The Atlantic Daily: ISIS and ‘Genocide,’ SeaWorld and Orcas, Corruption Scandal in Brazil

The U.S. gave the terrorist group’s violence a new label, the U.S. waterpark ended a controversial program, hundreds of thousands protested a former president, and more.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

What We’re Following: Calling  ISIS ‘Genocidal’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described the actions of the terrorist group against ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East as “genocide”—a first since the U.S. began bombing militants in 2014. The Islamic State’s violent campaign against these groups previously led the European Parliament and the United States National Holocaust Museum to formally declare its acts as genocide. It’s unclear what, if any, legal obligations the State Department’s designation compels, since the 1948 convention on genocide is based on the notion that only states commit genocidal crimes.

A Whale of an Announcement: The U.S. amusement park SeaWorld announced it would end its orca-breeding program, phase out its well-known orca shows, and invest in animal-rescue efforts. The move comes, in part, because of backlash from a 2013 documentary that alleged orcas suffering in confinement, and that captivity could drive the animals to injure or even kill trainers. SeaWorld’s 23 orcas are unable to survive in the wild and will live out their lives in the park’s three U.S. locations.

The Plot Thickens in Brazil: A federal judge in Brazil blocked the appointment of a former president to a Cabinet-level position. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is currently ensnared in a billion-dollar corruption scandal, which grew this week when recorded phone calls appeared to show Lula wanted to use his Cabinet post to shield himself from prosecution. Hundreds of thousands of people around the country, which is in deep recession, have taken to the streets to protest government corruption and call for Lula’s arrest.


A four-toed hedgehog at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Kansas. See more from National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore’s “Photo Ark” here.


“Don’t call us Hispanics. We are not a part of that. We are American.” —a Cuban-American supporter of Donald Trump in Miami

“What’s exciting about robotics today … is that they’re able to solve problems in ways people wouldn’t.” —Ryan Calo, who studies the history of robot law

“I’m just scratching the surface here, man.” —John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, after listing numerous foreign-policy efforts

Evening Read

Olga Khazan on why it’s okay to cry at work:

“To a person,” [researcher Kimberly] Elsbach said, “the criers said they couldn’t control it. But many of the perceivers thought the crying was done intentionally: ‘She’s behind on her work and she’s trying to get somebody to help.’”

Overall, Elsbach gathered 110 stories, 100 of women crying and 10 of men, so there weren’t enough to show statistically significant gender disparities.

She did, however, take note of a few differences. Men, she says, were uniformly perceived more positively than women. The “baseline” view of women, she said, was "women are emotional and lack control." Crying only confirmed that stereotype.

Men, meanwhile, were already thought to be strong and unemotional. When they cry, people tend to think, “something horrible must have happened” or “somebody made them cry,” Elsbach said. Similarly, in her study, “the negative attributions were not pinned on them as much.” Men were also the only ones to reap benefits from crying—things like, "it made me feel closer to him" or "it humanized him."

Continue reading here.

News Quiz

1. Research shows that __________ make people less healthy, worse at their jobs, and more likely to get divorced.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. Did you know that in addition to official state birds, U.S. states have official state __________?

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. Most modern humans outside of Africa have genomes that are roughly _____ percent Neanderthal.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

A reader joins the discussion on protesting Donald Trump:

I’m increasingly convinced the way to countering Trump’s rise isn’t going to be through Trump. That method has clearly failed. Maybe the thing to do now is to start trying to reach Trump’s supporters.

Certainly that path is fraught with its own problems; they eschew traditional establishment, traditional media (and, in many cases, traditional education). But I think Trump surged because he was able to speak to their fears and concerns in a way that no other politician really did. And when the response to them is calling them racist or Nazis, it’s going to galvanize them further to Trump rather than bringing them around. I won’t pretend there aren’t any racists in his base, but I don’t think all of them are. There’s a lot of concern for the middle class right now and their future in America, and they’ve been lost in the shuffle in some of the larger recent politics.

Read more here.


King Tut’s tomb scanned, Stradivarius stolen, drunken-tweet-detecting robot built, March Madness begins, T. rex pregnancy test administered.

QUIZ Answers: long commutes, fossils, 2