What We’re Following: The Demolition of Refugee Homes

French workers demolished hundreds of makeshift homes in a large refugee camp near the city of Calais that government officials considered overcrowded. Some refugees threw stones at riot police as homes were set aflame, and officers responded by firing tear gas and water cannons. Humanitarian groups argue that evicting people from such camps will only worsen Europe’s refugee crisis.

A Polish Controversy: For years, Poland’s democracy champion, Lech Walesa, has denied allegations that he was an informant for the communist security police in the 1970s. But recently released documents suggest otherwise, and the news has sent shock waves through Poland and damaged the country’s international image as one that rose from the ruins of authoritarianism.

A Big Night in Hollywood: Chris Rock ripped the 88th Academy Awards for its all-white roster of nominees, Spotlight’s big win made journalists feel pretty cool, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally—finally!—won an Oscar, 22 years after his first nomination.


Sand, sea, and islands in the Bahamas, photographed by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station. See more of Kelly’s photos of Earth here.


“If you want to see something really bizarre, you have to look where you didn’t know to look in the first place.” —Didier Raoult, who studies viruses

“I have met many Democrats that are convinced that Republicans are trying to keep their party from voting, and I’ve met many Republicans that are convinced that Democrats are cheating, and it’s really hard to convince either side otherwise.” —Kim Wyman, an elections official in Washington state, on the partisan divide over automatic voter registration

“We should be in the business of laying out what the evidence is about a given topic … what constitutes a strong recommendation, what constitutes a moderate recommendation, and what constitutes a weak recommendation. And what constitutes, like, ‘Psh, I don’t know.’”—Steven Hatch, a medicine professor, on how doctors should advise patients

Evening Read

Daniel Nester on the life of a Leap-Day baby:

We leaplings, as we’re called, have defied 1-in-1,461 odds to have our birthdays fall on February 29. Some would figure that makes us special. It depends on how you look at it. News reports in secondary markets sometimes feature leap-day births or an octogenarian leaper’s 20th. Back in 2008, Martha Stewart hosted 200 leapers on her show. They wore frog-mouth name tags (frogs leap, get it?). “I think you’re all so lucky!” Stewart said, sort of sincerely. She gave them each state-of-the-art digital picture frames.

Leapsters keep two sets of ages, annual and quadrennial. We mark time between real birthdays in fourths and halves. Leap-year days serve a purpose, as we know: The extra day tacked onto the end of February every four years accounts for Earth’s spinning around the sun five hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds longer than 365 days. …

Whatever. The bottom line is, I turn 12 this year, and I have Pope Gregory XIII and my mother to thank for it.

News Quiz

1. Some 20 parliament seats out of a total 290 in __________ are expected to be won by women, a record-high for that country.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. Starbucks is planning to open its first location in __________ next year.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. U.S. Supreme Court Justice __________ asked a question in court for the first time in 10 years.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

Should prostitution really be a crime? A feminist and former sex worker writes:

I have a college degree, but I had a job I hated that was sucking the life out of me. As something of a whim, I decided to try sex work. I was good at it and it was fun. I did not have a pimp or work for an agency. I got clients using Craigslist, back when they had an “erotic services” section. …

I stopped doing sex work not because I felt exploited or ashamed, but because the worry about the consequences of getting caught was too much of a burden. Also, having to create a fake employer and job to satisfy friends and family felt dishonest.

I now have a regular desk job in insurance (snooze), two kids, and a partner. There are plenty of days while slogging through my current job that I long for my former job. As a sex worker, I felt more like a therapist. I connected with others. I felt valued and desired.

Read her story here.


Self-driving car crashed, milk market disrupted, Tesla employees boycotted, giant mud crabs caught, 1.8 million Chinese workers fired, manatees and monarch butterflies rebounded.