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The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine November 20, 2020

The Week makes sense of the news by curating the best of the U.S. and international media into a succinct, lively digest.

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The Week Publications, Inc.
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48 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
editor’s letter

The presidential election four years ago was a Facebook free-for-all, a veritable festival of manipulation and disinformation with no fact-checking and no guardrails. Not only critics but the social media companies themselves said “Never again.” You can argue about whether this time Facebook and its peers did enough to combat disinformation. But they did do a lot (see Technology). And yet days after the election, with 64 percent of Republicans still convinced, with no evidence, that the election results can’t be trusted, why don’t things feel any better? I would posit that’s because social media was never the essence of the problem. Demagogues and conspiracy mongers are always proficient in the cutting-edge media of their time—broadsheets, radio, television, now Facebook. What they do is amplify social breakdown, using any means…

5 min.
trump refuses to accept biden’s victory

What happened Despite election results that showed a clear victory for President-elect Joe Biden, President Trump refused to concede this week, and showed every sign he was digging in for a drawn-out battle. Major media outlets called the presidency for Biden on Saturday after he was projected the winner in Pennsylvania; after taking Nevada, he hit 279 electoral votes—nine more than is necessary—and was close to picking up 27 more in Arizona and Georgia to finish with 306. Biden received more than 5 million more popular votes than Trump, and with votes still being counted, posted the highest popular-vote percentage of any challenger to an incumbent since 1932—50.8 percent to Trump’s 47.4 percent. But without evidence, Trump claimed voter fraud and insisted he was the true victor. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED,” he…

3 min.
new vaccine hope as covid cases soar

What happened Pfizer announced this week that its experimental Covid-19 vaccine appears to be much more effective than expected, offering a shot of optimism as a massive coronavirus surge pushed hospitalizations and new daily cases in the U.S. to record highs. Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, said that an early analysis of clinical trial data found that the two-dose vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among study participants. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, called the data “extraordinary” and said the results might bode well for a vaccine being developed by biotech firm Moderna that uses similar technology. Pfizer plans to ask the FDA for emergency authorization for the drug later this month, after collecting two months of follow-up safety data. The drug…

2 min.
it wasn’t all bad

The pandemic has turned an increasing number of Americans into citizen scientists. Programs such as NestWatch and SciStarter let amateurs share data on wildlife in areas where universities don’t have funding to send naturalists. With people stuck at home and able to devote more attention to nature, and professionals less able to travel, submissions to these programs have risen as much as 41 percent this year. “More people are seeing the citizen-science approaches and collective effort toward discovery as our best hope toward figuring out how we live together on this planet,” said ecologist Caren Cooper. The Navajo Nation stretches across 27,000 square miles of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, but only a handful of polling stations were open for its 174,000 residents this year. Allie Young, 30, and her father,…

3 min.
democrats: why this was not a wave election

“So much for the ‘blue wave,’” said J.T. Young in TheHill.com. Heading into last week’s election, the heated debate in progressive circles was about how aggressively Democrats should use their imminent Senate and House majorities to press the party’s agenda. But the electorate had other ideas. With historically high turnout on both sides, voters chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump, while giving Republicans a host of important victories in down-ballot races. Barring a pair of improbable wins in Georgia’s January runoffs, Democrats will likely only have 48 Senate seats come January, not the 54 they were banking on, while the GOP gained at least 10 House seats, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi, if the party re-selects her, with the slimmest majority in 18 years. It was “a catastrophic setback for progressive…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Kateri and Jay Schwandt of Michigan, former high school sweethearts who finally welcomed a baby girl into the family after having 14 boys. “I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around it,” said the oldest of the boys, Tyler, 28, about having a sister. Self-medication, after Drizly, the alcohol delivery app, had a 75 percent surge in blue-state orders on election night. DoorDash, the food-delivery app, reported that its most-requested items were french fries, chicken fingers, and cheeseburgers, in that order. Four Seasons Total Landscaping, where President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani held a surreal press conference to allege election fraud, next to a sex shop, a crematorium, and a jail. The Philadelphia business quickly marketed a line of T-shirts featuring the slogans “Lawn and Order” and “Make America Rake Again.” Bad…