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#NPRreads: Why Black Leadership Didn't Matter In Baltimore

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you three reads.

From Eliza Barclay, a reporter and editor on NPR's Science Desk:

The Syrian government has waged war against its own people in all kinds of horrifying ways. But selectively withholding chlorine – an essential tool for fighting waterborne disease — from politically unsympathetic communities? Anne Sparrow's story reveals a cruel new low with devastating effects: the return of diseases like hepatitis A and Myiasis—a maggot-ridden wound infection associated with lack of water. But it doesn't stop there: The Syrian government is also allegedly periodically using chlorine gas as a chemical weapon despite the UN Security Council adamant condemnation of it. She ends on a tragic but poignant note:

"The youngest children always suffer the worst of war—from the disease, the destruction, the degradation and insecurity. They deserve protection from an inhumane regime that has delivered diseases from the Dark Ages and repeatedly targeted civilians with deadly weapons without any meaningful international response."

Tanya Ballard Brown, an editor for NPR.org, points out a Buzzfeed story that explores why black leadership didn't make a difference in Baltimore.

Adam Serwer writes:

"In the history of black urban uprisings, Baltimore is one of very few cities that burned despite substantial black representation in the city government and police force. And that bodes ill for the belief that harmony can be achieved by elevating a few blacks to positions of power within a system that leaves so many impoverished. American cities cannot avoid unrest by simply placing black people at the helm, as long as progress for so many is ephemeral. An unjust system remains unjust no matter the ethnicity of its caretakers."

From Chris Hopkins, an editor for NPR.org:

How do you go from Eagle Scout to political idealist to calling in a hit on your employee? The story of the founder of Silk Road, a hidden online drug bazaar, is like "Scarface on fast-forward" according to one of the men chasing him. You'll also meet a cocaine-covered Mormon grandpa and a federal officer who impersonated an eyepatch-wearing cartel capo from his family's guest bedroom. And that's just the first half of the story.

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