Teachers strikingMike Blake / Reuters

What We’re Following

More than 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles are heading to the picket line. Over the past year, teachers in states around the country—from West Virginia to Oklahoma—have staged walkouts calling for higher pay and better working conditions. Today, educators in the Los Angeles Unified School District joined them, driven by concerns that current school conditions aren’t adequately supporting the district’s students, 73 percent of whom are Latino, and who struggle with a lack of documentation, homelessness, and gang violence.

A new book makes the case that marijuana is far more dangerous that most Americans believe. Tell Your Children, by the journalist Alex Berenson, argues that marijuana is linked to psychosis and violence—and that the U.S. could be on the verge of a cannabis-induced murder epidemic. While there is evidence that pot isn’t the benign, nonaddictive drug that some may envision, Berenson’s argument may be more fear-mongering than an actual representation of the science literature. A slew of factors play into murder rates—in the Netherlands, where recreational marijuana use is legal, the homicide rate is one-fifth as high as in the U.S. In other words, the book is a good reminder that “science and medicine are rarely well served by writing in argument form.”

Subpoena the only other American present at a 2018 Trump-Putin meeting, David Frum argues. Alongside an intensification of the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties, the president has taken extreme steps to conceal his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin—from both the public and even officials in his own administration. Last July, Trump met with Putin in Helsinki for more than two hours without any aides present. One other American was in the room—Marina Gross, Trump’s interpreter. Frum makes the case that Congress should take the dire step of subpoenaing her because of the lingering questions of collusion that are dogging Trump’s presidency.

Saahil Desai


Unthinkable

Two years into President Trump’s first term in office, The Atlantic looks back on the moments that have defined his presidency. “Unthinkable” is our catalog of 50 of the most improbable incidents to date—from the truly outlandish to the truly destructive—that under any previous administration, Democratic or Republican, would still have been unthinkable.

At No. 5: when Trump fired then–FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017.

Join the conversation: Which moments from the Trump presidency would you add to this list? Email us at letters@theatlantic.com with the subject line “Unthinkable,” and include your full name, city, and state. Or tweet using #TrumpUnthinkable.


Evening Read

Maybe there’s an upside to forgetting things:

Memory itself is still something of a mystery, but it basically consists of physical changes in the brain that encode a representation of past experiences. Those memory traces—known as engrams—can be accessed to reconstruct the past, albeit imperfectly …

Engrams obviously do not save every detail of every experience. Some records of activity patterns do not persist. And that’s a good thing, says the neuroscientist Maria Wimber.

“An overly precise memory is maybe not really what we want in the long term, because it prevents us from using our memories to generalize them to new situations,” Wimber said in San Diego at a recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. “If our memories are too precise and overfitted, then we can’t actually use them to … make predictions about future situations.”

If your memory stores every exact detail of getting bitten by a dog in the park, for instance, then you wouldn’t necessarily know to beware of a different dog in a different park.

Read the rest.


What Do You Know … About Education?

1. Just how pervasive is the hunger problem among U.S. college students? Nearly two dozen studies have estimated that more than this percent of students are food insecure.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. In this 2018 memoir, Tara Westover describes a rural upbringing without formal schooling, an unlikely transition to college, and an even unlikelier ascent to completing a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. On Monday, more than 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles, the second-largest school district in the U.S., began a strike. It’s the city’s first in nearly how many years?

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 30 percent / Educated / 30 years


Dear Therapist

Every week, the psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb answers readers’ questions in the Dear Therapist column. An anonymous reader from New York:

My younger sister and I are very close. We had a rough childhood, we’re only 13 months apart, and she’s always been my favorite person to be around—when things are going well. But she also has some anxiety issues that drive me crazy. She just left after visiting my city, and I’m still trying to unclench. “Lost” earphones (that are always in her bag) mean being drawn into a frantic search that involves me calling my husband at work to make sure he didn’t “do something” with them. A change in plans while she’s out doing tourist things means a phone call to me while I’m working so I can plot a new subway course for her. A hotel hold fee on her credit card means another phone call to help figure it out, even after the hotel has reassured her it will be refunded. And she never seems to be having a good time, which breaks my heart.

So, two questions.

→ Read the rest. You can write to Lori anytime at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com.


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