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The Week MagazineThe Week Magazine

The Week Magazine May 17, 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


access_time2 min.
editor’s letter

We now know what it takes to unite a bitterly divided America: medieval battles, dragons, and a substantial serving of nudity. During its eight-year run, HBO’s fantasy saga Game of Thrones has dominated the cultural conversation like no other piece of entertainment. (See Television.) While Americans increasingly watch series at their own pace on services like Netflix and Hulu, Thrones remains appointment TV. Tens of millions tune in each week to see the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens slaughter, romp, and stab one another in the back. Republicans and Democrats are equally obsessed: President Trump has tweeted Thrones-inspired memes (“SANCTIONS ARE COMING”), while Sen. Elizabeth Warren has praised the series for calling out inherited privilege. (The genocidal Queen Cersei, she says, is just another spoiled 1 percenter). Thousands of Thrones-loving parents…

access_time5 min.
trump’s war with congressional democrats

What happened The oversight battle between the White House and congressional Democrats escalated to a new level of ferocity this week, as the Trump administration defied lawmakers’ demands for access to a wide range of potentially damaging documents and witnesses. Trump invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency over the entire Mueller report, to shield redacted portions and all the underlying evidence, which were subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. After that decision, the Judiciary Committee voted to recommend that the full House hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over those documents. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also told House Democrats that he would not comply with their request for Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that explicitly gives lawmakers the power…

access_time3 min.
tougher sanctions bring u.s.-iran showdown

What happened The U.S. moved closer to direct confrontation with Iran this week as Tehran responded to tighter U.S. oil sanctions with a partial withdrawal from its 2015 nuclear accord. Iran announced it would begin stockpiling heavy water and enriched uranium, and threatened more dramatic steps—including resuming construction of a nuclear reactor—if other countries backed the U.S. effort to strangle oil exports. After U.S. intelligence found indications of an Iranian plan to target U.S. troops in the Gulf region, the U.S. ordered carrier and bomber strike groups to the Persian Gulf, further intensifying a campaign to put “maximum pressure” on Iran. In April, the U.S. branded Iran’s elite military group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization, and ended sanctions waivers. Those 180-day dispositions had allowed eight countries, including…

access_time1 min.
it wasn’t all bad

Darin Barton was panhandling at his usual spot near a freeway exit in Lakewood, Colo., when a semi-truck suddenly barreled over, smashed into rush hour traffic, and burst into flames. The homeless man asked a nearby friend to call 911 and then took off running toward the blazing multicar pileup. Barton, 45, said he was able to pull three or four people from their vehicles, joining several other good Samaritans who helped with the rescue effort. “I just did what I hoped anybody would’ve done if [they were] sitting down there,” Barton said. Desert landscapes, war memorials, volcanic craters—if it’s a National Park Service site, Mikah Meyer has seen it. The 33-year-old Washington, D.C., resident set out three years ago with the goal of visiting all 419 National Park sites in…

access_time3 min.
‘electability’: the democrats’ dangerous obsession?

So desperate are Democrats to defeat Donald Trump, said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post, that they’re obsessed with nominating the most “electable” candidate. That is virtually the only reason former Vice President Joe Biden has jumped out to a large early poll lead over 21 other declared candidates. Few Democratic voters are actually excited about Biden, 76; they just think that enough conservative white males will vote for him to dislodge Trump from the White House. Recent political history shows that this seemingly pragmatic calculation is “completely wrong.” Establishment moderates chosen for their electability, such as John McCain, John Kerry, Al Gore, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton, all went down to defeat. “A 40-something African-American senator with an Arabic middle name” won two presidential elections, while in 2016, “a…

access_time1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Data recovery, after a Taiwanese man accidentally swallowed one of his Apple AirPod earbuds and heard it playing music in his belly. He recovered the device after it passed through his digestive tract, and found the AirPod still working and with its battery at 41 percent. Low-tech solutions, after fire officials announced a plan to release hundreds of goats into the forest and scrubland north of Los Angeles. The goats eat brush, thus diminishing the risk of devastating fires. “They’re very effective,” said Capt. Kenneth Van Wig. Finishing second, after Country House was declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby by stewards, who ruled that first-place finisher Maximum Security veered in front of other horses and impeded their progress—the first such disqualification in the 145-year history of the race. Bad week…