What We’re Following

The Other Russia Meeting: Last night, the White House confirmed that while President Trump was at the G20 summit, he had a second, undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Though Trump’s team dismisses the encounter’s importance, the news comes at a tense time: The meeting joins a list of other undisclosed sit-downs between the Trump camp and the Kremlin, including the one of June 9, 2016, that suggests Trump’s son was open to colluding with Russia. Many Democrats in Congress see the past week’s revelations as alarming—but their Republican counterparts aren’t worried yet.

Policing Policies: Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back the Obama-era reforms on civil-asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that lets police seize property from citizens before they’ve been charged with a crime. Though Sessions calls these seizures an important tool for law enforcement, he’s already getting opposition from both liberal and conservative camps. Elsewhere, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, tribal authorities are wrestling with whether to partner with local police to solve a string of violent crimes on their sovereign land.

Views on Votes: The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity had its first in-person meeting today. The commission is already facing seven lawsuits that accuse its members, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, of efforts at voter suppression. Meanwhile, Democrats are looking ahead to next year’s midterm elections, when they may have a chance to appeal to conservative women concerned about Trump.

- Rosa Inocencio Smith


Snapshot

Three border collies (can you spot them?) help to sow trees in a burned-out forest in Talca, Chile, on June 23, 2017. See more striking tree photos here. (Martin Bernetti / AFP / Getty)

Evening Read

Alexis C. Madrigal tells the story of how a computer programmer solved checkers:

Marion Tinsley—math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world—sat across a game board from a computer, dying. …

It’s possible no single person had ever dominated a competitive pursuit the way Tinsley dominated checkers. But this was a different sort of competition, the Man-Machine World Championship.

His opponent was Chinook, a checkers-playing program programmed by Jonathan Schaeffer, a round, frizzy-haired professor from the University of Alberta, who operated the machine. Through obsessive work, Chinook had become very good. It hadn't lost a game in its last 125—and since they’d come close to defeating Tinsley in 1992, Schaeffer’s team had spent thousands of hours perfecting his machine.

Keep reading here, as Alexis follows Schaeffer’s quest to beat Tinsley—even after the champion’s death.


What Do You Know … About Science, Technology, and Health?

If you enjoyed reading about how a sector of the Twittersphere spent the spring decoding a fake alien message, you’ll probably want to investigate the potential evidence of a real one: unusual radio waves coming from a nearby star called Ross 128. Ross 128 is a red dwarf, which means it’s on the small side, but scientists recently discovered a red dwarf that’s even smaller—almost too tiny to be a star. And speaking of tiny: The microscopic superstars of intergalactic survival, the tardigrades, probably won’t get wiped out until the sun swallows the Earth.

Can you remember the other key facts from this week’s Sci/Tech/Health coverage? Test your knowledge below:

1. The ridership record for New York’s subway system was set in the year ____________ with 2 billion riders.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Global warming may help makers of ____________ to revive ancient varieties from warmer times.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The planet ____________ has 17 trojans—asteroids that share a parent planet’s orbit around the sun.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

—Rachel Gutman

Answers: 1946 / wine / Neptune


Our First Podcast

Two more days: Our first podcast, Radio Atlantic, debuts this Friday, July 21. Tune in to hear Jon Batiste’s full interpretation of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as well as conversations with David Frum and Molly Ball about the past, present, and future of the American idea. Frum will expand on a question that worries him a lot: “To what extent is the President of the United States now in the chain of command?” Listen and subscribe at TheAtlantic.com/radio.


Look Back

On this day in 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began—ultimately contributing to the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s successful unification of Germany. In our February 1882 issue, Herbert Tuttle profiled Bismarck:

It is impossible to imagine Bismarck playing an unskillful flute, or composing French ballads, like a love-sick school-boy. The deadly foe of everything like dilettanteism, he saw at once through the shallowness and insufficiency of the liberal plan; put Germany “in the saddle,” as he had promised; fought out the battles of his generation with “blood and iron, not with parliamentary speeches;” and restored the medieval brigands to the place which had so long been usurped by a race of dyspeptic philosophers.

Read more here.


Reader Response

After Laura Turner wrote about how Twitter can exacerbate anxiety, a reader draws a connection to another Atlantic piece:

Read this article alongside Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s from yesterday [“Why It’s a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence”] and read between the lines. I’ve long blamed social media for the rise of the safe space crowd, and this appears to be the smoking gun. I have anxiety and depression, and I learned to manage them before social media was even a thing. When your anxiety is exacerbated by Twitter and Facebook, and you’ve learned how to shut out trolls by blocking them, it sort of makes sense that you’d try that IRL, essentially trying to block speech you don’t want to hear.

Haidt and Lukianoff wrote a controversial cover story on just those subjects—campus speech and mental-health issues—for our September 2015 issue. Read their discussion with readers here.


Verbs

Mortality photographed, sci-fi subverted, hymn reimagined, gawkiness redeemed.


Time of Your Life

Happy birthday to Karen’s husband (twice the age of websites); to Marilyn’s husband, Kevin (a year younger than color-TV); to Sondra’s husband (who was 18 when Alaska became a state); to Alice’s father, Jack (a year younger than the Academy Awards); to David’s partner, Jim (the same age as ZIP codes); to Terry’s son Christian (a year younger than Shark Week); and to Pat’s granddaughter Piper, who’s too young for the Life Timeline, but just the right age to become an art prodigy.

Do you or a loved one have a birthday coming up? Sign up for a birthday shout-out here, and click here to explore the Timeline feature for yourself.


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