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Vann R. Newkirk II

Vann R. Newkirk II is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers politics and policy.
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Virginia Is for Second Chances

January 8, 2018 Richmond is hot in the summer. August days in Virginia’s capital feature the kind of heat that shimmers in waves from the pavement and even in the evenings plasters suit shirts to skin like wet towels. On one such evening last year, that heat did a little extra sticking, even...

Puerto Rico’s Power Struggle

December 28, 2017 It’s been three months since Hurricane Maria changed everything in Puerto Rico. FEMA has declared it’s transitioning from disaster response to recovery, but humanitarian issues continue to mount. The territorial government has vastly undercounted deaths from the storm and its aftermath, with the true tally likely topping 1,000. The threat...

Wisconsin's Welfare Overhaul Is Almost Complete

December 12, 2017 If Scott Walker has his way, poor people in Wisconsin will have to undergo drug testing, one way or another. Last week, the Republican governor forged ahead with a plan to require testing for some recipients of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. That...

How Alabama's Election Laws Keep Moore on the Ballot

November 15, 2017 Why can’t Alabamians be rid of Roy Moore? The abundance of allegations against the Republican nominee for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat are damning. There’s the November 9 allegation from Leigh Corfman in the Washington Post that Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court judgel, sexually abused her when she...

Federal Probe Into Puerto Rico Power Scandal Expands

November 3, 2017 A second federal contract with a company hired to rebuild Puerto Rico’s all but collapsed power grid is coming under scrutiny, drawing the attention of federal investigators and even members of Congress even as most of the hurricane-ravaged island remains without power. The news of a second faulty contract is...

Puerto Rico's Dire Health-Care Crisis

October 30, 2017 It’s been over a month since the last of Maria’s Category 4 hurricane-strength winds swept over Puerto Rico, but there is still damage yet to come. The darkness is persistent. Power and clean water are still tenuous and reliant on generators and outside aid. Contamination threatens basic necessities for dozens...

New Storms Set Back Relief Efforts on Puerto Rico

October 11, 2017 SAN JUAN, P.R.—The hurricane is long gone, but it’s the regular storms that are now providing some of the biggest challenges to relief and recovery in Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, heavy rainfall from a tropical wave affected most municipalities, which face flash-flood watches through Wednesday night. While a brief reprieve...

The Trump Voter-Fraud Commission's Data Problem

September 13, 2017 “Election Fraud is rampant!! California has 11 Counties that have MORE VOTERS than registered voters!!” reads one of the most recent public comments submitted to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “I have personally witnessed voter fraud in California,” reads another comment. An earlier comment claims that “many [voters]...

How to Build Hurricane-Proof Cities

September 12, 2017 Almost exactly 117 years ago, a Category 4 hurricane made landfall on the barrier-island city of Galveston, Texas, with the storm surge and winds destroying at least half of the residential areas and killing at least 6,000 people. The September 8, 1900 catastrophe was one of the most destructive and...

The Looming Superfund Nightmare

September 12, 2017 The line between the acts of God and human acts has always been too blurry for our comfort. And the distinction between the two has perhaps never been less meaningful than it is now, with the Atlantic basin churning out an unprecedented slate of storms that have threatened areas across...