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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 on biochar in the Amazon to an interview with Cornell University professor Jamila Michener on how unstable medicaid programs affect political engagement.
Pacific Standard staff writer Kate Wheeling in Lima, Peru, with Brenton Ladd and Lukas Van Zwieten.

Pacific Standard staff writer Kate Wheeling in Lima, Peru, with Brenton Ladd and Lukas Van Zwieten.

  1. After another tragic school shooting—this time in Santa Fe, Texas—contributing writer Jared Keller argues that it's time for us to stop treating each of these tragedies as an isolated incident because it's giving these shooters—and the toxic communities they stem from, exactly what they want. Keller's story is one of many that we have written that dissect the canard of the "lone wolf" shooter, and advocate for meaningful action to ameliorate the hateful conditions that allow these shootings to occur again and again. Read Keller's story here.
  2. Staff writer Kate Wheeling traveled to Peru to meet Australian plant ecologist Brenton Ladd in her story, "The Great, Chaotic Biochar Experiment." Ladd wants to re-engineer the notoriously nutrient-poor soils in the Amazon and, in the process, save the world's trees. But first, he has to convince farmers that he's not just another crazy gringo with a bad idea. Read the story here.
  3. Last Sunday, the controversial president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, was re-elected in a process that many in the international community have condemned as undemocratic. In recent years, the country has been stricken by the collapse of oil prices, harsh international sanctions, spiraling inflation, and a hunger crisis that has instigated the largest migration of people in Latin American history. Lost in the geopolitical maneuvering around Maduro's future is the suffering of the Venezuelan people. Chris Feliciano Arnold tackles the question of what's next for the Venezuelan people under Maduro's rule. Read the story here.
  4. Do unstable medicaid programs affect people's political engagement? According to Cornell University professor Jamila Michener the answer is yes. Contributing writer Dwyer Gunn spoke with Michener about her new book on the subject of how state-level decisions around the program can politically empower or disempower beneficiaries, and what the waivers granted by the Trump administration mean for the political engagement of the most marginalized Americans. Read the full interview here.
  5. As a part of our New Landscapes series, which investigates how environmental policies are affecting communities across America, contributor Sophie Yeo looks at the troubling reality that many Americans on the coastline are ignoring a serious threat. As a result of climate change storms and flooding are increasing in frequency and severity along both coasts, and as long as people keep buying homes in these vulnerable locations we are risking another housing crash. 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