The Atlantic Daily: Hacking and Health Care

The Senate held a hearing on cybersecurity threats, Republicans launched the process of repealing Obamacare, the Trump administration posed concerns for trans Americans, and more.

Evan Vucci / AP

What We’re Following

The Hacking Hearing: The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony this morning from three senior intelligence officials who discussed America’s cybersecurity threats—particularly Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. Further details of the attacks are still being investigated—but here’s what the hearing did reveal. One issue under discussion was how dismissive remarks from Trump—who’s issued seemingly contradictory tweets in the past two days about whether he’s “against ‘Intelligence’”—undermine the morale of analysts. It’s not just the intel community, either: Trump’s aggressive tweets have targeted establishments from the mainstream media to the diplomatic bureaucracy in a strategy similar to guerrilla warfare—and it’s remarkably effective.

The Health-Care Prognosis: GOP senators have set in motion the process that could result in repealing Obamacare. The drawn-out policy fight between Democrats and Republicans has been going on ever since the health-care law was passed—but this time, with repeal as one of Trump’s key campaign promises, it has real stakes, and both sides seem convinced they have the public on their side. If the law is repealed, and if a replacement isn’t developed, many of the people who stand to lose coverage belong to one of the same groups heavily opposed to Obamacare: working-class whites. Now that the stakes have gone from ideological to practical, is there a chance these voters will change their minds?

Gender Roles: Transgender Americans are another group whose interests may be at risk under a Trump administration. The president-elect has said he’ll rescind Obama’s directives barring anti-trans discrimination on the state level. Another risk is discrimination and disrespect from federal employees tasked with processing trans people’s papers. More than rules—which only work so long as they’re enforced—what’s needed to protect trans people is a culture that respects their rights. And when it comes to broader issues of gender, American society has come a long way, as this short history of the term “tomboy” shows. But in the U.S. and elsewhere, there’s still plenty of cultural progress to be made: The BBC’s Sherlock, for example, struggles to portray fully realized female characters—sometimes coming off as more sexist than the Victorian novels that inspired it.


A six-month-old baby elephant practices walking in water during a hydrotherapy session on January 5, 2017, at a veterinary clinic in Chonburi province, Thailand. See more photos of animals in the news here. (Roberto Schmidt /AFP/Getty)

Evening Read

Julie Beck on a class-action lawsuit making the case that St. Ives Apricot Scrub, a popular exfoliating face wash, is too rough on skin:

Unfortunately, the roughness is the basis for [the scrub’s] appeal. Acne is inevitably a public affliction and in its gnarliest forms can breed shame and low-self-esteem as well as inflamed face nodes. When it’s angry enough, you can’t really hide it. At best, you can turn a red lump into a brown one, and fool people from far away. It makes you feel ugly—I should stop using second-person. It makes me feel ugly. It makes me feel like I’m dirty and I need to be scrubbed raw to be clean again.

Enter St. Ives.

Hatred breeds violence, self-hatred no less so. If the thing that makes you hate yourself is on your surface, it makes sense to try to scrub your surface away. “It’s like using sandpaper on your face,” one dermatologist said of the St. Ives scrub, in an interview with New York magazine, and I can say from experience it feels that way, too. “If it hurts, it must be working”: my longtime approach to acne treatment.

Keep reading here, as Julie reflects on the violence of skin care.

What Do You Know?

1. In the U.S., children born into the poorest 20 percent of households have a ____________ percent chance of making it into the top 20 percent when they grow up.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Under the Obama administration, the number of 4-year-olds attending state-funded preschool has increased in ____________ states.

Scroll down for the answer, or find  it here.

3. When offered a choice, bats prefer the taste of nectar with up to ____________ percent sugar.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 9, 31, 60

Reader Response

Over at the Atlantic reader discussion group known as TAD, Pedro reflects on what could replace Obamacare:

The problem is when you keep seeing health as a business. Private healthcare insurance companies are here to make a buck, not to be your saviour when you're in need. Their business plan revolves around you not needing to use your plan in full. Any public health-care system that is supported by the private health-care industry (as Obamacare) is doomed to fail. And honestly, it makes no sense at all.

There's only one way to make health care accessible to everyone, and that is developing a public, fully state-run and state-funded health-care system, just like it's seen all across the EU. Some of you will say, but that's socialism! So? Why do you care? Does it matter who came up with the idea and made it work?

Read the whole discussion here.

Sage, Ink

Repeal and delay keeps the doctor away! See more cartoons by Sage Stossel here.

Urban Developments

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing city dwellers around the world. Adam Sneed shares three of today’s top stories:

About half of America’s mayors say they want to do something to address inequality. Considering cities—especially large, affluent ones—host the highest levels of inequality, that might not be surprising. But when it comes to questions of redistribution and the effects of gentrification, things get more complicated. Richard Florida looks at how mayors think about inequality and how it fits into their priorities for 2017.

Immigrants have long been the most loyal riders of public transit in the U.S., largely due to the hurdles that stand in the way of getting a license and buying a car. But immigrants aren’t using transit as much as they used to. Tanvi Misra looks at why the newest Americans are getting off the bus.

Settling in for a long, cold winter? It’s that time of year in America’s Snow Belt, but for anyone dreading the snow, ice, and gray skies, there might still be hope. Just look to the Danish concept of hygge for a blueprint on how to find joy in an urban winter.

For more updates from the urban world, subscribe to CityLab’s daily newsletter.

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