The Atlantic Daily: No Control

Why young Americans are having less sex. Plus Amazon HQ2 pageantry, White House firings and hirings, and more

The podium at a news conference announcing Arlington, Virginia, as a home to one of Amazon's second headquarters, on November 13, 2018 (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

What We’re Following

Take Two: It was never going to be any of the other more than 230 cities across the U.S. that bid for a chance to host Amazon’s so-called HQ2, now officially planting its flag just outside New York and D.C., Annie Lowrey argues. (Opening big offices in New York and D.C. makes sense from the company’s perspective. What inequalities will it widen in these cities?) And Derek Thompson calls for a policy fix to the HQ2 pageantry of the past year: “Why the hell are U.S. cities spending tens of billions of dollars to steal jobs from one another in the first place?”

In and Out: The U.S. House of Representatives is increasingly seen as an unfriendly place with few paths toward leadership for rising Democratic talent, while House Republicans don’t have the same problem. The dominance of a longtime Democratic figure has something to do with it. And in a continuation of his post-midterms purge, President Donald Trump is now reportedly considering firing his secretary of homeland security and his chief of staff—but how axing certain staff would help him achieve his various policy proclamations is unclear. (Also brewing: CNN is suing the White House.)

City on Fire: As the death toll in California’s wildfires continue to rise, the fires remain far from contained. This year alone, the federal government will spend more than $2.25 billion fighting such fires (and even more billions trying to manage them). Here’s why they’re essentially impossible to control. And there are other vulnerable populations not directly in a wildfire’s path who still grapple with the fires’ severe side effects.


The birds and the bees
“These should be boom times for sex,” writes Kate Julian. Yet in a time of fading taboos around sexual activity, proliferating hookup apps, and better birth-control options for women, American young adults are having less sex and teenagers are starting their sex lives later. These trend lines seem, on their face, to have positive consequences—lower teen pregnancy rates, for instance—but there could be gloomier forces at play. (Mendelsund / Munday)

Evening Read

Michelle Obama’s new memoir is a glimpse into moments of fear and frustration throughout her husband’s presidency that drifted below her preternatural calm. Hannah Giorgis writes:

The memoir goes on to detail the wave of virulent criticism that met Michelle Obama following Barack Obama’s clinching of Iowa. The former first lady zeroes in on the responses to a comment she made during two February 2008 speeches in Wisconsin. “What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country,” she said then. “And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I’ve seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it’s made me proud.”

Her remark about feeling pride in her country’s citizenry was, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken out of context and circulated heavily.

What else does the former first lady reveal in Becoming?

What Do You Know … About Family?

1. A swell of children’s books with politically progressive messages are entering the bedtime-stories market, including a better-selling parody of this Regnery Publishing title.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. The median age of first marriage for women in the U.S. has risen to this age, up from 20–22 for much of the 20th century.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. The woman behind this 1963 seminal feminist text later said that the book helped spark a feminist movement that was misguidedly devoted to fighting “for equality in terms of male power.”

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 their top stories:

For towns and cities in Mexico, the problem of how to manage Central American migrants didn’t just materialize as an election issue, nor did it disappear after the midterms. Recently, the “caravan” arrived in Mexico City—where a new constitution ensures the protection of migrants, regardless of legal status.

A real-estate agency has made a modern redlining map of Cleveland, but while it’s been controversial online, in a time of rising home prices, some say it might have the unintended effect of keeping housing affordable.

“Before I moved here, I honestly didn’t think my life would have anything other than being a homeless drug addict.” A tiny-home community in Austin is tackling housing insecurity with lots of neighbors—operating on the principle that “housing will never cure homelessness, but community will.”

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

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