Issue #64: May 2018

Features

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The Great, Chaotic Biochar Experiment

Australian plant ecologist Brenton Ladd wants to reengineer the notoriously nutrient-poor soils in the Amazon, and, in the process, save the world's trees. But first, he has to convince Peruvian farmers and non-profits—and occasionally, his own research team—that he's not just another gringo with a strange idea.

Fairmont City, Illinois.

Failure at the EPA

The agency has left immigrants and minorities to fend for themselves at toxic waste sites across the country.

The West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana.

Perdido en el Humo

La agencia ha dejado a los inmigrantes y las minorías a valerse por sí mismos en los sitios de desechos tóxicos en todo el país.

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Surviving Racism

A Native writer struggling against the ignorance of white culture finds that her stories are her lifeline, her wounds are her power, and though the scales have been weighted against her in almost every way, there are many reasons to survive.

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Higher Risks, Fewer Protections for America's Immigrants

By virtue of both income and ethnicity, new Americans have the odds stacked against them when it comes to finding a healthy place to live.

Culture Pages

A handmade sign requesting militia go home is posted at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 28th, 2016, near Burns, Oregon.

Keeping Up With the Bundys: What Really Happened at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

A new book with an imperfect narrator demonstrates the benefits—and limits—of taking right-wing extremists at their word.

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Objects That Matter: Bears Ears

No other president in the last 50 years has attempted to shrink the national monuments designated by his predecessors.

Annie Delgado's classroom in Golden Valley High School, in Central California.

How Women's Studies Is Helping Rural Teens Fix Their Social Culture

With her pioneering courses, Annie Delgado is filling in the gaps left by more traditional curricula.

Haroon Ebrat reaches for his notepad, where he has written down audience requests. Ebrat runs Afghan TV, a Farsi-language variety show, out of his garage in suburban California.

An Afghan Variety Show on the Bay

Talk shows, live music, and romantic advice: how a quirky television station helps us understand cultural diasporas.

The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison "Promiscuous" Women.

Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison 'Promiscuous' Women

Behind the nationwide program that empowered health authorities to surveil women, quarantine them in miserable conditions, and force them to undergo painful and ineffective treatments.

Documentary filmmaker Amy Ziering.

Documentary Filmmaker Amy Ziering's Politics of Empowerment and Change

We spoke to Amy Ziering about what she recommends reading, watching, and listening to.

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

A Theory (on Bullshit Jobs)

With help from readers who wrote to him about their workplace experiences, anthropologist David Graeber develops a taxonomy of bullshit jobs.

Ocean's 8.

PS Picks: 'Ocean's 8' and Other Upcoming Female-Led Films

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

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Inside the Theater of Complicity

In SupremacyLand, visitors are forced to examine how they respond to overt expressions of racial bigotry.

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PS Picks: The American Black Film Festival

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

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PS Picks: Kaitlin Prest's Radiotopia Podcast 'The Heart'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

Joan Didion on March 29th, 2007, in New York City.

PS Picks: Michelle Dean's 'Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

The Fix

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The Poison in Our Water

As scientists sort out the best way to capture and measure the harmful microfibers that now litter most of the world's freshwater, we have no choice but to keep drinking.

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Fresh Times at Rehab High

Recovery high schools have been shown to have positive effects on students who struggle with addiction. So why aren't there more of them?

Field Notes

Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec.

Letter From Asbestos, Quebec: Welcome to Asbestos

Touching asbestos doesn't scare Pierrette Théroux, founder of the Asbestos Historical Society. As a child, she woke to dustings of asbestos, fallen overnight like snow.

Kanchanaburi, Thailand: Two tigers cool off at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yannasampanno, a Buddhist temple that once doubled as a wildlife refuge. Thai authorities later removed the tigers after allegations of wildlife trafficking.

Field Notes: Tigers Cool Off at a Buddhist Temple in Thailand

Kanchanaburi, Thailand: Two tigers cool off at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yannasampanno, a Buddhist temple that once doubled as a wildlife refuge. Thai authorities later removed the tigers after allegations of wildlife trafficking.

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan: In 2015, after Taliban skirmishes in the town of Sangin, Kharim Ahmad, an Afghan civilian, receives treatment from shrapnel wounds and other injuries at an emergency hospital.

Field Notes: Treating Shrapnel Wounds in Southern Afghanistan

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan: In 2015, after Taliban skirmishes in the town of Sangin, Kharim Ahmad, an Afghan civilian, receives treatment from shrapnel wounds and other injuries at an emergency hospital.

Supporters react before the Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition leader has himself sworn in as the 'people's president' on January 30th, 2018 in Nairobi. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga had himself sworn in as an alternative president in front of thousands of supporters, three months after an election he claims was stolen from him.

Letter From Nairobi, Kenya: Watching Kenya's Deadly Elections Unfold

The night before the election results were announced, opposition leader Raila Odinga was in the lead. But when Kenyans woke up the next morning, the election had unexpectedly flipped in favor of incumbent president Mwai Kibaki.

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Letter From Mancos, Colorado: Seeking Sanctuary in Trump Country

Even under the hardline policies of President Donald Trump—which resulted in a 25 percent increase in deportation arrests from 2016 to 2017—ICE officers largely avoid churches, mosques, and synagogues.

In Jharkhand, one of the poorest states in India, gangs recruit young boys for work as robbers across the country.

Field Notes: A Scene From Pyarpur, India

Pyarpur, India: In Jharkhand, one of the poorest states in India, gangs recruit young boys for work as robbers across the country.

Arbaz, Switzerland: A controlled avalanche, started with dynamite, slides down a mountain in the Swiss canton of Valais.

Field Notes: A Controlled Avalanche in Southern Switzerland

Arbaz, Switzerland: A controlled avalanche, started with dynamite, slides down a mountain in the Swiss canton of Valais.

Primer

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Don't Take Personality Tests Personally

Rigorous study of the Fisher Temperament Inventory is still in its infancy—much like our understanding of the relationship between neurobiology and personality to begin with.

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Air Pollution Linked to Delinquent Behavior

Underprivileged kids growing up in congested cities must overcome many handicaps; this study suggests one of them is the very air they breathe.

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Overheard: The Conversation, in Context

"Sticks and stones may break some bones, but harassment can hurt forever."

Pacific Standard staff writer Kate Wheeling in Lima, Peru, with Brenton Ladd and Lukas Van Zwieten.

Behind the Scenes: Getting Sentimental About Science

"Science is no longer about the quest for knowledge. Now it's about fixing problems. But just limiting science to fixing problems also limits your chances of making big discoveries."