The Atlantic Daily: There Was a Path

House Democrats speak out against a move toward deporting certain Vietnamese immigrants. Plus an eighth person pleads guilty in the Russia investigation, the decline of liberal arts, Janet Jackson honored, and more

Janet Jackson performs at the European MTV Awards on November 4, 2018. (Vianney Le Caer / AP)

What We’re Following

2016 Meddling: Maria Butina is the first Russian to be convicted of trying to influence American politics in the run-up to the 2016 election. She has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, writes Natasha Bertrand, and could help shed light on “whether there was any coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign, Russia, and the NRA during the election.”

Pushback: Some Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the White House, opposing a Trump-administration plan that would allow certain groups of Vietnamese immigrants to be deported. The White House said it is only targeting Vietnamese immigrants convicted of crimes, but House Democrats argued that many young refugees were resettled with insufficient support, moved through the criminal-justice system, and are now “positively contributing to their communities.”

At Last: The pop icon Janet Jackson received a long-overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today, along with Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, Radiohead, and others, writes Spencer Kornhaber. Jackson, whose career was derailed by the former CBS chief Les Moonves after an infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, is also a recent recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award. Scope out other musical greats on The Atlantic’s list of 2018’s top albums.

Communication Errors: The Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee renewed concerns over lawmakers’ ability to work with, and meaningfully regulate, key tech players. Committee Republicans seemed to emerge from the hearing unconvinced that Google’s algorithmic search products are truly nonpartisan—and a showy enjoinder by the California Democrat Ted Lieu helped no one except Google, writes Ian Bogost.


Liberal arts in the 21st century
Last month, a branch of the University of Wisconsin announced plans to stop offering six liberal-arts majors, such as geosciences and history, citing an overstretched budget and low student enrollment. “I feel like the liberal arts are sort of being asked to line up behind job preparation,” one history professor told Adam Harris. At the core of the Wisconsin battle is a question of national significance: Will the liberal arts survive, and what are students losing out on in an education system without such courses? (Illustration by Arsh Raziuddin)

Evening Read

“There was once a path to a stable and prosperous life in America that has since closed off,” writes Marco Rubio. The Florida senator makes known his dissatisfaction over the current state of American economic policy-making, and he advocates for a few of his own proposals:

We should reform student loans, too. We can increase transparency for borrowers by abandoning the current interest-based model, which hides the true cost of the loan and reduces incentives for colleges to bring down their tuition costs. If students instead pay a single, upfront loan-financing fee, which could be spread out through the lifetime of the loan, they could see on the front end exactly what they would be getting into, while avoiding the trap of ever-growing interest payments that delay graduates’ financial ability to start a family and build a life after school.

I’ll readily admit that those entrenched in the higher-education system and those who are unwilling to adapt stand to lose from reforms such as these. That’s partly the point. We simply cannot afford to waste our money and young peoples’ future work lives on the four-year-degree-industrial complex.

Read on.

What Do You Know … About Global Affairs?

1. A recent Trump-administration reinterpretation of an old policy has made certain protected groups of refugees from this war newly vulnerable to deportation.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. A nonbinding United Nations pact on this issue, signed this week by 164 countries and given a strong stamp of approval from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is nevertheless roiling European politics.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. A major sticking point in the negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union has been over drawing a hard border on this island.

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:

“Sometimes when I read the papers of my fellow urban planners,” Alain Bertaud says, “I get the sense that they think cities are Disneyland or Club Med. Cities are labor markets. People go to cities to find a good job.” What that means for how they’re designed.

Fire trucks are too damn big: According to a new Department of Transportation report, smaller, nimbler emergency vehicles with a few key design tweaks could make a dent in traffic fatalities.

The architect Vicky Chan has taught urban design and planning to thousands of kids. Even if they don’t go into the field, he argues that it’s good for them—and their communities.

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

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