The Atlantic Daily: About About-Faces

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What We’re Following

Immigration Woes: President Trump recently walked back his campaign promise to eliminate DACA, the Obama-era program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as kids. Yet a small number of DACA recipients have already been arrested, showing that they’re still at risk of deportation. And in the private sector, a new lawsuit against Wells Fargo claims the bank’s employees tried to meet sales quotas by targeting undocumented immigrants.

Trump vs. Congress: Trump’s about-face this week on his demand to fund the border wall illustrates the perils of his bombastic style: His ultimatums will mean nothing if lawmakers know they can call his bluff. He’s also struggling to achieve his legislative goals on health care and tax reform, committing the twin presidential errors of pushing Congress too little and hanging back too much. Raising the stakes on health care even further, Congress needs to pass a spending bill by Friday night to keep the government running—and if the GOP tries to repeal Obamacare first, Democrats might force a shutdown.

Trade, Wars: Last night, Trump backed away from reports that he was considering a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA, stating he would renegotiate the trade deal instead. When it comes to his other foreign-policy problems, he has a few options for what to do about North Korea, but they all have cooperation with China in common. Meanwhile, attention to his strike on Syria earlier this month has faded, even though its slim legal justifications may be an ominous sign.

Recommended Reading


A soldier from a Christian military organization walks through a church destroyed by ISIS in Qaraqosh, Iraq, on November 8, 2016. Now that Iraqi forces have retaken Qaraqosh—formerly the country’s largest Christian city—some residents are slowly returning. More photos here. (Chris McGrath / Getty)

Evening Read

Megan Garber on the drawbacks of activist humor:

Scrolling through Instagram to see the pictures from the March for Science, I marveled at the protest’s display of teasing American wit. (“Remember polio? No? Thanks, science!”) And then I thought of Neil Postman, the professor and the critic and the man who, via his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, argued preemptively against all this change-via-chuckle. Postman wasn’t, as his book’s title might suggest, a humorless scold in the classic way—Amusing Ourselves to Death is, as polemics go, darkly funny—but he was deeply suspicious of jokes themselves, especially when they come with an agenda. …

He mistrusted entertainment, not as a situation but as a political tool; he worried that Americans’ great capacity for distraction had compromised their ability to think, and to want, for themselves. He resented the tyranny of the lol. His great observation, and his great warning, was a newly relevant kind of bummer: There are dangers that can come with having too much fun.

Keep reading here as Megan examines the fine line between engagement and apathy—and check out our latest issue for more on the pros and cons of political satire.

What Do You Know?

1. A recent survey finds about ____________ percent of recent college grads aren’t using the skills they learned in college in the workforce.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. In 16th-century England, people coated fruit in ____________ to keep it fresh.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. About ____________ percent of Muslims in France attend mosque more than once a year.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 50, lard, 40

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:

Hundreds of towns and cities would lose rail service under President Trump’s vision for federal transportation funding—and few would have other options. This is the human cost of losing Amtrak.

Silicon Valley has a seemingly insatiable thirst for sprawl, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it might not take much to turn the region into “a constellation of lively, well-connected urban centers.”

“Open classrooms” were a disaster in the 1960s and ’70s. So who thought it was a good idea to bring them back?

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

Reader Response

The TAD group is discussing Olga Khazan’s interview with the psychologist Ty Tashiro on how to overcome awkwardness. Here’s one reader’s go-to strategy:

Initiate less, respond more. Probably not the healthiest blanket solution, but it’s what I’ve got.

I find most of my awkwardness is when I try to start something (telling a joke, making a comment, offering a hug) without correctly observing the mood of my company. So, taking a few minutes to just be quiet and let people approach me, or chewing on a thought before spitting it out, helps to reduce the nonsense I seem to so frequently emit.

Can you relate? Go here for the full discussion, and check out the interview here.

Time of Your Life

Today, we’re joining our reader Nan in wishing a happy 47th birthday to Peter. Here’s his Life Timeline:

Do you or a loved one have a birthday coming up?  If you’d like us to feature your life timeline in an upcoming newsletter, send in a first name and the day, month, and year of birth to And in the meantime, click here to explore the Timeline feature for yourself.


Texts’ subtext, dirigible dreams, “criminal aliens,” ancient DNA.

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