The Atlantic Daily: Climate Change, Aurora, Biden

Obama targets carbon emissions, James Holmes may face a death sentence, and Joe gets presidential buzz.

President Obama delivers remarks on the Clean Power Plan at the White House on August 3, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

What’s Happening: Obama vs. Climate Change

In a June 2008 speech after defeating Hillary Clinton, then-senator Barack  Obama told jubilant supporters, “This was the moment when the rise of the  oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” On Monday, soon-to-be-ex-President Barack Obama outlined his Clean Power Plan to fulfill that goal. The measure is designed to cut carbon emissions by one-third of their 2005 levels by 2030—if the energy industry doesn’t defeat the regulations in court, that is.

James Holmes Moves Closer to the Death Penalty: A Colorado jury voted unanimously on Monday to proceed to the third and final stage of sentencing for the Aurora theater gunman. The same jury convicted Holmes of killing 12 theater patrons and injuring 70 others during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. The jury’s decision increases the likelihood that Holmes will receive a death sentence for the murders.

Run, Biden, Run? Rare is the modern vice president who doesn’t seek the highest office in the land. Maureen Dowd reported on Sunday that Biden’s late son Beau had implored his father to run for president in 2016, and that Biden is seriously considering it. That triggered an avalanche of speculation throughout the political world and caused no shortage of heartburn for the Clinton campaign as it warily watches Biden’s next moves.


Divers swim near a humpback whale near Roca Partida Island, off the western coast of Mexico. For more of the winners of the 27th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, visit The Atlantic Photo. (Anuar Patjane / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)


  • Jeffrey Goldberg: “The release of Iranian funds held in other countries, combined with an inevitable, and possibly imminent, wave of foreign investments, will create for the Iranian regime a substantial financial cushion against future sanctions. But [Intel Committee Ranking Member Adam] Schiff argued that the growth of the Iranian economy will raise expectations among ordinary Iranians, who will expect their leaders to protect their newfound economic gains.”
  • Gillian B. White: “A recent report from the Center for American Progress expounds upon this idea of unequal impact, noting that low-income housing is poorly equipped to cope with the impact of extreme weather because it is often old, poorly maintained, or shabbily built.”
  • Julie Rovner: “Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its handling of fetal tissue for research are louder than ever. But they form just the latest episode in a decades-long drive to halt federal support for the group.”

News Quiz

1. Switzerland has announced plans to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by ___________ percent by 2030.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. ___________ percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 voted in the 2012 elections.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. Joe Biden, who is reportedly considering a 2016 run, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for  president in __________ and ____________.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Evening Read

Olga Khazan looks at a Johns Hopkins program that’s helping doctors better process the emotional stress of caring for dying patients:

Led by the pediatrics and internal medicine resident Ben Oldfield and the University of Maryland English professor Lauren Small, the group was there to discuss the various masks doctors wear. These masks are both metaphorical—in that doctors must maintain game faces even when things look grim—and literal, in the sense that physicians, in part to inspire confidence in their abilities, clothe themselves in decidedly non-civilian garb like white coats, scrubs, and actual surgical masks.

Small and Oldfied started hosting these meetings, called “AfterWards,” about a year and a half ago. Each month, they send out a blast email to everyone in Hopkins’s pediatrics department. Whoever shows up spends an hour discussing some topic in literature or culture and then doing a short writing exercise. The writings aren’t read or shared; the exercise is meant to be more therapy than art.

Reader Email of the Day

Christopher Boehme on the endorsement of the Iran deal by Congressman Adam Schiff:

It’s good to hear from a moderate’s moderate on a subject that is so highly politicized, partisan and, for so many, overwhelmingly emotional. Jeffrey Goldberg’s reported piece is a good, if partial, response to Leon Wieseltier’s blinded-by-ideology post.

All predications are risks, none more so than the outcomes of war. Hypotheticals are exercises in imagination: If we had been stronger, if we had added more sanctions, if we had a more forceful leader, we could have gotten a better deal. I’m skeptical, it’s unprovable, and the argument leads nowhere. Having read the agreement, and considering all the parties involved, I doubt we could have done much better.

Often simple explanations are simplistic. In this case I think not. The choice is war now versus making an attempt at diplomacy now recognizing that war in the service of national interests is always an option going forward.


Power-plant emissions limited, nine-year-old bat boy passes away, civilian death toll climbs, California wildfires spread, and legless chicken rehabilitated.

ANSWERS: 50, 45, 1988, 2008