The Atlantic Daily: Child Suicide Bombers, U.S. Wage Gap, Interstellar Mission

Boko Haram increased the use of children in terrorist attacks, two big companies claimed pay equity, a billionaire announced an ambitious plan, and more.

Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters

What We’re Following: Boko Haram’s Human Weapons

The Islamist militant group that operates in Nigeria and other West African countries is increasingly using children in suicide attacks, according to a new report from Unicef, the United Nations children’s organization. Nearly one-quarter of all Boko Haram’s attacks in 2015 were by children, mostly girls, some as young as eight. In all, child suicide bombers carried out 44 assaults for Boko Haram last year, an 11-fold increase from 2014.

Mind the Gap: Google and Microsoft marked National Equal Pay Day in the United States by announcing that they have closed the pay gap between their male and female employees. In the U.S., women earn 79 cents for every dollar men earn in the U.S. The wage gap is greater among minorities; black women are paid 60 cents and Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

To Infinity and Beyond: A Russian tech billionaire announced a $100 million research program for a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth—which isn’t that near, since it’s 25 trillion miles away. Yuri Milner, who has recruited Mark Zuckerberg and Stephen Hawking to help in the project, hopes a probe could make the journey to Alpha Centauri in just 20 years.


Volunteers paint the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico sky blue as part of an art project on April 9, 2016. See more photos here. (Sandy Huffaker / Reuters)


Quiet catastrophe.” —what Ken Kolosh, who studies accidents, thinks of driving

“Holy **#$@#!,  we know virtually nothing right now about the biology of most of the tree of life.” —Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist

“Look, food culture is emotionally very fraught. People have very strong feelings and they don’t want to be told by anybody how to eat.” —Michael Pollan, who studies food

Evening Read

Olga Khazan on why Soviet refugees don’t support Bernie Sanders’s socialism:

To [Janna] Sundeyeva, left-wingers seem to yearn for a workers’ revolution. “I would ask them: Have you ever lived under a revolution?” she said. “Do you know what it’s like? When someone comes and takes your family member in the night?”

Interviews with more than a dozen immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the Bay Area suggest that some in the community are recoiling from Bernie Sanders and his leftist ideals. One hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution swept Communists into power, some Russians in America say they can’t believe a serious candidate in the United States is calling himself a socialist.

As another Russian émigré, Tatiana Menaker, put it, “We feel like we survived a plague, and now we are seeing people with boils on their skin.”

Continue reading here.

What Are You Playing At?

Vann R. Newkirk II on our politics team is wondering: Can game theory help to break the climate gridlock? If you’re working on game-theory-based climate policy forecasting, if you’re involved in the field and have ideas, or if you’re simply intrigued and have any input or questions, send Vann an email here.

News Quiz

1. The Obama administration named a new national monument commemorating __________.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. A German bank suspended its plan to create 250 jobs in __________, which recently passed a religious-freedom law that could discriminate against LGBT people.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. __________ revealed it has provided information about more than 11.6 million of its users to U.S. state and local regulatory agencies.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

What’s the biggest religious choice you’ve ever made? Abby, a 19-year-old journalism student, converted to Judaism during her freshman year of college:

My freshman year was easily the most eventful: being told by Chabad rabbis I would never be a Jew, being broken up with because my mother isn’t Jewish, the constant personal inquires of, “Oh, you’re a convert? Why did you do that? How do your parents feel about that?”

The biggest religious choice was not standing before a beit din, a court of three rabbis, and declaring my belief in the 613 mitzvot of Judaism, or denouncing my belief in Jesus. It wasn’t giving up Goldfish because they aren’t kosher-certified or spending most of my free time in September trying to make up homework for classes that fall on the High Holidays. The biggest religious choice I ever made was joining a people who, at every turn, did not seem to want me.

A Jewish reader, Alex, provides some history:

While during antiquity Judaism was open to converts, Roman and later Christian prosecutions of Jews and severe state sanctions for conversions led Rabbinic authorities to discourage conversions as well. In fact, if someone wants to convert, the rabbis traditionally need to discourage the person at least three times, to make sure that only those most committed to Judaism and most diligent in seeking to convert join the Jewish people. …

Although there are many intermarried couples (including my own), conversion to Judaism is still relatively rare, particularly for the Orthodox stream of Judaism. The more liberal streams, the Conservatives and the Reform, are much more open. I believe that your reader’s problem is that she is drawn to traditional Judaism (which is much more restrictive).

Continue reading here.


Impeachment of Brazil’s president recommended, the first man in space remembered, crab “cloud” discovered, ancient Israeli glass factory uncovered, historic rocket landing photographed, “manspreading” boycotted, prestigious job offer declined.