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Dispatches: Five Essential Reads From the Past Week

A collection of some of our most important and timely stories, from an interview with Harvard University's Theda Skocpol on grassroots organizing to a feature on a person-centered approach to elderly care far above the Arctic Circle.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress and Cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House on June 20th, 2018.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress and Cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House on June 20th, 2018.

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

  1. Donald Trump's presidency has forced many to confront their previous assumptions of what is fair game in political discourse. What was once seen as an arena for civil disagreement has, in many cases, spiraled into the kinds of personalized attacks on race, nationality, and gender that go outside the previous bounds of inclusive debate. For political science professors, this development has created a new challenge in the quest to create an inclusive atmosphere in the classroom. And as contributing writer and Denver University political science professor Seth Masket notes, it's something that will have a significant impact on the face of higher education for decades to come. Read Masket's piece here.
  2. Staff writer Francie Diep attended a public hearing hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., during which arguments were heard over a proposed "science transparency rule." The rule is controversial because it says that, if an agency uses scientific studies to write regulations, then they must make the data behind those studies publicly available, a situation that raises concerns over data privacy and ethics among researchers. In the room, Diep reports that opponents of this rule outnumbered supporters seven to one. Read Diep's report here.
  3. "It's not being led by Bernie Sanders people. These are middle-class women's networks, with some men in them." Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol is pushing back against the narrative that the revitalization of the Democratic Party will be spearheaded by the youth. In an interview with senior staff writer Tom Jacobs, Skocpol points out that much of the grassroots organizing currently supporting leftist causes is organized by middle-class, middle-aged women. These organizations, she argues, are the best hope for the Democrats to regain influence on Capitol Hill and beyond. Read the interview here.
  4. How air pollutants created by wildfires affect our respiratory systems is relatively well-studied, but a much less studied aspect of these disasters is how these contaminants can impact local produce. As a part of our New Landscapes series, contributing writer Sophie Yeo spoke to researchers who are studying what effect the devastating fires in Sonoma County have had on local produce and animal products. And the insights could have wider-reaching conclusions for more than just areas affected by fire: "If there is a scientific reason for concern about air pollution in produce, then anything we might find in Sonoma County after the disaster could help us better understand the larger phenomenon, which is important for everywhere where we grow food." Read Yeo's story here.
  5. In a small town 26 miles above the Arctic Circle, the local population is making a concerted effort to provide its elderly population with a person-centered approach to care. Providing them with a traditional diet helps the elders maintain a healthy body weight and remain mobile, but the taste of familiar foods also brings them comfort. Charlee Catherine Dyroff spoke to individuals involved with the initiative about the hurdles they've had to overcome to provide this kind of special care to one of the most vulnerable groups of people. Read Dyroff'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