The Atlantic Daily: An Attack in St. Petersburg

The explosion on the metro, Sisi's White House visit, the GOP's nuclear option, and more

Anton Vaganov / Reuters

What We’re Following

The Explosion in Russia: At least nine people were killed and 20 others were wounded in an explosion on a metro train in St. Petersburg today. Early reports said there were two explosions, but authorities later announced they had safely defused the second bomb. The blast is being investigated as a terrorist attack, but no one has claimed responsibility yet. The story is still developing; here’s what we know.

Sisi’s Visit: President Trump expressed his support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his first visit to the White House today. Sisi runs an oppressive regime, and Trump’s embrace of him has been criticized—yet he’s far from being the first U.S. president to overlook human-rights abuses in supporting a stable ally. But just how valuable is the U.S.–Egyptian alliance? A Middle East policy expert writes that both sides are bound to be disappointed.

The Supreme Court: Senate Democrats announced today that they’ve gathered enough votes to block the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, with a filibuster. This sets the stage for Republicans to take what’s known as the “nuclear option”: using a simple-majority vote to rewrite the Senate’s rules and confirm Gorsuch in spite of the opposition. On the current Court, Justice Clarence Thomas recently raised questions about the police practice of civil forfeiture—and a new Justice Department report backs up his concerns that the cash seizures don’t work as they should.


Snow blows over a roadway near Thule Air Base in Pituffik, Greenland, on March 25, 2017. See more photos from the Arctic here. (Mario Tama / Getty)

Evening Read

Stephanie Hayes on presidential fitness:

When Teddy Roosevelt was in office, he had the White House basement coated with mats. An avid martial artist, the 26th president wanted to be able to grapple and practice judo throws without leaving his home. Then the youngest man to assume the presidency (he was 42), he injected a certain vigor into the role: He invited accomplished boxers to the White House to spar with him, he led ambassadors on intense hikes, and he once livened up a formal luncheon by tossing a Swiss minister to the floor to demonstrate a judo hold. Thrice.

Roosevelt was the only martial artist to occupy the oval office, but his enthusiasm for exercise fits a pattern that’s become more marked among recent presidents. It’s not hard to see the appeal of an active president to constituents: Being the leader of the free world is a demanding job, and it’s comforting to know the person filling it will make it to the finish line. …  A commitment to working out suggests self-control, discipline, and a willingness to exert oneself in pursuit of a goal—ideas that align with the good old-fashioned American belief in meritocracy, however illusory.

Keep reading here, as Stephanie reviews the fitness routines of the last few White House occupants—and considers how Trump’s habits compare.

What Do You Know?

1. Walmart is one of six U.S. companies that run accredited ____________ labs.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. On an average day, President Trump is estimated to watch about ____________ hours of TV.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Last year, the number of paid subscribers to American music-streaming services more than doubled, reaching a total of ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Look Back

Ted Kaczynski, the terrorist known as the Unabomber, was arrested by the FBI on this day in 1996. In our June 2000 issue, Alston Chase considered what shaped him:

It was at Harvard that Kaczynski first encountered the ideas about the evils of society that would provide a justification for and a focus to an anger he had felt since junior high school. It was at Harvard that he began to develop these ideas into his anti-technology ideology of revolution. It was at Harvard that Kaczynski began to have fantasies of revenge, began to dream of escaping into wilderness. And it was at Harvard, as far as can be determined, that he fixed on dualistic ideas of good and evil, and on a mathematical cognitive style that led him to think he could find absolute truth through the application of his own reason. Was the Unabomber—“the most intellectual serial killer the nation has ever produced,” as one criminologist has called him—born at Harvard?

Read more here.

Reader Response

In response to the controversy over a white artist’s painting of Emmett Till, Conor Friedersdorf asks: What does “cultural appropriation” actually mean? A reader in the TAD group writes:

There are certainly instances of cultural exchange that are extremely valuable and not at all appropriative. Proscribing all forms of cultural exchange limits us in a myriad of negative ways, and anyone trying to do so should be ignored or actively stopped.

There’s also a very significant problem with the particular issues of Emmett Till and African American v. white American culture. If you put up some kind of barrier around engaging with American history that forces people to only engage with the parts of the past aligned with their race … I hope I don’t have to elaborate on why this is a terrible idea.

That’s about where I fall on the cultural appropriation debate too, but I recognize that perspective is very much informed by my background: I’m of mixed race, and both of my parents are artists, which means I have a lot of positive associations with the concept of ideas and art forms migrating across cultures and a little skepticism about how just how “pure” a culture can or should be. So, what’s the difference between valuable exchange and harmful appropriation, and how can would-be appropriators take care to give credit where it’s due? More readers talk through the complexities here.


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