The Atlantic Daily: Seeds of Doubt That Help a Disease Spread

Measles was supposedly eradicated in the U.S. two decades ago. Plus: Trump loves the NRA and the NRA loves him back, hate-listening to Taylor Swift’s newest song, and more

Mike Segar / Reuters

What We’re Following

Measles and misinformation

(Mike Segar)

Why are measles making a comeback? The disease was supposedly eradicated two decades ago, but a series of outbreaks this year has led to a high of almost 700 reported cases so far in the U.S. (Globally, the number of outbreaks is up 300 percent from this time last year.) But unlike areas of the developing world, where vaccines can be hard to come by, the resurgence of measles in the U.S. is a communication problem, James Hamblin writes. Some parents aren’t vaccinating their kids because of misinformation percolating on social media about the vaccine’s safety. Facts often don’t change the mind of conspiracists.

Trump loves the NRA and the NRA loves Trump. The gun lobby has vocally backed President Trump since he was Candidate Trump, and at the group’s convention on Friday, he reciprocated the favor, doubling down on gun rights and his support for the Second Amendment. While onstage, he indicated his desire to tear up a treaty signed by President Obama to crack down on the illegal sale of weapons. (It has been awaiting ratification in the Senate.) Trump’s speech put to bed any lingering notion that he would make a push for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

What makes bad pop bad? Probably everything Taylor Swift does in her new song. Her latest single, “ME!,” is hardly her first song to evoke a Yikes, but it has almost none of the elements that once made her interesting and turned her into a viral pop sensation. “A tongue twister of clichés—c’mon, Taylor, ‘Livin’ in winter, I am your summer’?—tumbles down before Swift ricochets up, up, up into a dolphin screech,” writes Spencer Kornhaber. “This sound alone may ruin summer 2019.” His evisceration continues.


The huge field of 2020 U.S. presidential candidates

(Associated Press)

Everyone in the grid above is running for U.S. president in 2020. Can you name them all? (No Googling.)

+ Read more about the entire field of candidates.

This Week in Numbers

🤒 Measles cases have surged in recent months in the U.S.—as well as worldwide: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that the total number of reported cases in the U.S. is the highest it's been since 2000.

🇬🇱 The melt is accelerating: Greenland, the largest island on Earth, has now lost this many quadrillion pounds of water from its ice covering since 1972 (a quadrillion is 1 followed by 15 zeros).

🎓 The presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren wants college to be free—and she wants to forgive student debt up to this many thousands of dollars for borrowers who make less than $100,000 per year. (Her plan is the most radical reimagining of higher education among 2020 Democratic competitors, Adam Harris writes.)

Our Critics’ Picks

'Avengers: Endgame' Review

(Marvel Studios)

Watch: Avengers: Endgame is a fitting wrap-up to the sprawling Marvel superhero universe, tying “most of the series’ narrative threads into a satisfying knot,” writes David Sims. Just don’t hydrate beforehand—the run time is a shade over three hours.

Listen: Try Lizzo’s feel-good album Cuz I Love You, which doesn’t leave you empty (Lizzo herself distracted from the positivity by lashing out at a mildly critical review of her music). Avoid Taylor Swift’s new song, which Spencer Kornhaber determines is “everything that gives pop a bad rap.”

Weekend Read

Mick Mulvaney is fine with everything

His title is still “acting” chief of staff, the president’s third in less than two years. Perceived political losses ping off him (“Yeah, but at least I’m losing at the very highest levels”). Mick Mulvaney says he’s no John Kelly, and better off for it:

Mulvaney was blunt in his assessment of Kelly’s leadership: It was an experiment gone bad. “I just think it’s very hard to cultivate a healthy work environment when somebody near the top lets everybody know that they hate their job,” Mulvaney said. He argued that his “family business” background had allowed him “unique insights into how this place should be managed, in a different way than somebody who’s spent 40 years in the Marines.”

Mulvaney began allowing more and more aides to participate in senior-staff meetings—the White House official said that people are now “hanging from the ceiling”—and he freed up access to the president, making clear that he had no interest in reining in Ivanka Trump and Kushner. “If I wanted to, I couldn’t,” Mulvaney said. “But I don’t want to.” Mulvaney said he arrives to work at about 7 a.m., while the president is still upstairs in the residence, making phone calls. “He doesn’t come down until about 11,” he said.

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