The Atlantic Daily: Putin and Syria, German Elections, White House Race

Russia announced a troop withdrawal, Angela Merkel’s party lost several races, U.S. presidential candidates prepared for a big day of primaries, and more.

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

What We’re Following: An Unexpected Development

In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of most Russian troops from Syria, saying that Russia had accomplished what it set out to do there. Russia has been bombing insurgent groups in Syria for the past five months—its first military intervention in the Middle East since the 1980s. The Syrian government, backed by Russian airstrikes, has recently made gains in capturing territory held by both anti-Assad rebels and Islamic State militants.

An Open Door Closes: A far-right, anti-immigration party made gains in three state elections in Germany, potentially dealing a blow to the chancellor and her center-right party’s open-door policy on refugees, many from Syria. More than 1 million migrants and refugees entered Germany last year, an influx that shocked the German political system, raised tensions in some parts of the country, and prompted Merkel to negotiate an agreement with Turkey to slow the flow of people.

Another Super Tuesday: Voters in five states will head to the polls tomorrow in what’s being billed as the most decisive day of the U.S. presidential primary season so far. On the Republican side, should Marco Rubio and John Kasich lose their home states of Florida and Ohio, the race could quickly become a two-candidate contest between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is looking to solidify her lead over Bernie Sanders.


A bird silhouetted by the sun sits on the hand of a statue of Soviet Union premier Vladimir Lenin in Kazakhstan on March 12, 2016. See more photos of early spring here. (Dmitri Lovetsky / AP)


“‘Well I was spanked, and look at me.’ And I want to say, ‘Yeah, look at you.’” —Robert Block, a pediatrician who opposes spanking, on what parents often tell him

“The joke among my friends is that you can be gay …  just so long as you don’t act gay, or say gay things, or do anything to show you’re gay.” —Dan Heiland, a bisexual student at a Christian college

“If we had a power failure that shut off all the gas pumps for a month, the Amish would probably survive just fine. It isn’t a matter of training them for that eventuality, it’s that’s the way they live.” —Eugene Spafford, a computer-science professor

Evening Read

Vann R. Newkirk II on why America needs “y’all”:

There are no distinct second-person plural pronouns in modern standard English. … “You” is all we English-speakers have to refer to any person or group or large crowd, regardless of status or size.

How did this happen? Anyone who’s used English in any capacity knows that “you” is a sorry excuse for a plural pronoun. Imagine the confusion of walking into a crowded room and yelling, “You need to listen up!” Who would everyone assume you were referring to? How could they tell? It’s rare to find a scenario in which a person is clearly addressing a group of people that doesn’t include an implied qualifier (as in, in the context of a speech) or an unnecessarily long explicit qualifier (“you all”) to specify that “you” is doing the duty that it has been assigned as a plural pronoun. This is some terribly inefficient language, and it’s high time for a fix. It’s time for “y’all.”

News Quiz

1. New research suggests that unlike humans, __________ pay more attention to bonding opportunities than they do to threats.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. Duck boat tours in U.S. coastal cities have their origin in __________.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. For decades, scientists have been trying to explain mysterious __________ found in Australia and Namibia.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

A group of Atlantic readers is discussing the dumbest ideas they’ve ever had. This reader had several:

  • When I was 12, I thought the best hiding place ever in a game of Ghost in the Graveyard would be on top of my neighbor’s shed—which it was, until I realized I couldn’t climb back down and had to give away my hiding spot yelling for help.
  • I once tried to eat an entire XXL pizza (extra thin crust) by myself to win a free t-shirt. I failed spectacularly.
  • Cutting school on my 18th birthday to go to a nude beach seemed like a good idea at the time. But if anyone wants to know, the kind of naked people you expect to see on a nude beach in no way resemble the ones that are actually there.
  • I dated a guy in an emo/pop punk band. That needs no further elaboration.

Another reader also has dating regrets:

For one month, I tried to juggle three girlfriends. They all dumped me and all became friends.

What’s the dumbest idea you’ve ever had? Tell us at


Pi Day celebrated, Daylight Saving sleepiness explained, giant copper deposit exposed, horse-sized dinosaur discovered, babies compete.