The Atlantic Daily: Hacking and Hatred

Reports said Putin was directly involved in election hacks, Trump nominated his secretary of the interior, The Atlantic interviewed the leader of the so-called alt-right, and more.

Sputnik / Kremlin / Mikhail Klimentyev / Reuters

What We’re Following

Hacking Claims: News reports from ABC and NBC, both based on anonymous sources, asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in what U.S. intelligence believes was a Kremlin plot to interfere with the presidential election. It’s the latest development in what’s now being seen as an unprecedented attack on the American system—though the tactics in this case are also consistent with Russian espionage from the Cold War on. Here’s what we know about the hacking operation so far, including what other countries have been targeted and what’s behind the CIA’s case.

The Transition Continues: For secretary of the interior, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Ryan Zinke, a House Republican from Montana who has supported relaxing federal regulations to allow for increased mining and drilling. Trump is also reportedly ready to nominate Lawrence Kudlow, a conservative commentator, for chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. At the state level, partisan battles continue post-election, with GOP legislators in North Carolina working to pass bills that will limit the power of the newly elected Democratic governor. Up in New York, progressives are looking to Governor Andrew Cuomo to unify his party and secure Democratic power in the state.

A Hateful Ideology: In a short new documentary, The Atlantic captures the white nationalism and anti-Semitism of the alt-right movement and its leader, Richard Spencer, during a recent conference in Washington, D.C. (You probably saw our viral video of Spencer receiving Nazi salutes to his cry of “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”) Why cover such an ugly worldview? One possible answer is that acknowledging hateful beliefs makes it much more possible to fight them—especially when such beliefs may be more widespread than many people think.


Reindeer stand in a corral in Krasnoye, Russia, on November 29, 2016. See more photos of reindeer herds here. (Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters)


“I am squealing on the inside. ... Evolution never ceases to amaze me.” Melissa Wilson Sayres, a biologist, on the discovery that a microbe could determine the sex of a pillbug—regardless of the bug’s genes.

“With a tumor biopsy, it’s like you read the book cover to cover. With a liquid biopsy, you read an entire shelf of books, but you only read the dust jackets.” Justin Odegaard, the medical director of a company that’s designing a new test to identify mutations in cancer cells.

“All of a sudden, half the people [on the video conference call] were dressed up as Santas and stuff … It ended up being a several-hour virtual Christmas party.”Breandan Beneschott, COO of a tech firm that hosts virtual holiday parties for its remote workers.

Evening Read

Olivia Judson on what the octopus knows:

Some octopuses will engage with you. They might reach out an arm and touch your hand. They will investigate an object you present to them, giving every impression of thinking about it as they do so. All the while, they will appear to watch you with their large, mobile eyes. ... In other words, an encounter with an octopus can sometimes leave you with the strong feeling that you’ve encountered another mind.

But that mind—if mind it is—has evolved along a route entirely different from the one that led to our own. The most-recent common ancestors of humans and octopuses lived about 600 million years ago, early in the evolution of animal life. ... In the words of Peter Godfrey-Smith, “If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over. This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.”

Keep reading here, as Judson explores the possibilities of invertebrate intelligence.

What Do You Know?

1. ____________ percent of college students who graduated in the last six years said they found their school’s career-services office “very helpful.”

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Americans are eating less healthfully than they did 20 years ago, even though ____________ percent of those recently surveyed said they believed consumers are seeking out healthier food than they did then.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The organization that governs medical trainees is proposing to raise the amount of time doctors can be required to work without sleep from 16 to ____________ straight hours.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 17, 54, 28

Reader Response

For our Track of the Day series, a reader recommends a song for the season:

I love listening to Christmas music (except in stores and offices and elevators and out in public, where the same things play over and over again and must surely drive retail workers crazy). It’s always a relief to hear instrumental music without words on a store soundtrack. I would be totally willing to shop without listening to Christmas music for the aural and mental health of retail employees everywhere.

But whatever religion or non-religion one ascribes to, the turn of the year brings the solstice. Here’s Kate McGarrigle talking about why she was inspired to write “Proserpina.” The song is based on the legend of Persephone, beloved of the lord of the underworld, and is a fable about the origin of the seasons.

You can listen here to a version of the song by Martha Wainwright, McGarrigle’s daughter. And if you have a track to suggest—another underappreciated Christmas or Solstice song, your favorite music to work to, or a transformative cover—please send your recommendation to, and include a few words about why you like it so much.

Urban Developments

On our partner site, CityLab, we’re exploring the cities of the future—and investigating the biggest ideas and issues facing city dwellers around the world. Adam Sneed shares three of today’s top stories:

The first 10 days after the election saw more than 900 reported incidents of hate-related intimidation or harassment, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. To find out how closely those incidents align with support for Trump, CityLab’s Richard Florida dug into the data to compile the geography of hate in America.

In an age of rising inequality, wealth and income gaps are a defining feature of American cities. In some of the largest and most expensive cities, rich and poor neighborhoods are separated by just a few blocks—a pattern that’s unmistakably clear in these maps of the stark wealth divides in New York, Washington, and San Francisco.

Part-time workers often face a long list of challenges related to their work, including low pay, stressful conditions, and unpredictable hours. On that last one, two cities have recently found a way to offer some relief. San Francisco and Seattle are the first to regulate hourly workers’ schedules with “fair scheduling” laws, and they could set an example that more cities follow under the next administration.

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The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email