Big Stories

9 Feature Stories You Can't Miss This Week: Heroes, Hubris, And High Rollers

This week for BuzzFeed News, Gregory D. Johnsen chronicles the rise and resolve of CIA Director John Brennan. Read that and these other great stories from BuzzFeed News and around the web.

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1. The Untouchable John Brennan — BuzzFeed News

Jason Reed / Reuters

How did Barack Obama, the candidate of hope and change, turn into the president of secret kill lists and immunity for torturers? The answer may lie in his relationship with CIA Director John Brennan, a career bureaucrat turned quiet architect of a morally murky national security policy who isn’t going to let a little thing like getting caught spying on the Senate bring him down. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

2. She Skipped School and Couldn't Pay Her Fines — So Texas Sent Her to Jail — BuzzFeed News

Dylan Hollingsworth for BuzzFeed News

Kendall Taggart and Alex Campbell report from Texas, where more than a thousand teenagers have been ordered to lockup on charges that stem from missing school, often because they have unpaid court fines. The costs to their education are high. Some, like Serena Vela, never go back. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

3. "Have You Ever Thought About Killing Someone"Matter

Illustration by Steve Kim for Matter

A disturbing and twisted tale of fantasy, murder, and perversion by Rachel Monroe that will leave you with far more questions than answers. How could someone be turned on by the idea of being brutally killed — and what type of person would be willing to do it for them? Read it at Matter.

4. After 20 Years, “Friday” Is (Still) the Most Important Film Ever Made About the Hood — BuzzFeed News

The stars and the director of this genre-busting sleeper hit — which returned to theaters for one day to celebrate its 20th anniversary — talk to Kelley L. Carter about why it still resonates. “I know you don’t smoke weed. I know this. But I’m gonna get you high today. ‘Cuz it’s Friday, you ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got shit to do!” Read it at BuzzFeed News.

5. These 10 Questions Can Mean Life Behind Bars — BuzzFeed News

Illustration by Jenny Chang for BuzzFeed News

A short checklist called the Static-99 weighs facts about a sex offender’s past in order to predict the likelihood of future crimes. But as Peter Aldhous finds, many legal and scientific experts worry that the way the test is often used — to make high-stakes decisions about an individual’s liberty — is critically flawed. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

6. Joss Whedon’s Astonishing, Spine-Tingling, Soul-Crushing Marvel Adventure! — BuzzFeed News

Marvel; Jay Maidment; Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Joss Whedon gets candid with Adam B. Vary about how, even for a beloved and widely respected director living out his ultimate dream job at the helm of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it might be impossible to survive the Marvel Studios machine intact. "Now that his time at the top of the Marvel Studios tower is nearing its end, the only question left to ask is, what could he possibly do next?" Read it at BuzzFeed News.

7. How Mississippi Discovered the Drug War’s “Golden Egg” — BuzzFeed News

Albert Samaha / Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Albert Samaha and Alex Campbell investigate how a small-town narcotics unit has built a team of confidential informants by arresting low-level-offender college students and pressuring them to flip. "It’s clear local law enforcement agencies have identified the goose that lays the golden egg." Read it at BuzzFeed News.

8. Swamps Élysées: Meet the Queen of GatorAtlanta Magazine

Photograph by Alex Martinez for Atlanta Magazine

Mary Logan Bikoff paints a hilarious and humanizing portrait of Christy Plott Redd, the Georgia woman who takes alligators from the swamps of the South to the windows of the world's most exclusive fashion houses. "I'm like Scrooge McDuck diving into his money pit—only mine’s filled with alligator skins.” Read it at Atlanta Magazine.

9. Putin’s Action Hero: How Steven Seagal Became the Kremlin’s Unlikeliest Envoy — BuzzFeed News

RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool / AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP Photo / Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

The Russian president stunned Barack Obama when he proposed Steven Seagal as an intermediary between Washington and Moscow. Max Seddon and Rosie Gray tell the extraordinary story of the faded action star’s dalliances with the Kremlin. Read it at BuzzFeed News.