The Atlantic Daily: Ireland and Abortion, Russian Hacking Rings, Fake Shooting Stars

United Nations officials criticized abortion law, U.S. researchers posed as cybercriminals, artificial meteor showers are in the works, and more. 

Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

What We’re Following: Human-Rights Experts vs. Ireland

United Nations human-rights experts declared Ireland’s ban on most abortions subjects women to “discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” and urged the country to amend its laws or constitution. Abortion is illegal in Ireland, except when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, and does not allow abortions in cases of incest, rape, or congenital defects. It’s legal for doctors to provide information to women about abortion services abroad, but they can’t encourage women to get the procedure. Each year, thousands of Irish women travel to Britain and elsewhere to get abortions.

The Russians Who Hack: A group of U.S. security researchers recently posed as Russians and infiltrated a ring of hackers based in the country, monitoring their dealings for five months. The hacking ring specialized in ransomware, a type of virus that infects a computer and locks away its contents with strong encryption. The attacker then demands a ransom—any amount from several hundred to several thousands of dollars—in exchange for the keys that will free the encrypted files.  That sounds scary for the victims, but for many cybercriminals, hacking is as unglamorous as any other business.

Another Use for Satellites: The age of fake shooting stars is upon us. One company is developing technology for an unprecedented public spectacle at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo: an artificial meteor shower. The fake meteors will be dropped by satellite—tiny particles, only a few millimeters in size, made from lithium, calcium, strontium, rubidium, and copper, each of which releases a different color when it burns up in the atmosphere. Pretty cool.


A cowboy leads horses in Shiprock, New Mexico, in 2010. See more from photographer Jane Hilton here.


“I don’t want to know what the emoji for circumcision looks like.” —Elizabeth Morrison, who curates historic manuscripts, on an emoji translation of the Bible

“It’s like the old saying: ‘They might be a son of a bitch, but they’re our son of a bitch.’” —Julie Jackson, who supports Hillary Clinton, on the Democratic Party

“Think of the value of a two-year prison sentence in terms of what this would communicate about our social norms. ... Instead, you’re sending the message that we basically don’t care.” —Michele Dauber, a law professor, on a six-month sentence for sexual assault

Evening Read

Megan Garber on the lack of female political candidates in pop culture:

Chosen to serve: It’s the most common and self-delusional of tropes in American politics, the result of tiara complexes and culturally enforced passive aggressions and George Washington’s insistence that, all things considered, he really would have preferred to be a gentleman farmer. And it leads, as far as depictions of women in power go, to things like Vice President Kathryn Bennett, in Air Force One, embodying her role as the film’s moral compass by resisting every chance she has to become president herself, ensuring that the executive authority of President Marshall (Harrison Ford) will never be in doubt. It leads, even, to Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope—one of the most delightful lady-pols in pop-cultural history—repeatedly confirming her worthiness for public office by demonstrating that her desire to serve comes from selflessness (rather than personal, and therefore more stereotypically masculine, and therefore more fraught, ambition).

In America, you prove your worthiness for power by proving your lack of desire for that power. If you are a woman, you have an added challenge: You must prove that you will use the power you want-but-don’t-want to act on behalf of everyone but yourself.

Continue reading here.

News Quiz

1. A __________ caused a three-hour nationwide power outage in Kenya.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. said it would remove images of the __________ from its stained-glass windows.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. __________ endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Reader Response

Is the Sanders campaign suffering from “campaign psychosis”? This reader thinks so:

Campaign psychosis is the willful ignoring of facts in favor of engaging in wishful thinking. Therefore, it is simple to test whether or not both campaigns have engaged in this. Here it is: How has the Sanders campaign explained its losses? The system must be rigged, the Establishment is against us, the Southern primaries reflect the votes of more conservative Democrats, and on and on.

All of these excuses have been debunked to the satisfaction of all but the most enthusiastic conspiracy theorists. Please show me the facts of all the excuses the Clinton campaign has used when she has lost. Let’s see the whiny protests. Let’s see the abandonment of facts for wishful thinking on the part of the Clinton campaign.

Read more here.


Muhammad Ali honored, flying-car factories explored, 2,150-year-old monument discovered, inflatable dog poop stolen, seagull curried.