The Atlantic Daily: Social Ills

Congress looked ready to jolt cancer research, Trump supporters had mixed expectations for his presidency, death tolls mounted in Duterte’s drug war, and more.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

What We’re Following

Fight for a Cure: The U.S. Congress is close to approving the 21st Century Cures Act, which would put more than $6 billion behind efforts to cure cancer, reform mental health treatment, test new drugs and medical tools, and more. The legislation, three years in the making, has gathered broad bipartisan support—but its backers were surprised this week when Senator Elizabeth Warren denounced the bill as “extortion” and “fraud” to benefit pharmaceutical companies. In some ways, the debate illustrates a strategic split in the aftermath of the presidential election: While some Democrats are eager for the bill to pass before Donald Trump takes office, Warren sees it as an opportunity for progressives within her party to “show some spine and start fighting back.”

Uncertainty About Trump: A new poll conducted by PRRI and The Atlantic finds some doubt among his supporters about whether he’ll make their lives better. About half of the president-elect’s voters think life in their communities will stay the same, while five percent think it might even get worse. One group that is generally optimistic about his presidency is white evangelicals, 39 percent of whom said they expect their lives to improve. Their survey answers, including a widespread concern that the U.S. is becoming “too soft and feminine,” speak to a sense that American values have been changing.

Life During Wartime: In the Philippines, where president Rodrigo Duterte has declared a brutal war on drug traffickers and users, 5,617 people have reportedly been killed during raids by police and by vigilantes. The anti-drug campaign is widely popular, but the left-behind loved ones are grappling with the violent results. Meanwhile in Colombia, as a civil war that’s lasted for generations nears a close, teachers and therapists are working to help children deal with the aftermath.


The Antennae galaxies, shown here, mark the first installment of our annual Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar. Check back here for new images every day until Sunday, December 25. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

Who We’re Talking To

Greg Stanton, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, discusses how he’s preparing to respond to Trump’s changes in policy.

Rick Raemish, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, explains why the practice of solitary confinement needs to change.

Charles Lloyd, a jazz saxophonist and star of the 1960s, shares why he left the music world—and why he’s coming back.

Evening Read

Adrienne LaFrance on the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old device recovered from a shipwreck and often described as the world’s oldest computer:

The mechanism as it was recovered is split into three pieces and represents only a portion of the device as it was built. Scholars believe the rest of it was either destroyed, or is still on the seafloor, covered in sand. “Clearly, this mechanism wasn’t a one-off,” Marchant told me. “It was too sophisticated. It must be part of a whole tradition of these mechanisms.”

“What I believe is that it cannot be just one mechanism and there must be more of them somewhere else,” said Theotokis Theodoulou, an archaeologist and the head of Underwater Antiquities for Greece’s Ministry of Culture. “The Antikythera shipwreck could be such a site.”

Another possibility is more startling: What if other objects like the Antikythera Mechanism have already been discovered and forgotten? There may well be documented evidence of such finds somewhere in the world, in the vast archives of human research, scholarly and otherwise, but simply no way to search for them. Until now.

Keep reading here, as Adrienne explores how artificial intelligence is changing the way people search for lost knowledge.

What Do You Know?

1. ____________ percent of American adults agree that science has made their lives easier.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. The U.S. state of ____________ has a 40 percent chance of experiencing a major earthquake in 2017.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The word “celebrity” began to be used for people instead of situations around the year ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 79, Oklahoma, 1850

Reader Response

This reader has a suggestion for how we should cover false statements from Trump, such as his recent untrue claim that Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote lead is due to voter fraud:

What if instead of making this “illegal votes” episode a story about a “tweet” or a “lie” or even a liar, the media made it a story about a serious and dangerous claim by our president-elect? What if you actually doubled-down on the “normalizing” and gave Trump every opportunity to back up his claims with evidence? What if you refused to move on from this very serious issue and instead demanded that he explain seriously and at length why he believes that three million illegal votes were cast, and why they were cast only for Clinton?

What if you refused to move on from this one tweet for several weeks? What if the media did that for every dangerous claim made by this (elected) administration, baseless or otherwise? Don’t accuse him of lying. Instead, force him to use his platform to either back it up or back down. Don’t try to shoot him; give him a rope to hang himself with.

Read more here, and go here for one journalist’s very different recommendation for dealing with Trump’s tweets.


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The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email