The Atlantic Daily: The ‘American Taliban’ is Leaving Prison. Now What?

Just as the the U.S. is talking peace with the Taliban. Plus: who’s afraid of impeachment, office temperatures are too damn low, the lonely dining table, and more

What We’re Following

He Was Branded the ‘American Taliban.’ Now He’s Getting Out of Jail.

(Tariq Mahmood / AFP / Getty / The Atlantic)

The “American Taliban” will leave prison on Thursday. Then what? Nearly two decades ago, John Walker Lindh became a media sensation when, as a 21-year-old Californian and convert to Islam, he was jailed for aiding and abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The U.S. now faces a thorny question that will soon demand a more considered response: Lindh is one of dozens of American prisoners convicted of terrorism crimes after 9/11 who will be getting out over the next five years. How does a terrorism convict reintegrate into society after leaving prison?

Moderate Democrats once seemed afraid of the “I” word. Maybe not anymore. After Robert Mueller’s findings were first released last month, a chorus of House Democrats vowed to wield Congress’s oversight powers to investigate the president, tabling moves toward impeachment. But a slate of rank-and-file Democrats have abandoned that position of late—a sign that they see the strategy as ineffective amid the Trump administration’s cat-and-mouse scheming to stonewall oversight efforts. As cracks on the question of impeachment deepen in the Democratic alliance, the divisions could portend trouble for Nancy Pelosi.


A meteorite lying on the surface of Mars


This black and white image—taken in 2005 by the rover Opportunity—depicts a meteorite on the surface of this nearby planet. What you see above was the first meteorite of any type ever identified on another planet.

→ See Alan Taylor’s full photo essay on the other small bodies of our solar system

Evening Reads

Warm offices, greater productivity in women?

The office temperature is too damn low, many women have long argued. Here’s scientific backing for those who belong in that camp:

Women don’t just prefer warmer office temperatures. They perform better in them, too.

For the study, published today in the journal PLOS One, the researchers Tom Chang and Agne Kajackaite had 543 college students in Berlin take different types of tests in a room set to various temperatures between 61 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit. First, the participants had to answer logic problems, like the one about a bat costing $1 more than a ball. Then, the students were asked to add up two-digit numbers without a calculator. Finally, they had to form German words out of the letter scramble ADEHINRSTU.

When the room was warmer, women answered more questions on the math and verbal tests, and got more questions right.

→ Read the rest

What happened to eating at the dinner table?

(Russell Boyce / Reuters)

Alone on the couch in front of a laptop playing Netflix, with takeout? Joe Pinsker observes the factors behind the decline of eating communal meals at an actual dining table:

Where are they dining instead? The couch and the bedroom are both far more popular now than in the respondents’ youth. Thirty percent of the survey takers cited the couch as their primary at-home eating location, and 17 percent took meals in the bedroom.

Shyon Baumann, a sociologist at the University of Toronto and a co-author of Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape, told me in an email that these numbers fit with how often many families eat meals separately—so, he says, “it would make sense that when people eat, they are doing it at places other than the table.”

→ Read the rest

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