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 / News & Politics
The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine November 8, 2019

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

United States
The Week Publications, Inc.
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48 Issues


2 min.
editor’s letter

Several years after my family immigrated to the U.S., my father got a peculiar letter from a friend in the Soviet Union. The letter—no doubt the friend had been strong-armed or blackmailed into writing it—asked if he might be able to procure a technical manual for a DEC minicomputer banned from export to the Soviet Union. Obviously, that was the end of that relationship. In the story of my family’s immigration, this was a last tawdry reminder of the repressive, manipulative regime we’d left. Like so many other Soviet Jewish refugees, my family was committed to the United States, fiercely anti-Communist, and hopeful about regime change that would bring democracy to Russia and its captive nations. In all this, my family’s convictions were probably similar to those of another family…

5 min.
the impact of al-baghdadi’s death

What happened President Trump this week hailed the killing of ISIS leader and founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. Special Forces raid in northwest Syria as the biggest-ever victory in the war on terror, even as American military leaders warned that the fight against the terrorist network remains unfinished. In a White House speech, Trump said that al-Baghdadi fled “whimpering, screaming, and crying” into an underground tunnel as the elite Delta Force raided his compound and that he “died like a dog.” Unable to escape, al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest that killed himself and three of his young children. “Osama bin Laden was very big,” Trump said. But “this is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country, a caliphate.” The CIA and Special…

3 min.
mounting evidence of ukraine quid pro quo

What happened New testimony from a top National Security Council official punched holes in President Trump’s defenses against impeachment this week, as House Democrats planned a vote to formalize their investigation and begin its “public-facing phase.” Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer and the NSC’s top Ukraine expert, told House investigators that he listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked for “a favor”—investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and a 2016 conspiracy theory. After the call, Vindman told a White House lawyer that he thought Trump’s request was improper. He also tried to restore portions of the call’s transcript that the White House cut, including references to Biden and a Ukrainian company that had…

1 min.
it wasn’t all bad

A Nationals fan was hailed as a World Series hero this week after he nabbed a home run ball while holding a beer in each hand. Jeff Adams had just bought two cans from a vendor in the second inning of Game 5 when the Astros’ Yordan Alvarez smashed the ball in his direction. Recalling his Little League days, Adams put his chest out, angled it down, and let the ball roll to the floor—all without spilling a drop of beer. Adams said he wished his old coach could have seen his feat: “This guy taught me how to do that.” A 13th-century painting that hung unloved for decades in a Frenchwoman’s kitchen was sold at auction last week for $26.8 million—the most ever paid for a medieval painting. The woman,…

3 min.
impeachment: why not president pence?

Of all the arguments against impeaching and removing President Trump, said Bill Scher in Politico.com, perhaps the strangest is that using a constitutional process would somehow “overturn” the 2016 election. In the still-unlikely event that two-thirds of the GOP-held Senate does vote to oust the president, the Democrats won’t gain control of the White House. “America’s reward for convicting Trump would be President Michael Richard Pence,” as rock-ribbed a conservative as any Republican in public office. Not only would a President Pence keep appointing conservative judges, deregulating business, and fighting for Christians’ religious liberty, he would do so without the constant drama and chaos of his predecessor. The pious, low-key Pence would be a refreshing change, said B.J. Rudell in TheHill.com, and he could pick a vice president to “broaden…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Prosperity theology, after Kanye West announced that he was rewarded for becoming a born-again Christian with a $68 million tax refund in 2019. “God is using me to show off,” West said. American greatness, after Oregon’s Rogue River Blue won top prize at the prestigious annual World Cheese Awards in Italy. The French daily Ouest-France called it “sacrilege” that “the world’s best cheese is not French.” Mementos, after the gray, cigarette-burned cardigan worn by the late Kurt Cobain in Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged session sold at auction for $334,000—the most expensive sweater ever sold. Bad week for: Cineastes, after Netflix, the streaming service, announced a trial program that will let viewers watch films and TV series at up to 1.5 times the original speed—what some are calling chipmunk mode. Director Judd Apatow…