The Atlantic Daily: Panama Papers, China and Gay Marriage, Brain Breakthrough

Prosecutors searched Mossack Fonseca’s offices, a Chinese court dismissed a historic case, scientists helped a paralyzed man, and more.

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

What We’re Following: The Mossack Fonseca Investigations

Panamanian prosecutors raided the headquarters of the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, looking for evidence of money laundering. The offshore business dealings described in the 11.5 million-document leak are not necessarily illegal, but they have revealed how Mossack Fonseca’s wealthy foreign clients—world leaders, politicians, and others—could, with little effort, exploit tax-haven laws for more nefarious purposes.

A Ruling on Marriage Equality: A judge in China dismissed the first gay-marriage case in the country, ruling that same-sex couples cannot marry. Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but it was listed as a mental illness until 2001. More than 20 countries now allow same-sex marriage, mostly in Europe; no Asian country has legalized the practice.

A Moving Moment: A paralyzed American man was able to move his arm for the first time in nearly six years thanks to the groundbreaking invention known as a “neuroprosthetic.” Scientists implanted microscopic electrodes in the motor cortex of the man’s brain. When he thinks about moving his arm, the implant decodes the activity in his neurons and feeds the signal to a sleeve of electrodes on his forearm, allowing him to pick things up and even stir a straw. Wow.


A young cub yawns while the rest of his pride sleeps at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park on October 23, 2013. See more of photographer Brent Stapelkamp’s photos of lions here.


“My hope is that this is the beginning, and not just a flash-in-the pan presidential campaign around one very adorable 74-year-old socialist.” —Erik Forman, who supports Bernie Sanders

“There is no delete button in the nervous system.” —Steven Hayes, a psychologist, on why it’s hard to stop worrying

“It doesn’t feel lonely, it just feels right.” —Jeff Merkley, the only U.S. senator so far to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Evening Read

Asher Elbein on the problem with the “true canon” of fandoms:

With the rise of mass-media intellectual properties and ascendant geek culture, the tendency to treat the original comics, novels, and video games like holy writ has spread out of fan communities and into the larger cultural conversation. Creators and critics alike now are expected to be well-versed in source materials. J.J Abrams’s 2009 Star Trek reboot went to great lengths to establish itself as canonical; the very existence ofThe Force Awakens spurred a cottage industry of writers to analyze the film’s departures from the Star Wars “expanded universe” it had replaced. A good portion of the Internet firestorm around Batman v Superman has been couched in terms of its fealty or deviation from comics. Canon, in other words, is king, and if you want to talk about anything geek-related, you’d better have your credentials at the ready.

There’s only one problem with true canon: It doesn’t exist. And in an effort to hold people to it, enthusiasts strangle criticism, hamstring creators, and make fan communities far more toxic for everybody.

Continue reading here.

What You're (Not) Laughing At

A recent workplace dispute in Denmark surrounding a not-so-appropriate joke has Conor Friedersdorf from our politics section wondering just how politically correct the office should be. What workplace norms would you consider ideal? Do you have any experience with this issue from your own work life? Email your comments and stories to Conor here.

News Quiz

1. A quirky website lets users worldwide call and talk to a random person living in __________.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. Russia will spend nearly $200,000 this year to maintain the embalmed corpse of __________.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. Fighter jets from __________ flew too close for the U.S. military’s comfort over an American warship in the Baltic Sea.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

This reader has detailed objections to a goofy animation posted by our video team:

The rock creature is made of the same stuff as the rock he is trying to stop. The physics of that is simple: He just doesn’t have any means (or mass) to stop the rolling boulder. “It just happens” is ok in a cartoonish way, but not satisfying.

For example, if he laid down in front of the town, the boulder might deflect off him and bounce over the town, without violating sense. Even cartoons and fairy tales have to either make sense, or make a gag out of sense, as with Wile E Coyote not realizing he has walked off a cliff until he looks down and only then starts to fall.

Another reader pushes back:

The physics work because friction, which turns kinetic energy into heat.

But this reader doesn’t care:

Animations have never followed the laws of physics, and it would make for a boring flick if they did.

Watch the video and read more here.


American “affluenza” teen sentenced, octopus escaped, top bedsheets defended, cheese-melting technique perfected, SHOUTY CAPS lowercased.