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The challenges—and dangers—of climate protests

You may not have heard much about it, but a recently formed group called On2Ottawa is in the middle of a three-week campaign of disruption in the country’s capital, agitating for the federal government to take stronger climate action.

Since arriving on Aug. 20, the group has blocked traffic in front of the Chateau Laurier hotel, the Laurier Avenue bridge over the Rideau Canal and the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge between Ontario and Quebec. On Tuesday, a member of the group threw washable paint on a painting by Tom Thomson in the National Gallery of Canada.

Dylan Bugden.

Ottawa Police says 12 people have been charged with 36 criminal offences to date.

While the efficacy of such civil disobedience tactics is often debated in the media, they can have the desired effect, said Dylan Bugden, a professor in environmental sociology at Washington State University.

“Civil disobedience can work,” he said. “It works strongest, of course, among people who are already sympathetic [to the cause]. But it can move a small number of people towards that movement.”

Bugden cautioned that to be successful, the tactics should challenge those directly responsible for the problem protesters are trying to solve, such as governments or industries.

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CBC News

Where Donald Trump Meets Bernie Sanders

A Democratic Senator Defends ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’

A hit country artist offended progressives who couldn’t recognize his song as a primal cry of pain.

The future of progressive politics in America just might revolve around whether someone like Chris Murphy, a U.S. senator from a prosperous New England state, can find common ground culturally and politically with a man like Oliver Anthony. Earlier this month, Anthony, a young country singer, dropped his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” into the nation’s political-cultural stew pot. A red-bearded high-school dropout, former factory hand, and virtual unknown, he strummed a guitar in the Virginia woods and sang with an urgent twang about the despair of working-class life:

Murphy, who is the clean-cut son of a corporate lawyer and has what appear to be national ambitions, makes an unlikely populist. But he seems intent on listening. Earlier this month, he headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains city of Boone, North Carolina, where 37 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. “It’s one of the poorest regions in America and offers a different conversation than in suburban America,” he said. “That trip reinforced to me that we should not obsess on what divides us.”

Jennifer Sherman.

Deaths of despair—that is, from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcoholism—are rising at a frightful pace. Overdose deaths in the United States topped 106,000 in 2021. By comparison, the European Union, which has 100 million more people, recorded about 6,200 overdose deaths that year. Such deaths tend to break along economic and educational lines.

Jennifer Sherman, a Washington State University professor who is president of the Rural Sociological Society, has spent decades among working-class and poor people in the mountains and plains of the West. She has observed a pervasive sense of loss. Workers drop out or end up in service jobs, she told me, and fight losing struggles with the wealthy over zoning and for control of land, forests, and water. “If the Democrats want to figure out how to be relevant, they have to move beyond ‘Trust us, we care,’” Sherman said.

The Republicans are aware of these shifting class tectonics. “I have a very smart conservative friend who describes the next five years as a race,” Murphy said, “to see whether the right can become more economically progressive before the left becomes a bigger tent.”

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The Atlantic

More Kids Vape Weed in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal

It’s not clear why, but youths in U.S. states where medical marijuana is legal report more vaping of cannabis than their peers in states where weed is legal for all adults or it is completely illegal.

New research found that about 27% of 12th graders in medical marijuana states reported vaping cannabis compared to 19% in states that bar the drug or allow it for adult use.

Christian Maynard.

“More than a quarter of our youth in medical states were vaping cannabis. That’s a lot,” said first author Christian Maynard, a doctoral student in sociology at Washington State University.

“We were expecting medical and adult use states would be more similar. Instead, we didn’t find any statistical difference between prohibited and adult use states,” he said in a university news release.

Jennifer Schwartz.

For the study, Maynard and his university adviser, sociologist Jennifer Schwartz, analyzed responses from 3,770 high school seniors in the 2020 Monitoring the Future survey. It has surveyed U.S. youth since 1975.

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Globe Gazette
UC San Diego Health
WSU Insider

How 2 Oregon brothers’ efforts to mitigate food waste created the beloved tater tot

When brothers Golden and Francis Nephi “Neef” Grigg began renting a frozen foods plant in the tiny Idaho border town of Ontario, Oregon, in 1949, they were hoping to expand their existing frozen corn business to include potatoes. Little did they know they’d taken the first step toward creating Oregon’s prodigal spud: the tater tot.

A few years after the Griggs converted the flash-freezing plant to a potato-processing facility, the building’s owners went under. The Grigg brothers bought the building they’d been renting out of foreclosure, and in 1952 the company known as Ore-Ida was born.

By 1955, Ore-Ida had already been advertising its frozen diced potatoes and shredded potato patties in earnest, so by the time the tater tot was released a year later, the product was well-positioned to be embraced by American households. Released into grocery stores in 1956, tater tots captured the zeitgeist of midcentury America.

They were easy. Picky kids loved them.

Even in the Mormon community whence the Griggs came, tater tots couldn’t have come at a better time.

Armand Mauss.

According to Washington State University professor emeritus of sociology Armand Mauss, the 1950s saw Mormons pulling away from the wholesome, from-scratch farm fare. They were adopting a more American mainstream cuisine, combining processed, ready-to-eat foods, turning Jell-O and canned fruit cocktails into “salads” or cream-of-whatever soup and frozen potatoes into casseroles.

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FOX 12

As urban, suburban incarceration rates drop, more people going to jail in rural areas

As incarceration rates drop in Washington’s urban and suburban areas, police in rural areas are booking more people into jail often for minor offenses.

Lauren Patterson has the story as a professor of sociology at Washington state University Jennifer Schwartz started to notice a pattern in her research: while urban area incarcerations in Washington are going down, the number of people imprisoned in rural areas is going up.

Jennifer Schwartz.

“It wasn’t the serious transgressions or the serious criminals that are a danger to the community that kept coming back in. It was the sort of minor transgressions that kept the revolving door spinning,” Schwartz said.

Those minor offenses include things like driving with a suspended license or not showing up in court.

Schwartz and her colleague Jennifer Sherman received a three-year grant to continue researching rural incarceration. They hope to find potential solutions for policymakers.

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