The Atlantic Daily: Potentially Explosive

Trump’s budget plans, anti-protest laws, outer-space volcanoes, and more.

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

What We’re Following

The President’s Speech: Tonight at 9 EST, Donald Trump is scheduled to address Congress about his plans for the federal budget (follow our coverage on our Politics page). The budget will reportedly include a major increase in military spending, offset by cuts that spare Social Security and Medicaid—good news for Trump’s constituency of older white voters, though Dem demographics and GOP lawmakers will be dissatisfied. The conservatives, though, aren’t likely to push back. So, does that mean Trump has succeeded in making Washington bend to his agenda? Now that his first month in office is over, Molly Ball evaluates how he’s doing so far.

Backlash to Backlash: After Trump’s election and his controversial policies sparked protests across the country, GOP legislators in multiple states have proposed bills aimed at curbing such demonstrations. Much of the legislation hinges on arguments that protests cause danger and disorder, and new scientific evidence shows that nonviolent protest is most effective. Meanwhile, scientists themselves have become newly politically active, leading some to worry their outspokenness will damage their credibility—but a new study suggests that isn’t really the case.

Other Eruptions: Less than a week after scientists announced the discovery of seven potentially habitable exoplanets, a new study indicates that the habitable zone of outer space could be even larger: Volcanoes could keep some planets warm enough to support liquid water, and life. Back on Earth, however, volcanoes pose a danger to humans—and though the U.S. is among the world’s most volcanically active countries, its system for watching and predicting eruptions leaves a lot to be desired.


An untitled photo possibly taken in South River, New Jersey, in February 1936 and defaced with a hole punch. Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Information’s Information Division, used this method of vetoing work from the agency’s photographers throughout the 1930s—resulting in some surreal images. See more holes punched through history here. (Carly Mydans / Library of Congress)

Evening Read

Ian Bogost on the exhaustion that comes from a compulsive obsession with smartphones:

Years of odious abuse on services like Twitter and Reddit have finally mestastasized into resigned admission. The logic of amplifying information based on popularity, as Google and Facebook do, has finally revealed its obvious downsides. The demand of constant, unceasing attention from apps like Snapchat and games like Candy Crush Saga has begun to feel like the unpaid labor it always was.

For years, internet-driven, mobile computing technology was heralded as either angel or devil. Only recently has it become possible to admit that it might be both. Cigarettes, after all, produce pleasure even as they slowly kill.

Given the rising angst of a society run by technology, Nokia might have picked the perfect time to introduce an antidote to the smartphone.

Keep reading here, as Ian outlines how Nokia’s new “dumbphone” model could foretell an alternate technological future.

Have the distractions of your smartphone—or other internet technology—sapped your creativity? Or has the web created new ways to nurture new ideas? We’re debating that question this week in a new reader discussion series. Check out some answers from our archives here, and then tell us about your own experience via

What Do You Know?

1. In 2015, ____________ people lived in poverty in America’s suburbs—over 3 million more than the number of impoverished residents in cities.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Mahershala Ali, the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award, follows a sect of the faith that is outlawed in the nation of  ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. So far, only ____________ people—all American men—have walked on the moon.

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:

Housing prices are surging because there aren’t enough homes being built where they’re needed most. Underneath that trend is deeper problem: a staggering productivity crisis in the construction industry.

Transit systems across the U.S. are losing riders. There’s any number of culprits, from bad service to cheap oil to the rise of Uber. Where are those riders going, and what can cities do to win them back?

If Donald Trump is ready to build that wall, he’s got plenty of willing partners in the private sector: So far, more than 180 architecture and engineering firms have bid for the federal contract (and only a few appear to be pranks).

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

America by Air

Roberto, a reader in Georgia, sends an otherworldly image:

This is the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project, in the Nevada desert, as seen on a flight from Denver to San Francisco last November. I had just heard about it on NPR when I saw it right under our flight path. (If I hadn’t listened, I would have no idea what it was.)

More on that solar plant (which uses molten salt!) and many more reader photos here.

Reader Response

How will history remember your lifetime? Readers on the TAD discussion group explored that question today after trying out our new Life Timeline feature, which gives you a personalized timeline of how historical events line up with your life so far. One reader wrote:

I think my lifetime will be remembered in part for the extraordinary achievements in technology. The internet and robotic technology developed in the last 20 years has fundamentally changed how humans interact with each other and the world around them. People my age are right now developing technology that once was the stuff of science fiction. I don’t know if it’ll lead us down a great path. We may be remembered as the generation that went too far.

I’m part of that generation too: My timeline tells me I’m one of the first people who’s never lived in a world without texting, and that my life can be divided in two halves—before and after Facebook. But history changes constantly, and in a few years the defining moments of my lifetime may look completely different. What are yours? Find your own timeline here—and if one of your milestones sparks a detailed memory or particularly surprises you, feel free to tell us about it via


Finance redefined, doctors discriminate, bird experts bicker, love lesson learned.

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