. He is the American-born son of Soviet Jewish émigrés, a former employee of The New York Times and now, essentially, a hostage of the Russian state.

After Mr. Gershkovich’s detention, there was an outburst of solidarity from Russians who themselves have struggled to tell their country’s story and make it a better place, often at great cost.

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Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter Reveals Himself: As a Composer

Written and narrated by Zachary Woolfe

Thomas Bangalter at his home office in Paris. The musician, best known as half of the duo Daft Punk, is returning with his first major project since the group’s dissolution.Credit...Sam Hellmann for The New York Times

Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter Reveals Himself: As a Composer

The most shocking part of “Mythologies,” a ballet that premiered last summer in Bordeaux, France, came after the dance was over. It was a seemingly normal moment: The composer of the music came out and took a bow.

What was surprising was that his face and his wild halo of dark curls were showing. After spending more than 20 years in public behind shiny, opaque robot-style helmets as half of the pathbreaking dance-music duo Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter was ready to be seen without barriers.

“There’s nothing sensational about it,” Bangalter, 48, said on a recent video call. “It’s down to earth, my relationship to physical appearance that I feel now.”

“Mythologies,” Bangalter’s first major solo project since Daft Punk announced its dissolution in February 2021, is arriving on Friday as an album on Erato, the distinguished French classical label. Conceived in 2019, long before Daft Punk’s breakup, it is a 90-minute instrumental score for traditional symphony orchestra, with nary an electronic sound in the mix.

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‘Thousands of Dollars for Something I Didn’t Do’

Written by Kashmir Hill and Ryan Mac | Narrated by Ryan Mac

Randal Quran Reid was jailed after he was mistaken for a Louisiana suspect during a traffic stop near Atlanta.Credit...Nicole Craine for The New York Times

‘Thousands of Dollars for Something I Didn’t Do’

On the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving, Randal Quran Reid was driving his white Jeep to his mother’s home outside Atlanta when he was pulled over on a busy highway. A police officer approached his vehicle and asked for his driver’s license. Mr. Reid had left it at home, but he volunteered his name. After asking Mr. Reid if he had any weapons, the officer told him to step out of the Jeep and handcuffed him with the help of two other officers who had arrived.

“What did I do?” Mr. Reid asked. The officer said he had two theft warrants out of Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish, a district on the outskirts of New Orleans. Mr. Reid was confused; he said he had never been to Louisiana.

Mr. Reid’s wrongful arrest appears to be the result of a cascade of technologies — beginning with a bad facial recognition match — that are intended to make policing more effective and efficient but can also make it far too easy to apprehend the wrong person for a crime. None of the technologies are mentioned in official documents, and Mr. Reid was not told exactly why he had been arrested, a typical but troubling practice, according to legal experts and public defenders.

“In a democratic society, we should know what tools are being used to police us,” said Jennifer Granick, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union.

A ConocoPhillips oil drilling pad on Alaska’s North Slope.Credit...Erin Schaff for The New York Times

In Pristine Alaska, an Oil Giant Prepares to Drill for Decades

On the snowy tundra at the northernmost tip of the United States, more than two dozen yellow dump trucks wait on a glistening ice pad.

It’s been just days since the Biden administration approved an $8 billion project to drill for oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, the nation’s single largest expanse of untouched wilderness. But the oil giant ConocoPhillips is already in motion, massing equipment and flying in workers and provisions to this vast frozen flatland 250 miles above the Arctic Circle.

In Nuiqsut, a village of about 500 people and the closest town to the site of the drilling project, the only hotel is booked solid. It’s the Kuukpik Hotel, a row of metal trailers that also hosts the cafeteria that serves as the only restaurant in town — in fact, the only one for hundreds of miles. Sitting in the cafeteria on a recent Wednesday (“Steak Night” at the Kuukpik) oil workers from California, Oklahoma and other parts of Alaska said they were excited by the years of employment promised by the project, known as Willow.

“I can probably retire on it,” one man said.

The Times’s narrated articles are made by Tally Abecassis, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Aaron Esposito, Dan Farrell, Elena Hecht, Adrienne Hurst, Emma Kehlbeck, Tanya Pérez, Krish Seenivasan, Kate Winslett, John Woo and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.