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The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine May 22, 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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48 Utgaver

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2 min.
editor’s letter

Our country was born in rebellion against authority, so it’s no surprise Americans have always had a strong libertarian streak. We bristle at being told what to do, especially by the government—even when it’s demonstrably in the public interest. Millions of Americans angrily objected when health officials and the government began warning that cigarettes could kill them, and banned indoor smoking, and required motorists to wear—ugh—seat belts. Such bondage! Each of these impositions on personal freedom saved immeasurable suffering and many, many lives. Government can also overreach, of course; finding the right balance between individual liberty and the common good is a perpetual struggle. Now, in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, it is masks, social distancing, and the closures of public places and businesses that have provoked cries of…

2 min.
it wasn’t all bad

José Nuñez Romaniz was heading into an Albuquerque bank when he noticed a bulky plastic bag next to the ATM. It contained $135,000 in cash. “I’ve never seen so much money,” said the 19-year-old criminal justice student. An aspiring detective, Nuñez knew what to do. He dialed 911 and guarded the bag, which had been left mistakenly on the sidewalk by a Wells Fargo contractor, until police arrived. Nuñez was honored for his good deed at a ceremony involving Albuquerque’s mayor and chief of police, who invited the teenager to apply for a position in his department. An 11-year-old Brazilian has made skateboarding history by landing the first-ever 1080 on a vert ramp. For non-skateboarders, that means Gui Khury rocketed himself into the air from a vertical ramp and completed three…

2 min.
covid-19 arrives in the white house

What happened The Trump administration was scrambling this week to contain a potential coronavirus outbreak within the White House, after aides to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the disease. Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary and the wife of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, quarantined herself last week after discovering she was infected. Just days earlier, one of the personal valets who serve the president food and drink also tested positive. Three key members of the coronavirus task force—Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—all went into voluntary quarantine after having contact with the infected staffers. The cases triggered panic in the West Wing, where employees work in close quarters amid…

2 min.
supreme court hears cases on trump financial records

What happened Most of the Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical this week of House Democrats’ authority to subpoena financial records from President Trump and his company. In livestreamed arguments, Trump’s lawyers argued that three House committees’ subpoenas amount to “harassment.” Democrats say subpoenas seeking tax returns and other records from Trump’s accountants and banks are needed to investigate Russian money laundering and for future legislation. Appeals courts agreed, yet even liberal justice Stephen Breyer feared setting a precedent that would give “a future Senator McCarthy” power to badger a future president. Justice Elena Kagan, however, said Trump’s lawyers want to put a “10-ton weight on the scale between the president and Congress, essentially to make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight.” In a separate case, the justices seemed more sympathetic toward…

3 min.
flynn: why barr wants to drop all charges

Prosecutors and criminal lawyers “are hard to really shock,” said Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer in The New York Times. But when Attorney General William Barr last week moved to drop all charges against Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser, he left the law enforcement community in a state of outrage and “utter demoralization.” In a legal motion so tortured no career prosecutors would sign their names to it, Barr informed the judge overseeing Flynn’s case that even though Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, his covert contacts with Russia in 2016 were not “material” to an FBI counterintelligence investigation of the Trump team’s covert contacts with Russia. That claim is “absurd on its face,” said Randall Eliason in The Washington Post. The…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Whodunits, after a toilet flushed in the background as Supreme Court oral arguments took place via telephone. Slate.com’s Ashley Feinberg said her audio analysis points to Justice Stephen Breyer, 81, being the culprit, but there is reasonable doubt. Wine tasting, after California man Gabriel Moreno hopped aboard a moving tanker-truck loaded with red wine and, positioning himself beneath the tank, unscrewed a valve and let the contents gush forth into his mouth. He was arrested after the trucker noticed he’d lost about 1,000 gallons of wine. Air passengers, after Frontier Airlines shelved a plan to charge customers $39 extra to sit next to an empty middle seat. It was “never our intent” to profit from passengers’ fear of the coronavirus, Frontier CEO Barry Biffle told Congress. Bad week for: Horticulture, after Queen…