The Atlantic Daily: Obama vs. Coal, Sierra Leone vs. Ebola, Madaya vs. Starvation

The federal government halts new coal mines, West Africa reports a new case of the virus, much-needed supplies finally reach a desperate Syrian town, and more.

Jim Urquhart / Reuters

What We’re Following: Keeping it in the Ground

The Interior Department will suspend all leases for new coal mines on public land until it completes a review of the process, the Obama administration announced Friday. Climate activists have urged governments to prevent fossil-fuel extraction to ward off climate change. As much as 40 percent of U.S. coal is produced by the program.

Not Defeated Yet: Officials in Sierra Leone confirmed Friday that a 22-year-old woman died from Ebola earlier this month, just one day after the World Health Organization declared West Africa free of the virus. The epidemic claimed more than 11,300 lives in the region, including more than 4,000 lives in Sierra Leone.

Hunger in Syria: UNICEF said Friday that its representatives saw a Syrian teenager die of malnutrition in the besieged town of Madaya, where several cases of severe malnourishment were found among children. Syrian government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah militias blockaded the town for several months.


Soldiers perform a stunt on motorbikes during the Army Day parade in New Delhi, India, on January 15, 2016. See more photos from the week’s news here. (Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters)


“This process is more of a nightmare rather than an experience to me.” —Jamal Trotman, a high-achieving high school senior, on applying to colleges

“We like to think of the House and the Senate at this time as really being the think tank for conservative policy.” —Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chairwoman of the House Republican conference

“I think it was a surprise: ‘Not only am I here, but I am massively successful.’” —Will Brooker, who has been impersonating David Bowie as part of a research project, on the singer’s mindset in the 1980s

Evening Read

Shirley Phillips on a flight that probably should have stayed on the ground:

I could barely hear the captain over the pelting of the rain and the whacking of the windshield wipers as we taxied forward. As we approached the runway, it became clear that everyone else was waiting out the storms: The normally congested radio frequency was eerily quiet, and the taxiways were empty except for the puddles and us. Because we were still in the relatively calm downpour before the storm hit at full force, the control tower cleared us for takeoff.

The first 10 minutes of the flight were bumpy but tolerable. Then the turbulence started in earnest.

In extreme circumstances, turbulence can break an airplane apart in midair. The turbulence associated with thunderstorms is composed of strong updrafts and downdrafts, and rapidly changing wind conditions known as wind shear. It feels like a giant hand clutching the airplane, shaking it until pieces come off.

What's Your Earliest Memory of Guns?

As part of our special report on police, crime, and guns in America, we’d like to collect some of your stories. What’s your earliest memory of guns, positive or negative? Tell us about it in an email to

News Quiz

1. There are more __________ than people in the United States.

(Click here or scroll down for the answer.)

2. As many as one in three people with __________ may be savants.

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3. ___________ in Washington, D.C., typically make $2.77 an hour.

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Reader Response

As OkCupid adds a feature for polyamorous users, this reader shares their experience:

I thinks it’s important to note that, for many people (myself included), polyamory isn’t necessarily about filling a void or needing additional partners; it’s about being comfortable enough with your partner(s) that you can explore your additional friendships and relationships, wherever they lead. Sometimes that’s flirting, sometimes that’s more, and sometimes it’s just being able to have interactions with members of the gender(s) that you are attracted to without having to define it.

My partner and I meet up monthly with a polyamorous social group at a local restaurant/bar. We have never taken anyone home from this event, but it routinely provides some of my most engaging and connected conversations. Everyone in the room is comfortable with their lifestyle, is actively meeting their own needs, and is very respectful of boundaries and consent, so you have to worry less about hidden agendas; everything is already out on the table. The biggest misconception is that polyamory is about sex. It’s about taking care of your own needs and, most of all, trusting your partner to do the same.

Thanks for taking the time to talk about it! We need more visibility, as a group, to wipe away the stigma.

Read more readers’ stories here.


Brightest-ever supernova discovered, shabby chic peaked, Wikipedia’s 15th birthday celebrated, El Chapo interview lamented, the great dog-pants question answered.

Answers: Guns, Autism, Restaurant Servers.