Fears for new mothers as Suffolk slashes health visitor numbers

Health secretary’s own county forced to make change by budget cuts

Health visitors will be made redundant by a local council, sparking fears that new mothers will get less help with mental health problems, breastfeeding and babies’ sleep.

Suffolk County Council – the area in which health secretary Matt Hancock is an MP – plans to cut as many as 31 full-time posts from its 120-strong health visitor workforce, through a combination of redundancies and not filling vacancies, despite the team’s key role in family health.

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Like Skynet, but good! | Shutterstock The new Climate TRACE Coalition is assembling the data and running the AI. There’s an old truism in the business world: what gets measured gets managed. One of the challenges in managing the greenhouse gas emissions warming the atmosphere is that they aren’t measured very well. “Currently, most countries do not know where most of their emissions come from,” says Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. “Even in advanced economies like the United States, emissions are estimated for many sectors.” Without this information “you cannot devise smart and effective policies to mitigate emissions,” she says, and “you cannot track them to see if you are making progress against your goals.” The lack of good data also complicates international climate negotiations. “It’s frustrating that nearly three decades after countries committed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to publish national GHG emissions inventories, we still don’t have recent, comprehensive, and consistent inventories for all countries,” says Taryn Fransen of the World Resources Institute. The lack of reliable data leads to endless time spent haggling over monitoring, reporting, and verification, and a persistent background level of mutual suspicion. In late 2015, just before the 2016 international climate negotiations in Morocco, China revealed that it had underestimated the amount of coal it burned by 17 percent — one billion tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the emissions of Germany’s entire energy sector. That kind of thing does not build confidence. OWID Getting a bit out of hand there at the end. The ultimate solution to this problem — the killer app, as it were — would be real-time tracking of all global greenhouse gases, verified by objective third parties, and available for free to the public. When countries began meeting under the UNFCCC in the mid-1990s, that vision was speculative science fiction. It was basically regarded as science fiction when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. But science moves quickly — in particular, artificial intelligence, the ability to rapidly integrate multiple data sources, has advanced rapidly in recent years. Now, a new alliance of climate research groups called the Climate TRACE (Tracking Real-Time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) Coalition has launched an effort to make the vision a reality, and they’re aiming to have it ready for COP26, the climate meetings in Glasgow, Scotland, in November2021 (postponed from November 2020). If they pull it off, it could completely change the tenor and direction of international climate talks. It could also make it easier for the hundreds of companies, cities, counties, and states that have made ambitious climate commitments to reliably track their process. “Trying to build up such an infrastructure the old, bottom-up way won’t get us where we need to be in time,” says Fransen, “so I’m thrilled that a big, smart, and well-resourced coalition is taking this on with an ambitious vision and a novel approach.” Let’s have a closer look at that approach and then consider its implications for climate politics. Shutterstock It knows when you’ve been sleeping ... How tracking power plant emissions became tracking all emissions The story begins last year, when a group of nonprofits, including US-based WattTime and UK-based Carbon Tracker, applied for and won a $1.7 million grant from (Google’s philanthropic arm) to track global power plant emissions in real time using satellite data and AI algorithms. likes it so much they sent a team to help with the project. In May 2019, I wrote a story on the effort and its implications. “The next day our phone started ringing,” says WattTime founder and executive director Gavin McCormick. (WattTime is now a part of the clean energy nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute.) Other research organizations told him, “this is really cool that you can do this in the power sector, but climate change is a lot bigger than the power sector,” McCormick says. They began offering up data helpful to tracking other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with an eye toward eventually covering all of them. “One of my favorite examples is OceanMind,” he says. “They had been in the business of using entirely different types of sensors [the Automatic Identification System, a global network of onboard transponders] to detect illegal fishing. They were able to track every ship in the world in real time.” Based on ships’ movement and engine specifications, their GHGs can now be monitored in real time. One of the early phone calls came from Al Gore, who had been looking for more reliable ways to track emissions and also saw the Vox article. He and McCormick began collaborating and reaching out to other groups. The reception was better than they had hoped. “Every organization that I’ve approached has been enthusiastic,” Gore says. “So far, the response has been incredible.” “I’m trained as an economist, so I’m used to being real cynical,” says McCormick, “but over the last year, we found companies saying, ‘we just think this is important — we can’t keep [our data] siloed any longer.’” These various data sources and trackers have come together as Climate TRACE. The coalition is adding other partners and covering more and more emissions. The eventual result will be comprehensive, reliable, publicly accessible global emissions data, accompanied by periodic reports. Proud to introduce @ClimateTRACE! A new coalition using AI, satellites, machine learning, & other tech to build the world’s first tool to trace all human-caused pollution to the source in real time. Here’s my @Medium post w/ Gavin McCormick from @WattTime.— Al Gore (@algore) July 15, 2020 The magic sauce: satellite data + other data sources + artificial intelligence In addition to Gore and WattTime, the coalition now contains: Carbon Tracker uses machine learning and satellite data to predict the utilization of every power plant in the world; Earthrise Alliance aggregates and organizes publicly available environmental data into a format meaningful to journalists and researchers; Carbon Plan uses satellite data to track changes in aboveground biomass (especially forests) and the associated carbon emissions, down to a spatial resolution of 300 meters; Hudson Carbon uses satellite data to track changes in agricultural cover, cropping, and tilling, down to the level of the individual field, and compares that data against ground-level sensors (“They can tell you the inherent productivity of every field on every farm on the entire planet,” marvels Gore); OceanMind uses onboard sensors to track the global movement of ships in real time and combines that with engine specs to extrapolate carbon emissions; Rocky Mountain Institute combines multiple sources of data to quantify methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure; Hypervine uses spectroscopic imagery to track vehicle usage and blasting at quarries, Blue Sky Analytics uses near-infrared and shortwave infrared imagery from satellites to track fires. The coalition will also be gathering data from a variety of other sources, from power grid data to fuel sales, sensor networks, and drones. “The trick has been combining different data sources,” says McCormick. All the data will be fed into the AI, which for now is a basic prototype. It will improve over time as the algorithms become more sophisticated and more sources come online. Fransen cautions that the satellite data available today is not a “silver bullet for all the holes in our GHG data.” She points to “limitations in terms of the resolution and frequency of emissions-monitoring satellites that are currently operating,” though that will improve as governments continue to invest in the technology. She also notes that “some of the low-hanging fruit that these novel approaches can help with are the same sources for which we already have relatively robust estimates from conventional sources,” like energy-related emissions. She is encouraged that TRACE is also looking to “activity data,” i.e., “data on activities that generate emissions, like driving, farming, etc.” Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images John Duffy, planting corn on a farm he farms with his father, on April 23, 2020, near Dwight, Illinois. Gore acknowledges that “this is a work in progress,” but says the coalition is aiming big: “everything that can be known about where greenhouse gas emissions are coming from will be known, in near-real time.” The politics of radical emissions transparency If the TRACE coalition is successfully able to gather comprehensive data, build the AI to make sense of it, and make its results accessible to the public (which for now remains an open question), it will be like flipping on a light switch in a room that has been dimly lit with candles. More or less overnight, the world’s real-time flow of greenhouse gas emissions, previously estimated, will become visible. Gallagher’s first reaction to TRACE’s mission was, “Wow!” “Such an initiative is long past due,” she says, “and it is absolutely essential to improving our management of greenhouse gas emissions around the world.” Among other things, she says, “having real-time data will help parties to the UNFCCC better understand where and why they are falling short, and conversely, where they are doing better than expected and might be able to increase ambition in their next round of [nationally determined contributions].” Most international disputes over monitoring, reporting, and verification would effectively be mooted. “A system where everyone can see the same numbers, those numbers are grounded in real physics, and everyone can know that everyone else is telling the truth,” McCormick says, “may have a significant effect on the tone, taking a little of the negativity out of some of those negotiations.” What began as an initiative to measure emissions from the world's power plants has grown into something bigger than we could have imagined. We're thrilled to unveil @climatetrace. Soon GHG emissions tracking for every sector and country will be a reality.— WattTime (@wattTime) July 15, 2020 It’s not just that the system would help identify errors and scofflaws. “It will empower the people who really are interested in reducing their emissions,” Gore says. Voters can hold politicians accountable for their climate promises. Workers, investors, and regulators can hold companies accountable. Countries can hold one another accountable. Transparency will bring accountability, as long as the coalition can maintain the trust of all the parties involved. “It is extremely important for this effort to be independent and reliable,” Gore says, “and for it to constantly improve.” What gets measured gets managed. If the Climate TRACE coalition accomplishes what it has set out to do, global greenhouse gases will finally be measured — and there will be no excuses left not to manage them. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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The cover of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. | Courtesy of Del Rey Books A cosmopolitan Mexico City socialite navigates the provincial horrors of an English manor in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s new novel. There is something monstrously fecund, something growing and decaying and rotting, in High Place, the center of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s new novel Mexican Gothic. High Place is an English-style manor house perched above the old Mexican mining town of El Triunfo. As the novel opens in the 1950s, the silver mine is closed and the town is miserably impoverished. But the Doyles, the English family who operated the mine, still reign in crumbling and isolated splendor over everything. In High Place, mold crawls across the walls. Electricity is rationed, so everyone must walk around with gas lamps or candelabras. The garden is planted in soil shipped over from Europe. Spanish is forbidden, and English is the only language spoken. Everything smells of rot. Into this creepy, insular atmosphere comes the high-spirited young socialite Noémi. Noémi does not particularly care to leave her fashionable life in Mexico City behind, but she’s on a rescue mission: Her cousin Catalina married into the Doyle family and was whisked away to High Place before her own family had a chance to properly meet the Doyles. Now Catalina’s letters are laced with horror. Catalina thinks her husband is poisoning her. She sees ghosts walking through the walls. “I am bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin and it’s there. In the walls,” she writes. Noémi is in High Place with a job to do: Find out whether Catalina is insane or merely frightened, and in either case, figure out how best to help her. But at High Place, the Doyles keep Noémi away from Catalina. The cousins are allowed to meet only under close supervision, with the Doyles claiming that Catalina needs rest and some kind of mysterious treatment. They tell Noémi that Catalina is recovering from tuberculosis. In between visits with her cousin, Noémi busies herself exploring the house. She finds more mold, and volume after volume of books on eugenics. At dinner, the Doyle patriarch Howard remarks to Noémi that she is “much darker” than her cousin. “What are your thoughts on the intermingling of superior and inferior types?” he asks her. At night, Noémi begins to dream strange dreams: of sex with Catalina’s husband that is both unwanted and deeply pleasurable; of a woman made of gold who tells her to open her eyes; of murder and constrain and rot, rot everywhere. Slowly and inexorably, the dread builds. The gothic in this book goes well beyond surface-level tropes Moreno-Garcia is playing with great dexterity here with the conventions of the gothic house novel: all these women roaming a decaying mansion in their nightgowns, clutching candelabras; all these sinister men with deep, dark, terrible secrets. And just to drive it all home, the mold on Noémi’s bedroom wall is yellow and it moves, like the yellow wallpaper come to monstrous life. But the true source of the gothic in Mexican Gothic — the awful force that creates restraint against which the gothic heroine must fight; the source of the rot — is colonialism. The Doyles came to El Triunfo to take the silver from its earth and have never cared that they exploited its people, or that they continue to do so still. Their only concern is personal enrichment. Howard refers to his former mine workers as “mulch.” To save herself and Catalina, Noémi must push back against the forces of an old imperial power — and against the creeping, insidious pleasure she knows it would bring her if she were to submit to it. It’s the elegance with which Moreno-Garcia handles this metaphor that elevates Mexican Gothic above the level of didactic pastiche. This book is deliciously true to thegothic form, grotesque without becoming gross, and considered, always, in the way it thinks about power and its characters’ reactions to power. Read it with your lights on — and know that strange dreams might begin to haunt you, as they haunted Noémi. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Activists and supporters of the Black and Brown Unity March raise their fists as the two groups, marching from different directions, meet in front of Los Angeles City Hall on July 12, 2020. | Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images Though media reports of the protests have dwindled, organized demonstrations for racial justice are still underway. In the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, millions of Americans marched in the streets.Many had never attended a protest before, and some lived in historically conservative towns. At the peak of the protests — which is estimated to have been June 6, according to publicly collected data from the Crowd Counting Consortium — people across all 50 states and dozens of cities around the world had participated in demonstrations that called for racial justice and an end to police violence. But with the protests came a nonstop news cycle that seemed to fixate on burning cars and buildings, and clashes between police officers and protesters. As long as there were riots and looting, television news helicopters descended upon their respective cities, with organizers lamenting online that the media wasn’t interested in stories beyond those of broken windows, pepper spray, and vandalized storefronts. And now, almost two months after the first protests erupted, national news cameras have fled, which makes it hard for the general public to recognize that protests are still going strong in cities and towns across America. In Louisville, hundreds of protesters continue to double down on their mission to bring to justice the police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death. Protesters have engaged in a number of large-scale public actions, from converging on the steps of the state’s capitol building to disrupting a mayoral press conference and hosting “blackout” marches. On Tuesday, which marked day 48 of protests in the city, activists traveled to the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, where they sat on his lawn and demanded he bring criminal charges against the officers. More than 100 people were reportedly detained at the demonstration for trespassing, according to organizer Tamika D. Mallory, co-founder of the social justice organization Until Freedom. Even Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, traveled to Louisville to advocate on Taylor’s behalf. (She also spoke to local reporter Senait Gebregiorgis while she was there.) The momentum is similar in other cities across the country, such as Minneapolis and New York, where multiple demonstrations happen every day. However, mainstream news stories about the protests seem to only emerge now in the event of isolated violence (including multiple instances of suspected or avowed white nationalists running their vehicles into protesters) or protester clashes (like the recent spat between “Blue Lives Matter” protesters and counterprotesters in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn). Local activists say the waning media attention is expected, but the work must continue. “We are in the biggest social movement this country has ever seen,” said activist Oluchi Omeoga, co-founder of the Black liberation nonprofit Black Visions Collective based in Minnesota. “When we say this is what will be written in the history books, it’s not an exaggeration. The folks calling for change in this moment are the folks who are going to be on the right side of history.” The early news cycle’s focus on violence and destruction Early news reports of the protests focused heavily on images of fires, overturned vehicles, and elevated scenes that distorted what was really taking place on the ground, with some pointing out that coverage seemed to exploit Black pain and violence. On June 1, the front page of the New York Times read, “Twin crises and surging anger convulse U.S.” above a photo of protesters with their hands in the air and another showing police dressed in riot gear in a cloud of smoke. The same day, the Washington Post published an image of Minneapolis protesters crying and hugging one another after a truck ran through the crowd, with its own front-page headline reading, “U.S. at a precipice as demonstrations intensify.” (The bottom two images depict demonstrators at protests in Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, DC.) And a San Francisco Chronicle headline on May 31 read, “Riots, shooting rock Oakland” above an image of a protester standing with a fist raised in front of a dumpster fire. The early coverage seemed “breathless,” Kanisha Bond, assistant professor of political science at Binghamton University, told Vox. “But that is not an unfamiliar tone when it comes to media coverage, specifically of urban uprisings involving both violent and nonviolent protest activity, and particularly when people who have been historically excluded from the traditional centers of American power are engaged in any sort of unrest.” This was seen in the media coverage of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of Michael Brown. A Race Forward analysis found that news reports at the time largely lacked context explaining the “patterns of racially skewed police violence” that sparked the protests, with some not even mentioning the word “race” at all, Vox reported in 2015. Race Forward research director Dominique Apollon, who authored the study, told Vox that part of his advice to journalists was to “not take police accounts at face value.” As Morgan State University politics and journalism professor Jason Johnson wrote for Vox in May, news coverage of uprisings often fails to show the full scale of protest activity — just because a few trash cans are on fire in one location doesn’t mean the entire city is on fire. Moreover, news reports of the Floyd protests didn’t always cover the cause of much of the violence: the police themselves. In many instances caught on camera, police used inordinate amounts of force to squelch protesters who were silently marching or otherwise engaged in a peaceful group demonstration. “Much of the damage attributed to protesters is often the result of police action or inaction in the face of lawful public behavior,” Johnson wrote. “Sometimes buried at the end of post-protest reports by local authorities is the fact that police munitions often start fires at protests, but this is seldom reported by the press, and there have been surprisingly few protesters arrested for arson relative to the fires that erupted during the unrest.” Johnson also noted that news reports didn’t do much to highlight the presence of “run-of-the-mill opportunistic criminals” who seized on the moment to raid local businesses. For example, the media didn’t distinguish these actors from the protesters who, in a targeted effort, burned down the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis, which was “a specific act of revolt.” The focus on damaged property over lost lives illustrated the media’s “misplaced priorities,” Johnson wrote. Now, nearly two months after the first protests, a quick scan of the front pages of newspapers and digital media outlets would likely have one believe that the protests have altogether stopped. While they have surely shrunk in number and size,the social media accounts of activists and organizers continue to show compelling images of daily demonstrations. In the past two weeks, there have been demonstrations in Sartell, Minnesota, and Keystone, South Dakota. Protests also carry on in Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington, DC.Meanwhile, in New York, the Instagram account JusticeforGeorgeNYC lists a collection of daily rallies, marches, protests, and vigils for Black people who have lost their lives to police brutality. On Wednesday, July 15, there are nearly a dozen events planned across Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan — from eight in the morning to just before sunset. News coverage can both help and hinder ongoing demonstrations According to activists, the lack of coverage both hurts and helps protest movements as they continue through the summer. On one hand, the absence of widespread protest coverage creates a false sense that the demonstrations have largely come to an end. “Some people do get their political cues from what makes its way into the general public discourse, which is largely shaped by what’s in the news, so media blackouts or withdrawals can give them the impression that either the ‘newsworthy part’ of the protests has expired, or that there are simply no more events to be covered,” Bond told Vox. The importance of protests as a tool for shifting public opinion is already evident in national polls. Monmouth University found at the end of May that 76 percent of Americans believe that racism is a big problem now, up from 51 percent in 2015. Other polls show that more people support the defunding of police than ever before. A June poll from research firm PerryUndem found that 72 percent of respondents supported reallocating funds away from police and to other services like health care. As political scientist Megan Ming Francis told Vox last month, systemic change begins with a shift in public opinion that’s brought about through protest. “The history of protest in this country is that when there’s more people, politicians pay attention,” she said. “If you want legal change, if you want political change, then it means you need to, at the same time or before, shift public opinion. That is crucial.” On the other hand, some activists believe the constant presence of news cameras could hamper progress. If activists are constantly under the gaze and watch of the state, this could invite more violence on protesters and open up the opportunity for derailment. “When the mainstream media steps away, we see even more clearly the vital function that independent media — including social media livestreamers — plays in providing a comprehensive and well-rounded accounting of protest and social mobilizations,” Bond told Vox. “The ubiquity of social media might attenuate any negative effects from a lack of media coverage — but how much is likely heavily determined by what sorts of information you allow across your online boundaries and within your social network.” The most recent protest headlines at mainstream outlets — including the New York Times’s “Drivers Are Hitting Protesters as Memes of Car Attacks Spread” and USA Today’s “‘I would be very careful in the middle of the street’: Drivers have hit protesters 66 times since May 27” — focus on violence or arrests. Then there is CBS’s “87 people charged with felonies after Breonna Taylor protest at attorney general’s house” following Tuesday’s events, framed around protesters trespassing on an elected official’s property. When news outlets cherry-pick moments of violence to cover or criminalize protesters, they are choosing drama and sensationalism over the larger narrative — that the biggest anti-racism movement in a generation is still happening in our country. “It comes down to what is considered newsworthy, which is often action, large numbers, and apparent mayhem,” Bond told Vox. “Burning buildings, smashing glass, and bleeding people are often visually riveting and can add a sense of vicarious danger and unpredictability, while direct actions like sit-ins, public education sessions, street parties, and/or meal distributions don’t offer people that sense of ‘ooh, what’s going to happen next’ the way that other actions might.” The fight for justice lives on Activists recognize how much has changed in public opinion since the first Floyd protests — and that’s why they haven’t stopped organizing. According to Omeoga, protests have taken place every day in Minneapolis since Floyd’s fatal arrest. Omeoga told Vox that part of what’s been missing in the coverage that has existed is expanding what we mean when we say “protest” or “public demonstration” to fully capture how people are mobilizing. “The occupation of ‘George Floyd Ave,’ the place where he was murdered, is an act of resilience or a protest. We have been occupying that space every day since George Floyd was lynched. Folks are protesting for change in the simplest terms,” Omeoga said. “Folks are protesting for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, and Dominique Fells. Folks are protesting against police brutality and state-sanctioned violence and for interpersonal violence against Black trans women. Folks are out protesting for Black lives.” According to Omeoga, the media largely focused coverage on the peak of the protests because “that’s what they think people are interested in,” she said. “We have been conditioned under this capitalist society to only find value in things for very short, transactional periods of time. The media affirms that in the ways they show what is worthy of news and what isn’t.” For Omeoga, left-friendly platforms like Democracy Now and Unicorn Riot are alternative media outlets that can help people stay up to date. Ashton P. Woods, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Houston, recognizes that while coverage may now only extend to protests that feature celebrities or to protests where politicians are present, he can’t get comfortable and rely on politicians to do the work. “We have a responsibility to protect what we have secured for ourselves and dismantle white supremacy,” Woods told Vox. That work, he says, doesn’t mean having to show up in the streets. With the number of coronavirus cases surging across the country and its disproportionate impact on Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, Woods acknowledges that people have to mind their health and the health of friends and family and community members. The work can take place in online seminars and gatherings that educate people who are new to the movement. For Woods in Houston, it also includes showing up to courts and to city hall to pressure Texas lawmakers to sign legislation that tackles systemic racism. And moving forward, protests must continue to create safe space for all Black lives,including Black trans lives, Black women, and Black queer and nonbinary folks. “There’s been an erasure of what we are really protesting for, like the Black LGBTQ community or the Black immigrants — all Black lives matter,” Woods told Vox. “We’ve been doing this anti-racism work since before Trump got into office. We’ve been planning, coordinating, and doing the type of work that doesn’t get on the news for a long time.” The lack of attention and accountability by lawmakers just means protesters have to keep elevating their message, whether in the streets or online, Wood says. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.