When paying off $40 million in tuition debt for these graduating seniors still only does so much. Plus: how this space object ended up with a dark nickname, abortions or adoptions, and more
The Atlantic: DailyMonday May 20, 2019
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What Happens When a Billionaire Swoops In to Solve the Student-Debt Crisis

(Morehouse College)

Morehouse College seniors were treated to a surprise at graduation: The commencement speaker, the billionaire Robert F. Smith, told the class of some 400 grads at the all-men’s historically black college that he would be eliminating all the graduates’ student debt—estimated at about $40 million. Black students are more likely to take out loans, and default on them, than their white peers, so the move will very directly change the future for these grads. But no amount of individual generosity can remedy a systemic problem—more than 40 million Americans have student loans worth in excess of $1.5 trillion. Which 2020 candidate actually has a plan to get at the heart of the student-debt crisis?

Dueling visions for the future of Europe are on the ballot in this week’s election for the European Parliament. On one side is French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a united Europe, while on another is Italy Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s preference for a constellation of more sovereign countries. The Parliament has limited powers, but the vote is a key test of voter sentiment in the bloc of 28 countries. Salvini has courted far-right leaders from across Europe into his corner—including France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders—and polling suggests that this group of insurgent nationalists could become a significant force in the legislature, capable of shaping the Parliament in their image.

Opponents of abortion often suggest that women instead put babies up for adoption. Yet adoption is a remarkably unpopular course of action in the United States—in 2014, fewer than 20,000 babies were placed with adoption agencies, compared with roughly 1 million abortions. Why don’t more women seek out adoptive families? One reason is that adoption can be more emotionally painful than abortion: Studies show that after carrying a baby to term and giving birth, women can feel a deep bond with the child that can make it difficult and potentially distressing to give the baby up. This means that tightening abortion restrictions won’t necessarily lead to a spike in adoptions, but rather more mothers who didn’t initially want to give birth to their babies.

Saahil Desai


Snapshot

Buddha Day

(Zabur Karuru / Reuters)

Fire burns a Buddha statue during a ceremony on Vesak in Mojokerto, East Java province, Indonesia. Vesak is the celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.

→ See other images from around Asia of this month’s celebrations.


Evening Read

A Nazi Controversy Deep in the Solar System

(NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute)

What’s in a name? Sometimes, direct associations with terminology favored by Nazis. Pause to consider: who gets to name new discoveries in new frontiers, and what naming conventions and rules say about power structures and histories perpetuated through simple words and names.

“The really interesting thing to me is, something so far away can be given a name that makes people upset here on Earth,” says Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist who studies the heritage of human-made objects in space. “It’s a really clear message that this stuff is not just space science. These things have an impact. Naming things in the solar system and naming celestial bodies actually reflects a version of Earth back to us.”

Buie said the group has considered several names, but declined to say what they were. The rules of the International Astronomical Union vary by object. Moons of Jupiter, for example, must be named after mythological figures who were either descendants or lovers of Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus. (Yes, astronomers are still finding new moons around Jupiter.) For stars, the shorter the name, the better. Kuiper Belt objects like MU69 should derive their name from mythology.

→ Read the rest


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Dear Therapist

Dear Therapist: I’m Hiding Something From My Therapist

(Bianca Bagnarelli)

Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. This week:

Last year, I started working at a company that has an employee-assistance program. I’ve taken advantage of it and have finally started seeing a counselor to address my anxiety and depression, which have worsened since moving halfway across the country for this job. Together we’ve come up with strategies to fix some of the aspects of my work environment that make me most anxious, and now I’m much calmer and happier at work.

However, I’ve been unable to talk with her about my relationship with my spouse, which caused my anxiety and depression to spike even before the move and new job. Every time I try to bring this up, I start crying and am literally unable to say words until I switch to a different topic.

→ Read the rest, and Lori’s response. Write to Lori anytime at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com.


The Atlantic Crossword

Click here for The Atlantic's free daily crossword

(Araki Koman)

Have you tried your hand at our daily mini crossword (available on our website, here)? Monday is the perfect day to start—the puzzle gets bigger and more difficult throughout the week.

→ Challenge your friends, or try to beat your own solving time


Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here.

Comments, questions, typos? Email newsletters editor Shan Wang at swang@theatlantic.com

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