The Atlantic Daily: Loose Ends and Legacy

The DoJ will investigate the FBI's pre-election actions, the Senate took the first steps toward repealing Obamacare, an antibiotic-resistant gene spread around the world, and more.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

What We’re Following

Intel on Intel: The office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Justice Department announced it would investigate the FBI’s and the DoJ’s actions leading up to the presidential election—in particular, the letter released by FBI Director James Comey on October 28 saying the bureau would renew its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. That letter, some argue, swayed the election in favor of Trump—who’s now facing unverified allegations that Russian agents have a compromising video of him. Here’s how that kind of state-sponsored blackmail works in Russia, and what it could mean for Trump and for America. Meanwhile, the Trump transition continues, with Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for head of the CIA, beginning his first day of confirmation hearings.

After Obama:  The Senate voted this morning on a measure that lays the groundwork for repealing Obamacare within the next few weeks. The health-care law has been Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment, and a successful repeal by Congress would be a serious blow to his legacy. His influence on the Democratic Party is also in question: In the process of deepening connections with young voters, minorities, and women, he arguably shifted the party’s priorities in a way that alienated older rural voters. That’s just one story of the Obama White House, though. In an appearance last night on The Tonight Show, Michelle Obama demonstrated her own legacy as First Lady—which, most of all, is one of empathy.

Drug Discoveries: First, the bad news: Antibiotic resistance is spreading, and it’s spreading quickly. After scientists in China found a gene last year that makes bacteria resistant to even colistin, the drug physicians now use as a last resort, more discoveries followed quickly, and colistin-resistant bacteria are now being found all over the world. On a different, more encouraging note: The discovery of a gene mutation associated with both autism and some cancers has some researchers hoping that cancer drugs can pave the way for autism treatment.


Hiker Jessica Taft looks out at mountain peaks poking through the Harding Icefield on August 27, 2016. See more images of Alaska’s glaciers by photographer Mark Meyer here.

Evening Read

J. Weston Phippen on the hermit who inadvertently shaped climate-change science:

It was a year into his life alone in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains when Billy Barr began his recordings. It started as a curiosity, a task to busy his mind during the winter. By no means, Barr told me, having skied down from his cabin to use the nearest phone, did he set out to make a vital database for climate change scientists. “Hell no!” he said. “I didn’t know anything about climate change at the time.”

In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college and made his home an abandoned mining shack at the base of Gothic Mountain, a 12,600-foot stone buttress. The cold winds blew through the shack’s wood slat walls as if they didn’t exist. He shared the shack’s bare dirt floor with a skunk and pine marten, his only regular company for much of the year. Barr had moved from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains precisely because of the solitude, but he couldn’t escape boredom. Especially that first winter. So he measured snow levels, animal tracks, and in spring the first jubilant calls of birds returning. He filled a notebook with these observations; then another notebook. This has continued now for 44 years.

Keep reading here, as Weston tells the story of how Barr’s data found its way into dozens of scientific studies.

What Do You Know?

1. Killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and humans are the only animals that experience ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Between 2006 and 2015, U.S. state and federal courts decided over 3,000 lawsuits over job discrimination against ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Though Trump claims “96 million” Americans are looking for work, the actual number is closer to ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Urban Developments

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing city dwellers around the world. Adam Sneed shares three of today’s top stories:

Curious about how Ben Carson would run the Department of Housing and Urban Development? Viewers of today’s Senate confirmation hearing likely left it with little more clarity than they had going in. With little insight into his qualifications, plans, philosophy of government, or even his desire to run a cabinet agency, CityLab’s Kriston Capps asks: Does Ben Carson believe in HUD?

Populism is on the rise throughout the West, fueled by opposition to immigrants and free trade. But that kind of diversity and openness defines the modern metropolis, and there’s a whole range of ways urban residents and leaders could respond. These are the five kinds of cities we’ll see in the populist era.

Ever since a section of Interstate 70 was built through the Denver neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea, it has defined life in the community. The six lanes of traffic have effectively sectioned off the 6,500 residents for decades. After a hard-fought battle, though, the community encouraged the state to bury the roadway and build a grassy new park on top. Now a big question looms: Will the project reconnect a long-isolated community, or usher in a tide of gentrification that pushes residents out?

For more updates from the urban world, subscribe to CityLab’s daily newsletter.

Reader Response

Janalynne Rogers—who “decided to use my full name because there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to having a mental illness”—recalls her experience with electroconvulsive therapy, commonly called “shock treatment”:

There were eight of us scheduled for ECT that morning. The nurses lined up our stretchers in the pink tile-lined hallway and systematically administered our sedatives. It was an assembly line of last resort. The fluorescent lights came in and out of focus as I slipped into the drug-induced slumber. My next memory is of being thrust back to awareness by the force with which I vomited on the recovery-room nurse.

I had felt nothing during the procedure and was shipped back to the main hospital while I was still numb. The memories from before, during, and after the treatments are either completely blurred or simply missing. Trying to recall specifics from the rest of my hospital stay is like searching in vain for a simple word that rests on the tip of your tongue but refuses to be said.

Read the rest of Janalynne’s story, and another reader’s, here.

Earlier this week, we asked for your feedback on the Daily’s erstwhile “Verbs” section—it was discontinued last month, but it had some fans we didn’t know about. Tonight’s special edition of Verbs is dedicated to Cat, Patricia, Gretchen, and Stacey— who says she misses Verbs as a “wonderful grab bag of surprises”:


Stars stolen, bacteria recruited, Biden bedecked, happy endings eschewed.

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