News & Politics
The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine October 11, 2019

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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48 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
editor’s letter

In this week’s Last Word, The Guardian’s Amit Katwala recounts the history of the polygraph and its successors—a tale of self-deception in which the biggest con may the one that believers in the lie detector have pulled on themselves. The nearly century-long history of efforts to find a machine that will distinguish truth from lies is a modern twist on what’s really a timeless story. It’s the emperor’s new clothes, plus a bit of technology. When it comes to the little things, people want a machine that will tell them what’s true. But on the really big things? As often as not, people want to be deceived, and find the truth a disappointment. Or, as the great essayist Francis Bacon said, “A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure.” Which…

5 min.
trump rages against an impeachment ‘coup’

What happened President Trump accused Democratic lawmakers of “treason” and attempting to foment a “coup” this week as the House accelerated an impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by strong-arming Ukraine for political favors. Lawmakers issued subpoenas to the State Department as well as to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, hoping to further corroborate a government whistleblower complaint detailing Trump’s attempts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. (See Talking Points.) Those attempts met with immediate resistance from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who refused to allow the House to depose five State Department employees, accusing legislators of trying to “bully” government officials and giving them insufficient time to prepare. Democrats accused Pompeo—who had listened in on a…

3 min.
barr hunts for signs of plot to undermine trump

What happened New details emerged this week of a months-long effort by the Justice Department to unearth political motivations for the FBI’s investigation into links between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. In a meeting in Rome last week, Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is heading the current inquiry, sought to secure the cooperation of Italian officials in the investigation of the FBI’s sources. The meeting represented at least the third time that Barr has personally intervened in the matter. President Trump also personally intervened at Barr’s request, pressing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assist Barr’s inquiry. Both the president and the attorney general turned to Britain as well, with Barr asking British intelligence officials to help Durham and Trump asking U.K. Prime Minister Boris…

2 min.
it wasn’t all bad

When Sheila Pereira heard about the Worcester City Half Marathon, she was delighted that a race was being held so close to her home in Massachusetts. She signed up online—then realized the half marathon was actually 3,200 miles away, in Worcester, England. Undeterred, Pereira mapped out a 13.1-mile route through the “other Worcester” and ran her own race. She finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes and sent a message explaining the mix-up to the half marathon organizers in England. They mailed her a medal, a T-shirt, and an invite to next year’s race. U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien has a true hero’s résumé. The Japan-based pararescueman regularly jumps out of planes, helped lead the rescue of a young Thai soccer team from a flooded cave last year, and pulled…

3 min.
impeachment: what does it mean for 2020?

“This was the week that changed everything,” said Lili Loofbourow in Slate.com. Before the revelation that President Trump pressured Ukraine to launch criminal probes of political opponent Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Democrats in Congress were deeply divided about the wisdom of impeaching Trump. But “things are suddenly different.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s formal announcement of an impeachment inquiry has united the party behind her, and the polls, in Pelosi’s words, have “shifted drastically.” The latest CBS News survey found 55 percent of Americans in favor of at least an impeachment inquiry. On the question of whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office, a Quinnipiac University poll found the nation evenly split at 47 percent—a huge change from only the week before, when Quinnipiac’s numbers were 57 percent…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Australian dogs, whose owners can now be fined up to $2,700 if they don’t walk their pets at least once a day. “For the first time under law we are recognizing the science that animals are sentient, and feel emotion and pain,” said government minister Chris Steel. Endangered species, after 432 Nigels gathered in a British pub to celebrate their decreasingly popular first name. “In the year I was born, 1963, there were over 5,000 Nigels born; it was peak Nigel,” said organizer Nigel Smith, 56. But “it’s gone out of fashion.” Sleeping in coach, after Japan Airlines added a “child icon” to its online seat maps, showing which seats will be occupied by a passenger younger than 2 years old. One Twitter user thanked JAL for marking “where babies…