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The Week MagazineThe Week Magazine

The Week Magazine

December 13, 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 Edities


2 min.
editor’s letter

As soon as we hit cruising altitude, the tall guy in the seat in front of my wife—he had to be 6-foot-5—aggressively reclined his seat back as far as it would go. Thunk. His hair was scant inches from Karla’s face. The tiny airspace in front of her cramped seat was gone. In its place was the considerable bulk of an oblivious stranger, concerned only about his own constricted comfort; soon, he began snoring. And so it went for the entire seven-hour red-eye across the Atlantic. Getting past that reclined seat for bathroom trips required gymnastic contortions. Those of us who fly coach—steerage without the rats—have similar experiences every time we wriggle into a modern airline’s kindergarten-size seats. These close encounters have given birth to a new national debate: Do…

5 min.
democrats lay out impeachment evidence

What happened The House Judiciary Committee began debate on drafting formal articles of impeachment against President Trump this week after receiving a report from Democrats on the Intelligence Committee stating that there was “overwhelming evidence” that President Trump used U.S. military aid to extort Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election. The 300-page report, based on more than 100 hours of testimony collected from 17 witnesses, accuses Trump of placing “his personal interests above those of the country,” and provides a detailed time line on how Trump and his allies withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Democrat Joe Biden and his son. In doing so, the report says, Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election, “subverted” American foreign policy, and “undermined our…

3 min.
trump and u.s. allies spar at nato summit

What happened America’s rift with its NATO allies widened this week after President Trump squabbled with world leaders at a summit to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary—and left the event early after a video emerged of his counterparts mocking him. The stage was set for a showdown even before Trump arrived at the London meeting. French President Emmanuel Macron declared last month that NATO was strategically adrift and suffering “brain death,” and that the U.S. under Trump was “turning its back” on Europe. In a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump—who once described the alliance as “obsolete”—called Macron’s comments “nasty” and “very insulting.” He later feuded with the French president at a joint press conference, complaining that European countries weren’t doing enough to repatriate nationals who had joined ISIS…

1 min.
it wasn’t all bad

Twenty years ago, Robert VanSumeren stood before Judge Michael Smith as a convicted felon, sentenced to nearly six years in prison for a string of robberies. Last month, the 40-year-old again appeared before Judge Smith at Hillsdale County Courthouse in Michigan—to be sworn in as an attorney. After VanSumeren left prison in 2005, he earned degrees in comparative religion, sociology, and psychology. In 2015, he decided to pursue a law degree at Wayne State University, and passed the bar exam last summer. “This seems like an appropriate place to end this chapter of my life,” he said. A man found his lost wedding band thanks to the kindness of two strangers with a metal detector. Bill Giguere had gone hiking on a New Hampshire mountain and only realized he’d lost the…

3 min.
elizabeth warren: can she regain momentum?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a great summer, “slinging buzzy plans and climbing in the polls,” said Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times, but it’s “not summer anymore.” A raft of new polls last week showed a dramatic collapse in national support for the Massachusetts senator, from an average high of around 27 percent in October, which made her the narrow front-runner, down to only 14 percent at the end of November, behind both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Biden’s and Sanders’ numbers are ticking up as Warren’s slide, but the clearest beneficiary is centrist Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who now leads the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. The explanation for Warren’s “free fall” is obvious, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. Her embrace of Medicare for All…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Astronauts, with news that both Russian-made toilets on the International Space Station are now working again. ISS commander Luca Parmitano had warned that station residents were mere hours from having to wear “space diapers.” Monopolies, with the release of Singularity, a new dating app that matches heterosexual women with…Aaron Smith, 31, of Greensboro, N.C. “The biggest problem with other apps,” said Smith, who happens to be Singularity’s co-designer, “is that my face is not featured prominently.” ‘Existential,’ which was selected by Dictionary.com as its 2019 Word of the Year. “It speaks to this sense of grappling with our survival, both literally and figuratively, that defined so much of [the year’s] discourse,” said site research editor John Kelly. Bad week for: Apostrophe’s, after John Richards, founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society in the…