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1. AN INCOMPLETE PEACE

Where 19 years of lowering the bar in Afghanistan has led

Kathy Gilsinan is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers national security and global affairs.

Today will forever be remembered as the day nearly two decades of the U.S. war in Afghanistan came to an end. Not really—who am I kidding?

That the United States signed any deal at all with a longtime sworn enemy, the Taliban, is momentous. What the deal will not be, though: true peace. Today’s plans merely mark the start of another process, one in which Afghans can try to reach peace among themselves, and the U.S. will reduce its troop presence in hopes of getting out completely in 14 months.

But one genuine achievement of this moment is how the Taliban and the U.S. have managed a week of (mostly) not militarily attacking each other, as a test of good faith. Can the parties build on a single week of cooperation in order to move past almost 20 years of violence? It’s a long shot worth hoping for, for the sake of Americans who want the troops to come home, and especially for the Afghan people who have lived too long without peace.

CORY TORPIE / THE ATLANTIC

2. SUPER TUESDAY: GETTING PRIMARIED EDITION

A look at two other important races on March 3

Saahil Desai is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he writes the daily politics newsletter.

Super Tuesday is a gold mine for presidential wannabes. But voters in the states that head to the polls on Tuesday will also be voting in congressional primaries, the outcomes of which may play a similarly significant role in the trajectories of both parties moving forward.

In 2018, a wave of progressive primary challengers—including a certain 20-something Bronx bartender who’s now a household name—unseated moderate House Democrats. But can these lefties win outside uber-progressive major cities? One big test is a race in southern Texas, where Henry Cuellar, among the most conservative of House Democrats, faces a primary challenge from 26-year-old Jessica Cisneros. The district, which includes Laredo and hugs the U.S.-Mexico border, is heavily Latino and reliably Democratic. If the party’s left flank can’t win here, how will it win in more purple-tinged districts?

On the Republican side, the Alabama Senate primary has it all: a former Trump Cabinet member the president now loathes, a former college-football coach of a team hated by swaths of the state, and a former judge accused of sexual assault. Jeff Sessions is on his redemption tour for his old Senate seat—and appears to be narrowly leading in the polls—but in a GOP that has gone full MAGA, can he win without the president’s support?

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3. BAD ROMANCE

New problems with an old idea of a dating pool as a marketplace

Kaitlyn Tiffany is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers technology, including Tumblr girls, sadness, and memes.

Anyone who has been single in the age of dating apps has at some point, I think, fallen for the trap my colleague and I wrote about in our recent story on the resurgence of the concept of treating one’s love life as a numbers game, and the problems of casting dating as a series of transactions.

I am not someone who talks about the “sexual market value” of others. Yet I am a person who is willing to go on three dates in one week in hopes of upping the “odds” that one of them turns out to be good. I am also, as a direct result, a person who no longer cares very much if I hurt someone's feelings by cutting a date short or not texting them back.

The week Ashley Fetters and I worked on our story, I did both of those things—then I set up three more dates, despite the fact that I had just interviewed a researcher who found that overswiping and overdating only make you lonelier and more bitter. My belated New Year’s resolution is to listen to the experts and try a new approach, maybe one less conscious of the numbers.

NASA

4. AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IMAGE FOR LEAP DAY

Half a century ago, Apollo 12 astronauts captured this photograph of an Earth eclipse.

Alan Taylor is a senior editor for photography at The Atlantic.

A leap day is a fun occasion to think about the orbital dynamics of the solar system, which require an extra calendar day every now and then—how the spinning of these massive spheres end up dictating our days and years.

When I was thinking of how to visualize a year, I thought of all the various vantage points one might witness a sunrise or sunset from, and remembered this amazing moment in NASA history: On November 24, 1969, the Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, and Richard Gordon were on their return trip from the moon, aboard the command module Yankee Clipper. Four hours before they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, the crew had a chance to photograph the Earth eclipsing the sun. They took still photos and video of a phenomenon never before seen by humans. This image was shot by a crew member, stunning in its black and white.

Enjoy this final, extra day of February.


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