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The Week Magazine November 15, 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


3 min.
editor’s letter

It is admittedly a peculiar time to envy our cousins in the United Kingdom, torn asunder as they are by Brexit. The Brits’ national division is as deep and rancorous as ours, and when they sever their unfettered economic access to the 27 nations and 500 million people in the European Union, the rift will be permanent. But here’s what I envy: When Parliament recently voted to hold a new election to determine whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson has enough popular support to go ahead with his Brexit plan, it set a date of Dec. 12. Johnson and his adversaries will have six weeks in total to campaign before the citizens decide their nation’s future. How very reasonable—especially when compared with the U.S.’s permanent presidential campaign. On the day he took…

5 min.
trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ defense crumbles

What happened President Trump’s insistence that there was “no quid pro quo” involved in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son was directly contradicted by one of his own allies this week, scrambling Republicans’ defenses of the president ahead of the first public impeachment hearings. In a sworn statement to Congress, European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland admitted that he told a top Ukrainian official that military aid “would likely not occur” until Ukraine publicly announced the investigations sought by Trump. The White House withheld $391 million in security aid approved by Congress ahead of the July 25 phone call, in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” by investigating the Bidens and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not the Russians, hacked the 2016 election.…

3 min.
democrats celebrate big wins on election day

What happened Republicans suffered stinging defeats in Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania this week as suburban voters in traditionally conservative districts swung to Democrats in statewide and local races widely seen as referendums on national politics and President Trump’s popularity. In Virginia, voters overturned Republican majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, awarding Democrats total control over the legislative and executive branches for the first time since 1993. In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin refused to concede after his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, notched a slim 5,100-vote lead; Trump carried the state by 30 percentage points in 2016. And in Pennsylvania, a swing state that Trump won in 2016, Democrats triumphed in the Philadelphia suburbs of Delaware, Chester, and Bucks counties, areas that in some cases have been GOP…

2 min.
it wasn’t all bad

Rob the lonely royal albatross has finally found love. Each year for the past decade, the 35-year-old bird has returned to his New Zealand colony during breeding season with hopes of finding a mate. And each year, the albatross was left alone. Amused scientists considered taking bets on his chances, and even mulled creating a Tinder profile for the poor bird. But this year Rob met his match. The lucky lady, who has not been identified by name, has a checkered history herself. Still, said ecologist Hoani Langsbury, “She’s a successful breeder. She’ll know what to do.” Joyciline Jepkosgei had a simple goal in mind when she ran the New York City Marathon this week. “My focus was to finish the race,” said the Kenyan athlete. The 25-year-old holds the world…

3 min.
the economy: has trump helped or hurt?

Welcome to “‘The Greatest Economy in American History!’” said Catherine Rampell in The Washington Post. That, at least, is how President Trump tweet-greeted last week’s news that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in the third quarter. Once upon a time, under President Obama, Trump tweeted that a 1.9 percent growth rate portended “deep trouble for the economy!”…so was he right then or is he right now? The truth is that most economists think 2 percent growth will now be typical for the U.S., but it’s “way lower than you’d expect given the massive fiscal stimulus policymakers have been pumping into the economy.” Government spending has surged under Trump, with the annual deficit now nearing $1 trillion. Trump promised that the GOP’s $2 trillion tax…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Becoming a nudist, after The New York Times published “Wear Clothes? Then You’re Part of the Problem,” a column blaming the apparel industry for contributing to climate change. The piece calls on citizens to keep repairing their garments or buy second-hand clothes, and to wash everything in cold water and air-dry it. Astronauts, with news that a spacecraft carrying cookie dough and a zero-gravity oven is on its way to the International Space Station. “Fresh-baked food could have psychological and physiological benefits for crew members,” said NASA. Rebirth, after the director of a new film announced that a CGI version of James Dean—dead since 1955—will play a major role. “We searched high and low for the perfect character,” said director Anton Ernest, “and after months of research, we decided on…