Leah Millis / Reuters

What We’re Following

For some, the bubble is real. In the American mythos, the United States is a hodgepodge of groups that blend together in a swirl of harmonious pluralism. Yet a new study conducted by The Atlantic and the Public Religion Research Institute pokes holes in that self-image. Democrats and Republicans, for example, have wildly different views on the values of multiculturalism and religious diversity, and a large percentage in both parties would object to a child marrying someone from the opposite political party. The divisions are also racial—blacks and Latinos tend to hold very different views than whites on a range of topics, such as whether they’ve experienced difficulties voting or whether speaking English is an important part of being American.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly made the case for a border wall by invoking “vicious cartels” that smuggle migrants across the border. But under the current administration, the U.S.’s anti-smuggling efforts have grown significantly weaker: The number of smuggling cases brought by the investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement plummeted by 60 percent between 2016 and 2017. As president, Trump made the decision to prosecute migrants caught crossing the border in civil, not criminal, court, which has drained ICE’s resources and led it to cut back on its efforts to go after human smuggling.

Humanitarian efforts aren’t generally controversial, but that hasn’t been the case with American aid to Venezuela. The Latin American country has been consumed by a cascading economic and hunger crisis, leading millions of Venezuelans to flee to neighboring Colombia. The U.S. government has responded by sending supplies such as groceries, vitamin supplements, and hygiene products to the country, but the aid has another, thinly veiled purpose —helping lead to the ouster of the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro. That ulterior motive has some aid workers fretting that the politicization of humanitarian initiatives could have disastrous effects.

Saahil Desai


Evening Reads

Climate Change Enters Its Blood-Sucking Phase

New England moose can grow up to 1,700 pounds and can run as fast as 35 miles per hour, but as global warming leads to shorter winters, they’re succumbing to a tiny but deadly predator: blood-sucking ticks.

“First, they weighed him. To the trunk of the big spruce they strapped a custom-made scale—a steel ell with three pulleys and a thick rope to which they hooked a spring scale. They wrestled the moose onto a heavy net, collected the net’s four corners, and with the triple-pulley system and considerable effort, hoisted him off the ground ... The moose swung slowly just above the snow. I asked what this ten-month-old calf would have weighed if healthy: about 400 pounds ... ‘Two-seventy. Lightest one yet.’ The ticks had taken a third of this animal’s weight.”

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The Reason Conspiracy Videos Work So Well on YouTube

(Leah Millis / Reuters)

Why has YouTube become especially susceptible to fostering and spreading loony conspiracy theories?

“YouTube offers infinite opportunities to create, a closed ecosystem, an opaque algorithm, and the chance for a very small number of people to make a very large amount of money. While these conditions of production—which incentivize content creation at a very low cost to YouTube—exist on other modern social platforms, YouTube’s particular constellation of them is special. It’s why conspiracy videos get purchase on the site, and why they will be very hard to uproot.”

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Urban Developments

A History of the American Public Library

(Ariel Aberg-Riger)

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing urban dwellers around the world. Gracie McKenzie shares today’s top stories:

Books used to be rare, usually religious, and accessed almost exclusively by wealthy white men. Then the “social library” was born, the visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger writes. Here’s her stunning visual history of what libraries have meant to American cities.

Tiles are one of the unofficial symbols of Lisbon, Portugal. That—along with high resale prices and the recent real-estate boom—is why the famed azulejos are being stolen.

Berlin’s housing-policy proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

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