The Atlantic Daily: Still Alive

An “accounting playbook for the hyper-rich.” Plus uneven recovery in a North Carolina town two weeks after Florence, school-security costs, and more

A park in New Bern on September 13, 2018 when Hurricane Florence first came ashore. (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters)

What We’re Following

Does He Have the Votes?: As of Thursday evening, Brett Kavanaugh looks to be on the brink of a seat on the Supreme Court. Whatever the outcome, both parties make a case for how the bad result for their party might invigorate their midterms support. An ugly confirmation process has radiating consequences. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh, and their families have reportedly faced death threats and harassment. Conor Friedersdorf asks: Is it a moment to deter “true threats” through legal action? “If believing the woman is the beginning and the end of a search for the truth, then we have left the realm of justice for religion,” warns Emily Yoffe in a careful piece about the importance of listening to both the accuser and the accused.

Wealth Begets Wealth: President Donald Trump and his family participated in an array of tax schemes in the ’90s, some of which were legal, and some of which a recent New York Times investigation revealed were “outright fraud.” Annie Lowrey walks through the Trump family’s financial manipulations that resulted in “hundreds of millions of dollars passed from one generation to another scarcely taxed or never taxed at all.”

Inside Schools: In the wake of U.S. school shootings like Parkland and Sandy Hook, some schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars on police-grade surveillance and security technologies. Sidney Fussell looks at whether these systems are worth their cost. Meanwhile, Lola Fadulu looks at this computer-science-focused middle school working toward closing racial and economic gaps in the tech industry.


In the two weeks since Hurricane Florence battered the historic North Carolina town of New Bern, recovery has come, but unevenly. Twenty percent of New Bern’s residents, half of them black, live in poverty, and while a temporary influx of volunteers has helped in the short term, long-term stability is uncertain for many families. Olivia Paschal reports from the coastal town, where she also captured images like the one above.

Evening Read

As the AIDS crisis crested in the U.S. through the ’80s and ’90s, some of the Americans grappling with HIV sold their own life-insurance policies, naming an unknown party the benefactor—betting, in a sense, on their own deaths:

Sean Strub’s health was in stark contrast with that of the strapping men in those advertisements when he began viaticating life-insurance policies in the mid-1990s. “I was a skeletal 125 pounds, 6’1, covered in purple Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions,” he says. “Anyone looking at me assumed I didn’t have long to live.” Strub, a writer and activist, says he viaticated three life-insurance policies, collecting 93 percent of the death benefit on a $150,000 policy, 70 percent on a policy for $300,000, and around 50 percent on a $20,000 policy. He used the money to start POZ magazine.

Then lifesaving HIV medicine came to market, and many of those who entered into these viatical settlements are still alive today. Strub is now the mayor of Milford, Pennsylvania. But who owns his policy?

What Do You Know … About Global Affairs?

1. Aid is trickling into harder-to-reach areas around the city of ____________ in the Indonesian province of _____________________, following a September 28 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left at least 1,400 dead and tens of thousands of others displaced.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Days before Brazil’s presidential election this weekend, the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro appears to have pulled into the lead over the leftist candidate Fernando Haddad, who is running in place of the now-jailed ex-president and would-be candidate _____________________________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Iran used a more than six-decades-old treaty to take the U.S. to the International Court of Justice over its decision to leave the nuclear deal. This week, __________________ announced at the State Department that the U.S. would be ending that treaty.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it 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. Gracie McKenzie shares today’s top stories:

Bogotá, Colombia, closes half of a main thoroughfare each Sunday to make way for pedestrians and cyclists. The impact? “It created a generation that has looked at the street from a completely different perspective.”

Who’s losing out on Hurricane Harvey aid in Southeast Texas? Taylor Landing—a tiny, nearly all-white town—received roughly $60,000 in recovery funds per affected resident. In nearby, half-black Beaumont, it was $40.

American politicians rarely make public transportation a core issue of their election campaigns. Here’s why that’s a problem for cities—and one possible platform for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s replacement.

For more updates like these from the urban world, subscribe to CityLab’s Daily newsletter.

Look Back

The 19th U.S. president was born on this day in 1822. Here’s how Congress resolved his hotly contested November election, with a disputed electoral-vote count:

There were 369 electoral votes, of which 185 were necessary to a choice. Of the 369 votes, Samuel J. Tilden confessedly had 184, lacking but one of the required majority. Rutherford B. Hayes had only 163 undisputed votes, but his friends claimed, in addition, the votes of Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, and South Carolina, with an aggregate of 22 electors, which would make his total vote 185, precisely the number needed to secure his inauguration….

The situation was serious. Some thoughtful men felt that perhaps the greatest peril that the Republic had encountered was not that of the Civil War. It was repeatedly stated on the floor of the House of Representatives, and apparently believed by the majority, that if the Republican party should proceed, through the President of the Senate, to count the, votes of the disputed States, and declare them for General Hayes, the House would then proceed to elect Mr. Tilden, or to count the vote and declare him elected by the nation. There would then have been a dual presidency, a divided army and navy, a divided people, and probably civil war.

“What plan could be devised to save the country from the evils that threatened it?” James Monroe (not the fifth U.S. president) wrote in The Atlantic’s October 1893 issue.

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