What We’re Following: The Terrorist Attacks in Iraq
Dozens of people in Iraq have been killed in multiple car-bomb attacks by the Islamic State in recent days. At least 31 people were killed in the city of Samawah yesterday, and at least 18 were killed in Baghdad today. The attacks came after a weekend of unrest in the country; on Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators broke into the Iraqi parliament in protest of the mostly Shiite government. The United Nations estimates more than 700 Iraqis were killed in terroristic and other violent acts in April.
Puerto Rico’s Financial Crisis: Puerto Rico has missed a $422 million debt payment, the latest in a continuing series of defaults by the U.S. territory and the largest payment to date. The island has long struggled with unemployment and poverty, but the financial situation has gotten worse over the last year. In order to pay debts owed on Puerto Rican bonds, the territory has raised its sales tax and reduced funding to schools and health-care programs.
Other Worlds: Astronomers have discovered a system of planets orbiting a nearby star where life potentially could thrive. The system is not like ours; the planets travel in tight orbits around their star, completing a “year” in only a few days. But the conditions on these worlds could permit liquid water to persist on their surfaces, a key condition for the emergence of life.
“We were trying to think, what do young white males engage in?” —Gail May, who is in charge of community partnerships at a London university
“They abhor this measure! Unless it can be used as a weapon against the other party.” —Jim Cooper, a U.S. congressman, on what House leaders think of his proposal to withhold pay from members of Congress until they can pass a budget
“I used to sit in my backyard in Maryland, and I’d get 100 bites in 10 minutes from these things.” —Stan Cope, an entomologist, on mosquitos that can carry Zika
Is Brazil experiencing a coup? Uri Friedman on why it’s hard to tell:
There are several theories for why the number of coups has been declining since the 1990s. When the Cold War ended, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. stopped supporting coups in each other’s satellite states, and democracy came to be widely recognized as the sole form of legitimate government. In this new climate, those who interrupted the democratic process frequently found themselves pariahs. Globalization has also made illegal seizures of power costly, since those takeovers, and the instability and uncertainty surrounding them, tend to invite international sanctions, deter foreign investment, and inhibit domestic economic growth. (This may be, in part, why Brazil’s vice president wants to tamp down the president’s coup talk.)
It’s obviously good news that coups are a fading phenomenon. But one troubling byproduct of these trends is that they’ve produced profound confusion over how to classify political upheavals that appear to honor the letter of the law, but not the spirit—what you might call dubious democracy.
During my senior year of college, I started dating a freshman. … I went off to graduate school in the fall, but she made a couple of visits during September, and I made the six-hour drive back to see her for my first homecoming weekend. It didn’t go well. …
We ended up at a bar on Saturday night hanging out with a group of her friends. She was ignoring me, and I just got sick of it—said I was leaving. She asked if she could have $5. This was the early ’80s, when $5 bought ten beers in a small-town Iowa bar, and when five bucks was a big deal to a starving grad student. I hesitated, but then said “Yes, if you promise you’ll never talk to me again,” and walked out.
Up the street I went to a different bar, where the first person I ran into was a casual friend (we had grown up in neighboring towns but didn’t know each other until college) who greeted me with her brilliant smile and a huge hug. We talked in the bar, found a bench down the street where we talked some more, went for a long walk, and talked some more.