The Atlantic Daily: Russian Noninterference

Was Friday’s Trump-Putin call Helsinki all over again? Plus: Jay Inslee’s 100-100-100 plan, the optimal number of children parents should have, Tuca & Bertie, and more

Marcos Brindicci / Reuters

What We’re Following

Trump’s Surreal Phone Call With Vladimir Putin

(Grigory Dukor / Reuters)

Donald Trump seems to keep absolving Russia of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election. For more than two years, he’s failed to press Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic, while blaming the interference on everything from “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” to “a lot of people out there.” That continued in an hour-long phone call on Friday, when Trump didn’t bring up what he called the “Russian hoax.” (Think back to a Helsinki meeting in the summer of 2018.) Trump can’t own up to Russian hacking, argues David Graham, because he finds it difficult to stomach any suggestion that his victory was the result of anything other than his own prowess.

Jay Inslee, the climate candidate, now has a climate plan. You could call it the 100-100-100 plan: The Washington governor would require that by 2030, 100 percent of new cars sold be electric and 100 percent of electricity come from carbon-neutral sources, and that by 2035, 100 percent of U.S. electricity be generated by zero-emission sources. The agenda mirrors many of the policies that Inslee has piloted in his home state—but actually getting them passed on the federal level is a much trickier, and perhaps Pollyannaish, endeavor.


Lady backpacks over handbags

(Katie Martin / The Atlantic)

Why sling an uncomfortable handbag over one shoulder when backpacks exist? Some white-collar women are turning away from the purse for good. Olga Khazan explores the trend. → Read the rest

This Week in Numbers

💰The 2020 candidates Jay Inslee and Beto O’Rourke both released climate-change plans this week. Inslee is betting his entire campaign on environmental issues; that he’s set out ambitious new targets on things such as carbon neutrality is no surprise. But Beto’s comprehensive plan, requiring this much in federal investment, did surprise experts.

🛢The U.S. sanctions a lot of people (the Mexican drug kingpin “El Chapo”), companies (Cubacancun Cigars and Gift Shops), and governments (those that import Iranian oil). As of Friday morning, the U.S. had nearly this many sanctions in place against various entities—an increase of nearly 2,000 from five years ago.

📺 How much screen time is too much for young kids? The World Health Organization recently issued new guidelines: Kids younger than 1 shouldn’t be exposed to screens, and kids between 2 and 4 should spend no more than this many minutes each day on passive screen time. Still, there are tradeoffs that can complicate these blanket recommendations.

Our Critics’ Picks

Tuca & Bertie


Watch: Tuca & Bertie, a raunchy friendship comedy created by the animator behind BoJack Horseman, is out today on Netflix. The show, about bird protagonists (voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong) who live in Birdtown, is an at once surreal and classic celebration of friendship.

Listen: The art rockers of Vampire Weekend are back with Father of the Bride, a mixed album brimming with “anxieties about humankind’s self-endangerment from climate change and war.” (Heavy worries; pleasant listen.)

Weekend Read

The right number of kids to have is ...

What is the optimal number of children parents should have, to maximize happiness?

Bryan Caplan is an economist and a dad who has thought a lot about the joys and stresses of being a parent. When I asked him whether there is an ideal number of children to have, from the perspective of parents’ well-being, he gave a perfectly sensible response: “I’m tempted to start with the evasive economist answer of ‘Well, there’s an optimal number given your preferences.’”

When I pressed him, he was willing to play along: “If you have a typical level of American enjoyment of children and you’re willing to actually adjust your parenting to the evidence on what matters, then I’ll say the right answer is four.”

As always, the pressures of real life change that calculus.

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