An Offer You Can’t Refuse | How a Mob Statute Metastasized

Piper French

For Shani Robinson, an activist and former educator in Atlanta, the ongoing racketeering trial against the rapper Young Thug and his record label YSL has occasioned a strong sense of déjà vu. Robinson has been ensnared in her own RICO — Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — case for a decade now. Along the way, she has become a reluctant expert on the statute, but back when she was first...

A Star Is Born | Raffi Gessen-Gould’s Examined Life

Piper French

Social media has produced a curious phenomenon: the unwitting child star. These are kids who seem to intuitively mug for the camera without having the slightest idea of what it means to be watched by thousands of strangers around the world. Their parents have made them famous before they can really grasp what the internet is, or meaningfully consent to have their image distributed there. It’s hard to say who...

College Debt | USC and the Problem of the Private University

Piper French

Mark Ridley-Thomas had a plan. He also had an accomplice: University of Southern California dean Marilyn Flynn. The problem was that the plan was no good — totally baffling, in fact, like a Coen brothers plot rejected for implausibility. Its central character seemed too bumbling, too ready to risk it all, to be believable for a man of Ridley-Thomas’s position: a giant of Los Angeles politics, then representing two million...

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