The Atlantic Daily: Furious Fallout

Responses to Trump’s UN speech, destruction in Mexico City, Jimmy Kimmel’s response to Obamacare repeal, and more

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

What We’re Following

Foreign Policy: President Trump’s aggressive speech to the UN General Assembly is getting criticism from around the world—not only from the governments he criticized, but also from some U.S. allies. His emphasis on American interests over global interdependence stood in stark contrast to the traditional ideals outlined by French President Emmanuel Macron. And though his threat to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary didn’t differ all that much in substance from existing U.S. policy, the extreme rhetoric risked raising tensions and making him look indecisive and ill-prepared. With the administration’s foreign policy in the global spotlight, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—whose messages have sometimes diverged from the president’s—is scheduled to speak tonight.

Disaster Strikes: A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City on Tuesday, toppling buildings and killing more than 200 people. It was the second major quake to hit the area this month, and it came on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake, which many residents had marked earlier in the day with earthquake drills. Rescue efforts are still unfolding. And in the U.S., in an effort to let the nation’s economy recover after the recent hurricanes, the Federal Reserve announced it would keep interest rates steady instead of raising them as it had planned earlier this year.

Explanation of Benefits: Though defenders of the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace Obamacare say the legislation is intended to distribute federal funds more equitably between states, the states it would help would be the ones that declined those funds in the past—while those losing out would most likely be poorer red states that desperately need the money. In an angry monologue on Tuesday night, the late-night host Jimmy Kimmel harshly criticized the bill for failing to live up to its promises.


Rescuers search for earthquake survivors in a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 19, 2017. More photos from the aftermath here. (Miguel Tovar / AP)

Evening Read

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on how the Vietnam War undermined Americans’ faith in the presidency:

It did not happen all at once, this radical diminution of trust. Over more than a decade, the accumulated weight of critical reporting about the war, the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and the declassification of military and intelligence reports tarnished the office. Nor did the process stop when that last chopper took off. New evidence of hypocrisy has continued to appear, an acidic drip, drip, drip on the image of the presidency. The three men who are most responsible for the war, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon, each made the fateful decision to record their deliberations about it. The tapes they left behind—some of them still newly public, others long obscured by the sheer volume of the material—are extraordinary. They expose the presidents’ secret motives and fears, at once humanizing the men and deepening the disillusionment with the office they held.

Keep reading—and listen to the presidents’ recordings—here.

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

After Facebook revealed that a Kremlin-linked firm bought $100,000 worth of political ads around last year’s election, the question of how advertising should be regulated on social media rose to renewed prominence. Another Facebook ad-related scandal revealed that flaws in the algorithms that categorize users’ interests have made it possible for advertisers to target their products to self-described “Jew haters.” And fact-checking endeavors on the social-media site have proved less than effective at discouraging users’ belief in false stories online. All this has highlighted the irony that Facebook’s efforts to connect people while removing people from its inner workings are letting problems slip through the cracks.

Can you remember the other key facts from this week’s science, tech, and health coverage? Test your knowledge below:

1. The dramatic red bubble of light scientists can now see around the star U Antliae originated ____________ years ago, when the star expelled a large amount of gas at high speed.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. The first Wiffle balls were made by punching holes in the packaging for ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The British Museum was founded using the collections of the wealthy physician ____________, who offered them to Parliament in his will in exchange for £20,000.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Look Back

On this day in 1871, the Italian Army entered Rome, gaining control of the city from the papal army and leading to the unification of Italy. In our October 1883 issue, William Chauncy Langdon described the period leading up to the city’s capture:

It is true that even the Romagna had, so far, maintained its independence of the Holy See, pending the decisions of a European congress which was soon to meet at Paris, and to which the Italian question had been referred; but, meanwhile, a French army of occupation kept all fear of revolution from the thresholds of St. Peter’s. ...

Nevertheless, of all the exciting problems in Italian politics, “the Roman question” was “la question brulante.” ... Wherever people dared discuss public affairs at all they debated whether the French emperor would be induced by Austria to restore the legations to the Pope; or whether he could be brought by Count Cavour to leave the Romans also free to settle their own future for themselves, or even ... if the temporal power were inevitable, to reduce the inevitable to a minimum, and the temporal papacy to the city and comarca of Rome.

Read more here.

Reader Response

Sigal Samuel recently interviewed the Biblical scholar James Kugel about his research into how ancient prophets experienced and interpreted their visions. One reader reflects:

Even a child can hear a voice inside their head that feels as if it arises from elsewhere. I remember discussing the conscience with my daughter when she was 4. About that voice, she said, “That’s the voice that always says, ‘No.’”

People I know hear their inner voice accessed during meditation or exercise or when they’re “in the flow”—something I experience regularly when running long-distance (why I’m addicted to long-distance running)—and attribute that voice to God if they are religious. So is it less common now, or was it just a prescientific understanding of one’s internal life?

Check out a scientific perspective on consciousness here, and read more about accessing one’s inner life through poetry here.


Kiwi hatched, heaven reached, Trump tackled, animals tracked.

Time of Your Life

Happy birthday to Jussi (twice the age of Pokémon); to Michael’s daughter (a year younger than the Super Bowl); to Karen’s daughter Kate, who at 12 is too young for the timeline, but just the right age to go to an Ivy League school; and to Mital’s twin sons, Arun and Viraj, who at 7 are just old enough to become artists. And happy birthday to Caroline (one-sixth the age of The Atlantic), the associate editor for our new membership program The Masthead.

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