The Atlantic Daily: A Little-Known (Yet Popular) Climate Policy

Renewables standards rise; carbon-tax proposals fall. Plus: when the House can arrest AG William Barr, pitting religious freedom against abortion rights, and more

The Rarely Used Congressional Power That Could Force William Barr’s Hand

(Aaron Bernstein / Reuters)

What We’re Following

House Democrats fuming at the attorney general could wield a rarely used power against him: arrest. William Barr has refused to give Congress the full, unredacted Mueller report, and the House Judiciary Committee countered today by voting to hold him in contempt for his refusal to do so. Next it goes to the full House for a vote, and assuming that it passes (along party lines), the House would have the legal authority to enlist its sergeant-at-arms to head to the Department of Justice and handcuff Barr. Congress hasn’t invoked that power in nearly a century, but “its day in the sun is coming,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland tells Russell Berman.

Does America’s most popular climate policy actually work? Twenty-nine states have in recent decades required that a portion of their electricity come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, but these policies have proliferated without any sense of their cost. One new study finds that while levying renewable standards leads to a decline in carbon pollution, it comes at a steep cost by making electricity more expensive. So does that make renewable standards bad policy? Republican lawmakers in Ohio are looking to scrap the policy under that assumption, but with no realistic prospect of passing more effective climate-change plans, that move could achieve more harm than good.

A slate of red states are making pushes to limit abortion access. Georgia narrowly passed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws this week, which makes it illegal for women to get the procedure after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (That can happen even before some women know they’re pregnant.) Ohio is considering an even more restrictive bill that would prohibit most private insurance from covering abortions. At the federal level, the Trump administration is making moves to placate abortion-opposing religious conservatives, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services having announced a new rule last week that would strengthen protections for health-care workers who have religious objections to the procedure.


Scenes From the 2019 Venice Biennale

(Tiziana Fabi / AFP / Getty)

Depicted above, the Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s Building Bridges over a Venetian waterway is one of the many installations at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, on exhibit through Saturday.

→ See other artwork and scenes from the Biennale

Evening Reads

Tech Is No Match for Human Grossness

Can any Silicon Valley productivity-increasing start-up really disrupt one of the most quotidian of human tasks: cleaning up?

When the textile start-up Silvon launched in 2014 under the name Sleep Clean, it promised to bring one of the most consistent pleasures of luxury hotels to everyday life: perennially fresh sheets without personal effort. It now makes both bedding and towels that use one of the oldest, most reliable antimicrobial technologies known to man: pure silver, woven into 7 percent of the company’s thread, ready to kill any bacteria that might scurry off your person while you’re passed out or drying off.

Silvon is one of a cluster of businesses that have incorporated similar technology into their products in the past five years. Miracle also makes silver-infused bedding and towels, with a promise that you’ll do two-thirds less laundry. Skin Laundry, a brand of skin-care products, recently added silver-washed pillowcases to its lineup. Lululemon launched its Silverescent line of antimicrobial workout gear in 2014. Mack Weldon lines its men’s underwear in silver-infused fabric. All these companies make similar claims.

→ Read the rest

What Does It Mean to Be ‘Ready’ for a Relationship?

(Getty / Matt Porteous)

“Not ready for a relationship” can sometimes be a clichéd excuse deployed to get out of one. What does it really mean to be ready for a relationship, then?

The concept of being “ready for a relationship” is now so trite that this may be hard to fathom, but it doesn’t seem to have been around that long. In the corpus of books cataloged and searched by Google Ngram, the phrase doesn’t appear at all until the 1950s, and from then it’s just a blip until the 1980s, when it really takes off.

According to Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College, this is likely because of a reversal in how people think about marriage and commitment that occurred over the course of those decades. “The timing of the word is just about perfectly aligned with a sea change in people’s conceptions of marriage,” she wrote to me in an email. “It used to be that you got married IN ORDER to grow up, settle down, start saving up for a future home, move away from your teenage preoccupation with [yourself] and learn how to handle a relationship.” In other words: You didn’t need to have your life figured out to be ready for a relationship. A relationship is what made you ready for adult life.

→ Read the rest

Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here.

Comments, questions, typos? Email newsletters editor Shan Wang at

We have many other free email newsletters on a variety of other topics. Find the full list here.