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Dispatches: Five Essential Reads From the Past Week

A collection of some of our most important and timely stories, from a feature story on the perils and possibilities of gene-drive to a photo essay documenting camels—and the people who have kept them—around the world.
Immigrants wait for medical attention at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, California.

Immigrants wait for medical attention at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, California.

A rundown of five of our most important and timely stories from the past week.

  1. Immigration has remained at the top of the news this week. An exponential increase in family separations, at the behest of the Trump administration, has ignited a furor among immigration advocates and people across the country. Fundamentally, the people who suffer the most from the decisions being passed down from Capitol Hill are the children who are being separated from their parents and held in detention centers along the border. And, as contributing writer Jared Keller writes, it's unlikely the scars that result from this treatment will go away any time soon. Read Keller's piece here.
  2. In more immigration news, President Donald Trump announced this week that he would be signing an executive order that would put an end to family separations at the border. But as contributing writer Massoud Hayoun reports, this decision could actually make things worse. The policy is the latest in several recent decisions by the White House that effectively mean more children will be detained for longer, in violation of the Flores v. Reno Supreme Court ruling that demands their prompt release from custody. As Angelica Salas, the director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said to Hayoun, "In a crisis that he and the Republican Party created, today's directive worsens a horrific situation for immigrant families everywhere." Read Hayoun's story here.
  3. Around the world, camels are disappearing, along with the cultures and traditions of the people who have kept them. Award-winning cinematographer Roger Chapman traveled to India, Arabia, Mongolia, and the Sudan to document the decline in a stark and earnest photo essay. Chapman leaves us with this note: "Mobile pastoralism has much to teach us, not least about how we might reconcile our ever-increasing demand for more food, water, and energy with the need to tread lightly, like the camel, on this fragile Earth." Check out Chapman's photo essay here.
  4. Writer Rowan Jacobsen goes in-depth on the potential impacts of using a gene-drive—the ability to force particular genes into future generations—to wipe out entire species. While this could give us the ability to wipe-out the mosquitoes that have killed millions of people across Africa, Jacobsen also points out the potential existential dangers that could come about as a result of this technology. Read Jacobsen's story here.
  5. What do you call an organization led by a mercurial, charismatic leader and comprised of people who follow anything that person says: A cult, or the modern GOP? This may sound like an overreach, but as senior staff writer Tom Jacobs found out after talking with cult expert Janja Lalich, there are more commonalities than you might think, or hope. As Lalich describes it, "The people around Trump, and the Republicans in Washington, absolutely kowtow to him, either out of fear they're going to anger him, or out of adulation. That behavior is very typical of a cult." Read Jacobs' interview here

This dispatch originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of