The Atlantic Daily: The Fear of Nuclear War

Tensions rise between two nuclear-weapons states: India and Pakistan. Plus Michael Cohen testifies, whether having children make you less happy, and more.

Leah Millis / Reuters

What We’re Following

Michael Cohen testified before Congress on Wednesday, making an explosive series of claims based on his work as President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, all while facing scrutiny over his own repeated past lies. Among Cohen’s claims: That Trump was involved in other “catch and kill” agreements in addition to the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, that Trump reimbursed Cohen for those hush-money payments, that Trump himself was aware of the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials—including his son and son-in-law—and Russians. “People who follow Mr. Trump blindly will suffer the same consequences I’m suffering,” Cohen said at one point during the hearing.

+ “Cohen’s testimony may not all prove correct,” writes David Frum on Wednesday’s lengthy hearing. “But all of it is plausible—and not a word of it has been contradicted, let alone refuted.”

As denuclearization talks are on-going between Trump and North Korea, the fear of nuclear war is heating up in South Asia. India and Pakistan are rivaling nuclear-armed states with a half-century-long history of conflict, but a recent lull has given way to rapidly escalating tensions. After a terrorist attack killed 40 Indian soldiers two weeks ago, New Delhi blamed its neighbor and retaliated by striking what it claimed was a terrorist base. Then, on Wednesday, Pakistan took down two Indian fighter jets, ratcheting up worries of a tit-for-tat that could explode into an all-out war—what would be the first in history between two nuclear powers.

The clock is ticking in the United Kingdom: The country has just one month until the planned exit from the European Union. But the country has yet to hammer out a plan for its murky post-Brexit future; one deal proffered by Prime Minister Theresa May last month led to a stunning rebuke in Parliament that put the future of her leadership in doubt. That worry has only amplified of late. Several British lawmakers see an out: an extension. They want to delay the looming March 29th deadline to figure out the specifics of Brexit, but any extension would be up be contingent on the European Union to decide.

—Saahil Desai and Shan Wang

Guess the Image

Examples of fibers from trench amphipods (Lauren Brooks / Newcastle University)

The above image depicts fibers and fragments of this type of material, which researchers found in the stomachs of nearly all the amphipods—deep-sea scavengers that are cousins to crabs and shrimp—they collected from some of the deepest parts of the world’s oceans.

“It’s not a good result,” one of the scientists involved said of the findings. “I don’t like doing this type of work.”

Learn more here

Evening Reads

The cost of raising kids is making parents less happy

(Gary Hershorn / Getty )

Having children seems to make people less happy, not more, as decades of happiness research would suggest—yet people continue have children. What’s going on? Researchers have landed on the factor of cost:

“David Blanchflower and Andrew Clark reached this conclusion after reviewing data recording the experiences of more than 1 million Europeans over the past decade. Those data, collected by the European Union, captured people’s self-reported satisfaction with their lives as well as their answer to the question ‘During the last twelve months, would you say you had difficulties to pay your bills at the end of the month?’

Their paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, points to some other variables that are linked to parents’ unhappiness: Children under the age of 10 appear to bring their parents more happiness than do children a few years over 10. Single parents are, on average, less happy than coupled parents. (And other research indicates that mothers are less happy than fathers.)

So what types of parents, once finances are accounted for, tend to be happiest?

→ Read the rest

The future of Hampshire College—shown here in 1977—is now in question

(Courtesy of Hampshire College)

Hampshire is a small Massachusetts college that opened in 1970 with the promise of  an unconventional education, in which students wouldn’t select majors but instead develop focus areas and wouldn’t receive letter grades but be evaluated holistically on their progress in classes. No faculty would be tenured; professors would be kept on through a consistent review process. It also boasted an unusually democratic form of governance.

Now the college is struggling for survival:

“This history provides an important backdrop to the announcements earlier this year by the president and board of trustees that Hampshire is pursuing a yet-to-be-defined strategic partnership—presumably with a larger university that could help stabilize the college financially—and will not be admitting a full class of new students in the fall. The news came as a shock to most of the current faculty, staff, and students, as well as to alumni and friends of the college. A storm of protest has followed, with student sit-ins of administrative offices, including that of the Hampshire president.”

→ Read the rest

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