This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you inside a migrant shelter in Tijuana, aboard a boat sailed by a vision-impaired crew, and into a restaurant staffed by elderly people living with dementia.
Even with the holidays fast approaching, there's been plenty of news to keep up with. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.
More Than 1.3 Million High School Students Took Up Vaping Last Year
The findings of a study published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that the number of high school students vaping nicotine increased significantly last year. A survey of teenagers across the country showed that the percentage of high school seniors who said they had vaped in the past month jumped from 11 percent in 2017, to more than 20 percent in 2018. For sophomores, there was a jump from 8.2 percent to more than 16 percent.
The report substantiates concerns that the popularity of devices like electronic cigarettes would lead more teenagers to begin using tobacco. "Anything that can be vaped—not just nicotine but marijuana and flavorings—it doesn't matter, it went up," researcher Richard Miech told the Los Angeles Times.
Congress Passes a Criminal Justice Reform Bill
The Senate and the House of Representatives this week both passed the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation intended to reduce incarceration, in part by decreasing certain harsh prison sentences. Notably, it would retroactively apply a law to reduce the difference in sentences for crack and powder cocaine, making about 2,600 prisoners immediately eligible for release. As Pacific Standard reported earlier this month, the bill offers "the most significant blow against mandatory minimums since the Obama administration."
Nevada Has the U.S.'s First Majority-Female Legislature
On Tuesday, two women were appointed to the Nevada state assembly, marking the first time that women have held the majority of seats in a state's legislature anywhere in the country. With the addition of Democrats Rochelle Thuy Nguyen and Beatrice "Bea" Angela Duran, women now fill 32 of Nevada's 63 seats, or 51 percent. "It's a great victory," Duran told the Associated Press. "Women are proving to have more knowledge and aren't afraid to show that power that they have."