The Atlantic Daily: Repairing the Damage

Why mental-health reform won’t stop mass shootings, Tillerson’s defense of Trump, Puerto Rico’s road to recovery, and more

Air Force One passes the Mandalay Bay Hotel, site of Sunday's mass shooting, while departing Las Vegas on October 4, 2017. (Mike Blake / Reuters)

What We’re Following

Las Vegas: President Trump emphasized caring and unity in his remarks after meeting with victims and first responders of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. In the wake of the shooting, House Speaker Paul Ryan has joined other politicians in calling for mental-health reform—yet while improved access to care would likely help a lot of people, researchers say it wouldn’t do much to prevent mass murder. With the motives of the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, still unknown, Graeme Wood—the author of “What ISIS Really Wants”—wrestles with the meaning of the label “terrorist” and how much statistics on violence can tell us. Meanwhile, the survivors of past mass shootings have come together to support—and advocate for—each other.

Tillerson’s Troubles: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied the NBC News report that he’d seriously considered resigning over differences with Trump. Yet his defense of the president didn’t dispel uncertainty about his future, since previous Trump aides have also insisted they would stay right before departing (he also didn’t explicitly refute the claim that he’d called Trump a “moron”). Despite the unified front Tillerson presented, the administration’s foreign policy is filled with inconsistencies—and even if the appearance of unpredictability is intentional, history indicates the “madman” approach to North Korea isn’t likely to work.

Puerto Rico: The devastation of Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico in need of immediate relief—but as the president has noted, the U.S. territory suffered from financial and infrastructure problems even before the hurricane. As Vann R. Newkirk II writes, these problems are closely intertwined with the legacy of American colonialism, and reconstruction will take a long time yet. As the rebuilding continues, here’s a timeline of the hurricane and the recovery efforts so far.


The remains of a house damaged by Hurricane Maria in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2017. More photos from Puerto Rico here. (Ricardo Arduengo / AFP / Getty)

Evening Read

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell on the history of the Bunny suit:

One of the most iconic symbols of the Playboy Club was its waitstaff: a throng of women known, and dressed, as Bunnies. Much like the clubs themselves, the magazine whose name they shared, and the man who created all of it, the outfits worn by the Playboy Bunnies were a blend of provocative and old-fashioned. Since its debut, the Bunny suit—a strapless bodysuit paired with rabbit ears and a fluffy tail—has become a cartoonish cliché of female sexuality, serving as a visual punchline in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, The House Bunny, and a host of other rom-coms. But the Bunny’s erotic allure was as much of a tease as the stuffing that so often filled out the D-cups of her costume. Her skimpy suit promised further revelations that never came; her cuddly demeanor concealed the Bunnies’ intensive training, strict disciplinary policies, and astronomical paychecks. And if feminists are still arguing over whether the Bunny suit was constricting or liberating, it’s because it was designed to be both.

Keep reading here as Chrisman-Campbell considers how the iconic suits combined conservatism and provocation.

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

On the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1—the dawn of the Space Age and all the innovation that came with it—we are reminded that space continues to make history. Satellites launched after Sputnik keep our world connected, to the point that a widespread failure could be near-apocalyptic. Watching scientists wait for news from their spacecraft is still marvelously suspenseful. And this year’s Nobel Prize in physics proves that 130-year-old technology can (with some updates) still work to observe space phenomena, though the scientific Nobel Prizes could use an update themselves.

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

1. In 2016, researchers found a can of ____________ at the mouth of the Sirena Deep in the Mariana Trench.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. More ____________ happen in Yosemite National Park on warm days than cool ones.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Elon Musk has proposed a rocket called the ____________ that would carry passengers from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: Spam / rockslides / bfr

Announcing The Masthead

The Atlantic’s first-ever membership program, The Masthead, is now going live to the public. This brand-new platform will provide you with direct access to our best writers and thinkers, from behind-the-scenes looks at how our journalism comes together to answers for your most pressing questions about the world. Our goal is to build a closer relationship with you, in which we put our newsroom to work delivering you insights and analysis on the issues you care about most. As a founding member of The Masthead, you will not only receive some of our best journalism, written exclusively for our members; you will be directly underwriting The Atlantic’s future. Click here to join.

Look Back

President Rutherford B. Hayes was born on this day in 1822. In our October 1893 issue, James Monroe outlined the 1876 election controversy that brought him to office:

A presidential election had been held in November, and the result was contested. There were 369 electoral votes, of which 185 were necessary to a choice. Of the 369 votes, Samuel J. Tilden confessedly had 184, lacking but one of the required majority. Rutherford B. Hayes had only 163 undisputed votes, but his friends claimed, in addition, the votes of Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, and South Carolina, with an aggregate of 22 electors, which would make his total vote 185, precisely the number needed to secure his inauguration. ...

The situation was serious. Some thoughtful men felt that perhaps the greatest peril that the Republic had encountered was not that of the Civil War. It was repeatedly stated on the floor of the House of Representatives, and apparently believed by the majority, that if the Republican party should proceed, through the President of the Senate, to count the votes of the disputed States, and declare them for General Hayes, the House would then proceed to elect Mr. Tilden, or to count the vote and declare him elected by the nation. There would then have been a dual presidency, a divided army and navy, a divided people, and probably civil war. What plan could be devised to save the country from the evils that threatened it?

Read more here.

Reader Response

After Ed Yong wrote about problems with the Nobel Prizes in science, this reader has some ideas for improvement:

The article points to some valid and longstanding criticism with the prizes. That being said, it makes less sense to focus on improving diversity at the level of a Nobel Prize, which can only draw from an existing pool. I am in much greater favor of bottom-up efforts to increase diversity that would improve equality of opportunity than top-down efforts aimed at equality of outcome. Once women and minorities have equal opportunity, there will surely be more contenders from their ranks for the Nobel Prize.

As for recognizing specific discoveries, one way to not focus on a single discovery is to make the prize a kind of lifetime achievement award. This has already been done several times in chemistry (R. B. Woodward, E. J. Corey and Linus Pauling all received such recognition).

Read the article here.


Fraudulent activity,  preventable mistakes, social experiment, Millennial hope.

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