A weekly newsletter for Pacific Standard Premium members.
Your Five Essential Reads
A rundown of five of our most important and timely stories from the past week.
- On Thursday, President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt's time in the position was marred by numerous scandals. From questionable use of taxpayer dollars to misuse of EPA employee time to getting favors from industry lobbyists, new issues seemed to arise every week, and until this week Pruitt had held on. But his time has finally run out. To get a full sense of Pruitt's many scandals, associate editor Rebecca Worby compiled a list of his most notable controversies. Read Worby's piece here.
- So what's next for the embattled agency? Second-in-command of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler is set to take over for the time being. Wheeler has largely flown under the radar since his confirmation back in April. However, as staff writer Kate Wheeling notes, Wheeler has a checkered past of his own, most notably his former position as a fossil fuel lobbyist and his work for a noted climate change denier Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma). Read Wheeling's explainer here.
- Last year, California saw it's worst fire season on record, one that resulted in $10 billion in damages. Instead of a reprieve, it appears conditions for this year will be even worse than last. The County Fire in Northern California, which began last weekend, is only the start of what looks to be another trying fire season. Read the story here.
- In a year of youth movements for reform—e.g. the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School advocating for gun control—there is another protest being led by teenagers, but this time it's to advocate for meaningful climate action from the United States government. Contributing writer Sophie Yeo spoke with the leader of the Zero Hour march (set for July 21st in Washington, D.C.), Jamie Margolin, who explains the roots of the movement and why the march won't be passing by the White House. Read Yeo's Story here.
- Last Sunday, Mexico elected a new president, the left-leaning firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The day before the election, Ricky Ochoa-Kaup sat down with Viridiana Ross, a fellow at the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, who researches corruption, violence, and economic development in the country about the most significant issues the country faces and how that shaped the election results. Read Keller's piece here.
Since We Last Spoke: Fewer 'Get Out of Jail Free' Cards to Go Around
Updates to stories from the Pacific Standard archive.
In January, the New York Post reported that New York City's police union decreased the number of Patrolmen's Benevolent Association cards issued to officers from 30 to 20 for active cops, and 20 to 10 for retirees. These "get out of jail free" cards, distributed throughout the United States, are used by officers' friends and family to skirt punishment for minor offenses. The card cutback has reportedly enraged some cops. "They are treating active members like s–t, and retired members even worse than s–t," a retired officer told the Post. "All the cops I spoke to were ... very disappointed they couldn't hand them out as Christmas gifts."
As Jack Denton wrote in our December/January 2018 issue, police often have to use their discretion during stops, evaluating someone's worthiness of a break. Their leniency is often prejudiced: Black drivers are disproportionately more likely to be pulled over, and are more likely to then be searched. Community policing initiatives offer the possibility of decreasing this bias through familiarity. Police departments in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Detroit have all begun programs that incentivize officers to live in the communities they police.
PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
Under One Roof: Since 1988, New York's Lower East Side Tenement Museum has been offering visitors a chance to contemplate the immigration history of the United States by stepping into a historic building, erected in 1865 and seemingly untouched by time. Until recently, though, that history stopped in the year 1935, the year when the tenement, the museum's first and primary space, standing at 97 Orchard Street, ceased to function as a residential building. With its new exhibit Under One Roof—located in another Orchard Street tenement building, erected in 1888—the Tenement Museum's latest narrative considers the lives and fates of immigrant groups who arrived in New York in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Also, you don’t even have to be in New York to enjoy it: Presented as a series of photos, video interviews, and primary source documents like Census and naturalization records, the digital exhibit takes a physical installation (Under One Roof is also offered as a tour at the museum) and opens it to the world, so that visitors can learn the specific histories of Jewish, Puerto Rican, and Chinese families, all from the comfort of classrooms and homes. Especially affecting are interviews with former residents of Orchard Street recalling childhoods that, through the traditions of home (food and religion are two oft-cited cornerstones of immigrant life) and the new delights of America (television! candy!), might prove instructive to anyone curious about the inner lives of current-day migrants.
—Angela Serratore, Contributing Writer
PS in the News
A look at where our stories and staff surface in the national conversation.
- Senior staff writer Tom Jacobs' write-up of a study that looked at how attitudes toward the environment change as we age was the No. 1 idea in the Aspen Institute's Five Best Ideas of the Day.
- SCOTUSblog linked to staff writer Francie Diep's interactive map of state laws regarding abortions, which may become far more prominent if there is a repeal of Roe v. Wade.
- For Bloomberg, writer Jonathan Bernstein included contributing writer Seth Masket's recent look at legitimacy and the Supreme Court in his Monday morning links round-up.
- Richard W. Painter—a Senatorial candidate in Minnesota and former White House chief ethics counsel—shared staff writer Kate Wheeling's explainer on the background of now-acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler.
- It is a gross misrepresentation to call Turning Point a far-right organization. It is right-wing or conservative, but not far right or alt-right. If the article is that inaccurate about Turning Point, then it is probably not accurate to call Valdez far right because he looks at Turning Point. It didn't sound like a veiled threat to his children. Shouting at a speaker is bad form, but the left shouts much more than that. Can dish it, but can't take it? —Mark Freemo
- Jesus Christ, how awful. I remember hearing about this but I never read about what actually happened. I'm having a hard time processing this line: "The men chained Byrd by his ankles to the pick-up and dragged him three miles, tearing him to shreds. Byrd tried to protect his head by propping himself up on his elbows, which were later discovered ground to the bone." —washingtonapples
- It's so sad that some people will ignore the ugly reality of our past, both in this country and in this state. We, as a collective, have wronged people like James Byrd and every other person who has been wrongly killed merely for the crime of being born with a different skin color. The least we can do is to continue to acknowledge it, in the hopes that, one day, we learn from it. —nihouma
- This is very interesting because it could support the idea of perhaps becoming more conservative and selfish with age on average. Particularly showing that people actually change in that direction as opposed to just the definition of what is considered conservative changing. —necrosythe
- Not me. I'm 65. I've seen too much loss of the nature and resources that I took for granted as a child. I care more every year, become more conscientious about the environment, and donate more to causes saving it. When I worked for Green Peace and Earthshare the bulk of their support came from retired folks. Not to mention older generations were taught not to be wasteful. We grew up in generation where we were taught not to be wasteful, clean up your messes, and repair things ... not buy cheap crap to fill up landfills. —Kari Sable
If you have any thoughts about this newsletter or our work—what you like/didn't like/want to see more of—you can reach us at email@example.com. If you're not already, become a premium member by following the button below. As we continue to build out the benefits of a premium membership to Pacific Standard, we want to hear what would be most valuable to you.