The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Tariffraff

China said it plans to slap more retaliatory tariffs on American products, and Trump said the U.S. would slap black. Plus: the American hostages America forgot.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan in June. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
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What We’re Following Today

It’s Friday, August 23.

‣ China said it plans to slap retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of American products, and restart tariffs on U.S. cars and parts. President Donald Trump escalated Friday evening:

‣ David Koch, the billionaire donor who, along with his brother Charles, helped fund and fuel aggressively libertarian movements that reshaped American politics, has died at 79.

Here’s what else we’re watching.

(Eman Mohammed)

The Forgotten American Hostages: President Trump likes to trumpet his administration’s efforts to free Americans jailed abroad (see most recently: A$AP Rocky). But he hasn’t prioritized at least five U.S. citizens currently jailed in Iran in the same way. Kathy Gilsinan and Yara Bayoumy tell the story of those prisoners, and speak with the ones who got out.

A Ketamine Fix: Increasing suicide rates among younger veterans have pressured the Department of Veterans Affairs to better address suicidal depression. What should we make of the president’s announcement that the government will purchase “a lot” of esketamine, a drug derivative of the recreational hallucinogen ketamine? James Hamblin explores the research.

Hong Kong Talking Points: Hong Kong’s struggle to protect its social and political freedoms from mainland-Chinese influence has captured headlines in the West, but doesn’t seem to be resonating with President Trump, Uri Friedman and Peter Nicholas write. What exactly is the administration’s position?

Bye Bye Bye (2020): Surprising no one, Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton said he was quitting the presidential primary and plans to run for a fourth term in Congress. He’s the fourth Democrat to drop out.


(Regis Duvignau / Reuters)

Oxfam activists wearing giant papier–mâché heads depicting G7 leaders pose dressed as firefighters to draw attention to fighting inequality, on the eve of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

Ideas From The Atlantic

The Proud Boys’ Real Target (Garrett Epps)
“From years of study—and personal experience—I know about Oregon’s dark racist past and the shadow it casts over the state today. Nonetheless, in recent years, leaders here have worked to create an inclusive culture—one that the fascists would like to discredit, stigmatize, and eventually destroy.” → Read on.

Bureaucrats Put the Squeeze on College Newspapers (Adam Willis)
“Sometimes the administration wants the paper to be a PR outlet for the university … When we turned that corner culturally—when colleges became a brand and they began to embrace this idea that they were a brand—then the bottom fell out in support for independent watchdog journalism.” → Read on.

Trump Longs to Command the Economy (David A. Graham)
“Moments before he issued his command to American businesses, Trump wondered whether ‘our bigger enemy’ is China’s Xi or Jay Powell, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. On its face, the question is absurd. But perhaps it’s no surprise that Trump sees more kinship with the Chinese autocrat than with the American central banker.” → Read on.

The Cops Who Abused Photoshop (Conor Friedersdorf)
“Society has already entered an era when technology permits the easy manipulation of images, video, and audio. One would expect law-enforcement professionals to discern the perils of participating in such manipulation.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

A Penn law professor wants to make America white again (Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker) (🔒Paywall)

How America feels about Taylor Swift says more about us than her (Brandon Tensley, CNN)

Southern state governments hobble census outreach efforts (Olivia Paschal, Facing South)

‘It is about f---ing time’: Women break into top ranks of 2020 campaigns (Natasha Korecki and Maya King, Politico)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writer Elaine Godfrey, with help from Christian Paz (and Taylor Swift’s Lover). It was edited by Shan Wang.

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