The Atlantic Daily: The Budget and the Ban

Trump's proposed cuts, his new legal challenges, a populist loss in Europe, and more.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

What We’re Following

Deep Cuts: The budget proposal the White House released to Congress today is an aggressive demonstration of Trump’s campaign promises. To fund an increase in military spending, it makes deep cuts to education programs and funding for science, including the bipartisan-supported National Institutes of Health. It would eliminate funding for 19 independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts. (Here’s a visual breakdown of the spending changes.) All these cuts could hurt low-income Americans, including some of Trump’s own supporters, not to mention slowing scientific and tech research that might otherwise help revive U.S. manufacturing. But don’t panic yet: Thanks to the complicated fiscal procedure known as sequestration, the budget needs bipartisan support, so it may not make it through Congress.

Ban There, Done That: After a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the revised version of Trump’s travel ban last night, a judge in Maryland quickly followed suit, both of them ruling—largely based on statements made by Trump aides out of court—that the new executive order was essentially the same as the old one. Trump himself more or less confirmed that with his comments during a rally last night, which doesn’t help his situation in court. But White House messaging aside, there’s still a strong enough legal case for the ban to succeed—and for that matter, a ruling that leans too heavily on signals sent by the president may set a dangerous precedent.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands: Geert Wilders, the far-right populist candidate, lost yesterday’s election—to the relief of European establishment leaders who had feared a Brexit-like watershed. The Netherlands’ parliamentary system may have served as one check on Wilders’s rise; another might be his association with Trump, who’s deeply unpopular in Europe. But it’s a little too soon to say the loss means the populist tide is turning—and an interview with Wilders’s brother suggests he’s far from being defeated.


A broken model of the solar system is seen inside a school building damaged by war in Ghouta, Syria, on March 2, 2017. This week marks six years of ongoing civil war in Syria. More photos here. (Bassam Khabieh / Reuters)

Who We’re Talking To

Melinda Gates, a philanthropist who’s worked in tech since 1987, discusses why—and how—the industry needs to create more inclusive companies.

Bill Schindler, an anthropology professor, explains why he’s teaching his college students caveman-style survival skills.

Ulrich Boser, an education researcher, shares his tips for learning new things and staying sharp as an adult.

Evening Read

Edward Simon finds the quintessential American antihero in John Milton’s Lucifer:

Many of the values the archangel advocates in Paradise Lost—the self-reliance, the rugged individualism, and even manifest destiny—are regarded as quintessentially American in the cultural imagination. Milton may be a poet of individual liberty and conscience, but he was also one of the most brilliant theological explorers of the darker subjects of sin, depravity, and the inclination toward evil. Nothing demonstrates that inclination more than the long-standing appeal the charismatic Lucifer has had for audiences, an appeal mirrored by the flawed but alluring protagonists of some of TV’s greatest American dramas. What Milton’s Paradise Lost, the first version of which was published in 1667, also demonstrates is what can be so dangerous about mistaking an antihero for a hero.

Keep reading here for Simon’s analysis of Lucifer as “a self-made individualist setting out into the wilderness to make his own world anew.”

What Do You Know?

1. Researchers say Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano is due for a major eruption, which would release a column of ash at least ____________ miles high.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. In the past few years, Florida Gulf Coast University, Lehigh University, and Wichita State University have all seen spikes in applications thanks to their performance during ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here. Before the next question, here’s reader Dara:

I wanted to let you know that my genetic lab and I love the fill-in-the-blank portion of your daily email. We typically all gather in the conference room at the end of the day, I open up my Atlantic Daily email, and I subsequently make everyone guess the blank aloud before reading off the answer ... and it typically ends in laughter because we are miles off. So thank you for the good times!

Thank you, Dara! Here’s one answer your team might know:

3. About ____________ percent of the participants in large genetic studies are of European descent.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 12, March Madness, 80

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:

Donald Trump’s budget proposal takes huge swipes at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If he gets his way, expect America’s already-severe housing crisis to get even worse, ushering in levels of homelessness not seen since the Reagan era.

Highways are some of America’s most powerful pieces of infrastructure. They also take a huge toll on the environment. But what if they didn’t? An ambitious project in Georgia aims to be a living lab for cutting-edge, eco-friendly technologies.

It’s hard to imagine cities without electricity, but they haven’t always been defined by bright lights. Here’s the wild history of how cities went electric.

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

America by Air

Speaking of bright lights, Sarah Yee sends a sparkly view of San Francisco:

See many more aerial photos from readers here, and send us your own via (guidelines here).

Reader Response

The TAD reader group is all over the story from Sophie on Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. Here’s Ruth:

Without getting into NEA’s mission and efficacy, it represents a tiny sliver of spending. Cutting minuscule things like this just because you can, while piling on military largesse that military leaders aren’t even sure they need, and pouring money into immigration measures, doesn’t fill me with confidence. It’s governance by optics.

Along those lines, Terri adds:

Cutting the NEA plays to the politics of resentment: hating the elites. The funny part of it is that starving artists that benefit from these programs are folks from rural red states too. Additionally, this is about our shared American cultural heritage—everyone’s, not just elites’.

Read the rest of the long discussion here.


Snakes squeezed, reforms recommended, grammar scolds scolded, vetters vexed.

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