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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 collection of photo essays highlighting indigenous land rights around the world to a fact check of President Donald Trump's claims about the wildfires in California.

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

  1. For our special photo issue about indigenous land rights, six Magnum photographers went into remote regions around the world to document the unseen battles being waged by native peoples against government and commercial interests to remain on their ancestral lands. In this issue we have stories from Azerbaijan, Greenland, Honduras, Malaysia, Tanzania, and the Philippines all housed together on a sleek, custom-designed microsite that was built in partnership with the Pulitzer Center for Investigative Reporting. Experience all of the photo essays here.
  2. Conspiracy theorists are having a moment. Between QAnon showing up at a President Donald Trump rally and then being potentially debunked by BuzzFeed News and the decision by Facebook, Apple, and others to remove Infowars content from their platform, those who usually remain in the shadowy corners of the Internet have found themselves in the middle of the news cycle. But are we prepared for this reality? Contributing writer Jared Keller interviewed communications professor Whitney Phillips to discuss how poorly prepared the mainstream media is for taking on Internet trolls. On the other side, Nathan Collins spoke to a litany of experts about how we can fix this problem and become more able to cope with these deliberate attempts to disseminate fake information. Read Keller's interview here and Collins' story here.
  3. One of the most well-known ways that disinformation campaigns gain traction is via social media platforms. Most notably, in the wake of the 2016 elections, Facebook has dealt with numerous complaints over how the company dealt with fake news spread by Russian accounts looking to sow discord within the American electorate. In response, the company has installed a new verification policy requiring a person to provide identifying information—such as a Social Security number—in order to run a political ad on its platform. However, as contributing writer Massoud Hayoun reports, some critics are warning that this policy is chilling speech from immigration activists protesting the Trump administration policies—particularly those activists who are undocumented themselves. Read Hayoun's story here.
  4. Wildfires continue to burn in California and elsewhere across the country. The president decided to weigh-in on the issue on Twitter, arguing that they were caused by what he deemed "bad environmental laws." As it turns out, Trump's prognosis is pretty much entirely wrong. Editorial fellow Emily Moon spoke with climatologists to fact check the president's tweets. Read Moon's story here.
  5. Vista High School in San Diego had spent years dealing with bad attendance, poor class participation, and low graduation rates. In order to address these issues, the school took a dramatic step by putting in place a new curriculum based on a personalized-learning approach that uses smaller classes and closer teacher-student relationships—among other things—to raise academic performance. Michael Elsen-Rooney visited the school to report on the programs successes, failures, and everything in-between. Read Elsen-Rooney's piece 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