The Atlantic Daily: Prime Location

Why Amazon pulled the plug on its New York City HQ2 expansion. Plus what it’s like to go back to school after a shooting, Andrew McCabe on unsettling encounters with the president, and more

Mike Segar / Reuters

What We’re Following

Amazon announced Thursday that its expansion of a second headquarters in New York wouldn’t happen after all (its plans for the D.C. suburbs remain intact). The deal fell through after intense opposition from activists and politicians, the latest sign that cities are souring on the tech industry. That this activism somehow proved victorious could signal the start of a broader movement nationwide against the type of lavish tax incentives that lured Amazon to New York in the first place. Detractors might be on to something, argues Derek Thompson: This type of corporate welfare rarely is worth the cost for cities, and the tens of thousands of new Amazon workers would’ve exacerbated New York City’s spiraling housing-affordability crisis.

Thursday marks one year since the Parkland, Florida school shooting, which left 17 students dead and dozens more injured. After hearing shots, Sarah Lerner, an English and journalism teacher at the school, recalls that she huddled in her classroom with a group of her students for several hours. In the foggy year since, a sense of normalcy has been elusive—especially when she returned to school just 9 days later. She’s not the only one who found the process of going back to school traumatizing; after the shooting, some of the students were gutted to see the empty desks of lost classmates. Post-Parkland, there’s still one big question flummoxing investigators: How to prevent the next one.

Then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe is now sharing details on what he considers the ethical and moral lines President Trump crossed during his tenure, in an exclusive adaptation from his forthcoming book. McCabe recalls that on his first full day in the acting director role, shortly after the President had fired then-director James Comey, he received a call from the White House; the president wanted to chat. Like his former boss, McCabe said he took contemporaneous notes of the conversation.

The White House said Trump will sign a compromise bill to avert a government shutdown but will take an “executive action,” including declaring a national emergency, to bypass Congress to secure funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. The president has dangled the prospect of declaring a national emergency for weeks—here’s what powers might be afforded to a president under such a declaration. (It’s also worth remembering that the U.S. currently is under roughly 30 other ongoing national emergencies, one of which was issued by President Jimmy Carter a full four decades ago.)

Evening Reads

My Wife Was Dying, and We Didn’t Tell Our Children

After a married couple found out that the wife had terminal breast cancer, they made an unusual choice: keeping it a secret from the kids.

“Marla and I launched our stealth treatment strategy together: Everything would be tried; little would be shared. We saw no need to alarm friends, worry relatives, or derail the girls. Subterfuge was essential for survival—not just the literal, existential kind, but survival of the spirit. Our kids would not be robbed of stability; protecting their sense of the ordinary was everything. The ground would stay steady, and we would extend the runway for as long as possible.”

Read the rest

Cardinal O'Mally

(Illustration: The Atlantic)

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who runs the Archdiocese of Boston, is one of the closest confidantes of the pope, yet he has struggled in his quest to remedy the Church’s lingering sexual-abuse problem:

“In an interview on a recent cold morning in Boston, the cardinal spoke about the progress he believes the Church, and Pope Francis, have made in recent years, and what’s still lacking. He detailed his proposal to establish Vatican tribunals to deal with bishops accused of wrongdoing—one of the major problems the Church has yet to address. The pope ‘was convinced to do it another way,’ O’Malley said. ‘We’re still waiting for the procedures to be clearly articulated.’ He often described problems in the Church passively, without directly assigning agency or fault.

→ Read the rest

Urban Developments

Think of California High-Speed Rail as an $11 Billion Streetcar

(Photo: Warren M. Winterbottom / AP)

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing urban dwellers around the world. Gracie McKenzie shares today’s top stories:

Why did California Governor Gavin Newsom scale back the quest for high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles? The new plan, Laura Bliss writes, risks turning the transportation project into an economic-development tool.

Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? Apparently, America left its heart in San Francisco: Residents of the Bay Area may be among the "most romantic" in the country, according to data from OkCupid.

In urban marketing campaigns, cities often focus on the same basic ingredients: hipster coffee shops, bike lanes, and farm-to-table restaurants. City branding needs a shot of creativity, Aaron Renn writes—it’s time to showcase distinct identities of place.

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Subscribe to the CityLab Daily newsletter.

Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here.

Comments, questions, typos? Email newsletters editor Shan Wang at

We have many other free email newsletters on a variety of other topics. Find the full list here.