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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 conversation with John Holdren on President Donald Trump's approach to science to a feature on innovative tracking devices and technological solutions to prevent the trafficking of polar bear pelts in Canada.
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  1. Twenty years ago James Byrd Jr. was brutally lynched in the town of of Jasper, Texas. At the time, the event sparked a more open discussion of the troubled racial history in the state, and even spurred political action to prevent such an atrocity in the future. But now, as writer John Savage reports from Jasper, some folks in the area are attempting to scrub the history and bigotry of the murder from the town's history. Read the story here.
  2. What is the expiration date of a fact? What outside sources do you use to corroborate a first-person account of a news event? Is factuality a popularity contest? These are the questions we are looking to address in our new series, Anatomy of a Fact, written by our lead research editor, Ben Rowen. To better understand how the fact-checking process works, and how we report our stories, make sure to check out this series as it continues in the months ahead. Read the series here.
  3. Animal trafficking is a growing problem—Interpol estimates that wildlife crime could be a $30 billion industry—but due to its multinational nature it is also a difficult one to solve. As pelts and other products are moved across borders it can be difficult to track just where the animal came from, who is responsible for the crime, and where they should be prosecuted. In Canada, as writer Katherine Laidlaw reports, the authorities are utilizing innovative tracking devices and technological solutions to prevent the trafficking of polar bear pelts. Read the story here.
  4. John Holdren led the Office of Science and Technology Policy for eight years under President Barack Obama. He is now a professor at Harvard University and is using his status as a private citizen to speak out against the problems he sees in how the Trump administration handles science research and funding. Staff writer Francie Diep sat down with Holdren in Washington, D.C., to talk about his take on the big science-related issues in the news and his continuing efforts to influence science policy-making on the Hill. Read the conversation here.
  5. Last year, President Donald Trump decided not to hold a Ramadan dinner, known in Islam as Iftar, at the White House for the first time in decades. Now, he's reversed this position and stated he would like to hold a dinner this year, despite the continued efforts by his administration to pursue what critics say are anti-Muslim policies. Contributing writer Massoud Hayoun spoke to leaders of the Muslim-American community about the proposed dinner, and was met with a combination of confusion, skepticism, and suspicion over the motives behind reinstating the event. Read the story 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