The Atlantic Daily: A #MeToo Nightmare in Speech and Debate

Plus: Partisan gerrymandering or coincidence, the benefits of having a secret nemesis in the digital age, when your AirBnB room is recording you, and more

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

What We’re Following

AIPAC is losing hold of a uniform narrative on Israel. At the organization’s conference this week, political leaders such as Mike Pence tried to convey that American support for Israel is as strong as ever, but outside the confines of the Israel lobby, the political winds are shifting. A vocal cohort on the left, including Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have criticized Israel and its leaders, and anxiety over how the left has soured on Israel was keenly felt by attendees, Emma Green reports. President Donald Trump and his allies have tried to capitalize on that trend by courting Jewish voters, but most recent research points to the fact that Jews overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party.

The Supreme Court heard two cases on partisan gerrymandering. Though the Court has repeatedly outlawed racial gerrymandering—when district lines are drawn to negate the franchise of minority voters—it has hemmed and hawed on partisan gerrymandering. In one case, Republican voters in Maryland allege that the state’s congressional maps were drawn to diminish their voting power. In another case, Democratic voters in North Carolina allege the same. It can be difficult to suss out whether a partisan-skewed map arose by accident or not, though computer-based map simulations might be able to show beyond a statistical doubt whether that’s the case. It’s not clear whether the Supreme Court will really adopt any of these techniques as it ponders its decision, writes Sam Wang.

For millennia, humans have had rivals or opponents, but a new category of foe is emerging: the digital nemesis. On social-media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, users are prone to braggadocio, and that has led to the rise of online rivalry, in which people relish the schadenfreude of their adversary’s slipups, even minute ones. While those who already struggle with self-esteem issues can find a nemesis unproductive, in other cases, having a nemesis can provide a healthy dose of competition to push people to work harder, aim higher.

Who is your secret nemesis, and how do they light a fire under you? Write to us anytime at, and we may feature your response on our website and in future editions of The Atlantic Daily.


Cameras in your AirBnB

(Ruby Aitken)

What happens when you unexpectedly find cameras—undeclared ones—in your Airbnb rental?

When Max Vest shook hands with the host of his Miami Airbnb back in January, the man introduced himself as Ralph—even though “Ray” was the name he’d used in all their prior communication.

This was the first and only indication that something was wrong. But his host had a great rating on the home-sharing site, and many of the comments mentioned how friendly and accommodating he was. So Vest, a children’s-camp director from Gainesville, Florida, didn’t think much of the discrepancy and settled into the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment he’d be sharing with Ralph—or was it Ray?—and his girlfriend for the next five days. At about 8 or 9 p.m., he went out for dinner; by the time he got home, his hosts had gone to bed in the room adjacent to his, and he prepared to do the same.

That was when he saw the light.

→ Read the rest

Evening Read

A #MeToo moment for competitive college speech

(Emily Jan / Zieusin / Rangizzz / MirasWonderland / The Atlantic)

To be successful in the highly specialized world of competitive public speaking at the college level—known commonly to its participants as “forensics”—competitors draw on their deepest vulnerabilities, often speaking publicly about unprocessed traumas. And that leaves openings for those in charge to exploit and abuse:

[Coach Peter] Pober’s special interest in “good-looking, skinny white boys” was an “open secret,” Jon Tyree, who graduated from George Mason University in 2014, told me. According to several of Pober’s former students, he would invite his “favorites” out for one-on-one dinners, buy them round after round of margaritas, and host them at his home for Thanksgiving. Less well known were the things he’d allegedly whisper to certain students and young alums in tournament hotel rooms or nestled in the back corner of his favorite dive bar: to the then–GMU student Jim Welty, “I want to fuck you on this bed,” or to the alum Sean Cummings, “I have wanted to fuck you” since an encounter they had when Cummings was 17. (Pober did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.)

Forensics afforded Pober the ultimate cover.

→ Read the rest

Urban Developments

A niche subculture of train aficionados travel the country in their own personal railcars.

(Mark Lennihan / AP)

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

A niche subculture of train aficionados travel the country in their own personal railcars. But recent Amtrak cuts have them wondering if this is the end of the line.

Mormon temples are so distinctive-looking, even when they’re built in different architectural styles. CityLab’s Amanda Hurley explains the history behind the Oz-like lines of these suburban religious spectacles.

The actual profits that landlords make are significantly higher in poor neighborhoods, researchers found. Here’s how low-income residents experience the highest rates of housing exploitation.

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.

Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Email newsletters editor Shan Wang at

Did you get this newsletter from a friend? Sign yourself up. We have many free email newsletters on a variety of other topics. Find the full list here.