The Atlantic Daily: ‘Darkest Days’

Mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand—with social-media platforms the inevitable vectors in the aftermath. Plus: Americans are going bankrupt from medical bills


What We’re Following

At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings during Friday Prayer at two mosques in Christchurch. The prime minister called it one of the “darkest days” in New Zealand’s history—the island nation hasn’t had a mass shooting in more than 20 years. The gruesomeness of the attack was only heightened through online materials left by a suspect, a white Australian man now in police custody. The gunman live-streamed the attack on Facebook, and that video quickly ricocheted online, where some unwitting users saw it—highlighting the continued failings of content moderation and how platforms can aid a mass shooter’s goal of spreading terror. The violent rhetoric of one of the alleged shooters also seemed intended for a very specific audience.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order this week to pause the death penalty in his state, removing more than a quarter of the U.S.’s death row from execution. The move shows just how fragile capital punishment is in the U.S. now, and could spark a broader movement against it. (America is also one of very few countries in the industrialized world to retain the practice.) This isn’t the first time California has moved to put a hiatus on executions: In 1972, the state Supreme Court’s efforts to abolish the death penalty resulted in a wave of backlash, that saw it restored just a year later. Will things be different this time around?

Thirty years ago, the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee released a new invention: the World Wide Web at the European research center, CERN. The internet upended industry after industry, paving the way for the tech leviathans—such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google—that have been the subject of much public scorn of late. But even before these companies became so large and powerful, when the web was being widely heralded for its democratizing potential, there were prescient skeptics of the societal changes that it would bring about.

Weekend Read

Doctors’ bills now play a role in 60 percent of Americans' personal-bankruptcy filings.

(Billion Photos / Shutterstock / The Atlantic)

Nearly 60 percent of Americans who’ve filed for bankruptcy said that a medical expense “very much” or “somewhat” contributed to their bankruptcy (outstripping causes such as home foreclosure or student loans). What’s behind this growing American crisis? Olga Khazan writes:

There are as many reasons for the medical-debt crisis as there are diagnostic codes that rule the medical-billing world. In interviews, half a dozen consumer advocates told me they are concerned the problem will get worse, since the uninsured rate is going up, and more people are signing up for cheaper but skimpier health-insurance plans that have been introduced by the Trump administration. More Americans are also now on high-deductible health plans, which often require the patient to pay thousands before insurance kicks in. Networks of doctors have grown narrower, meaning more providers are likely to be out-of-network.

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Our Critic’s Picks

Queer Eye, season 3

Queer Eye’s culture expert, Karamo Brown, with Jody Castellucci, a makeover recipient. (Netflix)

Read: Horizon, by Barry Lopez, is an honest story about the threat of humanity’s extinction due to climate change.

Watch: The long-awaited third season of the Netflix makeover show Queer Eye comes out on Friday. The show’s five gay hosts visit Kansas City, and the season excels when it doles out therapy in addition to haircuts, helping schlubs fix more than their wardrobe and home.

Listen: The Swedish queen of dance-pop, Robyn—currently on tour for her latest album, Honey, her first since 2010—knows just how to “amp up pleasure by withholding,” writes Spencer Kornhaber.

Poem of the Week

This week, an excerpt from “Darling,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, published in March of 1995:

Someone was there.
Someone not there now was standing.
Someone in the wrong place
with a small moon-shaped scar on his left cheek
and a boy by the hand.

Who had just drunk water, sharing the glass.
Who had not thought about it deeply
though they might have, had they known.
Someone grown and someone not-grown.
Who thought they had different amounts of time left.
This guessing game ends with our hands in the air,
becoming air.

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